“I NEED you to like you”

For the greater part of this year, I found myself in this rut and a place of being overwhelmed with just life. I’m married, I work full time, I have three kids, a lot of responsibilities inside and outside the home, and I was becoming overwhelmed with it all. There would be weeks that would go by and I wasn’t able to keep my house as clean as I wanted it, or weeks would go by and the laundry was completely out of control. Sometimes I would forget to meal prep for my family of five for the week, much less actually get to the grocery store to get the food needed to meal prep with. I was unhappy with the way I looked after having my third baby. All these things kept festering and it overwhelmed and frustrated me. During that time, I did  what I knew to do which was attempt to make small changes here and there to improve these situations, try to get more organized, but also I was getting into the Word to speak some confidence over myself and to remind myself how much he loved me and equipped me during those times. But if I’m allowed to be totally honest and transparent, despite doing those things, I was remaining IN THAT RUT. Can you relate?

 

One morning I was in my closet where my vanity sits and I was sitting there getting my makeup ready for church, but the whole time I sat there I was super annoyed and began having an actual conversation in my head. Ever do that? Across the vanity area sat two very full and overflowing laundry baskets. I was annoyed and said to myself, “I can’t believe you have been off of work these last two days and you still haven’t found any time to get to that laundry. What a loser!” This is where I’m so thankful for relationship! God spoke to me immediately, almost cutting me off, and very seriously said “I NEED YOU TO LIKE YOU.” I sat there for a second thinking huh???? Then finally I said, “Oookkkkkaayyy” and went on about my business with getting ready. I knew at some point I’d come back to that comment He made, but now wasn’t the time. A few days later my Pastor called and began informing me of our church’s very first Women’s Event called The Exchange along with heart and vision behind it. When she told me that the theme of the conference was “This is Me…Learning to Love Myself,” I laughed and knew this was going right along with what God had told me just a few days prior about liking myself. So I hung up the phone and said “Ok God, I’m ready. I’m ready for you to show me just what you meant the other day when you said ‘I need you to like you.’”

 

After diving in and praying, the Lord very quickly downloaded to me over the next 48 hours four practical things for me to do to help me get to the place of actually liking myself.

 

The first thing was Invest in Yourself. He reminded me of how back in February of this year, I had made a fitness commitment to better my health and to get rid of all my baby weight. I had put on an obscene amount of weight with my third daughter and at 40 years old, it just wasn’t melting away like it had in the past. I committed to bettering my body and my food choices and now I am starting to feel completely amazing. I’m not back down to goal, but because of this investment in myself, I’m getting closer and closer as the days pass. I’m not sure what investing in yourself may look like. It may be a health or lifestyle choice. It may be getting rid of soft drinks and exchanging it with water. Perhaps investing in your skin. It may be committing to walk around the neighborhood before work or after work for 30 minutes. Maybe it’s something as simple as setting time aside to read a good book, just you, no interruptions. I really don’t know how it looks for you. But what I have learned through what God was showing me is that it’s important to Him that we commit to doing something that is an investment in ourselves. So be thinking, what could that look like for you?

 

The second thing He gave me was to ask Him what is it that He likes about you? God said to me, “You’ve never asked Me what I like about you.” I giggled and asked, “Ok, what do You like about me?” He immediately responded and His answer totally cracked me up. There’s something I have never shared with anyone…ever, but I absolutely cannot stand the way I talk. I don’t like to hear myself talk, I don’t want to hear myself recorded. I don’t like how I pronounce certain words. I don’t like how sometimes I’ll be talking fast and my words just get all jumbled up in my brain and I have to stop midsentence and start over. I hate the way my mouth moves when I talk. It’s almost crooked, like my upper jaw is going one way and my lower jaw goes the other and my lips will purse out. I hate it, absolutely hate it and it frustrates me to no end. When I asked God what He liked about me, He immediately gave me an answer and, I kid you not, He was smiling while saying it. He said, “I like the way you talk!” Totally cracked me up. So do it; dare to ask God what it is He likes about you. You might be super surprised at His answer. His answer for me has just helped me to embrace the way I talk, not to worry about it, and use it for His glory.

 

The third thing He asked me to do was to begin journaling something once a day that I did right that day. Sounds silly, but I did just that. I found a journal at home that I hadn’t opened yet and I put it on my nightstand by my bed. Each night before going to sleep, I’d open that journal and write something in it. Now honestly, the first two or three weeks I started doing this, I would stare at those pages for several minutes before anything would actually come to mind that I did good that day. It’s sad when you think about it. But after a few weeks passed, it got easier and easier to write things down and sometimes there were days where I’d have two or three. God has been showing me visibly through this exercise “HEY! SEE! LOOK AT YOU!!! You’re doing a good job!!!”

 

The fourth thing is getting intentional about spending every single day with Jesus. This may seem like a no brainer for some, but I’m not talking about the time you spend with him over your five minute daily devotional book, or the daily scripture you read from your tear off devotional that sits on your kitchen counter. I’m talking about time where you sit down and actually communicate with Him, go through the Word together, and listen for Him to speak into your circumstance. Real intimate one-on-one time with your Creator! How can we ever really begin to like ourselves, or love ourselves, if we don’t have a relationship with the One who created us? YOU ARE GOD’S MASTERPIECE, HE SOVERIGNLY CREATED EVERY SINGLE PART OF YOU. Psalm 139:17-18 (NIV) says, “How precious to me are your thoughts, God! How vast is the sum of them! Were I to count them, they would outnumber the grains of sand…” How vast is the sum of them! Or how immeasurable! How expansive! How colossal! How king-sized are your thoughts! Psalm 40:5 says, “Many, O Lord my God, are the wonderful works which You have done, and Your thoughts toward us.” When you dive in and have purposeful relationship, you begin to discover what He has to say about you, what His thoughts are about you, His will for you, and how to handle all your circumstances. The only reason I was ever able to hear from the Lord concerning my circumstance I mentioned earlier about being overwhelmed and frustrated, is because I spent time with Him. John 10:27 says, “My sheep listen to my voice and I know them.” Isaiah 45:19 says, “I would not have told the people of Israel to seek me if I couldn’t be found!” He desires to have relationship with you! Be intentional about spending time with Jesus and developing that relationship.

 

The fifth and final thing I wanted to share came a little after the Lord had downloaded those prior four instructions I just listed, but nonetheless, I believe this part is equally as important on our journey to liking and loving ourselves. Some of us need to change our perspective on how we see God. You see, growing up, I was not raised by my biological father. He and my mom divorced when I was a little girl and I didn’t grow up with any type of relationship with him. In fact, I have some not-so-nice memories of him. He was a very heavy drug user and not a nice man. Growing up that was hard because I was basically mourning that father-daughter relationship. I would envy my friends who had amazing relationships with their dads and, even as an adult, I would do this. When I rededicated my life to Jesus several years ago, the Lord completely set me free of this. I began to experience what a true Father’s love felt like. There actually was a time where I have felt Him squeeze me tight in certain moments. I’m sure all of you can agree with me that growing up as a kid or teenager, when you do something really stupid, you just dread having to tell your parents. Personally for me, I could take whatever punishment they saw fit for whatever stupid thing I had done, but what I couldn’t take was that look of disappointment that they inevitably got on their faces. It was the worst. I knew my mom and stepdad loved me, but that look of disappointment from them was just too much.

 

Somehow this same image had transferred over into my relationship with God. Those moments I was referring to earlier where I was constantly failing at housework, meal planning, or laundry, even though I know He loves me, I always felt like He was looking at me with a little disappointment on His face too. A small part of me always felt like He was also just as disappointed in me as I was. Anytime I messed up, said the wrong thing, engaged in the wrong conversation, etc., even though I knew God loved me and forgave me, I still felt like I could see Him looking at me with disappointment.

 

If I’m honest, I wasn’t even aware that I was doing it until He showed me. I came home from work one evening recently just like I would any other evening. I work really long hours so typically I leave my house at 6:15 a.m. and return back at 8:15 p.m. No one is awake when I leave in the morning so when I finally do get home, it’s the first time anyone has seen me. If you have kids, I’m sure you can relate, but when I walk in the door, my girls come running, excited to see me, yelling, Mommy, Mommy, Mommy.” I walked in the door like I always do and immediately dropped to the ground so that I was on their level and held my arms stretched wide. They jumped into my arms, one on each side, and I just sat there and squeezed them as hard as I could, smiling because I, too, was so happy to see them. God spoke to me right then in the sweetest, softest voice. He said, “THIS is how I see you.” My eyes filled tears. I just sat there and squeezed my girls a little tighter. You see, He was never looking at me with disappointment. He was never looking down on me. My image was all wrong. He’s been looking at me this whole time with arms wide open, a smile on His face, ready to receive me and love on me. In those moments when I’m frustrated with myself, feel like I’m doing a horrible job, can’t keep up, or I’m just totally overwhelmed, He’s waiting there for me, to accept me and love me unconditionally.

I came across the sweetest scriptures during this time:

Jeremiah 31:3 (NIV) says, “The Lord appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” He loves us with an eternal, never ending, and perpetual, unrelenting, unbroken kind of love.

Zechariah 2:8 (NKJV) says, “For thus says the Lord of hosts: ‘He sent Me after glory, to the nations which plunder you; for he who touches you touches the apple of His eye.’” You are the apple of His eye!

And Isaiah 43:1-4 (MSG) says, “But now, God’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, the One who got you started: ‘Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end—because I am God, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you!’”

No matter how much you feel like you are failing, no matter if you feel like you are drowning at times,  no matter if you are super frustrated with yourself and feeling overwhelmed; remember how much God loves you in those moments. Remember Him standing there with arms wide open. You are loved!

My Favorite Birth Story

Christmas is officially here! I’m not sure where you exactly stand when it comes to this time of year, but I can assure you, this girl is all in. Give me all the food and goodies and traditions!

It’s been a while since my last post and I’d like to make a quick disclaimer concerning that. When the Lord laid this blog upon my heart, He was super specific about it. I don’t post weekly, or biweekly, or even monthly for that matter. I post when the Lord lays something so ginormous and obvious on my heart that I can’t wait to grab my laptop and get to typing. Now, let me please say, for any of my ministry friends who also share some sort of blogging (or vlogging for that matter) in any sort of scheduled manner, this is not to take away from you. The Lord speaks specifically to us all if we are willing to listen.

Christmas is just one day away. All the lights! All the decorations! The music! The traditions! Goodness, I’m a sucker for traditions. I love more than anything now implementing new traditions with my three girls, which include baking and decorating sugar cookies which make an absolute mess in the kitchen, decorating our Christmas tree while drinking hot chocolate and playing Christmas music in the background, which my husband is just so growing to love (HAHAHAHA-insert a lot of sarcasm). I love how they each have their own Christmas tree in their room that they eagerly look forward to decorating and plugging in at night. I love driving around looking at other’s Christmas lights. I love thinking back to my Christmas experiences as a little girl, spending it with my grandparents, remembering the smell of their house and how it was decorated, how on Christmas Eve we would watch the local news station at their house after opening presents and see where Santa was currently and how we would need to hurry home super fast and jump in bed because, according to that news report, Santa was coming!!!! Oh goodness, to be a kid at Christmas!

As I attended church this weekend, our worship team led us into a few of the most precious, traditional Christmas songs and as I was singing along and worshiping the Lord, my mind quickly wandered to that moment in a stable where Mary gave birth to Jesus. For a moment, I saw it completely different than I had ever seen it before. You see, I’m a labor and delivery nurse. My nursing career began in 1999, but in 2002 I began working as a labor nurse, so for years now, I have helped tons of mamas get through a most trying and difficult time while giving birth to their babies and I can’t help but think about Mary and her birthing story. I began to wonder when her contractions started, how did she labor in that stable where she gave birth, was Joseph supportive and a good coach? Did she have a quick delivery, or did she push a long time? It was her first baby after all. Did she yell crazy things to Joseph while he stood way over on the other side of the manger scared to death, (haha), or was he right in her ear holding her hand whispering “You’ve got this, Baby”, during the most challenging time of her entire life. Then I think about that moment of birth as He was being delivered and how she may have reached down to pull Him up onto her chest. She was probably the very first person to lock eyes with Jesus as He was born as she brought Him close to her to snuggle and gaze into His eyes. Such a precious moment for any mama and her baby. But regardless of the details, one thing Mary knew for certain as revealed to her by the Angel Gabriel, is that she was to bear the Messiah. Her baby boy would one day become the Savior of the world.

The Savior of the world named Jesus. Christmas is truly a time to celebrate the birth of Jesus and just what He did for us all. I know most of you have heard the term “He’s the reason for the season”, but He truly is.

This precious baby boy had to be born. He had to be born because of the sin committed at the beginning of creation by Adam and Eve. It was that sin that separated mankind from God. A mankind that was made in His image, but separated from Him due to their wrong choices and decisions.

But Jesus! When Jesus came, He became the sacrifice for our sins. John 3:16 (ESV) tells us, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus was born so that we may have eternal life! In 1 John 2:2 it says, “He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins, and not only our sins but the sins of all the world.” I love the next verse after John 3:16. Verse 17 says, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

He wasn’t born to condemn you or me. He doesn’t look down on us or judge us. He was born to give us life, to give us freedom, to be our Savior. Freedom and Savior from what you may be asking? Freedom from depression, anxiety, strained family relationships, finances, worry, fear, doubt, wrong decisions, tumultuous pasts, loss, stress, shame, guilt to name a few. How you may be asking? How does Jesus being born and then dying for our sins as a sacrifice give me freedom and save me from all of those things listed above?

Let’s look at 1 Peter 2:24, “He personally carried our sins in his body on the cross so that we can be dead to sin and live for what is right. By His wounds you are healed.” When Jesus died on the cross, He essentially in physical form was taking all of our sins upon Himself, so that we might be healed and set free from them.

By simply believing in Jesus and believing that He came to rescue you from all your troubles, past regrets, and sins, you can begin to live that life of freedom. Romans 3:23 says “For all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.” That includes me. We’ve all sinned, but there’s hope and there’s a promise. Romans 8:38–39 goes on to say, “Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present of the future, nor any powers, neither height or depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Friend, listen to what that scripture is saying to you. There’s absolutely nothing that could separate you from the love of Jesus. Nothing whatsoever that you have done or are doing or are thinking about doing, can separate you from Jesus. His love is for you, wherever you are at. His gift of freedom is for you, wherever you may be. Maybe you feel you are way too far gone. Maybe you’ve done things that you say to yourself, “There’s no way Jesus would or could love me.” Maybe you don’t even know Jesus at all simply because you have never been exposed to Him. Well, this message is for you and His Word makes it so super easy and clear to understand how to come to Him and make Him Lord over your life. Romans 10:9–10 says, “If you declare with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord’, and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.” It’s that simple. It’s that free of a gift. That you would just believe that He is indeed who He says He is, that He indeed is Lord, that He indeed did come to this earth to pay the punishment for your sins by dying on a cross and enduring so much pain and suffering, so that you might live and have eternal true life.

Think about that this Christmas as you are spending quality time with family, opening gifts, and eating all the yummy foods. Think about Jesus. Think about how He came to this world to set you completely free from it all. Recognize that something is indeed missing from your life. Recognize that you are tired of suffering, you are tired of feeling anxious, you are tired or worrying, you are tired of being defeated, and you are tired of feeling depressed. You long for freedom from it all and that is only and will always only be found in Jesus. Hebrews 7:25 (AMP) says, “Therefore He is able to also save FOREVER (completely, perfectly, for eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He always lives to intercede and intervene on their behalf with God.” Confess your sins to Him and lay it all out to Him. If it’s bothering you, tell Him. If it’s worrying you, tell Him. If it’s weighing you down, tell Him! His word says in 1 John 1:9 that when you do that, “He is faithful to forgive you of those sins and to cleanse you from all unrighteousness.” Confess with your mouth that you believe in Him and you are ready to make Him Lord over all of your life. You will never regret this moment. You will walk in freedom from here on out. You will have a peace about you that cannot be explained and you will begin to walk in the life that God so desires for you to walk in.

Thank you Mary. Thank you for being one strong mama. Thank you for being willing and obedient to the supernatural plans of the Lord. Thank you for giving birth to Jesus, our Savior. Thank you for caring for Him as a small child and allowing Him to grow, increasing in wisdom and in stature and in favor with God and men. Thank you for giving birth to the Ultimate Gift. I personally am eternally grateful.

Let’s pray:

Lord, I recognize that I am a sinner. I recognize that I am walking around with too heavy of a load of shame, guilt, responsibility, depression, anxiety, generational curses, and I refuse to walk around like this anymore. I choose this day to believe in You. I believe You came and died for me so that I may walk in freedom from everything that weighs me down. I confess my sins to You and I invite You to be Lord and Savior over every area of my life. Thank you, Lord. Thank You for loving me through it all. Thank You for this free gift of salvation. In Jesus’ name I pray. Amen.

Set Free From It All

I’ve been marinating over this topic for a few weeks now, and honestly I feel this is something the Lord has laid on my heart to address, so I’m going for it. This may offend some of you, but I’ll be honest with you upfront. I make no apologies for the Word of God. I make no apologies for what the Holy Spirit asks of me.

Several years ago, I rededicated my life to the Lord and ever since then the anthem of freedom has been flowing out of my spirit. If you are familiar at all with my blog and website, you will see that my two favorite scriptures involve just that—freedom. One is 2 Corinthians 3:17: “…wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” The other is John 8:36: “So if the Son sets you free, you are truly free.”

I recently was scrolling through social media and saw where someone posted this: “Come as you are! Broken and messy, God loves you no matter what.” I’d like to explain that this is a dear friend of mine, and a daughter of the King. But it really got me thinking. Of course, Jesus is no respecter of persons and He died a brutal death and made the ultimate sacrifice for us all—the broken, the sinner, the damaged, the good—He died for every single one of us so that we all could have freedom. Ironically, another friend of mine reposted something similar a few days later with the saying “It’s okay to not be okay.” It indeed was a beautiful message at its core, but it brought me back to the same thought.

Here’s the thing: why are we staying in the mentality of “Jesus takes me as I am, broken and messy?” and “It’s okay to not be okay?” The fact of the matter is, yes, He absolutely takes us as we are, broken and messy. But for heaven’s sake, we weren’t meant to stay like that! It’s okay to not be okay, but it’s not okay to stay that way! If you are defining okay as broken, misunderstood, hurt, abused, defeated, living with a horrible past, or a victim of someone else’s poor choices, it’s absolutely—under no circumstance—not okay to not be okay!

God loves sinners! We see that Romans 5:8 says, “But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Think about that. While we were in the middle of the worst thing we have ever, ever done, He still loved us and He still died for us in that moment! So, yes, He loves us in our mess, but He hates our sin because of what it does to us. Romans 6:23 tells us, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” And Proverbs 13:15 in the Amplified version says, “…but the way of the unfaithful is hard [like barren, dry soil].” Our mess is hard. It tears us down. It prevents us from the fullness of all that He came and gave His life for—that abundant life we read about in John 10:10.

Luke 9:23 tells us, “If anyone would come after Me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow Me.” What does it mean to deny ourselves? I believe it not only means denying our fleshly wants and desires, but also our circumstances, depression, anxieties, worries, imperfections, addictions, or any other pit we might find ourselves in. If we are to truly follow Him, we have to deny all those things.

The definition of deny is, “being in a state of refusal, refusing to admit the existence of.” If I have to keep hammering this in I will. If we are to deny ourselves, then by definition we have to refuse to exist in worry, refuse to exist in depression, refuse to exist in negative thoughts, refuse to exist in not being good enough, refuse to exist in financial depletion, refuse to exist in addiction, and refuse to exist in our past. We refuse to grant those things the right to consume us. Choose to be consumed by the Almighty. Choose to be consumed by who He says we are! That’s worth repeating. Go back and read that paragraph one more time!

If you are a believer in the Most High God, then you and I have resurrection power living on the inside of us. Romans 6:10–11 says, “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, he will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you.” We’ve got the power of the Almighty dwelling within us, the power to overcome anything. And He says in Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

Praise God! We’re not called to a life of pain, worry, anxiety, depression, addiction, or continued repeated bad behaviors. We’re not called to dwell on an imperfect past with imperfect decisions made by us or someone else.

We are called to be children of the Most High King. Galatians 3:26 tells us, “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus.”

Please don’t misunderstand me and think that I believe this is really easy. Don’t misunderstand me and think She has no clue what I’m going through. The moment I rededicated my life to Christ was a very alone and empty moment. In fact, I found myself lying on my kitchen floor in sheer desperation. As a matter of fact, it was my right cheek that was plastered to the cold, linoleum floor of my kitchen at the time, tears flowing from my face so profusely that it literally made my skin stick to the floor. It was in this moment that I fully surrendered. I cast my past, my poor decisions, my situation, my circumstance, my finances, my lowest of my lows onto Him—the One who gave it all for me and I chose to never look back. I chose to accept and walk in the freedom that He paid such a high price for me to walk in. And guess what? I am truly free! I am no longer that girl in those circumstances! I am a precious daughter of the Most High, walking in freedom every single day of my life. This is my best life. This is that life of abundance He promised me.

We cannot stay in the “Jesus-takes-me-just-as-I-am” mindset. We can’t stay in the “it’s-okay-to-not-be-okay” mindset.

Friend, I challenge you. If you have found yourself spiraling within the same circumstance for a few weeks, months, or years now, and maybe you’ve adopted the “it’s-okay-to-not-be-okay” mentality, I urge you to fall on your face and really surrender. Commit to lying there for as long as it takes to pour your heart out to the One who died to completely set you free from it all.

Pray this with me:

Father, I thank You for the cross! I thank You for sacrificing Your life so I could walk in a life of freedom. I thank You that I am no longer tied to my past, but I am pressing into my future and it is looking bright! I choose to cast all my worries, cares, and circumstances onto You. Lord, I acknowledge that it’s not okay to not be okay, because You paid the ultimate price for me to walk in nothing less than righteousness, forgiveness, and royalty. I choose You this day, Lord, to be ruler over it all. I’m pressing in to all You have for me! I no longer dwell in my circumstance of depression, anxiety, addiction, worry, past hurts, or sadness, for you have paid a high price for my freedom. I choose You over everything today! In Jesus name I pray. Amen.

Distractions

I want to start off this blog with something that I feel is super prevalent right now. Distractions. By definition the word distraction means, “a thing that prevents someone from giving full attention to something else.” Synonyms include a diversion, an interruption, a disturbance, an interference, or a hindrance. I personally have been going through a season of distractions, specifically when it comes to spending time in the Word. After having my third baby, it has been almost like a battle of some sorts to try to carve the time out to just simply spend time with the Lord. It used to be so easy, but in this season of life it’s been difficult. I heard someone say one time that if Satan can’t defeat you, then he will distract you. And, honey, this is absolute truth! Just in sitting down to write this blog entry, I’ve already been distracted…A LOT.

There’s a scripture found in Mark 4 which is from the parable of the farmer scattering seed. Verse 19 says, “but the worries of this life, the deceitfulness of wealth and the desires for other things come in and choke the word, making it unfruitful.” When I read this I am immediately redirected to distractions—those “things” or “interruptions” that are coming between me and my time with God. Those “other things” are coming in and choking out the Word, or choking out my quiet time, and are therefore making me unfruitful! NOT GOOD. Time to make a serious change.

I also love this passage found in Colossians 3:1–2, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” I dare say, most of my distractions, and probably yours too, are earthly distractions. For me, to put it simply, it’s my phone and my kids. I have the best intentions by sitting down, Bible open, pen in hand, notebook out and ready to be written in, and all of a sudden I’ll get a text from my best friend or my husband will ask me a question, or my 4-year-old will want something to drink, or the baby will be playing with a very loud toy, or my oldest will ask me to take her somewhere, or my mind will just start thinking about the most absurd and random things. I’ll instantly remember all the things that are on my “to-do” list, whether it be for the house, my job, my church, my kids…you name it, my mind is flooded with it. The Bible tells us clearly in this passage to set our minds on things above, not on earthly things. All of those distractions I mentioned above that are my personal distractions…those are earthly things. The phrase “Set your minds” is actually an action statement. To set is a verb meaning “to put something (my mind) in a specified place or position.” This is telling me that I have to actively and purposefully put myself and my mind in a position to solely be focused on being in the Word. I’ve got to do the necessary steps to eliminate my distractions.

I was sitting down at my dining room table last week and was attempting my usual routine of quiet time.  Within a few minutes, I of course was distracted a few times and I found myself just sitting there chewing on my pen and saying to myself, “Why is this so hard???!” I instantly heard the Holy Spirit softly say “10 days.” Ten days, I thought? And then it hit me. He’s wanting me to physically turn off my distractions for ten days. I knew that for me it meant no Facebook, no Instagram, no Pinterest. No sitting down with my phone during my quiet time. In fact, I’m to put it on “do not disturb” mode.

He also recently showed me a place in my home where I am to go from now on for my quiet time. It’s to the couch that sits inside our office. And I am to close the doors. While I’m sure I will miss social media for a bit, I’d be lying if I didn’t tell you that I’m super excited for these next 10 days. I know the Lord is wanting to teach me something and reveal something to me and there’s honestly not much more invigorating than that. So, for these next 10 days, I will remove those social media apps from my phone. I will place my phone on “do not disturb” during my quiet time. I will make sure my kids have their breakfast in place and that my husband knows I will be out of commission for a little bit while I sit on the couch in the office with those doors closed.

We can’t afford to be so connected to this life but be so disconnected with our Father. We can’t allow other things to come in and consume our time and minds. I personally don’t want to live a distracted life. I want to live a Jesus-infused life where I’m not listening to the noise of the world, but more so the voice of my Creator. Sure, some of our distractions are fun, but that fun is just temporary; it’s not eternal.

I’ll close with this story found in the Bible about Mary and her sister Martha. Luke 10:38–42 in The Message says, “As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. ‘Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.’ The Master said, ‘Martha, dear Martha, you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course and it won’t be taken from her.’

There’s so much goodness in here.

  • Mary, sitting before the Master, hanging on to every word he said.
  • Martha interrupting them (remember interruption was one of our synonyms earlier for distraction)
  • The Lord gently correcting her by calling her name twice, then telling her that only ONE thing is essential!
  • Mary chose it! (We have to make that choice, too.)

Mary saw the Lord as her treasure, totally focused on Him, hanging on to every word. Martha was being busy and getting caught up in her distractions and was missing out on the main course, as its referred to here in this passage. Don’t be busy and distracted like Martha. Don’t miss out on the main course!

Matthew 6:21 says, “Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.” If your treasure or the things you value are earthly things such as your phone, social media, or your “to-do list,” then that is exactly where your heart will live. But if your treasure or things you value are heavenly things such as the Word of God, the plans He has for your life, or your relationship with the Holy Spirit, then that is where your heart will live. And not just live, but thrive.

I challenge you to go through these next 10 days with me if you feel inclined. Let’s turn off all our distractions. Let’s go to our quiet place and open His Word. Let’s position our minds to be saturated with what He has to say to us. As we read, let’s ponder and read it slowly asking how this relates to us, to our families, to our children, husbands, jobs so that every area of our life can take on a God-focused life free from the enemies distractions.

“Father, I thank You for infusing me with Your strength to get through these next 10 days without being distracted from Your presence. Open my heart and my mind to understand Your Word, fill me with complete knowledge of Your will and give me spiritual wisdom and understanding. Help me to always fix my mind on You. You are my one, true treasure. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.”

If you decide to do this 10-day challenge with me, please take a second and head over to the menu section, and click on the contact tab to shoot me a message and let me know so I can be specifically pray for you!

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Trusting the Wait!

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I have to admit that I am a very impatient person. I like a quick turnaround. I like fast results. I like to get going! I’m not one of those girls who goes shopping for hours on end to only make a few purchases. I can walk into my favorite store and basically clean house in 30 minutes. I know what I want and I make it happen. Having to wait on something regardless of what it is can be grueling for me. I’m instantly reminded of my four-year-old daughter. What is it about this age and them taking their sweet time when getting in and out of the car? Anybody?!?! I seriously just about lose my mind waiting for her to climb in and actually sit in her seat. Then getting out of the car seems to take waaaay longer than the process of getting in! She is just beating to her own drum and very slowly makes her way out. It seriously feels like 10 solid minutes. Unreal. I even find that I have a hard time waiting and listening to my 12-year-old daughter as she tells me a story about something. It may be an incident that occurred during her school day or something as simple as her telling me about an outfit choice she has made. It takes her forever to tell the story. She has to give—EVERY. SINGLE. DETAIL.—and all the while I am thinking to myself HURRY UP! Get to the point! Clearly, I have some things to work on, and I am, but waiting is just not my thing!

This leads me to my topic for this blog. Waiting. More specifically, being in a season of waiting. My husband and I started out 2018 with some high expectations of things to come and to be very honest, we are five months into this year and those expectations just have not come to pass. It has been very frustrating. It’s been really easy to stay disappointed or discouraged. But I am learning some very valuable things. This is not a time for me to be impatient. This is not a time for me to rush through. This is a time for me to press in—press way in and develop an even deeper relationship with God.

It’s very clear in the Word that there are many different seasons of life. Ecclesiastes 3:1–8 (ESV) says, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted; a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away; a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.”

If you read a little further in verse 11 it goes on to say, “God has set the right time for everything.” Just because I am not seeing things manifest now and happen now, does not mean God is not working. God never stops working on our behalf. We need to use these waiting seasons to deepen that relationship with Him and learn to fully trust Him. Micah 7:7 (CEV) says, “I trust the Lord God to save me and I will wait for him to answer my prayer.” I have made a personal confession: I will trust Him in this waiting.

My season of waiting may look different than yours. Yours may look longer than mine. Maybe even years. Maybe you are waiting for a job opportunity to come. Maybe you are waiting for a broken heart to heal. Maybe you have suffered through a miscarriage and you are waiting to become pregnant again. Maybe you’re waiting for a significant change to occur in your marriage, in your home, or in your children. Whatever your wait is, God is there. He promises us in His Word, “I am the Lord, and when it is time, I will make these things happen quickly” (Isaiah 60:22 ESV).

There are so many examples of seasons of waiting in the Bible to learn from. I think about Joseph and how God had given him a dream that he would one day be the leader of Egypt. It didn’t happen right away by any means. In fact, he was sold into slavery and then later thrown into a prison all for a total of around 13 years (Gen. 37–50). Joseph remained faithful to God that entire time. And God remained faithful to him as well, always taking excellent care of him. I can honestly say that during these five months of waiting, the Lord has just blessed me and shown me His faithfulness several times in tangible ways.

It’s in this waiting time as I deepen my relationship with Him and pour out my heart to Him, He is restoring my hope and my vision and is persistent in reminding me of His faithfulness. I’ve recently spent some time looking back over my life and have just been able to remind myself of how He’s always been faithful in every circumstance and that has given me the strength and courage I need to keep pressing on.

He’s also inviting me to rest. Psalm 46:10 says to “cease striving and know that I am God” (NASB). The New King James Version says, “Be still, and know that I am God.” By resting in Him, by trusting in Him, by confessing that when it’s time, He will make these things happen quickly, I can truly be free from worrying about how all this is going to turn out. I can be free from stressing over when this season of waiting will end. I can rest assured and have full confidence that He is faithful on all of His promises to me and that He has set the right time for everything. And you can too! Press in, go deeper with Him, and rejoice in the waiting. Look at it as an opportunity to spend more quality time with Jesus. Get rid of the doubts. Get rid of the bad attitude, negative comments, and the grumbling. He has something amazing prepared for us at the end of our waiting. Will you stay faithful? I know I will!

 

Diggin’ in the Dirt

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I don’t know about you all but I am so ready for spring! It feels like this super cold weather just keeps lingering and lingering. It almost has this depressive feel about it when it’s difficult to get outside to play with your kids or when you feel stuck indoors because of how cold and wet everything has been for months and months. I am ready to see flowers, green grass, and all the new things that spring forth during this next season.

My husband and I recently went outdoors and planted some trees at our new house. We planted 10 to be exact, but they weren’t trees like you picture in your head probably. They were twigs, and I mean absolute twigs. You know, it was one of those deals where you move into a new home and the Arbor Day Foundation sends you info wanting you to join and participate in a survey about how important trees are and, in return, they send you 10 free trees. I thought Woohoo, 10 trees! This is going to be awesome!

So of course I participated in the survey and waited for my sweet little trees to arrive. I even googled them ahead of time to see what each tree would look like and, in my head I was so anticipating how pretty our yard was going to look. Needless to say when they arrived, I was kinda shocked. I let out a small giggle and said, “What in the heck is this?” I don’t know what I was expecting but is certainly wasn’t twigs!

Nonetheless, we were still excited to plant them, so as we went around the front and backyard, my husband would dig a hole and I was responsible for holding the twig upright while he filled the hole in. I was happy to see how some of the twigs had already sprouted some tiny green growths on them. And I’ll have you know, I prayed over every single one of those twigs! HA! I asked the Lord to bless them and that they would grow into the beautiful trees they were intended to be. Honestly, the main reason I was praying over them was because our yard is nothing but that difficult North Carolina red clay. Mud. Pure mud is what it is. How in the world would these trees ever make it in this type of soil?

I began to think this is a lot like us. We are just like those twigs being planted in that soil. Our survival and ability to thrive and grow are very dependent upon the soil we are planted in and the soil we allow ourselves to become. Jesus talks about the parable of the sower in Matthew 13. In verse 23 Jesus says, “The seed that fell on good soil represents those who truly hear and understand God’s word and produce a harvest of thirty, sixty, or even a hundred times as much as had been planted!” He’s saying here that good soil comes from those of us who truly hear and understand the Word of God…those of us who spend time with Him and in His Word…the ones who are hearing it and choose to keep hearing it!

I love Luke’s account of this as well found in Luke 8:15, “And the seeds that fell on the good soil represent honest, good-hearted people who hear God’s word, cling to it, and patiently produce a huge harvest.” The part that really sticks out to me here is “cling to it.” In the Amplified Bible, it says to “hold on to it tightly.” This comes from meditating continually on what God has to teach us through our personal quiet time, devotions, reading this blog, listening to sermons that build our faith, and attending church…regularly. Our churches are a place of solid and fertile ground. Church is the perfect place to regularly create the environment of exactly what these verses are telling us. It’s a place to regularly hear the Word. The Bible tells us that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God (Rom. 10:17). By going to church, we are putting ourselves in a position to hear the Word preached.

As a born-again believer, I am told in 1 Peter 1:23 (ESV) that I am now made a seed that is imperishable, through Jesus Christ. I have been made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27). I am made to live and live abundantly (John 10:10)!

But, just like the twig I planted in muddy soil, I can’t expect it to grow if I don’t tend to and water the soil. Sure, it may sprout some new life here and there, but it will never reach its full potential unless it is growing in good soil. It will never grow to abundance.

I believe we need to take a moment and look at our soil. Are we staying firmly planted in soil of worry? Are we staying firmly planted in soil of constant doubt and fear? Are we staying firmly planted in soil that is full of shame and regret? Are we staying firmly planted in grief over something or someone we have lost? Are we staying firmly planted in an environment of negativity or ungodly friends who are holding us back?

Friends, we need to tend to our soil! If we are in those soils of shame, regret, grief, negativity, and sin, we will continue to grow the same things! That’s what we will continue to harvest. We need to get in there and pull out the weeds, gravel, and anything that is preventing us from growing and springing forth the way Jesus Christ intended! We need to follow what the Bible is telling us and get into the Word. We need to start having a quiet time with Him each and every day. We need to build a relationship with Him. We need to get firmly planted in a church where we can allow the Word of God to change us, to infiltrate our minds and souls, so we will begin to start thinking His way and become fruit-bearing seeds for His glory.

I love the Psalms. Whenever I just have no clue what to read from the Bible on any given day or I don’t have a devotional or something specific I’m studying out, I head straight to the Psalms. They instantly bring me to a place of worship with the Lord. Many of them highlight the joy I have in Jesus. In Psalm 1:1–3 “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with the mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” I really wish you would go back and slowly read over that just one more time and let it sink in.

Think about it like this: “Oh the joys of those who tend to their soil and weed out the ways and advice of the wicked and the ones who mock us. We are the ones who delight in the Bible, in the Word of the Lord and are constantly meditating in it. We will be the ones who will flourish and bear fruit each season (during the good ones and the bad). We will not wither and we will prosper in all we do.” That’s His promise to us.

Friends, it’s time to weed out all the things that are preventing our full growth. It’s time we commit to stay firmly planted in good soil.

Let’s pray.

Dear Lord, I thank you for Your Word. I thank You that through Jesus Christ, You came to give me life abundantly. Lord, I ask You to help me weed out all those areas in my life that are not bearing fruit. I ask You to give me wisdom to tend to those things that are not creating the optimal soil in my life where I can grow and flourish in Your ways. I ask You to give me the courage to detach myself from those around me who are creating environments of negativity and, Lord, I ask You to help me be a light in those situations so that those living in that dark place can see You shining through me. I thank You that I don’t have to live with feelings of worry, fear, shame, guilt, condemnation, and grief. I thank You, Jesus, that because of Your sacrifice on the cross I am totally free. I thank You for Your life that is flowing through my veins allowing me to grow to my fullest potential in You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

No more fear! No more worry!

Have you ever just been wrecked with fear? Have you ever had something happen or come up in your life that literally shook you to your core?

This happened to me recently. Looking back, I’m astonished the fear came in so easily. I’m the girl who daily fills herself up with God’s Word and His truths and makes it a practice to fight off the enemy and his low blows and attacks.

But not this day.

I learned of something absolutely terrifying that happened in my daughter’s school that potentially put her too close to danger, in my opinion. If that wasn’t bad enough, what she told me followed a major scare that took place in our nation. I instantly became frozen and stiff with fear and worry. My shoulders started burning, which is how anxiety typically manifests in my body. I mean, they were on fire and the burning sensation was not letting up.

After that, I was on a mission. I began chit chatting with other moms. I started making phone calls and sending emails because I wanted to make sure I’d done everything humanly possible to protect my daughter.

But before I knew it, the next day had come and I sensed the fear and anxiety now rolling over onto my other two daughters, who are still young and not in school yet. My mind began to run completely wild. It was going places it should never be going.

That night when I went to bed, I had a full blown nighmare that something horrible happened to one of my girls. I remember waking up with the sickest feeling in my stomach. As my day continued I would periodically have visions pass through my head of more bad things happening to my children.

Later that afternoon, my husband and I were in the car driving. We were headed to a cell phone store to ensure that my oldest daughter had what she needed so I could continually feel connected to her, especially in times of an emergency. On the ride over, things weren’t going exactly the way I wanted and, in an instant, I found myself snapping at my husband. Like, crazy-town snapping. I was elevating my voice, lashing out, and making false accusations towards him. (I’m sure someone can relate with this!)

Right after I snapped, I immediately thought What in the world just happened?

I was really taken aback because this is not normal behavior between my husband and I. We don’t argue. I don’t snap at him. I don’t lash out at him. I don’t say negative things to him. He’s my best friend and my most favorite human to be around. So what in the world just happened?

I was still angry in a sense, at the situation and at myself. In that moment I began to sing a worship song to the Lord in my head. About two minutes into the song, I slowly felt my spirit calm down. I looked over at Jeff and told him I was sorry.

That night, the Lord really spoke to my spirit. He took me to Philipians 4:6–7 (NLT) which says, “Don’t worry about anything; instead pray about everything. Tell God what you need and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”

I felt instant relief. Just like that. His words washed over me and I literally felt this heavy blanket of peace laying on my whole body.

Man, why did this have to take three days before I got my act together and dug into my source? My Source of life! Through these verses the Lord was telling me, “Kelli, first of all, don’t worry, pray! Tell me what you need. Thank ME for the things I am doing in your life. Thank Me for the protection I am providing to you, your family, and your precious daughters. THEN, you will experience My peace.”

It was in that moment I resolved to be totally vigilant the next time any fear, worry, or anxiety tried to take hold of me. I resolved to be alert! I resolved to be on the lookout!

The Bible says in 1 Peter 5:8 (NLT), “Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

I see you devil. I’m watching out for you and you are not going to devour this Jesus girl.

Are you fighting fear, worry, or anxiety about something today? Are you sitting there reading this crippled by fear of something? Friend, I am here to tell you to follow the instructions of the Lord. Stop the worry. Pray to Him and tell Him exactly what it is you need. Thank Him for doing it. And then—then—experience His peace that surpasses all understanding. We can be free from fear. We can be free from worry. We can be free from anxiety. Just roll it all over onto Him.

Let’s pray:

“Lord, I thank You for Your Word. I thank You that in You I am free from all of my fears, worry, and anxiety. I thank You Lord that You are working on my behalf. I thank You that You hear and care about my concerns. I thank You for sending Your peace to continually guard my heart. I love you! In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”