Purposeful Faith

Tag - Joy

How to Make Stress Work For You

It all happened when I got stuck, sweating bullets in a parked car with a 3-year old who was certain my body was her gym mat. I was over the wait, but the countdown was ongoing. He was nowhere in sight.

My texts went unanswered.
40-minutes passed.
He knew I was parked.

I dialed him again.  Nothing.
Soon after, I saw his phone resting on the car mat.

I tapped my foot, frustrated.

Towing a 3-year old, we headed into the restaurant. We asked some people if they had seen a man with dark brown hair. The one with a boy? No. No. No.

My face reddened. My hand tightened. I pulled the girl out of irritation.

But, breaking the layers of heavy, and as if a messenger of God handed me a “Peace-note”, I remembered the recently-read words in “Sacred Stress.” They reminded me: There is an opportunity found in adversity…

The words said, “A Harvard University study found when participants reframed stressful events as a challenge instead of a threat, they felt energized and performed better.” Hmm…

Could I see this as a challenge rather than a threat that:
1.) Wastes my time?
2.) Ticks me off?
3.) Makes me worried?

The words said, ” Viewing stressful situations as healthy and an opportunity for growth usually eliminates the negative stress-related symptoms.”

What is coming against me, can actually work for me,
when reframed right.

The words said, I can create a positive outcome, a positive view and change the outcome, thereby escaping stress.

Situations don’t rule me, God does.

I can choose to see things from his good view;
it changes my poor view.

I can choose to see thigns from his good view; it changes my poor reactions.

Would this really work?

I tried:

“I have an opportunity to find and extend the grace of God.”
“God is calling me to lean on him. I will know Him better through this.”
“Maybe it will provide an awesome time for daddy to connect with son as they walk home. I can’t wait to hear.”
“I can show my kids we can beat the power of stress by not being stressed.”

I felt proud of my words, but still, troubled by anxiety.

The words said: “Name it.” This means giving an “honest accounting” of how you feel so you can get to the root emotion.

If you speak positive words but don’t let God tend to your bucking emotions,
you’ll still wildly flail out of control.

 

 

 

When we admit our feelings, see them for what they are, and let God hold them –
He does.

 

 

 

We land at peace.

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. 1 Pet. 5:7

Looking back, I didn’t handle this situation just right. I messed it up. But, guess what?

I have next time. God doesn’t shun me and say, “You are one and done.” Nope. He is the God of ample opportunities. He is the God of perpetual second chances. He is the God of unending learnings. He will help me at my next crossroad. He will instruct me on the way I should go. I feel a little nervous about this. I see the fear in me – the fear of failure.  God sees it too.  He can handle it. It is not too much.

He whispers, “My perfect love casts out fear.” 1 Jo. 4:18

In this moment, I know I found something. I have arrived somewhere.

It’s called “Sacred Stress”.

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About Sacred Stress: A Radically Different Approach to Using Life’s Challenges for Positive Change

Screen Shot 2016-08-16 at 6.10.41 AMStress can limit our perspective, leaving us feeling trapped and out of control. But stress can also be a force for good: It is our challenges that most compel us to reach out for relationship. And our proudest moments come after overcoming obstacles we thought were insurmountable.

Based on personal experience and their work as therapists, and drawing on decades of psychological research, George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, and The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright have come to see that stress can be healthy and positive. They equip us with the skills and the knowledge we need to reframe our thinking about stress, understand and embrace our darker emotions, and become stronger through difficulty. View on Amazon.

Learn more about Sacred Stress.

About the Authors

George R. Faller, MS, LMFT, a lieutenant in the New York City Fire Department for twenty years who participated in 9/11 rescue efforts, is a licensed marriage and family therapist, an American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy supervisor, and an Emotionally Focused certified therapist, supervisor and trainer. He is also the founder and president of the New York Center for Emotionally Focused Therapy and teaches at the Ackerman Institute in Manhattan.

The Rev. Dr. Heather Wright, an ordained Presbyterian minister, is a licensed professional counselor and executive director for a faith-based counseling center. She taught graduate-level counseling and pastoral theology and served as a board certified chaplain. She is the author of Redeeming Eve: Finding Hope beyond the Struggles of Life and Small Group Leadership as Spiritual Direction.

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Come Away With Me

Post by: Karina Allen

I’m a doer by nature. I’m always on the go. I’m a mover and a shaker. My schedule is full and my planner is happy. I like it that way. However, sometimes my body does not.

Like right now. I think my body hates me. I have been exhausted for the past several weeks. Summer, for me is just as busy as the rest of the year. I’ve had a few trips and the travel always wear me out.

So here I am. Pretty much every morning I have woken up tired, which makes for an incredibly long day.

So, what do I do about? If you are in the same place, what do you do about it?

I’ve been sensing that Lord wants His children to rest a bit more and strive a bit less.

The Lord knows what’s best.

“He makes me lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside quiet waters.
He restores my soul;” Psalm 23:2-3

I more than often think I know best. I tend be strong and independent. I push myself to the limit expecting not to crack. The last thing I want is to experience burnout. But that is where we are heading if we continue to move at a breakneck speed. It’s interesting how these verses in Psalm 23 say that He makes me lie down. God knows that we don’t want to stop. We don’t want to rest. We don’t and sometimes can’t be still. But that is when He does His best work.

Restoring comes out of resting.

God is the giver of rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light”. Matthew 11:28-30

Rest doesn’t have to be a fight for us. God intended for it to be a gift to us. He delights in giving us rest. We trade off our heaviness and weariness in exchange for His joy and ease. Problems don’t disappear. Hardships still exist but The Lord’s joy brings us strength. So the weight of our circumstances don’t crush us.

If you’re feeling weighed down and overwhelmed, do not lose heart.

Trust that God knows best.

Trust that He will give you His rest.

Trust that He delights in restoring your soul.

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Karina AllenKarina
is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.

Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”

Have Courage!

Have Courage!

I am delighted to welcome Deanna Fields. God has put a message on her heart that we all need to hear. Her words remind me to press into all that God has for me. Thank you Deanna for joining us for Ministry Monday.

Post by: Deanna Fields

In Disney’s newest Cinderella movie, there’s a scene where Ella’s dying mother shares a secret with her daughter, “Have courage.”  Ella’s mother knew it would be difficult for her to grow up without a mother and that she would need courage.  In the same manner, our Heavenly Father has been whispering this same secret to us throughout time.  Now if we’re honest, I think that most of us would confess that we struggle with fear…having no courage.  I know I have!

Many years ago I struggled with fear in many areas.  Our church had launched the first of many short-term mission trips.  It didn’t cross my mind that God would want me to be a part of one of those teams, but while talking with my husband he asked if I was planning to go and I said, “NO…but I haven’t really prayed about it.”

The instant I spoke those words, I felt the Holy Spirit impress upon me to pray.  The next day, I went to the prayer room and the whole time I was thinking “Lord, I really don’t feel like you’re calling me to this, but if you are please be specific with me.  Ireland…it’s really pretty there, and I love working with children.  Israel…hmmm, that’s kind of scary, but whatever you want Lord.”

Boy was I surprised when my Bible opened to Matthew 10:5-6, which basically says Do not go in the way of the gentiles, but rather go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”  Really God?

sand

Fear gripped me.  The next few weeks the Lord continued to send confirmation and I really couldn’t run from Him anymore.  So back to the prayer room with all my excuses.  “We don’t have the money…My kids are too young and I can’t be gone that long…I’m so busy with the ministry YOU gave me…I’m afraid to fly…It’s scary over in that part of the world!  Basically, I was begging God to change His mind.  Again I was blown away when my Bible landed on Luke 1:11-13, which basically says…

 “then an angel of the Lord appeared to him, and said
‘Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard….’”

God had heard my prayer.  He knew I was afraid and guess what…He still wanted me to go to Israel.  My husband and I didn’t understand why, but we knew we had to face our fears and walk in obedience.  Then something amazing happened!  With the help of the Holy Spirit, we stepped over that fear, and later released our family into 16 other short-term trips and two study abroad trips.  God dealt with that fear in us…but it was a battle for me!

We ALL must continually seek to be a people
who walk in the courage of God.

God wants to impart His courage to us.

How do I know this?

In 2 Thessalonians 2:16-17, Paul prays a blessing that says, “May our Lord Jesus Christ Himself and God our Father, who loved us and by His grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.”  

If you take a look at the focal point of these verses, which is the word encourage, you can find the intent of this prayer.  The actual meaning of the word in this instance is deeper than the meaning of comfort (which is what we think of when we hear the word encourage).  In this instance, this is like God giving us Himself, His Holy Spirit, so we can actually walk out courage in our lives.

Courage is a constant theme throughout scripture where the Lord continually encourages His people with phrases like “fear not” “have courage” and “do not be afraid.” We need a constant reminder that God is in control of our life, and we CAN do all things with Him and through Him!

What areas do you need courage to say yes to God? 

Don’t allow the enemy to intimidate you into doubt and fear.  You will miss experiencing the power of the Holy Spirit by trying to live a safe and comfortable life!

So today I’m planning to lead a women’s retreat to Cambodia next summer…and I’m excited!  This is a new adventure for me.  We are travelling to a place where the culture is extremely different from ours, and the treatment of women can be oppressive in many instances.  The harsh reality is that I won’t understand what these women have experienced or how they feel.  I really don’t have a clue of what’s in store, but I know that God has prepared the way.  So I can walk with courage, not fear, into this incredible opportunity.

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DeAnna Fields bio

bio picDeAnna Fields has been the Women’s Ministry Pastor at Beltway Park Church in Abilene, Texas for almost 16 years.  She loves women of all ages, and works to connect the generations at her church. She and her husband, Doug, have been married for 30 years, and are blessed with three daughters. DeAnna graduated from Texas Tech University in 1984 with a BBA Marketing degree, and is amazed that the Lord wastes nothing she learned in that environment to reach out to the women in her church and community.  It is her passion to encourage women of ALL ages to seek the Lord in every area of their life and understand that we serve a God of resurrection power and healing.

Do you Unknowingly Worship Perfection?

Pursuit of Ideal

First house: Smelled like urine.
Second house: Was painted orange and red.
Third house: Was on a super-highway.
Fourth house: Was a construction zone.
Fifth house: Felt like a cave.

Every house didn’t work, yet, every city before this one didn’t work either.

First city: Wasn’t business-centric enough.
Second city: Wasn’t pretty enough.
Third city: Wasn’t modern enough.
Fourth city: Wasn’t exciting enough.
Fifth city: Wasn’t clean enough.

I crashed on the couch, tears streaming. We had 3 more weeks left before kid had to go to kindergarten and, with an expiring lease, we were going to be homeless. In dark and non-impressive hotel room, I wondered if it wasn’t the fault of the city, or the houses, or the climates or the ice or the people? Who was to blame? I also, resistantly, wondered if the problem was much, much worse.

Was the problem – me?

Did I want to give up because God didn’t give me
every check-marks-the-box item on my list?

I stood up, staring at the city’s horrid heatwaves, the dirt, the grime and the lack of hot restaurants – from on high. I wanted something better than what was pretty good. Each place, there was a something that prohibited me from my everything.

pursuit of ideal

When you search for perfection like a flawless diamond,
you pretty much always walk away with nothing.

I turned my hands; I hold nothing.

Lately, I’ve been spinning my wheels, considering how to market a book I am desperately afraid of. The idea it won’t do well – blockbuster even – stops me in my tracks. It makes me nervous.

So I waste days. I hold nothing.

God puts someone on my heart. He gives me a gently nudge to gently love. I don’t want them to think poorly of me. I don’t want to seem overbearing. I don’t want to rub them wrong way. I get insecure I won’t handle it well, right even.

I turn away. I hold nothing.

What have you been subconsciously turning down because you figure there is no way it will:
1.) Be good enough?
2.) End up good enough?
3.) Make you look good enough?

When we seek ideal, we usually make idols out of desired results. 

We set up perfectly folded and lined items on our shelves and dictate they sit perfectly, yet if one should unfold – or look out of place – we get ruined. The image haunts us.

But the truth is, God has, nor never will be, a God of false images. He is a true God who calls on his children to have true faith. Abiding faith that knows things don’t always have to look well – to end well.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7

Do I believe this way? Do you?

What would happen if rather than sulking in self-pity,
we rose up in selfless-thanks for what God will do through a small seed of trust?

I haven’t done this, but I want to. I’m resolute I will.

Starting right now, in order to beat my inner-demands for perfection, I will start a new cycle:

  1. Pray
  2. Believe
  3. Wait (& act if prompted)
  4. Pray
  5. Believe
  6. Wait (& act if prompted)
  7. Give thanks – even if it’s no-man’s-land.
  8. Pray
  9. Believe
  10. Wait (& act if prompted)
  11. Give thanks – even if it still appears to be no-man’s land.

Lord, all my desire is before You; And my sighing is not hidden from You. Ps. 38:9

O LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will strengthen their heart, You will incline Your ear… Ps. 10:17

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Choose to Celebrate the Beauty

Celebrate the Beauty

Post By: Angela Parlin

He smiled from ear to ear, with a patch of fuzzy hair standing straight up on top of his five-year-old head. Big eyes twinkling, he grabbed my hand from behind the kitchen sink and led me out to the back deck.

“Stay RIGHT there, Mom. I gotta show you something you’re gonna LOVE!”

He descended the stairs, filling the air with his mile-wide smile.

I stood there spilling tears under the sky on a windy Friday afternoon, because some days, I start to understand. These are the days of my life, and they aren’t always easy. I often don’t want them to play out the way they do.

But these off-schedule, messy, monotonous days are always full of beauty—and God gives us the opportunity to choose to see it.

Will we choose to celebrate the beauty found in our own right here, right now?

Sometimes I realize how much I miss. I don’t always enjoy the little gifts in my life, because I’m focused on my to-do lists. Or I’m honed in on my plans and the way they should go. Or I’m fixated on some disappointment. I need these stop-everything moments. I need this reminder–to celebrate the little things.

He climbed up on the green swing seat and asked me if I was ready. He asked if I was watching.

“Go ahead, honey. I’m watching. I’m ready!”

Then my last little tiny, who’s growing way too fast, started pumping his legs back and forth, keeping his eyes on me. I cheered, like he’d crossed the finish line of his first marathon.

And I cried. Because he’s adorable and he’s smart and he’s taller now and his feet can reach and when did I miss him working on the swing?

So many times, I’d pushed him back and forth in that spot, encouraging him to pump his little legs, so that when I walked away, he could keep on swinging. So many times, he just didn’t even want to. He wanted me to push him instead.

Not this day. This day he felt the thrill of figuring it out on his own, of kicking up dirt and swinging high into the air. All by his big self.

So I stood there swinging between pride and joy, but also fear and loss.

I know I’m going to miss these days, and I don’t like that feeling. To fix it, I want to try to be present for every ordinary sliver of daily life with each of my kids. I want to save them all up and hold them in my heart forever.

Of course, every is impossible. Right? We’re only human, and we will miss things. We can make an effort to be present with our people, but there will still be limitations.

One day, we will miss this–and there’s nothing we can do to change that.

What comes next will also be sweet. But it will be different. So today? Let’s love the opportunities God gives us. Let’s ask Him to fill our hearts with wisdom, as the psalmist prayed.

Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12, NIV

While lost in thoughts about seeing beauty and living fully and all that is to come in our lives, my little man asked a question I’ll never forget.

“Isn’t it FUN to watch me swing, Mom?”

Oh, buddy. You have no idea. I LOVE to watch you swing.

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Angela Parlin

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

5 Ways to Deal with Self-Seekers

self-seekers

She threw out the eloquent answer before I could even breathe a letter. This girl pre-empted my open mouth with just the right juicy tidbit. It moved like a hot juicy bone in front of a dog. Except, this dog was my boss. He bit and savored it all – bite by bite.

I squinted. She knew what she was doing…she was trying to one-up me –  again. She always did. She had a bag full of treats.

She went to the boss’ office first thing in the morning with coffee.
She walked the halls to talk to the “important” people.
She sent emails that carbon copied the whole world and their bosses bosses.
She sat down in the chair right next to me, without even saying hi.
She rose her shoulders and typed away…

You know the type:

One who will do anything to get in with the right people.
One who keeps a count on who matters and who doesn’t.
One who doesn’t like you so much for you, but what you can do.
One who will step on your face to reach a little bit higher…

A Self-seeker.

What do you do with those types?

Jesus encountered them too.

Judas. (Luke 22)
Self-seeker.
Cash was king. Jesus was his disposable means to obtain it.

Pilate. (Luke 23:13-23)
Self-seeker.
He chose popular acclaim, so as not to have to endure public disdain.

The thing about self-seekers is, many times, they think their maneuvers are sly and under the radar, but they aren’t. They are as obvious as day and as dubious as night. They really get to me.

I could go on and on about them…but, some wise person, whose face and name I can’t remember, once told me, “If something really irks you about someone else, it is probably because that something is you.”

Am I a self-seeker?

This thought horrifies me. I can’t be like – them. Can I?

Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? Mt. 7:3

My own critical eye boomerangs.

I say, “It’s them.”
God says, “No, Kelly, it’s you.”

I say, “It’s them.
God says, “No, Kelly, it’s you.”

God, even more says: “It is you, my darling, and I don’t tell you this because I want to punish you, but because I want to redeem you.

(The gates of my heart open…)

I tell you this, Kelly, because when you are so set on looking at them, you miss me and you miss how I call you to love. You get bent out of shape instead of molding to my shape. You get protective instead of proactively offering out my best. You head off the rails of mercy and grace.

Be unconcerned with them.
Be uncontrollably infatuated with me.
What is holy.
Blameless.
Righteous.

Over here!

Do you see me?

Your shape will take shape as you do this.
Even if they diss you, I never will.

Even more, Kelly, the opportunity is never found in what you do; the opportunity is me. Plain and simple – I am the ropes set over that impassable river. I am the rubble changed into a road. I am a flicker of light in your darkness. 

Don’t look left, don’t look right, don’t judge others, don’t fight to be heard, don’t act out to be seen, don’t fear, don’t worry…I AM the I AM.”

And so it is settled.

Starting today, I will:
1. Thank God for them.
2. Ask God for eyes to see from their perspective.
3. Give graciously to them.
4. Keep my focus on the wrongs within my own heart.
5. Pray that God fills both their heart – and mine – with security and assurance in him.

And, finally, I will turn to God and say, “I am sorry.”

Forgive me for the ways I have tried to get ahead.
Forgive me for my judgement of others.
Help me love those who I am prone to pick apart.
Help me sacrifice as you have, with no strings attached.

Amen.

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I’ve Unknowingly Sidestepped Christ’s Love (You Could be Too)

to Be Loved

I stood in front of the mirror, deciding I looked great. You women know how those body slimming mirrors work in dimly lit dressing rooms…you’re all ten pounds lighter and skin tones more brilliant. Then you get home.

I pulled the white dress out of the bag. The zipper wouldn’t move. It was getting stuck somewhere between fat and fabric.

My face sank. Yank! Soon enough, I looked like a beet.

Things were tightening in around me; I called in the troops. Husband wasn’t strong enough.

I pressed him to press on.

“We don’t give up on these types of things, I assured him. This is far too important to call it quits.”

He didn’t quit. He’s not that type. It zipped.

And as everything pulled together, I looked in my mirror, to see if it could possibly be as good as I remembered.

Wait, what is that? Those little dots?

Somehow, what resembled spattered pizza grease made my brand new white dress look tainted. I shrugged and figured hair could cover it well enough. I left for church, stained. Toddler son caught a glimpse, sealing the whole experience, and asked, “Mommy, are you getting married today? Is that your wedding dress?”

Ahem. No.

Mike Archer (6)

Beloved at Church

My hair was doing its job. My mouth was singing praises. Things were alright, especially since I wasn’t expecting much on this off-to-a-rocky-start day. God has other thoughts – thoughts unlike mine. Ones that work despite half-kept appearances, plummeting feelings and flawed days.

He whispered, “Kelly, you are my bride.” 

I wanted to laugh. Argue even. I hardly was… Didn’t God see what I was wearing?

I sat. Pastor got up. He was going to be talking about women’s roles in the church. I held onto my seat. This kind of message can go anywhere; I wasn’t sure where we were headed.

Pastor Mark Henry said:

1. Husband is to love me like “Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her.” Eph. 5:25 (Tall order there!!!)

2. I am to “honor husband and lovingly respond to his leadership and care.” (Vente latte order here!!!)

3. This is a picture of intimate love. It is also is a picture of Jesus relating to Father God.Mike Archer (8)

Something rocked me, the bride. I thought, “Yes. Just think, we gawk, ooh and ahh over that one moment. The moment Jesus requested, relied and relinquished his rights, by saying: ‘Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.’ (Luke 22:42)

Jesus trusted Father.
And, Jesus followed Father, no matter the cost.

Through this, we see a unified and magnified triune. 

We see, as onlookers, the presence of all peace move in tandem with God’s intended purpose.
It saves. Testifies. Redeems.

Do I let it work on my behalf?

The thought occurs to me: to feel like the bride of Christ, I must humbly accept the blessings that correspond with lowliness and selflessness. 

The Aisle of Clarity

I must allow in, what the world and my controlling personality stifle.

I must let my husband love me by leading me, not because he will do it perfectly, but because God will love me perfectly – as I do it.

I must give Christ the chance to make my stained dress white, clean and sparkling. He often does this through man.

I must receive what is love, even if it looks different than my rigid definitions of it.

I must avoid rushing in, questioning paths and offering advice to my husband so that space and grace can make room for Jesus Christ to walk in and love me.

I must avoid blocking love so I don’t feel like a dirty and deserted bride on her wedding day.

This won’t be easy, but it will be easier when I remember:

I am beloved.
I am cared for.
I am adored.

All man is faulted.
God is not.
His love works past man’s worst or best efforts. Mike Archer (7)

Will I give – faith in God’s plan – a chance to work for me? Will you?

To bend so low that only a knight in shining God could rescue in the gap of defenselessness***?

What might it look like for you to run into God’s arms of refuge – to find yourself loved – as bride?

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***Side note: This type of humble bowing is not done in a way where, we women, justify slaps or abuse. It is also not intended to tell us to go against the Word of God in blatant disregard. If, however, you find yourself in this place, you are not alone. You have a liberator and a door. He will help you. He will love you with compassion and gentle leading. Please consider wise counsel. Contact your church or a therapist for help. My prayers and heart are with you. Please remember, you are no less bride than I am. May your wise steps lead you to feeling this in your heart as you proceed forward. 

When Someone Is Better Than You

When Someone Is Better Than You

I have this thing that I promise myself, “If I keep my eyes on God, I won’t end up far from God.”

This is actually a battle mottto, because no less than 100 times a day, I have to fight to keep the forces of my mind moving in tandem with it. 

Kids go haywire. Battle.
Someone speaking things that threaten me. Battle.
Anxiety creeping in. Battle.
Girl disses me. Battle.

One thing, I always promise myself not to do, is to look at other people’s journeys and compare them to mine. I know this is the equivalent of shooting yourself in the foot. Suddenly you can’t get anywhere.

The blessing you believe is yours turns black, tainted. The progress you felt you were making looks like lint. The value that God places on you resembles a jail jumpsuit, lettered: CAPTIVITY.

someone is better than you

Comparing is the quickest way to go about killing spiritual progress. It really is.

Suddenly, you believe you are:
A. Never going to get anywhere.
B. Never, ever, going to be as good as that other girl.
C. Going to fail, so you might as well pack it all up now.

Comparing is a kid on Christmas who only sees the one toy he didn’t get and sissy did. It is his red scrunched up face that glares at  – he misses the 19 others wrapped goodies intended to bring joy.

Maybe you are like me saying, “Whoops! That is me. What do I do now, God?  “

Friends, I want to offer you a solution here, but let me tell you, I’ve never been that good at giving myself the benefit of the grace (my inclination is to give myself a smack on the face).

I had a friend who knew how to love herself with grace. She got shunned by a boy, she said, “Oh, he is busy.” She had a teacher be rude to her, she said, “Oh, she’s having a hard day.” Me? No. He hates me and she is about to fail me.

Thinking of this friend, though, it inspires me. She lets love – love her.

When it comes to comparing, I am not unliked by God, nor deemed the bad child, but am the selected child. Hand-selected to impact the world in my own way. Hand-selected to dwell in his love.  Hand-selected to minister to my family around me.

When Someone Is Better Than You

He is paving a way for me; that only I can walk through.

He is doing the same for you.

Just opening that small door of grace, let’s new ideas walk in:

People can succeed and I can too.
God has enough to go around.
Every woman’s journey is different but equally as important in God’s eyes.
God cares far more about big faith than he does about big progress.
What is good for her, can be good in me too, as I applaud her.
No one has the power to subtract joy from me unless I let them.
God’s singular mission carved out for me – is mission critical in his eyes.
I am always approved, no matter how much my feelings may disapprove my work.
I am not the sum of accomplishments, I am a testament Christ’s love.

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3 Tools for Bloggers

1.  Is there an online resource that blew you away with social media and marketing tips? Link it up to this resource- The Best Social Media Tips of 2016. Let’s create a one-stop-shop of all things social media to help us all move forward. It should end up being a treasure trove of info to help us all market better.

2.  Have you found any great writing tips online?  Linkup on the page – the Best Writing Tips of 2016.  Let’s all help one another hone our craft.

3. Join the Cheerleaders for Christ Facebook page for continual writing encouragement.

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You’re Worth It

Post by Christy Mobley

She slipped me the invitation under the table so as to not disturb the meeting going on and whispered, “Are you going?”

I read the first few lines and felt the sting. I whispered back, “I wasn’t invited.”

Obviously embarrassed, my friend said, “I’m sorry.”

And with those two words, I suddenly felt less than.

Kate was flipping through her Facebook feed and saw a group of her friends, all smiles, out to dinner. Friends she normally hangs out with. Their comments below the picture were all about the fine food and good company.

Kate was a little bewildered but even more hurt. She thought, Why wasn’t I invited?

Angela had her girlfriends over for their regular prayer meeting, but all three of them said they had to leave early. They had another obligation. She didn’t think much about it and when they left she gathered up her kids to go the local coffee shop. When she arrived, there they were, her prayer group gals, sipping their lattes and laughing with another mutual friend.

Awkward moment.

Angela thought, I wonder why I was left out?

If you’re breathing, I’m sure like me, it’s happened to you sometime in your life—all your friends are off to a happening you didn’t know about, that is, until an innocent one shows you the invitation, or you walk in where you’re not expected, or people forget you’re also part of Facebook.

And you feel crushed. You feel less than. You feel discouraged.

When we’re uninvited though we may never find out the why, I can tell you it’s not because we’re unimportant, lack value, or are less than.

Why should we let our worth be tied up in somebody else’s agenda? Especially when we don’t know their heart and we don’t know the motives behind their actions. I assure you I know being left out is a humbling experience.

And whereas humility is good and keeps us looking upward, discouragement is defeating and keeps us looking inward.

So how do we keep our perspective right when we’re feeling dejected?

We align our perspective with God’s truth.

His Word says we are worthy.

We are made in the very image of God (Genesis 1:26-27).
We are fearfully and wonderfully made ( Psalm 139:13-16).
We are Gods’ own possession chosen for his glory (Ephesians 1:13-14)

The King of Kings and Lord of Lords wants us to dine at His table
and that’s the only invitation we need.

Yes, people will indeed disappoint us, hurt us, overlook us, fail us, and slap us to the ground…

Unintentionally and sometimes on purpose.

But we have a God who never rejects us, overlooks us, or fails us.

Quite the contrary. Our God revives us, pursues us, restores us, and comforts us and never ever stops loving us.

Friends will hurt us and feelings are fickle. But the facts are simple.

God is faithful.

Always.

So just remember when you’ve been slipped that invitation under the table that doesn’t have your name on it, your name is written in a far better place—on the scarred palms of our Savior’s hands.

And He says you are WORTH it.

“See I have engraved you on the palms of my hands…” Isaiah 49:16 NIV

Looking forward, pressing on, seeking God,

Christy

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Christy is a wife, mother, mother-in-law, mentor, speaker, and Life Purpose Coach. She’s also a girly girl who chases tennis balls for Purposeful Faith Contributorrecreation and hunts for sharks teeth on the beach. But her greatest passion is to encourage women to move forward and press on, seeking God in the midst of life’s struggles.

You can find Christy at Joying in the Journey, Twitter, and Facebook.

10 Ways God Loves You More Than You Know

God Loves You

We sat on those stairs – five siblings, with a serious itch to take-off. Our high-pitched anxious voices said it all, we wanted to move into the living room like energetic bulls on parade. You see, what laid on the other side of the hall wall was what dreams were made of. On the other side of that wall wait perfectly wrapped, beautifully adorned – Christmas gifts and the power of Jesus unleashed.

Joy. Love. Peace. Smiles. Laughs. Cheers. It was all there and we could all – nearly taste it.

Our parents always made us wait, though. Wait for the pictures to be taken. Wait for coffee to percolate. Wait to hear the Christmas story. Wait to make sure everyone had good “picture-clothes” on.

Sometimes, the wait is agonizing.

Some days, I feel like I live on those stairs again and again. It’s like I know joy is on the other side of a wall, but I just can’t get there. I have to wait. I have to wait for life to happen. I have to wait for others to improve. I have to wait to be more Christ-like. I have to wait for my prayers to be answered.

Truth is, I want to bust into the fullness of God. I want to cross-over to the complete joy of Jesus, as if I am experiencing the joy of Christmas every single day. I don’t want to wait; I want God’s peace, life and grace to surround me. I want to enter his gates with thanksgiving in a powerful way. I want to run into each day, expecting to unwrap God’s glory.

Why do I have to wait?

As I consider this question, I also consider the fact Jesus never said, “Joy to the World only on Christmas” nor did he say, “My peace I leave you – only on good days.”

God speaks goodness over me. To me, I imagine it sounding like:

“She is full equipped with my joy.”

“Through the abundance of my love,
she can walk everyday in peace.”

“My love endures.”

And, somehow, I feel like dropping everything and running to open the riches of God’s Word – one by one. I want to see what else, what other encouragement God speaks over my heart. Here’s what I uncover:

1. God’s affection lasts for me – forever. He is always good. (Psalm 100:5)

2. His love, uncontaminated and unblemished, knocks fear down. (1 Jo. 4:18)

3. He adores me. I am his loved daughter (1 Jo. 3:1)

4. He doesn’t love only sometimes, a little, on occasion, randomly, now and then, no. He loves lavishly. (1 Jo. 3:1)

5. He sees my pain, my suffering, my injury. He essentially says, “Those ones, I love them so much, I will die for them.” (Ro. 5:8)

6. God nearly cries with our cries. He understands our turmoil. (1 Jo. 4:9)

7. He gives us, Christians, the right to eat from the tree of life, in paradise. (Rev. 2:7)

8. He chooses me, not because I am great, but because he is good. He has good plans to use me for his glory. (1 Pet. 2:9)

9. He won’t let anyone, no way, no how, snatch us out of his hand. We are his and he wants us. (Jo. 10:28)

10. He takes us and makes us more than ourselves, making us more and more holy, until we look a whole lot like him. (Jo. 10:28)

And, what my heart runs, straight into, is the idea – God is wonderful. He is my greatest gift. I can open up a part of him everyday. And, somehow, with this, it seems like I am experiencing Christmas all over again.

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