A Single Challenge

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“It’s wicked to throw away all your other gifts because you can’t have one”- Little Women

On long road trips, I like to listen to audiobooks. It has become a tradition that I listen to Little Women at least once. I grew up watching the movie dozens of times. Since I have four sisters, it was like watching us (a century behind and one less sister).

As I was driving from Virginia to Florida, I heard this quote by Amy: It’s wicked to throw away all your other gifts because you can’t have one. It hit me so hard that I rewound that section of audio and listened again. Conviction set it.

How many times have I done this? As a single person, there is a tendency to throw away our other talents and gifts because we can’t have “the one”. We sit around doodling while waiting for “the one”. I am talking to myself here. I have been there and done that.

At one point in my life, all I did was work and waited for someone to come along. Call me crazy, but I thought it would only be a matter of time until he came around. Well, after about 3-4 years of “waiting”, there was no one even “on the horizon”, as my dad says.

I took a leap of faith and decided to do something else, besides work and wait. When I took that step, it was a whirlwind of an adventure. I was using gifts that I didn’t know I had. I was learning new things left and right. I was going places I never dreamed were possible. It was an exciting time and challenging time.

That time created a hunger to learn more. Life can be extremely challenging, but it also can be absolutely amazing! God is greater, kinder, more beautiful than we can imagine.

Just last week I was listening to the audio book by Steven Curtis Chapman, Between Heaven and the Real World .  After the death of his daughter, Maria, his wife asked them to remodel the house. It was too hard to live in after Maria’s passing. Steven struggled with the idea of how much money it was going to cost, and if it was a waste of money because their house was fine.

He prayed about it and felt like they should move ahead with the idea. The day came and the demolition crew started their work. Steven looked over at his wife, Mary-Beth, and saw tears running down her face. He walked over and asked her if she was okay. “I needed to see this”,  she said. “This is what happened to our family the day Maria died”. Their family took a devastating blow. Yet, through the tearing down and building back up, Steven saw God’s love. He felt the Lord told Him that sometimes His love appears extravagant and wasteful.

Isn’t that true? I was pining away for a marriage when God wanted to show me more. He literally allowed me to travel around the globe. It was extravagant and sometimes it seemed wasteful. Because I had the budget information, I would often say, I can stay here. However, God allowed me to go on one trip after another. I learned so much not just on the trips but over that span of 3 years, I saw God in ways I never knew I could.

My encouragement to you who are single comes from a 10th-degree black belt: Act on life. Don’t let life act on you. You are not a victim to life or anyone.

Use your gifts. Use your time wisely. Live well. Love fervently. Give fearlessly. Life is short and we only have one life to live.

John 10:10 says, “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”

Don’t let the enemy steal any more years. Don’t let him steal your joy, your affection, your devotion, your desire to grow and learn.

There is a 2nd-degree black belt I work out with in a group, who told me, “I’m trying to help you be the best you”. Sometimes it feels like he is trying to kill me, but he is pushing me to be better. Isn’t that what God does for us? He allows challenging things because He is strengthening us. Elisabeth Elliot once said, “God will not protect you from anything that makes you more like Jesus”

Life is meant to be lived, not just survived. Sometimes surviving is the only thing we can do. Other times, surviving has become our comfort zone. Living on purpose often takes us out of our comfort zones. But today, remember to thank God for all that He has already given you. Thank Him for the friends you have, the job you have, and the opportunities He has opened up for you. Instead of focusing on the one thing or person you don’t have.

Sometimes, when I wish I had someone, I remind myself that I do have someone. He is my closest friend. He says that He is my husband. So, instead of wasting time wishing I had someone else, I try to look for ways to love Him. I do not do this as much as I would like.

We are God’s children. He knows we are incapable. He wants to make us laugh, and wants to spend time with us. He wants to be close, but often times, we are so preoccupied with other things or wishing for the one thing we don’t have.

Think a friendship that may be morphing into something else. Think of the little glances shared back and both. Think of the sweet gestures: a hand to the side as he walks behind you, a gentle touch to the elbow, a goodbye hug, exchanging eye contact and a laugh over an inside joke.

I know for me, I think about each thing over and over again. I think of what they said or re-read a sweet message they sent. Imagine if I thought of God that way.

Imagine if I mulled over in my mind the MANY things He has done: The opportunity to travel, learn all kinds of new skills, learn martial arts, write, be near family, and have amazing friends. I should be on cloud nine all the time.

So, I am challenging myself to think on Him this week. To think of the ways He has blessed me. He is too good and has done too much for me to waste more time.

The LORD appeared to us in the past, saying: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness. Jeremiah 31:3

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Song of the week: King of my heart, by John Mark McMillan & Sarah McMillan 

Listen Here

You Are Not Enough…


About a week ago, I got in my car and headed to the bank. On my way there, I was having a conversation in my head, half praying, half talking. “God, If you just open this door, I’ll be happy. That’s all I want”

Before I go on, I am ashamed to admit this, but I felt like I should. It’s not about perfection. It’s about being honest about imperfections, in order for God to shine. To see His beauty and patience in my ugly day to day mess.

So after submitting my grand idea to God to open a door, a thought popped into my head. “No, we’d still be having this conversation; you’d just want something else”. I sat there thinking for a moment. It was true.

Have you ever prayed and asked God for something? After waiting and praying and praying some more, you still don’t see it. I have been praying. I have been asking. I have been knocking. I’ve been doing the next thing.

But, without even realizing what I had actually done, I was telling God that He wasn’t enough, at least for me. It’s not that I don’t believe God can answer. I have seen Him answer prayers for my friends and family. I have seen Him be enough for others, but for me, lately, He has not been enough. Why? Because I was not giving Him enough time to be enough for me. I’ve allowed distractions and ambitions to cloud my thinking and occupy the time that God used to have.

“The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want”… I shall not want.

Yet, I found myself wanting. I found myself trying to get God to solve my problem through other means, instead of through Himself.

The question, for me, was not if God is enough. The question is, is God enough for me?

For you, it could be: I know God can heal, but can He heal me? Or, I know He can provide, but can He provide for me? Or, I know He can do exceedingly abundantly beyond what I can ask or think, but can He do that for me?

Our relationship with God is partially about what He can do for others. But, it’s mostly, about knowing what He has done and can do for us.

At the end of my life, I am responsible for how I lived. I want to live satisfied in God alone. I know other things won’t satisfy. I could land the dream job, get a spouse, start the family, start a business, and still be empty. I know this. And it’s not like I wasn’t content before. Last year, around this time, I was losing everything, except God, and He was enough. Yet, a year later, I find myself floundering, treading water, wondering when I’m going to feel a rock for me to stand on.

I’m also learning that life is a journey. I don’t need to beat myself up for having to relearn a lesson. The Christian life is not about learning it once and moving on. Some things we have to learn and relearn.

This week, I became a Green Belt in Karate. I started the first phase of material this week as well. There are things in this phase of green belt that I learned when I was working towards my yellow belt. I am relearning the techniques from the material I learned a few months ago.

I think God allows us to relearn lessons because we never “arrive”. We are always learning. Some things are new, and some things we relearn.

So in this season of waiting, knocking and praying, I am asking God to teach me that He is enough for me.

Because God knows me better than I know myself, He hasn’t allowed what I want, to show me what I need. He knows that I need this lesson. He wants to be the one I take refuge in. He is the only Rock that will not crumble. He is the only one who will not disappoint, and He is the only one who will ever be enough for me.

So, I want to encourage you today, because this is what I am called to do, encourage (1 Thessalonians 5:11). If you feel you have drifted, as we all have from time to time; take a moment to come back. God is gracious. He LONGS to show compassion (Isaiah 30:18). Come to Him. He is waiting. He wants to help. He is the Lifter of our heads. He is the strength we need. He is the wisdom we need. He is the Healer we need. He is the love we are looking for. He is the filler He is waiting. Don’t run away, run back to Him. He does not condemn you. He loves us even more than we can ever even fathom.

Song of the week: Even If, by Mercy Me  (Listen Here)

 “I know You’re able and I know You can  Save through the fire with Your mighty hand  But even if You don’t  My hope is You alone  I know the sorrow, and I know the hurt  Would all go away if You’d just say the word  But even if You don’t  My hope is You alone”

“Oh, Oh, Hey, Ms. Christi” — Another Sweet Reminder

“Oh, oh, hey Ms. Christi” I heard a sweet little voice say; knowing immediately who had greeted me. I turned and said, “Hey, Buddy, How are you?”

I currently work at an after school program. We have roughly 35 kids on our roster, but average about 20 kids per day. I know you’re not supposed to have favorites, but it’s hard not to.

This kid, who I often refer to as Buddy, has taught me a lot.

Every day he comes in he almost always says, “Oh, oh, hey Ms. Christi”. Although he can bring challenges (what kid doesn’t), he reminded me of an important lesson.

You see, he is autistic. He spends a lot of his time talking to himself, and living in a world that is his own. One day, I heard him say, “You failed, you’re stupid”.

Buddy tends to act out what has happened to him. You quickly learn what type of day he is having if you listen to what he says. So, when I heard him say, “you’re stupid” I realized there is not much difference between someone who is autistic, and someone who isn’t.

The difference is those who are autistic verbalized their thoughts. Those who aren’t tend to keep their thoughts to themselves. I don’t know about you, but I have called myself stupid more times that I can count. I have said that I’m a failure more often than I care to say.

I realize there are other differences, but when it comes to our identities, we are not that different. I read a quote that, upon reading it, brought me to tears. It says this:


In this journey called life we all tend to get tied up with what we do, how much we make, how we live, or how we are measuring up.

I read an article that said if we were measuring Jesus’ life by our view of “success” His life would be a complete failure. His family didn’t understand Him. His disciples abandoned Him. He had no place to lay His head. And to top it all off, He died a criminal’s death.

But, through in His father’s eyes, He was a complete success. He conquered death. He broke the curse of sin. He brought reconciliation. He exemplified love.

Jesus didn’t have a 401k. He didn’t have a home. He did not own his own transportation. He even had to borrow a mule to ride into the city on Palm Sunday. He was a King without glory, without honor, without “worldly” means.

Yet, you and me, we were and are the object of His affection. He sacrificed all the “pleasures of this world” for you and me. He allowed Himself to be rejected so we could be accepted. He allowed Himself to be viewed as “guilty” so that we would be exonerated from our sin. He became despised (in the eyes of the world) so that we would know we are His treasure. So, Instead of self rejection, we could hear that we are His Beloved. We are His Delight (Isaiah 62:4).

So when you and I face the temptation to say to ourselves, “You’re a failure” remember:

It is not about what we do.

It is not about how old we are, how young we are.

It is not about what others say.

It is not even what we say.

It only matters what He says.

My Friends, He says we’re enough. When He said “It is finished”, We, as His Children, became flawless.

He doesn’t see you for who this world says you are. He sees you as complete in Him. He sees you as His Masterpiece – His poem.

You are not a failure. You are not stupid. You are His Beloved and nothing you do or don’t do will ever change that!

Navigating Through Land Mines

It hits you out of nowhere. Suddenly these triggers send tears pouring out of your eyes from the what feels to be the deepest part of you.

 

You hold your chest, hoping that the pain inside will somehow go away. Maybe, if you hold on to it long and hard enough, your broken pieces will come back together.
You don’t care about the people in the parking lot around you as you wheeze through the sobs. Trying to control yourself, yet knowing, it’s useless. A dam has broken. This pain needs to come out somehow. You haven’t cried in so long because you grew weary of it. 

Triggers.

Have you been there? Have you set foot on an emotional IED? Have you found yourself crying uncontrollably, not being able to pull yourself together?
I have. It is a hard place to be. It’s a battle to focus on truth. It’s a battle to pick yourself back up after a beating by a storm surge of emotions. You feel as though you’re sucked back to the place you never wanted to be again.
When you’ve experienced pain induced by someone, the aftermath is like walking through a land field. 

Before the harm took place, you walked carefree, and without worry. Then someone overstepped their bounds. They entered your life and caused damage. All of a sudden your world becomes pitted with bombs waiting to go off. You have to navigate through an emotional flare up. 

You walk cautiously, looking around. You step slowly. You try to figure out if the ground looks tampered with. But sometimes, no matter how cautious you or I may be, our other foot hits a mine. We find yourself trying to put yourself together again. Trying to calm yourself down you say, “They didn’t mean it”, “They aren’t the person who damaged you”. 

But anything could trigger an explosion. A trip to the nail salon. A car ride. A trip. A word spoken. A situation. A closed room. As you navigate each explosion, you quickly learn where the triggers are. In a sense, you have to learn, pray and strive after being carefree and trusting again.

If you have been under or around someone who did damage to you, I want to say, I am so very sorry. I’m sorry you have to not just feel the pain in the instance, but also years later.
Life is messy and people are broken. We all know from one extent to another the deep wounds we can experience at the hands of another. Let’s be honest, our world is broken..

If you find yourself in this situation of mining through your triggers, I want you to know that you will have more emotional IEDs. However, I want you to know that while you’re crying, God sees. He is with you through the sobs and wheezing. He is holding your broken pieces. He is truthful. He won’t mess with your mind. In fact, He tells us, “In this world you WILL have troubles”. He also says, “but I have overcome the world”. Yes, He has overcome our broken world.

None of us wish for brokenness. We want to remain whole, but I am learning that the deeper we are hurt, the more our heart expands.

 

Each scenario we face, when we surrender it to God, can be used to help someone else. So although we don’t like hitting land mines, we don’t have to fear them. God knows how to use them for our good and His glory.

 

Remember the worst thing in life is not a broken heart, but a callous one.

 

I heard a song say, “Love as if there were no such thing as a broken heart” (Old dominion). That’s my goal. I am broken, but I’m not useless, in God’s economy that means He can remake me, making me more useful! What someone may have seen as trash, God sees as treasure. What someone may have seen as weak, God sees as strong. What someones else may have seen as an easy target, God sees as a heart to cherish and pursue.

 

Don’t give up friends. We need each other, and we all need more love. Maybe our brokenness is the gateway for more love to occur.

  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” Isaiah 41:10
  • “In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” 1 John 4:10
  • “The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love” Psalm 103:8
  • “The Lord appeared to him from far away. I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you” Jeremiah 31:3
  • “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you, I give men in return for you, peoples in exchange for your life. Fear not, for I am with you; I will bring your offspring from the east, and from the west I will gather you” Isaiah 43:4-5