When They “Should” All Over You

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My husband and I have this saying that we stole from a former commercial fisherman named Jack*.

Jack used to say people will “should” all over you, if you let them.

As in, You “should” do this.

You “should” do that.

So when we feel the inward pull to do more than we want to, we say that “People are shoulding on us.”

And we’ve had to learn the hard way that people “should” on each other.  We all do it.  We place expectations on each other that we don’t realize are slowly suffocating the life out of the ones we love.

And so we’ve had to learn how to get very good at saying “No”, “No, thank you”, and “I’m sorry that’s not going to work for me”.

Because ultimately, it’s no one else’s job to guard our own hearts except our own.

God has tasked us with that responsibility.


Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
    that’s where life starts.

Proverbs 4:23

(The Message)


God wasn’t kidding.

Everything that flows from your life starts with your heart

And nothing kills our hearts quite like “should”.

We can get so caught up in looking ahead that we forget to live in the now, the present of our lives.

We worry and fret that we aren’t doing enough and so we redouble our efforts to get more done.

To not only do more but to produce more.

And that is death to our hearts.

It is not up to us.

We are in God’s process of learning to listen to our hearts just as we listen for His.

And if His spirit is within us  – it is Him who works in us BOTH to work but also to want to do good things.

But we have to pay attention.

It’s far to easy to drift into auto-pilot and just do what we believe is the “right-thing” rather than allow God’s spirit to direct our steps to do the “God-thing”.

And there is a huge chasm between the two.

We can be so busy doing the “right thing” that we miss out on God’s “best thing”.

For it is [not your strength, but it is] [a]God who is effectively at work in you, both to will and to work [that is, strengthening, energizing, and creating in you the longing and the ability to fulfill your purpose] for His good pleasure.

Philippians 2:13

(The Amplified Bible)


So what if instead of tackling our to-do lists and striving to meet other people’s expectations of us, we stopped to ask ourselves what we WANT to do today and from there asking the Father what he thinks about that?

What would your day look like?

Would you have more peace?

Would you have more fun?

Because you were created to live in freedom.  And the choice to give to others can only truly come from that place of freedom.


 It was for this freedom that Christ set us free [completely liberating us]; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery [which you once removed].

Galatians 5:1

The Amplified


And so for the past 2 years, we have been learning as a church how to walk in a season of stewardship.

That means that God is giving us the freedom to choose to take care of ourselves and the things and people he has placed in our care.


As a mother, that means taking care of yourself so you have energy, time, and the mental clarity to love on your kids.


As someone in a ministry position, that means having interests outside of church so that you are recharged and able to face the demands and needs of others.  This also means, being completely comfortable saying “no” to others.  It was never your job to save them – only to point them to the One who can.


As a human being, that means saying “no” to the requests of others so that you have space and time to recharge and just be.



There are seasons and times when we slip into absolute apathy and God does challenge us to give more, but not this time.  This is a season of stepping back and allowing God to do what He does best.  This is a season of being present.  Present with Him.  This is a season that is all about lifting our eyes upward to connect with the Father and is less about reaching out to others, which is why there is such an opposition to it.



This is a strategic move of the enemy because:


“Should” will burn out all of our energy to seek God first.


“Should” will leave you wondering and striving and exhausted.


“Should” makes it very difficult to experience the presence of God.


So today, I challenge you to step away from all of the demands of others, whether they be spoken or unspoken.  And to step into what the Father has for you.  I promise you it’s worth it and full of more of His presence and grace than you or I could contain.


You can purchase Joyce’s latest book, Scattered, Finding God in Your Story at Amazon.com



Scattered, Finding God in Your Story


 *Jack Frost was a commercial fisherman before God caught ahold of his heart.  You can check out more of his resources at Shiloh Place Ministries 



I am so loving the word “no” right now.

I would sing it like a choir boy if I could.




“No” is the word that God gave us as freedom from distracting thoughts, over busy schedules, expectations to be something we are not.

I’m not talking about character issues.

I’m talking about feeling anxious all the time.

I’m talking about being afraid that we are not being who others think we should be.

Maybe even, who we think God wants us to be.


Remember: A stingy planter gets a stingy crop; a lavish planter gets a lavish crop. I want each of you to take plenty of time to think it over, and make up your own mind what you will give. That will protect you against sob stories and arm-twisting. God loves it when the giver delights in the giving.

2 Corinthians 9:6-7

(The Message)


Stingy and lavish.

So the moral is we should give more and not less right?


I don’t think that’s what it means.

Plus it’s all followed up with “God loves it when the giver delights in the giving”.

I think it’s about our motivation.


It comes back to heart.

I’ve had moments where I have given lots out of a stingy heart, because it was what I thought was expected, and I’ve given little with all of the love I had within me.

God was way more excited that I was excited about the little than the lot.


Geez, if I’m honest, I can’t remember the last time I was excited to give of my time or my money or my prayers.

I just got in the habit of giving because it’s what we Christians do.

But this burnt out girl is learning, it’s not enough to just give.

God wants us engaged in our giving- from hearts that overflow.

He’s asking us,

Why do we do what we do?

Do we give because we want to?

Or because we think it’s expected?


Which brings me back to my Sesame Street rant on why I loooove “No.”

“No”, protects our hearts and our motivations.

So if we are going to have and keep big hearts towards people, we have to be able to have and keep our big “no’s” towards the things that would cause us to feel less than delighted in our giving.

That’s really hard because it hits right at the heart of what people will think of me.


I know, it’s hard to say no.

We want people to think that we are the awesome people we know we are- but sometimes the most awesome and sincere and honest thing we can do is nicely say “no”. It keeps our hearts from resenting people and it keeps what flows from our hearts pure.

“No” gives us rest.

“No” gives us breathing room.

“No” gives us space to really discern our own hearts and God’s.


So, not that you need it, but if you were looking for someone to give you permission to say “no”, I’m saying it.  Say “no” to things the things that have been slowly killing your joy and your relationships with others.  Say “no” to the false expectation to be something you’re not.

Because here’s the best part, in the “no” we have more “yes” for each other and for a God that loves us enough to give us a word like “no”.




Website: www.joyceackermann.com



The Struggle Is Real

My mom is a teacher and she says profound things that I don’t understand.

Again, I swear, I was an A student in school.


. .  . I’m just a little, you know, one twist short of a slinky.


This time it happened to be about teaching.

See, the Human Calculator and I homeschool our kids.

Confession: I swear I never thought I’d homeschool my kids.


I was like “Huh?”

I felt like God was like. “Yeah, you should homeschool.”

And then I was like, “Okay”


I’m still not sure what happened.


But here we are – we are those people your parents warned you about.

Come to think of it, I think my parents warned me about those people too.

And now I are one.




So I’m asking my mom something about teaching and she nods her head very knowingly, like the best teachers do, and she says, “Well, learning doesn’t take place until the student reaches the threshold just beyond what he is capable of.”


Say whaaaaaat?

No, I’m serious.  I’m gonna need you to repeat that.


Learning doesn’t take place until the student reaches the threshold just beyond what he is capable of.


Yeah, write that down.

That’s free mom advice.

You don’t want that to go to waste.


Life is supposed to be a just a little bit difficult.


Check this out:

My troubles turned out all for the best—
    they forced me to learn from your textbook.

Psalm 119:71 (The Message)


We have some friends that moved recently but our recurring joke was “God Loves the Struggle”.  We had a few others, ongoing jokes that is, but instead of ratting out my friends, I’ll just say that what happens in home group stays in home group.


But God does love the struggle, because it means we’re learning.



It’s kinda cool, right?

God actually knows what he’s doing.


When life is hard – his intent isn’t to torture us.

It’s to teach us something.


And the Holy Spirit loves to teach all kinds of subjects.

Health, Business, Interpersonal Skills, the list goes on and on.

How ever the trouble ended up on your doorstep isn’t necessarily the point.  It’s “How is what you’re learning going to get it to go away?”


It looks a little like this:

Maybe your health issues have caused you to learn a better way to deal with stress and worry.

Maybe the struggles in starting your business have been the Holy Spirit showing you a strength you posses that you didn’t realize was there.

Maybe the arguments in your marriage have shown you that you want to learn how to communicate better.

Maybe your codependency habits have exhausted you to the point of needing to learn boundaries and how to value yourself. (I’m not going to point any elbows on this one – ahem)


God loves the struggle, because it’s an open invitation to learn something new.


Something about who he is.

Something about who you are.

Something about what he’s wanting to do for you.

Something about what you’re capable of accomplishing.

And always about how much you are loved.


Sharpen your #2’s, because school’s in session.



Photo Credit: “Pencil” by monoar permission through C.C. by 2.0


Hobbit Doors and Kool-Aid

It seems like great men fall a lot these days.

We anticipate it – because it’s just a matter of time.

It’s what has fed our skepticism for televangelists, organizations helping kids in 3rd world countries, and pastors in churches.

Prejudice with cause.

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.  Unfortunately that also means that everyone scatters to avoid being squished on impact.

The truth is – somewhere along the way.  Someone used us and abused us.  Maybe intentionally, maybe not.  But it always stings just a little bit more from the shepherds and spiritual siblings that were supposed to have our back.

Forgiving them always seems so much harder somehow.

Because they were supposed to know better.

We end up bearing the brunt of their mistakes and we are left reeling in the wake of their errors.

But the true assault is not to bring down one man or one organization.  It’s to create distrust and disunity in the brothers and sisters in Christ.

And it is such a hard fight, not impossible, but hard because it is difficult to detect.  Because we get so caught up in fighting the issues of right and wrong that we step over one another to make a point.

Divide and conquer.

It’s always been Satan’s plan for the church.

God wants us to be a “body”, his body.  Working together, feeling one another’s pain and success, sacrificing for one another – true love in action.

And that’s God’s plan for the church.

But it only works in unity, love, and holiness.

God has been speaking lately about the division trying to creep into the church.  We’ve seen successes lately and we’ve laid down our lives in the forms of our agendas and preferences for the sake of one another. 

And God has been standing and applauding us, but he isn’t the only one who has noticed that the church is finally gaining momentum. 

We have a mutt of an enemy who has noticed as well and has begun to whisper lies into our ears about one another, trying to plant seeds of mistrust, blame, and accusation.

Sounds scary to fight an unseen enemy, but the truth is – it really doesn’t have to be and God tells us over and over again to not be afraid.  So the best plan of attack against this, is simple:

1. Take the thoughts that the enemy has used to get you to turn against the people around you and use it against him.  How?  I say something like this, “Booya!  Thanks for the reminder,” and then I begin to pray and bless that same person that I had those negative thoughts about.  You’ll give the enemy whiplash and send him into a tailspin of confusion.

2. Find tangible ways to bless that person.  Send ’em an encouraging text message, give ’em a hug, go out for coffee, etc.

 And mark that you do this with humility and discipline—not in fits and starts, but steadily, pouring yourselves out for each other in acts of love, alert at noticing differences and quick at mending fences.  You were all called to travel on the same road and in the same direction, so stay together, both outwardly and inwardly. You have one Master, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who rules over all, works through all, and is present in all. Everything you are and think and do is permeated with Oneness.

Ephesians 4:2-6 (The Message)

Sounds intense.  But I promise, God’s not asking you to drink the kool-aid.

It’s actually more along the lines of drinking the grape juice at communion.

It all comes back to laying down our selfishness for one another.

I know, I’m with you in the chorus of “but God, it’s sooooo hard!”

We don’t get it because we don’t take the time to truly “see” one another.  We talk about loving God and go about our Christian lives saying that we are dead to our selfish ways but if we don’t take a good look at one another, to help one another, to encourage one another then we are just pretending at true Christianity, and by proxy asking God for a spanking.

Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment.

1 Corinthians 11:28-31 (NIV)

I thought about apologizing for the redundancy of forgiveness and love that I keep writing about lately but that would be wrong.  God is speaking to us because he loves us and doesn’t want us to miss out on what he has for us.

He wants us to succeed in life. 

So in his fatherly way – he keeps repeating himself until we get it.

I’m extra special, in the sense that God really has to put together nothing short of a theatrical production for me to really understand what he’s trying to teach me (now, now, don’t judge, I grew up on musicals and Disney movies!) So to really drive this point home to me the Holy Spirit gave me a picture of 5 hobbit type doors as a group of women at a Bible study were praying for me.  The middle door had been opened and I could see that there was nothing inside that room anymore.  I felt the Holy Spirit say, “you and Jason have accessed all that you can in this area of your life for now”.  And as I watched this mini-motion picture in my mind, the women at the table, one by one began to pray for me.  And as each one did, I saw a hobbit door open and gold coins begin to pour out of each door.  The Holy Spirit spoke again and said, “I have things for you that only other people can access on your behalf”.

That was pretty sobering for someone like me who used to view my Christian walk as a lone wolf experience.

I think we will all see less of men falling and more succeeding if we can stand together.

Chasing God

I spent a lot of my life chasing God.

Wondering where he was.

Wishing I could hear his voice better.

Questioning if I was in his best plan for my life.

Trying to figure it all out in the space between my ears.

It took me a long time to learn that my head will never understand the things of God on it’s own.

The unspiritual self, just as it is by nature, can’t receive the gifts of God’s Spirit. There’s no capacity for them. They seem like so much silliness. Spirit can be known only by spirit—God’s Spirit and our spirits in open communion. Spiritually alive, we have access to everything God’s Spirit is doing, and can’t be judged by unspiritual critics. Isaiah’s question, “Is there anyone around who knows God’s Spirit, anyone who knows what he is doing?” has been answered: Christ knows, and we have Christ’s Spirit.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 (The Message)

This is why you see people mock the legitimate things of God.

Usually it’s not because they are out to get you, but because they can’t understand.

This is why when Jesus was hanging on the cross, Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them; they don’t know what they’re doing.” (Luke 23:34)

Flesh is born of flesh and spirit is born of spirit.

This is the cause of many a confused Christian.

Trying to live a spiritual life from someplace in the land of gray matter.  It’ll never happen.

Okay, so how the heck do you live a life that flows from the spirit.

That was the question I should have been asking all along.

And the ironic thing is, deep down we all know the beginning of the answer, because we have the Spirit of God inside of us.

We just don’t always know how to articulate it.

I have been chasing after the presence of God since I was fifteen.  Like some crazy storm chaser, desperate for just one more glimpse of God.

I wasn’t chasing after signs and wonders and the next big conference.

I was chasing God.

Chasing the presence of God is sensing that touch of God, that tangible feeling when God is in the room with you, and following him where ever he goes.

Drug addicts have nothing on this type of addiction.

This is a God-type addiction.

I get the jones when it’s been a couple of hours without feeling his presence.  I am not speaking metaphorically at this point.  I seriously get crabby when I’ve gone too long without the touch of God.

And I am convinced that we should get a little crabby when we can’t feel the touch of God.

We were created to live in that euphoria of God’s presence all the time. 

That was part of what the death and resurrection of Jesus did for us.

Allowed us to dwell with God again.

And here’s where it gets really good.

The Holy Spirit is the infilling of God within us. 

So chasing God is now a little easier since I know he is always with me, stuck to me like super glue the way I’m stuck to him because he says he will never leave me nor forsake me.

But if God is living on the inside of us now, how do we access that place of his presence?

It’s there, like the sun on a cloudy day – usually you just need to clear the clouds away to enter that place of rest found in his presence. 

Clouds of fear, doubt, anxiety, worry, hate, unforgiveness, etc.

I’ve started using this as an internal gauge for my mind.  Because my mind will allow those clouds to roll in if I don’t keep it in check and then, like I said, I can’t feel God’s presence and then I get cranky.

And when mama ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

So really, it’s a public service for me to remain in the presence of God.

Okay, so what role does our gray matter play in all of this?

So here’s what I want you to do, God helping you: Take your everyday, ordinary life—your sleeping, eating, going-to-work, and walking-around life—and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead, fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out. Readily recognize what he wants from you, and quickly respond to it. Unlike the culture around you, always dragging you down to its level of immaturity, God brings the best out of you, develops well-formed maturity in you.

Romans 12:1-2

When I don’t feel God’s presence tangibly, I stop and do an honesty check on my thoughts.  There are 3 questions I have learned to ask myself.

1. Am I afraid, anxious, or worried?

2. Am I walking in love?

3. Is my focus on God or the cares of this world (which translates: being focus on problems)?

There are things that we have to take care of in this natural world.  Paying bills, taking care of family and friends, work, etc.  Yep, and we should do those things.  But God wants us to do them from a place above the clouds.

To live life from a different place.

Chasing God has now become more of a game of hide-and-seek.

And he’s always there in the same spot, waiting to be found behind the clouds.

Caged hope

The voice of hopelessness is a subtle one.

Sometimes it’s the only voice we recognize, because it’s all we’ve ever known.

I was praying for a friend lately and the Holy Spirit showed me a picture of a beautiful canary.  Bright yellow, sunshiney in color.

It was the perfect picture of her.

She is pure light and laughter.

Her life is this ridiculously giddy song of joy – you can’t help but love to be around her.

But this beautiful canary was behind the bars of a bird cage.  The door was opened and the canary could have flown out – could have been free but had been a prisoner for so long she didn’t realize that her freedom was just steps away.

And God spoke to my heart, she is free but she doesn’t believe it.

No one can force her out of the cage without causing trauma.

It broke my heart.  There was nothing I could say or do.

She thinks God has abandoned her and her family.

And they are hurting.

So badly.

They have given up hope.

It made me realize the importance of nurturing hope and keeping it alive for ourselves and others.

But how do you nurture a thing like hope?

(It should be noted that I’ve successfully killed off every living plant in our house except one and that’s only because I’m not allowed to water it, touch it, or talk to it.)

I think I’ve found the secret to keeping hope alive though. . . turning towards God with our disappointments.

Disappointment is a hope-killer.

Unrelenting disappointment leaves you heartsick,
    but a sudden good break can turn life around.

Proverbs 13:12 (MSG)

Its a crucial thing to learn if we’re ever going to hold on to hope.

What does that even look like though to turn to God with our disappointments?

I can only tell you what it looks like in my life.  And I’m only recently learning how to do this.

It looks like a toddler having a bad day.

There’s alot of pouring one’s heart out in tears and “I don’t understands”, but there is something really healing about it.  God’s presence has never failed to meet me in my honest moments of coming to him with emotional scraped knees.  He always holds me and tells me it will be okay – even if he doesn’t explain why it happened in the first place.

But it’s done something for my hope – something amazing.

It’s kept it alive, which is better than our former houseplants can say.

As for my friend, the beautiful yellow canary?

God always hopes and he hasn’t given up on her. . . it is just going to take a little longer to coax her out of her cage.

He is our hope when we’ve run out.

Thank God for God.

For I know the thoughts and plans that I have for you, says the Lord, thoughts and plans for welfare and peace and not for evil, to give you hope in your final outcome.

Jeremiah 29:11 (The Amplified)

for i know


Who is God?

What if the God you thought you knew wasn’t God at all?

Jesus called him Abba, which means Daddy or Papa in English.

Calling God, “Daddy” or “Papa” seems scandalous.  He’s the Almighty after-all, which I always understood to mean:

Harsh, unpredictable, ready to crush me if I pissed him off.

This last year has been forcing me to take a second look at how I relate to God the Father.

Who is God?

I was pouring my heart out to God a couple of weeks ago, wanting to know who he really was – his character.  Which all stemmed from a dream I had, where the Holy Spirit showed me I had this mouse of a reoccuring thought that kept eating it’s way through the fridge of my life.

I asked God for the revelation of what that mouse was – he showed me that I saw him as harsh and hard.  This led me to wanting God to rain down holy mousetraps so I could snap that bugger’s neck (so sorry for you animal lovers out there).

So, I’m there lost in worship and intermittently praying when God speaks ever so softly to my heart and reminds me of

Matthew 11:29 (HCSB)

All of you, take up My yoke and learn from Me, because I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for yourselves.

Joyce, I am gentle.


I am always gentle with my daughters.

Never in my life had I seen God as gentle – I don’t know if I just fell asleep every time I read that verse or just thought it didn’t apply to me somehow.  I saw God more like Zeus, draped in a white toga and hurling thunder bolts at a moments notice.

And here he’s saying, I’m gentle – you’ve had the wrong image of me.

I’ve been worshiping a really false image of God for the past decade of my life.

Okay, so who are you really God?

I am love (1 John 4:8). 

Okay, yeah but then what is love?

Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn’t want what it doesn’t have.
Love doesn’t strut,
Doesn’t have a swelled head,
Doesn’t force itself on others,
Isn’t always “me first,”
Doesn’t fly off the handle,
Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn’t revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Trusts God always,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.

1 Corinthians 13: 4-7 (The Message)

Anything less than that is not God.

So, what if we measured all of our experiences where we thought God let us down or was harsh with us by the definition of love?

We would find that those experiences were not God.

So, that was a couple of weeks ago that God began showing me that I don’t really know him like I thought I did.  And so he’s been taking me on this journey of showing me what love really looks like, what he really looks like.

This theme of God being a Father keeps popping up over and over again for me.

I think he’s trying to make a point.

I was at a conference this weekend – guess what it was about?

All about God the Father, Daddy, our Papa.

Shine on baby, shine on

I got a reminder from my eye doctor in the mail today.

He wants more money and thinks that if I come in for a check-up that he’ll be able to squeeze it out of my corneas.

I checked just to make sure.

Nope, not a cent is coming out of my eyeballs.

I was going to toss the reminder in the trash with all of the other junk mail that came today, but the bottom of the paper caught my eye (no pun, intended.  Okay, maybe a little intended)

“Under the right conditions, the human eye can see the light of a candle – 14 miles away.”


Tell me I’m not the only one geeking out about that?

One small light can be seen 14 miles away.

In a life or death situation, a candle could save a life.

One single flame.

Here’s another way to put it: You’re here to be light, bringing out the God-colors in the world. God is not a secret to be kept. We’re going public with this, as public as a city on a hill. If I make you light-bearers, you don’t think I’m going to hide you under a bucket, do you? I’m putting you on a light stand. Now that I’ve put you there on a hilltop, on a light stand—shine! Keep open house; be generous with your lives. By opening up to others, you’ll prompt people to open up with God, this generous Father in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16 (The Message)

That’s us.

We are that flame.

I find that incredibly encouraging.  In a day when life seems so dark, with governments toppling, economic crisis looming, terrorists plotting unspeakable acts, and on and on the dark parade of bad news continues – that in these days, our light is seen – even from a far distance.

We are that light. . .as long as we don’t let fear cover it up.

No one lights a lamp and then covers it with a washtub or shoves it under the bed. No, you set it up on a lamp stand so those who enter the room can see their way. We’re not keeping secrets; we’re telling them. We’re not hiding things; we’re bringing everything out into the open. So be careful that you don’t become misers of what you hear. Generosity begets generosity. Stinginess impoverishes.

Luke 8:16-18 (The Message)

Jesus tells us to shine on so that others can find their way.

But there is a paralyzing sort of fear that tries to grip the heart of every believer.

It is the fear of telling someone else about Jesus.

To some degree we are afraid of rejection but mostly we are afraid that we are doing it wrong.

We are terrified that our brand of evangelism doesn’t come across as graceful as we want it to and we’re afraid we’re gonna look like an idiot and that God’s gonna disown us for failing to memorize the script on how to introduce someone to Jesus.

Guess what?

We are the script.

Your very lives are a letter that anyone can read by just looking at you. Christ himself wrote it—not with ink, but with God’s living Spirit; not chiseled into stone, but carved into human lives—and we publish it.

2 Corinthians 3:2-3 (The Message)

God is not looking to meet a quota and you are not a salesperson.  God values life and human will too much to con people into choosing him.  If you are living a Jesus-centric, Spirit-led life, people will be drawn to your light.

And when they are – keep it simple.  Tell ’em that Jesus loves them.  That he died for the sins of humanity, so that it couldn’t separate us from a God who loves us with this crazy, inexhaustible love.  And if they’re open to it, pray with them.

The words will come.

Just be your redeemed self and shine on.

~if you are curious how a person could write the word Jesus this many times without sounding like a sailor, check out the page on this blog – Jesus?~

My Precious

It’s hazy outside like the ozone just hacked up a giant cotton ball and left the sun to swim in it.

Everyone I know feels this way right now.

We are giant hairballs in the throat of life.

We’re all caught up in battles that God has asked us to fight – battles of faith for one another and for ourselves and we’ve all run out of gas.

Are we quitting?


Are we trudging our way forward on fumes?

You could say that.

It is because of this fume-y feeling that I found my grocery cart swerving towards the cosmetics aisle the other day. . . towards a really shiny, gold tube of mascara that my soul was screaming that I needed to have to feel pretty and secure and good.

I stood in the aisle for a solid 10 minutes while I listed all the reasons that I needed that tube of mascara.

The obvious was that I really like shiny things and shiny things like me (Target knows this and when it hears that I’m coming it puts all of it’s shiny stuff on those end caps and impulse buy spots).

I also needed that mascara because I was tired and worn and that mascara was going to make my eyelashes like a mile long – who wouldn’t feel good about that.  But I didn’t really have the money to buy it and I knew that what I needed right then was a Comforter and the Holy Spirit was not going to care if I had mile long eyelashes.  But there I was salivating in the make-up aisle like Gollum in Lord of the Rings, swaying back and forth, clutching the shiny mascara thinking things like “Mine” and “My Precious”.

In a brief flash of sanity I was able to put my precious, shiny mascara back on the shelf and push my cart towards the check-out lines.  I don’t need mascara, well actually I do because I am almost out – but at that moment it was not about the mascara.  I was looking for something to make me feel a little less tired.  A little less worn.  A little less like my life had been poured out.

Why is it that God is the last place we turn when we need comfort.  Jesus even said he would send us the Comforter, but we dismiss the title like it’s irrelevant.

And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Comforter (Counselor, Helper, Intercessor, Advocate, Strengthener, and Standby), that He may remain with you forever—

John 14:16

Sign me up for some of that.

I run to so many things for comfort.  And not even conscientiously.

When I’m tired and feeling like I don’t have the energy to keep up with the 3 energizer bunnies that I call my kids, I find myself asking my t.v. to help keep them entertained or worse asking it to recharge me with some funny sitcom.

When I’m feeling lonely or misunderstood, I’ll check in with Facebook to see if anybody “likes” me.

We all do it.

Whether our vices be food, pop (Coke, if you’re from the south), t.v., technology, porn, alcohol, shopping, drugs, other people’s approval, mascara, etc, etc, etc – we all do it.  Different scenarios but the same problem.

We overdose on things that make us feel good in a desperate attempt for something or someone to fill those areas in us that have been sucked dry by this thing we call life.  Please don’t misunderstand me, most of the things I listed above are not bad in and of themselves, it’s when it becomes a “fix” that something is not quite right.  It comes down to this:

We can’t escape our need for comfort and understanding.

We are not supposed to.

God knows he created us with that need.

What would it look like if we ran to the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, when we are feeling tired and worn and overwhelmed?  God says he is a very present help in a time of need.  But we wonder how our problems could matter to him.  After all he has things like poverty and illness and hatred to deal with.

Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, so that He may exalt you at the proper time,casting all your care on Him, because He cares about you.   

1 Peter 5:6-7

He cares.

He cares about you.

He cares about your crappy day.

He cares that as I write this, I have friends and family that are facing each day bleary eyed just praying to make it through another hospitalization, another job crisis, another long day of trusting that he is going to come through.

He cares about those very huge things.  He cares about the small things too.

He cares that I have days when I think it’s unfair that the 3 amazing kids he gave me have more energy than I do.  Days like today when the littlest one exploded out of her diaper and all over her outfit and blanket and who knows what else while the middle one (sick with the flu) cried and screamed to be picked up while I cleaned the mess.  All  this happened while the oldest one jumped on my bed performing acrobatics in an effort to get my attention.

I live in a circus and that was just the opening act.

And the thing is, he cares.

He cares enough to tell me to step away from the shiny things in life so that I will come and get the comfort that I really need from him.