Tuesday, March 29, 2011

"Who am I?" - The 'Good Girl' who's not Good Enough!

Have you ever wrestled with the thought, "Am I good enough?" Growing up this question went through my mind a lot!! And most of the time my answer was no!! I can recall this first taking place in the 4th grade when I didn't think I'd be good enough for the elementary basketball program. Time moved on and I asked this question as I thought about being friends with others, giving a report in class and playing high school basketball. And each time I asked the question, my answer was the same, "NO, I'm not good enough!"

But yet, I strived to be good! I was the oldest responsible child, well most of the time!! I lived to please my parents, teachers and coaches. I didn't want to do wrong and I worked hard to make others happy.

Obviously there was a contrast on what was going on outwardly and inwardly. Others saw me as one who worked for my success, treated others with respect and was a fairly happy individual. My parents were proud of me, teachers would compliment me and my coaches appreciated me.

But I on the other hand saw someone else, I knew the real me - the one who feared failure, felt she never measured up and would never keep everyone happy. I was the one who not only heard the whispers, "You're not good enough," but most of the time was the one I heard saying it.

Now as I look back on these moments what strikes me the most is the one thing, the only thing, I ever thought I'd be good enough for - making my way to heaven. I grew up with a works mentality thinking if I did more good than bad I'd one day go to heaven. Kind of amazing to think even though I thought I wasn't good enough to play college ball or be a wife, I thought I had what it takes to get to my eternal resting place!

Thankfully in my early 20's God showed me it's not about being good enough, which is a good thing because when it comes to salvation the answer I'd always given is right. What I do and how I act will not save me, and friend it won't save you either. Basically I was living the life of what Lysa TerKeurst calls "the unsaved Christian."

I was reminded of some key verses tonight as my children practiced their Awana verses - James 2:10 says, "For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, He is guilty of all." I don't have to look back to far in my life, better yet in this day or to be honest this hour to see I have stumbled in one point. How about you?

I know I fall short day after day, but Romans 3:22-24 sums it up quite well, "This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus." Notice this justification isn't something I (or you) earn; no, it is given to those who believe.

Believe in what you might ask, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved!" Acts 16:31 Paul adds to these thoughts with his words in 2 Timothy 1:9 "He has saved us and called us to a holy life—not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time."

Back in the days of high school and college, the good girl in me would have never thought I was good enough to live the holy life God calls me to, but thankfully with His grace comes a transforming of the mind! (See Romans 12:2)

So "who am I?" I'm no longer the good girl who lives to please others, but I am one who still falls short because honestly there are times I worry more about what others will think rather than seeking God's approval. And those words that I told myself for years, "I'm not good enough" they still play on the soundtrack of my mind. But God reminds me of the post I shared last week, I am a work in progress and will be until He calls me home. And thankfully it's His work in me that is changing who I am into who He made me to be.

He does this by replacing the lies in my mind with the Truth of His Word. Though I'm not good enough to get to heaven, He tells me "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me!" (Phil. 4:13)

And friend, the same is true for you! If you strive to be good enough, living to please others and earn your salvation can I ask you to give that up? I know the struggle it creates, the pressure that builds; I've done it and I wasn't good enough either. Perhaps you've already accepted Christ as your Savior, but you still hear those words, the lie that knocks you down, the "You're not good enough" message that plays over and over in your mind. I understand, but will you join with me and take a step towards replacing the lie with truth? Remember, God is good and since we belong to Him He will make us good enough to live the life He calls us to.

Press on my friend!! I know this journey is a challenge, but it's worth it. Keep asking the question and remember to look for His answer! Tonight I was reminded there is freedom in knowing I'm not good enough! I pray He blesses you with reminders as well!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

"Who am I?" - A work in progress...

I have a question for you, "Are you a list maker? How about a goal setter? Do you have a desire to accomplish one thing before you move on to the next?" Personally, I'd have to answer, yes, yes and most of the time. I enjoy crossing something off my list and knowing it is done, but rarely in a house with 4 little ones does anything stay done for long! If you're a Mom you understand - just when the dishes are done, someone is hungry again or just when the laundry is folded someone comes in covered in mud.

As a Mom there are tasks we do over and over and I'm beginning to realize as someone who finds my identity in Christ the same is true. I'm not saying Christianity is something I put on my to do list and simply a task I accomplish, no it is so much more than that!! I realize accepting Christ is a one time decision, but truly living for Him is a moment by moment choice.

Let me explain, just last night I found myself under what Renee Swope likes to call "the shadow of doubt." I was wrestling with what God was calling me to do and feeling like a failure in one of the roles He had given me to play. As I watched my husband vacuum our floor rather than appreciate his help, I believed satan's lie that I was a bad wife and couldn't do what I was supposed to do. Listening to one lie just brought more as he whispered I wasn't good enough to do what God was asking me to.

I hate to admit it, but this battle went on through the night until this morning when satan had almost convinced me that he was right - that I wasn't good enough and that what I did really didn't matter. I've been in this place before, which didn't help matters, actually it compounded them as I told myself more defeating thoughts. Ones like "haven't you been following Christ for years and you still let satan push you around?" or there was "one of these days God's just going to give up on you!" To top it all off there was, "You're never going to get it!"

It was then that life took over and that line of thinking stopped for awhile and before it had the chance to get going again God interrupted me with words from a friend and more importantly His word. Currently I'm privileged (and challenged) to be reading an early copy of Renee Swope's new book, "A Confident Heart." And God met me on the pages of her book today!!

By doing so He reminded me that I, His daughter who He chose and loves, am a work in progress. Walking in faith is not something that one day I will just magically succeed at, sure I will mature and grow (Lord willing), but no matter who I am, satan wants to attack and will. 1 Peter 5:8-9 says, "Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings."

Friend it's true he is attacking and will do so especially when we are trying to make progress! I will never fully become who I am in Christ this side of heaven, but I can make progress and so can you! We can set goals as Christians as we walk in faith, but we must not forget there is an opponent who will do all he can to distract and defeat us as we strive to reach them. But at the same time let us not forget we have a Savior who has won the battle, so press on, hold on to His truth and like Renee advises, stay in the shadow of the Cross!!

Here are two verses that spoke to me; I pray God will speak to you as well -

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. Ephesians 2:10

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Phil. 4:13

“How can you let God down when you weren’t ever holding Him up?” Steven Furtick ‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’ Isaiah 41:10

What words from The Word encourage you??

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Family Poetry

Over the past 10 days Wendy Blight has been encouraging women to read through Psalm 119 and then she challenged women to write an acrostic expressing your love for God and His Word. I did just that, so thought I'd share my words. I also used the idea with J.D. and Joy and they are more excited to share theirs!!

A love that makes me happy
Because Jesus died on the
Cross for me.
by Joy (6)

And from J.D. (8) -
Amazing love from God
Brought me to Him,
Creator of ALL the world.

Amazing love that
Brought me life.
Caring God who calls me
Daughter and
Forgives all my sins.
Gracious and
Jesus - the One who
Knows me and
Loves me still.
My Savior has changed me and made me
New. It's Him I want to
Obey and
Quite unique, He offers
Rest, comfort and discipline.
Staying near
To Him is my
Ultimate goal. His
Vast love
Will carry me through and make my days
X-tra special because of HIS presence.
Your love O Lord makes me
Zealous for more.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

"Who am I?" - Broken and Beautiful

Welcome back for our Wednesday's "Who am I?" study! This weeks title was not on my list months ago when God put this series on my heart, but He has me (a tired, expecting Mom with 4 little ones) up in the wee hours to write it! Anyway, I pray He will speak to you on this topic in the same powerful way He has done with me! So on to our topic...

"Who am I?" "Broken!" Yes, that answer makes sense! I've had a broken heart, broken dreams, broken relationships... You get the idea; I have been broken. Simply said, I've felt no good, incomplete, not good enough; sometimes these feelings resulted because of what was done to me and others because of things I'd done myself. The answer, broken, comes as no surprise.

But it's the last word in the title of this post that is hard to type (and more so harder to believe) as an answer to our question. "Who am I?" "Beautiful." The response I've mentally given to that statement for years (35 of them to be exact) is "yeah right, look at me!!"

Honestly I've been able to give some positive answers to our question, but beautiful has never been one of them. Actually, my response in this area has been quite the opposite or an issue I avoided entirely. So much so that as a kid growing up, I'd fight my sisters for the backseat behind the passenger simply because I didn't want to look up and see myself in the rear view mirror.

I'm sure you'd agree, I had issues with my looks. But honestly this isn't a past tense struggle, I still do. God showed me the importance of dealing with this over a year ago, when my then almost 5 year old little girl sincerely said to me, "I'm not pretty." Like every Mom, I know my child is the cutest, but still her words hurt.

Especially the ones that followed my "yes you are" response; without a beat, my little Joy said, "you're just saying that." Honestly my heart broke because I knew how she felt, in my mind I'd probably said the same thing to my husband that very day. God directed me to speak His truth to her and as I did, He challenged me to believe it for myself!

And now, for the first time ever, I will say it: I am beautiful. It's hard for me to believe I just typed those words, but I'm finally at a place where it's harder not to believe God's Word.

Please read it for yourself -

But the LORD said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The LORD does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7 NIV

"Let the king be enthralled by your beauty; honor him, for he is your lord." (Psalm 45:11 NIV)

How do those verses affect your thinking? Friend don't do what I've always done, go back and don't just read them, but claim this as truth. He sees your heart; it doesn't matter that you were mistaken as a boy on the junior high basketball team or what size your pants are - in His eyes, you are beautiful!!!

Today will you take the time to share that truth with someone (perhaps like me and share it with yourself in writing), not because you think highly of yourself (remember we are broken!!), but because you think highly of HIM!! It's time we start seeing ourselves the way God does and then honoring Him with who we are!!

Dear Heavenly Father,
May we always ask, "Who am I?" and more importantly may we always remember to seek Your answer to the question. Make us the women you created us to be. Though we are broken, let us not forget we are beautiful. Lord, we love you and we thank you, now let us go and honor you. In the precious name of Jesus, I pray. Amen

Monday, March 14, 2011

"Different, yet the Same"

Just this morning I read a post by Lisa Whittle titled, Differences, which has me thinking. She is discussing how differences have the ability to divide us, which is so very true. Here's a look at what she shared, "We preach love, community and acceptance, but they are much easier to read off of a piece of paper than they are for us to attach to real life issues that happen between imperfect people…especially when we are the one who feels wronged." She's right; in our mind it's easy to know the right thing, but so much harder to live this out.

Her words about differences made me think about how they affect us, or have me anyway, in a different way. For many years, and sometimes still, I would play the comparison game and I was always the one who didn't measure up. I would see the other person better than me and these observations made me realize we were different and then my mind would believe that because of those differences we shared no connection.

Friend, if you've ever done the same let me tell you - that thinking is wrong!! I thought about this nearly 5 years ago as I reflected on a friendship that had numerous differences, and God showed me though our similarities may unite us our differences can complete us. And really when we share a love for Christ and a bond in Him our differences don't even compare to what holds us together!! Now if we would live daily like that was true!!!

So today rather than focusing on our differences, the things that at times may divide us, let us remember though we are different, we are the same in so many ways!!

Below you will find some words about my friend and I, who are different, yet the same!!

"Different, yet the Same"
She loves pickles. I can't stand them.
She has a pet parakeet. Birds scare me.
She leads a worship team. I can't sing.
She runs her own business. I'm a farmer's wife.
She graduated in nineteen something. I was born the same year.
She's been married for two and a half decades. We just celebrated 5 years.
Her youngest just left for college. Mine hasn't left the crib.

We are different, yet we're the same.

Our love of basketball brought us together.
We understand the importance of motherhood.
We enjoy listening to others.
We believe things happen for a reason.
We share a love for God.
We are sisters in Christ.
We worship the same Father in heaven.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

"Who am I?" - Sometimes I forget...

Nearly two months ago, God put it on my heart to write this weekly series and I believe I know why - so I would remember who I am!! I'm not sure about you, but sometimes I have a tendency to forget.

Forgetting whose I am and not remembering where my identity truly is found is not a good thing, but it happens. Sometimes life's overwhelming circumstances press in on me and I forget the truths of God. Others the voices of those around me and the lies of satan scream louder than the whispers of my Heavenly Father.

In those moments I'm vulnerable to answer our "Who am I?" question in the wrong way. And when I allow anyone or anything (and even myself) but God to define who I am, I am setting myself up for trouble.

What kind of trouble you ask? Let me share two stories from my recent experience - a few months ago, I stepped down from a women's ministry leadership team and in a way that messed with how I saw myself. First of all, it's a step God obviously led me to, but one satan used to twist my thinking.

Eventually I realized one of the reasons God led me to this decision, we are expecting our 5th child in July. Truly we are blessed, but as I focused on what He was taking away, I began to answer this question of identity myself, rather than allow God to do it for me.

My mind shifted from believing who I am is all about what God says and started to focus on finding my identity in what I did. Simply said, I was forgetting who I am and as I focused on the wrong things I wasn't being who He created me to be.

This past weekend God showed me this forgetting thing isn't a one time occurrence, no I'm sorry to say it happened again. I have yet to see this little one's face, but God is already teaching me through my baby.

Honestly I was a bit nervous about sharing our news. I could remember some of the reactions we received with number four, so I assumed that would only intensify with number five. What it boils down to is I was worried about what others thought, which clearly is a result of forgetting who I am.

When I (and you) live as daughters of Christ, it's only His approval we need and His opinion that matters. But when we forget and define ourselves in the wrong way, we basically forget who we are.

In these moments, bad things can happen. We live to please the wrong audience, which may cause us to do things we regret and live in a way that dishonors God. We open the door for doubt and worry, which keeps us from living the life God has for us and bringing Him the glory He deserves.

Since I'm human, I don't believe I'll ever overcome forgetfulness, but I believe there are steps I can and must take. Paul sums it up when he says, "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." Romans 12:2

If I want to live out God's answer to the question, I must first know what it is, which will only happen when I know who He is and dig into what He says. Friend will you join me as we move past the days of conforming to the world and being defined by it's ever changing standards and instead allow God to transform us and be who He says we are??

As we walk this road together, I'd love to hear about your moments of forgetfulness and how God has helped you remember who you are!!

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

"Who am I?" - Not what I do

Once again it's Wednesday and time to answer the question, "Who am I?" Lately when my mind asks this question, God has to remind me of His answer, "Jill, you are not what you do."

If you are a regular reader of my blog, you know I recently stepped down from the Rise and Shine Women's Retreat leadership team. This was a position I'd held for two years and the event was originally something God placed on my heart over 4 years ago. Trusting Him and stepping into the unknown was scary, but an adventure which God truly blessed. He worked through that in numerous ways, so stepping down was hard. Again it's simply a step of faith that involves trusting Him and stepping into the unknown. I know the adventure will continue...

Actually, it already has! In the last month, God really has me focusing on the idea of identity - where it's found and the role it plays. Lately He's been showing me for much of my life I've defined myself by what I have done.

Growing up as the oldest of three girls, I was usually the good girl, the people pleaser. In high school I was the basketball player who defined myself with wins and losses and measured my success with a stat sheet. College began in a similar fashion until an injury forced me to move from player to coach. After graduation, I kept the label "coach" and added teacher.

A few years later I was married and found myself answering the question, "Who am I?" with wife. Time continued to pass and our son was born. Then people would ask who I was and I found myself saying, "I use to teach school..."

At this point God began showing me that I was defining myself in the wrong way. Who I was wasn't determined by what I did. The roles I played could change and the reality of life is they will change, but who I am, a daughter of the King, will forever remain the same.

So now eight years later, why do I struggle with my role changing once again? Probably because I'm human, but I'm thankful for God's whispers of truth and reminders of who I am. Psalm 51:16-17 has spoken volumes lately. It says, "You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, you, God, will not despise."

God doesn't need the things I do, He wants me - a broken spirit, a child willing to be shaped and used for His purpose and glory however He sees fit. Does that mean I shouldn't serve and be involved in ministry? Absolutely not!! But my heart must be willing to do and serve where, when and how He wants!! He does NOT measure my worth (or yours) by what I do and He doesn't define me (or you) by what we accomplish (at least according to the world's standards.)

Awhile back I heard pastor Steven Furtick say, "Our identity in Christ must supercede our activity for Him." I couldn't agree more with that statement! But I'm once again realizing agreeing with something and living like it is true are two different things! I'm so thankful God is reminding that it doesn't matter if I'm part of a team that reaches nearly 400 women for HIM or the 4 children in my house. No, all that matters is knowing I am HIS and living like it!!

Friend, have you ever defined yourself by what you did or the roles you played? How has God helped you understand that is NOT who you are? I'd love to hear your story!! Just click on "comment" below and share your thoughts.