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

 

 

 

 

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?

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

From Angry Moms to Happy Moms ~Part 1

Taken from my segment with Tommy and Brook on Star 105.7. Tuesdays at 7:05 AM.

angry moms happy moms copy

 

First off let me say, I get it, I understand. I’m with you in the trenches of this one friend! We can all relate to being an angry mom at times and it doesn’t feel good to us or our kids. There is no doubt we have a tough job- I think it’s the toughest job there is. The kids are bickering, they’ve disobeyed or talked back and we’re yelling or worse…and then we feel awful. We feel like a failure.

For the month of February we’re going to talk about how to go from being angry moms to being happy moms.

This week we’re going to: admit it.

If we’ve blown it, we should own it. Pretending it didn’t happen doesn’t change the fact that we lost our temper and yelled at the kids.

Whether we do this alone in front of the mirror, in prayer, or with a trusted friend; we need to admit it. Being in denial doesn’t help; it just creates a bigger weight on our shoulders. The heaviness of guilt is miserable so getting it off our chest and putting it out there is freeing, even when we’re just admitting it to ourselves.

Taking responsibility for our actions can be difficult and humbling but it helps us start over. We may need to apologize to our kids. There is nothing wrong with asking our kids to forgive us, it gives our kids a great example of how they should handle their own mistakes. We can say, “I blew it and I’m sorry,” and if we said something cruel and we’ve torn away at their trust and respect, we need to use our words to do some repairing. It is a powerful way to teach them about what to do with guilt and bad behavior.

So, let’s take a step towards being a happy mom by admitting it if this is a struggle for us.

I admit it and will tell you that I need God’s help to overcome it. I can’t do it on my own and I have often stepped behind a closed door to pray and ask the Father to help me calm down and forgive me for losing my temper.

My friend Lysa Terkeurst wrote an excellent book: “Unglued~ Making Wise Choices in the Midst of Raw Emotions” I highly recommend it, you can get it at this link, on Amazon or anywhere you buy books.

Here is an excerpt:
“In the quiet, God lifts us up to a more rational place. When we are in the heat of tangled mess, crazy emotions drag us down into a pit of hopelessness. The only way out of the pit is to make the choice to stop digging deeper and turn to God for a solution, so ‘that God may life you up in due time’ (1 Peter 5:6.”

Moms, if you struggle with anger, you are not alone! I’m praying for you and for me and trusting that God will fill us with peace and joy and help us be happy moms.
I’d love you to leave a comment and let me know about your struggle or remedy to help you with anger.

 

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

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.

Defining Who You Are

From my study: Becoming Me Through Him…

button Becoming Me copy

Labels.

Maybe the key to becoming me, becoming you, is to face the labels instead of fighting them.

Face our weaknesses, faults, sins and past.

As I studied the story of Rahab, I was bothered to see that Rahab is still called a prostitute in Hebrews. How is that fair if she had changed her ways? Why does it seem that she cannot shake this title? Shouldn’t God want her story to be about how her life is new? I don’t want to keep calling her a prostitute. She moved on from that life, can’t we focus on her good choices instead of her bad ones?

Then I realized that the power in Rahab’s story is not about how she had changed her life, but in the fact that God redeemed her story.

Ladies, your past is still part of your story, labels and all.

God doesn’t want us to deny our labels, He wants to redeem them.

Let God redeem your past, let God redeem your labels.

Whether it’s abuse or sin that defines our past, it does not have to define our future.

When God redeems our past and our labels…we put the shame behind us.

You are a new creation in Christ. Through Him…you become the woman He wants you to be. We no longer have to live under the shame of the mistakes we’ve made, the sins we’ve committed or the abuse we’ve endured. Shame causes us to fear that we are unworthy of love and belonging. But when we let God redeem our past, we can own our story and live free of shame.

Yes, I hear you and I understand, owning our story can be difficult, but not nearly as difficult as spending our lives running from it. Shame is debilitating. It keeps us isolated and alone, completely missing out on the life God has for us.

Rahab shows us that though some of the labels may remain, God redeems our stories. She tenaciously reached out in faith, trusted this God whom she had heard about and He valiantly saves her and her family. Spoiler alert…she is later named in the genealogy of Jesus Christ!

Yes, you have sinned, but that sin does not have to define you as a person.
You may have been abused, but that abuse does not have to define you or haunt your thoughts, God is our Healer and Redeemer.

Shame grows in secrecy and judgment. It’s like mold. It likes the stale darkness. We pretty the outside but when the layers are peeled back we find a wounded little girl that’s been huddled in a corner, afraid that we’ll find out her secrets and believing that the fresh paint job could fool us.

The word inspire means to breathe, to take in air and life. Shame doesn’t want us to take fresh air, it wants us closed up and stagnant. Shame wants us to become a breeding ground of un-forgiveness, a petri dish of bitterness.

It’s time to let God ‘inspire’ us. It’s time to bring fresh air in, it’s time to own our story and let the Father redeem it. The power of shame is broken over our lives when we let God redeem our story instead of letting the past and the labels define us. Stop hiding.

Owning our stories and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we can ever do.

Matthew 22:36-40 (NIV)

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

You cannot fully love others until you love yourself, until you love the woman that God loves, labels and all. Redemption says that we are worthy of love and belonging, first Him loving you, then you loving you. Choosing right now to love yourself, not in a few weeks when you lose the weight or stay sober or when you get yourself cleaned up, but right now-today.

My prayer for all of us…
Lord, help us to see ourselves in the light of your love and forgiveness. Father let us glimpse the beauty that you want for our lives, teach us to love ourselves. Show us how to belong to the family of God and take our place as your precious, valued and worthy daughter.

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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