Christian Living

Ditching the Scarcity Mindset

Wow! I can’t believe it’s been weeks since I’ve posted. I’m afraid much of January has been a blur due to a loss in our extended family and posting our New Year’s class for Epic Every Day. I’m sorry I didn’t give you guys a heads up.

Anyway! January is over 🙂 So let’s talk about the rest of the year. I’m reading Brene Brown’s book, Daring Greatly, right now. Love it!! So worth reading if you haven’t read it! In chapter one she talks about scarcity and how we tell ourselves there’s not enough __ from the moment we wake up in the morning (“I didn’t get enough sleep last night.” “I don’t have time to do x.” “I’m so behind!” “I’m too tired to x.”) until we go to bed at night. Even just now I was reading the news and thinking about how many wars the USA is involved in. It’s easy to get caught in “there’s not enough safety.”

I often get caught in the trap of thinking that if I just had more time or just reorganized my schedule the right way–in other words, if my circumstances changed, I would have enough. I wouldn’t be in scarcity because there would be enough time, energy, money, etc., etc.

However, Brown argues the answer isn’t based in circumstances. (If you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time or listened to our podcast, you know this is one of my favorite realities.) Circumstance solutions don’t fix heart problems. If we’re stuck in scarcity mode, we’ll never have enough money to feel secure. Instead, we need a heart change. “Wholeheartedness” is her term (deeply explored in her book, The Gifts of Imperfection) for being enough–being able to be vulnerable and believing in your worth, “facing uncertainty, exposure, and emotional risks, and knowing that I am enough” (Daring, 29).

I love that idea! Being is something that no one can ever take away. You can lose your job but if you are the asset, you can find/create another job. You can lose relationships but if you’re the asset, you can create other relationships. No matter the circumstances, you have the ability to bounce back because of who you ARE.

Working on scarcity is one of my goals for this year so I’ve been trying to reframe my thoughts. Instead of telling myself I’m behind, I tell myself that I’m starting from where I’m at. Instead of waking up and thinking how tired I am and how little sleep I got, I thank God for the amount of sleep I did get and remind myself that I have the opportunity for sleep in 15 hours or whatever it is 🙂

We all have a choice about every day. We can start out with the glass half-empty and spend the whole day lamenting our circumstances. Or we can revel in our being-ness–that we get to be God’s trust fund children, that we have a heavenly Father who loves us and take care of us, that we are fearfully and wonderfully made, that we are who we are. Being who God’s designed us to be instead of living in scarcity gives us room to thrive.

Copy of Blog_ Climbing Last Year's Mountain

Christian Living

Abundant Redemption

Today I had a fairly lengthy conversation with one of my daughters about treating each time someone wrongs us as if it were the first time. It’s ironic because we’ve been talking about being complete on our podcast this week, Epic Every Day. Part of being a complete person is living in the present instead of hanging onto things from the past or sending your mind into the future.

Obviously, if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time, you know that I am a passionate believer in the difference between forgiveness and reconciliation–forgiveness is a heart issue and something between you and God; reconciliation requires both parties to acknowledge their wrongs and work to make sure the problem doesn’t occur again.

The only way we can treat someone’s wrongs as though it were the first time they’ve wronged us is if we are steeped in the Gospel. See, the Gospel says that God redeems all the sins that affect us–both those we commit and those that are done to us. Sometimes it’s easy to get so focused on His future redemption (in the new heaven and new earth) that we forget about the now. I love in Psalm 27 where David* says “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.” Redemption isn’t just a future thing.

It’s amazing how much freedom has come into my life via that one concept. I love that I can stop beating myself up for things I’ve done in the past. It allows me to let go of my past baggage and press into the now. It wasn’t until I started Tapping/EFT on some of my past mistakes that I really felt how much of myself was trapped in the past. I really felt that I deserved to be punished–which is true, we do deserve death for our sin. Fortunately, that’s not the whole truth. Redemption means God has removed our sins as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103). Basically, they’re an infinity away from us. And He’s given us Jesus’ clean record. So, punishing myself is actually contrary to the Gospel of grace. In essence, it’s saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough.

I don’t know if you have anything like that in your past, but I can tell you that it’s exhausting to never let yourself off the hook for something you did in the past. I was constantly weighed down by shame and regret. Mental energy went towards either avoiding thinking about it or wishing I’d done something different/figuring out what I should have done. Time went into running away from my past. Carrying that maelstrom around took a lot of work!

Redemption also means we can let go of what other people have done to us. We can trust God to heal us and to work out their sin for our benefit. It’s a mind-boggling idea. I will freely admit that there are things that don’t feel like they can be turned to good, and I think it’s worth noting that God only promises this for believers. People who don’t know Jesus don’t have the same promise, and I know I struggle with watching the evil in their lives apparently consuming them. The world is broken. God will definitely bring glory to Himself through every person, but He only promises “to work all things out for the good of those who love Him” (NIV, emphasis mine).

So, if you are someone who loves Jesus, no matter what has happened in your life, God can work it out for your good. Which means you can forgive people, no matter what they’ve done to you. It’s not easy, but it is freeing and better in the long run.

Psalm 130: 7 ~ O Israel, hope in the LORD; For with the LORD there is lovingkindness, And with Him is abundant redemption (NASB).

Blog_ Abundant Redemption

Christian Living

How Not to Do a Burning Ritual

This week I did a burning ritual–for those of you who don’t know what a burning ritual is, basically, you write down things you want to let go of on little slips of paper and then burn them. Simple, right?

Uh, maybe not 🙂 I started by writing down the things that were the focus of my burning ritual. In this case, I wanted something to really solidify the things God’s been teaching me about His full redemption (e.g., Ps. 130:7) and to agree with Him against my own guilt and shame. So, I wrote down the mistakes and sins I’ve been carrying around–some of them for years. I bet you know what I’m talking about: those things that you studiously ignore, shove to the back of your brain, and when you think about them, you see no way for God to fix them even though the Bible talks about God’s full redemption.

So! I hand wrote them all down on a piece of computer paper and cut it up into little pieces. This was actually pretty hard. Seeing it all in black and white in one place was a cringeworthy experience. But actually, after I got over the shock, it was very healing. Everything on that list was the sort of thing anyone does. It really emphasized to my shamed self that I’m not uniquely evil, if that makes sense.

Anyway! I got a stoneware bowl (I’ve had bad experiences with breaking supposedly candle-rated glass with the heat of a burning ritual) and took my papers and bowl and lighter out into the garage so I wouldn’t set off the smoke alarms.

I tried burning them one at a time, praying over each and lighting it on fire, but, apparently, the paper was flame-resistant. So then I tried making a wee fire in the bowl with various flammables but it still wasn’t cutting it. Then I got the brilliant idea of soaking them in something. I was pretty sure we didn’t have lighter fluid and I happened to have just been cooking, so I threw on some homemade vanilla-infused rum–win, win, right? Good smells and quick-burning papers? No, not so much. The papers stuck to the bowl and wouldn’t let in enough oxygen for the fire to burn them.

In the end, I added one paper towel at a time to burn my papers, stirring liberally. Thank the good Lord, they finally burned up.

Now, why am I telling you this? All I wanted was to burn my papers in some awesome ball of flame so that I had a more tangible way to remind myself that God had taken those sins and fully redeemed them the next time I started feeling shame or avoiding those parts of my brain! But in the midst of my frustration, God reminded me that this is what we do with sin. We try to get rid of it on our own. We trying fixing our sins one at a time, instead of recognizing the root character issues that they grow out of. We add other things, hoping to get rid of the sin… good works, maybe being extra nice to the person we wronged, etc., etc., etc.

Nothing we can do can actually get rid of our sin. I love this fact. It means I am off the hook for trying to atone. I can’t atone. All I can do is throw myself on God’s abundant mercy and grace. I was reminded of that passage in 1 Kings 18:20-40 where Elijah goes up against the prophets of Baal. He has them pour water all over his altar and offering and then he just prays and a blast of fire comes down and pretty much vaporizes the whole thing–not just the offering, but the altar too. God’s forgiveness is like that. He doesn’t just cleanse us from our sins–He consumes all the bad consequences and turns them into something beautiful (Rom. 8:28). He fixes the hurts we’ve caused, using them for other people’s good too.

Is there anything you’re still hanging onto? If you’re God’s child and you’ve asked His forgiveness, He’s fully redeemed it–vaporized it and everything around it. It’s time to let go.

Christian Living

Leaving the Baggage Behind

So, how’s everyone’s new year going? Recovered from the holidays yet? I hope you had a lovely New Year’s! I did. We sat down as a family and wrote down the things we loved about 2016 and six goals for each of us in 2017. I am really liking this read-your-goals-out-loud-every-day thing. 

In case you couldn’t tell, I’m a huge fan of writing down what you want to add to your life in the upcoming year. If we don’t plant it, we can’t reap it. I have lots of things I want to carry into 2017 or to add to my life in 2017. Lately though, I’ve been thinking about what I need to let go of this year. Kinda like the difference between sins of omission vs. commission—it’s easy to forget the omission ones. I make goals but rarely do I make let-go’s.

A friend and I were talking about shame recently and how we both struggle with hanging onto shame. That’s something I’m working on letting go of. I’m passionate about mistakes not defining who I am. It’s amazing how many things I’ve moved from the category of “power” to “thing” this year—for example, money. Mistakes are like that. They’re just a thing. They don’t have the power to define who you are—especially if you accept that you’re human and make mistakes and go through the process of asking for and accepting God’s forgiveness and then learn from them.

God’s forgiveness is amazing when you really think about it. If it’s been a while since you first became a believer, take a minute and just remember what it was like to carry your sins all by yourself. Then meditate on God’s forgiveness: God says He takes our sins away as far as the east is from the west (Ps. 103:12). He gives full redemption (Ps. 130:7)–I LOVE this concept. It means that any mistake or sin I’ve ever committed can be filled up with God’s redemption and turned into something that’s actually beneficial for me AND for the person I sinned against.

A lot of us had a less than perfect 2016. It’d be easy to carry our mistakes with us into 2017. But we don’t have to—and, in fact, carrying them will weigh us down and make us less able to do well in 2017. We can choose to fix them—to admit our mistakes, ask God for forgiveness and redemption and then do our best to address the issue/broken relationship and to learn what we need to learn—forgive (others or, more often in my case, myself), and then focus on 2017.

What are you hanging onto from 2016 that you can let go of?


Finding Emotional Rest

So in my post on mental rest, I actually addressed worry, which is both emotional and mental. Emotional rest covers a wide variety of issues–just ask yourself if you ever feel like you experience an emotion that’s taking a lot of energy and you can find areas you need God’s rest in. I had a day a couple of weeks ago where I felt really energized and cheerful for most of the day, which is VERY unusual for me (I usually run out of spoons by about 10 a.m. :)). I was pondering why I felt so great and suddenly realized that I wasn’t in any pain (also really unusual). It really re-reminded me how draining/exhausting pain is.

Emotional stressors are like that. We carry around bitterness and shame, etc. without realizing what a toll it’s taking on us. I think one of the saddest things to see is someone who’s been lugging around the same emotional baggage for years and years. I don’t know about you, but I want to figure out what my baggage is and unpack it so I won’t be carrying the same junk 10 years from now. There are much better things to spend my time and energy on than baggage.

I’ve kicked around writing on shame or bitterness, despite having already written copious amounts on them in my book, but I keep losing my drafts so maybe God’s trying to tell me something. The emotional rest I’ve found in Christ is so amazing–more than I ever hoped for. By the time I reached college I had many, many pounds of baggage, and I just expected that I would have to manage life with it. And then God started working a miracle. I still have plenty of issues to work through, but I’m not carrying the acres of junk I started out with.

I think the first place I had to come to was understanding who God is. Psalm 46:10 says “Be still and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations; I will be exalted in the earth” (NIV). It was only once I stopped pretending my baggage wasn’t there, or trying to blame it on other people, or downplay the sheer amount of it, that I made progress. It was in just sitting with it before the Lord and admitting I couldn’t do anything to change the amount I had… in finally admitting I wasn’t God, that I was able to know God was God. And then the more time I spent in His presence and reading His Word, the more I came to know four crucial things about Him. And those four things ripped up all the excuses I had used to explain my baggage.

1) God is holy. There is no darkness in Him at all. And He can’t tolerate any darkness. Sitting in His holiness opened my eyes to the depth of my own sin… it forced me to take responsibility for my issues–to realize that I had developed sinful survival skills. Even though they saved me at the time, to continue in them is sin. And sitting in His holiness showed me that He is incapable of working evil in my life, which really helped with my trust issues (at least as far as God is concerned).

2) God loves me, and you. In the cross we see the embodiment of that love (Romans 5:8). Jesus died for me. Just sit with that for a moment. Re-read Matthew 26-28 if you’re a little fuzzy on the actual events. Jesus suffered and died. Yes, He did it to satisfy God’s holiness. Yes, He did it because God will judge sin. But, more than that, He did it for you. Hebrews 12:3 says that He did it for the joy set before Him. How much love would it take for you to die a horrible death for someone and consider it a joy because you were rescuing them from the hatred they had for you?

3) Because God loves me, He always wants what is best for me. I love how Lewis talks about God’s love: that it is a terrible love, relentlessly working to make the beloved more lovely, even when the beloved would prefer to remain as they are. Sometimes the things God has allowed in my life have quite frankly sucked. But then I see what He’s done with them and I wouldn’t trade them for anything–it’s like the transition from a lump of dirty coal to a valuable diamond. You don’t have to like the coal, but you can’t get the diamond without it.

4) God is God and I am not. I have no right to play God in anyone else’s life. I have no right to play God in my own life. I can’t judge or punish someone else, even just by refusing to forgive them. I can’t judge or punish myself. I am fundamentally incapable of distinguishing between truth and lies apart from God. My only safety lies in running back to Him (which I am willing to do because of #1 & #2).

Whenever I feel myself falling into worry or bitterness towards someone or resentment over situations or shame, I try to run back to God’s character and take refuge there, to be still and know that He is God. He will be exalted among all people. He will be exalted in the earth.