Category Archives: Melissa’s posts

six awesome things we can learn from little kids

Melissa @ awriteheart.comWhen each of my three children were toddlers, there were so many moments when I thought to myself, “I need to be more like them!” In Matthew 18:1-4 Jesus even drew attention to the attributes of children, and told us to be humble and teachable like they are! Here are six things about little kids that we as adults can learn from.

They’re IN THE MOMENT.

My husband and I went to P.F.Changs restaurant a while back and we had to wait to be seated. There were probably twenty adults and a handful of teens in the waiting area, and every single face reflected the blue glow of a phone screen. Once we were in the dining room I even saw people on their phones while eating. These people were AT the restaurant, but they weren’t really THERE…Their minds were somewhere else.

six awesome thing we can learn from little kidsKids are where they are…When they play, they’re so involved that they forget to go to the bathroom. When they eat food they love, they enjoy it so much that they don’t think about how much of the food is all over their faces. When they sing, they sing with all the volume their little bodies can muster. Maybe every so often we should do the same thing and just be where we are – no phones, no multi-tasking, no planning ahead. Maybe we should just enjoy what’s right in front of us instead of worrying about what we’re missing or what’s coming next.

They remember everything.

I’m always amazed at how my kids remember who gave them each and every toy that they have…They remember who took them for ice cream, which kid was sick yesterday at school, and the vacation we took four years ago. It makes me feel special when they remember things about our experiences that even I have forgotten. Remembering is a discipline for adults, and our brains aren’t soaking up information like those of little people, but we should make a point to remember what is important to us and to others. It makes those around us feel special.

They forgive AND forget.

There are days when I really believe that my kids are going to hate me. There are those impatient, short-tempered, pull-my-hair-out, just-yelled-at-daddy days when I’m pretty sure they’ll think differently of me. But they never do. They forgive me immediately! They never act as though I owe them anything, and the next morning they see a new day ahead of them instead of an awful day behind them. It’s hard to forget, but be generous with your forgiveness – just like Christ is with you.

They love like crazy.

Whether it’s a stuffed toy that they adore or a person they see every day, small children love with every fiber of themselves. They don’t consider the risks, and they don’t ever think about whether a person is doing “their part” in the relationship. You KNOW they love you – they make it obvious to you and to everyone around them. They give big huge hugs. They seek your attention. They are excited to see you, and sad when you leave. They talk about you. They imitate you. They ask about you. There is NO QUESTION that you’re in their little hearts. I think if we loved like a little kid for seven days, our whole life would change.

They don’t compare.

six awesome things we can learn from little kidsMy kids have a multi-racial extended family, as well as friends with physical disabilities. They rarely mention differences between themselves and these other individuals. They’ve asked for explanations here and there, but otherwise they don’t see it as something important enough to discuss all that much. Physically, racially, and economically, kids just see people as people. No better or worse. They find value in people not because of how they perform, what they look like, or how much they own, but because of who they really are. We, too, should see people first as people, instead of categorizing, comparing, and labeling.

They are who they are.

My daughter used to go to the grocery store with me wearing an IronMan costume. Every time. People loved it – they waved and she waved, and she thought it was just the best thing ever. No one else in the store was wearing a costume, but she wanted to wear it anyways. No regrets, no apologies, no embarrassment.  Psalm 139:13-16 says that God saw us and knew us before we were born, and formed us to be who we are . There ARE things that we shouldn’t be proud of – sinful things that don’t please Him. But He made us to be unique people, and sometimes I think we’re more apt to conform and change who we are so that we fit in to the group around us. Be proud of the person you were made to be, just like my little girl was proud to be IronMan.

Most of the time we think of kids as just what they are – kids! After all, they’re the ones who are learning to be more mature, and rarely do we consider them role models. But maybe we should learn a thing or two from the simplicity and authenticity of little children, and be just like them!

Matthew 18:2-4 He called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.”

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hidden obsessions

Melissa @ awriteheart.comMy pre-teen daughter bought an iPod with money she saved from Christmas. She was SO excited – a device that could TEXT! And then she decided to take it into the bathroom. Down one iPod. Her dad showed grace and bought her a new one, this time with an Apple Care plan. And then she left the iPod at school. We found it, thankfully, but there was a lot of panic associated with its loss. This iPod is one of the first things that she has owned that she feels like she can’t live without.

There are plenty of things that we adults think we can’t live without, even though we’d never admit it. Ever try to take a break from social media? Some people still have chosen to stay off Facebook, Twitter, Instagrahidden obsessionsm, and Pinterest, but the vast majority of us are on one or more of them daily…or multiple times daily…or a shameful number of times daily. My current obsession is to repeatedly check the WordPress and Facebook statistics for this blog…It’s addicting to watch the numbers of people reading, the ‘likes”, the comments, and the subscriptions. There have been days when I had forced myself to stop looking.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites built themselves a golden calf to worship while they waited for Moses to come down from the mountain. Just like them, we are waiting – waiting for Jesus to come back. Meanwhile, we don’t even have to build our own idols – they’re built for us…And unlike the golden calf, our idols often fit into our pockets, or aren’t visible at all. Our idols have functions that are good AND bad, so they look very little like idols at all. Here are just a few of the areas of our lives that we can hold in higher esteem than God.

The idol of connectedness

Keeping in touch with those that we know and care about is a good thing, and it gives us ample opportunity to love and be loved. These are gifts! But when that gift overwhelms our lives, and becomes a minute-to-minute need, we risk putting God in second place. Facebook specifically reminds me of what God wants from us – He wants a constant feed of what we do and how we feel, so that He can give us what we need in return. He wants our fulfillment to come from Him, instead of from likes, shares, texts, and Retweets.

The idol of health and wellness

hidden obsessionsWhile we do need to be good stewards of the bodies God gave to each of us, if our time, money and conversation are disproportionally revolving around our bodies, we will revere our bodies more than we revere God. Gym memberships, hair appointments, running shoes, and organic veggies are good things unless they detract from serving and giving to God.

The idol of relaxation and entertainment

First-world culture is unique in that we have recreational time outside of work and home responsibilities, and we feel entitled to that time. We get grumpy when we don’t get “me time”, and our bad behavior can be explained away when we don’t get it.

The idol of knowledge

Knowledge is something that God wants us to strive for – He wants us to know His word, and to understand what He teaches us there. He wants us to know HIM! But the Bible is very clear about what happens when knowledge becomes our primary focus – we become prideful! If we study but don’t spend intentional time applying our knowledge, it becomes a source of our self-worship instead of our growth.

The idol of politics and social activism

Lots of us have a cause that touches us – mine is human trafficking, and yours might be the right-to-life movement, animal rescue, or the conservative party. Like almost all of our hidden idols, causes can be a good, good thing. But if we find ourselves trying to convert more people to our cause than to our Savior, the cause overshadows the One who should inspire our passions.

How can you know if these good things are idols? Honestly evaluate your time, your money, and your focus . If you spend excessive time on something and neglect God-given responsibilities, you have an idol. If something unnecessary keeps you from giving monetarily to God, you have an idol. If people know you more by your political leanings than by your faith, you have an idol. If sin is your reaction to not having or getting a particular thing, you’ve got an idol.

Exodus 34:14 tells us that our God is a jealous God, and He wants every little part of your heart – He wants to reign in you! He suffered so that we can be free from the bondage of sin! If you see idols in your life, don’t be discouraged! Turn from those idols and replace them with obedience to the God who is in pursuit of your heart. Like my daughter and her iPod, we all need to look at how much we love the gifts that we have received. Remember that our God deserves more attention and accolades than any of the great gifts that He gives!

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and be entered to win a basket full of Melissa’s favorite things!
The giveaway includes:

-A Relevant Magazine subscription
-“Living the Cross Centered Life” by C.J.Mahaney
-Tommy Girl perfume
-a honeysuckle jar candle
-EOS lip balm
-a springy scarf
-a $5 McDonald’s gift card (for a Filet O’ Fish, of course!)
-a decorative metal bowl

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this side of heaven

Melissa @ awriteheart.comMy dad died this past August, and since then I remember things about him out of the blue…I remember how he loved putting cheese puffs in yogurt (ugh), how he played catch with me when I was my oldest daughter’s age, how he loved being with his family, and most of all how he loved music. Certain songs take me to a place where I feel like he’s right with me. He loved the great classics about heaven – “I’ll Fly Away” was one that he sang a lot, and this one:

This world is not my home, I’m just a-passing through
My treasures are laid up somewhere beyond the blue;
The angels beckon me through heavens open door,
And I can’t feel at home in this world anymore.

I loved hearing him sing those songs, but when I was a little girl I didn’t get it – why a person would sing such a thing when in between here and heaven’s open door is death.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve found more and more that the thought of breathing my last breath with this vessel of a body I’ve been given, and then in that same moment being born into eternal life in the presence of my Jesus who I’ve longed to see with my eyes for what seems like my whole life – well, it’s a welcome thought. I don’t wish death upon myself, nor do I look forward to separation from the people I love – I want to get old and wrinkly with my husband, and I want to see my kids grow into adulthood…I want them to have my love as long as they possibly can, for the sake of their happiness and security. But the thought of leaving this life doesn’t frighten me like it did, and I know that God loves my family infinitely more than I do – I trust Him with their futures more than I trust myself.

[pullquote type=”left”]Heaven will be amazing, not because of the streets of gold but because I can lift my eyes to see my Jesus.[/pullquote]Along with my fading fear has come an increasing homesickness…a longing to see the Savior that I’ve worshipped for the vast majority of my life. Almost every day the thought crosses my mind that if I could only sit as His physical feet, all would be well. That homesickness overwhelms me especially in difficult times, when I can’t help but see how very desperately I need Christ, and when I truly feel the weight of my little corner of the world on my shoulders. “I want to go home”, I say to Him…The tears come and I just wish I could see Him with my eyes. Heaven will be amazing, not because of the streets of gold but because I can lift my eyes to see my Jesus.

So in the meantime…

While we wait this side of eternity, what can we do on those days when we long for that eternal home? I think the thing that makes the most sense is to do the same thing that we will do when we get there – worship. In spirit and in truth we can worship Christ here, sing to Him in a loud voice here, shout His praises here, and lay our crowns at His feet here. Close your eyes and think of what it describes in Revelation, thousands times thousands singing the praise of Jesus, who conquered death to save us from our sin by His blood…Think of the throng like the roar of many waters, shouting hallelujah! I can’t wait, but in the meantime I will worship with the knowledge that I will spend all of eternity doing just that.

Worship.

[pullquote type=”right”]Let this world fall away, and see nothing but Jesus if only for a few moments. Be grounded in Him, be centered in Him, lay this life at His feet.[/pullquote]Worship in times that try you and confuse you. Worship in times when sin overwhelms you. Worship in times when others forsake you. Worship in times when joy overflows. Worship in times of health and in times of sickness. Worship in times of plenty and in times of need. Worship in times of war and in times of peace. Worship when no one hears you, and when everyone is listening. Worship with emotion, with tears, with laughter, with your whole self. Let this world fall away, and see nothing but Jesus if only for a few moments. Be grounded in Him, be centered in Him, lay this life at His feet.

I wonder if my dad sings “That world WAS not my home” now that he’s home in heaven…but one thing I know for sure is that he’s worshipping. Just like me.

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the good news: how to blow it in 10 easy steps

Melissa @ awriteheart.comI’ve had a lot of opportunities to tell others about my faith in Jesus. There have been some successes, but there have definitely been some major failures. A command for everyone who follows Christ is to go, tell, and baptize in His name…Outside the door of each of our homes, or maybe even inside them, are countless individuals who don’t know the good news of Jesus. Here are ten ways to make sure that they never do.

Don’t pray for opportunities.

Thank God for your food and your warm house…Pray for your sick neighbor and your daughter’s spelling test…But don’t ask for Him to open doors for you to tell other people about Him. He might answer it, and then you’d have to move on to the following steps.

Don’t be friends with anyone who isn’t a Christian.

One way to avoid sharing the love of Christ is never to seek out meaningful relationships with unsaved people. Easy-peasy, right? Right. Stay in the bubble and keep those heathens at arms length. If you actually come into contact with someone who isn’t a Christian, the best policy is to invest nothing. Ask nothing. They might infect you with their unspiritual-ness, so definitely don’t spend a substantial amount of time with them. If a tangible need becomes evident, don’t meet it. Just ignore it and someone else will probably take care of it. Or not.

Don’t let them know the real you.

Don’t even think of telling someone how your life has been transformed by the love and forgiveness of Jesus Christ. This is super easy if your life shows no evidence that you follow Jesus, but even if it does you can just not tell anyone that it was Him who made the difference. And under no circumstance should you tell them that you have had doubts, fears, or failures. They might relate to it, and we wouldn’t want that.

Be the sin police.

sin policeNaturally, people who don’t follow Christ don’t necessarily know or care how He wants Christians to live their lives. It stands to reason, then, that if you point out the sins of unsaved people and inform them of how badly they need to change before they even understand their need for a savior, they will continue not to see their need and subsequently avoid you and your critiques of their lives. Put a cherry on top and inform them of why you don’t do what they’re doing, so they can see how much better you are than them.

Make up rules that don’t exist.

People love rules, don’t they? Make up a few about how you think people should act or dress or worship or entertain themselves that aren’t in the Bible but are based on your personal preference, and inflict them upon others. It’s perfect because they’ll know they can look to you instead of to the word of God for the standard of what a Christ-follower looks like.

Gossip about other people.

Talking about other people behind their backs is very effective if you want someone to see clearly how you love yourself more than anything on earth, how you only like people who are as awesome as you, and how your friendship actually isn’t friendship at all. In no time you will have lost their trust, and the game is over.

Gossip about other churches.

A great way to let unsaved people know that they should steer clear is to talk negatively about other Bible-believing churches that have practices that you don’t agree with. It shows superiority, disunity, and a lack of vision for what it actually means to be the body of Christ, and will dissuade most anyone from wanting to be a part of any such body of believers.

Insist that Christianity should only be done the way you do it.

worship warsI mean, we all know that when we get to heaven, everything will be done exactly the way you do it right now. Why wouldn’t you share that with someone who could potentially be in heaven with you?

Talk trash on social media.

This one’s pretty fun. Go on Facebook and call unsaved people unintelligent at an opportune moment, like under a post about evolution. It’s sure to evoke lots of negative comments that you can then make more derogatory comments on. If you persevere, you’ll have the last word and many less prospective converts to worry about discipling.

Idolize something other than Jesus.

Soap-boxes, obsessions, and social causes are amazing distractions from what should be the main thing in a Christian’s life. If you can find something to live more passionately for than God, or a message to tell more adamantly than the good news of the gospel, that’ll help divert a non-Christian’s attention to all of the other stuff in their own lives that they could live for.

With these ten tips, you can reach no one with the message of Christ, or you can reach everyone with no message at all. Either way you can rest assured that nothing eternal will ever happen because of you.

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face to the sun

Melissa @ awriteheart.comSometimes those around us let us down. Sometimes we don’t live up to what others want or need from us. And sometimes we’re just failing ourselves.

Around 11am some mornings I look at the clock and panic because of what I haven’t accomplished. I literally become anxious because I know my time is limited, and Jude has watched too much TV, and I have no dinner plan. I get angry at myself because of the waste I’ve made of the morning. And then I look back on the last few days and weeks and years and get all the more angry at what I have failed at. I haven’t changed the way I wanted to, haven’t improved the way I wanted to, haven’t excelled the way I wanted to. In the past I see failed relationships, failed attempts at reconciliation, failed attempts at success, missed opportunities, and a ton of wasted time. Things look the same as they did six months ago so I get discouraged. I look at Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Pinterest, and I see just how deficient I am compared to all of the other crafty, spiritual, published, master-chef wives and moms out there. The ones who squeeze every drop of life out of every single minute have me beat.

Epic. Fail.

Or at least sometimes that’s what I feel like.

I’m not the only one – I know it. The expectations I have of myself aren’t what I produce, and that probably applies to all of us on some level. But get this…please get this. God loves to tell His story through the things that I am the least proud of. He loves to take the expectations I had and replace them with what He wants for me – something better than what I so thoughtfully planned.

We have plenty of examples of how Jesus uses the least of men to tell His story in the grandest ways. Peter in particular comes to mind…Peter was a friend of Jesus’, who sat with Him and ate with Him and walked on water with Him, but then abandoned Him. He hid like a coward. But when Christ rose from the dead and Peter saw Him, he became a different man – bold, faithful, unashamed, and unstoppable. We think of him as an author and an apostle, a leader, and a martyr. But who was he in that horrible moment when he denied knowing his Lord and his friend? He was three times a failure. Who knows what Peter thought of himself after he denied Christ…I can imagine he was reliving that moment, wishing he were a stronger man and a better man – just like we look back and wish things out of our own pasts.

This changes everything.

Doesn’t it change everything to know that God uses the worst of our lives for His glory? It changes the way we view ourselves to know that even at our lowest, He can turn it around. It changes the way we see the future to know that even if we blow it, He can use it. Even if circumstances don’t allow us to get to the place we wanted to go, He can take us to places we never imagined.

[pullquote type=”right”]If I give Him every failure, for each one He will give me back another story to tell of His amazing grace.[/pullquote]My first marriage ended – a big, unexpected, ugly fail. But the day it was officially over, I remember walking outside into the June breeze, face to the sun. I breathed deep and thanked God for a new day. My life wasn’t over, and I knew that the story of how Christ saved me – not only from sin and death but from despair and hopelessness – would be all the richer because of it. Sure enough, this piece of my life story has been one of my biggest footholds into the lives of broken people, and it has allowed me to tell God’s story in my life more times than I can remember. If I give Him every failure, for each one He will give me back another story to tell of His amazing grace. In some circles, I might be considered somewhat of an outcast…but thankfully God sees my position as a door through which His message can be delivered.

Be encouraged…

…and breathe a deep breath with the assurance that God can use whatever life you’re living. If change is what you need, then ask Him for strength. If you’re going in the wrong direction, then turn around . If you’re stuck by no fault of your own, know that He sees it. Lay your broken life at His feet and get ready for the story God’s preparing you to tell.

~Standing on the Promises, Melissa~

expectations: when you are the target

expectations: when you are the target

Melissa @ awriteheart.com

Last week I wrote about expectations and how Christ is the only One who can live up to what He promises (see my King and my expectations). This week let’s look at another aspect of the same topic – when we are the target of someone else’s expectations.

I am a woman of many titles, as I’m sure most of you reading this are. I’m a wife, mom, daughter, grand-daughter cousin, friend, employee, consumer, and so on, and along with each of those roles comes an unofficial mental list in the minds of others…a list of expectations. It’s not a bad thing, necessarily…These lists are based on past experiences, on history, on tradition, on culture, on what a person wants another person to be. And they follow us everywhere we go.

[pullquote type=”right”]We all feel the pressure of those expectations, whether we know if or not.[/pullquote]We all feel the pressure of those expectations, whether we know if or not. They act as a motivator in a lot of ways, and that is a positive thing – without outside forces and expectations, some of us less driven types may not accomplish much. For instance, I don’t exercise without a coach…not because I can’t do it, but because I lack internal discipline. I need someone to tell me what to do and expect results, and then I will submit and work toward a goal. But the expectations of others can work havoc in us too, if they are not balanced with what our Lord God actually expects from us, and with what we can reasonably live up to.

When I had each of my children, I didn’t realize how much pressure I would feel from the desires and preferences of others – but I did and still do at times. As a wife sometimes I feel helpless in my endeavors to meet my husband’s expectations, and ironically to meet the expectations of other wives. As a friend there have been times when I felt angry because of someone’s expectations of me to maintain the relationship by myself. As a Christian I’ve felt humiliated because I’ve failed to be that perfect cookie-cutter person someone expected me to be. On a social level I feel pressured to live up to an unspoken economic expectation.

How do you react to the expectations of others? My reactions have been pretty “prickly” in the past, but I think when taken to heart we can effectively use expectations to mold us and shape us into better (and definitely more humble) people. How should we respond? Here are seven thoughts that we can use to help us navigate this aspect of our lives:

1. Know your authority.

As satisfying as it sounds to say that God is our final authority in the face of others’ expectations, this is probably the toughest step – to come face to face with what God really wants from you in a particular circumstance. Someone expects you to listen to their gossip? God has your back, but He also has a lofty expectation of how you should lovingly deal with it. Also remember that there are those that He placed in authority over us, other than Himself. Jesus said in Matthew 22:36-39 that the greatest commandments are to love God and love others, and when we respond to expectations we need to do so with the intent of carrying out those two commandments.

2. Know your enemy.

The devil wants to destroy your relationships so that you have no influence. He wants to use you to discourage others. He wants you distracted enough not to be effective for Christ. At the end of the day, despite what is inflicted upon us, we have a choice to obey God or not…The enemy would love nothing more than to give you a “good reason” to justify sin and division between you and someone else. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us that the devil waits to devour us, and if he sees a moment of weakness you can be sure he’ll take full advantage.

3. Know the source.

Expectations come from many sources, but considering that is helpful. Each of us has our own baggage and weakness, and there are things that perhaps we can concede in the name of peace and unity. If someone who has been abandoned in the past is particularly clingy, and expects you to be ever present for them, at the very least you can empathize. The relationship may indeed need boundaries, but with some background knowledge certainly we can deal much more effectively with a person, and perhaps more effectively meet their needs in a way that makes everyone happy. It pleases the Lord when we can live in unity with others (Psalm 133:1), and we as His followers should make every attempt to do so.

4. Be humble, and be coachable!

People who tell us what they want from us or even criticize our actions might have something good to add to who we are. Perhaps the expectations are valid, or perhaps by following through you will grow from fulfilling them. Be quick to listen (James 1:19-20), and don’t discount something just because it wasn’t your idea.

5. Know your limits, and be gracious about laying down the law.

There are times when we reach our limit of what we’re capable of doing, and I usually reach it around the holidays. My family will attest that holidays and birthdays are challenging for us, and I (the only-child and loner at heart) am particularly sensitive to family drama. It’s a sticky thing to cater to every person’s vision for those days. But we’re getting there by trying new things, and by asking each other what might work better. In the past we have made some pretty epic mistakes by dealing harshly, but in truth it never, ever yielded a good result to draw lines in the sand. Be creative, and offer alternatives when you feel that you can’t possibly do any more.

6. Be thankful for the role you have in the lives of others.

My kids expect certain things because I’m their mom; my husband expects certain things because I’m his wife; my boss expects certain things because I’m his employee. These are good roles…Overwhelming at times, but good. If anything, remember that your roles are unique privileges to teach, to minister, and to show others who Christ is.

7. What about the unreasonable?

And what about when people expect from us what they won’t give themselves? What about those who are underserving? The same considerations apply, and with some prayer and honest reflection you’ll probably find that your obligation to these expectations is pretty much the same as it is to those that come from those we consider the most deserving. One of the things I love the most about Jesus is that he openly served the lowest of society. But the difficult reality is that we are now here to be His representatives, swift to serve the lowly and undeserving, so that His story can be told through us. He came to save sinners…the underserving…US!!! (1 Timothy 1:15). In that light, we are equally as underserving as the next sinner. There certainly are expectations that are unreasonable or even abusive, and if that’s where you are right now I’d say proceed with a lot of prayer and godly counsel.

I hope that we can encourage each other through our challenges with expectations. It has been a pervading theme of my own life in the past year or so, and I’m pretty sure it isn’t just me that wrestles with it. Share your stories below so we can praise God for the victories and pray for each other in the struggles.

~Praying for lives changed, Melissa~

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my King and my expectations

Melissa @ awriteheart.com I’m not a big spoiler of my kids, but not too long ago I went out to get them gifts just because I wanted to…And because I had Kohls cash and a 30% off coupon. I got something tween-y for Hannah (12), something girly for Naomi (6), and a train toy for Jude (4). Jude and Hannah were thankful, but Naomi, instead of being excited, looked at her gift and informed me of what she would rather have had…She asked me if we could take it back to the store so she could choose something different. I was angry. I expected hugs and kisses and ooohs and aaahs, but instead I got complaints. I wanted recognition for my gift and instead I got an insult. I sulked for a while, and of course eventually we resolved it and I forgave her, but I couldn’t help but feel disappointed.

This is a little example that was easily resolved, but I know that you can think of plenty of times when unmet expectations ruined your day. Or your year. Or your life. I’ve had some very deep cuts from those who were supposed to love me better. People who I love have left; they have failed; they have hurt me; they have disregarded me. And I, in turn, have been deeply disappointed. Some of you are disappointed with your life right now, maybe even secretly disappointed in God for letting this happen to you. Or maybe it’s not so big – maybe your husband came home late, or your son is sitting in detention, or your co-worker was rude to you. We’ve all experienced the feeling of let-down when others don’t live up to who we think they should be.

[pullquote type=”right”]…maybe God allows us to struggle with disappointment so that we can contrast it with who He is.[/pullquote]In every disappointment and unmet expectation, the same conclusion comes to light in my life…Christ is the only constant, the only good, the only One who will not change, the only One who delivers what He promises 100% of the time. The truth doesn’t erase the disappointment, but maybe God allows us to struggle with disappointment so that we can contrast it with who He is. He is steadfast, an anchor, a beacon. He is always forgiving, always loving, always just. He always hates sin, and always seeks obedience. He is our refuge, our strength, and our hope.

On this eve of Good Friday, there is JOY because of who He is and will always be! When you are disappointed, or when someone fails to meet your expectations, remember your King and celebrate.

~Alive because He lives, Melissa~

Warren & Melissa

white flag

Melissa @ awriteheart.comThat’s me in that photo above, but in reality I’m not very good at being married. I know that some of it is because of past circumstances, but I also know that some of it – a lot of it actually – is just me. I’m an arguer. My job as a critical care nurse has honed my reasoning skills to a lethally sharp edge, and I have the fortunate and unfortunate ability to develop a court-case-style presentation of my thoughts in 15 seconds or less. Pretty impressive, you say? If you were my patient in the hospital you’d think it’s fantastic, but you can imagine what my husband thinks of this amazing talent of mine. He says I should have been a lawyer, and I don’t think he means it as a compliment.

For these past seven years I have struggled, and I continue to struggle. It is hard for me to stop and breathe before I speak; it’s hard for me to pray for words before I give my own; it’s hard for me to love someone over my own self and to take care of that person’s needs before my own. Paul writes in Romans about wanting to do right but then doing wrong anyways, and that passage resonates with me…I know in my mind how I should love, but I don’t actually do it.

We all have something, don’t we? That thing we can’t seem to get past.

[pullquote type=”left”]Whether I deliver on my end or not, He delivered on His…[/pullquote]God showed me something recently that I’d never realized before. At Calvary, Jesus conquered sin – my specific sin. Whether I deliver on my end or not, He delivered on His and I am free from this sin’s power and this sin’s penalty. I am free of it in light of eternity because of the cross. I rely on Christ for that – I rely on Him for salvation and eternal freedom from sin’s penalty because I know I can’t possibly achieve it. But somehow in the depths of me I believe that I can conquer my own issues here and now.

How do we typically deal with changing ourselves? I think that many times we try to control our behavior. I “make an effort” to be more patient; I “try” not to be abrupt; I “refrain” from saying those things I know would be hurtful. And on so many levels I consider those to be successes. But if I continue to simply modify each behavior, no real change will ever happen in me because it’s just behavior…and eventually the heart in me that caused the behaviors in the first place will rear its head and cause some other sin, because WHO I AM never changed.

[pullquote type=”right”]Repentance and striving toward a godly life isn’t a task to complete, but a transformation to be made – a transformation that only He can complete in us. [/pullquote]The real answer to change is not control but surrender. I gave my life to Christ upon my salvation, but it can’t stop at that. The surrender of my unclean heart and my sins has to continue throughout every minute of every day of my life so that my heart can conform to be more like His. Repentance and striving toward a godly life isn’t a task to complete, but a transformation to be made – a transformation that only He can complete in us. Christ was the only One who could conquer sin at the cross, and He’s the only One who can conquer sin now.

My marriage has a purpose in my life, and so does whatever your “thing” is. God is showing me more about my own heart through my marriage than through anything else; He shows more of His character to me through my marriage than He has through anything else; He gives me a story to tell through my marriage that could not come from anywhere else. My marriage is tough so that I can surrender myself more and more to my Savior…so that I can testify to who He is and what He can do.

If I control, I feebly attempt to save myself. But if I surrender, He is the Champion of the story. And THAT is a story worth telling.

~Needing Him every minute, Melissa~