When You Feel You’re Not Enough


Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message……

“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

When I was six years old, I skipped off to school with a new box of crayons, a Swiss-polka-dotted dress, and fresh hope that I would be smart. But first grade only confirmed my greatest fear. I was “not enough.”

As soon as my first-grade teacher held up that initial spelling flashcard, I knew I was in trouble. We lined up our miniature wooden chairs in a row like a choo-choo train. The teacher held up a spelling flashcard for us to identify the word. If we missed the word, we had to go to the caboose. I spent most of the first grade in the caboose. I just couldn’t spell to save my life. For some reason, I especially had trouble with the word the.

I’ll help her, my teacher must have thought. She made me a nametag that read

t-h-e, and I had to wear it for two weeks. Students came up to me and asked, “Why are you wearing that tag?” “Is your name ‘The’?” “You must be stupid.” “What’s wrong with you?”

Well, I learned how to spell the word the, but that’s not all I learned. I learned I wasn’t as smart as everybody else, and once again, not enough. And even though I ended up doing well in school, many times I’ve still felt like that little girl in the caboose of the spelling train.

Moses was a man who felt he wasn’t good enough. When God spoke to him through a burning bush and called him to lead His people out of Egyptian bondage, he had a big case of the “not good enoughs.”

That’s when he had a one-sided argument with God. Moses told God he was the wrong man for the job. He wasn’t brave enough, strong enough, smart enough, eloquent enough, charismatic enough, or confident enough.

At one point, Moses said, “Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ Then what shall I tell them?”

God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: ‘I AM has sent me to you’” (Exodus 3:13-15).

Moses was 80 years old when he had his argument with God at the burning bush. But even the weakest knees in the hands of I AM can become a mighty force to be reckoned with.

I’ll go out on a limb and say that you too, at one time or another, will struggle with feelings of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy just like Moses did. And the underlying statement feeding the sense of worthlessness is “I’m not __________ enough.” You can fill that blank in with any number of qualities.

But here’s what we need to remember: Whatever we feel we are not, God is. He is the God who fills in our gaps; He is I AM who fills in our blanks.

When we say, “I’m not strong enough,” God says, “I AM.”
When we say, “I’m not wise enough,” God says, “I AM.”
When we say, “I’m not bold enough,” God says, “I AM.”
When we say, “I’m not smart enough,” God says, “I AM.”
When we say, “I’m not good enough,” God says, “I AM.”

Once we let go of the lies that we are not enough and take hold of the truth that we are more than enough because of Jesus’s presence and power in us, then we will be set free from paralyzing insecurity and be on our way to experiencing courageous confidence to do everything He calls us to do. It’s time get out of the caboose and sit up front with the Chief Engineer.

You want to know something amazing? One of my greatest weakness as a child was spelling words. And now that is what God has called me to do today…write with words. I stand with Paul who lamented about his weakness: “But he [God] said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

That’s what happens when we allow God to fill in our blanks. He turns what we perceive as our greatest weakness into our greatest strengths.

What is God calling you to do today? In what areas do you feel that you’re not enough? Oh friend, because of Jesus Christ’s finished work on the cross, and His power in you, you are more than enough! Don’t forget it.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

NOTE:  Photo by Hello I’m Nik on Unsplash

The Surrendered Giver


Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message…..

And now, brothers and sisters, we want you to know about the grace that God has given the Macedonian churches. In the midst of a very severe trial, their overflowing joy and their extreme poverty welled up in rich generosity. For I testify that they gave as much as they were able, and even beyond their ability. Entirely on their own, they urgently pleaded with us for the privilege of sharing in this service to the Lord’s people. And they exceeded our expectations: They gave themselves first of all to the Lord, and then by the will of God also to us (2 Corinthians 8:1-5, NIV).

My husband is a surrendered giver. I struggle with giving. I tend to blame my reluctance to give on the fact that I grew up in a shack on the edge of town. My mother often worked two and three jobs a day just to put food on the table. My husband, on the other hand, grew up in a middle-class family, lived in a very nice house in a beautiful neighborhood, and never had to worry about having his needs met. You can see where my rationalizations took me. Yep – to a place of sin.

God wants us to surrender everything we have to Him because the reality is that giving is the antidote to selfishness. I can choose to be selfish or selfless. But I need to live in a way that searches for opportunities to be generous. Over the years, Dan has taught me so much about what it means to be a surrendered giver.

We are to give as much as we are able to give. Two years ago, we downsized so that we would have more money to give away. We both drive older used cars. There is nothing wrong with buying a new car or a bigger house – unless it affects our ability to give.

The church in Macedonia saw giving as a privilege. We need to do the same.

We need to look for opportunities to give. Love gives. For God so loved the church that He … gave! A surrendered giver gives out of gratitude for what God has done in his life and is willing to stretch and develop a generosity reflex when presented with a need.

Jesus measures what we give by what we have left. Do you tithe the ten percent we are challenged to give? How would you respond if Jesus asked you to double your tithe? Whoa! That is a lot to ask – right?

We have a friend who attended a conference where the speaker challenged each attendee to double their tithes and see what God would do in their lives. Our friend accepted the challenge and has seen his business mushroom into a huge success. Today, he not only gives a double tithe, but he also gives to meet the needs of many in our community. He is also one of the most humble and unassuming people I have ever met.

Another friend has a great way to look for opportunities to give. He has two accounts. One for his living expenses and then there is his God account. He is a Day Trader. Each morning he gets up and says, “Where are we going to give today, Lord?” I know this attitude absolutely delights the Father who is the ultimate surrendered giver.

The reality is that if my checkbook does not reflect my faith, I have an immature faith. God does not need my money. He wants me to give so He can bless me!

How about you? What kind of giver are you?

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Looking For the Good


Thank you Mary Southerland for today’s message…

For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works (Ephesians 2:10, NIV).

As an elementary school teacher, I am fairly certain I learned a whole lot more than my students did. My first fulltime teaching position was in a school of 900 students, K3 through second grade.

As I read over the files of my students, I was appalled at the labels that had been attached to these kids by their previous teachers. At the ripe old age of six, these children were described as corrupt, bad, failures, impossible to control … and one child was actually pronounced “stupid.” I was furious! I was also determined to change the way the children saw themselves. I pulled out all the stops to help them understand how special they were, but “Star of the Day” was by far the most successful.

First, I bought a piece of yellow foam board, cut out a huge star, decorated it with glitter, used adhesive letters to write “Star of the Day,” and attached it to my classroom door. I then took a picture of each student in my classroom. Each day, I chose a student to be the Star of the Day and attached his or her photo to the star. I also made a badge that read “Star of the Day” which the student wore all day long. My husband built a special desk, painted it gold, attached dime store jewels and streamers, and mounted the desk to a small platform. The Star of the Day sat on their “throne” all day.

The Star of the Day was my personal assistant, handing out papers, running errands, sharpening pencils … whatever I needed done. The other students watched the Star to see all of the good things he or she did. It could be something as simple as picking up a dropped pencil … or opening the door … or being especially nice to someone who was struggling.

At the end of the day, I gathered all of the children in a circle around the Star of the Day. Each student shared one good thing they had seen the Star do that day. No negative comments were allowed. And every student had to participate. It was amazing to watch the transformation in the students as they learned to look for the good in each other and share it with others.

We need to do the same with the people in our world. We need to look for the good things in each other … not the bad. We need to be quick to draw attention to the worthy things we see each other do and applaud those things.

Our words should be filled with acceptance and approval. We need to be cautious with criticism and liberal with praise.

1 Thessalonians 5:11 “So encourage each other to build each other up.”

People become what we encourage them to be. We need to train our hearts and minds to pass over faults in search of strong points. We should choose to draw the strong qualities of others into the spotlight.

We really can learn to look for reasons in each other to praise God. Everyone needs a cheerleader. When we choose to look for the good in each other, an amazing transformation happens. Our perspective of people changes, but that is not all. The people in our world begin to see themselves differently – the way Jesus sees them, precious and chosen – like a star of the day.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When a Dream Dies

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message.

I sat on my porch with my Bible in my lap and a hot mug of steamy coffee in my hand. Early morning is my favorite time of day. Just me, Jesus, and a smattering of birds.

I closed my Bible and looked out across the backyard. My eyes landed on a rounded mound of fur nestled in the grass under the willow tree.

I got up and moved in for a closer look. My heart sank as I discovered what appeared to be a curled-up baby fawn lying lifeless in the grass. Probably the same fawn my neighbor had seen nursing from its mom the day before. My heart broke. I understand the circle of life, but still. A baby fawn lay dead in my yard. Most likely the target of the coyote I’d seen roaming around.

I couldn’t get close enough to see the wound. Sometimes that is the way of things.

I did get close enough to see the sunlight passing through the velum-like ears, the intricate spots on its back, and the Bambi-like eyelashes resting on a perfectly shaped snout. I would have to wait until Steve got home to take care of the situation. I didn’t have the nerve.

All morning long my mind returned to the lifeless form lying in the sun. Hours passed. At noon I looked out of the window and the still fawn remained unmoved. Untouched. Undisturbed. I couldn’t stand it. I had to know what had happened to it. So I mustered up my courage and made my way to the fawn. Three feet away. Stop. No signs of an attack. I inched closer.
Finally, I knelt down by the beautifully crafted creature, admiring God’s handiwork. But I couldn’t see what had killed it.

“What happened to you, little deer?” I whispered.

Suddenly, the fawn’s head popped up! Startled eyes stared at mine…wide-eyed. Me like a deer caught in the headlights. The fawn simply caught. I fell back on my haunches! And time stood still for a moment as we stared at each other in disbelief!

Finally, the fawn sprang to its feet, wobbled a bit, and scampered off like a drunken sailor. I sat in the grass and laughed, and laughed, and laughed. So the fawn wasn’t dead after all. It had simply found a bit of grass and fallen asleep…until almost noon.

After my heart stopped pounding in my chest, God spoke to my heart, Sometimes things are dead, and sometimes they just need to be woken up.

I pondered those words for the rest of the day. I called a friend who was struggling in her marriage—in a very bad way. The sort of way that leaves you wondering if it will survive. I told her the story.

Sometimes things are dead, and sometimes they just need to be woken up.

Sometimes a marriage is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

Sometimes a friendship is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

Sometimes a dream is dead, and sometimes it just needs to be woken up.

I think of how God told the prophet Ezekiel to speak to the valley of dry bones. “Prophesy to these bones and say to them, ‘Dry bones, hear the word of the Lord! This is what the Sovereign Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life. I will attach tendons to you and make flesh come upon you and cover you with skin; I will put breath in you, and you will come to life. Then you will know that I am the Lord.’” Ezekiel 37:4-6 (NIV)

I imagine Ezekiel felt pretty silly talking to those dry bones. And honestly sometimes I feel pretty silly obeying God and speaking life into the dry bones of some of my situations.

So here’s my word for you and me today.

For my friend struggling in her marriage…

For my friend who cries for her adult son who walked away from God…

For my friend who longs to cuddle up with a good husband rather than a good book…

Don’t assume the dream is dead. Sometimes it just needs to be woken up. Don’t give up too soon.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

In Want or in Plenty: Real Ways to Create Contentment in Your Life

Thank you Kathi Lipp for today’s message…

On that sunny August day, I thought my life couldn’t get much worse.

Recently separated from my husband and with no support from him, I was teetering on the financial edge. My kids and I had just moved in with my parents, and I was desperately looking for a job to support my two middle schoolers.

I thought about our old life where the only thing I needed to get them ready for a new school year was a debit card and a couple trips to the mall. With school only a few weeks away, I didn’t know where I’d get the money to buy clothes and shoes or pay for annual physicals.

That was fifteen years ago.

Today, I do have enough, but the dread of not having what I need can still make me sick to my stomach.

We live in a tiny house, but one that is situated in the most expensive county in the US, with plenty of food, enough money to buy clothes we need and go out to dinner occasionally. Even take an occasional vacation.
This is the land of plenty. No doubt about it.

But what I’ve discovered? There are benefits and drawbacks to both.

When I was in want, we pulled together what we needed with the help of my parents, hand-me-downs from friends, Goodwill, and a small amount of surprise money that showed up in our mailbox. We didn’t have extra, but we had exactly what we needed.

Living in want is a scary place to be, whatever your want may be. But the other thing I discovered about living in want? It gives you plenty of room to see and experience God’s provision first hand, evidence of God’s care and provision for me and my kids.

Now, living in plenty? Whew! Finally, you can be relieved of the day-to-day worry about how you’re going to pay the rent, or the next car payment. But there is a drawback to living in plenty: You can forget to notice all the miracles around you.

We falsely believe we are making things happen—and that can even turn into thinking if only people were as ______________ (conscientious, hard-working, smart, etc.) as us, they would not be in want.

And suddenly we forget about the love, graciousness and strength only God can provide in both of these times.

So how do we stay content in a world that actively works to keep us discontent?

Limit your time around agents of discontent.

Where does your discontentment grow? For me, it’s looking at Pinterest or home decorating sites. I see all-white country chic homes and am transported into another world—until I have to come back to earth and see my stained carpets, saggy couches and 1970’s bathroom. Not only can I become dissatisfied, I can project that dissatisfaction onto my husband, who works hard to provide for me.

I’ve learned to limit myself when it comes to my house. Currently, we are replacing our carpets with flooring. Instead of spending months perusing different websites, I’m heading to Home Depot. No muss. No fuss.

Get radically, ridiculously grateful.

This is an exercise I do when I need to recalibrate my gratefulness. Notice how many things you have directly around you.

As I write this, within a foot of me are:

2 Bibles
A notebook and pen
A coffee cup with hot coffee in it
A banana peel from the banana I just ate
A tray a good friend gave me
A couch I’m sitting on
A quilt my mom made me
My dog cuddling with me
Just noticing the blessings in my immediate surroundings changes my perspective.

Here is what I know from reading God’s word: We need to set our hearts on God and not our circumstances. We must learn to live both in want and in plenty.

God will meet us, no matter our situation. Our ability to be content is not determined by our circumstances, but our connection to Him.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!