Dear To-Do List, I am breaking up with you.

Dear To Do List

It’s not that it hasn’t been interesting and I know we got a lot done together.

But you are in the way. You are not really my friend.

You tell me what to do every day and when I don’t get it all done, you beat me up at the end of the day telling me that I didn’t do everything I needed to do.

But who are you to tell me what I need to get done today?

I’ve had enough.

It’s probably not even your fault.

It’s mine for believing you and I are the ones who can do the most good with my time.

But God has only given me a certain amount of time and I cannot get any more of it.

So you have to go.

God knitted into me my purpose and you have distracted me and stolen too much.

Until I started asking Him to take my to-do list and show me what HE wants for my days, you were my idol.

Enough.

You are not my god.

I’m not going to worship you anymore.

God is my God and I haven’t been putting Him first most of my life and asking Him what HE wants me to do each day.

See? He says The Holy Spirit is here to guide me and I believe Him.

The days I ask HIM to lead me are the MOST satisfying days in every way (even though usually I didn’t do what you told me to do or even what what I thought I needed to get done.)

The most UNsatisfying days are the ones where I try to do stuff MY WAY and in MY TIMING.

It’s funny. I have found that usually the thing I can’t get out of my mind is the very thing I actually need to be focusing on, but most of the time until now I’ve pushed that stuff out of the way to stay on schedule – for you.

What God has shown me is that I don’t have to try to figure out how the days are going to look.

My friends cannot open doors He’s shut.

And my enemies cannot shut doors He’s opened for me.

I know. You probably don’t think I’m perfect enough for God.

You wonder if He even wants me.

He does.

And the truth is I don’t have to be perfect.

My God is not looking for perfection. He is looking for people willing to give Him their time – giving their lives as a living sacrifice for what HE wants and not just doing what we want or what other people tell us we have to do.

It’s okay if you forget or throw this letter in the trash.

Because if I forget, then tomorrow, I will wake up and break up with you all over again.

Sincerely, Me

 

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Automatically we were signed up for war.

We were born into a battle. It’s not like we had a choice to sign up for war or anything but the moment we were conceived we were in this broken world and automatically we were signed up for war. It doesn’t matter if we consent to it or not. There is a war going on all around us every day between good and evil.

But before we were even conceived in our mothers’ wombs, God ALREADY had a plan for EACH of us. It’s like… impossible to even wrap my head around this but that doesn’t make it any less true.

When someone signs up for military in this world, we EXPECT he or she will go through tests, training, pain, and we KNOW to expect all of this. When military people complain and cry or whine, it’s kinda like people lose respect for them.

But the training is really hard and it’s okay to be sad and to cry. It’s not weak to cry. It’s healing.

In life, we sometimes have forgotten that we are automatically entered into a battle and God wants to train us, He will test our faith, and use the pain we go through for something bigger than ourselves. And OH how we do go through pain!

The training is really hard and it’s okay to be sad and to cry and to grieve and there is no rhyme or reason to it. It’s chaos. Know why?

There is an enemy. And this enemy is satan. Sin is real and satan designs custom-made traps for each of us. It’s not like we mean to fall into them but it’s seductive and we are human.

Traps look different for everyone. It’s nothing to laugh about and we all need help breaking the chains that hold us in prison. It could be that we fell into a sin like pornography or drugs or chasing money or even we could have faced the death of a child or a divorce and these can knock you down like for what feels like an eternity.

You matter. Your story matters. All of it. How you feel about it matters and the most important thing is what you do with it. You can hide it or let the enemy keep you down – and he’s GOOD at it because that’s what satan does – or you can stand back up and ask God to cover you and send the Holy Spirit with you everywhere you go and keep giving you His strength and leading you to know what He wants to do with your story.

We each have a choice to follow Him or not. Nobody can make this choice for you EXCEPT FOR YOU. Nobody.

And we will each stand before God on Judgment Day – by ourselves – and we are accountable for how we lived.

God did not expect perfection from us.

If He did there would have been no reason for Jesus to die taking our sins on the cross. But Jesus did die and Jesus did get down off that cross and that tomb could not hold him!  God sent Jesus to redeem us which if you think about it, if He expected us to be perfect, there would be no need for this.  We’re not perfect and that’s okay.  This is why Jesus is perfect.

I know stuff happened. I know someone has hurt you. I know people betrayed you. I know you have faced unbearable pain that nobody can fully understand because every situation is different. Get up anyway. Don’t let the enemy win. Please, please get up. God has such plans for your life and when you keep asking Him what He wants you to do every day, He will keep leading you and ALL the experiences you’ve been through in life will make more sense and all your talents and gifts will make sense and life becomes better (not necessarily easier but better.)

God loves you SO very much.  Talk with Him.  He’s listening.

You want to make this a fight of flesh and blood. But it’s not. It’s spiritual with the powers of darkness.
The enemy is AFRAID of what YOU can truly become. – the movie King’s Faith

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. Ephesians 6:12

Please Stop Shaming People and Start Helping People

It’s a trap. Sin is a trap. Make no mistake; the enemy is very clever. The sins that trap you are tailored just for you. It’s what satan does.

We get it. We know you didn’t realize what you were getting into when you started down this road. If you had known how it would bury you like this, you wouldn’t have chosen it. I believe that’s the truth.

Now, you may have “felt” like you were not worth enough NOT to head down this path.

THAT couldn’t be further from the truth. You are VERY worthwhile.

That’s another way that satan tricks people. That old devil tricks people into believing they don’t deserve to enjoy this life in healthy ways. Some people have told me they went back to something that wasn’t good for them BECAUSE they felt they deserved less. That breaks my heart.

YOU ARE VERY WORTHWHILE. (You don’t have to take my word for it. Jesus says so. He died FOR YOU.)

Pornography, for example, is a trap and the very nature of its design is to hook you and hold you, deaden your senses to beautiful sex the way God designed it, and keep you afraid to speak.

It is OKAY to ask for help. It is NOT weak. It actually takes courage to ask for help. <~~~ Think about that.

It may take talking with several people about a problem before you find someone who realizes we are not strong enough on our own to help others. We can help others BECAUSE of Jesus.

Personal story: When I was a little girl, someone molested me for years. Why didn’t I tell? I think I felt special. But he was treating me anything BUT special. It was ugly. And wrong. Now, some would argue that it’s not “fair” or “Christian” that I won’t let my children be around this person because we are called to forgive. I do forgive. But to let my children be around him would be unwise and would not be using the sense God gave me.  Because this was a crime against a child, I believe it would be bad idea.

I tell you a moment of my story to include that there ARE consequences to sin and that’s life in this broken world. Turning the other cheek doesn’t mean being unwise. God gives us senses for a reason.

I’m frustrated when well-meaning Christians shame someone by saying, “Well you should have known better. Too bad you messed up so badly. You’re going to hell.”

No. That’s NOT okay. And if you’re wondering if I’m talking to Christians, I am. I am especially talking to Christians. The world is looking to US to make a difference and to give them hope. Please do it. Speak life; not death.

What if, instead of shaming, we said, “Yes. That was wrong. I’m very sorry that happened in your life but God uses EVERYTHING. This time was NOT wasted. I expect more from you now. I know you can overcome this because Jesus is real and prayer works.  I will be praying over your life. You pray about it, too. God will use this part of your life to help someone else.”

It’s time to help pick each other up and stop shaming each other when we mess up.

We KNOW what we’re doing is wrong or else we wouldn’t feel the desire to HIDE it. Just like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, they knew something they did was wrong and they hid.

God knows what you did. AND HE STILL LOVES YOU.

This is where repentance comes in and it very much matters.

The world is crying out for help.

Please, PLEASE stop shaming people and start helping.

Please stop gossiping and start loving.

EVERYBODY sins.

I am NO more perfect than YOU are. Zero percent more perfect.

~~~> YOU are zero percent more perfect that someone with different sins than yours. <~~~

EVERYBODY needs Jesus. When we ACT like we can “do” this life on our own we are not giving thanks or recognizing what Jesus’ sacrifice was even for; to redeem us.

He doesn’t call us to fight these battles on our own. We do NOT have to fight alone.

You don’t have to wonder if someone is already praying over you. I am.

God, please touch the life of this reader in ways he or she sees is You and Your Love. Please give the Peace that ONLY You can give. Please send very real help in times of trouble when satan is up to his old – or new – tricks. Thank you. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. – Ephesians 6:12

 

Those Hypocrites At Church

Church people mess up. Christians mess up. We mess up JUST LIKE anyone else. Being a Christian does not make someone perfect.

I’m not even sure why anyone ever started thinking that way.

If we were perfect, then there wouldn’t be any need for Jesus’ Blood to cover us or for Him to have died for us.

Jesus is The One who is perfect; not Christians.

People are people.

People sometimes say, “Well, I don’t go to church because there are hypocrites at church.”

Yes. There are.

AND there are hypocrites at the grocery store, school, the gym, the office, the bar, and everywhere else you go.

The enemy WANTS you to give up on church and the whole idea of “church.”

You still go to these other places even though there are hypocrites there.

So please, please don’t let a church building be THE one place you stop going because of this.

YOU may have something to share with people that nobody else has shared.

YOUR presence in a church building could be the VERY thing in which satan is MOST afraid! He’s the great deceiver. If you don’t think this could be true, then why would he work so hard to keep you out?

 

God did this! Even if this part is all you read, that’s enough.

Heroes don’t always wear capes.

Sometimes heroes look like everyday people; just like you and me.

Yesterday a woman and her son (people we barely know) loaned us a vehicle for an indefinite amount of time.

Why?

God did this! Even if this part is all you read, that’s enough.

~

About 6 months ago our car broke (It’s an older car. Head gasket broke. Too costly to repair everything.)

We’ve been walking almost everywhere we need to go. A few friends have taken us places when we asked and sometimes have let us use their cars when we asked.   (And sometimes people just offered.)

But most of the time over the past 6 months we’ve been walking.

We always wanted to walk more but much of the time we just didn’t. Not living with a car has been a blessing in several ways. We’re getting in better shape, eating less, eating at home more, feel better, we’re NOT in a hurry, and we spend many hours just walking and talking as a family.

Don’t get me wrong. We could have chosen to buy a car on our own timing and our own terms but instead we chose to ask God to show us the right one and the right timing.

Many choices in life we’ve made on our own. We’re tired of that. Now we try to include God and ask Him to lead our schedule and our choices every day.

He does lead.

We just missed hearing about 2 vehicles in the past few months by about ONE day each time. Both vehicles sold for only $500 each.

I could have been upset. But the thing is that we’re praying and we know that God answers prayers. So since both vehicles passed us by we knew neither was the right one for us or the right timing for whatever reasons.

God’s timing is amazing.

When we wait on Him, trusting Him, and following Him, life is just better.

2 days ago (JUST before Thanksgiving) our daughter wasn’t feeling well. We ended up going to the Emergency Room, being transported by ambulance, and surgery done – all within about 7 hours.

It was unexpected and a pretty crazy week. It was appendicitis.

Friends gave us a ride to the hospital. Usually they don’t hear the phone but did this time and were at our door in less than 10 minutes. Thank you, Danny and Meredith.

Another friend brought my husband and oldest daughter to the hospital and stayed with us during the surgery. He wasn’t in a rush. God sent him to help us and just to love on us right when we needed a friend. Thank you, Mike.

Two of our daughter’s Bible class teachers came to visit her the next morning.  This was pretty cool because about 24 hours earlier they’d been in Israel.  They took the time after their long trip to visit her after surgery.  Thank you, David and Kari.  This was very sweet of you.

A friend and her mom also showed up at the hospital and were there just in time to hang out for a while in the hospital room and give our daughter someone to spend time with which put a much needed smile on her face. Then we were released (earlier than expected) to go home and they were able to drive us home. No hurry. No pressure. Thank you, (you know who you are.)

After we got home another friend and her dad came by our house. We talked while the girls played. We told him about the calling we feel to move to Alaska to open and take care of a homeless teen center and we talked about our car situation.

We had no idea what was going to happen next.

He made a phone call to his mom who is not needing to use her truck and he took us to get the truck right then. No strings attached. Thank you, Elizabeth, and Leland, and Rachel.

It may be a little while before our daughter can walk like she used to. Receiving a vehicle right now is quite amazing timing. It’s not coincidence.

God’s timing is perfect.

I do not have to be able to explain it.

I do not have to defend it.

I do not have to know HOW God is going to do something.

That’s not my job.

It’s my job to ASK Him.

It’s my job to believe that He will.

It’s my job to tell others about everything God has done in my life.

Yesterday a woman and her son (people we barely know) loaned us a vehicle for an indefinite amount of time.

God did this! (Even if this part is all you read, that’s enough.)

 

When We Were Young We Believed

When we were young we believed we could do so many things; crazy, amazing, big, world changing things!

Then life happened.

We started to believe we had such limitations and we were beaten down by other people’s words and ideas.

Why did they say what they said? I don’t know. Maybe they were jealous. Maybe they were broken inside. Maybe they truly believed this world is all there is and there’s not any point in trying anymore.

They were wrong.

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. – Romans 12:2

You CAN make a difference.

Here’s an even better reminder than that! God can make a God-sized difference through your life.

Yes. You. YOUR life.

YOUR story matters.

ALL the details of your life matter.

How you feel about it matters.

God can do something that no man can do. He can turn the very worst and darkest part of your story into something amazing that glorifies Him.

And THAT is a beautiful thing!

Think you’re too old? No. You’re just right.

Think you’re too young? No. You’re just right.

Too tired? God gives new energy.

Think it’s too late? Remember. God is the Author of time. He is not in a hurry.

Ask God what He wants you to do today ~ every day. He will show you.

God and I believe in you.

Now it’s time that YOU believe in you (again or maybe for the first time.)

YOU can make SUCH a difference in this dark world.

When you believe in you – and in God – with childlike faith like you used to, the possibilities for what God will do in your life are limitless.

The world told you that you can’t. The world is wrong. You CAN.

For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus. – Philippians 1:6

 

Hey teenagers and pre-teens, we are proud of you.

Teens, and pre-teens, since I know there are a few of you guys here online, I just wanted to tell you I am SO proud of how you stand up and share your faith!  This is a REALLY tough time to be a kid. I am proud of your modesty and how you stand up and speak out when friends are talking you into and making not great choices. It’s really tough. You have GREAT courage!! I just wanted to be a voice thanking you for standing out instead of trying to fit in. You guys are making a difference.

That being said, PLEASE Please talk to us (parents and grown ups) when you do mess up. We will love you through mistakes. Yes, we may be sad and a little disappointed just as you may be when we mess up as grown ups, but we ARE here for you and we DO get that life is really tough as a teenager in 2014. We do not expect you to be perfect and I apologize to anyone who feels like you are held to a “perfect” standard. We mess up as parents and we know you guys mess up as kids, too. I love you. And I just wanted to tell you that you DO have people to talk to when life gets you down.

Where can we let off steam?

I’m not crazy. I’m a mom. And a wife and a leader and a servant and a taxi driver and a counselor and a nurse and a peacemaker and a teacher and a volunteer…

Where can we let off steam?

Where can we really say what’s bothering us? Where can we get support from someone and just be heard and not have someone call the authorities on us?
~
Church? Heavens no. Do we dare admit that we sometimes want to self medicate when they ask for prayers at church? (Or that we actually DO self medicate in whatever our favorite way is?) Oh dear. Not me! Right? I have to look like I’m on top of things. I have to look like I’ve got this all under control. My kids look perfect. My husband is presentable. My smile is on just right.

“Why, sure I can teach the 2 year olds and lead the women’s bible study and neighborhood prayer group.” “Of course I can make 300 cupcakes by Saturday and cut out 180 snowflakes this weekend.” “Yes, send me the documents so I can edit them for you by 3 o’clock today.”

Sometimes the answer needs to be “NO.” That is OKAY! When we take on so much and spread our love too thin we’re not that much help in anything we do.

~
School? Oh you must be talking about THAT mom who stood up for her kids when other students have been unkind for months and the teachers make sarcastic comments like, “Oh is she absent AGAIN? She’s sick ALL the time.” That does NOT help. That is NOT being a good teacher. I trust you daily to care for my child. Be someone I can trust who will speak to (and about) my child with respect the same way you want your kids to be treated.

THAT family where they’ve tried to help teach their child, “Ignore.” “Speak up.” “It’s better not to speak.” “Stand up.” “Be invisible.” “Stand out.” “Have courage.” “Jesus is with you.”

Then THAT family goes to the school for help and the school administration assures you, “That does NOT go on at THIS school!”

Either they are blatantly lying or are absolutely blind to the fact that it IS happening at THIS school. Kids are bullying other kids all the time. If my kid is part of the problem let’s talk about that. If not, then help me figure out a solution while she’s in your care.

Absolutely we [parents and school and church] should be teaching our kids HOW to stand up for themselves and that it is okay to fight back. Turning the other cheek does not mean let someone walk all over you and not stand up for yourself. Absolutely DO stand up for yourself and more importantly stand up for people around you who are being bullied.

What to do about it? I’m sure there is NOT just one answer for every case but maybe the first thing to do is just to admit there is a problem. Stop treating moms and dads like we do not know what is going on. Not everyone is going to try to sue the school if school admits they are not perfect.

~
Work? We go to work. We do our job. We take care of other people’s problems, possibly face a little sexual harassment, brush it off, stop by the grocery store to pick up spaghetti sauce for dinner, walk in the door to hear our kids say, “Hey, mom, I need $20 for the field trip by my first class in the morning.” “Here mom. Sign this please. The teacher said I’m going to need tutoring for a month or until I get this grade up or I’m out of sports.” And my sweet husband says, “Did you take the car to get the tires rotated today?” And I pretend NOT to notice him closing down something on the computer and wonder who he’s cheating on me with this time.

~
Home? What if we lose our temper at home? Mom’s gone crazy. She’s out of control. No. No she’s not.

Sometimes we don’t realize our kids ARE old enough to help at home (at just about every age.) Let them do dishes. Remember, if something accidentally gets dropped, to buy less fragile stuff next time. If a dish is more important than our kids learning service, responsibility and to take care of where they live (because they will ALWAYS need to take care of where they live) then maybe we should buy less breakable stuff from now on. Let them fold laundry. So what if it’s not folded the exact way we would fold it? Let them help. And praise them for it. It will build confidence.

Delegate a little of the housework to each person in the house, briefly teach them how to do it, and then LET them do it. Don’t step in. But DO tell them, “Hey I really appreciate your help. I love how you cleaned the sink.” “I’m having a tough time getting the floor clean in here. You have such great eyesight. Would you please clean to the edges when you clean the bathroom?”

~
Romance? Dates? Looking and feeling sexy as a woman? When do we have time for that?! I WANT that. I NEED that.

~
WHERE can we let off steam? Pretty much nowhere. NO WONDER we are under so much stress. I have seriously considered building a place where women can go and for a small fee they can take a baseball bat and smash stuff for 5 minutes.

On top of all that if we raise our voice to our families we feel like the biggest failure of the century.

THAT is a bad day. When I raise my voice to my family. Worst feeling EVER.

AAAUUGGHHHHHHH!!!!!! ENOUGH. I need a moment to breathe. I need a little silence. I need someone to realize that I am a person, too. I am very great at what I do and yes I can handle 217 thousand things at once and (yes, we all pretty much wear the title “super mom” but) just let me catch my breath.

~~> I need Jesus. He can fill me and give me energy and the strength I need to be the mom and wife I need to be. Ask God for energy and thank Him for it. He is THE answer. He doesn’t HAVE the answer. He IS the answer. <~~

~ And then we kiss the kids good night and do it all again tomorrow. ~

I want you to know that I am praying over your life. I am praying over your jobs, your marriage, your search for a husband, your decision to be single, your church, your education, your kids, your life in general, and your heart. Just know that somebody cares and in case nobody told you today… YOU MATTER.