Know Yourself, and Then Be You

Today I’d like to hand my virtual pen over to my dear friend and fellow writer, Emily Meyer. Emily and I met years ago during our days at Liberty University, and thanks to modern technology we have been able to stay connected as sisters and fellow dreamers and writers. You can (and SHOULD) follow Emily at www.emilypmeyer.com. Take it away, Emily! 

Personality tests. They’re a thing. I’ve filled out the bubbles for two formats of personality questionnaires that have nailed me. I’m an ENFJ on the Myers-Briggs test and an Enneagram 1. After taking these quizzes, the summary of my personality assignment doesn’t tell me anything that I did not already know about myself, but it does give me a good point of reference to direct others that might want to understand me a little better, as well as a good personal inventory summation.

Here’s what these tests teach us about our identities: we want to be known and understood.

Not many wish to walk through life unknown or misunderstood, do they?

We crave connection with others. We long for a proper understanding both internally and externally of who we are and why we are here.

Getting to know yourself better is critical to gaining perspective in how to best serve others with the unique compilation of humanity, heart, talents, and skills God has created inside of you. Self examination helps make way for deeper, more intentional spheres of influence because it offers the best launch pad for connecting your unique character qualities and abilities with the needs of others.

As you get to know yourself, maybe you’ll discover you’re a really good story teller and connect with someone who needs to learn truth or wisdom that can best be understood by hearing your story as it connects with God’s story.

Maybe you’ll gain a deeper understanding of your desire for justice and watch it go much further than Facebook rants and on to help a voiceless soul in the middle of Asia be liberated from sex slavery because of your rally cry.

Could your introverted self find deeper fellowship with the Lord as you bring what you quietly ache for before His throne?

Perhaps you’ll become more familiar with your nurturing side and be encouraged to become a nurse or physician that uses your training to connect with a person who needs physical help. Maybe you’ll find your lap filled with children as you teach them about shapes, colors, words, and Jesus. Or a nursing home might be a little less lonely because you show up to sit with someone whose memory is gone but need for people isn’t.

What would happen if your extroverted nature became a catalyst for gathering people to teach them a helpful skill or even about eternity?

That creative side of yours might just create a work of art that catches the eye of someone who simply needed to see something beautiful in their grey world that day.

Do you think that being an ambivert might offer time to collect your thoughts and time to share wisdom with someone who is desperately searching for direction.

Shakespeare penned these words, “This above all: to thine own self be true, And it must follow, as the night the day, Thou canst not then be false to any man.” I think he needed to develop those sentiments a little further, but he’s mostly right. Mostly in the sense that there’s no faking who you really are in the end. But there’s a little more to it than just being who you really are. When you know who you really are: good, bad, and ugly, you must consider the need for transformation to become the best version of you… the one you were created to be.

“God created you to be something He didn’t create anyone else to be.” A Pastor in Africa said that to my husband and me years ago.

If you sift this statement from our African brother and Shakespeare’s phrase together, you come a little closer to what Jesus teaches is the best method of recognizing who you are and why you are here…

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another.” Ephesians 4:17-25

You can’t run from the personality style that God has created you with…it’s what makes you you. Don’t pretend to be someone you aren’t.

Equally, you can’t run fast enough toward Jesus as you throw the things behind that tend to hinder you from the best relationships and most impactful ways of living and greatest understanding of why you’re here now.

Be true to yourself, but be truer to the One who made you. As you walk in truth, you’ll gain a deeper understanding of the person you were created to be and how you were meant to live. You’ll identify better both with yourself and others as you live in the truth of who you have been created to be and the One you are becoming more like. Be you, let Christ be Himself in you and then, your life will be-youtiful.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How To Wait Well

It’s 8am. We’re all gathered in the mud room. Snow pants, boots, hats, and gloves fly out of the plastic storage bin, landing in heaps on the ceramic tile floor. We should have been in the car five minutes ago, but my oldest son can’t find one of his gloves. I wait,  anxiously tapping my fingers.

I can feel the tension rising like the first bubbles of boiling water. “Zip up your coat,” I tell my son for the third time. I’m trying my darnedest to be patient, but waiting on two little boys to put on forty thousand pieces of snow gear was not factored into my plans for the morning.

The frustration boils out of me. I know I shouldn’t say anything, but my feelings get the best of me.

Tick-tock! Get those shoes ON. Let’s GO!” I bark.

I instantly regret letting my words fly, reminded that I have lots to learn about patience and waiting.

Waiting is hard. Waiting on small things like little boys gearing up to leave in the mornings is frustrating. But waiting on big things for long seasons? That kind of waiting is excruciating.

Whether we’re waiting for little ones to hurry along, waiting for a miracle, waiting for healing, waiting for a breakthrough, waiting for the pain to end, or waiting for the adventure to begin we all must wait. Most of us hate waiting. But perhaps waiting is the very thing that we need, and maybe, just maybe, there’s a way to wait well. Here are a few things I’m learning about how to wait well.

Wait In Stillness

Waiting well requires waiting in stillness. When we are waiting, we can be tempted to hurry the process along, grab the bull by the horns, do whatever we can to move forward. We don’t like feeling out of control, so we tend to strive anxiously to get past the waiting room.

But what if waiting is really a bold and beautiful invitation to be still with God?

Perhaps we must wait so that we don’t miss God in the miracle. Waiting for God and waiting with God are two different things. Being still gives us an opportunity to learn His heart while we wait for Him to move. We all love God’s miracles; the miracles make us fans. But the waiting in stillness allows us to know Him: His heart, His motives. It’s in the waiting that we build intimacy.

Wait Actively 

Waiting in stillness and waiting actively are two sides of the same coin. Active waiting requires intentionality. Waiting well is not passive. We must actively create margin to be still. We must actively pursue opening our Bibles to let God speak His promises over us. We must actively pray and open our hearts, raw and exposed, to the Lord.

Active waiting means letting God do what only God can do, while we do what we can to cooperate in the process. Many times that simply means showing up to do the very next right thing, whatever that might be: speaking kind words when you want to snap, showing up and working faithfully at your less-than-dream-job, or even seeking counseling or coaching. Waiting is moment-by-moment, and the sum of what we do in those moments determines whether we will reap the rewards of waiting well.

Wait Patiently

I’ve recently been letting Jillian Michaels kick my tail through her Yoga Meltdown workouts–body weight training through power yoga. Jillian coaches users through difficult poses and movements and then closes out each set with having us hold each pose. As I hold each pose, muscles shaking, Jillian continues coaching and talking. I don’t always listen; many times I’m consciously thinking, “Stop talking, Jillian! I’m dying!” (dramatic. I know).

But Jillian knows something about waiting in that uncomfortable, difficult position: the waiting through the pain and discomfort is making me stronger.

The Greek word for patience is “humomone.” It means “to remain under.” Seasons of waiting are seasons of remaining under God’s authority and leadership; remaining under His careful instruction to hold still in the uncomfortable seasons so that we build strength and endurance.

Breathe, my friend. Press into it. You’re getting stronger.

Wait Collectively 

I’m an extrovert that practically uses jazz-hands every time I walk into a room full of people. But when I’m in painful seasons of waiting, my natural tendency is to withdraw from people. If I am not careful to actively press into community when my feelings say to pull back, I can easily be driven into seasons of depression and extreme loneliness.

Pulling away from community when we are waiting for breakthroughs is one of the most detrimental things we can do. God’s spirit resides in His people, and one of the ways He shows us His love, power, and care is through others. When we pull away from everyone, we shut down the ability to receive God’s encouragement, care, and compassion through them.

Wait Expectantly

If we are to wait well, we must wait expectantly; we wait full of hope, expecting God to come through. We wait by the sea, expecting God to do something, even if that sea parting is the last thing we could ever imagine. We can wait expecting God to come through and to lead us. He didn’t bring you this far to leave you in the desert. We do not wait as orphans, but as beloved children under the watchful eye of an all-loving Father.

Your season of waiting will not last forever, however long it may be. Take courage. God is in the waiting.

Shame, Identity, And Why We Can’t Stop Singing, “This Is Me.”

The Greatest Showman has taken the world by storm as a powerful story of human triumph. If you haven’t seen it, drop everything you’re doing and go see it now. (Because priorities).

Some of you are like me, and you’ve not only seen the movie, but the phrase, “Alexa, play ‘The Greatest Showman‘ soundtrack,” is heard throughout the day…every. single. day.

Full disclosure? I’ve even taken my love of this movie to a whole different level. I came across a video tutorial of some of the choreography for the movie’s flagship song, “This Is Me,” and I’ve been practicing in my living room. No, really.

This Is Me” is a powerful anthem. It is a battle cry for anyone who has ever believed that they are unworthy of love and value,  but who are daring to step beyond the shackles of shame and hiding.

The movie depicts an array of unusual characters that the world has labeled “freaks” and “monsters.” We see Tom Thumb, a twenty-something year old man with dwarf syndrome, whose own mother kept him hidden and even denied having a son. We see Lettie, the bearded lady, who is introduced to us hiding behind her work of cleaning laundry, too ashamed to come out from behind the curtain.

Their outward oddities played a role in their being ostracized, but it was their hidden shame—their belief in their lack of worth, value, or belonging—that really held them prisoner.

We’ve all bought into the same vicious lies at some point or another. I’m going to bet that you have felt the gripping weight of pain, shame, and feeling unworthy at some point in your life.

Perhaps you’re feeling those things right now, tangled up in the darkness that comes when we believe no one will want us, love us, accept us as we are. As Keala Settle begins “This Is Me,” our hearts cry like mourning doves, knowing these words so well:

I am not a stranger to the dark
Hide away, they say
‘Cause we don’t want your broken parts
I’ve learned to be ashamed of all my scars
Run away, they say
No one’ll love you as you are

We create our masks to hide behind. Tom Thumb hid in the confines of a ramshackle house. Lettie hid behind bed linens clipped carefully across a laundry line. Some of us hide behind achievement, others behind addiction. Some hide behind screens, and some behind productivity.

We all have experienced shame that has beaten and silenced our souls into hiding. But we are called to step out of the shadows and into the liberating light of freedom.

Shame suffocates the truth about who we really are.

Ladies and gentlemen, it is time to burst down the barricades; it is time to break free.  It’s time to take our identities back; to send a flood and drown out the shame and the lies with the truth.

On the other side of this screen is a human being made from the very hands that carved out the oceans, who set the galaxies in motion. You are a masterpiece. You are loved simply because you are.

You are loved. Period. And anything that speaks to the contrary is a lie straight from the pit of hell.

You, with your scars and bruises, your mistakes and failures, your baggage, your dreams, your feelings of being too much and not enough all at the same time. Even if you do not believe it, the truth is that you bear the Image of God—His DNA, his fingerprints.

To the person who has been abandoned, abused, and maligned: you are wanted.

To the person secretly questioning if your life matters: you matter more than you can fathom.

To the person consumed with pain and sorrow, hoping to crawl into a cave until you heal, too ashamed to reveal your broken heart to others: it’s time to be brave and step into the light.

To the person striving with everything you’ve got to earn approval, receive affirmation, and learn to be pleasing: in Jesus you can rest from a lifetime of trying to earn the love that is already yours.

To the person whose story has been used as a weapon against you; whose failures have been used as reasons why you are unloveable and too far from grace: Christ has overcome.

We must know the truth, not platitudes, not feel-good-statements, but the Truth Himself. He loves us, He is for us, and we don’t have to jump through hoops for Him.

“This Is Me” is an anthem for all of us; it is a battle cry against anything that would condemn us, shame us, or convince us that there is no hope.

Another round of bullets hits my skin
Well, fire away ’cause today, I won’t let the shame sink in
We are bursting through the barricades and
Reaching for the sun. We are warriors. 
Yeah, that’s what we’ve become

Jesus has broken the chains of barricades holding you as a slave. You are a warrior.

Let’s be done hiding. Let’s be done with shame.

Let’s step into the light and say, “I am brave. I am bruised. I am who I’m meant to be. This is me.” Beloved son or daughter. Uniquely crafted. Wanted. Purposed. Beloved.

The Thrill of Hope

My general rule of thumb is that I can put up my Christmas tree on or after my birthday (November 21). But this year, after all that this year brought, I couldn’t wait to start the festivities of celebrating hope, so my tree has been up since November 14 or so.

It’s been one of the most exhilarating years of my life. I stepped into an exciting new job that I love with NewThing network, a global church planting organization. I have been able to have some great adventures, and work alongside some of the most incredible humans I’ve ever met. Most days I can’t believe that I get to do what I do.

But this year has also been one of the most broken years of my life. Grief, sorrow, and a broken heart have been war-zones of my soul. The enemy has come at me with audacious lies about who I am and what I’m worth. There have been so many days when I have had doubts about my faith, disbelief about God’s love for me personally.

As the smoldering dust clouds of my heart have settled, and glimmers of a new dawn break through, the word I’ve heard God whisper over and over to me has been “hope.” I’ve been holding fast to the promise found in the book of Hebrews: “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul.” God’s love and faithfulness keep me steady when everything inside of me is unsure. My hope is secure and not in vain.

And so as we move into the Advent season, I am ready to celebrate the thrill of hope; the hope that Jesus has come for us. That He still comes for us. Emmanuel. God with us. Now and always. In the brokenness, in the messiness, in our fears and doubts, He is our hope. He is the one who breathes life into dead things; the one who makes rivers in wastelands.

My tired soul is thrilled that my hope has come. Hope is the anthem of my soul.

My heart is beating like a blown speaker
The spirit is willing but the flesh is weaker
A distortion pedal and a pair of wings
And an anthem played on broken strings

My heartbeat, my oxygen
My banner, my home
My freedom, my song
Hope is the anthem of my soul

 

You’re Welcomed To The Table

Happy Thanksgiving! When it comes to the traditional meal, I’m a stuffing kind of girl. Here is my never-fails, family-favorite recipe from The Comfort of Cooking. My husband and children actually cheer when I make it!

The truth is that as much as I pride myself on being a gourmet cook (y’all, I really love food, and I love creating in the kitchen), it’s the cranberry sauce—jellied, straight from a can– that wins for me. You know, where the lines from can show on the purple glob? Classy, right?

In a few hours, Adam, the kids, and I will be with my family, gathered around a table. 17 of us, the adults outnumbered by the kiddos, will be enjoying our Thanksgiving dinner together. It’s going to be beautifully chaotic and incredibly loud (I come from a long-line of strong, loud women. God bless my husband and brothers-in-law). As loud and chaotic as it is, we will be together, and we will love every minute of it.

I’ve been studying the Old Testament book of Zechariah. It’s been a moving book, portraying God as a God that clothes us in clean garments when our accuser stands to our side naming our guilt. (If you struggle with shame, read Zechariah 3, and be set free.)

This morning I was blown away by what I read in Zechariah 10: 8 – 10. It is such an appropriate section for Thanksgiving! God says that he is working to bring His scattered children home. However far we are from Him, whatever mess we are in, God wants us to be at His table. He delights in bringing us to Himself; in bringing us home.

So today, wherever you are, God sees, and He wants you to make your home with Him; to delight in the feast of His goodness and presence. Nothing you have done exempts you from being able to be at home with Him. You are wanted, and your seat at the table is waiting for you.

Thank you for joining me in these little written journeys. My prayer is that today you would know that you are created with purpose, with dignity, with God-given-delight. I pray that you would pause, and receive His invitation to know and be with Him.

 

 

Manifesto For My 32nd Year

Today is my birthday, and while I’ve always loved my birthday, today feels different. Today I feel more overwhelmed with gratitude than I ever remember being on this day. As calls, texts, Facebook posts have come through with well wishes and celebration I have stopped and reflected on the individuals sending such thoughtful messages. So many memories, so much joy, so many miles of life traveled with the people God has allowed me the privilege of knowing. More than I can say, I am thankful.

My 31st year was an unexpected one. A year ago I felt the word “dauntless” would be an important one, but I couldn’t have anticipated the adventures or the sorrow that would require the need for resolute courage. My 31st year has passed, and it was filled with wonderful journeys across the US, new career adventures, bigger dreams, deeper love, greater appreciation of rest and stillness, the grief of tremendous loss, and a keen awareness of my own humanity and frailty.

Through these last 365 days I see that God was in the heights and the depths. He was with me when I was a bundle of nerves 37,000 feet in the air (I’m learning to love flying, but the year didn’t start off that way). He was with me when I was curled up on my bathroom floor crying big, ugly tears during one of the hardest seasons of my life. He was with me when I was with crowds, and with me when I was hidden from them. He was with me when I felt like who He made me to be, and when I felt so broken, frail, and far from that woman.

In the wake of the lessons I learned during year 31, here is my manifesto for 32:

Breathe deep and live slow.

I am 32 and I’m only moving forward. I’ve heard that the years go faster, and I want to appreciate the now. I want to take more mental snapshots of the beautiful, ordinary moments. I want to delight in the mundane as well as the exceptional.

Dig Into Real Community

I’ve moved more than 10 times in the last 14 years. I’m conditioned to start over when I feel that I am no longer “new and shiny.” When my imperfections start to show, I want to run. 31 taught me to have more grit, to dig in, and to trust that there are people who really do want to love me and stay with me, even when I’m broken.

Rest more.

31 pressed on my wounded soul’s belief that my value comes from what I can produce; that I am only as valuable insofar as I contribute. I am a terrible rester, which means I run on fumes… a lot. And that is not how God designed any of us to live, nor is it the truth. I want to stop more often. Be still on a regular basis. Breathe deep. Rest, and continue allowing Him to speak the Truth: that my value comes from the reality that I am His.

See and love people. 

I love humans. A simple moment with a barista this morning ignited my soul. There was nothing spectacular about our conversation; no earth-shattering moment, so to speak. But there was kindness, and a genuine sense that we saw each other with dignity, worth, and value.

I want to take the brief moments I have with people throughout the day and speak life, hope, value, worth, and joy into them. Whether it’s looking someone in the eyes and sincerely asking how they’re doing, whether it’s taking the time to hear a person’s story and pray with them, whether it’s a sincere thank you to the barista handing me my dark roast coffee…people matter. Period.

Delight in my husband.

Oh that man is gifted at loving me. Thank you, Jesus. It takes a strong man to hold fast to my restless ocean of a heart. Adam, you have all of my affection, and I want to delight in being your wife.

Play more.

My obsessive need to clean my house can wait. My kids can’t. They’re growing far too fast and I am powerless to stop it. I will never regret giving them my full attention. I will most certainly regret not doing so.

Honor my health.

I’m generally healthy. I run, I drink water, eat vegetables… But I’m not as flexible as I once was, my right knee crunches, and I can do all of five push ups (which is an improvement. A month ago I could do 1. Yah me). For 32, I want to run farther, grow stronger, stretch more, and remember to take my blasted multivitamins. Oh, and I should probably deny my sweet tooth more often too…

Taste my words & own my thoughts.

My tongue is often too fast, and my mind is often too weak. I want to grow in slowing down before I speak; in tasting my words before I let them fly. I want to speak more grace, and less judgement. I want to speak more hope and less criticism.

I want to think the Truth to myself too. I want to grow in strengthening my mind, filtering my self-talk through what God has declared about me and over me.

Fix my eyes.

I want my eyes to be laser focused on Jesus. I want to intentionally look for Him in the moments of my days. I want to obey. I want to look for hope in the hopeless places, and have eyes to see and ears to hear where God is moving in the hard moments, and delight in the beautiful. I want to keep my eyes on who I’m running for.

And so…here’s to a new trip around the sun. Here’s the 32. Cheers.

Me Too. Now what?

Maybe it’s because I’ve been reading the book Half The Sky as part of a journey I’m on to better educate myself on the global oppression of women.

Or maybe it’s because I have a natural inclination to fight for justice.

Or maybe it’s because I have to sign my name with thousands of other women and say, “Me Too.”

But I am fired up.

“Me too.” It’s not a badge of honor; it’s an admission that something is wrong. When I was a little girl another older, much larger child threatened to hurt me and my family if I didn’t touch him or let him touch me inappropriately during free play at school. He held me down and forced bits of his torn up shoes into my mouth. I was terrified, and didn’t tell a soul for years until my mom happened to come across my journal and read about the terrible event.

In high school it was “normal” for guys to comment about my body, both high school students or older men that would come into the cafe that I worked at.

In college I had a stalker who used threatening language to attempt to manipulate me and make me afraid of him.

In my early professional career, another employee–my boss— asked a married man to evaluate my body. Thank the Lord that man stood up for himself and for me and declared that moment to be highly inappropriate. My boss was later fired.

I now work in the ministry world. In Evangelical circles standing up for the defense of women and women’s rights can be a touchy subject. Most church leaders want to avoid being labeled as “man haters” or “leftist.” But regardless of political or theological lines, it is an irrefutable truth that women throughout the world are objectified, abused, and often oppressed. The church cannot be silent on this issue when one in five women sitting in sanctuary seats every weekend has, or will be, raped. 1 in 3 has experienced some level of sexual harassment, and 1 in 6 will be stalked.

The Church (meaning the collective group of people who profess Jesus as King) has a responsibility to stand up and speak out against violence and predatory behavior faced by women and girls around the world. I don’t want to pretend that I have the answers, but may I suggest a starting place? 

Listen. Thousands of women are telling us that they have been on the receiving end of some level of sexual harassment, assault, or otherwise predatory behavior. Thousands of women aren’t making this up. Please do not silence them. Please do not brush this issue off as women being “too sensitive.” Listen. Ask questions.

Men in particular, I realize that not all men act in these ways. I realize that many, dare I say most, of you value and protect women. As I think about the men in my life, most all of you speak value and worth into my life, and demonstrate tremendous protection and appreciation towards me and other women you know. But as this conversation grows louder and louder, can I encourage you to seek out ways to be more than “good guys?” Start by listening and striving to understand the systematic ways that your sisters have been mistreated, and ask God for the courage to stand against it alongside of them.

 

 

 

On Prayer & Friendship

I’ve been thinking a lot about friendship lately. “Friend”  is a term we throw around loosely, like it’s a common reality. The more that I talk to people about friendship, the more I’m realizing what a gift genuine friendship is.

I want safe friends who I can say anything to, who know my baggage and help me unpack it, who correct my wrong thinking, and champion my best. I want those friends who love my children, and who frequent my table. I want vacation-together friends, laugh until it hurts, but safe-to-cry with when everything hits the fan friends.

And every once in a while I catch a glimpse that those types of friends do exist.

One of the most profound realizations about friendship I have ever had happened in a women’s restroom. I was working in an office, and it was a particularly challenging day. I had been sitting at my desk blinking back tears of frustration and sadness, feeling all kinds of big emotions, and I stepped away to the women’s room to pull myself together. A friend of mine who has an emotional radar as spot-on as a sniper walked in. Without asking me anything she let out a big sigh, and put her arms around me.

I had planned to keep my battle to myself, get my act together, and finish the work day, but she entered my war zone. She asked if she could pray with me, and I swear the ground shook beneath my feet with the power of the words she prayed over me. She declared war against the lies, against the darkness that was shadowing my heart and mind that day. I was emotionally exhausted, and she took up arms to fight for me.

It was a profound moment. A humbling one. And one full of tremendous power, love, and a fierce boldness that I do not take for granted.

When I saw the new Wonder Woman movie I remembered that moment with my friend.  No major spoilers, but there’s a battle scene during WWII where allied forces are exhausted, scared, and haven’t gained ground in months. Wonder Woman, seeing their exhaustion and need,  steps out of the trenches and starts marching across the field taking blow after blow from enemy fire so that they could gain some ground.

When they were at their weakest she stepped in the gap and fought for them, taking hit after hit so they could regain their footing to fight back themselves.

That is what my dear friend did for me that day. She stepped into my battle and fought for me. Without knowing it, she completely changed the way I define friendship, and brought clarity to the type of friend I want to have, and the type of friend that I want to be.

When Jesus was in the Garden of Gethsemane the night he was arrested, he asked his disciples to pray. That used to seem like a docile request to me, but now I realize that he was asking his friends to step into the war zone with him in the most powerful way they could. Like those men, I often fall asleep on the job. I often neglect the weapon of prayer that I have to wield against the darkness. But time and time again I see that God has called us to arms. He has called us to fight with and for one another in powerful ways that shake the strongholds of Hell and break the chains that bind us.

So today, keep your eyes open. Be alert. And whether the people around you know you’re doing it or not, wage war on their behalf. If you’re the one in the battle, invite trusted people into your trenches and ask them to declare victory over you with the authority of Heaven through their prayers.

 

 

 

Ditch The Label

We’ve all had to rock those awesome white name tags at events. You walk in, and you’re given a white sticker and a Sharpie to write your name so that as you make your way through the crowd other people can identify you. Most of the time we write the name we go by: Haley, Adam, Kristyn, Troy…and if you’re like me, you forget to take it off, wash the laundry, and end up googling “laundry solutions for Dummies.”

But what would you write if you wrote who you really think you are? If you had to write the name that haunts you in the night, the name that is constantly whispered in the recesses of your mind? Maybe you’d write “Coward.” Or maybe “Lonely.” “Loud.” “Shy.”  “Control freak.” “Mental case.” “Depressed.” “Anxious.”

Mine?  “Unwanted.” Since I was a little girl I have believed that I am expendable. Leave-able. Disposable.

Good gracious, I am done with that heavy label. Jesus has ripped off the tag, and boldly declared over me, “That’s not your name.” The strong love and compassion of my Savior has given me the right name tag: “His.” I may spend the rest of my life picking off the sticky residue left on the shirt of my soul from wearing that vicious lie of a name for too long, but the label is destroyed.

So what is your false label? We all believe something about who we are. The great tragedy is that far too often who we believe we are is far from the truth.

Oh, friend. That label…that thing you’ve believed about yourself all this time, that thing that weighs you down and haunts you in the darkness of night…that’s not your name.

Your name is “Beloved.” Your name is “Cherished One.” Your name is “Redeemed.” “Whole.” “Lovely.” “Desired.”

Your name is “Royalty.”

So when shame and lies come to steal your dreams telling you that you can never escape,  run for the truth and declare, “That is not my name!” Run to Jesus, the only one with the authority to tell you who you really are.

Let’s ditch the tags, and let’s run free.

Run Hard. Love Strong.

Haley

Save Me

I became a Christian when I was 17 years old. In those early days I would take my Bible and my journal to coffee houses and press in, learning more about who this God is that I had fallen in love with; the God who was radically changing my life. Those first few years of following Jesus were like a greenhouse for me. I was changing and being transformed in big ways, and at light speed. For the first time in my life I was beginning to feel healthy and whole.

 

But at some point I started to feel numb. I started to get used to the Gospel. I started to subconsciously say, “Yeah, yeah, yeah. I’ve heard all of this. I know all of this.” I fell into believing that I have a relationship with Jesus, and He saved me (past tense), but I don’t still need saving.

It’s a dangerous road to have found myself  believing that I had become too mature, too wise, too good to still need the Gospel.

I’m thankful that God loves me too much to leave me alone. Through some really difficult and painful circumstances I was reminded that it is only by His grace that I can even approach Him. It is His working in me that had changed me, His mercy that covers my sins.

I. Need. Saving. Yesterday. Today. Tomorrow. In this moment, and now this one…

I need saving when I lose my patience with my children and yell at them without restraint. I need saving when I say those ugly words to my husband just to hurt him. I need saving when I harbor unforgiveness and resentment towards a friend that has hurt me. I need saving when I get so angry at God and disbelieve that He is far more good than I could ever comprehend.

But the best news, and the power of God, is found in that through Jesus, I have the rescue that I need. Every season, every day, every moment.

Last weekend I heard one of the most powerful messages I have ever heard about shame. You NEED to watch this message. At one point Brad Tate says that as Christians we often say, “God takes our sins away,” and that while that is true, it’s deeper than that; God covers our sins through the blood of Jesus. Whether we are close to God and need 2% grace, or whether we are far from God and need 98%, the blood of Jesus fills the gap and makes us righteous.

I ended up drawing this rough sketch in my journal:FullSizeRender.jpg

The idea here was that God’s holiness is like the horizon line when you are looking at the ocean. What you see from the shoreline looks like a straight, level line. Underneath the water, however, are mountains, valleys, and rough terrain with varied gaps between the peaks and the surface of the water. The water fills in the gaps to the surface, making it level.

Jesus’ blood fills in the deepest gaps of our souls to be made right with God. Jesus has made us perfect and we can live in awe and wonder of the Gospel TODAY because we are made right with God apart from anything we could ever do ourselves.

Oh, God, forgive me for neglecting the power of the Gospel in my day-to-day life. Would you help me to live in humble, awed gratitude? I need saving…today and everyday. Thank you for covering my shame. Thank you for making me new. 

Run Hard. Love Strong.
Haley