What I LOVE About Myself

This time of year, you can’t help but calculate if you are exercising enough, eating clean enough, spiritual enough, saving enough. Calculate and resolve. All by January first-ish. I usually find this process pretty exhilarating. Yes, I like lists and goals and plans and bucket lists. I like to think about what is better and best. I like to make plans and stick with them. But, it appears there is another way to do this new year thing.

Sitting on a school bus on its way to St. Augustine, I ran across a list of non-goals by Erin Loechner. Her list came just as the slew of resolutions of millions came through on commercials, articles, wish lists and blog posts. Her list appeared as my own thoughts of resolution were working their way through my heart and soul.

Erin says this . . . I think there is inherent worth in change, and I think there is inherent worth in the decision not to change . . . And this is why – year after year – I pen my own non-goals. The non-improvements, the non-betterments, the non-upgrades. The habits I want to stay the same because I once fought really hard for them. The ones I won’t allow to fall quietly by the wayside simply because I caught myself reading an article titled 20 Things To Change In 2016 . . . The ones – dare I say it? – I love about myself.

I had a mini revolution in my soul when I read these words. There are some good things about myself? Things I do well? I can think about those things and write a list? The non-upgrades have a place. And, according to Erin, this list can live in harmony with the calculated resolutions. I love this!

Today, I am sharing with you my non-goals. And, as a side note, I am going to be plainly honest. I am half way though Jen Hatmaker’s book For the Love. And, if I have imputed anything from her brilliant words, it is to let honesty and truth run free! So, for those of you who know me well and for those of you who don’t, here goes!

  1. I am ending my struggle with the traditional definition of rest. Yes, my optimal physical rest looks like eight hours, but I am energized by the books God has placed in my hands. By following the delicious recipes from the cookbooks I continue to collect, like good memories. My rest is those minutes before I fall to sleep sinking under covers; receiving the peace and gratefulness I have for a cushiony place to rest my head/but remembering the many who have no place tonight. I don’t have to embrace rest in its traditional form. My rest is a way for me to worship Him. The more I understand how He defines rest for me, the more I value rest.
  1. I am melting off anything that is not authentically me. I’m done checking boxes and gathering stock for the image I hope to be. Maybe it has some to do with 40 or maybe it takes decades for God to bring you to yourself. This is not a personal announcement of an arrival. This is just me claiming what God has made and going with it. I don’t mind that I quiver with fear sometimes or push against the change He calls me to. It’s how I grow and I am thankful He just keeps convincing me to be me. I’ll just keep melting and I like it that way.
  1. I’m not a great acquaintance. Let’s be friends and connect. I don’t like shallow conversation. I’m not good at small talk because I don’t see the point. I like hearing a heart over coffee/tea. I like to hold a hand and remind a soul that He promises this season will pass and end in victory. I believe that truth is best with love. I believe that from glory to glory, all things come together for good. I believe that hope makes practical sense. And, after all, don’t fret, the God of love wins over darkness.
  1. The truth is I like peace the most. I know this begs the question of why I became a lawyer. But the reason for that is I love justice and equality. I imagined my lawyer life being more of like the civil rights movement than who owes money to whom. So, I smile because God made me to love peace. I also smile because life does not always pan out to your attributes. But in the same way I understand His love, I also understand the imperfections of our lives.

So, there you have it. A list inspired by someone I would like to know more about – – Erin Loechner. Honesty inspired by someone I am just getting to know – – Jen Hatmaker. Wrapped up in encouragement by two more people. My mom and Emily Freeman. And, in the spirit of writing this list, please do be inspired by me and write your own short or long list of non-goals. We spend far too much time getting there and far too little time documenting the good progress of God in us. Sisters, can I hear an Amen?

By Sasha Katz

Be Honest

Who are you and what are you made of? You are His beloved. But, how often do or don’t you feel like that? I think about my weaknesses, mistakes, sins. They all exist, that’s a fact. Maybe your current circumstances bring out thoughts of inadequacies. I experience lack of wisdom, even for the things I think I know. In the face of pressing circumstances, I have to dig deep in me to bubble up the wisdom that, apparently, I have hidden on the inside. You are His beloved. But, how often do you feel like that?

How many times has something of the past come to mind and immediately you think, “Oh Lord, how embarrassing, how stupid, how base. Who was that person who did that, Lord?” And then you remember, yes, that was me, then. Yes, it’s a fact. That was you, then. I, by no means, discount who you are now, but who you were then seeps in from time to time. You are His beloved. But, how often do you feel like that?

Identity is received by the Father, not achieved in the world. Think about that wisdom. Who you are and what you are made of is a gift from the Father. We all know that at any given time who we are right now doesn’t exactly look like the specific promises of God over our lives. But that’s okay. He is working out all of those details in your life. He is giving you many opportunities to grow and walk right into straight paths. I think it is our responsibility to choose right according to His word. Have faith that He can do anything in you and you can do anything He asks you to in Him.

Be honest with yourself. Make corrections where you can. Give away who you are not today. I have learned that the breadth of His great love consumes any sin that I am willing to humbly give to Him. I have learned that I, by no means, have all of the answers for myself or for all of the people I love and care for. I am learning that it is okay to pass on to Him in faith what I can’t resolve or figure out. I am starting to learn that it is His love that is enabling me to learn these things. All of the love that He bore on His back for me at the cross. It is this kind of love that makes me His beloved. I promise you that I do not understand all of what I am saying today, but faith and love have pulled me along to this place. And, with faith and love, I will continue on from this place.

Inspired by Pastor Mark Driscoll’s sermon Rich Jesus, Poor Jesus, January 26, 2014, Mars Hill Church . Italics come from my sermon notes.

Also inspired by Pastor Bob Coy’s sermon Help Them Heal Them – Cost, March 2, 2014, Calvary Chapel Fort Lauderdale.

Being Honest About the Cross

By JMathis

On Friday night, I went to a concert where I was blown away by the unbelievably talented Michelle Touchstone. Michelle is an artistic genius when it comes to songwriting, and her voice is just brimming with lush beauty, depth and richness. Musically speaking, her songs are complex and nuanced, and she also manages to leave her audience with a message that is soulful, powerful and most of all, authentic.

One of the things she mentioned that stayed with me throughout the weekend, was the difficulty in singing and sharing about The Cross. Many times in modern Christianity, we want to focus on a hip, sanitized, more abstract version of Jesus: His love, His compassion, His ability to transform lives.

While all of this is very, very real when describing Jesus, we tend to gloss over the fact that these attributes of His are only meaningful in light of the ultimate sacrifice He made on The Cross.

On The Cross:

He died an ugly, gruesome, unspeakable death so that you and I could live: live with hope, live in victory, live in peace, live in joy.

He was marred beyond recognition and beaten to a pulp so that you and I could be free of pain, guilt and anxiety.

He suffered massive internal and external bleeding so that you and I could experience physical and emotional healing from the blood that kept pouring out of His bruised and battered body.

On The Cross, He experienced the kind of unfathomable brutality that is every mother’s worst nightmare for her child.

Yet, He did this for us. For our children. He did this so that you and I would have a future that transcended beyond the ugliness and hatred of this unforgiving, ruthless world.

When was the last time you reflected upon The Cross?

When was the last time you shared with someone about The Cross?

Lest we forget, The Cross is why we follow Him. The Cross is what gives us the power to trade in our sin-soaked past for a life overflowing with love, compassion and transformation.

Being honest with yourself about your past means nailing your shame on The Cross.

Being honest with others about your past means sharing what He did with that shame on The Cross.

True authenticity is about being honest. Honest about The Cross: what it has done for you and where it is taking you.

Wasn’t His death worth the sacrifice?

Isn’t He worth sharing?

Are you willing to be honest about The Cross today?

When It’s Not Just About You…

By Bindu Adai-Mathew

The “Such As”…
In yesterday’s blog, AbbyA described to us those “such as” moments: The very moment you decide to wear the inside on the outside.  Such as, speak a word of encouragement to someone you don’t know that well by using your own embarrassing past to make the point.  Such as, revealing you also sometimes feel isolated, alone and different.  Such as, admitting that you rely more on chocolate than God.  Such as . . .  Think about what you are hiding because it reveals too much about the real you.  That is the such as that I am talking about.

The very moment you open your mouth to share the such as.  At the very moment, you decide to go-out-on-limb, The Map pauses the fire in your gut and flashes for you a nice, clean path from A to Z.  That is, from the school pick up line, directly to your car.  That is, pass her quickly on the way to office kitchen because you are too afraid to mention to her that you too had a recent miscarriage.  That is, run like hell from the chance to wear your heart on your sleeve . . . even if to serve a greater purpose.  –AbbyA

I had a friend a couple of years ago who had a miscarriage. It was in the early stages of her pregnancy, and she had just started showing. She hadn’t told everybody about the pregnancy, but after she lost the baby, she did open up about the miscarriage, her struggles with it, and how she overcame it. Not necessarily to everyone, but to key people whom she felt could be encouraged by her story. When she first told me about it, I listened to her in stunned silence, my heart going out to her, my mouth at a loss of what to say to comfort and encourage her. But as she continued her story from loss into victory, I realized she didn’t need my encouragement, I needed hers.  No, I hadn’t suffered from a miscarriage, but I could learn by her example. I could be strengthened by her faith, by her perseverance to get past her own loss, and her desire to press onto victory and encourage others.  By being honest, by being authentic, she took away the feelings of shame and failure that often accompany miscarriage and was able to help herself as well as others.

Think about your struggles and what you’ve overcome. At the time you’re dealing with it, it may seem that it’s all about you. But when you press onto victory, it’s not about you any more. It’s about God. It’s about giving Him and honor and praise through your personal life and victory. It’s about encouraging someone else who is now struggling like you once were.

Authenticity. In the end, it’s really not just about you.