October 11, 2013

day 11 :: martha, martha.

As they continued their travel, Jesus entered a village. 

A woman by the name of Martha welcomed him and made him feel quite at home. She had a sister, Mary, who sat before the Master, hanging on every word he said. 

But Martha was pulled away by all she had to do in the kitchen. 

Later, she stepped in, interrupting them. “Master, don’t you care that my sister has abandoned the kitchen to me? Tell her to lend me a hand.”

The Master said, “Martha, dear Martha...

you’re fussing far too much and getting yourself worked up over nothing. 

One thing only is essential, and Mary has chosen it—it’s the main course, and won’t be taken from her.”

October 10, 2013

day 10 :: comparison

Earlier this summer, I read the book So Long Insecurity by Beth Moore.  It was a fabulous, which spoke right to me in a season where I felt... well... insecure.  I was making huge life decisions, such as where we would live, and was struggling with feeling like my worth or value depended on something outside of me.

Which, in reality, it does.

It depends on God's adoption of me.  A daughter of the king.

That is where I hope and pray I find my value day in and day out.  I need to be honest, this is hard work for me.  I fall prey to comparison and the but they did this and they did that game when it comes to deciding what is best for me.  I am not quick to be quiet.  Not quick to wear the blinders to even Christian culture in order to hear of God's best for me.

But that is not where I intended to go here.  This book gave an example of mind over matter that I have found so freeing.  Now I understand that I might sound like a crazy person to those who don't struggle with comparison and insecurity (there must be someone in the world who doesn't, right?), but in the name of freedom, I'm going to share this.

In so many words, Beth described the woman who walks in a room and immediately sizes herself up to every other woman in there.  Physically.  Spiritually.  Emotionally.  I do this.  Beth did this.  You might.  You kind of quickly evaluate where you stand and you either feel good, or you feel down.  You  see that you may be dressed more stylish that some, and it elevates yourself a bit.  But there's that person who you really admire spiritually, and God, if I could be more like her (really?).

This is the straight-up-raw-honesty folks.  I do this.

The first problem, is this is pride at. it's. core.  Acting as if the world revolves around me.  The hierarchy of spirituality or attractiveness or something revolves around where I'm at.  And where I stand is all that matters.

You see how ridiculous this is when I say it out loud?

This hinders us so much from loving well.  From being confident in our identity in Christ.  From stepping out in faith and boldness to pursue relationship, encourage other women, or step alongside the outcast.

I now see this.

Beth's advice?  Just stop it.  

Stop it. Stop it. Stop it.

The very best thing about identifying these ridiculous habits of comparison and pride, our ability to see it in the moment and put an end to it.  Cut your mind off from going there, and ask for the Lord's eyes to see all of His children.  We all need him desperately.  Cute skinny jeans, boots, and sweater or sweatpants.  Eloquent speaker or not.  Confident and bold and captivating, or shy, reserved, and quiet.  We all need Him.

In comparison to His son, that is the only place we stand.

So stop the ridiculousness.  Let your mind be transformed by truth.  Make sure you are filling your mind with the things that are good and trustworthy and honorable.  Truth-reading.  Reject the comparison.  The self-deprecation.  Or the self-elevation.  Whatever it may be, we need Jesus.  End of story.

I find so so so much freedom here.

October 9, 2013

day 9 :: fear

Today was the day we swapped diapers for underwear for the big boy.  I had a lot of anxiety leading up to it for some reason.  I put it off and kept making excuses.  But when it came down to it, I did it like I do many things.  Just pull the plug one day and say, "okay, that's it!"

So, today was that day.

It went much better than I anticipated.  The day wasn't without accidents, but he had a cluster of about 4 accidents shortly after drinking a huge cup of juice, which they said to do to give them opportunity to go.  I guess he had to go TOO bad.  But other than that little cluster in the afternoon, he was dry.  That, and the time he did a #2 in his underwear.  How is that for mommy talk?  

Seriously, I don't know what I was afraid of.  It's potty training.  Accidents happen.  Life goes on.  I imagine the worst.  As if it is a slow-mo NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!! every time he doesn't make it to the potty.  That's not how it goes.  It's always fine.  And he will learn.

But it kind of got me thinking about how I approach things that are different or new.  It is often with anxiety.  With imagining the worst.  I just pray that when it comes to being bold about my kids, I choose to be bold and not fear.  

Truth is, accidents will always happen in life.  Decisions will not always be the best ones, but they are the ones we make.  And God can use our mess to bring glory to Him, if we let him.

I want the kind of life that isn't afraid of taking risks.  That boldly steps out in faith into whatever he has next.  Trusting.  Instead of fearing the worst.  Because, even if the worst happens, there is still grace.  There is still hope.  There is still a God who stoops the lowest and he is found there.  

Don't let fear keep you captive.

October 8, 2013

day 8 :: where I'm at

One week down in this 31 days of finding freedom challenge!  I feel like I deserve something for blogging for 31 days in a row.  Can I say this is going to be MUCH MUCH harder than I expected?  In an ideal world I'd have my posts ready the day before, cute pictures edited and cropped, and it would be entering the blogosphere at 5am the next morning.

But really, that's just not where I'm at.

Today I have about 10 minutes before I get Jude up from his non-nap (oh, yeah, he's not napping anymore.  Fun, huh?).  Today, a 20 minute power nap myself trumped this blog post.  I guess I thought inspiration would come while I was sleeping.  Unfortunately, not the case.

Still, there is a lesson for me to learn here.  About my expectations.  Knowing myself, what I'm capable of, and what I need.  And adjusting accordingly.

I am a big advocate of the idea of giving up good to make space for what is best.  Sometimes, though, even my idea of best is what I find burdensome.

That means, I need to evaluate.  Just because I like what someone else is doing, and it is their best, that does not mean it has to be my best.  (I tend to fall into this trap.)

While I should give my best in what I do, there is grace.  Grace for the sloppy blog posts.  Grace for the one-or-two tv shows too many.  Grace for the lack of patience.

But nobody wants to live in a place where they constantly feel like they aren't measuring up.  We can embrace grace, but we can also change our expectations.  We can pray for a realistic perspective on what is best and what we are capable of.  And adjust our ideals accordingly.

So, instead of kicking myself for starting this blog series I'm not doing justice to (in my opinion), some new expectations.

Don't expect blog posts the night before.  If I'm lucky, you might get them.  But that probably won't happen this week.

Don't expect eloquent, captivating posts.  Or even clever stories.  Or even a recent photo.

What you can expect?

Truth.  Honesty.  Always.  And a heart that desires deeply to share life with other women, encourage my fellow Mamas, and love the Lord with all that I am.

That's just where I'm at.  And there's freedom here.

October 7, 2013

day 7 :: pushing through for freedom

After a busy weekend I almost completely spaced my commitment to write this post.  It is late, so I am going to keep this short and sweet.

This morning as once again time for my Beth Moore bible study.  We settled in on the story in Luke of the woman who was bleeding, carrying her burden for 12 years.

She saw her need.  Desperate.  And broke all of the social norms and laws to push through the crowd, reach out and grab hold of Jesus.

And she was healed.

My take-away?

You know the burden you carry.  The insecurity or anger or  depression or anxiety or pain.

Beth's message today, the one I'm passing on to you.

Don't let anything get in the way of you grabbing hold of Jesus to find healing.  To find truth.  Even if your decisions make you seem crazy to the world.  Well, that's more Christ-like, isn't it?

I know I need to take some time to pray about what exactly I need to bring to him.  To uncover more of these strongholds and find the root.  And find healing.

What do you need to push through to be freed today?

October 6, 2013

day 6 :: in a funk

Sunday's are just flat out rough.  Rushed mornings with breakfast in the car, tears at the nursery drop-off, and postponed naps.

Today was one of those days where I felt like, yep. I HAVE A TWO-YEAR-OLD.

He wants the blue spoon, not the green spoon.  And no, I don't want to sit in the booster, because I'm tall up-to-the-sky like Daddy.  And I don't like it, Mama!  I don't like pasghetti! 

The books say to ignore the tantrums.  And most days, I do.  I walk away and tell him to come find me when he is ready to speak kindly.  But today, we were simply in a funk.

The kind of funk that is there whether you ignore it or not.

The kind of funk that has my blood start to bubble because I can't. handle. the. screaming.

The kind of funk that, really, only one thing can fix.


I crank up the tunes (lately, this song by Brooke Fraser is my go-to funk-busting song), grab my screaming boy, and start spinning in circles.

The cries quickly turned into side-splitting laughter.  We twirled and bounced around the house and listened to the song three times in a row.  Funk forgotten.

Imperfect children.  Far from perfect motherhood.  And loud music.  I found freedom here.

This is day 6 of "31 days if finding freedom".  Click here for more posts in this series.

October 5, 2013

day 5 :: life-giving links

Happy weekend, friends!

Today I thought I would share some life-giving blogs and books that I've been reading lately.  Happy reading!

www.cassidyrobinson.com - she is blogging on 31 days of being content.  I love this girl anyway, but these posts are a breath of fresh air.  Finding freedom in choosing contentment over discontentment.  It is indeed a choice.

Desperate: hope for the mom who needs to breathe - the title says it all.  I've found so much encouragement from Sarah Mae and Sally Clarkson through this book.  Being in the trenches with two toddlers is sometimes crazy and this book has encouraged me that I am not losing my mind (or at least I'm not the only one who is) and that a slight shift in my perspective can make all of the difference.

What Women Fear - this book by Angie Smith hit home for me.  I listened to it this summer as an audiobook while painting our house, getting ready to sell.  I was "amen"ing the whole way through.  I didn't realize how many things I lived in fear of until reading this.  This book was great in helping me identify areas I could pray through to break through binding strongholds.

http://jonathanmerritt.religionnews.com/2013/10/02/tullian-tchividjian/#sthash.3aI5Gpfl.gbpl - this blog post by Tullian Tchivdjian, Billy Graham's grandson, is a breath of fresh air.  This post quite accurately expresses what I have been experiencing all summer.  Needing to lean heavily into grace after living in a do-good, try-hard way for too long.

October 4, 2013

day 4 :: dear self

Dear self,

Today, find freedom in the fact that you aren't expected to fit into any molds.  Don't get caught up in the rules and expectations put on you by the world, your culture, your peers, and yourself.

If you give into your toddler's demands through tantrums now and then, for the pursuit of peace, that is okay.

If you haven't gotten up before the kids in weeks, and struggle to make this a habit, that's okay.

If your 2.5 year old still is addicted to a pacifier and you see no sign of that stopping, even though so-and-so says it should be long gone, that is okay.

If you feed your family frozen pizza instead of the real-food-eat-clean meal you had planned, that's okay, too.

If you feel like there is so much you should be doing because that is what they say, but you simply don't know how to do it all, you are not alone.

We weren't called to do it all.  To fit into any mold or style of motherhood, but rather to love the Lord and love others well.

If motherhood looks differently than you think it should, know that it doesn't need to hold you captive.  It doesn't need to be a reason you self-criticize or condemn.  You are doing hard kingdom work.  Don't let the lie that you are just a mom and you need to do more set root in your mind.

Be the you that Christ created you to be.  Praise Him in that.  And keep on your journey faithfully.  You will try different things and some will work and some will utterly fail.  What works for one will not work for another.  All of this is okay.  Your life is not supposed to mimic your friends' on facebook.  Because you were uniquely created as you were.  Uniquely you, because that is exactly who God needs you to be.  

Know that there is freedom to be found in loving yourself, because you were created by a loving God.

Love, me

October 3, 2013

day 3 :: free friendship

Tonight we sit on her couch, face to face for hours.  A friendship of nearly 10 years can easily be picked up where we last left off, even though it has been months since we've connected.

This is my favorite place to be.  Maybe add a cup of tea or a glass of wine to the mix, and this type of night is perfection to me.

There is no need for small talk, and we get right to the point.  Catching up on the events of the summer, we realize that we find ourselves in the same place, once again.  We're tempted by a try-hard life.  We're suffocating.

It would be easier for me to decide to move overseas and be a known and respected missionary at this point in my life, I say.  Or adopt.  Or do something big and drastic.  I might feel like I earned it then.

But simply accepting grace and serving my husband and my family in love.  Seeking Christ-likeness in the depths of my heart.  Abiding and loving well.  Right now, in the mundane of a stay-at-home-mom, that is my hard work.  It never feels like enough.

So, we sit and we work through our dirty hearts.  It's all on the table.  And it's beautiful.  I'm not exactly sure why, but there is hope found here.  We're not simply airing our dirty laundry for each other.  We're not complaining or comparing.  We want better.  We want more Jesus and we know that true friendship involves intercession.

Then in so many words, she says, freedom was never ever about rules.  Never about being good enough.  In Eden, the only rule was to not eat of the tree.  Yet somehow, today, we feel like grace isn't enough.

I sing the words, your grace is enough.  But my heart is too often not caught up in His love.  It's caught up in my works.

Why is it so hard for me to live in grace?  Why is it so hard for me to live based on what God has done for me, as opposed to what I can do for him?  There is a stark difference between the two.  One road leads to captivity, and the other to freedom.

But tonight, this friendship feels like freedom.  Because the love of Christ is all over it, and that is where freedom is found.

A free friend does not compare.  Does not criticize.  Does not condemn.  A free friend loves.  Hopes.  Prays.  A free friend will direct you back to Christ in the most kind way, because she knows that it is the Lord's kindness leads to repentance.  A free friend does not enable captivity.  They are a breath of fresh air.

Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  And we know, when two or more are gathered in the name of Christ, he is there.  Friendships built upon Christ should lead to freedom.

Am I a life-giving friend?  Or do I enable my friend's captivity?  I sure hope and pray that along with the love of Christ, my friends find such freedom with me.

This is day 3 of a 31 day series "Finding Freedom".  Check here for more posts in this series.

October 2, 2013

Day 2 :: uncovered

This is a dangerous journey to be on.  The journey of discovering the hidden areas of our heart that need a little (or a lot) loosening.  Areas that have weighed us down and kept us silent for so long, about to break free.  The enemy wants none of that to happen.  

In bible study this past week, a friend stated that she felt like she finally had some wisdom and insight into some strongholds in her life that she wasn't aware of before.  You would think that this revelation would bring some relief and freedom in and of itself, but instead she felt the opposite.  The enemy was livid and she felt spiritually drained and attacked rather than enlightened.  

I have felt the same way.  Ever since that late-night decision to blog my way through this, I've once again felt frozen.  Insecure.  Thoughts such as, I don't want people to think I think I know anything about this.  What if I say the wrong thing.  What if I share too much and people judge me.  Who am I to talk about freedom, you captive, you.  Who am I to say anything at all.  

But, freedom doesn't keep us silent.  So I am going to press on.

I'm praying that through this journey, the spirit would make me aware of the hidden areas in which I need freedom.  The areas where pride has snuck in, or insecurity has tainted.  This process of uncovering our strongholds is not easy, nor is it fun.  But it is so necessary.  Because remaining in captivity ruins us.  It strains our relationship with the Lord, and can devastate our life on earth.  It seeps into our marriages, our friendships, our ministries.  But the good news?  Freedom can shine even brighter in all of those areas.

I know this isn't going to be easy.  But I know that I am not alone in this.  This is the curse, this separation.  We can't help it, as this is our heritage.  A voice tells us that we don't need Him.  We can have it all.  Know it all.  Figure it out through worry or fear.  That this life is all there is.

I take that lie and eat of it. Time and time and time again.

Of course, not always consciously, but no one is beyond captivity. Especially not me.
As we begin to confess in Bible study areas in which we know we are held captive, there is a lot of head nodding and "amens" around the room.

I feel like nobody really likes me, they are just being nice. 

I size myself up to everyone else in the room.  

I'm angry all the time.

The success of my day is determined by the number on the scale.  

I just feel like a failure.

It comes down to the heart of the matter. And the heart is that, on our own, we are all prideful. We are not naturally humble. We all behave as if our world is all there is, whether by self-promoting or self-degrading.

But there is so much more.  Freedom is the fruit of Christ's saving work.  

In Beth Moore's book, “Breaking Free”, she highlights how the kings of Judah, even the most honorable, were not holy.  None were incapable of misleading or immune from pride.  We all need a supernatural savior to redeem us.

“We need more than a leader on our road to freedom. We need a Savior - One who keeps saving. Although we need to be saved from eternal separation from God only once, Christ continues His saving work in us for the rest of our lives.”
We are works in progress. We are not supposed to have arrived. We are not supposed to be perfect in this world, but God is continuing this work even still.  Praise the Lord, the secret of Christ has been revealed to us.  We know where our hope lies.

If you are like me, even this simple truth has a weightless air about it.

God is doing this work, it is not my works. And he cares enough to set me free. He cares more about my freedom than I do. This is a battle for my freedom, and I know how it ends. So, don't lose heart.

I am not alone in this battle for freedom from strongholds. Neither are you.

He is the reason we are on this journey in the first place. And he will see us to the end.

This is day 2 of a 31 day series on "Finding Freedom".  Check here for more posts in this series. 

October 1, 2013

31 days of finding freedom :: why freedom?

For the past couple of Octobers, I have loved following my favorite writers on this 31-days-of-blogging journey.  Last year I got serious about writing more about half-way through the month, so I missed it.  And I almost missed it this time.  If you haven't noticed, writing hasn't exactly been a priority in my life lately.  But that is about to change.  As of 11pm last night, I decided to jump on the band wagon.

For me, this is mostly about accountability.  Accountability to write, for one.  This is how I process.  My mind is a jumbled mess until I get it out in words, and then I finally feel free of my mind-chaos.  Writing every day will be challenging, but I am looking forward to putting my words out there again.

But more than accountability in writing, I am sharing to be held accountable to taking this journey of finding freedom seriously and deeply.  This is a journey I have been on for the better part of the last 6 or 7 months and I'm starting to feel a bit lighter.

Why 31 days of finding freedom?

Most simply put, the Lord desires us to be free.

He desired freedom for his Israelite children in Egypt and he desires for us today.  The purpose of Christ was to give us freedom from the captivity that sin puts us in.  We were slaves.  But we don't have to be any longer.

The problem is, even if we know Jesus, we are still human.  We are still prone to linger in captivity.  We still are tempted by the world, and from time to time, we give in.  We believe Jesus is real, but our spirits are still overwhelmed by the battle to give him all of ourselves.  And we need help.

This has been my journey for the past 6 or 7 months.  In all honesty, a large reason why I have been so quite here is because I felt captive to my own insecurities and strongholds.  By the grace of God, I feel much lighter in this part of my journey.  The strongholds, while still there, have loosened.  And at this point, I feel like it is time to share.

To let you know, I don't have a solid plan.  My posts are not planned out.  I have an idea of what I'd like to say, but it is going to depend on the day and what is on my heart.  Posts will include anything form freedom in motherhood, marriage, and friendship, or what we can learn about freedom from different people in the Bible, or the purpose of freedom, what freedom is and is not, and books and stories where I have grown in freedom.

This is my journey, and this is my month to share it.  So it might be messy, but Lord knows I do messy pretty well.

Join me, will you?