Thursday, June 22, 2017

When You Feel Like Quitting



"And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. "Galatians 6:9

Don't!

You know quitting is not cool, but when you're discouraged you don't care, do you? You start to wonder what in the world you were thinking when you started all of this. You try to convince yourself that you're ok with throwing away all the hard work you've done so far, but deep down you know you're not.

I've been there.

Halfway through the classes to get my degree, I hit a wall. This was all harder than I thought it would be, and my enthusiasm ran out of gas. I had applied for a scholarship and didn't get it, which meant I would have to keep working that part-time job after my full-time one. I was exhausted and wanted to quit, and I did.

 My I'm-throwing-in-the-towel announcement met with strong opposition. That's when I realized people had been watching me and  were secretly cheering me on and counting on me to finish. I was surprised that what I was doing mattered to them. Those were humbling moments. This wasn't just about me.  If I finished, it meant they could too. I called and got my old job back and got back on course. I wanted to be a source of encouragement to the onlookers in my life, not a quitter.

God used that experience to teach me that
my actions have nerve endings connected to the tender places in other people. This is true for you too. Working to bless others gets better mileage than just doing it for yourself.

Who's counting on you not to give up? Think of them and encouraged. Let their faith in you recharge you to keep going when you feel like giving up. Persevere, My Friend. Your journey matters more than you think!

Sunday, June 18, 2017

Don't Even Think About It

"but I beat my body and bring it into submcission...." 2 Corinthians 9:27

This is something you have to put into practice if you are ever to accomplish your Big Thing, My Friend. There were days, many of them, when I had to get moving before I talked myself out of it. A resistance is always there to do everything else to avoid doing what you need to do.

Have you felt it?

Sometimes it's fear, but oftentimes it's laziness,  or you've simply allowed your Big Thing to cause you to feel overwhelmed. That's what happens when you spend too much time staring at the mountain instead of climbing it.

Don't let the enemy paralyze you like that! Don't let your flesh be the dictator of what you will or will not do. Paul said he beat his body and brought it into subjection. That means he had to tell his body who's boss. You do too. You've already decided in your heart that your Big Thing must get done. Now it's time to do it already.

I recall many hours after work, dragging that laptop out to work on my dissertation even if I was so tired my skull hurt. I knew if I went home, distractions would push my finish line back farther. I realized my Big Thing wasn't going to do itself.

The road to DONE is paved with DOING, not thinking about doing. Don't even think about it, just get doing it, and your mind will catch up later.

Please share: What ways have you allowed your mind to talk you out of moving forward toward your Big Thing? How would it look in your life  to overcome this?

Monday, June 12, 2017

How to Do Big Things

"I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength." Philippians 4:13

I am still waiting for the official notice to arrive in the mail, but for all intents and purposes, I have earned my PhD! This massive project has taught me valuable lessons on how to accomplish a huge project. Come sit next to me on my patio swing and let me encourage you with what I've learned:

Are you facing something big that leaves you overwhelmed before you even start? I have learned you can tame that feeling and not let it paralyze you. Know your feelings are not facts and determine to move forward! 

How? 

First, remind yourself you are not alone. You may be tackling your mountain by yourself, but you're not doing it alone because the Lord is with you. Let Him strengthen you and cheer you on daily. This happens when you read His Word so He can speak to you, and you speak back to Him through prayer. Your Bible reading may be a one-time meeting in your day, but your conversations with Him can last the whole day. Isn't it wonderful? 

Next, write down what part of your Big Thing you want to accomplish today. Don't underestimate how powerful this can be! Make it realistic or you may get discouraged. Small steps are still steps, so don't beat yourself up or compare to what others are doing or where you fell short the last time you tried.This is a brand new day and God made it for moving forward, not looking back. I put a chart up in my bathroom vanity to chart my progress. It kept me motivated as I celebrated every step, no matter how small. 

I would love to hear what Big Thing you are striving to accomplish. Please share! AllOw me to sing in the background as Jesus rejoices over you with singing! 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Telling God No?


It sounds like a bodacious thing to do, standing before the Almighty and telling Him what you're not going to do. Maybe your "no" feels more like an impersonal text, less defiant, but a "no" all the same, right?

I understand.

Just recently, I was presented with an opportunity, and I skipped praying about it, pole-vaulted over even considering anything but what I wanted, and landed squarely on "No way!" (and with great feeling at that!) A wise person in my life approached me with three words that pierced right to the heart of where I was:

 "You're just scared."

I was stunned, but I realized they were right. Oftentimes when we say "no"to God, it's because we're scared that what He is telling us to do will cost something we don't want to give up. We fear that letting go of what we have or hope to have means we will get shorted somehow. That's a trust issue, My Friend. It may not be that we doubt God's goodness; maybe we are afraid of how long it will take before we receive what He has promised. We are tempted to settle for a substitute to curb the discomfort of waiting. Problem is, the substitute always overstays its welcome, and it grows roots that make its removal painful and nearly impossible. Please don't go there.

Saying "no"to God is saying "yes" to less than His best., My Friend. There is no sting like the one that comes when you see what you've missed out on because you were impatient or fearful or defiant. Haven't you had enough of that? Nobody ever said, "I sure am glad I said no to God, I'm so much better off since I did!"

It may not be easy, but it's always simple. Change your "no" to what it must be. Not maybe, not wait, not once I  _______. It begins in the heart and the rest follows. What is your answer to Him today?

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

How to Come to the Place of Surrender

"He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all--how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?" Romans 8:33

Tears were streaming down my cheeks before I even realized I was crying. I had the briefest moment alone, and my heart showed what I was trying to deny I was feeling. I couldn't let anyone see my tears, so I had to have an express therapy session with the Father--only He could dry me up in the short moments I had before I had to show my face.

So I got honest with Him real quick: "Oh Father, I want this so very much, but I am afraid it might not happen...but...but...if it's not what you want me to have...I...I trust you!" Then He gave my heart strength to stop crying. I'm not sure how well I dried my eyes, but they didn't get blood-red like they tend to do, and I looked straight ahead just  in case.

A prayer of surrender can feel like a wrestling match between yourself and what's best, but it's the best fight if You let God win. Our wills cannot be trusted because sometimes they are selfish without our realizing. Sometimes they have been pasteurized enough by the Spirit, but we can't tell if it's us or Him. That's when it's time to pray. Ask God to sift out what's not right and in that moment, give you the good sense to let Him have His way.

What do you need to surrender, My Friend? A dream? A man you know is not God's best? A secret that may kill you if you keep it to yourself? Your reputation? A habit? Something else? Whatever it is, God can do more with it than you ever could. Sometimes He sends it to the dung heap where it belongs; other times He gives it back to you and is delighted that you love Him more than IT. If you give Him time, He will always fill the void with what is best.

Think about it: Surrender is rarely about the thing we are giving up. It's about what we think they offer us--love, security, status, belonging, pleasure, and so on. Are you settling for the cheap knock-off of what Christ offers you in Designer original? He owns the patent on all of those desires, My Friend. Be convinced He loves you enough to lavish them on you when the time is right if He hasn't already.

How do you come to the place of surrender? I hope you get there without as many drag marks and hard knocks as I have. I find that tearing our sin-lensed eyes away from our idols and taking a full frontal look at the heart of God has a softening effect on strong wills and hard heads. If He, out of the kind intention of His will, gave us the best He had when He gave us Jesus, why would we hold so desperately to anything He calls us to surrender to Him?

I know it's not easy, but neither is it impossible, and it certainly is worth it. Once we do the deed, we must continue the gaze or we'll return to Egypt and add a layer of callouses that make it easier to stay there and the needed surgery more extensive. It's so not worth it, My Friend.

My prayer for you is that the Father's request will sound more like an invitation to a divine dance than a dreaded death-march. God rejoices over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17) so why not dance with Him in surrender?

Saturday, April 29, 2017

You Have Worth Because He is Worthy

"and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority." Colossians 2:10

One of the enemy's favorite spots for punching is that soft place where you question your value. He likes to put on his spiked brass knuckles and continually pummel you with thoughts like, "You are not good enough, and you never will be," or "However bad anyone else is, you're worse." Maybe you've heard, "If anybody knew the real you, they'd reject you."

He throws your past in your face to darken your present and to blind you to any hope for your future.

To make it worse, you and I respond by covering up and pretending to be someone else. That's not the right way to fight, My Friend, because you are agreeing with those lies. No, you must dig out this poisonous core or your spirit will remain sick and weak and hinder you from flying. Yes, I said flying. What better way to combat a fist than to fly above it?

How do you dig out the core? With a sword--the sword of the Spirit which is the Word of God! How does this work? All three of those lies I mentioned can be knocked out by today's verse. People often quote the first part but miss the second. You are complete in Christ, yes, but it's because of Who He is: the head over all rule and authority. His most powerful position makes whatever He says the final word on your worth, My Friend. You don't have to makeshift your worth through your bank account, your bra size, your zip code, career, comparison, or credentials. If Christ says you have value, you can't add anything else to that to make it more true. Know this! Believe this!

When the enemy corners you with those self-defeating thoughts, fight like a girl--a girl who knows who she is because her Daddy told her. This means that, um, you gotta know what your Daddy told you. You won't know if Facebook gets more of your time than His book. Am I right? Invest the time each day getting in His Word because it informs you of your worth, and because of Who He is. He. Is. Worthy!!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

Are You Afraid of Failure?

"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand." Isaiah 41:10

Are you afraid of failure? Do you find yourself hedging on stepping out because you think you might fall?

There is an element of risk in every venture, but may I suggest that fear of failure needs to be defanged so you can move forward? See, when you know Someone Who will love you even if you fail, you can have courage to try in spite of your fear. Relax, My Friend, His opinion of you is not riding on whether you get this next  thing "right"or not. 

Maybe how God will view you is not why you fear failure. Maybe it's that you have so much to lose if you fail. Your finances, your health, the faith others have invested in you may be what's at stake. I understand. You want to do the right thing, and you have every good intention, but still, what if you slip? How do you fail-proof your life? Can you?

 I think your focus has to change. 

See, in the life of faith, failure is measured differently than in the world. Failure with God is measured in how we respond to Him in our hearts. Failure to God looks like disobedience or unbelief. Failure to the world is about performance and how close to perfection you can get. Have you noticed that if and when you reach that standard, they erect a new one that's even higher? How exhausting! 

God offers a better way, My Friend. If you are in Christ, perfection was already achieved for you. Now you get to aim for something far better: holiness. You're not even doing it by yourself, you have a Guide Who lives in you, speaks to you, loves you, and grows you. He is called the Holy Spirit and holiness is what He does with your cooperation. 

Now, back to our original question: Are you afraid of failure? Have you caught on that it's possible to not get it right, but still succeed where it counts?  Is it clicking that failure has to be more intentional when God's Spirit lives in you to keep you from falling? I am not suggesting you can reach perfection this side of Heaven. I am suggesting the Spirit can make your life fertile because failures become opportunities to learn more of Jesus. They are not permanent marks that flog your spirit and brand ugly names on your identity. Failure is a pencil mark that can be erased by the grace of God and the residue is recycled as learning and progress. That even feels good to think about, doesn't it? 
Breathe it in. It's the fragrance of the abundant life and it relaxes all those tense and harsh "should's", turning them into, sweet "by the power of Christ, I can's."

Fear of failure? No need. Freedom to try? Yes! If you fall down while trying, His grace will pick you up and strengthen you for the next try. Smile, Daughter of God. You are His Girl, and your Daddy is inviting you to step out and try new things for His glory! Now go slay it and tell me about it so we can victory dance together!