This morning began like most mornings do. I sleepily got out of bed before my 5:30 alarm, since I’d technically been awake since 4:30 trying to wrangle in the “mind-spin”, then spent some time with the Lord, and lastly got my kiddos off to school. I pulled back into the driveway to see an anxiously awaiting double-doodle staring at me from the family room window. It was time for her walk and she wasn’t going to let me forget it.
Every morning I take Luna for a spin around the neighborhood and we almost always find our way into the university campus that resides close to our home. I love walking on the college grounds because the paths are winding and lined with trees and beautiful landscaping. I also enjoy seeing the students walking to class as the sun streams across the bluffs and lights up the walkways.
Being a creature of habit I tend to walk the same route and usually find myself passing a particular building that has many tall, rectangular, east facing windows. The building is situated in a way that the rising sun hits the windows and reflects into the path where I walk. Everytime I walk past these windows, I’m always struck by the periodic bursts of heat that hit my face. It literally feels like alternating laser beams that strike, and then are instantly gone when I pass areas of the building that aren’t reflecting the sun.
I’ve walked past this building MANY times, but for some reason something pretty profound struck me today. I got a strong sense that the Lord was showing me the power of reflection. And no, not the kind of reflection where you ponder those stupd things you did in college and realize there were probably plenty of reasons you should have gotten some professional therapy. No, the kind of reflection where a powerful light source hits a shiny surface and bounces the opposite way.
The Oxford Dictionary defines reflection as, “The throwing back of a body or surface of light, heat or sound, without absorbing it.” Hmmm.. let’s reflect on that a bit. (Did you see how I did that?)
Wow. Isn’t this what God calls us to do as believers? Doesn’t He call us to reflect Him?
He doesn’t ask us to BE the light source. That’s HIS job. He only wants us to REFLECT Him. So what does that look like? How do we reflect Jesus to every person we come in contact with? And yes, I said EVERY person. Even that guy that cut you off today in the Target parking lot because he was texting and flying in his souped up Honda Civic like a bat out of you know where!
Let’s ask ourselves, what was Jesus like? What characteristics did He exhibit when He walked the earth? If you’re a list checker like me, then let’s start with one of my favorite lists in the Bible, the fruits of the Spirit. Galatians 5:22-23
Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. When you want to flare at that offensive comment on Facebook, do you reflect love? How about patience? Or maybe most importantly, when your flesh wants to furiously type a rebuttal and virtually body slam that ignorant bleep bleep into the cyber ground, do you practice self-control? Ouch.
It can be hard. But showing EVERYONE love, letting them see your joy even in tough times, and being gentle in spirit when persecuted, is reflecting the light of Jesus to a hurting world.
And remember when I mentioned the heat I felt from the sun reflecting in those windows? You guys, seriously, it was HOT! Like I thought the skin was going to start peeling off the left side of my face. Just because you’re the reflection and not the “source” doesn’t mean you can’t pack some heat! We have power as followers of Jesus, and we can walk boldly knowing that when we make a genuine effort to be Christ’s reflection, He will bring intensity to your witness that you won’t have to work for. That’s the beauty of reflecting from a place of power. He will translate His unlimited energy through you to positively affect someone else’s life.
Reflection can be small, like those little prisms I used to hang in my window as a kid. Or it can be massive like in the valley town of Rjukan, Norway where mirrors were installed to reflect sunlight into the town’s square that is normally shadowed for half of the year. (Cool right?)
Both are good. Both are beautiful. Big or small, your reflection is bringing much needed light into a place riddled with darkness.
Where can you shine today?
Shine on, friend. Shine on.
About a week ago, I woke up feeling fearful and agitated. The weight of all the pain, confusion, and evil in this world suddenly came crashing down on me, and I felt an overwhelming sense of fear. Yes, I have complete and utter faith in my Jesus, but I’m human. And sometimes that firm foundation gets a little mini-quake once in a while. When the enemy tries to rattle my cage there’s only one place I go when I need a little grounding….
To my knees.
I began praying, and I came to God as a child asking her Father to hold her because she was afraid. I asked for God’s peace that surpasses all understanding and for protection over myself and my family. In that quiet moment the words “Psalm 91” came to my mind. Obviously, I don’t have large chunks of scripture memorized so I had no idea what this meant. I reached over to the table next to my chair where we have our Bibles and started reaching for one. I began to grab the NIV translation, but I felt like the Lord impressed upon me, “No, not that one. This one…” And instead, I grabbed my Message translation.
I opened it up and read.
“You who sit down in the High God’s presence, spend the night in Shaddai’s shadow,
Say this: “God, you’re my refuge. I trust in you and I’m safe!”
That’s right—he rescues you from hidden traps, shields you from deadly hazards.
His huge outstretched arms protect you— under them you’re perfectly safe; his arms fend off all harm.
Fear nothing—not wild wolves in the night, not flying arrows in the day,
Not disease that prowls through the darkness, not disaster that erupts at high noon.
Even though others succumb all around, drop like flies right and left, no harm will even graze you.
You’ll stand untouched, watch it all from a distance, watch the wicked turn into corpses.
Yes, because God’s your refuge, the High God your very own home,
Evil can’t get close to you, harm can’t get through the door.
He ordered his angels to guard you wherever you go.
If you stumble, they’ll catch you; their job is to keep you from falling.
You’ll walk unharmed among lions and snakes, and kick young lions and serpents from the path.“
If you’ll hold on to me for dear life,” says God, “I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times; I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life, give you a long drink of salvation!”
I hadn’t even finished reading the whole passage before I burst into tears. Knowing a God that loves His children so much that He would give me, AGAIN, exactly what I needed to hear in that moment broke me. No matter how strong or how weak our faith is at any given moment, He is always faithful to reassure us that HE is sovereign, HE is in control, and we can have PEACE when we sit in His shadow.
Don’t ever underestimate His power, and the power that you can have over fear, anxiety, and evil, when you plug into the source.
If you haven’t been living under a rock for the past few years, (oh wait, we all have been living under a rock this past year) you’re probably familiar with the many self help gurus that have been popping up all over recently. Between social media and morning talk shows there is always someone encouraging us to be our better self, reach for the stars, and hustle till we make it.
I always enjoy and value a good “rah rah” session and often learn a lot of great tips about time management, leadership, and dreaming big from some of these experts. But I’ve found one particular mantra, that gets thrown around frequently, can actually NOT be helpful. You’ve probably heard it. Ready?
“You’ve got this!”
Oh, if you could see the extent of my eye roll right now, you would laugh. I have disliked these three words for quite some time now, and I’ll tell you a funny story about it. Years ago, I was feeling particularly overwhelmed with the multiple plates I was spinning in my life. Being a type-A, enneagram 2, the pressure to get everything done was at an all time high, and I was feeling very inadequate in my abilities. These feelings had been building over a couple of days. On this particular morning I was sharing with my husband how stressed out I was feeling. (I admit, I was probably throwing myself a pretty big pity party too.)
My husband, being the caring supportive guy he is, was trying to encourage me and drag me out of the mucky pit I had thrown myself into. In his zeal to help, he looked at me and said, “Babe, you’ve got this!” Uh oh. That did it. Batten down the hatches people, the storm just got unleashed. I lost it, all over his sweet supportive self. I responded, “What?! I don’t GOT THIS. Can’t you see I’m losing it here! I don’t GOT anything! If I HAD this, I wouldn’t be in this state right now!”
Open mouth, insert foot. The poor guy slinked off justifiably mad that I had lashed out at him, and I felt terrible. I realized that my reaction was wrong and that I had hurt him with my thoughtless words. But I also realized that I was right. I didn’t have it all together. I didn’t have the capability to do it all and handle the situation, and the thought of trying to do it myself felt like a weight I couldn’t bear.
Once I had calmed down, I went upstairs and apologized to him. I told him I knew he was only trying to help and it was wrong for me to respond the way I did. And as we talked a solution came to my mind. We decided that whenever situations like these presented themselves in the future, instead of saying, “You’ve got this,” we now say, “GOD’S got this.” Gamechanger.
Ladies and gentlemen, we don’t have to live under the pressure of holding it all together. The weight of life is so great at times, and it will crush us if we believe that we are the only ones capable of holding it up. Yes, there are things that “we’ve got”, and we are responsible for putting in a strong effort toward those things we want to see manifest in our lives. But it’s not our job to pull the entire load. That’s the beauty of trusting in our Heavenly Father. Newsflash. His muscles are a bit stronger than ours. Why not let Him do some of the heavy lifting?
Psalm 46:1 says, “God is our refuge and strength always ready to help in times of trouble.”
He’s ready to help! God’s sitting there poised and ready to jump in and take the weight of that burden you have. I challenge you to try this the next time you’re feeling overwhelmed and you or someone around you is tempted to say that “you’ve got this”. Instead, say out loud, “God’s got this!” I can guarantee that a shift will happen in your spirit. The crippling responsibility and weight of doing it on your own will suddenly lift. And you’ll be free to navigate through whatever it is that you’re experiencing knowing that you have the best kind of help there is.
Hey! Where are my fellow perfectionist peeps at?! I’m calling all of you friends who can relate to the feeling of needing EVERYTHING that you do to be perfect. Let’s call it the “Midas Touch” of today. If we touch it, it better be gold. Friends, it’s a blessing and curse, right?
I admit that I am a struggling perfectionist. This has been something that I’ve had to battle since I was a child. The drive to do everything with the utmost excellence can be a great quality, and yet it can be a burden if we allow it to creep into the obsessive zone. I precariously teeter on that line, and I believe it’s how I’m wired. But over the past few years I’ve been working on finding a better way.
Perfectionism has some ugly side effects that I have definitely seen in my life. The first being “The Freeze.” I’ve often felt that if I can’t do something, and do it perfectly, then I’m just not going to do it. Period. This plagued me as a child big time. I remember being young and learning new skills like golf, for example. Okay, I know, probably not a great example to start off with. I personally think golf is one of the most frustrating skills to master on a good day, but stay with me here.
My parents did a great job of working to instill skills and hobbies that would be lifelong social assets as I was growing up. However, I often failed to stick with certain things because I couldn’t do them “perfectly” right off the bat. In golf I hit a few great shots, and then the rest sent 99% of the nearby woodland creatures, living near the golf course, running for the hills. So what did my perfectionist mind tell me in those situations? That’s right, if you can’t do it perfectly then don’t do it at all. And I quit taking lessons. There were many other examples of times when I didn’t even try a new skill because I knew I wouldn’t be able to do it perfectly, immediately. I like to call this, “The Freeze.”
“The Freeze” manifests itself in so many more ways, specifically if I’m working on a project. If the project has any ounce of creative attributes, I will often delay completing it or all together abandon it if I don’t think it looks or feels “perfect”.
The other side effect of perfectionism is self doubt. That nasty perfectionistic voice, many of us know so well, starts telling me that if I can’t do something perfectly, then I must not be good enough or truly called to do that work. Hence, I become extremely hard on myself and critical.
Is this resonating with you at all? Because I know I’m not the only one out there that feels this way. But here’s the good news. YOU DON’T HAVE TO BE PERFECT. Hallewooyah, pa-wayze da Lord! (as my daughter used to yell around the house as a three year old.)
God didn’t call us to be perfect. That’s why He sent His son Jesus to this earth. He is the ONLY one who is and ever was perfect so why are we putting that burden on ourselves?
Corinthians 12:9 says, “Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”
The first thing we need to do is embrace who we are and all of the weaknesses that we have. We ALL have weaknesses and that’s okay! We aren’t going to do everything perfectly, but that’s the cool part. When we let Christ into those areas of weakness HE will show up with His strength and downright awesomeness to fill in where we lack.
The other area that us perfectionists need to constantly keep in check is PRIDE. Ouch. Yep, I said it. We are prideful! Isn’t that the true root of why we feel we need to be perfect? It’s because we are concerned with how we look to others. If what we do or create isn’t perfect then someone else might think we aren’t talented, good enough, or as fabulous as whatever the “best of the best” is out there. Whenever my pride starts creeping in over a project I’m working on, I run to a very specific Bible verse. This is my weapon I use to fight that sneaky, flaming, pride dart.
Colossians 3:23-24 “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord.”
Everything we do, and I mean EVERYTHING, should have a heavenly focus. Is what you are doing pleasing the Lord or are you trying to please people? When I started making this focus a priority and filtering everything I did through it, I found so much peace! I stopped worrying about what other people thought of me and my efforts and it was so freeing! However, it’s still something I have to continually check myself on because pride is a cunning adversary.
I have a sneaking suspicion that some of you fellow perfectionists are screaming right now, “But Jamie! Are you saying I shouldn’t care about the quality of my work and completely chuck all desire to make what I do really really good?” Heck no! You are wired the way you are for a reason! I believe that God calls us to a life of EXCELLENCE! There is a big difference between excellence and perfection. God doesn’t want second class products because He is far from second class. So do your best in all you do! But don’t let the fear of it not being perfect stop you from putting it out there.
Staci Wallace, a dear friend of mine who is full of Godly wisdom, has taught me this.
“Progress over perfection.”
Just do something! Don’t let your fear of not being perfect paralyze you and hold back the thing that God wants released into this world through you. You’re not perfect, but He is! Let yourself off the hook and start partnering with the One who can make everything you touch HIS version of gold.
When I think about this idea of an “influencer”, I immediately think of the many men and women with massive, beautifully curated, social media accounts with epic numbers of followers. Many are celebrities with thousands, or even millions, of people watching their every move. These influencers share everything from what they ate for lunch to what brand of shoes they are wearing for their morning jog. Most times, their motivation is a desire to sell a product, or promote their latest creative project.
Few of us can relate to this type of influential status, or what it might feel like to have this kind of grand scale impact on those around us. However, I’m realizing that we ALL are “influencers” and should live with a mindset of having influence on others. We may not have thousands of people “following” us, but we do have the ability to positively affect the immediate sphere of those we come in contact with.
If you’re a mom, you’re an influencer. If you’re a grandparent, you’re an influencer. A teacher, a friend, a neighbor, that’s right…you’re an influencer. God calls us to be salt and light to the world. He didn’t say that the only way to do that was to have a wildly successful “brand” or an uber engaged Facebook following. He’s also talking to all of us normal people.
God has put you where you are for a reason. There are people around you that are searching for love and truth, and God wants you to use your influence to show them just that. Think of “influence” as proximity. You may be the closest thing to goodness and the love of Christ that the people around you will ever see. Be a light! (a.k.a. an influencer!) Proverbs 12:26 says, “One who is righteous is a guide to his neighbor, but the way of the wicked leads them astray.”
Challenge yourself to get out of your “influence comfort zone”. Do something that stretches you a bit. I personally took on this challenge for myself awhile back when I was having some issues with my computer. I was extremely frustrated with a software update that wasn’t working correctly so I called the Apple customer service phone line to get some assistance. I was connected to a very patient young man that stayed on the phone with me for over an hour making sure everything was updated and working as it should. We were about to end the call when I decided to just throw it out there. I said, “Hey, you’ve been so kind and helpful today. We are a praying family and I was wondering if I could pray for you quickly before we hang up?” (Then I held my breath and squinted my eyes in panicked anticipation of what he might say.) Surprisingly, he was very receptive, and I was able to pray for his family and more specifically, protection over his two year old daughter. After I was finished, he seemed absolutely taken back and grateful that I would do that for him.
I’ll never know the long term effects that this prayer had on that gentleman, but I did my part by planting a seed. Simply planting seeds of light for others can often be the start of something really beautiful that God will water and grow into maturity.
Use your influence through your actions and by doing random acts of kindness for people.
Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”
There is so much hurt and falsehood in the world today, but you have the opportunity to show someone the opposite of that. Where does God have you placed in this moment, and what giftings do you have that can be used for positive influence. Are you dripping God’s truth into everything you do? Now more than ever, we need people to stand up and operate in the authority that God has given us to be a positive influence on others. Remember, YOU are an influencer so start thinking like one!
How many times has this happened to you? You’ve planned out your whole day, every minute is strategically orchestrated for maximum productivity, and you know that when your feet hit the floor you’re going to get stuff DONE!
And then, something happens that throws a complete wrench in your plan, and all those hopes and dreams of epic effectiveness go screaming out the window. Been there. Many times. Being a type A, ESJF Myers Briggs girl, this is always a tough one for me. I love to have a plan. Flying by the seat of my pants does not bode well for my mental sanity. In the past, when some type of roadblock thwarted those perfectly laid out plans, it would send me into “tilt mode” like a robot stuttering and smoking as it short circuits.
But over the past few years, I’ve learned a strategy that has helped me cope when MY plans get thrown off the rails. It’s called TRUST. That seems a bit ambiguous, you say. Let me explain. There are three things that I do when I plan my day that help me avoid frustration when things don’t go as I planned.
Surrender Your Day
This is uber important! As soon as you begin your day, surrender your plans to God. I often pray, “Lord, I want your will to be done, not mine.” Luke 22:42. God knows how the day is going to unfold before we do, so give all your plans to Him before it even starts.
When we put our lives in the hands of our Heavenly Father it’s essentially saying, “Jesus, take the wheel”. (Thank you, Carrie Underwood.) He gives us free will to plan our days, dream, work, and play. And I’ve found that when I surrender my day to Him every morning and let Him direct my steps, it gives me so much peace.
Look at Roadblocks as Opportunites
It’s not an if, but when roadblocks will come in our day. Just this past week I scheduled my whole week to have a relatively light Friday by packing in a bit more of my duties and work toward the beginning of the week. I was SO looking forward to having a Friday to myself, with kids at school and the dog at daycare, to go for a hike or relax and read a book. I don’t schedule these kinds of days for myself enough and I finally did it. I was pumped.
But then I was playing with our dog and I noticed a couple of stitches were poking through her skin from a recent surgery she had. These were internal stitches, and I could tell they were bothering her. I emailed the University Veterinary School that we been taking her to versus our local vet (because her surgeries were pretty serious) and asked what they recommended I do. They said I needed to bring her in so those stitches could be removed. No big deal, right? Well…their office is located almost three hours away. Hmm….. The only day I had available to take her was my gloriously free day on Friday. Doggone it. Literally.
Not a huge deal, I know, but I was disappointed and honestly, a bit annoyed that I would now be spending the entire day in the car. But then I remembered to change my thinking and look at this roadblock as an opportunity. I asked myself, “What are the positive things that can come from this and how can I use this time by myself in a fulfilling way?” I ended up grabbing my favorite chai tea drink to go, got in the car with the pup, and used those hours to listen to praise and worship music, talk to God and pray outloud. For six hours! It was awesome!! I can’t remember the last time I’ve had the chance to do that. I saw it as an opportunity to “slow down” (at 70 miles per hour) and just be with the Lord. He obviously wanted some one-on-one time with me, and I so needed it with Him.
Step back and try to look at those hiccups in your day as opportunities. Maybe it’s getting stuck in a long line at the post office when you have an appointment in five minutes. There might be someone next to you that needs a warm smile or an encouraging conversation. Be open to the possibilities when your right turn becomes a U-turn.
Trust that God Has YOUR Best Interest at Heart
Lastly, trust that God wants what’s best for you! I believe that He sees and knows SO much more than we could ever know. He may be protecting you from something you’re not even aware of. That canceled meeting you’ve been trying to get on the calendar for weeks may have just protected you from a massive multi-car pile up accident on the highway. You just don’t know. But God does. Trust that He is guiding you and protecting you in areas that we may never see. Don’t get angry when things fall through or plans are ruined. Instead, have a mindset that says, “There’s reason for this, and I’m going to trust that God’s got it. He knows what’s best for me and I trust that He will work this out.” Then ask, “How do you want me to pivot God?” He’ll show you, and I would probably be pretty safe to say that you may even see how things worked out better in the long run.
There are so many verses in the Bible about trusting God with His plans for you. Here are a few of my favorites.
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my eye upon you. Psalm 32:8
Trust in the LORD with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:5-6
The plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations. Psalm 33:11
“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11
We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps. Proverbs 16:9 NLT
I’ll be honest, I had no idea that God had a name other than “God.” At least I’ve never used a specific name when I pray to Him. Usually my prayers begin with, “Lord” or “Father God”, but up until this point I’ve never called God by His name. And truthfully, I’ve never even thought that there could be another way to address Him, until now.
Before I go into what His name is and why it’s so important for us to know, I want to talk about the power of names. When we develop relationships with people, one of the first things we do is learn their name. If we truly want to engage with someone and connect on a genuine level we need to remember their first name and be intentional about using it.
Think about the people you are the closest to in your life and how strange it would be if you addressed them using generalities. For example, wouldn’t it be awkward if everytime a married woman’s husband came home from work, the wife greeted him with, “Welcome home, husband,”? Or what about the mom who picks her kids up after school and says, “How was your day, first born child?” This would feel SO bizarre!
We don’t address our loved ones this way because it feels incredibly impersonal. So why do we do this with our God? If we know His name, why don’t we use it? But what is His name?
According to Exodus 34:5-7, Yahweh means “merciful and gracious”. This is the character of God. He is merciful and gracious! When I learned this, it changed the way I think about my interaction with Him. It helped me understand that He really loves us and wants to pour out his mercy and compassion on us!
I recently had a situation where I leaned into this concept, and it involved our family dog. Our 18 month old puppy developed a severe infection and we had to drive her to a teaching hospital hours away. We dropped her off and were told that she would most likely not survive the night. My husband and I began praying and I cried out to Yahweh, my gracious and merciful God. I asked for His mercy and compassion on our sweet pup, and I called out His character. The next morning we were given news that even the doctor couldn’t explain. Our dog had made a miraculous recovery, literally overnight!
Because I knew God’s name, I felt more in tune with His character and His will for our lives. I prayed into WHO He is and it changed my entire approach in this situation. Now, please know that I’m not saying this is some “magic secret sauce” like rubbing a lamp and getting wishes granted from a genie. It definitely doesn’t work that way. But it is a way to begin seeing God as your friend, your companion, and someone that you’re on a first-name basis with.
That is His desire for us. He wants us to have an intimate, personal relationship with Him and that means spending time in His word and praying (talking) to Him daily!
I challenge you this month to use His name, Yahweh, in your prayer time and begin thinking about Him as your friend. When you KNOW Him, it opens the door for a type of intimacy with your Creator that will richly bless you!
This title alone makes me laugh. As you can imagine, there’s a story coming. One of the cool ways that God reveals things to me are through everyday life scenarios. The most recent mini-revelation came last week on Valentine’s Day when I was helping my girls get ready to go out for a date night with their Dad and me.
Nowadays, I feel like we never do anything fun so having an opportunity to get dressed up, and do our hair is a BIG DEAL for this house of three girls. Well, maybe it’s more fun for me, but the girls play along. As we were getting ready, I asked them if they would like me to blow dry their hair for them. Honestly, I don’t think they cared too much, but both decided to humor me and let me play hairdresser with them for a minute.
My oldest went first. She sat down on a stool in my bathroom while I got the hairdryer out. Before I go on, I’ll give you some backstory on this hairdryer. Four years ago I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Because of my treatment I lost all of my hair, and it was a lengthy process of growing it back. When my hair started growing back it came in like little baby fuzz all over my head. And let me tell you, I “babied” those little beautiful, happy, follicle produced wonders.
As my hair started to grow I wanted to be careful not to fry the heck out of it once I started using a hairdryer. It was a while before I even got to that point, but while I waited I started researching hairdryers like a fiend. I was going to be ready as soon as those glorious hairs began to make their debut on my shiny dome.
I landed on the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer because it didn’t use extreme heat and seemed like it would be gentle on my new growth. This dryer is an investment, so similar to how some new moms ask their husbands for “push gifts” when they have a baby, I asked my husband for a, “I survived cancer and I earned this stupidly expensive hair dryer, darnit” gift. And bless him, he got it for me.
Fast forward to the present. It’s now been three and a half years of using the above mentioned hairdryer, and here we are in my bathroom getting ready to dry my oldest daughter’s hair. As she’s sitting on the stool, I ask her to hold the dryer while I grab a round brush. I go over to the linen closet to grab the brush and as I turn around, Lauren says to me, “Mom, what’s this rubber thing?” I look over to see that she has pulled an oblong piece of rubber out of the center of the dryer that has been curled up in there since I opened the package three and a half years ago. To my horror, she is holding it in her hand.
Oh. My. Gosh. I immediately have an internal freakout, while semi-politely responding to her with, “Where did you get that?!?” She responds, “I pulled it out of the hairdryer.” Again, Oh. My. Gosh. Now I’m convinced that she has just forcibly removed the most important piece of equipment from this expensive hair dryer that has been my styling rockstar these past three and a half years. I immediately coil the piece of rubber up and try to stuff it back where it went praying that I can fix it.
From what I could tell it still worked so the crisis seems to be avoided, but I’m shook. Not my hairdryer, God. Anything but my hairdryer! (alright, I’m being a bit dramatic, but there’s a point coming).
After we get back from a wonderful Valentine’s Day dinner and I get the girls tucked in bed, I can’t stop thinking about that crazy piece of rubber in the hairdryer. What in the world is it for? It’s been coiled in there since I opened the package, but why was it so easy for Lauren to take out? I decided to investigate a little further so I did what any modern day Sherlock Holmes would do, and I Googled it.
You’re not going to believe this. I’m almost too embarrassed to even go on. The darn rubber thing is a mat designed to be put on your bathroom countertop to rest your hairdryer ON so it doesn’t slide and fall on the ground. REALLY? So you’re telling me, this random rubber thing that has been INSIDE my dryer this entire time is not even supposed to be there? I’m dying.
Sheepishly, I removed the rubber mat, once again, and put it in the linen closet with all of the other random hair stuff I don’t use. The opening, A.K.A air intake, section of my hairdryer looked incredibly free and unobstructed for the first time in three and a half years.
Here’s the kicker. The next time I took a shower and dried my hair with the now unobstructed dryer it was as if I was using an entirely different machine! Seriously. It was the best blow-out I’ve ever given myself (and honestly, they’re not that great anyway), but I was BLOWN AWAY! (sorry, pun intended)
By simply removing this “thing” out of the machine it was suddenly able to perform the way it was intended to. It could finally live up to the potential that the designer and engineer of that device had intended. It was no longer inhibited by something that was never meant to be there in the first place.
Lightbulb moment. I felt God impress upon my heart, “Don’t you see? When you remove things from your life that I never intended to be there, you will be able to operate in the fullest capacity that I designed for you. But until you do that, your potential will be blocked.”
Whoa. So good.
It made me stop and think about those things that I need to remove from my life. Some are behaviors like impatience, controlling tendencies, fear, and approval addictions. Or, some of the things that may need to be eradicated could be physical things like toxic people, certain relationships, or habits. When we allow these things, that are not God’s will for us, or sinful behaviors, into our lives we inhibit His ability to work through us. He wants to blow His power, blessing, and light through us, but if that pathway is blocked those good gifts will not be as effective as He designed them to be.
What is the “rubber thing” in your hairdryer? What do you need to ask God to help you remove so that you can be an open vessel ready to receive his flow of transformation in your life? Sometimes the first step is simply identifying those things and then praying that God will help transform and renew your mind.
Romans 12:2 says, “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”
Why would we want to stop or hinder God’s flow in our life? Sometimes it takes hard work, sacrifice, and major self reflection to fix those things that are blocking us. But I can’t imagine living my entire life knowing that I may be missing out on the fullness of His design for me simply because something is blocking the way.
Identify what is in your “hairdryer” and commit to removing it today!
When I hear the word “Sabbath” it sounds so formal and honestly, a little daunting. It has this hyper-religious ring to it that feels slightly impersonal and a bit stuffy for someone who doesn’t understand what it really means. This was me awhile ago. I didn’t “get” what it meant to observe the Sabbath, and it wasn’t until recently that our family began making the Sabbath something that we DO, and practice, as a family.
First let’s dive into what the Sabbath is. The definition of Sabbath is “a day of religious observance and abstinence from work, kept by Jewish people from Friday evening to Saturday evening, and by most Christians on Sunday.”
In Exodus 20:8-11, keeping the Sabbath is actually stated as one of the Ten Commandments. It’s obviously something that is important to God if He made it one of the Big Ten.
It states, “Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neigher you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens, and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.”
I will be the first to admit that stopping and resting is not easy for me to do. I think as women, wives, and mothers, we super-ladies have constant pressure to get stuff done! Whether that’s in our profession or around the house. This makes intentionally turning off that switch and allowing ourselves to rest, WAY hard! But it’s not something that God simply suggests for us to do. No, it’s a straight-up command!
And why would God command you to do something that feels completely against the grain of your nature? Because He loves you. He knows that we need to rest and He wants us to love Him in the process. He also desires that time to be about worship. He wants us to engage in dedicated, uninterrupted time directing our gaze up on our Lord, Creator, and Friend.
I know all of us could use a little more rest in our week, but I think the real issue with keeping the Sabbath is a trust issue. When our family first started being more intentional about this practice, I’ll be the first one to say that I struggled with trusting that everything would still get done. I mean seriously, between my day job and trying to keep the house picked up, laundry done, meals planned, etc. I couldn’t possibly afford to sit back and chill-ax while the To-Do list was screaming at me, right?
Well, that’s exactly what God wants you to do. It’s about TRUST. Do you trust Him enough to let all that go and put Him and His commands first? The Israelites had the same problem. In Exodus Chapter 16 Moses had led the recently freed people into the desert and they were complaining about not having enough food to eat. So God sent quail in the evening and manna in the morning. He commanded them to gather only what they needed for each day except on the sixth day, they were told to gather twice as much so they would have enough for the Sabbath. The people that tried to gather the manna on the seventh day went out and found none. Zero, zip. Nada.
This story really hit me because I often find myself not trusting that I can get everything done. But then I’m reminded that when I have this mindset I’m not having faith in what GOD can accomplish. I’m putting all my eggs in one basket, myself, and goodness knows my abilities are always lacking. So why put your faith in what only YOU can do instead of putting your faith in what the Creator of the Universe can do. I’m guessing He’s a little bit better at time management than we are. Just a hunch.
So sure, this all seems great but what does it practically look like for us? Last I checked, we weren’t living in a tent in the Sahara with no wi-fi gathering the morning pancakes from the ground in the backyard. Our lives look WAY different than the Israelites’ so what does the Sabbath look like for me? I think it may look different for every family, but I can tell you what we do.
We have chosen Sundays to be our Sabbath day. Beginning Saturday night and extending through Sunday evening my husband and I start with enacting “Cell-Free Sunday”. This means putting our cell phones on their chargers in our bedroom closet and leaving them there. Granted, if we feel we need to take them with us for safety purposes we do, but we’re not posting to our Instagram stories or checking email.
The second thing we do is worship. That’s either physically going to church or watching a service online. Even though we believe every day is the Lord’s day, being intentional about worshiping our amazing God, and filling our hearts with His word is SO important. Then we try to do something outside with our family. I am so grateful that my husband is an outdoorsy kinda guy. I love the outdoors too, but I can also be a homebody. He has been so good for me because he pushes us to get out and do fun activities together. Whether it’s hiking, biking, skiing, or just walking the dog, getting out into nature, being active, and connecting with God’s creation feels like worship to us. If getting outside isn’t an option, then board games, puzzles, or Legos are our go-to.
The other parameter that we set for ourselves on this day is refraining from doing any work that is income producing. That means detaching from our jobs and really taking this time to rest our brains.
This whole concept may seem so foreign to you, and I get that. I often struggle with feeling guilty if I’m not “working” or at least doing something productive. If that’s you too, take yourself off the hook, sister! Have peace knowing that God commanded you to rest. He knows what’s best for your body, your mental state, and your family. If HE rested after creating our world then you know it’s important to Him.
Practicing the Sabbath is exactly that for our family. It’s practice. I can’t say that we get it right every single week. It’s something we have to really work at. (Doesn’t that sound like an oxymoron!?) But it’s true. My flesh wants to be active and accomplish things, so I have to constantly be working on suppressing that urge. Some weeks we rock it! Others are epic fails. But I believe God honors our obedience and when we keep His day holy, He will more than make up for what we feel we “haven’t accomplished” in those 24 hours. He will bless our work that we do during the week, and will do immeasurably more than all we could hope or imagine!
So are you up for it?
I feel like I hear this phrase all the time lately. And let’s be honest, it definitely has a nice ring to it. But what exactly does it mean? It seems so easy to say and “faith over fear” has become a bit of a mantra this past year, but how do you practically put it into action? Just like any mantra or word of wisdom, you can say it all you want, but if you don’t act on it, it rings hollow.
Let’s start with breaking down the two main words in that phrase so we first understand what each of them means. I’m going to begin with the word fear. The Webster’s Dictionary definition of fear is, “an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by expectation or awareness of danger.” Another definition is, “concern about what may happen : WORRY.” I like to define it as an acronym, the (F)alse (E)xpectation of something (A)ppearing (R)eal. The common denominator of all of these definitions is the assumption that something bad is going to happen. A.K.A, worry.
Okay, now let’s dive into the word, faith. If we call on our friend Webster again, faith is defined as “a firm belief even in the absence of proof : complete confidence.” It’s having confidence in the substance of things hoped for and the certainty of what we cannot see.
Sure, this is great and all, but you may be asking, “How does “faith over fear” help me when it feels like my world is crashing and burning all around me? It’s quite simple actually. Finding peace through practicing faith over fear is a choice. I’ll say it again. It’s a choice.
Every morning when you wake up and your feet hit the floor, you have a fresh opportunity to choose to live by either faith, or fear. It’s so easy to fall into the fear category. In this world, we are constantly being bombarded by fear tactics that get our hearts racing, and our minds spiraling into that rabbit hole of worry. But what does the Bible say about worry? Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation with prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.
Instead of living in a constant state of fear, instead you can choose to have a mindset of courage and faith. You can believe and TRUST that God has plans to prosper you and not to harm you, and that He has plans to give you hope and a future. (Jeremiah 29:11). I firmly believe that when I pray, seek God, and ask Him to cover me with His protection that nothing can come to me that doesn’t go through Him first.
Does this mean that we will never have hardship or struggles? Nope. Being a breast cancer survivor I can tell you that’s definitely not the case. However, I also know that God can work beautiful miracles through those challenges if you’re willing to keep your eyes on Him through the storm.
Living a life of faith over fear is incredibly freeing because it allows you to operate in a state of peace that protects your mind from the craziness around you. It keeps your feet grounded but your eyes upward and connected to the source that will guide you through all of life’s difficulties.
Here is a great podcast about this topic.