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Be Easy On Yourself

 

I was recently talking with a friend and she said something that resonated deeply with me.

 

We were talking about goals and dreams and what may be out in front of us that we want to attain.  We were talking about how to get to those places and how sometimes we have to muddle through other things, let other things go, clear a path etc. before we can reach those goals.  It was wonderful conversation soaked with truth.

I thought we were going to keep talking about big, personal goals and encourage each other to keep pursuing them.  I thought we were going to go big picture.  I was wrong.

 

She said something that rang a bell deep in my heart…

“I’m learning to give myself grace in the small, every day things.  To celebrate those accomplishments, even if they’re small”.

 

Isn’t that good??

Don’t we wait until the BIG thing is checked off of our list before we cut ourselves a break and celebrate?  Before we acknowledge that we’ve accomplished anything at all?  Aren’t women known for being their own worst critics?  For being so focused on the big, giant goals that we push aside the small steps that had to be accomplished before reaching that destination?

 

Here’s what I’m learning the older I get and the more that I make relationships with other women a priority…we are too hard on ourselves.  Way too hard.

 

 

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 about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10

 

If you struggle simply getting out of bed some mornings because of anxiety or depression, and you actually get up…cut yourself a break.  Acknowledge that you just accomplished something.  It doesn’t matter if it is a “hard” thing to anyone else.  If it is “hard” for you, and you pushed through…give yourself some grace.

 

If you are fighting with your spouse 5 or 6 times a day and you have a day where you only fuss 4…don’t linger over the 4, celebrate the absence of the others.  It’s a small thing that can lead to bigger things.

 

Mothers of young children, I hear many of you voice your desire to have your quiet time in the morning and get in your work-out, shower and start breakfast all before that baby wakes up.  Some of you are drowning with guilt because you haven’t had your child’s 30 day pictures taken like everyone else has (bahahaha..ask me how many times I had my children’s pictures taken when they were babies) and now your child will grow up with low self-esteem because you didn’t document every inch that they grew!  Stop!!! There are more of you than you think only getting a shower every other day and barely managing to feed your husband a bowl of cereal after coming in from a long days work.

 

If you’re that mom and you got out of bed and loved on your children today, celebrate that you took care of what was most important.  If at the end of the day only 1 out of 8 things is ticked off of your to-do list, celebrate the 1 thing and start fresh tomorrow.

 

It’s important to set goals.  To reach for the stars and move forward with vision and purpose.  But, while you move forward, give yourselves some grace and acknowledge that even the small accomplishments are still accomplishments.  It takes plowing through the small things before the big things can be attained.

 

God is in the small things and it’s in those achievements that sometimes our intimacy with Him is more tangible than others.  It’s those small tasks that when achieved, draw out a quiet “yesssssss” and will draw our gaze to our Father, who is so pleased and just tickled, when we include Him in those mini celebrations.

Image result for celebrate the small things

He sees when we struggle to get out of bed but we do it anyway.  He sees when we are unhappy with our jobs but we go and give it our best anyway.  He sees when our anxiety tells us to stay home but we push through and call that friend anyway.  He sees when we push away the cake in an attempt to care for our bodies.  He sees when that baby has kept you up all night and it’s all that you can do the next day to simply brush your teeth.

 

“…my power is made perfect in weakness…”

 

In our weak moments, let’s let Him in and share that.  We have a tendency to beat ourselves up and assume that God is disappointed when we struggle.  That He is somehow never satisfied with our small steps.  Not so.  It is in our weakness that He has room to work.  It is here that He shines through.  It’s this place that we realize our need for His power and comfort and He delivers.

 

Every.  Single.  Time.

 

Let’s lean in.  Be more like my friend and celebrate the small things.  Celebrate with Him.  He’s right there lending His power to help us push through.  Then, let’s throw a little praise party as we accept the grace that He is handing us!

 

Praying that we give ourselves even a portion of the grace that He longs to give us.  I believe we’d be blown away if we realized the grace He’s made available for you and me.  Blown.  Away.

Kellie

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Just Go Home

 

 

Our son was around the age of 4.  Sitting in the shopping cart in our local Walmart, long legs dangling, as he smiled and spoke to every single person within ear shot.  Yes, he was friendly then and he is friendly now at 22.

 

After hearing him politely ask over and over if he could get down and walk with his dad and I, we reluctantly set him on the ground.

 

Fast forward literally like 3 minutes and poof!  No where to be found!

 

We began calling out his name, scrambling around the department we were in, searching frantically to no avail.  I rushed to the front of the store to stop any predators from exiting with him and Walmart issued their security protocol.  Code Adam!  All doors were shut and locked and all employees put on alert!

 

We continued searching for what seemed like an eternity, but I think was about 5 minutes, and then, there he was.  A stranger who was shopping came towards us with her hand in his.  He had the biggest grin on his face and we had to decide whether to strangle him or squeeze him to death!  We chose the latter.

 

Our son didn’t choose to leave his parents…he was playing a game.  He was hiding in the clothing racks to see if we could find him.  We were the one’s responsible.  We had lost him.

 

Jesus used to tell stories, called parables, whereby He would explain things in a manner that was simple…understandable…relatable.  I love that He knew we needed that!

 

He tells us in Luke 15 two different stories of things that were lost.

 

You may be familiar with the first story.  A shepherd is tending to his flock.  One hundred gloriously, dumb sheep.  One sheep loses his way while under the shepherd’s care and the shepherd leaves the other ninety nine to search him out.  Out of one hundred, only 1 was lost, and he left the others to seek him out.  I don’t know, but I imagine when he found that sheep, he simply tapped it on the behind with his staff and pointed it in the right direction.  Back to safety.  Back to a place of security.

 

The second story tells us how a woman owns 10 coins and she loses one in her home.  One tenth of her money.  She lights a lamp, sweeps and cleans house until she finds it.  Once found, she calls her friends over to celebrate!  I may steal her idea the next time I lose something!  Jesus tells us that just like this woman, there is rejoicing in heaven amongst the angels when one of God’s children turns from sin back into fellowship with Him.

 

Now this third story is where I’ve been parked all week.  I can identify with this for myself and I’ve seen it in friends and loved ones over the years.  This next story is an invitation.

 

It’s not about a coin or a sheep.  It’s a person.  The only thing that was ever created in the image of God.  The thing that God wants to have relationship with.  The thing that has been given free will, to think and plan and plot, even if it decides to walk away from its creator.

 

This is you.

 

This is me.

 

This man in the story is living with his father and brother.  He goes to his dad and asks to have his inheritance early.  Like, “I know you’re not dead yet father, but can I have my money?”

 

The father agrees (gasp!), gives the son his inheritance, and watches him walk out of his life.  Off the property.  Through the gate.  Gone.

 

Over time, the young man spends every last penny he has.  He has to take jobs that are nasty and degrading.  He contemplates eating the slop the pigs are eating because he is so hungry.  He loses his friends.  After all, who wants to hang around someone who has no money?

 

I’ve seen “friends” like that come and go in the lives of my kids, but I digress…

 

In desperation and humility, he turns to head home.  Destitute.  Embarrassed.  Regretful of his choices.

 

He knows who will take him back.

 

“So he got up and went to his father…But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms around him and kissed him.” – Luke 15:20

 

From a distance, his father sees him coming home.  He meets him with an embrace and a kiss.  As his son confesses that he has sinned against his father and God and feels that he is no longer worthy to be called “son”, his father reacts with commands to those around him.

 

Prepare to party!  Get my boy some shoes, a coat and jewelry for his hands!  Prepare a meal, we are celebrating my son’s return!!

 

Read it for yourself.

https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Luke+15%3A11-24&version=NIV

 

He does not condemn his child.  He doesn’t issue a consequence.  He doesn’t scold or embarrass him, he simply loves him.  He puts him right back where he belongs…back into the family…not as a servant, but as a blood relative.

 

This is an invitation for you, for me.

 

Girl-at-gate-11_16_12

 

Is your hand on the gate?  Are you contemplating seeing if the grass is greener elsewhere?  Another place to put your hope?  Are you thinking of exploring other avenues of pleasure and success?

 

Do you have one foot out the gate?  Are your friends wooing you away from your faith?  Is an old habit or addiction calling your name?  Are you tempted to go where there’s less accountability?

 

Are you already out?  Working hard to find peace and joy.  Perhaps you’re using busyness to fill yourself up.  Maybe even “church work” or something else that’s good, but it’s just not God.

 

He wants all of us.  He wants us to choose Him.  Not the stuff He can give us, but Him.

 

He chose us before the beginning of time.  He has made a way for us to talk one on one with Him and enjoy the security that comes from being His child.

 

This is your invitation.

 

It’s never too late and you’re never too far away to turn back.

 

Take your hand off the gate.

Step back inside the fence.

Turn back towards Him.

He is waiting eagerly for your return.

Just go home.

 

Blessings,

Kellie

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What Does Sweetness Feel Like?

honey-jar-credit-shutterstock-main

Recently I attended a weekend away with one of my closest friends and about 158 other women I did not know.  Mealtime was full of wonderful foods prepared by in house chefs and large round tables where we sat and ate family style.  The introvert in me could have easily sat off at a table on my own.  Just me and my friend.  But, that’s not what this weekend was about.  Every time we broke bread with a new table of smiling, beautiful women, I walked away having learned something new or having been encouraged in some way.

 

One meal in particular, I met a really special lady (I’ll call her Meredith).  Her big eyes just sucked me in as she smiled and asked me about myself over and over again.  She didn’t want to talk about her life.  She wanted to get to know me.  Where was I from, what was my story, what was my family dynamic etc. etc. etc.  She knew how to make you feel special.  She never turned the conversation to herself.  Not once.

 

Until…her grown daughter sitting with her began to share with us that her mom was a recent breast cancer survivor.  She had been to hell and back.  Surgeries.  Lymphnodes.  Double mastectomy.  Chemotherapy.  Radiation.  And yet here she was, smiling, hair back in place, healthy, putting the spotlight on me and my friend.  So selfless.  So full of life.

 

Once her daughter spilled the beans, we turned to Meredith and smiled and she smiled back.  She shook her head yes, confirming what her daughter had shared, looked down at her lap, then back up to me, rubbed her hands across the table, and then she said…”God is so sweet.  So.  Sweet”.  Not the reaction most would expect.

 

Sweet.

 

I love that word.

 

Since I’m a word nerd I looked it up.  The definition wasn’t too impressive, maybe because we already know what it means, but the words listed in Merriam Webster related to sweet bring a deeper meaning.

 

Related to sweet

When Meredith used that word to describe God, it took me back to some of the times in my own life when I’ve used that word to describe Him.  It encapsulates many feelings and emotions…too many to list.
Surprisingly, those times that came to mind weren’t necessarily the “good times” in life.  They’ve typically been when life is a bear.  Schedules are full.  I have unanswered questions.  I’m worried about my kids.  I’m battling my own thoughts of fear or having a crisis of low self confidence (everyone does, right?).  Times when He has shown me mercy or He has revealed something to me that He didn’t have to.  Moments where I’ve been corrected gently, nudged with His strong, chivalrous hand back into the lane paved just for me.  Moments where the fears of the unknown are trying to take over my  thoughts to the point of physical illness.  He swoops in to bring me peace and contentment.  To remind me I am not alone.
Like when my husband comes home and hands me a sweet coffee or a donut (we don’t do flowers, I like donuts lol), he is being sweet.  He knows what I need and just when I need it.  God is sensitive to us in that way too.
  IMG_20150312_062622
“What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?”
1 Corinthians 4:21
Are you sensitive to the sweetness of God?  Did you know that He is gentle, loving, kind, compassionate?
Or, have you only heard about the fire and brimstone, the wrath, the anger, the “you must perform this way in order to be my child” gospel?
God is well rounded.  That perfect father that you’ve always longed for here on earth, He is that.  He fills that gap.  Some of you may have a bigger space than others to be filled, but no one has a perfect earthly dad.  If you are in a relationship with Him, He is your perfect Father.  Which means that being gentle and sweet is part of his make-up.
Those words above that are related to sweet…He feels that way about you and me.  Go back up and read them.
Did you know that?  Isn’t that sweet?  Ponder it.  Let that soak in.  If you’re reading this, I believe He wants to remind you of this.
He is Abba, Father.
And He is sweet.
Have a blessed day,

Kellie

Lay It Down and Let It Out

 no guiltRegret.  Shame.  Guilt.

These are just a few emotions that I’ve felt throughout my life.  Even into adulthood.

I remember a day so vividly when I was a young mom.  We lived in a home with two staircases.  When you walked in the front door, you either went up 8 or 10 stairs, or you went down 8 or 10 stairs.  There was only a landing at the door.

As I went into my bathroom to put on a little make up for the day, I placed my young son into his walker. We always fastened a baby gate at the top of those stairs, we felt like prisoners at times in the second story of our home.

I’ll never forget hearing the sound of that walker bouncing down the stairs BAM, BAM BAM, BAM…all the way to the landing.  By the time I exited my bedroom and flew down the stairs, the walker was on its side on my left and my precious son was laying on his back on my right. He had been ejected and I still have no idea how his neck wasn’t broken. He rolled over on his belly while crying and I could see he was ok.  I scooped him up with trembling arms and by the time I reached the top of those stairs, he had quieted down.  He was fine.

I know what could have happened to him.  The absolute worst.  But, I don’t go there anymore.  He’s OK.  And I learned a very valuable lesson.  One I never repeated again and one I share with other new moms if given the opportunity.

God had given me this precious gift to raise and care for and my neglect nearly cost him his life.  I confessed to the Lord that I was sorry, remorseful, regretful…I can tell you without any hesitation that He never made me feel like a terrible mother.  Never.  Ever.

He wants us to know that when we mess up, He provides a way to escape that guilt and turn something negative into something that can be used to shine a light on Him and His mercy.

When part of our story carries the weight of regret, let’s be careful.

I learned long ago that condemnation doesn’t come from God.  It does not.  It comes from the enemy…satan himself.  With condemnation, there is no escape.  No way out.  We keep quiet, suffering in silence.

If you are a follower of Christ, there is never condemnation from the Father.  Only conviction.

conviction

  1.  :  the state of being convinced of error or compelled to admit the truth

We have to admit that something is going wrong before we can come up with a new plan.  A better plan.  Conviction provides a way of escape.  It is temporary.  It is in place only to point you in the right direction so that you can leave whatever you regret behind and move on.

He is a good father.  A good, good father.

If you had your father, or a father figure growing up, you know full well the difference in conviction and condemnation.  Do you remember how you were made to feel when you were caught up in something wrong?  Were you made to feel as if there was no way you could ever make right one of your mistakes?  Or, were you lovingly scolded and encouraged to make a different choice next time?  See the difference?  Can you feel it?

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”
Romans 8:1
 

Do you ever feel weighed down with regret?  Shame?  Guilt?  Perhaps it’s not even over anything that you did, but something that was done to you.  Something that someone else did and they’ve shifted the blame onto your shoulders.  Maybe you’ve shifted the blame onto your shoulders all on your own.

When we are talking to God, confessing the weight we are carrying, it’s natural to feel embarrassed or ashamed.  Like a child standing under the shadow of his father.  Our head is down, we are looking at our shoes, shoulders stooped, voice mumbling.

But our Heavenly Father places his hand on our chin and says look up child.  Look up.
He says that the consequences of our actions will come, but that He will walk with us as we face them.  Every step of the way.  He says that we are not to live in defeat, but in victory and in freedom.  He paid a heavy price for it.

There is a song that describes how a lot of us feel when we are carrying guilt.  Click the link below and give yourself just 5 minutes to listen to the words.  I hope it speaks to you.  Believe what it says.  Hide these words from Romans 8:1 in your heart and when satan tries to make you feel ashamed, quote it back to him.

Here are just a few lines in this song…
I’ve been hiding
Afraid I’ve let you down, inside I doubt
That You could love me
But in Your eyes there’s only grace now

 

In the days that followed my son’s walker incident, God comforted my frazzled spirit.   He reminded me to always be thankful.  He asked me to share that story when necessary, even though it embarrassed me to do so.  It could save a life.  It could encourage another mom who has made mistakes of her own.

We all have stories like this.  Ones that might make us feel a little uncomfortable to tell, but could bring comfort to someone else.  Satan would have us keep these stories to ourselves, but our Heavenly Father means to use them for good.

“3 Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”

2 Corinthians 1:3-4

 

I’m praying for us all to tuck this in our hearts.  Hand Him our guilt and shame.  Live thankful lives.  Be willing to share our stories.

We’ve been forgiven.  Let’s believe it.  Let’s live like it.

Blessings,
Kellie

Do You Need A Do Over?

do over

What’s on my heart and in my head this week are do overs. New chances.  Proceed.  Revive.   Re start.  Verbs.

I know that New Year’s resolutions are cheesy and unrealistic so I don’t usually participate.  I do however, see nothing wrong with using the beginning of the New Year to evaluate life and all that that has entailed over the last year.  Celebrate accomplishments, be thankful for blessings, and examine any failures or disappointments more closely.  I don’t want to repeat those negatives.  Can I do anything to make them right?  What’s the lesson to be learned?

With self-evaluation, there is usually regret somewhere along the way.  I stumbled across this little jewel from 2 Corinthians while studying and I love it!

 Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.”

2 Corinthians 7:10

It’s ok to have regret!  The key is to talk to God about it so He can move us away from that place.  If we feel that He is disappointed with us, Godly sorrow will come.  That sadness will bring repentance leading to salvation.

repentance

 

noun re·pen·tance \ri-ˈpen-təns\

:  the action or process of acknowledging regret for having done something wrong

 

Repentance is a word that is used in churches a lot.   It simply means to acknowledge our wrongdoing.  That’s it.  Just admit it.

 

Once we feel bad about something we’ve done, (or didn’t do for that matter), have talked to God about it and felt that Godly sorrow that only He can bring, He rescues us from feeling regretful.  He rescues us.  Saves us.

 

The second part of that verse says “…worldly sorrow brings death”.   Can you believe how much truth is in this little nugget?  God decides what is true and what is not.  I would never have thought to put it this way but it is accurate.  So accurate.

 

Ever said something you later regretted?  Do you need to start eating better and taking care of the body you’ve been given?  Has your family been asking you to go to church with them?  Are you a student who has been given the privilege of education and your goal isn’t to do your best, but to just pass?  Is your family waiting on you to take that road trip out for a visit and you just keep putting it off?  Are you supposed to volunteer somewhere or take a paying job you’ve been putting off?

 

Feeling a little regretful?  Sorrowful?  Sad?  Even bitter?

 

“…Worldly sorrow brings death”.  The world would have you comparing your body to others, leading you straight to Ben and Jerry for comfort…thinking you’re a horrible person for not attending church…questioning that you should probably drop out of school since you’ll never succeed…beating yourself up for not making time for that family visit…etc. etc. etc.  Remorse.  Shame.  Regret.  Does this sound like a slow death to you?  Absolutely!

 

Here’s the good news, you get a do over!!  Even better, it comes with NO regret!!  So don’t take that part with you.  Leave it at the door.

 

Start the process this week of reflecting on this past year.  The good and the bad.  Take out a piece of paper.  Start documenting your triumphs as well as your losses.  Make sure that you write down more of the good than the bad.

 

Now take those losses and begin to pray.  Ask the Father if you can do anything to move forward and still make those right.  Sometimes what’s done is done.  You’ve got to give it to Him and trust that He’ll make something good from it.  But, sometimes, you are given the opportunity to make some slight adjustments and take a loss and move it over to the win column.

 

Let’s start this process.  Start writing.  Start praying.  As you begin to formulate plans for your do overs, jot down practical goals and solutions to get them met.

 

Write that note of apology…begin the journey to good health…set your alarm for Sunday morning church…put that trip on your calendar.  Don’t wait until you feel like it, just do it.  Your feelings will catch up later.

 

Pray.

Write.

Repent.

Move.

 

Be thankful for the opportunity to try again, that we can trust Him to take care of what we cannot, and that He saves us from the regret that the world would have us carry.  Be very thankful.  Not everyone gets a chance for a do over.