June 27, 2015

Fighter

I just went for a run, which means I just listened to all of my kick butt music. I love me some hardcore music as I race to do my 2-3 miles around the neighborhood. I think I look like Rocky. Everybody else thinks I look like a zombie talking to herself.

So I had this song on repeat:

Until the referee rings the bell, Until both your eyes start to swell, Until the crowd goes home, What we gonna do ya'll? Give 'em hell -Turn their heads, Gonna live life till we're dead! Give me scars, Give me pain! Then they'll say to me, say to me, say to me - There goes a fighter! There goes a fighter! This one's a fighter! That's what they'll say to me, say to me, say to me, This one's a fighter.  
- The Fighter by Gym Class Heroes
I love that song!!! I get so pumped! Wanna know why? Because I AM A FIGHTER!!! And so are you! And as I was jammin' out to this song (and feeling so stinkin' tough because of the "give 'em hell" line - not gonna lie), I couldn't help but think about these verses...
1 Corinthians 9:26: 24: "Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it. Every athlete exercises self-control in all things. They do it to receive a perishable wreath, but we an imperishable. So I do not run aimlessly; I do not box as one beating the air. But I discipline my body and keep it under control..." 
1 Timothy 6:12: "Fight the good fight of the faith..." 
Proverbs 24:16: "For the righteous falls seven times and rises again, but the wicked stumble in times of calamity." 
Psalm 3:3: "But you, O Lord, are a shield about me, my glory, and the lifter of my head."
Ya'll, our adversary the Devil is out to utterly destroy us. But we (those of us who have trusted Christ as our Savior) have the HOLY SPIRIT living inside of us - the same Spirit that Ephesians says raised Christ from the dead. So YOU ARE A FIGHTER! Fight WITH Him, not against Him.

What do I mean? Lean into Him, Surrender to Him, Listen to Him. React the way He would react. Live the way He would live. Do things the way He would do things.

And always remember, you are NOT alone. Hebrews says Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever and that He will NEVER leave your side.

So that anxiety, depression, insecurity, anger, addiction, lust, laziness, control, selfishness, lying, personality disorder, harshness, bitterness, gossip, hurt, betrayal - that you don't think you can ever get over? Think again.

Ephesians 1: 15-20: "For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you,remembering you in my prayers, that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe, according to the working of his great might that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places..."


This ONE's a Fighter.

June 26, 2015

Your Good Life is Trash

So I really wanted to take a nap (honesty), but my blogs come in bursts of angsts and I just had one. So here we go :)

My friend just texted me a few minutes ago. She was wrestling with the fact that she just told "her" story and is now paranoid that "her" story is going to ruin "her" reputation.

(Really quick rabbit trail: Your story is your story. Own it! Just as Paul owned and shared about his thorn in the flesh, so should you when God says it's time!!! Your thorn, your story, is the dark backdrop that illuminates the scandalous grace of Jesus! Preach it! If you don't have a dark backdrop, then you can't share about Jesus's grace because it has nothing to stand in contrast to and you've missed the Gospel.)

Here was my response:
You will always feel a little exposed. Even now when I talk about [my story] at times, I feel exposed because mental illness [or whatever your story is - mine just so happens to include mental illness] is just so personal. And that's why no one talks about it. There will always be a stigma. So whenever you share, you will either free people up or cause people to look at you funny. You just have to decide which is more important to you: Their freedom or your reputation. But no one can take your character and these struggles are what are making you into the wonderful woman that you are! So own them! But also remember that there is no rush to share everything at once. Go at your own pace. Share as much as you are ready to share. But you are NOT crazy. You are brave and courageous for facing these struggles and you are going to be FREE! You will learn through this whole process that the only opinion that matters is God's. That sounds so cliche - but it's true! And He has already declared you HIS - you are LOVED, ACCEPTED, WORTHY, SECURE. There is a verse in Psalms that says HE is the lifter of our heads. I love that verse!!! You can live with your head lifted high because HE is your HEALER! We all have a lot of crazy but we want to mask it. It's the difference between living free and living in bondage. The most free people are those who don't hide their depravity and as a result can celebrate the absolute and extravagant goodness of the Gospel.And that right there triggers my angst: The people who cannot (will not) face their own depravity, their own failures, their own shortcomings because I truly believe they will fall to pieces. Their perceived "good" reputation is the glue that is holding them together emotionally and if that glue ever disintegrates, they won't know who they are anymore.

I just read this in Grace for the Good Girl by Emily P. Freeman:
Good [people] can depend on their good reputation to meet their desperate need for love.

Dang.

Our good reputations are our identities. It's what we are known for...good parenting, good kids, good disciplines, good behavior, good grades, good choices, good marriage, good clothes, good ministry, good church, good house, good job, good car, good vacations, good college, good work ethic, good friends, good ____________. We are good. And if we cease to be "good", we cease to be us. So when our "goodness" is challenged, it can NEVER be our fault because then we are no longer good. Yikes. Do you see how dangerous this is? Scripture screams at us in Romans 3 that "There’s nobody living right, not even one" (The Message). And we say we believe that. But when was the last time you were brutally, uncomfortably, irrationally, absolutely nothing-to-lose honest? When? Like willing to be told you were wrong, have been wrong, were never right honest?

Ya'll, your "good" reputation is going to keep you living in bondage. It will isolate you. You will never be able to be fully and completely known because you won't want anyone getting too close and potentially seeing that you aren't good. But NO ONE IS GOOD. Nope.

If you are getting nervous thinking I am saying to flaunt your sin, then you are who this blog is written to (and Romans 6, 7, and 8 - I guess Paul and I share the same angst). Yes you, my love. And bless your heart. Be free! Own your freakin train-wreck of a life because then and only then can you be healed and free and then and only then can you love like Jesus loved! And then and only then can you live the life He calls us to live!

See, if you are obsessed with goodness, then that's all you are going to expect from yourself and from other people. And instead of sin and failure pushing you to the cross, it is going to push you further away because you will feel the pressure to "fix it" yourself. You are a PR dream come true, but a Gospel nightmare. And that's miserable. Because Jeremiah 17:9 says we are incapable of being good. And Isaiah says our goodness is filthy. So you are preaching a works based Salvation and Sanctification. You will live an up-tight, fear-driven life because of the fact that you have never experienced the scandalous love, acceptance, grace and forgiveness of Jesus even though you claim to have.

If we could only see ourselves as Christ does. Then we could live as Christ lived. But we can't. And so we don't. And we perpetuate that sad cycle of living to the next generation. And people are leaving the church faster than they are coming. And I don't blame them.

Oh, that is my angst. That we would embrace Honesty. Vulnerability. Gospel preaching, grace living, help me Jesus screaming lives. Cause that's what He expects. Not my goodness. No. Never that. But my utter and complete brokenness smothered in His perfect life. Only that. Cause only when I can stop hiding behind my goodness can He live His life through me.
But You, Oh LORD, are a Shield about me, my glory and the Lifter of My Head. Psalm 3:3 (ESV)


June 23, 2015

Jesus Smelled Like Smoke

Ya’ll, I think if Jesus walked the earth today, He would wreak of smoke. Wanna know why? Because He would hang around Smokers. And Homosexuals. And Alcoholics. And Drug-Addicts. And Liars. And Cheaters. And the Homeless. And the Divorced. And the Lost. And the Hurting. And the Broken. (We don't all smoke, but you get the idea.)

You know I find it interesting that as Believers, we too often represent this guy: “Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side” (emphasis mine). Anyone know where that section of Scripture is from? Anyone? Anyone? (Sorry - I crack myself up sometimes when I write these things.) It’s from the Parable of the Good Samaritan. A Dude (a Jewish Man - which according to racial code in that day, would be the top of the totem pole) was headed on a journey and was mugged. Three guys saw him: A Priest (Jew), a Levite (Jew), and a Samaritan (the bottom of the totem pole in those days). The only one who helped him was the Samaritan (not a lot needs written here - just let that simmer).

The fact that a Priest and a Levite passed by this broken, messed up, dirty, hurting man just kills me. But how often do we do this as we walk into the doors of our churches? We pull into the parking lot, get out of the car, and pass by hurting people almost instantly. Then we make sure to leave a seat or two between "us" and "them". Now I realize most people “fake it”, but some don’t! And are we even trying to see through the masks or are we too comfortable staying clean and put together?

I will never forget the day I encouraged my friend to come back to church. She had been out for a while. Too long. She told me she was coming just as she was. In her t-shirt and basketball shorts. I have no idea what all she had been involved in to that point, I just wanted her in the service. And so I waited in the parking lot. As soon as I saw her pull in, I went running to her and just hugged her. She wreaked of smoke. We walked into the service and I experienced one of the more powerful lessons I have ever been taught by Jesus. While we were singing, both of her hands were in the air. And I sobbed. Why? Because Jesus met her where she was and walked her in the doors and sat her down and just loved on her. How did He do that? Through ME! Ya’ll, I am not tooting my own horn - but c’mon! Don’t we want to be a part of that? Don’t we want to have that kind of legacy???

Bryant and I get invited to a lot of birthday parties that are mainly made up of people who don’t know Jesus. And I LOVE it! Usually they all know we are (drumroll please) “The Pastor and His Wife” (gag), and I don’t like that, mainly because people start to act differently. So I try to set the tone right away. I find the people off to the corner secretly smoking and walk over and introduce myself. I make sure to sit next to the designated “atheist” family member and engage in conversations about everything but church. I do what I need to do to establish a connection because isn’t that what Jesus did?

I think we fear “the others” because we don’t want to be associated with the mess. We don’t want to get messy. What will the other Believers think? That I’m condoning the behavior? That I’m participating? Won’t the person I’m with think it’s okay to live a certain way? Don’t I just need to tell them the Truth?

Oh my sweet brothers and sisters. Have we forgotten the Gospel? The Gospels? Where Jesus modeled building relationships and fostering trust? Where Jesus met people right.where.they.are? Where he cared for them and not His own reputation? He didn’t cater to the expectations of the religious. He ministered to the broken. And that’s what I want to do. I’ve lived too long listening to my fear and not to the voice of Jesus. I’ve been more interested in people knowing first off that I don’t agree with their lifestyles before they know I actually love them. I’ve pushed people closer to Hell than to Jesus. And I’m over it.

You want to join me? It’s uncomfortable. I don’t always get it right. But I make sure to always smell like smoke. Cause I think Jesus did too.

April 25, 2015

Break Free.

Speaking out about your anxiety, depression, or other mental illness is frightening. It’s humiliating. We don’t want to look weak. Or weird. Or crazy. People will look at us funny. Think we are nuts. Put us in a mental hospital. Think we are broken. But aren’t we? Aren’t we all broken? Isn’t that why Jesus Christ died on the cross - because we are so messed up we don’t even know how messed up we are (Jeremiah 17:9)? Ya’ll - It’s time we got a grip. The very thing that keeps people from accepting Jesus as their Savior is keep you from getting the healing you desperately need: Pride. Admitting you need help. You don’t have it all together. And maybe you can readily admit that: “I don’t have it all together.” But what about that insecurity that is crippling you? What about that exhaustion that won’t go away no matter how much you sleep? What about that sadness that keeps creeping in for no reason? What about your thoughts that you can’t quiet down? What about the fear that keeps you awake at night? What about the incessant control you demand to have? What about the people you are sucking dry because of your identity issues? What about your need for perfection that is debilitating you? What about it? Why can’t you face it? Why can’t you speak out about it? Why not?

We have to fight. Listen to me, I’m pleading with you. This isn’t going away. It’s just not. And it’s going to strain your marriage, damage your kids, mess with your job, and leave you lonely. It will eat you alive. I promise I’m not trying to be Debbie Downer here. But we can’t keep thinking these things will deal with themselves. That’s what Satan wants you to believe. But you have to realize he is out to destroy you.

In the world we live in, people say it’s brave to give in to whatever leanings they have. When we give in, we give up the abundant life God promises those who trust Him. We can’t keep giving in to our anxiety, depression, and personality disorders. We have to stand up. That’s where true courage lies: With those who say, “Enough! I am going to stop the cycle. I am going to fight for my spouse, my kids, my job, my friends. I am going to fight so I can be a testament to the grace of Jesus. The power of Jesus. If He can heal me, He can heal you.”

I speak openly about my anxiety, depression, and personality disorder because I want people to know that it isn’t an easy fight, but oh so worth it!!! When I was diagnosed with these mental illnesses several years ago, I was so discouraged. But then my counselor helped me to see how strong Jesus’s grace was in me. He had preserved me from some terrible decisions that could have destroyed my life. And while I battled with suicidal thoughts and nearly dissolved my marriage, God’s unconditional love and forgiveness chased me down until I couldn’t fight Him anymore and I finally surrendered. I surrendered to His love: The Love I was so desperate to feel. He met me face down in the dark. Alone. Scared. Hurting. Desperate. And that’s when Grace took over and healed me. It was a long road. And sometimes still is. But I wouldn’t trade the healing I’ve received from the hand of God for anything.

Why are you living this way? Why so trapped? Why so scared? Why so hindered? Why in such bondage? Break. Free. Jesus wants to heal you, but He opposes the proud. He will fight you if you fight seeking the help you need. The healing only He can provide. So step out in faith. I promise you the freedom you will receive will be worth more than the momentary humiliation you may feel.

Break. Free.

January 13, 2015

11:45 AM

Ya'll, I am currently sitting here in grey (stained) sweatpants, an orange sweatshirt, messy hair, un-brushed (I don't think that's even a word) teeth, and no make-up. And it's 11:45 AM. I am a Cosmo Magazine cover waiting to happen.

I'm just tired. Mommas, can I get an Amen? My alarm clock this morning was a sweet (I guess "sweet" may still be up for debate) voice yelling "MOMMY!" through the entire house. Granted we have a town-home, but you know. From there, we hit the ground running, folks. It was breakfast for the littles, a mess, potty training, a mess, play time, a mess, lunch, a mess, and now nap-time. I have laundry piled sky-high on our bed, crumbs all over the floor, and a sink full of dishes. I could maybe ignore some of this, but I'm OCD. So that ain't happenin'.

Plus, I love to work-out. But lesbihonest (who doesn't love Pitch Perfect?), I am just worn out. And it's 11:45 AM.

I still have a Doctor's appointment for Ryder, grocery shopping, and dinner ahead. I have really battled discouragement due to just feeling plain exhausted and overwhelmed.

So while I was giving my youngest his nap-time bottle, I felt Jesus whisper sweetly to me. (Side note - Don't you think Jesus speaks a little more frequently to us Mommas? Seriously though - I never heard Jesus's voice as much as I do now. Maybe that's just because I am oh, so much more desperate for Him.) He just asked me whose agenda, task list, standards am I trying to live up to? Am I trying to prove myself to someone? Why do I insist on a perfectly clean house 100% of the time? Why do I worry about my weight? Why can't I ever relax? Truly rest?

Every day, I try to prove myself. It's something God is still working to free me from. That's why my word for this year is "FREEDOM". I don't want to feel like I have to prove myself to anyone or even to myself anymore. What is honestly going to happen if the floors don't get vacuumed or the laundry doesn't get put away or I skip my workout for the day? These are all good things - but they can easily because selfish things when they steal my joy and keep me from loving my family and people.

God, free me up. I want to see life as You see life. Give me a peace today and help me accomplish what You deem is important: Loving well.

January 12, 2015

Naked

“For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world through Him might be saved.”

But “people loved darkness rather than the light because their works are evil...lest their works be exposed…”

We fear the light because we know ourselves. Deep down inside we know we actually do stand condemned because we should be condemned. Our own guilt (and let’s be honest, pride) keeps us in bondage and completely unable to accept the grace of God. Here’s the crazy thing: This is exactly a result of the Fall. Satan told Eve that if she ate from the Tree of The Knowledge of Good and Evil, her eyes would be opened and she would see as God sees: Good and evil. That’s why after she ate the fruit, she realized she was naked, exposed, vulnerable. What was beautiful becomes shameful. She feels so guilty; she hides because she doesn’t want her shame exposed. But God never wants to condemn (Just read John 3 - all of it!). He wants to redeem. God is for us

Satan opens our eyes to what should be and not to what actually is. 

Because of the Second Adam, our shame is covered in God’s grace and when He sees us, He sees Jesus. When we finally get this Truth, we can come boldly to the Throne of Grace (Hebrews 4). But not until then. See no one wants to go anywhere naked - exposed. That’s why God had to cover Adam and Eve in animal skins. So they would once again feel comfortable to stand in His Presence. But HE had to do it. When they attempted to cover their shame with fig leaves, they still felt exposed and vulnerable and so continued to hide. 

Don’t we do this same thing? Don’t we attempt to cover our shame with our works, disciplines, church attendances, social media, followers, blame-shifting, you name it? It’s never enough and we are always left striving. Striving for more and at the same time, growing bitter at others (really because we are angry at ourselves). It’s not until we can fully admit our need for a Savior, and not just for Salvation but our day-to-day living, that we feel the relief and the peace of surrendering to Christ’s life as our covering. But we can’t surrender to that until we can honestly claim our need. And we won’t feel our need until we stop pretending - until we can lay down our pride and admit we don’t have it all together. We have been wrong. We need Jesus.