The Thing About The Bathroom…

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I have a love/hate relationship with cleaning my bathroom.

That being said, since I try to be a positive person, I’ll start with why I love it…
I love cleaning it because it’s so nice to walk into a sparkling, good-smelling bathroom when I’m getting ready in the morning.
I hate cleaning it because I’m reminded just how disgusting we as human beings can be and how much “stuff” we shed when we’re in there.
I love cleaning it because it’s one of the smallest rooms in our house, so naturally it shouldn’t take too long to clean.
However, I hate cleaning it because once I start cleaning one area, every dirty nook and cranny rears it’s ugly head at me and says, “You might as well get the scrub brush, knee pads, and bleach because you’re in here for the long haul.”

Bleh.

Then I got to thinking about it (as I scrubbed and scrubbed the same 5 square inch area for 15 minutes)… Isn’t it funny how cleaning the bathroom is a lot like examining our hearts and minds through the truth of God’s Word?

We go into the bathroom to clean things up or out (…no need for explanation there), and we exit feeling relieved, cleaned up, and refreshed (Ok, I’m done with all of the bathroom analogies).

When we dive into the Word, we dive into it with the desire to learn more about Christ, to become more like Him, and to be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

But that doesn’t happen unless we’re willing to do a little scrubbing, or better yet, allow the Holy Spirit to do a little scrubbing in us.

Sometimes the scrubbing takes a bit of time. We get through one layer of dirt thinking we’re good to go, only to discover there was a hidden corner that we tried to cover up with the bath mat (aka pride). So we bunker down and scrub a little harder. And when it’s all cleaned up, we take a deep breath, thank God for the bruises on our knees, and walk away knowing that it was all worth it.

That fresh aroma is “a Christ-like fragrance rising up to God” (2 Corinthians 2:15). We have been washed clean from our guilt and purified from our sin (Psalm 51:2, paraphrased). When we are clean, we can “go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water” (Hebrews 10:22).

The scrubbing might hurt a bit. It might take a while to really break through the crud, but in the end, the outcome is far better than what we imagined, and the freedom that follows is worth celebrating.

So friends, let’s get on our knees, open up the Word, and let Jesus do a deep clean to our souls. Because the end product is worth the rough process.

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Sum It Up In One Word

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It’s March. Wow. When did that happen? With patches of snow still covering the ground, it’s hard to believe that spring is so near. It’s also hard to believe that we’re 3 months into 2014.

As I shared here, this year has been a year of completing what’s been left undone.

The other morning, in between watching my 8 month old roll around on the floor and sipping coffee, I read a post from (in)courage that really helped me wrap one word around what it is that God is doing in my heart.

Follow.

Follow God.
Follow through.
Follow up.

I recognize 2013 was full of goals. Some I met, others I didn’t. So I embraced 2014 with the challenge of following.

Following God wherever he leads me.
Following through on commitments I’ve made.
Following up with relationships that need to go deeper.

It’s wonderful how God does what he does when he’s teaching us truth, especially when we’re really opening our hearts to hear it and see it. Whether it’s a blog post, a late night conversation with my husband, or a message at church, God has shown up.

He’s proved himself faithful. He’s clearly shown himself.

So what’s changed?
It’s not that He wasn’t there before. He’s always been there, proving his faithfulness and love in every moment of my life.

I’m the one who has changed.
And not out of my own strength.
He’s been changing me.
He’s opening my eyes to really see Him.
He’s giving me the strength to push past the moments of human nature when it “felt” easier to focus on the negative.

He’s telling me to follow.
And follow I shall.
Even when I have to follow up hill because I know he’s there to carry me.
Even when it’s into the darkness because I know he is the one who will light my path.
Even when I’m feeling alone because I know he will remind me that He’s always there.

So what is your word? How can you wrap up what God is doing in your life?

Because God Is For Me

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What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? Romans 8:31

…be satisfied with what you have. For God has said, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” Hebrews 13:5

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns. Philippians 1:6

I am my own worst enemy.
A new year has begun, and I’ll confess, I did not complete any of my New Year’s goals from 2013. I’m truly bummed about it because they were all attainable goals.

My normal, natural reaction to this would be to sulk and slump and beat myself up.

In fact, that was my reaction. Until my amazing husband reminded me that I was being too hard on myself and I needed to believe truth.

Because God is for me.

I would rather throw my hands up in the air and never set another goal for myself for the rest of my life.

But God is for me.

And instead of sulking and feeling sorry for myself, I’m looking at what I did complete this year and what I will carry over into this new year and tie up.

Because God is for me.

  • I read 9 of the 13 books on my reading list.
  • I started to finish one of the many quilts on my “to sew” list.
  • I started the A Passion to Serve Bible reading plan and got 47% of the way through it.
  • I learned (and am still learning) that I can’t get my way all the time. Can I get an AMEN on God’s amazing help and grace on that one?
  • I started training for the Indy Mini-Marthon, which was not part of my original list, but happened to jump its way on thanks to this revelation.
  • I started this blog (again not part of the original list), but something my soul desperately needed to do.

So this year…this year will be a year of tying up loose ends. For finishing up what’s been left undone.

My plan is to not start anything new until I’ve followed through with the other stuff. And instead of trying to complete all of this in my own strength, I’m going to rely on God’s strength to guide me through it.

So, here’s to you, New Year. Let’s get started on finishing up a few things.

Need some encouragement and truth spoken over you so you can finished what’s been left undone? I highly encourage you to check out these great resources:
Loose Ends -Pastor Dave Crandall at Friendship Church
What’s Undone? -Beth Moore

 

The Light Never Dims

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This year has had some rough patches. It’s been flat out hard. But, in the midst of it all, Jesus has reminded me of his constant presence.

This Christmas seemed to remind me of his presence even more.

I’ll admit it, in the past, the Christmas story hasn’t seemed very “life-changing” to me.
Maybe it’s because I’ve heard it a thousand times.
Maybe it’s because I’ve allowed the world’s “Christmas” to cloud my view of the truth.
Whatever the reason, it hasn’t been truth.

But this year…
This year…
…Something changed.
Something transformed in my heart.
God’s amazing revelation has opened my eyes to the incredible life-changing truth of the birth of his son. The birth of love.
Of truth.
Of freedom.
Of a light that shines in the darkness.

This year, that miracle of a little baby, naked and cold, being born in a manger, was born in my heart.

And this revelation is one of the things I love most about Jesus. That He is forever working in us, never dimming when we try to blow out the light.

February marks the 13th anniversary of my salvation in Christ. But salvation isn’t a one-time deal. Jesus is still working out my salvation deep within me. Bringing me closer and closer to him each day.

So as we move back into “normal life” outside of the Christmas season, let us not forget that the light that made the heavenly star shine so brightly, is shining brightly in every area of our lives today. Sure, sometimes we can’t see it with our human eyes, but it’s there. It will never fade, nor dim, nor leave us wanting.

Law becoming Love.
Love born in a stable.
A stable of humility,
holding a King.
A King coming to claim,
the hearts of those He loves.
Each and every one,
who has ever breathed a breath;
Those are who He’s claimed,
you and me;
His heart beats for us.
And His love never leaves.

She Was The First

berries during run

On Tuesday morning, while enjoying a nice run (yes, I said enjoying), I found myself not really thinking about anything important. I was taking in the crisp fall morning, the bright sunshine (reminding me I should have worn my sunglasses) and the sound of my music playing. But as I got further into my run, my mind started to head down some funny bunny trails. Do you ever have those moments? Where you think of something completely random and one things leads to another and you’re thinking of the creation of the original Barbie Doll in 1959?

Just me? Oh, Okay.

Seriously, that is where my mind wandered. All of a sudden, I started thinking, ya know, I’m pretty sure when Barbie was created, that’s when girls (and women) began doubting their appearances. I mean, what woman doesn’t want that perfect waist, perfectly sculpted face and long flowing hair?

And as my mind dove deeper into that, and the Holy Spirit began to reign in my thoughts, I found myself thinking, actually, 1959 is probably not when women began doubting how they looked and who they were.

It all started with Eve.

She was the first.

The first to doubt she was enough just the way God created her.

The first to put the blame on someone else for her lack of trust in God.

The first to feel the shame and regret of her choices because of her disobedience.

The first to look in the mirror and hide the sacred beauty God lavished on her.

Sadly, many of us, are just like Eve. We would rather listen to taunting lies and whispers of the enemy of how God is withholding something from us or how we aren’t good enough or how we’ll never have that “perfect body.” And when we believe those lies, that’s when we eat the fruit. That’s when we betray the heart of the living God who loves us beyond anything we can comprehend.

But, you know what? We’re better than that. The great thing about the grace of God and the truth of his word, is that in those dark moments, he comes alongside us, wraps his arms around us, and whispers to our hearts that we are enough.

That we are his.

That we are loved beyond anything we can imagine.

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. (Eph. 3:18-19)

So this is the hope I cling to today. I am thankful that in the midst of doubting who God has created me to be, I can hear his beautiful voice whispering that I am complete; that I am his beautiful daughter;  and that with Christ in my heart, there is nothing that can separate me from his love.

I Just Felt Like Running

running

Confession:

I’ve become one of those crazy people who loves to run. One of my bucket list items is to run the Indy Mini Marathon in May 2014. So, at the beginning of September, I began a couch to 5K training course.

The training began at a perfect time because I still had some baby pudge hanging around my tummy and waist and I was just not having it. In all honesty, the idea of anything but a flat stomach scared me.

Now, I haven’t always been into running and working out. The last time I willingly ran anywhere was on the track team during my freshman year of high school (which was a good 13 years ago). But I knew that if I wanted to get my post-baby self back, I would need to put forth the effort and start getting in shape.

So, yes, while I did start running to train for the Mini, the dark, less confident side of me started running because I was afraid I was going to get fat. Due to nursing, my appetite really increased after Aubrey was born and since all I craved while I was pregnant was Diet Coke and chocolate (as opposed to strawberries and apples with Ethan), I knew my eating style was not going in the right direction.

I had a few solid weeks of hidden self-obsession and I just did not like anything about my body. (I really can’t believe I’m even able to share this outside of my own head).

However, I have discovered a true blessing through running. It’s become a good 30 minutes of just me and God time. All of you busy mommas out there know how hard that type of time is to find. And I’m thankful that I have a supporting husband who helps me carve out time during the day to make it happen.

God never ceases to impress me with little nuggets during my runs. Whether it’s challenging me to push harder into my prayer life, or just quiet my mind and soak in what’s around me, running has become a new form of worship for me. It’s become that needed breathing time that gives my mind some margin. And I’ve found that when my thoughts are turned towards Jesus while I run, I’m less apt to thinking of myself in such defeating and negative ways.

Tomorrow, I’ll share one moment from my run the other day that really put me in my place about body image. But until then, I would love to hear what you do to find margin in your life. Do you have any time carved out in your week to challenge yourself to just breathe? And if you don’t, what’s keeping you from it? What chore/task/conversation can wait just a few minutes to help you have that much needed time?

In the Stillness

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I love quiet moments. And as a busy momma, I don’t get many. But when they happen, I’m forever grateful.

Last evening was one of those moments. As I cuddled and fed our baby girl, the only sounds I could hear were the fan in her room and the faint sound of my husband and son reading books.

Now you might be thinking, “that doesn’t sound like quiet.” And you’re right. It’s not the true definition of quiet–where everything is devoid of sound. But I’m not talking about the type of quiet that has to do with the lack of sound.

I’m talking about the type of quietness that happens in the heart. When God says to be still and to soak up the blessings all around you. When you turn off that obnoxious and overwhelming to-do list that is running non-stop in your brain. (Oh how hard that is!)

I’m pretty sure it’s the hardest quiet to get to, but I’m also sure it’s one of the most necessary times of solitude.

We need that time to breathe and to listen to the quiet. To let God penetrate our hearts and whisper His loving-kindness to us.

I once read or heard that it’s in the quiet moments that God’s voice is the loudest, and I believe it’s true.

This morning, as I was preparing for the day, the house was completely silent. It was very tempting to dive straight into what felt like a hundred tasks, but instead, God reminded me of that quiet from last night. He asked me to get away with him (even if for a brief minute). And I’m so glad I did.

Because, friends, my mind has been a battleground these past few days. Loud shouts coming from all sides and not a single one ringing in clear enough to really understand. The only thing I can understand is the negativity that keeps swooshing around in my head. (I probably sound like a crazy person at this point).

But, thankfully, God’s voice has proved to be the strongest. In the midst of the cluttered sounds, he shared this with me this morning:

Understand, therefore, that the LORD your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love Him and obey His commands.
(Deut. 7:9; emphasis mine)

That’s the type of verse that just makes me want to do cartwheels. It’s the type of truth that reminds me that no lie is too powerful to overcome me.

Really pay attention to those words. It’s His unfailing love... Not His “gonna be there only when he feels like it” love. Or His “unsure, not strong enough to handle my problems” love.

His unfailing love.

[Insert heavy sigh here]

I pray that this word encourages you the same way it encouraged me. I pray that whatever you’re doing, wherever you are, that you are able to soak up a few moments of quiet…even if it’s while your kids are screaming in the background.