Incorruptible Love.

“Grace be with all those who love our Lord Jesus Christ with incorruptible love.” Ephesians 6:24 NAS

Life as a tween mom is akin to an Uber driver. Our vehicle is equipped with all of the snacks, chargers and melt-downs of home. But “the middle” is off limits.

“The Middle,” where all of the important things crucial to driving and my full control of the volume lies. In the tween-age tradition of pushing boundaries, occasionally a cute little elbow will drift into the forbidden zone and bump the shifter into neutral.

My daughters and I daily lose it on each other, take jokes too far, have an absence of patience, and a slew of other things that can probably be explained by fluctuating seasons of life on all sides. But drifting into “the middle” of the vehicle ignites a completely irrational level of panic and anger in me. 

I’m grieved when I lose my temper or harshly criticize my children. Though I cannot love them perfectly, I can see glimpses of how it’s supposed to be.

Shame is strong. It’s intent is to accuse. Squash it, and all of it’s distorted thoughts attempting to convince us we’re undeserving, unfixable, and dysfunctional. Because Jesus says …so what if you are? 

True love is incorruptible.  

“Incorruptible love.” A powerful statement no human being is capable of living up to apart from Christ. We are all, by nature, corrupted. 

My flip out over “the middle” being breached ignites a firestorm, but it always ends in laughter. The reactions are too ridiculous not to re-enact. 

Grace is the key to unlocking incorruptible love. It will flow throughout our lives and look foreign to many. Grace doesn’t play favorites. Jesus came to save us all from the power of sin. Incorruptible love, this side of heaven, is extending grace to ourselves and others.

As a  mother, there are many days that end to the tune of my apologies. For losing my temper, criticizing, or spending too much time gazing into my phone instead of connecting with my kids. The routine of apologizing creates an atmosphere of grace.

There’s nothing Jesus holds over our heads and says …oh, not that one. You’ll pay for that one. I can’t forgive you for that one. We can and should grow and get better. But Grace should be our number one priority. 

“Always forgiven,” I assure my girls, “and never loved less.”

That’s how we’re loved. By Love, incorruptible. 

“Let Us Not Become Weary in Doing Good” -How to Fight for Good in a Sin-Weary World

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” – Galatians 6:9 (NIV) 
“Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” – Galatians 6:9 (KJV)

Distressed heartaches are akin to sun-soaked patches and chilled traces of worry on our foreheads. The nightly news is abounding in negativity and dire worldly straits, despite modern advances in mobility and connectivity in many nations. Paul encourages us in Galatians 9, “Let us not become (or grow) weary in doing good” (NIV) 

Weary wraps around everything from strained muscles to over-extended relationships. Messy boundaries and misplaced shame wearies our souls. Parents can surely relate to the physical and mental strains of weariness. But the Bible is talking specifically about a different kind of weary– an enduring state that goes beyond what we can humanly bear or endure. 

It is the breaking point at which we cannot see how to move another step, or take another breath. dictionary.com defines weary as: 

1. physically or mentally exhausted by hard work, exertion, strain, etc.; fatigued; tired: weary eyes; a weary brain.

2. characterized by or causing fatigue: a weary journey.

3. impatient or dissatisfied with something (often followed by of)

When doing good in a weary world seems impossible, following Christ empowers us to love each other in spite of the chaos. Here are ten shifts for perspective that can revitalize us to keep going and teach us how to not grow weary as we do good:

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A Prayer for Those Wating on Healing

When our mobility is threatened, the world seems to stop. Suddenly everything becomes painful, nerves fry, and our prayers become urgent. Crying in a heap on my floor, I laid my collegiate athletic self to rest… I thought for good. Or, for as far forward as I could see. Whether His response to our agony is miraculous or deferred, we can trust He is healing us through seasons of pain. 

1. Take it to Him. 

“Pray about everything.” (Phil 4:6)

The things that we cannot do pale in comparison to Who we are talking to. Keep talking to God after the shock of the news. Revelation has many stages, and our eyes will open to a little more relief each day. 

2. Allow sadness… and joy. 

“Be joyful always.” (1 Thes. 5:16)

Search for the joy in your current circumstances. Pain is inevitable in this life, but God longs to show us each day’s happiness. 

3. Let go of control. 

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us.” (Ephesians 3:20)

Trust that God will reveal solutions in perfect time. Hope for miraculous healing, because it happens everyday. It happened to me.

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Pray on the Armor of God.

“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.” Ephesians 6:10 NIV

The smell of a loaded morning diaper overpowered my coffee as I walked upstairs to wake up my kids. We’re eight years post diaper, but the oder suggested otherwise. It cut through the freshly cleaned bathroom my daughters share. Apparently chewable vitamins, when tossed into the trash alongside damp make up wipes and whatever else …smell like a loaded morning diaper. 

The daily ritual of taking vitamins had suddenly become so painfully disgusting, my daughters resorted to hiding them in the oddest places. Why rebel against something that will make them stronger? Healthier? Protect them from sickness and injury?

More important than daily vitamins to protect our physical bodies are the pieces of God’s armor we can pray over our lives. “Pray always,” Paul writes, “Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how!” (Ephesians 6:18 VOICE)

Real, enduring strength is found in God’s promise for the longevity of our souls. Paul said, “our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” (Ephesians 6:12 NIV) The enemy is out to injure our souls. “Put on the full armor of God,” Paul wrote in Ephesians 6:10-18, “so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.”

Today, let’s pray the armor of God, found in Ephesians 6:10-19. Armed with the truth and mighty power of God, we will stand tall and strong, ready to bring honor and glory to Him in every area of our lives. 

Father, 

Protect us from the spiritual war we cannot see. Empower us to put on Your armor and stand firm. Jesus, You understand our pain. Crucified with You on the cross, we are no longer slaves to sin, or the evil forces at work in this world.

Protect our minds from distorted thoughts and untruths with the helmet of salvation. Slice through lies and accusations, hopelessness and doubt with the sharp double edged sword of Your Word. Knowing we will face trouble in this world, ready us for battle, Father. Protect us on all sides with Your breastplate of righteousness.

Father, set our feet on the solid foundation of the Gospel to remove any worry of stumbling into battle. In all circumstances, may we take up the shield of faith, to deflect every calculated shot of our enemy. Enable us to help others put on their armor, and accept help from those You have placed to help secure ours. 

Alert us to the enemy’s schemes to kill, steal and destroy. Protect us, tighten and tweak our armor when it loosens and becomes dented. Teach us to wear and use each piece efficiently. Keep us alert and help us to persevere.

Father, give us courage and bravery to pursue You and Your purpose for our lives like Paul did. To place our confidence in each piece of the armor we have prayed over our lives today, and feel the strength of Your mighty power working in and through our lives. 

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

“The Long Walk Home. Discovering the Fullness of Life in the Love of the Father,” by Matt Carter

Is following Jesus worth it? A main theme of this book, readers will be challenged to analyze their understanding of God’s love. “Yes, people are literally dying of despair,” Carter writes, “Why? Because they are looking for happiness in people, places, and things that simply can’t produce it.” Carter takes great care in defining and clarifying God’s love. Biblically grounded in Scripture and blended with life experience, this book is extremely relatable and encouraging. 

There’s no questioning the raising state of despair, anxiety and depression in our modern culture. Readers who remain open to the truth presented in the pages of this book will be able to take a step forward, or help someone in their life to cross into, peace and hope. The goal is to know we are all loved as we are …right now.  “The promises of God are crystal clear; your sin is not more powerful than the love He has for you as His child,” Carter illuminates, “He’ll never give up on you. No matter what.” 

The cost of following Christ isn’t easy …but it is worth it. That is what “The Long Walk Home” illuminates. It’s worth it. Christ is worth it. There is nothing greater or more soul filling and life fulfilling than God’s love. “The story of my life is the story of His love,” Carter reflects, “And as often as I forget, He is always faithful to remind me.” 

I highly recommend this book. In eight quick chapters, readers who are new to Christianity, as well as those who are well-seasoned, will walk away better equipped and pleasantly encouraged. 

I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.

CLICK HERE TO PURCHASE A COPY OF “A LONG WALK HOME.”

10 Surprising Things I Learned after Quitting Social Media

It got to me, too. The constant inundation of advertising and unattainable comparisons drove me into a season of distraction and discontent. My failure to fully engage in a conversation was frightening, and the time that I spent scrolling through feeds and updated statuses was embarrassing, at best. This girl, that wants to be friends with everyone, got a little lost where new friends seem to be never-ending.

So I left social media for a while. My complete evacuation stemmed from some bad advice, which I digested amidst the sea of swirling opinions that I subjected myself to all day, every day. After abstaining for a month or so, I slowly began process some important lessons I learned in the quiet season of my smartphone. Like anything in life, social media is something for which we have to construct healthy boundaries. It’s not going away, and it’s fun! But there are some important pros and cons that I concluded after my brief step away from it. I’m no expert on mental or spiritual health, but here’s what I took away from my digital vacation.

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7 Scripture Verses about Modesty Your Daughter Needs to Hear

“But everyone else-” my daughter trailed.

“But you’re not,” I interrupted.

Modesty isn’t only about wearing a sports bra that covers what it’s intended to in it’s entirety, but also behavior and self-perception. A lack of it leaves the door wide open for comparative worry and anxiety, threatening to steal a lot more than innocence. Here are the verses about modesty that your daughter needs to know.

1. “We are God’s handiwork.” (Ephesians 2:10a NIV)

The Greek word “handiwork” translated is “work of art.” My children bring home a lot of messes that they deem “art.” Papers and projects adorn my fridge and paintings and drawings are framed in my bookcase. I frame their messes! God has framed our “mess” with the sacrifice of His son. Jesus chose to die for the imperfect version of all of us. The messes… God’s works of art.

2. “Do not allow this world to mold you into its own image.” (Romans 12:2a The Voice)

Raising a secure daughter in a society full of comparison requires the development of humility, discretion, and constraint. God made us, and Jesus paid our ransom on the cross. A strong sense of who they are and whose they are allows them the ability to look up for assurance instead of around for answers.

3. “For physical training is of some value, but godliness (spiritual training) is of value in everything.” (1 Timothy 4:8)

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Make a Radical Move.

Do this and you will live!” Luke 10:28b NLT

How often do we sacrifice our comfortable daily routine to help someone?

Sometimes we need counselors and other resources to fight the battle of our mental health. That’s not what I’m addressing here today. There are everyday moments we avoid to help people who are being isolated, picked on, and left out. Wearing an inspiring t-shirt is a wonderful reminder, but are we brave enough to leave our comfort zones in pivotal moments? We can’t help a hurting soul if we don’t make a radical move.

The parable of The Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) tells of a priest and a levite, the religious people of Jesus’ day, passing by a man who had been robbed and badly beaten. The priests would become ceremonially unclean if they touched a dead person, so that excused them from walking clear around the injured man to avoid him, right? Jesus clearly taught that it was not. The Samaritan man stopped, and with what he had on him, helped the man. He inconvenienced himself, and accepted the risk of possibly being robbed and attacked, to do the right thing. 

“Which of these three would you say was a neighbor to the man who was attacked by bandits? Jesus asked.” (Luke 10:36 NLT)

An “expert in religious law” who’s questioning led to Jesus’ telling of the parable, knew how to answer questions correctly. But Jesus applied God’s truth to a realistic situation in which the expert could apply to everyday life.“The one who showed mercy.” the expert replied, “Then Jesus said, ‘Yes, now go and do the same.’” (Luke 10:37 NLT) 

“Go …

do …”

Comfortable Christianity isn’t living life to the full as Christ calls us to. Everything in this world will pass away. When Jesus returns, our safety nets will exposed, but so will all of the suffering we took on in His honor. Jesus knew we couldn’t shake the power of sin, so He crushed it’s chains for us. He healed, loved, and taught in parables so we could understand. 

The man knew the law before Jesus told the parable: “’You must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your strength, and all your mind.’ And, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Luke 10:27 NLT) But Jesus clarified whom it applies to.

“‘Right!’ Jesus told him. ‘Do this and you will live!’” Luke 10:28 NLT

When we ignore those in need, we are no better than the priest who walked all the way around the injured man. Everything we do on this earth is meant to honor Christ. Sitting silent when someone is hurting doesn’t. Being kind like Christ takes boldness and courage, because it isn’t always going to be an acceptable move by society’s standards. 

We live in a world hyper-focused on what people can do for us …but it’s backwards. We sing, “all we need is love,” but we’re not a loving society. Love isn’t everyone getting what they want or deserve. It’s literally engaged in looking for those who need us to DO something for them. The reciprocity of love isn’t self-focused, it’s them-focused. 

“Do this.” (Luke 10:28 NLT) 

Don’t just sit there. 

“Go and do the same.” (Luke 10:37b) 

Make a radical move. 

10 Unhealthy Types of Friends and How to Set Boundaries with Each

“I just can’t wait to be friends with everyone!” My friend, more reserved than my hyperactive, people loving self, laughed as if I’d lost my mind. The infamous mantra sticks nearly two decades later. When we seek God’s standard for friendship, and follow Jesus’ example, the Holy Spirit will help us spread the love of Jesus.

But what about unhealthy friendships? What is God’s standard for our friendship with those who drain our energy, deplete our resources and leave us feeling stressed and frustrated? God’s Word speaks truth into all of our relationships, and there is wisdom to be found for how to deal with that friendship that isn’t quite as healthy as it could be.

Here are 10 potentially unhealthy types friends, and how to love them within the good boundaries God has given us. 

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How to Teach Kids to Pray for Their Friends

Being a kid can feel pretty helpless, but learning how to unlock a conversation with God is like discovering a secret superpower. Suddenly, the people placed around them will mean a little bit more. And turning them outward by teaching them to pray for their friends allows them to experience God’s love. 

We can teach our children to pray for their friends using the acronym LET’S PRAY. 

L – Love

“A friend loves at all times.” (Proverbs 17:17)

When children understand how much God loves them, their light begins to shine into the cracks of other’s lives. And the foundation of a good friendship is love. When children are just learning to pray for their friends, keep it simple:

“Dear God, thank you for my friends. Help me to love them like You love me. Amen.”

E – Encourage Forgiveness

“Mom,” my daughter cried from the backseat, “I had a really hard day at school…” and off she went about how someone made her get in trouble and someone else was snotty to her and then someone who was “supposed” to be a friend didn’t really act like one that day. 

Friendship can be an emotional battlefield, and learning to forgive quickly is vital. Injustice is a part of existence, and it’s not a new trend or a surprise to God. “In this world you will have trouble,” He promised, but He sent Jesus to show us the perfect example of how to react:

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