"All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms because we are united with Christ. Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and without fault in his eyes. God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure." - Ephesians 1:3-5
I am daughter; granddaughter;
sister; cousin; and niece.
To one, I am "friend".
And to another, I am "neighbor".
For a moment, I had to ponder I am still called "granddaughter" by anyone. I only have one grandparent living.
If I move I’m not their "neighbor" anymore.
And I can't control that she decided I’m no longer
My identity feels like it can change at any
moment. Sometimes, that is hard for me to cope
However, there is one identity I
cling to that is unchanging: I am a child of God. If there is one thing I can
teach my daughters, it is this: Your identity should be found in God alone. In
this world where life moves faster than a spinning top, I am so grateful that
my identity in God NEVER changes.
Maybe today you need to
cling to that too.
“How great is the love the
Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that
is what we are!” – 1 John 3:1 I'm linking up today with Jill Savage for the Hearts at Home Blog Hop, "Third Thursday Thoughts". Check out what other moms are saying on the topic, "Love your Personality," at Jill's blog.
How do we sort through our memories… the good and the
How do we cope with the events in our life… the happy
and the sad?
Do you ever feel God stirring your heart as you sort
and cope in an effort to put one foot in front of the other?
I’m a bit surprised at what God seemed to whisper in
my heart through memories as I watched a movie while we had the windows on our
He walks around with a carpenter’s pencil in his
mouth. His tools are familiar to me. He works hard and it’s obvious he takes
pride in his work. Skilled in his craft, something tugs at my heart. He
whistles while he works and I can’t help but smile.
We’re having our windows replaced in an effort to save
money (as well as avoid further water damage to our basement). Rather than pack
everything needed to complete the project only to unpack it again the next day,
the men working on our house left all the materials and equipment in our garage
overnight. When I opened the door from our house to the garage this morning, it
stopped me dead in my tracks.
Nothing was wrong. Everything was right where it was
supposed to be. There weren’t any strange animals in sight. What I saw was what
is in this picture: a table saw; construction horses; ladders; and power tools as well as stacked lumber, waiting
to be used as trim for our windows… Mixed with the smell of sawdust, I felt a
lump swell up in my throat… I couldn’t contain the emotions and wondered why
they hit in that very moment.
Growing up, this picture was commonplace in our home.
My dad was a carpenter, running his own business out of our childhood home
built with his hands. One side of our house held a half-court-sized room with a
basketball hoop in it. While we called it the “gym”, it served more as my
father’s garage/tool shed. In an effort to make a space big enough to shoot
3-point shots, we had to push dad’s tools and supplies off to the edges of the
I’m certain the mix of emotions with this scene as
well as the ones connected to the stranger in my home were connected to the familiar
memories of my daddy. The sadness I used to feel over the loss of my dad has
subsided over time… It’s been almost 7 years and I’ve wrestled with a lot of
emotions over that time. There are so many memories that flood my mind and
heart and each one requires sorting and searching and giving them to Jesus.
My dad loved me. I know this. And yet, honestly, my
dad was flawed. He didn’t love me perfectly. There is a lot of pain in my heart
over the memories that thread through my life. At the same time, the fact that
my dad loved me is the core of what allows me to miss him as well as make sense
of the bad memories that intermingle the good ones. With the truth of my dad’s
love for me, I’m able to make peace with every memory I’m left to work through
As I write this, I’m watching the movie, Ragamuffin:The True Story of Rich Mullins. At the point in this songwriter’s story that
he decided to go to Nashville, he sang “Jesus Loves Me”. God whispered to my
heart that this was the point of my sorting through these thoughts on my blog
Just as I work through memories of my dad and my
childhood with the firm knowledge that he loved me, I’m learning that this is
what matters. Not so much that my daddy loved me… but that Jesus loves me; God
loves me. My Heavenly Father loves me.
As I cope with all the thoughts in my mind, I realize
it applies to the way I attempt to manage my life. Every detail of my world
needs to be filtered with this one unchanging fact: My Heavenly Father loves
me. That never changes. EVERYTHING is centered on God’s love for me. And unlike
the memories of my dad, God is with me as I work through the hard times and
good times of this life.
This is where I find peace. This is where you can find
peace. This is where our world finds peace. This is the answer: Jesus loves me.
This I know.
Do you know the depth of Christ’s love for you? Get a copy of Ragamuffin:The True Story of Rich Mullins and set aside time to watch it. Maybe God will reach your heart the same way he met mine. It's worth every minute and every dime. I just rented it and now I want to own it. The message is life changing!
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you
with inner strength through his Spirit.Then Christ will make his home in your hearts
as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you
strong.And may you have the power to understand, as
all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is.May you experience the love of Christ, though
it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all
the fullness of life and power that comes from God.” – Ephesians 3:16-19
“Why did God make me mean like you?” This was the
question posed to me by my 6-year-old daughter. While I smiled at her
inquisition, it didn’t stop my heart from twisting inside of me. “God didn’t
make us mean,” I informed her. “We just need to ask Him to help us make better
The most difficult piece of raising my youngest is the
fact that every time I look at her, I see my reflection as if in a mirror.
She’s filled with passion and can’t contain her emotions. There’s not much of a
filter on her mouth. Her strong-willed personality is a battle almost every
day. When I’m faced with the need to offer instruction and discipline for her,
I find myself hopeless. God, how do I
help her change when I don’t even know where to begin changing myself?!
Most days, I wake up embracing the truth of
Lamentations 3: God’s mercies are new every morning. Then the day begins and I
face failure, disappointment, sin, comparison and discouragement. Most of these
hit hard before everyone is even out the door for the day. I struggle with who
I am and why I can’t ever seem to overcome.
“You are too hard on yourself.” I hear this often from
those I love. Yet, I’m left with a flood of frustration because I feel the need
to be… although I can’t quite identify why.
Maybe I demand perfection?
Could it be that I just don’t think I ever do enough
to please God?
I relate well to the main character in the movie, Mom's Night Out. Allyson, a stay-at-home mom, finds everything about her night out
going wrong. She laments, “I’m a failure. I have failed again. That’s all I do.
I can’t… no matter how hard I try… how much I give… I’m not enough.”
“For Who?” She is questioned by the biker friend lending
a listening ear. He doesn’t beat around the bush when he directly confronts her
woes “… for you? Not enough for you?”
Tears came to my eyes as this unlikely character spoke
truth into this broken momma. The words targeted my heart. Just like Allyson, all
too often, I feel like I’m not good enough. I’d like to be just about anyone
else other me.
In his book, The Ragamuffin Gospel, Author
Brennan Manning states “Though lip service is paid to the gospel of grace, many
Christians live as if it is only personal discipline and self-denial that will
mold the perfect me. The emphasis is on what I do rather than on what God is
doing… sooner or later we are confronted with the painful truth of our
inadequacy and insufficiency.” In these words, I felt God opening His arms as the
loving Father to accept and comfort me. I continued to read the words by Thomas
Merton quoted in the book, “A saint is not someone who is good but who
experiences the goodness of God.”
“You are accepted,” The Ragamuffin Gospel continues. “Never confuse your perception of yourself with the mystery that you
really are accepted.”
I am passionate. Yes, that means I struggle with
containing negative emotions. Sometimes this plays out in the ugliness of anger.
However, most of the time, it displays itself in the beauty of love. My
weakness can reveal strength if I allow it.
I am strong-willed. Sometimes I can appear stubborn
and demanding. More often, it allows me to confidently lead others in following
the greatest commandments: love God; love others. Yet what God is showing me is
that I am leaving out “…as yourself.” “Love your neighbor as yourself.” I can’t
love others the way God loves if I’m unwilling to embrace the woman He created
me to be.
It’s time to quit beating myself up. Allyson (in Mom's Night Out) writes on her mommy blog: “I’m a mess. But a beautiful mess. I’m His masterpiece… and that’s enough.” It’s time I embrace that message and live
it out. God defines who I am. Not me.
Bottom line: In Christ, I’m free to be me! (…and so
Do you struggle with placing high demands on yourself
that God never placed on you? Take time to read the scripture referenced in
this post. God’s desire was to free us. I want my life to start reflecting this
“Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away.Each time he said,“My grace is all you need. My power works best in
weakness.”So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so
that the power of Christ can work through me.That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and
in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ.
For when I am weak, then I am strong.” - 2
I'm linking up today with Jill Savage for the Hearts at Home Blog Hop, "Third Thursday Thoughts". Check out what other moms are saying on the topic, "Love your Personality," at Jill's blog.
Date night is something to look forward to, isn’t it? My
relationship with my husband can get swallowed whole by the hustle and bustle
of everyday life. The kids have needs and agendas. We both have needs and agendas.
Life is busy and without some intentionality, date nights don’t happen. Having a
date scheduled on the calendar can bring hope to a relationship through another day of drudgery.
It’s been some time since we’ve had a date night, so I was
looking forward to a night out with my husband and our friends. The kids went
to Grandma’s. This allowed us adults to watch a musical, eat dinner and even
stop for ice cream. Extended, uninterrupted time without kids… shared with
friends… who could ask for more?
… except maybe a little self-control?
It’s sad to think how quickly our evening turned sour… and
it’s all my fault. Our friends didn’t have any idea that a simple question
would stir up years of emotion. Honestly, I didn’t have any idea either. Anger,
irritation, pride… it was all mingled in and I couldn’t shake it. I walked away
from the conversation… but it was too late. I’d already done damage.
Even worse is the fact that when my husband attempted to
calm the raging storm, all it did was stir the embers into flames. There was no
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness or
self-control on my part. Not a sign of the Holy Spirit in my life. It was the exact
opposite and I felt defeated.
It’s hard to come off of a setback like that.
I am reading Magnetic by Lynn Cowell and she encourages young
women to wear the fruit of the Spirit in order to be the girl God wants. It’s a
good challenge for older women as well. I turned to Psalm 37 as she encouraged and
found myself consumed in the words God gave me as a gift that morning.
“TheLordmakes firm the steps of the one who delightsin him;
though he may stumble, he will not fall, for theLordupholdshim with his hand.” – Psalm 37:23-24
I clung to that verse on the way to church.
Though he may stumble...
He will not fall...
That was all that happened. I’d stumbled but it didn’t mean
During communion yesterday, our pastor challenged us to
think about how much God loves us… not how much we think He loves us… but the objective fact that He loves us.
The fact is that the Bible tells me “God demonstrates his own
love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”
He doesn’t love me because I keep from sinning. He loves me in spite of my sin.
Shortly after, we sang “Freedom Reigns” by Jesus Culture.
This song reinforced the same message I knew God was nudging
my heart with all morning:
In Jesus, there is freedom and I don’t have to feel defeated
because I failed the day before.
As we walked out of church that morning, I turned my head to
the screams of our 6-year-old daughter. She was sitting on the sidewalk, hugging
her knees. When I asked if she tripped, she said she was just running too fast.
Apparently, her body went faster than her feet. It’s just a little scratch,
thankfully. She’ll be fine.
This morning God brought that picture to my mind as I
continued to mull over this verse. Our daughter ran on up ahead of us after
church. When she was a little younger, we would have walked hand in hand which
would have allowed me to help her when she stumbled. My knee jerk reaction
would have been to pull up on her arm and keep her body from making contact
with the ground. I would have kept her from falling.
This was the picture painted in Psalm 37. God upholds me
with his hand.
This weekend, I felt like a failure when anger won out…
again. Self-control wasn’t exercised… again. They feel like repetitive struggles
in my life. Yet I’ve been reminded that I should call it what it is… sin.
My “struggles” are sin. That’s what the Bible says. Every
time I allow sin to rule my actions instead of the love, I feel like a failure.
Jesus says I don’t have to stay in a cycle of guilt. With Him, there is
I love God.
I love my husband.
I love my girls.
I love others.
So, why do I react so poorly to them so often?
I know that in Christ, I am free. Not free to sin, but to
live without its bondage on my life. In light of this, it’s a hard reality to
stumble so far away from the path I want to be on so often.
I may have stumbled this past weekend, giving in to sinful choices.
However, as long as I continue to stay close to Him, I won’t fall. I still need
to seek forgiveness – from Him – and from others – but I haven’t fallen from
His grace. I never can.