Who God Says I Am

Owning-our-story-can-be

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

patio-string-lights

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.

hanging-paper-lanterns

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.”

Chinese-Lanterns

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.

31d3015225e344fe90c6ee6562432565

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.

shame definition-01

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.

images-2

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:

wholehearted living-01

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.

DaringGreatly-ParentingManifesto-dark-8x10

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

 

DSC_0001 2

DSC_0007

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.

DSC_0020 2

DSC_0086 2

DSC_0079

DSC_0015 2

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.

DSC_0001 3

DSC_0045

DSC_0023

DSC_0018 2

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.

DSC_0039

DSC_0258

DSC_0003

DSC_0065

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.

What if heaven really is for real?

Would it change the way you live? Would it change the way you think?

bc-heavenisforreal
I read the book Heaven is For Real a few years ago. The book is about a 4-year-old boy who had a near death experience and went to Heaven for a short time. The book recounts the stories he told after the fact leading his parents to believe he had really been there. He knew things about them he wouldn’t have know and he told them about things he saw while he was there. His family wrote the book to share their story.

Last weekend some people on our street got together to watch the movie “Heaven is For Real”. Something in the movie struck me differently than when I read the book. The father of the boy is a preacher and is really wrestling with his faith in God but his disbelieve that his boy could have really been in Heaven for a time. In the movie he asks his congregation, “What if heaven is for real? Would you live differently?”

I believe in God and Jesus and heaven, but this question made me think. If I believed that Heaven was really for real. Every day. I think I would live differently than I do. Pondering this question myself made me realize how thin my faith really is.

If I believed heaven was really for real I would:

Feel safer
Revelation 21:27 “But nothing unclean will ever enter it, nor anyone who does what is detestable or false, but only those who are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”
Matthew 18:10 “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.

Have more joy on a day to day basis knowing where I was headed
Be more excited to get there
I Corinthians 2:9 “But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him””

Realize I have no idea what real beauty looks like
Revelations 21:21 “And the twelve gates were twelve pearls, each of the gates made of a single pearl, and the street of the city was pure gold, transparent as glass.”
Revelations 21:19 The foundations of the wall of the city were adorned with every kind of jewel. The first was jasper, the second sapphire, the third agate, the fourth emerald,

Be more thankful
Revelations 21:1-5 “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.” And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.” Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.””

Be less stressed

Be more humble and reverent toward God

Worry less about the stuff in my life.

Be more proactive in telling others about Jesus

So if I profess to believe in God and Heaven, why don’t I live like I do? No matter what you think about stories like this – if you do believe in God this is a good question to ponder for yourself. Do you really believe Heaven is real? And if so, do you live like it?

Trust Without Borders

I love the song Oceans by Hillsong right now. Below is a link to a video from a conference in Sydney where they performed it last year. The venue is amazing and the number of people worshipping together is moving.

Please click on the link below and take a few minutes to listen to the song while you read this today. The link will open in a new window so you can come back while it is playing and read. Please note there is an ad at the beginning of the video that you can skip after five seconds and then the song will begin playing.

Oceans (Where Feet May Fail) Hillsong UNITED

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever you would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my savior

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders.
Oh to have trust in God that has no borders. To fully put my life in His hands and trust that He will make good of all things that happen. To trust that even the painful parts of life are meant for my good. The things that happen to us that hurt beyond imagination are meant for good.  The Bible says “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose” Romans 8:28. Lord help me to trust deeply in that promise and live life trusting you without borders. Help me to not run when things don’t go as I want them to go but to trust that you are in control even when it looks like no one is.

Let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me.
Lord, take my life and use it for your good. Speak to me and tell me where you want me, where you need me. May I be willing to go wherever that is. Lord use me in great ways to glorify you and spread your love so that the pain of my life will have purpose and not be in vain. Lord, may I be willing to let my story be used to tell of your amazing faithfulness and love. May I not run and hide because the pain to too much to relive but may I follow where you lead and may you give me the strength to do what you ask of me.

Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander.
Pursue me and draw me deeper in a relationship with you where I will experience you in great ways. Where I will see your work and your faithfulness. Where I will feel your love and your grace. And Lord help me to seek you as much as I am humanly able. My feet wander, my mind wanders and I am easily distracted by earthly things. Take me deeper with you into the life you have for me. Lord may my feet follow as you guide me. Lord give me the strength to follow when it is hard.

And my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior.
Let it be so, that as I deepen my relationship with you my faith with be stronger. Lord I confess that my faith is so weak. When life hurts, I take my life in my own hands fully trusting only myself. Myself that only sees things in the present not as you see them with the perspective of eternity. May I learn to trust deeply. May I encounter the joy you have for me when I learn to trust fully. And Lord forgive me, for I will fail. But thank you for knowing that and offering me your peace, love, joy, security, forgiveness anyway…for I deserve none of it.

Lord help me, for I want to trust you without borders. I want to go where you call me, I want to go deeper with you so my faith can be made stronger. Lord I want my life to have purpose, I want the pain of my life to not be in vain. Lord give me courage, strength and purpose. I am willing.