The Lid Is Coming Off The Box

Pink boxes 2

(FreeImages.com/NathalieDulex)

It was two years ago this April that the Lord did some major healing in my life.  I had a broken image of my identity and calling, and God restored that.  I remember when He showed me a picture of this beautifully-wrapped, pink gift.  He spoke to my heart and told me that He had a calling upon my husband’s and my life that was more beautiful than I had ever imagined!  I remember the tears and the healing those words brought to me.

The calling wasn’t because my husband and I are so wonderful or qualified in ourselves.  Rather, He qualifies the called. 

This year, I am seeing the lid coming off the gift of His calling upon our lives.  I am a bit nervous but also excited!  Humbled by the privilege of serving with Him! Humbled with the honor of bringing others to Him and sharing Him so that the “captives might be set free!”

Jesus has a calling upon each of our lives — a purpose that far exceeds our wildest dreams!

The calling is wrapped up in Himself — in His image.  Our destiny, worth, and image is tied within the gift of Jesus Himself!

Recently, my husband and I were having a conversation, and the Lord revealed with burning clarity the truth of why we need to know that our worth, identity, and purpose is in Jesus.

If we are looking for worth and identity in ministries, in missions, in a church, in relationships, in appearance, in education, in vocation, etc…, we will encounter a lot of rejection that we will take on as our own.  We will struggle with a lot of pride, comparisons, envy, judgment, hurt, and insecurity.

On the other hand, if we understand that our identity is in Jesus, we will be completely secure, fulfilled, and “whole.”  Why?  Because we will know this…

Jesus is our identity! 

Because Jesus is eternal, perfect, and unconditional, we can rest secure in Him — never feeling that our reflection is marred or rejected because of the opinion of someone else!

Let me restate that:

We can rest secure in Him — our true identity — because He is eternal, flawless, and secure, full of unconditional love!

Our identity is in Jesus!

Who He is is who we are in Him!

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Walk In Your Own Skin

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(FreeImages.com/Griszka Niewiadomski)

I recently read a blog post where the author was attacking men who hold doors open for women.  She was stating that such actions devalue women and is too reminiscent of the misogynist, patriarchal culture.  The blog post talked a lot more about other things as well, but I wrote this in response to the part about holding open doors and being a gentleman:

What is so atrocious about teaching men to be respectful and gentlemanly?

What is also so wrong with allowing men to treat us with the value we are and deserve?

I am not a man, AND I am glad I am not.

Guys can’t do the things I can do, and I can’t do everything they can do. You know what?  That’s okay! 

If we are all the same, what fun is there?

Part of the coolness of us is our uniqueness.

Why do we keep trying to force women to be like men and men to be like women?

Trying to treat us the same or judge us based on our “sameness” is actually contrary to valuing a woman. It devalues a woman by trying to say she is only valuable if she is like a man.

I don’t have to be like someone else or like another gender to have value.

I am valuable because I am me — uniquely me!  No one else on this entire planet is just like me.

I do myself a disservice when I try to be someone else. I am, in essence, saying that I am only valuable if I am like that other person, other gender, or other thing.

It’s time we start accepting our own skin and being comfortable in it — regardless of who agrees or disagrees with us.

I want to repeat that one line:

“It’s time we start accepting our own skin and being comfortable in it.”

The issue isn’t what other people have tried to say we are or aren’t, who have tried to dominate us, constrain us, rename us.  The issue is when we allow those opinions to define us.

I am not weak or inferior because I am a woman, nor do I need to prove that I am more valuable by trying to conform myself to someone else’ preferences or likeness. 

I understand the frustration and abuse that women have experienced throughout the years because of oppressive societies and harmful philosophies concerning women, but when I react to them by trying to prove that I am the same as men, am I not actually giving more credence to the very dogma I am trying to stand against? 

Am I not saying that my value cannot stand in its own merits; therefore, I have to conform to the merits of the opposite gender?

The truth is I am me —  not anyone else.

To try to change the essence of who I am (who I was created to be) is the biggest rejection of my own value and purpose and image.

Note: I am not saying that we don’t stand up for justice and freedom from oppression.  I am addressing that we have gone too far the other way — that we have lost the appreciation for our own uniqueness.  We have rejected our very created beings and have become in many ways another form of the very thing that we have hated: selfishness, anger, bitterness…

When I believe the lie or react to the lie by believing a different lie, I merely find myself trading one kind of poisonous leaf for a different kind.  They look different, but the end result is it chokes out the very core of my created being and worth. I think I am walking in freedom, but I have merely exchanged one type of poison for another kind.

The Dance Card

dance

(FreeImages.com/SriVatsa)

I sat there in church, soaking in the worshipful music and lyrics, allowing the music and words to soothe my heart.

My heart was saddened with a weighty decision ahead of us.  Either outcome required sacrifice and a sense of loss.  My husband and I were torn…

Each word of the message seemed directed right at us: the entreaty to trust the Lord, to not avoid the discomfort of the hard decision, and to not neglect His will and calling upon us.

The night before, I had sat in a meeting and kept seeing this picture of Jesus stretching out His hands to me.  I saw the beautiful, nail-pierced hands.  For some reason, I kept getting this impression that He was imploring me to take His hands.  I didn’t realize the significance of that until more than a day later.  He was asking me to walk with Him, to “take His hands,” to trust Him.

As I sat in church Sunday, suddenly, I saw this picture of a dance card (odd that such would come to me), and then it was as if I heard His voice.  He spoke to my heart, and I “heard” these words: “[…], may I write my name on every slot on your dance card?  Will you dance your life with Me?”

God knew my deepest needs.  He knew that in order to take His “hand” and to trust Him, I also needed reassurance of His love.  He didn’t command that I obey Him, but He asked me, while at the same time, reminding me of the depth of His love for me and that there is also joy in His will.  He wanted me to dance with Him…!

I am still pondering that one…  It was so unexpected!  After something like that, I want to question this and wonder if it was all in my head, and then I remember that He does love me that much!  He does ask me to trust Him but never without reassuring me of the unceasing merits of His love — the depths that have no end and the heights that have no ceiling…!

The question for you and I is:

“Do I want Him to claim me for every dance on the dance card of my life?”

There is freedom there!

wedding

(FreeImages.com/LioraZakai)

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The Brave Voice

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(FreeImages.com/GerardoAlvarez)

The woman, brushed back her brown hair, pensively looked at the computer screen one more time, and bravely wrote the words.  With a simple click of the mouse, her words were posted.  They were words, expressing something that she cared about and appreciated.  She had asked for feedback on her post, and she was not disappointed by the amount of comments she received.  They poured in.  The post had definitely “plucked a few strings.”

The feedback was very honest.  Some was super positive, some was very doubtful, some was skeptical, and some was clearly negative.  She had asked for honest feedback, and she had received it.

At first, some of the feedback stung.  The words were raw in their honesty.

As the woman read all of the comments, she realized that she could view the responses two ways: she could take them as rejection and/or harsh criticism, but that wouldn’t be fair because she had asked for honesty.  The other choice would be to feel honored that people felt safe enough to voice their opinions to her.

One commentator even apologized for voicing some skepticism, and she quickly assured that person that they should never apologize for having a voice.

Every day, we have these moments — these encounters with others — when we choose how we will respond to the voices around us…

Over the past year, I have been feeling called into this place of freedom — a place where I can have the courage to speak and to not feel it necessary to apologize for my voice.  …apologizing for my existence.

It is not a matter of being offensive with my voice because that would be a different matter.

It is a matter of answering this defining question: 

“How will you respond when the temptation is to shut down, to hide, to walk away from freedom because of the fear of the risk and the fear of rejection?”

Here are thoughts that I recently wrote:

“There is an enemy that wants us to apologize for existing, wants us to fade into the background, wants us to hide behind our fears and insecurities and rejection, wants us to not exist…

There is a Lover/Creator who keeps telling me to not apologize for being, thinking, believing, and feeling.

He keeps telling me that He placed His voice inside me, and that regardless of who agrees or doesn’t or who likes me or not, that I am to stand bravely and securely because I am unfathomably, completely, lavishly loved!

This entire past year, the Lord kept telling me, “[…], you know your freedom; now walk in it.”

It brings tears to my eyes every time I am made aware of how He is changing me, making me brave, helping me to become His warrior-princess!

Am I perfect? Far from it!

Do I make mistakes? Daily.

BUT, this I know: I am learning the freedom of being completely secure in eternal, unceasing, undeserved Love!

…and I am learning the beautiful humbling merits of His grace!

Grace… The Great Exchange!

Grace

(FreeImages.com/KaiNorneby)

It’s easier to talk grace more than live it, and living it is also about recognizing that God wants to use us now — even when we aren’t perfect.

We often want to wait until everything is scrubbed “clean,” but God wants to use us now. He says, “Give me your brokenness, and I will give you my wholeness.”

Grace is the great exchange.

It’s the recognition that I can’t, will never be enough, but I don’t have to. …because He was and is enough!

Grace is the freedom and security in knowing we don’t stand in our own merits and appearance of perfection. We stand in His merits and therein lies grace.

Grace is a position of victory because it is the supremacy of the cross over everything — every sin, every wound, every weakness.

Grace doesn’t excuse sin. It cancels sin’s power, and it cancels Satan’s burdens of shame and guilt. It puts it all where it belongs: at the foot of the cross.

So amazing and so beautiful!

Monday

Loved this post! So speaks of what God has been gently whispering into the depths of my heart…!  Reblogging from a fellow Blogger-Mommy…

jo's boys

I watched the sun rise and slowly chase away low-lying fog outside, curled in my big chair under my robe, coffee mug in hand and Bible open…but my mind was not on my reading.

My mind was already bombarded with anxious thoughts. So many things to do today. I mentally ran through my to-do list and I knew there was no way I could do it all. I dislike starting a Monday feeling behind, but here I was at 6:30 AM already behind.

And then, like the sun slowly warming the sleeping earth, my anxious thoughts began to clear.

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What stresses me? Things I wanted in my life to begin with.

The work I prayed for. Jobs I asked for.

Teaching my children and passing on to them my love of learning. Practicing hours of music everyday and the joy of watching them gradually turn into little musicians.

A home that is untidy…

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