The Struggles of Life and the Real Enemy

Reading through Priscilla Shirer’s Fervent and this was all so needed this week. Because I’m tempted to blame hormones, or my season of life with babies, to blame sleepiness – my circumstances, and I miss what’s really happening.

When you can’t seem to respond to spiritual stimuli with the same optimism and obedience as you once did why do you think it could only be attributable to your bad character? To a drop in your hormone levels? To the normal deterioration that comes from age and accumulated adversity?

Maybe another less noticeable but equally probable reason is that you’ve been a victim of satanic sabotage. It’s a strategy. Against you. On purpose. An assault launched with pinpoint planning and detail…

Satan is a full-time accuser… Instead of convicting you for the purpose of restoration, as God’s Spirit does, he condemns you for the purpose of destroying, humiliating… Condemnation always leads to guilt-laden discouragement… [Condemnation] makes you focus on yourself; [conviction] points you to the grace and empowering mercy of Christ.

When I’m tempted to blame hormones, when I’m tempted to look at how poorly I’ve handled my responsibilities today, and feel sorry for myself and look to those things as the reasons for my discouragement, may I let that be a red flag to me that I’m letting the liar pour his lies into my soul. He is the one telling me I’m not good enough when the Father has told me that as His child I am the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. (2 Cor. 5:21)

Hormone shifts may be present. Nights may be sleepless. But the struggles in that are a distraction the enemy uses. He is the one pointing me to everything but Himself so I won’t recognize him for the condemning liar he is.

God give us grace to rebuke the lies poured upon us and take hold so eagerly to the abundance of truth You have given us to claim. Give grace to us to hold the Sword of the Spirit ready to fight off the lies thrown in our face today. (Eph. 6:17)

This is Day 28 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.

Constant Repentance

I try to hold onto time to feel good about me… and I do it all the wrong way and I end up feeling bad about me. Do you ever live there?

I like to think about God’s grace, but sometimes I go beyond thinking about Him as graceful. Let me explain.

This is the Revelation letter to the church of Sardis that we studied in Bible study this week:

“And to the angel of the church in Sardis write: ‘The words of him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars. “‘I know your works. You have the reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up, and strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have not found your works complete in the sight of my God. Remember, then, what you received and heard. Keep it, and repent. If you will not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what hour I will come against you.”

My God loves me so much that He will not tolerate my sin. He loves me so much that He asks me to repent, that He’s always open to my repentance.

The speaker’s words were convicting today. Constant repentance, she said. I want to live thinking that I don’t have anything to repent of right now, that, sure I’ve repented of things in my past, that I repent of things when things come up. I don’t want to think that I need to do it all the time. I want to hold on to time to feel good about me... and I forget that avoiding repentance will never allow me to feel good about me. When I live willing, eager, to bring my sin to Him, I have freedom to feel good about who I am in Him. (Phil. 3:9) “Put off your pride and insecurity and repent,” she said. Pride and insecurity? Are those really things that exist together? Maybe its true that it takes putting off both of those things in order to accept the fact that I need repentance. Grace. It calls me not to pride or to insecurity, but to confidence in the privilege His risen life gives me: to come to His throne constantly asking for the repentance I need.

May we live our lives putting off our insecurities to bring our sin into His presence. May we bring our pride to Him too and may our sin be so repulsive to us that we cannot delay repenting. Because if we really want to find joy in who we are, we can put off the pride and find ourselves in Jesus. May we repent with confidence in the grace and forgiveness of my God. 

Day 20 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.

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.

When you feel like a sorry excuse for a person meant to bear God’s image

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I walk by this bush often on my walks with the girls. And I like it. Because the more I’ve seen it, the more I realize how much it shows me the way I often feel. I took this pic right after the rain so it was looking a bit more peppy that day, but it’s a scraggly bush, trying to hold out some bit of beauty for the world. Do you ever feel that way?
We are each gifted to release the beauty of God’s Love in our own way, and as we strive to allow that Love to come out, sometimes we may feel a bit exposed, because… Because others may not understand, others may misinterpret our motives, and because sometimes our own imperfection comes out too. Sometimes we see our imperfections and doubt whether we can give a beauty worth releasing.

It may feel that we stand as a sorry picture of the God whose image we were made to bear. And when we feel that way it can be tempting to shrink back, to stay away from the risky things that might expose us. But bearing that image is what we were made to do… it’s where we find our purpose.
The beauty is that we’re found in Jesus, and while we may feel like a scraggly bush at times, we can use those feelings as a path on which to press deeper into truth. Because the truth is that if we’re saved, if we’re found in Jesus, we’re not scraggly. Jesus who lived this life in our place and gifted His life for us, He let the beauty come out in full bloom. Jesus didn’t second guess Himself when He forgave the adultress, or when He rebuked the Pharisees, or when He publicly reached out to a man perched up in a tree. That is the life He gifted to us with His risen life. The scraggly us died on the tree because that is what He became when He died there. And He rose to give us His full bloom life.

Dear Christian, you are found in Him, and though you may feel it sometimes, you are not a sorry image bearer because your imperfect life is covered with His life. Even your imperfections are cracks through which His light will shine.
I heard the story from the pulpit Sunday. The lighthouse operator, he tried to save the oil to help his cities oil shortage, and darkened the light. But those in the water were lost without it, and he was told the words, ‘You were given oil for the purpose that the light would shine.’
There is beauty in the thought:

“We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.” (Marianne Williamson- The Return to Love)

Dear me and you, dear one whose found in Him, It’s hard to shine a light when you know your imperfect, but know this: You weren’t meant to be the light. You are chosen for the sacred call of being the vessel that the light shines through. Your vessel has cracks, but your vessel is in Him, covered with His life. And when the light comes out through the unique vessel that you make in Him, it is a beautiful story that comes to us only through you. We need you.

 

I thank you for coming here today and I’d like to invite you to Kate’s page for the beloved Five-minute Friday. Blessings!

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 your imperfections come calling…

Celebrate!

This is my letter to you, because it’s the letter I need to read, and I thought you might could use it too.

Dear brother, sister,

In the days when you pillow your head (and… here it all comes) when you self-criticize and doubt, see the cause to celebrate… YOU ARE FOUND!!! (Phil 3:8-9)

When you question your own motives and see all the flaws in your own self, listen for the celebration He speaks over you… All of this does not define YOU!

When it’s all you can do to find a place down inside from which to smile from, when taking another step feels impossible, awaken your senses to the deep down joy that cannot see defeat.

Because when you reach deep down you can feel it. There is a cause for celebration no matter where you are. Because no matter what the people out there, or that voice in your head tell you, no matter the failures the enemy threatens you with, that is not who YOU are.

You are a cause for the world to celebrate. Because in this whole messy world there is but one place real Love can be found. And YOU, you were created to be a window, a window through which sunbeams of His Love pour through and show all of us joy in a way we cannot see it anywhere else. Love was meant to pour uniquely in you through your imperfections.

Listen for the voice of celebration that sings deep down within you. The One who owns that voice, He is the defining One. Because after all, in all the story of discovering who you are, the answer really is that the definition of YOU is HIM! You were made to show us this special piece of Him. Take heart and find the joy in this! …I need you, we all need you to celebrate who YOU are and Live!

Five-minute Friday is writing on the glorious word celebrate today! So hop over to Kate’s site and find more cause to celebrate. :)
I’m learning that one of the reasons I write is because I need reminders of my reason for celebration and that I need to celebrate them with other people. Celebrate with me? Would you allow me to send a monthly celebration letter to your inbox? Sign up to the left. I would be thrilled to celebrate with you this way.
Big thank you to my husband, Luiz today for designing a logo for my blog, and working with me to freshen it up when I never even asked you too. I feel so loved by you. :)

 

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.

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.