New Way to See Your Mess-Ups

mess-ups

Mess-ups! Would you like to see yours in a new way? A better way?

Mess-ups are mistakes. They also are growth opportunities. God can turn your mess-ups into masterpieces when you choose to see them in a new way, his way.

In this short article, I’ll share:

  1. Some of my mess-ups that became pretty.
  2. The very special God-given instruction to see them afresh.
  3. How you can beautify your mess-ups too.

My Mess-Ups, Beautified

Friend, in this short list I’ll name just two of my many mistakes.Then I’ll reveal heart change for life change. What mess-ups is God asking you admit? Did you know change begins when you own up to your mistakes? Once you admit them, then you can learn from them and experience uplifting, godly change.  

EXAMPLE 1: Stuffing my anger. At early as I can remember, I stuffed my anger and fear. This resulted in discouragement and eventually depression. Then I began to apply this biblical truth to my heart.

Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Ephesians 4:15, NIV

Heart change: A desire to obey God and follow his instruction to speak the truth in love, which required me to open my mouth. For me. . .scary!

Life change: As I spoke the truth in love with the person who angered me, I felt peace. . .even when the other person disagreed. I knew speaking the truth in love honored God.

EXAMPLE 2: Fear of disapproval. Years ago while driving on a six-lane highway, I had a freaky panic attack, completely unexpected. I had another one in the same place the next day and the next. Weeks later, I recognized that just before the first panic attack I was playing a bad tape in my mind of a grueling conversation with a coworker. I feared her angst and my boss’ opinion.

‘We must obey God rather than men.’ Acts 5:29, ESV

Heart change: A determination to please God most of all, not people. I had hated people’s disapproval. The strength to obey God grew from learning his attributes while reading the Bible and through prayer.

Life change: With practice, I renewed my thinking and God freed me from panic attacks and people-pleasing.

God’s Special Instruction

The Lord instructs you to build your life on what matters most of all–God’s Word.

Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. Matthew 7:24-25

Wise women build their life on the foundational truths in the Bible. In its pages, you’ll discover

  • who God is.
  • who you are.

Says Sinclair Ferguson: “Almost every area problem or failure in the Christian live is in some way rooted in the fact that we do not understand or we forget who God is and who we are.” Doesn’t this make a lot of sense? Does your spirit agree?

Beautify Your Mess-Ups

May I challenge you? It’s customary for me to give assignments to my counselees.

I have one for you. It’ll help you know God through Scripture. Open your Bible to Ephesians 1 and begin listing who God is, verse by verse. The first three are below. Keep adding to the list. You may reach 20, even more.

  1. a grace-giver (verse 2)
  2. one who blesses (verse 3)
  3. a planner (verse 4)

When you believe God is who he says he is, your thinking is renewed and you will begin to think rightly. As you think rightly, you will experience peace and contentment. You’ll even see your mess-ups as opportunities to make masterpieces.

FREE CONSULT: For a free, 20-minute consultation to find out how biblical counseling can help you or a friend, please contact me. Thanks!

Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Do You Complain? Does Your Kid?


complain

People who complain. . .how do they learn to stop?

In this short article, you’ll learn:

  1. Complaining is the sad norm.
  2. The real message that complaining sends.
  3. A solution to complaining.

Join the Crowd

Haven’t we all been guilty of complaining at one time or another? The other day, my 17 year old complained that:

  • He wasn’t allowed pizza rolls in his bedroom.
  • We said “no” to his plan to drive 60 miles on unfamiliar roads.
  • He had to pick up wet towels and hang them on a towel rod.

Your complaints may sound different from a teenager’s complaints.

Your friend forgets your birthday. A virus invades your hard drive. Your boss gives the better project to your coworker. Each of these scenarios are fodder to complain and grumble. What circumstances led to your complaints this week?

Real Message of Complaining

Complaining sends a message through words, tone or voice, and body language: “It’s not fair.”

A kid might say or think, “It’s not fair that my friend gets an iPhone and I don’t.” Or, “His family is spending the day at a water park and I’m stuck at home.”

Ultimately the “it’s not fair” message points a finger at God. 

When your kid complains–when you complain–your heart reveals self-centered sorrow. You feel angry and your anger may turn to bitterness. You think God hasn’t treated you fairy. You might even think that God’s made a big mistake.

In the Old Testament, Job (pronounced jobe) questioned God’s wisdom in letting horrible things happen to him–the deaths of his ten children and the obliteration of his livestock as well as his own ruined health. In chapters 38 to 40 of Job, God reminds him that he alone has limitless wisdom.

God’s main point: Who do you think you are, Job?

Speaking from a whirlwind, God says to Job:

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
    Tell me, if you have understanding.
 Who determined its measurements—surely you know!
    Or who stretched the line upon it?
 On what were its bases sunk,
    or who laid its cornerstone,
 when the morning stars sang together
    and all the sons of God shouted for joy? 38:4-7

God is wise, just, good, sovereign, love. Nothing happens in your life or your child’s life surprises God. When you feel confused and angry, God doesn’t need your advice or my advice. God invites you to deepen your trust.

God is trustworthy. He never makes mistakes. He loves you.

 A Solution to Complaining

Did you know that what you believe about God affects the way you think, feel, and act?

THREE TRUTHS:

  1. When you believe God is all-wise, you accept the truth that what God does is for your good and his glory, even though you may not understand God’s reasons.
  2. When you believe is God’s sovereign, you believe the truth that he is fully capable of devising how to handle your situation.
  3. When you believe God is good, you acknowledge that God knows why you have problems and shows you the best way to resolve them.

As you choose to act as a child of God, guess what happens?

Gratitude bubbles up in you and overflows your life. Gratitude isn’t a blindly optimistic. You don’t whitewash the bad things in life. Pain and injustice exist in this world.

When you focus on God’s gifts of life, you gain a feeling of well-being. Gratitude brings balance and hope. Do you have a grateful heart? Think of several things to write on your very own gratitude list.

Here’s how I began my gratitude list:

red geraniums

butterflies

friends who listen

dark chocolate

the color purple

the ability to read and walk and sleep deep

As you practice gratitude, you’ll complain less often. When you fall back into grumbing, you’ll be quick to confess your grumbling to God, and repent. You’ll discover new hope. As the psalmist says,

The LORD is my strength and my shield; My heart trusts in Him and I am helped; Therefore, my heart exults, And with my song I shall thank Him. Psalm 28:7

Sharing hope with your heart,

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Forgiveness: 12 Things You Must Know

forgiveness

Forgiveness is often tough, isn’t it? When you forgive someone who has hurt you, it may feel like you are letting the other person off the hook. (You aren’t.)

What’s worse than not forgiving someone? Holding on to unforgiveness!

Dr. David Jeremiah says, “Someone has described unforgiveness as the accumulation of unexpressed anger Because it is denied, it can often be ignored, while all the time it is building and growing like an invisible tumor.”

Unforgiveness becomes bitterness. You don’t want bitterness to take root: it entangles you and suffocates you like a giant boa constrictor. The apostle Paul encouraged:

 Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:31-32, ESV)

Choosing Forgiveness

“Forgiveness is not a method to be learned as much as a truth to be lived,” writes Nancy Leigh DeMoss in Choosing Forgiveness, Your Journey to Freedom (Moody Publishers, 2008).

Unfaithful spouses. Gossiping friends. Wayward kids. Nasty neighbors. Unfair teacher, employers, coworkers. This world gives you and me many opportunities to grant forgiveness. Did you know many women who seek counseling also need to extend and accept forgiveness? It’s a huge issue.

If you’ve lived in unforgiveness — a dark, uncomfortable place where you’ve hidden your heart — isn’t it time to step into light and experience freedom through Christ?

12 Things to You Must Know 

1. Forgiveness is both a choice and a process.
2. Make a decision to give up anger.
3. Pray to be made willing to forgive.
4. Feel your feelings in a safe place, with a safe person.
5. To say, “I forgive,” but never feel your pain denies the truth.
6. To feel your pain, anger, and sadness but never choose forgiveness hurts you.
7. Ask for grace both to feel and to forgive.
8. Read Jesus’ words on forgiveness. To get you started, check out Matthew 9:2, Matthew 12:31,  Mark 3:29, Luke 23:34, John 20:23,
9. To forgive is not to condone
10. To forgive is not to excuse.
11. To forgive doesn’t mean you don’t matter.
12. Trust God for justice.

When you forgive, you let go of your supposed right to get even. Why not let go of the hurt after you share your pain with Jesus. . .and be free?

Has this article encouraged you? If so, please subscribe to my blog. Thank you!




Sharing Hope with Your Heart,

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Anger: Your Way Out

anger
Anger may be white-hot or a slow burn. It is among the most common emotions you experience. Would you like to know how to handle it wisely? Do you want a way out?

But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth” (Colossians 3:8, ESV)

Anger is neither morally right nor wrong, for God himself becomes angry (Genesis 6:1). His anger is always righteous. Most often ours is sinful.

Root Cause of Anger

Anger surfaces when you experience a real or perceived wrong. What would you add to this list? What is a common cause of your anger?

  • Your dog chews a new pair of expensive heels.
  • Your 16 year old promises to clean her mess of a room but breaks her promise.
  • A driver cuts you off.
  • A girlfriend asks you to lunch but doesn’t show up.
  • Your husband asks you to lie to his boss.
  • You job is “eliminated.”

Types of Anger

Have you heard someone say, “I never get angry,” and in the next breath, she complains or speaks in an irritated tone of voice?

It’s a misconception that anger is only “loud” — yelling, slamming doors, a cutting comment, rage. It is also “quiet” — the silent treatment, gossip, self-pity, apathy. The former “blows up” while the latter “clams up.” Both are destructive.

When you’re angry, do you tend to blow up, clam up, or bounce between the two?

A woman a counseled several years ago felt angry — the quiet type — when her she found out that her husband looked at pornography on his workplace computer and was subsequently fired. He had godly sorrow and repented of his wrongdoing, for Jesus says, “But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart” (Matthew 5:28). She forgave him.

There were other unwelcome consequences beyond a lost job and tarnished reputation: the rebuilding of trust between her and her husband, difficult conversations with their five children (ages 8 to 16), a six-month job hunt, and a move halfway across the country.

She handled her anger by turning to Jesus. 

Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger (Ephesians 4:26).

Questions to Resolve Your Anger

A common assignment I give to counselees is keeping a “heart journal” to help them assess and resolve their anger, fear, or other difficult emotions. (The journal came about from my reading of biblical counselors’ books and personal tweaking as I used it with counselees.)

Let’s begin with four assessment questions. These questions help you identify the circumstances swirling around your anger as well as the reason for it.

  1. What is going on that led to anger?
  2. How do I react?
  3. What are my ruling desires? (Common ones are pride, fear of man, and false beliefs.)
  4. What are the consequences of your anger?

The next four questions move toward a Christ-centered solution.

What is true?

David Powlison, executive director of CCEF and senior editor of Journal of Biblical Counseling, is first you must recognize the truth that God “is present and in control this and every situation.” Second, know the truth of the Great Commandment (Matthew 22:37-39), which tells you what to love — God and neighbor — and helps you key into what you loved instead. Third, the truth of the gospel points you to Jesus, who has forgiven his followers and who provides the power to change.

How can I turn to God for help?

In Powlison’s words, do it. Yes, it’s silly to just analyze your anger and understand it. You need to turn from the false gods you identified in question 3 above. You need to turn to Jesus: confess (agree with God) that you sinned, repent, and thank God for the forgiveness that Jesus’ provided through the cross.

How ought I respond to God in this situation?

Trust and obey. You’ experience not only thankfulness when you turn to Jesus but also changes in your thoughts, emotions, and actions. Peace replaces anger.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:7).

What are the results of trust and obedience? 

More faith! More contentment! More peace! God has given you everything you need to live a victorious, godly life

His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

You get a taste of heaven now. While you walk in his light on this earth, God teaches you more about himself, your circumstances and the way out of anger.

Sharing hope with your heart,

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Acceptance: God Isn’t a ‘Mean Girl’!

acceptance
Do you know that you have total acceptance in Christ?

It’s true, sister! God says so.

Ever met a mean girl or three?. I have. Eighth grade. Me, the new girl at school. Them, clique-y, bratty, “all that.” These mean girls were not God-like, though they acted like royalty, a royal pain in the . . .

God isn’t a mean girl. He welcomes you with open arms.

Many people want nothing to do with God and if that’s you, I get it. From age 8 to young adulthood, I didn’t want to talk with God either. Or attend church. Or wear a cross around my neck.

What I wanted most was the mean girls’ acceptance. Have you longed for acceptance too? What did you do to get acceptance? To belong?

In this article, you learn 1 reason why God accepts you and 3 responses you might choose.

God Accepts You Because He Accepts Jesus

Every Christian is totally accepted by God. Many Christians forget this truth.

Are you struggling with a bad case of spiritual amnesia? Isn’t it easy to forget all that God gave you when you believed in Jesus as your Savior?

Now we have received. . .the Spirit who is from God that we might understand the things freely given us by God. (1 Corinthians 2:12, ESV)

When you became a believer, you received an an inheritance. You are “in Christ.” Jesus is your brother (John 20:17), God is your Father, and all believers everywhere are your siblings. Together you share in your Father’s riches.

So you are no longer a slave, but God’s child; and since you are his child, God has made you also an heir. (Galatians 4:7, NIV)

Among these riches is peace with God. You have complete peace and acceptance with God. You were once hostile to God, just as I was the mean girls’ enemy, wanting their friendship, hating their rejection.

God knew that you and I were helpless and unable to ever be “enough” or “measure up” on our own. You could spend hours every day trying to please God — volunteering at a food pantry, memorizing scripture verses, writing fat donation checks — but apart from God you can do nothing (John 15:5).

What are two or three ways you’ve tried to earn God’s acceptance? Do you keep running on the spiritual treadmill? Are you ready to get off?

God himself took care of everything you need. Jesus paid for your sins on the cross. His sacrifice satisfied God’s wrath. Now you can approach God, confidently and boldly, knowing God accepts you because his accepts Jesus. He is the only One who could ever measure up.

You may have grown up in a home with the message, “I accept you if. . ..” You may be in a marriage with the underlying that condition, “I accept you if. . ..” This isn’t God’s stance toward you. He is not a mean girl, smirking, chuckling, turning his back. When have you felt rejected by family, friends. . .God?

God Wants You to Delight in Jesus

Knowing God’s wonderful acceptance deserves a response, doesn’t it?

Here are 3 responses you might have. The first one is obvious.

1. Thank God. When I opened an envelope from my Uncle Pat and saw the check inside, I shouted to my family, “Come and see this. Come and see this.” We delighted in the unexpected gift. The next day I wrote my uncle a letter and thanked him over and over.

Have you thanked God for the amazing inheritance he’s given you?

2. Rest in God’s acceptance. You and I make mistakes every day. When you screw up, do you step toward God and talk with him, or do you try to hide? Since God complete accepts you, you don’t have to act like an outcast. You are his precious daughter and he smiles on you. Agree with him you messed up and thank him that you have been forgiven in Christ.

3. Get to know God better. The God who accepts you wants you to enjoy him. Look outside — do you see the sky? He made the sky for you to know his greatness. Look at your hands — you have beautiful hands and beautiful eyes to see them. Every part of you shows his attention to detail, his plan, his creativity, his care (Psalm 139).

God revealed himself in Jesus and in his written Word. To know God better, why not take time daily to read the Bible? If you’re new to the Bible, begin with the gospels — Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John, which are at the beginning of the New Testament.

God Never Rejects You

When my husband and I welcomed home our eldest child, life turned upside down.

We now had a tiny baby completely dependent on us. She slept through the first three weeks of life, and on day 22, woke up a holy terror. Colic rocked her world and mine. I felt like such a failure.

Why couldn‟t I soothe her? Why won‟t she stop screaming? Am I an awful mom?

Our heavenly Father never ever sees you as a failure. When life gets crazy-bad and you wonder whether he really accepts you, God invites you to get a safe daddy hug. His arms aren’t too big to hold you. He won‟t abandon you. You are God‟s daughter. He accepts you.

Sharing hope with your heart,

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Your Heart Is the Real You!

featured_lucyannmollYour heart is the real you, according to Jesus.

If you want to understand yourself, your spouse, your child, or anyone, you need to understand their heart as best you can.

Would you like to know what causes your fear of public speaking, or your spouse’s brooding, or your child’s backtalk, or a friend’s love of posting selfies on Facebook and Instagram? Then seek to understand the heart. You’ll never know your own heart perfectly — or theirs. Only God does (Psalm 44:21).

In this article, you’ll learn a basic definition of the heart, discover its three main parts, and how God transforms you.

The Heart Defined

You’ve heard a friend say, “I have a broken heart,” haven’t you? She means she’s sad. “Follow your heart” means do what your feel.

Usually people describe it as the emotional part of a person. Scripture suggests that your heart is your mind, emotions, and will. It is the center of your being. You can compare it to a control center. It controls what you think, feel, say, and do.

Proverbs 4:23 says it well:

Above all else, guard your heart,
    for everything you do flows from it.

Everything.

And the picture isn’t pretty. Did you know that God nearly wiped out the entire human race? You hear about it in Genesis 6, just three short chapters after the Fall, when Adam and Eve took a bite of disobedience and sin entered the world.

The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time. (Genesis 6:5)

The Bible says your heart “tricks or deceives us into thinking that our desires are pure, that we want what we want because it is good and God approves,” writes Elyse Fitzpatrick, the author of many books including Idols of the Heart.

As you struggle against sin, God will help you trust him. He will help you desire to do his will always. He knows your struggles, and he loves you completely. You are his. He is transforming you.

3 Parts of the Heart

“Heart” is the word the Bible uses for your mind and your emotions and your will altogether. Your mind, emotions, and will work together and influence one another.

Your mind: Your mind involves your ability to understand, reason, and discern. It includes your beliefs and opinions.

  • Taken aback with news from angels about her son, Mary the mother of Jesus “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (Luke 2:19).
  • The power of God’s word “judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12)
  • As a man thinks in his heart so is he (Proverbs 23:7, NLT).

Your emotions: Generally, your emotions also include your longings, desires, and hopes.

  • But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation (Psalm 13:5).
  • If you harbor bitter envy and selfish ambition in your hearts. . . (James 3:14).

Your will: Your will is the part of your inner person that chooses what actions to take. Your mind and emotions inform your will what to do.

  • Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve (Joshua 24:15).
  • Even if I should choose to boast, I would not be a fool, because I would be speaking the truth (2 Corinthians 12:6)

How God Transforms You

It is possible to change what you think, feel, and do with God’s miraculous help. You need heart change to change your life. Only God can do this.

At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit,  whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior,  so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life (Titus 3:3-7).

Your transformation is all God!

You were saved by faith and now you are called to live by faith.

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him,  rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness (Colossians 2:6-7).

Living by faith is part of progressive sanctification, and you become more like Jesus Christ in your inner self. God renews your mind and your beliefs, and ultimately your desires. You begin wanting to do God’s will rather than your own. Your heart becomes increasingly Christ-centered. It is decreasingly me-centered.

Changing behavior is never enough. You need heart transformation to change the real you!

Sharing hope with your heart,

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