For seasons of always having to work on yourself

And when he comes, he will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment. John 16:8

constantexchange

That “he” being spoken of in this verse is the Holy Spirit. And the speaker in this verse is Jesus Himself. He was teaching the people about the time when He was no longer here on this earth, but the promise of the Spirit coming and what that will look like.

He will convict us of sin and show us God’s holiness and righteousness and what will come because of it all, unless we are blanketed in the love of Christ through His sacrifice. Conviction of sin I know well.

I feel like I’m always convicted of something. What about you? Are you always working on something? As soon as you feel like you have a handle on some flaw or problem about yourself, there comes another realization of more to work on? Feel like you’re playing whack a mole with your sin? No sooner than you beat one thing down, then another pops up.

It’s discouraging. me too.

But, what if we looked at it a bit differently? This verse from John tells us that the Spirit will come and reveal these things to us. Did you know that you do not have it in you to see your own flaws with true repentance? If you have been made aware of some sin in your life by the Word, a sermon, a spouse, or whatever, and you realize it truly is sin, it is only because of the Spirit. If He wasn’t there working with you and revealing these things, even if something brought it to mind, you wouldn’t feel conviction. You wouldn’t feel the need to work on it, or rather, let Him work on it.

If you have found yourself in a season of always finding something new to work on in yourself, take heart in knowing the Spirit has simply found a willing student.

In seeing it and turning to repent, you have agreed to be molded to look more like Christ. You are agreeing to be soft clay and to be purified. You are willing…even if it doesn’t feel so willing or nice sometimes.

But do not become discouraged, dear one. You have caught the attention and molding hands of the Spirit of the Living God. He knows. He knows it’s not always pleasant from an earthly standpoint. He knows sometimes we’d rather throw our hands in the air and call out surrender, but not surrender to His will as much as surrender to the world. But it would not offer the relief we so think. Because a plateau is just not worth the view. You have to climb higher and higher to really reach that beautiful view. And once you have climbed that mountain top and stood there gazing into the heart of the God who loves you, climb back down for a bit and help the rest of us up. You’ll be able to do it, all because of all that work and training you allowed in yourself.  You can do it!

A response to the spring break video–Courageous Living

One time in high school, I was punched in the face during a fight. In truth, I wasn’t even in the fight. I walked up on two girls younger than me acting out their anger, and though I didn’t know them really, I knew one was expecting a baby.

www.therenewedmom.com

I remember looking around me at the faces of the other students just standing around watching. I remember yelling at a Bible carrying football player who could have easily parted them.

But no one stepped in.

Fortunately, it wasn’t long with me trying to get in the middle of them before a principal got word and was there to break it all up. Everyone gathered their things, and they went about their way going to their own classes.

And I stood in shock.

I remember going home and asking my mom, “why? why did no one step in to help me stop it?” I was baffled. I still am.

Because ten years later, I’m seeing videos on the news of rape happening in the broad daylight on a beach and no one is helping.

I know the answer better now than I did at 18. It’s because there is a sad lack of courageous living.

We hear about human trafficking, and we want to DO SOMETHING!

We hear about children across the world with no clean water for drinking and we want to DO SOMETHING!

We hear about children in our own country with no homes or love or food and we want to DO SOMETHING!!

But, guess what? Most of us don’t. We get pumped and passionate. We talk about it and give money toward it and begin a step toward something really courageous. But it stops there.

Why?

Because courageous living doesn’t start with standing on a beach and DOING SOMETHING when a girl is being gang raped by three men. It starts way earlier.

We’ve got to make bold choices. Bold choices turn into walking in bravery. Walking in bravery will eventually become courageous living.

Bold becomes Brave which will become Courageous. 

It begins by doing the right thing right now right where you are. By doing the bold thing and standing by God’s truth, even if it’s not comfortable. Because bold is uncomfortable. It just is.

And eventually, you’ll get a reputation. It will just happen…Jesus kind of warned us about that part, luckily. But people will begin to think  you’re weird. Weird…not like them. Not like most. Not. like. the. world.

And after you make a habit of stepping out on that uncomfortable step of boldness, you’ll have a hard time going back. Because you’ll see the right thing to do, and you know you’ll have to do it. You’ll have to say it. You’ll  have to speak up for those who can not speak for themselves just like Proverbs says. Not because you’re opinionated and pushy and obnoxious, but because you love people for crying out loud.

Because the truth is you are your brother’s keeper. Your sister’s too.

And after that habit forms in your behavior, it begins to take root deep in your heart. You’ll walk day in and day out with the heart of a warrior. A heart of someone who will do the right thing at the right time right in front of them. Because you said no to cheating and no to people who will use their fists instead of calm down. You said no so many times to flirting with the line of adultery. No so many times to the wrong things, that deep down inside you, you realize finally what it means to live courageously. And you know what? If you stood there in the hot sand beside a young girl being raped, I know you’d say no. You wouldn’t just stand there doing nothing!

If you heard about human trafficking, I know you’d really do something. I know you’d help those children. I know you’d help find clean water. I know you will. Because you are your Father’s child and within you beats the heart of a warrior.

All it takes is a step out in boldness. I know that strong is the new skinny. The new sexy. according to pinterest, strong is the new everything. But what about strong of heart? What if that was our main focus and we spent as much time on that as we did on making our bodies strong? yes. Let’s do it. Let’s train towards courageous living.

For us, Control Freaks

That term…control freak. I’m not a fan. For one, freak makes it sound like it’s rare, like I’m alone in my serious fear of a future unplanned. But, the more I open up about my struggles in this area, the more I realize, I am not alone. Neither are you.

We can make our plans,

Before marriage and motherhood, I really wasn’t organized or concerned with planning. That’s probably why I ended up on academic probation and with credit card debt..ahem. But, it was just me I was looking out for..or not looking out for. I didn’t see a big picture, or care about it.

Last night in a group I lead at church, we talked about the masks I talk about in my book, and the mask of control seemed to hit home with the most. We talked about how the controlling mask almost always begins out of good intentions. It’s fear or distrust over something we care about that leads us to hunch over it and attempt to guide our own path.

Then, we get emotionally attached to the behavior of others and their choices. It makes us respond with anger or all sorts of new boundaries and rules to protect our control. We’re all, “well I’m not going there again if she is there.” or “no one can ever look at one another again if you don’t stop fighting!” or “since we’re always late because of that, then for now on (insert some crazy rule that actually makes more work for you later).”

The trouble is that life doesn’t work that way. God doesn’t work that way… Here I am, trucking along on my perfect little figure 8 train track. I like the path because I know what to expect, I planned it so there are no surprises, no climbing or falling areas, and I made sure I was taking the pretty scenic route.

<Enter God and His plans for my good>

Suddenly, that little switch is flipped and my train turns off my perfectly planned track and onto a new one. One where I do not know the ending. One that has unexpected ups and downs and it’s not always the pretty scenic route i had first planned. It looks more sad and less perfect. My train passes others who have tragedy in their lives, and it hurts to watch. Eventually, I’m on the track long enough to get an idea of the path. I work it out in my mind so that I decide how the rest of the track will look, and I work hard to make that happen. Just when I get comfortable with it all again,

<Enter God and His plans for my good>

Are you seeing the pattern here? Let me guess, you KNOW the pattern from personal experience. But there is hope for us, ya know. Because, though we aren’t always sure what path we’re on or how fast we’re going, we don’t have to question the stability of that track or train. He’s got us. And though we won’t always like the ups and downs or the pain we’ll have to pass through, He has plans for our good. If He didn’t, He’d just let us stay on that same little figure 8 path going in circles and not growing at all. Even my kids get bored playing with a train on a simple little track.

Letting go isn’t easy. It will take a conscious effort to pry our hands off the wheel and sit back for the ride. We’ll have to be intentional to focus on loving and serving, not leading and controlling. We can do it! Just watch Jesus throughout the Gospels. He is the good shepherd! Did you know a shepherd always leads and never walks behind pushing his flock? If he did, the sheep my panic or feel threatened and they’d end up going in all kinds of crazy directions. So, he leads them gently, and they follow. We can love our families, and lead our children walking behind our husbands as they lead us. We can keep following the footsteps of our Father and love like He loves. and when we do that, we can step out of just being blessed, and begin to be the blessing.

What about you? Is controlling something you struggle with? How do you manage to let go of it?

How to Start a Monday

It’s Monday morning! Are you excited? ha, me either. BUT, I found a psalm sometime last year that jumped out to me as the clear cut way to start a Monday, and I have used it every week since.

Monday Blues, Scripture, Encouragment

 

Psalm 150

Praise the Lord.
Praise God in his sanctuary;
praise him in his mighty heavens.
Praise him for his acts of power;
praise him for his surpassing greatness.
Praise him with the sounding of the trumpet,
praise him with the harp and lyre,
praise him with timbrel and dancing,
praise him with the strings and pipe,
praise him with the clash of cymbals,
praise him with resounding cymbals.
Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.
Praise the Lord.

 

Things may not go perfectly today, or this week, or even this month. It might rain today or someone might bump you making you spill coffee all over yourself or you could break the heal off your shoe. Things will happen all week that we will have no control over. However, we have control over our responses. We can praise Him. We can see Him as the light at the end of the tunnel instead of making our weekend that. We can bring a smile and a cheerful spirit to those we are around. So, start your monday out right! Praise Him with a clash of cymbals and then you won’t even have to worry about someone not seeing you there and bumping into you. 😉

When clocks slow down-A season of Renewal

We are one week into our summer break from school, and honestly, I feel like I’m waking up from a very long slumber. Things haven’t exactly slowed down completely. Our church activities are still in full swing, I’m still teaching, Lance is still playing and in school, and I’ve focused lots of energy into a new book. But, I’m waking up.

The biggest difference in our days has been the flip from school time to outside play time. I think those moments when all three girls are occupied and the youngest is safe and not attempting some death defying stunt from the ladder or trampoline, I have been able to sit and just…be. And that has made the difference. I’ve talked a lot about my “word of the year” through a Friday series, and this year my particular word is “renew.”

lady bug hands

Here it is April, and that word has led me down so many paths already. My last word was “love” and it felt like swimming against currents in a raging ocean so often. This year, renew feels so different. It is like following a stream through a lovely forest, only to stop every so often wondering if you’ve gone too far into the forest to find your way out if necessary. It’s been illuminating and peace giving, while also unsettling and uncomfortable.

In the last few weeks, the Holy Spirit has been renewing my marriage and relationship with my children. (Read that: the Spirit has been renewing my own heart and attitude toward them.) Creeping over to that inviting stream and gazing down at the reflection looking back at me hasn’t been easy to swallow each time, but each time I travel further down that path and creep back over, the reflection is less unsettling. The girl in the reflection looks more peaceful, with kinder eyes and a more loving disposition the the reflection I saw on the beginning of the journey. And maybe that’s why I keep on this path, though it’s taken me into some frightful areas and made me so uncomfortable at times…I want to keep going when I know that with each new peak over that edge, the reflection will look less and less like the one before.

In this new season, I bypass all the constant lists and fears of what my child should be learning and whether she’s in the right place. Instead, I pull out an old recipe for blueberry buckle to surprise my hunny and let the girls run barefoot outside while it bakes. I bypass all the articles about current events or the newest hot topic, and instead, seek out old blogs I haven’t looked at in forever…blogs that make me want to learn to can my own jam and slow down my life. In this season, I skip over the to do list in favor of the grateful list, and add each day

  • 456. muddy boots kicked off little feet
  • 457. stepping over a sleeping dog
  • 458. petals gone, green leaves there now

It’s an intentional season. A season of making choices and deciding that what I see and hear can be transformed mentally, before it hits my heart. I can choose joy. I can choose love. I can choose renewal.