I am Offended and Hurt

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message…..

She put me down, right there in front of “all them.” Sure, it was subtle, but it was real and … worst of all, it wasn’t the first time. In fact, every time I encourage others around that one particular subject, she circles right back and shoots it down. You can’t get one thing past her.

Hmph! Well, if she’s going to put me down like that? Well…I’ll show her. I don’t have to put up with this.

I thought about leaving the gathering. But I didn’t. I just sat there, internally fuming, while externally smiling.

Later, when I got home, I wondered why I even bother speaking up, encouraging others or taking the risk to be open and honest. Women always hurt me. Like that one time I shared the vulnerable details of my heart, only to get word it was being passed through the meat grinder of women’s chattering mouths. Or the other time when I shared my hurt and it was misinterpreted and stomped upon by those around me. Or worst yet, when I shared about God and felt all the crawling judgement of others walking up and down my body.

The more I think about all this, the more the problem bothers me. And worst yet, I fear: what if the real problem is – me? Perhaps it’s not their issue, but my fatal-flaw issue. One I was born with. What then?

I must not be good. I must be unlikable. I’ll always have this problem.

When I look deep within myself, I see faults:

I sometimes seek to impress others.
I hate feeling like people aren’t approving of me.
I never want to be seen as one doing wrong.
I have a hard time when people disagree.
I feel like less of a person when I’m not adding value.
I feel worthier when God is using me for important things.

Yet, when I look a level deeper I see something else. Yes, I am flawed, but not fatally – thanks to Jesus. I say things wrong, but I am always wanted. I make mistakes, but I am always loved. I do need to say, “I’m sorry,” but I am always forgiven.

I am not the sum of what I do, but the product of how I’m loved by Jesus.

The same goes for you. Love pours out of you, because Love came for you and conquered all. He taught. He led. He bled. He died. He was buried. He rose to heaven. For you.

With this, we no longer have to create perfect love that demands perfect responses from others. Instead, we can rest in Him who is perfect love. We can trust His love to compel us. We can breathe deep and gain perseverance and endurance from the endlessly beautiful gift he extends to us. The gift called, “sweet relief.”

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day! 

 

How to Make a Godly Decision

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message:

My husband said to me, “Kelly, you need to be more straightforward with people. Answer with an outright ‘no’ when you know you need to say ‘no.’”

I mulled over his words, considering them.

He had a good point. I have a hard time saying no. I want to make everyone happy. I don’t want to let people down. My central goal is to leave them encouraged.

And to avoid feeling unlikable. To avoid dealing with those awful residual icky feelings of knowing a person may not want me anymore, think highly of me, or desire to be my friend. Or worst yet, they talk behind my back and form some kind of club that hates me. The idea of all this hurts enough to live a life that rapidly throws out a yes.

Even the idea of it horribly stresses me out.

Are you like me? Do you say “yes” when you have an inkling the right answer is “no?” Why? Underneath your altruistic, save-the-world, love-on-every man, give-your-whole-life-over goal, what are you seeking?

Do you want to appear the do-it-all woman?

Do you want people to know you are capable?

Do you not want to look weak?

Do you hope to never let anyone down?

Do you believe God has called you to do everything?

Do you cringe at the idea of not being liked?

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” (Galatians 1:10)

This verse teaches us: Our goal is not to be loved by man, but to love God first and foremost. We can’t easily pursue God’s mission when we’re caught in the web of everyone else’s approval. The only approval we need is the approval of Christ Jesus. Just as many men disliked Jesus, there will be many times when we are disliked too. The value of Christian life is not how liked we are; it is how loved by Jesus we are.

With these foundational truths in our pocket, we can ask God 3 things when making a decision:

1. Are you calling me to do this?

Consider: Our immediate and half-hearted action plan may prohibit God’s perfect and powerful plan. It may be another’s gifts that are meant to be used for this unique situation, not ours. Sometimes our best strategy is to move out of the way, so God can move in.

2. Am I doing this out of love?

If it’s absent of love, it is worthless.

“If I…do not have love, I gain nothing.” (1 Corinthians 13:3)

3. Am I wise to wait on this?

If we don’t have clarity, there’s validity in waiting. Pray. Seek. Ask. Repeat. By faith, believe God has our way.

Jesus is “The Way.” And no matter how you answer… “yes” or “no,” he always loves you. Always. And He’s prepared to help, guide and lead you in all of your ways.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

When Your Whole Life Stinks


Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message.

Do you ever have a hard time seeing the bright side of things?

I do. After pulling all of our luggage, pillows and boxes from the car, I plopped on the couch in my brand new home, in a brand new city.

It’s not safe enough here, in this neighborhood. They are doing construction right next to us. There are no families around.

The anxious thoughts were eating my moment of joy.

The previous night didn’t help. Our train ride to the new home was horrendous. We slept in the passenger car. My three-year old daughter pleaded in 30-minute increments for a tissue for her nose. The door rattled. The train leaned in, then out, as it went down the track. I slept for half an hour.

It’s easy for me to see what’s wrong instead of what’s right. Things that stress me instead of what God has put there to bless me. Everything annoying, disturbing and wrong instead of the things that are right.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.” (Philippians 4:8)

What about you? What does your mind go to? What do you reflect on?

You know, that morning after our horrendous night on the train, I saw a woman I’d met earlier. After smiling, I asked her, “How was your night’s sleep?”

Her answer? “Good, I got some naps in.”

She chose to speak what was good rather than sinking into what was bad. She still smiled, her eyes looked happy and her face seemed ready for the day.

Later, I passed by my cabin neighbor. She recounted the night by saying, “Last night, I was awake. So all I did was stare at the beauty of the wide-open skies. You should have seen the stars. They were magnificent.”

Again, this woman chose to find the find the good in the bad.

What is the good in your bad?

God has left it for us, if we choose to see it. We can see Provider God over our anxiety. We can see hope rise above uncertainty. We can see little lights shine out from our vast darkness. We can give thanks for spurts of goodness when everything else is blah.

We can always:

Praise God’s character.
Give thanks for eternity.
Remember the good times.
Dwell on God’s promise that He’ll always be with us.
Decide to truly believe God is our Provider.

When Jesus came into this dark world, He brought goodness. And even better, He left it. Our job is to search it out, to draw it near, and to return to thinking about it, even when we’re prone to forget. This keeps our head up and our hope strong.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

5-Step Plan to Godly Thinking

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message….

Some days, it feels like a woman’s work is never done.

These words coursed through my mind as I swung left and right around the kitchen tossing dishes into the dishwasher, removing food stains from the floor and shoving ketchup into the open nook in the side fridge door. I exhaled. I’m nearly there – nearly to the moment I fall back and put my feet up.

Trash still lined the counters: a paper towel by the sink, a wrapper by the coffee maker and an old straw that was nearly too grimy to pick up. I surveyed it all. I considered what to grab first and how to do it most efficiently. I had a plan! The kitchen would sparkle.

Yet, somewhere between laying hands on the grimy straw and the half-used paper towel a thought hit me: Why don’t I survey my mind the same way I do my counters?

God says “whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things.” (Phil. 4:8)

Do I think this way? Do you?

The power of thinking is much like the process of cleaning.

We must:

1. Identify the dirty stuff. We must look for anything that does not belong in the temple of God. We must recognize our stuff.

Gossip, negative thinking, complaining, nit-picking, and judgement don’t belong in a shiny bright, glory-filled temple of God. Take notice of them.

2. Decide it must go. Pick up on what doesn’t belong and make a decision to do things differently. Head that very thought towards the trash can. Be done with it!

You do this by telling yourself: This thought is not helping me, but hurting me. When I fill my mind with the what is not good, I miss the goodness of God.

3. Replace what was missing. When we clean, we usually remove stuff from the counters first, so can wipe the whole surface. But, after we’ve cleaned, we replace items. We put back the vase, the coffee maker and the pot.

TIP: Put the P.L.A.N.T. back in location.

Simply, think a good thought as it relates to these letters (see sample below):

Pure: God loves me.

Lovely: God has a sweet moment for me after I’m done with this counter.

Admirable: I feel good I didn’t put this cleaning off until tomorrow.

Noble: The King of Kings sees my work.

True and Right: I have a family that loves me.

Will this process work perfectly every time? No way. What does? We live on earth, after all. Mean thoughts, annoyed words or debilitating self-proclamations still sneak in on occasion, but be encouraged, the more you clean and survey your mind, the more it comes alive to joy and contentment.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

 

You Really Can Do It With God

Thank you Kelly Balarie for today’s message:matthew17_5Matthew 17:20

It looked like an impossible task – a no way, no how kind of thing. I had no time, waning skills and hardly a resource to actually make it happen.

After all, I am not a star candidate. My follow-through record is usually pretty poor, my attitude often defeated and my belief in myself is hardly at mountaintop levels. How could I actually follow through on what I knew God wanted me to do?

Everything in me wanted to tell God to check the earth for another holy roller and remind Him that He had picked the wrong gal.

And, I nearly did.

I would have if it wasn’t for the other “still small voice” (1 Kings 19:12) I couldn’t seem to shake (despite my best efforts) to ignore. The one that whispered, “With me, all things are possible (Matthew 19:26). You can’t, but I can. Where there is my will, there is a way.”

His Word broke through my hard exterior, to speak life to my interior, asking: Will you choose to believe that I can do exceedingly abundantly more than you can ask, think or imagine (Ephesians 3:20) or will you believe I can’t?

When God hits you like that, you start realizing there isn’t much middle ground. You start realizing that He either is great and mighty like you confess in church, or He isn’t. You start realizing the job is far less about you and far more about what He can do.

You start moving toward belief, real belief, the kind of belief that works out incredible, hopeful and wild-things. The type of faith Jesus says moves mountains, even in when administered in the smallest doses.

“Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

What mountain before you seems impossible to shake, quake or break? What do you stand hard-pressed against? What hurts to be near?

Have you considered with your small words of “God can,” He will? He will do something life changing, effective and significant. Why? Because He promises.

Will it look exactly as you think? Probably not.
Will it look better than you can think or imagine? Yes.

Will it always be according to your timeline? Hardly.
Could it be something you have to witness, one day, from the safety of heaven? Possibly.

But, our God will do what He says he will do.

Believe.

Tell your mountain to move.

Ask it again.

Believe it again.

Ask it again.

Believe it again.

Do not grow weary, worn or restless.

God is working for you, loving you and leading you.

Take heart, He has overcome the world (John 16:33).
He can overcome everything and anything that is coming against you.