Leo the Lobster: It’s TIme to Grow

I’ve been posting about changing our perspective on pressure or stress in our life. I’ve shared how pressure is for our good, our growth and a practical process inspired by a lobster to partner with pressure. I shared three examples I’m walking through with pressure from sin, wounds, and opportunity to grow.

In this post I’m sharing a story. I hope it is enjoyable and encouraging.

Leo the LobsterLeo the Lobster: It’s Time to Grow

Leo is a young lobster who lives with his Dad and Mom at the bottom of the sea.

Leo likes to swim and play. Leo loves Jesus.

One day Leo notices his shell is getting tight. Each day it gets a little tighter. It gets so tight Leo cannot play or swim.

“Mom, Dad, my shell is so tight! I feel like a giant octopus is squeezing me all the time.” Leo explains.

“You’re a growing lobster. Of course your shell is getting tight. You are getting ready to lose your shell. This is a special time.” Dad says.

“That sounds scary. I’ve never been without my shell.” Leo says. “I don’t want to be eaten by a cod!”

“You are wise to know your shell keeps you safe.” Mom says.

“Leo, you were made for this. You can only do the things you were made to do if you grow. You will learn more about who you are and your Creator, too. God loves you and He is always with you.” says Dad

“That helps a little.” says Leo, still unsure about losing his shell.

“Leo, you go into a cave. A cave no cod can get in. You will stay there until your new shell is ready.” Dad explains “We can go look for a cave tomorrow.”

Dad and Leo look for a cave. They swim slowly because Leo’s shell is so tight.  “This is a nice cave.” Dad says “No cod can get in here.” Here Leo can shed his shell and watch the other creatures swim by without being seen.

Leo doesn’t want to stay at the cave. He asks his Dad to stay with him.

“Sure I can stay with you, Leo.”

Inside the cave Leo starts to be afraid. He thinks “Maybe shedding my shell isn’t a very god idea.” Then he remembers what his Dad told him. “Leo, you were made for this. You can only do the things you were made to do if you grow. You will learn more about who you are and your Creator, too. God loves you and He is always with you.” Leo begins to climb out of his shell.

When Leo is out of his shell he is a little scared. He starts to ask lots of questions. “Is it really safe?, How long will this take?, What will it be like?, and Will I even like my new shell?”

As Leo waits he runs out of questions. Leo begins to hear the Lord, his Creator. Leo hears the Lord in verses he remembers and songs he sings. Leo begins to hear the Creator in his heart. Leo hears how much he is loved, how special he is.

Leo enjoys his special time with the Lord. He learns the Creators voice in a new way. Leo learns for himself that he is never alone. Leo doesn’t notice his shell is growing and getting hard.

One day Leo doesn’t hear the Lord in the same way he has been. Leo wonders why. He starts to get worried and upset. “God, you said you’d always be here. Where are you now?” Leo asks.

Leo hears the Lord in his heart. “I am always with you, Leo. You don’t always need to be here.” Leo realizes his new shell is all grown and hardened. He can go home. Leo can go back to swimming and playing. Leo also knows the voice of the Lord, his Creator, and His love for him like never before.

Leo swims home thinking his Mom and Dad were right. This was a special time. “The next time I start to feel that pressure I will remember it’s time to grow.” Leo was even looking forward to it.

I’m thinking of making this a children’s book. It still needs refining so I would love to hear what you think and if you share the story with a child what did they think.

What is a story you love that teaches a great lesson? Comment below.

An Invitation to Grow

Did I really just say, out loud, that I think I could teach online courses and make good money at it!?!

It’s been a swing between “I could totally do this.” And “There’s no way I could ever pull that off!”

I’m feeling pressure. Like the lobster I’m being invited to grow.

Here’s part of my process (because I’m still in it) of shedding my shell to grow… If you’re wondering why I’m talking about lobsters check out this post.

An Invitation to Grow

Humble yourself before the Lord.

Father I humble myself before you. I want to obey and honor You. I don’t want my doubts, fears, or wrong thinking to stop me from saying yes and obeying immediately.

Ask Him where the pressure is coming from.

I feel pressure to be teaching online courses. It’s a desire to make money, to be a blessing, be obedient. I feel You are telling me it is something I am supposed to do. I feel pressure because I don’t always believe I have anything to offer. Can I really charge people for sharing what I’ve learned? Can I manage to get a course done without neglecting my family, my home, and myself? Questions of my capability in so many areas. Pressure about asking my family to sacrifice for my crazy ideas. Fears of letting them, myself, customers, and most of all You down.

Shed your shell – be vulnerable and honest with the Lord

I don’t trust that I’m hearing You clearly. I don’t trust myself to follow a plan and be successful. I’m not sure about asking my family to help me.

Begin to grow a new shell. Ask Him “What do I do now?”

Continue healing your soul. Keep exploring with Me the wounds that are bringing so much pain around this. You know your healing is more important to Me than your performance. We’ll move one step at a time as you are ready.

Stay hidden in His presence until your new shell is grown

Strategy – Read the books and follow the steps for healing your soul.

Knowing to step back into His presence if you find yourself out of it – seeing your shell isn’t grown yet.

Learn the difference between fear and leading. I’m feeling pressure, some of it I need to embrace and allow it to nudge me to be brave. Some I need to cast down because it is not from the Lord. In learning to cast down the negative pressure I am also growing my shell, growing to a new level of discernment and bring my thoughts under submission to Christ. A lie or thought rooted in fear must submit.

Thank you for reading!

Please share where the Lord inviting you to grow or how your stay in His presence under pressure.

Let Pressure Push You to Healing

I’m an emotional wreck. I can’t think. I can’t hold back the tears and this intense ache.

A clear thought breaks through the suffocating emotion.

This hurts way more than it should. This is just normal teen stuff. They want to be with their friends. It’s a really busy season.

Why is it hurting so bad? What is it I’m really feeling?

I’m feeling SO rejected!

Rejection and I go way back. Way, way back. That’s why this hurts so bad. It’s time to heal.

Let Pressure Push You to Healing

I’m feeling pressure, stress, from other’s choices. I feel rejected. A crazy thing about feelings is I can feel rejection without ever having been rejected. This isn’t about blaming or figuring out who rejected me. It’s about me examining the wound with the Lord and receiving His healing so I can deal with current events as just that – current, present – not clouded and confused by past wounds.

Looking at pressure like the lobster, it’s time to grow.

  1. Humble yourself before the Lord.

Lord, I come before You knowing You want my healing, You want my heart as broken as it is. I ask You to show me my part. I submit to Your loving direction for where to go from here.

  1. Ask Him where the pressure is coming from.

Where is this intense emotion coming from?

This pressure is coming from rejection in your past.

  1. Shed your shell.
    • Identify the wound. Is there a specific memory? What is your earliest memory of this wound or this feeling?

I have so often felt rejected, not good enough for many reasons.

  • Identify any lies you believe because of this wound.

I was too sensitive, too quiet, too smart, too naïve. I am rejectable. There is something uniquely wrong with me. No one wants to spend time with me. I’m no fun.

  • Forgive anyone you need to forgive. This releases them from your judgement. It does not say what they did was okay. It also releases you from the sin of unforgiveness which leads to bitterness.

I forgive those who have rejected me including myself (you don’t need to read my list 😊). I release them and myself from my judgement. I pray blessings and the experience of the Father’s love for each of them.

  1. Begin to grow a new shell.
    • Receive healing for your wound.

Heavenly Father, I receive healing for my wounds of rejection.

  • Ask for the truth for any lies.

What is the truth?

I made you exactly as I want you to be. Being or felling rejected in the past does not mean you are rejected now. I will never reject you. You are accepted in Me and can handle any rejection or feelings that come.

  • Practice believing them, thinking them, speaking them, imagine how you would act if you believed the truth and act that way.

When I believe I am accepted by the God of the universe I can love without fear. I can see where I lack skills to handle emotions and learn them.

  • Ask Him if there is anything He would like to tell you.

Is there anything You want to tell me, Father?

I love you. I not only accept you, I chose you before time began. I paid for you with the life of Jesus. I will never reject you. Be patient and stay in the process of healing.

  1. Stay hidden in His presence until your new shell is grown
  • Ask for strategy for how to stay hidden while you grow. That may include certain songs, journal, a book, study, or a new relationship.

I am reading a couple of books, following their steps for healing and learning skills I lack. I started a Bible study for encouragement, growth, an accountability.

  • Knowing to step back into His presence if you find yourself out of it or feeling more pressure – seeing your shell isn’t grown yet

When feelings of rejection rise up I spiritually step back into His presence and His acceptance.

I would love to hear from you.

Please comment below if this is helpful.

Please ask if you have questions. Messages on Facebook are good, too.

How to Partner with Pressure

I like peace. I like easy.

As a lobster grows its shell becomes too tight putting the lobster under pressure. When life is bringing pressure on me I want it to go away. Yesterday.

The lobster follows the design of its Creator and goes to a safe place like the cleft of a rock. In the shelter of the rock the lobster sheds the shell that has become too small and grows a new, larger shell.

When life brings pressure I’m learning to take shelter in my Rock.

If I am being continually transformed from glory to glory my shell is going to frequently get too tight. I can complain about the pressure, wish it away, ignore it, and … miss out on what He has for me in this area of growth.

Instead of seeing pressure as a negative I can recognize it and say “Okay, time to grow!”. I can be intentional in asking the Lord for His strategy, His lesson, and who He wants to be for me. I want to come humbly before Him and shed my too tight shell. I desire to stay hidden in His presence as my new shell grows.

I like things cut and dry, black and white. I want to see the process as clearly as a lobster shedding one shell and growing another.  Instead I can feel pressure from many different sources for many different reasons, all at the same time. I can have multiple spiritual, mental, or emotional shells in various stages.

Knowing the time frame and the outcome – that wouldn’t require faith. Without faith I cannot please Him.

How to Partner with the Pressure

  1. Humble yourself before the Lord. This can be difficult but it is so much easier than having to be humbled.
  2. Ask Him where the pressure is coming from. I think there are three sources of pressure, each requiring unique responses.
    1. Sin/disobedience – our choices
    2. Wounds – other people’s choices
    3. An invitation for more or need for maturity – God may invite us, the enemy may attack and God will use it for our good if we are walking in His purposes.
  3. Shed your shell. Be vulnerable and honest with the Lord
  4. Begin to grow a new shell. Ask Him “What do I do now?”
  5. Stay hidden in His presence until your new shell is grown

When has being under pressure caused you to grow?

Transforming Culture Starts with Me

Jesus, you are worth it all. Every nation every soul.

Jesus, you are worth it all. Every nation every soul.

Let it rain, let it rain. Open the floodgates of heaven let it rain, let it rain.

Let it rain, let it rain. Open the floodgates of heaven let it rain, let it rain.

I can hear the sound of rain coming to America again.

I can hear the sound of rain coming to America again.

These lines are on repeat in my spirit. Almost anytime I tune in my spirit is singing these lines.

These were part of the worship by Lindy Conant at Rise Up in Washington DC. Realizing my spirit is still singing them makes me remember the moments and weep. It also makes me rejoice. God is moving in America in the hearts of His people and the hearts of those who don’t know Him yet.

In the weeks leading up to this event I felt led to start a Facebook group. I shared ways to pray and prepare our hearts for what God was doing through posts and live videos. It was a stretching and rewarding experience.

Rise Up was a historic event for me and for our nation.

Rise Up morning session

Rise Up afternoon session

Each one has a part to play. Each one starts from wherever they are with God this moment, the moment they say “Yes, Lord. Anything you ask.” Each “yes” is another step in the shift of our culture, the expansion of the Kingdom of Heaven here on the earth.

It’s time to walk out the changing of history.

We must rise up. Day after day. Situation after situation.

I’m continuing the Facebook group and opening it up to anyone who shares the passion to rise up with the Lord. I am being transformed so I can transform culture. I will share posts of mine and others I find helpful. I will do videos of things the Lord reveals to me. The rest of 2017 I will focus on being very intentional. It is crucial to steward the seeds God has planted through Awaken the Dawn and Rise Up. I invite you to share what the Lord is revealing to you in this season.

It’s fun how God works. This morning as I prayed and felt I led to continue the group. I saw how it fits with my heart and purpose for my blog. I remembered that I had the goal of creating a Facebook community to encourage you on your journey by October. Up until yesterday I didn’t see any way to possibly make that happen. The idea of taking the group that had focused on praying for Rise Up didn’t seem to fit with my blog. It didn’t seem like it would work. He made my dream happen without me realizing it, just by me saying “yes” to sharing what I felt He was telling me.

How is He asking you to rise up?

Where do you need to take a brave step?

Simple Ways to Make An Impact

You say I’m an equipper but how am I doing that? I’m not leading women’s ministry anymore. I didn’t even get a Bible study started. I want to be obedient. I want to be making an impact. I sense I’m supposed to do something big.
I don’t know what it is exactly I want to do or feel I am supposed to do. 

As I was in this place during worship asking God what I was supposed to be doing and feeling I didn’t measure up I watched my son worship with flags and dance. I watched as my son handed his flags off to another young man who had gone up front to worship. I watched as he encouraged this young man to flag, to wave the banners in praise and worship.

You equip equippers. You have taught your son to take what he knows and pass it on to those around him.

Say “Yes” in small things

Serving the Lord, partnering with Him, fulfilling our calling – none of it is as complicated as I often make it. He wants relationship. He wants my yes in small things. Small things add up to big things.

Have the conversation

I just read of a woman who went to Ireland to share the gospel because she felt that’s what God wanted her to do. As far as she could tell it was an unfruitful trip. Years later it was reveal that through a conversation she had with one man he developed a passion for the Lord and was a key figure in a revival in Ireland.

Be faithful

Washing dishes. Doing laundry. Giving your best at the same old job. It may seem a futile effort, certainly not of spiritual much less eternal importance.

How we treat our responsibilities matters. People are watching. They are touched by our example of doing all things to the glory of God. Us loving well, staying faithful, being patient, having peace.

We are all called. That doesn’t mean if we’re not Billy Graham we’re missing our calling. We simply do what God has placed before us for His glory and He is pleased. I’m saying simply, not easily but I think that’s another post.

What has He placed in front of you?
What everyday things you do please the Lord? Ask Him.

Getting to the Root of Feelings

I feel sick inside.
I have for days.
I’m working on a project very dear to me.
Something I feel God calling me to.

But I feel sick inside.

I am finally learning at past 40 to pay attention to how I feel and that how I feel physically and emotionally are connected. Maybe that’s blatantly obvious to you but I didn’t know that, not in experience anyway, not for me.

In learning to pay attention to how I feel I am also learning to take the time to figure out where the feelings are coming from. God told me this project would stretch me. The good news with that is He will show me a part of Himself I have not known before that He couldn’t show me without the stretching.

My spirit is excited.

My soul is uncomfortable.

So this sick feeling has been bothering me all week. I’ve taken moments here and there to reflect on why I’m feeling this way.

I want people to like what I’m doing, for it to make sense, for it to make an impact. In part I am nervous that none of those things will be true.

What struck me yesterday was that I have gotten feedback that all of them were true and I felt sicker than ever! What is wrong with me?!

God why do I feel this way?
Remember what I told you about this project?
Yes. I cared too much about what people think so that’s part of what the project is about. I commit to run every idea past You. Doing what You lead me to do not going after production or impressing anyone. But what about feeling worse after getting good feedback?
There’s one you’re trying to impress. One who can’t even see your work. Since you’ve made that one most important all the other feedback is empty. Including Mine.
Ouch! Papa, I’m sorry. You approve and say I’m enough. Praise from any person doesn’t matter. Sometimes not getting it hurts, though.
It does.
I grieve the hurt of not getting the feedback from one and rejoice in the feedback from many. Especially You.
You’re learning to serve an audience of One.
Is there anything else You want to say to me?

I see your hurt and I care. I’m proud of your growth. Your “yes” to stretching.

Is there an area God is stretching you? Have you asked Him what He will be for you there?

Is sorting out your feelings natural for you? Do you struggle through like me?

Total. Complete. Failure.

Total. Complete. Failure. 
These were the words ringing through my head. The words crossing my lips. The emotions feeling far too real.
While it was terrible to be there. I thankfully don’t live there anymore.
It was only a week or so ago but I’m not really sure what the circumstances were. It may have been not getting my baby to nap. (My other were sleeping well on their own by this age) It may have been engaging in a fight with my teenager. (Who’s the adult here?) Whatever it was I’m sure it was fueled by lack of sleep and unrealistic expectations. There’s always those.
I used to live there – my biggest critic, always ready to condemn. Thankfully I don’t live there anymore. I am still my biggest critic but the critic doesn’t get to beat me up like they used to.
Now I can see it’s a lie. Even if I have failed at something I am not a total complete failure.
I’ve learned to identify lies (some more quickly than others) and replace them with truth. This was a practice I learned doing Beth Moore’s study Breaking Free. It’s a very powerful study but somehow I knew I was missing something. It wasn’t working. Progress was so slow.
A few years ago I did Supernatural Mothering by Ashley Brendle and learned to bring God into the equation. Doing Breaking Free I had brought scripture into the equation. I would identify a lie and find a scripture that said the truth. As hard as I would try I felt I was trying to cover the lies with truth instead of replacing the lie with truth. Doing Supernatural Mothering I learned to reinforce what scripture said by asking God what He wanted me to know. The things that He spoke to me in those times have been the most transformational for me. It’s powerful to know the God of the universe still speaks to me. He speaks to my silly questions.
I say “God, I feel like a total complete failure. I can’t do this.”
That’s not the truth so I renounce the lie that I’m a total complete failure and I repent of believing it.
Then I ask, “What is the truth?”
He says, “You’re precious. You’re growing. You are never, ever identified by your behavior. You are My daughter, righteous by the blood of Jesus.” No failure there.
“God is there anything else you want to say to me?”
“I love you. I long for you to understand how much.”
Have you ever tried asking God to tell you the truth? Asking God what he thinks of you? He says His sheep know His voice. That must mean He speaks.
If you’ve never tried I challenge you to just say, “Jesus, what do you like about me?”
I trust you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
I’d love to hear what He tells you.
(The post What’s in My Heart is an example of replacing lies with truth with my children.)

Dealing with the Unexpected

This week marked 23 years of marriage to my high school sweetheart.

In the past year, we’ve commented many times about life not being what we expected. This week we reflected on more ways life has not been what we expected. We concluded that in many ways we didn’t even know what we expected and in other ways what we expected was not to be.

Some unexpected things brought joy.
  • Having a baby in our 40’s when we had three teens
  • Meeting strangers who become family in the grocery store
  • People faithfully giving and supporting us
  • Immediate deep connections with new friends
  • Opportunities to serve as a family
We concluded we did expect:
  • to do it together – whatever life brought our way. Here we are 23 years down the road more connected and committed than ever.
  • to love our kids and have lasting relationships with them.
  • to raise responsible adults. While we have not arrived it would appear we’re on the right track.
  • God to be faithful and He has.
Unmet expectations can derail us.

They open opportunity to accuse God or people. They also open opportunity for grief and growth.

  • Losing a son
  • Getting carbon monoxide poisoning
  • A failed business through no fault of our own
  • Strained relationships
  • Projects taking years longer than planned

Unmet expectations are really a fork in the road, a decision point.

Will we stay disappointed, hurt, or grow bitter? Or will we run to Father God with our hurts, confusion, and questions?

Growing bitter imprisons us.

Running to God opens the door for healing, grace, and new perspective.

What unexpected things has life brought your way?

When you have unmet expectations which path do you take?

Love and Trust are Not the Same

No email again today.
I guess it’s a blessing – a confirmation that I correctly assessed the situation.
We speak the same words with such different meanings.
It hurts too. Not to be important enough for the hard work of change. That they don’t value themselves enough to pursue healing. It grieves me. It makes sense. If they don’t value themselves how can they value me?
So what do I do now? Jesus has bore my sorrows so I give it to him.
Jesus this hurts. It feels like rejection and manipulation. I think it even feels like betrayal. I’ve trusted someone willing to break my trust for their comfort and say it’s my fault. I don’t want to be foolish enough to set myself up for that again. I also want my heart open to love everyone as You do. Guard my heart without hardening it.”

He responds:

Love and trust are not the same.
Love is unconditional and unearned – a completely free gift.
Trust is earned and must be rebuilt when it’s broken.

I wonder:

Is love holding the tools to rebuild? Keeping the door open to trust again when effort is made?
Trust has boundaries. The tools must be used properly. The effort has to be made.
I can love if the tools are never touched or even thrown away – if an effort is never made.
The relationship could look very different if there were trust.

What about you?

What do you believe about love and trust?
How do you go on loving someone it’s not wise to trust