Dear Struggling Single Mama

Dear Struggling Single Mama

It is one of my favorite things about God - how, when he tells us to do something, it is for us, it is for OUR benefit, it is for OUR good.  He's not sitting in heaven watching for someone to follow the rules and then pulling a string to drop blessings on the one who is obedient - the rules ARE the blessing.  His commands, the things he asks us to obey, are for US.  He doesn't tell us to forgive so a burden will be lifted from someone else - he commands us to forgive so a burden will be lifted from US.  He doesn't tell us to be careful with our words simply to avoid hurting other people - he tells us to be careful because the words we use affect US.

And when he tells us to love others - when he says this is the second greatest commandment - it is not only for the people we love, it is for US.

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Where The Spirit Of The Lord Is

The Spirit is in us, the same spirit that rose the dead to life and healed the near dead and multiplied food by the thousands.
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It is in us, moving and speaking and guiding and praying.
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A piece of eternity, a connection between us in the world and the whole of the Kingdom.
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Because we are no longer of the world, we are merely in it. Not immune to the pain and suffering the world offers - just sure of what we hope for, certain the story ends well, invested heavily in the Kingdom, and free from the weight of the world’s chains.
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Where the Sprit is, there is freedom. It lives in you - live free.

How To Find Your Way Back To God

How To Find Your Way Back To God

I grew up without much of an introduction to God.  I’d heard of Him, of course, but I didn’t know Him.  Then I found Him, or He found me, and we were tight, because “tight” is something I said a lot in those days.

And then I fell away –

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On Unclenching And Letting Go And Surrendering

On Unclenching And Letting Go And Surrendering

I read this book years ago and it kind of wrecked me.  It suggested praying a prayer -a prayer offering ANYTHING to God.  Offering it all up to Him, whatever He wants to take, whatever He wants to use, anything.

And isn't this what life following Christ is supposed to look like anyway?  Jesus didn't go around telling everyone to go to church on Sundays, and talk to God sometimes when it suits you.   He didn't say 'make sure you give exactly ten percent' and 'only listen to Christian music.'  He said FOLLOW me.  He said to

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Waiting For Ai

Waiting For Ai

But really, it doesn't matter for me right now.  I needed to see this story in a new light.  I needed to see how sometimes God asks you to give something up - to pass by silver and gold and fancy clothes.  Sometimes He says "Give that up" or "Pass that by" or "Let that go" with no explanation - no promise of something specific He would give in return.  He doesn't say "Destroy everything in Jericho, I'll let you take what you want from Ai,"  He just says, "Destroy everything in Jericho."

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What To Do When You're Being Scolded

 

It was worse than yelling - it was a mean whisper, spewed through clenched teeth. 

I knew it was bad as it left my tongue, but I couldn't reel it in so I watched helplessly as it struck him - as he hid his head behind his leg. 

I tried and botched an apology. 

"I did it because you . . .," is what I told him. 

"You deserved it," is what he heard. And his face stayed behind his leg. 

I am mean, I thought. I'm a bully, I thought. I'm the worst, I thought.

So I took a breath and I tried again.

"That was really mean - the way I said that. I bet it really hurt your feelings. It would hurt my feelings if someone talked to me that way." Pause. A nod from the backseat. "I'm so so sorry. Can you forgive me?"

He said he would, and he lifted his head, and he asked for his burrito. 

He seemed to be over it, because he is loving and forgiving and seven. But I wasn't over it.

I scolded myself, worse than yelling, mean whispers spewed at my own soul through clenched teeth. Until a quiet thought stopped me. 

"It's been a hard couple of days. Your feelings are hurt - anyone's feelings would be hurt. I'm so sorry. Can you forgive you? Can you let this go?"

I decided I could, and I lifted my head, and I reached for a taco. 

*Yes, know better. Yes, do better. Also, know you're not perfect. Also, have grace for your own mistakes. If it helps, picture yourself as a child before you scold and whisper and spew at you ♥*

What Joey Taught Me About Abiding

What Joey Taught Me About Abiding

"Hello."  I said.  "I'm Stevie, what's your name?"

He responded timidly, looking up at me like a child lost from his parents, mumbling his name.  I didn't understand.

"What was that?"

"Joey*."  He said.  "I'm Joey."

I smiled and he smiled back - sort of.  I won't pretend to know his life, but he smiled like someone who hadn't felt real joy - produced a real smile - in a long time.

And I was glad I stopped to talk to Joey.

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THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO STEVIE

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God is real and He is bigger and more mysterious and more incomprehensible than we could possibly imagine.

He made us human people, each of us.  He lovingly gave us bodies and breath and life.  He made us good.  He made us to be with Him - to be the most fulfilled, the most satisfied, the most free, when we are with Him. 

But something broke. We can feel it.  In certain moments we know we were meant for, made for eternity.  We know there is something missing, there is something more, and our souls twist and writhe inside our bodies, longing to be reunited with the missing piece.

And God longs too.  Longs for every last soul in His creation to be with Him again. To be where they belong, to be free.

So God, before anything even broke, had a plan. A plan to restore, reconcile, redeem.  He set aside a people and through them He showed how different He is, how set apart, how powerful. And He showed how we - us humans in our broken state - could never begin to restore our souls on our own. 

We could not refrain from enough evil or do enough good to reconcile us to God, to fund our own redemption.

We would die.  And we would die separated from Him, from the source of life and love and light.

And then.

And then, Jesus. Son of Man, Son of God. Somehow, someway - His life and His death and His resurrection - they bridge the gap for us.

Somehow, His death takes the place of my death, I have life eternal in His resurrection. It is too big and too mysterious and too incomprehensible for me to understand fully, just like my God.

But my twisting, writhing soul found instant peace as I walked across the bridged gap. My questions about why and how and for what purpose do I exist were quieted as I was reconciled to my God.

I am more fulfilled and satisfied with each step I take with Him, as he redeems each broken part of me.

And I am free.

How To Know If You Did The Right Thing

How To Know If You Did The Right Thing

I saved a boy from drowning once.  Well, I helped.  And then I regretted it. 

I was seven, maybe eight.  It was a campground pool, and it was my cousin’s birthday. The memory is a weird one, one of those trauma-seared memories, with certain parts vivid, like a movie replaying in my mind, and other parts missing entirely.

I remember jumping into the pool, I remember my older cousin – the one with the birthday – jumping in too, I remember swimming toward the center of the pool to meet him, I remember giggling, I remember him asking if I’d seen his friend Jared* because he’d come out of the locker room before him, I remember a strange feeling in my stomach, I remember us looking at each other and then, together, looking down.

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