Despite It All . . .

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Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?” Matthew 19:27

Peter (Simon Peter) was one of Jesus’s disciples. I think we all can relate to this man who tried so desperately to follow Jesus loyally and with true abandon only to mess up over and over again. Jesus chose this very ordinary man as he was fishing with his brother Andrew in the Sea of Galilee. Jesus doesn’t make mistakes. He knew exactly what He was getting into with Peter. Just like He knows what He is getting into with us.

But Peter declared, “Even if I have to die with you, I will never disown you.” And all the other disciples said the same. Matthew 26:35

Peter wanted to give and do it all for Jesus, the man he knows without a doubt is the Son of God after Jesus calls him to step out of the boat and walk on water to Him. (Matthew 14:29) Like us, Peter had flaws, doubts, sins, insecurities and selfish desires that caused him to stumble and stray from his desire to follow Jesus with his whole heart. He used violence and cut off a guards ear, denied he even knew Jesus, but is the first Mary runs to when she discovers Jesus’s tomb is empty. (Luke 24:12)

Then Simon Peter, who had a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant, cutting off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) John 18:10

Then Peter remembered the word Jesus had spoken: “Before the rooster crows, you will disown me three times.” And he went outside and wept bitterly. Matthew 26:75

Despite every flaw, sin, deception, failure and betrayal, Jesus chose and loved Peter. Jesus used Him for His glory and the Kingdom of God. Despite it all, after Jesus ascended into Heaven and left His disciples, filled with the Holy Spirit, to share the Gospel, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by. Crowds gathered also from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing their sick and those tormented by impure spirits, and all of them were healed. Acts 5:15-16

That’s right! God was using this flawed and sinful man and people knew it. They hoped his shadow might fall on them. Here’s the deal! NO MORE EXCUSES!!! Next time you feel like your past is to broken, God could never forgive what you have done, use you for His Kingdom’s work and touch the lives of others PLEASE remember Peter. Don’t believe the lies that your aren’t worthy, good enough, forgiven or loved because you are. I don’t know everything, but I do know that if you earnestly seek God’s forgiveness it is yours. He can do anything and that includes using each of us despite all of our sins and character flaws. God chose you and formed you in your mother’s womb with purposes and gifts only you can fulfill. GOD’s not finished with our stories yet. If we are still walking this Earth, He needs us here to accomplish His good works. Don’t miss out because of past mistakes, sins and regrets.

God does His best work in our weakness. No more excuses! He isn’t finished with you yet.

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God is Bigger than a Stolen iPhone

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For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9

My daughter turned 11 years old last week. It’s difficult to believe and yes, time passes quickly, but that isn’t what this post is about. This is about the used iPhone we bought her (from Craigslist) as a birthday gift. After two days of activating it only to find it not working a few hours later, you can imagine my frustration when I walked into the AT&T store on that second day. Then, imagine my shock, confusion and embarrassment when the very sweet employee told me, “Mame, this phone continues to be disconnected because it’s marked in our system as a stolen phone.”

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

That’s right!! We had purchased a stolen phone! As my daughter burst into tears at the counter, the kind employee began clicking away at his computer to help us figure out how to solve this problem and get our daughter a new phone. As the tears began to dry up, I thought I would take our “waiting” time to drive a point home.

 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

I quietly explained to Emma that although I don’t like to use materialistic examples of how God works in our lives this was a great example of how God’s ways are higher than our ways. I highlighted the facts for her: she wanted an iPhone for her birthday, she received an older and used model. Then, we discover it was stolen and she ends up with a newer version and fresh out of the box iPhone. In the end, she received more than she expected and asked for. God works like this ALL the time. (Again, not in material things but just work with me)

Often we ask God for something we think we need, must have in order to be happy or simply desire. However, God’s ways are so much higher and His capacity to give and bless are so much more than we can fathom. When we don’t receive what we have requested or it looks different from what we imagined we may pout, get angry, wonder if God cares, is listening or even  wonder what we did to deserve such inaction. However, if we wait, trust and pray we will often find (usually not as fast as Emma did) that there is something God has in store for us that is better than we ever asked for. His provision is perfect and so is His timing. No, it isn’t our timing and the definitions in our dictionaries for perfect differ, but if we trust and lean not on our own understanding, but His, we will gain more than we ever considered possible.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Behind the Scenes

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Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies.Philippians 4:8-9 (MSG)

This is a picture from last weekend. We took an overnight trip with some dear friends to celebrate birthdays and Mother’s Day. I posted it to Instagram (since I’m a Facebook drop-out and happy about it) Saturday evening after it was taken. That’s what we do. We post those cute, adorable and blemish free photos for friends and family to stay connected, right?! Are we really any better than the fashion and make-up marketing people?

It really isn’t a bad thing unless we use the pictures we see of others to compare ourselves. We compare, we judge, we sulk and we can easily become dissatisfied with our own lives. And for what? So often we fail to recognize that behind every perfect looking picture is a bunch of flawed – sinful people trying their best to stay sane, be kind, use nice words and, by God’s grace, keep a family together. However, I don’t know anyone who takes a picture of themselves when they first wake-up with no make-up on or a picture of their child having a temper tantrum in the middle of grocery store – do you? There are many things in my life I THANK God haven’t been documented with picture or video, but they still happened.

It takes courage to put the fear of judgement aside and be honest, authentic and transparent with others. It takes courage and strength (that can only come from God) to keep our minds focused on the “things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse.” God has driven this point home to me over and over lately. I’m on a mission to help women put this fear aside so that when another mom says, “I yelled at my children and told them leave me alone!” they don’t say, “Oh, I’ll pray for you.”, but  instead say, “You know what? I have days like that too. Just the other day I told my child . . . . ”

So what is the behind the scenes story of the family photo in this blog? In the 24 hours leading up to taking this picture we had: a lot of smiles, great memory making, fabulous food, hugs, appreciation and laughter ALONG WITH 3 sassy comments, 2 crying meltdowns, 1 pleading session, 30 minutes of being short-tempered, 1 “It’s not fair” and two “I’m bored” moments.

Behind the scenes isn’t always as glamorous as we like to portray it. As I practice turning over my fear of judgement to my gracious and very forgiving Heavenly Father, I’m becoming more at peace about others whispering behind my back and the bless her heart – what is she doing as a Christian author comments when I’m honest about anger, yelling at my kids and slamming a door. I just remind myself – we are all cut from the same cloth. The same sinful imperfect cloth. Anyone willing to join me in embracing the truth, putting down the mask and stepping out in the forgiveness and freedom we have in Christ to try again. We may not get it perfect until we reach Heaven’s gates, but knowing we are forgiven and able to stand up and try to do it right again and again certainly helps my heart and desire to live closer to God, His strength, His will and His grace.

“Do not judge, or you too will be judged. For in the same way you judge others, you will be judged, and with the measure you use, it will be measured to you. “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:1-5 (NIV)

Heart Restoration

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I am in pain and distress; may your salvation, O God, protect me. Psalm 69:29

After a long and snowy winter, the sun is out and the temperatures are rising. Which for our family (and probably many of yours) means riding bikes, ripsticks, basketball, frisbee and every other outdoor activity. What does that have to do with crying? Skinned knees, elbows and toes that’s what!

When you experience pain from an external injury wounds are usually quick to heal. You can see the healing occur as a scab or bruise form. You can also determine if you are healing correctly and if there is an infection forming we quickly take action to continue healing. However, with internal and emotional pain we can’t see the scars and infection. It is easier to leave these wounds unattended or simply ignore them because they aren’t on the surface. Leaving these internal wounds unattended can lead to catastrophic results.

Why is my pain unending and my wound grievous and incurable? Will you be to me like a deceptive brook, like a spring that fails? Jeremiah 15:18

Pain can be deceptive. Many times a painful experience we believed to be resolved can rear its ugly head and cause pain years after it occurred. Often we think we have forgiven and moved on, but sometimes we have just pushed it to the back of our minds and hearts. It may sit dormant for months or even years, but if not resolved it will eventually come back to the surface. Then it has the power to destroy friendships, marriages and the lives of those around you. It can lead to depression, divorce, addictions or other sinful habits. A dear friend of mine told me today that she asked someone for forgiveness for holding an action against them (something they had done 23 years ago).  My friend admitted she had never let go of the pain and sadness it caused her. She had spent years blaming this particular family member.  It wasn’t a feeling or anger she got caught up in daily, but it was in her heart. She explained that she had always felt the resentment she harbored deep down in her heart had been a barrier to a better relationship with this particular family member. As she told me the story, I could see the peace and lightness in her soul. Infection, hate, anger, resentment and pain spreads if we don’t allow God in to restore and repair.

God search our hearts and reveal any past pain we might be harboring in our hearts. Please give us the insight to find it, the courage to face it and Your power to resolve it. However difficult, give us the power to put it behind use so that we can experience the joy that comes along with complete healing.

guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my Savior, and my hope is in you all day long. Psalm 25:5