Here in North Carolina, the July days are long, the air is heavy and despite the fact that I’ve got some serious reading to do (serious in the sense of topic as well as quantity) I’ve been having trouble keeping my eyes open. These are, indeed, the lazy, hazy days of summer, so I’ll keep this week’s post a little shorter! Here are my three things to help you enjoy your summer…
1. Make some memories
The BLT’s. The corn on the cob. And the watermelon. (Personally, I believe God created watermelons to help us endure the scorching heat.)
I know, I know… you’re watching your weight; it’s swimsuit season, I get it. Me. Too. But I’m not saying you should binge. (I may or may not have done that last summer and gained ten pounds.) If you’re prone to over-indulge (like me) one word… moderation.
It’s not about the food. What I really want to encourage you to do is to take a big ol’ bite out of summer. Sink your teeth into all it has to offer! I thought about all this stuff this morning as I read Psalm 34:8:
“O, taste and see that the Lord is good!”
The word ‘taste’ means ‘to try the flavor; to perceive.’ God is good and He gives good gifts to His children. Be wise. Steward your health. But enjoy the bounty of the season. Celebrate with your people.
Friends, please join me in welcoming my dear friend, Becky Burgue, as she shares her thoughts about freedom on the blog today. I thought the 4th of July would be the perfect time to introduce her to you, as she is one of the most patriotic people I know. In the fight for women to find freedom, she is an unwavering warrior. Enjoy this post and then I hope you will join Becky on her porch at 7:14 am each Friday in July for Celebrating the Journey of Freedom on Facebook Live. Details at bottom of post.
It’s July again and our focus once more turns to freedom
I have always loved everything about the 4th:
The fireworks, the food, the family time, and the freedom it all represents and celebrates.
John 8:36 says, “Therefore if the Son makes you free you shall be free indeed.”
If we belong to Christ we have freedom:
freedom from the yoke of slavery to sin and it’s consequences.
freedom to accept the gifts and blessings He offers through Jesus.
freedom to love because He first loved us.
We are free first to love Jesus completely and unconditionally the way He loves us- the way we all desire to be loved, with no strings attached. Only then can we truly love others.
Freedom to see ourselves through the lens of God’s love- this requires bringing pictures from the past into the light and exposing them. How can we truly love others and let them know how much God loves them if we ourselves don’t know and believe who we are in Him?
We are no different from some of the women we meet in the Bible who may have been perceived to be one thing but were used by God for His plan and purposes:
Gomer, who despite her wayward ways, God restored to Himself.
Leah, who felt inferior because of her physical features but she was chosen to bear Judah through whose lineage our Savior came.
Naomi, who allowed feelings to overshadow her relationship with God but those feelings were turned to facts when God drew her into a deeper relationship with Him.
Mary, mother of Jesus, who was too young or Elizabeth or Sara who were who were too old.
Lydia, a smart and prosperous businesswoman, who had time to worship God.
Esther, an orphan who for “such a time as this” relied totally on God and not on the props of the world.
and we could go on….
Women just like us who seemingly had everything going for them or who literally had nothing going for them.
God can use each of us and will if we let Him.
So what lies are you still believing about yourself that prevent you from living in freedom?
Are you looking at the # on a scale, the outfit you choose, the hair cut or color, your age or stage or abilities, the position in the church or the community; your status on Facebook or the number of followers you have on Instagram or twitter, the Pinterest perfect life you try to portray or your relationships to define you?
Do you push the play button and hear those thoughts that say you are not enough and you never will be?
Do you play the comparison game or fall into the what if or why me trap?
When asked to describe yourself would you or do you sometimes say:
I’ll never be…
I’m just like…
I’ll never change from…
That’s just the way I am…
I’ll always be…
I’m not as good as…
I have good news for you, friends
You can be free of all of that and you can know and rest in your identity as an adopted child of God. My son Peter, who is now 36, kept me on my knees and still does; as a toddler he would wake up and say, “mommy, mommy, the dark has opened up!”
Wow, who talks like that; who thinks like that? And when I would ask him, “Who are you?” he would reply with hands waving above his head, “Peter Burgue, Child of God!” Oh, to have that confidence!
Freedom to go First
First, go boldly before the throne of grace and mercy acknowledging who He is, a righteous and Holy God who desires relationship and who we are, sinners in need of a savior! Our world bombards us with images of what we need and what we deserve. The Bible tells us a different story, of grace, God’s unmerited favor, completely undeserved but freely given. The last shall be first and the first shall be last- that’s good news for us moms. You are a daughter of the King and you know what that means- a princess.
John Eldridge describes little girls who twirl until someone notices- we are those little girls- we may look all grown up but that same desire to be seen, heard, and loved still exists in each of us. When we go first to the Father who desires to give us every good gift, everything else falls into place.
Freedom to Care
First, for myself so I’ll be able to care for others. Self-care is very important. It took me a long time to learn that and I must confess to you I’m still not very good at it. Don’t feel guilty about it. Make it a priority, put in your planner. Schedule it and keep the appointment. When we think we have to be everything to everyone they will never recognize their need for Jesus and we are actually saying we can do it all without Him. Give yourself permission to rest, permission to fail and permission to grieve. He is everything. He is for you. He is more than enough!
Freedom to find and foster friendships
First, with Him and then with others- we are designed for community. We need a safe place to share and to be real and to realize we are not on this journey alone. We have an enemy who seeks to steal, kill, and destroy and one of the ways he does that is through isolation, comparison, and self-condemnation.
Get in community with others who are studying the truth. Share your story of God’s redemptive power in your life. Recognize toxic relationships and pray for real friendship, relationships that restore, refresh and bring energy rather than drain and deplete.
What do you wish someone had told you when you were younger? Find a younger woman and tell her, teach her, train her, and find an older woman and ask her, listen to her, and learn from her.
Freedom to be the me He designed me to be.
Discover your purpose- the one He has had for you before you came to be. Read and meditate on Psalm 139.
Freedom to celebrate our journey
In my personal journey of marriage, motherhood and mentoring, there have been lots of ups and downs: anorexia, autism, Asperger’s, alcoholism, and Alzheimer’s, and those are just the A’s of my journey. A few years ago I read and then led a study on Ann Voskamp’s book 1,000 gifts and if you haven’t read it I highly recommend it. If we would write down 3 gifts every day at the end of a year, we would have 1,000. I started the practice and have never stopped, and I actually post mine on Facebook every night; it has taught me to see God’s gifts in every little detail of the day and has totally changed the way I see even the toughest trials.
Freedom allows me to:
* be fully present and enjoy the moment.
* fully experience the firsts the lasts and all that is in between.
* look at each changing situation or circumstance and rejoice in the Lord who never changes.
* ask Him what He wants me to learn in each of these tough places.
* celebrate, to rejoice, to be full of joy and gladness.
* live the shorter catechism answer for what is the chief end of man? “to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever”
You can be free, too!
The answer to your longing for freedom is found in Jesus. “… if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed.” John 8:36
(That word “indeed” means ‘in fact, in reality, in truth’…) Does this sound like something you might want to be your truth? Your reality?
The greatest gift to celebrate is the gift of Salvation. For God (our Father in heaven) so loved the world (you and me) that he gave ( a gift he bestowed on us) His one and only son (precious and perfect Jesus) that we might not perish (the consequence we really deserve) but have eternal life (a gift freely given but so completely undeserved) John 3:16 Amplified
Those are the facts, the reality, and the truth.
So, as you enjoy all the festive things about the 4th of July this weekend, take time to remember that freedom isn’t free. A price was paid for your freedom and a price was paid for the freedom you have in Christ. It is my prayer that you have and are enjoying that freedom and that you realize Jesus paid the price.
Becky is a repurposed teacher with a lifetime of experience relating to people of every age and stage. Her enthusiasm is contagious as she shares a message of hope and life. Her motto is, “Celebrate the journey; don’t wait for the destination” and her pictures from the past have become possibilities for the future.
Wife to Pete and mother to Christina and Peter, mother-in-love to Jennifer, and grandmother to Saint, treasure hunter and up-cycler, lover of the afternoon latte and a great read, she can be found most days on her back porch.
You should know, unlike some bloggers, I don’t have a stockpile of blog posts sitting in a computer file waiting for me to hit the publish button. I have writer friends who seem to be able to manage this and I have to admit, I’m a little jealous of them. No last-minute head scratching, wondering what in the world they’re going to write about that day? Yes, please.
But God said no. NO.
Fresh bread, He said. That’s what you’re offering your readers. We’re not baking and stockpiling loaves for the freezer that you can pull out when needed.
I’m not saying this way is better. Not at all. It’s just the way He wants me to write, at least in this season. I literally went from spending three days chiseling out a post to waking up on blogging days (Wednesdays) not having a clue what I’m going to write about.Read more
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Does anybody know what an identity crisis feels like? (asking for a friend)
This morning’s brief conversation with a friend confirmed what I was already thinking. I answered her call and told her I couldn’t talk because it was blog day. She asked what I was writing about and I said, “Identity.” Without skipping a beat, she asked, “Which one of your identities are you writing about?”
Ha, ha, ha; verrry funny, Karen. And So. Spot. On.
Seriously, though, I have spent a lot of time thinking about identity lately. Sometimes it feels like I’m still that overweight teenager, struggling to fit in. Identity comes from a root word that means “sameness.” I guess that makes sense, because I’ve always wanted to fit in, but then again, I’ve spent a lifetime trying to stand out. Or to avoid standing out. It’s complicated.
As an adolescent I did stand out, but not in the way I wanted to.
As I paused to reflect on what I learned this Spring, I decided to do a little word study on the word “reflect.” (You know I LOVE my “re-words.”) Bear with me for a brief etymology lesson:
Re- means “back” + flectere “to bend,” which is related to the word flexible, “capable of being bent; mentally or spiritually pliant.”
Isn’t that GOOD?! (And convicting.) Sometimes I think the closest I come to being flexible is getting bent out of shape!
All that to say, I found this reflection and exercise (inspired by Emily P. Freeman) to be a helpful and fun way to process All. The. Things.
1. The hype about cold brew coffee isn’t hype.
I’d never really understood the whole cold brew coffee thing, but then my brilliant friend Erica posted a yummy looking Instagram pic, so I finally decided to give it a try.
It was a game changer for my afternoon caffeine fix—smooth and rich and easy on my tummy.
Not easy on the wallet, however, so now I make my own big batch cold brew concentrate, just like Starbucks. You can, too. It’s easy and delicious.
2. There really are wild ponies in Beaufort.
I’d heard the stories, strained my eyes in vain searching for them, but I’d never once seen them. It frustrated me so much that I began to tell myself (and others) that it was just a story.
I stayed in Beaufort this past April, and once again, no ponies. On our final evening, I took one last walk to see the sunset and out of the corner of my eye—movement! I held my breath, looked up and there was a pony. No, wait… twoponies. Oh, my word, there was a whole herd grazing on the high ground. I’d always looked for them on the shoreline.
3. Contentment doesn’t look like I thought it would.
For the first time in years, things are pretty peaceful around our house. But it’s weird; kinda’ like floating when you’ve worn yourself out, trying to out-swim the sharks. It almost seems too passive or something. (Insert my husband’s eyeroll.)
But I know this season is a gift, a respite and reprieve and I am embracing it. There’s nowhere I’d rather be right now than sitting on my rocker on the back porch, breathing the night air and looking at the stars. Ahh…
4. Powerful things happen when women share their testimonies
I was honored to speak at Beauty for Ashes Retreat again this spring; the theme was Testimony. The stories the women shared from the pulpit and around the tables were real, raw and life-changing. I want more of that.
These two gals are something else. What a privilege to get to know them.
5. Randomness was stealing my creativity.
That phrase in an email jumped out at me and served to reinforce something I’d already begun to realize: I need to become more intentional about the creative work the Lord has given me to do.
I work well on a deadline but I’m not good at giving myself a deadline. The answer that’s working for me right now: Theme days. Monday is book writing day. Tuesday, study day. Wednesday—blog. Etc.
6. Makeup isn’t the answer.
I knew I was in trouble when a brand new ULTA store opened up within walking distance from my house. I’m always searching for a better concealer (the answer to all life’s problems), a more natural foundation (that still covers my sun spots) and eye shadow that’s not crepey.
But now that I’ve started to eat better, take collagen and am using more and better skin care products, I find I don’t need all the makeup. Exfoliation is my friend. (Not the scrubs, they tear your skin… chemical exfoliation.)
7. You don’t always have to spend the big bucks.
I’d had my eye on a pair of distressed Aerie jean shorts, but couldn’t bring myself to hit the “Buy” button. (When you grow up in the 60’s wearing Levi’s cut-offs that you made from your old jeans, $49 seems ridiculous.)
Solution: Goodwill. I found a pair of vintage all cotton denim Levi’s (no spandex! Yay!) for $3.59, already distressed because they were old. Grabbed the scissors and done. Sooo comfy. I am forever a hippie.
8. Broken can be beautiful
We have this old yard statue of a little girl holding a bluebird. Charming, but somehow, over the winter her feet broke off and we couldn’t glue them back on. I was about to toss them.
But then I got inspired…
Now those feet are my favorite thing on the porch.
9. Sometimes paradise is right where you are.
We thought we were finally going to move this spring. We didn’t. You can read about it here. Or here.(I talked about it a lot.)
Here’s what I learned: When the grass is greener wherever you aren’t, what you have to do is dig. Fertilize. Water. Plant. Dwell in the land (the apartment, the marriage, the job) and cultivate faithfulness. It’s a hard lesson, but flourishing is possible.
10. I’m happiest when I’m learning.
Maybe I’m making up for not finishing my education? I don’t know, but reading, doing research, listening to podcasts and webinars fills my tank and it seems that I can’t get enough.
Writing this post was a learning experience, too. I was scratching my head, wondering if I’d learned anything at all in the last 90 days. (It’s not always obvious.) So, it was really insightful to go back and flip through my journals and photos and scroll through social media. This has turned out to be one of my favorite blog posts!
Now it’s your turn! What did you learn this Spring?
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