Just Be You!

The struggle to just be enough.

It’s been the biggest struggle of my life.

That weird permed hair and those thick pop bottle glasses I had to wear when I was a kid. My weight. Not being allowed to do anything or go anywhere like the “cool” kids. Definitely not being a “cool” kid. Undesirable to boys. Being the only female in most of my college classes and being expected, even asked, why I didn’t just go home and be “barefoot and pregnant”. Constantly being told that I would be a better wife if I liked what other women liked and did what other women did and wore what other women wore…

But, I will never forget the day, years ago sitting in front of my computer that God laid something amazing and important and unforgettable on my heart. It has been my driving force since that day. I was going through a bad time. I felt outed at church by the women there. Women who didn’t support me in any kind of ministry and who had excluded me from opportunities to grow in ministry. One of whom took ideas and thoughts I had written and developed and presented them as her own. I had been told by the person who should have supported me the most that I didn’t deserve to be used by God in ministry anyway because I had a history and a past that wasn’t good and wasn’t worthy (which was true but we all have pasts and some of us even have currents that we just keep hidden from everybody so it doesn’t stain our perfect Christian facade). I was so frustrated, so aggravated, so hurt, and felt so worthless that I took every writing, every teaching, every sermon, every journal… every thing I had ever written and studied and every idea and thought I had… I took it all, bagged it up, put it in the trash and stood and the door and waited for the garbage men to pick it up so I could be sure it was gone out of my life. Then I went to my computer and I deleted everything I had stored on it as well as everything I had stored on my portable USB drives. I was done. D. O. N. E. Done. Writing, speaking, teaching, ministry of any type was not my calling, not my gift, and definitely not any area that God wanted me to be. I refused to let myself write or journal anymore… and I was miserable.

And, on this day, as I sat there… feeling unloved, unwanted, worthless, and unusable…

God said “Just be the you I created you to be”.

I didn’t need to try to please anybody else. I didn’t need to worry whether my hair was acceptable, I wore my makeup the right way, or whether the way I dressed was OK with anybody else. I needed to worry about my weight… but not because of what other people said, only for myself and my health. I didn’t need to worry whether anybody approved of my career choice, liked my writing style, appreciated my way of making notes and delivering them, or whether those women or any of the women I would meet in the future thought I belonged in their groups. It didn’t matter whether people found me worthy or deserving. The only thing, the only thing, that mattered was that I become the person that my Father created me to be.

He created me to be His. His daughter. His child. His minister. His servant. His beloved.

I tell myself every day… just be the you He created you to be. That’s all you ever need to be. Some days it’s still a struggle to not be enough… but I am pushing my way through that battle. You don’t need more affirmations or confirmations… you’ve got His. Take what He’s placed inside of you and just be who He made you to be! God will take you further and lift you higher than any of those haters ever will anyway.

The Only Thing to Fear…

The children of Israel were at a critical place.

God comes to Joshua and He says “I’m going to lead you to the promised land. I’m taking you to the place that I was taking my people before and they didn’t make it because of their reluctance to live on my promises and abide with me and follow me. It’s time to go now.”

I’m paraphrasing of course, but think about it for a minute. Their fathers didn’t make it. Their grand-fathers didn’t make it. Their great-grandfathers didn’t make. They’d all heard the stories and they all knew how they had been these desert wanderers for years and years and years because of faithless disobedience and unbelief in God’s Word.

Now it’s their turn.

It’s either live in the same mindset and fear or rise up and follow God with their whole hearts.

Would it be easy?

No.

The walls of Jericho were so thick and wide that chariots raced side by side on them.

The land… their promised land… was already inhabited. Were those people just going to say “oh, were glad you came to conquer us” and hand over the keys to their houses and their farmlands?

No.

They would have to battle and they would have to fight.

But God said this was their land. He said this was the land that belonged to them that He had promised them. It’s either go forward and posses what God said belonged to them or stay stuck in the wilderness living in fear.

God intends for us to live in His promised land… and that’s not just when we get to Heaven. It’s here and now.

On Earth as it is in Heaven.
Heaven come down.

He has given us places, families, friends, churches, schools, cities, jobs, ministries and relationships that He desires to see His Kingdom thrive in. But we have to be willing to walk with God toward that promise. It might currently be inhabited by drugs, alcohol, addictions, pornography, selfishness, bad attitudes, old mindsets, and fear mentalities… but these places are promised to us. We have just have to be willing to walk in there and take what God says is ours.

He is with us.
He is in us.
His Word is true and we never go alone.

You can fear the enemy… but the only thing you should really fear is that fear that’s holding you back and keeping you from walking into your promised land.

Don't Let the Fear Win

Sometimes I am fearful of things I shouldn’t be.

My life experiences have developed that fear in me.

Things that were said to me.
Things that were done to me.

These things have made me fearful.

And when you’ve been broken… those hurts and wounds can take time to heal.

Not too long ago I was jumping on a box at the gym… and I fell. I was so proud of myself. I had finally gained the confidence to jump the standard 20″ box for women in a workout. And for several workouts, I had done really well… making every move a box jump instead of a box step-up. But, on this night… whether I was tired or just tired from the workout… I went up and I didn’t get my tuck high enough and I fell. Both my shins crashed down on the rough edges of the plywood box I was jumping on. I felt them as they scraped up until I completely landed on my knees…

Oh the pain…

I limped to the bathroom and cried it hurt so bad.

I had a huge knot the size of a tennis ball on one shin, and both shins were bleeding.

I dried my tears, wiped up the blood, and went back to finish my workout.

We were running that night too and doing some dumbbell presses and every move I made put pressure on my shins… causing me to continue to feel the pain of my injury. I finished the workout with box step-ups… no more jumping for me… but I felt the hurt each time I took a step.

It took weeks for my legs to heal.

Part of the healing was that that cut places scabbed over. And, the scabs looked gross. My daughter wanted me to pull them off and I refused because I knew if I pulled off the scabs… it was going to send a fresh flow of blood out of the wound and I wanted it to be healed, not bleeding again.

When the skin underneath finally healed, and the scab fell off, I realized I would have a scar on one leg… a remembrance of my fall. My daughter said, “Why does it look like that, it looks ugly.”… well a chunk of my skin was ripped away and that’s how it healed over.

I will probably never jump a box again. I remember the pain. I remember how bad the hurt was. Every time I look at my leg I see the scar.

We all have hurt places like that. Your wound may be fresh. Maybe it’s scabbed over. Maybe you pulled off the scab, or someone else came along and pulled it off, and renewed the bleeding hurt all over again. Maybe your wound has healed… but it’s an ugly scar and you have a fear of attempting that thing now because every time you think about trying, you think about the pain and hurt from before.

We are human after all.

But fear like that will prevent you from doing more than just box jumping…

It will keep you from loving.
It will keep you from being loved.
It will keep you from forgiving.
It will keep you from being wholly healed.
It will keep you from fulfilling your purpose.
It will keep you concentrating on the past.

And that is not how God intends for you to live.

Whatever area you find yourself struggling with hurt and pain … ask God to heal you. And, be willing to go through the process. It’s not instant… but healing will come. He has not give you the Spirit of fear… but of power, love, and a sound mind! ❤️

It Is a Long Walk Without Him

“Fine. I’ll just walk home.”

My youngest daughter and I were sitting in the car waiting for her sister to get out of softball practice and we were having a discussion. She was anxious to get back home and didn’t like having to sit there and wait… especially when practice was supposed to have been over twenty minutes ago.

So, she gets out of the car… in her short skirt and T-shirt…. in 35 degree weather… and she starts walking.

She walks maybe 75 feet to the edge of the parking lot, looking over her shoulder to see if I’m going stop her… and then she turns and runs back to a bench in front of the school and sits on it.

I’m still sitting in the car.

Watching her.

I’m no dummy… it was cold out there.

She sits on her bench for about five minutes, maybe not even that long, with her arms crossed…pouting. I knew she was cold… but I let her sit there. Finally, she comes running to the car.

“I thought you were walking home?”.

“It’s cold out there… and I realized…

I don’t know how to get home from here.”

Ahhhhh.

Because she spends most of her time in the car with her face in her phone and not paying any attention to where she is going…

Me too… sometimes I spend more time on Facebook than with my face in The Book seeking for direction on where I’m going…

And how many times have I gotten upset. Gotten mad. Pouted because things didn’t go my way and I’ve told God… “Fine”.

I’ll take it from here.
I’ll walk.
I’ll handle it myself.

Only to realize…

I didn’t know where I was going.
I didn’t know how to get there from here.
It was cold out there.

It’s a harsh world. It’s a painful world. It’s a bitter world, and it’s a world that will take you down… and that’s why you need Him. Every day. Every hour. Every minute. We need Him because He is our safe place, our guidance, our comfort, and our direction.

I’ve tried it on my own… but I get so much farther when I stay with Him!

People Are Unreasonable, God is Not.

I watch American Pickers sometimes. They go into these little shacks and storage sheds and they find stuff that has been sitting for years and years and years. Most of the time… it needs a lot of work. Especially cars, bikes, and motorcycles. And, while Mike and Frank always make reasonable offers… sometimes they have to pass on an item because either the seller doesn’t want to be reasonable, it just needs way too much work and they couldn’t fix it and make a profit, or they can’t get to it because it’s wedged under a pile of junk and trash and isn’t worth the effort and time to get it out.

I remember when my dreams, hopes, and ambitions seemed buried under a pile of junk and trash. Over the years, heartbreaks and fears and discouragement and harsh words and bitterness and anger piled up and before I knew it… everything I hoped about my life was just wedged up under a disaster. I prayed and prayed and prayed and I knew God could and I had seen Him do great things… so why… why not fix these things for me? Why not answer the prayers I was praying and give me the desires of my heart?

I had to learn that sometimes other people are unreasonable and do not conform to God’s will. They have opportunities to change but choose not to. They have resources to help but choose not to. They have moments they can walk in forgiveness and speak life… but they choose not to. And, God, in His infinite wisdom and grace… does not force men or women to bend to His will. They have the right to choose… just like I have the right to choose.

The awesome thing about God is that while He doesn’t force men and women to bend to His will… He is also not limited by their choosing to not submit to Him and His way. He is infinitely creative and help and restoration will come… just not maybe in the way I hoped or thought or prayed.

Mike and Frank may have to pass on that great find today… but tomorrow they may find something better and greater.

God is not limited by us and the decisions we make. He is not limited by others and the decisions they make either. Just as Mordecai told Esther… if you choose not to go to the King, help for the Jewish people will arise from another source, but you and your father’s house will be destroyed.

Maybe you don’t understand why they didn’t change, why they didn’t help, why they didn’t support you, or why they turned their back on you. You don’t understand why they let you down, used you, took advantage of you, or hurt you… let it go and let God deal with them. Let them reap what they are sowing. Put your faith and trust in God and know that He is able to bring your help and healing from another source.

“I declare that God is going to redeem and restore my dreams, ambitions, desires, and purpose in life, and allow me to experience the joy of a life well lived, people well loved through me, and a fulfilled life mission.” (Shawn Bolz)

The Heat Works… Stop Stressing.

I stress out about my heat pump. It’s crazy, I know. I was laying in bed this morning after I got woken up by the school calling at 5 am to let us know about the two-hour delay thinking… why is the heat not working? Is the heat really not working? What if it quit working? What if something happened to it… and it’s going to be majorly expensive to fix it and it’s Christmas…

My mind just wouldn’t quit so I could go back to sleep.

The heat pump works just fine.

But, I stress out because my mind remembers around this time last year when the heat pump went out in the house I was renting. For a week we had no heat except what came from space heaters and it wasn’t enough to heat the whole house. It was cold.

There was a time before that the heat pump went out too.

And, there was the time we came home from vacation and had no air.

And, the other time, during one of the hottest weeks of the summer we had no air and the house was like a furnace.

My mind thinks about what was… instead of what is.

The problem with thinking about what was is that you let you fear, worry, doubt, and concern unnecessarily into your mind. Instead of being thankful for where you are now and what you have now… you’re stuck dwelling on past issues and problems. Instead of meditating on praise and thankfulness… you’re meditating on hurts, regrets, and concerns.

Like when you remember the words they said to you… and you think that’s what everybody around you right now is still believing. Like when you remember the way they hurt you… and you live in constant worry and fear the same thing is going to happen again, even though you have no indication that it will. Like when you remember how you felt and you refuse to take a risk of loving or giving because you don’t ever want to feel that way again.

Living in the past will only keep you from enjoying the future.

You’re supposed to stay focused on what’s in front of you… not constantly looking in the rear view mirror to see if what’s behind you is coming after you.

Life is in the now. You’re breathing and living and walking and talking in the now. There’s nothing about the past you can change or fix or make any different…. let it go, quit laying awake thinking about it. Quit waiting for it to happen again. Quit expecting it to happen again. Quit worrying it will happen again. Go to sleep… the heat’s just fine… rest and relax and enjoy today. #preachingthistomyself

Let’s Play Offense

I had a blue bandanna in the console of my car and Tracie wanted to know when I decided to join a gang 🤣… my nickname among the kids may be “Bad Becky”… but I’m not in any gang, other than the Jesus gang. The bandanna came from a parent at Glenville’s last football game… a spirit bandanna he called it. He passed out several of them to parents and fans in the stands.

‘Cause he’s this parent who shows up to the games and always gives 150% yelling for his kid and his kid’s team. He cheers, he waves his bandannas, he dances, he encourages the crowd to yell and cheer too, and he’s a hoot. Seriously… the games will be much less interesting without him next year. He makes being in the stands a lot more fun… even when our team is losing. He never sits down, he never quits cheering, he never quits encouraging, he’s always supporting them. When other people are leaving, he’s still standing there cheering the team on to do their best.

He focuses on the offense… even when the scoreboard doesn’t reflect a win. Defense is important in a game… but unless you put some points on the board, you can’t win. You can sack the quarterback all day long… but unless your team’s offense can bring the ball across the goal line… you’re not going to win the game.

Too many times as Christians… we get our focus wrong. We spend more time focusing on the enemy and trying to play defense rather than going on the offense and simply sharing the love of Jesus.

God does not need us to defend His Word.

God does not need us to validate or prove His Word.

The Word of God is never under judgement and our faith is not validated because someone accepts the message we preach. Someone accepting the message of Jesus does not make it more true so someone rejecting the message of Jesus cannot make it less true.

God has already defeated Satan and his demons… our job is not to fight the devil… our job is to share the love of Jesus and bring the good news to a world that needs hear about His love.

“Those who crusade not for God in themselves, but against the devil in others, never succeed in making the world better, but leave it either as it was, or sometimes even perceptibly worse than it was before the crusade began…. To be more against the devil than for God is exceedingly dangerous.” ~ Aldous Huxley

It’s all about what we are focusing our efforts on… let’s put our offense on the field!

Love Without Expectations.

In the movie Dirty Dancing, Baby, who is undoubtedly her father’s favorite, decides to have a relationship with a guy is beneath her father’s standards for her. She doesn’t do it to hurt her father, or to disobey him, or to discredit him, or to dishonor him, or to disappoint him… she just finds herself in love with Johnny and she’s experiencing her first real, teenage love. In a tear-filled speech she tells her dad “There are a lot of things about me that aren’t what you thought. But if you love me, you have to love all the things about me. And I love you.”

Far too often… love is something we give only when our expectations have been met. When the other person did what we wanted, said what we wanted, responded how we wanted… and met our need and want… then we love them. Wholeheartedly we love them.

Until we don’t anymore because the next time they failed to give us what we wanted, do what we wanted, and meet our expectations.

Maybe, like Baby’s father, we’ve let them down too. Maybe we’ve said hurtful things. Maybe they had an expectation we didn’t meet. Maybe we did something that left a scar on their mind and heart…. we shouldn’t expect our actions and words to be overlooked if we aren’t willing to overlook their actions and words.

Relationships are give and take.

The problem is that we like to be the recipient when our focus should be on being the giver.

They wanted to cuddle on couch and watch a movie and you wanted to watch your favorite show.

They wanted to save money this month and you found something great on sale you just had to have.

They wanted relation time and you didn’t.

They were tired and got take-out and you wanted your favorite dinner.

Your favorite jeans aren’t clean.

Your car didn’t get washed like you hoped.

They’re dating somebody you don’t like.

They didn’t get the grade you hoped they’d get.

They didn’t earn the scholarship or accolade you wanted them to have.

They have a lifestyle you don’t like.

They like the president and you don’t.

We can always find a reason to withhold our love… but what if we focused on finding the reasons to keep giving it instead?

“Don’t just pretend to love others. Really love them. Hate what is wrong. Hold tightly to what is good. Love each other with genuine affection, and take delight in honoring each other.” (Romans 12:9-10, NLT)

It’s Friday Silly… Be OK Today.

My alarm clock went off this morning and my first thought was… why is my alarm going off this early on a Saturday. 🤷‍♀️😂… It’s been a long week. 😒 I get up and I wake up the girls and everybody is whining… them about going to school and me about going to work. Because yeah, we’d all like to just stay home and let life be handed to us and for money to grow on trees.

I think about Ruth though. There she was. Miles from home. In a strange land, with strange people, and with strange customs. She didn’t have anything. No husband. No kids. No resources. No home of her own. Nothing. I’ve complained a lot about not having good enough, but I’ve always been blessed enough that I’ve never truly had nothing. She got up and she went out to the barley fields so she could pick up the leftovers, not for income, but so she could have something to eat, and her mother-in-law Naomi could eat as welll…

And, she wasn’t out there whining about it, complaining about it, and having a bad attitude about… otherwise she’d never caught the attention of Boaz. At least she wouldn’t have caught the right kind of attention. Sometimes we get attention… just not the attention we want or need. We let the favor of God pass over us because we can’t maintain our attitude in a not-so-desirable situation. She caught his attention and she went from picking up the scraps and barely getting by to owning the field and having more than enough for her, and her mother-in-law Naomi. She also became the great-grandmother of King David… part of the lineage that Jesus came here through.

Life is hard some days.

Some days, some weeks, some months, even some years… they’re just so hard. And you get tired of the struggle. You get tired of giving and never receiving. You get tired of the rain. You get tired of the pain and heartbreak. You get tired of being told no. You get tired of losing. And, it’s OK to be tired. It’s OK to be upset. It’s OK to not be OK… It’s just not OK to stay that way!

God wants to bring you to better. Even on the hard days, get up, get dressed, and show up… giving Him thanks and praise all the way there! Today could be the day that your Boaz comes on the scene!

Click here for all the devotional readings for “It’s OK To Not Be OK”.

Pass on the Tea

Gossip. It’s just a grown-up word for tattle-telling.

“Mom… I have something to tell you…”.

“Mom… Jessica said…”.

“Mom… Tracie just…”.

Insert your own kids names there, but you know you cringe inside when you hear conversations about to start like that… because what follows is what the other person did and why they need to be in trouble and get punished for it.

As a parent, I hate tattling. It’s annoying to me. It usually means that I now have to deal with some problem that I neither saw or heard take place…. but I am expected to make a judgement call as to who was right, who was wrong, who did or didn’t something, make sure the “guilty” party is handled properly… and I have to do all that using the evidence the guiltless “good” child has laid out before me.

We don’t like tattle-telling.

But we can’t wait to get in on the really good “tea” as my daughter likes to call it…

Gossip it’s just a grown-up word for tattle-telling.

If we want to be grown-ups, and spiritually minded individuals, Galatians 6 tells us that it is not our place to make the judgement call about what was said, what was done, who did it, and who didn’t do it, and it’s not our place to make sure it’s all passed along either… but it is our place to restore.

Gently. Restore. Keeping in mind that it might be us the next time who has a mishap or makes a mistake. If you don’t want to be the source of tea at the next party…don’t be drinking it this time.

“Dear brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself.” ~ Galatians 6:1