We all know the phrase, “Run your own race.” Having to do with staying in our own lane. Focusing more on what we’re doing than what others are doing. Keeping our eye on the prize. Doing what we can to help ourself and not tripping over others’ progress and issues.
I think it’s important to help others when they fall or get injured. I think Jesus wants us to. I also think He gave each one of us our own dreams, gifts, and strengths to fulfill our purpose (race) on this earth and to help others with theirs.
Just like He so graciously give us our own gifts, we also all have our own weaknesses. We know this because we all fall short. (Romans 3:23) We all need help from Him and from others to get where we’re going.
Sometimes we need to stop running our race and walk it. Intentionally slow our roll and walk. There will be times in our journeys when we feel like we are walking through mud. Other times we end up somewhere completely different than we’d planned to because we were dragged. Other times we will be carried and have no idea how we made it over that hot lava.
Sometimes we run full speed ahead and sometimes we need to walk. On purpose. Obstacles will sometimes require it. The strength and discipline it takes to walk instead of run when the coast appears clear, requires the Holy Spirit too. Because He sees the end, we can’t. He sees all the runners, we can’t. He loves all of us runners/sinners and wants us all to reach His finish line. He died for all of us to do so.
So, when directed to, walk. Slowly, deliberately, powerfully. Confident in the One waving the flag.
I believe God makes Himself clear when we ask Him what our current pace should be.
In races, flags are used to signal drivers and their colors all mean something different. Blue means allow faster cars to pass. Yellow means caution. Black means the driver should return to their pit. Red flags mean stop.
There is a pace to our race. Although our paces and races will all be different, we are all aiming for the same finish line if our goal is heaven. And, we need to trust His pace. By God given grace.
Right now, mine is WALK until the green flag says RUN.
“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people.” — Colossians 3:24 (NLT)
So, today a coworker asked what we had planned this weekend. My first response was to complain that we would be all spread out. That I wanted everyone home for Easter. That Easter without everyone where they’re “supposed to be” was just a bummer. She felt my disappointment and sadness over it. She’s a sweetheart.
As soon as she walked away, the Lord whispered in my ear… “Where others are doesn’t change what I did for you on Easter.” Right then, my mind blew right open. What He did was for me. Who’s around and what we do doesn’t change that one iota. It’s 100% personal.
So, no matter who you celebrate with, egg hunt with, worship with, or play golf with, remember the true meaning of Easter. And, that can and should be in our hearts, no matter where we are or who we’re with.
One on One with the One who did it for you. It’s about you and Him. I love when He speaks to our hearts. It’s so sweet and personal. I hope this touches yours.
As much as I love walking alone, I noticed my partner today.
The very big shadow in front of me. I didn’t just see it, I admired her. She was me.
My mistakes, my whys, my loves, my hurts. Are all in this shadow.
The little girl. The young woman. The new mom. The divorced woman. The single mom. The remarried wife. The stepmom. Career woman. Ministry-driven woman… All the things. All the things that make me me. Her her.
I love how she learns.
She’s been hurt a lot, yet continues to love. That makes me proud of her.
My heart went out to my shadow. I was literally walking with myself. Face to face. I was skating forward and she was skating backward. And, I enjoyed it.
As we get older, our bodies change. Our walls go up and our preferences change. But, if we can love who walk alongside us, our dark shadows, and our own, redemption isn’t far behind. It’s like loving the person we see in the mirror. Even though and through.
We need to give ourselves compassion too. Not so much judgment, but empathy. Love for the shadow.
We all have dark sides. Sad sides. Compulsions. Struggles. Survival skills we learned as children. And took into adulthood.
The shadow I noticed today had long legs and a thin body. I may not see that in the mirror, but I love what I saw today.
The shadow I saw today kept my pace and we walked together effortlessly. Almost better. Step for step, egging each other on.
I loved her. I love her and am already looking forward to our next walk.
All these things are extremely helpful. We need them all. Here. They make many of us a living. They keep our checks clearing, lives turning, and trash cans empty.
It’s hard to imagine a world without these. Sounds like it would be a nightmare. But, to not need them? How wonderful.
Still, the people behind the badges and education and cash registers will still be there. In a place where we are wanted but not needed. In a place where only the sacrifice of God turned into one perfect human to live and die in this imperfect world made possible.
Jesus said He went to prepare a place for us (John 14:3). Where all people who believe in Him will not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16) He did it for us. Regardless of race or profession or political party. The best gift ever. Providing our only way to experience this perfect world with Him.
I know many talented people. I’ve worked with some brilliant doctors and techs, I’ve also been treated by some and I thank God for them all. I’ve met some amazing therapists and lawyers who help treat broken spirits and fight for human rights whom we need here desperately.
“Winning” a case doesn’t make it perfect. Graduating doesn’t make it perfect. Getting married doesn’t make it perfect. Getting pregnant doesn’t make it perfect. Getting promoted doesn’t make it perfect.
As much as I’m thankful for my profession and anyone I help by doing it here on this earth, I look most forward to not needing it anymore for anyone.
A perfect world with no sickness or disease means no more doctors or nurses. A perfect world means no more paychecks or banks needed to keep our money or pay our bills. A perfect world means no more funeral homes or florists needed to purchase flowers that grow from it. A perfect world means no more need for police officers or military because there is no more crime or war. A perfect world means no more need for counselors to help with mental health or difficult relationships. All peace.
God has given each of us a purpose to help each other in this imperfect place and ways to provide while we are here. But, it’s not our permanent home. We all hope our children get degrees and careers that help others and themselves in this world we live in. But, most of all, I hope we are all in heaven together for eternity.
If you find yourself wondering why things are never “just right”. There’s always something. Remember that our hearts were made for heaven. Only then, will it be perfect.
I can’t let this year slip by without sharing how hard it has been.
When the ice storm hit North Texas, we were hit hard.
Financially and emotionally.
We were without electricity for 6 days and that led to approximately $15,000 in damage, not covered at all by insurance. I went unpaid for a week from work and received legal papers for one of my worst nightmares the same week. To say it was hard, would also be an understatement of the year. My heart and nervous system broke all over again.
The costs of home repairs and lawyers added up. The emotional toil and despair and stress took over in ways I wish I could forget, not to mention how badly I wish some of my loved ones could forget.
In the midst of this, I got a tattoo. This one. The word “Truth” on my right wrist. Because the enemy did all he could to take me out during this time. I couldn’t express to others the pain I was in. I also knew there was nothing anyone could do to make it go away even if I could. It was too much for words. But, God.
He didn’t take the bills or the difficulty away. He stood back when I asked Him to. “Is what I say true?” “Do I still love you?” “Even if. In all these circumstances, you lose. Do you lose Me?”
The Truth of that is “No. I don’t lose You.” I can’t. Because the Truth is found here. In You. About me. About others.
“Nothing can separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love.” Romans 8:38 (NLT)
I’ve never felt the powers of hell as strongly as I did this year. Because of that oppression, I am even more aware of how strong God is. How He fights for us in a spiritual realm. And what He allows us to go through. I felt the darkness of the battle. This was my way of putting on and tightening up the belt of Truth (Ephesians 6:14). And keeping it on. To stand my ground in it. And trust it. Because the alternative was death to my soul.
After our ice storm fiasco and the legal difficulties that I thought might kill me, both of our air conditioners went out. Another $20,000 later and we could only surmise we lived in a money pit.
Our beautiful home was eating us alive. And truly testing our marriage. What else, Lord? As I know that is not a test you want to give Him. Read the book of Job.
This is after I’d written a book about the love of God. This is after I’d hosted seven years of Bible study. This is after I thought I’d survived the worst. With Him. Oh, how much more He longs to draw close. To make it even more personal. To provide peace and make us His own. To draw us close to His chest and fight demons on our behalf.
This is proof that when we think we’ve been through the worst, we have no idea what else is coming. Right around the bend. So, lean in sons and daughters. Look to our Father who loves us most in the best and worst of times.
On the other side of this time and tattoo, I can also attest that to the extent there is pain, there is also joy and relief. Relief that it’s over. Lessons learned, and changes made. And love still. Stronger because of it. And that His Truth still stands.
Neither of us lost our jobs or our homes or our children or each other. We are well aware of these blessings. And grieve with others who have.
For us personally, 2021 made 2020 feel easy as hard and strange as it was. I know we all have our own experiences. I’m just sharing ours. Hopefully, this also helps you with yours. When the next valley arrives… The Truth doesn’t change in it.
He walks through our flames with us and brings us others who will too. It might be a smaller group than ever before. It might even be just you and Him. But, if that brings us closer to Him, So be it.
I love this tattoo more every day. I never thought I’d get one. I couldn’t imagine what I’d want on my body as long as I had it. But, this one. To see and remember. The Truth.
What He brought me through. How low I actually got. What I considered in my worst moments. The fact that He loves all of me. The good and the bad. My mistakes. My kids. His provision and grace. His strength. Not at all my own.
That my identity is not just Mom, as much of a gift that that is. I am His beloved daughter no matter what. Even if I were to lose my children. And as hard as that is to write, it’s Truth. And, I pray they know that about themselves too.
This tattoo is on my right wrist. Easily seen by me and others. Near where Jesus took His nails to save me. And easily placed over my heart when it needs reminded.
The Truth sets us free. And never changes or fades. This tattoo may change or fade over time more than the truth itself. And, for that, I’m thankful. He sustains me.
Even when the enemy wages war on our hearts and minds. Even when the deepest sadness sets in. Even when it seems no one understands. Even when we are schemed against and plotted around. The enemy wants to take us out. But, God says… “Nothing can separate us from His love.” Nothing.
I don’t know what’s coming next. But, I want to keep His Truth tattooed on my heart for it.
I remember having Good Morning America on in the background as I got ready for work like usual.
I remember hearing Charlie Gibson announce breaking news that one of the Twin Towers was on fire.
I remember seeing it burning in a split screen on TV and thinking it was an indoor fire that had started and gotten out of control. Maybe a coffee maker or microwave gone awry. I felt so sorry for those inside. I could only imagine their panic. Wait, it was a plane? What an awful accident! Something must have happened to the pilot. What about all those people?
I remember hearing the second tower got hit by a plane on my way to work. What was happening?
I remember walking into my office and all the televisions were on. Most of our patients didn’t show up that day, but the ones who did crowded around them with us. Other than the sound of news and sirens, it was eerily quiet in the office. We all just looked around at each other… watched and waited.
I remember calling my insurance company to update my car insurance like I had originally planned to do. Attempting any business as usual and the agent asked me if I knew what was going on. I did. And didn’t. Just like him. It felt like the world really did stop turning.
I remember calling my dad after the Pentagon got hit. And asking him what to do. Should I go home? He said to stay where I was unless instructed otherwise. I did.
I remember feeling like a sitting duck. No one knew when or where another plane might fall out of the sky.
I remember watching fire and police rushing in and up those towers as everyone else was doing what they could to get down and out. The ultimate bravery.
I remember my mom calling me from the airport. She had plans to fly that day. All flights were canceled and they had turned off all monitors in the airport. She waited hours to get her bag back because they went through them all. She remembers ATF and their dogs ascending on the airport in such force that she wondered where they came from. She remembers being the only car leaving the airport when she did and how strange that was in the middle of the day. Her 9/11 ticket is framed to this day.
I remember her confusion and fear. And mine.
I remember she drove straight to my office. We went to lunch. Like two deer in the headlights not knowing what on earth else to do.
I remember waiting to hear if my cousin was in his office at the pentagon that day. And the relief when we found out that he wasn’t.
I remember the deep sorrow followed by anger and helplessness we all felt as the facts and people were uncovered.
I remember the shock, grief, confusion, fear, and uncertainty.
I also remember the patriotism that followed. And the heroes who emerged. A sense of unity and comradery. That we would come back stronger, wiser, more determined to take care of each other. As Americans. But most of all, as fellow humans.
When we think He’s not. When we think He can’t be. When we don’t understand how. When we are convinced He must be losing to His adversary. God works.
This year has hit us like a ton of bricks. So much so, that I haven’t had the words to share. But, this is how He works. When attacks, betrayals, loss come out of the woodwork. When it shows it’s ugly face. When it corners you into the shadows. Hoping fear will break you. When heartbreak comes that you never knew possible, even after all you’ve already been through. This is how He works. To take you to a new level. To level up, as they say. Even closer to Him. He’s still there.
This year, I look at the difficulties, but also realize how deeply blessed I am because of them. How, in the betrayals and straight up shock, true friends and relationships have shown their lovely faces. Wouldn’t you rather have even two reals, than ten shallows? Wouldn’t you rather have even one who lets you share freely and doesn’t condemn or tell you to pray harder. But instead, prays for you. Intercedes because they know you don’t have the words or the strength. That know you are being beaten into oblivion spiritually. That goes to war with you.
Wouldn’t you rather have a marriage that you know can been tested? Can withstand? Will withstand? How would you know without the tests? He allows some really hard things to come into our lives to also show us how blessed we are. In the relationships that withstand the fire and come out so much more pure and rock steady in our hearts. The hard stuff shows us that. They can handle it and their love doesn’t change. They see the war you’re in and actually admire you for it. They know God is up to something special because of it. Because it’s just too hard for us humans. So, we lean harder.
When the ice storm rolls through and causes damage insurance won’t help with. Damage you never saw coming or could have budgeted for. When your office closes and won’t pay you because of it. When finances come crashing down and pressing in in a way you’ve never seen before. At no fault of your own. He works. He increases your courage.
When we think all hell is letting loose in our lives, our personal faith is being tested.
This year, I realize how when we ask God to get closer, it usually comes in ways that feel like He’s moving away. It feels like He actually CREATES these valleys. “God what are you doing? I thought we were passed this?” He asks us to press in. It’s not over.
When we ask for stronger relationships, He allows a problem to work through. When we ask for patience, He allows delays we can’t control. When we ask for better communication skills, He gives you a reason to talk. When we ask for more earthly defenders, He allows something that needs defended. So, they too, can come out of the woodwork. He works in us and ultimately for us. But, not always in the ways we “hoped” He would. Rather, in ways that promote longevity for change in our characters and desires in others.
Do we want honesty, compromise, openness, dignity? Then, He will remove those who don’t or can’t. He will teach them in His own way in their own hard stuff. This is hard and it hurts when we wish it could be different.
He promotes healthy relationships who want that in others too. He shrinks our circles. For His Glory and our good. He graciously and lovingly shows us knowing full well it will hurt, but exposing truth anyway. God works through pain. This is how He wounds, but also binds us back up (Job 5:18). Because that’s who Jesus is. Grace AND Truth.
Like the saying goes “The truth will set you free, but first it will piss you off.” We get angry because it hurts. No one likes to hurt. And a lot of times the truth does just that. Reality hurts sometimes. And sometimes it’s the most beautiful thing we’ll ever see this side of heaven. He opens our eyes to this in the hard stuff. BECAUSE He loves, He let’s us see the truth.
Well, we got through that, we can get through the next thing. He let that person leave, but shined His light on this one over here. The hard stuff. The stuff we wish were different or that we didn’t have to walk through at all, He works.
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 (NIV)
In all things. In the losses, in the shadows, in the ring, in the hard stuff….Do you love Him? Then, He’s working for you. Trust deeper.
I just came across this verse and it blew me away. I had to look it up in multiple translations. Could it be true?? Is this REALLY in the Bible? Yes, yes it is.
“Your approval means nothing to me, because I know you don’t have God’s love within you.” John 5:41-42 (NLT).
Wow, now this was Jesus speaking, not John. He does KNOW all things, so I trust Him that he knew. Seems like an extremely “judgy” statement for any human to say to any other human though. Who are we to judge? But, this was JESUS. He KNEW they didn’t and He had the authority to state it. He was speaking to the Pharisees after they were harassing him for healing the blind man on the Sabbath. Breaking the Sabbath rules.
In my journey to seek God’s approval over people’s, the text I tend to refer to is this one:
“Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant.” Galatians 1:10 (NLT)
Paul wrote that after basically cursing anyone, including himself, if they preach a different kind of Good News than the one they did that day, about Jesus being the only way ANY of us can receive salvation.
I love his boldness for Christ. And, I know he’s right. But, when I found the text Jesus spoke to the Pharisees today, I was reminded that if their approval meant nothing to Him because He knew they didn’t have the love of God in their hearts than seeking approval and guidance from those we know DO can’t be a bad thing. Rather a tool.
How do we know who does? Do they portray the fruits of the Holy Spirit listed in Galatians 5:22-23? And give Him the credit for it? Do they apologize when they don’t? Do they lift Jesus above themselves? Will they hear you out and pray that God speaks to your heart like they know He can, because He has? Do they love like Jesus? And admit He is the ONLY way?
Another way we can know who to seek guidance and approval from would be to ASK God. He promises to give us wisdom when we ask Him for it.
Do any of you need wisdom? Ask God for it. He is generous and enjoys giving to everyone. So he will give you wisdom. James 1:5 (ERV)
Ask Him who has the love of God in their hearts. This doesn’t mean God doesn’t love everyone. He loves everyone. But, not everyone has received that love to love themselves and others with it. Even if you have ONE of these people in your life, you are blessed.
In the same vein, stop asking those who don’t.
A person who HAS the love of God within them will not tell you what to do just as long as it benefits them. They may share their experiences and what they’ve learned through something similar. From pain comes wisdom. They may share something they receive after asking Him, but they’ll want you to receive that confirmation and peace in the answer too. They will ultimately pray His will and relationship into your life even if it’s not what they themselves would choose.
They may have Godly advice, but they will turn the hardest choices and decisions over to God speaking to you. They will KNOW He knows best, not them. They KNOW that your life path is supposed to be different from theirs. They KNOW you have a purpose to fill where God places you. And they’ll want you to experience the joy and peace and adventure that following Him over anyone else will provide. Even if it seems like the harder path, and it usually does. They’ll also know that you doing what He calls you to do brings us all one step closer to Jesus’s sweet return, because you will be getting His Word out wherever you go.
Jesus KNEW the Pharisees didn’t have the love of God in their hearts and actually said it, out loud. Ask HIM to help us know who does.
Many tend to give the “peace out” sign when it comes to seeking approval or guidance from anyone. But, remember, He did give us each other to be His hands and feet and ears and hearts. I am blessed to have some people who I have no doubt have the love of God in their hearts. I can tell by the way they love Him and me. So, these people are safe to ask. These people are safe to share with. Because I also trust they know I want a heart like theirs (His).
I know of some with family on hospice, some in the hospital, some mourning the empty chair, some thankful their loved one has recovered and is finally home, and some in quarantine.
Some in a brand new home, some who can’t pay the mortgage on the one they have, some who’ve never had one.
Some who are celebrating baby’s first Christmas, and some who are grieving the one they lost or can’t seem to have.
Some with new precious pets and others grieving the ones they had to part with this year.
Some who are so thankful for any time off this weekend and some who wish they had a job to go to.
Some who will be working on Christmas Day and many who will be separated and home instead.
Some heading to divorce court and some celebrating their first Christmas as a married couple.
Some who have all their kids home for the first time in what feels like forever and some who will be missing theirs.
In many ways a strange year. In others, it’s just like every other. Read it again… and recognize the ups and downs of life.
2020 just brought it to the forefront.
“There is no one who has tried to enjoy life more than I have. And this is what I learned: The best thing people can do is eat, drink, and enjoy the work they must do. I also saw that this comes from God.” — King Solomon Ecclesiastes 2:24-25 (ERV)