Friday, June 29, 2012

A Case of Mistaken Identity


My new book, Stressed-less Living: Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World, will be released October 2, 2012!  I am so excited to partner with you in the journey of becoming stressed-less! 

 But why wait until October 2?!  Sign up today to participate in my 10 Day Stress Detox challenge beginning September 4, and be the first to know when pre-orders will be available!  

I can think of several people over my lifetime of whom made me feel utterly and completely rejected. People who caused me to doubt my worth in this world, as a person, a woman, and a child of God.

I imagine you can do the same, because everyone has experienced rejection at one time or another. Maybe you were rejected by a co-worker or supervisor, similar to what I mentioned in today's Proverbs 31 Devotion.  Or maybe your "rejecter" was a parent, boyfriend, spouse, child, friend, or family member.

Regardless of who made us feel rejected, the fact is, rejection is painful. It hurts to the core, and it can have a long term and lasting negative impact on our self esteem and our identity,  if we fail to consider our choices in the midst of our heartache.

You see, when we feel hurt and rejected, regardless of the circumstance, we always have two choices:

1. Choose to allow another person to define us and determine our worth
2. Choose to allow God to define us and give us worth

Choice #1 gives other people the authority to determine our identity. If we choose to believe the hurtful words they say, then we are giving them permission to determine our personal identity.  We accept their words as truth, even if we don't actually believe them.

Choice #2 gives God the authority, and opens the door for Him to remind us that our true identity is in Him. An identity that is based on the fact that we created by a God who never makes mistakes.

Unfortunately, I must admit that I have spent many a day choosing Choice #1; shedding countless tears after someone rejected me, criticized me, or hurt my feelings. I have wasted way too much time over the years allowing other people to make me feel inferior or worthless.

Why? Because during those times when my heart was wounded, I was so focused on the hurtful words or actions of another person, that I neglected to focus on who I was in Christ. My mind would become so ravaged with insecurities, pain, and feelings of inferiority, that I would inadvertently give my "rejecter" the power to convince me of who I was. As if their opinion trumped God's Word about the value of His children.

But in more recent years, through God's grace and mercy, I have learned to choose Choice #2 first.  When someone hurts my feelings or rejects me, despite my pain and feelings of rejection, I immediately turn to God for confirmation, instead of soaking in the criticism of others.

I choose to focus on the real me.

The me, who God knew before He formed my body and soul in the womb. The me, who God had a special plan and purpose for.  The me, whose Father knows the number of hairs on her head. The me, whose Savior catches all her tears in a bottle.  The me, who is treasured enough to be forgiven of her sins and mistakes.  The me, who is loved unconditionally by the Creator of the Universe.

The me, who is far from perfect, but who Jesus believed was important enough to die for.
The me, whose identity is determined by John 1:12 which says "Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God —"

The me, who is  precious and honored in God's sight as we are told in Isaiah 43:4.

When I choose to allow someone else to determine who I am, and lose sight of my value in Christ, then I get lost in a case of mistaken identity.

If you have been hurt by the sting of rejection, whether from years ago or just recently, maybe you have been struggling with a case of mistaken identity too. 

Maybe you have been allowing the words of a hurtful person to make you feel "less than". Will you ask God to help you push aside those feelings, erase the wounds in your heart and mind, and embrace who He says you are?  Will you commit to making Choice #2 a choice that you make every day?

If you are ready to toss out your mistaken identity, and reclaim your identity in Christ today, post a comment sharing your victory over the enemy! With God on our side, who can be against us?!

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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Trusting God to Direct Their Paths

I had been following them for several minutes before I even realized what I was doing.

On a recent vacation, I would get up early each morning and go for a run on the beach.  One morning, while lost in my thoughts, I inadvertently began following a set of tire tracks in the sand. As I jogged,  I placed one foot in front of the other directly on the path I was following.

Not only was I unaware of the fact that I was deliberately following the impressions in the sand, but I had no idea where they were taking me, or their final destination. But I had been following them nonetheless.

Upon realizing my subconscious actions, I chuckled at myself, and moved off the tracks onto the clean sand.

In the moments that followed, I thought about how often I have followed paths in my life, either knowingly or unknowingly, which led me to places I did not want to be. Into situations I would never have chosen to be in. Ending up at destinations filled with hardship, heartache and regret.

I also considered some wonderful paths I had taken. Paths where I allowed God to lead me, and was blessed with peace and happiness.

It was a sweet moment as I reflected on how God has not only rescued me from paths laced with hardship, but also blessed me as I walked down paths that honored Him.

As my heart processed these memories, my mind wandered to the fact that although I have learned to look to God for direction and guidance, my children are still learning how important He is in their every day decisions.  I thought about some issues that had occurred over the past couple years where wrong paths were taken, and disappointment and discipline followed.

I am convinced that nothing is harder on a parent than watching a child make bad choices, or venture down paths that are not good for them, all the while wishing they still had control. 

Although my son and two daughters are pre-teen and teens now, I still remember the feeling of control I had when they were younger. Control that brought comfort. Control that allowed me to guide their every step,based on love and protection, not authority or power.

For example, I could control what they ate, how much they ate, and when they ate. I could control where they went and who they went with; when they went to bed; who drove the car they rode in; what they could see on television; what types of music they listened to; who their friends were; and their wardrobes.

Although I am still their mom, and always will be, the reality is that as they grow, I can no longer have the same level of control as when they were little. I think for every mom who loves their children more than life itself, losing that control can be a hard pill to swallow.

As I pondered all these thoughts that raced through my mind on this sunny morning at the surf, I felt God reassuring me that although I do not have complete control, He does. Although I can't pick their paths for them, I can continue to guide them toward the right ones, while knowing that He will be with them whichever one they choose.

God knows it's hard to let go of control and allow our children to begin choosing their own paths, good or bad.  After all, He is a parent too. He hates to watch us suffer the consequences of bad choices, yet delights when we are blessed by good choices. And He offers unconditional love either way.

God impressed upon my spirit that morning that I needed to stop stressing over trying to be a perfect parent and feeling like a failure when they make mistakes. Instead I just need to have faith in knowing that He will always guide the steps of my children if their hearts are set on Him.

As I prayed, I felt myself breathing a sigh of relief. It was as if God gave me permission to relinquish control, and admit that as long as I am doing the best job I can do as a mom,  it's okay to accept that my job description is slowly changing. 

My job now is not merely to try to lovingly control my children's steps, but to continue teaching them to give God control over their hearts. They will make mistakes, take wrong paths, need rescuing from time to time, and be blessed by good choices - but God is always in control and as much as they are mine, they are also His. 

Although my heart longs to protect them and keep them on the right paths, telling them which tracks to follow and which ones to avoid, He is the only One with the real power to do so. In order for Him to have full control, I must recognize His sovereignty, and trust Him explicitly, while teaching them to do the same.

We  must train our children up in the ways of the Lord just as we are instructed in Proverbs 22:6, but the time comes when we have to loosen our grip on the reins. If we know full well that we have steered them in the right direction to the best of our ability, and we believe God's promise of love and protection, letting go seems just a little bit easier.

Psalm 25:4-6  Show me the right path, O Lord; point out the road for me to follow. Lead me by your truth and teach me, for you are the God who saves me. All day long I put my hope in you. Remember, O Lord, your compassion and unfailing love, which you have shown from long ages past. (NIV)

Have you struggled with letting go of control in the area of parenting? 

How has God shown you that His love, protective instincts, power and authority are sufficient to reign over the lives of your children?

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Thursday, June 21, 2012

Information is Power That Leads to Change

1 Corinthians 4:20 For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power.

Each morning, as soon as my children leave for school, I lace up my tennis shoes and get to work - I mean exercise. But on some days it feels like work!

About five years ago,I began doing the most impactful workout program which is the best home workout program that I have ever done. Trust me when I say, I have fallen prey to many a infomercial for exercise DVD's over the years, only to discover that they were too mind-numbing, monotonous, silly or impossible to continue for more than two or three weeks.

But P90X is different, and I love it! My personal trainer (haha) Tony Horton is very motivating, and during the videos, he talks and encourages everyone throughout the workout.

On most days, I tune him out simply because I have heard his instructions dozens upon dozens of times. But one day as I was bending, jumping, lifting and sweating, Tony said something that caught my attention.

I have heard him say this statement countless times, but it never quite stuck in my mind like it did on this particular day.

Tony simply said "Information is power. With power there is change. And change is good."

Of course, he is referring to knowing what exercise routines work best for us, and how that knowledge gives us the motivation and power to keep moving forward. But for some reason in that moment, it struck a chord with me, and I tucked it away in my mind.

Later that day, one of my daughters shared with me a challenging situation she was having with another girl at school. She not only felt bullied by this girl, but was frustrated that the girl seemed to break all the rules, disrespect the teachers, demean other students, and be dishonest with adults, yet never seemed to be held accountable for her actions. She was upset at the way she was being treated, and at the injustice of it all - but most of all, she was frustrated because she had no power to change anything.

I reassured her that those emotions are normal, when we see injustice or unfairness taking place around us, and especially if we feel like a victim of another persons unkindness. But in either case, we always have the power through faith to control our emotions, and our reactions.

As we talked, the comment I had heard on the exercise video immediately popped into my mind. It was as if God affirmed the reason that I had remembered that particular comment, on that particular day.

You see, my daughter needed information and motivation, so that she would feel empowered to deal with this situation. She needed to understand that she had the power within herself, through her faith, to deal with her emotions. She needed to be able to forgive that person even though they didn't deserve it.

Through our discussion, I helped her see that by allowing her emotions to control her reactions, she was giving this other person power over her life - and her happiness.

She needed to be reminded that we cannot change other people, no matter how badly we wish we could, or how justified we are in our opinions. However, we do have God's Word to guide us.

I prayed with my daughter when she went to bed that night. We prayed that the Lord would shower her heart with peace, grant her self control, and fill her with the ability to remember that He is still sitting on His throne, even when life seems unfair.

Just like my daughter, I have often wished I could change someone else or a situation beyond my control, knowing I did not have the power to do so. Yet, I always have the power through God, to change myself.

I cannot control another persons behavior, but I do have God's power to help me change my reactions to their behaviors.

I cannot change another persons heart, but I do have God's power to change my heart towards them.

I may not always have power to change a circumstance, but I do have power to face it in Christ.

And most importantly, I certainly do not want to grant power over my life to anyone, except my heavenly Father.

We have all the information we need in God's Word to face difficult people and circumstances. We have the power of God available to us, if only we talk to Him and ask.

With power comes change; and whenever we are changing to become more like Christ, change is  good.

"Information is power. With power there is change. And change is good."

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Rooted In Faith

In May, my husband and I celebrated our 22nd wedding anniversary.  He is a wonderful man, but definitely earned some brownie points when he showed up with beautiful red roses for me!

I proudly displayed them on my kitchen table, sniffing and admiring them each time I passed by.  But despite how much I loved them, they eventually began to fade. The bright green leaves darkened, and the flowers gradually turned from a bright scarlet red to a burgundy shade of black.

My twelve year old son walked into the kitchen one morning and caught me gazing at my flowers in their sad little state. I expressed to him how disappointed I was to see they were beginning to die. With his usual quick and funny wit, he exclaimed, "Well, if you were jerked up from your roots and disconnected from your life source, you'd probably wither away too!" 

We both laughed and it helped me accept the reality that it was time to rid of the roses.  As I gathered up the crunchy remnants and placed them in the trash, I thought about what my son had said, and felt God gently whisper to my spirit.

If I was jerked up from the source that gives me life, I would wither too.

If I was suddenly disconnected from the roots I have in Christ, my heart and soul would die.

If my life wasn't founded in my faith, I am confident I would feel void of any life at all.

I can't even imagine living without Christ in my life, yet, I know there are days when I unplug and try to walk through daily routines, busy and distracted, disconnected from my roots. It is usually on those days, when I feel most distracted, distressed, unfocused, or anxious. I fail to be thankful for the good things in my day, because I focus on the things that aren't so good. And feel withered.

As I pondered these thoughts, I wanted to see what God's Word had to say, and I came across Colossians 2:7, which says "Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness."

Then out of curiosity, I looked up the same verse in The Message Bible, and loved it's translation:

"My counsel for you is simple and straightforward: Just go ahead with what you've been given. You received Christ Jesus, the Master; now live him. You're deeply rooted in him. You're well constructed upon him. You know your way around the faith. Now do what you've been taught. School's out; quit studying the subject and start living it! And let your living spill over into thanksgiving"

What a sweet reminder I received from God that day, through the lips of my little boy, that even when I feel "withered",  Christ is life giving. I am grounded in Him, and He is my Sustainer.

If our lives are founded upon faith, then instead of trying to do life on our own, we simply need to do what we've been taught! Stay grounded - stay connected - and start living in Him!

We have to make a choice to stay rooted in our faith, especially when life is making us feel withered.  If you ask me, living a life spilling over with thanksgiving is certainly motivation to stay connected to our Life Source in every way possible.

Has God used a simple statement or an every day occurrence to remind you about the importance of staying connected to your roots of faith? 

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Friday, June 15, 2012

And I cried.

When my college boyfriend asked for my hand in marriage, upon saying yes, I cried.

A few years later my first daughter was born, and I cried.

In time, I had another daughter and a son, and I cried.

When any one of  my kids would scrape their knees, or feel hurt by a friend's harsh words, I cried.

When one of them got cut from a sport they were passionate about, hearts aching with the sting of pain and rejection, I cried. For about a week.

The first time my sixteen year old daughter pulled out of the driveway in her new car, I cried.

The first time my daughter's heart was broken by a boy, I cried.

When my husband and I trudged through difficult times, I cried.

When my husband and I experienced times of great joy, I cried.

When my daughter left for the school the other day, headed towards her very last day of high school ever.

I cried.

I admit it. I'm a cryer. I cry when I'm happy, and when I'm sad. I cry when my heart is touched, and when I'm hurt. I cry when I'm mad, and I could even cry over a diaper commercial if it hits me at just the right moment.

I just can't help it. I'm an emotional being.  It's just the way God made me. But despite what I'm facing, good or bad, I know that God made my tears and catches every last one as we are promised in Psalm 56:8 "You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book."

God is probably looking around for a bigger bottle to catch my tears these days, because there have been lots of tear-filled opportunities. And more tears are ready to emerge at any moment.

Tears of joy. Tears of happiness. Tears of anxiety. Tears of unspoken fears. Tears of pride. Tears of change. Tears of gratefulness. Tears of trust. Tears of a love that is so overwhelming that I can scarcely hold them back.

Tears, as I watched my eighteen year old daughter stroll across the stage, smiling proudly, wearing her accomplishments around her neck as they cascaded down her baby blue graduation gown while accepting her high school diploma.  A symbol of years of hard work and commitment, ending this season of her life.

When I consider the hole that will be present in our home when my precious Morgan moves into her college housing in just a few months, projectile tears threaten to burst forth. When I think about how much I will miss seeing her beaming smile every day and listening to all her 'stories' due to her love of talking, sad tears trickle. 

But when I consider how God has promised to watch over her, and reassures me in His Word that He loves her even more than my momma's heart ever could, I can't help but cry tears of overwhelming relief.

I know I can't keep her under my wing forever, although I would like to, but I know she will always be under God's wings, because He resides in her heart.

What peace and relief it brings as I embrace God's promise in Psalm 91:4, which says "He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection." Envisioning my baby girl snuggled gently under the mighty wings of a sovereign God, protected with sovereign armor and a host of angels swarming over her everywhere she goes,  showers my heart with peace, and helps keep my fears at bay. 

For all you moms out there who are walking this road right now; watching your child leave the nest and venture out into the scary world of college and grown-up issues, I know you understand. For all your moms who have already experienced the heartbreak of going to bed at night, trusting that God will tuck your child safely into bed again and again, I know you understand. 

For all you moms who think tears need to be hidden, I want to assure you that tears are from God, intended to help our minds and bodies flush out our emotions. They are not a sign of weakness to be ashamed of, but a sign of humaness and love which keeps our hearts soft and tender.

Graduation has now come and gone, and trust me - I cried. An onslaught of tears. Some of which I thought might cause me a little more embarrassment than I had planned on, and definitely bring embarrassment to my kids. 

But that's okay. After all, I'm a cryer.  And seeing my beautiful-little-girl-turned-incredible-young-woman embark on her God ordained future is definitely tear worthy in my opinion. 

There are no better tears than ones shed out of overwhelming love and adoration, laced with prayers of promise, hope and joy.

Have you shed any tears lately? Do you believe God caught those tears in His loving hands? 

How has God touched your heart with promise and reassurance lately?

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Tuesday, June 12, 2012

They Said It Would Happen.... and It Did

The minute I told my sweet friend that I had written a book called Stressed-Less Living, she told me to watch out.

Watch out for the enemy's tactics. Watch out for the problems that he would throw into my path.  Watch out for stressful situations that were sure to rage into my life, threatening to cause me to stumble in my quest to live the stressed-less life.

And she was right.

For the past ten months, a myriad of situations have stormed into my life like hurricanes on a mission. Some have increased gradually, while others have blown in from out of nowhere.

But one thing every circumstance has in common, is that they came with a boat load of stress.

I decided I could do one of two things.

I could be mad at God for allowing these stressful situations to happen - all while I'm trying to write a book about stress, in the hopes of ministering to others in Jesus name, for goodness sakes! After all, shouldn't God be protecting me, instead of allowing more stress in my life?

Or,  I could allow my heart to view these circumstances as gifts from God. Gifts that would give me more hands-on training in finding calm in the chaos of life. Gifts that would further equip me to help others discover peace, when peace seems unrealistic. Gifts that would help me to understand what James 1:2 really means, "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters,whenever you face trials of many kinds,".

Fortunately, I chose the latter. 

But don't we all get lured into thinking that negative way at times? We think that our good Christian service, or our daily prayers, or our commitment to daily devotions or going to church every Sunday, should create an invisible force field around our life, shielding us from any stressful storms that threaten to come raining down upon us.

Unfortunately, although God is fair and loving, life is not always that way.  Although God is compassionate, not all people are.  Although we don't deserve difficult trials, trials are part of normal life. And each and every experience is a "test" of our faith in one way or another, for our long term benefit.

We can never be "good enough" to prevent life from  happening, no matter how hard we try. Yet, we can learn to trust in our God whose will and ways are always perfect, even when they are stressful.

In Tony Evan's book, Between A Rock and A Hard Place (2010), he said this: 

"He tests you, and me, because He wants what is best for us. He tests us because He is getting ready to do something amazing in our lives. The way that He tests us is by putting us in a stressful scenario. God puts us on a treadmill. He designs a unique treadmill test to measure and reveal the real condition of our souls. 

Of course, no one likes a trial. No one wakes up in the morning, stretches, and says, “Ah, what a beautiful day for a trial! I think I’d like to have a trial today!” That would be an unusual person who would do something like that. Yet, no matter how much we want to avoid trials in our lives, trials are inevitable. No one is immune to trials"

Trials - some more stressful than others - will always come. We all have to make a choice. To either prepare our hearts to handle the stress, or allow the stress to damage our hearts.

The key to stressed-less living is not living a stress free life, but learning to trust God and embrace His joy and peace in the midst of our stressful lives. It requires accepting and believing that somehow, someday, some way... God is teaching us to trust Him, and seek peace from Him, and Him alone.

Has God ever used a stressful trial in your life to groom you for something amazing, teach you how much He loves you. or equip you for His great plans?

If you are receiving this post in email, click here to leave your comment.

(There is still time to enter to win a $10 Starbucks card and a copy of my new book being released in the fall! Click here for more info.)

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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Horrible Situations Can Have Holy Purposes

I remember it as if it were yesterday.

I would drag myself out of bed every morning with knots in my stomach, dreading facing yet another stressful and emotional day at my job. A job which  I had grown to hate, working for a supervisor whom I had grown to fear because of his demeaning tactics and less than stellar work ethics.

I had gradually, and unknowingly, allowed myself to turn into a stressed and distressed woman, who was not only overwhelmed with job stress, but was unsuccessfully trying to juggle the pressures of work, family and life. A woman whose mind, spirit, heart and soul were ravaged with turmoil, while the stress took its toll on her physical body as well.

God had been calling me for several years to lay down that secular job, and pick up His will for my life, and after a long process (of which you can read more about in my book Reinventing Your Rainbow), I eventually trusted God enough, and was desperate enough, to take a leap of faith.

I resigned from my stressful job, but as is always the case, other stressful situations were looming on the horizon. Yet, somehow I found peace in the midst of it all as I learned to fully rely on God.

As my heart healed, my spirit soared, and God helped me understand how to find calm in the chaos of my life. A calm called Jesus. I began to realize that stress relief and peace did not happen because I left a stressful job, but because I finally embraced my unstressed God.

All those years I spent stressed out to the max, God had a plan. He knew that if I only trusted Him, He could turn a horrible circumstance into a holy purpose. Maybe not immediately, but in His perfect timing. And He has done just that.

On October 2, 2012, my new book Stressed-Less Living will be released!  The sub title of the book is Finding God's Peace In Your Chaotic World. Yes, you heard right. This former stress-aholic whose life was once consumed with life robbing stress from the inside out, has now written a book about how not to be stressed.

Kind of funny in a way. But ever moreso, it's stunning to see how God's plans and blessings reach far beyond the scope of even our wildest imagination.

I had no idea - on those days when I sat crying in my car in the parking deck, putting off going into my office for as long as I possibly could while fretting over every little aspect of my stressful life - that God could use that experience to not only fill me with peace, but to teach me that real peace is found in Him - not in a stress free, problem free life.

God not only taught me to find peace in less-than peaceful situations, He also filled me with a passion to help others discover His peace as well - despite whatever circumstances they are in. And in four short months from today - my new book will be released!!!

So between now and then,  I will be posting a lot about stress and peace, and will have a variety of contests, giveaways, freebies, book previews, opportunities to get involved in my Focus Group, special promotions, and a 10 Day Stress Detox challenge in the fall.

It's going to be so much fun and I would love to have you on board!  If you are not a subscriber to my blog, sign up today so you won't miss out on anything!

I would love your help in spreading the word about my upcoming book, so I want to give you a little incentive to help others know about this resource for real stress relief!

Leave a comment on this post stating you have shared the below pre-written statements on Facebook AND Twitter, and your name will be entered to win a $10 Starbucks card, and one of the first copies of Stressed-Less Living when it's hot off the press! 

Also, if you forward this post to your friends and family in email (in addition to your FB and Twitter posts), simply state that in your comment as well, and your name will be added twice into the drawings. 

So share it on Facebook - Twitter - your email list (optional) - and leave your comment... and you're all set! 

Below are the links for you to copy and paste into Facebook and Twitter.

Are you stressed, distressed, depressed, or all three? Have you heard that help is on the way? P31 Speaker & Author Tracie Miles wants to help you find peace in God despite your circumstances. Sign up for her blog today to get involved in a journey to less stress and participate in her book release kickoff!

Tracie Miles of P31 invites you to get involved in a journey to discover the stressed-less life. Check out how at

(If we aren't yet connected in Facebook or Twitter, just click on the links!)

*Thursday's upcoming post:    They Said It Would Happen..... And It Did (postponed until June 12th so everyone can have a chance to enter who wants to!)

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