12.25.2013

His Grace Dared To Touch Us

Two thousand years ago, God heard the cries of those who were and those who were to be. At the intersection of our sin and hopelessness God split the heavens open to send our King in the form of a newborn babe.

His divine reached right into the dirt of a stable and proclaimed, “I am.”

His grace dared to touch us. His holiness dared to reach us. His son dared to be with us. And on that one glorious night the cries of this Christ-child awakened HOPE again.

We have hope because we have a Savior. A Savior for our every hurt. Our every flaw. Our every need. Those hard places of life that don’t get captured in the smiling photographs. The times we lose it. The fights still unresolved. The rejection that still stings. And the prayer still unanswered.

In between where we are and where we hope to be, our Savior steps right in and declares, I AM the way, the truth and the life.

May His way, truth and life be illuminated to you and yours like never before this Christmas.

Christmas Card Final

12.20.2013

What Satan Doesn’t Want You To Know Today

I’ve been a little quiet on the blog this fall. Life can sometimes strip the words right out of you. You know what I mean?

When I turned my book in this summer, I had plans to return to the blog with great enthusiasm. But that didn’t happen.

There hasn’t been some big event that prevented me. It’s been more little daily dings that make me want to pull away and get a little quiet. Some days I’d feel a wave of inspiration and rush over to my writing desk. But then a ding would come out of nowhere. So, I stopped the tapping of the keys and closed my computer.

What’s kind of ironic about this whole quiet struggle is that it seems to be the opposite of what I thought this year would be about.

At the end of last year I prayed over a word I would pursue in 2013. My prayer? Growth.

Growth to move forward.

Growth to develop more.

Growth to accomplish new and exciting things.

But here’s what I’ve discovered about growth… it requires dings. It requires a cracking and breaking and a breaking away from what was to form new.

As we move forward, growth may require us to experience a few setbacks.

As we develop more, growth may require us to experience some messy situations.

As we reach for new, growth may require us to address old, unhealthy patterns or attitudes.

Just like a seed has to experience the dings of cracking and breaking so new growth can come forth, I guess my growth requires the same.

Growth comes as a package deal with dings.

I suspect I’m not telling you something you don’t already know. Something you don’t already live.

But I’ve discovered something that maybe you haven’t thought through. Yes, growth may require dings and cracks and breaks. But growth doesn’t require accusation.

That voice that tries to assign debilitating labels to you sees your potential for growth as a threat. The voice of the accuser belongs to Satan. Your growth is part of your testimony. And you know what Satan doesn’t want you to know today?

This verse:

“For the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, he who accuses them before our God day and night. And they overcame him because of the blood of the Lamb and because of the word of their testimony.” – Revelation 12:10b-11a

Satan doesn’t want you to know how powerful your testimony is. He doesn’t want you to know that your expressions of God-honoring, Jesus-empowering truths subdue and overcome him and his accusations.

Through Proverbs 31 Ministries, I intentionally help people more effectively share their stories, their life lessons, their testimonies. And I’ve made the accuser mad.

Really mad.

Because testimonies are powerful tools against him.

I want to tuck these insights into your heart to encourage you today. But I also want to ask if you might want to help us equip more women to use the power of their testimonies to defeat the accuser.

We want to defeat his strongholds on marriages and kids and churches and every other sphere of influence where a woman lives.

As we approach this year’s end, my husband and I want to once again match the gifts you, my blog friends, give to Proverbs 31 Ministries up to a designated amount that he and I determined through prayer.

That means between now and December 31st, the donations you make will have double the impact in furthering the ministry work of Proverbs 31.

Thank you in advance for any investment you make.

I promise you we will stretch every dollar to have maximum impact in the lives of women and families all around the world.

You can give by clicking here.

So, my year started with a prayer for growth. And it ends with the realization that growth is never easy. It might be full of questions and tears and a quiet pulling back to gather yourself. But from growth powerful testimonies come.

Onward and upward my dear sisters. Onward and upward indeed.

12.4.2013

No More Perfect Moms

My sweet friend, Jill Savage, is rounding out the 4-week series I’m doing to answer a question so many moms are asking…am I messing up my kids? (If you missed any previous posts, simply click the link: week 1, week 2, week 3.) I’m excited to share with you all that God has placed on her heart about the pressure of perfection we sometimes feel as moms. Here’s Jill…

The phone rang in the chaos of the “after school…almost dinner-time” hour. I was making a dinner salad (translated: I poured a bag of lettuce into a pretty glass bowl and threw some cherry tomatoes on for color!), helping two kids with their homework, and trying to keep my 4-year-old busy enough to not whine for dinner.

I grabbed the phone and shoved it between my ear and my shoulder answering with a quick, “Hello, this is Jill!” The voice on the other end of the line was obviously emotional. “Moooooom, this is Erica. Did you forget me?”

I quickly did a head count…one, two, three…four…oh my. Erica’s not here…I thought all my chicks were in the nest, but there was one at basketball practice and it completely slipped my mind that she wasn’t home and I needed to pick her up!

I couldn’t lie. “Erica, I am so sorry!” I apologized. “I completely forgot to pick you up. I will be right there!”

The sniffling on the other end of the phone made my guilt run deeper. How could I forget my own child? What kind of mom does something like that? How will she ever forgive me?

If we’re honest with one another, we all have stories like that to share. There are no perfect moms.

Like most moms, I entered the motherhood scene wanting to be the perfect mom. I read. I prepared. I planned. I dreamed. I determined to be intentional about everything I did from choosing the right kind of laundry detergent that would be best for their skin to choosing the right school that would be best for their education. I was going to be supermom. I would do it all and do it all well. Then life happened.

Someone once said, “Hindsight is 20/20.” Looking back on that scene now, 11 years later, I have a valuable perspective that I didn’t have then. My now 22-year-old daughter isn’t emotionally scarred because I forgot her at basketball practice. She’s a well-adjusted young adult—a mom herself, who has a great story to tell especially when she wants to get a little sympathy or a good laugh at family gatherings.

You know what? My pursuit of being the “perfect mom” set me up for failure from day one. There are no perfect moms; just imperfect women who will fall off the pedestal of their own expectations more often than they care to admit. We’re all subject to what I’ve dubbed the “Perfection Infection.”

A good friend once told me, “Jill, never compare your insides to someone else’s outsides.” She shared that wisdom when she heard me unconsciously compare myself to another mom after one of my many failures. That powerful statement still sticks with me. I now realize that most moms play the comparison game dozens of times every day.

We constantly look to see how we measure up to those around us. For most of us…we don’t measure up. But how can we? We compare ourselves to something that doesn’t exist. We compare our messy insides—our struggles, our failures, our less-than-perfect lives– to other women’s carefully cleaned up, perfect-looking outsides at church, on Facebook, at the library, at work, and just about anywhere we run into another mom. It’s a game we play that we’ll never ever win.

I believe it’s time to stop. Stop the mommy wars. Stop comparing our insides to other moms’ outsides. Stop trying to be perfect. Stop thinking that others are better or better off than we are. We tell our kids to knock it off when their behavior has crossed a line and I believe it’s time that we moms knock it off, too!

God’s Truth confirms this in Galatians 5:26. I personally love how it reads in The Message,

“That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.”

I’m driving a stake in the ground and saying “No more!” Want to join me? You can take a first step by signing the Knock It Off Commitment.

I’m also offering some fun giveaways today! Five commenters will be chosen to win a copy of my book, No More Perfect Moms, and one commenter will be chosen to win two registrations for the Hearts at Home Conference – one for you and one for a friend. (If you don’t happen to live in the conference area, you’ll still receive a Conference-To-Go which includes all aspects of the conference in a CD or MP3 format!)

Together, we can tackle the Perfection Infection and stop making unfair judgments and comparisons that don’t do any of us any good. Think about it: you and I can begin to change the world for our sons and daughters starting today. I’m ready. Are you?