Fixer Upper (Round Two)


Last week we talked A Message from Magnolia, here on the blog. After a quick day trip to visit Magnolia Market in Waco, Texas, we were inspired by all of the spiritual takeaways from Chip and Joanna's show. We really only began to scratch the surface last week and it seemed totally necessary to spend another week here diving in a little deeper. Dalayna and I co-wrote last week, this week, I'll be taking us just a little further. Hoping you'll come along and take things a little deeper and make them a little more personal this week also!

Writing last week's post, the section that stuck with me the most was "Restructuring." I talked a lot about the difficulty of this part simply because it requires the most patience and waiting. Both things I really hate and am not so good at. But as much as we hate waiting and being patient, we can recognize that this is the part of the show (of life) that makes the ending so amazing. Because we can hardly recognize the house when Chip and Joanna are finished with it. They've taken this old, run down place and turned it into a beautiful space where everyone wants to be.

Mmm does that ring true in my heart. It is so incredibly painful to allow God to come in and restructure everything. To give Him the freedom to tear down what He needs to and then carefully build it all back up. To allow Him to make room for what He needs and to haul away what does not serve His purposes or fall in line with His blueprints. It feels like the process is never-ending. We just want to be done with it and start feeling at home again. We wonder how much renovation is necessary and maybe sometimes even regret handing over the process. I wonder if those homeowners ever wish somewhere along the journey that they would have just signed up for a room makeover show.

Ever been there?

I can say honestly that on many occasions that thought has crossed my mind. Geesh it would be so much easier if I just didn't have to think about this stuff. If I could just start painting already. If I would have just left it alone. If there wasn't always something that needed fixing. Essentially, living life without Christ. Living life blind to my mess and my need for restructuring and renovation. I know I can't be alone in that thought.

But at some point I come to. My thinking clears. An easier day comes and I remember what I'm doing this for.

At some point Chip and Jojo sit down with the homeowners and remind them of the end result. They look at the final plans and they pick out a few pieces of furniture or other details for the home. They keep them focused on the end result and give them the vision they need to push through the waiting.

And oh how I know that's exactly what Jesus does with me! When I'm feeling tired and defeated and like there might never be an end to the changing and restructuring on the insides of me, when the patience and the waiting is just too much to bear. There. He comes in and ever so gently reminds me of the end. The goal. The point of all of the hard work.

To look like His Son. To be a space that testifies to who He is and where people want to be.

He puts the vision in front of me again and walks by me a little closer in the process. He reminds me that quick wall patching and paint jobs will not complete in me what He needs to. That He desires more for me and my life. He wants to restructure me in a way that brings out the unique personality He's given me against the backdrop and atop the foundation of His Son.

So, why does this process take so long? Why does restructuring take months, maybe even years, while making everything pretty seems to take days or even just hours? Because we are talking about the foundation of everything here. We are dealing with things that lie below the surface. Things that define the model of the house and the way it will be used and lived in. If this stuff isn't done right, all of the finishing touches will be in vain because the ugly truth will still be living underneath, and eventually it will show itself.

If we don't take the time to deal with the little crack in the corner of the wall. If we ignore it and paint over it, eventually the crack will spread and the water will leak through and the pretty paint job will be ruined. If we don't face the fact that the porch is leaning just a little bit and we build the deck anyways and surround it with pretty flowers, eventually the deck will sink and we won't be able to sit and enjoy the lovely details anyways. You see what I'm getting at I hope...

We have got to have the foundation just right, the floor plan in perfect harmony, or else the rest is just shallow and superficial and will only cover up the structural issues for a little while. Eventually the damage and the issues underneath will show the world that we took the quick, easy way out and that what we've got going on is not of great quality. Chip and Jojo make sure to cover all of their bases when it comes to structure and foundation. They deal with every issue, even the ones that seem at first to be small or simple, even those that put a dent in the budget or elongate the process more than the owners would like. Why? Because they want to do quality work. They want to present a home that is beautiful on the surface and below. A home that checks out. A home that anyone and everyone can be proud of and a home that speaks to their character and work ethic.

I don't know about you, but that's what I desire for my life. I don't want a life that speaks of Christ superficially and on the surface but that is ridden with damage and issues waiting to destroy down below. I don't want to live constantly trying to patch up the problems peeking through or covering them up with coats of paint. I would rather let God take His time. Let Him come in and lay out the plans carefully, address ALL of the issues. Even the issues that require more of my energy and a lot more time. Allow Him to restructure my life and my heart according to His plans and purposes. I want a life that points to Christ from the paintings on the walls and the trinkets on the shelves all the way down to the foundation of me. A structure and a foundation that cannot be shaken and that speak to the quality of the builder and the designer. A life that reminds me and everyone else in it that I made a wise choice in who I handed things over to.

I know that it will take time and a lot of careful attention. Painful processes again and again. But I also have a Designer who is passionate about His work. Who is in it because He loves what He does and He cares about those who have placed themselves in His hands. A Designer who will work tirelessly through every single issue that arises to be sure that the foundation is settled and steady and strong. Who will walk me through everything that needs to be addressed until we can proudly put on those beautiful shades of paint and excitedly place the little details all around knowing that they will only serve to enhance what's below and not to cover up and ignore the things just waiting to destroy down the road.

That's what I want for my life and that's what I want for yours too.

Let's determine this week to not back down in the process. Wherever we might be in that process. Perhaps it's our first go at renovations. Perhaps we have just allowed Christ in to start looking things over and reworking the layout. Maybe we're 20 years in and in desperate need of some reevaluation and renovations. It doesn't matter really. It all requires the same patience and waiting and painful process. It all requires the same grace. Let's walk through it with each other. Remind each other of the goal, share vision, and determine to be women with solid foundations. Women whose lives speak of the character and work ethic and personality of their Designer.






A Message from Magnolia

Rachel & Dalayna here today for a special, limited time, tag team post! With Rachel visiting the States for her spring break we HAD to take advantage of the opportunity! So for today's purposes you can see Rachel's thoughts in italics. 

Can I just say that being apart for nearly TWO years is completely unacceptable and will NEVER happen again. When I did the math and realized it had been that long, this year's spring break destination was a "no brainer". I've got friends all over these days and quite a few in Texas. Texas and I have never been completely acquainted, and it seemed about time. (Considering we're neighbors now.) After some trip planning sessions and discouragement in finding flights, Dalayna and I settled on a mini Texas road trip. Which without a doubt had to include a visit to Magnolia Market. You know what we're talking about...right!? Chip? Jojo? Silos Bakery? Can I get an amen?

So, now that we are Fixer Upper pros ;) we thought that would be the perfect theme for our post today. Truly though, we are all fixer uppers aren't we? We all have places in our lives that could use a fresh coat of paint, areas that show their wear and tear more prominently, and things that are completely outdated and in need of a full overhaul. Whether it be battles in the mind, bad self-talk, grace-less judgements, or a heart that is cold and dull, we believe Chip and JoJo's principles don't merely apply to fixing up homes, but fixing up our lives.

You don't have to be a faithful viewer of the show Fixer Upper to know Chip's favorite day and favorite part of the process -- Demo day. And it is fun to watch! It's fun to watch the walls go down, rooms that seemed so small and layouts that seemed so dysfunctional are destroyed, opened up, and are set up for the perfect transformation. You see Jojo lay out her ideas and miraculous game plan for a client's house, but still as a viewer you look at this house and don't see how on earth she is going to pull it off. But as the walls go down, the old is taken out, and the dust settles, you begin to see the great potential that was lying beneath the old, the ugly, and the outdated.

In our lives we all need to have some demo days. Days when we realize the potential we each hold is not being utilized or maximized. The reasons why could be many. Lack of vision, lack of purpose, lack of love for yourself, lack of belief in God's plan, discouragement, confusion; I could go on and on. The reasons vary, but transformation begins with demo day. Step one is always destroying, tearing down, and throwing out the bad, the ugly, and the outdated. 

I'll be completely honest. This step in the process might be...no is...my least favorite.  I think if I were a Chip and Jojo client it would be my least favorite part, and when we're talking about this in relation to our lives it's my least favorite part. For a couple of reasons. (Reasons you might relate to.) First of all because this part takes time. LOTS of time. This part requires patience and a lot of trust. LOTS of patience. LOTS of trust. Secondly, I'm not always the biggest fan of structure. Just the word often times implies restriction, limitations, a stiff sort of vibe. Unfortunately (as it may feel sometimes) this step is essential. Without it we could not be amazed by the transformation. Think about it, what are we more impressed by? Room makeover shows, or shows when homes are completely remade? I don't think I need to answer that here. The bigger the transformation-the more drastic-the more in awe we are. The more inspired we are. 


The same goes for us. We are born messy. (Even if we don't think so.) We are all in need of a major
restructure. And when we encounter Christ, that process begins. It isn't simple, it does take a lot of time and it requires a lot of patience and trust on our end. Trust that God knows exactly what He is doing. Trust that He is the expert on life remodels in general but also on ours. Trust that He is going to handle us with great care and work until He rebuilds us into exactly what He always dreamed for us. Think about it like this, when those people come to Chip and Jojo, they literally hand them everything they have. All of the finances they can afford to invest in their home and all of their dreams for that home. They have to trust them in the process. That they will steward well what they've placed in their hands and handle their dreams with care. There may be many moments along the way when the home owners worry and doubt. When things seem to be moving slowly and when Chip and Jojo find structural issues to address that no one ever saw coming. But Chip and Jojo are there every step of the way to walk and talk them through it and to help the trust in the process and hang on for the outcome. And so it is with us when we place our lives in the hands of Christ. The ultimate transformer. 

If Chip and Jojo just remade rooms with some paint and pretty things, they would not be the sensations that they are. It's the restructuring that makes the show. The complete transformations and our knowledge. That their transformations are good and solid and thorough. We know that these people are getting the very best. That though the process is long and painful and uncertain, they will love their homes in the end. But they have to endure the restructuring to get there. 

I personally LOVE this next step in the process! And Jojo has this step DOWN. When the clients come back to see their fixer upper they don't just want to come back to a house. They want to come back to their home. They want to see that their home has pieces of them scattered throughout. They want to be able to identify with the aesthetics. They want pieces that will evoke memories or stimulate new ones. People go to Jojo because they know she will set their home up in a way that is personal and original. 

When walking through the steps of our fixer upper of a life, we can rest assured that God doesn't have a template that He expects us to all fit into perfectly. He doesn't have expectations of who you should be based on any of His other children. He made you an original, not a carbon copy. He didn't even model you after that lady you follow on Instagram with the perfect... well everything. He modeled you after His Son, with very clear distinctions that make you one of a kind. Be assured as much as God wants to do an overhaul on your life, He never one time will ask you to be someone else. It is in the overhaul that He will bring out more of YOU. More of who He created and purposed you to be. More of the passion He has put inside of you. More of the beauty that has been hiding within. More of the best of you. He works in a way that is personal and will forever maintain your originality. 





Here's where it gets good, really good. This is our favorite part of every Fixer Upper episode. It's late at night and Jojo comes over with all of the pretty things. All of the finishing touches. She lovingly places them around the house. You can see it in her eyes, in the way that she handles the things, that she cannot wait to share the home with the family. She cannot wait to reveal the final product. She moves things around until everything is just so. Her family shows up, kids and all, to bring the whole thing together and to enjoy that sweet moment of everything coming together. The moment when an old rundown house becomes a home. 

It should really be the same in our lives. Let's back up a few steps. When we allow Christ to come in and have a good old fashioned demo day, to restructure us according to His vision and then to help us find who we are in light of all that He has done, this should be our response! To take great care with the transformation. To only allow things in our space that will highlight all of the beautiful work that has been done. To think about each item we allow in and how it will compliment our surroundings, what they will say of our Designer. What will they say of us when people finally see the finished product?


And then we open up the doors! That moment when Chip and Jojo welcome the family into their brand new home for the very first time. I don't know about you, but I tear up almost every single time! Why?! Because we know what they went through to get there! We know how much time and work and sacrifice went into it. And we relate to it! Truthfully, we all want to come over too! We wish we were friends with those people so that we could come in and experience it with them! We want the cookies with the milk around the beautifully handcrafted farm table! We want to be a part of the transformation!

We're all in process. We're all on a journey. We're all growing and changing and becoming, and it's touching to us when we see the pay off-the rewards of those processes. The fruit of our labor if you will. In ourselves or each other!

And that's the whole point. I'm certain these people do not walk through this process to then isolate themselves in these beautiful homes and never invite anyone in. In fact, I'm certain it's quite the opposite! I'm sure they endure the lengthy, trying process for the sake of having a space worth sharing with others. And I don't know about you, but that's why I'm constantly allowing this process in my own life. Why I'm willing to endure the long, difficult, painful task of tearing down and rebuilding over and over again. That's why I constantly take such great care with the things I allow to fill my space and why with each passing year I find more and more who I am in the light of Christ. Because I want to have a space worth opening up. I want to have a space that demonstrates the grace and love and character of my Designer. A space where people feel invited and at home. Always. 

Fixer Upper fans and critics alike flock to share in pretty much anything Chip and Jojo put their hands to because of their success and mastery with these 5 steps. In the same way, we desire that people would be drawn to Christ in us. And we desire that for your lives also! 




To Know and Be Known


If you are a follower of Jesus, in all likelihood at some point you have asked, "What is God's will for my life?", or, "What is God's will for this season of my life?"

Maybe you are asking those questions right now.

Or perhaps you believe that you have a calling from God for the next chapter of your life, but you are in a season of waiting for it to happen.

Three years ago, I was waiting.

I believed that God had called me to Greece, and I was frustrated, because after a year and a half of working towards that goal, it felt further away than ever. I was discouraged and more than once had been on the verge of giving up. I was upset with myself and with God. And because I was so fixated on getting to where I believed God wanted me in the future, I frequently missed what he wanted for me in the present.

What is God's greatest desire for you and me? Is it that we would each be doing His work in specific places at specific times? Well certainly, He cares about us being a part of His mission on this earth. But when we go to God's Word, we discover that more than anything, His will is for us to know Him.

The apostle Paul was a man who, before coming to know Christ, would have appeared to be someone who followed the law of God perfectly, according to the Judaic standard. In Philippians 3:4-6, he said, 

 Paul, before knowing Jesus, looked like the model Jew. But then he met Christ, and everything changed. He continued, 


Paul came to realize that nothing compared to knowing Christ. He believed this so strongly, that nothing - not beatings, imprisonments, ostracism, or persecution - could deter him. Matt Chandler says, "Paul saw it this way: 'Since Jesus is my treasure, anything that gets me closer to my treasure gets rejoiced in.'"

No matter where we are or what season we're in, God's will is that we would know Him more. This is what He created us for. The more we know Him, the more we will delight in Him, worship Him, and proclaim Him.

Unlike Paul, I've frequently become so caught up in getting to the next thing and out of the current thing that I completely ignore God's desire for me in the here and now. Everything that happens to me, whether it be suffering, delays, frustrations or disappointments, can be a tool that God uses to draw me into deeper relationship with him.

As you think about your life, take a moment to consider what you are hoping for, valuing, and seeking. Is Jesus your treasure? Or have you been so focused on trying to attain some other goal or pursuit that you've neglected the most important thing?

God promises: "You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all of your heart (Jeremiah 29:13)."

Nothing compares to knowing

Christ. Let's pursue him.



The Uninvited Guest


Discouragement.

Sound like a familiar, yet dreaded acquaintance? It's someone we have all met, but hope doesn't stay too long. Sometimes she out stays her welcome. Sometimes we hear her knocking at our door and we try our best not to answer it. Maybe if I ignore her she will go away. Let's hope so.

Truthfully we all have our fair share of time with discouragement. Maybe she is over visiting you now. Maybe she recently departed. Either way, she will probably come knocking at your door some time again, and maybe when you least expect it.

I have to admit, my method of handling this ill-mannered visitor is trying to avoid opening the door. I hear the knocking get louder and louder, but I find myself humming a song and then moving into boisterous singing as the banging at the door grows louder.

"If I don't think about all that is weighing me down maybe it won't actually affect me."

"If I don't dwell on it, it will go away."

"Think positive. Think positive."
(I saw the musical Charlie and the Chocolate Factory on Saturday so I can whip that tune out easily!)

Finally the knocking at the door stops. I'm safe. Discouragement has left. I can heave a sigh of relief, collapse into the couch, and rest my eyes. But then I hear it. The sound of discouragement breathing in and out beside me. I open my eyes to see discouragement has found its way in, and has made herself quite comfortable on the couch beside me. And there I sit with discouragement. Now what do I do?

To be honest, I don't know how to deal with discouragement well. I try to ignore it and it doesn't go away. I try to think positive, but after the song is over discouragement is still looming. I am generally always in favor of dealing with things. If there is a conflict I would much rather deal with it rather than let it sit and fester. Easy? No, but it brings healing and restoration. But, how do I deal with discouragement?

Discouraged: verb: 1. To deprive of courage, hope, or confidence; dishearten; dispirit. 2. To obstruct by opposition or difficulty; hinder.

I think it is important to realize our feelings of discouragement has no bearing on God. He remains the same, but our feelings of courage, hope, and confidence may waver. We must understand that we have opposition, the devil. He wages war on our emotions and our minds. He wants to obstruct us. He wants to shift our focus onto our problems and disappointments and off of our all powerful God. I don't necessarily think discouragement makes us forget how strong and able God is, but it does make us lose sight of that fact.

Do you find it hard to admit when discouragement has crept in? I know I do. It is hard to actually say it out loud. For me it is difficult because one, I feel it is admitting defeat, and two, it is bringing life to those words. Now as much as I am not in agreement with "name it and claim it" theology, I am very much in agreement that our words carry the power of life and death. We have to be careful with our words because they can be weapons of mass destruction. Saying you are discouraged is not admitting defeat, it is acknowledging you are in a battle. When you think about it, it is much more deadly to be engaged in battle unknowingly. When we realize our discouragement, we understand what battle we are fighting, and it signals your trusted friends so you aren't fighting the battle alone.

For me, one of the most difficult aspects of discouragement is the overwhelming capacity of it. It feels like is begins with one thing, but then spreads to everything. It sucks you in. It overtakes you. One question leads to a thousand other questions, leaving you doubting it all. One speculation of "Will this work out," leads to, "Is all of this worth it?" And it happens so fast.

The more I think about it, the truer it becomes to me. Discouragement is really the enemy making us lose sight of God. We can't see Him. We can't see His purpose in it. We can't see Him working in it. We can't see what He can do with this mess of things. So the solution is to refocus. 

Refocus on God. Take your focus off of the questions and problems and wonderings and refocus on Him. It may be a common expression among Christians, but it can't ever lose it's truth: But God. When our focus shifts, we can be thinking about all of the mishaps and mistakes and then we realize, but God can do anything. But God is with us. But God hasn't changed His mind. But God is working in it all. But God won't let me fall. 

Refocus on God's track record. It always makes me feel so petty when I think about discouragement experienced in the Bible. Moses, Abraham, Joseph, John the Baptist, Peter, Paul..... did you think I forgot Job? That was discouragement. I often remind myself, you can't have a come back without a set back.

Refocus on what is true. I know, I know. I roll my eyes too when people tell me to find scripture to encourage me in discouraging times. But do it anyways. 





As I write this article I can say I am working through this in real time. But in my experience God teaches us in real time. We learn principles and concepts through the Word and sermons and group studies, but it isn't until we face those said concepts in real time that we actually learn how to approach them, deal with them, and walk beyond them.

As hard for it is for me to say, yes, I am discouraged. As difficult as it is for me to admit that, I admit it! It doesn't mean I am giving up. It doesn't mean I have lost faith. It doesn't mean that I doubt God. It means I am feeling the opposition that is always there, and I need to feel God's hand. Opposition is always there. But because God's hand is always there too, holding us, protecting us, defending us, we simply don't always sense the reality of it. When we do sense the reality of the battle raging against us, it can be, well, discouraging. 

Why do people have to disappoint me?
Why don't people care as much as I do?
Why don't people make the right choices?
Why do I have to sit back and watch people fail?
Why do people want to end their life?
Why can't things be easy for once?

This too will pass. Whatever the source of your discouragement, be encouraged. Find the encouragement you need whether that be a friend, a scripture to meditate on, a story from the Bible, a blog post ;)... Don't sit and sulk with this rude guest. Show discouragement the door. Reclaim your courage. Reclaim your hope. Reclaim your confidence. And refocus on the One who has said, "I care."





A New Dream


I like to keep things that help me remember the things that matter: people, moments, jokes, events. Compared to some of my friends, I have a pretty good memory. However, even with that, I still keep these mementos. It’s as if one of these days I will wake up with a chunk of my memory inaccessible. I don’t want to forget; therefore, I keep things.

The problem with that is, I end up keeping weird things even after the importance and meaning of them has faded. I found a stack of paper in my room the other day. There were scribbles and notes, but they were no longer important. The event these papers were meant to remind me of has come and gone. Yet the stack of papers were still there, taking up my space.

Oftentimes in life, we hang on to things long after we are supposed to. Honestly, it’s not unlike keeping milk in the fridge even after the expiration date. We then try to smell and taste it and often wonder how something so good ended up so nasty. I don’t want to get too graphic in my description of spoiled milk, so let’s leave that analogy there before it breaks down.

I want to talk today about dreams. When God calls people, often it is accompanied by a dream. (No, not the kind your subconscious projects in the big screen during your slumber.) I’m talking about desires,  goals, and ambitions. When God called Abraham to follow him without a clear explanation of a destination, he gave Abraham the dream that his descendants were going to be numerous. When God called Moses, the dream was to lead the people of God out of Egypt. When God called Israel, the dream was to be a kingdom set apart.

There are times in our lives when we hold on too tightly to the dream that God gave us initially. So much so that we miss when God has upgraded the dream, or perhaps added on an expansion pack.

For some, it sort of feels as if we’ve failed in the original dream, when in fact what God is doing is giving us an expanded dream which will include the original one. Sort of a two for the price of one deal. To a certain extent, Joseph experienced this. He had an actual dream of his family bowing down to him, but he got sold into slavery and then ended up in prison for quite a while. That wasn’t the dream that God had given him originally, that’s for sure. We of course know the end of the story and we know that's not the way his story ends. However, Joseph had to struggle with the feeling that his dreams would never come to pass. He had to struggle with the doubt that those dreams had really been from God at all. The fulfillment of the dream was actually above and beyond what he originally imagined. When you have the time, glance through Genesis 37 to 44. (It took him eight chapters to get to the fulfillment!) The scope of his dream was originally only about who was the boss of whom. God’s expansion pack included a position, a family, a very trusting boss, and the opportunity to save not just his family, but the communities and nations around him. How amazing is that?!?

For the rest of us, we are actually already living in the original dream and either we don’t notice it, or we’re struggling with fear, or we’re just too comfortable to step out and step into God’s next phase. Crossing the Red Sea was probably such a rush of adrenaline that the Israelites were pretty certain that they had achieved their goal- to escape oppression in Egypt. However, God’s expansion plan was more than just getting out of Egypt and even more than relocating to a new land. God’s plan was to set them apart from other people groups, for them to become God’s chosen people. It took them a while to get there and to become comfortable with that idea. Eventually, it was so ingrained in their culture that they weren’t able to comprehend that God could possibly upgrade the dream (again). God intended for salvation to come from the Jews, but to be shared with the world.

My point is this: God often gives us the plan in pieces. We don't see it from start to finish as he does. He gives us dreams and then he upgrades them. Then he gives us a bigger one. And then an even bigger one. However, we often get comfortable with the old dream and we refuse to accept the expansion pack. We keep the old dream lying around and let it become clutter. I’m not saying that our dreams are clutter or spoiled milk or that we’re supposed to trash those original dreams. (See? This analogy breaks down very easily.) What I’m saying is that God has new mercies, new revelations. Don’t be content with living only in the context of the old one.

What if God is trying to expand your dream?
What if He wants to give you new ones?
Rather than focusing on ourselves and what we want to do and how we want to do it, let's refocus on God and the dreams He wants to put in each of us. It’s always been a journey of faith, one trusting step after another. One God-given dream to the next. Let's journey on.



Strongholds


If you know me at all, you know that I love Elisabeth Elliot. If you don’t know me at all, you’ll learn very quickly that I love Elisabeth Elliot. I have read literally everything that she has ever written. (I suppose I could have missed one, but I’m almost certain I have not.) I spent a year of my life scouring the internet for anything written by her-even the obscure out-of-print-not-so-well-known ones. Let’s just say, I kept Amazon and some random book sellers in business that year. This woman’s life, her story, her God given wisdom, changed me. On so many occasions in so many ways.

Currently, in 2017 I should say, one of my goals or focuses is discipline. Living in Mexico has left me lazier and less intentional than before. About many things. And at the start of this year, I felt a call back to a life of discipline. In my time, in my relationship with Christ, in my health, and in all of my other relationships as well.

All of it.

So, I carried back across the border with me after Christmas vacation one of my all time favorite Elisabeth books: Discipline: The Glad Surrender.
I’ve been working my way back through it slowly. Letting it sink in a second time.

Let me couple that with this: 2017 has also been a lot about lies, or rather, getting rid of them. Digging down to the root of lies that have lingered in my life (sadly there are many more than I ever even realized) and allowing God to uproot them and replace them with truth.

It’s been a long, difficult, pretty painful process.

The lies are loud.

The lies have lived for so long. Too long.

And in most cases, the lies have become my truths.

They have become my reality. They feel so vividly real.

So much so, that in moments when I come to and speak truth to myself, I somehow feel as though I am lying.

So. Twisted. Tangled. Messy.

One day, while reading through this book, I stumbled upon this quote by Charles Stanley.




I was frozen there. 

I started to think about that in regards to the lies I was beginning to identify and struggle with. I realized that I was struggling with them too late. That I should have struggled with them, resisted them a long time ago. When they were still tiny, manageable thoughts. Thoughts that I could let in or keep out. I realized that several of them were now more than just lies, they were strongholds in my life and heart. They had skewed my reality, my thinking patterns, my attitudes and actions, and worst of all, my perspective and understanding of God and His character. I should have seen them back then for what they were. Tiny seeds waiting to take root and grow into deadly strongholds.

I started choosing lies and walking them through this chart of sorts. I found with lie after lie why it had become so incredibly difficult to break free and to differentiate them from truth. Because they were no longer just thoughts. They had been once. Thoughts that I had considered for a while and before I knew it they had begun infiltrating and poisoning my attitude. And then I began to act on those attitudes and eventually my actions and attitudes became habits.

Which led me to here.

Bound up. Trapped inside those little lies that had morphed into big, huge, crushing strongholds. Walls built up all around my heart that I could have prevented from constructing themselves. Now, I needed to break through. To find a way out. Trust me when I say, prevention is a lot less complicated than breaking through.

In retrospect, I so wish I would have caught these lies and choked them before they had any air or room to grow. And that’s what I want for you.

Perhaps this week you find yourself like me, suffocating and tangled up in lots of lie weeds. Perhaps you can’t see the difference between lies and truths any longer and it seems like you’ll live in the lies forever.

Or, maybe you’re somewhere in between. Perhaps some thoughts have been lingering too long on the edge of considerations. Maybe considerations are beginning to leak poison into your attitudes. Just maybe without a drastic attitude adjustment very soon, awful habits are about to establish themselves in your life.

I’m not sure where you find yourself on this spectrum this week, but I’m certain you fall somewhere on there. Here’s how I know. Because Satan is the father of lies. Since the very start he has been working to thwart every single truth about God with his deadly deceit. Lies about who God is. Lies about the things He says. Lies about who Satan is. Lies about who you are.

Lies.

Lies.

Lies.

Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that you are an exception. That he’s not bothered by you. That he will leave you alone.

Don’t deceive yourself into thinking that God doesn’t see that sneaky snake lurking and waiting to tangle you up in the mess of who he is.

I can say from personal experience, none of us are immune. I gave my life to Jesus when I was 4-years-old and I’ve never looked back. It’s been a crazy, beautiful ride. But, I regret to inform you that I let my guard down. I forgot that I too am susceptible to Satan’s trickery. Maybe even more so because I didn’t have my guard up. Because I subconsciously believed that my salvation might act as a weed killer and keep that slithering serpent away.

I could not have been more wrong.

Let’s work this week to prevent. To put our guards back up before we’re surrounded by walls that we didn’t intend to build. That trap us and blind us and distort our view of God. Wherever we find ourselves on this spectrum (and I guarantee you it's somewhere) let’s fight back this week with truth. Let’s speak truth over our own lives and truth over each other’s lives. Let’s keep cultivating. 

Gardens.

Thriving and blooming because deep below the soil are roots that grew from seeds of truth. Gardens that give life and air and beauty to everyone around us because there is no room for lies that choke and put poison into the air. Gardens that all can see because they are not isolated and cut off to the rest of the world and all that God is doing by walls and weeds.

Strongholds have got to go.

We were not created to be slaves. To be trapped or to be walled in.

We were created to be free.

To bloom.

To breathe.

Free in the truth of who Christ is and who we are because of Him.



God Sees Me.


As most of you know I have two sons, my firstborn is almost 4 years old and my youngest is 18 months. The two of them are night and day when it comes to their personality. Ryder, my oldest, was the best baby you could ever ask for. We didn’t even deal with the terrible twos or anything like that with him. The only trouble we had out of Ryder was his sleeping habits (and we are STILL dealing with his sleeping habits). Gabe, on the other hand, came out screaming. Quite literally. I remember that first night at the hospital with him. I just had him and I was so tired and hurting but I couldn’t get him to stop crying. I got up out of the bed and began pacing the floor with him praying (more like begging) God to make this child stop crying. Sometime between the late night hours and wee morning he finally fell asleep, but he has been screaming ever since. I love both of my children so much and I’ve learned to really appreciate their different personalities. Ryder is more of a thinker. He is constantly thinking. And he asks a thousand questions about everything {he gets this from his momma}. Ryder doesn’t like loud noises. Gabe, on the other hand, can’t sit still. He has to always be moving. He wants to be throwing, running, or climbing {and scaring us to death}. He is fearless. And he throws the loudest, worst fits I have ever seen. Over the SILLIEST things. Gabe pushes me further than Ryder does, but he also loves with all of his might.

I give you some details of my children to explain the dynamics in my house right now. No longer am I able to clean my house, sit down or even talk without my youngest screaming, or pulling me to get up. I am not exaggerating. This goes on from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed. It’s exhausting physically, mentally, and emotionally. I get frustrated much quicker than I ever have because I have this little one who is constantly unhappy. Now you’re probably wondering why I am complaining about all of this. I’m simply explaining to you what led to my incident the other day. You see, I was at the edge of my breaking point. In fact, I would dare to say I had been feeling a breaking point for quite some time but I kept it to myself. Of course, I would make comments to my husband about running away or how I couldn’t do this and how I was just going to find a full time job and put my children in child care (I know it’s awful that I even thought this, but I’m being so real right now). My husband would lovingly remind me that I wouldn’t make it 5 minutes without them. Basically, I wouldn’t be able to take it. And as much as I didn’t want to admit it, he was right. I would be lost without those two. In fact, every single time I have anyone watch them, no matter how long it is, I immediately turn to my husband after dropping them off and tell him how much I already miss them.

On this particular day Gabe was extra feisty. I mean, every single thing made him mad and he wanted my full attention or me to be up every 5 seconds to get him something out of the kitchen. I’d already felt my breaking point coming and I knew I was about to just go crazy. Luckily, my husband was home because what happened next is a little embarrassing. Gabe began to start screaming and wanting me to get him something while I’m in the middle of helping our 3-year-old. As I’m trying to help both children they both began to scream and cry. At this point, I’m feeling a thousand emotions, but mainly I’m just feeling defeated. I throw my hands up in the air, look at my husband and I simply say, “I can’t do this,” and I proceed to go upstairs as fast as I can. As I’m going upstairs I hear my youngest start crying harder and my oldest yelling, “mommy.” Not really knowing what I was going to do upstairs, I throw myself on the bed and I just start crying. Like ugly crying. Snotty crying. Okay, you get the picture. But here’s the thing. I couldn’t go anywhere; I couldn’t just leave my children or my husband. I couldn’t go hide and pretend they didn’t exist. As much as I was feeling sorry for myself, my heart was also hurting because I knew they were downstairs crying for me. So, I just cried and told God that I couldn’t do this anymore. And ten minutes later, after I had let it all out I went back downstairs and rejoined them.

You’re probably wondering what was so profound about this. The truth is, nothing was profound

about it at all. But something was wrong about it. You see, I’ve been feeling overwhelmed, stressed, mad, hurt, tired, and to my breaking point for a while. Some may not believe it’s normal to have a breaking point, but if we are honest we all have our breaking points. The problem isn’t with having a breaking point, the problem is letting yourself reach that breaking point without asking for help. I knew I was there. I knew at any moment I could lose it. I felt it. But, instead of asking for help, taking time to really pray and be honest with God, I just pretended like I was okay and kept going the way I was. The issue with this is I wasn’t okay, and because I wasn’t okay, all it took for me to reach my breaking point was my two little ones crying for me. Luckily, it was a small breaking point and not a deal breaker one. I understand how people leave their spouses, their children and the life they have. I don’t agree with it, but I understand it. It’s because they reach a breaking point; they reach a point of no going back. We don’t reach these points overnight. They build, slowly over time until we feel completely lost, so we leave everything behind to go find ourselves. In the process, we leave everyone we love behind and everything we’ve ever known behind because we think what’s ahead must be better. The truth is, our problems will follow us wherever we go because our problems aren’t the people we are around. The problems lie within us. Something much deeper.

I wasn’t mad at my children or my husband, overwhelmed yes, but not mad. I was overwhelmed because of my own expectations of myself. I was trying to have it all together when really I didn’t have it all together. I needed a strength beyond myself, a quiet place within my soul, a safe haven; a place that only God could give me. Yet, I was refusing to admit it, refusing to go to the One who already saw me where I was. 


I’m convinced God made us to need Him. Without Him we can do nothing. And here I was trying to do life itself without Him. And I was failing, miserably. Being a mommy is hard, but being a mommy without God’s help is even harder. I just needed someone to hear me, to see me, to validate my feelings. And God brought me to Hagar.

Hagar was a maidservant of Abraham, but Abraham’s wife Sarah couldn’t have any children so she asked Abraham to take Hagar and have a child with her. So he did. And she became pregnant with his son. After this, Sarah began to mistreat Hagar, so Hagar fled from her. An angel of the Lord found her and asked her where she was coming from and where she was going. Her response goes a little something like mine would, “I’m running away.” Now, Hagar did only what her mistress had made her do. She was going to bore Abraham a child, a son at that. And yet, she was mistreated for it. So in my mind, she had every reason to run. If anything Sarah should get in trouble. But what does the angel tell her to do? To go back and submit. But he also said, “I will bless you and your descendants…” It was Hagar’s response that spoke to my heart, “You are the God who sees me, for I have now seen the One who sees me.”

God IS the One who sees me. Me. 
Crying me. 
Happy me. 
Mad at me. 
Overwhelmed me. 
Me, right where I am. 

When others don’t understand or approve, God still sees me and hears me. When I’m at my best or my worst, He sees me. And He fights for me. He is on our side, friend. We don’t have to have it all together {He already knows we don’t}. God isn’t asking for our perfection, He is asking for us. All of us. 

So tired mommy, He sees you. He hears you. He sees the messiness of your life right now. He sees the doubts, fears, and insecurities. He sees the silent tears you try to hide. He hears your complaints that you feel guilty about. He knows your struggles. And He loves you. ALL of you…. Right where you are. Go to the One who sees you. Find rest in Him and strength for another day. We’re all in this together, you’re not alone. So my friend, don’t reach that breaking point... you know, the bad one. Come to Him as you are. Give Him your all, even if your all is simply, “I can’t do this.”