Naked Joy

Good morning dear ones, wanted to encourage you this morning with some nude words. This is from a post I contributed to Mom-Sense last week but thought you may enjoy it as well. In short, I want us to be naked with joy, nude in our cleanliness, praising our Savior in nothing but our birthday suits.

I'd been praying over what to share with you for a couple days and God's answer came to me in the form of two very wet, very naked, little boys last night. Praise God for kids right?

Bath time at our house is an Event. Usually the degree of filth has reached epic proportions before I start noticing that particular 'boy smell' (because, yes, I'm THAT mom...) Fortunately my boys love bath time, shower time, pool time, pretty much anything that involves water. So they get thrown in the tub, shower, pool, bucket, whatever nearest H2O-containment system that's available; add some soap, occasional bleach (just kidding!), aLOT of elbow grease (and/or soaking time- I swear there's some chemical reaction that occurs between boys skin and all manner of dirt, dust, and grime which takes place making the bearer of such filth virtually impossible to easily or expeditiously clean!!) and viola! momentarily clean children.

They. Love. It.

If your kiddos are anything like mine, those short moments right after a bath are unusually crazy. Our house usually sees two little ones tearing around the place like feral cats, screeching, running, jumping, wrestling, and otherwise completely uninhibited by anything around them. Completely naked. They love the feeling of clean that comes fresh out of the bath- the freedom, the complete lack of inhibition.

My boys have no shame after their washing.

And neither should we.

There's something to be said for regular washing- there's more to be said for regular, INTENTIONAL, spiritual cleansing. Our souls and hearts too easily get grimed up by the everyday filth of living on this side of heaven. It's a thing dear ones. Just like our houses need constant upkeep, so also do our spirituals houses.

Scripture talks over and over about the cleansing nature of holy water- confession, repentance... the Holy Spirit. Psalm 51 is a perfect example, “Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin!” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭51:2‬ ‭(ESV‬‬). Verse 7, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.”

Dear ones, only God can fully clean all those dark and dirty places in our lives. Sometimes, as in my own kid's cases, that cleansing needs soaking- it needs time to slough away, because it's been there awhile. I think we all have areas that need some prolonged Holy Spirit saturation. What are yours?

But what naked, clean JOY comes after such a cleansing! "Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭51:12‬

Confess your filthy areas today dear one and find the fun in being naked, unashamed, and irresistibly joyful before Abba. Uninhibited spiritual nudity, the kind that bears no shame, carries no guilt, and can run and play with the Forgiver of Sins is what must endlessly please God.

It does my momma-heart good to know my children are clean and wrecklessly happy (and I do mean wreck....). I can only imagine it brings the same feeling to our Heavenly Father!

Q&A With the Author ~ The World Sees Normal

I was honored to participate in a fantastic author Q&A with my good friend and fellow blogger Amber Blackburn. If you'd like to read more about the inception, motivation, and story behind writing Helicopter Mom, this is the post for you!

Check it out here!

Helicopter Mom Book Launch GIVEAWAY- ENTER TODAY

I am so pleased and blessed to bring Helicopter Mom to you this week! What an honor it has been for me to write this word and get it out to everyone. I encourage you to pick up a copy and pass it around.

You can buy signed copies here,  or unsigned on Amazon, or for Kindle!

In honor of the launch, I'm hosting my first big GIVEAWAY to spread the word.

There are some amazing prizes and great loot available to three lucky winners!

The grand prize will include 2 signed copies of Helicopter Mom, a $10 Starbucks gift card, an Fierce REAL Helicopter Mom mug, a beautiful handmade bracelet to remind you to stop hovering and take flight, a darling bird lantern to help light some of those dark spots, and several pictures you can hang about to give you some extra encouragement during those rough patches. Overall the grand prize is well over $100 value!

There are 2 runner-up prizes that both include a signed copy of Helicopter Mom and a Fierce REAL Helicopter Mom mug.

Rules are as follows:

ABSOLUTELY NO PURCHASE IS NECESSARY!

Points are accrued through the week for each entry made.

There are many ways to gain points through the week! Take a look!

  • Sign up for my email list through my website (mandatory- 5 pts.)
  • Like and comment this post on my FB page (mandatory- 1pt each) (Feel free to like the page too, but that won't count towards your entries.)
  • Get points for following me on Twitter and retweeting this giveaway (2pt to follow/1 each per tweet)

 

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Overcoming Fear ~ A guest post by Hilary Cobb

As a counselor, I often work with people who are fearful. Anxiety is prevalent in our culture.We live in difficult and scary times. Mass shootings, cancer in everyone from children to adults, crime. Even in our day-to-day lives, we struggle with fear. Fear of rejection, fear of financial insecurity, fear of being “not good enough,” fear of being hurt by those we love. Fear of not having the perfect home or children, or being judged by others.

 It is easy to say (somewhat callously) to others, “well, just don’t worry about it. God’s got this.” There have been many times in my life where I’ve been anxious or scared, and just kept praying fearfully, “God, help me to stop being anxious. I know You’ve got this.” I often found that after praying, I didn’t feel better. I would immediately start thinking, “But what if He doesn’t have this? What if He doesn’t provide? What if I’ve sinned too much?”
 I’ve realized over the past few years that this type of fearful, doubting prayer wasn’t healthy. We often talk about “substitute addiction” in counseling. It is the idea that some people will effectively “swap” addictions or unhealthy behaviors. They give up alcohol, but replace it with another, equally unhealthy behavior (excessive exercise, excessive spending, prescription drug abuse). I noticed that I had simply replaced my unhealthy anxiety about money and the future with an unhealthy, anxious view of God! I spent just as much time worrying that God wouldn’t help me or follow through as I had spent worrying about my everyday fears.
Over the last few years, I’ve learned that instead of swapping anxieties, you have to instead substitute a healthy behavior for an unhealthy one. The opposite of anxiety is not frantic, anxious praying! Instead, it is a strong, unshakable confidence in God’s love and provision. It is not simply “stop being scared,” but instead, it is telling myself that I don’t need to be scared because God’s love involves it all: grace, forgiveness, strength and provision. There have been great verses to get me through fearful moments, and I hope these are comforting to those of you who are scared.
 
Philippians 4:19 (ESV) says, “And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus himself told the disciples: “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?...Therefore, do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.” (Matthew 6:25-27, 31-32 ESV)
In spite of these comforting verses, I used to speak them from a place of fear. After reading Philippians 4:19, I would worry endlessly: what if God doesn’t provide for me? Am I too sinful for His blessings? I felt like the little boy from Oliver Twist, coming up to the big scary cook asking, “Please sir, I want some more,” fearful and trembling the whole time.
However, as I think of God’s work in my life, and the lives of those around me, I realize that I shouldn’t come to Him in fear. Instead, I need to come confidently to Him and trust Him with everything. My life verse over the past two years has been Joshua 1:9: “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua was given a large, daunting task and I’m sure he was scared. I love that God didn’t simply say, “Hey, calm down, chill out, stop worrying, get over it.”
Instead, He commands Joshua to be strong and courageous before He tells Joshua to not be frightened. We need to stop seeking God from a place of fear. Instead, we need to seek Him and allow Him to help strengthen us. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV) says, “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.”
We need to pray and live courageously, knowing that we come to our Father as warriors, as strong women, as the children of God, and that He will strengthen and help us because He loves us!  It is more than Him simply telling me to stop being dismayed. God doesn’t want us to just stop being scared, He also wants to strengthen and uphold us. He doesn't want us just to shush our fears, and hope they stop bothering us. Instead, we can be strong, confident and overcome our fears.
Over the years, I’ve seen Christians who embody this. Christians going through intense trials and difficulties courageously. They aren’t fearful because they are confident in God’s plan for their lives. They inspire me, and in those moments, where I feel myself praying with fear, I remind myself that God doesn’t want me to feel scared. He wants me to be strong and courageous, even when I’m unsure how He will remedy the situation.
If you are fearful, seek His promises through His Word, and come to Him in confidence. Come to Him knowing that He will provide and He will strengthen you because He loves you enough to want you to live without fear. You are a child of God. Be courageous, my friends. ~Hilary
You can find Hilary and her blog at www.blessedbyhislove.com.  She also has a great FB page here! Please take a moment to check it out! Hilary Cobb is a born-and-raised California-girl who now lives in beautiful Idaho. She lives with her amazing husband and their two young children. Hilary works as a therapist part-time, doing counseling with children, adults and couples. She is also the Family Ministries Director for her church and speaks at events and schools. When she has some downtime, she loves coffee, running and crochet! Her life verse is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” and she is grateful that God has allowed her to serve Him throughout her life. Thank you sister for letting me help share your thoughts! ~B

The God-Strand ~ A book review of A Wife's Secret to Happiness

Hi all, amidst this crazy book launch for Helicopter Mom, this particular book by Jen Weaver called A Wife's Secret to Happiness had been coming across multiple paths of mine on multiple occasions. I had passed by it with little thought until a fellow LIT sister posted a book review of it... and then I was intrigued because there was a writing contest involved with some incredible prizes that this new author started dreaming about. Soooo, I decided to give it a read.

I'm glad I did!

I won't lie... I generally grow super bored with books about marriage. I find them redundant and often, despite their attempts not to be, a bit self-righteous. I am the worst marriage-book-reader ever. I admit it. I am very happy in my marriage, we are very intentional about our relationship, etc. etc. (more on how hard that battle was in a bit). I don't see or feel the need for marriage advice very often (now who's self-righteous? <insert eye-roll emoji and hashtag something about 'pot calling the kettle black...>) And yet, God kept placing this book in my line of vision for several weeks- so I decided to order it up (not easily done as Amazon was out of them and I ended up buying used from the UK... what an amazing problem that must be to have....!)

Anyhoo, so I got the book , read it and.... it's good. I won't lie and say it's the best book on marriage that I've ever read, but it is chalk-full of usable and scripturally sound principles for wives. I will say, with this being the first book by Jen Weaver that I've ever read, I found her writing style very easy to read, funny, real, and convicting in the right spots. I didn't find it stilted or goody-two-shoes either which was helpful for my generally critical reading of self-help books (again, I promise I'm working on this! lol.) Her chapters highlighting the blessings that wives can walk in are solid and Biblical- no wife can go wrong in following them. Overall it's a good book and one I would recommend... especially for young wives and those newer to the faith.

The chapter that I wanted to talk about here, however, happens to be her opening chapter- The Blessing of Three Strands. This chapter spoke to me from a very real place that I wanted to share with you today. For those who have read or heard my testimony, you will remember that Gabe and I have had more than our fair share of trouble in our marriage. With God's help we've come through 2 affairs and a porn addiction (for the complete story in all it's horrendous glory, click here!) I say 'with God's help' loosely... in reality, it was more like with His complete holding-us-together through it. As Jen writes, "What is a third strand? You've no doubt heard of this illustrious fiber. A bond between two people may shatter with ease but 'a cord of three strands is not quickly broken'.... My vows weren't foolish promises, although in challenging moments I question my sanity. God's third strand compensates for where we lack.... The threads of His tapestry hold our marriage together when everything else unravels."  This is just so true!

But I would argue even further... God's strand is literally the only one... the most important one... the life-giving one. We as fallible and horribly sinful people (yes, us Christians included!) have zero to bring to the marriage table, the marriage bed, or the marriage covenant except brokenness, baggage, a past of varying degrees of hurt, and this innane desire to 'make it work.' God is the absolute glue that holds marriages together. Literally. I can attest personally that during those incredibly rough patches in our marriage, both of our strands, Gabe's and mine.... were not only not strong but in some cases were not even present. They simply were not there! At best they were frayed... but (especially for me) many times they had been cut- the connection was severed completely.

Only He remained faithful in our marriage. Only He kept His promise, His vows.

God's strand remained. By His grace and abundant mercy to us, He literally held together our lives, our marriage, our family on several occasions. I am grateful in ways that I can't even begin to describe.

The idea of the 3-strand cord that Jen speaks of is so vitally important in a marriage. Many places in A Wife's Secret to Happiness she writes about lost dreams, impaired realities, unequally yoked marriages, and wives who long for a better setup. I get it. So does Jen. It was wise of her (and planned I'm sure) to start the book with the idea of the God-component thoroughly interwoven within our marriage from the onset. Without that strand, the God-strand, we have NO hope of this marriage-thing having any meaning or worth at all. It must be there to keep it together when we can't, it must be there to strengthen the bonds during rough patches outside the marriage, it must be there to refine us within the marriage to make us a more perfect example of Christ and the Church. The God-strand must be center!

If you have ever or are currently struggling in your marriage, please know there is hope and healing available. Gabe and I are living, breathing, healed, and whole examples of Christ's ability to remake and renew a marriage that was not only on the rocks... but had literally just sunk to the depths of the ocean. It was dead. But it (and we) are alive again! It's possible! Please, please let me know if you want prayer or guidance! God is awfully big, and pretty amazing at being the Great Healer. Make Him the center strand of your marriage rope and I promise if you cling to Him, that unbreakable thread, that he will do marvelous things in your marriage.

Please check out Jen's book today! You can find it on Amazon here (it is back in stock!) or at thejenweaver.com

 

Thanks for reading today, if you were touched, if I may be so bold to ask please take a moment and vote for this post here. My entry will be listed there at the bottom of the page... you can vote as many times as you'd like. I really would appreciate it very much!! Thanks in advance!

UPDATE: Thanks to ALL of you who voted! The contest is closed now and I took 5th place! Yay! I'm super excited about the prizes and I very much appreciate all your votes and support. 

The Day He Changed My Name ~ A guest post by Lindsay O'Connor

At the beginning of the year, on the morning of my birthday, I woke up thinking that I wanted/needed a scripture verse for the year. I read the verse of the day on my Bible app, which was John 14:27:

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives.

Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not be afraid. 

I felt strongly that God was giving me the word "peace" for the year. Of course, because I'm me, after briefly thinking that that sounded nice, I began to worry that if I'm going to be learning about peace this year, I can probably expect to experience some significant adversity. I hated to be pessimistic, but it seemed likely.

Not long ago, some friends introduced me to the Enneagram, which describes 9 interconnected personality types. I listened to a series of lectures about each of the 9 personality types. As I listened to the very last one, from the moment the teacher started speaking, I heard her describing me. She said that their greatest sin is fear and is often manifested as anxiety. She said that they always see the worst thing that can happen in any situation, and that even when things are going well, they worry about what could go wrong.

She said many things, but what I heard over everything else was that fear and anxiety are such a prominent backdrop, people with this personality type are often not even aware of it and don't realize that not everyone else experiences the world this way. I have always known that I'm an anxious person and have worked hard the past few years (or perhaps I should say God has worked in me) to cope better with my anxiety. Hearing that it is at the core of who I am was like looking into a mirror and being forced to face what I knew was there but didn't want to see. I could not understand how this could be the core of my identity because I knew that that was not what God wanted for me, but I also knew it was true. I was up all night, upset, wrestling with this truth. I knew that God had given me the word "peace" for the year, but I was confronted with the truth that I was completely wrapped up in fear and anxiety.

Shortly thereafter, I had the privilege of attending Beth Moore's Lit Conference for women in their 20's and 30's who believe they have been called by God to use a gift of teaching, speaking, and/or writing. It was an inspiring, challenging, exhausting 12 hour day, and I learned so much, but the most significant thing that happened was during the worship time at the end of the conference.

I was exhausted from a very full, emotional, day and was wondering where I should let my thoughts land at the close of it. As my mind was searching over all the things I had learned that day, I felt like God was telling me to set it all aside and just be with Him. Christine Caine got up as Christy Nockels continued leading worship and said that we (the women attending the conference) all knew that God was asking something of us, but that He wanted to ask us, "What can I do for you?"

I was shocked. I had been in such a mode of figuring out what He was asking of me, I could not believe He would ask what He could do for me. I thought about the "peace" scripture and prayed for deliverance from fear and anxiety. I considered the part that says, "I do not give to you as the world gives," and I thought about how the world gives: selfishly, expecting something in return, and temporarily, giving things that don't last. I thanked God that He does not give with selfish motives and doesn't seek to manipulate, and then I prayed that He would give me lasting, deep-down peace that would last for the rest of my life. I continued praying and felt like God was showing me that my peace would not come from knowing that everything is going to be ok but that it would come from knowing that He is with me. As the worship time and conference drew to a close, my friend and I left together, completely exhausted.

The next morning, as I began the drive home from Houston, I thought about how I should spend the luxurious four hours of alone time on the road. I took notice of a beautiful blue sky with picturesque white clouds, such a lovely sunny day for driving, and I relished the fact that I had all of this time alone to do whatever I wanted, with no one asking anything of me. I found myself thinking about how unusually good I felt. And then it hit me. "Did He do it? Did He answer my prayer and deliver me from anxiety?" Enjoying a lovely drive home and "feeling good" may seem unremarkable, but I felt an underlying contentment and calm that was different from the needlessly anxious hurry I had been in on the way there.

I have continued mulling this over in the weeks since my return from Houston and wondered what it meant. When I first got home, I felt like the background of anxiety was gone, that I no longer had a nervous energy buzzing around in the background of my mind, which was something I had not even been aware was there before.

I've been thinking about when Jacob wrestled with God in Genesis 32:22-32. As Jacob is wrestling with the angel of God, the angel asks Jacob for his name. When Jacob responds, it's as though he is finally owning up to the sin of deception that is at the core of his identity because "Jacob" means "supplanter*." He was a "heel grabber" from the moment he was born when he grabbed the heel of his older twin brother Esau, and he continued to demonstrate deceptive, conniving practices throughout his life up to this point of encounter with God. Thus, in giving his name, he confessed the sin of who he was at his core, and then God blessed him and renamed him "Israel," which means "God strives," "God rules," "God heals," or "he strives against God" (according to the Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary). After the encounter with God, he owned up to his mistakes and was reconciled to his brother.

I believe that on February 11, God gave me a new name. Before I could fully appreciate the healing and deliverance from anxiety, I had to be presented with the honest reality of who I was and how wrapped up in fear I had become. I was so upset to see and confess this about myself, but He already had a plan. As always, He used the truth lovingly and mercifully to begin the healing that He knew I needed. He had given me the scripture about peace, and then He took me to Houston and put me in a room with over 700 other women, under the leadership of an amazing panel including Beth Moore and others who have used their gifts to serve God. As we all worshipped Him together, He met with me intimately and asked what He could do for me after already placing in my heart the desire for the very thing He desired to do in me.

I want to share what He has done for me because I believe it brings Him glory, but I know that even if no one else ever knows my story, He is glorified in the act of healing me. He delights to heal His beloved children. I am thrilled to serve a God of restoration, who makes all things new, sees us both as who we are and who we will be, and who pursues us lovingly with a longing to work in us and conform us daily to His image. Before I had this healing encounter with the Lord, my name, my identity, was "Fear and Anxiety." I know that I will still struggle with feeling anxious at times, but I believe that it will no longer define me. Because of the work of Jesus on the cross and in my life personally, I have mercifully been given a new name. When the Lord looks at me and sees who He created me to be instead of who I have been, I believe He calls me "Peace."

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

*dictionary.com defines "supplant" as "to take the place of(another), as through force, scheming, strategy, or thelike."

 

 

Lindsay is always looking for ways to share about her experiences living on this earth as an imperfect human loved by a perfect God. Lindsay is a former elementary teacher, wife, mother of two, writer, and follower of Jesus. Her amazing blog, Rooted in Love is one of them. Lindsay, thank you for your heart and for sharing your story with us! -B

Life is So Unfair!

God must be trying to tell me to slow down and enjoy His creation more. I've found myself meditating on it a lot recently. Everywhere I turn I'm being smacked in the face with beauty. It's wonderful and yet makes me feel small. It's fall and everything is just so stinkin' pretty right now. The weather is fantastic and I love just enjoying the change of seasons. The colors, the fall breeze, the clear skies. As I pause though, it is hard for me to comprehend that the Creator of the universe, who set stars and planets in place, scheduled the tides, and sculpted the mountains- also has me in mind. All. The. Time. He tells me in scripture that He does. That is exceedingly sobering to me. I am grateful but feel so unworthy.

Because I AM unworthy. Totally and completely unworthy.

It's one thing to talk about, it's another to daily live with this truth. It hurts my pride. It slams against my selfish ambitions. My human self-worth tries to argue against it; and I wrestle against it's veracity in my life. Part of me is ashamed to be counted in His family, the other part of me tries to ridiculously convince myself that, of course, I'm not that bad, I'm pretty awesome actually, why would God not want to hang with me?

But then these crazy verses slip across my path and my heart has to reconcile what I know my rightful place is before God with what He tells me I mean to Him. What a weird juxtaposition of locations- where I should be and where He's placed me instead.

It's not fair. To Him especially. But how much do I LOVE that God is not fair! He's not fair ever!

He has chosen to love me and cherish me. He's chosen me to be His firstfruits- rotted parts, smushy pieces, worms and all. Not exactly the ideal picture of the kind of firstfruits He's instructed us to bring to Him (thank God!)- and yet He tells us we are His. In all His creation I am still on His mind and He wants to be near to me.  It's simply mind-boggling. It makes no sense for so many reasons. It's not fair... But I love that also! I love that so much of this world makes no sense- the good, the bad, and the ugly- and I really love that I don't have to worry about it. God's got it. He's got me, unworthiness (is that even a word?!) and all.

And speaking of crazy stuff... He tells us to simply ask and He'll let us in on some of His GodStuff... talk about unfair- we have been placed in the most unfair yet insider position there is!

Right. Next. To. God.

We've got His ear, we've got His attention, we have access to His heart. Wow, do you see the possibilities there? Do you feel the importance of what that can mean? Do you feel the power at our fingertips that God wants us to tap into... His power, His insight, His knowledge, His plans. It's an unbelievable thing.

Today I challenge you to seek Him harder. I challenge you to realize and meditate on the position you SHOULD BE in before God and the position He's PLACED you in. It's unfair and it's wonderful!