Faith · Gifts · Motherhood · Real Christianity · Woman of Promise

Why I’m Never Going to Be Enough

Jesus-is-enough_webI’m so excited to be a part of Brooke McGlothlin’s Gospel Centered Mom blog tour! I read her Praying for Boys a couple years ago when being a boy mom was the most foreign thing in the world for me. And I loved it.

I realized how important prayer is to the mission of motherhood. I realized how much prayer changes my perspective on these souls He trusted ME to shepherd. What an honor. What a privilege.

And today I’m sharing a little bit of why I need to be a gospel-centered mom. I’m never going to be enough for them. There’s never going to be enough of me to go around. I can’t erase their heartbreaks. I can’t keep them from acting out. I can’t save their souls.

And you know what? That’s ok. I’m not supposed to be enough. I’ve been chasing that title my whole life – “enough.”

But when I look at my life, I’m not supposed to be “enough.” I’m supposed to be seeking His power, His will, His way. And I can’t ever do that “enough.”

Brooke writes in Chapter 1 of Gospel-Centered Mom:

“God is no doubt perfect, and He is more than enough to make up for our lack. “His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3), but that “divine power” still comes from Him, not from somewhere inside us that is independent of Him. We clearly need God—not just once for salvation, but constantly and continually and in more ways than we can count. Whatever enough He gives us access to still comes from Him; He is its source. If we were enough on our own, we wouldn’t need Jesus, and, friend, we all desperately need Jesus.”

When I first became a believer, I was convinced I was doing it wrong. I was supposed to have this amazing conversion and life was supposed to be simpler, better and forever changed.

I was supposed to take it all to the cross and leave it there – anger, struggle, unforgiveness, not liking myself and every other sin I’d ever committed. And I did that, but then the bubble popped.

The night I gave it all up, I felt lighter than I’d ever felt in my life. I had hope and light. But soon sin entered my life again. I felt guilty. I felt ashamed. I felt like I wasn’t really forgiven. I’d go back to that cross and wonder, “Did I really come to Jesus?”

I’d question alter calls pretty harshly. Why are they always asking us to come forward? Why am I not secure that I’m saved? Then I recognized that I was making this about me and not about Him.

The truth is – I invited Christ into my life. I just didn’t fully understand that this was a more than a one-time act. I wasn’t just making a declaration. I was letting light into my darkness. And you know what? Letting the light in is beautiful. But it’s also a lot like letting the light into a room with black out shades. It can overwhelm you. It can hurt. Letting go of me was (is) the most painful experience of my life.

But letting go of me brings a freedom that you don’t ever fully comprehend. You don’t have to keep trying to be “enough” or “better.” You are His. You live in His strength. His light. His shadow.

At that moment in time, you are forever changed. You are forever forgiven. God promises that to you when you go to that cross. But the part a lot of us miss is that we have to own that identity. We have to own our forgiveness.

We have to believe the Gospel over and over and over again. We have to dwell on it. We have to seek it. We have to depend on it.

We have to take the sin to the cross over and over and over again. And when we trace the thread of grace, we see our Savior strengthening us, growing us and changing us. But we’re not supposed to do it alone.

what-we-believe_webAs David writes in Psalm 116:1-2, “I love the Lord, for he heard my voice, heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live.”

David’s saying this is a forever call. Not a one-time answer to an invitation.

The process of sanctification is not to be taken lightly. It’s hard. It’s humbling. It takes saying, “Not my will, but yours.”

And our children need to see that in us. Our children need to see us devoting our lives to that truth – “Not my will, but yours.” Every.single.day.

Our children need to see us repenting, resetting, rejoicing in the mercy of the Savior who gave it all up for us. Every.single.day.

Brooke writes, “Your children are the story God has given you to live so others can see Him in you. How will you live it?”

When I think of the day I go before that judgment seat to answer for what I did with the grace I was given, I don’t want to be unprepared.

I want to walk in knowing that I gave as much grace as I received. I want to say that my story was His story for my life. I want my children to see that I lived in His grace because I’m never going to be enough. But He is.

When we embrace that identity – a Gospel-centered mom identity, we can find greater freedom, purpose, and joy in motherhood. Get Brooke McGlothlin’s new book at www.gospelcenteredmombook.com.

Family · Gifts · Motherhood · Real Christianity · Uncategorized

A Mother of Promise

gift from lordA couple of years ago, I felt the compression of too much mommying on my shoulders and realized that I didn’t have much of a plan for my days. I realized I was surviving and not thriving. I realized that we can go through hard seasons, but we don’t have to get stuck in the muck of “gotta get through this day.”

To borrow a verse from one of my favorite songs by Tonic – “I wanted more. More than I was giving. More than was handling. More than I was bearing. More than I was offering.” This chorus closes with “For a love that isn’t there.”

A Mother of Promise Cleans the Lens

The love was there, but it was just covered up by a lot of scattered needs, toys, frustrations, emotions, unmet expectations and heart clutter.

I didn’t have a good grasp on how to be the best of me for my kids or my husband. So, I did something that helps me think and helps me focus.

I made a list of the needs of each person in my immediate family. I spent some time in prayer over how I could deliver the best of me to my promises. It was such a simple exercise, but it was powerful. When you understand what’s expected of you, you can more forward in focus and grow.

I had a lot of ideas of how I wanted to do things, but not a lot of focus on those core needs..png

Sally Clarkson calls the way we approach our people our “grid” or “filter.” I discovered through this exercise that my grid was a little dirty. I had a lot of ideas of how I wanted to do things, but not a lot of focus on those core needs.

For instance, my son needs A LOT of connection with me to feel secure. I love holding my children. I love to read to them and talk to them, but this one stretches me beyond my limits of connection.

I get a bit “touched out” with the constant need to be held. So, I’ve approached this two ways – by getting frustrated with him and making him more insecure and through being proactive and intentional and gentle with limits.

Which approach do you think works best? Proactive and intentional always win him over. I’m just not always that patient. So, I have to go back to the promise he is in my life.

Prayers and Promises Help Us Skirt the Pit

I really do have to go back and look at baby pictures and remember that my son’s presence in my life is a part of the blessing of healing.

God doesn’t want to just give us our blessings; he wants us to use our blessings for good.

“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

I can influence a young man to stand firm on the promise of his eternal life or I can get frustrated with his constant whining and yell at him and open the entrance to the pit of insecurity, anxiety, overwhelm. Man Cub is a lot like me. These snares can get him by the throat. And they can spend a day for us. A day that’s anything but promising.

Or I can show him the way out of the pit for good. I can be a woman who stands on the promise Elihu gave to Job when he approached him about the problem of “pit living.”

“Yet if there is an angel at their side, a messenger, one out of a thousand, sent to tell them how to be upright, and he is gracious to that person and says to God, ‘Spare them from going down to the pit; I have found a ransom for them—let their flesh be renewed like a child’s; let them be restored as in the days of their youth’—then that person can pray to God and find favor with him, they will see God’s face and shout for joy; he will restore them to full well-being. And they will go to others and say, ‘I have sinned, I have perverted what is right, but I did not get what I deserved. God has delivered me from going down to the pit, and I shall live to enjoy the light of life.’” Job 33:23-28

I can be a living, breathing mother of promise to show my son (and the rest of my people and others I encounter) how prayer changes everything. I can help them skirt the pit and get out of it when they stumble.

mother of promise son.png

Psalm 40 seems so fitting to the relationship I have with my son’s promise:

I waited patiently for the Lord and he turned to me and heard my cry. It was almost a year between my miscarriage and the news of Man Cub. 

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. I was lost and didn’t feel much like praying during that dark time, but I did it anyway.

I spent a lot of time in that pit questioning my marriage, my worth and my faith. But I know those prayers and looking for the promises are what got me out of that pit. The firm place to stand was my purpose – to love my husband and my first child and to hope for more to love. His mercy is true.

firm place

He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Depending on the Lord for my light gave me strength and a heart turned toward gratitude and he gave me a great blessing in my son.

Many will see and fear the Lord and put their trust in him. That’s what I hope my children will see in me.

He was someone I asked for and when I go before that throne one day, I have to answer for what I did with that promise.

That’s why I want to be a mother of promise. I want to be a woman of my word.

My prayer with this post is that you are encouraged to walk in the light of Jesus and promise your children bring into your life.

Faith · Family · Motherhood · Real Christianity

What to Do When Your Child Loses

whenyourchildlosesI awoke Tuesday unsettled. Short-tempered. Kind of like a second Monday after a bad case of food poisoning over the weekend (This really happened.) Yeah, that was my Tuesday this week.

And then I remembered that I had to get something in the mail that morning before the mailman came. I decided to do what any good homeschooling mother would do.

I divided and conquered.

I asked my very capable 8-year-old to take her bike to the end of the driveway to put my letter in the mailbox. The events of the next hour were none I could have foreseen. But they can’t be unseen and I can’t take them away from my child.

Before I tell you this story, I think that’s the hardest part of being a parent. You can’t take away their pain. You can bear it with them, but you can’t ever erase it.

I thought toddlerhood was hard, but the journey into my child being affected by this world has brought me to a place of repentance and helplessness, but ultimately it’s brought me into the grace and hope of God our Father. I’m so thankful for my faith and protection even when the world comes crashing down around us.

So back to my Tuesday morning. I was inspecting an infected bug bite on my 2-year-old when I heard an otherworldly screech from the driveway. I thought my daughter was hurt. Really hurt.

But she wasn’t. She was just terrified. Her dog was hit by a car when she was at the mailbox. The person took off and did not stop. She witnessed a tragedy alone.

That five-letter word kills me to type. Alone. My baby had to go through that alone.

Don’t blame yourself. Be strong for your child.

I had a choice to make when this first hit me. I can feel guilty or I can move on and help her overcome this. I chose the latter.

Because she’s so much like me. She was already doing enough of the guilt trip to herself.

She loved this dog with every breath of her being and when we found him, she was certain that he would live. And he tried. He desperately tried to get up to comfort her. But he was hurt very badly.

A lovely neighbor came and helped me gather him up to see if we could get some emergency care. She took my children to her home and comforted them.

I drove all over the county trying to find her dog some help. It was an unfortunate circumstance that the vets we chose were closed that day. We found one, but he was already gone when I got there.

Fight for them before the Lord.

I fought for my child to not lose this pet in prayer. I begged God to not let this happen.

But the answer was no. That’s still hard to write. It happened. And I think it was actually fortunate that the dog was quick to go. He was badly hurt. Very badly hurt.

But he tried to hang on for my baby. He loved her so well.

I had to go through the options with the vet of what to do for him as a final tribute. That was horrible. But they were graceful and even kept him until my husband could get back from out of town.

Get your mind in order first. Or get some help.

Then I had to go tell my baby he didn’t make it. I called two women who’ve been there and done this. They told me to just hold her and tell her.

I decided that my very verbal, extroverted girl did not need to handle grief like her mama. I decided that we would seek people for her to talk to. It’s unconventional. But so is she. She needs to breathe and talk and cry and be big and bold.

So, I went home from the vet and cleaned myself up. I gathered clothes for all the kids and walked out the door.

Make your child your priority. Don’t get stuck in retribution.

As I was getting in the car, a car approached. It was the man who hit her dog.

My first reaction was, “Where were you in my hour of hell?” (I didn’t say this BTW.)

He walked up and tried to explain what happened. I shushed him because I was too angry to talk. He asked me about the dog. I told him that he didn’t make it and that I was about to share that news with my child. But I appreciated him stopping by.

Some men were installing rails on my porch and saw this exchange. They felt like he was trying to cover his tracks. He had a marked car and they thought he was trying to avoid trouble. Probably so. But I don’t care. I care about my girl.

Do what your child needs; not what you need.

When I got to the neighbor’s house, my big girl saw it all over my face. She broke down. She was in true despair and there was not a single thing I could do to stop it, but I had gotten over the worst of my pain in all my driving.

And I was present for her. I listened and held her.

I gathered her up and took her to Chik-fil-a. She walked in the restaurant in tears. She hugged the staff. They hugged her back. They fed us for free. (And whoever said Chik-fil-a is to be boycotted can well, you know.)

My dear friend held my baby and encouraged her. She encouraged me. She watched the littles when the big girl and I walked outside.

Let your child contribute to the decision-making.

We decided that our Marmaduke would want her to continue her life and not shut down. She decided to go to her dance practice, but we had some time before dance. So, we went for haircuts.

Another dear friend joined us and encouraged her. She got a sassy new bob from the hairstylist who only works on Tuesdays.

She went to dance and talked with a girl who is becoming a real friend. She was encouraged and lightened.

I knew she needed this because we were about to have a funeral. Her daddy had been home preparing a final resting place for her puppy. I know that’s one of the hardest things he’s ever done as a parent.

We had our neighbors join us for the funeral. We told funny stories about this goofy dog. She talked the most. Because that’s what she needed.

Be prepared for huge emotions. Don’t try to fix them.

When we walked back inside, she fell apart. We snuggled and let her cry it all out. She tried to bargain with herself to have changed the situation. Because she’s big on control. But I kindly shared that she was not at fault. That she was the best thing that ever happened to her puppy. He truly loved her more than I’ve ever seen any dog love a child.

Know that you aren’t to protect your child from pain. You are to bear it with them.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. – Ephesians 4:2

And I sensed a change in her life. She’s growing up. She’s not quite so innocent anymore.

That’s hard for me to face, but it’s something I’ve already faced. I faced the death of a sibling when I was not much older than she is. And I can use that experience to guide her.

Know we have to go to battle with our children as we enter this world. But we have the protection and provision of the LORD.

Just that morning she and I’d read about what it meant to stand in the fire and stand on what we believe even when it’s hard. I’m standing on what I believe. God placed that specific Bible study in our morning so that she and I could connect.

Before I read her the story, I had a conversation with her about how she would hear some things she’d not heard before about the world. Things that are dark and ugly and things that would strip her of the protection I’d placed on her for the past eight years.

I told her I knew she was ready and that I would be by her side as we learned about this world and how to live in it.

I now know that was the Holy Spirit talking to me and my girl. We were about to embark on a turning point in her life and He prepared us for it. I’m so thankful I pulled out that book.

Always look for the thread of grace. The hope.

I’m so thankful for the thread of grace that was woven through that day with people and situations that were exactly what we needed to move forward.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

So the five word answer to how to help your child when they lose is to “Look for the hope always.” It’s my life motto.

I pray that you have the hope that can be found in Jesus Christ. It’s available to you. Contact me if you need help finding it.

 

 

Family · Homeschooling · Motherhood

The Weary Days Are Worth It

trust-in-the-lord-and-do-good-dwell-in-the-land-and-enjoy-safe-pasture-4-take-delight-in-the-lord-and-he-will-give-you-the-desires-of-your-heart

I started this post a few weeks ago and got derailed, but sometimes life needs to be derailed to deal with hard stuff and to recognize the expanse of love. To look for the grace of God through answered prayers and life-changing conversations and moments of stretching your capacity to the end of yourself. So, here’s why I think the weary days are worth it.

If you asked me what life has been like since Thanksgiving, I’d tell you “great.” But that wouldn’t be totally true.

The word that keeps clinging to me is “weary.” We’ve had so much fun with holiday things and LOTS of together time and an epic Griswold vacation to Disney and Universal. I highly recommend spending your Christmas vacation in a warm climate. However, it makes coming home to freezing temperatures and frozen pipes a little unsettling.

We had one day last month that began so sweet. We did crafts and the Big Girl and I played a math game with a big die that bounces on the floor. We laughed and laughed and she learned how to do some work on the 100 chart all the while chasing Rudolph.

She asked for more school that day. What an answered prayer. We’ve had a fall of stalls and hard days centered around not wanting to “do school.”

Just the thought of those long days gives me an urge to sigh.

Then you combine my twins from different years, Man Cub (3.5) and Little One (2ish) with weeks of cold, dreary weather and it’s a recipe for short tempers (mostly mine), a lot of not listening (theirs) and weariness. Everyone gets weary when the schedule is too tight and the days are full of gray.

Big Girl thrives off social events and anything outside the house. Mama Bear likes the company and the good cheer, but she is an introvert and a bit of a homebody. Man Cub is like Mama. Little One just goes along for the ride. So, you pit the needs of an extreme extravert against a couple of introverts and a tagalong with Daddy being out of town a lot, and things are going to get messy. The house. Tempers. Sleep.

And when things get messy, a couple of us get, shall we say, out of sorts. That’s not good for anyone.

When I start the day weary, it’s a recipe for many adjustments, setbacks, do-overs and makeups. It’s a recipe for not wanting to handle the big emotions of little people.

It’s a step into a motherhood that doesn’t define my true character.

So, what do you do about weary? What do you do when the schedule is too tight to breathe, but you still want to honor commitments and give your kids an individualized education? How do you get back to celebrating the most wonderful season of life – motherhood?

Here’s what works for me. I hope some of this blesses you.

Don’t neglect the quiet times.

One thing I know don’t have as much time for this time of year is my personal development – Bible study, podcasts, books, journaling, sitting in a quiet room folding laundry or mopping floors (I know I’m not the only one who looks at folded laundry and clean floors as a helpful mind-centering activity). It’s one of the things that gets me a little off-kilter. When you have a busy mind, it’s best to occupy it with things of good – like those above – for the good of yourself and others.

Don’t forget to ask for help.

Hubby travels a lot this time of year and picked up a lucrative job in another city that’s take him away a little longer than expected this week. I heard that news with a bit of frustration. He also had a friend come into town unexpectedly. I want him to have time to invest in relationships. I want him to be whole. But by the fifth day of no daddy at home, I’m a bit touched out, touchy and ready to put on real clothes and escape.

During the phone conversation where he shared this news with me, I was being “needed” by everyone in the house. I’m pushing the Big Girl to do more independent work. She’s a bit of a “tell me what to do and sit and watch me do it” child. Oh my word. Then she does this thing where she needs something, but she won’t tell me unless I react in the perfect tone of voice.

I asked her to articulate her need and to stop haunting my door in my sweetest voice (yeah, right). I was frustrated, but I reframed my response. She said she couldn’t find something. I told her to go do something else she could work on alone.

Hubby and I resumed our conversation after three more toddler interruptions. It centered around, “We’re in a relationship. We ask each other for what we need just like you asked your daughter to do not a minute ago.” Ahem.

It’s humbling when your kids reflect exactly what you do and then you try to correct it out of them. So, I had to ask for a day off. I really never loved asking for a day off when I had a boss. I think it’s an introvert thing.

We’d rather just put up a sign – “I’m visiting with myself. Please come back in a week.”

So, the lesson of this painful conversation is – ask for help when you need it. It’s ok for your older kids to play dress up with their little sister or for them to go stomp in the rain for a few minutes so you can pluck your eyebrows.

Don’t neglect the pegs that keep you centered in the name of productivity.

We got in a habit of going to Chikfila after Bible study last semester. It was a chance for the kids to hang out with friends and for Mama to get some adult conversation. We became known as the “Wednesday Group.”

I decided that we needed to do a little more school on Wednesdays because the competitive dance schedule changed. Well, it’s funny how that works out. We’re back to the exact same dance schedule as last semester and now we have that breathing room for Chikfila again.

I don’t think we’ll do it every week this semester, but it was well worth the break yesterday. I got to talk through some hard stuff with a very good friend. I got to encourage her and she encouraged me. We left with a list of things to pray over for each other.

Just this morning, I was listening to Sally Clarkson’s podcast and she said that when you don’t have an in-place support system to build a network for yourself. She suggested gathering a group of women together to talk and pray and study and serve. That’s what I consider my Wednesday Group – a support network. We’re there to share life together.

So, even if it feels like you’ll never get the laundry done, who cares? In eternity, you’ll have those friends and memories. Laundry can’t talk with you, hug you like you’ve not been around for a year or give you some real perspective on a situation you’ve not considered.

Treat each day as eternal.

There’s an old adage that says we’re to treat every day like it’s our last. I’m not buying that. I’m following the advice I learned recently.

If you’re living in the freedom Christ died to give you. If you’ve given your life to him, why do you need to live as if today is your last? You’ve already entered eternal life. It just gets better from here.

Even these hard days are full of his glory. Even when your eyes spill with tears over how hard a season with a particular child is, there’s peace and rest in that promise. Today is eternity. This situation is not the whole sum of your life. This is just a bump in the road.

Romans 8:18-25 gives us a bit of this perspective.

Now is nothing compared to what’s to come. “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18 ESV)

We’re to be expectant of glory and others joining us in eternity. “For the creation waits with eager loving for the revealing of the sons of God.” (Romans 8:19 ESV) Amen and amen. I get to watch my children reach maturity and reach for Christ. I get to watch the kids I serve in my little toddler class open their eyes to God’s great dance floor (a line I borrowed from one of my favorite Chris Tomlin songs). If we are expectant, we watch for the glimmers and the weary days are worth it when we have one of those conversations you’ll remember forever.

Weary days are the days where the Lord works. “For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.” (Romans 8:22-25 ESV)

We are weak, but we have hope. Our Lord tells us that’s when He works best.

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” (2 Corinthians 12:9 ESV)

When I hold on to the promise that if I “Trust in the Lord and do good,” I will “dwell in the land and enjoy safe pasture.” (Psalm 37:23 ESV). It’s hard right now, but it’s worth every tear, sweat on my brow and hard conversation. He’s waiting in anticipation to make it all ok.

Blessings, mamas. God’s got this.

Faith · friendship · Motherhood · Real Christianity

When You Decide to Live Wholly

2cor517About four years ago, I made a big decision. I was going to take this life of faith seriously. I was going to listen to the Lord and see where he led me.

I was going to see what all these people meant through these terms “Give it all to God” and “Trust in the Lord with all your heart.” I honestly felt a lot of that was all platitudes and a little bit fake.

I thought that praise music was stupid. And I often felt lost and unaffected by the Bible. I felt like it was overwhelming. I can honestly remember opening my Bible and starting to read the book of Isaiah and shutting it because I was just overwhelmed. It didn’t register as truth, but as confusion.

I started one of those read through the Bible plans. I was pretty dedicated to it. I got through some tough books. I loved Genesis. I loved Exodus. Then I got into Numbers and Deuteronomy and Leviticus and Job. Some was awesome. Some of it put me to sleep.

Some of it started to stir my heart.

I honestly felt like Job would never end. The depression was almost too much for me. But I noticed that he would not renounce the Lord. And then I got to the part where the Lord speaks. I was overwhelmed with the majesty of God and the mercy he placed on Job’s life.

I also started to write my prayers down. Not every day. But some days. And then some days became most days.

I started to teach my daughter the Bible. I learned so much from a storybook Bible. I actually began to understand the love God has for me from a storybook Bible.

I started to listen to praise music. I still didn’t love it, but it started a change in my heart. I was no longer angry in traffic. Now, it’s often all you’ll find on my car radio. It’s my preference.

Practicing the life of following Christ is not comfortable. It’s not fun. It does not meet any of my human expectations. But it does keeps its promises. God keeps His promises. But the character of God is not what you expect.

It’s not a 10 steps to a new life kind of plan. It’s a plan with struggle and blessings and results and more questions. It’s a plan of letting go of the you you think you are and becoming the you you were meant to be.

I learned a couple of things through this early process and they led me what I’m talking about today.

Just because you make a decision of faith doesn’t mean everything is perfect. You accept the free gift of salvation, but your life doesn’t miraculously become flooded with gifts and riches and all your problems disappear.

Actually, your life is flooded with gifts. They just don’t look anything like your expectations. When you choose to walk in faith, it’s a path to healing your broken heart. You gain the gift of strength beyond your own. You gain a new perspective. You start to see others like God sees them.

You start to believe you are loved without question, without expectation. You start to see hope flooding into your heart even when you promise yourself that there will always be a wall of protection from hurt. You feel profound pain surface even after you’ve pushed it down for years, but the miracle is that you see it walk away never to return.

You see your cracks filled in with grace. The grace that fills in your cracks is so astounding that you want to help someone else understand they don’t have to live under the weight of lies or walls of protection. I lived under all these rationalizations that I could never get to a place of peace with my pain. But when I really examined them through the lens of God’s grace and mercy, they didn’t add up anymore.

So I threw them away. I no longer saw the value in carrying around rationalizations to hide my pain. It’s kind of like carrying all those receipts in my wallet. The money was spent, the food eaten, the clothes worn. Why do I keep them? Because I’m too lazy to throw them away. So, I started to examine them and dispose of them. And replaced them with truth. I’m a loved daughter of the King of Kings and if I’m going to share this love with others, I need to walk the walk and talk the talk.

When you share the love of Christ, you grow strong and bold and wake up healed. I’m not kidding about this. I really started to see a real change in my heart when I started to live in the purpose God made for me. I was breath-taken by my ability to connect with others.

For so many years, I’ve hidden behind a wall of glass looking into the lives of others wanting so badly to have the friendships and connections they had. In a way, I coveted the idea of friendship because it was the thing I struggled with the most.

But last month after a major setback in my journey, I made a new decision. I decided to pray when I felt the rejection of other people. And I examined this rejection. And realized a lot of it was my own expectation of other people. I was expecting to be rejected before there was even a connection. I also accepted that not all people are where I am. And that’s ok. There’s room on this journey for all of us.

So, I started praying through it. And then I did something bold and risky, which is not really my human nature. But it is my new nature.

I started baring my soul – on this blog and in conversation and in my prayer journal. When I became vulnerable – willing to let someone see the deep recesses of my heart – I found peace. And I’m finding friendships. Real friendships built on the unspoken connection of “me too.” What a blessing it is when we let go of our heart of stone and reveal our heart of flesh.

I found that peace that passes understanding. I found that profound strength that is not my own. I literally felt the presence of God come down and sit beside me when I prayed for someone else or spoke life over someone. When I gave unto others, my peace was sealed. When I gave up my life, I got a whole new attitude and peace is what follows that decision.

I woke up in hope and not doubt. And I woke up without the pain or expectation that my day was going to be fraught with doubt. I woke up with a drive to do something better than the day before. I woke up with a desire to serve the Lord with my whole heart.

The month of October of this year was an amazing month for me. I got to see something extraordinary happen in my life. Anxiety no longer runs my life. The more I poured into other people – serving them – with words of life and grace, the stronger my core felt.

I stopped giving my old self dominion over my heart. As Chris Tiegreen puts it in the Romans Bible Study I’m in:

“More than that [to not let sin reign], we are to make conscious choices to not present ourselves (or any part of ourselves) as tools of unrighteousness but instead to present ourselves to God for His righteous purposes (Romans 6:13). Sin no longer has dominion over us because we have stepped out of our repeated, failed attempts to live up to a standard of righteousness, accepted God’s radical grace, and submitted ourselves to His transforming work, which makes us righteous from within.” (Romans, Explorers Bible Study, p. 91)

I found a purpose – my God-given purpose. My husband told me this extraordinary healing was because I was living my purpose. He sees me the way God sees me. And I’m finally seeing me the way God sees me. Redeemed. Loved. As a vessel of His love and grace. I don’t deserve any of it, but He gives it to me anyway. He gives it to me so that I can show others the hope that is in me.

Forgiving yourself and others releases the final chains on your heart. Holding on to pain is selfish and a way we think we can control our lives. But if you really believe God has the best for you ahead of you, you have to let go of that pain and forgive the ones who hurt you. You have to make a daily choice to let the pain die at the cross.

You have to take those old hurts and put them down. They do nothing for you. They do no one any good. Sure, you’re scared to see what life is like without pain to hedge you in. But when the grace of God hedges you in, you still have protection. Protection of your wholeness.

In Psalm 91:14-16, the psalmist writes:

“Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore I will deliver him;
I will set him on high, because he has known My name.
He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him;
will be with him in trouble;
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him,
And show him My salvation.”

Alexander MacLaren, a Scottish pastor and Scripture expositor, calls this section of the Psalm “The Answer to Trust.” I love this. God loves me and offers me all of this just because I trust him. He protects you from the fear. He makes you whole. He delivers you from the lies.

When the devil is on the prowl, you are prepared for battle. I went away this past weekend to spend three days with the Lord – serving, singing, training up my heart. And I returned to my regular life with a plate of hardship that would normally knock me off to a place of criticism, self-doubt, panic, worry, yelling at my kids, pulling away from the people who love me, going through the motions, being over it all the time, being tired before the day began.

I fully expected the old patterns to take my heart and wrap it in lies. But I fought back. I prayed when the pain tried to invade my cracks. I told the pain where it would lay – at the foot of the cross. Where I believed the lies of doubt before, I took them and turned them around and asked the Lord to reframe them as truth. I took these negative thoughts and took them captive to the truth Christ has planted in my heart. I reached out to a fellowship of prayer warriors. We went to the throne of God asking for His power, for His strength to overcome.

And just when I was ready to lay down my sword to doubt, He showed up with an answered prayer and another. He sent His people to rescue His girl.

Yesterday was an incredibly hard day. But God walked beside me as always. And this time I chose to lean on Him when I couldn’t walk one more step or throw one more punch. He poured out His love and kept me whole. He filled in my gaps when I wanted to just fall to the doubt, the anxiety and the lies.

And today was not an easy day. I had to go to battle again for my child’s heart. I’m not proud of a few of those moments of fight. But when I went to the Lord for His protection and provision, her heart responded to His power.

She saw the Light. She turned away from the ugly lies that were ready to engulf her. I know this battle for her is not over. I know the battle for my heart is not over.

But I do know who wins in the end. I do know that I can rest in that truth. He wins. And I can trust that promise. So can you. You can be whole and at peace if you just choose it.

I’m praying that this post blesses each of you and that if you don’t know this love, you ask someone to share it with you. I will be happy to be the one to do it. Just drop me a line and we’ll talk – amandacbrandon at gmail dot com.