Until His voice is louder

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“Whose voice is loudest in your life?” -Sadie Robertson

“You failed again.”

“Not good enough.”

“Yep. Told you they were right. Nothing redeeming in that one.”

“No one cares. No one is listening. Where is your God now?”

“Mmmmhmmmm. You messed up good this time. He isn’t coming to save you.”

Imperfect. Failure. Incompetent. Naive. Ineffective.

The voices that drown out the loving words of my Father, are the ones of criticism and contempt. These take residence in my head. Mess with my deepest insecurities and doubts. And, after they do, then Satan has done his job. Had me believing all the lies he and others have told me.

But, this is the thing about the devil:

“He was a killer from the very start. He couldn’t stand the truth because there wasn’t a shred of truth in him. When the Liar speaks, he makes it up out of his lying nature and fills the world with lies.” John 8:44, MSG

And, the Liar fills our heads with them, too. Our homes. Our hearts. Our relationships.

I don’t want the loudest voice occupying space in my head to be the one that tells me how horrible I am. How unloved and unworthy I am. I don’t want the one occupying space in my home, my relationships to be the author of destruction.

I want the voice that speaks the loudest to me. The one that drowns out all the nonsense and lies of the world to be words of encouragement.

I don’t want the words that are the loudest to be reminding me every time I fall (because I do…flat on my face!)…but, to remind me of all the times I have gotten back up, and to gently pick me up when I don’t feel like I can go on, because that voice gives strength.

But, how do I push away those other voices-those dirty, lying, abusive, no good to me voices?

Stay alert! Watch out for your great enemy, the devil. He prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8

Stay in His word. Armed with His truth!

Just as Jesus was as he walked with Satan in the wilderness. Even the King of Kings wasn’t immune to the incessant, lying schemes of the enemy (Luke 4:1-13)

When Jesus needed sustenance, the devil used his voice to attempt to diminish God’s ability to provide: “Come on, Jesus. Can’t you provide your own bread if you are so great?” (v. 3)

When Jesus was suffering, hurt, broken, ready to give up…he offered him a way out; not once, but twice. “Come on, Jesus. Don’t you want all of this? This kingdom before you instead of that cross?” Jesus listened to God’s voice (v. 6-7).

“Come on, Jesus. Just jump and give up already! Your God will save you, won’t he?” (v. 9-11). But, Jesus once again listened to God. Each time rebuking the devil with God’s voice. He will be my provider. He will meet my needs. He is my one and only God. I will not test him.

Our critics. Our naysayers. The insecurities the devil knows so well…because he does. He knows them. Those negative thoughts cannot become the loudest voices in our heads.

The voice that needs to shout above all the lies that Satan attempts to throw at us while we walk in the wilderness needs to be our Father’s. The one that reminds us we are not failures, we are worthy. We are not imperfect, we are wonderfully made. We are not incompetent, we are qualified through Him; made powerful through His strength.

When the devil tries to tell us anything different, we shout the truth. When the devil tries to convince us to give up, we remember God’s word that encourages us to persevere. We make His voice the only one allowed to have permanent residency in our head.

Until His voice is the loudest!

 

My God won’t be hidden

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“You are the light of the world-like a city on a hilltop that can’t be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house.”                                                                                                  Matthew 5:14-15

It’s the season of Lent. For those familiar, or not so…this means letting go of something that has a stronghold on our lives for 40 days. Seeking His face any time we are tempted to partake in it.

In the past I have given up chocolate, coffee, Facebook, even gossiping and just basic complaining (and that one was hard!). I have had a tough time this year choosing one stronghold. Maybe because in the last couple months, I have given up much without a whole lotta say.

I recognize the stronghold that social media can have on my time, and thought “Yep…that’s it! It’s time to go off the grid. Sit back. Shut-up, and be a silent ‘good girl’ for a while.”

But, then I remember that light. Yes, that one in the picture above. That shines out of a corner office. Into the darkness. Of a room. A hall. A community. Reflecting hope. Kindness. Love. Jesus. Even if he is the laminated one.

A light some just don’t want to shine. So, it’s silenced. Not placed on a table to reflect that hope. Kindness. Love. Hidden in some dark basket instead.

I will not keep still. Because my heart yearns for Jerusalem, I cannot remain silent. I will not stop praying for her until her righteousness shines like the dawn, and her salvation blazes like a burning torch. Isaiah 62:1

When I told God “yes,” I made a vow I would not place His light in a basket. I would not let His light be hidden. That I would keep speaking up even if I am labeled dangerous, crazy, or some kind of misunderstood freak. I mean…Jesus was, too. Right?

I can choose to cower in a corner. Sit in silence and hide the light, hoping it shines past this little corner, from this desk. My favorite chair. My closet where I battle the devil, the critics, and negativity on my knees each night.

Or, I can use my voice for good. I can use it to spread His love to those who need to hear it. Even when it is unpopular. Misunderstood. Or means I am labeled as a misfit.

It may get me in trouble, or gain me a few more critics, but my God (I) won’t be hidden.

I may have to stand against some scary bullies, with a brave face that takes a heck of a lot  of courage, but my God (I) won’t be hidden.

I may have to (gulp) forgive those same bullies, just to prove his light is loving and kind, so His message of love won’t be hidden.

I decided to follow Him a number of years ago. I promised not to turn back, and my God (I) won’t be placed in a basket and hidden.

None may go with me, and I may have to walk and fight alone, but my God (I) won’t be hidden.

Until His light shines in the darkness.

Until those desperate prayers are answered.

Until His voice reaches out into the chaos, speaks louder than the critics, and drowns out the negativity.

Until every misfit, freak, or misunderstood lost sheep hears, sees, and feels His love and comes home.

No, my God (I) won’t be hidden.

The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it. John 1:5

a boy and his bible

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Take hold of my instructions; don’t let them go. Guard them, for they are the key to life.         Proverbs 4:13

“Mom! I’m ready!”

This is the call from the steps, or the couch, or the bed of a little boy ready for his bedtime routine. After having lavender rubbed gently on his feet. His covers placed over him just right. His favorite puppy tucked neatly beside him-he is then ready for sleep.

This is our nightly routine. Without fail.

Until…mommy gets distracted, and that routine gets ignored.

On this particular night, I will admit…my favorite show was on. I asked that little boy to wait patiently until the next commercial. And then, that commercial turned into two, three, and four.

When I did finally remember I had failed to make good on my promise, I expected one angry, upset, little boy.

I found something quite different.

I found a boy and his Bible.

Instead of sulking. Instead of pouting. Instead of fussing because Mommy had failed him, he simply opened his Bible.

And the Scriptures give us hope and encouragement as we wait patiently for God’s promises to be fulfilled. Romans 15:4

This boy. This patient, little boy was doing exactly what I had been failing to do. He picked up his Bible, and waited patiently. He spent those extra few minutes waiting for that nighttime lotion Mommy had promised, to read about what God had promised.

I can take a few notes from that boy and his Bible.

That instead of sulking. Instead of pouting. Instead of fussing because someone has failed me, or let me down. I can pick up His word and read about how His love never fails (Psalm 136).

Instead of getting discouraged when things don’t go my way, I can open up to His promise that he won’t let my heart be troubled (John 14:1). That He will guide and direct my steps even when I stumble. Fall. Fail (Proverbs 3:6).

Instead of worrying about the tasks that don’t get done. The kids that aren’t at home. The ones that are but are struggling. The bills on the counter. I can pick up my Bible and read that there is no need for worry, as He will handle it all (Matthew 6:25-34).

When I’m overwhelmed, unbalanced, and ready to break from trying to handle it all, I can read how His strength sustains me (Phil 4:13).

And, when I am tempted to consume myself with the distractions of the world, my phone, or my TV, I can give back to Him the precious time He has given to me.

Just like that little boy and his Bible.

Who cares about hair…and other truths about me

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If only I could see you as you see me, and understand the way that I am loved. Would it give a whole new meaning to my purpose, change the way I see the world? -Mandisa, The Truth About Me

Growing up I stood out. Not for any typical reason. I wasn’t taller than my peers. I wasn’t exceptionally pretty. I didn’t stand out for any supernatural reason either. I had no awesome talent or some super athletic ability.

Nope. Nothing like that.

It was my hair. I had extremely, unruly, wiry, curly hair. Like…can’t-get-a-comb-through-it-without-getting-it-stuck-in-the-ends-curly. Puffy. Poofy. Frizzy on rainy days curly. Can’t do anything with curly. Same haircut since kindergarten curly.

And it made me stand out. Made me different. A target.

For envy…because I wanted the long, silky, straight strands of my classmates. The ones that could sit in class and brush each strand without looking like the love child of Diana Ross.

And for bullies…who feared different. Who called me names. All because my hair didn’t look like theirs. Or their dolls. Their sisters. Their girlfriends. Because I didn’t fit the standard of what the world considered pretty. Beautiful. Acceptable. Perfect.

I didn’t fit into a neat tidy box.

Now, many years later…there is another little girl who often stands out. In a world that wants to think that it has changed, but has not all that much.

This girl is my daughter. With the same unruly, can’t get a comb through it hair.

But, she’s a little different.

Unlike me…if she has one hair out of place. If she has one knot. If someone makes a comment about how she is different…she simply does not care.

We could learn a lot from this spunky, sassy, strong-willed, curly-headed, beautiful little girl. We could learn that it is OK to not fit into a neat tidy box. And to simply not care when we don’t.

See, we all want to think that as we got older and grew out of our “awkwardness,” that we also stopped worrying about our bullies. The simple truth is, some of us didn’t. Some of us still carry around the hurts of the bullies that made us feel less than. And, yes…let’s be real. Some of us still have a few bullies. Some of them even live among us in grown-up (even “Christian”) bodies.

But, we don’t have to continue to be their victims. Because, yes. We are different. We are set apart. Molded. Made unique. Made different on purpose. By a creator who loves us. Just.As.We.Are.

So, when the bullies start to attack again and tell you that you are worthless, remember that He says you are worth so much more. A worthy woman who can find? For her price is far above rubies. Proverbs 31: 10

When Satan whispers that you are not beautiful, or don’t fit in, remember that you are fearfully and wonderfully made. Psalm 139:14

When those who call themselves martyrs try to call you by your sin, remind yourself (and them) that you are redeemed! Because of the sacrifice of the Messiah, his blood poured out on the altar of the Cross, we’re a free people-free of penalties and punishments chalked up by all our misdeeds. And not just barely free, either. Abundantly, free! Ephesians 1:7, MSG

You are loved. You are worthy. You are set apart. You are His. It is OK to be different. To fit in a different box. To stand out in all your sassiness. Spunkiness. Strong-will. And to not care what the bullies or world thinks about it. Even if they decide your brand doesn’t fit into their tidy box.

Embrace the truth about you.

Love it. Own it. It’s how and who He made you to be.

Because He doesn’t care about our hair…and frankly, neither should we.

Let’s Be Honest

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The king is pleased with words from righteous lips; he loves those who speak honestly. Proverbs 16:13

The boy above…the one with the laughing eyes, cool as a cucumber demeanor, and mile wide grin also happens to be the example of brutal honesty. Honest to a fault at times. Honest enough to even get himself in trouble!

Our 5 and 6 year old share a room. Unfortunately for Hayley, Hunter insists on this. Unfortunately for Mommy and Daddy this means more giggles at night than actual sleep. Giggles are always pleasant to hear. They are far more pleasant than the bickering these two are usually engaged in on a daily basis. Sometimes giggles also get out of hand. Sometimes Mommy and Daddy have to intervene. Sometimes we have to investigate the shenanigans that keep two little kids from much needed slumber.

And to find out what is really going on, we only need to ask one little fellow.

“We’re just making shadow puppets!” Right about the time big sister shouts an emphatic, “Nothing…”

Who does that? What kid really tells the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth? Well, this little guy for one. And many more little guys and girls on the autism spectrum. While many of the symptoms and oddities we have to contend with like meltdowns, rigid routines, and obsessive interests can be intolerable, honesty-true honesty-is probably one of the traits we enjoy the most.

One I could also use more of in my own life, conversations, and relationships.

Sure, Hunter’s idea of honesty may be telling someone with all sincerity that their legs look bigger, or their belly looks funny (Trust me. I know this first hand!), and this type of honesty is not exactly what we want to hear or even say to others, but having the tough conversations, confronting someone who may need to hear a few words of wisdom or encouragement is even advocated by Paul:

Instead, we will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ. Ephesians 4:15

Yet, we pull the wool over our own eyes, tell our friend, co-worker, family members that it is alright to engage in a particular activity, or to feel a certain way. We tell ourselves it is alright to do and feel the same things. We are afraid of the consequences of our being completely honest with each other, with ourselves.

We are too afraid to get in trouble, feel ridiculed, or get our feelings hurt.

Just as Hunter does when he insists his sister is kidding, because they really are playing flashlight tag, we must be honest with God, too. We must come before God and admit we too are sinners. We failed. We lied. We spoke in anger. We slandered a friend. We messed up. We played shadow puppets in the dark.

As David indicates in Psalm 139:23-24, I want God to search me, and know my anxious thoughts. I want Him to point out anything in me that offends, and lead me along the path of everlasting life. I want Him to guide me in the way of honesty.

Lord, Help me to be more like Hunter. Honest and open with you. Please search my heart daily, Lord and reveal anything that does not give you glory. In Jesus name. Amen.