Imperfect Yes

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This is a wall plaque that I started making over a year ago – a project I began, not in the house we lived in before this one, but in the apartment we were in before that. I kept the spot empty on the wall waiting for it, and it never got there. I stopped at the point of writing the words on it because I started thinking about how much I disliked my handwriting. I was afraid it would look too imperfect so I kept putting it off.

This week someone told me something that triggered my yes. They confessed to me, that they refrain from doing the things they should because of the fear that they won’t do it well. And God used their confession to bring the question to me: Do I refuse to do things, things that I was meant to do, because of the fear of doing it imperfectly? Yes. Yes, I do it in so many things.

I started listing them in my head, and in the middle of my day I thought of this plaque. I took the marker and scrolled the verse I love in the handwriting I’ve always thought looked as if it was written by a hand much younger and less experienced than my own. I was determined to write it out boldly anyway. I’ve lived so many no’s. This was to be a new firm yes, undeterred by my own imperfections. I finished it and read it back to myself.

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” Most gladly therefore will I glory in my weaknesses that that that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

There it was: three ‘that’s in a row. I tried to figure out how to fix it, then I decided to leave it as is, and I hung it on the wall anyway. Because… it fits the verse and I suppose it’s an even better reminder this way. It’s my reminder to live the yes – not only despite my imperfections. It’s a reminder to live the yes firmly, and to glory in the imperfections of it, because, like the verse says, my weaknesses are where He shows His glory.

Imperfection is not my intention, but it will happen and the enemy may try to wave it in my face as a threat. But my God has given me the truth that exposes my enemy for the fake he is. The sword he waves at me is as good as a rubber toy. Not only are my imperfections not a threat, they are the very means through which God chooses to show His strength and glory. These threats of imperfection hold no weight because my God created me to be an image bearer, a vessel through which His glory shines greatest in an imperfect yes.

 

I’m linking up with Kate for five-minute Friday. Please give her a visit and enjoy some encouraging words about the word yes. http://katemotaung.com/2015/09/03/five-minute-friday-yes/

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.

Consider it Joy


Some days I struggle to find joy, but James 1:2 “Count it all joy when you meet trials of various kinds.” What better trials to have than ones that are filled with the adorable faces of my daughters and the tears and hugs that fill our days. Trials like the one last week when Amayah didn’t want to get dressed and she screamed and fought me with all she had and when I did get finally get her dressed she rammed her head against the wall in anger, which made her cry, then she ran to me for a hug…

It’s in the middle of those moments that I feel failure and I need wisdom and He promises that if I ask for it, He will give wisdom generously and without being disappointed in me for my lack of wisdom. – James 1:5

I can find joy because this is a beautiful part of the story that He’s using to grow me, like Joseph’s story. He’s using every part to make the big picture more beautiful. These words of James are my sword, to fight the devils lies in this battlefield of my home. This sword calls the trial joy and reminds me that the way these moments can make me feel is not the way my God sees me. I hold to my sword for fight, but it’s my God who will do the fighting. He is my Hope and Strength.

I am found in Him. When I feel useless, He says I’m useful. When I feel less than, He says He is able, through me, to be their mommy. When I feel overwhelmed and insufficient and failing, I can rest in the promise that I am beautiful and holy in His sight… I have the Spirit inside me. I can count the trial joy in experiencing faith with my God through faith lived out on this battlefield.

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.

Hope

Hope… it’s the idea that sometimes feels like the help just out of reach. Sometimes I feel like I’m racing to hold on to hope, to keep up with her and sometimes I have to ask myself what the use is in trying any way.

Like the way I felt in the delivery room two weeks ago… I was trying to hold on, trying to stay calm. Birth the first time around really wasn’t bad, I didn’t give much place to panic. I stayed calm and they called me strong. Birth this time was different. I tried to hold on to the same calm, but the hurt got so bad I didn’t care anymore or even remember why I wanted so much to stay calm. So I let go. I let it all out. I screamed with every bit of energy I had and when the birth was over, my throat was sore.

The first few days with Liesel were so smooth and I was so happy and just when I was feeling proud for not letting the hormones get to me this time around, I looked at all the little fears and worries that I could concern myself with and they became monsters and I let go of everything I was trying to hold onto. Then the tears came.

And I pull myself up and I try again, to hang on to joy, to say no to fear. And yesterday I dwelt in the failure, in the sad truth that I couldn’t do it. And then, He invites me to remember, this truth that I keep forgetting. That, no, I can’t do it because I’m not meant to, but He who is my Strength can. I have to let go.

I try so hard to hold on to this false hope that sometimes I believe is more secure. Why do I keep having to let go? Because I’m trying to do it on my own. I’m trying to rest in my own strength instead of my Strength. He is my hope. I just can’t do this life myself, but praise God I have a hope. Someone else has already done it for me. The promise of the life He’s lived for me waits to be wholly mine in eternity.

“Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” -1 Peter 1:13  

 

Joining in with the Five Minute Friday community this week to write on the word hope. Please give these sweet writers a visit. :)

http://katemotaung.com/2015/07/09/five-minute-friday-hope/

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.

Love’s Beautiful Mess

Almost a week since our new little Liesel was born. She’s my cuddle bug and she’s surprised us in how easy-going she seems to be. New life is beautiful. New life in her, new life in me.

I’m learning to rest in the new, in the fresh reminder to remember God’s benefits, (Psalm 103:2-3) to remember my newness in the newness of my daughter. She too is a precious gift who He points me to the Gospel with. For now, I look at the newness in her and remember it, she is new, and I am made new in my Jesus. The miracle of birth takes place in me as I experience the miracle of being found in my Jesus and the new creation He makes in me.

Learning to take my Nano’s advice to let the Lord be my shield. (Psalm 3) To be my shield against hormones and fears and doubts and all the senseless worries that want to fill my head. When I feel inadequate He is “my glory and the lifter of my head.”

Learning to Love two daughters together, that that’s messy, but to let it be messy because it’s beautiful… That was the theme of the Curious George movie I watched with Amayah the other night. Thankful for lessons learned even in the cute, silly ways… Loving both is messy because sometimes I have to give Liesel attention and Amayah doesn’t understand, and sometimes I give too much attention to one and not enough to the other and sometimes I just want time to slow down so I can enjoy them both better and there’s a million other worries along with that. But I can never know the beauty of Love without plunging into the beautiful mess of it. I want to give my Love fully, not cautiously, and living messy is the only way to do that. I want to enjoy these moments with my girls and that means just Loving and letting it all come out messy. And maybe Love is just that way all around… a beautiful mess.

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.

Perplexed


Sometimes it’s the little failures in life that are the greatest burden. The perplexed mind stumbling around for an answer to how to deal with life does face a real struggle. Those perplexities can really be a deep pain to a soul, and it’s a difficult pain to deal with because often it’s a pain we deal with alone. Those who do hear the perplexities may not think of it as pain. And even the person struggling with it may refuse to accept it as pain in light of all the pain in the world around them. But none of that changes the real fact that it is pain.

Most normal days as a mommy are full of perplexities, a life that desperately wants an answer to anything from her child’s sleeping problems, to the afternoon temper tantrum, to knowing how and when to discipline and sometimes to simply finding time to just be and breathe and feel like a sane person. These are my daily struggles, my perplexed moments, my temptation to carry the weight of failure. They are moments that can drive me to tears and whether I want to admit it or not, those moments are often my biggest pain. Sometimes, though, I look at a world of people around me who are going through so much more and I feel shame for thinking of these moments – moments that every mom goes through – as painful. But, as my husband reminded me when I was talking to him about these struggles, the first step toward healing is admitting that there is a problem and that applies no matter how big or small the problem might seem.

Some friends and I have been reading through Emily Freeman’s Grace for the Good Girl together and this week my friend Jozette pointed out the beauty in this statement we read: “Do not compare your pain with others. The worst pain you will ever feel is your own. That does not mean you are selfish – that means you are human.” (Grace for the Good Girl, Ch 17) No matter how good our life may seem on the surface, we all have our own form of pain. Whatever that pain is, no matter how big or small we think it to be, it exists in our life for a purpose, to point to the Gift in some way, but how will we ever see the Gift through the struggle, if we never accept it as pain? Ann Voskamp says it this way, “Brilliant people don’t deny the dark; they are the ones who never stop looking for His light in everything.” – Ann Voskamp

I’m having to learn what it means to really accept my daily struggles as pain. It’s not that I’ve never thought of them as pain before, but that whenever I have, I shame myself for it. I feel like I’ve done something wrong in thinking of this daily occurrence as something that can really hurt, as if I’m giving it some sort of power over me by thinking that. But what does His Word say about the perplexities of life? “We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies.” (2 Cor. 4:8-10)

Perplexed. The word used here is defined as “to be left wanting, to be embarrassed, to be in doubt, not to know which way to turn. to be at a loss with, one’s self, be in doubt; not to know how to decide or what to do, to be perplexed:” It’s listed right there in between afflictions and persecutions. Those perplexed moments, those moments that tempt us to rename ourselves failure, they really are a struggle and a real way that we carry in our bodies the death of Jesus. As Christians we do have pain in perplexities and it’s nothing to be ashamed of. We only do wrong in accepting the pain when we despair, when we give up all hope. But just as Jesus accepted the pain He went through and wasn’t ashamed of it, I can accept my struggles as pain as a way to identify with my Savior in making light of His life in the world. I can know my struggle as pain and there, I can find the Gift that it beautifully points to.

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.

Replacing Shame

 We’re all moved into our new house and life is starting to settle again. I’ve been thinking a lot the past few days, something I’ve been enjoying. I busied myself too much over the move. I didn’t take time alone with God really, I didn’t rest, I didn’t think about much of anything besides getting the house put together. And at the end of it all, even though the house was unpacked, my soul was empty and down from being so ignored. And I’ve been learning to rest again, or as Emily Freeman says, making space for my soul to breathe. And how my soul needs that space.

And in that rest He’s finding me. “Be still and know…” Because it says it there: “My God in his steadfast love will meet me.” (Psalm 59:10) And He does meet me. And as I come to meet my Jesus again, I see Him. I see this man who “wearied as he was from his journey was sitting beside the well,” and all the while “his disciples had gone into the city to buy food.” (Jn. 4:6-8) He was the man who sought rest when He was weary even when His friends were busy running errands. He took responsibility to give His soul the rest it needed even if it could’ve easily looked to others like He was just being lazy. Like when He took a nap on the boat while His disciples were busy running the ship. My Savior knows the souls need for rest. If Jesus Christ made a point of taking time to rest how must we all need rest.

And how good it is to know that. Because I’ve been struggling with bitter thoughts and then again in my soul’s empty state, I turn to hide from Him in shame, like I can’t go to Him in my mess, and then my bitter thoughts only grow. But He finds me with those precious words. “My God in His steadfast love will meet me.” (Ps. 59:10) And that sets upon my soul struggles a beautiful relief. I’ve felt lost on how to respond to my sin, and though I know He accepts me as righteous, my soul has not rested there, and I go back to the shame again. And I try to fight shame, but I’m not sure how to counter it. But there in Psalms He speaks to me the replacement for my shame. “Let not the downtrodden turn back in shame; let the poor and needy praise your name.” (Ps. 74:21) Rather than turning in shame, praise His name. Replace shame with praise.

When I have those bitter thoughts, He is there offering the grace for that moment and those thoughts can be my cue to turn to praising Him that He does, in fact, meet me in His Love, even when I’m coming from the place of failing.

He meets me as He met Adam and Eve when they hid in shame. When they did not remember that they were made in God’s image and tried to become like God in their own way. Emily Freeman points out that all of God’s children do the same when they sin – they don’t remember. (Grace for the Good Girl, Ch 10) We deny our identity when we sin and we deny it perhaps even more when we hide in shame. Because it is in shame that we believe that we are a failure when God has said we are righteous in Christ. He is my identity and that is what I can always praise Him for. That is the identity I have to speak into my soul and praise my God for when the shame starts to creep in. It is because of that identity that I can come boldly to the One who first came to me.

 

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.

When the Fail Gives Sight to Love

Romans 11:32 “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.”

I love all the Romans 11 beauty of God’s plan in bringing mercy to Israel and the Gentiles through their very own disobedience, but when I read through it this time this verse caught my heart by surprise and wrapped big arms around it.

Because when you’ve seen the place of knowing the extent of a fail you’ve made, and your fail seems to have brought a world of trouble, its easy to fear that there’s no going back. There’s no seeing the world as good as it used to be again.

And it takes me back to church Sunday and the story of Achan in Joshua 7, and Achan and his family members were each stoned for Achan’s sin. It was the story that stirred up those same emotions, those same thoughts of fear. And I asked, how can it be anything but that place – no going back, no making things the way they used to be. And I see the place where he was stoned, stoned at the Valley of Achor, and that name stirs up something, thoughts of hope, but why? Because there the name is again in Hosea, the Valley of Achor.

“Therefore, behold, I will allure her, and bring her into the wilderness, and speak tenderly to her. And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.” (Hos. 2:14-15) And Achor means trouble, and that valley of trouble was a door, like an opportunity, for hope. And at the valley of trouble in Joshua the Lord turned from his burning anger. (Josh 7:26) And it was Israel taking the steps through the trouble that happened in that valley that opened the door for them to see new mercies from God and a new hope for the future. And instead of being the place of no more, the door was open to see the place of more beautiful.

Hosea and Gomer were there too, the real-life play of God’s relationship to His people. And Gomer’s valley of trouble was her unfaithfulness to her husband and that itself became her door of hope. And after all her unfaithfulness, she was given the joy of not just seeing someone who wanted to be her husband. She could look at him and see a man who Loved her even though she had proven above and beyond that she was so undeserving of his Love. She could look at a man whose Love was determined to stand through the storms of her sin. She could look at a God who Loved her so much that He hedged up the paths that she thought were satisfaction (Hos. 2:6) and brought her to the place where she could see the door of hope. (Hos. 2:14-15) It was God who brought her through the door so she could know the greatness of this mercy that she had never seen in this way, so she could know greater depth in the beauty of belonging.

The place after the fail doesn’t have to be the place of no more’s. Getting up from the fail does mean it will be different, but it can be different in a way that’s so much better. It’s an opportunity to see the place of saying, I’ve never seen it all so beautiful before. Not that we had never failed before, but that sometimes it takes harder falls for us to deeply know that we have failed and how much we truly stand in need of mercy. “For God has consigned all to disobedience, that he may have mercy on all.” We can never receive the beauty of mercy without going through the valley of failing. Each time God allows us to fail, He is giving us a grace, a gift that’s undeserved, because the fail itself was a door to see Love in a whole new way.

 

 

Thank you for reading today. I’d love for you to give Kate a visit at the Five-minute Friday community: http://katemotaung.com/2015/02/12/five-minute-friday-when/

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 Blessing of Insecurities

Hello dear friends! Yesterday marked two years since my first blogpost on this site. Two years of writing here has been so life giving for me. Thank you so much for reading! You give purpose to this space. So, in honor of that, I wanted to revamp and share once again the first post I wrote on the blessing of insecurities. Love you all!


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“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Cor. 12:9-10)

Sitting in a pew in the corner of the auditorium I strained to try to make out his words. David Ring had cerebral palsy. He told of the struggle his life had been, but he stood in front of us and identified his handicap as his thorn in the flesh, his weakness, that would make God’s grace shine through even more. I’ll always remember that service. I had walked into that room feeling weighed down by my insecurities. I had felt like they held me back. I saw them as my limitations. But that was the day I first realized that my insecurities do not have to limit me. They are a blessing of grace. If this man with cerebral palsy could have such an impact standing in front of so many people trying so hard to get his words out than I could have an impact too, not only despite being shy, but because of it. I was in a whole new world to realize that there’s a world of people out there who struggle with feelings of inadequacy too and I just like David Ring am in a position to have an influence that no one else in the world has. Because of my weaknesses, because of my position, I can have a unique opportunity to make an impact. The fact that I sometimes feel insecure does not make me useless. Insecure moments have been divinely allowed in my life to make me useful.

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Found in Him I am, and that is where my identity lies, but when my mind isn’t set on Him, I always go to my safety zone where I don’t have to risk rejection, where I believe I can hold to some worth, and forget that all my worth is only in Him. I do think that my insecure moments are gifts that He allows in my life because it only makes His grace more apparent.

Insecurities are a reminder. When I start to become proud in my accomplishments, my mind comes off of Him and onto me and there, focused on me, I will always struggle with being shy, with fearing rejection. Insecure feelings always bring me back to earth and remind me again that, mind set on me, I will find no true worth. Insecurities help me remember that.

Insecurities are a memorial, a memorial of me without Him. I struggle sometimes to share my insecurities, to fear that I will be rejected if only in someone’s mind. But because of that struggle, His grace shows through and I am found in beautiful grace. In the insecure moments, I have that memorial of life without grace and it reminds me to turn to Him to give thanks.

Insecurities are a connection, a connection to a world that wants desperately to find a place. I know those feelings. My shy moments give me a peek into the hearts of those around me who can’t see Truth. Those moments give me compassion because I understand those feelings of worthlessness. Yet, I have found worth in Christ, and I can testify to that. My insecurities connect me to a lost world that needs Jesus.

Insecurities are an invitation. And I am given this freedom: I can respond to them in fear and refuse the invitation, or I can respond to them in faith and receive it. Sometimes I am shy still. I choose the fear and I am swayed by opinions. But (Mt. 22:16) Jesus lived unswayed by opinions in my place. He fulfilled the perfect response to insecurities because I never could. He has given me grace in taking my identity of shy away forever with His own death, and allowing me to live the risen life with a new identity of righteous and victorious. It is faith in this grace that can guide me along to live in that truth. His wonderful grace has covered my imperfect response. He has given me grace for the insecurities, yet the insecurities, themselves, are an invitation to His grace.

It is in weakness that His power is made perfect, and marvelously, He uses the weakness of my insecurities to glorify Himself. His grace is sufficient for my weakness and I can boast in that. Because the Holy Spirit uses imperfect people and not only does He use them, He uses their imperfections. And if He uses imperfections then praise be! He has a lot to use in me.

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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.