Just Do You, Boo…

I am going to be honest. I watch a television show called Married at First Sight. I find it fascinating. A team of experts put couples together based on interviews and assessments. The couples literally meet for the first time at their weddings. It is a modern twist on arranged marriages and I find the show wildly addictive.

On a recent episode, one of the newlyweds made this statement to her husband, “just do you, boo.” This is not the first time I have heard this particular comment. It seems to me that “doing you” and “speaking your own truth” are prominent schools of thought in today’s culture. And I know that in many circumstances these comments are not intended to be anything more than a mindless statement of support and encouragement. Sort of a verbal way of leveling the playing field. However, we are living in a culture of me, myself and I. And is it really okay to just “do you boo” even at the cost of someone else? And where does this “truth” you are speaking truly come from?

Jesus said to him, I am the Way, and the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me. (John 14:6 ESV).

So Jesus said to the Jews who had believed him, “If you abide in my word, you are truly my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:31‭-‬32 ESV

We are called to follow Christ’s example and he spoke truth in love. We can find absolute truth in the words of our Father written to us in His Word. Our truth comes from Him and His Word, not some watered down version of the truth that the world hands to us. And definitely not our own version of the truth. There is simply one way, one truth and one life.

I would say “do you boo”; if, and only if, that you is a reflection of the Father and is derived from obedience to His word and His calling for your life. You see, you are completely made new in your identity in Christ and you absolutely should be the you that Christ created you to be! He made you for a specific purpose, reason and season!

Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. (John 15:5‭-‬8 NIV)

Be hopeful!

I Dare You…

Here’s the truth ya’ll, I don’t think that we take God at His Word. We struggle with control, worry and self worth; instead of trusting God and what He has to say.

We allow the size of our pants, our job title, or our social status to dictate how we feel about ourselves; all the while spouting that our hope is in God and God alone.

Our prayers are bold in words; but, weak in complete trust that God sees us, hears us and answers us.

We allow trust issues to keep us from loving those around us deeply, abandoning ourselves to walls that we build that isolate us further.

We seek the approval of others and often change ourselves to fit in; which essentially places God’s opinion of us lower and of less importance than others.

We allow fear to dictate what we can’t accomplish, setting parameters on our abilities; instead of seeking God on what we can accomplish and seeking what He enables and empowers us to do.

So, this evening, I dare you. I dare you to see God in His fullness: all powerful, fully capable and willing to give you the absolute best life. The same God who parted the Red Sea and stopped the Jordan River to rescue His people fights for you every single day.

He did this so that all the peoples of the earth might know that the hand of the Lord is powerful and so that you might always fear the Lord your God.”
Joshua 4:24 NIV

I dare you to take His Word as complete truth and to bask in the light of that truth and what it has to say about who you are and what you are capable of accomplishing for Him.

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 NIV

I dare you to let your identity in Christ be the most important opinion in your life and let it permeate your soul, allowing you to walk in bold, secure and complete confidence.

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 NIV

I dare you to be a bold, limitless prayer warrior, trusting to your absolute core that God answers every prayer in His perfect timing and within His perfect will.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6‭-‬7 NIV

I dare you to love people without fear. In fact, love fiercely without expectation of something in return; be quick to forgive, slow to anger and extend grace often because that is exactly what Christ does for you.

The Lord is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.
Psalm 103:8 NIV

I dare you to replace fear with faith and love, stepping out of your comfort zone to serve God boldly. Let God give you a “can do” attitude in ways that you never thought were possible. His ways are good and fear doesn’t stand a chance against our mighty God!

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love. 1 John 4:18 NIV

I dare you…..

Be hopeful!

Is Your Glass Full?

I attended a fitness training over the weekend. Our instructor used an illustration that has really left me thinking. She told us that as fitness instructors we have the opportunity to see ourselves as a glass that is full to the brim. Each class that we offer provides an opportunity for us to pour into the lives in that room and hopefully fill them up by the time class has ended.

What a fabulous approach to fitness instruction. What a fabulous approach to life in general! When you really break it down, it rings true on so many levels.

We must, first, be full ourselves. In other words, we must have something to give to those around us. So to be a full glass, we must let God tend to our souls. We can do this by seeking God’s truth for our lives in His Word, praying and simply spending time with our Father daily. It is from Him that we will receive hope, love, forgiveness, grace and oh so many blessings.

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that we should take care of our physical needs too. Eat balanced, nutritious meals, get a good night’s sleep and get moving daily through exercise.

So, now that our glass is full, we have the opportunity and calling to pour into those around us and fill them up with good things. God things. And inspire them to then go and do the same!

“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,” (Matthew 28:19 NIV)

I encourage you to let God fill your glass full each day this week and then seek opportunities to pour Him into those around you. I am confident that there is enough of Him to go around. In fact, I have a feeling that we will find that when we approach life like this, our cups may truly runneth over!

Be joyful!

Do not offer any part of yourself to sin as an instrument of wickedness, but rather offer yourselves to God as those who have been brought from death to life; and offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness. Romans 6:13 NIV

Guacamole…

My daughter won a guacamole contest today for some extra credit in her Geometry class. Only in Texas would extra credit be given for bringing guacamole for a contest in Geometry. Needless to say, I have been basking in the light of our culinary win today. Who wouldn’t be, right? My daughter told me that her Geometry teacher shared the “winning” guacamole with other teachers and it was a smash hit! Sweet approval of our expertise with avocados. Praise you Jesus! Maybe I should open a guacamole shop. I am sure that folks will travel from far and wide to dip a chip in our winning guacamole, I can just see the line waiting outside for our guacamole shop to open each day.

It’s funny how success and approval can take you right out of a slump. It can put a little pep in your step, make you stand a little taller and give you a little more confidence. And before you know it, you have convinced yourself that you truly are the best, cue the music, “U Can’t Touch This” by MC Hammer.

But, let’s get back to reality for just a second. Because right after receiving word about our winning guacamole, I tried on a bathing suit that I ordered and my confidence plummeted. That confident grin was replaced with a grimace and negative self talk. Surely guacamole played a role in the way that bathing suit looked on my body. The dreams of a guacamole store gone in a flash. I mean who would buy guacamole from me? Why did I have to taste so much of that winning recipe last night? I need to just stay away from chips and guacamole for the rest of my life.

You see, that is what happens when we allow the world to be our compass. Our emotions are based on the moment, ebbing and flowing with our wins, losses, thoughts or even that image in the mirror. And we know that often none of those things are even grounded in truth. The only defense we have against the world tossing us around, moment to moment, is to build our success and approval on the solid ground of who we are in Christ Jesus. Not a guacamole contest. Not a bathing suit. His Presence and Truth in our lives helps us take the wins and losses in stride. He allows us to have confidence because in having Him, we truly have it all. The final victory has been won and we are on the winning team!

Now somebody please cue the music, “U Can’t Touch This” and hand me some of that winning guacamole!

Be joyful!

“God, the one and only–I’ll wait as long as he says. Everything I need comes from him, so why not? He’s solid rock under my feet, breathing room for my soul, and Impregnable castle: I’m set free for life.” Psalm 62:1

Mine, Mine, Mine!

pixsharkimage
Image from pixshark.com

When my mom brought me home from the hospital, my brother met us at the car, exclaiming “my baby, my baby, my baby.” (He was an extremely intelligent boy and knew greatness when he saw it. 🙂 ) I carried my “blankee” for much longer than I will ever admit and it was definitely my property and mine alone. Try and take food away from my daughter and see what happens to you. How often have we witnessed children grab a toy away from someone else’s hands all the while exclaiming, “mine”?

We sure do like to lay claim to our possessions, don’t we? I have noticed a pattern developing culturally that seems similar. More and more often, I hear people refer to their own “truth” or they might comment about another person saying something like, “that’s her truth.” I hear things like, “do you girl” or “look at what I made” when it comes to our children. I recently used hash tags under a picture of my own daughter laying claim to her softball status: #lovemynumber6 and #thatsmygirl. I know, you are probably thinking that these are innocent claims that come from an innocuous place. But, I think that they might speak to a larger issue that comes from our self-absorbed, self obsessed nature or as my Pastor likes to say, “Me-ville.”

Jesus answered, “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14:6). Jesus also said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) We see God say to Moses in Exodus 3:14, “I am who I am. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I am has sent me to you.'” It seems to me that we need to be very careful when it comes to “truth” and laying claim. The only truth that stands firm in this world is Jesus. It is not my truth or your truth, it is His Truth. And the truth of the matter is that anything good or right or fair that flows from our lives is simply a reflection of God working through us. Further, any possession or gift or talent that we lay claim to was entrusted to us by our Father. This includes our children.

Thank God that He shouted, “mine, mine, mine” and sent His Son to save us. Thank God that Jesus shouted, “mine, mine, mine” when He gave up his last breath and conquered death, rising victorious for us. Thank God that His Holy Spirit shouts, “mine, mine, mine” as His very life pours into our very being. Glory Father, your truth is everything! You must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less. (John 3:30 NLT)

So, this weekend, I dare you to claim “His Truth” in your life and instead of “doing you”, let’s “do God”. He is the only Truth that matters.

Be joyful!

If you start thinking to yourselves, “I did all this. And all be myself. I’m rich. It’s all mine!”–well, think again. Remember that God, your God, gave you the strength to produce all this wealth so as to confirm the covenant that he promised to your ancestors–as it is today. Deuteronomy 8:17-18 MSG

The Old Sleeping Bag…

20180319_162836

The little old man found his old sleeping bag over the weekend. (If you would like to know the back story on the little old man, please read my previous post entitled, “The Little Old Man”.) I came into his room to give him his breakfast and found him zipped into this very worn sleeping bag, which he had laid on top off his bed. I must have looked puzzled because a very sleepy, little old man said, “Look, I found my old sleeping bag.” “I see,” I replied, “was there something wrong with your bed?” To which he responded, “Well, I used this sleeping bag for thirty six years.” So, I said “okay” and gave him his breakfast and left the room.

But, it really wasn’t okay with me if I am honest. In fact, I found it strange and a bit annoying, especially because I wasn’t sure how many years it had been since the old sleeping bag had been cleaned. Yet, each time I went back into his room, the little old man was tucked tightly into his old friend, the sleeping bag. I even overheard the little old man ask the angel dog if he liked the old sleeping bag. Hmmm…why was this getting on my nerves?

I brought the sleeping bag issue to my husband’s attention and shared that I found it odd and was afraid that it might be a stinky, old sleeping bag. My husband thought that it was indeed odd. But, this was not the first odd encounter that we had experienced with the little old man. He encouraged me to let this one go and let the little old man enjoy his new found treasure. Hmmm…boy do I hate it when my husband plays the part of the Holy Spirit.

I spent Sunday afternoon, cleaning the little old man’s room. I washed all of his linens and I cleaned the old sleeping bag. I made his bed back up and then laid the old sleeping bag on top. I know exactly what you are thinking, why is this such a big deal? But, if we are honest, how many times does someone show up with an “old sleeping bag” and disrupt our normal routine? How often do we allow our need for control to create huge mountains out of life’s tiny mole hills? Better yet, how often do we push our old sleeping bag, routines or habits onto God and expect Him to fit in? And how often do we try and control our own lives, when the easier thing would be to let go and let God take control?

You see, sometimes, we need to bring out the old sleeping bag and lay it down before our Father; let Him freshen it up, clean it off and spruce it up. He is the master of making old things new. In fact, it is one of His specialties!

Hmmm….the old sleeping bag…..who knew?

Be Joyful!

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV

Forgiveness…

crossI have been thinking a lot about forgiveness lately. In fact, I truly believe that God has been laying this powerful word on my heart to ponder for about two weeks now. My teenage daughter has a hard time admitting when she is wrong. (She gets this solely from her father. Ha!)  She also has a hard time saying that she is sorry. I have tried to point out to her many times that forgiveness has to do with her own heart. And that it is often one of the most freeing, uplifting things that we can do. It’s funny how your own words can come back to haunt you.

We recently had an argument within our family. I wish I could tell you that we handled it calmly, with complete understanding, calm heads and voices, and resolved it in a Biblical manner. But, I am trying to practice transparency and honesty with this blog. It was quite the opposite. Harsh words were exchanged, doors were slammed and resolution was left for another day.

I think God often uses family relationships to teach, refine and refocus. This has truly been the case for me since this unfortunate incident. What I realized is that the right and wrong of the situation at the end of the day really doesn’t matter. But, what does matter are the hearts involved, starting with mine. You see, I have been harboring unforgiveness. I have been justifying my own thoughts and feelings, replaying the fiasco over and over again. Then, I started to realize that I felt horrible inside. And that the more I justified, the more I felt God pressing in on me to repent and to allow Him to handle the situation. And not only was God asking for me to repent; but He was asking me to extend grace; regardless of whether that grace was deserved. He put songs on the radio, scriptures, words in my Bible study, messages from the pulpit, all whispering the same thing to me….it is time to forgive and be forgiven.

So, I did. I gave it all to my Father and asked Him to renew a right spirit within me. And just like that, I felt free, uplifted and my conscience was clear. Grace and love became easier to extend too, imagine that! Why did it take me so long?”

Jesus said, ‘Father forgive them, for they don’t know what they are doing.'” (Luke 23:24 NLT) Our Savior pleaded for our forgiveness from the cross. He demonstrated from that excruciating vantage point the importance of forgiving one another. He then gave up His own life for my sins and yours. For my stubbornness and yours. For my pride, and yours. For all of my short comings and yours. He conquered the cross, so that we could stand before our Father, forgiven and redeemed.

I want to be more like Jesus. I want to extend His grace, love and forgiveness more. He placed me here, within this generation to do His work. He wants me to shine bright for Him. Sometimes, we have to get our “self” out of the way.

And sometimes the first step is forgiveness.

Be joyful!

Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32 NLT)

The Number on the Scale….

scaleYep, I had to face it this weekend. I landed at urgent care with a raging sore throat and terrible cough. I had successfully put it off; but now the moment had arrived. I had to face the number on the scale. This hate relationship with the scale started early for me. If I am brutally honest, I have avoided trips to the doctor many times because I simply didn’t want to face it. Please don’t judge me too harshly. The number on the scale has way too much control. I readily admit it. That number can dictate how I feel for the day. It can bring shame, guilt and embarrassment by the droves. It can also bring enormous amounts of relief, success and short lived happiness. However, what it never has provided is freedom.

This particular doctor’s visit confirmed many things for me. It confirmed a major throat infection (no strep, thank God) and bronchitis (“ain’t nobody got time for that”). What I have dwelt on since the doctor’s visit has not been concern for my own health. Nope. I have been consumed with the fact that the number on the scale is up. You see, I have been struggling with my weight my entire life. The last couple of years, hormones and menopause has made it more difficult for me to maintain my weight, let alone lose. For the last few months, I haven’t felt like fighting it. And the number on the scale shows it.

Why do we allow this number to have so much control over us? I know that I am not the only one. I work in the fitness industry (I laugh that God has made this part of my story given my serious issues with self esteem associated with my weight). I have witnessed the look of complete devastation on a client’s face after facing the number on the scale. It is heart breaking.

I remember when my current boss (who is a fabulous, fit, God-fearing woman) suggested that I consider becoming a certified Personal Trainer. My thoughts went something like this, ‘Are you kidding me? I don’t look the part. The struggle is beyond real. I am living proof that you can’t out exercise poor eating habits. Who would ever look to me for advice on getting in shape. You must be seriously delusional.’ Why do we allow the number on the scale to dictate what we are worthy to do? Or not to do?

I have lived 45 years allowing the number on the scale to dictate so many things: whether I will be in the picture, whether I will go to the beach or pool, whether I will feel attractive that day, whether I will enjoy lunch with my family, whether I should wear that outfit or not, whether I am worthy to be loved. In fact, while I am being honest, I can probably tell you what the number on the scale was during each season, vacation, happy or sad time of my life. And it played an unnecessary role in each one of these occasions. (Yikes! Lord, please help me not be the only one.)

I have been leading an amazing Bible Study for women by Kelly Minter, entitled, “No Other Gods”. What I am realizing is that this number on the scale is a false idol for me. It has sold me a lie about who I am. I have allowed the number on the scale to take up way too much space in my life, mentally and emotionally. And I am so tired of it. It is beyond time to lay this one down. It is beyond time to replace this idol with my Lord and Savior Jesus and let His truth reign in my life.

I am so much more than that number on the scale. I am made in the image of my Father in heaven. “But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. There is no law against these things.” (Galatians 5:22-23 NLT) Now, my friends, this one scripture is some solid truth that I should sink my teeth into instead of the number on the scale.

Are there struggles or idols that you have allowed too much attention in your life? Lay them down. Let them go. They are nothing more than stumbling blocks that keep you from serving and pursuing the only, One True God. Let’s get on with living boldly for Him.

He is the only number on the scale that matters. He is my number One!

“For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.” Ephesians 2:10 NLT

Be joyful!

Life360…

146340-425x425-cell_phone_tracking_GPS

As I mentioned before, my daughter is now a driver. This past weekend, I told her that we were going to try out this new app as a family, called life360 and that the app will allow us to track each other via our phones.

Believe me, I was ready for the complete teenage “jelly fish” moment (to borrow a term from my Pastor). Those of you with teenagers know this one well…moaning, gnashing of teeth, the cry of injustice that comes from a teenager being put out by their overbearing parents. But, instead, I was met with complete obedience, almost a jovial response and the app was immediately downloaded onto her phone. I must admit I was a bit bewildered, until my daughter exclaimed, “now I will know when you are at home and simply ignoring my texts. You know that really makes me crazy mom, when you ignore my texts and I know you are just simply sitting at home.” As if. She went on to tell me that she has always wanted to see exactly what I do during the day. I started to think that this life360 app was a bad idea.

On Monday, I had a pretty normal day. I taught a class at the gym first thing in the morning, did a couple of errands and headed home to get cleaned up. I had a nail appointment right after lunch and left my phone in my car during the appointment. The last thing on my mind was life360.  I came out of the salon an hour later (with gorgeously polished nails I might add) to find a text from my daughter asking what I was having done at the salon and why I had not responded promptly, thank you very much. I responded “stop stalking me.” Indeed, this life360 app really might be a bad idea.

It occurred to me that this is a lot like how our Father in heaven must feel. He knocks, we invite Him into our heart and He “downloads” His Holy Spirit into us. The heavens rejoice and He has so many blessings in store! Then, we set out to live our lives and sometimes we forget that He has a perfect plan for us.

There was a significant season of my life that I was so busy doing things my way that I never even considered God or His plan for my life. He was there. He was tracking me. He was watching and waiting. He tried several times to get my attention, to get me to answer “His texts”. Yet, I was convinced that my way was the best way. You see, I left my phone in my car. I didn’t really need Him. I had this, thank you very much. When I finally hit rock bottom, I looked up and realized what a mess that I had made of things. And you know what? He met me there, helped me up, dusted me off and restored a new Spirit within me. Glory!

The only way this thing called life works is with Jesus front and center.. I sure do hope that you “download” the app and give your life over to Him. Life360 is only possible with His love, grace, forgiveness and mighty hand leading, watching. tracking, guiding, and protecting.

And on that note, my final analysis is simple: Jesus at the center of my life360 is indeed the only way. He is the Way. The Truth. and the Life. I hope it is true for you too!

Be joyful!

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not o your own understanding; in all your ways submit to Him, and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6