“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.