Thursday, February 27, 2014

Learning to Linger

So often I don't take the time to linger. And, like the children, enjoy the beauty of creation. There are so many distractions in the world, sometimes it's good to just take a break and rest.

There is beauty in to be found in the world. And, those things have been given to us to enjoy and bring God glory.

And, part of that beauty is you.

We are His masterpiece (Ephesians 2:10). Bought with the precious blood of Christ. By faith in Him, we are a new creation. Displaying His awesome power and glory to save and restore.

It helps to know who we are. To slow down. Turn off the distractions. And just be.

Let's finish off February by joining in the challenge and remember to slow down and sit down for a bit. You won't regret it!

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Perspective: The Key to Living Life to the Fullest

93 million miles away. 

The sun. 
A distant star, burning bright. 
And, yet. 
We feel its warmth. 
And, by its light, 
We see. 
This brilliant orb,
At times, 
Eclipsed by the moon, 
This great ball of fire in the sky
Covered by the hand,
A circle small enough,
It seems,
To control. 
Is more powerful than
Any man.
Whose gravity governs 
The paths of our solar system.
How much greater
Is the glory of the Lord
Our God
Which outshines
The heavens?

It's all perspective as the saying goes. The problems in our lives, the things that consume us, that weigh us down, may be bigger as we think. The more we dwell on them, the larger they become.

Now, I'm not for pretense or slapping on a smile all of the time. I believe there is a time for everything under the sun (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8). I have known my fair share joy and sorrow. And, from the worry lines on my brow, I confess that many times, my response has been dependent on my circumstances.

It's hard to see beyond our experience, isn't it?

Three things are crucial to our perception: orthodoxy, orthopathos, and orthopraxy.

Orthodoxy—Right Thoughts or Beliefs

Orthopathos—Right Feelings

Orthopraxy —Right Actions

The problem is, not one of us has holds to these perfectly.

Mankind has fallen.

In the beginning, we were deceived by the devil and believed the lie that God is holding out on us. At times, we still believe that lie.

We confess to know God, but our deeds are far from godly. We wage war with one another in big ways and small ways. We do not extend our hands to the poor. We do not like or understand God's ways, so we seek to make Him in our own image.

We become overly familiar with God and do not give Him the reverence He is due. When we don't get our way, we think Him distant or a tyrant and shake our fists in the air. We turn our backs on Him. We think, He must not love us. We are unwilling to do the things He wants because we love those things more than Him.

We need redemption.

It seems we have fallen so far, but the greater the fall, the more we perceive our need for a Savior.

And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.” Mark 2:17 ESV

When we are awakened to the fact that we are sinners, we feel both ashamed of ourselves and heavily burdened with a guilty conscience.

But, Jesus is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18, Psalm 147:3, Isaiah 61:1)

He loves us.

So much that He laid down His life for us to save us from our sins.

We need not fear in coming to Him.

Confessing our sins.

Acknowledging His righteousness.

Receiving His grace.

See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and so we are. 1 John 3:1 ESV

The moment we first put our faith, our hope, our trust in Christ, we become children of God. We experience our heavenly Father's love for us, the sacrificial love of Christ, the fullness of the Holy Spirit.

It's like the caterpillar that begins the great metamorphosis that ends in a new creation, a butterfly. When we die to ourselves and live for Christ, we change into something beautiful.

We begin to love God and others.

We love because He first loved us. 1 John 4:19 ESV

Our wants, our needs, our desires become secondary to living a sacrificial life for the sake of the Kingdom of Christ our King (Romans 12:1).

We need not fear. Our Good Shepherd, who laid down His life for us will take care of all our needs (John 10:11).

Let us come to Jesus...and may we live life to the fullest in light of His glory and grace...

    "The name of the Lord is a strong tower; the righteous man runs into it and is safe."
      (Proverbs 18:10)

Saturday, February 22, 2014

No More Shame

More True Identity Reminders. Because this is who we are. Those who have put their trust 
in Christ
do not need to be ashamed.
This is the power of the gospel
to save. 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

A Return to Love: When Shame is a Good Thing

"Our failures can be the delicious entry 
into a new comprehension of God's grace." 
~ Dr. Dan B. Allender, Bold Love

This Valentine's Day, I wanted to make something sweet for my love.
I'd been saving some Ghirardelli chips to make chocolate-covered strawberries. But, I still needed to purchase the berries. And, I needed to hurry. The Captain would be home from work soon.  
Shopping with four children is no easy task. Being a homeschool mom, there's really no time during a weekday that I don't have my children with me, so I brought them along, hoping for the best.
As we entered the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market (yes, I have a history with Wal-Mart), Sunshine Girl, with huge grin, had a bubble wand to her lips and was about to blow. 
“No bubbles in grocery stores. Please, hand it over,” I stuck out my hand.
Her grin turned to a pout. “Aw, Mom.”
I didn't mean to be a stick in the mud, but blowing bubbles in a grocery store was an accident waiting to happen.
The moment she gave it to me, I felt cold slippery liquid spill out all over my hand. The container was upside down and the lid must have been loose.
No worries. I’ll just wipe my hand off on my pants.

The moment I did, my rings slipped off my finger and rolled under the cart, veering off in different directions.
Not just any rings, my wedding and engagement rings.
Wasting no time, I got down on my hands and knees. Right away, I spotted my diamond engagement ring in front of the cart.

But, where was my wedding ring?

It was the one my Grandpa Ernie gave to me after my Nonna died…the one I held in my jewelry box until the day before my wedding, when I gave it to my fiance’ for safe keeping…the one he slipped on my finger as he vowed to love me for the rest of my life…
I looked to the left and right.
And, there, underneath the roses display, I spotted it. The golden circle of promise. As I picked it up, I breathed in the perfume of roses.

Relieved, I slid both rings back on my finger. 
“That was close,” said a man who stood by the roses and watched the whole fiasco.
I gently wiped the bubble residue off my rings on my T-shirt. “Yeah. I almost lost my wedding and engagement rings...on Valentine’s Day.”
He smiled and walked away with roses for his sweetheart.
I held onto my rings, thankful that they weren't lost for good.
I never take my rings off, unless I am doing something where I think I might lose them. My ring-finger feels naked without them.
Ugh. Nakedness. It is a lot like an uncomfortable emotion I've been sorting through lately.
We feel emotionally naked when we’re ashamed.
In last week's post, I shared the negative side of shame.
But, sometimes, shame can be a good thing.
It can be an indicator that something is wrong in our heart.
We can be thinking wrong things or doing something wrong. Usually the thinking comes before the doing.
When we intentionally sin, it's like we forget who we are. Or worse, we don't want to be reminded of it.

The moment we put our hope in Christ, we become His bride. We belong to Him.

When we choose sin over following His ways, we are betraying His love.
It's like slipping off our wedding ring for a moment of adulterous pleasure with the idol of our choosing.
And, one way or another, everyone does it. We fail to love God with our whole heart and love our neighbor as ourselves.
In light of God's Word, we can see that no one measures up.

We all fall short of Who we should be...perfect, sinless, and Christ 
(Psalm 119: 4-6, Romans 3:23).

This realization causes shame. Especially, if we feel caught red-handed.

But, in this case, shame can be a good thing. It can lead us down the right path.

Shame accentuates our need to be covered, reminds us of our fallenness, and points us back to the heart of God. (Genesis 3:1-24, Psalm 32:1,5)

His grace is sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9, Ephesians 2:4-8)
To cover our shame.

We can return to our True Love.
No matter what we've done.
We belong to Him.
He'll always take us back.

Though we fail Him time and again, His promises to us are eternal.

We must let go of our pride, 
Our fear of shame, 
And come to Christ, 
Broken, needy,
With bare, naked hearts,
Being completely honest,
No matter how ashamed,
Owning up to what we've done, and
Trusting in His unfailing love. (Psalm 62:8, Colossians 3:1,2)

This kind of humility is the key to restoration.

A broken and contrite spirit He will not despise (Psalm 51:17).

He will listen, and continue to hold us by our hand, never letting go. (Is. 41:13)

And He will forgive us and lead us onto the path to healing (1 John 1:9) of whatever caused us to mistrust Him (1 Peter 2:24) and choose to sin.

Though it's hard to let go, when we've done wrong and confessed our sins,
It is finished.
We are forgiven. 
We can move forward with grace.

Jesus took the blame for our sin and endured our shame so that we could live for Him in freedom and in joy. 
(Heb. 12:2, 2 Corinthians 5;21)

Christ always knew Who He Was, Who He Is, and Who He will Be for eternity (John 8:58, Luke 22: 66-71, Revelation 1:7,8, Revelation 21:1-8).

And, when we know who we are, the warm wash of shame fades away into quiet confidence in His love.

Faith in Christ is 
The path to peace.
Peace is found in Him,
Not fear nor shame,
For they disappear 
In light of His grace. 
He is the King of Peace,
For He covers over 
The broken places 
In our hearts.
And, fills us 
With His love.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Love Note From Our Savior

In honor of Valentine's Day, here's a love note from the Greatest Lover of our souls (from the 31 True Identity Reminders) to all who need daily
reminders (like myself) of how much we are loved. 

It is true. You are loved. 

You can know this every day of your life, the moment you put your hope in Christ. 

Pin it by your mirror to see who you really are. On the sun visor in your car. On the
refrigerator. Anywhere 
where you will see it. 
Live by it. 
Hope in it.


Friday, February 7, 2014

Know Your Name: The Power of Grace Over Shame

Buckwheat pancakes.

Doesn't sound very appetizing, does it?

But, I was excited to hear that they were gluten-free. And, I'm always looking for ways to cook for my children with food allergies.

So, I looked up a recipe for Buckwheat pancakes on Pinterest.

As I stirred the batter, I imagined delighted faces ooing and ahhing over my culinary creation.

"Kid's come and get it," I called, holding out a steaming plate of hot pancakes.

Little man was the first to try.

He took a bite and then paused, not chewing. He opened his mouth and let the piece fall out.

"Yuck, Mom." The look on his face was of pure disgust.

"Gross," said another.

I tried a bite and choked it down. My eyes started to water. It burned going down my throat.

Still, the buckwheat wasn't cheap, so I tried to make myself like it by smothering the pancake in a puddle of maple syrup.

Nope. It didn't help. They tasted awful.

I checked the recipe again. When I looked at the measuring utensils, I realized my mistake.

It called for 3 tsp. of baking soda.

I picked up the measuring spoon with remnants of baking soda inside.

It was a Tablespoon not a teaspoon.

It's no wonder they were gross.

I had to throw all the batter away.

And, I had to tell the children what happened. That it was All. My. Fault.

This was not the first time I botched a recipe, either.

I closed my eyes and clenched my teeth, bracing myself for impact. For the onslaught of criticism.

But, the kids only giggled when I told them my mistake.

Being shamed so many times in my life for making mistakes, even little ones, has conditioned me to expect that's what I get when I mess up.

I won't get into the who, what, when where, why, or how, but over the years, I've come to realize that I have some big issues with


The old rhyme, sticks and stones will break your bones, but words can never hurt me is a lie.

Words can do far more than we realize.

So I decided to try to discover the truth behind words and how to turn
from shame
to grace.

I have found that one of the greatest sources for truth is the Bible.

The book of Proverbs is full of truth about words. 

"The words of the reckless pierce like swords..." (Proverbs 12:18)

 Words, like swords, can jab into our very being and wound our soul.

"...a perverse tongue crushes the spirit." (Proverbs 15:4)

Careless words can crush our spirit, causing us to even despair of life.

Conversely, soothing words can rejuvenate us and give us hope.

"The tongue of the wise brings healing." (Proverbs 12:18)

"The soothing tongue is a tree of life." (Proverbs 15:4)

There is power in words to save or destroy.

That includes words

Spoken to us by others,

Told to ourselves, or

Declared by our Maker.

Others can tell us who we are, they can name us.

Whether right or wrong, we have a choice.

We can take on the name or we can discard it because we know our true identity.

In that moment, whether spoken out loud or in our own mind, we can reinforce the truth or the lie.

If we hear words whether spoken or conveyed through body language that make us feel unloved, worthless, or cast away, you can be sure that shame will follow.

But, sometimes, we can be alone and something will trigger shame, something that reminds us of other times we've been wounded.

Truth comes before emotion, however painful or uncomfortable.

Truth is always true.

Emotions, such as shame can sometimes lie and lead us down the wrong path (Jeremiah 17:9).

Seeking what God says about who we are is the key to release us from the prison of shame.

We can discover the beautiful truth of our identity in Christ by spending time with Him in His Word, letting the truth sink deep down into our heart.

We can speak the truth to ourselves and believe our true Identity.

I found these 31 Truths to keep me walking on the right path (Proverbs 3:5-8).

Turning to Christ and acknowledging His Lordship gives us a new name.

"If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved." (Romans 10:9, 10)

When we preach the gospel to ourselves, we agree with God that our salvation is in Christ alone. We are saved from the punishment of our sins (Romans 6:23) and freed from living a life filled with shame, fear, and disgrace.

Our new name is


That is who we are and there is no shame in that.

There is only love.

The love of God.

Because we bear His name.

No longer not enough, we are saved by his grace through the gift of faith (Ephesians 2:8, 9).

I tried again. The dreaded Buckwheat. This time it wasn't half-bad. Little man liked it at least.

Ah, back to the Pinterest board. But, hey. There is a time to cook and a time to look for a more appetizing recipe.

And, there's no shame in that.