When You Don’t Want to Wait Any Longer

It’s all so magical, the belly-warming glow of the lights juxtaposed with the sparkling winter chill, bells lingering in the air, chimed from towers and bell choirs, scheming up just the perfect gift for children and friends, imagining their faces a million times before they even open the gift: there is so much to love about Advent and the Christmas season.

I think the most reassuring part is the countdown, the knowing when Christmas and presents and family and cider and joy will finally be here. There is stress in the preparation and travel, but there is a knowing: it will be here soon, and it will all be worth it.

I am thankful for the ritual of Advent, to remind us that waiting has an end, that the thing we long for will come if we are faithful.

But I think our adorable Advent calendars with 25 little doors hiding tiny chocolates are a little misleading. Unless it is a pregnancy, a wedding, or the day of school starts or ends, there are rarely clear beginnings and endings to the biggest things in our lives.

We cannot count down until we meet our future husband or wife. We cannot schedule a date on the calendar for when we will finally be done with infertility and celebrate a pregnancy. We cannot put an end date to the painful season of unemployment when no matter how hard we try, nothing is opening. We can’t say of our estranged spouse or child, ‘Well, at least we know they will be home next year.’ Because we don’t know. We just don’t know.

Most of our lives, the crises, the hardships, the sorrows and joys promise no guarantee of beginning or end. We live day by day, just making it through, at times breath to breath, extracting every last ounce of grace to deal with the disappointment that we are not…there…yet.

This is why we need Hope so badly. We are lost without it. We give up on dreams and quit living when we lose our Hope.

The Pessimist, claiming to be a Realist, says, “Because it has not happened yet, it will probably not happen,” to which Hope replies with confidence, “Each day that passes is one day closer to the longing fulfilled.

Hope is not drunk on idealism, envisioning a perfect future and erasing the pain and ache of the waiting. No, Hope is a perspective, a lens through which to view the world.

Hope can co-exist with waiting, and when we wait in Hope and do not let the waiting jade us, then we can move through time and space toward our desire, all the while becoming the person we must become in order to receive it.

Pessimism feeds on the idea that waiting is empty, that time between now and the arrival of The Longed-For Thing is simply finger-tapping, clock-watching and gut-wrenching ache, all the while entertaining the idea of giving up on desire for fear of letdown’s freefall.

But when we choose to feed Hope and return ourselves to the truth of who we are and who God is, we grow the very thing that readies us for the blessing.

The struggle between now and the blessing we long for is the cocoon of hope and faith.

When we wrestle with our doubt and our anger, when we tenderly let ourselves feel our disappointment but keep it in check, always surrendering it beneath the tide of God’s goodness, the struggle ends with us as champion, released from the season of claustrophobic darkness into something we never knew we wanted: a kinder, bendier, more generous version of ourselves.

Sometimes it feels it takes forever, but in the end, we’ve either become the person who is ready to receive the desire-made-manifest, or in all our fighting, we realize what we thought we wanted all along wasn’t really it at all and discover a new longing to pursue. (I have seen this happen again and again with people who were smitten by someone, longing for their love returned, but as they got to know them, they realized this person was not who they thought they were at all.)

This cocoon of waiting is an essential process for our broken human hearts because imagine if we got exactly what we wanted the precise moment we wanted it? What a curse to get your every wish granted at your beck and call.

No, the waiting is full of becoming, of warring, sculpting, shaping. The edges come off, our truest priorities and values surface, our faces and hearts soften.

The waiting is not merely waiting. It is becoming.

This struggle of waiting, or let’s call it becoming now, is not as much about receiving the thing you long for as it is about engaging with the ache and letting it shape you, letting yourself grow all the stronger and wiser for having trudged this path or wrestled this giant.

So in this New Year, let us not discuss amongst ourselves or our friends what we are waiting for, but who we are becoming as a result of the waiting. Let us not move through life, mired in resentment and disappointment without allowing the wrestling between Now and Then to beautify and enrich us.

Let’s not simply wait, my friends. Let’s Become.

Happy Christmas, Happy New Year, Happy Becoming.

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What Do We Have To Be Thankful For?

{via The Lulu Tree}
{via The Lulu Tree}

They are always smiling, and it doesn’t make sense. Their hips sway, their hands clap together, their eyes sparkle with a strong, resilient hope I rarely see. As the Lulu sisters gather in weekly worship, their hearts overflow.

It doesn’t seem like they should be the joyful ones, the grateful ones, not the mothers with their toes brushing the dirt, not the children who have never owned a new pair of pants. But here they are, incapable of holding in thankfulness and praise.

I always say joy and gratitude aren’t about circumstances. It’s the right thing to say because it’s true. But my heart betrays me when I let the daily disappointments and minor tragedies distract me from the abundance of goodness in which I dwell. My eyes spin wildly around as I list the shortcomings of the day, failures and missed opportunities glaring me in the face.

Instead of basking in the world’s extravagant beauty and my people who love me in their broken yet unconditional ways, my eyes have been trained to spot the lack, the gaps, the not-enough. It’s the result of unrealistic expectations and cultural entitlement, feeding myself lines about what I deserve. For a moment I believe the lie that happiness comes not from enjoyment of what I already have but the pursuit of what I don’t have yet.

I forget that gratitude is nothing more than a set of lenses through which to view the world, the constant recollection of the good that has been done for me by God and others. And that list is unending.

gratitude

Gratitude sees the goodness in the world and in others for one simple reason: it’s looking for it. Gratitude sighs with contentment, looks around pleased and says easily, “I have more than enough.” Gratitude believes goodness wins and doesn’t get flustered or defeated by setbacks and sorrows; it feeds hope and knows tomorrow will be better.

The moment I take off the gratitude lenses and pick up the lenses of entitlement, my contentment evaporates, and my quest for satisfaction turns infinite. I grow restless and despairing.

Being part of this global Lulu family is teaching me that contentment and joy are possible with little and with much, and that gratitude is a choice the heart makes and the eyes follow.

Simply put, Gratitude remembers while entitlement forgets.

Today in the United States, we celebrate Thanksgiving, the holiday dedicated completely to the act of remembering, to retraining our hearts to let our eyes see the good things.

I am so thankful for my Lulu sisters who live the example of thanksgiving and remind me to spot the good and choose joy both in the midst of great abundance and in the face of any trial or need.

While this holiday comes only once a year, I pray our hearts take off the lenses of entitlement and relearn to wear the lenses of gratitude every day. And may we see all the goodness around us because we are looking for it.

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Looking for something to take the edge off the consumer hangover you get the next week? Consider supporting The Lulu Tree for #GivingTuesday (December 1st) you can help raise awareness about The Lulu Tree’s work equipping and educating mothers and preventing future orphans in Uganda. Check out ways to get involved here.

 

 

Don’t Drink The Water

Everyone and every-where possess a unique emotional climate. This atmosphere may be as big as a country, as small as a person, and everything – cities, churches, businesses, families – in between.

It’s something in the environment, a vibe, that something-in-the-air that for most people, goes undetected. Unless they’re looking for it.

The emotional climate of a workplace, church, family or a person can be uplifting and life-giving or exhausting and life-sucking.

In case you’re not sure you’re one of the people who can pick up on this climate, you’re probably more tuned in than you think.

This emotional vibe that others possess is, more or less, how you feel during and after being in a place or with a person.

[click photo for credit]

Do you feel better or worse? What is the name of that feeling: Hope, cynicism, isolation, despair, optimism, creativity, welcome, rejection, anxiety, peace?

Naming it is powerful. Now you know what the predominant attitude will be when you talk with this person or work in this place.

But don’t get caught up in it. Diagnosing the vibe of a place is not the end goal. Knowing what we are surrounded with gives us the opportunity to rise above it. No longer are we the unaware victims, swept up in a culture we don’t see.  

Yet I often hear people say, “This place is sucking the life out of me.” While it may be true, it is usually the statement of someone who has not chosen their own attitude but simply takes on the feel of wherever they are or whomever they are with.

Proverbs tells us that a person who is not in control of their own spirit is like a city with broken-down walls: anything can get in.

Is that you? Do you resonate with the predominant attitudes of whoever you’re with or do you challenge the status quo by bringing your own unique attitude and perspective to the table? Did you even know you had the choice? 

Just because you live or work there doesn’t mean you have to drink the water. You don’t have to think the way everyone else does.

Sure, some will be suspicious of your optimism. A few people will wonder why you refuse to get beat down or jaded. They will think it is a stroke of luck when doors open for you or when your boss gives you a project she doesn’t trust anyone else with. 

The truth is anyone can transcend the culture, the climate, that vibe of heaviness and apathy, fear and resignation. We need not be the unwitting victims of a person or place’s atmosphere.

So how do we rise above? 

First, we have to know the climate exists, put our feelers out and identify it. Name it. (Hopefully it’s making people better but if not, no problem.)

Second, we choose and create a better vibe that radiates from our own personal climate and into the larger environment. We become ones who release good into our world instead of simply absorbing bad.

The trick is naming the vibe and then choosing in advance what you will bring to the conversation or place. Trying to be strong and change the attitude in the moment will probably fail, at least the first few times.  

For me, this vibe comes from knowing God and that deep down, all things are for my good and he can make good of anything. This builds hope and confidence in me. That’s where my personal environment comes from. 

Lest you think this is abstract, fanciful ideas, I can tell you that I’ve chosen this approach at work, and it has greatly increased my influence in my workplace. People are repelled by despair and attracted to hope. So if I choose to bring that, and we all know I’ve struggled deeply for every ounce of hope, then I become the magnet and I get to influence how people think and feel, inform what they think is possible. 

It’s powerful. 

Ghandi called this “being the change you want to see in the world”. So instead of complaining or getting beat down with the predominant attitude of the atmosphere, become your own transformation and watch the climate shift – for the better – around you.

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There’s No Such Thing As Perfect (Until You’re Dead)

Your life is this road, up and awesome one minute, and if only it just stayed that way, but then whoops, you’re down at bottom again. [click photo for credit]
There is no such thing as perfect.

There is no such as a perfect child, a perfect hairstyle, a perfect front yard, a perfect job.

There is no perfect score. No perfect performance.

There are no perfect husbands, and no perfect wives. There is no such thing as a perfect dad or mom.

There are no perfect friends, perfect houses, or perfect neighborhoods.

There is no perfect way to spend your time or your money or your thoughts.

Perfect implies completion, and this side of heaven, we are constantly growing, gaining and losing. As long as you are breathing, you aren’t not done yet.

Yet we are always on the lookout for perfect. We tell ourselves it doesn’t exist, yet we are always disappointed when we don’t find it.

When we are on hold or something is taking a long time, we often assume it is because the perfect thing is being prepared for us. We think if we just wait a little longer, the perfect job/husband/wife/house/opportunity will come along.

I have not found this to be true at all. I have only found that God makes good out of bad. He takes a lot of things that are imperfect and makes them beautiful, and eventually, perfect.

He takes an imperfect husband and an imperfect wife and makes imperfect children. They live together in an imperfect house with an imperfect lawn (and a sink full of dishes that I swear we just did an hour ago.) On Sunday mornings, they go to an imperfect church crammed full of imperfect people who sing along with an imperfect band banging out imperfect songs. And then imperfect pastor has the courage to get up and preach an imperfect message.

Then they all drive in their little imperfect cars back to their imperfect lives and somehow, in the middle of the mess, there is a God, piecing together the pretty good, and the not-that-bad, and oh-heck-no. And what do you know? He makes it good. He is so good at that.

Let us not underestimate the value of adversity. This life is not about arriving on some high hill, buying real estate and squatting there. It is not about “making it”. God is not in the comfort business. He is in the gold-making business. It is in the hot and uncomfortable and tight places we find ourselves in that we can have a chance at coming up gold. It’s the dark and invisible, the high-pressure, underground places where the diamonds form.

This side of heaven there is no perfect anything, at least nothing that will last. But if you stay close, Someone who is perfect will keep working on you until you look just like him, and then you will finally get your Perfect after all.

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What We Mean When We Say We’re Busy

I used to think I was busy, and I used to think that made me important. The busier, the important-er I was. Or so I thought.

When people stopped by my office, they’d apologize for taking my time. They told me they knew I was busy but they would make it quick. I find myself doing that to other people I perceived as busy and important as well.

The truth is, I have a lot to do, but I’m not busy. My proverbial plate is full and spinning and all that, but I’m not busy. Not too busy to make room for people.

Being busy, or acting busy, keeps people at arms length. It sends the message that people are not welcome. One of my primary jobs as a Christian and a social worker is to send a message to people that they are welcome that there is room for them. This is the opposite of busyness.

I don’t want people to apologize for taking my time. I don’t want people to apologize for sitting on my couch and sharing their lives with me. I don’t want to be perceived as somebody who doesn’t have room or time for others.

There might be a pile on my desk and a stack in the sink, but if that doesn’t bother you, I won’t let it bother me.

Because I have to pick.

I can’t be generous with time and while living under a scarcity complex.

I can’t make room and crowd out.

I can’t be hospitable and busy.

So I’m going to pick the one that lets me love.

Five Words Every Mom Needs To Hear

“Do you think I’m a good mom?”

Sitting on the couch one afternoon with my oldest son, I got brave and asked what he really thought of me. I knew he might try to spare my feelings a little, but he’s four. He would tell me the truth. Besides, his opinion was really the only one that mattered.

“Yes, you are a good mom,” he reassured me with a hug. It surprised me how nervous I was to ask. What if I wasn’t a good mom? It took more courage than I expected, but his answer brought relief.

A few days later, the moment was less than precious. He was taking his time in the bathroom, as he has a tendency to do. I was in a rush for some reason, but that is not out of the ordinary either. I could not get him to move, to do whatever I wanted him to do. I huffed out of the bathroom yelling, aware that I was not in control of him but not in control of myself either.

Moments like this make me hate myself a little. Or perhaps the hate is always there, but I don’t see it until times like these. Times when I am impatient and erratic.

It’s times like these where it feels like being “a good mom” is just a fluke and now the real me is showing, “the bad mom”.

I think most of us mothers are secretly afraid we are blowing it, that we’re incompetent and mean and terrible and we don’t have what it takes. At least a lot of the moms I know feel this way. So our bad mom moments only confirm our suspicions. And pity the person – or child – who is around to see us then.

I stomped into the bedroom to give us some distance. I did not feel like talking right now. Instead of taking my I-need-some-space cue, he stood in the doorway and called to me, “You’re a good mom. You’re a good mom.”

I stared back at him. How did he know exactly what to say to my soul? And then I broke down.

What? I didn’t know how to respond as he repeated himself again.

I don’t remember what we fought about that day probably for this reason: these six words from the only person whose opinion matters.

Tears filled my eyes as I realized God was shouting at me with the voice of my four year-old, right over my shame and self-hatred, right past the finger accusing me of sucking at motherhood. “You’re a good mom,” my son, an incarnation of God that day, called to me.

How does a good mom act? Well, if I am a good mom, I can act like one. I can put the “bad mom” in the past, and we can all move on from her. She’s not who I am anyway.

Even when I am yelling at my son, even when I am impatient and brooding and exhausted and out of control, who I am is really “a good mom”. I’m just not acting like myself.

And so are you. You are a good mom. Even when you don’t act like it. When you don’t act kind or compassionate or generous with your kids, it’s not the real you. The real you is redeemed. The real you loves your children with a sacrificial love that you didn’t know you had. The real you stays up late holding tired bodies and wiping tears, doling out medicine and singing lullabies when you wish you were snug in your own bed.

You give and give and give, and most of the time, no one sees you. No one knows. And no one acknowledges. It’s hard work, and your children will never repay you or know how much you gave up. Maybe they won’t even care. And that’s what makes you a good mom. Because you keep showing up and doing it anyway.

Not many people will tell us we are a good mom, not even on Mother’s Day. But we need to know it, don’t we, moms?

I might get flowers on Mother’s Day. Or maybe I’ll get to pick where we go to eat. Maybe someone will send me a Happy Mother’s Day text message, and that will be nice. But I don’t need a bouquet or flowers of my choice. I just want to know I’m doing a good job. I think I am, maybe, but I am insecure. After all, I’m only four in Mom Years.

Maybe you need to hear it too. Mama, you’re doing it. You’re not only doing a good job. You are a good Mom. A good mom. Do you hear me?

And speaking of good moms, I asked you to nominate a mom who inspires you, and I am proud to announce our Momspiration winner, Adele Reiter. She was nominated by her friend, David. Here’s what he had to say:

“My nomination is Adele Reiter. Her resolve and gumption blow me away. She suffers through a difficult and demanding job in order to put food on the table and provide health insurance for her 3-year-old. She’s the primary breadwinner as her fiance is a full-time student. On top of that, she sings in two different bands. She also works out religiously (I’m talking Insanity and half marathons) despite having spinal problems. There have even been times where she’s worked a second job on top of all of that.”

We are proud of you, Adele. You’re a good mom, and we know your daughter thinks so too. Thanks for being a mom who works so hard, all for love. We know it’s hard but you think it’s worth it and you do it anyway. A great big mom’s hats-off to you. Happy Mother’s Day. And thanks for inspiring us. Be looking in the mail for the lovely necklace from The Lulu Tree Boutique – it’s yours. [The purchase of this necklace will go to empower and equip mothers and families in Katwe, Uganda through The Lulu Tree.]

And don’t forget, subscribers are always rewarded. When you subscribe to the blog, and I’ll send you my two eBooks on hope and calling FREE. 

When You Want to Resign From Parenthood, Remember This

My friends and I are constantly dismayed at the behavior of our children. There is always someone crying, something broken, some mess being made that need not be, all because the little darlings seem to have cotton in their ears.

This inability to listen and then obey, seems to reflect on our competency as parents. Granted, most of us have only held the position of parent for a few years – as I’ve said before, I am only four in Mom Years. And my oldest is only four years old. It’s just hard not to have higher expectations for behavior when we’ve had this conversation One Thousand Times.

Look at that mom. Clearly it’s her fault her children are acting like this.

Last night, my girlfriends and I sipped chamomile tea and consoled ourselves about our children who seem to be selfish and entitled and wrong in every way – although we love them dearly, bless their hearts. But really, they do seem to think we only exist to make them happy.

And yet, we are trying so so hard to be good mothers. We are doing everything we can, and yet, they still misbehave. We reassured ourselves that, probably, we were little hellions when we were two and four years old, and look how decent we turned out to be?

The moral we landed on was we couldn’t use our children’s behavior to judge whether or not we were good parents. We would find out when they got older how it all plays out, but until then, Soldier on, good women.

When I got home, I remembered Jesus. Poor Jesus. He had those 12 teenagers to work with, and they were a mess. They were always bickering about who was the greatest, right in front of God, mind you. And even after Jesus multiplied food for a crowd, a few weeks later they were freaking out about how they would feed another crowd.

You could hear the exasperation in his voice some of the time. I used to think Jesus sounded a little mean and impatient in those moments. Until I became a parent.

I guess this is the circle of life, folks, for the children to be doubting and forgetful, and for the parents and teachers who guide them to wring their hands and wonder if everything is actually sinking in. If the children will actually become adults ready for launch.

I take so much comfort in this, knowing Jesus, who was God the whole time and who knew how the story ended, who knew that these were the men and women who would “turn the world upside down”, sometimes got a little frustrated with the children he was readying for the world.

So on the days your children make you want to submit your resignation letter for parenting, remember we all get the same human nature to work with. Even Jesus. The parenting gig is hard, and sometimes we wonder if it’s worth it or if the little ones will grow up, in every sense of that phrase.

But let’s remember not to look at the behavior of our kids as the evidence of our effectiveness as parents, or our worth as humans. Instead, remember Jesus had the same troubles too, and his kids turned out alright.

Two Words That Will Change Your Marriage

My husband’s love languages are words and service. Mine are not. The short story is we’ve had a bit of conflict over how best to love each other in our nearly seven years of marriage.

One of the lessons I learned early on, however, is the power of gratitude for the small things. Once I realized that his acts of love were taking out the trash, doing the dishes or changing a tire, I knew these deserved my heartfelt thanks. Awkwardly at first, I began recognizing the ways he loved me that I hadn’t seen before.

“Thank you for taking out the trash, Babe.”
“Thanks for tucking the kids in to bed.”
“Thank you for paying that bill.”
“Thank you for remembering to set up the kids’ doctor’s appointment.”
“Thank you for arranging a sitter for date night.”

Were any of these actions extraordinary? Any above and beyond? Not really. Except the date night – we all know that’s a small miracle, y’all. But it’s the faithfulness I’m noticing, and I want him to know I see it.

When I’ve talked to friends and patients at work about this generous expression of gratitude, the response is often, “Well, I don’t feel thankful for those things. It doesn’t feel genuine to say that.” Well, that makes the gratitude about you and not your partner. You aren’t saying thanks so you will feel good – you’re saying it for them. So it isn’t necessary for you to feel warm and fuzzy every time.
Their small act of service is their love to you; your thankfulness is your love to them.

Others have responded to my suggestion with, “Well, my spouse should be doing these things anyway. Why should I thank him for it?” That’s true. If marriage is a partnership, both you and your partner should be looking for ways to make the family life run without needing to be asked or thanked. But isn’t it nicer to be acknowledged? 

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The truth is many of us feel lost and unnoticed in our homes, marriages and families. The primary caregiver in most families often lands a surprising amount of the household chores as well, and most of the work goes unacknowledged. At the same time, working partners return daily to jobs they don’t always love because they’ve prioritized their family.

I hear husbands and wives grow weary under the repetitive, thankless burden of the mundane. They know their work is ordinary, but they want someone to notice their contribution. They want to matter. To be appreciated.

And that’s what “Thank you” can do. These two small words spin a world of difference when you use them.

When we express gratitude to our partners for their contributions, however small, we are saying, “I appreciate how you served our family in this way. I see what you are doing, and it matters. Please don’t stop.”

It’s the most basic of psychological laws. Whatever we praise, we reinforce. Whatever we reinforce, we will see more of.

If we ignore the every day acts of service and love that make our little lives go, if we are always waiting for something extraordinary to praise, we will rarely feel grateful.

And here is the biggest thing: as soon as we start telling ourselves we don’t need to thank our spouses for the everyday, we realize we have nothing to thank them for because ordinary everyday living is our life.

These moments of laundry and dishes and errands and school plays and tucking-ins are not the margins. These are all we have together. If we wait until our spouses do something extraordinary in order to express gratitude, we will lose out on the beauty in the every day. And the fact that this person, your best friend, is there to share it with you.

So let’s not miss what’s right in front of us. Look up from this post and around your home. See who’s in the beautiful mess with you, really see the man, the woman across from you, see all they do and all they are and notice the tired but satisfied look on their face. Then say “Thank you”.

Struggling to find your calling or your place in the world? I know the feeling. Take this journey with me, and when you subscribe to the blog, I’ll send you my two eBooks on hope and calling FREE.

How I Learned To Love My Body

[From the Beautiful Body Project]
I used to mind the wrinkles gathering like old fabric around my middle. I cringed at the stripes I earned from one baby and then two, stripes that left once and then came back and never left.

I used to pull and tug on the undesirable parts, holding them in proper position, wishing they’d obey and just stay. right. there.

But as soon as I let go, argh. They’d retreat back to the places gravity inspired them to rest. I would sigh, disappointed. Thinking the best years in this body must be over.

After my sons were born, I used to hope you’d tell me I didn’t look like I’d just had a baby. I gauged success by how quickly my zippers zipped and buttons buttoned in the old jeans I missed for nine months.

I used to envy the teenage girls at the neighborhood pool, with their long legs and evenly tanned skin, hair with the childhood sparkle, and all their feminine curves budding perfectly, enviably, into position.

But that’s when I thought my body was for impressing people. I know better now.

I used to think my body was some kind of living mannequin on which I hung the fashions everyone else told me to love that season. Some days, I was a display case with a smile.

I thought it was a competition, a Who Wore It Best showdown every day. I was terrified of wrinkles, of watching my youthful beauty cave to gravity. I thought losing youthful beauty would leave me with no beauty at all.

But that’s before I learned what a body is for: A body is for loving.

Maybe you didn’t know. Maybe no one told you that taut, tight and skinny doesn’t make you loveable and it sure won’t make you feel loved.

Maybe this whole time you’ve been thinking bodies are for making people jealous, or for cramming into small things. Maybe you’ve been under the impression that bodies that take up less space are better bodies.

Maybe no one shared the secret that the leanest, skinniest version of you isn’t necessarily the healthiest.

It turns out the only body we need is one that can wake up today and love. Can yours do that? 

Your body is your Soul-House. Your body is your story, and it is always honest. If you love cream puffs and hate the gym, it will tell on you. Like a child.

But it doesn’t stop there. A body is all the good and the bad, the horrible and the beautiful moments of your life, shaped gently or suddenly, worn into layers, into you.

Your body is for love, and no matter the shape you’re in, you can do that.

Sure, you should take care of yourself. You should eat food that nourishes your body and soul. You should go for long walks with the people you love. You should get your beauty sleep. You should do what you can to stay here on earth with us as long as possible. But not so that you can impress with your curves in all the right places. We need you to hear to show us how to love in the silly, strong and beautiful way only you can.

All the good we do for our bodies only works when it starts with love because all the cramming and dieting, binging and purging, plucking and tucking won’t make us love ourselves one ounce more if we don’t already.

But your body is your Soul House. That is all. Can you love a body that holds a soul that loves?  

I can love my body now because I love my story. And not only that, I love what I do in this body. I love snuggling my baby to sleep. I love hugging my big boy or falling into my husband’s arms. I love the embrace of a friend, or wrapping the fingers of a newborn around mine.

And a body that does so much loving deserves not just to be tolerated but to be thanked. So stop where you are and thank your body for doing all that it does, for giving you the skin and bones, the eyes and ears, the hands and feet to live this life in.

Say thank you to your hands that prepare your food and lead your toddler across the street. Thank the eyes that see words on the page or another set of eyes of ones you love. Thank your mouth for speaking life and your ears for hearing it. Thank your belly for holding in your most important parts. Thank your legs and feet for carrying you about on your sometimes boring, sometimes wild journey.

And then, above all, thank the Father God with the crinkly eyes who looks at your body, soul and spirit and loves them all with a giant, never-ending love because he imagined you, just this way, long before you got here. And he wouldn’t change a thing.

I love how our dear Anne Lamott says it:

AnneLamott

 

Yea, don’t let that happen.

 

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It’s Always Opposite Day In Hell

I’ve been meaning to tell you this for a while, but hell was beating me up. Just like it’s been beating you up. I finally got ahead in the past several days, but I am tired. It is 2:00 in the morning as I write today, the first time I’ve been simultaneously awake, coherent and motivated enough to get the words out.

I want you to know what’s going on in the world, and why it feels so bad right now. Why you can barely take a breath without anxiety clutching the air out of your lungs. Why despair and depression are clouds over each of us, seeming to form one giant rain cloud none of us can escape.

For weeks I read the news – this was my first mistake – and each story of terror and fear fell around me like prison bars of horror, trapping me inside my mind. I tried to escape, but the images, the anxiety, lurked around every corner, every empty moment where my mind wandered.

But ten days ago, something shifted for me when I sneaked into an old Catholic church and read the mass of the day. God knew I was coming, and he met me there.

Something shifted again when I finally told my friends and my husband what was going on inside my head. How horrible I felt every day. I had an epiphany, just from talking, and relief swept in.

And then again, more breakthrough flooded my soul when I sought counsel and prayer from a woman who could lead me straight to God when I could no longer find him.

I want you to know what is going on so you can find the real God too. I want you to have the upper hand in the battle for your peace, your security, your hope and faith.

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First, you must know it is always Opposite Day in hell. Whatever God wants to do in heaven, Satan directly opposes by releasing the opposite. That’s because Satan cannot create anything new – he can only distort the good God has already made. Here’s what that looks and feels like in our lives:

  • When God is about to give you breakthrough, Satan throws up a wall so you feel like you will be stuck forever. You may have been fighting this fight for months or even years, but right before you’re about to crash through to the glorious other side, it will always feel hardest. The moment you want to give up most is the moment you MUST keep going.
  • If you find yourself fighting anxiety and fear all the time, or just at certain times, it’s because God wants you to walk in a divine level of peace and confidence. It is likely that you have the gift of faith that Satan wants to snuff out because he knows the effectiveness you would live with should you live with this faith.
  • The joy of the Lord is our strength, the Bible tell us, but depression renders us weak and feeble. In despair, we feel joy is a liar. But joy is contagious and brings great healing to you and to others.

The reason we don’t receive the hope, joy, peace and confidence at any given point is because when Satan gets to us first, we tend to agree with him. The despair and fear sidle up to us like trusted friends, and we grow wary of this cheerfully optimistic God. We assume he is powerless or blind to stop the pain in the world because otherwise, he would not be acting like everything is okay.

The truth is that we cannot be both hopeless and hopeful, both anxious and trusting. We cannot possess both fear and peace.

A room can only be light or dark. Darkness is the absence of light, and once light comes in, darkness is no longer there. But in our hearts, we have to hand over the darkness. We have to invite in light. Truth.

You do not have because you do not ask, Jesus said. And so we must ask. Boldly.

If you want peace, you have to hand Jesus your fear and anxiety, and ask for peace and faith.

If you want hope, you have to hand Jesus your despair and ask for hope.

The most important thing to know about hell’s Opposite Day is this: If you struggle with a certain thing, it’s because part of your calling and destiny is to release the opposite into the world. 

It doesn’t matter how bad your fear or despair, lust, loneliness or compulsion is, these are not evidence of how messed up and hopeless you are. These are actually signs of what your calling is. Your fear means you are to carry great peace. Your lust or addiction problem, which are both a form of distorted worship, means you have a calling for purity and worship.

So what’s tripping you up? Instead of asking God to just take away your addiction or your fear, thank him for your calling to release the opposite into the world. Then hand over your distorted, dark version and let him give you the beautiful torch you were meant to carry. 

If you want to get your world rocked a little more with God’s perspective, I want to introduce you to Bob Hartley, one of God’s greatest messengers of hope in our time. I resonate with him so much. Read this article about God’s hope for the United States, and other nations in the earth.

 

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{God is speaking during this wild time in our world’s history. I have more to say on this, and I will be sharing it in the next few weeks. I want you to know what is going on. Pray and let him speak to you. But also join me as we learn to live with hope and courage together.

Subscribe to the blog today, and I’ll send you two FREE eBooks to help you do just that.}