How to Love Unloving People


“Frequently the enemy entices Christians to harbor an unforgiving spirit - a very common symptom indeed among God's children. Such bitterness and fault-finding and enmity inflict a severe blow upon spiritual life.” ~ Watchman Nee


Let’s face it; sometimes people are hard to love, and boulders of offense can “snowball” inside us, until hurt from others hinders us from the fullness of missional living, Christ intended. 


And don’t we all want weightless lives, filled with the joy and rewards of truly passionate missional living, sold out, willingly, and obediently surrendered to Him?


So, let’s talk about letting go. Softening our hearts is a two part process.  First, it must involve us.  Second, it requires the grace of God working through us. 


God tells us more than once that it is our job to break up the fallow ground of our hearts. (Hosea 10:12, Jer. 4:3) Soft soil requires purposeful and willing forgiveness of those who have offended us. Remember 70 x 7? (Matt 18:21-22)


Second, the healing of our hearts requires the miracle working power of God. Ezekial 36:26 reads,  

A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you and heart of flesh.”

So clearly, Christ died that we might be free to love unloving people, but it is also our choice to love and keeping loving those who offend us.


So, what about when the same people continue to intentionally offend us?  (To continue this article, click HERE)


Today, you can read the rest of this article and find some other amazing articles over at Missional Women.  

After just flying home to Seattle, from the Missional Women Conference in Denver....I came to realize, these aren't your average, everyday, ordinary, self-promoting, internally focused women....

Missional Women live having their minds, hearts, and hands dialed outward.  They have figured it out....how to live for others, while balancing and keeping centered, their families.

Please take some time and read the rest of this article, but also dive in and take time discovering the joy found in missional living.

I have forever been changed because of these humble, self-less, Christ centered women....and I am sure you will be too! 


(Linking with Emily, Lyli)

Real Women. Real Hope. Real Faith. Missional Women Conference 2014. UNITE.

I got the e-mail, then a loud, "yes" in my spirit, after reading the words, "Would you consider writing for Missional Women" over a year ago.

At the time, I didn't know what I was getting into.  It was blind faith, really...and trusting that still small voice inside me that saw, what at the time, I couldn't understand.

And God has blessed this "yes", molding and transforming me through an amazing group of women.  This weekend, I was so blessed to be able to share at the Missional Women Conference in Denver. Meeting faces I had only had contact with in the distant, safe screen of black and white.

And in a world of, "What you see isn't what you get", words alone can never determine the heart of who another really is.

But then I walk in, and Melissa Deming greets me like a long lost friend. Sara McNutt following with her gentle grace.  An instant God-connection forming as I listen to her story of patiently waiting on the Lord for what to say.  It confirmed my own story, and I knew this was one lady, walking deeply and closely with God.

We find a table, where Jenna Knight and her friend bubble over in such joy.  We all share in the break-outs sessions. I hear about her half marathon and her heart for adoption.  I love her instantly.  How can you not?

Then, there is Melissa Davis Bradley.  A gentle soul, with one God-strong passion to serve the Lord with all her heart, soul, mind, and strength.  A powerhouse, and a sister in every sense.

Rhonda Denison and Erin Herbst, I also just loved the moment I met them. I have so much respect for Rhonda's instant vulnerability, and Erin's deep, well-thought out wisdom as she speaks.

Then of course there is Laura Krokos, the heart and the soul behind Missional Women. Often you find people either gentle and gracious....or strong powerhouses, filled with unwavering faith.  More rarely will you ever find BOTH of those qualities in one person.  Yet, my daughter and I, throughout the entire conference kept saying how we were so moved by the cool combination of strength and grace in a women who made leading an entire conference seem relaxing and completely effortless.

Angi Pratt  from "Stuff Angi Does", was another who I love and who just beamed with a heart for the nations.  If we had more time, I am sure the both of us could talk missions for hours.  (You know you want to come to Seattle Angi! :)  Just sayin'...

Oh, and then there is Joy Barker RudolfAn iron woman, overcoming incredible odds.  A worshiper, a fighter, a lover of Jesus.  Once you hear her testimony you learn to know just how much she truly clings to Jesus.  (Oh how I love that kind of God-needing faith)

I am not sure now how I ever used to think online people were somehow "unreal", where the fast game of life is like a hard game of speed-ball.  One where you keep your helmet on, glove up, and pad yourself with distance, protecting yourself with a chest-plate around the thing most vulnerable in all of us....our hearts. 

Because, let's face it....real life, in your face people...people we are up-close and personal with...can sometimes hurt us.

But God is always in the business of shining truth where lies have pierced us. And it's amazing how we can go from grace to grace, person to person...and find faith in people we would have never known, unless someone like Laura challenged us to come out of the shells and embrace the identity of being who God calls us to be.

Oh and then there was Ann Dunagan, author of The Missions Minded Family.  The first time I heard her speaking, I literally wanted to jump out of my seat and shout, "AMEN!"  She talked about not only head faith, but heart compassion; about not running from this roller-coaster life, but fearlessly living out boldly our deepest heart passions.


With seven kids, churches, ministries, and evangelizing all over Africa, Ann seems unstoppable.

Getting to really witness in her a reflection of my own heart-cry to answer the call and follow in a BIG-WAY, revealed that the God-passions He has placed in me, is not sin, or some prideful selfish thing...but truly HIS passion living, breathing inside of me!

Her new friendship was one of the biggest blessings of the conference!  There is so much I can learn from her and I can't wait to connect again soon.

And last, but not least, Shaun Groves from Compassion Ministries.  Nearly every person I talked to said he was the person that impacted them most.  His stories took us into the very heart of the children he told us about.  He made us laugh and cry.  And he somehow managed to confront our cultures sin of inequality, and yet we cheered him along; realizing we all take extra mana...just in case it turns out, "One day, God can't be trusted". His heart was so God-tender and His words, grace-filled, and eloquent.

When I first talked to Shaun, I wanted to tell him about my husband and I meeting our sponsor a few months ago.  But in reality, you can never go up to a person of great humility and share in any other way than to lay down all defense, baring it all, and exposing your own heart....for the sake of wanting the fullness of the very same Christ alive in that person.

So, I shared my heart with Shaun.  Cried for the bazillionth time. And asked him to pray.  He didn't turn away like some other people known as "celebrities" may have...but really listened hard, got low, and said he could relate to this heart-cry, bubbling over to display God's great splendor to all the world.

And most special was to get to spend three straight days with my oldest daughter who at eighteen felt called to sponsor a child.  She made a commitment to a five-year-old from Africa. The whole story is a beautiful testimony to what can happen when we lean in, really listen, and are willing to say "yes".

She now goes around calling herself a new mother. (So, wondering...does that makes me a Grandma??) 

And what if we all stilled ourselves to listen, resisting all thoughts, all logic, all sense that we might be too old or too young, too rich or too poor, too fixed or too broken....and just followed God's call to care for the orphan?  How might the world be different?  How might WE be different?  

So now, I am so full as I wake up this morning.  As if I have been more than crucified....but resurrected.  Severely sleep deprived, but awake like I haven't been in years.  I have been thanking God all morning for His heart and clear call to share about foster children and adoption.

And I have been resting in awe at how God can use an online world, like Missional Women, to reveal...
  • Not all people require defenses, or helmets, or chest plates. 
  • Not all leaders gate around for their own glory, seeking their own fulfillment.
  • Not all Christian's live sucking the energy and using those around them....others really live outward, faith-filled lives, selflessly serving missionally.
And not all online people live behind smoke-screens, covering up their lives, behind walls and computers....

There really is a world filled with strong, capable, kind, humble, gracious, spirit-filled people that live for just one person and one purpose only.....

"To make His name known among the nations."

Have you pulled up a chair, and really sat down with the ladies from Missional Women yet?  If not, after linking up, stop by and listen to what they have to share, by clicking HERE.


UNITE LINK PARTY

O.K. It is time to link up, sit back, and UNITE with a whole load of other AMAZING bloggers!  Don't know what to post?  Post anything you write about, link back here, then take a few moments to read and comment to what others posting around you!

Remember, UNITE is an all-inclusive, no-rules blog hop!  Have FUN!! 



How Extravagance Catches the Eye of God

When we hear the word "extravagant", we often think about the opposite of who Jesus is. As we know, He came meek, humble, quiet in a manger.

And even more so, we know about The Blessed...

Blessed are....the weak, poor, hungry etc. as it talks about on the Sermon on the Mount.

But what if, when we think about God...instead of sandals, holy hands, and humbleness coming to mind...we think of extravagance? 

But scripture says nothing about Him calling His beloved, "extravagant"....does it?

We live in the town of Arlington, the umbrella city of Oso, where the mudslide occurred. My seven-year-old has been collecting change and bringing it to school, to help with a fund-drive to support those victims.

The other day, my youngest scurried around the house.  It was one of those days my "mom-alert" got signaled.

"What are you doing?" I ask.

"We are collecting change for the mudslide victims and we only need $200. more dollars, but we need it in two days." She says all in one breathe.

I dig in my purse, separate from the cupboard's "collect all" cup, the money from China, Korea, Peru, and U.S.. Without hesitating, she scoops up what is O.K.ed to her.  I think nothing of it, as I am leaving on a plane this Friday and I have a ton filling up my mind.

I go outside, resting on the newly placed hammock, along the trees, over the clean cut grass. The closest place I will ever get to heaven here on earth. I need to think.  I need to let me mind rest.  I need this.  I need that.  I need way so much.

But even there, I see my little one running out the door barefoot, and scurrying to the car.  "What are you doing?"  I inquire again.

"I remembered, I saw two dimes on the floor of the car.  I need them, cause we are raising money for the mudslide victims."  She repeats as if I had forgotten our conversation a couple minutes prior. 

"O.k. I mumble", still wrapping myself in my world of "self".

And all would be well, but then I cam inside awhile later and saw the counter filled with all the change from our household.  There on the counter, was my husband's "collect change" jar.  It was emptied and placed into little bags.

But then I notice further.  The green frog.  The piggy bank her Grandma gave her to save all her pennies to go to college.  I knew there was at least $100.00 dollars in there.

"What are you doing?"  I say for the third time. 

"Dad gave me all his pennies.  I also want to give everything I have in my piggy-bank to the victims from the mudslide."

I wrestle.  Doubt.  Fear.  Praise it all at the same time in my head.

I mean...
  • What do you say to a child who thinks of others instead of sits in the hammock of her own self-absorption?
  • What do you say to a little one who has not yet learned that the world thinks money is God, money is power, that people struggle in this life (whether rich or poor) with the fear that they just don't have enough?
  • What do you say, when the depravity and emptiness found in "loss" just hasn't caught up with her yet.  And giving is the gift.  And offering all seems just as natural as the greediness we justify as if that in and of itself were not sin?
  • What do you say when your daughter's heart is filled with such compassion that she can't just sit.  Rest.  Wait on pretty grass in her own oblivious state....but that she just has to do something!?
"O.K." I finally say.  I mean, how can you tell a child not to give?

And as soon as those words slipped fearfully from my lips, another story comes to mind.

There were many.  They had a lot.  They gave, but only a little bit.  Just enough that it wouldn't dent
their pockets.  Enough that it wouldn't be noticed when it was gone.

There was another.  She was poor.  She had no income.  All she had was a little, what to us would be two coins....or two pennies.

Jesus called his disciples over to witness the churches collection.  And what He said is shocking.  Jesus said that the lady who gave two pennies gave more than all the money of the entire church put together.

O.K. maybe not in quantity....but because she didn't give just a portion of what she hoarded...The widow gave all she had.

I think of my little girl.  I think of her digging through the car and running around the house in a frenzy, because she just can't wait to give.

When had I done that lately?

And I think about how Jesus said He cherishes the poor widow, not because she gave much....but because she gave everything!

And oh how I want to be her.  My daughter.  The widow.  Oh how I don't want to hoard, or ignore, or sit in complacency as the world perishes and I sit on my hammock dreaming.

Oh how I want to love with such a love overflowing....in a way that I simply can't hold back, keep, weigh or question my own security.

Jesus called the poor widows giving "extravagant", I finally end up reading to her in the Message, so she will understand.   I explain to her that that kind of giving makes Jesus stop and turn.  I scripture, He even alerted the disciples to the heart of one who held back nothing.

And isn't that what He is asking of us today?

My friends. My prayer is, that although we count the cost, weigh and use well what He has given us....that in our heart of hearts.....we would be giving and digging and pursuing where He calls us too.  So much so that every last coin of our resources is placed like an offering, to Him.

Because God's eyes truly are on the extravagant.  Yet what we often fail to get is that....

God's extravagance often doesn't look like ours.



***  Ladies, tomorrow is our Missional Women Conference in Denver, Colorado. Woo Hoo!  Just in case you are curious, the Missional Women Conference isn't just for missionaries living in huts in Africa.  

The Missional Women Conference is targeted for all women, young and old, actively in ministry, or quietly sitting in their homes retired or raising children.  

Missional Women is about shining Jesus right where you are.  

The conference focus is about "How to be that light in practical ways, right around you".  A "bloom where you are planted" kinda deal!  :) 

You will explore new, broad ways to serve, be strengthened in an area you are already serving in, and discover the fullness of how you can be the "arms and feet" of Jesus in your very own community.

If you are even slightly interested, join our live stream of the conference FREE, by clicking....HERE 

Ladies, WE are the body of Christ, and it's time we go into all the world and SHINE!!!!


Linking with Lyli,
Emily

When Jesus Looks Like A Little Hawaiian Girl, Rippling Grace Wherever She Goes. UNITE

"Hawaiian."  As soon as I heard that word on the other line, I knew I was in trouble. A foster parent leaving in eight days to fly to Denver to speak on adoption.

What was I thinking? 

Then, I hear the lady continue on the other line, "She is fourteen months old, just taken away.  Stuck in shelter care.  She has been there two days.  She needs a home now."

And sometimes God's plans aren't ours.  Sometimes we want to curl up in the safety of our homes, and preach the gospel....instead of live it. 

And sometimes, just when we think we have gotten our lives all perfectly orchestrated, that is when He comes, bends low, and  softly whispers, "Are you ready to die further, lying down your life even more for me?"

And it is at this crossroad of choices, we can either keep going in our own direction, or lay our lives like Isaac, on the alter of His will, purposes, and expectations. 

"O.k.  I'll take her." 

Within forty-five minutes; I rush, hair still wet, from the salon, drop my daughter at swimming lessons, grab bottles at the grocery store, and clean my house before a tired looking social worker appears with a slant-eyed little package at the front door.


She screams as the social worker leaves her, as if I just bought some stray puppy from Craigslist.  She has me sign, leaves in a wink, and points to the stack of papers in the manila envelope for me to begin reading.   

And sometimes we never know the reality of what we have signed up for until we read the fine print.  

And yet, Christ lives in the flesh and bone, scripture beats loud in this "see a little one thirsty, and give her something to drink"....This "as if unto me" living.  Grace abounds when we look unto the children with sad brown eyes, one curl peeking from on top of their foreheads.

And sometimes God calls us to the threshing floor.  But other times willing obedience is the very thing stirring us to say "yes", when all around us insists, "no".

Yes, grace is thick in our home now.  Like the time the hospital sent us off with the five pound preemie.  Us rookie foster parents, totally panicking, knowing we needed Christ in a big way if we are to care for such eating issues and heart stopping, seizures all throughout the night. 

And isn't it when we are spent, crumbled, washed up, broken in every way...that is when grace is most clear, His mercies become near, His presence is felt in a way it never could be...when we are strong, self-sufficient, independently living our own agendas?

Yes, His grace was so tangible.  The next day, I knew why.

I give baby a bath.  And what appeared to be wounds, sends me into autopilot, as my seven-year-old watches how I will react.

We get in the car.  She needs some new clothes.  She has nothing, but a blanket she won't let go of, and a few small, outdated dirty clothes.

On the way, I want to weep.  Shout out to the heavens.  Cry out to God, "Why do the innocent have to suffer like this?"....but I am learning slowly not to question.  I have seen glory come out of the most horrific situations....so I choose to trust instead.

I remember my conference, the list of "must do's", while the work of having a little one tries to pierce the faith fortress that guards my spirit.

But there, outside of the second hand store, I finally take a breathe. And it is there I whisper, "Oh God, show me I have followed your will.  Please give me some kind of confirmation that I did what you wanted by me taking her...that it is your will I care for this little girl."

The dream of slanted eyes, the one where I heard, "Hawaiian child" tip-toes through my mind.  And I remember what the singer Stephen Curtis Chapman once said when people questioned if they should adopt or not, "How can caring for the weak or the helpless and raising them in the ways of God ever NOT be God's plan?"

I finally go in.  Stroller.  Two children.  Drawing on His message...trusting what I do not see.  The wounds keep surfacing painfully in my mind, but I dig through the clothes....clinging in faith instead of camping on what my eyes just saw.

Then, I hear it.  A voice I know.  An old neighbor, with seven kids.  A mother in every sense of the word.  She looks at my little one.  I work hard smiling, asking questions, trying to encourage instead of curling up in the ball of doubt I am pulled to as we speak.

Then, she turns to me.  "I want to give you this."  She hands over cash to cover some of the expense of the diaper bag, toys, and new wardrobe I need for this infant.  Then, more amazingly, the lady at the counter chimes in, "And I will give you half off of all the clothes you purchase because you are a foster parent."

I tear.  So humbled.  Blown away at this "coincidence", drown in love by the blessing of a God who sees it all.

I don't need the money, but I was feeling bankrupt.  And sometimes arms reaching can be the very thing helping us to see the glory in what we are facing, the face of Jesus in the least of these, the hope before us in the strangest times, the most unexpected season.

We hug.  Sister-hearts become one.  She ministers in words, as we talk about how the world has it wrong.  How children are a gift, and those called to care for them are not doing the lesser thing at all.

Still teary.  Humbled.  I tell her how just now before entering I prayed that God would clearly confirm that I was "doing the right thing".  And how she was my sign, this angel before me....not just in word, but in deed.

Breathing slowing.  She finally leaves.  I barely wipe away the tears and another friend (completely unaware of what happened) enters.  I have now seen her twice in a month.....after not seeing her for years and years.

A faith-filled lady, a daycare owner, also loving kids. We talk about her new grand-baby, her family, and whatever else I can learn about this old friend I love.

Then shockingly, she tells the owner, "I want to give the proceeds from what I am returning, after buying the two outfits, to Jen."  I stop.  Completely speechless. This is just too much!

Then the store owner, who I soon learn is also a Christian, jumps in further, "Better yet, I will give you those two outfits, and offer Jen all of the proceeds from what you are returning."

I am just stumped.  Still.  Silent.  Thankful. 

I hug my friend.  Then she says, "You know, us meeting here is no coincidence.  God planned it.  He knows.  It blesses Him what you are doing."  So in shock, I couldn't even share how I had prayed in the car for confirmation, how the store owner blessed me with half off, or how another lady I knew just left before her doing the same thing....

But what I do know was that God is all over this, caring for the orphans thing. 

That He ordains, and joins, and appoints our meetings...all of them.  And that to Him there are no "coincidences".  He knew the history of this infant.  The mom's heart cry.  The meetings that would happen before they ever did in the consignment store that day.

And what we forget sometimes when we are in the forest of our circumstances is that His blessings truly are abundant, going on and on, never just stopping with us...

That night, the baby, fourteen-months old who couldn't walk and whose social worker told me she would need physical therapy....walked for the very first time ever.  Seven steps across the bedroom floor.

My hair dresser was also so moved by the story of us "jumping" at the need of a little girl, that she too is now looking into being licensed as a foster parent.
 
Yes, it is true....obedience is not suffering as martyrs to be painfully purged from our selfishness.  Obedience is not craziness, or forced surrendering.  It is not giving to get, or laying down because we think that that's what "good" Christianity asks or requires of us.

Obedience is the door, the gift of grace He holds in front of us, quietly whispering for us to enter through it, in complete and full surrender...in faith and trust that He is bigger than us.

And maybe this laying down our life is really all that we have been looking for?  This glorious obedience, the very key that as believers we should be rejoicing over?  This great exchange is the testimony we fervently and fearlessly speak about.

For what if grace is in the doing...difficult situations the very thresh-hold of mercy He uses to bring healing to all of us.  What if hope is in the hardships, and life abundant is in the dying and willingness to say "yes" to whatever He happens to call us to?

For maybe Jesus looks like a little Hawaiian girl, rippling mercies wherever she goes...

And maybe grace is in our, yes'. And His goodness truly does lie waiting for us, each and every morning?

UNITE LINK PARTY

Ready for another week of UNITE? Here at UNITE, we believe that a variety of colors and textures make up the beautiful pallet of God's most splendid creation...
....and NO ONE is exempt from His beauty!  No one!  

So, will you come join us just as you are!?  Sweats, shoes off, kicking back on your sofa, coffee in hand?  Or there on your phone, or from the laptop at Starbucks!?

It's simple....Link up a post, add a link back, then comment on one or two posts before yours!  

We, here at UNITE, simply long to connect, love, encourage, and celebrate one another in all our uniqueness's as God's creations!~

Ready?  O.K. Time to UNITE below....



The Riskiest Thing You Will NEVER Do

Ever had a dream that you were running from someone?  You know; heart beating, palms sweating, eyes darting back to see if your pursuer is about to overtake you?

I did.  In fact, frequent nights, I lived this nightmare in childhood.

Yet somewhere along the way, my running became a way of life.  And after a time, I couldn't discern between day and night...or who and what it was I was really even fleeing from.   

And so I ran, I ran from everything, I ran from everyone.

I also had dreams of an older man, with a red barn, constantly drawing me with eyes of love to come walk with him towards it.

But at the old time, old men (any kind of man, not including my earthly Dad) meant "danger".  So I fought my feelings, resisted, and turned from the one I later recognized as God, drawing me to His storehouse of blessings.

And sometimes we can miss what God has for us because we have become so cloned, conditioned, mechanicalized to keep endlessly running, striving, doing life as fast as we can.

This week I am joining Amy Sullivan for her monthly series, Risk Rejection. At her place, you'll find a bunch of extraordinary women who are kicking past their fear and taking a big, bold leap of faith, to get where God has called them.  They are letting nothing stop them.  They get it...God is a big God, and He truly has called us to more!

And I have leaped large, lived bold; shared my past, danced in Dominican Republic, colored my hair dark, and just solicited an article to a well known site and got accepted (Woo Hoo).....

But, this week as I prodded over what God wants me to share....I really felt like He was saying...

Sometimes the riskiest thing you could ever do is, be still.

We all know the story of Mary and Martha.  The one running around "doing", the other sitting at the feet of Jesus.  And yet, too often "the better thing" pervades me.  It can bypass all of us, because our society tells us we must have measurable outcomes, reports of our contributed efforts, visible fruit from the successes of what we have invested in...

But what if our scale is in heaven, not on this earth?  What if the fruit of our intimacy with God, multiplies faster than anything we could do in our carnal state?  What if we don't always need to keep running, striving? What if there is a season we just must sit down, rest, vulnerably seeking Him?

 For truth is, the Joy Set before Us overwhelms in a way words are inadequate, anything we might say can seem totally insufficient.

What if the peace in this life doesn't come from "getting what we want"...but from stopping, being still, and really letting God pursue us.

What if risking rejection is not just a running towards something, but risking being still enough to let God come near and bless us?

But yet, our cultures boast, "go", "do", "be".  And worse yet, we are teaching our kids, "strive harder", instead of "cease from striving" like Scripture mandates.

I have seen it often, and have lived it too...

Sometimes God can even allow for us to be paralyzed so that we will stop and sit at the "Gate, Beautiful" long enough for God to pursue us.

And what if we stop running to high ground and just sat down right where we are, and let His tsunami of overwhelming and all consuming grace wash over us?

Maybe "childlike" really is where real contentment is found?  Unable to walk, unable to run.  Silent.  Still.  Accessible to God....and what He wants to do with us.

But yet, we get older.  We get stronger.  We think we get wiser.  We strive harder and eventually somehow seem to turn into world producing Gladiators.  But the men and women of God in the Bible were told love trumps all.

Though infancy, and stillness, and a tsunami of His love can seem weak, vulnerable, requiring us to die to ourselves....Love still is the greatest gift of all.  And love, when we have it, will eventually just naturally lead us to produce.

I don't dream anymore of those dark shadows that haunted me for thirty years.  I have been set free.  I have found that, though the enemy taunts, God's power and goodness truly does destroy the enemy.

His love is not scary.....something we need not run from....but too.

So, if you are a runner today, if you dance back and forth, and have been playing dodge-ball (like I have) with God....

Will you stop.  Cease from striving?  Really risk vulnerability, and quiet your heart before God?

For sometimes it's not the mountains we move, the cliffs we leap from that really change the world most....

Sometimes, it's the courage to be quiet and listen for His whisper, the faith to stop striving, the vulnerability to really embrace all He has for us.  Sometimes its the hope that His plans just might be better for us...than all the marathons of success this world dangles in front of us....

For risk is paramount.  Getting out of your comfort zone is powerfully Biblical.  Living leaping will shake the heavens like complacency never will.

But sometimes loosing it all, crawling to His feet, laying everything we own, are, and think....at those preciously pierced, grace-filled feet....

Is the most risky thing we could ever do.



If you want to join me, Amy, and a whole crew of other Risk Taking women, pop on over, HERE.  Or you can find us on Twitter at #RiskRejection.  

I promise you...these women will change you, challenge you, call you out of complacency and into your true identity as a child of God!  Hope to see you there!

When We Hate The Skin We Come In. And UNITE Linky

"I hate my skin".  I hear from the backseat.  Words not from a "cutting" teenager....but a seven-year-old.  A child not even a decade. Worse yet, it was my child saying this.


Her preschool aged brother then nonchalantly suggests, "Well then, why don't you just shave it off."  I didn't know whether to cry or laugh at such innocence...Cause the words, "hate", "my", "skin" still gripped hard, triggering something painful deep surfacing.

As the days go on....I turn, churn, boil at the the words still alive from the back seat of my crossover.  "It must be school", I concludeOr her birth-mother.  Blame shifting.  Maybe there is some generational thing needing "breaking".  I keep fishing....It's our society. Disney.  Me, for putting that Cinderella pillowcase on her bed when she was little.

I mean, for goodness sakes, my dark skinned child sees white faces all day, now blonde hair and blue eyes staring at her...even when she sleeps?

Then the scab lifts further...
  • I remember that little girl at our first story time ever.  The one when my daughter was three, who refusing to hold my daughter's hand, treating her as if contaminated simply because of the color of her skin.  
  • Toddlers also in childhood, standing in her face, staring rudely as if my daughter is some alien.
  • Or the four-year-old stranger who randomly ran up and told her, "Your never coming to my house", unexpected from the shoe section.  Her mom smirking in joy at her child's overt racism.

I mean, as women....our skin shouldn't make us feel unloved and inadequate.  But it does, doesn't it? It shouldn't be our battling weapon, the targets for why we judge each other; the object of our words that we use to shoot thoughtlessly, dividing one another.  When truth is...None of us can live up to the airbrushed models we see staring at us from the magazine racks at the grocery store.

And perfectionism, idealism, and harsh words can hurt all of us...can't they?

Finally, days later, the teakettle of my soul stops simmering.  And there, in the open wound of my own offenses....a memory curls to the top of this boiling mixture I keep coddling...

A memory of me standing in the mirror surfaces, maybe thirteen.  Punching hard at the small pouch around my un-hourglass-ish middle section. Bathrooms, girls, lunchrooms in fourth grade also comes back like a 1920's picture movie. Kids bragging about who is skinniest, prettiest, tallest...all giving each other a list of how little they had been eating that day.

I was ten years old.

Yes, that was thirty years ago. Before airbrushing, botox, perfect-looking television actresses, and the internet.  I mean, what pressure must young girls have now? 

Still, vain-fully even Eve longed for "more" than she had. Eve's sin in the garden taking her from being fearlessly naked; to hiding, cowering, covering her skin in shame....like we do now today.  This "needing" of something-more resurrecting from the very core of what we all experience.  The lie that feeds on us making us ungratefully discontent, driving us to idolize what we know we'll never have.

And yet, we have not learned, this "more", "better", "need" "should be" mentality is the very root of all our sin-nature, devouring us until we have anything left but doubt.

And why instead of waving the white flag, do we keep raising the bar, trading God-confidence, trying harder as if that will solve the dark whole of nothingness, running even stronger towards that unreachable Hollywood example of what "real beauty is".

I mean, will we ever be "beautiful enough", according to the world? 

And why do we let unrealistic expectations devour us as if we were victims, when we were made in the image of God?  Why do we hate our own skin, loathing what God has given us, until we literally might be willing to "shave off our skin" just to look like someone else.  

  • Is it that we learn power in this world is found in what we physically present?  
  • Do we learn clothes, and skin color, and body weight make a women...instead of seeking to be clothed by His righteousness...empowered by His love?  
  • Do we learn beauty equals acceptance, and our identity comes from a perfect image we chase like the proverbial carrot in hopes of meeting others expectations?

And somehow America's Next Top Model plagues us in our sleep.  And could it be, what we think is entertainment actually makes us enemies of one another....enemies of our own bodies?

But I can tell you, 
  • God never intended my thirteen-year-old friend to start puking to try to be prettier.  
  • He never wanted me as an underweight twenty-year-old to keep running, barely eating, desperately seeking to get the surgery to remove my lower two, thick Norwegian ribs. 
  • Yes, God never intended the young girl I worked with after graduating to drive off a cliff because she was crushed under the pressure of thinking, "No matter how I try, I will never be good enough.  So why try?"

I still see her husband and two sons sitting in the front row of her funeral that day.  

Oh precious ladies, when will we learn that our eyes are fixed on the wrong thing?  When will we learn that our worth is not in our pant size, our body style, or the color of our skin?  Heaven is our hope and He truly is, the joy set before us.  In Him, we are always enough.

So, what if we stopped seeing ourselves with airbrushed eyes of correction, looking past the outward scars and imperfections....and into the hearts of others with the pure, unadulterated, unconditional love of Jesus?  How might bridges be built in relationships?  How might jealousies stop, weapons of words, and anger, and self-hate cease from crucifying us?

What if we looked in the mirror and chose instead to love our flaws, these broken vessels we come in?  What if we trusted the great Craftsman, and instead gave Him praise for this limiting, flawed, imperfect skin our spirits just so happened to be inhabiting? 

For could it be, somehow, we know deep inside....Our Spirits will always feel restrained by these empty, passing, fleeting bodies we come in?  

We were in the store the other day.  A white guy (And I mean a blonde hair, blue eyed guy) in his forties was talking loudly, like a African American gangster.  I stared and watched to see if he was authentic, if it was really that voice in the body I was seeing....

But then I realized...Here my daughter had said she "hated her skin", while this white guy was coveting what she actually had...color.  Sporting baggy pants, baseball hat, actually genuinely acting African American though clearly born with stark, white skin....

And truth is, we women are not the only ones caught in an identity crisis. Men face it too.

In this world trying to constantly force us to turn inward and spend our days imploding with some unrealistic idealism of beauty, what if we just loved ourselves, finding confidence and assurance that God knew what He was doing when He decided to make us?

"God doesn't make mistakes sweetie.  He created you.  He thinks you are beautiful....and so do I."  I finally tell my seven-year-old in the back seat as we drive.  

But even I know mere words can't make us stand taller, sing stronger, love our bodies, or look people in the eyes...not doubting at all who we were created to be.  Only Christ's Spirit resurrected in us can do that.

So, ladies, what if we dressed ourselves in the Word each morning, instead of looking in the world's mirror? What if we turned to Christ to find our true identity, instead of coveting the pages of airbrushed magazines? What if we listened to the Master Craftsman whose image we were made in, instead of those girls in the lunchroom, the voices in us that drive us off cliffs saying "You will never be enough". 

For no matter what our insecurities, no matter how may scars or all the imperfections plaguing us...God says you are beautiful!  And our God never lies.

Will you join me right now, stopping to listen to what He says?  Asking Him to help you "really get" that He loves you?  Because friend, regardless of what the world tells us....He thinks your beautiful just the way you are!

  • "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.." Psalms 139:14  
  • "Do not consider appearance or height...The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart." 1 Samuel 16:7 
  • "Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised." Psalms 32:30 
  • "You are altogether beautiful, my love; there is no flaw in you."  Song of Solomon 4:7 
  • "Those who look to him are radiant, and their faces shall never be ashamed." Psalms 34:5

UNITE Link Party

Have I told you what I love about UNITE?  It's that it is made up of real people, raw, honest, colorful people who are trying to live in the freedom of Christ! 

Don't believe me?  Read the posts below. 

To UNITE you don't need to be some great artist, or even have a great blog following...what is fun about UNITE is that you are welcome, now, here, always....just the way we are!

To join, add a post below and if you can, a link back here.  Then, take some time to UNITE & comment on one or more friends blog's below!

Have fun and thanks for being a part of this all inclusive, no-rules Link Party each week!  ~ Jen




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