That’s really why I’m here.

I was sitting in a dining room when I (thought it was safe and) told a man who had taught Bible class that I felt I’d be speaking on stage.

He tilted his head and patted me on the shoulder, “Yeah… but if He’s not….”

I was only asking for prayers. That’s the only reason I told him. It was a small group meeting and – prayer is part of it, right?

But when he didn’t believe me, I was faced with another situation entirely: A test of faith.

Did I actually believe what I was saying I know? Or did I not?

I looked at him (not aware back then of his condescending tone) and after deep thought a minute, I said again, “But… He is.” I just …knew.

And again, this faith-lacking, prideful, young Bible class teacher looked into my eyes, shook his head and said with a smirk (clearly now I realize it was proof he didn’t believe me) and patted me again on the shoulder, “Yeahh….but if He’s NOT….”

What I read from Genesis to Revelation is that God has always used lesser known messy people with messy lives to carry out His Divine purpose.

I’ve had something like 7 years to think about that moment. He didn’t seem to believe God would choose someone like me (clearly nobody in this man’s eyes) to share God’s Word, my faith, and my story.

 

It’s funny how some moments seem to last so much longer than others.

 

I believe God allows and purposely tests our faith with moments like these.

People everywhere are constantly demanding field- and factory-tested products but they are the same people who tend to shake their fist in defiant anger when anyone tests or challenges their beliefs.

That’s a bit of a double standard.

God humbles and tests us, refines us, and He says He will finish what He starts.

And it turns out it doesn’t matter who else believes what He’s doing with you but you.

If someone isn’t tested then how will he or she stand when things seem unfair?

What about when things seem to take a long time? (“Too long” according to people watching your life. Too long? Oh my word! What does that even MEAN when The One we serve is The Author of time, itself?)

What about when other people mock your faith?

What about when it’s people closest to you who mock your faith?

People don’t like flimsy products.

Oh! How much MORE does God not want a luke-warm follower?!

Two things just happened.

This past month AS the final legal procedures of my second divorce happen, the doors have been opened for more platforms to share my faith – and my story.

Share my story — every messy broken part of it.

Yes, you read that right… second: one marriage was 7 years and one has been almost 19 by the time divorce is final… though possibly both were broken from the start. But I’ve learned a lot. And forget divorce! What about the hundred other ways God has had to be sad about me? There are so many other things! But God!

Imagine a redeeming God who uses messy people’s messy lives to share in HIS purpose?!

The thing is I knew you’d be reading this. It’s not a good thing. It’s not a bad thing. But I knew somehow in my spirit a few years ago that I’d be here writing about this someday.

I had told my kids I felt someone would come ask me to write with a group of other Christian writers.

This just happened.

Jennie Louwes, who felt God lead her to start MomPro – Teach The Way, contacted me to join her along with several other writers.

I also knew I’d be speaking on stage at some point. This also isn’t good or bad. It just is.

I was actually afraid to ever speak back then.

Mostly I was afraid because someone too close to me kept telling me in so many ways that I was never going to be enough.

The beautiful Truth is that God takes what little I have to offer and HE makes it – and He makes me – enough.

But what ever would I speak about exactly? That part wasn’t clear at that time, which again is why I had been asking for prayers already all those years ago in that small group meeting.

This just happened too.

Last week I was asked to speak at an event. I believe this is the first of many.

And guess what? I’m not afraid anymore.

In the mess…in the questions…in the middle, God gives a firm place to stand in Him.

That’s really why I’m here today: to ask you.

What do you do when your faith is tested?

Do you recognize when it happens?

When people tell you something isn’t… but God shows you it very much IS, perhaps that’s a test of your faith.

What you DO with each test of faith is up to you.

God likes to know what you’ll do and He tests you and allows you to be tested. Because… well, maybe He also wants YOU to know what you’ll do.

 

Do you complain?

Do you immediately go to Him in prayer for answers and to praise Him out loud?

Do you get mad and let pride grab a place in your spirit?

 

I believe what you do in that moment IS a part of the test.

It doesn’t matter what someone else believes. It matters what YOU believe.

Want to have some fun? Just watch God use something that someone meant to harm you, instead for HIS good. He is a good God! NOTHING is wasted. HE makes beauty from ashes. I believe in you, you believe, and God believes. THAT is already a cord of THREE!

Even when nobody else can see what He’s doing, He STILL does it. And THAT is some Good News.

To The Ones With A Gentle Spirit

People get so mad.

About everything.

About that this isn’t a full sentence.

Like hate-filled, gossip about you, unfriend you, crucify you, plain and ugly, wish death on you, angry.

They do it about just ….well, about everything.

If you don’t like what someone likes or approve of what a group does, so SO MANY people (and it seems like more all the time) treat you as if they now choose YOU as an enemy.

Precious You, if you’re still reading this and you’re not already writing a hundred word essay about how wrong I am with this blog post, your gentle, warrior spirit is open and please know you’re not the enemy and hear that it’s not about you. Your gentle spirit is a fresh relief from the hostility to anyone with eyes to see. Thank you for being here.

It’s about “lovers of self.” It’s a Biblically prophesied-over, already expected, spiritual war.

And in the middle of it all: is a spirit of pride.

You know the situations I’m talking about.

It happens at work, school, home, in marriages, those you-better-be-at-the-next-family-reunion-or-else (dare I say) celebrations, stores, vacations, church, standing in line, post offices, coffee shops, hospitals, restaurants, wherever you feel led to serve, and everywhere else I didn’t think to mention.

And God tells us to avoid people who are behaving this way.

Check out what 2 Timothy 3:1-9 says about it.

Difficult Times Will Come.

But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a FORM OF godliness, although they have denied its power; AVOID such men as these. For among them are those who enter into households and captivate weak women weighed down with sins, led on by various impulses, ALWAYS learning and NEVER ABLE to come to the KNOWLEDGE OF TRUTH. Just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men also oppose the truth, men of depraved mind, rejected in regard to the faith. BUT THEY WILL NOT MAKE FURTHER PROGRESS; for their folly will be obvious to ALL, just as Jannes’s and Jambres’s folly was also.

(emphasis, mine.)

Read through that list again.

It’s insane how many of these words fit everyday situations.

The number of prideful, arrogant people — who have no Holy Spirit so they are able to show no grace — seems as if a giant Goliath and the grace-filled people with quiet strength for the battles seem like David.

(But we all know how that story goes. David defeated Goliath so there’s that.

1 Samuel 17:47-50

Verse 47

…All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, AND HE WILL give all of you into our hands.”)

Praise God for people who are after His own heart!

Acts 13:22

But God removed Saul and replaced him with David, a man about whom God said, ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man AFTER MY OWN HEART. He will do everything I want him to do.’

David’s oldest brother was mad at him telling him he could not do what David KNEW he was there to do. His brother (Eliab) said his (David’s) heart was wicked, BUT GOD SAYS David was a man after GOD’S own heart! Praise God that he listened to what he knew he could do and did not listen to the ones who didn’t believe and who were jealous.

1 Samuel 17:28-32

When Eliab, David’s oldest brother, heard him speaking with the men, he burned with anger at him and asked, “Why have you come down here? And with whom did you leave those few sheep in the wilderness? I know how conceited you are and how wicked your heart is; you came down only to watch the battle.”

Now what have I done?” said David. “Can’t I even speak?” He then turned away to someone else and brought up the same matter, and the men answered him as before. What David said was overheard and reported to Saul, and Saul sent for him.

David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

(And then even the king didn’t believe David could do what he knew he was there to do.

1 Samuel 17:33

Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a young man, and he has been a warrior from his youth.”

Sometimes people don’t know what they don’t know.)

 

Whatever unkind, without understanding or trying to see things from your side of the world, prideful ways people act toward you, aren’t your burdens to take on yourself.

These aren’t your behaviors and you can gently, gracefully respond (remembering a gentle word turns away wrath. Proverbs 15:1.)

And you can boldly say, “NO, thank you. The way you’re talking to me isn’t going to be okay. Maybe we can try again another time.” (But maybe not. YOU get to choose. And I pray you find more healthy boundaries – and enforce them – all the time.)

Whether it’s something that has deeply hurt my feelings or feels as if it’s blocking me somehow from what I know in my spirit that I’m supposed to be doing, God has taught me to stop in the moment, just breathe, and (immediately remember to) ask Him 3 questions in every situation:

(Note: This works SO, so, so much better if I do this BEFORE I get my feelings in the way, but often truthfully it happens after something hurt my heart more than I’d like to admit… because I forgot that this life is not about me and yet again tried to make it about me… but 3 things are:)

Lord, what do You want me to LEARN from this?”

What do You want me to DO with this?”

How can I honor YOU in this?”

We get so offended too easily and take on other people’s angry pride as if it’s something we “should” carry. Because honestly people have become really good, experts even, at trying to make others absorb their unresolved junk in life that they have not (maybe purposefully and perhaps not so much) dealt with. It comes out as heavy artillery in our direction. Some days this is overt and MUCH of the time it’s covert. And people use a thousand different tactics to try to make you accept their stuff. (Rest in the Truth that God sees ALL of it and NOTHING is hidden from Him!)

But it’s not ours to carry.

And if we started to, we can lay it down.

We are to mourn when people mourn and rejoice when people rejoice. (Romans 12:15)

But to carry what they won’t hand over to God is not your responsibility.

It’s theirs.

Like a good coach or employer or father would do, God has purpose in everything He allows us to experience whether we’re too short-sighted sometimes to see it or not.

The next time someone does or says something that hurts you, I’m asking you to pray these 3 things because we have been PROMISED we can cast all our cares on Him.

1 Peter 5:7

Cast ALL your anxiety ON HIM

BECAUSE HE CARES for YOU.

Are you doing your part? Every day? Casting your cares?

Carrying that junk that others have been trying to pile on you is way heavy.

And it needs to go.

Maybe…

Maybe…

It’s not the drinking.
It’s not the cutting.
It’s not the drugs.
It’s not the bulimia.
It’s not the overeating.
It’s not the gossiping.
It’s not the stealing.
It’s not the lying.
It’s not the cheating.
It’s not the smoking.

Maybe it’s the WHY underneath it all that we need to care for first.