Fear Sits At Empty Tombs

Don’t let fear keep you sitting in front of an empty tomb, the joy came as they ran to be in His presence.

Fear, apprehension and anxiety will keep us stuck in a stale, dead, hopeless place. Jesus promises a full life to those who will seek Him and rest in His presence. Are you sitting at a tomb that is keeping you from having the joy a relationship with Jesus can bring?

Maybe you need to get up and run from the person, place, memory, fear or vice that keeps your life stagnant and empty.

An empty tomb   praiseandcoffee

Matthew 28
After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb.

There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”   NIV

 

 

 

 

When Prayers Are Not Answered

We pray and plead and hope and trust, yet nothing happens.

Or does it?

We set our sights on the answer, and only the answer we desire.

What if it’s not that simple?

What if there is more going on than a transaction?

Imagine a child-parent relationship based on transactions? The child says to the parent, “I will ask you for things. you take care of them and I will thank you.”

I don’t want the parent or child side of that relationship. Sadly, I think we often approach our faith this way and we miss the depth of an authentic relationship with the Father.

He promises us:
“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5

Instead of focusing on questions surrounding unanswered prayer, maybe we need to look for Him in the midst of our trial. He promised not to leave us, so He IS there…but where? Where is He revealing His love to us? A song, a smile, a sigh of relief?

He is there, He is here. Look for Him and let Him love you in the quiet moments and raging chaos. Answered prayer encompasses much more than checked boxes. It is about healing the parts of us we didn’t know were broken and revealing the loneliness inside. It is letting God love us and noticing when He does.

Don’t let “unanswered prayers” distract you. Transactions are empty, relationship fills the deepest part of us that longs to know Him and be known by Him.

Emotional Survival Isn’t Living

emotional survival isnt living Praise and Coffee

Galatians 4: 4-7

4 But when the right time came, God sent his Son, born of a woman, subject to the law. 5 God sent him to buy freedom for us who were slaves to the law, so that he could adopt us as his very own children. 6 And because we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, prompting us to call out, “Abba, Father.” 7 Now you are no longer a slave but God’s own child. And since you are his child, God has made you his heir.

Orphanages have an overwhelming task of caring for young ones that need individual attention but lack the numbers of loving arms to adequately meet the needs of all the children. A child raised in an orphanage usually suffers from some level of attachment disorder due to neglect and sadly there are times of abuse. This means they do not get the necessary bonding with one loving adult, so they struggle with relationships. If they have not found the world to be trustworthy to meet their needs they will not let themselves be vulnerable, instead their instincts tell them to provide for themselves and control their world as much as possible to avoid the pain of rejection. They turn on an emotional survival switch in their brain and respond with whatever means possible to get their needs met, be it; anger, rage, charm or manipulation.

Many Christians have this same experience in our journey of faith. We begin our walk with the Lord though a set of rules and regulations and possibly even spiritual abuse or neglect. We build a relationship with God on our good behavior and works all the while struggling to grow closer to the Father. Often we don’t even realize this until we notice that we’re overwhelmed with comparison, jealousy and/or fear. We won’t let ourselves be vulnerable to God or others and will go to great lengths to avoid rejection. Many of us find ourselves like a gerbil on a wheel of performance and obligation that keeps us busy but never provides the peace we are lacking.

We won’t let ourselves be vulnerable to God or others and will go to great lengths to avoid rejection.

Just like orphans with attachment disorder, we need bonding. We are God’s own children, Daddy’s little girls. He wants a relationship with us that brings us peace, comfort and rest. A child learns to bond by trusting in a loving caretaker to meet their needs, over and over again; then slowly releasing their grip of control (which is really no control at all, only fear) until a mutual love is shared. Once a child can learn to rest in that love, they will heal and grow naturally.

The same goes for our relationship with the Father. There is no magic prayer to experience a deep relationship (attachment/connection) with Him, it is a result of leaning hard into Him…and letting Him love us over and over again. No more running to empty vices or emotional fixes, no more performance (DO-ing for approval) and good deeds to give us false satisfaction. Emotional survival isn’t living. Unconditional love poured out by God and received by us. Resting in His amazing love is the only way to build a deep and authentic relationship with the Father who loves us more than we could ever imagine.

Would you say that your current relationship with the Father is one based on rules, guidelines and survival or is it built on trust and resting in Him?

Can Time-Outs Hurt Our Kids?

Taken from my weekly segment on Star 105.7 with Tommy and Brook

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All month we’ve been talking about how to have happy kids and help them overcome anxiety, this week we’re going to continue that by helping our kids have a sense of significance and value. We want our kids to know that they are an important part of not only our family but also their community and world. All of us want to feel like we belong and our kids are no different, especially when they are growing up and looking for their place.

A key to our children’s security is showing them that they have value. Today I want to talk about a way that we might be DE-valuing our children without even realizing it.

Time-outs.

We all know that there are times our children need a minute or sixty to process and consider their actions, but how we give them a time out could make all the difference. We have to be careful that when we give a child a time-out we are not telling them, “I am angry with you, I reject you, and you’ve lost the invitation to be in my presence,” which inadvertently says to them, “You are no longer valuable to me.”

Much of this will depend on our tone and the circumstances.

We may need to consider if they really need a time out or if we’re just overwhelmed and maybe we need a time-out. Sometimes, if we are honest about it, we are the ones that need a break from all the questions and commentary that our little ones can drown us in. So, we want to look at each situation and ask ourselves if it’s a punishable offense or just a frustration. Our reaction could be telling our child that they are not valuable or significant and that they don’t matter to us right now.

Of course we know that is not the truth, we love our children and want them to rest securely in that love. Our kids need to know that our love for them is unconditional; proximity, contact and closeness speak volumes to our children about how much they matter to us and the world around them. When we want them near us it tells them that they are significant. When we hastily send them away from us it could be telling them that they are not valued.

Yes, there will be times when one of both of us needs a time-out, but be careful not to crush their spirit in the process. Let time outs be a discipline for actions but not a rejection of them personally. Sending them away from us out of frustration will send the wrong signal. We don’t want our kids feeling like we don’t like them or that our love for them is conditional based on how good they “perform.” We will have to discipline our children, but we don’t have to de-value them in the process.

Can time-outs hurt our kids? I believe it all depends on whether we leave our kids feeling rejected by us (which is not good) or remorseful for their actions (which is good and beneficial). Of course this is another age-and-stage topic and there is no magic formula for how to handle each situation. Time-outs can be helpful and give a child some time to collect their thoughts, reflect on their actions or just calm themselves down. Follow your heart and instincts, they seem to know how to do this better than the emotions at the moment.

How do you handle these Real Mom (and Dad) moments?

If you’re not in the West Michigan area you can listen live on iHeart Radio anywhere in the world!

Check out Tommy and Brook’s page online at West Michigan STAR: Tommy and Brook

Their Facebook page: Tommy and Brook

And their Twitter: @TommyAndBrook

Helping Our Kids Deal With Separation Anxiety

separation anxiety praise and coffee

In the world of winning ball games, honor roll and weather related Facebook status’s many moms are not letting on that there is a deep and painful struggle going on in their homes.  Children are dealing with anxiety at alarming rates and its affecting families, schools and the lives of good Moms everywhere.

At some level all kids deal with anxiety, but when it hinders our families from functioning in a healthy manner, we need to pay attention and help our kids through it.

I will be talking the next several weeks on my segments with Tommy and Brook on Star 105.7 about helping our kids through anxiety. Today I’m talking about separation anxiety. You might think that this is just a toddler issue, but it can affect children into their teens and honestly even adults.

Often parents think that if their child is dealing with separation anxiety then they just need more separation, but child psychologist feel that the opposite is true. Kids were not meant to be OK without us. They need us to be their anchor. Their safe place in a storm and comfort from the world around them.

Children, and all of us really, crave connection. Children are especially sensitive to the connection with their parents and in fact they’re entire well-being counts on the parent-child connection. But we can’t be with our children 24/7, so how can we help our kids deal with our leaving them?

There are going to be many age and stage appropriate helps, but one way to help them through the transition of separation is to focus on your next connection with them. Tell them, “I’ll see you again in just a little while.” This way, instead of them thinking about you leaving them, they are focusing on the next connection with you.

Think of it as building bridges with them. Take them (emotionally) to the next connection instead of leaving them at the end of a dead end road. Talk about what you’re going to do when you see them again. “We will be together for dinner.” If it’s night time, “I will see you in just a little bit when the sun comes up.”

Moms, the stronger the connection you have with your children, the easier it will be for them to deal with the temporary separation from you. Physical touch, eye contact and listening are excellent ways to strengthen the connection with our kids.

Build bridges and focus on the next connection.

Luke 18:15-17 NLT
[ Jesus Blesses the Children ]  One day some parents brought their little children to Jesus so he could touch and bless them. But when the disciples saw this, they scolded the parents for bothering him. Then Jesus called for the children and said to the disciples, “Let the children come to me. Don’t stop them! For the Kingdom of God belongs to those who are like these children. I tell you the truth, anyone who doesn’t receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it.”

If you missed this segment you can listen to it and more on my Star 105.7 page.

Earning God’s Love ~When Minstry Gets In The Way

Gods love praise and coffee The story of Mary and Martha used to fill me with guilt for being busy until I realized that it wasn’t a story about a woman who was busy. Jesus basically (in my paraphrase) said, “Martha, you’re a worried mess and you need stop trying to get everything perfect for me. I want you, not your performance.”

Whether or not she was trying to earn His approval, love or just impress everyone; she missed the point and I know that I have too.

Anybody else?

Mary knew that the most important thing happening was at His feet. Listening, learning and resting in His love.

Shouldn’t this be easy??

Shouldn’t it come naturally??

Yes, I think it does, but many of us have forgotten how to live instinctively. We know in theory that we should put our family first, that God has given us the gift of family and they matter most. But we are busy meeting everyone else’s needs, sometimes even at the expense of our own families. We’ve lost touch with His still small voice that is always speaking to us about priorities.

When my grown children were younger, I spent so much time away from them doing church activities and it grieves me to think that the church even used to pay our babysitter so we could do the work of the ministry. I left my own children OFTEN, too often, and even though they were in good care (excellent in fact), they were not with their parents. I thought I was honoring God, but now I think I was looking for His approval through performance. I thought I would be a better Christian if I did more for Him. And yes, I enjoyed the accolades and approval of others, though it took me a long time to admit it.

I did not know how to be anything but busy. I did not know how to rest at His feet. I was striving to earn His love.

Yes, I was doing good things, God things. I would compare it to having the whole family home but busy in different rooms doing different things and never spending time together. You can call that family time, but without connection, we’re just existing together.

Of course there are busy seasons, but I encourage you to ask yourself:

Why am I doing this?
Who is benefitting?
Does it strengthen my family?
Does it draw me closer to God?

Our walk with God will not grow while we’re trying to earn His love. God’s love for you is not based on your performance, you can securely rest in His love when you stop trying to earn it.

Gal 2:19-20 The Message
 What actually took place is this: I tried keeping rules and working my head off to please God, and it didn’t work. So I quit being a “law man” so that I could be God’s man. Christ’s life showed me how, and enabled me to do it. I identified myself completely with him. Indeed, I have been crucified with Christ. My ego is no longer central. It is no longer important that I appear righteous before you or have your good opinion, and I am no longer driven to impress God.

Three Tips for a Stronger Marriage

stronger marriage

Three Tips for Stronger Marriage:
1. Forgive– the fire goes out when you water it with forgiveness.
“Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.”
Eph. 4:32 The Message
2. Communicate– your spouse is not a mind reader, tell him/her how you feel and use phrases like “I feel…..” not “You always……”
3. Play– Do something fun together. Set aside life’s worries for a time of connection and laughs.

 

“It’s better to have a partner than go it alone. Share the work, share the wealth. And if one falls down, the other helps, But if there’s no one to help, tough!” Eccl. 4:9-10 MSG

 

Edited to add:
My friend Darlene Schacht has put a 365 day marriage prayer devotional online, I think you might love it!
Todays Marriage Prayer

Don’t Give Up

A piece of what I’ve been working on…

Don't give up praise and coffee
Some days the pain is so deep, we can’t see over the edge of it. The day Mary watched her son beaten and crucified had to feel like the absolute end. But the mourning turned to morning and He rose. In the darkest of our days we dare have hope because light will not be kept under darkness and life will burst forth again. It could come through earthquakes and stones rolled away, it could be the tiny sprout of new life that breaks through the thawing ground or the person who wakes up and decides to start living again. The deepest of pain becomes a memory as the infant’s cry fills the room like a gospel choir.

It’s new life, a new day. It’s hope.

Please don’t give up.

When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. Romans 4:18 The Message

And be careful not to paint hope with one just color and brush, often new life looks different than we imagined it would.

 

I have experienced this kind of hope, I’d love to hear your stories of new life if you want to share.

I’m Still a Recovering Pharisee

I’ve noticed something lately. I suppose it’s not a recent “thing” but it seems to be ramping up, or at least I’m just seeing it more.

NickMom calls it “Other Mothering.” Jon Acuff calls it Jesus Juke. I refer to myself as a recovering Pharisee. It takes on many forms and has been around since the dawn of man but I think that social media has propelled it to a whole new level.

It’s that attitude of needing to right all the wrongs (or in the Christian community-spiritualizing everything). It’s the desire to interject your opinion and make sure that others know how misled, misinformed or mistaken they are.

It’s as if Facebook has given us carte blanche to blurt, spew and puke our opinions out when we disagree with what someone says. It feels like we’ve become a world full of Lucy’s from the Peanuts cartoon. We’re the crabby, complaining know-it-alls putting up ‘The Doctor Is In’ sign and blurting our opinions out on flat screens around the world. It wouldn’t be so bad if we did it with the motive of actually helping or encouraging someone, but it appears to be more about attacking a different view than ours.

lucy-the-doctor-is-inDon’t get me wrong, I have no problem with dialogue of opposing ideas. I love it really. Let’s hash it out! I enjoy talking about the different ways we process life and what we believe. I am open to the discussion, but I want it to be a discussion, not an immature shouting match while hiding behind a computer screen. I think we’re a lot more gutsy behind the keyboard than across the table from one another, which doesn’t lead to connection, only division.

It feels fruitless and empty to me.

I shared a picture recently on Facebook of a deer that my Father-in-law shot. He was told just a few months ago that he may not ever walk again, but he is walking and he was able to go hunting with his son and shoot a trophy buck. I was so proud knowing that this was a big deal to him and what it represented in his life.

I posted a picture from my phone because I knew that so many of our family friends would be thrilled for him.

But.

Those who disagree with hunting felt it more important to share their opinions than allow me to celebrate this great moment. I was going to just ignore it until it got to the point that I knew when my hunting friends saw the comments they would rally back and a full-on argument would break out on a post that was supposed to be about my Father-in-law… so I pulled it down. I didn’t regret that I posted the picture or feel that I was wrong but I took it down because I was so irritated with those who high jacked my FB to tell the world their opinions.

I heard a conservative Christian leader say that we have to be extremely careful who we quote and make sure that we know that the person we are quoting is reputable and that we agree with everything they say or it will come back to bite us. I understand the philosophy behind his statement, but I disagree with him. Although I admit I have been bitten, especially when quoting someone like Oprah in the Christian community.

Why are we so afraid of different opinions?
I can remember when I was researching my challenged beliefs…I felt guilty for even questioning what I had been taught.

Rachel Held Evans, Elizabeth Esther, Rob Bell and Wayne Jacobsen are just a few who are stoking the fire and waking us up to conversations that we need to have. This doesn’t mean that I agree with everything they say, but I love the dialogue they are inspiring.

I can’t think of one person whom I agree with 100%. Does that mean I can’t listen to what they have to say? Does that mean I have to argue every point they make that I don’t like?  No. The Lord spoke though a rooster when he crowed 3 times but I don’t agree with everything roosters say. Same goes for donkeys.

I enjoy Beth Moore and Anne Lamott’s books. Quote either of them and you’re sure to tick someone off. Mother Teresa tends to be quite safe, and usually the Bible is too, but be careful with the Message translation because the King James Version only people are sure to let you know that you’re skating on thin ice.

Our world gets really small when we limit the voices around us. You don’t have to agree with everyone, and you don’t have to tell them when you don’t. But if you can further the conversation and be ok with not always coming to an agreed conclusion, than please do. I’ve found that the things I was once so belligerent about were usually based in my hope that the loudest voice wins. I was so wrong. But don’t be surprised if I blow it again…I’m still recovering.

Can we care about each other enough to listen?

 

You might like this one too…Is It Our Job to Point Out Sin.

You Were Not Created To Be Perfect, You Were Created To Be His

Excerpt from our online study: Becoming Me Through Him

button Becoming Me copy

Perfectionism.

I spent a lot of years wanting to look like I had it all together with the perfect little life.

Wife and mom…bible study, worship leader….I was hiding from my past by being good.

The enemy loves perfectionism because it halts our healing. A woman who struggles with shame will often use perfectionism to conceal her pain. It’s a giant wall that we hide behind, thinking it’s keeping us safe but it’s really just keeping us captive.

Perfectionism is the belief that if we live perfectly, look perfectly and act perfectly, we can avoid the pain of shame and no one will know that behind that pretty church face is a scared little girl who desperately wants approval.

In the church world perfectionism can take on a few different looks:

  • The church lady who “lives at” the church taking care of everything from the office to the nursery and leading Bible study.
  • The Bible “know it all.”
  • The beautifully dressed woman with the perfectly manicured nails and smooth hair and the kids who look like they star in a Macy’s commercial.
  • The house, neat as a pin, in fact the pins even have their own special drawer…nothing is ever out of place.
  • The good wife or mom who leaves all other women feeling “less than” in her presence.
  • And I’m sure you can think of more…

Please don’t feel beat up if this is you, we are just peeling back another layer of lies…with the goal of getting free and finding out who He created us to be.

There is nothing wrong with a clean house or nice clothes, but if we are living this way because it gives us a sense of security or we want to impress others, then it is perfectionism. The question is, what drives or motivates us? What is behind our actions? Do we feel better about ourselves when we “perform” well?

“Acting” like a Christian makes you an actor. Living an honest, imperfect relationship with the Lord makes you real. When perfectionism is our game, we never really feel worthy of love because we know that we’re being fake.

We are all imperfect. But, when we see that TODAY He loves us and He believes we are worthy of love…we start to accept ourselves and we can live authentic lives and let Him redeem the broken parts.

The desire for perfection is another sign of brokenness. We think that being “perfect” will bring us comfort and happiness but nothing could be farther from the truth. It sets us up for failure, promising something that it can never give us: love and belonging.

Matthew 11:28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” NIV

Now read it in the Message translation:
Matthew 11:28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.”

Religion has a way of pushing us to perform. Jesus did not come to bring us more religion, in fact he exposed religion for the lie that it was…

Matthew 23:27 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You are like whitewashed tombs, which look beautiful on the outside but on the inside are full of the bones of the dead and everything unclean. 28 In the same way, on the outside you appear to people as righteous but on the inside you are full of hypocrisy and wickedness.

Jesus exposed perfectionism and called it wicked. He knew that it will only keep us from a relationship with the Father. Jesus came to show us a better way, He came to teach us about relationship not religion.

Religion is man’s best way to figure out how to perform better for God. Relationship is about family.

Having it all together on the outside while inside we’re striving for love, is empty and lonely. Let’s put perfectionism behind us ladies. We can’t be “good enough” to deserve God’s unconditional love. Unconditional =no conditions, no performance, no earning it.

I pray that the heavy weight of perfectionism is lifted off of you. Stop struggling to “get it all right” and start living. You were not created to be perfect, you were created to be His. Relationship first. Rest in Him. Let Him show you the ‘unforced rhythms of grace.’

You are loved.

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