Measuring Stick

I read something yesterday that was incredibly timely and today it remains incredibly powerful.

I think it’s easy in our culture to hold ourselves to a near impossible standard. We’ve created measuring sticks for our lives and as author Hayley Morgan says in the devotional Always Enough, Never Too Much: “We either measure ourselves by them or we flog ourselves with them. We either master them or we use them as evidence of our shame. It is a moving target. I never know if I have lived up to my potential because what if I can do better?” Whether you’re a type 1 on the Enneagram like me or not, I bet it’s quite stabbing. 

You want to know more about me? Read no further. This is how I live my days from the moment I wake up to the moment I go to sleep. And what a shame. Have I forgotten the most meaningful gift in my life?

As she goes on to say: “The idea of potential is a moot point because Jesus has satisfied everything we lack. We are made whole in Him, and He in us. We have enormous peace knowing that when we grow, it’s God growing us. When we measure up, it’s because of Jesus. The target isn’t shifting because Jesus has already met it for us.”

Jesus REPLACES the measuring stick. It’s just him, it’s not an unattainable, criticizing standard. That inner critic nagging at us all day long is NOT the Holy Spirit. 

I’ve got to get this right. I’ve got to pray for God to make that my story. Because when I get it wrong - when I’m constantly measuring - I’m missing out on joy and life and freedom. And you know who else is going to pick up on that? My daughters. My friends. The high school girls I’m going to lead this year. And for the love, if there’s any group of people who need a constant reminder that Jesus is the standard and not one other single thing, it’s absolutely high school girls. 

His grace is sufficient for us, His power made perfect in our weakness. It’s His gift and joy to us to completely eradicate the measuring stick and be able to live in confidence through Christ.

Right on Time

At 1:30 this morning on the floor of Sailor’s room I prayed for help, for rescue. She had a fever and some life circumstances feel beyond my abilities to handle. The increasing sleep deprivation happening before the work week wasn’t helping either.

Then a couple hours later Knox came down with the worst case of croup we’ve had in this house. Labored breathing, writhing in pain. It was scary. LORD, REALLY?! 

Also to note: today we’re starting our Shred10 with Juice Plus - a ten day reset to eliminate some unhealthy habits and intentionally incorporate better nutrition, movement, and sleep. I keep hearing testimony after testimony and reading research after research about the healing and preventative power of plant based nutrition - particularly through Juice Plus - and I just cannot say no any longer.

I approached the day feeling almost like a fraud. I’m a woman on a mission for the people I love to know what I know, but here my kids are sick.

A couple dear friends encouraged me and reminded me that this very misery is the exact reason my family is pursuing this healing. We will not continue to sit and watch our kids labor to breathe in the night, receive double dosages of steroids, and have to debate a trip to the ER because of our dire financial situation. It is not normal for our kids to be on inhalers and medicine, to be quarantined, to agonize over every cold that’s “going around.” It is not normal for Jeremiah and me to feel tired, bloated, and stressed daily. We are not going to settle for this garbage anymore. We’re going to flood our bodies with good nutrition and change our story. Wellnes and freedom aren’t just for everyone else, they’re for us too. The promises God makes in His Word aren’t just for everyone else, they’re for us too.

In the midst of this hectic morning the mailman delivered a card for Knox from my sister letting him know she’s praying for him - even for health and strength specifically. I can barely even believe it. Why the heck would this come TODAY OF ALL DAYS??

I’m confident it’s because God knew I needed the reminder to not be so easily derailed, to not so easily doubt his goodness, his provision - to not give up hope. I needed the reminder that I’m seen and heard and that I can fight and persevere with His strength. I needed the reminder that there is a larger spiritual battle happening here. Satan loves nothing more than to spur God’s people to doubt and question whether or not He’s holding out on us - especially in times of hope.

Hello, stranger

Five months since I’ve last written. That’s a classic move by me. I am GREAT at starting and horrific at finishing. I begin and feel all sorts of motivation and then it gets hard or uncomfortable or isn’t as fun or exciting and I bolt. Who wants to intentionally be this way?? Not me, to be clear, but this is what the data shows to be true. Super lame.

Track record also shows that I come back around eventually. And as you can see, here I am again. I don’t know - maybe it’s the Lord using certain triggers to spark me back into the action He has called me to. Maybe it’s not that at all, but there does seem to be a pattern.

Today I don’t think I’m writing to offer any kind of help or insight or humor. I’m writing because this is how I know to process the tragedy that surrounds.

Just a few months ago I began walking through heavy, ugly marriage stuff with dear friends. Just over a week ago I found out that a boy I babysat one summer died very recently as a result of his battle with drug addiction. He had just turned 20. Just today I talked with a mom of four kids ages 3 - 11, three of which are on the austism spectrum and one of which has a learning delay. She had been kicked out of a Catholic church because of her children (thankfully, she is now connected with a church that not only allows but HONORS her and her children’s needs). The list goes on.

It’s all just too much to take in sometimes and it’s always in these seasons of trial that I’m reminded to wake up. Isn’t it such a tension to live in the “and” of life? There are people who have it worse than me AND I too am struggling. Go too far in one direction and I lose the whole picture. It’s both. Pretending my struggles don’t exist because someone else is struggling more in no way helps that someone else. Telling myself I have no room to complain about motherhood to the woman with more kids than me does nothing to relieve her of her own stress. It creates a false narrative for both of us. And on the other hand when I get so wrapped up in how hard my own circumstances are and forget to love others well and practice gratitude I stay stuck and miserable.

I tend towards all or nothing. I’m all in until I’m not, and then I’m way out. These things that pop up make me want to run straight in one direction - either intervening for someone and fixing all of their problems myself OR sleeping and hoping I forget it all. This is obviously a horrific way to solve problems and it explains A LOT about my life. Oh lordy.

Instead, I think it’s living in the tension. Choosing each day to be my true self. To be vulnerable. To be honest and to be open. To share and to receive. To ask questions and know people. To live in the reality that life is hard and 9 times out of 10 people are hiding in self-protection and hurting and need a safe place to land. And to 100% get over myself when I walk in a room knowing that even though I quickly forget, I’m so often just as quickly reminded that we’ve all got a story unfolding and chances are there’s more than meets the eye.

On a less serious note - go ahead and pray for my husband who is the new pastor of young adults at our church because in times like these I’m a NUT and want to scrap anything and everything that doesn’t involve us getting down to the nitty gritty of what’s REALLY going on with people. How can we possibly have a social gathering when people are silently suffering?? Needless to say he has A LOT of filtering to do of my ideas. I’m owning my issues, people.

Remember

Have you heard Lauren Daigle’s song, Remember? Several weeks ago I heard it and it’s been lingering in the back of my mind ever since.

One day shortly after hearing that song, we were listening to “Daddy’s music” in the car, my kids singing along. Did you know my husband has an EP? He does. It’s called Mirror Conversations and it’s good. I mean MAN he has a gift. Anyway, we were listening to the last song on the album, By Your Side, which is a song written about the aftermath of him sharing his infidelity with me. But my kids don’t know that. And they’re belting that song out - all three of them in their own way. In that sweet moment, the lyrics of Lauren Daigle’s song come to mind.

I remember, I remember You have always been faithful to me. I remember, I remember even when my own eyes could not see You were there, always there

You’ve read about our dark time years ago and some of you actually walked through it with us. And now, along with an intact marriage, I have two more children who are singing along.

I’m reminded of God’s faithfulness, of His redemption.

This past weekend my two year old daughter, Sailor, was hospitalized for three nights with RSV and pneumonia. While of course our main concern was caring for her and getting her healthy, we couldn’t help being overcome by stress and fear of the financial burdens this care would bring. While thankful for access to a hospital stay, each night there meant more logistical and financial strain. Ironically, I had to cancel my Noonday Collection trunk show in favor of being available for my family - you know, the show I was hosting in part as a way to support my family financially. Our financial situation quickly went from dire to absolute nightmare in just a few days.

But I remember those lyrics. I remember Knox singing about an unstable marriage - remember the healing that’s taken place and remember even his life is a mark of God’s goodness.

And I remember a year ago when we were faced with an all too similar situation - Sailor in the hospital, all the kids really sick and needing care. God provided for us then. In His love and generosity towards us He provided for our needs in ways we couldn’t have manipulated on our own.

And so even though circumstances seem uncertain and scary, God is reminding me to remember. Remember His presence and His faithfulness and His story of redemption.

Neediness

Yesterday was tough. Life is always tough when we stare our shortcomings, our weaknesses, our neediness in the face isn’t it?

Yesterday morning while in a new - yet familiar - deep pit of financial despair I pulled out a devotional. Admittedly, I haven’t been reading my Bible consistently for months at this point. But at the turning of the new year I was like Brianna get a freaking grip and start even though it still feels overwhelming and daunting and easier to make excuses. Yesterday morning though I could feel myself teetering the line between self-serving panic and Spirit-focused prayer.

I opened up Always Enough, Never Too Much to the excerpt ‘When Life is Falling Apart.’ Good times. The author, Jess Connolly, refers to 2 Corinthians 12:9:

He said to me “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

She goes on to say this, talking about a season of her family’s life:

Our weakness felt so incredibly overwhelming, but still there was this promise that our weakness wasn’t in vain. Rather, it would help us access the power of God. The verse was encouragement to be honest about our weakness so we could find the strength that God had to offer.

I then listened to Jess’s podcast, Go & Tell Gals, that afternoon. I scanned the list of available episodes for one that was short and relevant. Ah, Dependency. Perfect. Coincidentally she spoke of needing help. Ok Lord, I’m listening.

What I gleaned from it was this – we strive to live in a state of being without need or, we consider that we are the ones responsible for providing our needs. But here’s the truth: we need God for our next breath, we need God for our next paycheck, we need God for our friendships, for our mothering, our marriage, our mission. We need him to show up and whether we acknowledge it or not, we still need him. As we step into that truth we’re able to start seeing what God’s doing and stop seeing ourselves as provider of everything good in our lives. Jess’s wisdom, not mine.

There’s this saying I have always had an issue with – she believed she could so she did. It’s on everything isn’t it? Cards, shirts, you name it. Several years ago I saw it rewritten from Lara Casey like this – she believed she couldn’t and so He did. I’ve always loved that. The first puts all the pressure on us, the second puts all the confidence in God.

This got me thinking about my Word of the Year. I’ve never really done this before but this year I knew some focus in my life couldn’t hurt. The word believe kept coming to mind. To be frank, I chose it in reference to diet and exercise. I was originally leaning towards discipline, but feared that would carry with it a huge sense of failure when I wasn’t, well, discplined. So I chose believe. Believe I can do it, believe in myself, believe I can make my life feel better.

But my current financial mega-lack and this wisdom from today all are challenging me back to a narrative I’ve always been drawn to. One that says I really really need God to show up and provide for me because I’m powerless to do so on my own. I’ve always felt kind of stupid or guilty for thinking this way – like maybe this is an easy way out, maybe it’s an Enneagram 4 excuse, maybe it’s a faith a little too radical. Suck it up and work harder or come back down to earth with your faith, Brianna.

Instead, maybe the recurring narrative I grapple with is intentional. Maybe that’s how God has wired me. Maybe it brings glory to him when I live through the lens of that narrative – trusting radically in him. Because I know he has made me smart. He has created me to value efficiency and competency. He gave me parents who are an Enneagram 8 and 1 for crying out loud – so like, HELLO. (Maybe they just had all the answers and did it all for me as a child so now as an adult I’m completely incompetent, but I’m going to go ahead and choose to think that’s not the whole story. It’s complicated, I know.) I’m not suggesting sitting in one place, refusing to act or contribute to my life. I’m suggesting a mindset and a perspective.

The tension of deep, believing faith in God’s power but also tending to real life responsibilities in front of my face is HUGE. I’m always questioning it and wondering where to draw the line. Although it’s hard for me to truly believe sometimes, what I’m coming back to is this: I know God’s voice is not one of striving, being better, getting a grip, sucking it up, or accomplishing more. He tells me to trust, receive, share, rest, praise, and love.

As it turns out, that word believe may not be as much about me and my capabilities so much as it is about me believing God in his power and ability and desire to help.

If I am the provider of my needs, when devastation hits my first response is crisis mode.

If God is the provider, my first response is prayer.

 

 

 

Psalm 121

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth. He will not let your foot slip—he who watches over you will not slumber; indeed, he who watches over Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The Lord watches over you—the Lord is your shade at your right hand; the sun will not harm you by day, nor the mood by night. The lord will keep you from all harm—he will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.

1 Corinithians 12:9

He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.

James 1:2-4

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who does is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.