Freezer-Burned

Recently, someone who loves us very much cleaned out their freezer and gave us a bunch of food. So, I decided to make some of those goodies as a side with dinner tonight… only to find out that they were… well… freezer burned.

The sides I thought would go well with our dinner…went really well with the trash can. I had to call on backup of the canned goods and cottage cheese.

I’m not upset about it, but it really got my wheels turning.

They meant well.

They thought they were helping.

But really, it caused me to stumble in my meal planning process.

Has this ever happened to you- well meaning people actually cause you to stumble. Maybe you’re in a situation where you confide in someone and they give you some not so great advice? Maybe they even try to show they are right by adding some misinterpret scripture…Or maybe you’re not seeking advice, but someone insist that you are wrong and here’s their proof…  a quote from a random place in the Bible.

They may have had good intentions, but who’s will were they seeking?

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I’ve been that well-intentioned friend. The one who gave the not so great advice with a little piece of scripture attached.

I can remember having a friend admit to me that she was suffering from depression. I told her, “I’ve been there. God helped me beat my mental battles. You can do all things through Christ who gives you strength.” I meant well. I did. But was I really representing God or was I representing myself?

I told her that God did it for me. I quoted a good scripture. TO MY HURTING FRIEND.That wasn’t what my friend needed. She didn’t need me to quote scripture to her. She needed to know that she wasn’t alone, I understand, and I am here for her. But more importantly that God is there for her. God sees her. He knows her hurt, and He wants her to lean into Him. Cast your burden on the Lord because He cares for you. (That would have been much more appropriate and effective.)

I gave her freezer-burned food. I gave her something that seemed like a good idea, but really wasn’t consumable.

I’ve also been on the other end of that.

Not too terribly long ago I made a very difficult decision. One that I really wish I would not have been forced to make. People who thought they knew the situation were trying to give me advice to get me to change my mind. But their advice was based on their will. They even quoted scripture at me to convince me their way was the right way, implying the choices I made were against God’s will. The worst part about that was that they misquoted scripture. They never read the context that it was written. So, instead of helping, they actually created more problems.

I know they meant well, but really, they stirred up a lot of emotions in me. Had I not already been leaning into God with all I had, I would have had some real problems with God since they were quoting scripture out of context and implying that my convictions were wrong. The decision I made; I purposely did not tell them details behind. One-because it was none of their business. But more importantly, I needed to be respectful of all parties involved by not creating drama and spreading gossip.  Though God gave me peace over the situation, I ended up hurt and confused by well-intentioned people using the Bible as a stone instead of for what it is- love.

These people were serving me freezer burnt meals. They were trying to offer me scripture, but really, they were manipulating scripture to fit their will.

Please do not misunderstand me. Scripture is a powerful tool to use to help a friend in need. It is useful for teaching, rebuking, and correcting.

But it has to be the correct scripture, in context, and led by the Holy Spirit.

Any time you are doing something for your will and claiming it to be God’s, you are misrepresenting Christianity.

If you have to do a google search on Bible plus the topic you are looking for, make sure to read the entire section that the quote comes from. A quote taken out of context can wreak havoc on another’s faith.

So when you see a hurting friend, make sure to serve them good solid food. Pray for guidance. Recognize their needs. If God puts a scripture on your heart, share it. A friend loves at all times. Be sure to be sharing your love and God’s love.

 

“A friend loves at all times and a brother is born for adversity.”

Proverbs 17:17

Fuel

So, we have officially started trying to feed the baby solid foods. He’s not the best eater, but he’s only six months old. Generally, he eats the first couple of bites just fine. But then he’s a drooling mess and not much more is actually consumed. But he’s just learning. We will keep trying- obviously!

Anyways. Yesterday morning as I was feeding the kids breakfast, one of my kids brought me a jar of sweet potatoes.

“Mom, why does he have to eat sweet potatoes, and green beans, and squash…” her voice trailed off.
But her brother quickly gave some input, “Wouldn’t it be cool if they had pizza baby food.”

“Or macaroni baby food.”

“Or fried chicken baby food.”

They went back and forth listing their favorite foods wishing they could share them with their baby brother.

But me… I’m thinking- “Gross! Why in the world would I feed my baby fried chicken, macaroni, or pizza…” Then my thoughts continued, “Wait why do I feed my big kids that if I wouldn’t feed it to my baby? Why do I eat that?”

Because it tastes good. Because it’s easy and convenient. But definitely not because it’s good for me…

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You know our physical diet and spiritual diet have quite a few similarities.

What we put into our mouths gives us energy and fuel for our physical bodies. Likewise, what we allow into our hearts affects our spirit.

I remember seven years ago; I was watching TV. My boys were very young. But as I was watching I thought, “I don’t want them overhearing this content.”

So, I shut their door and turned the volume down.

But as soon as I did, I was overwhelmed with conviction, “If you don’t want your children hearing this, why are you watching it?”

This was the start of a strong conviction to guard my heart. I turned the TV off for a solid 7 months. I still rarely watch TV. But when I do, I am now more aware of the worldly content and able to distinguish what I should let influence me and what I need to disregard.

I have learned that what you allow into your mind, will affect your heart. And you need to guard your hearts, for everything we do is an overflow of our hearts.

Our world is full of hang-ups for Christians.

When listening to the radio the songs are filled with chasing love, drinking, and partying. Is this what you would feed your baby?

When watch TV the shows are filled with drama or inappropriate sex jokes.

Is this what you would feed your baby?

Then why do you feed it to yourself?

I am in no way telling you to stop listening to secular music, stop watching TV, and go join a convent. But what you allow in mind will affect your heart.

Moderation. Use moderation. And recognize what you are putting in. A sugary treat every now and then is ok. But eating cookies, cake, and ice cream for every meal will have an impact on your physical appearance as well as your mood. Your body needs fuel. What you put in your body fuels your body.
The same is true of your spiritual diet.

What you put in your mind fuels your heart. So use moderation.

How do you know if you are using moderation? Well, I’m not you. But for me, it’s when my mind keeps going back to that thing. Maybe it’s a TV show that I am clinging to wondering what will happen next week. And I have my schedule completely surrounded by making sure I can be home then.

Maybe… it’s a game on your phone… I can actually remember being addicted to Candy Crush. I had dreams about crushing candy. Obviously, I was not using moderation here.

If something consumes your thought outside of the time you are dedicating to it. You probably need to pray that the Holy Spirit will convict and guide you to make better choices.

It’s an easy trap to fall into.

My boys just recently realized they did it with video games. (We don’t even own a console- on purpose.) But they love playing it, learning about it. They checked out books at the library about this game. They were constantly drawing pictures of these characters. The video games eventually consumed their little lives.

I pointed out to them that it was a god. They were like, “No mom, we just like it.”

I asked them, “What did you draw today? What did you read about today? What did you pretend to be when you were playing today?

This look swept across their faces as they realized I was right. “Anything that consumes your thoughts is a god.”
Video games are a lot of responsibility to put on young minds. We have to teach, model, and discuss moderation.

Or we and our poor children will fall into the traps.

Not just for video games, but anything that could consume their hearts…. TV… drama… romance…chasing after boyfriends/girlfriends… money… food… social media… sports…

What you allow in your mind is fuel for your heart.

We need Jesus to be our fuel. Read His word. Pray. Join in fellowship opportunities. Change the radio station to Christian music. Read books from a Christian worldview.

If you want everything you say and do to point to God, it starts with what you allow to fuel your heart.

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2

Clean Up First

A couple nights ago I was preparing dinner as my children played outside. My husband came in and said, “FYI, the kids are covered in mud.”

“Like, they need to wash their hands, covered? Or like they need to shower, covered?”

“Covered!”

`Great,’ I thought as I pulled dinner out of the oven.

And they were covered in mud… clothes, shoes, in their hair, in their ears, everywhere!!! One by one I called each child in to shower, change, and come to the table for dinner. Luckily, dinner was not cold by the time all five of them were clean.

My kids were dirty. They needed to get cleaned up before coming to the table. Once they were clean, we could enjoy a family dinner together.

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I think many of us can relate to this feeling. We’re dirty (sinful). We must clean up before we can come to the table (God).

I’ve sinned… greatly… now I have to get my act together before God will allow me to experience Him…

Why would God accept an apology again for that same trap I keep falling into?

I’m too far gone. I have to straighten up a little bit before I can go back to church.

Oh, dear sinner, I wish you could see how wrong you are!

God knows that your life is messy. He knows your past, your present, and your future. And guess what? He still wants a relationship with you.

You don’t have to hide like Adam and Eve… wonder like the Israelites in the desert… Or run like Jonah.

Repent like David!

Seriously, David is known as “A Man after God’s Heart” but David messed up big time. He coveted a married man’s wife. He acted on that sinful desire. Then he tried to cover it up. When he was unsuccessful in covering it up, David had her husband killed and married her.

How can a man who was an adulterous murderer be known for his love for God?

Because he repented.

David still had to deal with the consequences of his actions. But he did it with God by his side.

Walking with God does not erase your past. It does not free you from the realities that come with the consequence of poor choices. Walking with God gives you peace, comfort, and purpose.

We have a war going on. A war between our spirit and our flesh. Even the most famous Bible characters struggled with this war. But God used them despite their sin for His glory!

Nothing you can do, say, or think surprises God. All you have to do is turn back to him.

Yes, you may be dirty. But that doesn’t mean you have to clean yourself up. Turn to Him. Ask Him for help. Let Him show you how to clean up and avoid that mess in the future.

Do you think Paul allowed the dirt to cover him and prevent him from walking with Christ? No! He recognized where he messed up, repented, and allowed God to use his transformation as a witness to the Risen Savior!

He didn’t need to hide. He didn’t need to apologize over and over again. Jesus already died. Jesus’ blood already covered his sins.

I get it…you sinned today. How about this- instead of allowing shame to separate you from God, take your shame to God so that He can clean you up. I have been there before too. I have sinned, began to pray, but quickly shut it down as if I felt like there was some type of waiting period before I could go back before my Father. That sound so crazy!

Do you have a situation where you feel unworthy… where you keep apologizing for the same thing… Let me say this- Jesus died for you. His blood covers all your sins… once and for all! You do not need to keep nailing Him back on the cross. Accept that free gift! Forgive yourself. Accept the forgiveness. Let God use you.

So many times, we think Christians are the perfect people sitting in church pews. That is not it at all. Christians are broken people (sinners) in need of a Savior (Jesus.) Don’t continue this misconception.

Share what God is doing in you and through you. Maybe God intervened in a marriage falling apart. Share that story. It matters. Someone needs to hear that story and that hope!

Maybe you’re struggling with an addiction- food, alcohol, drugs, tobacco, gaming…  I promise you another Christian is also struggling here and needs to hear what God is doing in your life.

Maybe you struggled with _______ (you fill in the blank here. For me, its drama and gossip). Share how the Holy Spirit is showing you how to overcome it, make better choices, and glorify God.

Seriously- Share that! Someone else is also struggling there and they need help. Sometimes just knowing that you are not alone is what another person needs to hear.

If you are struggling in your sin, you are not alone! Trying to do it on your own is not the answer… it’s prideful! All you have to do is turn back to God. Don’t try to clean up by yourself. Let Him walk with you. Let Him lead you. Let Him show you the way.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,”

Romans 3:23

But, I Want to Help…

So… our washing machine and dryer decided to stop working properly. The washing machine slowly stopped spinning out fully. As a result, our dryer was having to work overtime and slowly stopped working correctly too. For the last couple of days, I have been in denial as the laundry pile continues to pile higher and higher. I never actually realized that dirty laundry stinks… Usually, I have it in and out in the same day.

My wonderful husband went out and bought a new (to us) washer and dryer. Within the first hours of owning these machines, they did three loads of laundry with a huge stack to go. Then it happened… our new(ish) dryer broke. (Don’t worry my husband has already ordered the parts and is fixing it.)

But here I am with at least 4 more loads of laundry and 2 wet loads… I have to go to the laundry-mat… with six kids…

Immediately after breakfast, we piled the laundry baskets, laundry soap, coloring books, crayons, books to read, and the Chess board into the van and headed to the laundry-mat.

When we arrived I told my kids to make themselves at home in the corner next to a seating area. Coloring books scattered, Chess began, and I was off to put the loads into the machines.

I have really good kids. They did exactly what they were supposed to do. When I asked for help switching the loads, I had five eager helpers (the baby was asleep.) I asked one of my children to stay next to the baby. He did not like that request.

The look on his face was like, `But mom, I want to help.’ He had no idea how much help he was actually being by staying with his sleeping baby brother, so that I could do what I needed to do.

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I get it, kid. I do.

Some of you may know that my husband is now a youth minister/pastor. It’s so exciting to see him doing exactly what God called him to. And I really want to volunteer to help out at youth. I really want to be involved.

BUT… I have six kids… and dad doesn’t usually get home on youth nights until well past bed-time.

At first, I was supper bummed. I want to be involved. I want to volunteer. I want to impact the Kingdom like my husband gets to do.

As I was praying about this (and many other frustrations) I was gently reminded that THIS IS my ministry. My kids. My home. My family. I have 18 years with each kid. If they live to be 70, that’s not even one-fourth of their lives. But these years are so important, so formative.

I love to listen to people share their testimonies. One thing that every testimony has in common is the mentioning of parents. Sometimes it is positive… sometimes it is negative… but no matter what, your childhood effects your testimony.  Parents are part of every person’s testimony.

I have six children that I pray grow up to impact the Kingdom in big ways! I know that I am in no way a perfect parent, but I hope I am pointing them to their perfect Heavenly Father.

So right now, volunteering for all these other ministries and such can take a back-seat to my role as mom.

It’s just a season. This season will end. When it does, I can happily accept roles in other areas. But my first, primary, and most important earthly role is to my family. Seeing the importance in my role helped me be at peace with this season in my life.

So when I recognized that look on my son’s face at the laundry-mat, I knew, I recognized, I understood.  He had no idea just how important the job was I asked him to do. After I explained to my son why I needed him to stay with his baby brother, it was like a lightbulb went off in his head. “OHHHH… ok no problem mom.” He went and sat down next to his sleeping brother and happily read a book.

Sometimes the jobs we are given to do, don’t seem that important. It’s hard to see all the moving pieces of the big puzzle of life. Sometimes I wish I knew the big picture. I wish I knew where I would be in 20 years. But then I am selling myself short. I would be just like the Michael in the movie “Click.” (Who kept fast forwarding to the big events and realized he lost what matters most in the process.) The process, waiting, the unknown journey, is just as important as the big events. The big events are awesome, but we have to submit to what seems less important. It’s in those moments that character is made. That learning is going on. The growing occurs.

Sometimes I forget, “We are His workmanship created in Christ Jesus for good works which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10 ESV).” God knows what he’s doing. Even when we can’t see it. He has a plan. And we are so blessed to be part of that plan!

It’s not our job to understand. It is our job to trust Him.

 

“Trust in the Lord with all you heart, and lean not on your own understand; in all your ways submit to him, and He will make your path straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 NIV

Control-Top or Hidding the Problem

Confession time! I love my babies! But I do not love what pregnancy has done to my body. I just had baby #6 three months ago… and I reached the biggest I have ever been! Slowly the pounds are coming off, but that means I am now in the awkward in between stage… You know the one where your maternity clothes are baggy, but your pre-pregnancy clothes leave you looking like there’s a flat tire floating on top… yeah… that in between stage… and I am way too cheap to go out and buy clothes that I hopefully won’t need much longer.

So, what’s a girl to do? I started thinking, `Man I wish my B-band wouldn’t have ripped… you know I don’t think those are actually supposed to last six pregnancies… Why not go get some controlled-top underwear.’ So, that’s exactly what I did.

What do you know! They worked. My pre-pregnancy pants went on with no problem… but the real problem was still there… the fat just got pushed up to the middle of my stomach…

Instead of fixing the problem, I just covered it up, moved it around, and pretended like it was not there.

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It seems like this is an easy thing to do in our culture. Instead of taking the time needed to fix the problem, we look for an easy fix. But that easy fix does nothing but push the real problem off to the side for a moment. It’s like putting a band aide on a broken bone and just pretending like everything is ok.

There was a time in our marriage that we were broken. I mean like, the world would have justified a divorce- broken.

Both of us pointed the finger at the other person. I definitely was not willing to take responsibility for my shortcomings and couldn’t see beyond his. Every argument ended the same way, but never with a resolve.

By the grace of God, we were pointed to a Christian counselor. My husband and I went into the counselor determined to work on our relationship and tell the complete truth… except one little detail… that one we couldn’t share.

We saw improvement. We did. We began to communicate better and fight less. But there were still issues. Issues that we didn’t talk about.  We just put those “controlled-top underwear” on and worked on the issues people could see, not the issues that were really affecting us.

Well, luckily for me, the counselor was able to see I had issues below the surface that needed to be dealt with, and she began to see me as an individual. So much growth it was amazing.

As the weeds were being pruned out, I was more and more willing to open my heart to fully accepting Christ. The seed was falling, just not quite on fertile soil yet.

There was still a thorn, a weed, in the path. We still didn’t talk about that one little thing…

Then it happened. The night that our counselor released us from her care. We had the biggest, most epic fight.

We went into her office the next morning. In my anger, I spewed all the details. I thought for sure she was going to tell us we needed to get divorced.

Instead, the most amazing thing happened. When the truth came out, God was able to move. The Holy Spirit got a hold of my husband and in tears he was convicted and filled with the Spirit.

Noticing what was taking place, our counselor invited God into the situation, prayed with us, and for us. And then sent us on our way. I’m telling you it was an instant change. We had been married for almost three years, and now God was finally part of the marriage. I knew things were going to be radically different.

As we left the office, I looked at my husband in a completely different light. This man had every right to leave me, but he chose to stay. He chose to fight for me, to fight for us. For the first time in my life I understood what unconditional love meant. And in that moment, I cannot even explain the emotions I felt. I had a desire burning in my heart to become a real Christian wife and love him as best as I humanly could. But I didn’t have a clue how to do that. This was the very beginning of my walk with Christ. I was still uncomfortable opening my Bible. It would take a lot of mentoring, many blogs to follow, books to read, people to watch, people to grow with, and open communication with my husband.

But that growth couldn’t happen while I was pretending like the problem didn’t exist. It had to be confronted, so that we could overcome it together. We learned a very important (not-so-secret) secret during this whole thing. Marriage takes three. Until we could fully admit our brokenness, we could not surrender to God. Without surrender, God was unable to move.

God is a good God. And He’s always with us. However, when we try to control our own lives, our image, and surroundings we are putting God in a box restricting His room to move. So many times, we want things to go our way. We want God to be our “controlled top underwear.” Our prayers quickly turn into wish list and expecting God to do our will. When we are the one blessed to be part of His will.

Please! Don’t try to live life your way. Live it His way. Surrender. Just like those control top underwear only hide the problem for only so long before the fat rolls over the top. Don’t try to hide your problems; they will surface. Surrender those problem at the foot of the cross. God already knows they are there. He’s just waiting for you to let Him out of that box giving Him room to radically change your life.

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.”

James 5:16 (ESV)

 

Intentional

A few days ago, my husband called for me to come to the computer. He opened up a video from 2010 of our oldest as a baby. The adorable little baby (that looked strikingly similar to our current baby) rolled back and forth on a jungle floor mat happily playing by himself. Then he rolled over and our old puppy came in and gave him kisses. It was so adorable.

“Aww!!! That’s so cute! Do we have any videos like that of our other kids?” I asked.

My husband shook his head, “not one.”

I know, I know. It’s the joke that only baby #1 has a completed baby book, perfect month by month pictures, and the like. But baby #2 has an almost blank baby book, thrown together pictures, and so on… Sadly, it’s funny because it’s true. We have sooooo many baby pictures and footprint/handprint art from our first child. He also is the only one of my children to have six “Baby’s first Christmas” ornaments. We were so intentional about documenting and recording his life events.

Then we had more kids. And more kids. And now poor baby #6. When someone ask me how old he is, I’m like, “Well he was born on November 1. You can do the math.” When someone asked me how old my oldest was, I was like, “3 months, 2 days, and 16 hours.”

 

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Intentional.

I wonder if I treat my relationship with God like my first child or my 6th child. Somedays I think it’s more like my 2nd child. He has a baby book. He has a ton of pictures. But not as detailed as the first. Not as intentional as the first.

There’s a reason God wants to be first in our lives. He wants us to be intentional about our relationship with him. He wants us to want to document our lives with Him. He wants us to want to grow deeper in faith, obedience, and trust.

When I was a kid, I knew the 10 Commandments. I knew the commandment said, “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Great! I’ll just keep a list of my loves. As long as God is on top, I am ok, right? WRONG!!! When God said this, he did not mean like a check list. He meant, no other gods in my presence.

He wants to be around nothing else that consumes your heart. But in our human minds we can justify our choosing to have other gods.

Well, I’m a wife/mom, my role there is the most important… Be careful not to make your family or your role a god.

Well, I’m their parent, they have to honor me above all else… Be careful not to make yourself their god.

Well, doesn’t God want me to be happy? He will overlook this desire that is pulling me away from His light. First, this is not true. I cringe every time I hear a Christian tell me this. This is the world justifying your sin, not God’s desire for you. Don’t make your secret (or not so secret) sin your god.

Please hear me here- it’s a trap! No one and no thing should ever have more importance in your life than God! Your role as a wife, parent, friend, and (you fill in the blank here) is important. But our primary reason for existence is to bring glory to God! If you have a role that is taking away from God, you need to reevaluate your heart.

If you have been expecting your spouse or children to make you happy, you are in for a sad and rude awakening. They are not God. Nothing you do for them. Nothing they do for you will satisfy that longing in your heart. There is only one that can satisfy. And that is Jesus. Your spouse and your kids were never meant to take the place of Jesus. Remember first and foremost, He took their place. They are gifts from God to point you to Him.

If you are a Christian, you must be intentional about making God part of your daily life. Church should be the dessert to the rest of your week, not the main course. Many times, we do not take advantage of the fullness of the cross. Jesus died so we can have salvation, but also so that we can be in direct communication with God! Are we being intentional at taking full advantage of what we have been given through Christ? Or are we checking the box and giving God our wish list?  Prayer, mediation, devotional life, and fellowships are just a few things we can do to be intentional with our relationship with God and grow towards Him.

If you are a Christian but your walk is not as strong as you would like it to be, you are not alone! Walking with Christ is an absolute blessing, but its not easy. It takes time. It takes practice. You will mess up. He will take you right back. Surround yourself with people and things that point to him. Spend time in prayer. Look for the blessings around you. Be intentional about making God part of every aspect of your life.

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7

Guarded

While at the library Thursday, my daughter checked out a bunch of books. Since she forgot her library bag, the librarian gave her a plastic grocery bag to carry her books. As she was walking out of the library, the bag ripped, and her books fell all over the ground. She scrambled to pick them up, but since they were all different shapes and scattered, it was no easy task. Her brother went over to help her, but she quickly covered her books and said, “These are my books.”

“I know,” he said. “Would you like me to help you and carry some out to the car for you?”

Immediately her expression changed from anger to relief.

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Oh, what a perfect image of how I must be when people are trying to help me. I’m so overwhelmed by the problem at hand, that an act of help has me responding poorly.

For whatever reason I’m guarded. I’m prideful. I don’t even realize they’re trying to help.

My poor, poor husband. As I am typing this, I can recall so many instances where he offers me help, but I hover over my scattered books and say, “Leave me alone. I’ve got this.”

In my defense, no one likes being told your wrong. Even if that’s not exactly what is said, that’s how I internalize it.

Internalizing messages has been a major heart ache in my life. I learned from a young age to “read people,” but not based on their words. More like their emotions, facial expressions, and body language. Sadly, I thought there were two conversations being had. The one that was being spoken and the one that was meant.

It took me a long time to realize, most people say what they mean and mean what they say. You don’t have to read between the lines. But I still do it.

I still try to find the hidden message in what’s being said. And it causes my heart so much agony.

I suddenly think people don’t like me, when they barely engaged in conversation with me.  Now I am wondering what I did wrong, when maybe they just had a bad day, a headache, a problem, or lacked the time to actually talk to me.

When I’m running late, I start the negative talk wondering why I can’t ever be on time. When I say something dumb, I feel dumb. When someone makes a joke and it takes me a minute to get it, I feel stupid. If I make a Pinterest dinner flop, I think I’m a horrible cook. When I fail, I tell myself I am a failure.

It has taken me some time to realize that I internalize things because I place other people’s opinions higher than my own. I place other people’s opinions higher than God’s.

I need to see myself as God sees me. “Perfectly and wonderfully made.” I need to recognize the good work that He has started in me and know that He is faithful to carry it out to completion.

Yes, we are going to mess up, but we are not a mess. Yes, we will fail, that doesn’t mean we are failures.

We are daughters and sons of the God! Our creator! Our Lord. He cares for us. He knows us by name. He has a plan for our lives! Once we can wrap our heads around all that, we can begin to see ourselves as image bearers of God. After all that is the way God sees us. The good news is that we do not have to see ourselves that way before we can begin a relationship with Him through His son Jesus Christ.

Let me take a bit of burden off of you for a moment and tell you something that maybe you haven’t heard before. Your worth and your identity is not in your marital status, family achievements, occupation, accomplishments, or any other worldly things. Your worth is in Christ! You were bought with a price. Christ paid that ransom. God loves you so much and he knows what you are worth and that is exactly why He was willing to die for you personally. As you go on with your life, I want to encourage you to remember that Jesus died once and for all. There is no need to stick Him back on the cross to die a second time. Once was enough.

Let down your guard. Accept help from those offering it. And look up. Thank God for what He has done in your life. Walk in the presence of the Holy Spirit. Embrace your identity in Christ!

“The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God. And we really are his children. The reason the people in the world do not know us is that they have not known him.”  1 John 3:1