For When You Feel Like A Failure

I had messed up. We needed childcare for the event but I had not thought about it beforehand. When I arrived (3 wild children in-tow), it quickly hit me that this was not an everyone kind of event.

“But I didn’t know we needed childcare. I thought it was for everyone.” These are the words that slipped out of my mouth to my husband. The problem was that I should have known.

If you’re like me, when you feel that you’ve failed in one area, your mind begins a downward spiral into everything else…

“I am such a bad planner.”

“Why can’t I manage our home right?”

“My husband and kids deserve better.”

“I’m not a good mom.”

“I’m not a good wife.”

“Why can’t I just get my act straight?”

Then these words come to mind: I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. – Philippians 4:13.

The verse doesn’t tell me that I can do all things through MY strength, although that is what the world and even some Christian speakers want us to believe. We can’t self-talk our way into becoming strong. We can’t self-talk our way into becoming great mothers or fathers, wives or husbands. And we definitely can’t self-talk ourselves into becoming better followers of Christ.

The ONLY way to develop the strength to overcome our failures is to lean whole-heartedly into the cross of Christ… to trust Him, stay in His word, and stay in close communion with Him. All human methods will fail us.

So when your mind starts taking the downward spiral like mine did today, remember this from Philippians….

I can do all things through CHRIST who strengthens me.

————–

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O My Soul

The last several months of my life have been a period of smothering darkness. Aloneness. I’ve looked potential for significant loss straight in the eye, yet told it to go away. It’s been a while since I’ve written anything at all, and most certainly there have been no penned words on this page for the world to see. It’s been a private dark time. Only those closest to me know.

But in the dark, God is becoming more real to me. His friendship. His grace. He has orchestrated events in my life that could be explained no other way. There have been very personally spun moments. Blog posts have been put in my feed, songs have been sung, defeat has been defeated.

O my soul.

Last week, I read a post from Ann Voskamp called How to Care for the Most Important Part of You. It was about being the keeper of our souls… about not being controlled by emotions and feelings. It means looking past the surface feelings… looking down into the deepest part and saying, “Why are you afraid, o my soul?” or “Why are you sad, o my soul?” Little did I know how these words would come back to mind.

It was 5:30am on Sunday morning and I was wide awake. For the past two hours, every painful thing (or so it seemed) in the past several years of my life was being played in my head. On loop. I was quickly being defeated by an enemy who likes to play with me in the darkness. But this time, instead of giving in to complete and utter misery, I picked up my phone and turned to my bible app with a specific scripture in mind. From Psalm 42… Why are you cast down, o my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.

O my soul. 

Praise the Lord. I went to sleep and had an incredible dream. It confirmed a recent change in my life, one that I will talk about more in days to come. The statement that God awoke me to was one of freedom. He transformed my perspective. All my Father God said to me was “It’s not that the people don’t want you there, it’s about ME wanting you somewhere else.” Amen.

I’m thankful for the freedom God gave me this morning. Not sure why it surprised me when at church we started singing… Bless the Lord, o my soul, o my soul. Worship His holy name. Sing like NEVER BEFORE, o my soul. I worship Your holy name.

It was personal. And yes, my soul sang like never before.

O. My. Soul.

 

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Restless.

This word. It smacked me in the face a few weeks ago when I shared with a precious friend that maybe she was… this word.

My entire life, I have searched. My heart and mind have battled against each other, trying to make sense of why nothing satisfies this soul.

I grew up in a very loving home with a Godly mom, dad, and brother. They were the ones who led me, taught me, guided me. The ones who stood by me through all of my early “searching” years (and still stand by me today). At age 25, God gave me an amazing husband. One who has loved me through pain and has stood by me when others wouldn’t have. We have been gifted with 3 beautiful children who don’t understand why Mommy seems to struggle so.

Such amazing people in my life. Yet, this word.

Like my friends, I went to college right after high school; however, after 3 changes in major and a lot of reckless mistakes, I finally quit and moved back home. Several years later and on our own young married dime, I finally graduated from the second college, while at the same time holding down a great job. Only to mess that up and cause a lot of pain.

Then Jeff and I moved to Chicago, which was great for our marriage. He had a great job and I did too… we were working together with the same company, both of us feeding our own ambitions. But that lasted a year and we were back home.

During the transition back to NC, my dream position opened up at UNCG… and they chose me. But less than a year later, I quit that too.

Then kids started being born.

In the midst of all the kids, I went back to work… this time in ministry, my heart.

Then back home a few years later, only to go through a time of brokenness and growth. A miscarriage, loss of people close to me, and a couple of other circumstances that God used to shape a time of complete breaking.

After the breaking, it was back to work, but this time in the area of my calling. Still not satisfied. Still not enough. Still not GOOD enough.

This word. Restless.

But why?

Because a lot of it is still about me. I’m still trying to satisfy my Jesus-shaped soul with me-shaped stuff. People. Things. Ambitions.

I’m tired of trying, even unconsciously, to satisfy my soul with things that God’s word tells us can never satisfy. Our souls were created for Him. To worship Him. To praise Him. To serve Him. To follow Him. To glorify Him. To share Him. To love Him.

So now we know the root. This word. Restless. It has kept me entangled for far too long.

Lord, help me. Help my friend. And help all of those reading this post who may struggle with the same root. Father, please rip out this ugly, destructive root and put down new roots.

Roots of satisfaction in You that can never be torn away.

Whom have I in heaven but you? And earth has nothing I desire besides you. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. – Psalm 73:25-26.

Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend on God; he is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to him, for God is our refuge. – Psalm 62:5-8.

The Rock That Is Higher Than I {Re-post}

As I read through Psalm 61 this morning, my mind went back to this post… and to a time (a year ago) when it really spoke to me. I needed to read this again, and maybe some of you needed it today, as well…

———

Life gets overwhelming. If you’re like me, days just seem to stack on top of each other… then one day suddenly you realize another year has passed. Sometimes, though life is busy, everything seems to flow together in perfect harmony. But other times, the overwhelmed feeling hits like a 95mph wild pitch against a batting helmet.

Maybe you are there right now. The pitch has hit you. You’re feeling overwhelmed… as am I. The harmonies aren’t quite coming together as they should. Sickness… Work… Relationships… Ministry stuff… Perhaps at this moment, you’re looking at the conglomeration that is your life and saying, “I just don’t know how to work through all of this.” Or maybe life is good, but you are facing a task that is overwhelming you. Maybe the complicated nature of your project is paralyzing you, keeping you from seeing how to more forward. If this is the case… maybe you’re standing on the wrong rock.

As I was thinking through my own crazy personal matrix and trying to make sense of it all (in my own strength of course), God brought me to Psalm 61:1-3 (NKJV):

Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
When my heart is overwhelmed;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
For You have been a shelter for me,
A strong tower from the enemy.

When our FOCUSED ATTENTION stays on our problems or on the paralyzing feeling from the larger-than-life tasks in front of us, we are standing on the wrong rock. We are looking at things from our own ground level, the place where OUR thoughts and OUR ways appear higher. This is the place where we are only thinking about what we can do in our own strength. We are forgetting that God is the One who…

  • Breathed the world into existence
  • Filled the ditches
  • Stopped the sun
  • Parted the red sea
  • Turned the water to wine
  • Raised the dead
  • Provided the sacrifice for Abraham
  • Sent His Son to die for us
  • Provided unlimited food to the multitudes
  • Cast out demons
  • Transformed the persecutor into the devoted disciple
  • Gave us the Holy Spirit
  • Shall we keep going? We could add so many other miracles to this list. Here’s the point: God is God. He can do ALL things. He is the Rock we need to be standing on. He is the Rock from which we need to be looking at the world… at our problems… at our giant tasks. Our hearts must be so focused on Him that we view life through His eyes… His ways.

    When we truly push away from our ground-level perches and stand on the Rock that is higher than I, everything comes into focus. The details come together. The harmonies fit perfectly. The plan becomes clear. The tasks get done. And God is glorified.

    ———–

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    I Wanna Do It!

    When I set him down in the big boy swing, the first thing he said was “I wanna do it… I wanna do it!”

    It’s become his favorite phrase.

    At first, I started pushing him, knowing that he would need my help to get started. Then after listening to him fight me for about a minute, I let go. At first he kept swinging along just fine. Then he started slowing down, little by little, until finally…

    He stopped.

    Then he got angry again. “Help me, Mommy!”

    Does this sound familiar? As I wrestled this end-of-the-world problem with my 2-year-old, I realized that this is how it is with God and me. He wants to help me. He wants to push me, to guide me, to lead me in the direction (and at the speed) that He wants me to go.

    But more often than not, I scream “I wanna do it!” and my swing comes to a stop again. It’s pretty much in park right now. I’m thankful Jesus hears me when I cry for help.

    We can’t live this life in our own strength. Without Him, we may think we’re doing okay for a while, but eventually our lives will end up at a standstill. We’ll hit the bottom. Then we’ll wonder how in the world we got there.

    Instead of going there, let’s call out for His help… our Creator God, the only One who can lead us in the path that was carved out for us before we were born. Let’s offer our lives to Him and let Him push our swings.

    He must increase, but I must decrease. – John 3:30

     

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    The Rock That Is Higher Than I {Repost}

    Psalm 61:1-3 came up in my study today and it reminded me of a time a few months ago when this passage really spoke to me. As I re-read the following post from November, I realized that I’m here again… needing to find my way to the Rock that is higher than I. Maybe there are others who need to read this again today…

    ————

    Life gets overwhelming. If you’re like me, days just seem to stack on top of each other… then one day suddenly you realize another year has passed. Sometimes, though life is busy, everything seems to flow together in perfect harmony. But other times, the overwhelmed feeling hits like a 95mph wild pitch against a batting helmet.

    Maybe you are there right now. The pitch has hit you. You’re feeling overwhelmed… as am I. The harmonies aren’t quite coming together as they should. Sickness… Work… Relationships… Ministry stuff… The loss of a friend or family member… Perhaps at this moment, you’re looking at the conglomeration that is your life and saying, “I just don’t know how to work through all of this.” Or maybe life is good, but you are facing a task that is overwhelming you. Maybe the complicated nature of your project is paralyzing you, keeping you from seeing how to more forward. If this is the case… maybe you’re standing on the wrong rock.

    As I was thinking through my own crazy personal matrix and trying to make sense of it all (in my own strength of course), God brought me to Psalm 61:1-3 (NKJV):

    Hear my cry, O God; Attend to my prayer.
    From the end of the earth I will cry to You,
    When my heart is overwhelmed;
    Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.
    For You have been a shelter for me,
    A strong tower from the enemy.

    When our FOCUSED ATTENTION stays on our problems or on the paralyzing feeling from the larger-than-life tasks in front of us, we are standing on the wrong rock. We are looking at things from our own ground level, the place where OUR thoughts and OUR ways appear higher. This is the place where we are only thinking about what we can do in our own strength. We are forgetting that God is the One who…

    • Breathed the world into existence
    • Filled the ditches
    • Stopped the sun
    • Parted the red sea
    • Turned the water to wine
    • Raised the dead
    • Provided the sacrifice for Abraham
    • Sent His Son to die for us
    • Provided unlimited food to the multitudes
    • Cast out demons
    • Transformed the persecutor into the devoted disciple
    • Gave us the Holy Spirit

    Shall we keep going? We could add so many other miracles to this list. Here’s the point: God is God. He can do ALL things. He is the Rock we need to be standing on. He is the Rock from which we need to be looking at the world… at our problems… at our pain… at our giant tasks. Our hearts must be so focused on Him that we view life through His eyes… His ways.

    When we truly push away from our ground-level perches and stand on the Rock that is higher than I, everything comes into focus. The details come together. The harmonies fit perfectly. The plan becomes clear. The tasks get done. Pain and struggle become peace. And God is glorified.

    ———–

    Thanks for stopping by! If you would like to subscribe to Grow Where You’re Planted and receive posts in your email, you can do that here: Grow Where You’re Planted Updates.

    The Artwork of Sanctification

    I thought I had it conquered.

    But the fact that 1/3 of the words in that sentence are “I” should tell you that it’s NOT conquered. I still try to do things in my own strength… just as before.

    Sin is crouching at the door… 

    If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin is crouching at the door. Its desire is for you, but you must rule over it. – Genesis 4:7

    If you’ve read Genesis, you know of the sin that devoured Cain. He had a choice to rule over the sin, but instead he let the sin rule him. I feel like Cain often. My “pet” sins seem to take control of me easily. One of those sins is pride. One is selfish ambition. The two kind of go together. But because of an amazing work God has done in my life over the past year and a half, I thought I had gotten to a safe place. A trusting place. One where I truly believed God was in control, and that I needed to just let Him handle things. Because of the letting go, I was beginning to see what I believe is God’s calling on my life. But in a lapse of self-control, the ambition came out… of my mouth. The devil was crouching and he found an open opportunity.

    Let another praise you…

    Let another praise you, and not your own mouth; a stranger, and not your own lips. – Proverbs 27:2

    Former time in my life (including ministry time) had been spent trying to make things happen in my own strength, basically telling God how to do His job. But after a year and a half of breaking, I had finally come to a place where I was letting Him lead. Not boasting. Not trying to prove myself (at least not as much as in the past). For the longest time, I’ve just waited and watched. Basically, I have been looking expectantly for God’s calling and just waiting on His timing. But in one self-indulgent moment, I tried to take control of the ship again. Why? Insecurity. Lack of belief that God would fulfill His promises. Abundance of belief that since I could “see” what He wanted, that I should just go ahead and try to make it happen. Ugly stuff.

    Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit…

    Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. – Philippians 2:3

    I know I’m being very vague, but basically what I’m describing is a situation in my life where I let selfish ambition get the best of me. Ambition can destroy everything, even our ministry callings. When it becomes more about ourselves than about Jesus, then we become useless. When we try to TELL God what He’s calling us to do, or when we try to make it happen in our own strength, we are filthy rags. He doesn’t want our ambition. He doesn’t want what “we can do for Him.” He simply wants US, empty vessels, open and ready for His outpouring. God simply asks us to wait, watch, listen, obey.

    My prayer…

    My prayer out of this moment of boasting/selfish ambition/vain conceit… or whatever you want to call it is this:

    God, if this is truly Your calling on my life, please don’t let anything I do (in my own strength) mess it up. And please protect me from myself. I’m thankful for Your beautiful artwork of sanctification, and I’m thankful that you give us second chances.

    I boast no more…

    Because music is one of the main tools God uses to teach me, here is one of my all-time favorite songs, ironically enough about this very topic… I Boast No More by Caedmon’s Call.

    To you…

    So, what pet sins still crouch at your door? Are you willing to accept God’s beautiful gift of sanctification? He is waiting for you to let go and trust Him… to give Him your all and allow Him to mold you into the beautiful artwork that He has created you to be.

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    Plank-Eyed Saints {Encouragement Cafe}

    Tough subject today. How often do you find yourself judging others? And on the flip side, how often do your insecurities take control because you “sense” that others are judging you?

    I’m at the Encouragement Cafe today, talking about the judgment that is ingrained in all of our lives. Hope you can stop by: Plank-Eyed Saints.

    After you read, I would love to hear your thoughts! Leave a comment here or there… I’ll be checking both. By the way, if you would like to subscribe to emails from Grow Where You’re Planted, you can do that here: Grow Where You’re Planted Updates.