However, there is a verse that caught my attention above the rest— “The leaders of the people misled them, and those they misled are swallowed up.” Isaiah 9:14
If you don’t know Israel’s story well and you’re wondering how they got from the Promised Land to destruction and exile. The roots of their judgment go all the way back to 1 Samuel. The people begged God for a king, so they could be like all the other surrounding nations. God advised against their request, yet they persisted, and God gave them over to their desire.
Because they looked to human (fallen, sinful) men to lead them, instead of a perfect and holy God, they were led into sin themselves. The people who had been delivered out of Egypt and into the Promised Land forsook the One who called them.
Now, you may read Isaiah’s proclamation of judgment and view God as harsh, but keep in mind this was not the first warning given to Israel. Over and over again, leading up to this point the prophets have warned of the need to rend their hearts, repent, and return to the Lord—or face inevitable discipline.
The people did not listen. They gave themselves over to the sin of apostasy. And here, in Isaiah 9, the prophet delivers a strong rebuke aimed at Israel’s leadership: Instead of leading the people to follow and worship God, they led them to follow and worship other gods and even themselves. Because of their reckless leadership, now the people would be “swallowed up" in destruction.
Whether we lead only our children, or a small group, or small business, or an entire church or other ministry, this word applies to us. Who or what are you leading the people God has entrusted to you to follow and worship?
Who or what are you leading the people God has entrusted to you to follow and worship?
Are you leading your children to follow your desire for their life, or seek God’s? Are you leading them to love sports, material things, comfort, or accomplishment— or are you leading them to worship the Giver?
Are you leading your employees to remain loyal to you rather than follow the will of God for their lives? Are you leading your employees to worship your establishment rather than worship the God who initiated it in the first place?
Are you leading them to place activity for God before adoration of Him? Are you leading them to love you, or love the Lord?
These are some very tough, introspective questions.
I think Isaiah’s encounter with God, chapters earlier, reveals the key to humble leadership. In his encounter with God, the prophet is completely undone by His holiness. In the presence of the Lord almighty, Isaiah recognizes the extent of his human condition--
“Woe is me, for I am undone! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, The Lord of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
Through Jesus’s final work on the cross, we have the privilege to enter the Holy of Holies. God’s presence dwells within us. Every day we can— and should— behold Him like Isaiah did. This posture of humility reminds us, as leaders, is that HE alone is the King of Kings, and HE alone is worthy of our following and our affections. There is no name higher than Jesus.
This posture of humility reminds us, as leaders, that He alone is the King of Kings, and He alone is worthy of our following and our affections.
As leaders, we will make mistakes. We’re human. God already knows that. The wonderful thing about our God is He delights in using “jars of clay” to allow His light to shine. When we repent, He responds— forgiving us and helping us move forward in obedience.
I would love to say “it’s never too late,” but the Bible makes it clear there will come a time when it will be. God says, on that day, those of us He has entrusted with leadership positions will be judged more severely (James 3:1). In that day, will your people stand before God, arms lifted high in worship? Or on that day, will they be swallowed up in destruction?
Jesus left us with this one command— to go and make disciples (Matthew 28:19-20). Not disciples of ourselves, or any other created thing, but disciples of the Creator.
Let us lead in humility, truth, and in action so that others may know Him.
There’s a woman in the Bible who I’m reminded of when I think of Angel Oak. She, too, is a sight to behold. She is trustworthy, hardworking, secure and kind. She’s got all of her ducks in a row... she is utterly and completely awe-inspiring.
Her name? We’ll call her Mrs. Proverbs 31.
I can’t remember exactly when I discovered her tribute, tucked away in the center of my Bible, but from that day forward I knew I wanted to be just like her. I made my to-do list and set out to be the best Christian wife and mom I could be. But all my efforts seemed to produce was a life that was far from “abundant” (John 10:10). It was completely exhausting.
Being like Ms. P was a noble goal, but the truth is that I had missed the point completely...
Read the full devotional at www.rootedmoms.com
Case in point: Exodus 12 is the first time Moses addresses the entire community of Israel as a congregation, a united people. In this inaugural address, do you know what he tells them to do?
Then, and only then, would they be saved from God’s wrath about to be poured out on the Egyptians. And this event wasn’t just meant to be a one-time ordeal, God told them to observe “Passover” indefinitely, in the first month of each year.
So what is the deal with all of the blood in the Bible?
Click the button below to read the entire devotional at Rooted Moms.com
White. I just needed white paint. But which white was the right white? (I dare you to say that five times fast.) In other words, which white was true?
I don’t know about you, but I get a little sad every time I read the opening of Genesis. As a middle child, I’ve never been a fan of conflict. Knowing the impending doom of Adam and Eve’s decision makes me want to fast-forward to the end of the script, when Jesus swoops in to make all things right again.
However, I believe it’s important that we pause here because we can all learn an important lesson. In chapter three we meet the enemy of our souls, Satan. If there’s one thing I know to be true about him it’s that thousands of years later he’s still using the same tactics. When we know our enemy, we can know how to fight him . . .
Continue reading at RootedMoms.com
I’ve been sitting on the couch since 7:00am, trying to study my Bible, but finding myself processing ALL THE THINGS instead.
And, my friends, there is a LOT to process.
It has been a month, y’all. My husband has been out of town for work, and I’ve been juggling all the ins and outs of single parenting during a literal world-wide outbreak (while launching a nonprofit). WHEW.
Add to the fun: a trip to the emergency room with my 6-year-old (of all times!) after she nailed her head on the corner of a kitchen cabinet. Fun times. (She is doing fine now, BTW.)
Yesterday, when our county announced they will be closing schools due to COVID-19, effective Monday, the enormity of the situation we’re in fell on me heavily.
I must admit, until quite recently I was one of “those” people. Who joked. Who complained. And (worst of all), judged actions I deemed “extreme and unnecessary.”
As He usually does, the Holy Spirit dropped in to convict and course correct. He helped me begin to see things from a broader perspective, and He pulled back the curtain on the source of my frustration: the need to feel control over the situation.
But the truth is I’m not in control. You aren’t either. And that’s a good thing.
HE is in control. We don’t have to stress or fear because our lives are never outside of His hands.
So, if we can’t control everything, what is our job right now? Most of us have never experienced anything like this before. What does following Jesus look like during this season?
Today, I’m going to share a few things our family is doing from a Biblical perspective during the COVID-19 pandemic:
We're learning to love our neighbors better, and submit to governing authorities.
As Christians--Christ-followers—Christ commands (not recommends) that we put our neighbors first. That means setting aside our plans and preferences when it comes to the spiritual, emotional, and physical well-being of others. We are to treat others the way we want to be treated (Matthew 7:12).
These are just a few of the things I’m thinking about as we ride out this big, uncertain wave. As a mom of three germ factories- err, young kids, I’m choosing to abide by the recommendations of the government and CDC and stay in. This choice is not out of fear for what we might catch, but concern for what we may spread. Jesus protected the vulnerable, and we should too.
(For more on this topic, check out this wonderful article by Andy Crouch.)
We're stepping up our prayer game.
After being called out (thanks Holy Spirit) on my initial stinky attitude, I decided this: every time I am tempted to complain about the situation, I’m going to pray about it instead.
As I said on social media yesterday: Science is real. Germs are real. Pandemics are real. But God is also real. He made the sun stand still, the seas part, and donkeys talk. He controls it all.
Now is the time to lift our voices and cry out for help in our time of need. Yes, we need to do our part by using wisdom to protect the most vulnerable among us, but we also need to ask for His mighty hand to intervene.
Psalm 50:15 says, “...call on me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you will honor me.”
Our bold prayers honor God.
It’s time to pray...
For our government.
For our healthcare workers.
For the elderly.
For the media.
Will you join me in lifting our collective voices to the heavens today?
We're walking in wisdom, not fear.
We are doing what is within our control (washing our hands, and practicing social distancing), and trusting God with what is not.
It’s obvious God cares about our health (hello, Levitical law). He has given us an entire book of wisdom, and expects us to walk in it.
Remember that through wisdom and action, Joseph saved an entire nation from obliteration (Genesis 41). He could have disregarded God’s instructions in the name of “faith”, but the results likely would have been devastating. We cannot excuse reckless behavior, then blame the results on “God’s will.”
That being said...
We are choosing faith over fear.
We believe in a God who protects and provides. So we are taking any and all anxiety to Him, and picking up His peace instead (1 Peter 5:7). Knowing God is for us and never leaves us nor forsakes us (Hebrews 13:5) gives us peace that passes all understanding— a peace no amount of preparation can give (Philippians 4:7).
We’re doing our part, and trusting that God is doing His.
We're seeking out safe ways to stay connected.
I stand by the actions of government, schools, organizations, businesses, churches, and others who are taking every precaution to “flatten the curve.” I don't believe for one second that it demonstrates fear, or a lack of faith.
But while large-scale meetings simply aren’t going to be wise in the coming days, I believe we need to be more intentional and creative than ever before about authentic connection. With every passing year, I am more convinced than ever that community is crucial to our joy, our spiritual growth, and our sense of belonging.
Here are some ways I’m being intentional:
I took this picture today, before my kids’ last day of school for what will probably be a month.
They protested, but I told them they would appreciate it one day when they tell their kids and grandkids they got out school for a month for the Coronavirus pandemic of 2020.
My kids don’t understand the magnitude of the days we’re living in and, in many ways, I don’t think I do either. There are so many unknowns— how long will it last? Will our elderly loved ones be safe? What will happen to the economy?
Only time will tell. In the meantime, this is what we’ll be doing. Leaning in, and allowing it to shape us into the men and women of God He desires us to be.
In conclusion, here is a scripture from James 1, from The Message translation:
“Consider it a sheer gift, friends, when tests and challenges come at you from all sides. You know that under pressure, your faith-life is forced into the open and shows its true colors. So don’t try to get out of anything prematurely. Let it do its work so that you will become mature and well-developed, not deficient in any way.
If you don’t know what you’re doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You’ll get His help, and won’t be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought…” (James 1:2-8)
I'll share more thoughts, as I process, over on social media (links in my "about me" page).
Know that I am praying bold prayers for you, your families, our nation, and our world today!
My daughter, who turned six last fall, is in love with love.
Love notes are her latest obsession. If she’s not playing with dolls or riding on her scooter, you can most often find her in the study where she sits at her white desk carefully cutting and folding. Then, with great focus, she practices her very best Kindergarten handwriting…
“I love you so much because you are so nice.”
“I love you mom and dad. From Bethany.”
“You’re sick. I’m so sorry for you.” (My favorite.)
At this point, her love notes grace nearly every room of our home. She lavishes her love on every resident, even down to the smallest pet— my sister’s cat (who, unfortunately, doesn’t return the sentiment).
Everywhere I turn, little red hearts and those three simple words remind me how my daughter feels about me, her Mama. Y’all most days I feel like I’m failing, and yet she is enamored.
My printer paper stash is empty, but my heart is full.
The truth is, friends, whether married, single, or “it’s complicated,” we all have a not-so-secret Admirer this Valentine’s Day.
Now, you’re probably thinking, I know where this is going, as you hover over your browser’s back button. But if that’s you, I dare you to hear me out…
You see, I’m the kind of girl who grew up wondering if she was noticed. I’m the kind of girl who grew up wondering how God felt about her. And I’m the kind of girl who grew up wondering if she was even worthy of taking up space on this earth.
And now I can’t help but wonder if you are the kind of gal who wonders the same things?
Even though I went to church, served God with all my energy, and said I believed He loved me, deep down I felt that love was contingent on me doing everything perfectly.
I look back now and I ask, “How could you miss it? How could you miss God’s love?” Only in looking back can I see it so clearly.
I realize I missed it then—and still miss it even now, at times--for the same reasons I miss my daughter’s love notes even though they’re right in front of my face…
Mainly: busyness, pride, and shame.
There’s nothing new under the sun. If we open our Bibles to the New Testament we see story after story of people who missed God’s greatest Love Note, Jesus, for the very same reasons…
Any of us would give our left arm to sit at the physical feet of Jesus for two minutes, but Martha missed her opportunity because she was preoccupied serving.
The Pharisees were so offended by Jesus they couldn’t see He was the very Savior for which they were waiting.
The Samaritan woman almost skipped out on a life-altering conversation with the Son of God, because of the labels she had allowed to define her.
It’s crazy to think we have an Admirer whose love for us never wavers— not once— nor will it ever go away. But at some point or another, we all become blinded to the love notes that are right in front of our face.
What is it that is blinding you, today— busyness? Pride? Shame?
I ask not to point a finger, but to pull you in close and whisper these words of hope: just because you can’t see or feel it right now doesn’t mean His love has gone away.
James 4:8 makes it clear that when we draw near to God, He will draw near to us. It makes me think of Jesus’ description of the Prodigal’s father who sees His son “a long way off” and begins running toward him.
Regardless of whether you’ve been trying to do life on your own, or hiding in shame, or if you’ve simply stuffed your life with distractions, the Father is moved with compassion when He sees us moving in His direction.
Your desire for the Father’s love could never surpass His desire to give it.
A year ago I began praying this simple prayer, that became a catalyst to greater intimacy with Jesus, a greater revelation of His love for me:
“Lord, I want to know You more. Open my eyes to see.”
If you find yourself feeling weary, worthless, or wandering today, let that be your prayer. (By the way, His answer to this prayer is always yes.)
Friend, His love notes are all around us. There’s no mistaking His affections. He is enamored. With you. With me. And not because we’ve done anything to earn it, but simply because we are His.
The truth is He could fill an entire house with love notes to us, and never run out of words because love isn’t just what He does, it’s who He is.
May He open your eyes to see, and may you be filled to the brim with His love this Valentine’s Day.
P.S. No matter how long you've been a Christian, we all need reminders of God's love for us. God's love energizes us, gives us confidence, and calls us home when we are lost.
I created a FREE download for you this week— "love notes" filled with scripture to help you meditate on God's love. Simply print, cut, and place around your house for ongoing encouragement! Click below for an instant download, no strings attached.
A Tale of Twelve Spies (Numbers 13)
Twelve men set out on a mission: scope out the land God had promised to their wandering nation.
“Go up this way to the Negev, then go up into the hill country,” Moses commanded. “See what the land is like, and whether the people who live there are strong or weak.”
What they saw seemed almost too good to be true— clusters of grapes too big for one man to carry alone, ripe red pomegranates, and fresh figs. Their mouths watered, after eating only bread and bird for months on end.
The land was everything Yaweh had made it out to be, and then some. After forty days, they return to their people to give a report.
The people of Israel gather around, nervously awaiting the news. Was the new land obtainable? How hard would they have to fight? Was it worth pursuing? How much loss would they have to endure?
One of the twelve spies steps forward, and a hush falls over the crowd.
“We went into the land where you sent us,” he begins. “Indeed it is flowering with milk and honey, and here is some of its fruit.”
Two more spies enter, stage-right, a pole balanced between them. On it hangs a vibrant cluster of deep purple grapes, cascading to the ground.
A collective gasp, then, excited whispers fill the camp.
“HOWEVER…” another spy interrupts, appearing from out of nowhere.
The whispers fade, all eyes are on him…
“The people living in the land are strong,” he attests. “And the cities are large and fortified,” he explains.
The gathered crowd now begins murmuring.
Caleb steps forward and quiets them. With confidence, he proclaims, “Let’s go up now and take possession of the land because we can certainly conquer it!”
Now the two opposing spies stand face-to-face. “They are stronger than we are!” the other argues, “We will die by the sword, and our wives and children will become plunder!”
“The land we passed through and explored is an extremely good land,” Joshua chimes in. “If the Lord is pleased with us, he will bring us into this land. Don’t be afraid, for we will devour them— the Lord is with us!”
Suddenly a cry rises from the crowd…
“I Want All That God Has for Me”
Ask any follower of Christ and they’ll tell you they want “all that God has” for them. Yet how many of us really experience the fullness of that intention?
Not enough, would my answer… and I don’t mean that as a criticism.
In the corner of my own life, there’s a sizeable graveyard of well-intended, but unfulfilled God-dreams. Uninhabited territory, if you will, that was intended just for me.
Did I fail God?
Did God fail me?
No, neither idea is true.
I think the story of our Israelite friends in Numbers 14 can help identify what separates the dreams unreached from dreams fulfilled.
God delivered Israel out of their slavery in Egypt and was leading them into a land He had prepared for them— a land where they could worship and enjoy God, and glorify Him.
A year after their exodus, they were on the cusp of entering the Promised Land. I imagine God’s command to Moses to send scouts to check out the land was because He wanted to get the Israelites excited. The land was good, fruitful, and spacious— and as they relied on Him, God was going to make sure of their success.
But instead of excitement, we see the total opposite: fear cripples them.
At the doorstop to their dream, they fail to enter in. An entire generation would have to die off before they would be given the opportunity to try again. God had so much planned He wanted them to experience, but instead they would spend the next forty years wandering in the sand.
When I read that I think, What a tragedy, but the truth is, I’m not much different. And my guess is if you’ve got a heart pumping in your chest and air in your lungs, then you probably can relate. You’ve made vision boards, set goals, bought programs, taken classes, but always seem to stop just shy of reaching your dreams.
As we look forward into 2020, there are two questions we should ask--
The first is simple: What “land” is God leading you into?
Is it a move you need to make?
A book you need to write?
A career move you need to pursue?
A ministry you need to start?
A debt you need to pay off?
Whatever it is, know this: God gives us dreams. They are always for our good and for His glory. He longs for us to go after them.
Now that we've identified our "land," here is the second question: What spirit will you choose?
A Different Spirit
Where was the line drawn between those who entered into the Promised Land and those who didn't?
In Numbers 14:24 and 30, God says, “But since my servant Caleb has a different spirit and has remained loyal to me, I will bring him into the land where he has gone and his descendants will inherit it. I swear that none of you will enter the land I promised to settle you in, except Caleb… and Joshua.”
Out of the entire nation of Israel during this time, only two would experience and enjoy the land: Joshua and Caleb.
Not because they did everything right.
Not because they had supernatural abilities.
Not because they were born into the right tribe.
But because they had a “different spirit.”
What was that spirit?
You see, every Israelite heard the same report: the land was good, but the people living in it were many, and fearsome.
But every Israelite had also witnessed the plagues God sent to facilitate their freedom from Egypt, the sea He parted, the water He brought out of a rock, the manna He sent from heaven, the visible cloud that led them by day, and the fire that went before them by night.
What is Your Focus?
Joshua and Caleb considered the challenges ahead, but chose to focus on the faithfulness and the might of their God. They knew that taking the land would be hard work, but they also knew that if God would help them every step of the way.
The rest of the Israelites considered the challenges ahead and chose to focus solely on their own ability. The result? They were overcome by fear and anxiety, so much so that the Bible tells us they wept. (Num. 14:1)
One of my favorite verses is found in Paul’s second letter to Timothy where he encourages his mentee, “Therefore, I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is in you through the laying on of my hands. For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.” 2 Timothy 1:6-7
As you move forward, fear will try to push you back. You'll have thoughts like,
What if I fail?
What if I go broke?
What if others talk behind my back?
How much will I have to sacrifice?
Satan will bring these “giants” out one by one and cause you to see yourself as a “grasshopper” compared in size to them (Num. 13:33). When he does this, we have a choice to make.
As we look to 2020, carrying our dreams closely, wondering will this finally be the year, we can either:
a.) Envision ourselves going at it alone, dwell on the sacrifices it will take, and imagine worst-case scenario, or
b.) Count the cost, remind ourselves of who God is—loving, faithful, and able— and envision Him going before us, leading us, granting us wisdom, and driving out our enemies every step of the way.
You’re so close to the Promised Land, my friend. Don’t let fear stop you now.
Let this be the year you embrace a “different spirit,” and “press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of [you].” (Philippians 3:12)
Take hold of the land!
“Truth be told, I never set out to be in the staffing business. Nor have I always felt a burden for the refugee community. But life’s experiences have a way of shaping our passions and experiences into purpose, don’t they?
The only thing I knew was that I liked helping people. And I realized, along the way, that business, when leveraged intentionally, could be used to do so. That simple awareness, plus a chain of extraordinary events only God could have set into motion, led me to where I am today.”
—Chapter One, "Refugee Workforce”
Everybody has a story.
In my job, I have the pleasure of clearing away the dirt, and digging up the bones of those stories, and putting them into written form.
I wrote the words above one early morning (probably 5am or so) in early spring, as I revisited chapter one of “Refugee Workforce,” as the original version just wasn’t sitting right with me.
Chapter one is built around Amplio Recruiting Founder & CEO, Chris Chancey’s story, and answers the question: “How does a middle class white guy from South Georgia find himself running a refugee staffing agency?”
Similarly, I find the question I get asked most often, recently, is, “Tell me about your book!” and when I explain it to them the second question their eyes ask is, “How did you get involved in this??”
So I think it’s time I share my story. A God story. I love sharing it with anyone who allows, because it reveals so much of His providence and goodness.
Like Chris, I never set out to be doing what I am now— realeasing a book on the value of refugees in the American workplace.
Like most people of my race and class, I did a pretty good job turning a blind eye to the refugee crisis. Sure, I saw horrific photos and videos in my newsfeed from time to time. Yet, sadly, none of that momentary heartbreak ever moved me to action.
At the beginning of 2017 I felt a stirring in my spirit. I had been working for the same nonprofit organization for a dozen years where I had grown from “administrative assistant,” managing databases and mailouts and such, to much bigger tasks like overseeing fundraisers, writing copy, and managing social media.
When my kids were little I had begun writing as a hobby. God was teaching me so much in that “season of small,” as I call it, and blogging was a good way to process it.
As the years ticked by, I realized not only was writing a good “release” for me, but I actually had a knack for it. (I probably should have realized that in middle school when I won several writing contests. Just ask God— I’m a slow learner.) In my quiet times with the Lord He would whisper to my heart sweet promises about writing books, and even “opening my mouth to speak.”
But the years kept ticking by, and it seemed nothing was happening. Most days, when I hit the “publish” button, it felt I was sending my words into outer space.
I had an idea of what life would look like as a writer, and my life didn’t seem to be headed in that direction. The discrepancy between what I heard and what I saw caused me to question.
There was one point where I pulled an “Abraham.” Giving birth to a dream that was not in God’s timing. The dream wasn’t wrong, but the season was, and when God shut it down it felt like He had stepped on my toes. A wilderness season followed, and I felt as though I would never write again.
Yet I was writing.
Website copy. Letters. E-mails. Posts.
Little did I know God was using those experiences to prepare me for what was next.
If I’m honest, I had prayed many times over my twelve years at my job that God would move me on, sometimes due to conflict, sometimes due to boredom. As immature as I was, in many ways, I'm glad I had the wisdom to know if God wasn’t moving, then neither should I.
But in early 2017 I began to get the sense that He was leading me onward.
After months of praying, and fasting, and meeting with a mentor, my mentor asked, “So when are you finally going to do something about it?”
She was only speaking to me what God had already been saying in my Spirit. I felt God was calling me to a job where I could utilize my skills in writing, but fear paralyzed me— where would I go?
I don’t even have a degree, I worried, and what marketable skills do I even have to offer?
I had become so accustomed to working from home, I hated the idea of being away from my children (even though the thought of a quiet office without “Frozen” blaring in the background sounded quite appealing).
I’d seen God move many mountains over the years. But I wondered if He could provide just the right niche.
Faith rose up within me, and I decided to take the first step.
I’ll never forget the morning I met with my boss and told her I felt like God was leading me elsewhere. I would finish out the next few months, but plan to leave at the end of the summer.
I felt ashamed, and I felt like a lunatic. I had no other job lined up, and no idea where I was headed. Just a gut instinct that it was time for the next chapter.
Faith and Fear battled for control of my mind. I needed something to hold onto— I begged God for a Word.
Then one morning in prayer, out of the blue, but as clear as day, I heard the words, “soft landing.”
I didn’t’ know what it meant, but I liked it. God was going to give me a soft landing. Whatever that was. It gave my faith the footing it needed to hold on another day.
The following weeks flew by as I focused on “leaving well” (another word from the Holy Spirit). And as the days began to count down to my last paycheck, I felt my faith dwindling.
I should probably note that we weren’t in a position where we could pay all of the bills and keep food on the table without my income. The need was immediate.
And in all of this, there were no visible signs of pending opportunity. It seemed God was silent.
Isn’t that how every God story goes?
The walls of Jericho were impenetrable, until God knocked them down.
Sarah was unable to become pregnant, until God enabled her to be so.
Noah was just a crazy man with weird yard décor, until God sent the flood.
And I would be jobless in four days, until I received a single phone call.
“Sarah Chancey” appeared across my phone. I picked up, wondering if she simply had an update on her ill father’s health.
“Hey, I know you're looking for a job. Chris is looking for someone to write stories for his company blog…” she said. Then proceeded to tell me what his company was: a staffing company, helping resettled refugees connect with jobs.
“They have the most amazing stories,” she told me. “Someone needs to write them.”
As she told me about their vision for the position, I could hardly believe it. The job checked every box, and I knew that it was a God-send. A soft landing.
I didn’t have to strive to make it happen. My job was to stay close to God, listen, obey, and trust Him.
A couple weeks later I sat down to write my first “audition” blog. My stomach was in knots.
The voice of fear was L O U D.
Who are you to do this job? It screamed. You’re not a real writer. You’re a phony. You’re a fake.
But by the grace of God I persisted on anyway. There was no denying God had signed, sealed, and delivered the job— so He must believe in me.
Come to find out, I coulddo the job. And I enjoyed it. Oh, how I enjoyed it.
I had the equal parts pleasure and heartbreak of interviewing the most incredible individuals I had ever met.
It was an absolute honor to write and share their stories. The more refugees I spoke to, the more I began to recognize the tremendous impact of employment. The more employers I spoke to, the more I began to recognize the equally tremendous impact of refugees in the workplace.
I was writing. And even though it didn’t look like anything I had imagined years before, I had the most secure feeling that I was right where I belonged.
As it turns out, y’all, God has a pretty good handle on things.
The defining lesson I’ve learned over the last decade of my life: God can be trusted with my dreams.
God is such a good Father. He doesn’t always give us what we want, but He always gives us what we need.
Had I left my previous job any earlier than He allowed, I would have thwarted the growth God was trying to produce in me.
I wasn’t trying to turn this blog into a lesson, but I’m not just a writer, I’m a teacher. So if you’re reading this and you’re in a place where your life doesn’t look like what you thought it would, keep holding on, and ask Him for a Word.
I promise He’ll give you one. And when He does, hold onto it tight and keep walking in faith, until it comes into fruition. (If you doubt it will, see Isaiah 55:11.)
So there you have it. That’s how I ended up here. Publishing my first “real” book with my name and my face on it.
I never imagined my first book would be a business-y book touting the value of a marginalized people group. But Jesus spent His life speaking love and value into people, so it only seems fitting that I should do the same in every environment He puts me into.
What a joy. What an honor. What a privilege.
So that’s my story. Well, in part.
Lord knows I could fill a book with stories of the way He’s faithfully loved and led me over the years.
Maybe I will…
It only took a week for the back-to-school meltdowns to begin.
Oh, not the kids’.
Maybe it was too ambitious of me to serve up nutritious smoothies for breakfast, after a week of solo parenting (Hubby’s been out of town for work).
Maybe it the fact that I’d been up since 3:45am to finish important work project.
Maybe it was just hormones.
Whichever “maybe” it was, my children’s lack of enthusiasm (and gratitude, ahem) struck a nerve. Apparently a very sensitive one.
So I snapped.
I saw it immediately on my Middle’s face: shame.
I wanted to stop, but my frustration-fueled words were like an unstoppable train.
I managed to compose myself and continue serving the tall glasses of frozen fruit (with a side of contempt), until Eldest informed me he wasn’t really hungry.
I won’t go into all the details of what shall henceforth be known as “The Great Smoothie Meltdown of 2019,” but I will say by the time I put my kids on the bus with a quick kiss *I* was the one who felt ashamed.
As I began my usual morning prayer walk, I didn’t want to pray. I wanted to hide.
How could you behave like that?
You call yourself a Bible teacher?
Did you see the look on his face?
You’re a terrible mom.
“Move on,” Holy Spirit’s voice interrupted my self-berating.
I took a deep breath.
Okay. I know. If I don’t stop this negative thought train it’s going to wreck my entire day. I need to acknowledge it and move on.
So I remembered that one bad moment doesn’t make me a bad mom.
I asked God to forgive me for my unloving words and actions and to help me remember the pain of the moment to fuel better self-control in the future.
I blessed my children—each one by name and made a mental note to ask their forgiveness as soon as they arrived home from school.
Okay, now I could move on.
Except I couldn’t.
As I began talking to God about other things, guilt and fear kept interrupting.
Towards the end of our walk, I heard Holy Spirit clearly, “You still haven’t moved on, have you?”
“No,” I admitted out loud, unconcerned with what the neighbors might think about the strange, sweaty woman talking to herself.
That was when I realized I was taking the wrong approach. Trying not to think about the events that had occurred only made me think about them more.
Case in point: If I tell you not to think about a penguin, is that not the first image that pops into your mind?
Instead of focusing on what I lacked, I needed to focus on what I had been given. Instead of declaring my failures, or just trying to forget about them, I needed to declare the victory.
“I have the mind of Christ,” I said. (1 Corinthians 2:16)
It was, admittedly, a slow start. Until I asked God for help. Then He reminded me--
“I am God’s workmanship. Created for good works, which God has prepared for me before I was ever born. He chose me to be Avery, Emory and Bethany’s mom.” (Ephesians 2:10)
“I am forgiven. Every sin- past, present, and future- is under the blood of Jesus from the moment I confess them.” (1 John 1:9)
“I am adopted. My Father helps me and provides everything I need.” (Romans 8:14-17)
“I am the righteousness of God, in Christ.” (2 Corinthians 5:21)
As I began to declare what God says about me, instead of what I felt about myself in that moment, the shadow of shame left. I began to be filled with hope and encouragement.
I returned home to a sink full of dirty dishes.
“Remember this morning?” they seemed to taunt.
Yeah, I remember. I smiled to myself.
But I’m moving on.
The memory was still there, but it lost its power over me.
It wasn’t that I forget, I just made a decision: to move on, like God did.
I love what the author of Hebrews wrote— “…let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” (Hebrews 12:1)
You see, it’s not just sin that Satan uses to keep us from running our race. When Satan can't keep us entangled in sin, he'll throw guilt, fear, and shame at us in an attempt to hinder us from moving forward.
Friend, I don’t know what your “Great Smoothie Meltdown of 2019” is.
Maybe you snapped at your husband this morning.
Maybe you bombed an important project at work last week.
Maybe you found yourself gripped by an unspeakable sin years ago.
No matter the failure, no matter how long ago— God doesn’t want you to be stuck in your guilt, shame, or regret another second. He's got a race marked out for you and He sent me here to tell you— today is your day to move on.
His love and forgiveness know no bounds.
Guilt and shame have no place in you, child of God.
He is the great Restorer and Redeemer, able to make beautiful things out of the broken.
If we’ve confessed our sins and been obedient to take the appropriate actions, He’s already moved on--shouldn’t we, also?
I know it’s hard to fathom, but when God looks at you, he doesn’t see your failures. Not a single one of them.
He sees you as His beloved.
So revisit the Book, and let Him remind you who you are.
And remember this, friend:
God doesn’t need our perfection— He just needs a heart that is after Him.
So set your face like flint toward the one who called you out of darkness and into His marvelous plan, and move on.
If you know me, you know I am passionate about a lot of things.
I’m well on my way to reading 20 books in 2019. Last month I finished up “The Good Neighbor,” by Maxwell King. It’s a biography about the life and work of Fred Rogers, who I find incredibly fascinating.
Fred was adamant about producing quality children’s television in a time when many stations were only concerned with what would make them more money. He was a devout Christian, and worked many Christian morals and principles into Mr. Rogers Neighborhood episodes.
Fred studied the Bible, and was even an ordained Presbyterian minister, but he also knew there was value to scientific understanding of the way the brain worked. This led him to rely heavily on the work of child psychiatrist, Dr. McFarland, for input.
One particular paragraph from “The Good Neighbor” really stuck out to me, about the method Dr. McFarland used to teach. When teaching children about art, this is what she did:
“… when McFarland wanted to expose to the little children at the Arsenal Center to the work of a sculptor, she gave these instructions to the artist she invited to her classes: ‘I don’t want you to teach sculpting. All I want you to do is to love clay in front of the children. And that is what he did. He came once a week for a whole term and sat with the four-and-five-year olds as they played, and he ‘loved’ his clay in front of them. The children caught his enthusiasm for it, and that’s what mattered. Like most good things, teaching has to do with honesty.”
As a mom I want each of my children to not only know about Jesus but walk in deep, fulfilling relationship with Him. My desire for them to be rooted in Christ, in this shaky world, is so strong, that I often become overwhelmed at how.
What I think we can all learn from Mr. Rogers, and, of course, Dr. McFarland, is the most effective way we can make the next generation hungry for God is not by more information—but by loving Jesus in front of them.
I’ve been thinking a lot about this, and have realized that loving Jesus in front of my children requires two things:
The truth is I can’t love Jesus, if I don’t first allow Him to love me. 1 John 4:19 tells us that “We love [God], because He first loved us,” meaning our love is simply in response to His. God’s love for me is unfailing and unending, but that doesn’t mean I am always walking in it. Let’s put it this way—If it’s raining in Georgia, but I’m in Tennessee, I’m not going to experience that rain.
God’s love is constantly pouring out on us, but many of us aren’t in a position to receive it. Insecurities, wounds from our past, and consciously walking in sin can keep God’s love from getting in.
Spend some time thinking about God’s infinite love for you. You were worth Jesus to Him.Really let it sink in. And if insecurities, wounds or sin work their way up, deal with them. There is grace for that, my friend.
Abide under the waterfall of God’s love. Let it fill you and restore you. Then, allow that love to pour out onto others, and heap it back on Him.
Here comes the second part— transparency. Transparency is often misunderstood, but it simply means this: walking out my relationship with God in front of them (with discretion).
It means letting them into my good days and my bad. Confessing my need for Jesus to help me with my attitude, or exhaustion. I tell them what I’m praying for, then we celebrate when God answers. In fact, we’ve made celebration a huge part of our life through our tradition called, “Chocolate Milk Cheers.”
For the past month our family has been praying that God would send the perfect family to purchase our home. Last week God answered beyond our wildest imagination. Since we’ve been open with our kids about the need for a buyer, they too got to celebrate God’s goodness when we received our answer.
“We prayed for that!” they squealed, as they remembered sitting in the driveway and talking to God just last Sunday. This weekend we will take time to stop and remember, and add it to our jar of answered prayers.
The only way my kids will know God is a good God—not just a fictional character, or dictator, is by taking time to recognize His constant presence, provision, and care.
What need are you currently praying for, or what has God done in your life this week that you can celebrate?
Kids don’t fall in love with art by memorizing facts, they fall in love by engaging. It’s not about having all the right words, it’s about loving Jesus in front of them.
When they see our enthusiasm, they won’t be able to resist joining in.
A little about me...
Hi, I'm Katie!
Wife to Craig, mom of three, author, writer, Rooted Moms founder, Jesus-follower, Bible teacher, and coffee enthusiast.
Follow me as I follow Christ and share my heart throughout the journey.
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