To the Momma I Overheard Talking to Her Son

To the Momma I Overheard Talking to Her Son

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I saw you holding your little boy’s hand as you briskly walked into the store. How old is he? Maybe 4? You both looked like winter pros as you braved the cold weather and harsh wind bundled in thick jackets, scarves, gloves and boots.

My girls left the house with coats and boots and gloves too.

But my 1 year old refused to keep her boots on. And only 70% of their other winter apparel could be accounted for before we even got out of the car.

So my littlest one was just wrapped in a fluffy blanket like a pink burrito.

Motherhood is all about improvising and going with the flow, don’t you think? I do. So I counted the burrito wrapped baby as a total win. But just so you know, my mom-experience appreciated how put together you both were. Not one element of your assemble resembled a food item. Impressive.

You stopped at the end of our aisle and said something to your son. I was slowly browsing towards your direction in search of a cutting board and knives. (I love to cook and make amazing dinners every night. Just kidding, I hate cooking and they were for my chef of a husband.)

I noticed you take both of your son’s hands abruptly and bend down right in front of him, getting right on his level. You leaned in and literally couldn’t get any closer to his face. His eyes immediately honed into you and his attention was all yours. I couldn’t hear what you were saying, but I assumed by his short little nods and your very intentional tone that he was being reprimanded. So I looked away and tried to give you both privacy and space. Well, as much privacy and space as possible in a crowded store during the height of the Christmas season.

I scanned the shelf trying to decide which cutting board was the prettiest—because I’m sure esthetics is the most important feature of a cutting board and I wasn’t going to let my husband down. (You’re welcome, babe.) As I spotted the one, I took a couple steps forward and bent down to grab it. As I reached out, I could hear you. Very clearly. And what you were saying brought me to tears.

You were right in his face. You even gave your son’s hands a few shakes. “I am so incredibly proud of you. Do you know that? You are amazing and that was just awesome. Man, I’m proud of you!”

He was staring at you, shaking his head. Absorbing it all.

I was absorbing it all.

Right there in the middle of the retail chaos and the hustle and bustle, among all the speeding carts full of “stuff” that won’t last and “things” that just don’t matter—you were giving your son the most beautiful gifts. Things that will last. Things that do matter.

Affirmation. Appreciation. You were giving love.

And your son wasn’t the only one that walked away from that conversation with a fuller heart. I did too.

Oh, momma. In a world that can feel so cold, so harsh, your words warmed my very soul.

You truly are changing your part of the world.

Keep speaking words of life to him. Keep telling him how amazing he is. Keep telling him how proud you are of him. Keep taking the time to stop in the middle of life’s chaos to show him how appreciated and loved he is. You’re affecting him. And you’re affecting those of us lucky enough to be standing in your same aisle.

You’ve challenged me to stay focused and chase what matters. To stop in this moment and find what is right and beautiful and good—and openly acknowledge it. And I am forever grateful to you.

Merry Christmas, fellow momma. Stay warm. And stay you.

Adoption

Adoption

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“Every adoption starts with loss. There’s so much gain, so much good that happens through adoption…but every story always starts with loss.”

Her words pierced my heart and for the rest of the night, they echoed in my mind.

My dear friend works at an adoption agency. As someone who wants to adopt in the future, I try to absorb any information and insight she shares about the details and process of adopting.

Before I started learning more about the reality of adopting, I suppose the pretty, uncontaminated scenario I had laid out in my head went something like this:

My husband and I decide it’s time to expand our family through adoption. The birth-parents of the child are unable to take care of him/her, so there my husband and I are, waiting with arms wide open to welcome him/her into our family. The child feels loved, safe and taken care. The transition is beautiful and wonderful. And we all live happily ever after.

But I’ve learned that that is almost never the case.

Some of the children come from an environment that was destructive before they were even born. Some have never heard, “I love you.” Some have experienced neglect and pain that no child should even be aware of.

Far too many of these little ones are broken, hurt, scared. It is on the rarest of occasions that details and circumstances line up perfectly and an adoption is quickly tied up with a sweet, little bow. And oh, how wonderful those stories are. But really, even those stories begin with loss.

These precious children aren’t just looking for someone to tuck them into to bed every night or coach their little league team. They are desperate for someone to dive into the messiness & brokenness of their lives; to enter into their pain and carry the burden with them. Someone to walk alongside them in their journey of healing and restoration. They need someone to fiercely love them and not only allow them into their family, but be willing to have their own lives changed forever.

Before anything is ever gained, there is loss. Before any healing takes place, there is pain. Before restoration takes place, there is brokenness.

Doesn’t that paint such a vibrant picture of our own need for adoption by God?

Every single one of us is broken, desperate for a Savior who is willing to dive into our messiness and brokenness and love us fiercely. A Savior who willingly put on flesh and walked down dirt roads. A Savior who entered into our pain and died the most horrendous death for us, so that we may be healed, restored, adopted. How’s that for fierce love?

I think it would absurd for an prospective adoptive parent to require the child to resolve his/her own physical and emotional wounds before adoption can take place…or expect the children’s life to instantly be restored the moment the child walks into their new home. It’s a process. It takes time, patience, love.

The Lord wants us exactly where we’re at. No matter what our life looks like, he wants to adopt us the way we are.

“Every adoption starts with loss.”

Bring your loss to Jesus. It’s not too big. It’s not to vast. Bring your brokenness, pain and emptiness. Allow him to transform your loss into wholeness like only he can.

Because after all, “…there is so much gain, so much good that happens through adoption.”

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 3:1-2

Grieving Good Friday

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Good Friday.

The day Jesus died.

We know the story. And we know what happens 3 days later.

For years, I read through the story of Jesus’ crucifixion in a steady rhythm with the resurrection already in my mind. It eased the sting of the words. It made it a little happier to read. I resisted soaking in the visual of my Savior being mocked and tortured…for me. My stomach churned to settle into that place.

Oh yes, Sunday was coming. But Friday came first.

The explosion of Christ’s glory was coming. But his blood came first.

I wonder how “good” the day Jesus was crucified looked to his followers.

Their King, their Savior, was betrayed, captured, mocked, spit on, tortured, then crucified. That doesn’t bring the word “good” to mind.

It looked like it was all over. It looked like darkness had won.

The Messiah; the one they had hoped for, the one they believed in, the one they gave everything up for; was now hanging lifelessly on a cross.

The forehead that wrinkled in empathy for the hurting and the lost; the forehead that crinkled when he laughed and smiled, was now wrapped with a crown of thorns. Blood poured out, streaming down the length of his mangled body.

The strong arms that had embraced little children were now stretched out. The same rough, carpenter hands that touched blind eyes to give them sight and that washed the feet of his disciples, were now nailed to the cross.

The feet that had walked countless miles to bring hope to the hurting were also now nailed together.

The voice that commanded the winds and the waves, “Peace! Be still!”; that called into the tomb, “Lazarus, come out!”, was now crying out from the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

We have come to call today Good Friday. We call it good because that day changed everything.

On the day He died, we were brought to Life.

My heart and mind settle into that raw place of his crucifixion. My stomach still churns knowing He took the punishment I deserved. And my heart aches with raw gratitude knowing how desperately I need his salvation. It breaks me. It brings me to tears.

Chants of victory are coming…

…but groaning cries of bitter mourning came first.

So today, allow yourself to grieve and feel the weight of that day – the day that changed everything.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Facebook Makes Me Flawless

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“You’re life is so perfect.”

I met the comment with a curious half smile and confused twisted eyebrows. My life? Perfect?

“What in the world gave you that idea?”, I replied.

“I’m always looking at the pictures you post on Facebook and you’re always so happy. Your family and life is just…perfect.”

My heart sunk when I realized what had happened.

Facebook made me flawless.

At least appear to be.

I had unintentionally created an image of myself, my family and my life that does not exist. I didn’t mean to misrepresent myself, but I did. It’s so easy to display an edited, more viewer friendly version of yourself; skimming the top of your day without getting into the depths of the messy details.

So here’s the truth.

I only post pretty pictures of myself. If my muffin top is hanging over my pants in a photo, I either crop it or delete the photo altogether. If the angle or lighting is unflattering, not a problem…I’ll just use a filter. I’m even guilty of digitally correcting a blemish and lightening the bags under my eyes. Yup. I’ve done that.

I only post happy family photos. Facebook is a great way to stay connected to loved ones who live hundreds of miles away. But the pictures I share are usually the kinds you keep in your wallet. I’ve never posted one of my toddler peeing on the floor or having a mega meltdown because I won’t give her 7 cookies…or let her eat the dog’s food. I’ve never posted a picture of both my daughters scream crying for 10 long, looooong minutes while I also breakdown and cry like a baby thinking to myself, “How can I balance it all today?” Those are not happy wallet worthy photos, so they don’t make the cut.

I only post positive status updates. I’ll share a Bible verse that has encouraged me that week, but rarely will I mention that the reason the verse hit me so powerfully is because I’ve felt empty for weeks- emotionally depleted, physically worn. I question whether I’m qualified to make a difference. I battle self-doubt and insecurity in my appearance and in my journey as a mother, a wife, a woman. But none of that is consistently seen. You just get the pretty glimpse, not the ugly stare down.

Behind every pretty, happy photo that’s posted, there are a dozen other life-snapshots filled with toddler tantrums, tired makeup-less faces, arguments, self-doubt and muffin tops.

That is the real me. That is my real life. My messy, imperfect, love-filled life.

“The reason we struggle with insecurity is because we compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reel.” — Steven Furtick

So let’s try to remember that the hearts on the other side of the computer screens have a lot going on. And heaven knows how many outtakes it took to get one good photo to share with the digital world. If we want to know the real person, let’s stop observing them through a glass screen and grab a cup of coffee with them instead. Face to face, heart to heart. Not to try to find their flaws, but to get involved in the realness. Because that’s what life is about, connecting and loving each other in our beautiful messes.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”

John 13:34&35

To Love the Unlovable

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I recently watched a very complicated situation unfold. I wasn’t directly involved- more of a bystander. But a friend I love dearly was in the heart of it, so I got an up close view of the whole thing.

A close relative of my friend was injured and needed to be cared for during their recovery process. In the best of circumstances, her relative could still easily be defined as “unlikable.” So throw in a traumatic experience, unstable emotions and a resistant attitude, and you’ve got someone who makes it miserable to be around (to put it nicely).

Throughout the recovery process, nothing seemed to go smoothly. There were physical setbacks, unexpected financial blows, constant opposition and emotional outbursts.

And that was just the surface of the situation. There were layers upon layers of emotional scars that ran deep, adding to the messiness of it all. The person who had inflicted those scars now lay in a hospital bed, unable to do basic things for themselves.

My friend, who could have been justifiably angry from a lifetime of pain, chose to bear the scars with mercy, and love someone who didn’t deserve it. Once broken and fragile, my friend now embodied strength and restoration. She had found healing, peace and redemption over the years. That’s what happens when Jesus gets involved in our messes. Sitting in that hospital room, she poured out grace and love without restraint.

Now before I go on, let me just say, having boundaries is a very good thing. I don’t think the “right thing” or “loving thing” means to keep going back to an unhealthy or dangerous situation or relationship. Sometimes, staying away is the harder thing to do. Sometimes, it’s best to get out of a relationship completely because it’s physically or emotionally dangerous. Other times, love can only be offered through limited interaction like short conversations or through prayers for the person. But other times, love physically comes face to face with the unlovable.

That is the love I saw. Given freely and unconditionally. I watched as the emotionally wounded chose to love the wounder over and over.

She made the decision to love.

It wasn’t the feel good kind of love that’s filled with hugs and rainbows and bunnies.

It was the raw, messy, pain filled, undeserving kind of love.

It was Jesus kind of love.

And it shook me.

But if I can be totally honest, I don’t know if I would have loved as well as she did. If put in that situation, I hope I would love well. I desperately hope I would. However, there were numerous times I watched her be horribly mistreated and my heart thought, “She should just walk away. It’s not her responsibility. She’s the one who has been hurt. Her relative is just finally reaping what they sowed for years. They don’t deserve such a love. It isn’t fair.”

But during one of those thoughts, the Lord very clearly interrupted, “but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

The example of love I saw that left me in awe was human to human. Can you believe that there is a love even fiercer, stronger and eternal? I too, have been given a completely undeserved love by a holy God. I make mistake after mistake, but He continues to love me.

Is that fair? Not at all.

Do I deserve it? Absolutely not.

This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:16-18

He is a perfect God loving a very, VERY imperfect person. Yet, He calls me His daughter, His beloved. He has not only cared for me when I was most unlikable, He died for me when I was most unlovable. He took the punishment of death that I deserved. Death. That is what I deserved.

How’s that for love.

Raw, messy, never-ending, undeserved love.

Freely given…

…despite mistakes.

…despite failures.

…despite resistance.

…despite messing up again…and again…and again.

…despite never ever being able to come close to deserving it.

It’s easy for me to accept something good that I don’t deserve, but the moment I see someone else given the same good thing, I quickly point out the injustice.

Oh, the love of Jesus!

Yeah, it’s not fair or just or deserved. And thank goodness. My life depends on it…and so does yours.

A Love Note To Who I Used To Be

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To the girl I used to be,

I know you lay in bed at night and cry. You are surrounded by people, but feel so lonely. Your heart feels empty, yet it still aches. It’s constantly seeking love, but only finds counterfeit versions and temporary highs that make you feel loved in that short-lived moment.

But you are loved.

You long to be cherished, but you think the only way that will happen is if you keep pretending, keep acting like the girl you wish you could be. You don’t show them the real you, because you are terrified that it’s not enough, that you are not enough.

But you are enough.

The idea that someone would embrace your quirks, your imperfections, the real you, almost feels like a silly dream. But still, you dream. You work tirelessly to be beautiful, because you desperately desire for someone to think that you are beautiful.

But you are beautiful.

You will give in to fear and run away. You will not finish your college degree with everyone and I’m afraid that’s something you’ll regret for years. But it’s ok. Because of that, you will learn to work harder for what you want. You will learn to appreciate time, money and perseverance much more. You will have moments of feeling like you’re not as academically smart as everyone else, but you will soon realize the truth.

You are smart.

While many others take the direct route in life, you’ve always taken the scenic route. It may not be like you imagined, but please look around and enjoy the scenery. Don’t get caught up on little details.

You whisper to God through your tears, “Why are You holding on to me so tightly?”

But He will always hold you tightly.

Sweet girl, life is going to get hard. There will be a time where your world falls apart. But I promise, it will be ok. You will feel like a wanderer, like you have no home. Keep putting one foot in front of the other. One day you will look back and see that it was those first painful steps that set the direction in your wild adventure. With every step, even the ones you hesitate taking or the ones that make you stumble, your legs will grow stronger, your heart will become braver and your spirit will feel freer.

He will always hold you tightly.

You will marry your best friend. Don’t panic about not knowing how to cook, he loves cooking and you will not starve to death. You will find out that marriage is hard, but so worth it. Fight for it everyday. Focus on Jesus and your marriage will be clearer too. (And keep doing your impressions and telling your jokes. He secretly finds them hilarious.)

You will have babies. You will lose babies. You have never known heartache like you will during this time. But remember, He remains faithful. You will be able to more fiercely love others who are hurting because you too bear wounds. You will experience the heart of Jesus in ways you otherwise wouldn’t have. And it will change you. You will taste bitterness, but you will also taste the sweetest of blessings. Your babies will teach you about yourself, about God, and unconditional love.

He will always hold you tightly.

No matter what, love Jesus. He is your compass. You will see His fingerprints all over your life. So stay close to Him. And if you ever need a reminder, just listen. The constant rhythm of His heartbeat echoes His steadfast love for you.

You are loved. You are beautiful. You are enough. And He will always hold you tightly.

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me: And I give unto them eternal life; and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand.”  John 10:27-29

…but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Romans 5:8

Fall Afresh

Hello my friend,

I’m so excited to share this with you. I’ve been experiencing God’s spirit in a new & fresh way! There hasn’t been one thing in particular that has kindled the fire in my heart. It’s been a bunch of little details & decisions I’ve made that have added up & created some spectacular results! The way I feel & see the world is so different when I’m intentional about my relationship with God instead of putting it on cruise-control & letting it just coast along. I’m so encouraged & wanted to share that encouragement with you.

This is a list & prayer I made this week. It started as a simple list of acknowledging & thanking God for who He is & what He has done for me. But it quickly grew into a passionate battle cry & fiery prayer.

Be encouraged, sweet friend! Our God is constantly calling us to His heart. Even when we wander. Even when we ignore Him. Even when we get so caught up in the to-dos of our life that we forget to put Him above it all. So this week, I encourage you sit down & think through a few things. Reprioritize your day. Make sure that He is in the forefront of your mind as you run errands. Play worship music in the background. If you can, dive into your Bible a few times throughout the day instead of stopping at your morning devotion. Pray out loud with your friend, even if it’s a little uncomfortable. Dig deeper. Lean into Him.

I pray that you too will experience our God’s spirit in a fresh & new way this week! I can’t wait to hear all about it!

 

Oh Savior, your grace for me is scandalous.
It gave me eternal life that I don’t deserve. (John 3:16&17)

Lord, your mercy is indescribable.
It took the punishment that I did deserve. (Psalm 103:8-12)

Father, you have adopted me as your daughter.
My place in your family has been bought with your very blood. (John 1:12)

El Roi, you see into the deepest parts of my soul.
You are acquainted with my every thought & action. (Hebrews 4:13)

Teacher, your patience for me doesn’t end.
It allows me to persevere despite mistakes & failures. (2 Peter 3:9)

God, your Spirit breathes life into my bones.
It nudges me to keep going when I want to give up. (Hebrews 33:4)

El Shaddai, you provide for my every need.
I lack no good thing when I follow you. (Philippians 4:19)

Immanuel, you are always with me.
Your presence gives me courage & strength. (Joshua 1:9)

El Rachum, your compassion envelops my pain.
It shows me that you are near to the brokenhearted. (Psalm 34:18)

Mighty God, your faithfulness transcends our emotions, situations & circumstances.
You work everything for the good of those who love you. (Romans 8:28)

Jesus, your peace isn’t confined to my understanding.
It penetrates deeper than the pain & is more present than my heartache. (Philippians 4:7)

 

Father God,

You embody all these beautiful things. Yet you, a perfect God, intimately involve yourself in my imperfect life. You walk alongside me in every pain, hardship & trial I face. Even if the only reason you would lay your hand on me is to comfort me, it would be inconceivable that Almighty God would touch the flesh of fallen humanity. But you are love. And you go further than what I could ever ask for or understand. You wrap your arms around me to protect me, to redeem me & to change me from the inside out.

It is by your mercy that I take my next breath. It is for glory that I live today. Build me up & set my heart on fire for you! Infuse your Word so deeply inside of me that it becomes a part of my very being. May it sink into the marrow of my bones & settle into the core of my heart & mind. You have set a calling upon my life, so there is no power on earth or in hell than can stop me from stepping into my destiny!

You are faithful & what you start, you finish. My identity is found in you, so use my heart to reflect yours.

In Jesus’ name, amen.

Your First Love

From a very young age, I have loved to draw & write.

When I was in kindergarten, our class was asked to draw something related to Christmas. One kid’s picture was going to be chosen to be in the newspaper. I decided to draw the silhouettes of an angel & wise men on their way to see baby Jesus. I remember thinking it was such a good idea. Brilliant even. And when I was finished with my creation, feelings of pride & joy burst from my heart as I gazed upon my final product. It was a masterpiece. Exactly as I had envisioned it. It was probably my best work so far. And to my thrill, but not total surprise, I won & it was printed in the newspaper. My pride was pure & innocent. And I just knew I would be chosen, because I loved to draw. That’s how it worked, right?

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Don’t you love how simple some things were when you were young?

All the way through high school I wrote poems, short stories & anything on my heart really. Writing was a part of my identity. Every spare moment I had (& sometimes during moments that I should have been focusing on something else) you could find me in a corner somewhere with my pens, notepad & art book. When I wrote or drew, something inside of me came alive. I knew it was my calling. I didn’t know how it was going to fit into a “job”. But I was sure that God placed those desires in my heart, so He was going to work it out.

Well, life started happening. And those corner art sessions became few & far between.

On the rare occasions that I did write or draw, that fiery passion burned again. I would always ask myself, “Why don’t I do this any more? I love it so much. I’m meant to do this.”

But I’ll tell you why I stopped.

The world told me that I had to grow up. It stole that childlike passion & confidence. My adult brain began to compare my abilities to others, which then stole all the joy & fun of doing what I loved.

The world told me that I wouldn’t be able to make money at it. If it didn’t fit into a rational, logical, productive, grown up category in life, I had to toss it out the window. I couldn’t get wrapped up in the whimsy of what I loved to do when there were more “productive” things that needed to get done.

Can I just say one thing?

It isn’t true!

The truth is, the Lord has put talents, passions, loves & abilities inside of each of us for a reason! We don’t have to work out the details or worry about if it’s productive enough or profitable enough or constructive enough.

Drawing is therapeutic to me. It calms me down & allows my mind to beautifully wander. Writing allows me to express my heart in a way that I wouldn’t otherwise know how to do. They are both precious to me & are therefore, valuable, productive & worthwhile.

So let me ask you…

What do YOU love to do? What is it that makes you happy & enjoy the moment for what it is? What have you let go of in your life that used to bring you passion & meaning? What have you set aside that used to make you come alive?

I encourage you to take some time this weekend & rediscover your love. Draw, paint, write. Go for a bike ride, play your guitar, go build something. Sign up for that class, get that certification, step out of your comfort zone. Dare to be silly. Have fun. Enjoy it. If it brings you joy or even makes you smile, bump it up on your to-do list. Give it higher priority.

A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a crushed spirit dries up the bones.
Proverbs 17:22

After my sweet God, redirected me back to my love of writing & drawing, I feel more whole now. Let Him do the same for you.

Please leave a comment below & share what it is YOU love to do!

I declare my God as faithful!

Love, Lust & Fairytales

I just saw an interview with two actors promoting a popular new tv show they’re in. I heard the name of the show before, but didn’t have any idea what it was about. The interview that followed left me…speechless. As the host started to go into detail, I couldn’t stop listening.
Has someone ever talked to you & you’re thinking to yourself, “Is this person really saying this or am I hallucinating?” Yeah… it was that kind of moment.
The host explained how in this episode, the two characters experience a powerful emotional connection with one another & find a sense of excitement in one another. They begin to find happiness in their new relationship. Oh, but one tiny detail: they’re both married to other people. Which apparently, shouldn’t stop anything, but it does “complicate” the beautiful, romantic situation. What starts as an emotional affair, quickly turns into a physical one.
R e a l l y ?
It breaks my heart that this plot is not only considered ok, but that the characters are somehow presented as admirable for not letting marriage stop them from finding new happiness with someone else. Unfortunately, this show will probably become one of the most watched this season. I have to acknowledge the fact that these shows are being created because they know what people are drawn to & what will get millions of viewers. 
Can I be totally transparent with you? For a while now, the Lord has been revealing areas of my heart that I really need to guard & treasure. I have intentionally stopped watching shows & movies that allow me to be caught up in a romantic plot. I don’t even mean plots where people are cheating on their spouses- I’ve never been a fan of those. I’ve had to be aware of even the common “chick flick”. I really haven’t shared that with too many people because I felt embarrassed to stop watching something that most people don’t give a second thought to, something considered harmless. And I almost felt alone; like something was wrong with me if I couldn’t watch a cute love story without it effecting my emotions so deeply.
Now before I go on, let me say this: every person’s heart is different. Every person has to be aware of their own weak spots in their own hearts & lives. And the Holy Spirit is so tender & loving to show each of us those areas if we listen. So please understand that I am not bashing “chick flicks” in any way & I am not saying that a romantic storyline is bad. I’m merely sharing what the Lord is teaching me about my own heart & emotions & what I now know to be aware of.
As a woman, it is very easy for me to allow my emotions & thoughts to be carried away in these romantic plots. It is easy for my heartstrings to be pulled or for my heart to flutter as I watch a love story unfold. That is how God designed us. We are definitely emotional beings. And that’s a beautiful thing. But as with every good thing, it can be manipulated or used in a way that it wasn’t designed to be.
There are 2 main things that entangle me: The first one is feeling insecure about myself. I’m not as captivating in real life as that actress is to her movie star lover. Her body, her sense of humor, her quirks, her flawless hair & face all form this unattainable, unrealistic image that I compare myself to. If I could change this or that about myself, I would be more charming, more intriguing & just…more. My second problem is that it’s very easy to begin comparing these perfectly produced Hollywood shows or movies to my own life or marriage, whether I realize it or not.
Even though men are generally more “physical beings”, it’s so easy to judge a man for physically lusting after a woman. It’s very easy to say, “that’s a sin”. But the word “lust” means so much more than simply “sexual desire”. By definition it means, “to passionately desire something”. So if I’m being honest with myself, isn’t it just as wrong for me to emotionally lust after that perfect, heart-fluttering, goose bump giving, fairytale of a relationship…even if I was created to be an “emotional being?” Just because it’s more socially acceptable to emotionally lust after somethingthan it is to physically lust after someone, doesn’t make it any more right. It doesn’t make it a harmless guilty pleasure. It doesn’t make it cleaner or less damaging to my heart.
I saw a really great quote just yesterday. It said, If your marriage doesn’t look like a Fairy Tale or Hollywood movie, just remember that most of those stories are over in two hours or less. Real love takes a lifetime commitment through paying bills, changing diapers, overcoming obstacles and never giving up on each other. That kind of marriage is better than anything Hollywood can create!” { https://www.facebook.com/strongermarriages }
As I asked God to help me guard my heart, He immediately showed me that my mind & thoughts are the doorway straight to my heart & emotions. All those verses that I have read my entire life about keeping my mind steadfast on God & meditating on things that are good, pure, holy…they suddenly started to click. If I’m focused on God’s word & loving my husband, then that is what my heart & emotions will begin to soak up.
I know this will be an ongoing process. But I’m thankful that I’m aware of it now.
So as I continue to ask the Lord to help me guard my mind, heart & emotions, I encourage you to step back & ask God if there is something you need to be aware of that is taking more of your heart than what it should be. It may have nothing to do with watching movies or shows. It could be something entirely different. But your heart is a treasure & your emotions are precious, so guard your mind because it holds the keys to both.

 
Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.” Proverbs 4:23

Right Now

I am on my knees. Lifting my eyes up to the One who created me. Desperately in need of & overwhelming thankful for the grace & love He is pouring over me. Like the refreshment that cool water brings to a weary traveler, I too am looking upwards as heaven rains on me. Wounds are being cleaned out & starting to heal. It’s a healing I have never known. The truth of God’s word is finding new places in my heart to consume… parts of my heart that were previously closed off.
Are you in a place right now that feels deathly dry? Or maybe you feel a thousand miles away from anyone even when you’re standing in a crowd of people. Maybe the messiness in your life has caused you to step away from loving, growing or accepting yourself & others. Don’t wait until you feel like you have cleaned up your heart & life enough to approach the throne of God. That time will never come. Don’t wait until you can muster up the energy on your own to be able to “handle” the things you know need attention. It won’t happen. He wants you exactly as you are, at this exact moment. Healing & renewal can come from no one else except Jesus. It can come from nothing else except for His endless love.
Endless love. It does not run out. Ever. No matter what you say or do. It does not stop. He is just as passionate about you on your good days as He is for you on the days you feel less-than. Your mess, your desires, your baggage, your pain, your anger, your anxiety, your imperfections, your regrets; they are grains of sand compared to the ocean of love & grace Jesus has for you.
 

“Understand, therefore, that the Lord your God is indeed God. He is the faithful God who keeps his covenant for a thousand generations and lavishes his unfailing love on those who love him and obey his commands.” Deuteronomy 7:9

No matter what you’re facing this week, Jesus is there. He is already there. He is the there with you in the pain. And is there in the healing. He is there in your unknowns. They are not unknowns to Him. He is there, my beautiful sister.
 
You are worth it. You are beautiful. I declare my God as faithful.