When Life Doesn’t Go the Way You Plan

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Guest post By Ryan Schrader

Many big events in our lives often play out a little bit like the following illustration:

So I’m planning this dream trip to Paris. A trip I’ve been waiting years for. I have all the right clothes picked out; places I want to visit all mapped out. I know what restaurants I’m planning to eat at and everything is perfect.

Finally, the day is here. The plane lands and I’m ready for my adventure in Paris. But as I get off the plane I am shocked to realize that the plane didn’t land in Paris. The plane landed in Ireland. This can’t be happening. I didn’t plan for Ireland, I don’t have the right clothes, I don’t know where to eat or stay in Ireland… Isn’t that how life works?

We make all these big plans and preparations and then in one instant everything changes.

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So what is your Paris? (Photo by Pixabay)

Maybe it was failing out of college. Maybe you lost your dream job, or your marriage ended in divorce. Maybe it was a diagnosis or the loss of a loved one. You see we all have these pivotal moments in our lives that drastically change the path we are on.

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A few years ago, I had a moment that would change the focus of my entire life. (Photo by Pixabay)

You see, I lost my baby sister in a horseback riding accident. When that phone call came in, I felt like the plane of my life took a sudden heartbreaking detour from the Paris I had planned and landed in a location I never wanted to go.

So what now?

What do we do when we feel hopeless, helpless and desperate? When we feel like we don’t have enough faith to even take the next breath much less keep going? What do we do when things don’t work out how we planned? When that plane doesn’t land in Paris?sad-2635043_640

It’s the answer to that very question that I want to talk about today.

You see there is an enemy in this world who’s only goal is to steal, kill and destroy. The Bible says this enemy roams the earth looking for whom he can devour. Becoming a Christian and accepting Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior unfortunately doesn’t give us a pass on bad things happening in our lives. (Photo by Pixabay)

But it does give us the answer to that question.

And that answer is HOPE.

The hope in a sovereign God that Romans chapter 8 tells us is able to work all things for the good of those who love him. Not some, not limited to the minor tragedies of life- no, it says ALL things. It says Ryan, your little sisters passing was not in vain. It says there is a God in heaven who is able to take that awful tragedy and make something good out of it.Have Hope Photo via Pixabay

Did God cause the death of my little sister? Absolutely not. Did God cause all the bad things that have happened to each of you over the years? Absolutely not. (Photo by Pixabay)

From the time sin entered this world there has been death and pain and suffering. But in the middle of the pain and sorrow of this life is a sovereign God who promises to take what the enemy has meant for evil and turn it to good. There is a God in heaven that says to each of us that if you will let me I will take what the enemy is using to destroy you and instead I will use it to draw us nearer together than we have ever been before.

Are we going to understand everything that happens in this life?

NOPE.

That’s what faith is for, its deciding in our hearts that even though I don’t understand why and I don’t see how anything good could possibly come out of all of this pain. I’m choosing to believe in faith that what my God has promised me- is true.

What do you do when the plane lands and it’s not in Paris? What do we do when the phone rings and suddenly your little sister is gone?

You get mad, you ask a lot of questions. You cry and you mourn and you pull together as a family, you do all those things BUT the one thing you don’t do is you don’t cut God out. Instead, you have to realize that God is the only one who can take all the broken pieces of your life and put you back together.heart-1947624_640

If there is one thing that I know, it is at those times in our lives, in the middle of the pain, loss and sorrow that we have to draw even nearer to God. We have to make a conscious decision to trust in the promise that he can and will work all things for good.

Isaiah 61:3 says that we will be given beauty for ashes and the oil of joy for our mourning. (Photo by Pixabay)

We will mourn. We will hurt, cry, get angry, and struggle.

You see when you get off that plane its ok to take time to mourn not landing in Paris, but it’s not ok to stay there forever. There you will only find emptiness, sorrow and bitterness. Getting stuck here will keep you from seeing the beauty, hope and joy that are waiting for you in Ireland.

My sister had touched so many people’s lives in her short time on this earth and although our lives are so drastically different without her here, we are learning to enjoy the beauty of Ireland. We have been given the gift of watching her children grow and have families of their own. We are so much more aware of the beauty of each and every day and we no longer take even the smallest moments for granted. We didn’t plan for this, we wouldn’t choose this path, it’s certainly not Paris. But, there is beauty and hope that is arising from those ashes of loss and we are thankful for God rebuilding our lives and putting those pieces back together. I pray that you let God do the same for you.

In memory of my sister Wendi. I look forward to seeing you again someday. You are forever in my heart. Love, Ryan.

The Gift of Encouragement

1 Thessalonians 5:11 says “Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.”

I remember one year Ryan got me a gift I have never forgotten. He was trying to show me how much he cared and while Christmas shopping he came across a “love rock”. Don’t look into this too much, it was exactly as I described it. A rock, painted with the word love on it. He succeeded in the fact that I never forgot it; well at least not until we moved from one house to another and somehow it got left behind. (By accident I’m sure). nature-685176_640

We have laughed hard about that rock over the years, and no offense to Ryan but it was a horrendous gift.  A heavy big old rock to stub your toe on at 6am does not make for a day filled with love, yet he thought it was the best thing since sliced bread. (Photo via Pixabay)

What does this have to do with encouragement?

Well, encouragement comes in many forms. It’s laughing about thegifts little things, advice filled with sincerity when you just don’t know what to do, and knowing that your partner has your back no matter what. It’s found in the little gifts and the biggest smiles. It’s that note you left your spouse just to tell them you love them and yes, it’s found in a love rock that has unexpectedly made you smile many times throughout the years.

Today, as we get ready to celebrate the upcoming New Year, let’s try to find ways to encourage each other. Have fun with it; make it unexpected at times and sweet at others. Let’s challenge ourselves to find ways to make this New Year better for those around us. Let’s shake off the dust of the past and build each other up in the coming year. (Photo via Pixabay)

And just for the record, if you do buy a rock for someone this year- I recommend the clear kind that fits on a necklace or ring, but hey, to each their own.

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Fear or Faith?

I tend to take on the cares of those around me. I feel their pain, anxiety, frustration and insecurities. I worry about the things they are concerned with and I struggle with leaving my burdens (and theirs) at God’s feet. Now don’t misunderstand me here, I do know that God can handle them, I’m just pretty sure He appreciates my help.

Often, when someone close to me is struggling in their lives, I don’t sleep. The ability to be able to pray all night long and “fight the good fight” as scripture talks about was like a badge of honor.  fear of faith 4 again

The problem though, is that it was killing me.

Again, I really don’t want to mislead you.  It is good to pray. It’s great to pray all night as the Lord leads but it is most certainly not ok to do this night after night because you’re terrified of the consequences of unspoken words.

I tried to stop the cycle. I really did. I would pray and release things to God and go to bed determined that tonight I would rest, but that’s far from what would happen. Instead I would pray, ask my husband to pray, then toss and turn all night fearing I hadn’t prayed enough,  fearing that things wouldn’t work out because I was not at this moment still praying. (Photo via Pixabay)

So much fear.

I held those burdens so close that I’m not sure that even I could see them clearly. It was like a tug-of-war with the God of the universe for control and although I didn’t really want it, I couldn’t let Him have it either. fear or faith 5.jpg

When we hold our worries so tight that we can’t breathe, when we fear that if we release even a tiny part of the issue to anyone else everything will fall apart, it’s too much.

A friend said the most profound thing to me- “Nicki, wouldn’t it be better to sleep in faith than to be praying out of fear”?  “You are so afraid that if you’re not praying every second over every tiny detail that God won’t move on this situation “prayer is good, but faith is better”.

Sleeping in faith vs praying in fear.

Here I was praying incredibly hard but completely not believing that God was listening; praying out of a desperate fear that if I didn’t everything would fall apart. God had never let me down before, yet I was acting as if this time He would.  (Photo via Pixabay)

I certainly should pray for my family and friends, but not like this.

So much faith.

I should be praying out of faith that my God is big enough. My God is able to take this trial no matter how overwhelming and turn it into something beautiful.  I needed to reestablish the trust that God would make good things come of it just as He had so many times before.

I slept well for the first time that night. I told God that I was sorry for the way I had been praying and that tonight- I would be sleeping. Not because the situation was resolved, but because I had faith that God was going to handle it.fear or faith 7.jpg

I still don’t really like waiting for God to move, but today I’m doing so much better. I’m holding on to God and letting go of the burdens. I’m praying prayers of faith over my family fully trusting that God will come through for us all. (Photo via Pixabay)

So today please pray, pray hard for your family and friends. Give all your burdens to God- but then sleep well. Sleep in faith and let go of your fear.  Trust that God will show up for you just as He has for me and tomorrow will be a little brighter.

What Good are Scars?

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A few months ago I was hurriedly staining trim boards for my son’s bedroom and I began to notice how just a tiny bit of stain started to change the whole look of the wood. Every knot, line, and bruise- they all became visible, and although they are the imperfections of the wood, they really are the best part. They give it character, life, and tell a story.

I want to be like that piece of wood. I don’t want my scars to be something that I’m afraid to show the world.

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Scars can be beautiful.

They tell a story of healing, of coming out of trials and tragedies, overcoming weaknesses, and living to tell the tale.

They are our testimony to the world. We can do this life.

I love reading about Thomas in the bible. Most call him “doubting Thomas” because Jesus had to show him His scars for Thomas to believe. I’m like that too. I need to see the scars of the people who have come before me in order to overcome some things myself. I want to know that others dealt with hurts, unfairness, obstacles and tribulations and still made it.

I need to know.

The problem is we live in a world where we cover our scars. We don’t want people to see our weaknesses or look at the mistakes we’ve made. Instead, we paint a picture of perfection on our social media sites. We smile for the camera and we hide the very scars that could set another free.

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I think it’s time we showed our scars. It’s time we talk about them, not in fear of judgment, but in hope of helping another struggling soul. There is someone out there just like Thomas, someone who is waiting to see your scars so that theirs can heal.

Today, the wood I was staining is all done. My husband has hung it on the walls of my son’s bedroom and it is truly beautiful. Each piece placed next to the other forms such a pretty finish to the room.

That’s how we should be.  We should be a great finish for each other. We should be open, honest, raw and real. We should carry each other’s burdens and lift each other up.

I now look at scars differently. They are a badge of honor in my life because they prove that I am an overcomer. They are a list of trials that didn’t stop me, hurts I didn’t give into, and signs of hope that when the next battle occurs, I will make it through that too.

Today, I pray that you will look at your scars the way that I do. No longer will you look at them as a list of life’s struggles, instead they will be your testimony of hope that you gift to the world around you.

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Just like Thomas, we will touch each other’s scars and not only will we find answers there, we will find hope, help, support and love, and we will grow. The scars will no longer define us; instead they will set us free.

You are free today.  It’s time to uncover your scars so that others may be free as well.

Desperately Seeking…

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I need a word from God. I just do.

It’s not that I don’t trust Him in this storm, I really do, but today I feel weak, I feel needy, I feel lost. I want to know that He hears me and that He cares. I need to know that He still has a purpose for my life and that I matter because at this moment, in the rawness of this hurt, I don’t know if I matter. glass-97504_1280.jpg

On this day, as these thoughts were swirling around in my mind, I began to pray. I put my head on my desk, tears pouring from my eyes, I began to cry out to a God I wasn’t sure could hear me. (Photo Via Pixabay)

Maybe I had whined too much, maybe He was tired of my neediness. Maybe.

But still I cried out.

I asked God if I still mattered, and if He still had a reason for my life. Then I stopped asking, and I just cried.

I’ve been told over the years that people can’t believe that I have bad days. That I’m always smiling, that they wish they could have the joy that I have.

I’m so thankful for that joy. I really am, but there are still storms. There are still tears, and hurts, and hard times. There are still rainy days and clouds that don’t seem to go away.

On this day though, something so cool happened. You see as I was sitting at my desk, desperately seeking God for help. My husband sent me an email.

Yes, a simple email changed my day.

You see, my husband didn’t know about my tears that day. He didn’t know that at that very moment I was literally crying to God. prayer-888757_1280

Ryan started the email with- “I was praying for you today, and felt a nudge to send you this message…”  He went on to say that he felt that he was to tell me that God really loved me and had great plans for me.  My husband answered every question that he didn’t even know I was asking. (Photo Via Pixabay)

Now please understand something here. My husband was in another building, working, going about his daily tasks and had no idea what I was doing.

But God knew.

God knew, and He interrupted my husband’s day, to bring encouragement and hope into mine.

Many people walk this world without a certainty of God. They wonder if He is real, they question His existence.

But not me.

I have had too many moments where God has met me right where I am.

My prayer for you is that you will cry out to God and let Him show Himself to you too. My prayer is for you to have hope, love, and a knowledge of God that pulls you out of your hard times and reaches down to the depths of your soul and sets you free.

That email set me free that day.

Why?  Because I knew that it wasn’t from my husband. I knew that my God had taken the time to reach into my world and sent me an email. He loved me so much that He took the time to send a little hopeless girl some hope.

He wants to do the same for you. He wants to reach you right where you’re at.

No matter what is happening in your life, give God a chance to show up. Let Him wipe your tears and give you hope.woman-591576_1280

There is hope. With God there is always hope. (Photo Via Pixabay)

And today my friend, I pray that you will find it, just as I did.

 

Peace over Perfection

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My husband and I have many gifts – one of which is the ability to have some pretty heated discussions. Put two stubborn people with big ideas and strong opinions in a room together and watch the show.

I remember one day in particular, we were in what seemed to be a constant battle over everything, and nothing. I’d say the sky was blue, he’d say it wasn’t. He’d say the grass is green, I’d adamantly disagree.  Raised voices, angry stares, we had it all.argument

Then we ran into people we knew- so we smiled, laughed, and carried on a pretty good conversation with them; a conversation that ended with them telling us how much they hoped to have a marriage just like ours someday. (Photo from Pixabay)

Be careful what you wish for…

I’ve had to swallow more pride and say I’m sorry more in the last 20+ years than I want to admit, and my husband has learned that women are pretty emotional creatures that need to talk- a lot.  He’s had to learn that honesty is a huge deal breaker and even the smallest of discrepancies can put me right over the edge. I’ve had to learn to not take everything so personally and to quit analyzing everything he says and does.

We’ve plastered on fake smiles and hid raw emotions so the world around us wouldn’t have to see the truth.  We’ve shared our facebook posts and pictures of our perfect family. We act the part of perfection while underneath we are really looking to strangle each other.

And then everything changed.

My husband and I were in one of our most heated arguments and hope seemed to be dwindling. Finally, he looked at me and said “Ya know Nick, we don’t have to be like anyone else around us, it doesn’t matter what has happened in our friend’s marriages, our families’ marriages, or the strangers down the street- This is our marriage and it can be whatever we choose.”

Hmmm…

Enter Miracle #1.  I was speechless.

I had never thought of it like that. I had spent so many years watching others fall apart and in my heart I guess I believed that at some point every relationship ended there as well.

I honestly never even considered that what happened in our marriage was our choice.

plantRyan went on to say that he felt that every great relationship goes through the fires of life. We could either fight to stay together, or fight until we go our separate ways but either way there will be some battles in our future. (Photo by Pixabay)

Enter Miracle #2– I agreed with him.

Now I’m not going to say that everything immediately became perfect.

toilet paper rollNope, he still leaves the toilet paper roll completely empty and places the extra roll across the bathroom just out of reach.  The toothpaste is still squeezed from the middle of the tube, and his socks still sit on the floor beside the bed. (Photo by Pixabay)

I still steal all the covers, become completely unglued when the bedroom ceiling leaks, and leave all my makeup and hair supplies on his side of the sink.

The difference is that now these things don’t cause strife in our relationship. We’ve decided to choose peace over perfection and that has been the best decision we’ve made.

We’ve quit comparing ourselves to others, the good and the bad and decided to just be us. Isn’t that what we were supposed to be anyway?

Our marriages are built or torn down brick by brick, nail by nail.

Proverbs 18:22 says that he who has found a wife has found a good thing.marriage

Marriage is a good thing.

It was meant to be good. It’s time we quit trying to change each other and start becoming the team we were always meant to be. (Photo by Pixabay)

The minute I began to look at my husband through new eyes things did change. I realized that although he is very different from me, he is on my side and those differences are a gift to me. He is strong in places that I am weak.

Enter Miracle #3– My marriage. It’s not at all what I expected and once I let God get a hold of it, it became better than I could have imagined.

Miracle #4 is all yours.

Let God take your marriage and give it new life. Let hope begin to sink into the very crevasses. No matter how good or bad your marriage is today- this is your year to make it amazing.  Instead of criticizing our husbands for what they are not, how about we pray for them to be the best they can be this year. How about we lift up our marriages to God and let Him do the work in both of us.

Today, let’s stop fighting with our husbands and let’s fight for them.  It may just make all the difference.

I’m Hungry…

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What would happen if you only ate a meal once a week?

Even if the meal was perfect, perfect nutrition, perfect number of calories, healthy all the way, we know that our bodies would not react well to this. We would grow weak, tired, and eventually sick. Our bodies are created to eat every single day and when this doesn’t happen, there is a consequence.fruits and veggies

Have you ever thought of your relationship with Jesus in this way?  We go to church once or twice a week and we think that that is enough.

Can I be honest with you? Most of us are spiritually starving.

No matter how amazing our pastors are they can’t possibly “feed us” enough of God on a Sunday morning to sustain us; certainly not enough for us to grow and change and become all that God has intended for us to become.

Think about it like this:

We love our spouses but if the only form of communication we had was to listen to someone else talk about them once or twice a week, our relationships would quickly dwindle.

Now don’t get me wrong, friends and pastors are great. We need to surround ourselves with people who will lead us in the right direction.

The problem is many of us are relying on these people to BE our relationship with Jesus. We don’t dig in ourselves; we don’t spend personal time with God.

If I treated my husband this way, we’d slowly drift apart. Our relationship would no longer be built on the quality time we spend together. It would be built on someone else’s word over our lives and that would never be enough. relationship struggles

How is your husband?  Well, so and so said he was doing well. How is your relationship with him?  Well the pastor said he loves me, wants a future with me, so that’s good right?

This sounds so ridiculous to us, we’d never treat our spouse like this, yet we treat our God like this every day.

Do you really want change in your life?  Do you really want peace and hope and love and all the wonderful things that Christ offers us?

If this is your desire then there is a simple formula. Treat Christ like you would someone you cherish. Spend time with Him, talk with Him, read His word, find out about Him.bible time

We can’t expect our relationships to improve through someone else’s work.  We have to be the ones to do the heavy lifting. Today let’s change the way we treat our relationship with God. Let’s grow in it and let it change us. Let’s quit relaying on someone else and get into the deep things that Christ has for us with our own hands and more importantly with our whole hearts.

Sadly, there is an intimacy with Christ that few get to experience, but that doesn’t have to be us today.

All relationships take time, work, and commitment; it’s just the way it is. Today, let’s put the time in, let’s do the work, let’s make the commitment and watch as our intimacy with Christ soars. No more spiritual starvation, today we enter into the fullness of God.

Looking Past the Broken…

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When my husband and I began looking for a home years ago we decided on a fixer upper due the limited funds we had at that time.  Excitedly we started the hunt.

I quickly realized that my husband and I had very different ideas of what this home should be. I wanted to make an offer on a nice little house in town, one that needed a bit of TLC, but was pretty move in ready.

Ryan chose other styles of houses.  fixer upper

His conversations always started with “Now Nick, you’re going to need vision for this one”…  Ummm, I’m not a “vision” kind of girl.

I remember one particular house that he showed me.  He said it needed a dab of extra vision and even some imagination.

He didn’t disappoint.

This house had the ugliest curb appeal I have yet to see. To make matters worse, you had to walk outside and down a hill to get to the first floor, and once there you needed a shovel to clear out the debris left by a previous tenant.

No exaggeration, a shovel. shovel

I struggled with the vision needed for this gem. He persisted.  In the end we bought the house. (Photo Via Pixabay)

I think sometimes we treat our lives this way. We meet people with hard exteriors and we often judge them, categorize them, and put them in this box that we’ve created for them.  We never look past the exterior to see the gem within.

Can I admit something to you today?  The house my husband picked out ended up being one of my favorites.

Once we cleaned out the debris, painted a few walls, and knocked down a few others- that house became amazing. Now, please don’t get me wrong here- this house took a ton of our time, and about as much of our money to make it happen. But, in the end it was completely worth it.

Finally, I could see the vision. It was just hidden in the dirt and unsightly edges.

Thank goodness my husband was willing to put the time in. He didn’t get discouraged when things didn’t turn out perfect, he didn’t quit because the job was too overwhelming or because mistakes happened along the way. No, instead he kept at it- one shovel full at a time.

Our lives with Jesus are much the same as that old house. Jesus can see the gem within each of us. He looks past the piles of garbage we have built around ourselves and is willing to work in us and for us, no matter how long it takes.

Where others judge us Jesus delivers us. Where others see harsh edges, Jesus sees potential.Most importantly, where others give up on us- He is in for the long haul.

The bible says in Isaiah 61:3 that God will give us “a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” I don’t’ know about you but that sounds a whole lot better than the life I’ve made for myself. Isaiah 61

As for the house- we did eventually have to move and we sold that old house- but out of all the places I’ve lived, I still miss that one.

I think when you uncover something so special in the middle of a mess, when you work so hard for so long for something, you cherish it more.

I want you to know today that – that’s how God feels about you.

He is willing to take you where you’re at. No cleanup necessary, no need to change first. He is willing and able to do the work in you to uncover your beauty too. He doesn’t care how long it takes, or how much work is needed.  You are so worth it to Him.

So, today, won’t you let Him give you beauty for your ashes?

Hope for the Hopeless

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Here I was watching the world continue on around me while mine seemed to be falling apart in every direction. I had found myself very seriously wondering if I was ever going to wake up from the nightmare I was in. I felt hurt, attacked, and watched almost like a spectator as my life literally changed in a moment and I was suddenly traversing waters I never intended to cross.

It was during this time that I began having anxiety attacks, attacks that rendered me useless and always seemed to choose the worst times to begin and would last for what seemed like hours. To say that an end was NOT in sight was an understatement. To make matters worse, I couldn’t find hope that anything good could come from my life.woman-1006102_1280

Finally, I made the choice to seek God in a way I never had before. It was Him or nothing, all or none. I was at a crossroads and the direction I chose would change my life.

I told God that I would not give up and I would not give in, I would love Him if nothing in my life got any better. I admit, I wasn’t sure I was telling the truth.

Trusting anyone, including a God that had allowed this heartache in my life seemed like an impossibility. I mean- if God is so big and strong and loves us so much, then why had He allowed these things?

I had been faithful, I prayed daily, I went to church. I did all the “right” things- yet my life had still ended up here.

Could I really still believe that God cared, that He still had good things planned for me?

sadThere is a scripture in the book of Romans (8:28 to be exact) that says “all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.”

I asked myself often how anyone could take this mess of my life and make anything good come from it. I chose against all odds and circumstances to believe this scripture.

It was this small decision that would carry me through the months ahead.

I would like to say that things got dramatically better. I’m sorry to say that the “better” would not come for many years. It did eventually come, and that is what I want you to know.

No matter the length of the road we travel- there is an end to our struggle. You see, our God is awesome, He never left my side. My road was very long and extremely steep but at the end I was freed from the hurt and pain. I was released from the anxiety and struggle. God was with me through it all and although at times I wondered if giving up would have been easier- I watched as God showed up in my life more than I had ever experienced Him before. Galatians

He carried me through it all and yes, He still had a purpose for me.

I want you to know today that He still has a purpose for you too. No matter what your life is like right now, no matter how long your road or what you’ve done, God still loves you, He still waits for you. He longs to talk with you and show you the way out. He longs to take all the mess and make something good come of it.  It’s time to give it all to God, time to choose a new path, and time to see the good that God has planned for you.

I’ve been in the valley, and I’m here to tell you that as long as you don’t give up then your breakthrough is straight ahead. Dare to believe God even when it seems impossible. I’ve been where you are, I’m praying for you today, and I know that with God, nothing will be impossible.

Freedom From Blemishes

I’m not really a very high maintenance girl. In fact sweatpants and a t-shirt are some of my favorite cloths; pair those with a hair tie and honey I’m down right happy.  There are however certain times that this look is not what I’m going for…

As I was getting ready for work one morning, I proceeded through my routine. I took my shower, got dressed, did my hair and headed off for the breakfast table where I would begin the process of getting my children into the car without losing every bit of my cool.

Everything was going off without a hitch. We loaded our kids into the cars, looked at the clock and realized we were early. A bit of pride took over and I did a little happy dance in my head, patting myself on the back for finally having it altogether.

It was at this point that I had reached the end of our road and decided to flip down the visor and check my makeup one last time.  What I saw was a very clean makeup free face and yes, I admit it, I panicked. Now there are many times that I don’t wear makeup, but heading off to work is not one of those times.

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Judge me if you want, but I whipped that car around and headed for home.

As I passed my husband’s car, I rolled down the window and very sweetly said to him “Will you look at this face? How In the world did I get out of that house today with no make- up on without any of you telling me?”

My husband is not a stupid man. He knows a trap when he sees one, and to him this was a dangerous one. “Oh honey you don’t need make up, we can’t even tell you don’t have it on. You look beautiful.”

How many of you know that there is always a little voice of truth in every situation?

Mine chose this moment to speak up. My youngest son who was sitting in the seat beside me leaned forward and proclaimed to his father that “Dad you might not be able to tell from over there but wow, you should see her up close”.

Yes, he is still grounded and yes so is his father who found that quite funny.

As for me, I did manage to run home that day, put a little make-up on my face, and still get to work on time. But I realized something in all this, besides the fact that I should keep a bit of makeup stashed away for emergencies, I, like the world, have a few blemishes that I’m desperately trying to cover up. The closer I am to the world, the more I see them. They shout out at me from every corner.makeup2

Too often I look in the mirror and base my worth on what the world says I should be; thinner, prettier, younger, more successful… blemishes.

Yet the closer I am to God the more I am swept away by His grace.  When I look to Him I see perfection; perfect peace, perfect joy, and perfect hope. Perfect. The more I look to Him, the more the storms begin to calm and the blemishes begin to disappear.

 

Today, I’m choosing to look in a different mirror. I’m choosing to look at myself through Jesus. He has cleaned me up, removed those blemishes and set me on a better path.  2nd Corinthians chapter 5 says that because of Him, I’m a new creation.  I no longer have to worry about what the world says about me or even what I say about myself.

To the world, I will always fall short, but with Jesus I can break the hold that the mirror had on me.  With God I can rest assured that He is the one that created me and has now given me the ability to look in that same mirror and know that I am fearfully and wonderfully made.

Do I still keep an emergency stash of make-up?  Yes, I admit it, I do.  BUT, there’s a difference now. You see, when I look in the mirror today, I see the improvements that God is making in me. I don’t need to cover the blemishes of the world, I just need to reach out for Him and let the things of the world pass away before me.

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So how about it, are you ready for some freedom today?  Have you had enough of the pressures and the judgments of the world? If so- put that eyeliner down and reach for God. Tell Him how much you need Him and then let Him work in your life. Let’s have a few make-up free days together.