Be a Cheerleader, not a Competitor

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Ever notice how sometimes themes tend to run through your life? Lately, a theme of running in your own lane has been weaving its way through several areas of my life. A few weeks ago, I had the amazing opportunity to attend Q Conference in Nashville with a group from my city. Honestly, any other conference I go to from now on will be judged against Q. It was hands down one of the best conferences I have attended. Perhaps because over a period of 2.5 days, we heard approximately 50 different speakers. Talk about information overload! I am still trying to process it all.

Annie F. Downs gave a short talk the first morning and it hit me like a ton of bricks. She talked about how so often we live our lives like we are playing Chutes and Ladders instead of like we are playing Solitaire.  When we see someone else roll the dice and get to climb up the ladder we are jealous or envious and if we were honest, when we see others slide down the slide, perhaps there is a moment of where we think we aren’t doing terrible after all. We spend a lot of time and energy comparing everyone else’s lives to our own. We watch them succeed or fail and judge our own progress against theirs.

The thing is, as Annie said, our hands don’t look like everyone else’s. We were given a unique set of gifts and talents and entrusted with passions and skills. God has put a call on each of our lives only we can fulfill. And He knew what He was doing. (this hit me straight in the face). When we spend our time comparing or wishing our lives looked like so and so, we are doubting God’s perfect call on our own life. Perhaps we question why others have success and ours seems ever elusive.

For me, I struggled so much with watching other people seem to be living out their passion and doing things they love while I felt left out and left behind. This is not the life God has called us to live. We walked out of the room after Annie’s chat and were each given a card to remind us to play our own game. As I have been mulling over the card and her talk, I have come to a couple major aha moments.

  1. We are called for such a time as this. If you have ever listened to Ann Voskamp speak, you have probably heard her refer to the Esther generation and how we were called for such a time as this. As Christian women, I believe God has called us to the work of love and reconciliation and restoration.  This has to start with us. We have to stop competing against each other and start cheering each other on. We have to be agents of love in our families, our friend groups, our churches, and our communities. We have to stand up and say enough. My call is my call and your call is your call and guess what, there is enough room in this world for both.
  2. Her success does not mean my failure. This has been a tough one for me. It’s so easy to view life like a pie with finite slices. If she gets a slice, it feels like there is less for me. But the thing is, there is an endless number of pies. Instead of viewing others’ success as taking up some of ours, lets celebrate each other. Let us encourage and cheer and support and motivate. For much of the last couple years, I have felt so stuck. Unsure of what was next or what to do with the dreams in my heart. And then Annie told us to do the best with the life we have been given and it was like a light-bulb. I have felt stuck because I have been watching others tackle their dreams and felt like I was getting left behind. When God was simply asking me to put my dreams in His hands and trust He had a perfect plan for my life.
  3. We all need cheerleaders. After Annie’s talk, we were supposed to talk with the people we came with about what we felt our lanes were-where or what was God calling us? I told the two ladies I was with where I feel God is leading me and they were both so supportive. When we got home, one of them texted me and said ok, what now? How do we move forward? It was a moment I realized, we all need cheerleaders in our lives. And we all need to be cheerleaders in the lives of those around us. I mean, can you imagine what life would be like if we were all cheering each other on as we pursue our dreams? My dreams aren’t a threat to hers nor are hers to mine. Together we can encourage, cheer, and motivate each other towards the life God is calling us to live.

How can we do the best with the life we have been given? I believe it starts with running our own race and cheering on those around us instead of viewing them as competitors. I believe it starts with vulnerability and community and understanding the world is full of pies, waiting for us all to partake. It happens when we become cheerleaders to each others’ dreams. So friend, join me in cheering on those around you and enjoying pie all around!

Put Down the Expectations

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My word for the year was authenticity. And right now, being authentic means admitting to myself (and ya’ll) my expectations set me up for a dark dive into struggle.  See, buying your dream farmhouse with dreams to fix it up is very different from living in said dream farmhouse in need of fixing up. Pinterest boards full of Farmhouse decor are exciting, but ants covering your counters and bathrooms not working are not. I have spent hours aimlessly wandering or doing nothing because I am so overwhelmed by it all. Perhaps though the aimless wandering gave me ample time for much needed soul-searching. I realized in all this expectations can set you up for massive disappointment. Reality is often different from what we picture or what we see on other’s newsfeeds and Pinterest boards. And when your expectations and reality clash, it can all come crashing down.

As I have sorted through these feelings and tried to get to the core of it all, I realized so much of it comes from wanting the finished product without the hard work. It’s wanting to post a perfect picture of your pristine kitchen when the reality is three days of dirty dishes, unpacked boxes, and ants. It’s feeling like you need to fit into society’s version of acceptable instead of giving yourself grace because you just moved, have a toddler, and between you and your husband work outside your house 100+ hours a week. It’s carrying it all on your own when we were never called to those burdens. So here are three things I am working on as I reset my priorities and put my soul-searching into action.

 

  1. Accept help. Seriously, unpacking is the worst. But when your mother-in-law offers to help you unpack the rest of your kitchen, take her up on the offer. No one is going to take away your super mom status because you couldn’t do it all by yourself.  This has been really hard for me because I tend to be pretty independent, but I have had to admit I can’t do it all. I am still working on asking for help from others, but baby steps.
  2. Unplug from Pinterest. And any other social media site making you more overwhelmed. I gave up pinning farmhouse decor and stopped scrolling through my app aimlessly.  Someday my house may look like one of those pictures, but for now, it looks like a tornado came through and left a wake of empty boxes, random clothes, and nonperishable food which happens to be all over my kitchen.  There is no magic wand I can wave to make my house perfect and right now I have to be okay with the “character” of the house.  I have to settle in and live there and not feel like because the walls aren’t painted or the house isn’t perfect, I am somehow less than those around me. This is tough. Comparing our reality to other people’s highlight reels is oh so easy.
  3. Give Grace. As I mentioned, I have spent a lot of time soul searching as I have dealt with an onslaught of emotions surrounding our move. I am Type A to the max and grace is hard for me. It’s hard for me to accept and it’s been hard for me to give. I honestly think so much of my struggle comes back to beating myself up for not meeting some impossible standard I set for myself. But we bought a house in need of a lot of work and the work has humbled me. It has caused me to cry and to laugh. It has caused me to get on my knees and to realize the life Jesus is calling me to is so different from the life I have been living. Jesus doesn’t ask us to get our house in order first. He asks us to come to Him and rest. To accept His grace. His stamp on us says we are bought, we are covered, and we are redeemed. He says His burden is light. I preach this message a lot, but for some reason letting it sink into my own heart has been harder. The burden I have been carrying around felt like a ton of bricks. It felt like expectation and perfection and pressure and the need for my life to appear put together. The more honest reality is both my house and my soul are a disaster. They are both in desperate need of grace. One for physically being left empty for years and now housing 2 working adults and 1 messy toddler and one for spiritually being starved for years. Neither will get to their full capacity on their own. Both will require work and grace and patience and acceptance.

Friend, Jesus invites us to come to Him with all our burdens and weariness and He will give us rest. Are in a season in desperate need of rest? Do you struggle to give yourself grace in our picture-perfect world? Let’s trade our heavy burdens and Instagram filters for the burden of a Savior who is light and life and unconditional love. Seems like a better deal to me.

 

 

Stop Striving and Start Seeking

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Every once in a while I miss reading actual books because you cannot highlight and write in audio books. I am a highlighter of books. If you ever borrow one from me, they will have marks and double underlines and “yes” and “Amen” written in them. When I switched to the world of audio books because I have a toddler who refuses to sit still, I find I miss being about to go back and reference lines or quotes from the books. Occasionally, something hits me so hard, I hit pause, reverse, and hit pause again to write down a line. Near the end of one of my most recent “reads”, I did exactly this because the line the author wrote and was now reading hit me square in the face. The entire book, entitled “Breaking Busy” by Ali Worthington, was incredible. If you are an over-scheduler, Type A personality like myself, I highly recommend it.

“You do not have to strive endlessly to be good enough or to find God’s plan for you. When you stay focused on God, you will not miss your destiny. “

Oh sweet friend how those words washed over me like water on the ocean shore! As tears welled up in my eyes, I realized this was exactly where I had been all these years. Striving to be good enough. Striving to be worthy enough. Striving to fit in. Striving to reach a dream which felt so far out of reach. And in all my striving, I lost focus on the One who loves me unconditionally. Who died on the cross and opened His arms to me with no strings attached. Those of us who grew up in the church could probably quote Jeremiah 29:11 forwards, backwards, and in our sleep. It’s one of those verses we just like to call on for all variety of situations. “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”  But so many times we stop there. We stop with the promise – God has plans for us. And somewhere, we get all caught up in trying to figure out what those plans are and how to accomplish them. We add to our resumes, to our knowledge, to our calendars, all in an effort to pursue this ever elusive plan God has for our lives.

But what if we are completely missing the point? Perhaps the verses we really need to memorize forwards and backwards are the ones following Jeremiah 29:11. The next two verses say, “12 Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. 13 You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”  God promised us a future, but it is not a future we are to strive for on our own. Our future plans come when we seek and find God, when we call on His name, when we spend quiet moments in prayer. He never intended for us to move ahead on our own. The verse doesn’t say I promised you a future and the only way to get there is to have the perfect resume, the perfect network, and the perfect wardrobe.

No, sweet friend, God is calling us to a different path. A path often unknown and perhaps a bit scary. A path which for me has been a struggle to find because it is a path I cannot control. I cannot work hard enough, hustle fast enough, volunteer long enough to get there. I won’t find my way on my own. My dreams will lay in shattered pieces around a broken soul, tired by the striving, until I sit at the feet of Jesus and offer Him it all. Until I seek Him with my whole heart. Only then will the path start to make sense. Only then will my feet begin to walk and skip and run again.

If you, like me, struggle to be quiet in a world calling us to strive harder, I encourage you today to start small. Sit in quiet for one minute. Reflect on Jeremiah 29:12-13. And together, lets stop striving and start seeking.

 

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You Are a Missionary

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Growing up, the term missionary was reserved for a group of people who left the comforts of America to go serve a foreign people group. I believe God calls people to serve in remote parts of the world and missionary is a very accurate term for them. As a church, we should support and pray for them and continue to send people around the world to serve. But this Sunday, the pastor at my church asked us to consider the fact we were indeed all missionaries.

If Jesus is Lord of your life, you are part of the mission of God. You are a missionary.  Over and over in scripture, we see God as a God of mission and purpose. He is on a mission to save the lost. And His mission is not reserved for a specific class of people. Matthew 28:18-20, often referred to as the Great Commission asks us to go and make disciples of all nations. Your community is very much a part of all nations and the charge to go and make disciples is not reserved for the few who go, but it is a charge for all who claim to follow Jesus.

Matthew 28: 18 Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.

Maybe you are a missionary called to your children’s school. Or to your workplace. Or to your neighbors. Wherever God has called you to live and serve, there is your mission field. This is your “all nations.”  What would our communities look like if we all stepped into the role and calling of missionary?

The tough part of being a missionary is you must carry a message. A message which some find rude and ignorant. The message of Jesus is hope and love. But it is also one of condemnation for those who do not believe. John 3:16-18 paints this picture clearly,

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned,but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son.

 

Jesus is the answer, but how we communicate the answer matters. 

 

We did not get out of our condemnation on our own. We did not come to salvation based on our own merits. And we cannot carry a message with strings or requirements. I love how my pastor put it, “ Jesus is our ultimate motive, not our ulterior motive. Perhaps loving those around you means they never convert. This does not change our charge as missionaries carrying a message. This does not change the heart we are supposed to have for our communities. And perhaps if we loved people simply because we are loved by Jesus rather than loving them towards conversion, this would change everything.

What does it mean to look at life as a mission field? How can we be people of mission here? Perhaps it starts with the same ways we would propose to be missionaries in foreign lands. We begin to pray for those around us, for our communities, for our leaders. We build relationships with the people in our lives. We survey the areas we live and assess the needs. And then we bring the message to our mission field. We bring it through our lives, our love, our service. We bring it by dropping off a meal to the neighbors or working hard in our jobs or encouraging our children to befriend the lonely kids at school. We see the mom in the drop-off line who needs some extra encouragement today or the neighborhood that needs a voice to help it find its own. Can you imagine how our cities might change if we all viewed them as mission fields? If we stopped complaining about them and started loving them. If we stopped taking from them and started giving to them. I believe it would be revolutionary.

Will you pray with me today and ask the Lord how to live our mission right here? How to step into the role of missionary in our own communities and how to carry His love to those around us? 

 

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Love-Colored Glasses

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The other day I saw a post on Facebook complaining about how awful the city I live in is and several people agreed with the comment. According to the post, it’s a violent, drug-ridden town and you should be afraid to leave your house. Now, I will give you for instance, that our city has been on several top 10 lists for worst place to live, fattest city, most unhappy etc. While I am not entirely sure where this data comes from and am sure not everyone in my city is the nicest person you will ever meet, these lists and the above Facebook post are poor representations of the town I call home. And honestly, the post broke my heart.

Several years ago, I would have sworn up and down I would never settle in this town. I hated it. I wanted out and I wanted out bad. Then I fell in love with the most amazing guy and I began praying for God to change my heart and help me see my town through His eyes.  I took off my rose-colored glasses and put on love-colored glasses. I also started hanging out with a bunch of people who are working hard to make my city better. These are people fighting for progress, development, growth, and community. They are the people who could list off 100 things to do on any given night while others are complaining there is nothing to do in this town. They are the people in the trenches loving and working in some of the toughest parts of the city. They are people opening their homes to all manner of people, those like them and those completely different. And if you asked them, they would all express a sense of love for this dear town.

It’s a not a love springing from circumstances. Our town didn’t suddenly make some top 10 best places to live list. But they, like me, have committed to cultivating love for the people in this city. They are choosing every day to view our city through the lens of love.  We are praying for restoration and wholeness in our city. We are seeking to build community across religious lines, race lines, and socioeconomic lines. We are spending time in the dark places, the places with violence and drugs, we are moving into the neighborhoods and inviting others into our lives. It’s messy, it’s often tough and scary, but it is opening my eyes to how much Jesus must have loved me. He died for me. He gave up His life when I couldn’t care less for Him. He loved humanity-a humanity which would someday be full of drugs, and violence, and slavery, and all manner of evil. And yet, He still died. In His death, He called us to life and He called us to love.  He called us, those who claim to love Him, to love those around us. And each day, as I get ready for my day, I pray for His love to be part of my life. For love colored glasses to be the lens through which I view my co-workers, my friends, the clerk at the grocery store, the city in which I call home. And each day, it gets easier and easier to say with all sincerity, I truly love this community. I want to see it succeed and grow. I want to see it transformed and restored. And I will keep fighting for this because there are so many in our city who need someone, anyone to fight for them.

Friend, wherever you are, will you join me in praying for love-colored glasses? I believe this is the only way Jesus would want us to view our communities. If you live near me and want a practical way to show some love, check out City Serve Day on March 18th. Join a team to serve our community or add your own service project to the list. Let’s show others how much light can change the dark places around us.

We Have Given Up

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Dear American Evangelical,

It seems we have given up. A quick perusal of social media makes this point painstakingly obvious to some, but perhaps you are still not convinced.  For a minute, just consider what giving up might look like to others.

We have given up our missional calling for political pursuits.

We have given up being pro-neighbor to be pro-life.

We have given up the calling of the church for the calling of the state.

We have given up Christian first for Republican first.

We have given up the simplicity of the gospel for the complexity of dos and do nots.

We have given up kindness for rightness.

We have given up coffee with a friend for Facebook status updates.

We have given up true community for churches that meet our current wants.

We have given up intimacy with our Savior for intimacy with our screens.

We have given up God bless those who persecute you for God bless America.

We have given up Jesus for a president.

We have given up our humanity for political laws.

We have given up the beauty of following an unsafe Savior for the promise of safe borders.

We have given up the kingdom of God for the kingdom of the world.

 

You see dear friends, it seems we have given up. When the world desperately needs Jesus followers, we have become something else. When those around us desperately need love, community, and safe places, we have become outspoken political billboards. Perhaps this is harsh. And maybe it is. Some of you have not given up. And I am here to cheer you on. Keep going. Keep working in the trenches and on the edges and in the places no one sees. But for much of the “church” it’s time to give up.

 

Give up being right for being kind and listening.

Give up the Facebook status for a conversation over coffee.

Give up the harsh words for love.

Give up the sword for the cross.

Give up comfort for the Comforter.

Give up safety for the One who promised to never leave us.

 

It’s time for the church to pursue the kingdom of God, not the kingdom of this world. It’s time for us to take up our crosses and follow a Savior who modeled a life of sacrifice, risk, and love. A Savior who died for others instead of bringing political revolution. A Savior who came in on a donkey. Who gave seats at the table to the outcast, the woman, the less than, the uneducated, the poor, and who chose an unwed teenager to be the mother of the greatest gift to humanity. You see, dear friend, if you want to change our land, it starts not in the White House, but in the lowly manger.

Scandalous and Scornful

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graceScandalous. Scornful. Unusual.

 

And no, I am not talking about any current political or celebrity figure.

The book of Matthew and thus the New Testament begins with a genealogy. You know, the ever long passages of scripture going “so-and-so begat so-and-so.” The passages we are tempted to ignore, skim over, or skip past to get to the meaningful text. The verses we can use to support our stance or encourage or admonish. Who cares about a long list of someone’s family tree. The thing is, you can learn a lot about a person by exploring their ancestry. You can find out a lot about someone by knowing where they came from or who was in their family line.  Association via one’s family can make you famous or rich or notable. It can also make you poor or small or forgotten.  So to fully understand Jesus, we need to look at those included in his family tree. Don’t worry, I know He was the son of God and Divine incarnate, but Matthew starts his gospel with Jesus’ earthly family tree and thus we should pay attention.

 

There are two unique things about Jesus’ family tree. His lineage included women, which never happened and included a bunch of rowdy, off-color, far-from-perfect characters. I want to spend some time on the first point. Today we might not think twice about including women in a family tree. Matriarchs throughout history have done incredible things and stepped up to often change the course of history itself. But in Jesus’ day, women were second class citizens. They were rarely included as disciples of great teachers or participants in great works. Not only did Jesus welcome and include women as disciples, he gave them an often equal seat at the table, instructing, including, and admonishing them much as he did to the men who followed him.

 

In Jesus’ family tree- five specific women are named and counted among those who were part of his lineage. These were not your spiritual matriarchs. According to author Stephen Binz, each of these women was considered an outsider and each had a scandalous and scornful marital or sexual history.  The women included in the line of Christ were prostitutes, adulteresses, unwed mothers-women today we may view with scorn and disgust. Women today we may not even welcome in our churches, much less give them an equal seat at the table.

Jesus’ family tree begins the gospel in the most beautiful way. It paints a picture of a kingdom in which the scandalous, the scornful, the corrupt, and the sinner are welcomed in and given value and dignity. Jesus called the invisible and those with no voice. He spent His days with the lowly, the less than, the sinner. And in a society where women were often nameless and worthless, Jesus gave them a voice, courage, and eternal purpose.

Do you see why this matters so much? When we claim to follow Jesus, we must know who we are following and we must understand not only his ministry, but his family tree. There is no room for any of us to feel disqualified or unqualified or to remove a seat from someone else. Jesus didn’t come blasting society or fighting for laws-instead, he quietly invited the lowly and the forgotten into his community. He gave them a seat and a purpose. He gave prostitutes the chance to save His people and an unwed mother the chance to be the mother of the Savior of the world. He started a revolution by including those who had been discounted.

 

Scandalous. Scornful. Unusual.

 

Those are the women in the line of Christ. And my friend, those are still who Jesus is continually calling to himself.

 

Trash Your Ideal Self

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A few days ago, I sent a group of friends a picture of part of my kitchen. I have included it for full-disclosure. I would like to write a long post about how this was a rare sight and normally my kitchen is perfect, clean, and could be found on Pinterest, but far more often, the picture is the reality.

I imagine, for a lot of you, your kitchenday-to-day reality may look similar to my kitchen. Perhaps it’s a different room in your house or perhaps it’s a part of your soul that feels messy and disorganized.  It’s a part of your life you will never find on social media. And I get it. I have spent countless hours attempting to clean up my house, my life, my resume and picturing what life would be like when I just got “there”.  When I had the perfect house, the perfect job, the perfect group of friends, the perfect life.  I had created a version of my ideal self in my head and spent so many hours striving towards becoming like the image in my mind.

Sometimes I caught a glimpse of my ideal self in real life. In fleeting moments, she would show up and I would feel as though I was finally getting somewhere. My striving was finally paying off.  To my delight, I went to a conference and the speaker started her talk by asking us all to imagine our ideal selves. Oh, I had this one down. I knew exactly who the ideal Amanda was and could write you a book on her life. I could also write you a book on the guilt and regret and shame I carried around because my everyday self seemed so far from this version of my ideal self.

After a long lead up, the speaker said “your ideal self is not your most influential self.”

Read that again and let it sink in. “Your ideal self is not your most influential self.”

2 Corinthians 12:9-10 says “9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

We often think when we get picked or when we arrive “there” or when we achieve our most ideal self, then we will be our most influential self. Then we will be who God called us to be and in the meantime, we just keep striving and trying to get better.  What if we were really at our best when we were our weakest? What if we stopped striving for our ideal self and realized when God saved us, it changed everything. When we were at our worst Christ died for us and this is where our freedom lies. This is where we operate with grace and freedom and humility. When we realize it is not about me or about becoming my ideal self, but instead it is about staring at the face of God and walking in the divine role He gave us as bearers of His image.

As the speaker closed out her session, I stood there with tears in my eyes. This was the point. The striving, the soul-crushing pace I operated at, the hustling had gotten me nowhere, but tired, lonely, and feeling even farther from where I wanted to be. But the goal should not be to reach this version of my ideal self. The goal should be to stare at the face of Jesus. This is where I find my peace and rest and acceptance. This is where I find approval and purpose. Not in the striving, not in the outside things, but in the most important thing-Jesus.

Hence the disaster of my kitchen. I had spent the better part of the day resting and praying and studying my Bible. My kitchen didn’t look like that when I went to bed that night, but it was nowhere near ready for a magazine photo shoot. And honestly it may never be. Because as I left the conference, I left my ideal self in the trash and came home with more peace and purpose than I have had in a long time.

Independent. Multi-Tasker.

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This was the description of women summed up by an author in a book I was listening to the other day. She polled a bunch of women and the theme which emerged was independent, multi-tasker. In other words, women think they can do it all and they can do it all alone.

Talk about feeling hit by a ton of bricks. I could totally relate. I feel the exact same way. All.the.time. Although I might replace the word can with the word should. I should do it all and I should do it alone. Isn’t that the message our culture sends?  Be the perfect wife, mom, employee, church attendee etc. Have a Pinterest-worthy house at all times and host Pinterest worthy events on top of every other thing you sign up to do. Join a board, volunteer, build a resume, or stay home and educate, attend play-groups, take adorable Instagram worthy photos all.the.time.  Are you tired yet? Because I am. Just writing that paragraph made me want to take a nap. But then again, if I take a nap, something else on my ever-lengthening to-do list won’t get accomplished. The author’s description of women was followed by the point of the chapter-Brave enough women know their limits.

Do you know your limits? Do you know when you have blown past what you can handle? Or did you give up a long time ago on limits because it seemed society doesn’t seem to care? Sure, I could find 100 articles on self-care, but for each article on self-care, I could find another on building your brand or image or resume or how to ensure your child is successful or talented or sociable. I will be the first to admit a discussion on limits coming from me is laughable at best. Aside from a husband, 15 month old, and full-time job, I co-chair a board for a local young professional group, co-lead a working group for a different non-profit, and lead a 3rd non-profit I founded a couple of years ago.  Limits? What limits?

Instead of listening to my inner soul and perhaps even the wise counsel of those around me, I am one who tends to keep pushing, keep going, and keep saying yes. That is until recently, I ran smack into a wall.  Not a literal wall, but a wall nonetheless. A wall forcing me to pause. To get help. To start to figure out what limits look like in my own life. I felt God asking me to place all my life in His hands and trust when it was all said and done, I would be okay. The things He was asking of me were not supposed to be so burdensome. They were not meant to destroy my health and marriage and relationship with those around me. But the expectations I had of myself, they were beginning to do those very things.

Matthew 11:28 says “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.” Friend, are you weary today? Are you burdened? Perhaps for all of us, the bravest thing we can do in these moments is come to Jesus. To let Him take our burdens, societal expectations, families, and relationships. To give Him our future and stop acting like if we don’t do it, the world will fall apart. Jesus called us to love Him first and love those around us second. He didn’t call us to resumes, jobs, groups, or volunteer activities. Those things are not wrong, but they must come after we seek Him.

So today, let’s lay our burdens at His feet and just rest. Take a deep breath and trust in His hands it will all be okay.

 

One Christian’s Response to the 2016 Election

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presidentYa’ll, listen. If you haven’t noticed, there is this tiny little political election happening this year. I am not sure how you could have missed it. I don’t watch TV, but social media is rife with articles, posts, opinions, and every other type of political fanfare you can imagine. I normally try to shy away from all things political,  but today I hit a breaking point.

Someone on my FB feed posted an article about Trump with a line about how could you not support him after reading this article. Curious by nature and still slightly in shock at the candidates we have to choose from, I clicked on the article.  Perhaps it would sway my decision. I do not believe the article was written by a believer, but the person who posted it is someone whose faith I admire. The article was full of hate. And anger. And all sorts of awful things. But the line in the article which compelled me to fling my thoughts into the giant swirl of thoughts surrounding this election was this “Donald Trump is the last hope for America.

Hours later, I still can’t decide if I want to cry or punch a wall or listen to some really depressing music with a glass of wine.  How in the world did we get to a place where we willingly support and post articles promoting Trump as the last hope for America?!? I do not care whether you love him or hate him quite frankly. I won’t try to convince you how to vote. Those things are your personal prerogative, but please, I beg you, stop calling Trump the last hope for America.

No human will EVER be the last hope for America. Because humans are not the source of hope. Hope lies in the person and work of Jesus Christ. Period. His death and resurrection provided hope. Jesus brings peace and love and an example of how to live.  His words should be readily on our lips as we talk about this election..

I am the way, the truth, and the light..”

“If they persecuted me, they will persecute you..”

“In this world, you will have many troubles, but take heart, I have overcome the world..”

“I will never leave you nor forsake you..”

“Go and make disciples of all nations..”

“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. And love your neighbor as yourself.”

 

As Jesus followers, we are called to a higher standard. We are commanded to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are called to make disciples of all nations. We are called to peace. We are called to follow Jesus. And Jesus didn’t promise us a life without persecution or hardship or governments that disagree with us. He promised us His peace and love and intimacy.  The outcome of this election could very well shape history in America. It could very well be less than favorable for the American church. But friends, this is not something to fear. This is reason to fall on our face and pray. This is reason to be a church known by our love and actions, not by our words and hate. This is reason to defend the cause of the poor, care for orphans and widows, and seek justice in our nation. This is a call to the believer to place your hope in Jesus and to live as though God still sits on throne. He knows the outcome. He will not be surprised. And He will never leave nor forsake us.

Trump is not the last hope for America. Jesus is the last and only hope for America.