Viewing entries tagged
joy

Sucking the Life out of the Party

Sucking the Life out of the Party

I recently found a picture of me around the age of 13 or 14 standing outside of my parents house with my arms crossed. I looked, well, cross.

My mind tracked back to figure out what was wrong with me that day.

Crazy how in one moment my mood was high--reminiscing on the good ole’ days and when I came across that picture, I was brought to a somber state.

In the Grand Scheme of Things

In the Grand Scheme of Things

Recently, my in-laws' vehicle was burglarized and two of my journals were stolen. I had a journal for each of my sons and had written in them each day for the past two years. I had a pretty dramatic meltdown. All of those memories were gone. Little moments that I could only recall once I reread my entries. Vacations. Birthdays. Holidays. Milestones. Everything my life had been for the past two years (a mom) was recorded in those books, and they were gone.

Holy Competition

Holy Competition

I used to think I was competitive, but circumstances in my life made me do some re-evaluation and I realized that I had wrongly confused my driven nature for competitiveness. I love to win. I love to earn As in school, but at the end of the day, my strongest competitor is me. I don’t like to compete with others, and this truth made me feel “less than.” You know some competitive people. You may be one of them! And here’s some good news, God actually encourages competition. But probably not the competition that you’re used to. God loves competition that brings Him glory. He loves competition that removes us from our comfort zone and forces us to be better...for His glory. He loves competition that brings us joy...for His glory. He loves competition that is edifying and peaceful and kind.

The Trouble With Worry

The Trouble With Worry

I think there is a leak in our kitchen ceiling. I keep staring at it, waiting for it to collapse. One of my biggest phobias is a collapsing ceiling which may be weird to most, but I fear this because I've lived through it. When my oldest son was a year old, we had just moved back to Camp Lejeune, North Carolina from Arkansas. 

My husband was deployed to Afghanistan, so we moved into base housing a little early to get it prepped for his arrival. Shortly after moving in, I noticed that the ceiling in our dining area was sagging just a bit. I kept an eye on it for a few days, and it seemed to sag more and more each day. A crack appeared in the seam where the sheetrock was connected. That crack kept getting bigger and bigger, and soon, the entire thing fell through and water poured into our house!

Invaded

Invaded

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Have you ever had a day when you felt off and you didn’t know why? I’ve been having these a lot recently, so after a few weeks of trying to figure it out on my own, I finally asked God. He’d been waiting patiently, of course, as He does for me from time to time. (to time to time… I’m not a very good “ask for help”-er.) He said, “Invaded.”

And I said, “Huh?” (Profound, I know. He gets me.)

He said, “You feel invaded.”

“By what exactly?”

“Everyone, including me.”

Ouch.

I never want God to feel like He’s invading me.

I want Him to have free reign to guide me and teach me, and yet here I was feeling interrupted and encroached upon by my very best friend, teacher, Father, and Creator. But I was also feeling the same with everyone else. Further reflection revealed two things:

  1. God was interrupting on purpose
  2. I had become a turtle.

Turtles are solitary creatures until it’s time for the baby making, and then they socialize and figure it out, but generally they prefer to be alone. When they feel violated, threatened, or afraid, they pull all of their vulnerable pieces into their shell and wait for danger to pass.

I was a turtle.

The past six months have been trying, to say the least. You don’t need details to understand, but, in short, my heart had been broken repeatedly. Forgiveness was offered, but the memories and the fresh sting were still very real and present. Trust was broken, relationships were severed, and my stress was skyrocketing. I knew all of these things were weighing on me, but I still felt like there was something else that was off. There was something happening internally that I couldn’t keep ignoring--the invasion.

I began to pull all of my vulnerable pieces inside my shell.

Once I was safely tucked away, the only thing I could do was digest. And even though I felt protected from people, I had also shielded myself from Jesus. I wasn’t letting anyone in. I became over-analytical (another favorite pastime of mine), unhealthy, and discouraged.

In order for a turtle to move, it has to be vulnerable, extend its soft pieces into the soil, stick its head and neck out, and push forward. It’s the same for us. We can’t grow inside our shell. We can’t move forward or backward or around in a circle until we get out of our comfort zone and allow something to happen. It might be bad, and that’s the risk, but it might be extraordinary, and that’s the gift.

“You feel invaded,” He said.

But He didn’t say it in a caring, empathic tone. He was not invited to my pity party, nor was He interested in attending. He was, however, interested in His daughter and why she was allowing herself to rot in a shell when He had given her so many gifts that were now going to waste.

“Are you done yet? Let me in,” is really what He meant. I extended a shaking paw and allowed my Father in, and He began to arm me.

The enemy loves to make us believe that he is in control. He makes us question each other, doubt each other, and hurt each other. He helps us make bad choices and revels when we really muck it up. He loves to see us in pain and in bondage and wrapped up “safely” in our turtle shells. He cultivates fear and then waters it and makes it hover over and suppress us.

But God arms us. His protection is physical, mental, emotional, environmental, and spiritual.

I have love to offer, joy to spread, and inspiration to share, but I can’t do it from inside my dark shell. He reminded me of that.

The invasion of others is inevitable.

Someone will hurt you. Someone will lie to you. Someone will betray you. People don’t always respect healthy boundaries. But God will protect you. God will heal you. God will remind you of truth. Because someone else will love you. Someone will be honest with you. Someone will honor you. They will respect your healthy boundaries, and in doing so, will allow you to feel safe in coming out of your shell.

Are you feeling invaded? Pray this with me today:

“Father God, I desire to have healthy relationships with myself, with people, and with you. I know that my shell is false safety and I want to fearlessly use my gifts for you. I receive your protection today. Your peace is my serenity, and I will allow it to guide my relationships, my decisions, and my thoughts. Invade me with Your presence, God. You are all I need. Thank you for teaching me, Lord, and for transforming my fear into faith. I love you, Jesus. - Amen.”

What's the Point?

What's the Point?

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Why do you do what you do? What’s your end goal? Have you ever thought about this? A lot of us get up everyday and go to work. Then we come home, do a few things, then go to sleep. We then get up in the morning and start the routine over and days go by. Weeks. Months. Years.

Maybe your work looks different.

For you it looks like getting up in the morning and getting breakfast for the kids, changing diapers, helping with homework, and cleaning up around the house.

The average person spends about 99,117 hours at work in their lifetime. That’s A LOT of time. It’s even more saturated for a stay-at-home mom or an entrepreneur. Something has to be driving that desire daily.

What is it for you? Is it money? Is it a sense of accomplishment? Is it being the best mom ever? Is it necessity? At the end of the day, the only question that I believe will really matter is, “What’s the point?”

Here’s how I look at it, If I am going to spend close to 99,117 hours or close to 51 years (some of us have significantly less time left in this scenario) at work, I better know why. If I don’t know what’s driving me, two things may happen:

I will keep working towards an unidentified goal and never reach it or I will become cynical and resentful of my circumstances.

I’ve seen this happen to creative entrepreneurs who get stuck in the “development” part of their business; to parents who overwork and under appreciate their kids; and to employees who stay stuck in a job they hate.

Look at what the writer of Ecclesiastes wrote as he reflected on his work:

“I hated all my toil in which I toil under the sun, seeing that I must leave it to the man who will come after me, and who knows whether he will be wise or a fool? Yet he will be master of all for which I toiled and used my wisdom under the sun. This also is vanity.” (Ecclesiastes 2:18-19 ESV)

Life moves so fast that sometimes we can lose sight of why we do what we do.

Jesus left us with the Lord’s Supper as a reminder of the price He paid for our sins and the assurance of the new life we have in Him. For Christians, we are renewed daily by God’s grace at work in our lives through Jesus. We also need to have a practical reminder of why we do what we do.

I want to leave you with this challenge. Write it down.

Write down why you do what you do and place it somewhere where you can easily access it.

When times get rough in your work, your kids get out of control, or you have one of those days you ask yourself, “What’s the point?” Your answer will be right there to keep you pressing forward.