Philippians 4: 8-9: “Don’t start it, but Finish it”

When my dad was still living, he told me… Katie never throw the first punch, but if someone comes at you… you finish it. Don’t let anyone ever push you around. You won’t be in trouble, I promise.

I grew up with this mindset.

Katie, no one else is going to take care of you so you take care of you. Sad enough, it was true and when someone pushed me, well… i pushed back. I was respectful as long as I was respected… and when I wasn’t… I wasn’t.

So…

Last week, I watched my kids fight over two legos and a plastic kitten. Two legos and a plastic kitten.

Probably not a big ordeal, right? But in that moment… it was to them.

It began with my daughter scooting, with her kitten, closer and closer to Haisten. With absolutely no interest in legos at all, she waited until he sat down one lego on top of the other and she snatched them. He pushed her; she pushed him back, and he ran to me crying while she paraded around the kitchen with two legos, a plastic kitten, and her own rendition of a victory song and a complimentary smile.

Haisten, you shouldn’t have pushed your sister.

“But mama, she took my legos.”

Gracie you shouldn’t have took your brothers legos and you shouldn’t have hit him either.

“Mama you saw him hit me first. I hit him back; I didn’t hit him; i just hit him back. and mama, he is bigger so he knows better mama and I don’t”

In that moment, my heart sank. Don’t our children teach us so much about life?

God uses the smallest, most ordinary things to send great messages.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable- if anything is excellent or praiseworthy- think about such things.  Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me- put into practice.   And the God of peace will be with you.” Philippians 4:8-9

I’ve shared with you guys how selfish I was before I came to know, really know, Jesus.

I guess I would have made daddy proud because I certainly didn’t let anyone run over me.

Katie took care of Katie because Katie felt like she always had to.

I knew nothing of a gentle spirit; some days it brings me to tears because I still don’t.

For so long, I’ve had that ‘don’t start it but finish it’ attitude and despite how hard I’ve tried to suppress that old piece of me… at the most inconvenient of times, it will bubble up and out before I’ve reconciled my heart to what it most important.

There has to be a time in your life as a faithful follower of Jesus that you quit standing up for yourself and start standing down for Jesus.

The Bible doesn’t say if they break your leg; break their neck. It says turn the other cheek. See Matthew 5:39

The Bible doesn’t say that if a person fights you, fight back. It says that in this world we do not battle things of the flesh and people but are engaged in spiritual warfare and that war isn’t won with army artillery; it’s won with spiritual armor. See Ephesians 6:12

The Bible doesn’t say if someone hurts your feelings with words, hurt them back. It says that so long as it depends on you, live peaceably with everybody for vengeance is for the Lord. See Romans 12:17-19

The Bible doesn’t even say that once you are saved you are safe from all of these things, but it does say that we should suffer for what is right even at our own expense. See Hebrews 11:25-26

I’m not sure which hurts worse, the punch to our person or the punch to our pride.

My dad promised that I wouldn’t be in trouble if I didn’t start it, but my Father says different.

Two wrongs do not make a right: “Make sure that nobody pay back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and everyone else.” 1st Thessalonian 5:15

We all have “those” days and “those” people that sometimes make it hard to be kingdom focused and character conscious.

In this scripture Paul says if there is ANY thing that is praise worthy, think about that… and do good things, right things.

Isn’t it so easy to be obedient in life when it aligns with something we want to do?

When I felt called to a new career, I was excited for what the Lord was doing, and with nervous obedience I jumped into that calling and gosh it has poured blessings on myself and my family.

Obedience pours blessings. Always.

But starting my day with a slap across my right cheek, and Jesus giving the instruction to just smile humbly and instead of giving someone a piece of my mind, just give them a piece of my other cheek instead..

where’s the blessing in that? Blessed that the Lord said don’t worry about applying my blush that day?

I mean maybe but humility keeps us obedient, and obedience always gives us greater access to the promise.

Paul said think about that one thing and the peace of God be with you. It will be hard sometimes, and while Satan will pour all of those should have said/ could have dones on you, as believers we’ve got to learn to stand down.

“If anyone chooses to follow me, he must deny himself daily, take up his cross, and follow me.” Luke 9:23

In my studying scripture I came across some biblical commentary that quoted it like this:

“obedience is your job; outcome is His.”

Wow, right?

Whatever our circumstance, God is either doing it or He is allowing it to happen.

And the outcome to either is His.

Satan lets us believe that we have a say in how things end for us, like our lives and decisions are not already known and knitted. If we said this or acted like that then difficult people and difficult things will automatically come to their senses and the situation just dissolves allll because you did (insert here).

Hind sight is 20/20 but in that moment we are justifiably sure that what we do matters.

I wonder if God sits up there in the clouds and laughs at us?

You know… When we think we know better than God or can better control and manipulate a situation better than God. God Almighty, the One that sets the sun and moves mountains? yeah. okay.

Sometimes we get so caught up in how a certain place in our lives feels that we completely forget about God’s promises in those places and that is what Paul is urging us to remember here.

God is faithful and God will do whatever it takes to keep His promise to those that are faithful to Him.

“A faithful man will abound in blessings” Proverbs 28:20

“And his master replied Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful with few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share in your Master’s happiness” Matthew 25:21

“Be faithful until death and I will give you the crown of life.” Revelation 2:10

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” Hebrews 11:6

“But the Lord is faithful, and he will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.” 2 Thessalonians 3:3

“Know therefore that the Lord your God is GOD; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep in His commandments” Deuteronomy 7:9

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.  You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what He has promised.” Hebrews 10: 35-36

The way you live your life is the greatest ministry you can provide to a public people and may be the only way a lost soul comes to know Jesus. As Christians we must carry this  duty heavily on our shoulders and with a sincere urgency.

Our human-ness fails our faith sometimes. We are and never will be, by no standard, perfect; however, it is indispensably important that we will ourselves to mirror ourselves in the image of Christ as close as humanly possible.

“And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body.  And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” Collosians 3:15-17

Never let a momentary dispute place you in a permanent disposition.

Nasty people and bad times are temporary and so are hurt feelings.

set aside the difference for the destiny.

Biggest Hugs,

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Philippians 4:1-7; Trial: Safety or Sorrow

My pastor asked our small group yesterday what the  verse in James meant in chapter 1:

Count it all joy, when you experience trials of many kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

How do you count the joy in trial?

It was here, in this book of the Bible, on these pages, that my faith took off.

I met Jesus. Just recalling that feeling brings me to tears. I had fallen to my knees and right there, in those moments, the floor was the most comfortable place I had ever known.

But I’ll tell you lately, that same “on the floor” feeling hasn’t felt as safe. It’s felt more like sorrow.

but joy?

PHILIPPIANS 4:1-7 focusing on 4:4-7

“Rejoice in the Lord always again, I will say rejoice.  Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God And the peace of God which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in CHRIST JESUS.”

Just wow.

We want to, I have, asked questions like:

What about tomorrow? What happens next? Is this ever going to be okay? Am I?

and Paul says y’all look- rejoice, literally celebrate Jesus. Always; Constantly. No matter what show Christ’s gentleness, because He lives with you in you. Forget about it; quit worrying about all of it. Go to God, lay it down. Be filled with gratitude, and give Him your deepest desires and God will give you a peace so great that you will not even have to ask “what about” or “am I” because Jesus. He is going to protect your heart from breaks and your mind from lies. He is God. Rejoice.

Count it all joy, when you face many trials. but why?

Romans 5 says we rejoice in our sufferings knowing that suffering produces endurance, endurance produces character, and character produces hope.

My experience with the ‘church Jesus’ is being saved meant being safe.

Safe- uninjured; with no harm done.

Uninjured- not harmed or damaged

Harm- injury, especially that which is deliberately inflicted

Already, after only a year and a half of salvation, I have been injured many times, injuries that have done some damage, damage that was absolutely meant for me.

From God.

“I am the true vine, and my father is the vine dresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit” John 15:1-2

Have you ever pruned a rose bush? You cut off beautiful growth. Flowers that you worked so hard to develop, and they just fall to the ground. Almost just wasted.

Then with time… after those cuts, they grow back- better; more.

God has allowed me to hurt, not to hurt me, but to grow me better; to make me more.

God has allowed you to hurt to grow you better; to make you more.

We act like fools and we’re cut off; we act like not-fools and we’re cut on.

God wants the absolute best for us. He wants to help, and sometimes His help is hard because He is trying to produce things from us that are not innately in us: things like forgiveness in the presence of unforgiveness; like patience in the company of bitterness; like love assembled so close to resentment. Things we aren’t naturally compelled to invoke on ourselves to give. Things, hard things, of God but not of man.

It’s in these times we find ourselves doubting God because we are taught that God is a God of comfort. and He is. God is so comfortable… even in the uncomfortable, especially in the uncomfortable… and the cultured church leaves that part out.

If we only loved God when God was good,  we would not be serving God, we would be using Him.

John chapter 9 tells a story about a blind man. The disciples wanted to know who had done wrong, him or his parents, that he was born blind….. and Jesus tells them they have it all wrong. Neither of them had to do anything wrong, but he is blind so that the works of God can be glorified. After this, He spit on the ground, made mud, and restored the mans vision and the Glory of God and His power was displayed.

For a while, this was hard for me; some days it still is, but we live in a fallen world where good behavior is not always rewarded and bad behavior is not always punished.

Bad people will get good things. Good people will get good things.

Fair enough.. but then…

Bad people will suffer and so will good people.

God, lately, has taught me to stop believing in coincidences. When I’ve popped my mouth off to the very people I’ve willed my heart to be good to no matter what, it is no “coincidence” that I conveniently open my bible to Romans 12 for a bible study. That would be Jesus shaking His fingers at me. God is power and God is control- over the big details and over the little ones and it’s in our best interest to pay attention to both. Rejoicing hurts sometimes, but there is a mystery surprise, a blessing that brings even more healing, underneath the spit and the mud. Always. Every bad thing, God intended for good.

Something bad surfaces and we automatically feel like we need to do something, and we’re missing the point. Again: trial… endurance.. endurance… character… character… hope… God wants us to be still. I know its lost on us sometimes, but God doesn’t need our help running the world, all He has asked of us is that we deny ourselves and follow Him. Follow: to come after; move or travel behind. To your best ability, fashion yourself in the way God would have you conduct yourselves, keep your hands still, your mouth shut, and wait it out righteously. Learn to take these muddy opportunities to say, “God thank you for who you are- God thank you for an opportunity to trust you even more. Open my eyes with the mud of this mess, and let me receive your message and it’s blessing- Amen”

Let the suffering do it’s work. Learn to endure through your “whatever” so that it may grow your character because a Godly character is a character that is certain of nothing but comfortable in anything.

Jesus said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the son of God may be glorified through it.” John 11:4

Not death, but Glory.

My eternal life was saved because of trial. There was a time when I was insufficiently sure of my salvation. I sat on Sunday’s pew, said my prayers, and did my daily devotions. There were days that scripture touched me. I’d be moved, then I’d move on. It took my sin breaking my heart; Jesus taking me down to bones to rebuild my life. I wasn’t emotionally moved; I was eternally changed.

It is hard to really appreciate the light, until it shows up in complete darkness.

I pray that if you’re in the middle of something that feels unfair, you will show gentleness anyway; If you’re in the middle of something painful, you can be thankful anyway; and if you’re in the middle of something dark, you will find enough reason to be the light.

God is there, in whatever, He is present. Remind yourself that God is faithful to those that are faithful to Him. A promise was made over 2000 years ago that He would never leave you, He would never forsake you.”

Rejoice.

I’m anxious about nothing, because God has everything.

“Katie, What do you think it means to count it all joy?”

I count a piece of joy for knowing that my failures are not my fate.

I count a piece of joy for knowing that hurt feelings do not hurt forever.

I count a piece of joy for a Father that loves me enough to correct my conduct, even if it compromises my comfort.

I count a piece of joy for a dying resentment in me, even if there is never a happy-ending resolution for me.

I count a piece of joy for the victory that will be won when every ounce of my troubles, your hurts, and this world’s destruction falls to ashes and Light reigns forever and ever.

Amen.

Missed y’all,

Philippians 3:17-21; The Three Tricks of Satan

“But how are we supposed to just change? you know, after God?”

Well, a day at a time, of course, but I try and think of it like this: what if, for that one day, a new christian was following your example? Would you be more conscience, then, of your behavior?

“Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us.  For many of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set of earthly things.  But our citizenship is in heaven and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious bod, by the power that enable him even to subject all things to himself.” Philippians 3:17-21

and what if I’m the example?

what if you are?

no one is perfect here, so we’re not pointing fingers. but Paul is saying here, “be careful- these people- they’re enemies of the cross, even those that are dressed to appear otherwise.”

What he is saying is that these people are destructive, self-serving, and even find a sense of pride in the very same things that one should be ashamed of.

The guy that brags about the number of girls he has slept with; the girl that thinks it’s cool that she can out drink the boys.

Paul is saying be careful and Jesus flat says no.

“Do not love the world or the things in the world.  If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world- the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride in life- is not of God but of world.” 1st John 2:15-16

you cannot love both.

There are some Christians that believe that since God is forgiveness, our souls can be saved and it just doesn’t matter what our bodies do; they’re wrong.

There are also Christians that believe that worldliness is limited to external behavior- you know, the people we hang out with, the places we go, the activities we enjoy and partake in, and y’all…. they’re also wrong.

Arguably even more wrong, even though that isn’t a thing, because they’re just dressing up the ugly underneath. Wordliness begins in the heart and is characterized by three attitudes: 1- desires of the flesh, preoccupation of gratifying physical desires 2- desire of the eyes, craving and accumulating things; idolizing materialism, even if on the inside and 3- pride of life- an obsession of status and importance.

The serpent tempted Eve with these things. (see genesis 3:6)

The devil tempted Jesus in the wilderness with these things. (see matthew 4:1-11)

and you better bet Satan is enticing you in these very same ways.

Even unintentionally, we’re so worried with our busy week that our minds wander on Sunday morning when the preacher speaks a sermon our hearts desperately need. We’re so preoccupied with planning our children’s activities, trying to maneuver how we can possibly shuffle all of these things into one elf-sized day, that we make no room for intentional prayer, maybe not even prayer at all. I’ve been guilty. And then all those activities that we’ve spilled over our calendars are leaking down the sides of what’s left of a mother when Thursday rolls around, and let’s be honest- there’s no time, certainly no energy, left for intimate time with Jesus and His word.

Satan is sifting through our lives, our schedules, and uncovering all of our leaks, our frailties and he is not only finding our holes, y’all, he is expanding them in a way that allows flaw to pour when flaw before, was just a trickle here and there.

As people of this world, we prioritize this world.

Again, I’m not blaming because Lord knows I am not perfect either..

Not perfect, but blameless.

“Even before he made the world, God loved us and chose us in Christ to be holy and blameless in his sight.” Ephesians 1:4

but this perfect? your own personalized portion of unperfect blamelessness… only comes from Jesus.

who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” philippians 3:21

Earlier in verse 18 of the text is says “I tell you with tears in my eyes.”

Paul cried.

Paul, the same man that was beaten on many occasions without a tear. Paul, the man that overcome so many obstacles quite literally running for his life so many times, again, without a tear. Paul, the man that sang praises to God while locked in a first century prison…. yet he cries for this people.

Why?

Because Paul knows that while all of this circumstance he has endured is temporary- a life of sin and unrepentance is not.

We cannot be both. Our conduct must match our citizenship and our character turn away from our culture.

what if, for that one day, a new christian was following your example?

Or maybe I should ask it this way: What if you knew Jesus were coming tomorrow? What would you change first? Your shoes or your heart?

It’s never going to be about things, about people, about status- when that day comes it’s only and always going to be about Him, your heart and how it knows Jesus.

Hugs,

Philippians 3:12-16 The Spectators Sport

“Almighty God, in this hour of quiet I seek communion with you. I want to turn away from the worry and fever of today’s work, from the world’s jarring noises, from the praise and blame of other people, from the confused thoughts and fantasies of my own heart, and instead seek the quietness of your presence.”- John Baillie

As I sat in bed this morning, I read these words. They interupted my routine of my normal mundane Sunday morning- praise music, bibles, and an outward time of prayer before church….Just wow. If only we could all take it here every day.

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ has made me His own.  Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own, but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead.  I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God, Christ Jesus. Let those who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.” Philippians 3:12-16

Paul says look guys, I’m not standing up here speaking to you like this because I’ve got it all figured out. I know I am not perfect, but I am trying. I press on.

I think it is important for us all to realize that even though Christ’s work for us is perfect, The Holy Spirit inside is us is not perfect. It’s progressive. Everyday as we are worked on more and more, His presence over our lives increases and consequentially our decisions are also cultivated more according to His will and purpose.

but Paul pressed.

1st Timothy 6:12 says, “Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses.”

Press, Fight, Take Hold.

Verbage, y’all. These are actions. I think people think that Christianity is a passive religion that advocates waiting for God to act, to reveal things, make better things, fix things all while we just sit.

Be still and know, right?

And how do you think you may know God? Seek and find, knock and I will answer, listen and obey. What are all of these things? They are all instructions from Jesus, himself, and are all a call for action.

This is not a spectators sport, guys. It’s actually not a sport at all. This isn’t a game. While we are not children anymore, this is also greater than our adult life- it’s life life- the always life, forever life, the life were choosing in our insignificant lives, in these inconsequential details or these tiny years that will feel like days when they’re standing next to our eternity, y’all, what we do, or don’t do RIGHT NOW, is forever.

Forever and it’s like sometimes we are just sitting, waiting, and for what? It’s storming right past us. Our time is so small here. Of all the promises were offered as Christians from our Father, time here is not one of them. There is absolutely absolutely no time for passivity.

Press on, Fight, Take hold of…. and then don’t look back Paul says.

As Chrisitans we’ve all asked for a new life at some point right? and what is a new life when we’re not living renewed? It’s wasted blood, and while the blood is limitless and unending- it’s not any less sacred.

I laughed once to myself when my husband and I moved into our first home as a family of seven. His nana bought us plastic placemats because she just couldn’t stand the thought of my new ones getting dirty…

I laughed because I had never bought anything with the intentions of not using it. I’m also realistic. Five kids and one spaghetti Tuesday and of course the newness is gone… but I still wanted them used.. even stained they would be beautiful.

I’m no different. I want to be used, my life. I want it worn and obviously tattered and worked for a cause- not one like protecting a table from spaghetti, but one that helps protect souls.

I didn’t name this ministry Mess and Mercy for nothing.

Messy means unperfect, frayed, and sometimes even convoluted. It’s a place of stains, of shadow, and of error and then there’s mercy… the place of freedom from all of those things.

Don’t look back.

Luke 9 verse 62 says this: “Jesus replied, ” no one who puts a hand to the plow and looks back is fit for the kingdom of Christ.”

God says anyone can come, but no one need look back. You cannot live an old life of intentional sin and claim a new one.

To grab hold of a plow for straight rows, only to look back while driving forward, does nothing but set yourself up for failure. It is trying enough to walk a path of purposeful precision while keeping your eye on the destination, let alone walk towards it without any visibility of the terminus.

We can’t get there looking the wrong way, and we can’t get there just looking.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.” Matthew 7:21

You see? It’s more than a prayer. It’s a belief so deep, a love and relationship so deep, that is compels us forward, upward, Paul said, into change, into action towards the life to which we were called.

and if you believe otherwise- if you believe it takes less than that- Paul said God would will reveal that also to you.

“Only let us hold on to what we have obtained.” v.16 NLT

Press on, fight, take hold… don’t look back, not at the mistakes of your past, and not at anything behind you, but should you find yourself in error, back engulfed in sin, when your new placemat finds it’s first stain since it’s new purchase, then we have to hold on to what we have been given- Mercy in our Messes– dust off and continue forward into action. I’ve never known a washing machine to clean up anything with the help of detergent without a little spin and work of its own. Jesus’s gift is even more purifying, but the only thing worse than spilled milk is wasted blood.

love yall,

Philippians 3:9-12 Our Portion, Our Place

“and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ. the righteousness from God depends on faith. that i may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings becoming like him in his death. that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead. not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect but i press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus had made me his own. ” Philippians 3:9-12

I’ve read this scripture. Re-read this scripture. Then read it again.

I’ve studied it to try and find something applicable because it’s been my experience that it’s what helps my readers the most.

I’m sorry, tonight I do not have a fancy story, but the context of this passage is greater than anything I could possibly say.

What do you think about when you hear the word righteousness? royalty? a man in a red velvet cloak and an unattractive beard, maybe? I don’t know but righteousness is simply put as a way of life that is all about doing the right thing.

Paul is saying I can’t do  everything right myself, not even if I follow all of the rules. In fact the only way I can be perfect is through faith (complete trust and confidence in something) in Jesus.

And faith is a contingent thing- that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and may share his sufferings becoming like Him in His death.

to know: to not just recognize God. to know is defined as a developed relationship through meeting and spending time with someone.

power: gosh power is so much y’all. Power is the ability to do; it’s the capacity to direct or influence behavior; it is a right to authority; its literal physical strength.

that we may share in suffering: share is a part or portion of a larger amount.

God is big. He is strong. He is perfect, compassionate, Almighty authority, ultimate perfection and to know Him is to share in all of those good things, really know Him- not recognized by a parable you heard in Sunday service or a the familiar picture of a textiled mosaic of the glass church window, but to know know Him because you have, in very physcial form, met and spent time with him. He shares all of His glory, all of these wonderful things, and in return we too must share- just a piece of the greater, actually the greatest, suffering that has already been endured.

But we’re selfish- with our time, with our hearts. Our expectations are big and our efforts minimal.

We’re too busy or too tired. We make excuse after excuse about the lack of investment in our relationship with Jesus.

but gosh do I love paul.

He goes on to say I’m going to do whatever it takes to be saved from my self. I know I’m not perfect, I know I never will be… but I’m going to keep moving forward, everyday, making it the best I can, making perfection my own because God? He has made me His own.

I just have to believe Paul was one of Jesus’s favorites, my husband swears it was Peter. >insert eye roll< but Paul never had a good life guys. He literally struggled his entire time as a Christian. In acts 20 Paul is talking to people and says y’all know how I’ve lived- serving the lord with humility, and tears, and trials. I didn’t shrink down to telling you anything because it was uncomfortable, I taught you publicly- fully. I’m fixing to go to Jerusalem because that is what God asked. All I know about this journey is what God has told me and that is that it will be full of hard times and imprisonment, but I don’t care. My life means nothing to me. All I want is that I may finish my course, my ministry and purpose, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God. That’s it. That’s all I want.

Sometimes, often, we obscure what the gospel is. Jesus is eternal safety in temporary trial. Jesus is love and He is correction, He is captivating and captive all at the same time, and we just want to pick Him apart, keep the convenient pieces. We want His protection but not the things that place us in positions requiring us to be protected. We want Him to love us without consequence, and we’re even in awe of Him, of all that He is, and yet we still don’t want the responsibility that comes with that kind of adoration. We don’t want to be held down to a life of restrictions- we’re so worried about what we will have to give up to follow Jesus.. and so we set Him aside. We make him just a resource when we “need” it. God isn’t the generator for when the power goes out, He is the literal power. He’s all of those things in that definition and we take it for-granted.

It breaks my heart.

The Lord had prepared Paul for what I would call some of the worst vacations ever. Visit here, but you’re going to jail. Visit over here too, but you will be beat to blood. When you recover let’s walk over there, but be quiet because they are already looking to kill you. And Paul said yes every time.

And He doesn’t even ask that of you and I. All he asks is Believe in me, believe that you can trust me, believe that I will take care of you. Know me. Develop a relationship with me. I know sometimes it will be hard but the best news is you will only have a small portion of the pain because for every thing you do wrong, big or small, I have already suffered for.

That promise. I am love. Captivating. Compassionate. Perfection. Perfector. Safety. Forever. I was, I am, and I will be- always.

Let us press on every day to pour just a little more of ourselves out- Give just a little. Then a little more. Sit your phone down. Turn your TV off. Set aside an extra circular and let’s show up for Him because He saved us. Saves us every day.

I want nothing more in this life than to be unraveled. Spun out of myself and into my purpose, trusting will full confidence that even if it’s through my own tears- God will make something beautiful out of my life…. and something pretty out of yours too. Let us receive our portion and fall into our place.

Hugs,

Philippians 3:7-8: The Life I planned for; The Life I Didn’t get.

I’m one of those ‘have-to-have’ it all tucked away kind-of girls. I wish I weren’t; I hate that about myself, but I just am. I would bet I am one of the messiest organized people you have ever crossed paths with.

Starting an unexpected new season in my life, things have been a little more shaken up than normal and so have my nerves. I’ve looked through next month’s calendar 100 times, and will do it again.

Have any of y’all been just worn out by planning, twisting, forcing all the right pieces in what feels like a too small puzzle?

I had my life planned perfectly, even more calculated than the color coded blocks of my over-sized planner. I didn’t grow up the best. I never wanted for anything, but my home life certainly could have stood some major adjustments. Without details, I had planned a different life, something different than I had. I had this idea of what my perfect life would look like.

I would be married, cute house, cuter kids, lots of friends with also cute kids that would play on a well landscaped lawn on Saturdays when I had a day off from my perfect job. There would be a dog, okay two dogs, and basically always sunshine. Don’t ask me how the perfect grass got watered in this dream without rain because I haven’t thought that through.

“All things are full of exhaustion; a man can not complete it.  The eye is not satisfied with seeing nor the ear filled with hearing;  What has been is what will be and what has been done is what will be done….. and there is nothing new under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 1:8-9

I’m getting to the point, hang in there. Apply just a little context here, and we’re moving on.

Under the sun is a theme in this book of the bible, and has nothing to do with the weather. Under the sun means the world we can see; a materialistic world with no eternal perspective.

NOW, imagine me, sitting here, looking at this calendar book of mine with these colored up pages that represent little of what I had planned on.

In blue and red, I have marked my second husband’s work days. My first marriage failed. My new (because we just bought it) not new house needs unexpected repairs. While my kids are cute, they represent multiple colors on my book- all five of them, Dad’s house this day, mom’s house that one, a holiday here for this kid, oh and yay! Looks like we have them all for that one. Purple is the color of my daughter’s dance class.  Yellow is my step-daughters church program.

I have few friends in a not-so-new but certainly not home town, no baby play dates, and I feel like I have more jobs than I do socks right now. My dog is well… kind of perfect, but my lawn is full of leaves all from the storms that blow in when the sun hides.

Two completely different pictures, right?

But then there’s this:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I counted everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.  For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ” Philippians 3:7-8

There was a time that I had what I wanted, what I had planned. I married a guy that gave me the parade proposal, had two beautiful children, built a home that even had good grass because, well, sod. All of my new town girls liked all my Instagram pictures and commented things on my Facebook posts, there was a potential for friendships and play dates. There was no dog, but there was more than that missing from the puzzle.

It was so sunny, y’all. I had that life under the sun and I was weary. Like the man in Ecclesiastes, I could not complete it, could not be satisfied. It was like I tried and tried to get this or do that and it was still so empty. And why? because it was so bright. It was a life full of things I could see for now, and one with none of the things I could feel forever.

Now I have absolutely no idea why the life I planned unraveled into the life I live in. I don’t. Maybe had I stepped out of a life in the sun and into the kingdom, things would have been different. That is not for me to say, but I know that girl with all of those big and bright plans was meant to be scorched by that heat that her own sun packed- and I am so so grateful she was burned down just as she was.

It’s one of those beauty from ashes kind-of thing. God often uses our brokenness to reveal His beauty.

And gosh is He beautiful, are His renovations beautiful.

You see, when I lost all of those things, I was left with the One person Ive always had but never knew. I came to Jesus because basically there was nothing else.

I would lose all over again, knowing what there was to gain in having nothing and everything all at the same time.

Paul said in Philippians 3 verses 7 and 8, look I count it all gone. I don’t even care. Everything else “under the sun” is garbage because EVERYTHING else is less when compared to the infinite value of Jesus.

Paul is right.

I love those red and navy dots. They provide for my family when they are present in those dated squares, and when they’re not that means I get to enjoy my husband wrapped up in bed with me if only for one night before the next red dot appears. I love all 100 of those little baby fingers and toes with every piece of me, together all at once or separate, on the holidays or not. My new-not new home will free up some time for me to pursue my passion for spreading the word and for that, me and my daughter danced in the rain that fell from my closet ceiling last week when it rained. I have very very few friends in my home-but-not home town, but they are literally some of the very best, and those leaves? I love them. Watching them fall to the ground, I am so full of hope because I know that, like me, those dead leaves will get a second chance and then a third and so on, to revive themselves when this season is over because with Jesus, you don’t run out of chances; you don’t run out of love.

Sunny days are beautiful. The things you can see are beautiful but trust me when I tell you with tears in my eyes that there is nothing absolutely nothing more precious than what you cannot see, but can always feel.

The question never concerns the presence of God. He is always there. The question is whether or not God matters.

The very biggest hugs,

Philippians 3:1-6: The Real Christian

“Furthermore, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord! It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you.  Watch out for those dogs, those evil-doers, those mutilators of the flesh.  For it is we who are the circumcision, we who serve God by His spirit, who boast in Christ Jesus, and who put no confidence in the flesh- though I myself have reasons for such confidence.  If someone else has reasons to put confidence in the flesh, I have more. circumcised on the eight day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, A Hebrew of Hebrews; in regard to the law, a Pharisee, as for zeal, persecuting the church; as for righteousness based on the law, faultless.” Philippians 3:1-6

Trying not too get to historical, I want to quickly explain some history before we get to the meat of this. Paul is saying look, I’m reminding you because this is important. “Dogs” is a word the Jews would use for the gentiles.. Paul says be careful around these people..these evil doers. They think heaven is for the law abiding citizens and to get there.. if you’re not Jewish.. you first have to become a Jew before you can become a Christian. You have to be circumcised. Paul says this is mutilation. Skipping some words we will revisit, Paul said I’ll tell you why it’s wrong. If anybody has the right to think who they are and what they do will get you to heaven, it’s me guys. I am the circumcised stock of Israel. I’m family with the first king of Israel and I’m Hebrew. I was a Pharisee, the very best sect of people devoted to the law, an active fighter against Judaism, and by the law- I’m perfect. Now back to the middle.. even though who I am and what I do looks good by the books.. it means nothing.

The true circumcision is what we Christians are because we serve God by his spirit and not in our doings.

The real christian knows that external worship and good deeds that these people push in the church may be good things but they are not sanctifying things. Only through Jesus, because of Jesus, by Jesus in us, are we saved- not the things we do ourselves. As great as the law is, the new covenant says it’s nothing without faith.

The real christian rejoices in Christ, not in circumstances or situations but in the Lord. To abide in joy means you really believe God’s got this; He is in full control and that control is for your own good.. and we’re relieved that He’s in control because Lord knows we couldn’t do a good job on our own.

The real Christian has no confidence in the flesh. You don’t trust you to get you to heaven. Things aren’t good because you’ve been good. They’re good because JESUS is good and THAT’S a safe confidence to keep you warm at night.

Even after I was saved, after I had spent countless hours with Jesus, with His word, with Him in prayer, serving Him… there were times that I did not understand some things. Why am I having such a hard time? Why did you tell me to do this if you weren’t going to see it through? What happened to blessed is she who believed? Hello God, I believe… where’s my blessed. For a time I thought that kingdom work brought some kind of reward.. I was waiting and waiting and the package never showed up on my doorstep.

Blessings do not always come with bows.

The package did come… 2000 years ago.

God was testing my faith. Not for His knowledge, but for my own. I needed to see where I stood. Believing was the first step, but there was much more to do. I had to learn what it was like to be the real Christian, not the one that was dressed up in her new life with a mini ministry but the broken girl. The undressed, real, raw version.

There is boldness in broken. I had to learn confidence in Christ. I started looking for all of the things God was teaching me about myself as He pulled me through so many different seasons instead of asking Him why. I began to thank Him for new opportunities to trust Him differently as the color of those seasons changed. I learned to stand up in all my messy and just pour it all out there because even if it didn’t feel okay, it certainly was, because there is purpose in every single step, even those that throw you to the floor.

Y’all please please know that it is not who you are but what you are. It’s not what you’ve done or haven’t done, it’s what you do next, and it’s never what you do by yourself, but what He does with you that brings the bows.

Hugs and Tuesdays,

Philippians 2:16-30- Don’t carry the past

Lets read Philippians 2:16-30.

I want to focus on one part of this one part.

“I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, that I also may be cheered when I receive news about you.  I have no one else like him, who will show genuine concern for your welfare.  For everyone looks out for their own interest , not those Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 2:19-21

I’m excited to send you Timothy. He’s a great guy, and I hope I’m as happy when he returns because I just know y’all have been good… but there really isn’t anybody better than this guy. He’s the real deal, something you don’t find much because unfortunately.. we as people only care about ourselves and our agenda.. and not what Jesus wants, not what Jesus says.

My husband and I were laying in the bed talking about the book of Jonah last night. Most people know that Jonah was ate by a whale, but alot of people do not know why. God spoke to Jonah and told Jonah to go to this people and tell them what Jesus told him to. These people were some of the toughest people around then, and instead of doing what Jesus said, Jonah literally walked in the opposite direction, loaded himself up on a boat, and skipped out, running away from everything God had asked of him.

I asked my husband how different did he think God’s communication with the old testament people was compared to His conversations with us? Like do you wonder how often does He ask something of us that we don’t know it? Or how often He asks something of us and we do hear?… but like Jonah, we keep walking.

How different would our lives be if we didn’t.

If we listened. If we heard. If we obeyed.

I can say with complete confidence that if I had lived a life of complete obedience, if I had heard, if I had listened to every word given to me by the Father that I most certainly would not be living the life I call home.

I’ve made mistakes. Wrong turns. I’ve ignored the truth and exchanged some of God’s guidance for my own plans, but we are a stubborn people. Like Jonah, we’re given instruction and we run in the opposite direction.

Jonah ran once, but I’ve spent my entire life running. I grew up in a broken home where a new town meant a new start and it wasn’t until recently that I have found even a new name carries the same old soul.

There are so many ways to get this one thing wrong.

Sometimes we can’t let go of the past; sometimes we forget too much of it.

Sometimes we try and run from our yesterdays; sometimes we let them run over us.

….and all of these are wrong.

Remember enough about yesterday to make sure it’s not tomorrow. Remember nothing else.

Jonah was scared, so Jonah chose Jonah. Jonah said ahhhh God probably not, I just think this will be better…because of his disobedience, he spent three days in the dark.

I’ve sat in the dark for some of my mistakes too, and even now in the sun, a cloud will interrupt a brighter forecast to remind me of my wrongs.

Jonah realized he had messed up and it wasn’t until Jonah accepted accountability that he was spat out. Then Jesus said now Jonah… go and do what I said.

Y’all this time Jonah picked up his feets and went. “okay Jesus… I’m on it.”

Sometimes you have to stumble through sin to step into purpose. Lord knows I would have never found the Lord had it not been for my error and His correction. Jonah was no different and  neither are you.

“Indeed we felt like we had received the sentence of death. but this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” 2 Corinthians 1:9

When you felt like you were dying, God did that on purpose. That we might rely not on ourselves but on God.

Listen. Hear. Obey.

God says I have this thing for you to do.. your thing is different from my thing, but you have a purpose. God will reveal this to you and it will be scary. You will feel inadequate or unqualified and y’all, those kinds of feelings are not of God and you will never do wrong trying to do right by Jesus. Ever.

Paul said I’ve got this guy and you know why he is good? because he is not like every body else. Everybody else is running to themselves, and Timothy? He runs to Jesus.

Not like everybody else.

“Come out from them and be separate” 2 Corinthians 6:17

I think the thing I feared the most about being separate is it meant that I wouldn’t be the same. Now I look back on the person I was, how I hurt others- how I hurt myself, and I thank God I’m not.

If you run the first time, don’t carry those mistakes around, only take with you what it taught you. Jesus came to heal the wounded, not the well. It’s okay that you’re not okay. He came to save and salvage and He has something just for you. Don’t let old stuffs and scary feelings keep you from stepping into who you are meant to be, into who God says you are. Lay it down, come out and be separate. Don’t be swallowed by the fish, be obedient and be saved.

Father,

I know there are so many people carrying around things they should have laid down long ago. The very things we run from, we forget to take out of our bags before we leave and it just follows us around. God, I pray that you would make your voice heard and your will known. Give those that need it the courage to step out of what is father, and into what should be. Keep them separate, Lord. Keep them safe. Thank you, God, for the opportunity to trust you more, Thank you, God, for you.

Amen.

xoxo,

Katie

The only thing that stays the same is change; the only thing that keeps us well is perspective. Phil. 2:12-16

As I sit in my living room floor, watching the weather from my bay doors, sick babies in arms, I’ve watched this transition over the last hour. Dark to light, misted showers to empty clouds, leaves that were so intact and sure of their places that, with just a small gust of wind, fall in spirals to the ground.

I’m now several weeks behind speaking with you ladies because my heart has been much like the weather. I’ve had bright days that have felt fine, and dark ones that have felt hopeless. I’ve experienced fullness, but more than that just the driest cup, and to be so sure of the things I stand for, the One really, I have let this world blow me all over the place, taking pieces of me and loads of my emotions with it. 


Our scripture is starting in verse 12-16. Today is about Paul’s church. It’s about Jesus.

My most loved people, rest in obedience to the one who takes care of you. Do not become sidetracked. If it’s me that you look for, it is always me that you will find. I’m working with you, in you, for, always, what is best for you. It will be good because I am good. Trust me. Do not take for granted my plan; please do not protest and criticize what I am doing. There is no safer place to be than in my will. You are not safe with yourself, but instead cling to what is good. Remember when nothing else is, I am- hold onto my word and be a light, the kind that is always brightest in the dark.

Let me tell you a story.

There was this man. The one you read about in the books. He was charming, faithful, loving.. a provider- loved his wife so much. Told her everyday how important she was, what she meant to him, how he loved her, but the woman was broken. She wasn’t faithful to her husband. She couldn’t believe the things he said, she didn’t trust his love. Instead of accepting this unheard of, unfathomable love, she slept around with this man and that one, leaving one bed for another and her husband just devastated. 

On no particular occasion, the husband knew where his wife was.. away from him of course, but he was still worried for what he cared for- so he makes her dinner. He searches for his wife, knocks on the door of some man- whichever one of the week- and says I know she’s in there, here is dinner for y’all. I brought her more clothes and here is some cash for y’all for her to help her make it through the week. I know you have her, but I’ll never stop caring for her because she is mine. Use what I have given you and take care of her.

Really think about that; I hope you feel it as I have. The husband is Jesus, the wife is you. It’s me. Scroll back up. Read back through it.

“She has not acknowledged that I was the one who gave her the grain, the new wine and oil, who lavished her with silver and gold, that she turned and gave to idols” Hosea 2:8

I am provided for. I am loved. I am never alone…

And I am as full as I allow myself to be.

Last night I sat on the bar in my kitchen and I cried the ugliest tears while I made dinner for my beautiful family. My husband interceded, as he always does, and said “Katie, baby, people are going to be people (assuming he knew what was wrong), you just have to keep being you.”

And for the first time in wasnt people I was disappointed in. It was myself. I know what the world is; I’ve made peace with that- I also thought I knew who I was and somehow I let the world take it from me. 

I have trusted fear over faith, my own provision over Gods, and it has lead me to sleep with the enemy instead of resting my head at home.

Daniel 2 says he changes times and seasons, gets rid of something’s and builds others up- he reveals deep and hidden things and he knows what lies in the dark, but he also knows the light lives within him.

God created this world for light and dark, for foggy rain and for periods of clarity. We were meant to be full some days and poured out others- but we were not meant to be thrown around by the wind, by the world. God created the leaves to fall, not you babe.

You- he builds up. You- he protects. You- he loves. You- he provides for.

He said I know what’s in the dark, but you know me.

I dont know what your darkness is, or what has your cup drained this week but I know what God has revealed to me through Hosea, through Daniel, and through Paul in Philippians. 

Things are changing, but I am in control of that change. You will try and fix things yourself, deal with them yourself, manipulate them yourself- you will find yourself away from me in these seasons, but I will provide you with the food and warmth you need while you are away- even though you are unfaithful to me, I will never stop doing good for you. I will fight for you in you- it is for good. 

Faith is strong enough to conquer the world most days, but today faith feels like placing an empty cup under a faucet of truths and praying with confidence that He will fill me back up.

Be good, do good in the shadows and in the sun and be grateful in both. 

The only thing that stays the same is change; the only thing that keeps us well is perspective. 

“Katie, you’re only human, baby. You’re not perfect, I’m sorry” he told me last night wiping my masacara stained cheeks.

And I’m not, neither are you- but the second best thing I’ve ever learned is Jesus uses the broken that you are, what you have left to give… to create in you a heart like him… 

the first?

even when you’re not perfect, He saves you as blameless.

Better late than never

Xoxo

Katie 

Philippians 2:5-11- I am no better than you are- not a color, not a size

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death- even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the Glory of God the Father” Philippians 2:5-11

In our relationships and in our lives, learn to serve as we have been served.  

Even as the one greater than all, Jesus did not let His position affect His behavior. He made himself nothing. I am no more than you are; I am no better. I am here in obedience to serve and save; I have come to give and die. 

And for his obedience God gave Him the best name.

Y’all… 

I look around in all the little circles in my life and am broken over people. Truth is the greater the circle, though, the bigger the problems.

 We are in a world where it matters what your last name is. It counts what color you are. It makes a difference where you came from. It’s of significance if you have money. 

I wish I could say I don’t remember when it happened, but, honestly, I’ve known it no other way. 

Why?

Serve as we have been served. 

Jesus, in His humanness, was KING and He came so humbly that He saw himself no better than you or I. What happened? How did we go from a crown of thorns to just crowns? 

How is one race better than the other? Or his name better than hers?

I cannot imagine how it hurts Jesus to see His people like this. Created for love, we have turned this world into nothing but division.. of color, or success, or status. As people we’re caught up in who WE are, what WE have, or how WE can be better.. and there’s so much me that there’s never an us.

We have a heart that longs to prosper, but we always choose ourselves. Selfishness is not our success- it’s our sentence.

“Because of the evil they have done.. they aroused my anger…. again and again I sent my servants who said do not do these detestable things that I hate. But they did not listen or pay attention; they didn’t turn from wickedness or stop… my fierce anger was poured out; it raged against the people and made them the desolate ruins they are today” Jeremiah 44:3-6

Over and over the Bible tells us to love one another, be servants to eachother, help your neighbor, give, forgive, and be humble. 

Instead we criticize. We help when it helps us. We spend more time talking about our neighbors than serving them. We give when it can be returned. We forgive without forgetting, and humble is not even a thing. People are only what we can benefit from them. We don’t even see people as people. 

And so God is angry and it’s our fault. We are the reasons our circles look like they do.

Jesus came as king and walked as man. I am no better than you are. What makes us more if Jesus himself was less? 

Yes, We are all different. We’re all different colors and shapes and sizes; we have different amounts of money, different numbers of friends, different stuff… but y’all we’re all people and we’re all worth the same. 

And so God exalted Him and gave Him a name above names. 

The world tells us to be somebody you have to have some things; the one that rules says just the opposite. 

“So those who are last now will be first then, and those who are first will be last” Matthew 20:16

You can be a lot of things for a little while, or you can have it all forever but you’ve got to give now or you’ll be without later.

Serve one another as Christ served you. Make most everything about others and focus on making one thing about you.

“Therefore since we have these promises, dear friends, let’s purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit perfecting holiness out of reverence for God” 2 Corinthians 7:1 

Purify ourselves. If we want to have stronger, healthier circles- there has to be a surplus of change. Start with you, cleaning from the inside out. 

We cannot live in even circles when we sit in divided groups. 

“All the trees of the forest will know that I the Lord bring down the tall tree and make the low tree grow tall. I dry up the green tree and make the dry tree flourish” Ezekiel 17:24 

Serve until you’re dry. I want to be empty.

Xoxo,

Katie