for when we long to be accepted

Hi. I’m the one person on the planet not going to Allume this year. Blah. Which is sad to me because I love my bloggin’ sistas. I love the late nights of talking and the sessions full of Divine wisdom and the photo booth thingy and the make-me-hyper coffee!

So I prayed about what I could possibly say to all of you amazing bloggers who do get to go to the conference, as well as to those who don’t get to go. And the word that came to me was “acceptance”. Acceptance.

 
Accepted
 

We all so desperately want to be accepted. That’s partly why I’m disappointed that I don’t get to go this year. I don’t want to miss anything. It’s also partly why I’m guessing some of you are nervous about going. You don’t want to feel left out.

I know that I know that some of you are spending sweet time worrying about what cutie outfits you will wear, because I’ve done that. Or worrying about what you will say, because I’ve done that too. Or worrying about what people will think of your wanna-be-rapping skills, maybe that one’s just me. When at the root of all that time and energy is a longing to be accepted.

But we get it sooooooo twisted. SO twisted. Because here it is. You ready? You and I will never ever find our ultimate acceptance in other humans. It isn’t possible. People are too volatile, short-sighted, and self-focused, just like us. And if we spend our energies looking to other humans for our acceptance and our identity, we will never truly embrace the woman that God created us to be. What a travesty.

If there’s anything I hope we each prepare before jumping into new things or jumping onto flights to new places, I pray we prepare our hearts. Let’s spend time looking at our Maker. Spend time meditating on the things He says about us. Spend time reveling in the beauty He whispers.

When we truly embrace who we are in Christ, we’re empowered to walk confident into a room of hundreds of other women that we’ve never personally met. Not because we have some haughty view of self. We can walk confident because we know WHOSE we are. And when we know WHOSE we are, we can know who we are — accepted and beloved, regardless of whether we’re wearing the trendiest pair of boots.

I don’t get to go to Allume this year — unless crazy, unexpected things happen. But I’m fighting those “missing out” feelings with truths that my God declares over me. The same truths He declares over you.

 
How have you wrestled against that nervous feeling of wanting to “fit in”?
What does our God say about us as His daughters?

 

here’s one way we affect the world

 
My middle boy has tested my sanity lately. Sweet thing. He’s completely precious and tender-hearted. He can take anything apart and (almost) put it back together. He hurts when people hurt. And he prays to Jesus. But, like all of us, he has weaknesses. And his weaknesses colliding with my weaknesses have made for some ug-lay moments.

One of our biggest struggles as of late is with our words (his and mine), specifically when anger or frustration arise. My favorite was when he said I was meaner than satan. Nice. I followed with an equally winning comment, “Oh, I can show you mean if that’s what you want.” Not my grandest moment.

But this struggle with words has challenged me to think about the power of words. Because whoever coined that ridiculous statement about “sticks and stones” must have been smokin’ somethin’ because words absolutely affect us.

 

Words are power.

 

Words can humiliate and degrade. They can evoke fear and shame. They can make people run away or hide for cover. But. They can also pour life into another’s soul.

Words can squash fear and make us feel like we could fly. They can empower us to take the next step in a dark valley. They can minister grace and mercy when judgment seems more logical. They can encourage and bless, lift and even transform our today. Words are power.

 

Death and life are in the power of the tongue,
and those who love it will eat its fruits.
Proverbs 18:21

 

Then there’s us in our areas of cyberspace that we call our writing home.

Those words we type onto the page can change the people on the other side of the screen. Our words can cause chains of religiosity to fall off. They can stir hope in places of utter hopelessness. They can serve up grace to those who feel like outcasts. They can show Jesus to someone who may have never looked into His face.

Oh yes. You and I — we can affect the world, beginning within the four walls of our homes and then spreading across time zones and continents.

Words are power — for better or for worse.

 

Father, put a guard on my mouth today. Use me to pour out life on those around me with words that are grounded in Your truth. And then thank You, thank You for Your grace when I fail.

 

Running this faith race beside you,
Lara

 
Tell of a time when you experienced the power of words — for better or worse.
 

a simple truth that can transform any relationship

 
Don’t place your trust solely in him. Or her. Or them. Because they — like you and me — are mere humans. And do you know what humans do? We fail.

 

People will fail.

 

I read Jesus’ words last week and they struck a deep chord. He had just started His earthly ministry, performing signs and wonders. And after seeing the miracles, people believed in Him.

“But Jesus on his part did not entrust himself to them, because he knew all people and needed no one to bear witness about man, for he himself knew what was in man.” John 2:24-25

Do you hear what He’s saying? Yes, people put their trust in Him. I mean, He was turning water into top-shelf wine. But He didn’t put His trust in people. Why? Because He “knew all people…(and) knew what was in man.”

Never in the Bible does it say to put our trust in people. Never. Love people, yes. Forgive people, continually. Pray for people, always. But trust? Never. And it’s because people are people. We’re weak and selfish and prone to wander.

When we place our trust in people — depending on them to give us life and hope — we’ll inevitably fall to disappointment. That’s why Jesus didn’t put His trust in man. Not even His most beloved disciples. He put His trust solely in the Father.

His eyes were dead set on the will of the Father. His gaze was continually pointed to the Father. He didn’t look at humans in search of fulfillment with cheesy phrases like “you. complete. me.” No. Because He knew what was in man. And woman.

Personally, I put my hope and trust in men — eventually my husband –in search of security and meaningful love for far too long. And though God gifts us with earthly, blessed, necessary relationships, people can never completely fill us. People will fail us. Just like we’ll fail them.

So when it comes to trust, we’re supposed to put it in one place and one place alone. We put our trust in God.

 

Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.
Jeremiah 17:5-8

 

God is the forever faithful One. He’s the One who sees the beginning from the end and knows how to make every detail work out for the good of those who love Him. He’s the One who never ever leaves or forsakes His children. He alone is always trustworthy.

And here’s the beauty. When we put our trust in Him, rather than the people or circumstances in our physical world, it frees us to love others without expectation. It frees us to forgive and bless. Because we’re not depending on people to be our Source of life. We’re depending on the life-giver. And that, my friend, is true freedom.

 
How have you seen that passage from Jeremiah above play out in your own life? (i.e., trusting in things or people vs. trusting in God regardless)

5 ways to cultivate friendships

 
Girlfriend. We weren’t meant to do this life thing alone. We weren’t meant to wear a cape and shout with confidence, “I. need. no. one.” Oh it’s tempting to isolate. It’s tempting to believe the lie that no one else struggles like we struggle or fails like we fail. But that’s not reality. We need community.

 

Sisterhood

 

My dad used to say, “If I have five real, good, loyal friends, then I’m a very wealthy man.” He was right. True friends are priceless.

True friends. The friends that know your weaknesses but love you regardless. The friends that walk with you through dark valleys, even if you put yourself there. The friends that hold you accountable but don’t judge you for your inconsistencies. True friends.

But true friendships don’t just happen when we check the “yes” box on some Will-You-Be-My-Friend survey. Real friendships take time and effort. So here are five things we can do to cultivate real relationships with sister-friends.

Pray for the friendship.

Some of you may not have anyone that you would call a true friend. So it may be that you begin by just asking God to bring a sister-friend into your life. It’s His will that we have community.

Others of us may have someone (or a few someones) that we consider to be a true friend. We can cultivate those friendships by praying for one another.

Send an encouraging word.

I love getting texts from friends that say things like, “I just prayed for you!” Praying for a friend often leaves us with an encouraging word to share. Telling them could be what lifts their spirit today.

Make time for the friendship.

This is where I can fail as a friend. Life gets busy and before I know it weeks have passed since I’ve spent any quality time with certain friends. We have to make time to get together or even just talk on the phone. Because if we don’t spend time together, the friendship won’t deepen.

Be real.

We all struggle. And most of us struggle with the same basic things. When we open ourselves up and become vulnerable with a friend, it encourages them to be vulnerable. And that’s when friendships deepen. So the challenge? Be authentic. Let someone in. Let someone see our heart.

Study God’s Word together.

One way to spur on authenticity is to study the Word together. God’s Word is meant to encourage us as well as reveal places that need His touch. Studying His Word with a friend can lead us into honest conversation and heart transformation.

We need true friendships. And they don’t just happen. You and I can do something today to help cultivate a relationship with that sister-friend.

So tell me, how else do you cultivate friendships?
 

because the milk will probably spill

Yes. The milk will spill. And it will probably be chocolate. And it will probably spill on the floor you just mopped for the first time all month.

Not only that, the kids will run through the house with muddy boots. The dog will eat your still-warm, from-scratch cookies off the counter. The toilet will overflow because someone tried to flush a Lego creation. And the computer will crash just before you save that 800-word blog post — the one in which you poured out your heart with deep vulnerability.

I’m just here to encourage you.

 

The milk will probably spill.

 

Seriously, though. These are the things that can get to me. In fact, it’s often the little daily annoyances that bring out the me that I can’t stand. The one that I hope no one else sees or hears or remembers. Because she can be jacked. up.

So in recent years I’ve asked for wisdom for those kinds of moments. Because they’re gonna happen. And I really don’t want to hurt anyone. Literally.

The only solution that seems to work sounds so churchy. But it really helps me keep perspective, especially when the container of 5000 plastic beads gets poured across the kitchen and you’re still stepping on them eight days later.

 

Pause. Breathe. Pray.

 

I told you it sounded churchy. But it’s just true. The spilled milk won’t matter in ten years, but the hearts of those who spill it will. When I pause, breathe, and pray, it changes my perspective.

I may say something profound like, “Lord. God. Help me not hurt someone.” Or I may go deeper, “Father, it’s just milk. Give me your perspective. I want to reflect You and Your grace, even now. Show me what to do.”

God loves it when we simply turn to Him. He’s knows we’re dust. He knows we’re going to lose it at times. He remembers our humanity. And He just loves it when we turn to Him.

We won’t do it perfectly. We’ll still totally overreact at times — especially during heightened hormonal seasons. Can I get a witness? But even when we completely fail, He’s still grace. He still lavishes grace.

So if…when…the chocolate milk spills today, I’m asking Him to remind us to pause, breathe, and pray. We’re such a needy people.
 

What do you do to keep perspective when those daily annoyances arise?
 

Looking forward,
Lara
ToOverflowing.com

 

you. we need you.

You. Your voice. Your God-given, Spirit-inspired, life-lessons-learned voice is needed. It’s needed.

Not just maybe needed. Not just “if you want to say something then that would be fine” needed. No. I mean there are people who God strategically places and perfectly prepares to hear your. specific. voice.

 

God gave you a voice on purpose.

 

Do you believe that?

Personally, I used to really wrestle with that thought. I mean, I had twelve subscribers for the first six months of my blogging venture. Twelve. And eight of those were family members.

And even though I sensed God leading me to write, I struggled. I questioned, “With all these other voices filling blogs and books, does mine really matter? Does my voice really matter.”

God slowly, faithfully revealed that I was asking the wrong question. Wondering if my voice matters put the focus on me. Not Him.

Here’s the bottom line. Write this down. Frame it. Have it tattooed around your wrist…if you’re into that. If God leads you to do it (whatever *it* is) then it’s with infinite purpose. For our good and His glory.

We may not see the results. We may never know how our words affected another. But following His lead brings great reward. I’m not talking about tangible rewards like increased subscribers or more comments or hundreds of shares — that may or may not come. I’m talking eternal, unseen rewards that time can’t steal.

You. Your voice. Your God-given, Spirit-inspired, life-lessons-learned voice is needed. It’s needed. So let’s press into our God. Let’s seek His face. And let’s trust that if He leads us to write it, then He must have a really good reason.

 
How have you wrestled to believe that your voice is needed?
What is God calling you to do?

 

why am I writing?

If I’m honest, I’ve had moments when I’ve asked myself the question.

Why am I doing this?

Why do I spend my supposed “free” time writing blog posts and designing widgets and answering comments? Because personally, I don’t monetize my blog. So it isn’t for the money.

 

What is my motive...really?

 

The answer I keep coming back to is “I’m compelled.” God led me to start it. He led me onto this blogging journey. And He leads me, inspires me, and prods me to press on — spilling out whatever He teaches in my process-of-a-life.

But with deadlines and page stats and link-ups, it’s easy to get distracted. It’s easy to disregard the heart behind the blog.

I mean, yes, He leads. And yes, He inspires. And being compelled is a great place to start. But if I’m not doing it in love, then I’m missing His ultimate reward. If I’m not typing the words and praying for direction out of love for Him and love for the hearer, then in the end, it’s nothingness.

Paul tells us…

 

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.
1 Corinthians 13:1-3

 

God has challenged me to honestly look in the mirror. Because I want to write from the overflow of love. I don’t want to stand before Him one day and have it all disintegrate into nothingness because it lacked love. What a travesty that would be.

So in this honest looking-within, we simply ask Him to reveal our heart. And if it’s difficult to find love at the center of our words, then we ask Him to stir up His love within us. We ask for His vision of those who are listening. And we trust Him to faithfully fill.

How about you? How do you foster a heart of love for Him and for those to whom He’s called you to minister?
 

to my fellow {recovering} control freaks

Hi my name is Lara and I’m a recovering control freak. Seriously. I used to alternate our dinner plates by color. The ones inside the cupboard that no one saw. Can we say “issues”?.

But God gave us three kids in four years and all color-coding fell apart. Then our marriage walked through a dreaded valley and my soul fell apart. And I finally had ears to hear my God whisper in sweet perfection, “Child, you are not the one in control.”

*Deep. slow. sigh.*

 

God's on His throne

 

Thinking we have life under our control — or not — is simply an illusion. Because only One reigns. And He has authority over every storm, every bird, every heart, every principality of darkness, every cell, and every disease.

Rest comes upon us when we let go of our grip. When we let go of the people and things we’re desperately trying to fit into our box of how life should play out, and grab hold of the One who’s sitting secure on His throne.

That taking hold of Him is done in the moments. It’s done when our feelings react, or overreact, and we run to the laundry room and remind our heart of truth. That’s when His peace guards us. He promised.

 

Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7

 

Because He’s got this, wrapped tight in His perfect love. And He can be fully trusted with every detail of our lives.

Looking forward with expectation,
Lara from ToOverflowing.com
 
Any other recovering control freaks out there?
What encourages you to get past that feeling of needing to control ev.er.y.thing?

 

for when we fear something

I used to be afraid of the dark. If I came home alone at night, the first thing I did was check under beds and behind curtains and in closets for…well…the “bad guy.” Though I’m not sure what I would have done had I actually found a bad guy.

One night while I washing my face — with my eyes squinting and my feet in ready-to-attack-mode should the “bad guy” sneak up from behind — every light in the house went off. GASP! After my heart started beating again, I did what any freaked-out, frady-cat would do. I screamed as loud as I could, “JE-SUS!”

Thirty seconds later, all the lights came back on. Insert hyperventilation here. I called a friend and she came over with her anointing oil — she wasn’t Southern Baptist — and we anointed every window in the house while praying over every room. Once I finally fell asleep, the fear subsided.

 

Fear says that God can't be trusted

 

Fear is…dumb. In fact I think it might be one of the primary hindrances to us as humans living in the abundance of Jesus. Remember, He promised abundance to those who believe Him. He promised life marked with peace and joy to those who take Him at His Word.

But fear convinces us in the deep down places that God really can’t be trusted. Fear in essence determines that God’s promises aren’t enough. And that’s a dangerous place for our souls to linger.

As long as we live in this world and have this flesh, fear will come. It’s the natural response to the unknown. But fear doesn’t have to be where we live. It doesn’t have to be our dwelling.

John tells us that God’s perfect love casts out fear. When we choose — by the empowering of His Spirit — to believe that God’s relentless love motivates every single thing He allows into our lives, fear has to bow down. It has no place when we abide in Him.

 

Fear not, for I am with you;
be not dismayed, for I am your God;
I will strengthen you, I will help you,
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.
Isaiah 41:10

 

It’s so trite compared to some of the soul-crushing fears that have gripped me in my life, but that night when my lights went out was the start of a new thing in me. God convicted me that fear was ultimately unbelief, and I could never please Him if I didn’t believe Him. (Hebrews 11:6) By His grace He started me on a road to being freed from fear.

 
What has you in fear these days?
What truths of our God can you choose to meditate upon to combat those fears?

In Christ,

Lara, To Overflowing

For When We Don’t “Feel” Like a Light

I love the heart behind Allume — that we as sisters in Christ would spur each other on to shine His Light into a very dark world. But let’s be honest. Some days I don’t feel very “bright.” In fact, some days my emotions tempt me to believe that there’s barely a flame flickering.

But that’s just what the enemy wants us to believe.

I say it often, but my spirit needs it repeated over and over.

 

photo credit

 

They’re real — they can take us to the ground in seconds or cause us to jump for joy. Figuratively speaking…my post-baby body doesn’t actually like it when I jump a whole lot.

Feelings are real. They affect our response and change our expressions. But they aren’t always reliable. They don’t always line up with what God says about us. They don’t always agree with His promises over us.

So the next time we don’t “feel” like we’re shining His light very brightly, let’s remember a few things.

 

  1. We need each other! We need to accept the encouragement of our sisters; which means we need to be authentic.
  2. Preach truth to ourselves. The laundry room is one of my favorite places to take my emotions to Him. Or maybe it’s just one of the few places where I can get alone. When our emotions fly around all crazy, our spirit has to remember what’s true. So let’s preach it.
  3. Rest in grace. I love that God remembers our humanity. He’s so tender to His daughters. Feelings will come but He gives grace. He allows us space to grieve, and then He graciously lifts us out of the mire as we set our hearts towards Him.
  4. Choose thanksgiving. We all know that sweet Ann inspires this so beautifully. Choosing thanks changes our perspective. Choosing thanks empowers us to press on in faith. Our God is always lavishing His good things upon His own.

 

The truth is, if we are His then His light is in us. We just sometimes have to dig down beneath the emotion of life and stir Him up.

 

You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 5:14-16

 

What do you do when your feelings don’t line up with Truth?

The Number One Thing To Remember, Christian Blogger

On the other side of the screen, with a heart just like mine and just like yours, is a woman. A real, flesh and blood, stinky morning breath, possibly in need of a pedicure woman.

She may be sleep deprived because of a baby’s cry. She may be living her dreams. She may be soul-thirsty in the middle of a hopeless mess. But however her spirit, for a few quick moments she skims through your blog. And then just like that…she’s gone.

 


photo credit

 

As a blogger, if I live consumed with me or my numbers or how cracked up something looks, then I could miss that just-like-me-woman. I’ve walked that route before. She may move on to the next thing still wondering if God sees her, or loves her.

But if I remember why I write, then I start each post on my knees. Because each word is ultimately for His glory. Each post is an act of service to my sisters.

You and I have a platform. He has given us a sliver of cyber-space. But only He can pierce hearts. Only He can anoint our words.

Whether we write about motherhood or coupons or faith. Whether ten or ten-thousand people read our blogs. If He goes before and behind us, then our words hold great power. If we seek His guidance and trust Him to graciously speak to that woman on the other side of the screen, then amazing things can take place. Lives can change.

The call to action is pretty simple…in theory. Let’s give it all back to Him.

Practically that means we make prayer a priority. We pray for His wisdom before we start typing. And we pray for wisdom while we form the sentences. We pray for those who will read that day and pray for those who comment.

I suppose I could be effective without Him. I could grow an audience through sheer determination. But if I want to be used for eternal things, I have to follow His lead. I have to ask His opinion and trust Him with the results.

So as I click “publish” I pray He uses this post to inspire all of us — including myself! — to lay the blog as an offering before Him…again.

How do you stay purposeful in the blogosphere with your writing?

Written by Lara, ToOverflowing.com