Crazy Demons, BE OUT!

When things go stir-crazy around here, Sweetman and I have a little catchphrase we use to lighten the situation: “Crazy Demons, BE OUT!” (And for some reason, you simply must say this as if you’re from the deep deep South.)

We use it jokingly. But, once we get a moment to catch our breath, we realize The Current State of Crazy for what it is –not of God.  Our God is not a God of chaos.  This, we know to be true.

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So when Sweetgirl starts sassin’ it up or Sweetboy has a meltdown of epic proportions, we can be heard loudly proclaiming things like, “Sassy Demons, BE OUT!”

Here’s the thing, – I know full well that their Crazy gets turned on by their deepest insecurities.

And why?

Because that’s true of me, too.

When Sweetboy is in the midst of an Epic Detour down some mental rabbit hole, ultimately, he is questioning if what we tell him about himself is true.  “Am I really loved? Am I really a necessary member of this family?”.  His heart, clouded by the darkness that lingers with the growing knowledge that Autism makes him “different”, will delve deeply into All The Negative.  And we don’t want him to stay there. So we jokingly say, “Negative Demons BE OUT!”. He cracks a small grin and then tries, oh, how he tries, to go back to that dark place.  But we won’t let him. We want him to hear, again and again, that what is true is that he is loved, not for what he can accomplish or for how he looks, or doesn’t. We love him because he is ours.

In those moments, I’m often whispered to by my own Abba – “You are loved, already, too.  You are mine, too.”

And when Sweetgirl throws down in one of her spectacular efforts to Control All Things, she’s really just asking if what we’re telling her will benefit her – in the way she most desires it to. As her Crazy ramps up with each deafening “I don’t want to”, we can be heard singing, “Looney Tune Demons BE OUT!”. And she giggles and protests that she isn’t a wascally wabbit.  And we take the opportunity to remind her that her tantrums aren’t beneficial to her getting her way. That you win more flies with honey than with vinegar.

Softly, I hear my Adonai reminding me of the same. “This battle you are fighting? It isn’t for you. It is not necessary. Leave it. Follow me.”

Oh, how patiently my gracious God bears with me!

Indeed.

Teach me, God, to filter all that I take in and sift it with your Holiness. Take this broken heart of mine and make it whole with Your Truth.

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I’m linking up with the community over at the P31 Online Bible Study Blog. We continue to journey through Made to Crave, by Lysa TerKeurst, and today, we’re chatting about how our insecurities can push us into crazy modes (and a couple of other things that try to steal our peace). Crazy Good Stuff!

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Determination for the Destination

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Sometimes, you will all at once realize that the battle you fight with yourself isn’t the one that really matters.

If you are so blessed as to be given eyes to see this truth, consider yourself blessed indeed.

It takes an act of will far beyond what I am capable of mustering up on my own to tear myself away from the current battle and zero in on the one that needs to be fought.  Is this true for you, too?

Food seems to be a constant struggle.  Eating for the wrong reasons, eating the wrong things for the right reasons, eating during emotional highs and lows – they are all battles I fight.  But, I’m beginning to see that the real battle isn’t there. It isn’t in the food. It’s in the attention that I give the food.  It takes the place of something someOne it has no right to.

And as some of you know, I have determined, recently, to make changes.

The road to Change is hard.

Recently, I was given the privilege of walking with a friend while she is fighting an altogether Other Battle. This is what I am learning: while we are all journeying toward victory, the way we arrive there will be different, person to person. The pits on my road are deeper in some places and much shallower in others.

And this I know that I know that I know to be true: the road will be paved with grace.  Oh, yes it will.

Because that’s the kind of God, the Only One, who would allow us to choose the route to our final destination. He is The Smoother of the bumpy wayward journeying. And although the battle that each of us fights in the flesh may be different, the determination that He endows us with is the same.

And when my journey goes sideways, as it often does, or stalls out, as it is prone to doing, the grace paved road is still there.  Ready. Waiting for me to place one tentative foot back onto it. To feel the sure footing that only Grace and Love provide.

And I will. Because, in taking a hard look at what needs to be seen, I realize that Change is not a destination – it’s a journey.

I’m determined to continue on the new road.

How about you?

I’m joining the community, MY community, over at P31 Ministries Online Bible Studies for our study of Made To Crave by Lysa TerKeurst.  Click the button below to get some more encouragement for your journey.

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What Do You Crave? An Invitation

Do not say chocolate. For The Love, please do not say chocolate!

“Life is not made better because we overindulge in an unhealthy choice.” -Made To Crave Devotional by Lysa TerKeurst.

Well, isn’t that the truth?

Maybe food isn’t the craving you need to overcome.  Maybe it’s that desire to spend even when there is no money to spend with.  Or you long to win at a game you have no business playing.  Perhaps you crave a drink to soothe, or a touch to heal broken places, or a feeling of excitement that’s long since gone.  I get it.  I do.  My own path to greater dependence on God is littered not only with devil dog wrappers, but also with the remnants of desires fulfilled in altogether unholy ways.

And I am aware that the people God has placed in my life, whether lovers of Him or not, are watching me.  They are watching to see what this faith in Him provides that will be of some comfort to them.  Or if My God will bring them some measure of contentment that they do not yet have.

Am I living a life that exudes a dependence on and fulfillment by this God I claim to fiercely love? Does my satisfaction of those cravings demonstrate a dependence on Him at all?

This is not a journey with a definite ending of “Now, I’m finally walking in truth and light and will never need another lesson again.”. It is, however,  one that will need constant reevaluating and course-correcting. I recognize that I’m going to need others with me as I go about attempting to do just that. Deeper dependence on God and less dependence on Other Things will require a strength I know I don’t often possess. It will ask me to mine places I don’t often want to go.

So, consider this an invitation.  I’m inviting you into this place of need.  This place where our need meets His desire to fill it. I need friends to hold me accountable, during. I need encouragement, throughout. I need to know I’m not alone on this journey.

So… what do you crave?

Would you join me? For the next six weeks, you’ll find me over here at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study as we work through “Made To Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst.  I’ll be joining approximately 34,000 others determined to understand that life is only made better when we see the bounty that already exists in our daily lives.  I’ll be tracking my progress by writing about it, here, each Thursday.

There is safety in numbers.

We are better together.

I need lots of wise counsel.  God said so.

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If this post spoke to your heart about cravings you long to wage war against, or even if you’re just curious what online Bible study is all about, click the button below.  You’ll find encouragement and lots of other invitations there.

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I Thought You Would Like To Know

Something really exciting is happening on Wednesday over at (in)courage.

Me and about 30,000 of my closest friends begin the Made To Crave Online Bible Study over at P31 Ministries this week.

I’ve got to get my unsuspecting children over to the Allergist for their annual “pricky hurty test“. Joy. Abounding.

Both of the Sweetchildren’s extra-curricular activities resume this week.

I’m still clearing out the clutter.

A writing deadline, a looming smoosh-and-squish appointment, and…

You feel me?

Aside from all of that, I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy, down in my heart!

Do you know why? (Raise your hands, please.)

Do you want to know why? (Rhetorical question, friends.)

My rash is disappearing! It is GOING AWAY! I could do the Texas Two-Step (if I knew how)!

I thought you would like to know.

Oh, yes indeedy!

I may even be able to throw on a 3/4 sleeved shirt to celebrate the balmy 50 degree spring day we’re having here today.

Just maybe.

Tell me about your week.  Please do.  Let’s share all of our Crazy together, kay?

How To Cover Your Guilt

One of my son’s vocabulary words this week is “sentimental”.

Sentimental

As the hormotional component in this marital equation, I could wax sentimental about A Lot Of Things, but I’ll spare you.

Instead, my mind instantly went to the fresh new ways God has shed His abundant grace on me, lately.  So. Many. Ways.

I blew it, and big, this very week, in fact.

And, once again, El-Channun (the Gracious God) showed up. And big!

I committed to being  a part of an amazing team of women with servant’s hearts and a willingness to do a Great Thing each day, online.  As a member of this team, my commitment required one time slot over each of four days, over the course of a few months, to do my part in this Thing.

For the last few weeks, I dropped the ball.

And my gracious Team Leader covered my shifts.

I told her and myself, “I will not drop the ball again!”. And I meant it.

But I did.

And the guilt I felt as I heaped ashes on my head.

  • Letting someone I care about down.
  • Not keeping my word.
  • My inability to be consistent now revealed

I let my mistakes become monumental in my mind.

But she poured out grace, instead. God showered me in grace through her.

  • Recognition and praise
  • No condemnation
  • Love poured out

Undeserved.  All.

In this final week of my time studying A Confident Heart by Renee Swope, I came across a couple of words, mid-sentence on page 200 that spoke right into my heart:

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He cannot love me more.  Tears wash my dirty cheeks as I realize, afresh, how very much this God I long to be more like, loves me.  Despite myself.

He loves me no less for the times I snap at the ones I love.  Or whisper wrongly.  Or step forward too quickly. There is nothing I’ve done, not a thing, that He didn’t already know.  There’s not a single thoughtless word or deed that He didn’t already willingly agree to be nailed to the cross for.

God’s love is bigger.

And that is something to get sentimental about!

Yes indeedy.

Thank you for joining me on this journey through “A Confident Heart” by Renee Swope.  Please consider joining us over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ next Online Bible Study of “Made To Crave” by Lysa TerKeurst, beginning January 19th. Sign ups are here.  If you’d like to read some of the other thoughts participants had on these final chapters of “A Confident Heart”, please click the button below.

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Doing It Scared

There are just so many things.

So many things that I, daily, do scared.

Want a “short list”?

  • Attempt to walk in heels higher than an inch
  • Cook
  • Wear anything white
  • Exercise

And then there’s the more serious stuff:

  • Parent
  • Believe in the promises God whispers through His Word
  • Speak up on others’ behalf
  • Make choices about media, attention and adoration
  • Trust that it really is all Good for those that love Him

And, friends?  That’s the Short List.

I’ve been thinking a lot, lately, about how super-confident others perceive me to be.  And yet, how very little confidence I truly possess. (I do believe some folks confuse the Gift of Gab with the trait of Confidence, but that might well be a different post for a different day.)

I can’t help but wonder if God is allowing me glimpses into all of these things I hold so fearfully in my heart because He is preparing a way for my heart to gain more confidence. True confidence.  In my heart. Where it needs to be.

Proverbs 31 Ministries is beginning their next Online Bible Study on October 13th.  It’s called…

Wait for it…

A Confident Heart by Renee Swope. 

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Can I even tell you how God-orchestrated this study seems to be for the current health of my heart?

Will you consider joining me? And a “couple” of other women from around the world?

Click here to sign up.

And if you’re doing it scared, know that we’re in this together!

Life Interrupted

Some of God’s greatest gifts truly are wrapped in unlikely packages. Mine came in all 6 pounds and 10 ounces of baby goodness.  Sweetman and I loved every single inch of this package.  He seemed perfect.  We dreamed of life as parents of a bouncing baby boy.

Two years later, our lives were interrupted by the diagnosis of Autism.  I could try to tell you how I wrapped myself around that diagnosis and accepted it with open arms, knowing that if “God brought us to it, He’d see us through it.”  But I didn’t.  I really didn’t.

Here’s what I did do:

  • I cried out to God for answers
  • I leaned hard and heavy on friends who loved us despite my child’s behaviors
  • I continued to believe God had His hand in this, on us, and around him
  • I learned the power of a desperate prayer thrown heavenward morning, noon, or night

There were moments where I longed  are still moments when I long to be able to take part in those conversations where I talk about the sports that are played, the interests that are pursued, the unique passions that are on display “already”.  But I can’t.

What I can do, however, is to stick with it.

Because there isn’t any easy button for this life interruption.

But God…

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I realize, now, that the healing of this mama heart of mine is going to be a life-long process. And there will be more heartache along the way. But, you know what?  I can honestly tell you that I’m okay with that.

In fact, I say “Yes!” to God because my Sweetboy is fearfully and wonderfully made.  By Him.  For me.

And through it all, I’ve come to understand that this child? He is indeed perfect.

For us.

Oh yes he is.

I’m joining a community of over 24,000 Jesus lovin’ ladies from all over God’s Green Earth for a blog hop today.  We are studying the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes To God” by Lysa TerKeurst over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study. If you’d like to read some of the other beautiful words from this online community, click the button below.

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I Used To Think I Needed People

I used to think I needed “people”.

Last year, if you had asked me if I could ever see myself joining an online Bible study, I may well have gotten a good long chuckle out of the question. I’m a people person, you see.  I am invigorated and filled with joy at being with others.  Being able to reach out and hug the neck of a friend, or lay a reassuring hand on the shoulder of another mama, or look into the eyes of a sister and share in some joy with her?  That’s The Stuff I live for.

But, God…

He had other plans for me.

Life turns, as it is want to do. And as I looked around me at All The Quiet and the lack of necks to hug, I realized that I had a choice to make.  I could say #YesToGod in whatever He had for me in this new season; or, I could stand with my hands clenched tight wondering about the road ahead and what it would look like and where it would lead and if I would like it and… That’s no way to spend a day. Or a season. It’s just not.

So… I heard the messages God seemed to be sending me.  The ones he sent through His Word. The ones He sent through precious friends urging me to stay plugged in, For The Love.  He sent me a podcast or three, and a radio broadcast or two, and a magazine article or four, about the growing trend of online Bible study.

Light dawned on this marble head of mine.

I heard.

My heart said, “Yes God. I will do this thing. I’ll engage right here.”

Although it felt like a small thing, this yes to God, it wasn’t.

I am beginning to see that it was a surrender. And a beautiful one at that.

I stood ready to be amazed by what this new obedience would bring.

And, what did it bring?

It brought a much deeper appreciation for the self-discipline required to crack open the Word of God with the intent of digging in deeper. Without a team to urge you on in person, or a table with 10 sets of eyes looking at you for your next thought on a passage of scripture, or the agenda for the next hour and a half in front of you and the clock to remind you that you need to stick to it.  Thank God for giving us a spirit of self-discipline!  I’ve been needing that Spirit, something fierce, these last few months.

This particular “yes” to God brought a realization of how very different the rhythms of online Bible study are than in real life Bible study.  Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, and blogs are all available to me 24/7.  I can hop on and engage in a conversation about what all of this obedience looks like whenever I am able, or whenever I feel led to.

And, maybe most significantly, my “yes” brought me back to an awareness of my need for daily grace. What attempts to compete for God’s attention for you, my friend?  Because, this little sinner can tell you, the list is long over here.  L.O.N.G.  And it can even get a little whack-a-mole ish.  My husband pops up and says things like, “Hey! Remember me?  We used to kiss a lot.”  And just when I think I’ve got the endless stream of twitter feed/facebook status/blog comments under control,  the Sweet Children pop their noses up close to mine and attempt to nuzzle, reminding me that there is real life love to be given, too.  And don’t even get me started on the dust bunnies that come out of nowhere, the books piled high in hopes of being read, or the magazines from 2011 that hope to be perused in this decade.

That little yes that I uttered? It brought a beauty to obedience that I’d never seen before.  It brought a startling beauty to surrender. I can maneuver through my day knowing that God will be woven throughout every thought, word, and deed.  I can do no thing apart from Him anyway.

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In saying yes, God gave me the eyes to see and the ears to hear that I don’t necessarily need “people”. But I do necessarily need Him.

And in Him I will remain.

Yes indeedy.

I’m participating in a weekly blog hop over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study.  If you’d like to read how other hearts are responding to the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst, click the button below!

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All In

Have you found it?

That thing that you’re looking for.

Are you inching any closer to grabbing a hold of it?

I don’t know about you, but my soul has been longing for more lately. Anyone else?

Maybe it’s this new season of parenthood that’s upon me or the new life stages; It could simply be that for the first time in a long time, I have the time and space and desire to examine those things that my soul has been lacking.  I’m not really sure.

But, this I know. While my days may indeed be filled with the mundane, that does not mean that life, itself, is mundane.  Oh, no!

In Lysa TerKeurst’s book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God”, she states that,  “A holy God in the middle of life’s mundane activities will change your life.” 

Whether you’ve just started walking with God, or have been walking with Him for decades, I think it’s a pretty safe bet that you know pretty stinkin’ well that life with Him is anything but mundane. Amen?

Blessed? Sometimes. Adventurous?  If we’re so blessed. Peaceful? That depends on whether we’ve got our eyes set on external peace or internal.

But life with God is never mundane.

Even in the mundane.

In fact, I wonder what my God thinks of all this soul hunger I’ve suddenly developed; this deep desire that I finally have to be radically obedient to whatever He has for me.

Whether what He has for me is located in the bunk beds down the hall, or in the marriage that takes constant tending and dying to self, I pray that my heart cries “Yes!”. It may be that God has a mission for me in the halls of my children’s school, or in a place that is more than I can ask or imagine. Or maybe, it’s simply in a place that beats wildly right underneath my very skin and bones. . I still pray that I am able to cry “Yes!” with everything I’ve got.

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Whatever God says to do, I realize now, I must do! And He is waiting for me to surrender it all – heart, soul, and strength to Him to make of it all what He will.

For His glory.

That excites me.

My soul finally longs to be all in.

And that’s exactly where you’ll find me, my friends.

In the midst of figuring out how I can say YES to God.

Wanna join me?

I’m participating in a weekly blog hop over at Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Online Bible Study.  If you’d like to read how other hearts are responding to the book “What Happens When Women Say Yes to God” by Lysa TerKeurst, click the button below! If you’d like to join over 22,000 women from 120 countries in this Online Bible Study, click here.

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Seek First

Matthew6_33_missindeedy

When there are more tasks at hand than hours in the day,

And the heft of your circumstances exceeds the girth of your paycheck;

When you are tempted to check out,

And it seems like running away might be a good idea;

If you are on the verge of shutting down,

And all hope seems lost;

Seek God first.  

The Message puts it this way:

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.”

And the New Century Version puts it this way:

“Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.”

Does any of this speak Truth into your heart, my friend?  Because, it surely does mine.

Those times that I am in the throes of agony, mired in controversy, or trapped in indecision, I don’t always seek God first. In fact, sometimes?  He’s the last One I seek.

Can I tell you something?  That never works out that well for me.  And I am not using the word never, lightly. It may bring momentary stress relief or seeming clarity to a muddy situation – but after?

When Later comes, time shows me that I could have gained more peace and perspective had I simply sought out my Creator. First.

Truly? Who else could know me better?  Who else could know the situation better. 

Who knows the beginning from the end?

Seek First the kingdom of God.

Oh, do!

Yes, indeedy.

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One way that I seek first is by filling my heart with God’s peace and perspective one minute at a time. Proverbs 31 Ministries has been a part of my spiritual sustenance almost as long as I’ve called myself a Christian. One ministry that has been a constant and easy encouragement has been the one minute radio broadcast that Lysa TerKeurst and Renee Swope provide. These broadcasts air on radio stations across the country. I can not tell you how many times I’ve been struggling, turned on my radio, and caught this quick broadcast, only to have it be on exactly what I’m struggling with!  I can. not. tell you! Click here to listen to today’s P31 Ministries broadcast or to learn more.