Tag Archive: Jesus

Dec 06

Peace, Rest, and Joy are the Gifts You Really Want

rest peace and joyI’ve written several Christmas blog posts over the last few years. All have been geared to help us (women in particular) eliminate stress this time of year by letting go of the idea of a perfect Christmas. To read them click here (The Not Perfect Christmas and  Hope for the Holidays)

This year, I’ve been thinking more about what I really want for Christmas:

Peace.

Rest.

Joy.

These words jump off the page and fill us with longing. No matter how life is going for you right now, whether mostly good or horribly difficult….my guess is you still long for peace, rest, and joy. You get glimpses of each throughout each day yet we all go to bed weary longing for more. 

Our experience of peace is directly connected to our ability to surrender and abide in the true vine, Jesus. John 14-17 is full of a mixture of Jesus talking to his disciples about peace but also worldly sorrow and struggle. Its interesting because struggle and peace don’t coexist in our minds very well. I wonder if we believe on some level that peace means the absence of trouble? Yet scripture doesn’t teach that at all. Here Jesus tells his disciples that they will definitely have trouble in the world. He had trouble and his biggest trouble was about to happen when he is arrested in John 18. To expect a trouble free life when our Savior’s life was full of trouble doesn’t make a lot of sense. Yet we do….deep down we long for things to go well. Maybe that’s the part of us that knows the world is broken and longs for real peace. Our mistake is seeking it apart from Jesus or seeing the pain in this world as something God has inflicted upon us..

Our experience of peace is directly connected to our ability to really surrender. Click To Tweet

True rest, peace, and joy only come from Jesus. Click To Tweet

True rest, peace, and joy only come from Jesus.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

Every other place and thing we expect to bring us true rest, peace, and joy doesn’t last. They are only a taste of what’s available when we abide in Jesus and a taste of what is to come when all things are made new.

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must abide, remain, or dwell with Jesus. Click To Tweet

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must abide, remain, or dwell with Jesus.

“Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. ” John 15:4-5

This idea is a continual connectedness. Clearly Jesus is talking to believers in this passage because he says they “are already clean” (John 15:3). So it seems that we can be saved and chose not to abide in Christ. I think stress, busyness, pain, difficulty, struggle, and selfishness are all things that distract us and contribute to a lack of abiding. Abiding is a moment by moment choice to surrender to God and not a one time thing. Salvation (justification) is a one time thing.

Abiding is a moment by moment choice to surrender to God. Click To Tweet

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must let God's love flow in and out of us. Click To Tweet

To experience true rest, peace, and joy we must let God’s love flow in and out of us.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command. I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you. This is my command: Love each other. John 15:9-17

There are two parts to this: accepting how much God loves you and loving others. For many, accepting how much God loves you is really hard. We all know how broken we are and how much we’ve done that we know violates God’s law. It’s the story written throughout scripture, starting in Genesis. God loving a people that can’t obey his law. There was no one that earned God’s love. In fact, God loved us all so much that he sent Jesus to fulfill the law on our behalf. It’s a pure, sacrificial love of a unlovable, unfaithful people. That’s the love God has for you, not based on what you’ve done or not done or what’s been done to you…but a love based on the gracious, mercy of the Giver. As I reflect on how amazing God’s love is, I’m in awe. It’s this love that we pour out to others…not because they’ve earned it but because we’ve been on the receiving end of undeserved love….now we get to give it…not in our own strength but through the power of the Holy Spirit.

God loves you, not based on what you've done or not done or what's been done to you. Click To Tweet

To experience real rest, peace, and joy we must expect hard times and find our anchor in Jesus. Click To Tweet

To experience real rest, peace, and joy we must expect hard times and find our anchor in Jesus.

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first.”  John 15:18

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33

I’m not sure why we are always so surprised by stress and struggle but we are. Somewhere we have an expectation that life should be easier than it is. Jesus never promised an easy life…but he did promise to provide us with peace in our difficult life (Romans 8) and hope for the future (Revelation 21). As we walk into a very busy, stressful season of the year, one that is meant to point us to the amazing time where God gave us the gracious gift of Jesus, let us remember rest, peace, joy, and hope. Rest that you don’t have to do anything to earn your salvation…Jesus did it all for you. Celebrate the peace you have with God because of Jesus and pursue the internal peace that comes from abiding in Jesus. Allow joy to overflow because of the love God pours into you. And, claim hope because one day all things will be made new and we won’t have to any longer choose to abide with God because he will physically be with us.

“Then I saw “a new heaven and a new earth,” for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. ‘He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death’ or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.” He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” He said to me: “It is done. I am the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End. To the thirsty I will give water without cost from the spring of the water of life. Those who are victorious will inherit all this, and I will be their God and they will be my children.” Revelation 21:1-7

This Christmas, I want to give the greatest Giver of all my moment by moment surrender. Let’s not just give lip service to the idea of surrender but think about what it means to really lay down all to Jesus. The amazing thing is that as I give this gift to Jesus, he gives me what I really need….peace, rest, joy, and hope. Is it easy? No. Will I fail? Yes. Beloved, God knows our weaknesses. He doesn’t expect perfection. He is our perfection. He just wants a surrendered relationship with his beloved.

This Christmas, I want to give the greatest Giver of all my moment by moment surrender. Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/peace-rest-joy/

Apr 01

Identity Attacked

The idea of identity and its significance to our mental and emotional health has been rolling around in my head the last several weeks. Our ability to challenge lies, face fears, and stand up to temptation is all connected to our identity. So what is identity? It’s who, at the core of our being, we are…how in our own minds, we define ourselves. As I reflected on this idea…I came across a passage I have read many times.
matthew3Matthew 3:16-4:3. The temptation of Jesus comes immediately after his baptism. God declares His identity.
“My Beloved Son”.
It is set.
Determined.
Not up for debate or argument.
Yet, with each temptation, Satan starts by questioning His set, established identity.
“If you are the son of God….”.
If you are? Are you kidding? God, the Creator of the Universe just said who He was! He’s God’s beloved Son! There’s no need for Him to prove it by doing anything.
NOTHING!  NO!  PROOF!  NECESSARY!
Temptation begins with the questioning of our fixed identity. Click To Tweet
Yet here is where the temptation begins…with identity. See, your identity as a child of God is SET.  ESTABLISHED.  Identity defined by God's loveSETTLED.
It’s not up for debate.
“See what kind of love the Father has given to us, that we should be called children of God; and SO WE ARE.” 1 John 3:1
But our temptations start here too…with us questioning our set, established identity. We doubt. We wonder. We don’t feel good enough or worthy. We question. We listen to our shame.
Identity matters. Who we believe we are and where we get our value anchors our soul to something. Anchors keep boats from drifting due to wind or current.
Do you anchor your identity in the solid, oceans deep truth that you are a child of God? Or, do you anchor your identity in a neighboring boat. It may be your children, your job, your spouse, a close relationship, your possessions, your image or any other thing. Can you imagine if boats in the ocean threw anchors into each other? They would all SINK! Seriously, it would be chaos. There is only one solid place to anchor your identity.
Identity Anchor
God knows we will struggle with this. “And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming. 1 John 2:28
This verse says that the secret to anchoring our identity in Christ is to abide. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.” John 15:9
Abide means to rest, dwell, accept, and to act in accordance with.
Even when we don’t feel it, abiding in Christ will help us have confidence in our identity. God knows our tendency is to shrink from Him in shame. That’s what we do with other people when we screw up, offend them, disobey, or have conflict. We avoid, hide, or distance ourselves from them. Yet God wants us to draw near.

 

 

Identity matters. Who we believe we are anchors our soul to something. Click To Tweet
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of gracethat we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.” Hebrews 4:15-16
Jesus understands. Someone questioned His identity, too. He’s been asked to prove Himself, too. He went to the cross so your identity as a child of God can be permanently and forever FIXED!
Jesus understands. Someone questioned His identity, too. Click To Tweet
Let us with CONFIDENCE draw NEAR to the throne of GRACE to receive MERCY and HELP in our time of NEED.
What a remarkable phrase. You don’t have to have it all together, be perfect, clean yourself up, or have it all figured out to confidently draw near to God. It’s the exact opposite. We confidently draw near to find the help we desperately need!
You don’t have to have it all together to confidently draw near to God. It's the opposite. Click To Tweet
 No matter how loud our shame screams: UNWORTHY! IMPERFECT! NOT GOOD ENOUGH! THERE’S SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOU!
You can CONFIDENTLY DRAW NEAR to Jesus.
He wants you to!!!!!
Beloved, draw near to Jesus and rest in His work on YOUR behalf! Know that your identity is anchored securely in Jesus. Not in what you do. Not in your relationships. Not in what’s been done to you. It’s in Christ!
Beloved, draw near to Jesus and rest in His work on YOUR behalf! Click To Tweet

 

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/identity-attacked/

Mar 08

Embracing Imperfection and Finding Freedom

perfection masquerades as goodThat’s a strange thought for me. Embracing imperfection. Several years ago, I sat in my counselor’s office and he challenged me with this idea.
Hi, my name is Aimee and I struggle with perfectionism. Anyone who knows me well will laugh at that statement…because it’s painfully true. I’m a first born, high-achiever, minister’s daughter. I grew up with eyes watching me, looking to me (or so I thought). Perfectionism was born and rooted deep in my heart.
Perfectionism masquerades as something good. Who wouldn’t want to strive for excellence or success in all things? Yet, it comes with BIG cost…insecurity, self-doubt, and lots of SHAME.
See perfectionism is impossible…
Let that sink in a minute.

 

Perfectionism masquerades as something good. Click To Tweet
No one is perfect; no one functions at that high level. We all know this deep down. Perfection is a mirage that leaves us in a desert wasteland, dry and thirsty.
Perfection is a mirage that leaves us in a desert wasteland, dry and thirsty. Click To Tweet
How can this be, you ask? How can something presumably good lead us so astray?
Perfectionism brings SHAME. It communicates, “be perfect and you’re okay”. When your humanity kicks inPerfection leaves us dry and you mess up, perfectionism shouts, “something is wrong with you because you aren’t perfect.” Cue the shame and unending self-doubt and self-loathing.
Here’s the light bulb moment….perfectionism and abuse communicate the same message.
Both speak condemning shame and inadequacy. Both shout, “something is wrong with you.” Both abuse and deceive us.
So how do we get free?
By embracing our humanity, weaknesses, flaws, mistakes, warts and all. By sharing our imperfections with those in our life. By living life fully transparent and real. There’s freedom here. Scary, vulnerable, beautiful freedom.

 

By embracing our humanity, weaknesses, flaws, mistakes, warts and all. Click To Tweet
You see perfectionism is often image and identity driven. You want others to see you as a “have it all together” person. You fear failure because you see it as your definition.
But failure doesn’t define you; it’s an experience to learn from. Identity isn’t in what you do or don’t do. Identity is rooted in something deeper; it’s who you are. We are all broken people living in a broken world with other broken people. We are human. Sometimes we get it right and sometimes we fail. What’s beautiful about us IS our imperfections. It’s what unites us and sets us free.
What’s beautiful about us IS our imperfections.. Click To Tweet
Owning my many imperfections, has freed me from the tyranny of shame. Click To Tweet
For me, owning my many imperfections, has freed me from the tyranny of shame that used to beat me up mentally when I failed. I think the biggest Aha moment for me in my own journey was this thought: “If I am perfect than I have no need for Jesus.” So beloved, I will revel in my imperfections because Jesus is so much better. I will trade SHAME for GRACE and experience REST and FREEDOM. My mistakes and failures remind me of His perfection in my place. Before God, the perfection I long for is mine, not because of my goodness or excellence but because of Christ’s goodness and excellence.
I will trade SHAME for GRACE and experience REST and FREEDOM. Click To Tweet
My mistakes and failures remind me of His perfection in my place. Click To Tweet

Imperfection Gets Grace

“If I must boast, I will boast of the things that show my weakness” 2 Corinthians 11:30

 “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2
“Now if perfection had been attainable through the Levitical priesthood (for under it the people received the law), what further need would there have been for another priest to arise after the order of Melchizedek, rather than one named after the order of Aaron….For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son (Jesus) who has been made perfect forever.” Hebrews 7:11, 28
“For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness (perfection) to everyone who believes” Romans 10:4
“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/embracing-imperfection/

Sep 28

Deep Feelings and the Gospel

Loss hurts. Change brings fear of the unknown. Struggle is hard. Trauma changes us.
Sadness, anger, shame, and fear can feel overwhelming leaving us stuck and frozen, not knowing what to do.
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?” Psalm 42:5
“My tears have been my food day and night” Psalm 42:3
How much do we identify with the Psalmist? How much do we struggle with loss, sadness, anger, fear, and shame? How many nights have we wrestled and cried.
Frequently we think it is wrong to experience normal feelings or that somehow it means we don’t have enough faith.
Life in this fallen world hurts. Feelings don’t show a lack of faith but that we are normal humans, living in a broken world.
Feelings don’t show a lack of faith but that we are normal humans Click To Tweet
The Psalmist reminds us that our souls are thirsty for more…..
“As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God. My soul thirsts for God for the living God.” Psalm 42:1-2 

deer2

The water our souls thirst for is found in Jesus. He is Living Water. Every other relationship on this earth will fail to satisfy.
Loss and hurt is a reminder of our need for Him.
Shame and the pain of trauma is a reminder of the deep brokenness of creation and our need for Him.
It’s not wrong to feel. It’s not wrong to be overwhelmed. It’s human. Click To Tweet
It’s not wrong to feel. It’s not wrong to be overwhelmed. It’s human. God is pained over the brokenness of the world, too. God can handle your questions. Your feelings communicate needs.
God is pained over the brokenness of the world, too. Click To Tweet
In this Psalm, the writer knows he needs to praise God and remember how faithful and loving the Lord has been to Him. He challenges his inner dialogue and reminds himself of the truth!
“Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me?
Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation, and my God
My soul is cast down within me; therefore I remember you from the land of Jordan and of Hermon, from Mount Mizar
Deep calls to deep at the roar of your waterfalls; all your breakers and your waves have gone over me. By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life.
I say to God, my rock; “Why have you forgotten me? Why do I go mourning because of the oppression of the enemy?” As with a deadly wound in my bones, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me all the day long, “where is your God?”
Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation and my God.” Psalm 42:5-11
God is good. God is faithful. He has proven His love for me time and again. Remember. He loves us with an everlasting, initiating, unconditional, redeeming, restoring and rescuing love.
He loves us with an everlasting, initiating, unconditional, and rescuing love. Click To Tweet

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/feelings/

Aug 27

We Dig: The Daily Struggle with Addictions and Idolatry

“For my people have committed two evils: they have forsaken me, the fountain of living waters, and hewed out cisterns for themselves, broken cisterns that can hold no water.” Jeremiah 2:13

We all do this…in a million different ways throughout our lifetimes.
Sometimes it’s pursuing good things like a job, career, or relationships with people.
Sometimes it’s pursuing destructive things like drugs, alcohol, pornography, eating disorders, cutting, or other addictions and idolatry.
Yet we dig. We dig to find water in that, which has no water. We dig with hopes that we will not remain thirsty. We dig fast, we dig hard, we are desperate!
We sweat and we strive. Our muscles ache from the digging. We stand in the midst of the dirt-covered hole that we dug for ourselves and we are mad!!
We are mad at God: mad that He hasn’t quenched our thirst, mad that our arms ache from digging, mad at the pain, mad that we are alone in this pit, mad that we are tired…
Our belief is “only I can meet my need for thirst, I must keep digging, can’t God help me find the water I need”.   We feel abandoned, alone, afraid, tired, dirty, hopeless…
We stop for a minute, weary from the digging; sweat and tears fall down our face.

“Be still, and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10

In the stillness, we feel a subtle breeze, and hear the sound of water…. it’s not coming from below where we were digging but from above. We pause and listen.

“Jesus stood up and cried out, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever, believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38

 “Let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

We set down our shovel and take His beautiful nail scarred hand. He draws us up and out of our pit and guides us to the water we have been so desperately searching for. Here we find grace, restoration, redemption, and peace. Here we experience contentment, despite our circumstances. Here we are fully known in our dirt-covered filth and loved. For redeemed sinners, this is a daily, moment-by-moment reality. For some of us, we are deeper in our holes, we’ve decorated our holes, they are known areas that we think are havens of safety, but we are deceived. In reality, they are dirty and dry. O Lord….

 We “believe; help (our) unbelief!” Mark 9:24

We Dig

The coolest thing about Jesus is that he loves us, even when we take our eyes off him and crawl back down in our holes. He doesn’t judge us or shame us….He took all our sin, shame, and judgement on the cross. He has compassion for us. He extends grace to us! He draws us back, each time…reminding us that what we really thirst for is more of Him. The more we experience His living water, the more we want….

‘Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen diligently to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food. Incline your ear, and come to me; hear, that your soul may live;”   Isaiah 55:1-3

If you like what you read, please comment below or share on social media. ❤️

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/we-dig-the-daily-struggle-with-addictions-and-idolatry/

Dec 02

The Not Perfect Christmas

notperfect3

 

I love Christmas.  I love the cooler weather, the warm clothes, warm coffee, and snuggling under blankets with family.  I love buying gifts, wrapping gifts, giving gifts, attending Christmas Eve service, being with family, and watching Christmas movies.  Yet, let’s be honest ladies…Christmas for moms (or women in general) can be STRESSFUL.  As if we don’t already have enough to do, let’s pile on a whole bunch of shopping, baking, cooking, decorating, dinner parties, and traveling.   Ummmm…. if I added any of that to a regular week then I am overwhelmed but add it all in one month??  Come on now…where did my sanity go?
Now, I looove LOOKING at beautiful decorations but honestly, I don’t want to spend that much on decor.  I am not even quite sure what to buy when I do have decorating money.  So, we continue to use the same decorations year after year.  My boys don’t seem to mind and I think it looks decent when I am done.  But,  I always feel that my decorations are a little, let’s say, less than magazine perfect.  I never quite feel like my house has “grown up” decorations (and I’m almost 40).  It used to be (back before Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, etc.) that I would only feel bad when I went to someone else’s home that was beautifully decorated.  Now, however, I can feel inadequate just by checking my social media feed.  Not only that, there is so much more to feel bad about…my deficient baking skills, I’m not done with my shopping yet, I didn’t get the best deals during Black Friday, my presents won’t have ribbons or bows, my Christmas cards aren’t done, I have no regular daily Christmas activity planned for the kids, and no elf comes to visit in cleverly cute ways.
It is honestly comical how we put so much pressure on ourselves during this time of year.  I mean what is the point?  Who are we pleasing?  What are we celebrating???  Comparison is evil!  Perfection is unrealistic and unattainable.  Life happens in the mess.  Mistakes forge memories that bond us together in our humanity.  When we share only our achievements and not our mistakes, we don’t connect.  We miss each other.  We feel alone.  
Not only that, if we were perfect…we wouldn’t need Jesus.  Isn’t that the whole point of this time of year anyway?  Because of our imperfection and brokenness, Jesus was born to be the perfection we constantly strive for.  In Jesus, I am completely perfect!  So I am free to embrace my human imperfections (of which there are so many…ask my kids and husband).  So this Christmas, I am going to enjoy each moment, the great ones and the bad ones.  The great ones are a glimpse of eternity when all is made new and the bad ones are a reminder of my need for Jesus!
So celebrate the season and do what you want to do.  No comparing!  Your version of Christmas for your family is just right!
Let’s share our imperfections together this Christmas and have a Not Perfect Christmas.  Let’s really connect and be real on social media.  Let’s proclaim our imperfections loud so Jesus’ perfection is magnified!
Find me @counseling4hope #notperfect!
Here’s my first imperfect social media post:
We made an awesome Christmas budget spreadsheet that we password protected because my kids use this computer.  Ummm…yep, we forgot the password.  #notperfect #Christmas
 If you like what you read, please comment below or share on social media. ❤️

Permanent link to this article: http://counseling4hope.com/not-perfect-christmas/

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