How Are You Going to Change the World?

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This question was asked of my 1st grader’s class. “How are you going to change the world?”

And my son’s answer was, “I’m going to be a football player.”

My reaction, “How is THAT going to change the world?”

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And then came his beautiful explanation.

“Well when I’m a football player I’m going to help up all of the players when they get knocked down.”

Well, shut my mouth.

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WOW. Wouldn’t that change THE WORLD if we ALL just helped up those who got knocked down around us? We don’t have to pick them up, or hold them up. We don’t have to stand around for years supporting them up. But if we just help them up. Just a friendly gesture, a good sportsman like move, an encouraging statement. It would go so far.

That’s how I want to change the world too.

Thank you little man. I love your wise words.

My Personal Monologue

About a week ago I wrote a post about “Who God Says I Am“. And in that post I said I had a fun exercise to do with that info. Well, here it is.

Some, no, many days I need a good dose of who God says I am to combat what the world says I am, or I say I am, or what I think others think I am. Right? Do you ever do that too? Well, I have a terrible habit of letting those negative messages sink in  and run my life instead of letting God’s message dictate my attitude and mindset. After looking up what the Bible said about me I came up with a personal monologue that I wrote down and keep somewhere that I can easily access it when I am needing a little dose of God thinking.

I took several of these things I found that really resonate with me (and combat some of my typical negative recordings) and put them together in a short paragraph. Really simple. But so impactful. Throw one of these together for yourself and see what difference it makes for you.

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So the next time I start getting down on myself with the lies that fill my head I will say:

“I am God’s child and I belong to Him. I am fearfully and wonderfully made. I am not condemned for the wrong I do because I am saved by grace. I am never alone. I am a co-heir with Christ. I have a  heavenly calling. I am a temple of God and His Spirit dwells in me. I am God’s workmanship created in Christ to do His work that He planned for me. I am chosen and called by God. I have wisdom from God. I am the light of the world. I am a victor. My labor is not in vain. I can never be separated from God’s love. I am strong. I am forgiven. I am chosen by God, holy and dearly loved.”

Yeah, take that!

I may even play the “Rocky” theme song as I read it.

Now you write yours…and please share it, I would love to see what you cone up with.

 

Children Experiencing God

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I pray that my kids will experience God in a real way everyday. I pray that as they encounter God in their lives their faith will grow and they will see who He is for themselves. Not just what their Sunday School teacher says, not just what their parents say, or worse, what their friends say. But that they themselves KNOW that God is real.

I pray these things, but I don’t always get to be there when it happens for a child.

But the other day, I did have the opportunity to see God at work. Number 1 and I have had many, many conversations about appropriate books and inappropriate books for her age lately. And I have come down on the “too protective” side according to her (and some of her friends). Maybe so. But I made the decisions (with some help from http://www.commonsensemedia.com) to help guard her heart and mind UNTIL she is ready to deal with such topics.

This isn’t about how over-protective, or permissive I am as a parent, It’s about how number 1 saw God in our conversation that day.

As I explained to her why I didn’t feel those books were appropriate to read yet and why it mattered, I quoted:

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it. Proverbs 4:23

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She looked at me and said, “you just read that off my paper.”

No, I hadn’t.

But sure enough, there it was written right in front of her and as I quoted it, she looked down and saw it for herself. When I told her that in fact I had not seen that written there I looked at her and said, “God just spoke to you. You, my sweet girl, just had a moment with God. Believe that.” And in her reaction I know that she knew it too.

Thank you LORD!

Who God Says I Am

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Being vulnerable may have it’s benefits (see this previous post), but it’s sure scary. Because what if I get hurt? What if someone uses my vulnerability against me? What if someone doesn’t respond well to my “stuff”. What if they don’t say anything at all?

Crush me.

The other day I led a little girls Bible study and did a horrible job. Not really horrible, but it wasn’t good either. The kids were squirrelly and I wasn’t making it very fun. I was tired and distracted and was seriously lacking in confidence. I came home and considered two options: 1. sitting here all night beating myself up for not being awesome OR 2. reflecting on what God thinks about me. I decided on the later as Matthew 25:40 came to mind, “The King will say to them, ‘Yes! I tell you that whenever you did these things for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did them for me!'”

I may have been hum-ho that night but I was serving Christ. And I know that because I have the Holy Spirit living in me God can still move in great ways despite my weaknesses and inabilities. What an amazing truth. So I thanked God for my failures that night comforted that in my inadequacies He is glorified.

This senario is one I have with myself All. The. Time. So much so that I realized a long time ago I needed truths to combat the voices in my head that beat defeating messages over and over again. So I looked up every verse I could find on what God says about me and who He says I am. These verses below are what I use to fend off the negativity about myself in my brain.

Honestly, there are are so many identity truths in the Bible. He has a lot to say about us! Here are some (many) that I have handy for just that special occasion when someone turns me upside down and the deflating chants begin. Take these and chew on them for a day or so. Then I have a very cool exercise for us to do with them!

I am a new creation in Him!
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has gone, the new has come.” 2 Cor. 5:17

I am reconciled in Christ.
“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Cor 5:18-19

I am righteous and holy.
“And to put on the new self, created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness.” Ephesians 4:24

I am saved by grace as a gift, not because of my performance. 
“God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God.” Ephesians 2:8

I am a co-heir with Christ.
“Now if we are children, then we are heirs- heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. If indeed we share in His sufferings in order that we may also share with His glory.” Romans 8:17

I am chosen and called by God to produce fruit.
“You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.” John 15:16

I am not condemned for the wrong I do
There is no condemnation for us (Romans 8:1)

I can never be separated from God’s love 
Nothing at all can ever separate us from God’s love because of what Christ Jesus our Lord has done.(Romans 8:39)

I have wisdom from God 
Because of what God has done, you belong to Christ Jesus. He has become God’s wisdom for us. He makes us right with God. He makes us holy and sets us free. (1 Corinthians 1:30)

My labor is not in vain
Because you belong to the Lord, you know that your work is not worthless. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

I am God’s child and I belong to Him
You are all children of God by believing in Christ Jesus. (Galatians 3:26)

Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God. (John 1:12)

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (1 Peter 2:9)

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:35-39)

So he decided long ago to adopt us as his children. He did it because of what Jesus Christ has done. It pleased God to do it. (Ephesians 1:5)

I have every spiritual blessing
Give praise to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He has blessed us with every spiritual blessing. Those blessings come from the heavenly world. They belong to us because we belong to Christ. (Ephesians 1:3)

I am forgiven
We have been set free because of what Christ has done. Through his blood our sins have been forgiven. We have been set free because God’s grace is so rich. (Ephesians 1:7)

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having cancelled the written code, with its regulations, that was against us and that stood opposed to us; he took it away, nailing it to the cross. (Colossians 2:13-14)

I am chosen
We were also chosen to belong to him. God decided to choose us long ago in keeping with his plan. He works out everything to fit his plan and purpose. (Ephesians 1:11)

For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. (Ephesians 1:4)

I am for the praise of his glory
in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (Ephesians 1:12)

I have been seated in the heavenly realms
And God raised us up with Christ and seated us with him in the heavenly realms in Christ Jesus, (Ephesians 2:6)

I’ve been given the incomparable riches of God’s grace
in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. (Ephesians 2:7)

I who was once far away have been brought near
But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ. (Ephesians 2:13)

I am built together as a holy building
And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit (Ephesians 2:22)

I may approach God with freedom and confidence
In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence (Ephesians 3:12)

I am fearfully and wonderfully made
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. (Psalm 139:14)

I am strong
I can do everything through him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

I am never alone — God will not leave me
Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” (Hebrews 13:5)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)

I am a citizen of Heaven
But we are citizens of heaven. And we can hardly wait for a Savior from there. He is the Lord Jesus Christ. (Philippians 3:20)

I radiate light wherever I go.
“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden.” Matthew 5:14

I shine like a firework in the night.
“Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky.” Philipphians 2:15

I am a daughter of Light. 
“You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness.”1 Thessalonians 5:5

I am the salt of the earth.
“You are the salt of the earth.” Matthew 5:13

I am a vessel of Divine Light.
“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” 2 Corinthians 4:6

Beams and light and joy exude from within me. 
“Light shines on the godly, and joy on those whose hearts are right.” Psalm 97:11

I am a victor.
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.” Romans 8:37

I have a heavenly calling.
“Therefore, holy brothers and sisters, who share in the heavenly calling, fix your thoughts on Jesus, whom we acknowledge as our apostle and high priest.” Hebrews 3:1

I have royalty in my veins and lead with integrity.
“But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9

I am designed for good works.
“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

 

At the Core of Vulnerability is Shame

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I carry more than a fair share of baggage with me in life and although I have done lots of work to unload it and deal with is in appropriate ways it still creeps up once in a while. We moved a few years ago to a new state and when we did I lost the support system I had spent seven years building at our old home. Although I knew it was very important that I had one I didn’t bother to build a new one until I crashed and burned. Oops, lesson learned again.

I found myself at a very low weight that I hadn’t seen in many years with anxiety through the roof. My heart was beating erratically, I had pain with no explanation, emotional craziness and I wasn’t functioning as the mom I want to be. I was checking out way too often.

I went to the doctor for some help. And I entered therapy again.

Things in my life that were completely out of my control were giving me great anxiety and I had no way to safely deal with them so I spiraled down very quickly. A little help from the doctor and a booster shot from the therapist gave me what I needed to get back on track.

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I’ve had setbacks before, but this was a bad one. And I had a lot of work to do to keep it from happening again.

One of the things that was significant in my search for answers were these TED talk by Brene Brown on shame and vulnerability. I posted about the vulnerability one yesterday. And I said then, I dare to be vulnerable IF it helps me live life wholeheartedly. Because that life sounds so very good.

Well, Brene goes on to explain where true vulnerability starts (you can listen to that TED talk here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_listening_to_shame). And it isn’t pretty. It starts with your shame.

After listening to this I thought, “Oh, I can be vulnerable, but maybe not with my shame. I take it all back, I would rather live in a cave. Forget the wholehearted living thing.”

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But truthfully, I do dare to live courageously and deal with my stuff so that I can live wholeheartedly. For me, for my husband, for my children, I dare. So I set out to rebuild my personal board of directors.

I searched my current contacts for people I might feel comfortable being vulnerable with. I reached out to them and started the process of building the friendship deeper. Some were a bust – that’s ok. Others were a gold mine. And I love them for it!

Brene Brown uses different friends for different situations. When a kid or mommy situation arrises she calls those friends. When a work situation arrises she calls on those friends.

I’m a girl with only a few friends at this level. I need about 2 or 3 so they need to cover just about all areas. I have to keep it close you know.

I built a new support system in about a year’s time and today it is working well. I have 2 (maybe 3) people who know my “stuff” and I can call anytime for help. A pre-requisite of mine was that they had to be vulnerable with me too. I don’t need a listening ear, I need people in this fight with me living vulnerably and open with their shame as well. Having a bunch of friends listening to your stuff who appear to have no stuff is not encouraging at all.

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In Brene Brown’s book, “The Gifts of Imperfection” she talks about using her friends to bounce things off of immediately after she feels the shame. She urges you to never let shame sit there festering inside you, tearing you down. The longer that goes on the worse the ramifications are.

Shame grows in darkness.

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For me, shame feels like rocks in the bottom of my tummy. When it first comes on it feels heavy and sick. And if I don’t expose it to the light, talk to someone about it, it will grow and destroy – quickly. This is when I call on my girls. The faster the better.

Let’s say I am visiting a friend and they say something that really cuts deep. And it stirs up all my old pain. They may, or may not, have meant to hurt me, but they did nun-the-less. And it reminds me of my feelings of unworthiness, being unlovable and scared. I hear things like, “your not good enough, you need to be better, do more.” So when I get in the car, I send a quick text or make a phone call to ask for prayer and a little time to talk. Then I pray and ask God to remind me of how He thinks about me.

As soon as light is shed on your shame it knocks the legs right out from under it. Your friends can shed truth on it, God will blow it up with His truth every time, and all of a sudden it isn’t growing anymore, it’s dying.

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I wish I did this well every time. But, no chance. It takes work and courage and vulnerability. Some days I possess more of these qualities than others.

But I can say undeniably that when I deal with my shame well it is life-giving. The benefits are immediate.

I am enough. I am strong. I am courageous. I am loved.

Dare greatly with me to live vulnerably in your shame so that you may live wholeheartedly.

 

Living Wholeheartedly

Last week I talked about people who make us feel good by just being around them and I said I would like to be more like that kind of person. I keep thinking that those people must be very comfortable with themselves or they couldn’t give off the vibe they do.

Thinking along the lines of how to be a more approachable, comfortable, loving person myself, reminded me of a talk I heard a few years ago by Brene Brown on wholehearted living.

You can listen to it here: http://www.ted.com/talks/brene_brown_on_vulnerability

This is Brene Brown’s definition of Wholehearted living:

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Oh, that sounds really nice!

I want to live wholeheartedly.

I long for this kind of life.

I desire to be this kind of parent.

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Wow, I want to grow up in that home, don’t you?

But how do you do that? Somehow I don’t think the answer is found on pinterest or in a list of 10 things you can do to increase the fulfillment in your life.

She says the answer starts with vulnerability.

So, In order to live life wholeheartedly, I not only have to accept my own imperfections but I also have to share them with others? Ouch.

That’s going to take come courage.

Do you dare?

I think I dare.

Focusing on the Beautiful in the Mess

 

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It is so easy to get down on my house. When I just look around the house and see all the projects I haven’t gotten to or the stuff sitting on counter tops and floors I get frustrated, and beat down and sometimes even angry.  It’s easy to stay there, irritated and madly picking up like some crazed housewife. But it’s like that again the next day, so the crazed housewife thing doesn’t seem to be fixing anything. I bet you feel the same way some days.

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So I started wondering what would happen if I focused on the beautiful in the mess. The things in each room that bring me joy not all the things that I need to still get to.

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I went around the house taking pictures of my favorite things in each room. The room’s jewelry. The piece de resistance. Almost every room has one. And on the days when my house was under siege by trash mongers I focused on these pieces. I found that I was able to rest amongst the chaos when I focused on the beautiful.

It’s the same way with our soul. When we are not restful, if we focus on what God says about us it brings us rest in the middle of the crazy.

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The truth is my house isn’t all junk, there are projects that are completed, and there are beautiful things in it. Just as I am not a total looser in life, God says I am beautifully and wonderfully made no matter what someone else does to me or says about me.

It’s what you focus on. If you focus on the negative and undone in your home, your home will be a tangled mess in your mind, but if you focus on the beautiful your home, it will be a restful and peaceful place, even amongst the mess.

If we focus on what others say about us, or do to us, we may feel bad about ourselves, but if we focus on what God says about us, who God says we are, we will be peaceful and joyful.

Today, I challenge you to focus on the beautiful in your home and in your life.