The Inadequate Woman

Today is Mother’s Day. This is the day to honor the overworked, underpaid, sleep deprived, tired, strong, beautiful woman. I am reminded of the verse in Proverbs 31, “her lamp does not go out at night.” The to-do list is never completed, the laundry is never truly done, and the floor can always be swept or vacuumed! Today I pray for the Lord to send peace and endurance to the woman who has children running around her home, ensuring there is always work for her to do. Today I pray for the Lord to bring miraculous healing to the heart of the woman who has prayed for children of her womb to dirty her home…but remains in waiting. Today I pray for the Lord to provide understanding and joy to the woman who is the mother of one amazing child, and to free her of her guilt from desiring more children. And I also pray for blessing to reign down on the woman who has been a mother to children she did not know as seeds within them. Women who were brave enough to be a mother to the motherless.

My husband told me he had one rule for me today…I was to rest. He wanted me to relax, and rest from the daily grind of maintaining the home. The weekends are usually my time to catch up on the house work, but this was probably one of the best gifts he could have given me…that, and a coupon book of back rubs that I can redeem at my choosing! While my husband was sweeping the kitchen (and looking very handsome while do it, I might add!), he asked our older son to help him with the dust pan. As he was sweeping away the dirt into the dust pan, he looked at our son and said, “you can never get it all into the pan.” Can anybody relate? No matter how hard you try, there always seems to be a line of dust that is reluctant to follow suit into the dust pan. If you are a sinful creature like me, you may sweep that little line away so it disappears across the floor. Nobody will ever know…

There will always be a line of dirt you cannot sweep into the dust pan. There will always be a reason to feel like an inadequate woman. There will always be something nagging you at night, keeping you awake. There will always be a reason to feel that you are failing as a mom. We could have cleaned more – loved more – accomplished more. We could have yelled less – worried less – scolded less. How do we balance work and home? How do we honor God in our jobs and our careers, and still have the 1,000 gallons of energy our children and husbands require of us to give? How do we ever have peace when we never feel at rest? How do we take care of ourselves, so we can be better for our families, when we feel guilty every time we choose “me”?

Hello, my name is “the adequate woman.”

My sister, my friend, my fellow mother…you are not alone. You are beautiful, because you are made by a perfect God who only makes masterpieces. Give yourself permission to rest today. Give yourself permission to not be perfect. Give yourself permission to not have the cleanest home on the block. Give yourself permission to love more and worry less. Give yourself permission to accept a compliment. Give yourself permission to play with your kid and tackle your to-do list later (because eventually your child will stop asking you to play with them). Give yourself permission to care more about the intangible moments of childhood, for they are all too fleeting. Give yourself permission to stop comparing yourself to the other moms around you.

And give yourself permission to believe that no matter where you fall on the “mother spectrum” today, you can turn to Jesus. Waiting to be a mom…dreaming of motherhood one day…right smack dab in the middle of the glorious adventure…looking back at your days as a mother and wondering where your place is now…soaking up every moment with those who call your granny. Whether your name is mama, mommy, mom, mother, or friend…today is your day. Don’t let today pass you by without finding rest at the feet of Jesus. Allow our Heavenly Father to fill every inadequacy within you, with His grace and mercy. Invite the Lord to heal your longing, bring peace to your pain or loss, and speak truth to your feelings of always missing the mark.

The love of Jesus is not available to you when you are a “better” mom, have a cleaner home, have better behaving children, spend more time with your kids, or have children at all. The love of Jesus is not conditional upon how we rate on the “perfect mom” scale. Hear the Lord speak to you today, “My Beloved. I meet you right where you are. Right now, with your career on your mind, and children on your heart, and dirt on your floor, and inadequacies in your fears. I am here. Rest in Me. Invite Me in to make you the mother – the woman – who would honor me in whatever season you are in. Every time you feel inadequate, come to Me. Every time you feel like you failed, come to Me. Every time you are overwhelmed, come to Me. I can handle your tears, your cries, your shouts of joy, and your whispers of worry. Let Me do the work. Take My peace. Let Me be your strength. Take My rest.”

Object Constancy

Ephesians 3:14-19

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of His glory He may grant you to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

There is nothing that quite compares to the glorious feeling that overwhelmed me when I held my baby boys for the very first time. Seeing the evidence of God right there in those doctor’s hands, all squinty and crying and covered in grape jelly! When I first laid eyes on my newborn children, they were the absolute most beautiful squishy little things I had ever seen. I took them in my arms as soon as the doctors would let me. I felt the warmth of their skin against mine, held their small little hands in between my fingers, and tried to understand why God would entrust this tiny human into mine and my husband’s care. We were one, my child and I. This was the jumping watermelon I carried inside of me for ten months. My blood ran through his veins. I desired to love and cherish him as long as I lived. I desired to meet his every need with patience and tender mercy. I daydreamed of being the mother who would never yell, never lose her temper, always have a sweet song to sing like Celine Dion every night before bed…and I would always always have fresh baked cookies in the kitchen.

Well, fast forward six years and I think I score a meager C+ at being the mom I dreamed of being. I am so thankful we serve a graceful and forgiving Father!

When my children were born, I really had no sense of myself apart from them. The past year had been spent preparing for their arrival. I couldn’t even be in a different room than them without feeling guilty. And to leave them with somebody else and go on a…what is it called again?…oh, a date! Nope, I’ll leave them alone with somebody else when they are 18!

Thankfully, I did eventually chill out! But I was very much aware of the “symbiosis” between my baby and me. A newborn has no sense of self apart from his mother. This symbiotic union between a newborn and his mother comes straight from the heart of God. It’s the reason why nobody can comfort a baby like his momma. The child does not have a sense of safety apart from her presence. However, as the child grows and learns…and especially when he starts to crawl and walk!…this symbiotic union is replaced with the goal of “object constancy.” I know mommy exists even when I don’t see her. I know mommy loves me even if she is not holding me. I can tell mommy goodbye and know she will come back. Mommy is a vital part of my life, even if I am not in her presence.

I was just talking tonight to some friends about this transition most parents experience. It breaks our heart when we drop our little one off at preschool, and they cry and cry. Yet, it also breaks our heart when we drop them off and they don’t even want to give us a kiss and they go right to playing…and even have the courage to look up and say, “Mommy you can go now.” I mean, really? I feel the love! He doesn’t even need me anymore!

But, you see, this is all so so beautiful! Object constancy is explained in Ephesians 3:17 and Colossians 2:7. It is the will of God that we, as His children, are rooted and established in love, and built up in Christ. God’s desire for us is to be so aware of the great love He has for us, that we never feel alone…even when we are alone. That we feel His presence even when our circumstances tempt us to doubt Him. That we trust His provision even when we have trouble understanding why certain things are happening. That we look outside and see the beautiful sunset, and the rushing ocean, and the majestic mountains, and know that our daddy made His creation to display His splendor to us and His love for us.

I cannot go on without taking a look at my own heart. Do I live as a newborn in my faith – only trusting God when I understand and only believing He is real when I can see Him? Or, have I matured into object constancy. Do I trust God even when it is hard? Do I truly believe that I am never alone? Do I write the Lord’s words, “I will never leave you nor forsake you,” on the walls of my heart? Will we continue the all too familiar cycle of seeing a problem – doubting God – watching God come through – realizing we should have trusted Him – until we see the next problem – then we doubt Him again. Or, will we take the initiate to mature in our faith and allow the Lord to bring us to a new, stronger relationship with Him?

The Scarlet Strand

Joshua 6:17 —– The city and all that is in it are to be devoted to the Lord. Only Rahab the prositute and all who are with her in her house shall be spared, because she hid the spies we sent.

Today was like any other day for Rahab. She awoke with the sun beating down upon her window. Just another day. Another day of shameful acts…”It’s for survival,” she tells herself. “I am not worth anything more than this anyway,” she convinces herself. “This is my reputation and its too late to change,” she believes. Yes, just another day of bondage. One more day of walking the city streets and enduring the judgemental glances from the women – and the lustful, illicit looks from the men. There is not enough makeup or fancy clothes in the world, to mask the pit of despair inside, or to hide the despravity she sees in the mirror. How do you make a better life for yourself, when the ugly reflection staring back at you is only a reminder that you simply are unworthy of any life other than this? “Rahab the prostitute.” That was who she was. That was her identity. There was no changing that.

Until today. When her life would be turned upside down by two unexpected Israelite spies. Two unannounced visitors into her home. Did they not realize whose home they were stepping into? Did these spies of God not know that this was the defiled home of a defiled woman? What was she to do? Well, she may be unworthy of true love from a man…but she was not incapable of showing love to others! She hid the foreigners, and cleverly dismissed the King’s men who were looking for them.

“I know that the Lord has given this land to you and that a great fear of you has fallen on us, so that all who live in this country are melting in fear because of you.” (2:9) She heard how the Lord dried up the Red Sea when the Israelites left Egypt. She heard how the power of God let them completely destroy Sihon and Og and the Amorites. “When we heard of it, our hearts melted and everyone’s courage failed because of you, for the Lord your God is God in heaven above and on the earth below.” (2:11) How did she know this? How was Rahab able to make such bold claims and confident statements about a God she did not know, and about a group of people she had never met before? Maybe she had this one thing most of us tend to struggle with…willingness. She was willing to listen when the Spirit of God knocked on her soul. She was willing to believe the great stories she heard on the streets about the mighty works of the God of the Israelites. She did not question how a sea could be parted or how 300 men could defeat 3,000. She was just willing to believe that it happened. She was willing to accept two complete strangers into her home. She was willing to accept their promise that her and her family would be spared, in return for her safe keeping of the spies.

She was a harlot and a liar. But she was willing to believe that God could use her. Even though she was clearly defiled, broken, dirty, guilty.

I just love how God works! The life of a guilty prostitute was completely overhauled! And used in a mighty mighty way, to bring about the powerful works and glory of the Lord! God interrupted her day and she received the unexpected change in plans.

“The men said to her, ‘This oath you made us swear will not be binding on us unless, when we enter the land, you have tied this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down, and unless you have brought your father and mother, your brothers and all your family into your house.” (2:17) It probably took ever ounce of gumption inside of her to gather her family together – on the hopes that this God truly was real – and toss that scarlet strand outside her window. It made more sense to run, right? She was told of the impending doom to come to Jericho. Why not gather her family and try to escape? No, she was going to stay, and stand on her faith. Just as the Israelites marked their doorposts with blood during the Passover in Egypt, Rahab let that scarlet rope down, marking her home as one to be saved.

Matthew 1:5 reveals that Rahab is in the royal genealogy of Jesus Christ. She even makes it into the “hall of faith” in Hebrews chapter 11. A prostitute? Yes! Praise God! For then there would be no hope for me! Being a sinful, far from perfect, flawed woman who allows her emotions to take the driver’s seat all too often, this story is near and dear to my heart. We are all like Rahab. We lie, we cheat, we steal, we are sexually impure, we make mistakes, we have bitterness, we hate, we manipulate, we act in anger…we look in the mirror and struggle to see anything beautiful staring back at us. Believe today that God just loves to use the broken and imperfect! We can read the story of Rahab and walk away with the promise that NO MATTER WHAT, we will never be too far gone for God to light up His love in our lives. We will never be too sinful, that the blood of Jesus can’t wash us clean. We will never mess up enough that God just can’t reach us anymore. If we are willing, God’s power can be intertwined within our lives. Be brave enough to believe (even when you may not understand) and toss that scarlet strand outside your window. Mark your home, your marriage, your family, your children with the blood of Jesus! Then receive the salvation and victory of the Lord!

 

Eucharisteo

Luke 22:17-19
And He took a cup, and when He had given thanks He said, “Take this, and divide it among yourselves. For I tell you that from now on I will not drink of the fruit of the vine until the kingdom of God comes.” And He took bread, and when He had given thanks, He broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is My body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of Me.”

 

 

Eucharisteo. The art of living in thankfulness. Made possible by grace. Paving the way to joy. Thankfulness. The cure for the “common cold” of the mundane life, of bitterness and fear. The remedy for the discontented life, of self-hatred and relentless anxiety. Thankfulness. The result of our intentional effort to take off our blinders and look beyond ourselves. Thankfulness. The consequence of turning our eyes to the Mighty King Jesus, even in the midst of the worst of storms. Thankfulness. The by-product of a willing heart…willing to accept everything God gives us. EVERYTHING. Even the things that contradict our fleshly desires and our “this-is-not-what-I-planned” questions.

When we choose the life of Eucharisteo, we take a step onto the path of righteousness. And freedom. And joy. You know, that kind of joy that is a living testimony to the world. The kind of child-like faithful joy, which makes others stare in wonder at how we can go through such a storm and still proclaim, “I am not afraid! My Jesus has the power to tell this storm to cease! And He has the power to tell the winds to blow and the waters to jump!”

When we choose the life of Eucharisteo, we choose hope over weariness. Peace over doubt. Rest over striving. Life over death! Thankfulness says, “Lord, I don’t like what I see, but I believe Your Word and my life is in Your hands.” Thankfulness allows us to live. Fully live. To no longer be characterized as the “walking dead,” questioning if we will ever be enough, accomplish enough, find enough, gain enough.

When we choose the life of Eucharisteo, we deny our circumstances the right to define our God! We stomp the enemy under our feet! We stand in victory against the lies of the Serpent; the enemy’s lies tempting us to doubt the God who set the stars in the sky. Thankfulness believes that even when bad happens, God is still good. Even when my heart is broken, God still has an amazing plan for me. Even when I am lonely…I AM NEVER ALONE!

Look back at the verses above. Read them aloud. Let your heart and ears hear the living Word of God spoken through your lips (lips this God Himself formed), testified by your breath (breath that God Himself set into your lungs). It was the night of the greatest injustice ever committed in the history of the world. The perfect and sinless Jesus, our Lord and Savior, would be brutally and wrongfully beaten, humiliated, chastised, and murdered. Jesus knew what was to come. He knew that in just a few hours, He would feel the betrayal of those He loved and lived among. He knew that He would be standing naked and mocked in front of the crowd. He could feel the sting of every whip of glass against His back, the unbearable agony of every step He took with the weight of that cross pressing down on His shoulders, the struggle of fighting for every little breath as He hung on that hill. And He knew the worst pain of all was to come…the pain of His Father turning His back upon Him as He bore the sin of the world. And with all this in mind, what did Jesus do? HE GAVE THANKS. He gave thanks.

Jesus chose Eucharisteo. Because this night was also the most glorious night in the history of the world. It was the night the bridge between man and God would be mended. It was the night that would make possible for you and I to walk once again in communion with God, as Adam and Eve had done. This night rang forth a new dawn. Grace would now be the law. Blood would be shed once and for all. The perfect and ultimate sacrifice would finally come. Scripture and prophesies, from the first scratches of ink written by man and inspired by God, were to finally be fulfilled. In light of the impending storm, Heaven could now come down to earth. The love of God could now be poured upon His children as originally intended in the Garden of Eden. The Holy Spirit could be unleashed within us and through us. The power of the Almighty that worked through Jesus could now run through the veins of those who love the Lord and accept His love, His death, His resurrection!

Yes, this night, there was much to be thankful for! And today, wherever you are. At work, at home, at the grocery store, at the park, in your car…Jesus sits next to you. He reaches His hands out. In one hand is His blood. In the other hand is His body. He looks into your eyes and His gaze pierces to the depths of your soul. He sees everything He died for. He sees every sin and mistake you have made, and will ever make. He sees every great and wonderful plan He has in store for you. He sees the eyes He formed with His hands. He sees the heart He commanded to beat. He sees your fears, your worries, your desires, your dreams. And in all this, His heart pounds with a love for you that is greater than anything you will ever be able to fathom. And He says, “Take My blood. Take My body. Give thanks in all things. Open your hands. Receive everything I have for you. Not just the things your flesh wants. Not just the things your limited mind can understand. Receive EVERYTHING I have for you. My Beloved, oh how I love you! And, what life I have for you! Do not be afraid (Isaiah 41:10). What loving father would give his daughter a serpent when she asks for fish? (Luke 11:11). I will withhold no good thing from you, My princess! (Psalm 84:11) You cannot imagine what I have planned for you! (1 Corinthians 2:9). My grace makes it possible for you to trust Me (Colossians 1:27). Trust Me. Take Me at My Word. Open your clenched hands. Receive everything I permit. And give thanks.”

 

1 Thessalonians 5:16-19

Rejoice always.

Pray without ceasing. 

Give thanks in all circumstances.

For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.

Do not quench the Spirit.

 

“Thanksgiving always precedes the miracle.” – Ann Voskamp

 

 

 

Do You Believe?

And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. – Luke 1:45

No unbelief made him waiver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what He had promised. That is why his faith was counted to him as righteousness.  – Romans 4:20-22

And without faith it is impossible to please Him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that He exists and that He rewards those who seek Him. – Hebrews 11:6

We need to write these three verses on the walls of our heart! We need to put them on our mirrors, on our refrigerators, and in our cars. Put these verses in a place where we will see them every day, and commit them to memory. We need to be reminded of how imperative it is to take God at His Word. If we do not believe in the words and promises of God, then they have no impact in our life. Just look outside your window and see the lost people, the broken people, the confused and sick people. People who are choosing to remain in their state of death, by choosing to not believe God.

They don’t take the whole Bible as truth, because in their limited human brains, there are things in the Bible that just don’t make sense. How can a sea just separate in the middle? How can the entire earth be covered in water? How can one man death save every man for all eternity? How can crippled people walk or blind men see or little chindren be brought back from the dead? These things are just not possible.

And they are right. These things are not possible. Not in our human capacities and understanding. And they don’t happen in our lives today. Not because God has changed. I guarantee you the same Spirit that worked from Genesis to Revelation is available to us today. His power has not diminished, and He is sitting on the edge of His seat just waiting for a righteous man to believe! These miraculous, “impossible” things we read in the Bible don’t happen in our lives today…because we don’t believe. We don’t dare to take God at His Word. We don’t have the courage to pray the big prayers – you know, the ones that rely upon the power of the Almighty to have any chance of coming true.

I look around me and I see a world of sick, confused, empty captives – who choose to remain in such depravity – when the answer is staring them in the face – but they are just afraid to believe. Well, perfect love casts out all fear! And we have been ransomed by this perfect love. The invitation is there for you.

Are you willing to be fully convinced that God is able to do what He had promised?

The next time you read or hear a scripture from the living, breathing, Word of God…ask yourself:

Do I believe this? Do I take God at His word? Do I trust that what the Bible says is true? Do I truly believe that this can make an impact in my life? Do I accept that this applies to me? My friend, the Bible and the Word of God and the Truth within it is the ONLY thing you can fully rely upon, the ONLY thing that will bring life back to your weary bones, and the ONLY thing that can set you free!

I challenge you, and I challenge myself. Ask the Lord to give you a scripture. Memorize that scripture. Watch your life change.