The Treasure We’re Giving Away (without even knowing it)

Do you know what TV show fascinates me? It isn’t the Real Housewives or one of those Survivor spin-offs. It’s The Antiques Roadshow.

I know, I know. There’s no drama on this little hour of British television. But I’m amazed at these treasures passed down from generations past, with owners who aren’t even aware of their value. It makes me wonder if there are treasures sitting around in my own home (or attic), waiting to be discovered.

A couple of weeks ago my parents visited and since they always bring gifts, I went through my kids’ endless pile of toys. I remarked that we needed to make another trip to the local charity store. Except the store I was speaking of isn’t really all that charitable.

“That guy’s made a fortune because people just give their stuff away,” my Dad said, referring to the owner.

He talked about how employees of this store found antiques worth large sums of money. The owners didn’t know what they had, and now someone else is making a profit.

The discussion made me ask myself- what am I giving away that I should be guarding? Are there things that I should be treasuring instead of throwing away?

Except my mind didn’t go to the material stuff. It went to the matters of the heart.

I give away my time scrolling through Facebook, looking at pictures of other people’s memories when I could be making my own.

I give away my hope, looking to others to affirm me when there’s only One who can give me the validation I need.

I give away money, looking to fashion trends to give me a fleeting thrill.

When we take an honest look at our lives, we often find we give our hearts away for fulfillment that quickly fades. We can run around in endless circles chasing the next validation or high and then wonder why we constantly feel depleted.

If we dig into God’s word, it doesn’t tell us to give our hearts away. It tells us to guard them.

Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.

Proverbs 4:23 NIV

God knows our ADD nature. He knows we need reminders to keep our steps aligned and our eyes fixed on the Author of our hope.

So why do we need to guard our heart? Shouldn’t we keep it open and listen to it like the popular 80’s song suggests?

Yes and no. Guarding our heart doesn’t mean living in fear, cutting ourselves off from relationships, adventures and the abundant life God wants for us.

Guarding our heart means aligning it with God’s Word, letting our decisions flow from the wisdom he freely gives us.

Guarding our heart means letting his love affirm us, not the fleeting things of this world.

Each of us has a treasure worth far more than anything discovered on an antique roadshow or a charity store. Let’s not give it away like yesterday’s garbage.

Let’s guard it, knowing its value. Let’s treat it like the gem it is.

 

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You’re a Daughter, Not a Slave to Fear

I like to watch my kids when they don’t know I’m looking.

I eavesdrop on interactions between firstborn and little brother. I overhear whispers of imagination, hide-and-seek and Legos.

It’s not because I’m trying to catch them doing something wrong. On the contrary, I catch glimpses of their lives I might otherwise miss.

When they notice me, their response is always the same.

“What?”

And then comes the shoulder shrug. Like they’re waiting for a rebuke. As if I’m going to chide them for running or yelling.

I realize it’s partly my fault. Because many times, I do those things. And while I don’t apologize for it, I also want them to know I watch them because I relish in seeing them grow.

I’m a witness to these lives I helped create, and I love seeing them discover new things.

The other day as I was driving to the market, the new David Dunn song, “I Wanna Go Back,” came on the radio. It describes how as we grow older, we often lose our childlike faith and belief that we can do or be anything. Instead of being grateful we have neighbors next door to play with, we feel like we have to keep up with them.

So what does the artist want? To go back. He says he wants to go back to “Jesus loves me this I know…”

As I sat in the car listening and singing along, I thought, “Don’t we all?” I realized somewhere along the line, I forgot God watches me the love of a Father instead of an angry parent waiting to punish me.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at PurposefulFaith.com about how we can let go of fear and embrace who we are as daughters. You can read the rest of my post here.

 

Linking up here: #RechargeWednesday

Why the World Needs Your Voice and No One Else’s Will Do

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I saw the look of frustration on my son’s face. We were leaving his classmate’s birthday party and he tried to get her attention, but his voice was drowned by the noise of the skating rink.

After he called her name several times with no response, he gave up.

“It’s loud in here, buddy,” I said, trying to reassure him.

And it was. I could hardly wait to get outside into the sunshine after two hours of musty air, loud bass and sticky floors. But I knew he felt a little defeated.

For better or worse, he’s inherited my quiet demeanor and his voice doesn’t always project. When he has something to say, he’s intentional about it, but his words sometimes get lost on those with a short attention span.

I can relate in more ways than one. All it takes is a few minutes on social media for me to feel overwhelmed by the influx of voices.

“What do I have to say?” I ask myself. “No one is going to miss my words.”

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m sharing over at PurposefulFaith.com about why the world needs your unique voice in a world that’s loud. You can read the rest of my post here.

One Truth to Hold Onto When You Crave Recognition

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Can I make a little confession? I’m a gold star craver. I love affirmation for a job well done, and when I became a parent this need multiplied. I constantly worry that I’m messing up my kids or they’re going to need therapy when they grow up.

You can relate, right?

So this week we celebrated Valentine’s Day and after an incident at home I had no time to do anything. I’ll admit, most years we don’t do much for Valentine’s anyway. To me it serves as just another reason to give the kids sugar.

Trust me, my kids don’t need more sugar.

But it had been a rough week and I was feeling a little guilty about not getting the kids anything.

Enter…my husband. He comes home from work with two little heart shaped boxes of chocolate and puts them on my dresser. Each one has a cute, fun message on the front. Each one perfect for our boys’ unique personalities.

“You’ll always be their first Valentine,” he said.

I could have cried. He saw my need even though I didn’t express it.

The next morning when I came to kitchen table and gave each son his gift, my oldest jumped up and gave me a hug. And hugs from this eight-year-old are getting fewer and farther between.

“I love you,” he said.

I looked at my hubs, knowing this moment was because of him. But he didn’t need credit or recognition from the boys. Seeing their reaction was enough.

That’s what Christ’s love is like, isn’t it? We’re his ambassadors here on earth, but often we’re so worried about getting the pat on the back or gold star that we forget who deserves the glory.

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I’m not saying we should stop encouraging each other. Scripture says to build each other up in Christ Jesus.

But let’s not forget our gifts come from him. And at the end of the day if his love shines through us and points others to their Creator, we’ve done well.

He sees the heart we pour into our families. He sees each tear we cry for their sake.

He’s been where we are, completely human in every way.

And you know what? People didn’t recognize him either.

He wasn’t here to bring himself glory, but to do the will of the One who sent him. To give us glimpses of the Father here on earth.

Come to him today. Tell him your need. I can promise he already knows, but when we are honest we just might get that gold star we crave.

He can fill us up with the love he feels for us each day, whispering, “I know you, my child. And I am pleased with my creation.”

 

Linking up here: #ChasingCommunity

The One Truth That Can Silence the Voice of Doubt

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“You’re always my number one,” my hubby said.

I put my head against his chest and let his affirmation sink in, resting in his strong embrace.

I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been so tired. Adjusting to life with three kids and finding balance was a struggle. I was flailing in a sea of failed expectations in others, but also fighting to maintain healthy expectations in myself.

When I forgot to sign my son’s homework, I felt defeated. When I was unable to spend as much time with my boys, I felt guilt.

As we encounter difficulty navigating new seasons in life, the voices of doubt often creep in.

You can’t get this mom-of-three-kids thing down. Why did you ever think it was a good idea?

 That book proposal will never get done. You may as well not even try.

 And the scary part is, we often listen to that voice-the one who confirms our worst fears and dark thoughts we don’t talk about with others. The one who brings out the worst version of ourselves.

Instead of pursuing our dreams, we convince ourselves failure is inevitable. We shrink away from the edge of the next leap of faith before we even see the drop off.

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So what do we do? How do we silence the voice of doubt when our eyelids are heavy and the road is weary?

If we want to drown the source of lies, we must look to the source of all truth- Jesus. He didn’t just speak truth. He lived it.

When I look at his life I often wonder, how did he keep discouragement and doubt at bay? When the Pharisees and naysayers questioned his every move, how did he stay strong? It’s quite simple, really.

Jesus knew who he was.

I came from the Father and have come into the world, and now I am leaving the world and going to the Father.

John 16:28 ESV

He not only knew who he was, but who he is, and is to come. One with the Father. His Son. The One he was “well pleased” with.

And when he looks at you and me, he’s pleased too. Not because we’re perfect or flawless, but because he sees his perfect Son.

You don’t have to compete for God’s attention. Like my husband said to me, you’re his number one.

When we face a mountain of doubt and discouragement, we can choose to listen his thoughts about us instead of the lies that invade our peace. Even when others around us are pointing out our flaws or being negative, we can immerse ourselves in the voice that speaks truth and love.

And when we abide in him, he calls us daughters. He gives us a crown and says, “Come to me, you who are weary.”

I don’t know about you, but those voices of lies are making me weary. Let’s come to the only One who can give us true rest today.

Let’s follow Jesus’ example and remember not only who we are, but Whose we are today.

When I Look in the Mirror and Hate Myself {Anchored Souls Series}

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To continue our Anchored Souls series, I am honored to welcome my friend Kristi Woods back to the blog. I felt an immediate connection to Kristi’s writing when I discovered we shared the same struggles with the gypsy life. What I love about Kristi’s writing voice is how she isn’t afraid to approach topics that are raw and real. She opens herself up for the sake of others, and it is a true blessing. Please welcome her today as she shares about a vulnerable experience about self-hate and a Spirit-moved transition in her point of view.

When I Look in the Mirror and Hate Myself

I look in the mirror.

The eyes ~ they’re too big at times, too squinty at others.

The mouth? The pencil-thin lines cause a cringe.

Oh, and those thighs? Girl, I was ready to get a new pair, like yesterday. What was God thinking?

I hate the refection in the mirror. I hate me.

And so I stamp myself “not good enough”.

Thighs ~ NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Smile ~ NOT GOOD ENOUGH

Eyes ~ NOT GOOD ENOUGH

And the list goes on.

Life plods along, a daily battle of me vs. me.

And mothering? A whole heap of “I’m not good enough!” jumps on the pile. Crumbs, spilt milk, kids’ decisions, and my own indecision fly the banner high.

NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

Meanwhile perfection sits by and cracks a smile.

But one day Prince Charming swoops in, and in the blink of an eye, He whispers words that resonate. I hear their trumpet sounding deep within, although nary a sound hits the airwaves.

Love Yourself.

(Gasp!)

What? Is that You, God? Are you telling me to love myself?

The words sink in, but my lips remain in gasp formation. How could I walk this soil for 40+ years, never truly loving myself?

A verse in Matthew dances to life.

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 22:39 NIV

A revelation hits.

God, if I don’t love myself, how can I truly love others?!

I gasp again, nervous at the thought.

Truth reveals a battleground. Not Good Enough is its name. Perfection is its game. And deception rides with a vengence.

What simply seems to be a battle with thighs is truly a war against evil.

Muster your gear, girl!

The view clears. The Holy Spirit offers eyes that see.

Works, not God, birthed the awful reflection. There was no grace, no mercy, no love of Jesus, just me bashing the magnificient creation of God – me.

I became my own worst enemy. Perfection and deception waged their war. But this was a new battle. After all, Jesus is Lord.

I stand at the mirror. The same eyes, mouth, and thighs await. I touch my face. This time I choose not to see what’s wrong, hateful, and simply not good enough. This time I do indeed see perfection – my Father’s perfection. It has nothing to do with me or my works. It’s all about my Creator.

That’s what a douse of Truth will do.

I see His magnificient handiwork all over me. And it’s good.

Psalm 139:14 forms on my lips, its words thread with my own in a triumpant overtone. I look at those eyes and the cadence of words begins to bring me into step with truth.

“I praise you, Lord, because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Oh God, Your works in me are wonderful. This I know full well.”

I repeat it again – each time I study the girl in the mirror. I bring truth with me and speak to the reflection, whether I feel perfect or not.

Deception, meanwhile, sits alone.

I no longer see me and my work. I see Jesus, all He has given, and love’s overflow pouring over me. My Creator’s work dances to life. And it is good.
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I share this today, knowing there are others in the heat of this same battle. I get you, my friend.

You’re not happy with the reflection in the mirror.

You feel like a failure as a woman or mother, hating the works, accomplishments, and view you see.

But consider the reflection a deflection of truth. Call it what it is: a lie.

Uncover the truth and you’ll see a wonderfully made woman: you.

Behold the magnificient work of our Creator: you.

It is good.

Grab Psalm 139:14. Use it as your sword, cutting through the nonsense darkness offers. Shed a little “Light” on the subject. I’ll be speaking truth into my mirror as well.

And feel free to grab this prayer:

Father, Your love is enough. Thank You for pouring Your love over me. Forgive me for believing lies, not You. Open my eyes to truth. Your work in me is wonderful. Help me know this full well. I believe You, Lord. Thank You. In Jesus’ name, amen.

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Kristi Woods is a writer and speaker passionate about seeing women walk deeper with God. She clicks words of encouragement at http://www.KristiWoods.net regularly and is published in Chicken Soup for the Soul: Dreams and Premonitions as well as on Proverbs 31 Encouragement for Today and on various blogs. Kristi, her retired-from-the-military husband, and their three children survived a nomadic, military lifestyle and have now set roots in Oklahoma. Connect with Kristi here: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest.

An Open Letter to the Mom Who Feels Invisible

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When I was growing up, I wanted to be one of two things- a writer or an interior designer. I love to string words together and tell stories, but I also love creating a warm, welcoming environment. I get a vision for how everything will look when a room is put together and hunt for just the right piece to complete a look.

Right now I’m in full fledged nesting mode and the interior designer in me is making herself known. I feel my internal clock counting down the days until baby Elise’s arrival, and scour countless websites looking at wall decals, valances and quilts.

My emotions soar back and forth between being stressed and elated.

I know she won’t spend her first days noticing the decor. But I also know at this stage of her life, I am expressing my love for her in one of the few ways I know how. Each stroke of the paintbrush on the wall is me saying, “We’ll be ready for you, girl. This place will be your home.”

The other day as I was surveying her room, I felt a little nudge in my spirit. I almost ignored it, but it was persistent.

You know I’m preparing a place for you too, right?

I answered without giving the question much thought. Of course I knew that. It says it in right in scripture. But I knew God wasn’t asking me to recite verses. He was getting to a deeper issue. A heart issue.

I was falling into the old, familiar habit of striving again. But I wasn’t striving toward the goal of Christ Jesus. I was striving to earn something, like I wasn’t enough. The weight of hundreds of responsibilities was crushing me, and I didn’t feel like I measured up.

Words never intended to hurt made me feel defensive and emotional. Sure, my hormones were raging but something else was raging inside too. A deep need to be seen and heard, to be acknowledged and not forgotten.

At times I wanted to scream, “Don’t you see me here? Don’t you see how hard I’m trying to be a friend, a sister, a wife and a mom?”

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And as I stood there in the room we will bring our daughter home to in a few weeks, I knew what God was saying.

I see you, child. You are not invisible to me. I hear you. You don’t have to earn my love. Just rest in it.

Perhaps you’ve felt the weight of striving lately. Like there’s some invisible measuring stick between you and eternity, and you are constantly trying to reach one step higher. And higher and higher.

Perhaps you think there’s no way you’ll ever be the person God wants you to be, or the person you hope to become.

Can I tell you something? God already sees you. You don’t have to make him notice you or wave your hands in wild abandon to make him notice the heart you pour into your home, your community, your life.

He loves you so much he’s preparing a one-of-a-kind place for you. Just you. And it will be better than any nursery or family room designed by a top-notch HGTV star.

It will be perfect.

Think about the love you feel when you hold your child in your arms today. Then multiply that love by eternity. You won’t even come close to the way he feels about you.

 

Linking up with these communities: #ThoughtProvokingThursday