5 Minute Friday – Glue

Today, I’m joining Lisa Jo Baker for Five Minute Friday. This is when women from all over the world link up after writing for five minutes (no editing allowed!) on a specific word. This week’s word is “Glue.”

Five Minute Friday

This week has been one of those types of weeks – you know, where nothing has gone as planned and every word that comes out of my mouth just seems wrong.

I am doing a long term subbing job and had to start a week earlier than I had planned. On Tuesday, I found a cyber friend had lost her battle with cancer. 🙁 On Wednesday, my oldest son woke up throwing up. On Thursday, I spent my day running all over the place in some kind of Laurel and Hardy type farce over my car. No lie – I had not even gotten home from picking up the rental car the dealership gave me because they forgot to align my car and missed a bent strut from an accident, when the body shop called to tell me my car was ready. It would have been funny – if it hadn’t been.

Add to this, that somehow, all week long, I felt like I had been putting my foot wrong with everyone. Do you ever feel like that? I really hate to upset people or hurt their feelings. I’m not a huge fan of confrontation or conflict. Over the years, I’ve gotten better at this, but at my worst, I can dissect something I’d said over and over and tie myself up in knots over how my words might have been taken or perceived. I can get caught up in this even if I have no clues from the other person that there is even a problem. Instead, I torture myself over how I could have said it differently or if the person might be upset and just not telling me. I wonder if perhaps I should contact that person again and try to clarify or explain myself better (ever hear of digging yourself a hole – I would be the Queen Digger).

So, to say I felt unglued would be an understatement. It was an unglued type of week.

When I read the word for today in my email this morning, I thought how ironic it was that during a week when I felt everything was unglued, the word was glued.

As I sat and spent time with Jesus this morning, I realized just WHY I felt so unglued. With all the crisis happening this week and having to get up extra early, my hour with Jesus hadn’t happened. At all. That doesn’t mean I wasn’t shooting up prayers. But I certainly wasn’t doing any quiet, settled time with God. The result was a very unglued woman – me!

I also realized as I continued my Bible study on spiritual warfare, that that horrible feeling of saying the wrong thing to everyone was just another tactic from the enemy. He loves to isolate us, to separate us from the body because a solitary person is so much easier to take down than one in a group.

Because I had not been spending time with Jesus, soaking in His Truth, I had not even realized the sneak attack that was going on.

For me, the glue that holds it all together is Jesus. When I don’t spend that time sitting at His feet, I am just setting myself up to become unglued.

What things does the enemy use to make you feel unglued?

Blessings, Rosanne

When Someone Leaves an Imprint on Your Heart – Remembering Kim

I knew her as MommaK. I met her probably 8 or 9 years ago on an online mom’s board. Even though we never met in real life, I counted Kim as a friend.

Early Tuesday morning, after a long, courageous battle with cancer, Kim stepped from this life into the presence of Jesus.

meteor-like sun

Kim was not just my friend. She touched many lives on the mom’s board through her gentle, sweet ways. If you had a prayer request or a concern, you could always count on MommaK to post she was praying.

She went out of her way to post on the “lonely” threads that hadn’t gotten much traffic. She didn’t often say a lot, but when she did say something, it was always like an arrow that hit the mark. You know the type of person I mean – they don’t talk a ton but what they do say seems meaningful and important.

Kim left behind not just her husband Jeff, but seven children ages 11 up to 23.

I know Kim didn’t want to leave her family, and her husband and children were what worried her the most when it became apparent that her battle with cancer wasn’t going to be won here on earth.

When I read the news yesterday morning, I couldn’t help the tears that spilled over. It’s hard to wrap my mind around the fact that MommaK won’t have any more posts – that she is truly gone.

While I knew that Kim was nearing her final days, I didn’t expect to lose her so very quickly. When she posted that doctors said they could do nothing else for her, she was told she had several months to maybe a year. She wanted to make a family cruise scheduled for June.

Instead, she was gone in two weeks. Two weeks is too short a time to say all that needs to be said, but I don’t believe Kim died with regret on her heart.

I wish I could explain why God chose to take Kim when she seemed so needed here on earth.

I wish I could explain why her family has to go through this pain

I wish I could explain why she will miss all those important milestones and special days with her children.

All I do know is that God is good. Even in death and grief and pain, He has a plan and a purpose. I know that while her body let her down on this earth, Kim is dancing in the presence of Jesus now – no pain, no worry, no sickness.

I know that Kim is finally healed and whole and without pain.

I’ll miss her, but I cling to the promise that one day I will see her in person – that we’ll finally meet in real life and it will be a much more joyful reunion than any here on earth.

Yes, Kim’s passing has left a gap in my life, but it has also taught me something too – living a full life isn’t dependent on the number of days here on earth but what you do with those days. Even if your days are short, you can still leave a legacy that will be remembered long after you are gone.

Godspeed, Kim.

 

Has Defeat Crept Into Your Life?

When a long-term subbing job came up, I was excited. I knew it would be a lot of work, with still doing two articles every week, but when I looked at the schedule, I knew I could do it. So, I let the school know that I could fill in for the six week maternity leave. I went through the interview and scheduled my days to shadow the teacher.

Then I went home and panicked.

All the possible ways that things could implode began to play over and over in my mind. What if I couldn’t get my interviews done? What if I was super tired and couldn’t cope? How would I get the dog walked, dinner on the table and attend all the baseball games (April is insane with baseball)? How would I get up at 6 a.m.?

Then I shadowed the teacher and realized that she was scheduled to do the devotionals the entire month of May, too.

That’s when I started to hyperventilate.

The mussel on the ocean beach

This morning I was having my quiet time and it hit me with the force of a brick to the head – God has NOT given us a spirit of fear. In Christ, we are NOT defeated. Yet, I had allowed fear to tangle in my heart and choke out my sense of hope and expectation.

What had started out as something good had become something that filled me with dread.

Instead of being excited about the possibilities, I was crippled by all the “what ifs.”

This morning, with tears running down my face, I asked God to forgive me for operating -not out of a place of faith- but a place of fear and defeat. That defeatist attitude prevented me from seeing all the cool things that were possible.

I hadn’t even realized the heavy load of defeat I had been dragging around with me the last week or so. I’m not sure when “I can’t,” had replaced my sense of hope and expectation. I just knew that I woke up every morning with a heaviness hijacking my soul.

 

The thing is, I’ve always loved teaching the Bible and sharing what God is showing me (which is why this blog even exists!), so doing the teacher devotionals shouldn’t be a burden – it’s an opportunity to encourage and build up fellow believers.

Every morning, I get to teach Bible to junior high kids. Imagine the possibilities.

I enjoy teaching, and I get to do it for six weeks.

Only satan takes what we love and twists it into something we dread, and fear is his favorite weapon.

In fact, if I feel pulled to do something and then get overwhelmed with a sense of fear or anxiety, I can almost guarantee that is from satan. It certainly is not from God because He promises us that a spirit of fear does not come from HIM!

This is not a new concept for me – but I hadn’t even realized how much fear and thus defeat had crept into my life on silent feet – one doubt, one anxiety at a time.

I’m so glad that God showed me that I was believing a lie rather than His promise. Now the choice is mine – am I going to believe God’s promises or Satan’s lies?

How about you – where are you feeling fearful or defeated lately?

Blessings, Rosanne

Why I Don’t Care if You See Noah or Not

If you are on social media at all, you know that this weekend the internet was blowing up about a movie called Noah. On my Facebook feed, probably 10 reviews were posted. This will not be one of them, in case you are wondering.

People argued both sides of the fence – pretty passionately. I even chimed in a few times over the absurdity of holding this film to a biblical standard even though it is a remake of Brian Godawa’s graphic novel Noah Primeval. I had a few people get rather cranky with me about it.

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I actually don’t care if you go see Noah. I probably won’t see it at all, and if I do, it will be with a free redbox coupon. I’m not much for those movies where everything is in a sort of gritty realism that makes you feel like nobody has ever showered. I don’t really like watching things that are disturbing and the story of Noah, at it’s core IS disturbing because EVERYONE but Noah and his family dies. Every. Single. Person.

I can’t imagine how that would have felt to be sealed in the ark and hear the cries and pleas and screams of the people outside, knowing they were dying. It makes me shudder, and I know watching it on the big screen would probably give me nightmares. After all, I am the person who after seeing the Titanic, dreamed about it over and over until I had dreamed a happy ending. Yet, numerous people were surprised that the movie was disturbing.

There are arguments – from good people – on both side of the fence about why you should or shouldn’t see Noah. Since I assume most of you are adults and can think critically, I’ll leave it to you whether you choose to go or not.

What I am bothered by is WHY we feel the need to spend so much time and energy on Noah. It’s a movie. Entertainment. Yet, believers are spending time, energy and emotion on something that in a month or two won’t even matter.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I get why faith-based films are a great thing. I get that wonderful people work hard to bring them to the big screen so people can have quality entertainment, and I understand the importance of that because I am a big believer in the power of stories (even fictitious ones) to impact people.

But bringing faith-based films to the big screen really won’t do anything if our actions send a different message.

The fact is, the unbelieving world is watching us. They are watching us argue with each other and treat each other unkindly. They are watching us cut down and harshly criticize a director that at least is curious about Biblical narratives. They are watching us act hypocritically (after all, how many believers loved Evan Almighty or let their kids watch Veggie Tales – both of which were less than Biblically accurate)

They are watching us expend energy on something that, ultimately, does not matter, while ignoring things that desperately do. It makes believers appear small-minded, petty and in many cases, uninformed. A movie that is based on a book written by an atheist and directed by an atheist whose last film was The Black Swan, is not a faith-based film. It’s just a movie.

Each day we argue about Noah, thousands of people die and go to hell.

Each day we argue about Noah, thousands of children die of starvation.

Each day we argue about Noah. thousands of women and children are enslaved.

Each day we argue about Noah, thousands of hurting people despair of going on.

We have the answer. We have the Good News – and it’s not that Noah is or isn’t a good movie to see.

Maybe instead of spending all our time shouting to the world and at each other, what we don’t stand for and what we are against, we should spend more time sharing what we DO believe in and what we DO stand for.

Imagine what would happen if we expended as much energy sharing the Gospel as we have spent debating the merits of a movie.

Blessings, Rosanne

God’s Promises – If You Ask For Wisdom

I am a terrible decision maker. I suppose this is one of the down sides of having a vivid imagination because I find myself imagining every possible outcome of a decision – often to the point where I’m so confused by all the possibilities that I’m paralyzed to actually MAKE a decision.

So, when a job opportunity came up, I started praying about it because I am learning that if I ask God for wisdom about something, He’ll give it to me. In fact, that’s not just sometimes, but that’s all the time because He promises to do so.

Several years ago, I read this book about Darlene Deibler Rose called Evidence Not Seen. She was a missionary in Paupau New Guinea during World War 2. She and her husband ended up in separate Japanese concentration camps. Before that though, all the missionaries that were working in the area could see the war drawing closer, so they considered going home. The leader of the group asked that they pray about the decision.

What struck me was the utter confidence each of these missionaries had that God would answer them and make it clear what they should do.

Cup Of Coffee And A Couple Of Cookies Making A Welcome Break

 

It struck me because I often prayed for wisdom about things, but I didn’t really expect God to answer me. I almost saw it as some kind of lottery – if I was lucky, then He would answer me.  In fact, there wasn’t a lot of expectation on my part at all.

In James 1:5-7 it says, “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him. But he must ask in faith, without doubting for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord.”

God promises to give us wisdom if we ask for it. In fact, He gives it to us generously and doesn’t reproach us for needing to ask! But there’s a catch – you have to believe He’ll give it to you.

As I prayed about this decision, I felt like that person tossed by the wind, but I hung on to the promise like a life preserver. I prayed that promise to God and reminded Him that HE was the one that said He’d give me wisdom.

Then, after an illuminating discussion, the answer came to me very clearly. It was like the last puzzle piece clicked into place and it seemed so obvious. I had complete peace about my decision. A few days later, I asked God to confirm what I believe He had told me, and He very graciously did that.

I can’t tell you how thankful I was for God giving me wisdom to make that decision, that He gave me peace. I didn’t have to wonder or regret that I had chosen one path over another. Instead, I could rest in the generosity of His promises and His faithfulness to fulfill them.

This month, as we approach Easter and continue in this season of Lent, I want to look more closely at God’s promises because I believe if we know His promises and claim them, our everyday lives will become extraordinary because we will see God’s presence in them.  I hope you’ll join me!

Blessings, Rosanne

In Christ I am – Adopted

I was a month old when I went to live with my family. As an infant, the only things on my mind were eating, sleeping and, well, pooping. I did not have to work my way into the family. I didn’t have to prove that I was worthy. I was just adopted and accepted because of that adoption as a McColm.

Maybe it is because I AM adopted in my physical life that my spiritual adoption, the idea of truly belonging to God’s family, resonates so deeply for me. Just as I didn’t have to “do” anything to be a dearly loved child in my physical family, I don’t have to do anything to be a dearly loved child in God’s family. Once I am saved by grace through faith, that’s it. I’m in!

Hand drawing heart in sand on the beach

Sometimes, I think we see salvation as some kind of eternal fire insurance. Yes, we are saved by grace, but then, the rest is up to us. But we aren’t just brought from death into life. We are given a brand new identity and family. God did not just bring us back from being dead in our sins, but He gave us a new life. Not only did He give us a new life, but He’s in it with us for the long haul. The Bible promises that He will continue His work in us until we draw our last breath or Christ returns.

I used to teach high school English and one of the books we read was Frankenstein by Mary Shelley (It’s hard to believe she was only a teenager when she wrote that – but I digress). Despite several movies to the contrary, the actual creature was not named Frankenstein. No, Frankenstein was the name of the man who created the creature. In the book, the creature does not even have a name. He is just a nameless monster running around without any guidance or direction.

The reason for this is because his creator – Victor Frankenstein is a wimpy guy who, when he saw his creation for the first time, ran screaming into the night. The poor creature goes lurching from one disaster to another until he comes to the conclusion that all humans are the monsters. Based on his experiences, you really can’t blame him.

So, while Dr. Frankenstein took what was dead and breathed new life into it, nobody could think that he regarded the creature as a part of his family. On the contrary, Victor Frankenstein is horrified by his creation, and sees him as the enemy to be annihilated, and so he pursues him to the ends of the earth to do just that.

What a different picture we are given of a God who raised us up from the dead and gave us new life. We aren’t left on our own to fend for ourselves. Instead, God invites us into His family. He gives us a new specific identity and privileges that only come from being a part of that family. He loves us and promises to work all things for our good (even when we don’t recognize it as good). He forgives us and helps us stand back up when we fall. He is the exact opposite of Victor Frankenstein.

I’m so glad when God saved me, He didn’t just set me adrift, but instead He allowed me to truly know Him and to learn about Him from His Word.

I’m so glad that my God is a God of relationship and that He invites me into intimate communion with Him. That’s a Father worth knowing!

How has being in God’s family changed you? I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings, Rosanne

5 Minute Friday – Mighty

Five Minute Friday It’s been a while since I’ve participated in 5 Minute Friday over at Lisa Jo Baker’s blog. If you are unaware, 5 Minute Fridays are where writers from all over take a one word prompt and write about it for five minutes – no editing, no second guesssing – just writing. So, here it goes.

When I saw the word this morning before my grocery store run, I didn’t know if I would join in or not. Nothing really came to mind immediately when I saw the word “Mighty.” As I ran into stores, came home and made phone calls and just generally felt overwhelmed, the word kept rattling around in my mind. Mostly this was because I felt anything but mighty.

I felt overwhelmed. In my mind’s eye I saw those cartoons where the character’s legs are spinning furiously but they aren’t going anywhere – yeah, that would be a good summation of me the past few weeks.

Then I remembered that song from my childhood. Did you sing it?

My God Is So Big
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
He made the trees
He made the seas
He made the elephants too
My God is so big, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do

My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
The mountains are his
The rivers are his
The skies are his handy works too
My God is so great, so strong and so mighty
There’s nothing my God cannot do
There’s nothing my God cannot do
There’s nothing my God cannot do
For you
Source: Phone Lyrics

In the next few months, I am doing a long term subbing job, still writing 2 articles a week for the paper, trying to get my house ready to sell, working on my 2 new blogs, and trying to decide on a job. I don’t feel mighty. I feel small, weak and horribly indecisive. I feel inadequate and scared that I can’t do it all; scared that I’ll give up before I start because it just all seems way too overwhelming.

But then I remembered, it’s really not about ME being mighty at all. It’s about my God who IS mighty. I’ve been blogging this month about our identity in Christ. One thing I’ve learned is that I’m not strong or might AT ALL, but God who dwells in me IS mighty. And He is on my side. He’s working things for my good. In Christ, I can do things that, on my own, aren’t even a possibility.

Romans 8:37 says it all, “But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us.”

I’m so glad I do not have to be mighty all on my own, but that my heavenly FAther can show HIS mightiness even in my weakness.

Blessings, Rosanne

In Christ I am – Holy and Blameless

“Just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.” Ephesians 1:14

Woman at the sea

In Christ, I am holy and blameless. That seems like almost sacrilege to say that doesn’t it? We hear a lot about being “just a sinner saved by grace.” And we are – make no mistake about it. We do nothing to earn our salvation, BUT once we are saved, we become something new. We become someone who is holy and blameless.

The word holy in the original Greek actually means, “a saint.” I don’t know about you, but I rarely feel saintly, but God says, IN CHRIST, that’s who I am. The idea comes up several other times, too.

For instance, in Colossians 1:22 it says, “Yet He has now reconciled you to His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach.”

This doesn’t mean we never sin – obviously, we are human so sin happens – but it means that when God looks at us, He sees His Son’s righteousness transferred to us.

It’s hard to wrap my mind around this concept because I don’t feel very holy or very blameless. I feel like someone who is broken and messy a lot of the time. How would I live differently, though, if I believed I really was holy and blameless in God’s sight?

How would I live differently if I really believed in my heart and didn’t just know in my head, Romans 8:1, “Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Hettie Green, nicknamed the “Witch of Wall Street” died a very wealthy woman, but she died arguing with a maid over the merits of skimmed milk. Hettie, despite her great wealth, lived like a pauper. It is said she never turned on the heat or used hot water. She had one black dress and set of underwear which she did not replace until they had completely worn out. She didn’t even like them washed too often because soap cost money.

Hettie had a natural head for business and numbers, and those gifts made her a very wealthy woman in a time when women in working in finance was unheard of. Unfortunately, she never enjoyed that wealth. Instead, she lived a substandard existence, even refusing surgery to fix a painful hernia because it cost $150.

We can look at Hettie Green and shake our heads at her foolishness, at the great waste of not ever tapping into her enormous wealth, but we have been given “every blessing in the heavenly places.” We’ve been told we are free from the mastery of sin, and we’re told we can stand before God holy and blameless. Yet, we live defeated and without victory.

Like Hettie, we spend out time grasping at the dregs of our vast spiritual wealth, but never finding the joy of our Savior. We ARE daughters of the King. HE said that we are holy and blameless, that we are saints.

Being holy and blameless does not mean we never sin – we are human, after all. But God promises that if we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive those sins and cleanse us of our unrighteousness. True conviction should result in true repentance. Once we repent, God forgives us and our sins are removed as far as the east is from the west. We do not have to live with regret and shame hanging over us like a dark cloud.

2 Corinthians 7:10 says, “For the sorrow that is according to the will of God produces repentance without regret leading to salvation, but sorrow of the world produces death.”

Satan would really like us to live in worldly sorrow. He would love for us to continue to view ourselves as the dead creatures we were before our salvation. He does not want us to live the abundant life in Christ that was promised to us. He does not want us to live in the confidence that we are holy and blameless. He wants us to live like we are spiritual paupers with the kind of sorrow that darkens the soul and makes us despair. He wants us to be like Hettie Green – blessed but never enjoying those blessings.

After all, if we live like we are spiritually poor who will ask us about God’s riches?

Blessings, Rosanne

In Christ I am – God Workmanship

In Ephesians 2:10, it states that we are God’s workmanship or His creation. To go along with that particular idea, I thought today would be a great time to share my God-sized Dream buddy Laurie Wallin’s book Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful.

I was given an early copy to read and review, and I loved this it! I love Laurie’s fresh and insightful way of looking at this topic – the idea that the weird quirk that embarrasses you or that makes you feel like a weirdo, might just have been given to you, on purpose, by God. Why Your Weirdness is Wonderful is now available for purchase, and because this is launch week, if you buy your copy this week, there are lots of wonderful freebies available to you, so be sure to check those out HERE. You can also connect with Laurie on her Facebook page!

 

WeirdnessIsWonderful-Launch-Week

I thought it would be fun to Q & A with Laurie about her new book, so I hope you’ll join in the conversation in the comments section.

Q: When did the idea that our individual quirks–those personal weirdnesses that drive us crazy sometimes–are part of who God created us to be?
A: The pivotal moment was while reading a colleague’s blog post. She shared how frustrated she was with her tendency to overthink things, and how she prayed God would make her different. I couldn’t put a finger on it at the time, but that got under my skin. I was mad! Not at her, but at the situation. . . that clearly gifted people spent so much time lamenting how they are. And how easy a strategy that would be for Satan to use to keep us distracted from living well. If we’re fighting who we are most of the time, we’re missing out on the reflection of God’s image that is trying to show through us. I went back and commented on this post, asking, simply, what if God made you that way because something about that tendency reflects something about Him, rather than it being a flaw? We went back and forth about the idea for a few comments, and ultimately, she said, “You need to write a post about this.” I did, it went viral, and the rest, as they say, is history!

Q: Why do you think it’s important for women to see their weirdness as wonderful?
Women, in particular, have this fog of expectation clouding our view of ourselves and each other. The more I studied personal strengths, the more I noticed that 1) the things that annoy me in other people are them living their strengths and either me not appreciating them in the situation, or them not living them in a loving way; and 2) the things that annoyed me about myself suffered from the same two issues. So I started asking myself “What strength is she trying to live right now?” when I sensed jealousy or frustration or judgment creeping up with a friend. You know what happened? Where I used to feel insecure, I started noticing a desire to see the good in others and celebrating—affirming—the God-glimpses I saw in them. As a woman, to be able to feel secure in the face of others is a HUGE change to what we often experience. It makes us allies, supporters of each other, champions of what God’s doing in each other’s lives, instead of defenders of what we think is insufficient in ourselves.

Q: In the book you talk about the dark sides and positive sides of our quirks. Could you give a few examples for readers?
A: As a Star Wars fan, I’ve always related to the whole Dark Side, Light Side (or, as I call it in the book, Life Side) idea. God invests tendencies in us, and we either love Him and others with them (reveal their Life Sides) or we live from fear (Dark Sides). The most common struggle strengths I hear about from people are tendencies to overthink things, be too sensitive, worry too much, argue too much, or be controlling. There are a lot of possible strengths hiding in these Dark Sides, and maybe they come from different strengths in different situations. For example, overthinking can be the Dark Side of being analytical, an achiever, someone who is contextual and sees connections between anything done or said now, and what it will effect. Being overly sensitive can be the Dark Side of empathetic, compassionate, or spiritually discerning individuals. Worrying too much is the fear-driven Dark Side of many prayer warriors I know. It’s not an exact science, but the important thing is to allow the question—to stop fighting who we are long enough to let God show us what is possible in us right then.

Q: Can you pinpoint a quirk of your own that you now appreciate, even though it once drove you crazy?
A: Everyone I’ve worked with has one strength they can’t, for the life of them, see being a strength. I’m no exception! Mine is the need to make a difference and matter to people. Anyone who knows anything about Christian beliefs will see pride all over that. For years, I fought God, asking Him why I need to be the one on center stage, why I need to be involved in projects that are high profile and far-reaching. It was a sore spot and something I wanted to hide about myself for years. Until only a few years ago, actually. When I started writing this book, I had to sit down and face my big-scary-strength/weakness. I literally sat at a table in my neighborhood hangout with journal in front of me me, pen in hand, sucking down coffee for hours. In that time, God brought to mind projects I’d taken on over the years that nobody else wanted or would touch. Yes, I wanted to be the one at the mic at retreats. But I also was the one who saw a need in my then-classroom and hunted down grants, applied for them, and pulled in thousands of dollars of funding and 20 computers for my science program. I’m a big thinking gal, and in God’s hands it can bring big good. In mine, of course, it’s prideful and annoying. The job every day for me is to listen to His voice and only go after the big fish He leads me to pursue, the way He’s leading me to do it!
How can women embrace their weirdness? Where should they start? First, we have to decide to suspend judgment about our natural tendencies. This one trips a lot of people up. They’re scared that if they do that, they’re dropping their moral standards. But that’s not what I’m saying. I’m asking people to stop assuming they understand God’s design in the ways they’ve always thought, acted and reacted in life. His thoughts are higher than ours, after all, right? So step one is to notice when we’re making ourselves feel bad about some way we are, like when we use negative words to describe ourselves (overthinker, worry wart, impatient, lazy. . .) and stop right then to chat with God about it. To say, “What natural desire or strength of mine is wanting to come out right now? How would YOU reveal that trait, God?” Then, let God tell you what He thinks. And keep eyes open to see His answers to the questions unfold in life and relationships.

Q: How do you suggest women maximize their quirks to build God’s kingdom?
A: The more we listen to what God meant when He designed us the way He did—quirks and all—the more we let God reveal His heart for the world around us. The more we’re attuned to the unique ways God designed us to think, communicate, plan, care and relate with others, the more people are drawn to Him, and the kingdom grows.

Q: How can they maintain a balanced perspective about quirks and weirdnesses?
A: Our weirdness—our blend of strengths and their quirky upside down versions—stays balanced when we focus it on loving God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength, and loving other people as ourselves. The Greatest Commandment is our great balancer in this tightrope walk of living our weirdness wonderfully.

In Christ I am – No Longer Sin’s Slave

We have an ant problem. I’m not sure where they came from. I haven’t seen one single ant all winter, but as soon as we had a few warmer days, all of a sudden, there they were – swarms of them – in the bathroom. I’ve never understood this since I don’t keep food in my bathroom. So, out came the ant traps. We found these liquid ones that work great. I have to admit though, that I feel kind of guilty when I watch the ants march so purposefully toward their own deaths. I mean, they can’t help it that they are insects.

At the same time, though, my kids and I are sort of fascinated by how it all works. Before we break out the trap, the ants sort of mill around without any seeming organization, but once we get the trap out, it’s like some invisible drill sergeant has told them to fall in. The ants march into the trap in a single line and then come out again. Often, they go in more than once. Some stagger out again, half poisoned, but others just die in the trap.

Even though the ants going in and out have to see all the tiny corpses of their little friends, they just keep marching in and out of the trap. My kids and I both have the same question – WHY do they keep going in there? Don’t they see that it is a really bad idea?

old-wooden-door-913-1166

As I was watching this little drama unfold in my bathroom, God gave me an epiphany.  As I watched the macabre march of the ants, it occurred to me that we do the same thing as believers.

Of course, I don’t mean literally. What I mean is that we continue to believe that we can overcome sin if we just try hard enough, if we just are a little more disciplined. Sometimes, that message is even preached from our pulpits – with every good intention – but it is poison.

We continue to march by our fallen comrades, strangled by strongholds of sin and think that it will somehow be different for us because we will just try harder and do better. We take in the poisonous false truth that in our own strength we can overcome sin. The truth is – we can’t.

BUT – Greater is He that is in me than he that has overcome the world.

Have you ever had a sinful thought that pops into your brain and no matter how you try to shake it, it just keeps popping back in there. Sure, you try to take every thought captive. You try to quote a verse or maybe sing a praise song, but then it comes back. Usually, satan whispers it into your ear when you’re tired or your guard is down, so you aren’t as inclined to take it captive. Then that sinful thought runs amok.

Well, I was having that issue. I had prayed about it. I had told myself to get a grip on this thought. I had felt inadequate that I couldn’t seem to run the thought out of my head once and for all. I felt kind of defeated and at the mercy of this sin. I felt embarrassed and ashamed at my inability because, after all, I’m a Sunday school teacher. I write about God’s presence in my life. Surely, I should be able to win in this battle, right, if I just tried a little harder?

One day, I prayed – AGAIN – about this sin. In answer, it was like God whispered to me, “You are no longer sin’s slave, so stop acting like you still are.”

Suddenly, it became crystal clear what the problem was. See, even though I could mouth all the right words, inside, I believed sin was my master and I had to figure out how to escape on my own.

But I was trying to escape a master who no longer had any authority over me on my own when I had back up! It’s true – I am weak, but God is strong. His authority can overcome. So, I claimed that authority in Jesus name, and you know what? The stronghold loosened and fell away.

I don’t want this to come across as some kind of magic chant, or that I never struggled again. Because a few weeks after this victory, I was tired and in a bad mood and satan struck and I fell. Why? Because I let my guard down. The truth is we are at war, and if satan can’t keep you from salvation, he will keep you from living abundantly in Christ. There are two times we are the weakest. One is obvious – after defeat, but the other one trips a lot of people up (me included!), and that is after victory.

Claiming Christ’s authority over sin doesn’t preclude true repentance. It doesn’t mean that we can let our guard down. It doesn’t mean we don’t draw our sword – I am a firm believer in Scripture as a way to counterattack sin in our lives. What it DOES mean is that we do NOT have to white knuckle our way to overcoming in our own strength. Christ has already the conqueror. I’ve read the end of the book, and we win. We do not have to live as a slave to sin or let it master us because we have a completely different master – one that loves us and WANTS us to live in victory.

I love this bridge that Chris Tomlin wrote for the song Amazing Grace. It seemed particularly apt today.

 

 

My chains are gone

I’ve been set free

My God, my Savior, ransomed me

And like a flood

His mercy reigns

Unending love

Amazing grace

By Chris Tomlin

How has God set YOU free from a stronghold in your life? I’d love to hear about it!

Blessings, Rosanne

 

 

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