Work in Progress

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I KNOW I’m a work in progress. I have to be, or else I’d be in a world of trouble. Romans 8:28 says “in ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him”. I need to claim that promise and move forward with it daily. Some days I’m flying high and feeling good, some days I’m just the opposite. Some days I’m super sensitive and some days I’m just irritated. I believe it’s a human condition that the devil loves to prey on. He wants us down and out. He wants us to lash out and freak out. He wants us to throw caution to the wind and thow a fit. Then, after he gets his way, he likes to sit back and smirk while we cry, try to compose ourselves, and make amends to whomever happened to be in the line of fire.

How can we compose ourselves when our buttons are pushed? Proverbs 29:11 (NIRV) says “A foolish person lets his anger run wild. But a wise person keeps himself under control.” Will freaking out and lashing out make you feel better? Yes, in the moment, as would many other things. But, ultimately, it will have brought you down to the button pusher’s level and given them exactly what they wanted. They want you to get crazy, act crazy, and fight……so they can smirk.

Nowhere does it say we shouldn’t stand up for ourselves or that we have to agree. On the contrary, 2 Timothy 1:7 (CEV) says “God’s Spirit doesn’t make cowards out of us. The Spirit gives us power, love, and self control.” The Spirit’s power is true power. The power to stand up for yourself and/or others in a loving way. This is exactly why we can’t mistake kindness for weakness. It takes alot more strength to respond with kindness in some situations than it does to retaliate in hate and hostility. By all means, stand up, speak up. But, don’t lose control. That’s exactly what the devil wants because it will not resolve the situation, the conflict will continue, and peace is not made by either parties.

What about when we lose it anyway? GRACE. We talk a lot about forgiving others and extending grace to others, but let’s not forgive to extend it to ourselves. This is HUGE for me. I’m more apt to dish out grace to everyone BUT me. It’s important that we view and love ourselves for who we are in Christ. His beloved kids. Our kids temper tantrums absolutely makes them difficult to deal with at the time, but it never alters our love for them. We can get so down on ourselves for how we deal or dealt with a situation, that the one we need to forgive and love on most is ourselves.

Let’s all remember who we are to Him, how much He loves us, and show ourselves mercy too.

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Far From Perfect…

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I’m far from perfect, but I am forgiven and deeply loved.

Being a mom reminds me of this when my kids get in trouble. My oldest daughter got in trouble last week and is grounded this weekend because of it. Downside of having a grounded kid and being a single mom, other than the obvious disappointment in her behavior, is that all our plans were cancelled. This weekend we are all kind of grounded. Upside is that now all our closets are organized!

Her dad and I discussed her punishment with each other and with her. We are standing firm and united in dealing with this situation and taking it seriously. Which is good….and hard! Even though discipline doesn’t come naturally to me, I have to work on it and remain firm because her behavior made me very sad. The nurturing part of parenting comes a lot easier to me. Regardless, this needs to be addressed and followed through with. And we are…

When our kids get in trouble it reminds me of how much God loves us regardless of our behavior. He forgives us and loves us no matter what, but there are still consequences for our choices. Our God is a God of so much grace and love that He does discipline us. His discipline is why so many turn away, but it is because He loves us that He does so. A parent who disciplines their child, loves their child and wants them to learn from it. Discipline isn’t easy! Parenting isn’t easy! It’s hard on us all. But, worth it. Just like God’s discipline. He disciplines us because He loves us enough to. And wants to teach us through it.

My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline, and don’t be upset when he corrects you. For the Lord corrects those he loves, just as a father corrects a child in whom he delights. Proverbs 3:11-12 (NLT)

Being a parent opens our eyes to many acts of love. Providing, comforting, teaching, nurturing, playing, laughing, listening, forgiving, reminding, transporting, helping, clothing, feeding, AND disciplining are all ways we show love to our children. As does God, only better. He is the perfect Parent. And, because He is perfect and I am far from it, I am forever thankful that He is helping me raise my girls. I need Him every day.

Just like my love hasn’t changed for my daughter because of what she did, His love never wavers for us. He loves us before, after, and during our mess ups. Our behavior doesn’t dictate God’s love for us. His love changes our behavior. When we KNOW He loves us, we don’t want to hurt Him. The more we know Him, the more we are aware of what hurts His heart. We don’t like to hurt those who love us and He loves us the most. This is what changes our behavior. His forgiveness. His grace. His love.

What Does That Mean??

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Romans 8:31 says “If God is for us, who can be against us?” I’ve been pondering what this verse means lately and this is what I feel God has spoken to my heart about it.

People and things do come against us in this life. There will be times we have trouble and there will be times when we fail. There will be times we cause problems and times we are affected by others problems and actions. There will be innocent victims and there will be times we flat out rebel against what we know we “should” do.

But, what I’ve received lately about this particular text, is that if we look for a solution to our specific issue or emotions in His Word, He will show it to us. And when we choose to do what He says, it is in our best interest. He doesn’t ask us to do anything out of any reason but love. Because He IS love. Any command He gives, is given for our protection and healing. In other words, He is FOR us, not against us, not fighting us, not preventing joy, but promoting it.

His love covers us when we fail and convicts us to full repentance. This is where change comes in. Full repentance leads to us doing things differently because we actually believe He has forgiven us and we don’t want to hurt his heart by turning back to what He’s revealed as hurtful. Pleasing God is recognizing His love for us and acting accordingly. Recognizing His love enough to make us think twice before turning back to what was hurting us. When we hurt ourselves that also hurts Him. He longs to protect and deliver us from what we look to for comfort and security and point us back to Him. He is a jealous God. He is jealous for us. He longs to be our first love, because He is. He loved us first and He loves us most.

When we are hurt by someone, He asks us to forgive for our own benefit and healing. Leaving the offense with Him and moving forward leads to the abundant life that He promises. Living without forgiveness bonds us to pain, anger, and bitterness that He died to save us from. He asks us to guard our hearts, not to prevent love, but to protect them from the counterfeit. To wait and seek His face and His love in the other person because only then can we know that the person knows what real love is and where it’s found. He asks us to tithe so that we learn to trust Him. He doesn’t need the money, but He does know we struggle with trust. He also knows that the stingier we are, the stingier we become. Giving with a cheerful heart is very good medicine to our selfish and scared hearts.

A thief comes only to steal and to kill and to destroy. I have come so that they may have life and have it in abundance. John 10:10 (HSCB)

Doing what He asks us to do, is for our own good. He isn’t out to kill our good time, take all our money, or prevent us from having relationships. He is all for developing our character, growing our faith, and providing healthy relationships. He is all about coming first in our lives and when we truly make Him #1, He promises us an abundant life. An abundant life is a life full of joy and peace that can only come from Him.

Is following Jesus easy? No. Is it worth it? Completely. Because He is FOR us. The enemy is against us.

 

He Loves Me Enough To….

 

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He loves me enough to….

  • Let go
  • Forgive
  • Relax
  • Move forward
  • Change
  • Be honest and get real
  • Admit weakness
  • Come to my rescue
  • Help me raise my children
  • Listen anytime and every time
  • Try new things
  • Try again
  • Chase a new dream
  • Give more than I “think” I can
  • Share more than I “think” I can
  • Speak up
  • Stand up
  • Keep going….

That’s freedom to me.

Each one of us has different fears, different issues, different pasts, and different baggage. God’s love is the healing balm. Feeling His love will cover you, embrace you, strengthen you, remind you, and overwhelm you. His love is why my grandpa’s favorite song was “No Regrets”. The lyrics “No regrets, I chose to follow Him” is actually written along the bottom of his tombstone and I can hear him singing it every time I read those lines….

No regrets because His love is what it’s all about.

Do the Hard Thing.

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When I got married, my dream was to stay married. I know that’s the shared dream for the majority of us when we marry, but my dream of a lasting marriage may have been for different reasons than some. I wanted to know that marriage really could last forever. I needed to prove it to myself. I was very much pro-marriage and still am. 

My parents divorced when I was in the 8th grade and it was hard. Divorce is hard on everyone. I’ve heard that research has shown that kids from divorce tend to divorce more often because they see it as an option. I was the opposite. I felt like my parents’ divorce fueled me to stay together come hell or high water……no matter what. I was in it for the long haul. The last thing on earth I wanted to go through or put my kids through was a divorce. I’d lived it and I knew the difficulties and pain involved.

I wanted a happy, healthy, and whole family for my husband, kids, and myself. Our marriage wasn’t happy, healthy, or whole because the people in it were not healthy or whole to begin with. I wanted so desperately to break the cycle of divorce that I displayed and permitted behavior that shouldn’t be accepted as normal in a healthy marriage. The example we were modeling for our children was neither healthy nor happy. It was quite the opposite. The marriage disintegrated while I prayed consistently for it to be restored. I poured my heart out to God over and over again pleading with Him to step in and save the marriage for the sake of our children and my dream to just stay together. Instead, the divorce happened. Looking back now, I know it needed to.

The reality of divorce has been the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through thus far in my life. Now, in the aftermath, it’s still hard. It’s hard because of too many reasons to list. It’s hard because the girls have another woman in their lives now. It’s hard because they go back and forth between homes. It’s hard because we don’t have the same rules at my house as he does at his house. It’s hard because our priorities are different. It’s just hard and I know as a child of divorce that it always will be.  It will take a daily surrender and annointing of grace, mercy, and forgiveness to prevent the devil’s stronghold of anger, bitterness, and resentment to fester. I know now more than ever that I need a daily dose of Jesus every single day for my children and myself.

Over the past couple weeks, I’ve felt God tell me that He wants me to do the hard thing again. And that is to forgive and extend mercy to all involved. Forgive for the love of God and for the love of my children. When we have “every right” to be bitter and wish the worst, God asks us to do the hard thing. I know I can’t do it on my own, my flesh is entirely too weak. But, I’d rather forgive than suffer. I’d rather forgive than let the magnitude of what happened affect what will happen in mine or my children’s lives. I am willing to do the hard thing. But, I can’t do it on my own. He’s going to have to prop me up and do it with me.

I have no doubt God could have saved our marriage, but He chose not to. That wasn’t a part of His plan. I do know His plans for me are good. I do know He wants me to forgive and continue to love. I do know He wants me to live an abundant and joyful life.  To live the life He desires me to live, I believe I will have to once again do the hard thing. I believe that forgiveness equals freedom and I also believe He loves me enough to help me do it because He has forgiven me.