Stop Praying.

I woke up this morning feeling refreshed (for the first time in a while). I opened up my new journal to a verse that stopped me in my tracks. I was feeling dry, I was feeling empty, I wasn’t feeling much of anything. I was having the “dry bones” syndrome like a previous blog I wrote, and it was my fault. There are times in my life where the distance between God and I grows so deep that I feel weird approaching Him again. It’s like an old friend that you were once so close to you would tell them anything, and then one day goes by, then two, and then well, it’s just awkward. I was feeling that, yet reminding myself that it’s not how God works. He never went anywhere, I did. He doesn’t change EVEN when we grow distant or make mistakes. His love is unconditional and isn’t based on how good we’re doing at this whole thing. So I reminded myself of those things and forged ahead, building back the intimacy I had lost little by little, one prayer here, one prayer there, a short quiet time and then started feeling like my old self, in relationship with my only real source of life.

As you know, I’ve always loved working. During my more distant times this summer (this morning), I asked my husband if I should start looking for a new, exciting job in the fall. And he replied, “What about your book?” Probably about two years ago, I felt God tell me in multiple ways that He wanted me to write a book about our baby journey. I thought it was crazy because writing a book to me was up there on the top 10 things I never, ever want to do list. But, He kept affirming it over and over. I began praying about it, over and over. Waiting on next steps, praying again. Losing my nerve, praying again. The problem with me and writing is that I can ONLY write when I feel close to God, when I feel like He’s writing through me, and well, just like every other human, I’m prone to wander, prone to leave this God I love.

I recently read this book called, “Draw the Circle”and it was literally life changing. The whole book is about the power of prayer, and how prayer is our connection to God. I also recently read that prayer is like the initiating factor for our full armor of God, prayer is like the engine that starts it all up and get’s us ready for the fight. We have nothing without prayer because what kind of relationship would you have with your spouse if you never talked to them? So with that said, there was a chapter towards the end that simply said, Stop Praying.

Delayed obedience. The point of it all is that at some point, prayer can become delayed obedience to something God has clearly called you to. IMG_3715How many times have we felt that tug on our heart to do something, and decided we just need to pray about it more. We’re like, yes, I felt it, but I mean, I should probably pray about it for like three more years before I actually take that leap of faith (just me?). We hear that faint whisper to speak to someone, to call them, to forgive, to act, and we start thinking of our to-do list and grocery items, so we push it aside. I do it ALL of the time. But, delayed obedience might as well be the same as disobedience. And what kills me is that I KNOW the pure joy in choosing to be obedient to Him. I know how amazing it actually feels to deny those rationalities we come up with and just DO what He asks. I’ve seen the outcome, I’ve seen how much better His plan is than my own, yet over and over again I choose not do it.

 

It’s never the easy choice. Is anything good in life ever that easy to obtain? In my life, no. The selfish choice is usually the easiest, and then also in return the most disappointing. We all have a very, very self-serving nature. Heck, we live in a time where self-help books are one of the largest aisles in a book store. Our world tells us to do what makes us happy, do what feels right. Our culture tells you to do you, boo (which I actually say all the time bc it’s funny). Our culture tells us to watch out for numero Uno. But Scripture says the opposite. Scripture says to deny yourself, put others first, serve others before yourself and go last. It’s NEVER easy, especially for me because I’m feisty, prideful, and selfish but it’s ALWAYS the most rewarding way to live, and brings so much more joy than being “right” or doing what we feel like doing all of the time.

Stop praying and just DO. Prayer is HUGE. I believe in prayer as a source of life. I believe it when on of our pastors said prayer is like oxygen to our souls. BUT, I also believe that there comes a point when we need to stop praying and start doing. Stop praying about it and fill out the application. Stop praying and quit that job He told you to quit long ago. Stop praying and speak to your neighbor or ask them to get a coffee with you. Stop praying and call that person that hurt you. Stop praying and ask her out. I’ve learned as I get older that obedience to what He’s calling you to is one of the greatest joys in life, and I’ve done a lot of super fun things 😉

Don’t second guess yourself. I do that too. Was that actually God or was it me? Is this the right thing, I mean I think it is, but ehhh, is it? Well, sometimes we over-complicate things. Does it honor God? Do it. Does it dishonor God, then it’s probably your feelings and not God telling you to do it (and might ruin your life – yikes). If it brings glory to God, step out of your comfort zone and just do it. I promise you won’t regret it.

“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19 

Recovering People-Pleaser.

I have to admit, I will rarely ever admit to this in person. I consider myself a very strong, independent woman, and I “don’t need anyone’s approval.” But when I’m really honest (UGH, this pains me) I’m a recovering people-pleaser. There, I said it.

It was definitely worse in my younger ages. I cared SO much what other people thought of me, constantly. I wanted to be liked…by everyone. And at the end of the day, it was EXHAUSTING.

It’s funny because I know it’s still a thing for me now because all of the women I truly admire are the kind of women that just really don’t care. I love when women will say anything, the blunt women who say what you were thinking. I’m like wow, I want to be more like her, and while I’m definitely like that in many settings, if I’m in a particular one where I want to really be liked, then the old me shows up and says, “LIKE ME!!!!” I struggle the most with it when it comes to work – and it’s not so much a desire to be liked, but a fear of failure. I am one of those people who go reeling if I mess up. I have to be awesome at my job, seen as fully competent or I WILL DIE, therefore falling back into the people-pleasing category. Ugh.

One of my biggest prayers when I was pregnant with Kennedy was that she would love and surrender to Jesus at an early age, and then be SO grounded in who she is in Him that she will never care what others think of her. I prayed she would be that anomaly little girl who leads when others follow, who defends the weak and stands strong in the face of…well, whatever middle school girls face. I want her to be bold and fierce, and most of all I think, because those are the things I want to be myself. I spent too many years worrying about what other people thought, and I don’t want to waste another minute of my life on it.

I’ve decided that, in my opinion, this is most commonly a girl problem. WHY do we care so much about pleasing others?! Why do we feel like we can’t say no, that we have to be seen as perfect moms, perfect friends, beautiful, kick-A workers…the women who can do it all. Why is it that when I encounter other women who I perceive to have better qualities than myself I immediately feel less than or compare myself….and end up lacking every time?

If God made each of us uniquely perfect, fearfully and wonderfully made, then why can’t we all just be ourselves and love each other for it? Why can’t we all just admit, I really love you, but that’s just not something I have time to do. Why is the word, “NO” such a foreign language to us recovering people-pleasers?! Why is the fear of rejection or fear of failure so crippling to people like us if we truly have no one to please but God? The need to please others through work or life, leaves us feeling exhausted and well…lonely.

A lonely place to be. The need to constantly PLEASE leaves us projecting false identities, sides of ourselves that are not true to ourselves. So, we end up striving to be this other person. And you know what we are left with? No close friends that really know the real us, so we feel lonely. If all of these people really knew the real me, they wouldn’t like it. Well, that’s crap. I bet when people do know the real you, they don’t notice the areas you are lacking. They notice that you are a REAL person with flaws just like they have, and therefore you become a much more relatable person. I am constantly wishing I had more friends that I would be completely authentic and free with, without comparing, pleasing or striving for acceptance with.

A weak place to be. “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and sound mind.” When we are just trying to please others, we aren’t acting out of the power we were given from the Holy Spirit. We are just afraid to say “No” and end up getting taken advantage of sometimes. Jesus was a leader, but his definition of leadership was being a servant. But don’t discount the fact that He did not care what anyone thought except His Father in Heaven, and neither should we. Serve because we are strong and confident in who we are IN HIM, not because we are afraid of what others will think of us. I have a friend who is one of the most talented and genuine people I know, but for years, and out of fear of what others will think of her, has hidden those gifts God has given her. God gave us our personalities, our experiences, gifts and talents to be USED by Him for His kingdom, not to make other people like us OR to be hidden out of fear. You have the power of the God of the universe, so what can man do to you?!

Fear of Failure or Rejection. Hey, newsflash, we are all flawed, and we are all mess up. We all make mistakes, and doesn’t that just make us that much more relatable? If we’re all jacked up and a mess then we should be free to love others more freely, to go deeper in relationships than just the surface or a Facebook friendship status. We were meant for community, and not the fake, polite kind, but REAL community, like family kind of community, where you’re real, you know each other’s flaws and mistakes and yet love each other anyway because you know your own short-comings all too well. You love each other through the good and bad and hold each other up when the other is weak. That’s real life, that’s real friendship, and that’s the real community that God intended for us.

Authenticity.  Live FREELY in His love and grace. This is one of my favorite phrases and also a phrase I couldn’t wrap my mind around so I prayed about it for a YEAR. What He revealed to me about it was this: I don’t have to hide. I don’t have to put on a mask or pretend I have it all together. I don’t even have to pretend to like you (I’m sure I do though so don’t worry). I can be who God made me to be in all of my glorious mess, because God loves me and that’s all that really matters. Authenticity is contagious and people gravitate to it. Being you is probably the best thing you can do for yourself if you actually want real, deep-abiding friendships in this life. Every single person on the planet is flawed, and while others are strong where we are weak, that should make us love and need each other more, not put on false super hero costumes to prove we are awesome.

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At the end of the day, I’m sure I’ll always struggle with this desire to be liked or please people. But, every day I’m going to pray for the Holy Spirit to instill a peace and joy in me so much that I feel so complete in Him I don’t feel the need to put on a performance for anyone else’s approval. I believe God wants to set us free from this “disease” and help us come ALIVE in Him. I believe the first step to recovering from this people-pleasing syndrome is diving in deeper in your relationship with Jesus. The deeper we go in Him, the less we need love and approval from others. And then, because God IS LOVE, we are free and unbridled to ACTUALLY love and serve others like He did out of a humbly confident heart. That’s what I want, and I pray that for you too!

I’ll leave you with this quote that my friend posted the other day that literally stopped me in my tracks. (Thank you, Kelly)

“We must not confuse the command to love with the disease to please.”  – Lysa TerKeurst

Amen, sister.

Dry Bones.

Dry Bones. That’s been on my mind lately. It’s how I’ve been feeling for the past few months. I feel like I’m on this merry-go-round of normality (a term Pastor Joby uses often). I think we often get on this ride of wake up, be a mom, go to work, come home, make dinner, clean, go to sleep and then repeat all over again. And we are left thinking, is this it? There has to be more. 

I feel like for the first time in my life, about a year ago, I felt like I discovered God’s unique calling on my life, and I’d never felt more alive in my entire life. Then, over time, so gradually I barely even noticed, I let the world drown it out. “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” and all of that. I got busy.

I got busy being a mom and taking care of our home. I went back to work and even took on more clients. I got busy with work, and work is an idol for me. It’s an empty place I tend to find my worth, and I dove right in. So, now that I have dry bones and I’m desperate to hear from Him again, I am left with needing something to change. Do I continue down this road of busyness and empty pursuits or do I live out this God-sized dream that requires complete dependence upon Him to accomplish? I’m in a place of uncertainty. What is the next step for my life, will we try for another baby even though it’s hard and brings up a lot of emotion, will I take some things off of my plate so that I can be more obedient to where God is calling me? It’s always in these times of waiting, or times we are desperate to hear from God that He meets us where we are. God meets us in desperate places. Isn’t that always the case? It’s only when we have no control over a situation, we are longing for something we don’t have – that next job, a spouse, a child, an answered prayer, that we are on our knees dependent on the One who controls the universe and yet knows our name. It’s often in those moments where despite our longing, we feel more alive than ever because we are actually in the presence of the Lord in full dependence, which is where we belong. A friend of mine from college and I used to say, “Isn’t it sad that we never NEED God, until we NEED God?” At the end of the day, every longing on our heart is actually a longing to be near to Him, our Heavenly Father. And this world, it’s busyness and demands can’t drown out that longing in us, so we’ll continue on the merry-go-round of normality trying to fill it with other things.

It’s easy to seek our worth in other areas and come up with dry bones. It’s easy to find our worth in being a good worker, an expert at something, a mother, a wife, whatever it is that’s your thing. We try and seek fulfillment in these titles we give ourselves and come up empty, dry. 

So here are two things I want you to know (and tell myself in the process):

One – God never went anywhere even if you feel dry or distant. His love for you and faithfulness do not depend on your performance, thank you God! He meets us right where we are, so don’t start making a list of how to strive towards being more Alive in Him, because that’s not the point, pouring more busyness on our dry bones. He wants to meet you there and give you rest and joy from the striving. He wants you to feel ALIVE in this life. 

Two – God has a unique, God-sized calling on your life, even though you may feel unseen or insignificant. 

I’ve gone from the mundane to the magnificent. I’ve gone from pursing the fruitless passions of this world, even attaining some of them and ended up even emptier, to feeling true purpose! And once you experienced even a taste of that God-sized calling, or true dependence, you can’t go back without recognizing the dry bones in comparison. IMG_6509

Don’t we all want to live with purpose? I heard once that a calling is where our burdens and talents collide. For me, I have a burden to see women come alive, to have a voice, to know they are valuable, fierce and loved. I have a desire for every woman to be set free in Him, and live out God’s unique calling on their lives. So, my talent (or experience) is in marketing or writing, but more than that God gave me a personality that hates small talk. Like, I hate it. I love to get down to it and be real, and I also love to encourage, inspire and build others up, so there in meets my calling! 

So for you, what burdens your heart? What makes you come alive? Is it raising your kids? Is it hosting people in your home? Is it taking care of others? And then what are you good at? What have people affirmed in you? And also just takes some time to ask God, what’s my purpose? Take some time out of your busyness and find out what God really has for you. I promise once you experience it you won’t be able to go back to the mundane. 

“If your dreams aren’t big enough that they require you to depend on God to make them happen then you aren’t dreaming big enough.”

This is one of my favorite quotes because any GREAT thing in your life should be so big a stretch that it causes you to depend on God alone to accomplish it. You aren’t just a stay-at-home mom doing laundry on a Tuesday. You aren’t just an accountant crunching numbers and going home to make dinner for your family. You aren’t just a woman created to wake up, work out, go to work, and go to sleep, all to get up a repeat it again. You were made for so much more, and I want you to find that purpose, that calling in this life, and ultimately be dependent on the only One who can truly fulfill us, who can come alive these dry bones. It will change everything. Help hold me accountable to not let the world drown it out too. We need each other. 

 

 

We’ve Let Ourselves Go.

Most of us in our thirties, with young babies, toddler and kids, well, let’s be honest. We’ve let ourselves go.

What I mean is, we have let our SELVES go for a bit, for a season, because becoming a mommy means it’s not about ME anymore, my ambitions, my appearance, my successes, my time, no no no. Becoming a mom means it’s all about them, and it’s a very hard, but beautiful place to be. 

Time for ourselves, forget it. The only time we get to ourselves is in the nightly struggle to go to bed early and get the much-needed sleep, or stay up late to watch a non-disney move or show. Between logistics of wake-up, make our kids breakfast, get them carted around to all of the activities of the day, throw some work in there, try and get to the gym, but you’re probably rushed or lucky if you make it more than twice a week, then home for dinner-making and prep for the next day, that’s when the whole “there aren’t enough hours in the day” saying came from that I honestly never understood why people said when I was in my 20’s. 

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Pre-mommy bodies, ugh. I don’t even want to start on this one. From the extra skin we may have from our belly’s expanding to accommodate a human or the fact that we now have to roll up our boobs to put them in a bathing suit, it’s just not the same. No matter how much I work out, there are some things that just can’t go back unless some actual surgery is involved. 

It’s lonely at times. Being less about our own needs and all about our kids’ needs means little time for self-care, which means it can be lonely. We used to be surrounded by friends. We used to be in jobs where we constantly felt gratification. We got promotions when we did a good job, we were told things like, “thank you!” or “great work!” and now we have to take away treats to get the half-hearted “thank you” from our offspring. It can feel as if losing our selves means losing purpose (or significant purpose). Not to mention the lack of adult interaction that happens when you have littles as well. Even when you get time with adults, you are either trying to get as much done as possible while you’re away from your little or you have them with you which means no real conversation is happening. It can be thankless at times and lonely. Don’t even get me started on the constant guilt and struggle between being a mom and caring about doing your work well. I’ve decided that one won’t go away so I’m going to snuggle up to it the way I do Kennedy at night. 

Being a mom of littles means it feels like we are LOSING ourselves. We remember who we used to be. We remember our fierceness and our drive. We remember how smart we were or how dedicated to being our best selves we were. One of the problems with our new season is that we DO remember and it can feel painful or we can feel insignificant. But take heart, because like I said, it’s just a season. I see those 40-something women in the gym looking way better than I do and remember, it’s just a season when our kids our little. It’s just a season when Kennedy says, “ I coming, mommy!” or pointing at us saying, “Mommy…Daddy…Baby!” It’s just for a season that I get to snuggle up to her and I can’t even do a work out at home without her climbing all over me while I attempt it. It can be hard. It can be frustrating. But it is also so beautiful. And even though it feels like we are less accomplished than we used to be, given that it can be days before we get out of yoga pants, but in the end, we’ll never regret the time we let go of ourselves and gave our lives to our children. We’ll never regret the time we took away from career, friends, ambitions to be with our children because like my mom always tells me, time is fleeting, and it goes by way too fast. 

And momma, just because we are letting our SELVES go for just a season, doesn’t mean we won’t get ourselves back one day. One day we’ll be a wiser, more refined version of our former, fierce selves. One day we’ll get to do all of the things we used to do but will probably have more resources to do it! (Unless our kids are in private school) But for now, I’m going to remind myself why we lose ourselves for a good decade of our lives. When things get hard, when it feels like changing one more diaper will put you in the looney bin, or when you feel like if you have to ask your child to eat one more bit, one…more..time you are going to scream, then stop and remind yourself it’s just a season. 

We get the privilege of our littles NEEDING everything from us. We get to be their mommy for just a season before they turn into their own fierce adults. We may feel like we got demoted in life sometimes, even though we love our children so much it hurts! But remember, Mommy is the most important job you will ever have. And I’ll leave you with this quote from Andy Stanley, “Your greatest contribution to the kingdom of God may not be something you do, but someone you raise.” 

You are fierce momma. And even though this is a season we let our SELVES go, it won’t be forever so put on those yoga pants, put that hair up in a messy bun and snuggle away.