I am people.

As a Christian, what has been the hardest thing for me to do?

It hasn’t been *not* murdering though catch me without coffee and maybe I’d give you a different answer. Also, there was that one time I was convinced to chaperone a 40-Hour Famine youth group event and I’m certain I had numerous murderous thoughts. I also spent the next 24-hours in bed sick as a dog. Never again!

It hasn’t been serving. If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time you’d know that I served with such zeal and enthusiasm that I find myself in severe and utter burnout.

While others might hold tightly to money or things I’m quick to give. I’m also quick to speak life when people are down or in need of some encouragement. This isn’t to pat myself on the back, but just to acknowledge some things come easier to some and that’s what makes our diversity needed and beautiful!

Back to that main question, the hardest thing for me to do as a Christian has been to love and value myself.

This has been a difficult concept for me to grasp since…well….forever. As a Christian, I very much understood that my life had two main goals because Jesus had so nicely summed them up for me in Matthew 22:36-40. Everything hung on those two things.

Love God. Love People.

And so the light came on: I AM PEOPLE.

I’ve been thinking about this more lately when on multiple occasions I was asked, “If you could tell younger you one thing what would it be?” Back in 2013, I wrote a post around my 30th birthday sharing some of my answers to that question. I still agree with everything I wrote, but as I re-read it I realized I missed this important truth– loving myself.

In the Christian culture, we are encouraged to think outside of ourselves. Be mindful of others. Live the cross-bearing kind of life. I don’t deny any of those things and still agree with them. I am to daily lay down my life for the Kingdom of God, but laying down my life doesn’t mean hating myself or dismissing my needs.

I thought loving God and loving others meant giving of myself until I didn’t even have a drop left for myself. I thought loving others meant finding value in others, but finding myself worthless. I have operated out of this mindset for a very long time.

But I am people.

And you are people, too.

I know you’ve probably got kids, grandkids, jobs, ministry, friends and/or houses to care for, but it’s OK to care for you, too. Actually, I think God finds just as much pleasure in seeing you love yourself as He does when you love others. Why? Because He made you, too. You’re one of His wonderfully made creations, too! You are beautiful and made in His image, too!

One of the worship songs I’ve been bathing myself in recently has been “Prophesy Your Promise” by Jesus Culture and you can listen to it here if you’re interested. The bridge in this song was what first stuck out to me in this season and I feel like it applies to the encouragement I’m trying to share here.

Fear can go to hell. Shame can go there too. I know whose I am. God, I belong to you.

Shame would try to tell us that we don’t deserve love. That we are in fact unworthy. Oh, but dear friend, that’s not true. You belong to God and God doesn’t make or keep junk. You are deeply loved, treasured and desired. More than my mind can even comprehend, honestly.

I can love me because He loves me. I can find worth in myself because He says I have worth. I can care for me because He cares for me, too.

So I’m choosing to proactively send the lies that tell me I’m disgusting and worthless back to hell–that’s where they came from and I’m sending them right back. May you send every lie back to where it came!

In the Words of Bon Jovi & a Franciscan Prayer

What could an 80’s metal hair band babe and some Franciscan monks have in common? I mean, do they have something in common?!

Stay with me for a second. I know this sounds crazy as I’ve been laughing (literally out loud) while watching the Bon Jovi “Livin’ on a Prayer” music video, but sometimes this is how God talks to me. I can’t help it.

For the last week, I feel like I’ve been at a loss of words. When confronted with the deep, heart-wrenching pain of others I wondered, “What could I possibly say?” So, I spent lots of time listening and reading because I believe that’s part of my calling at this time– to no longer feign ignorance, but educate myself and grow.

This is no new concept. In fact, this is a foundational principle whenever you come in contact with someone who is grieving….LISTEN. There is no perfect arrangement of words to make everything better, but listening brings a simple solidarity between people.

As I’ve mentioned before, during my own personal darkest hours the moments people came and just sat with me or allowed me to share openly about my loss and bear my wounds have been some of the most comforting. These kinds of interactions also bring about a depth of genuine connection certainly needed in this current conversation as well.

In my reading this week, I came across this ancient Franciscan prayer. Even though I haven’t had many words to share and have even struggled knowing what and how to pray this simple prayer seemed beautifully relevant.

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, hard hearts, half-truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live from deep within your heart where God’s spirit dwells.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation, and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world and in your neighborhood, so that you will courageously try what you don’t think you can do, but in Jesus Christ you’ll have the strength necessary to do.

May God bless you so that you remember we are all called to continue God’s redemptive work of love and healing in God’s place, in and through God’s name, in God’s spirit, continually creating and breathing new life and grace into everything and everyone we touch.

No fancy words are necessary when we pray. You do not need a Theology degree or even know the Greek word for prayer. Prayer is simply connection with our Heavenly Father. I’ve started many a prayer with a sigh or groan.

Sometimes the majority of prayer IS listening. God listening to my list of grievances and frustrations. And if I’m smart, me doing the majority of the listening as He comfort or corrects or directs me.

No need to over-complicate it or overthink it. Just make the space to do it–to simply quiet yourself down and turning off all the distractions. Just you and Him. It’s there where the Living Water of His Presence can come in and give us a drink of water. A drink of hope and a drink of strength.

Here’s my encouragement, whether in the words of an 1855 hymn by Joseph Scriven (“Take it to the Lord in prayer”) or a 1986 rock ballad by Bon Jovi (“Livin’ on a Prayer”) take a minute to do just that.

Life Lessons & Wallpaper Removal

life lessons & wallpaper removal

If you’ve been reading my blog for any amount of time you’ll notice a theme. I write about stuff I’m going through and/or learning. If you’d go back through my old posts you’d see those things range from time I spent on the river kayaking or passing a torn down McDonald’s. If our ears and eyes are open, there’s so much to learn in the simple, ordinary moments of life.

Like while tearing down wallpaper.

In October 2011, I moved into my apartment and immediately hated the wallpaper in my entryway. I’m not sure when this house was built, but I’m certain the wallpaper (at least the first layer) is circa the 70’s at my best estimate.

Please don’t get me wrong. I LOVE my little apartment. It’s got character much like it’s tenant. There’s tons of kitchen storage though some of it can’t be reached by a 5′ fun-sized person such as myself. It’s got brand new windows that let in the morning sun and overlooks a back yard with green grass and a bunny or two. The hardwood floors in my bedroom make me smile every single day.

My landlords/neighbors have become friends over the past 8.5+ years of me living here. Their daughters leave me the occasional hand-picked flower on my step to brighten up my day. Of all the sweet perks of this apartment (and there are many) they are by far the best part.

But it was time for the wallpaper to go….past due in fact!

One might ask, “Holly, what has taken you so long to take down the wallpaper?”

Here’s where my lessons begin.

Lesson #1: You can’t get what you don’t ask for. 

I lived with something I didn’t like for almost 9 years because I didn’t ask for anything different. I was willing to live with it.

What things have you been willing to live with?

I’m not talking about dated wallpaper here. I’m talking about toxic relationships, mental health hang-ups or jobs that leave you feeling unfulfilled.

Don’t you think it’s about time you ask for better for yourself? And not just ask for better, but DO better, which leads me to my next point.

Lesson #2: You’ve got to put in the work.

You can have a realization for a looooooooong time that things need to change, but if you don’t do anything to make some changes things are just going to stay in the same.

We don’t lose weight, get a new job or set up personal boundaries just by thinking about it. We’ve got to do something about it. We’ve got to set aside time to exercise or plan healthy meals. We’ve got to search job postings and send out our resume. You get the point I’m trying to make here.

For me that meant tearing down two layers of unruly wallpaper. If I want a renovated and beautiful entryway/office I’m going to need to put in the elbow grease.

Lesson #3: You’ve got to have the right tools.

Something you might not know about me is I’m slightly obsessive. Personally, I’d prefer if we called it driven or highly-motivated, but obsessive might fit better. If I get something in my head that I want or want to do I dive right in. So, when my landlord gave me the go-ahead to tear down the wallpaper I started immediately.

I have a small drawer of floral handled tools (Thanks, Mom!), that doesn’t seem to include a scraper. This tool is extremely helpful when trying to remove old wallpaper. Yet, in my haste and excitement to begin the task at hand I just started. I don’t need a scraper. This is fine. (It was not fine.) It made the job more tedious than it needed to be.

Thankfully, my landlord had the tools I needed and graciously shared them with me.

Sometimes I don’t have the tools. That’s ok. Others might and many are more than willing to share their knowledge/tools/gifts/skills to help you accomplish the task at hand.

Also, I’d prefer NOT to bring it up but this lesson also might also show the importance of allowing people to help you. Please don’t tell my best friend I said this. She’s always telling me it’s important I recognize I need community and other people to grow and heal and all that stuff and I simply don’t like admitting that because I like doing things myself. (cough, cough. I mentioned I tried to remove wallpaper without a scraper, right?)

Lesson #4: It’s all a process. 

I’m a bit naive when I take on projects. I’ve got the end goal in mind and the euphoria of having a beautiful updated space is at the forefront of my mind. NOT the steps I will need to take to get there.

But it is a process. After I tore down the wallpaper I needed to do some repair. The repair required it’s own steps. After taping and mudding and sanding it’ll be more sanding of trim in order to prepare for painting. Even after I get it painted and I stand to admire all of my hard work I will still have to put furniture back and get it set up the way I’d like it.

Process.

Accomplishing goals requires acknowledging there is a process and recognizing not all of the process will have linear progress. AKA ya’ll we are going to have set backs. And that is OK.

As I sit here mid-process on my project it could be easy to get discouraged. Why did I get myself involved in this anyway???

I’ll tell you why! The end result. Sometime soon (soon….that nice vague timeline) I will be typing this from my beautiful office nook with freshly painted walls, vintage white lace curtains and a small plant I will certain kill in a few weeks after getting it. I’ll be sitting at a desk the full length of my wall that my brother helped me put together from some scrap wood he had and some hairpin metal legs I bought on Etsy. It will be perfect.

While social media will surely see the finished product they won’t see everything it took to get me there. Maybe that’s lesson #5. People won’t know all it took for you to reach your goal. They just won’t.

My hope for all of us is that wherever and however the lesson comes (or wherever we are at in the process) that we would learn a few things about ourselves, about our priorities and about life.

 

Radical Acceptance

Radical

Every time I sat down to write this I was unable to because I felt like a fraud. You see, I don’t have this radical acceptance stuff figured out. I am very much on the journey towards it, but I’m not there yet.

Actually, that could go for everything I write. There is not a topic I’ve fully grasped, championed or perfected. I’d like to think that’s part of why you come here because you can relate to not having it all figured out. When I share my own imperfection I hope you find it an encouragement and not something that makes what I have to say fraudulent.

Back to the topic at hand then: RADICAL ACCEPTANCE.

A friend mentioned this phrase to me recently and it stuck with me. So much in fact that I scribbled the words into my notebook to study out when I had more time. I wanted to figure out what radical acceptance means to me? FOR ME?

Like the nerd that I am one of the first things I like to do is look up definitions. In my experience, there’s a wealth of insight when we look at what a word means. So that’s what I did here.

I won’t bore you by writing out the lengthy definitions, but just some things that stood out to me that I think will further our discussion. (This is a discussion, right? Or are blogs just me talking to myself? haha….moving on.)

radical (adj): far reaching or thorough

Radical is fundamentally extreme. It is not wishy washy, but an “all in” mentality.

I’ve heard Christian leaders call us to be “radical for Jesus” yet when we radically love the people He instructed us to they don’t like it. Funny how that Truth can be so easily warped by a person’s agenda. Thing about that is when you warp a Truth to fit an agenda it’s not longer true.

I may be going off on a side tangent here (not sorry about that), but being radical for Jesus doesn’t mean sitting in the front row on Sunday mornings or rushing to get back IN a church building after this Coronavirus stuff is over. Being radical for Jesus doesn’t mean putting a Jesus sticker on your bumper or not saying words like shit.

Being radical for Jesus means advocating for those who have been abused, neglected and mistreated. Being radical for Jesus means getting OUTSIDE the church walls and pursuing the hurting and broken and not just expecting them to walk into a church building.

Seems to me like some of the stuff that Christians have labeled as “radical for Jesus” is just whitewashed religiosity.

My tone might sound angry in those last few paragraphs because….I am. American Christianity (and I do stress a difference here) seems to pick and choose what aspects of Jesus fits nicely into our life and schedule. There’s nothing radical about that.

On to our next word.

acceptance (noun): consenting to receive something offered

Under one of the definitions for acceptance was this line: a willingness to tolerate a difficult or unpleasant situation. 

Damn.

I’m going to let that sit a minute. That leveled me. I feel difficult and unpleasant the majority of the time. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wondered and worried if I was being a pain in the ass. Just ask my best friend, siblings or guys I’ve dated and they could all attest I’ve asked them if I was being a pain numerous times.

For me this phrase “radical acceptance” should read “radical self acceptance”. And when I go back to my original questions (What does radical acceptance mean to me? For me?) this is how I would answer them with all that stuff in mind.

Radical acceptance means willingly tolerating (and even celebrating) every aspect of who I am. Even the more difficult or “ugly” parts of who I am.

Radical acceptance means to thoroughly and wholeheartedly receive a person and all they bring to the table.

It means allowing myself the grace to share my thoughts, struggles and opinions without having to preface it with an apology. NOT that it gives me free reign to be a jerk, but that it simply allows me to be open and authentic without feeling like I have to soften that for someone’s palate.

I’ve been told I’m too emotional, too loud, too opinionated, too whatever and I’m coming to some conclusions that I might be too much for some and that’s ok. I may not be spiritual enough for some or lady-like for others. I may be too liberal for some and too conservative for others.

In caring so deeply about what other’s liked and didn’t like about me I ended up hating myself and I’m slowly trying to pick up the pieces and accept me for all that I am. I am imperfect and flawed and get it wrong so very often, but I’m also generous and thoughtful and funny.

And on my journey to radical acceptance I will celebrate all of who I am…even the unpleasant or difficult stuff.

I hope you will find the strength and courage to love all of you, too. That’s the kind of radical love Jesus has for you. An all encompassing, unapologetic fierce kind of love.

 

Things You Shouldn’t Say to the Hurting

Things You Shouldn't Say to the Hurting

Here’s another one from the vault. Last week’s post was from 2015– this one goes back a snidge further to 2014.

I’ve debated on reopening these posts and actually finishing them. There’s a reason I never hit publishShame (& fear) has often stopped me in my tracks. I’ve worried I’d “offend” people. Afraid of being misheard or misunderstood.

Turns out that I’m finding freedom in realizing no matter what I do or say someone will always be upset. So, I’m going to share the stuff I feel like God has placed on my heart and hope it encourages the people it’s meant to.

A few weeks ago (in 2014) at church, a lady came up to me and said: “It’s so nice to see you smiling again. It’s good to have you back.”

I didn’t know I had been “gone”.

If you’ve spent any time with me in person, you’d know that my face is pretty readable. When I’m sad, you can tell. When I’m pissed off, you can tell. When I’m giddy with excitement, you can tell. If I need a cup of coffee….you get it.

There’s no doubt, that my “struggling” had been visible to people. I knew I hadn’t been smiling very much, but I’m not the type to smile if I’m not happy. Maybe you think its appropriate to be fake in certain settings, but I don’t. See it as a flaw or a virtue, I am who I am.

So, when I stared at her first in shock and then in frustration, I’m pretty sure she could sense that I wasn’t taking her comment as encouragement even though I’m assuming that was her intention.

Instead of encouragement I was met with shame. Holly, why can’t you just get your crap together? Why do you always seem to be struggling? You’re a Christian, what kind of testimony is it to be such a mess? That’s a brief and highly edited synopsis of my internal thought life after the woman walked away.

I was hurt. It hurt. And it’s ok to admit that. It doesn’t make me emotional or immature or ungodly. IT MAKES ME HUMAN. 

I’ve sat in meetings where people have told me they couldn’t understand how I could look so miserable. What kind of leader was I? Just more examples of what NOT to say to someone who is hurting.

It never seemed to cross their minds to simply ask, “Hey Holly. It looks like you’re hurting. I see you. I care about you.”

I’ve said the wrong things, too. Actually, just this week (back in 2020 now) I probably (read: absolutely) said some things to my best friend I shouldn’t have. I was trying my best to encourage with endless Bible verses when all she really needed to hear was “I love you. I’m sorry this sucks so bad. Let’s eat ice cream.”

Is it bad to share Bible verses or worship songs that have lifted you up in hopes it’ll be a drink for their weary soul? No. Not at all. Most of the time though they just want to know you care.

Just shut up and care, Holly.

 

Rising Up From the Ashes

Rising Up From the Ashes

This one is for the people who find themselves burnt out from life or ministry or marriage or disappointment or anxiety….or whatever is leaving you a heap on the floor (literally or figuratively).

I’ve been burnt out for a number of years now. It’s not a new realization by any means. I knew it. I tried to deny it out of shame convinced if I was a good enough Christian I wouldn’t be feeling this way. It was this drive that sent me deeper, much deeper into this pit where I was determined I could serve my way out of this condition.

Serving. That was my hamster wheel that kept me spinning endlessly and getting nowhere but tired and angry and hurting. Things that once brought me pleasure and joy now left me anxious and bitter and I wonder if I was ever called to ministry after all. I question my purpose and calling, which has been the very core of my being since I was a kid.

It was…is.. my identity. It has entwined itself around my worth and in order to be loved I needed to DO. Holly wasn’t enough. Rather Holly simply BEING wasn’t enough.

So, here I sit in my ashes.

There’s a story of man named Job who had everything he could have ever wanted– money, prestige, family, friends, a thriving business. Then, one day, he lost it all. He lost his family, his health, his wealth and found himself in an ash heap. He sat there (according to Job 2:8, CEV) to show his sorrow.

Ashes can so often represent destruction and devastation. Earlier this year, Australia experienced horrific wildfires that destroyed more than a fifth of the country’s forests. People and animals died, too. Sure sounds like devastation to me.

And yet, every time I think of ashes I am reminded of the Phoenix. A Greek mythological legend says the bird dies by bursting into flames and then is reborn from its ashes. In its death there is renewal and resurrection. It does not limp or walk away from its ash heap. It SOARS away with a grand, majestic and glorious display of strength and vigor.

As we enter this Holy week, that is the image I am mediating on because that is the image Christ Himself exemplified. Not some folklore story mind you, but an actual literal empty grave where His body once lay. Christ did not limp from the borrowed tomb, but victoriously trampled death, disease, discouragement and everything in-between.

In doing so, He has given that same victory to me (and YOU)– to soar on the wings like eagles (& Phoenixes) , to run and not grow weary (or burnt out), they will walk (not limp) and not be faint (Isaiah 40:31, NIV with parenthetic additions made by yours truly).

To go back to our friend Job, he didn’t limp away from his ash heap, either. In fact, he got back everything that had been taken from him and MORE. As you’ve reflected on what has been lost maybe you need that reminder. You will get back more than you had before.

In your marriage that has been on the brink of divorce you will see redemption. In your soul that has been wracked by anxiety you will experience a peace that transcends even a global pandemic.

In my burn out, I believe, a passion will be reignited that will propel me on to do the very thing(s) I was created to do. Not to get love, but from a beautiful understanding that I am loved simply for who I am and not the ways I serve.

Rise up from the ashes, friends! Soar!

Sin & the Coronavirus

Sin & The Coronavirus

Her eyes were fixed intently on her schoolwork as she traced the letters “V” both upper and lower case. Without looking up she asks, “Did sin cause the Coronavirus?”

“Hmm.” I say.

While inside my head I’m screaming, “Hey God! This is a bit outside my pay grade! Mind tossing me some Truth and wisdom a 5 year old can understand? That I can understand?!”

This was important. You don’t want to mess this one up. Ya know? We’re all asking hard questions right now or so I’d imagine. You don’t walk through a global pandemic without one or two boinking around in your brain.

So, I ask her, “What was it like before sin entered the world? Before Adam and Eve sinned?”

“It was perfect!” she says with a smile.

“Yup! It was perfect. No sickness. No sin. None of that.” Things are going smoothly and I’m shocked. SHOCKED I tell you.

We spend a few more minutes discussing the effects of sin– selfishness, greed, fighting with your siblings, being disobedient.

She seems satisfied with our discussion and we move on to other important conversations. Like how one of the boys in her class put chocolate down his pants and then ate it. I’m horrified at this news though less shocked because it’s coming from a girl who tells me boogers are considered dessert.

This story is true, by the way, ALL of it. I wanted to share this cute one in hopes that when I transition into my next point, which will undoubtedly step on some toes that you’ll remember that you once found me funny and endearing.

I’ve been seeing Christians post some pretty “interesting” things on social media with the onset of this global crisis. And it’s those kinds of posts that shake me from my silence and stagnancy in regards to blogging/writing.

My 5-year old niece isn’t the only one thinking about sin and the Coronavirus. I recently read a post that said, “What if this nation were to deal with the problem of sin as strongly as we are with the threat of COVID-19?” My! What a mighty high horse you have!

Mind you, there were many Christians (disclaimer: NOT ALL) who upon first hearing our leaders talk about social distancing and self-isolation were LAUGHING at the thought. How dare they ask us to not meet in groups of 10 people or more!

So, let me get this straight….is THAT how you think I should be dealing with sin in my life? According to your model, we laugh when a sin seems insignificant or at least not relevant for my life, but those other people’s lives. Until we realize that sin is actually effecting MY life and I should probably do something about that, but not before using it as an opportunity to shame some people on the internet first.

Let me stop here for a minute.

It’s much easier to see other people’s sins (and flaws) and not our own. MYSELF INCLUDED.

It was Jesus who reminded us of this Truth in Matthew 7. Other people have specks in their eyes while we’ve got logs. I can’t overlook my crap by putting a spotlight on someone else’s. Doesn’t exactly work that way and yet we try to do that because we don’t want to confront it. Again, I get it. I’m in this support group, too.

Am I saying we never discuss sin? No. Am I saying we should never talk to other people about their sin? Again, no. (Keep reading Matthew 7 for how we should actually go about doing this. I’ll give you a hint: deal with your own crap FIRST.)

What I’m asking is that we STOP SHAMING PEOPLE on the internet. This is a time where people are in need of encouragement and peace and we have the opportunity to offer hope through the social media platforms we are on. You have a voice. All I’m asking is you use it wisely.

 

Take Your Victory Lap

It was a perfect Autumn afternoon. The clouds had parted and there were pockets of blue skies and warm sunlight. The air was crisp, but enjoyable with a rhythmic gentle breeze that would softly place the brightly colored leaves before me as I walked. Like my very own red carpet rolled out for me.

I’ve been taking these walks as often as possible. My intention being that I can get some exercise in for my body and release some pent up feelings to relieve my mind. I’ve been frequenting the same park the past few weeks and have half expected someone to report me to the police for talking to myself, which I often do as I try and get myself out of the mental rut I’ve found myself in that day. Sometimes in the midst of the steps and complaints I hear the Lord speak to me.

That’s what happened to me yesterday.

As the leaves spread out before me I smiled. Admittedly, my first thought had not been a movie star’s red carpet, but rather Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem. As He rode into the city, the crowds began to throw down leaves (not my Autumn colored leaves, but Palm branches) and coats before Him with shouts of praise.

“Hosanna!” they shouted. This word– Hosanna– had been used in the Psalms as a plea. Please, save me! Yet, in this context it’s used differently. It’s used as a praise of thanksgiving for salvation. Jesus would bring them the help and salvation they needed, but it certainly wouldn’t look like what they had thought or hoped. The people longed for political salvation, but Jesus would bring a freedom much more life altering.

This triumphal entry, in fact, did mimic the type of parades that would accompany military victories. These celebrations would usher in the commander that led the troops in victory. It was their moment to soak in their success and show off the spoils of war.

In modern terms, it’s like a victory lap in NASCAR. I’ve been told by my own resident NASCAR expert (since I know absolutely nothing about the sport) that the winner gets to take a lap around the course as the fans cheer and general merriment ensues. It happens after all other 500 laps have been successful completed. Makes sense. You can’t celebrate a victory until you’ve won.

Jesus, though, took His victory lap before He went to the cross. Before the relentless scourging. Before the devastating betrayal. He took it before the battle had really even begun.

And so can you.

In all honesty, I don’t feel equipped to bring this type of encouragement to you. As someone feeling battle weary, broken and drained, most days I’m mustering every ounce of energy just to hold on. But maybe that’s you, too. Maybe you’re dealing with the loss of a parent or loved one and you wonder if the pain will ever stop. Maybe you’re walking through chemo treatments and the side effects don’t seem to be letting up. Maybe you’re grieving your life/marriage/ministry and how it doesn’t look like what you had imagined long ago.

Whatever you’re facing, you don’t see victory yet. It’s there where I want you to take your victory lap. I know it doesn’t make sense. I know it seems silly.

As Christians, we know that we’ve received victory through Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:57). He’s already given it to us and yet we still face our battles. Not fighting for victory, but from it. It may not feel like you’re victorious, but you are and it’s the moments you don’t feel it that you’ve got to walk in the Truth of it.

If you don’t have a crowd of fans, know that I’m here cheering you on. Keep on going.

Jesus Is Our Daily Bread

If you’ve grown up in the church you’ve been reciting the Lord’s Prayer ever since you memorized it in early morning Sunday School where you enjoyed Bible stories on flannel-graph boards. The Lord’s Prayer was given to us by Jesus as an example of how we should pray. We tend to take the red letters statements pretty seriously in the Bible. In a way it’s become a seemingly common prayer that can be heard in movies, found on wall hangings and even used as inspiration for works of art.

The simplicity of the Lord’s Prayer doesn’t take away from the depth or power behind it. Like I said, Jesus prayed it so it’s not some wimpy prayer meant to be recited haphazardly without a thought. Unfortunately, that’s exactly what I’ve done more times than not and have spent most of my life skimming over it like it was NBD.

A few Sundays ago, I had the opportunity to lead communion at my church, which means I spent days preparing. And by preparing, I mean seizing every opportunity to pray (in the car, in the shower, in bed, etc.) because nobody wants to be the person to mess up communion. In my prayers, I’d ask God to give me some kind of encouraging word for His people. Something that would be fresh and not the usual Sunday morning pep rally speech.

And for days, Jesus said nothing.

It was a bit nerve wracking, to say the least, and I worried that maybe I’d get up there Sunday and just do the normal communion spiel. I’d heard it about a thousand times up to this point so I could wing it if I needed to but really hoped that wouldn’t be the case.

When I walked into church that Sunday, I was resigned that maybe God wasn’t going to speak to me about communion. As worship began, it became very clear that God was speaking. It wasn’t in my timing, which He has a tendency of doing. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I was. So there, in this personal moment with me and Jesus He said, “I am your daily bread.”

There’s so much to that statement.

Jesus. That beautiful name. The name above every name. The name that will bring every person to their knees in worship. There’s power in His name. There’s no other name like it and no other name that holds such authority.

Is. This one small word reminds us that Jesus is….now….currently…presently….at this very moment our daily bread. That is comforting in the midst of your struggle or need. Jesus isn’t some past help. He is here when I need Him.

Our. As much as Jesus is here for me He’s here for you, too. He’s mine, He’s yours, He’s ours. Christianity was never meant to be lived singularly. We were made for community and it’s only fitting that communion would be done in the midst of that community. It is available for us all as a Body of believers. Jesus’ bread or rather His body, which the bread represents, was broken and used to make us whole.

Daily. Not our bread for just Sundays. Or holidays. Or when we feel like it. He’s meant to be partaken of each and every day. The fact is we need Him daily, but we so foolishly think we can pass on that daily bread. “I got this,” we try and convince ourselves. In my independence, and mostly my stupidity, I thought that it showed strength to try and do things on my own. The fact remains that I need Him. Not just daily, but moment by moment. In the highs of life and certainly in the lows.He wants us coming to Him to supply our needs for that day. In doing so, we will see and know His faithfulness because He’ll always provide.

Bread. This bread is the bread of life. No Wonder Bread here, but bread that sustains us and gives us all we need as we face our day. We can try and satisfy our needs with other things (or people, or hobbies or jobs or money), but nothing and no one can satisfy like Him. Everything else is just counterfeit.

One of the things I love about communion at my church is the way the children respond to it. There’s a lady at my church who makes fresh unleavened bread each time and the kids love it. When they come forward with their parents they grab not just one piece, but two or three. They smile as they do it and I can’t help but smile back. If only we could keep that kind of child’s heart with things– such joy and hopeful expectation.

So, today and every day may you be reminded that Jesus is your daily supply of all you need. 

Get up!

Get Up!

The godly may trip seven times, but they will get up again. But one disaster is enough to overthrow the wicked.

Proverbs 24:16 (NLT)

I’m not perfect. I doubt that’s a shocking revelation for you to hear, especially if you know me at all.

I love Jesus, a lot, but I mess up. Actually, I don’t think there’s a day that goes by where I think to myself, “Way to go! You did great today!” Most times, I’ll be in bed at night replaying events from the day where I fell short. I’ll remember an attitude I had with someone. Or the way I yelled at the idiot on the highway for not merging fast enough. Or for calling the person on the highway who didn’t merge fast enough an idiot.

And those things just compose the things I did wrong before 10AM.

I’m not here to showcase my long list of failures. I could, but that’s not the point. The point is that it happens AND I’m not alone. Ya, I’m looking at you.

Maybe you don’t suffer from acute road rage or give anyone attitude, but I’m sure there are things you struggle with.

Maybe you judged that girl in the grocery store for wearing leggings as pants.

Or you lied and told your kid there is a Santa Claus (sorry, kids).

Or you stole wifi from your neighbor.

Or you tried to convince me that it wasn’t really stealing when you used your neighbors wifi. 😉

We can all be more relaxed now that we admitted that we fall (or have fallen) at times. As a Christian, that is SUPER encouraging.

What?!?!

YES. It is super encouraging for me to know that I’m not the only one who falls down. That’s what stopped me in my tracks today when I heard Proverbs 24:16, even when I’ve heard this same verse 100 times before. There was this beautiful realization that godly people, righteous people, lovers of Jesus….FALL DOWN. There doesn’t need to be any shame in admitting that fact because I am not alone.

I’m not celebrating my imperfections, but I’m also not letting the realization that I have them keep me bound. There’s freedom in confession.

That’s not the whole story, though. There’s even better news. I can get up.

As a child of God, I have the power to get up. Circumstances, difficulties and hardships will come my way, and they may even trip me up, but they won’t keep me down.

Or in the words of the great Rocky Balboa, “Let me tell you something you already know. The world ain’t all sunshine and rainbows. It’s a very mean, and nasty place an’ no matter how tough you think you are, it’ll always beat you if you let it. It ain’t about how hard you hit, it’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward.

Life….or our own stupid actions…can hit us hard, but the important part is that we get up. If you’re struggling, get up. You aren’t powerless, but have the most powerful Source within you. Don’t stay on the ground wallowing and complaining about how defeated you feel, but allow the power of God (the strength of God) to move through you and pick you up.

Dust yourself off and keep going.

But first, GET UP.