We all have our own well we visit in the heat of the day.

I want to be like the Samaritan woman. I want to drop my water buckets, run into town and tell the world about the man who went out of his way, in the heat of the day, meeting me at my lowest and chose me intentionally. A man who knew my whole story, and chose to cover me in compassion and grace. We deserve to be alive in and known for our transformation instead of our sin, for what we did AFTER, and who we BECAME. You deserve that too. So, go ahead and drop your buckets, cancel the well visits, find some shade and a few good people who love you first for all you are and all you are not. Allow God to use your story, to use your heart and shed a light to others around you that shame doesn’t live here anymore.

Shame is liar whose only intent is to divert us from or diminish entirely any chance for success. Shame can take a single mistake and make it our identity. In fact the very armor we were meant to wear for power in standing against the devils schemes becomes a buckling weight disguised as weakness and shame.

It is no secret that I love the stories of the women of the bible; Rahab the harlot, the Adulteress, Mary Magdalene and of course the Samaritan woman at the well. Each of these women felt shame, hid from others and ultimately experienced mercy and grace in their darkest moments of carrying guilt. Sure their shame came from what appears to be easily avoidable choices to us, but do we really know their stories? Do we know the backstory or simply what we choose to see selfishly and are we really all that different or innocent? Jesus saw the before and the after and chose love anyhow. Just like he did with Judas, he knew what he would do, and still fed him at his table. Do you ever wonder what it is he knew that made him choose them and love them any way? Or, us? Think of all your shortcomings and the fact that he still sees you blameless and worthy. Shame finds us guilty and Jesus sets us free.

We have a choice to use our eyes as they were intended; to look beyond situations and choices instead of a judgmental stare down. We also have a choice and the ability to see there is always more to what we see or hear as a “story” and have empathy and compassion remembering that behind that “story” is an actual human being living that reality. That behind the rumor, the imperfections, the mugshot, the divorce, the depression and the abuse there is still someone richly deserving of love, mercy and grace. If this is you, you need to know this truth. When I say you are not disqualified, I mean that. We can not fail when God is our qualifier. And, when we least expect it he levels the playing field whether we are prepared for it or not.

This pandemic has opened my eyes to the things we have been doing wrong and the first is forgetting to love others as ourselves – which means we NEED to love ourselves. We can’t love ourselves when our arms are full from carrying the weight of every mistake we have made. It is not intended for us to do so. Even more so, the weight you’re carrying may come from things you don’t even realize you’re hiding behind. Things such as using humor to hide behind depression. Or, facades to hide behind financial struggles, abuse or possibly low self-esteem. Addictions manifest themselves in so many ways besides drugs, alcohol, sex, relationships etc., what about our work? Or, a project? Our phones? Activities, hobbies and sports? A busy schedule to appear important when instead it is just temporarily numbing the pain that silence brings, becoming no different than drugs and alcohol. We hide and find guilt in more ways then we care to admit, and the truth is we all have our own well that we visit in the heat of the day. We just change up the route, however just like Jesus did with the Samaritan woman, he will go out of his way, taking the longer route to meet you right where you are and remind you of his need to use your story, to have you speak life with it and that he loves you.

Sometimes we need to be stripped of all the things that do not hold true value and are no longer serving or benefiting us. If you ask me, God has done exactly that for us right here in this moment. He has leveled the playing field by redirecting our hearts and setting our eyes on him. When we are focusing on God, we don’t see others failures or our own because we are soaked in his word full of hope, promise and love. When we have nothing distracting us our focus is on the people and things we regularly take for granted and we no longer feel the need to hide away in shame or escape the guilt we can’t seem to shake. We realize that our trip to the well at the heat of the day is no longer healthy, it is a hindrance meant to distract us from our calling and purpose. We all have regrets, pain and have at one time or another struggled with the weight of guilt and shame, we are only made different by being obedient to the one who calls us to love one another and ourselves. Shame is not a description of who you are, and guilt is not something that requires being filled at a well that will never quench your thirst the way forgiveness for yourself and others will.

I want to be like the Samaritan woman. I want to drop my water buckets, run into town and tell the world about the man who went out of his way, in the heat of the day, meeting me at my lowest and chose me intentionally. A man who knew my whole story, and chose to cover me in compassion and grace. We deserve to be alive in and known for our transformation instead of our sin, for what we did AFTER, and who we BECAME. You deserve that too. So, go ahead and drop your buckets, cancel the well visits, find some shade and a few good people who love you first for all you are and all you are not. Allow God to use your story, to use your heart and shed a light to others around you that shame doesn’t live here anymore.

There before the grace of God, go I.

There are days when I wake up and all I can muster are the words, “I’m thankful I woke up today”, or “I’m thankful that my being alive today means I must still have work to do for you God, that I must have purpose.” Even if I have no idea what it is. I trust he will clue me in when his timing is right, and most likely when my mind and heart are still.

“and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born. For I am the least of the apostles and do not even deserve to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect. No, I worked harder than all of them—yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.”  (1 Corinthians 15:8-10, NIV)

My grandfather used to say “there before the grace of God go I” during moments of tragedy, mourning or suffering. As a teenager and young adult, I would catch myself following the sentiment without realizing the weight behind the words I was reciting. There before the grace of God goes I, was how my grandfather spoke it, however the proper written statement is, ‘There but before the grace of God, go I – but still what does that mean, I asked myself one day.

Isn’t it ironic how we mimic what we hear growing up without analyzing the meaning behind it? I began to question the words, what they meant and what it was that I was repeating. Was my grandfather saying we were better than the homeless man sleeping in the bushes at the park, because we go to church? Was he saying that God loved us more than the people suffering in the car accident we just passed? Was he saying that if I don’t go to church and follow God that I too deserved to suffer? Until I read what Paul was saying in 1 Corinthians – the power, love and meaning was lost on me.

Paul felt as though he was undeserving and admitted that if it were not for the grace of God, he would still be the same Paul who persecuted Christians. It is a verse of humility and love. My thankfulness is rooted in the same manner as Paul. It was only for God’s grace and who he created me to be that I am the mother, wife and person I am today. He created me with intent, purpose, a heart that loves more than ever received and a mind that dreams of God making my impossible, possible.

God knew I would follow my heart instead of listening to him at first. He saw ahead to the moments I would fail, resist his help or the help of anyone else. He knew I would disappoint both he and myself when I would surely proclaim the lie that I only needed myself. He would be patient as I took the lead foolishly thinking that I was alone, and in charge. He continued to pour his love into me even in the moments that I denounced his purpose and plan for my life. He used these moments in his infinite wisdom, in his pursuits and how he would reveal when the timing was right, that he was whom my strength originated. His Grace is love, and there will not be a day that I am not thankful for that.

We are so naïve in what we so blindly refuse to acknowledge is him. Looking back now I see his hand helping me up to my feet, his arms lifting me up and out of whatever mess I created this time. His love for me when I couldn’t stomach my own reflection let alone the idea of loving myself, was abundant and refreshing. If it weren’t for these moments, I would not have three teenagers that have shown me a love that I never knew was possible and test the patience in me at the same time. If it weren’t for his grace, I would not have a husband who chooses me every day, despite my past and makes me feel the same safety I do in trusting Jesus.

My life afforded by his grace is not a based on whether I go to church, it is not saying that I am more deserving than anyone else or that I will escape my own tragedies or hardships. It is saying that I won’t be alone in them. I’m thankful to be aware of that. To humbly admit that I need his grace, that I want his grace and that my strength, love and faith are deeply rooted in him, is a gift in and of itself.

We all falter, we all have moments of pause and question – and we all at one time in our lives have felt undeserving of God’s love and grace. That is what creates the humility and compassion in our hearts for one another. Imagine all that God has witnessed, imagine all the people he consoles as they suffer, all the ones who at times question his abilities, his intentions and even if he is real. Imagine that for one minute and then picture him loving them anyhow. Is there anything more beautiful than that? I don’t believe there is.

Thankfulness is a choice just as is love. It is an action word; it requires movement, it requires flexibility and an intentional heart. It is easy to get stuck in the ruts of life and take things, people and even God for granted. There are days when I wake up and all I can muster are the words, “I’m thankful I woke up today”, or “I’m thankful that my being alive today means I must still have work to do for you God, that I must have purpose.” Even if I have no idea what it is. I trust he will clue me in when his timing is right, and most likely when my mind and heart are still.

Today I encourage you to take deep breath and think of one thing or person you are thankful for. Something or someone who gives you the feeling of relief or that pleases you. Whether it be a simple as a baby sleeping through the night, enough money in your account to keep the power on, a spouse who decided to unload the dishwasher or a puppy who didn’t chew another hole in your brand new couch. Or something as significant as a lost son or daughter coming home, the blessing of a positive test result or clear scan saying that cancer is gone. Whatever it may be, whatever you can muster up in the pits of despair – speak it, feel it and choose to be actively thankful for it and know you are never alone or undeserving.

Clean Slate.

I used to wish I could expunge my past like you can a criminal record. I could erase every mistake, every humiliation and every thing negative about my life. A clean slate.

I used to wish I could expunge my past like you can a criminal record. I could erase every mistake, every humiliation and every thing negative about my life. A clean slate.

At my previous job I did expungements. And I loved it. It felt like each record being erased was a gift of a fresh start, new hope and freedom. We all deserve freedom from an unpleasant and embarrassing past.

But erasing your past doesn’t erase what really happened and it definitely doesn’t erase those people who refuse to let your past go, does it?

The ones who keep a record of every fault and failure. The ones who keep a tab on your life to somehow boost theirs. Aiding in diminishing their internal hurt temporarily while increasing yours.

Oh how I know these people exist! They will always exist. But their power doesn’t have to. You weaken that power every time you remind yourself of these things:

FIRST: Those mistakes broke you down and built you back up stronger, better and wiser my friend!

If you’re like me the broken part led you to God – who forgave you the second you asked. Erasing all record of sins, iniquities & transgressions. And, restored a clean and new heart. Psalms 51:1( all of it!)

SECOND: If you had never failed you would be sooo boring and blah. No one wants that. 😂 Failures bring life, stories, lessons and experience turns into a beautiful gift of insight. And, humility. We need that.

THIRD: You’re not them. You’re healing yourself instead of hurting others. That’s brave! That’s bad-ass.

FOURTH: You’re learning and living in forgiveness. Both for yourself and others. And, learning to accept God’s.

FIFTH: You are NOT here to please man. You’re here to please God.

And, SIXTH: What other people think of us is none of our business. Their judgment matters none. There is only one Judge and he loves you completely.

Your record is clean and clear with me. Always ♥️