Posted on March 19, 2021
God is the Author of the human spirit. God’s forgiveness has a weighty gravity to it because He knows the “number of hairs on our heads;” He “formed us in the womb.” There’s no escaping our humanity, our frailty, and our sin. We were created to lean on God through His Son, Jesus Christ. His sacrificial death on the cross granted us God’s forgiveness, bringing us into fellowship with our Father. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit pricks every believer with conviction to confess and repent sin. Our Father, because of the perfect sacrifice Christ made in our honor, is faithful to forgive us. The Apostle Peter wrote, “For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit” (1 Peter 3:18, ESV). God’s forgiveness gives us life, to the full (John 10:10).
Posted on February 15, 2021
“Oh give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever!” – Psalm 107:1 ESV
“God is good, all the time; all of the time, God is good,” is a popular phrase used in worship by many pastors, leaders, and believers. “Good” is who God is, what He does, and what we experience on His behalf. God, in His goodness, is sovereign over every circumstance. He proclaimed each note of His creation, “good.” God purposefully brings every human life into existence upon the earth, intended for “good” works to bring glory and honor to His name.
Posted on March 2, 2016
With every Kindergarten foot-stomp, adult miscommunication, seven-year old sassy stare, and unnerved “NO!- That’s not something we tell the dog ‘NO’ for,” I holler down the hallways of my home, I yearn a little bit more for a vacation away from all of them …the people and the thoughts.
“You’re not a good parent…just give up.”
“You’re not a good wife…just give up.”
“You’re not a good friend…just give up.”
“You’re not a good writer…just give up.”
“You’re not a good …daughter, sibling, co-worker, church member …fill it in how it feels …and then just give up.”
If we’re being real, that’s someone’s reality. Today, it’s mine. I can see my lack of self-control reflected in my struggle to maintain the last word…even with my dog.
“Don’t you DARE bite me…” I’ll stare menacingly. They’re supposed to read your facial expressions, right? I’m not a good dog owner …maybe I should just give up.
My relationships reflect my constant battle with insecurities.
“They shouldn’t treat me that way…” Quit.
I crave entitlement to curb my doubts.
“I deserve better…” Walk away…again.
When we quiet the quitter by commanding compassion, we witness to the wavering. Through Jude 1:22 and Nicki Koziarz’s book, “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit,” Christ compelled me to stop whining keep walking.
Refuse to pour out doubt before you recognize the reflection. It’s unworldly to look in the mirror to heal ill-regard towards others. Justification is the more acceptable method of problem solving in our legalistic society.
It’s not the people and the circumstances in my life that are causing me mental unrest…it’s the disheveled way I’m running the course through and to my calling. But when I reach out and read I find I’m not alone…
Jude was Jesus’ brother. Yet, his qualification to speak on Christianity came from a lifetime of growing up in the same household with, but not believing, he lived among the Son of God. #oops (Men of the Bible, Bible Gateway)
Nicki’s honesty in revealing her “Quit List” comforted me to tears. #AMEN Testimony can reach out in such a personal way when the faithful share God’s story of their life.
Life Application: It’s easy to pitch a tent of pointed fingers and quit hard people and situations, but I’d rather look back at the meandering path of walking with Christ. When we feel a hint of aggravation creeping into our temperament, stop and pray for God to unplug the compassion-clog.
My qwerty keyboard lit on fire with crying smiley-faces when Nicki shared her experience with peroxide contact solution in her eye. I was so thankful not to be the only one who had somehow dismissed the bright red cap of warning, and pictured myself doing the spazzed-out eye-burning dance as she recalled her own. (Page 64, 5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.)
I expected her book to be funny and easy to relate to, but I did not expect to cry like a baby when she peeled back my secret struggle of marital life By unveiling her own honest sentiments. What secret? That it’s HARD. It’s so hard. Unbelievably hard, even when you’re blessed with the best.
I’m forever thankful she chose to come alongside of me that day. Her compassionate wave of the “It’s OK” flag released the flood gates of something I wasn’t sure was “normal” to feel. The next morning, God so faithfully and personally placed people in my kitchen to call it out and pray it out with me. #awesomeness.
Christian love get’s lost in the movement, sometimes. Sharing the struggles behind the smiles of your life is “caring enough to move” (Pastor Todd Neilsen)…and that’s compassion defined. I pray God allows me to be there for other people like me, who exude laughter and encouragement, but are inclined and conditioned to tough it out.
Life Application: If we can learn to lean in to the One who made us a midst struggle and strife, I believe we’ll discover the confidence hidden in our truest pieces. And I know those pieces are meant to touch hearts and save souls.
For anyone who tests out of personality quizzes with leadership skills like I do, the struggle with control is real. But God wouldn’t build a trait into my character unless He meant it for good. How can control be a good thing? The obvious benefits of self-control are easy to equate, but while studying this word I discovered a new layer.
“Control: A person who acts as a check. A check or restraint. To eliminate or prevent the flourishing or spread of. To test or verify…”-Dictionary.com
My religious upbringing lit the love of Christ in my heart, but there came a time when I had to sift through rules to release my relationship with God. The floodgates of conversation flew open when I lifted up the consequential constraints of penance to begin running my disheveled course of calling. I had to lose control to gain control.
Control of each soul’s marathon is beyond a human’s ability to reason and rule. As we stride up alongside each other on life’s disheveled course of calling, our duty is to extend an encouraging word and a “you can do it” through whatever personality skill you’re gifted the highest score.
“Christian freedom is not a hall pass to do whatever one wishes.” Case for Christ Study Bible, Jude 1:22 Rather, Christian freedom is the way Nicki described it in her book:
“Goodness, I mess up all the time. I say things I shouldn’t say. I have thoughts I shouldn’t have. I doubt when I should trust. I quit things I shouldn’t quit. And yet God is always there dabbing more and more grace on my soul. He doesn’t quit me; He just keeps ‘touching up’ the places of weakness in me.” Nicki Koziarz, “5 Habits of a Woman Who Doesn’t Quit.”
Sometimes, God’s people will dab grace on your soul during the race…
Life Application: When doubters see you overcome what they are underneath, a “me too” mentality is born from testimony. Share the hard stuff, and be real with God about your stuff.
Each translation of Jude 1:22 perpetuates a unique revelation. God will speak your language, where you’re at. Jude’s letter emphatically urged his audience to be wary of “grumblers and fault-finders” toting Christian freedom as “a license for immorality,” (Case for Christ Study Bible) and ended his letter by pointing back to God, who is “fully able to keep those who put there trust in Him.” (NIV Study Notes James 1:24-25)
Synonyms for control, according to Dictionary.com, are: management, government, reign, rule, mastery. Rest assured, the author of the universe is in control. Everything has a flip side. Christians know the ending. Stay focused on the finish line, and make the choice to keep your control setting flipped to His.
It’s a disheveled course, but God designed my personality to persevere around every sharp corner and up every steep…never-ending hill. Jesus’ scarred hands extend compassion to me…which bleeds out of my life, and prayerfully onto those who need to know that He loves them, too. That’s the mission. Until the we hug Him in heaven …there’s no time to quit.
Happy “Not” Quitting…
Posted on February 25, 2016
If anything can trump everything, we are pushed into punishment.
My stomach twisted in fret like it did on the way up the first hill of the tallest roller coaster in the world When I was ten-years-old. I wasn’t ready to face that fear then, nor was I prepared to hear the Elementary School Principal’s voice on the other end of the line now.
“Lauren made a visit to my office today because she spit in another student’s face…she was very remorseful…that’s what we want to see…”
I caught myself holding my breath just like I did down the first hill of the Magnum XL200 back in 1989, unable to digest the gravity of the situation, nor how my sweet little stinker-pants could possess the ability to make such a terrible decision.
“I’m so sorry, and so embarrassed,” I unraveled to the kindhearted voice on the other end. Not only was this the principal of my kid’s school, but a friend and former colleague from my XC coaching days. I was mega-watt mortified.
Some moments scar more vividly than physical wounds.
The butterflies did laps in my belly as I waved to the Principal in the pick up line that afternoon, and then laid eyes on my little Kindergarten criminal…who was smiling and waving at me as if she’d had a banner day.
“Hi, Mommy!!!!” She bounced into the car with the sweetest smile and eyelashes-a-batting.
“How was your day,” I let out in a wispy tone of shock. This child, who normally cries of remorse before she’s accused, was acting as if I’d gotten the wrong parent phone call just hours earlier.
“Good…he he he!” I expected her eyes to well up and over, but she must have tearfully cleared her conscious already.
“What behavior chart color were you on today?” I asked, and the facial expression fell to fear.
“Purple.” Double edged sword. The first edge being that purple, her all-time favorite color, was at the bottom rung of the behavior scale. The second sharp pinch was the repetition of the offense…this was the second day in a row that the day’s square had been shaded purple. She was warned, reprimanded, repeated and then trumped the previous day’s behavior. And it was Tuesday. #parentfail
“The only reason I didn’t send her home on pink (the very bottom….) was because it wasn’t malicious…I saw the whole thing…she just got carried away…she has an ornery streak in her…” Her sweet teacher explained in a phone call after school.
“Not malicious…” Those words rang like sweet affirmation in my mind filling up fast with motherly doubt. I did know my own child. #notatotalfail
In an instant, the light bulb lit on what had burnt Lauren’s capacity to cope and tendency to act out when squeezed. I saw the painful look on her face the weekend before, and noticed the way she isolated herself. I let my own “anything” matter more than taking the time to teach her to talk, unravel and resolve what was bothering her.
When we are put in the pressure cooker, we are inclined to explode or implode without applying God’s perspective. Lauren needed me to do aid her in that process.
That’s a hard truth for me to recall and apply each day…especially when little red “uh-oh” button is pushed by a child of mine who has decided to live by her own set of rule …but worth the effort not to leave a purple scar. Download the knowledge of this verse along with me…
Lauren may not always talk out what she needs to process, but the little gal forgives herself with amazing ease. She’s very remorseful when the realization of wrong hits her, but then she let’s herself off the hook. It’s the negative reinforcement of the mistake that causes scarring slip ups to linger. She can recall every “bad color” day she’s ever had. Which is too bad, because they are swimming in a sea of banner days.
God teaches me, through her witness of forgiveness, how bitterness is no more productive than a roller coaster train unexpectedly stuck at the top of the hill. All of the passengers are ready to experience the rest of the ride, but the train of bitterness is stuck at the top, unable to budge. It challenges me to do the work that being quick to forgive requires, lest I miss out on the rest of the ride God’s built into my life.
Jesus’ death opened the line of communication directly to God. The curtain was torn (Deut. 4:7),and the key to peace was given to us in grace by Jesus’ death on the cross. It’s easy to jump into a pool of panic and fear whispers when boundaries are crossed and rules are broken. That’s where discipline leaps off the diving-board.
Consequences must be upheld and new boundaries must be instilled. The laps I ran with my older child don’t always get repeated the same way…or at all…for my youngest. She’s cute, and funny, and the baby, and I’m guilty. Guilty for letting her fly under my radar and peek out every once in a while with an adorable melting of every ounce of my heart.
God showed me recently that “unconfessed sin is a barrier to prayer.” (Foundations, The Chapel.)
“Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God. Because of your sins, he has turned away and will not listen anymore.” Isaiah 59:1-2
I appreciate the way God instills confidence in me as a parent through the work He simultaneously performs on my soul. By teaching me to be quick to recognize my lack of discipline and confess my sins, I am now more able to help my children do the same, on their level. #soulwork
If there’s one thing God has helped me do great in my home, it’s apologize to my kids. After all the discipline was addressed, I knew I owed Lauren an apology.
“I forgive you, Lauren,” I began that purple day, “and I’m sorry, too.”
Tears welled up in her eyes, in amazement and relief that someone had noticed, and that someone cared. And with that, the potential for scarring was snuffed out by love.
I apologized to my sweet baby girl for all of the hours every week that she sat in the waiting room at the dance studio while big sister worked for her dream…for all the bed time chats we’ve never had…for not making a better effort to get her together with her friends…and work on her dreams.
“I love you, and what happens in your heart matters to me…you can tell me anything…I’m always here for you…I’ll always forgive you before you even say you’re sorry…and I’ll never love you any less…because that’s how God loves me.”
With a tearful hug, she whispered “thank you, Mommy…I forgive you…I love you…” into my ear.
And there it is…Life within the love of Jesus.
I can’t expect myself or my child to be perfect, or “180” into everyone’s glorious approval …and I can’t prevent the scars she racks up from the lack of obedience we all struggle with. But I will love her always, and I can bring her to lean into everything that I know about Him, to withstand anything that tries to push me into punishment…through Christ, who gives me strength (Phil 4:13) ..through His scars.