Pleasing Him Above All Others

Obviously, I’m not trying to win the approval of people, but of God. If pleasing people were my goal, I would not be Christ’s servant. Galatians 1:10

I have got to get balanced. I said to myself. 

I had said something of the same nature a number of times. Maybe even felt it once or twice over the course of the year, and if I was being honest with myself it was probably when I was on vacation, or was only spinning one plate. I rarely spin one plate. I spin multiple. In the air. At the same time. Usually on the same day. And through the years, with the help of therapy, self-awareness, and most of all God…I know I don’t do well with spinning plates. 

Some plate eventually falls.

The one that does is usually me. And what happens is I become a person I don’t like very much. I know in these moments I have to focus on that plate, and let the others sit down for a bit.

And in my search I found it, that thing I was looking frantically for. Not the balance I so desperately wanted, but some idea of it I remembered was sitting on a shelf staring at me. A book. It’s title? The Worn Out Woman: When Your Life is Full and Your Spirit is Empty.

I had read this book before. Well, actually…started and not finished. I was worn out. Check. My life was certainly full. Check. But was my spirit empty? Not yet. But I didn’t want to get here, either.

So I started reading it, doing all the assignments the end of each chapter suggested. Because these things only work with follow through. Reading is wonderful. Knowledge is great, but its true power comes from action. 

And then, I got to this…the core of most of our problems with balance: people-pleasing. Now…someone needs this today. I know, because I used to be that someone. A people-pleaser. According to the authors, you can determine if you are doing things in an effort to please people by asking the following questions:

Do I work overtime to impress those around me? Do I often say yes when I really want to say no? Do I depend too much on compliments and affirmations to make me feel good? Do I let others schedule my priorities and activities? Do I try too hard to be nice? Do I take criticism too personally? Do I find it too hard to be firm? Do I feel bad when someone is upset with me? Do I apologize when I don’t need to? Do I bend over backward for other people, even when part of me is protesting or resentful? (page 46)

If you answered yes, you, my dear, may suffer from the disease to please.

And if you need a personal and vulnerable testimony to help it sink in. To not feel so alone, here you go:

My people-pleasing came in the form of expectations. Meeting unrealistic expectations, because they were expectations of others. Boxes I was trying to check-off that others had deemed necessary for me, and I wanted desperately to fit into them. To be liked. To be approved. To feel like a part. I did this in most spaces-work, friendships, even people I didn’t like very much. I did everything to figure out why they didn’t like me. Tried to change it, and eventually lost who I was. I even did this…yes, at church.

People-pleasing did not save me from rejection. I did not make people like me more. It did not make me feel a greater sense of belonging. It made me feel less connected, less genuine, and less like my true, authentic self. It also wore me down, and made me feel no sense of purpose.

Pleasing people can leave you worn out. Feeling as if you never measure up. Feeling completely lost, and wondering where you fit in. You will not please every single person here even if you try, and the desire to do so will leave you depleted. It can also leave you questioning your call. I know, because I did. I almost completely left it.

Now, back to those questions. Let’s go back and insert “God” into the originals: Do I work overtime to impress God? Do I often say yes to God? Do I depend on God to make me feel good? Do I make God a priority over other activities? Do I respond to others with honesty? When criticized do I seek God in prayer and handle conversations with care? Do I speak the truth in love when I need to be firm? Do I seek to make ammends when someone is upset with me? Do I apologize and take accountability when I need to? Do I seek God’s will for assignments and priorities, and set boundaries with my time if needed?

Are the answers different? If they aren’t and you find yourself saying “no,” then perhaps you need to change your priority and focus. Is your focus on likes and approval from those around you, or on what God has destined for you? Praying for God to reveal this and for Him to shift your priorities will help in shifting from people-pleasing to God-pleasing.

And isn’t this what we really want, anyway? To please Him above all others?

Get Focused on the New

This means that the anyone who belongs to Christ is a new person. The old life is gone, a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17

The mere fact that I began writing this today, and failed to notice I am repeating a daily verse, is most likely evidence that I have been distracted. Distracted by a number of issues. Tasks. Pressing matters. Some of these tasks have been good things. Even “God” things. Some due to illness. Some of these are courtesy of the tools the devil uses to keep us focused on him instead of God.

Whether good, God, or other-they are distractions, nonetheless. When the old habit of picking up your phone first thing in the morning overpowers picking up your Bible. When the work deadlines become greater, and the finish line to get there takes precedence over your usual study routine. Your old patterns of sleeping an hour later instead of getting up to pray with Him get in. And then some of those other old patterns creep back in-some you gave up when you put on your new Christ nature.

You are now distracted.

Though, yes, Satan most definitely uses temptation. The sin kind. The obvious one to keep us distracted from seeking time with God, he can also use less obvious tools, as well. Some may even come in the form of “good” things. Things that can be useful in the kingdom, but if we do them in the spirit of our old selves, the selves from which God redeemed us-then these things are no longer “good.”

For us anyway.

They are now distractions. From OUR greater purpose. They may be good for someone else. They may have been good at another time. But for who we are now-not so much.

Writing is this “good” thing for me. Yet, why had it become my distraction?

See…this new thing God had done in me? It had inspired a desire to tell others about this new thing. To write all these thoughts I had about Him as I spent time with Him. And to not keep those to myself. It bred in me a desire to stop being liked by the world, and to embrace the person God liked. Loved, even. Writing sparked joy. It lived inside me, and I loved this person who God had created, and it took a long time to get there. A long time to make sense of who she was, and how He was using her.

But distraction made this “new” thing “old” again. Something to check off a list. How I deemed myself worthy. Someone to be approved and liked by the masses. Decided I had anything of worth to say based on whether anyone read it, viewed it, or liked it.

Distracted.

It is time to remember who God made “new.” It is time to focus on the woman God turned me into when He made me that way. Not distracted by a duty to read His Word, but captured by the pure desire to learn more about Him, to spend time with Him, to listen for Him, and to write about those experiences because it brings me joy. And in doing so, I am no longer distracted. In fact, I in turn irritate Satan.

It is time to focus on this joy so I can be fueled again by His purpose, not by the old desire to be approved by people, but only by the One who has given me a desire to do something with the gifts He has given me. Those things I can only do when I am focused on Him, and less distracted.

So…for a time, I am writing solely for me (well, for Him). Solely in my quiet time, without screens. No laptop. No agenda. No laid-out plan. No checklist. Letting Him lead. Letting Him guide. Sharing as He directs.

Undistracted. Completely focused on Him.

Masks of Deception

We refuse to wear masks and play games. We don’t maneuver and manipulate behind the scenes. And we don’t twist God’s Word to suit ourselves. Rather, we keep everything we do and say out in the open, the whole truth on display, so that those who want to can see and judge for themselves in the presence of God. 2 Cor 4:2 MSG

I have spoken about this before here: My youngest has never understood the concept of Halloween. Even in our desire for him to indulge in the holiday festivities; he simply refused to put on a costume. If there was a time he dressed up, he had to be as close to a character he recognized, and would not dare wear a mask. Many years he simply went to events as “Hunter.” His philosophy being-he had no pressing reason to be anything other than himself. Wouldn’t he be given candy anyway? Why “trick” others into giving it him?

From an autistic lens, I began to see his point.

The world has sold us a big fat lie: You must present yourself to it as someone other than who God intends you to be in order to get your needs met.

It’s why we deceive the aging process with fillers, Botox, filters, and injections. Tricking others into believing we are younger than we are, smoother, or that our forehead wrinkles don’t exist.

It’s why we post our “highlights.” So we can trick people into thinking we are happier, have more money, our marriages aren’t crumbling, and our kids aren’t making poor choices.

It’s why we don’t discuss our struggles with other people.

It’s why we wear our masks on every other day after October 31st. These masks may not be the scary ones like evil, murder, robbery, or any other punishable crime. No, these masks look more like skimming time from your co-worker while you post all about your crummy job on Facebook. It’s the hurtful words you say about a friend as soon as she leaves the table to go home. It’s the ways in which you don’t support another person’s success, because they are doing what you wish you were. It’s that plastic smile you paint on, when you feel like crying. It’s that word “fine,” you speak when you are anything but.

Those are our masks. And we don’t need a holiday like Halloween to wear them and to deceive everyone around us. We put them on most everyday. And expect people to hand us what we want.

We deceive others this way. We deceive others into believing that believers have it all together. That we don’t struggle. Our painted on “smiley” masks that hide our struggles can deceive the hurting seeker into believing they have to be perfect before they can have Christ. And on another note, when we paint on goodness, and hide poor behaviors such as gossip or malice, we let others know that maybe Christ isn’t so attractive after all.

Maybe our youngest had a point. Can’t we have Christ anyway by coming to him as ourselves? Can’t we be in communion and fellowship with each other without a mask? Without pretending we are someone else for the day?

Try it. Drop your faulty expectations that you have to have it all together, and come as you are. As God intended you to be. Drop the mask the world expects. That plastic smile, those expectations and disappointments you hide behind, and simply be yourself before others today. Genuine. Honest. Truthful. No deception underneath. Nothing but who He intended.

Promises of God: A Reason

Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. Psalm 139:16, NLT

“Everything happens for a reason.”

A phrase I have had a problem with a time. Two. Three hundred. And some. For me, at times…it seemed like a pat answer usually given to ease the hurts and struggles of others. We don’t know what else to say at these times. Maybe we do actually see something good coming out of this, and so we want to see the positive. A different perspective.

My problem with it? In my times of hurt. Struggle. Trials. Times I just didn’t understand what God was doing. I didn’t see good. I didn’t get it at all.

“Everything happens for a reason.”

Sure. What reason exactly? And can He show me? Like now? Yes. To be real…that was usually how I felt.

But not so much anymore. The phrase has kinda grown on me. One can even say that it is Biblical. We know trials exist because of the sin that entered the world through Adam and Eve. Evil exists because of it, and it’s repercussions and it’s pains are a part of our lives now. We also have a part in these “reasons.” We are knuckleheads. We make unwise choices at times, and so we suffer for them. But I am not talking about these types of things. I am talking about the trials and situations that just make no sense.

If you look at the references to reasons and seasons Solomon makes in Ecclesiastes, Solomon was making a case for things being ordained by God by Him at His specified time:

For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace. Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, NLT

God has a purpose for the time in which He allows things to occur. And while it makes no sense to us, it makes sense to Him. While it may cause us pain. Strife. Stress. Annoyance. It is all according to His plan. To His purpose. One He intended for us long ago.

It’s just hard for us to realize this when we are in the midst of the struggle. Because in the heat, we want the furnace to be cut off. During the test, we want the answers. During the trial, we want to know the verdict. But sometimes, the answer looks more like this: We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation. Romans 5:3-4, NLT

The reason is often our greater strength. Healing. Hope. And a desire for others to know and have the same.

God gave us hard things so we can walk with someone else through their hard things. The way no one else can, or often will. That’s the reason.

God gave you your unique personality. The one no one seems to “get,” because that is the exact personality that can reach a people that others just can’t reach. He knows you are just the person who can. That’s the reason.

God gave you that vision, then put a mountain, roadblocks, and boulders in the way; because He knew He had something bigger waiting for you. Something He knew you would see through to the end. That’s the reason.

God moved those people. Let them hurt you. Leave you. Ghost you. Because He knew they could not go where you are going. They would have kept you from seeing this vision clearly. That is the reason.

He knew it. He saw it when He was forming you. He knew what you would go you. He knew you would be strong enough to endure it. He carried you through. And He knew you would use it to carry others to Him.

It was all for His reasons.

Promises of God: Design and Purpose

“I knew you before I formed you in your mother’s womb.
Before you were born I set you apart
and appointed you as my prophet to the nations.” Jeremiah 1:5, NLT

Today we are once again in the book of Jeremiah. Right at the very beginning when Jeremiah is called by God to be His prophet to Judah.

Jeremiah’s response? “I’m too young. No way I can do this!”

Excuses. Excuses. Excuses. When God calls us to something, too often we make excuses for why we may not be capable, and Jeremiah was no exception.

Though given an important task-to provide warning and move the Israelites towards repentance-and though chosen by God-Jeremiah struggled throughout much of his assignment. He was God’s voice, but no one listened. He urged people to act, but no one moved. He was poor, thrown into prison, rejected by his family and people, and did not see God’s prophesy fulfilled in His time.

He thought he was failing. God thought he was a victor. Because Jeremiah moved in his purpose and did what God called him to do.

Jeremiah believed in the promise provided to him-that God not only designed him for this, but that God would be with him, protect him, and give him the words to speak (v. 8-9).

We have a calling, too. God designed this calling for us long ago when He designed us. When the time is right to fulfill it, God will be with us, protect us, give us words to equip us.

When we do what God has purposed, we are never failing, only victorious.

Everything Happens For a Reason

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28

“Everything happens for a reason.”

That phrase at times irritates me. Maybe because it seems to be thrown out as a response to people who are struggling through something hard, or asking that “why” question. We say this with the best of intentions, but perhaps we are really uncomfortable with all the unknowns of the current situation ourselves.

I’ve often been irritated by that standard phrase because I have asked my own “why’s” over the years.

Why was this person placed in my life? Why was I called to this, only to not complete it? Why is this journey taking as long as it is? Why did some people leave without warning? Why?

Most of those “why’s” have no answers. I may never know the answer on this side of eternity, which makes that “everything happens for a reason” phrase so difficult to stomach at times.

But it’s true. Everything does happen for a reason. One that’s outlined in what has become another one of my favorite verses-it’s all according to what God has planned.

Some things happen so others can grow closer to Him. Others so we can. Some things happen because we veer off course, and God has to get us back on track. Other so He can grow our faith. Some things happen and unfold in the ways they do because it simply wasn’t time, or He has something else for us. Others because of our fallen nature.

Everything happens for a divine purpose. Everything can be used by God for his glory. For His purpose. To show others His love, sovereignty, and power.

The good things, and even those intended to harm us; He is working everything out for our good.

In the Meanwhile

The Lord replied,

“Look around at the nations;
    look and be amazed!
For I am doing something in your own day,
    something you wouldn’t believe
    even if someone told you about it.” Habakkuk 1:5, NLT

For those of you who have been around a while, you know how much I love post-it notes. They have housed prayers in Bibles. They live on my mirrors at home. My computer. My walls. They have even adorned my steering wheel as a reminder to place Satan underground on a daily basis where he belongs. So it should be no secret that a post-it is responsible for this post.

I am not even sure why I wrote it. I am pretty certain it’s from some book I read. It’s placed above my computer screen, the place where I fashioned a work space during the days of quarantine and telehealth. The days I didn’t much enjoy. A reminder that God was working on something in those moments, while I was grumbling in this same space where I am currently typing. This same space where I know He continues to work. The words written on that note? “God is working the meanwhile.”

Meanwhile back on the ranch…

I know we have seen that phrase. If we have ever read a book, seen a movie, or lived…we have seen or heard it. But what does it mean?

The word “meanwhile” by definition means “occurring at the same time.” So while I may be sitting here typing on this computer, meanwhile someone else back at the ranch may be doing something far more inspiring, or simply taking a nap. Whatever the case may be-God is working. Which means that our lives are also connected through Him. We just don’t know how. We have no idea who the people are God wants us to help, or just how those “meanwhiles” will come together for His purpose. All this happens at the same time without us ever knowing, until He is ready to reveal it to us.

While you are at home praying for that one thing you keep asking God. God is working at the same time. Meanwhile, someone else is praying, too.

Don’t give up. Don’t quit hoping. Keep on praying.

God is working in the meanwhile.

I do not own the rights to video, lyrics, or music.

I Won’t Give Up

I went on a decluttering and cleaning spree the last couple weeks. All in an effort to get the Christmas decorations up. In my sorting I came across the vision board I put together at the beginning of the year. One I had put together with pictures and notes of things I had a desire to accomplish. To finally start and finish.

I had come out of a dark time. When I sat down and began to dream dreams. Those placed on my heart some time ago, and never finished; I knew I was not going to let anything stop me from using my voice. My gifts. My talents.

For pursuing and working in the purpose He had for me.

Circumstances may keep us from completing our mission. People may even try. But here is the truth:

And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. Romans 8:28, NLT

God. God calls us. God will continue to work through you despite the circumstances or roadblocks put before you.

God does that.

I can do all things
Through Christ who gives me strength
So keep on saying I won’t
And I’ll keep proving you wrong -“Say I Won’t,”MercyMe

This song was one I played over and over as I came out of that dark place. Out of the place man may have placed me in. Over the roadblocks put in my way. The circumstances that had me believing that He had finished working through me.

He hasn’t yet. And he hasn’t finished with you. Keep moving. Keep dreaming dreams. And allowing Him to use you. Tell those who think you don’t have what it takes, or that God hasn’t given you strength to continue that you won’t give up until His work is done.

I do not own the rights to video or music.

He is still working through you

A couple years ago I was on fire. Passionate. I was pretty certain that God had placed a specific calling on my heart. I knew I had heard him, remember the events. The time. The place. Who was around. What He said to me.

I had a plan and a purpose. A focus. A desire.

Then…I didn’t.

Then…I began to question if what I heard was real. Did He really speak to me? Was I really called to do that thing?

What happened? Well, many things. The world, mainly. Satan, more than likely. People, because they can get in the way. So, I listened to the world. I listened to Satan, and I listened to those people, and I doubted that call. Doubted if it was ever mine.

Doubt can creep in during the midst of some of God’s work and gifting when different motives are at work. Doubt can creep in during the midst of His speaking when other’s are speaking something different. Doubt can creep in when we are waiting for Him to move our mountains, because someone is telling us we are not capable to be used by Him. Doubt can leave the purposed feeling like they have no purpose.

Doubt kills vision. It kills focus. It can stifle a call.

Same power, now and forever
No You’re not through
Same words, can speak to the mountains
And make them move
I know the God of the old is the God of the new
I know that You did it then and You still do
You still do -Terrian

Faith brings purpose and vision back to life. The faith that God will not keep His purpose from being accomplished, even if the world or man gets in the way, God is still moving mountains. Providing power to the people the world deems not capable, and reassuring us that He isn’t through with us yet.

Whatever doubt you may have today. Whatever dreams or calling have been allowed to die, I pray you remember God still has a purpose, plan, calling, and vision that is just for you!

I do not own the rights to this video, lyrics, or music.

Just a voice

I stopped. Felt silenced again. And am now using my voice to begin again.

Read, or even listen to hear why “Just A Voice.”

Ever felt like you had no voice? Or you spoke out, spoke your truth and were then silenced? Some of us, more than others. Some maybe not at all.

So why, “Just a Voice?” Well, no one is just anything. Not just a mom. Just a custodian. Whatever you want to add here. And though you may have one voice-you have a unique voice. A voice that needs to be heard. That can reach the heart of one person that needs to hear truth. Honestly. From a real place. Without fluff. Bells. Whistles.

That’s what you will hear. No fluff. No bells. No whistles. No extras. Just a writer. With a pen. Some paper. Her Bible. The Word of God. A microphone.

Just a voice. But a unique one. To whom God has given something to say. A straight-up voice, speaking truth about Him in your mess and your beautiful.