A Wretch Like Me

Failure.

That seems to be the most recent lie fighting to claim the forefront of my mind. Failure as a mom. Failure as a friend. Failure as a human. Failure as a follower of Christ. The standard I have for myself gradually creeps up so high, whether by my own expectations or by the words I have warped from the people around me. Despite the intentions of criticism and advice, it doesn’t always feel constructive. Especially when you are an overcoming shame puppet. I used to feed off my own mental self-destruction prior to surrendering to Jesus. Shortly after true salvation and marrying Brenner, I decided to read and then destroy all of my old journals from middle school to college. The common theme throughout each journal was hopelessness. Yet a small glimmer of the light of Christ still shined through the dark cracks. Back in those times in my life, depression and anxiety ate me alive. After a time I didn’t really want to leave that pit. It became comforting to never hope for anything, to never be let down. But see I was missing one small whisper, one massive truth..my hope was in the wrong things.

In the present, my flesh still constantly fights to place myself on the throne of my life. Though I wouldn’t say this at first glance, when I dig to the root of my shame and fear, the root of feeling hopeless or feeling like a failure is this: I can easily idolize myself and other people. Though I should have no other gods before the One True God, I can easily place other things before Him and sugar coat the sin by calling it a ‘prioritization issue’ . It’s a sin nonetheless, and confession and repentance are needed for real change.

“If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1:9 ESV)

Now I’m sure by now you’ve just had several sharp intakes of breath and you’re either relating one hundred percent or your trying not to judge me. That’s okay, I’m just sharing my heart and it is a broken thing. But it’s being made whole by the God who rebuilds the ancient ruins (Isaiah 61:4). He is creating in me a pure heart. I started praying that consistently over myself  two years ago. In the beginning it sounded sweet, it sounded like I would feel pure and righteous as God was doing it, pink skies and fluffy white clouds. I’m sure there was an angel baby floating somewhere playing a harp in that imagination.  But as He has truly began to shine truth and love into my innermost being, I have never felt more dirty. I have never felt more small than as the sheer weight of the glory of God has entered into my hovel of a soul. Not because God’s judgement has pierced me and minimized me due to my sin. No quite the contrary, I recognize my own faultiness, my own finite humanity because it is only in these broken weaknesses that I am seeing the depths of God’s love for me and the extreme heights of His strength. He is creating in me a pure heart. With every speck of dirt removed He is telling me I am loved, that I am worthy of this love. He is reaching the deepest, lonely glaciers of my soul. I see the speck in my own eye, first. This is helping me to love God, myself, my family, my friends, strangers, and my enemies more genuinely. Love is coming out of the destruction, a temple for the living God is being made out of the ancient ruins. Again, I will confess that my mundane mind can not make sense of it. Still His grace is sufficient for even that. Jesus tells me that I’m not a failure, that He has chosen me (Ephesians 1). That He has made me righteous. (Romans 3:22) I can’t be both a failure and also righteous. I chose Jesus.

Every time I let God in a little deeper, every time I release clenched fists over all He’s given me to gain a posture of open palms, every time I surrender myself to His plan, every time I say yes to Him, I am transformed. The journey can feel like a back and forth emotional/physical/spiritual roller coaster. And it is when we look horizontally, as Paul said,

 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.” (Romans 7:15 NIV)

Which is why a few lines down, Romans 8, tells us there is no condemnation for those of us who live in Christ! We must keep our eyes fixed on the vertical, on Jesus. We are dying to our flesh and living by the spirit. That is what this roller coaster is. And God doesn’t just throw us to the wolves, He chips away the dirt and grime over time. He takes away the shame of our sins completely. Like the white shirt I wore in hopes of my toddlers staying tidy, but they’re kids and tidy just isn’t happening realistically yet. Lazarus came up from behind me, jumped up and “Hulk squished” me. That white shirt was soon marred with whatever substance was on his hands. God tells us that even then, He makes us white as snow.

I am becoming more like Jesus. I am learning to trust Him, to love..truly love. He is faithful to complete the good work He has begun. So now I face the chaos with hope, I tell the wind to “Be still.” And when I don’t have the strength to sing the words, when praise takes everything in me to conjure up a note, still there He hears my silent rock of a heart’s cry and He responds with a melody that He sings over me. He is love. He is better than we know, His love, deeper than we realize. It feels intense, because it is.

Amazing Grace
How sweet the sound
That saved a wretch like me
I once was lost
but now I’m found
was blind
but now I see.

Thank you, Lord, for Your love. It is enough. You are enough. Be my compass today, Be my peace. You are Jehovah Shalom (The Lord my Peace). Make me whole with, Your shalom peace. I pray this in the name of Jesus, the Prince of Peace.


This song “P E A C E” covered by Amanda Cook has been renewing my mind daily over the past week. Check it out!

Meaningless, meaningless

After a few weeks of walking through spiritual fog, I had had enough. I was still intimate with God, but I was growing weary of not being able to see where I was going. I knew what I was getting myself into when I stepped out onto the waters. That still didn’t change the fact that my flesh has been screaming at me to turn around and go back to where I came from.

Between alternating work schedules, recording/editing YouTube videos, ministry events, and just flat out financial dryness hindering date nights, my husband and I haven’t had much alone time. Which is why on Monday we talked non-stop as we drove two hours east to a family member’s home. That seemingly small moment we shared was like a crack in the sidewalk ruptured with grass and flowers. A bursting forth of who we really are and what we were always meant to be. Our children slept for the majority of the way and we totally flourished in the lengthy yet fleeting conversation. During that ‘selah’ moment, God highlighted our joint vision for our family and reminded us of the calling He has over our lives. We realized how distracted we had become in the day to day busyness. Those flourishing sidewalk cracks of rest allow the rebuilding of creativity, dreams, and visions to be started up again.


The next day I went to an evangelism class at our church on a whim. That in itself was a miracle to get the kids and myself there so randomly but also efficiently. Ten minutes into the class and my eyes welled with tears. The class was specifically on digital evangelism! It was all about tips and counsel for spreading the gospel of Jesus through social media and blogging. Talk about confirmation. That’s exactly what I am doing through this blog and my YouTube channel. Though the enemy will whisper to me that I’m not doing much, God says,

“Obedience over outcome”

It isn’t about the amount of likes or followers I receive, that’s the outcome that I am not intended to presume on (Proverbs 27:1). Obedience is simply me walking out the great commission to make disciples of all nations through whatever means possible and impossible (Matthew 28:18-20).


In all honesty, this season of life is odd for my family. Odd isn’t the best word, maybe…unfamiliar? Let me try putting it this way: We are walking in the promise land that we’ve been praying for, but at the same time, fighting to push out the enemies inhabiting our promise land.

One example being after I got home from that amazing class at church, our family car broke down in the driveway! What are the odds, right? But the situation didn’t shake me like it would have in the past. After all God had been revealing to me, I was too pumped at the prospect of watching God work a miracle with my car. And later that night, He fixed it!

In this new place, we are claiming and witnessing victory, but also marching around the same city over and over again while waiting for the walls to drop. When is the outcome complete? When does the final finish line appear? I know one answer to that would be when I take my last breath, but I think on a more micro level, what my soul really longs for is rest. Rest from the noise. Rest from the constant battle. Sometimes life can feel like one thing after the next, “sunrise to sunset”. As Solomon puts it in Ecclesiastes 1,

“Meaningless, meaningless! Everything is meaningless!”

Solomon describes life on earth, and how minute and temporary all of our tasks are in the grand scheme of things. “What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:2 ESV)” Then later he says that everything we do under the sun is “meaningless and a striving after the wind (Ecclesiastes 1:14 ESV)”.

We all have that inner knowledge that there is something more. And there is, right? What is the point of life if everything we do is meaningless? It can all feel so hopeless, and that is why the world we live in today is plagued with hopeless people. My past self included. Of course, life is only meaningless when we are striving to find something that has already been given to us, or attempting to pay a debt that has already been paid. The truth being that Jesus is the way, the truth and the life (John 14:4) and He has everything we need. Anything outside of Jesus really is vanity. No success ladder or tower of Babel will give us the gift of the abundant, meaningful life that is found only in Jesus. It is so easy to lose sight on what we are really doing here on this planet-experiencing intimacy with Christ and intimacy with people. Relationship.

That is why the special moment of rest on a spontaneous road trip with my husband was so critical. It plunged us into further intimacy with Jesus which in return took us deeper with each other. And my favorite part of all, we were reminded of the call from Christ to lay hold of that which He has laid hold of for us.

“But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me.” (Philippians‬ ‭3:7-12‬ ‭NKJV)

There is more to life, an abundant life found in Jesus. We have access to it all, and we can only appreciate it all in our moments of pausing and resting. So mom’s, lock yourself in the bathroom today and just breathe for a few minutes. Take a random road trip with your family, soak up the scenery, and search for animals in the clouds. Put your phone down, close your eyes, and hum along to the heart beat of silence. Rest in Jesus is important. Prioritize it and you will thrive in it.


I just started a phenomenal new book, Finding Spiritual Whitespace: awakening your soul to rest by Bonnie Gray. This book goes into detail on the rest that we all need! You can start your journey to rest in Christ through this book by purchasing your copy here !

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Superhero

If we as followers of Christ truly believed that we are who God says we are, then we would be able to endure the most nerve-wracking and uncomfortable moments life has to offer us with complete faith that our divine superpowers through Christ will kick in before we fall.

This week has been one for the books in mom life. Living in a small (and I mean tiny) two bedroom house has its ups and downs. Ups being,  I can deep clean the whole place in a few hours. Though my husband would  probably scoff at that sentence because it typically doesn’t work out that way with two kids. Another positive note, I can hear everything my kids are doing from the other room. Sneaky kids can’t get past me! Except I pretty much always show up a millisecond too late, just as one is covered in sour cream or the other is jumping off my piano. The current downside is that my not-so-baby one year old outgrew her crib and now shares a room with her almost-three year old brother. The transition was okay the first few weeks, but took a sudden turn for the worst after we got back from a camping trip. The amount of attention they are both requiring to stay in their beds has been so draining. My husband and I end up with only a few hours of sleep each night. We’ve done it countless times before, but it was usually one kid or the other keeping us up. This time around, because they are in such close quarters, if one wakes up then the other does too. You see where I’m going with this.

I think my subconscious has taken this a little personal. Quietly whispering, “Why God? I’ve been through this many times, so why are you testing me like this again?! Can’t You make them sleep!!” The ugly parts of myself come out at 3 a.m. Which is probably good enough reason to test me. And I’m not saying God is testing me by keeping my kids awake, but I do believe He is working all things out for my good and will use all things to help me walk out His calling over my life (Romans 8:28).  Just as I am typing this blog out, God is reminding me of a recent Psalm I have been praying to Him:

“Search me, O God, and know my heart;
Try me, and know my anxieties;
And see if there is any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.” (Psalm 139:23-14)

God really is using my kids’ growth spurt/teething/sleeping adjustment season of life to help me discover my weaknesses and lead me out of them. I should be praising Him for my spiritual progress instead of complaining about my physical discomfort. Last night I prayed this Psalm 139 scripture, and instead of complaining about my kid’s harassing me, I asked God to be my strength during these present weaknesses within myself. He did exactly that! The cherry on top was reading 1 Kings 3. this morning during my quiet time with the Father. Through this passage I found the answer to my relentless cry for help:

I was asking for a way out when I should have been asking for God’s understanding.

Having God’s perspective is the way out of the storms.

In a book I am currently reading, In a Pit With a Lion on a Snowy Day by Mark Batterson, the author states, “No problem, no miracle”. How profound is that? Without the annoying discomforts, without the thorns in our side, how will God’s grace ever be enough for us or how will His power ever have is perfect work in us?

 “And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NKJV)

Now let me share a story from earlier this week that I believe might coincide with this divine perspective:

A few days ago my husband, kids, and I went to a new park. My son, Lazarus, was wearing his Spiderman costume from last year’s Fall festival. Laz’s attire was another one of those things I just had to let him get away because us moms pick our battles, right? Anyways, as we approached the playground all of the little boys and girls ran up to Lazarus. They were touching his costume, looking at his hands, and saying, “Hi Spiderman!”. The kids really and truly thought Laz was this superhero-man of spiders. It is no secret that Laz absolutely loves Spiderman. So this praise from other kids his age really boosted his spirit. He began jumping all around the playground and shooting imaginary webs everywhere while the kids followed him. It was one of the funniest/cutest things I’ve ever seen..until Brenner and I spent a hairsbreadth of a second looking at our daughter, and then the onslaught of Laz’s painful screams began. There was a 6-7 foot tall rock-climbing wall on one side of the playground’s tower. Imagine a stairway leading up to the area where one could go down the tallest slide on the playground, but there also being a doorway up there to climb down the rock wall. Apparently Laz, a.k.a. Spiderman, fearlessly jumped from the very top of the opening to descend the rock-climbing wall and free-fell like a flying squirrel to the ground . What was he thinking as he stood over the edge of this 7 foot drop? Lazarus was without a doubt believing that he was Spiderman.

Yes, yes as parents we should have been there to catch him. Trust me, my momma heart chewed on that guilt for a long while. Accidents happen, and if you have kids you know what I mean. Thank God, Lazarus was 100% okay and somehow just knocked the breath out of himself. But putting that aside, Laz believed with all of his heart that he was a superhero. So much so that he jumped from the highest point possible on this playground believing his superpowers would kick in before he fell.

If we as followers of Christ truly believed that we are who God says we are, then we would be able to endure the most nerve-wracking and uncomfortable moments life has to offer us with complete faith that our divine superpowers through Christ will kick in before we fall.

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” (Philippians 4:13 NKJV)

Of course, in my son’s physical situation, Lazarus did fall and he did get hurt. But we, his parents, came to his rescue and we healed him with our superpower kisses. We gave Lazarus the gift of divine understanding by telling him that he was a superhero, but in the future he should wait for us to be there to catch him when he wants to fly off something high up. Does God not give even greater gifts to His children than us mundane parents? God can be everywhere at once. God can catch all of us at the same time as we take tremendous leaps of faith to trust Him in the unknown and uncomfortable moments.

 “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give to you the spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, the eyes of your understanding being enlightened; that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the exceeding greatness of His power toward us who believe, according to the working of His mighty power which He worked in Christ when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality and power and might and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in that which is to come. And He put all things under His feet, and gave Him to be head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” (Ephesians 1:17-22 NKJV)

That is a lengthy read, but packed with life-changing truth! In Ephesians 3, Paul goes on to talk about us being raised to life with Christ and seated at the right hand of God’s throne with Christ. This means that believers receive all of these benefits of Christ: wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God, enlightened understanding, the riches of God’s glory, and the greatness of His mighty power over all things (to name a few). In other words, we are more super than Spiderman and God is a more amazing Father than my husband and I (as if we didn’t already know that). My point is this, God’s perspective on who He is and who we are is fundamental in walking out the fullness of God’s plan for our lives with fearless joy. Whether it’s jumping off a 7 foot ledge in faith of flying, or getting up 15 times a night to keep your children sleeping in their own beds, identity and divine perspective are the keys to thriving in it all. Be who God says you are and trust the process through the valleys and mountaintops alike. God is good and faithful. His mercies are new every day, and His grace is enough for us.

 

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