Category Archives: Joy

Identity Crisis

It wasn’t the “who am I” identity crisis occupying my life for the last month. I’m not sitting around contemplating where I fit in this world. No, I was truly having trouble actually proving who I was.

With my license about to expire, my goal was to renew it with a REAL ID. For those of you not familiar, this is a federally compliant version of your old driver’s license needed after Sept 30, 2020 to get on an airplane or to visit certain governmental buildings. There are strict federal laws governing each state: Anyone requesting a REAL ID needs to prove beyond a shadow of a doubt who they really are.

My problem was I let my passport expire. I read up on the items needed instead. One of them was a birth certificate. I searched my house for weeks trying to find a document I wasn’t even certain I had. Finally, I gave up and obtained a new one from the county where I was born.

As women, we also have to prove our name change for every driver’s license. So I packed up my marriage license, my birth certificate, social security card and proof of my address before heading out to the DMV. Yet, I was still rejected because I brought my marriage license not a certified copy of my marriage certificate. Never mind this was the very document I used years ago to change my driver’s license, my passport, my social security card, all my bank accounts – you get the idea. The DMV’s logic seemed circular to me, but I did all that in a pre-911 world when I guess the government was more lax about my identity.

I was upset leaving the DMV for not even thinking about obtaining a state issued copy of my marriage certificate. I didn’t think the bar would be so high to prove I am me. Despite this huge frustration, I also was thankful God knows who I am, he has welcomed me into his family and no matter how many names I have, he has only one for me: daughter.

Yes, I was in the midst of an identity crisis of biblical proportions, but also felt God giving me a lesson about who he is and who I was called to be – his! Scripture clearly conveys God’s heart for the poor, the oppressed, the orphaned and yes, the rejected. He treasures those of us who have been rejected and made a way to adopt us into the family of God. He never wants us thinking we are left out any longer. Daughters, heirs of God, don’t whine and beg; they pray and believe in God’s love, power and affection.

My identity is firmly established in the finished work of Christ on the cross. His overwhelming victory gives me a place at his table of grace. 1 Peter 2:9 remind us: But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. (NIV)

Approaching the clerk at the DMV, I was filled with anxiousness and fear of rejection. But when I approach the throne of God’s grace, I am assured of God’s welcome and loving embrace. I will always be his forever, no matter what. That thought leaves me speechless, but in a totally different way than I was at the DMV. My wordless response there was of anger and disappointment that I had failed to prove who I was. Accepting my identity in Christ leaves me speechless in humble, yet awe-inspiring gratitude.

As an heir of Christ, I have nothing to prove – not even who I am – and all of eternity to live out that identity.

Let Go of Failure! Move forward! Live boldly!

“What do you mean?” My voice quivered that morning and I’m sure my eyes had that deer in the headlights look. The customer service agent was patient as she explained once again. “You booked your flight for 9PM instead of 9AM.” Again, I just stared at her. Mistakes like this don’t happen to me. I’m careful, I’m cautious and I double check everything. Then I remembered – that night I spent hours searching for a low airfare. When this one popped up on my computer screen, its low price entranced me and I booked it. In my haste, I didn’t check the actual departure time.

A line of impatient customers formed in back of me while I held back tears. Fortunately, the customer service agent offered me a solution. She would check my luggage and put me on the wait list for the next flight. A glimmer of hope, which was immediately dashed when she said, “This is a popular destination. Most of today’s flights are overbooked. You still might not get out until 9PM. Good luck.”

Walking towards my gate, a torrent of tears flooded my face. I felt utterly defeated, stupid and shamed. I failed. Disgrace poked holes in my confidence. My tears grew stronger. How did I let this happen? How would I explain my failure to my friends who were expecting me at noon and not midnight?

Entering the waiting area, a torrent of wetness flowed down my face. I heard God whisper, “Let it go! Give it to me.” My heart answered, “I can’t, Lord. I’m trying to, but I can’t release my failure.” For a few minutes, I wrestled with God. I was so deeply engrossed in telling God how I couldn’t surrender this fiasco to him, I almost missed the gate agent calling my name over the intercom. Moments later, with a boarding pass in hand, I was still berating myself for this misstep. Yet the tears had subsided and I understood more fully why God was telling me to liberate my inadequacies.

This side of heaven, we will never have total victory, but we will have some. Each and every day, God is transforming you, changing you, remaking you in his image. Paul wrote to the Philippians, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).

My bigger mistake was not handing my failure over to the God who loved me enough to say “let it go.” In that airport, instead of crying, I should have handed my broken scars back to my heavenly Father. Let go of my insecurity and taken hold of my true identity as a child of God. Let go of my shame – of the feeling no one would love me just the way I am – and taken hold of the grace God was offering me.

When victory, even a small one like this, becomes yours, celebrate them! Don’t miss them as I almost did that day beating myself up for my failure. Seize the victories. Rejoice! Move forward and off of those self-deprecating thoughts. Don’t let failure overcome your heart – celebrate the times when victory is yours!

Celebrate the times when life hands you victory out of defeat.

Celebrate when you didn’t answer a curt word with one of your own.

Celebrate when you forgot the milk at the grocery store and didn’t call yourself a failure.

Celebrate when you didn’t yell at your kids or your husband for leaving their stuff cluttering the living room.

Celebrate the time taken just for you to gain perspective on the day rather than enter it feeling defeated, dragged down and disgusted.

Live boldly knowing God honors your progress and offers grace for the times you fall short.

Stop feeling you’re not good enough, not smart enough, not lucky enough, or just not enough, period. Let go of the feelings that sabotage your confidence, move forward into the arms of God and live courageously knowing God has taken hold of you. Then boldly celebrate all the small victories in your life.

Overcoming the Winter Blues

I dread winter – even living in southern California. Oh, I know my situation has changed dramatically since moving from the harshness of the season in the upper Midwest, yet I still hate being cold.

How I wish I could return to the love of winter I felt as a youngster. I’d eagerly anticipate its arrival mostly because I loved ice skating on the outdoor rink created on a nearby park’s frozen football field. I’d love when fresh snow fell and the world seemed subdued, quieter, more unhurried somehow. As a child, when we drove a long distance in the car, my father always gave my sister, brother and I a blanket to snuggle under. Those things were heaven on earth when I was in grammar school.

Now when the skies turn gray and the temperatures dip, I feel everything becomes too slow and too burdensome. I don’t want rise in the morning, to free myself from the cozy cocoon under my electric blanket to launch myself into my cold bedroom. On some days, it takes all the strength I can muster to get dressed. Even here in California, I suffer with the winter blues – a general lack of motivation and direction. And I start to envy those bears that hibernate all winter.

You feel it, also, don’t you? So many of you have shared similar feelings how the dreary, chilly weather gets you down.  Trying some new things – and some older things – have helped me become more proactive when the winter blues attempt to pull me down.

Here’s a few fun ideas to put a smile back on your face despite the bone-chilling cold:

  • Select your favorite song, turn the stereo up and dance!
  • Go to youtube, download a new workout app and get your blood pumping a little faster.
  • Read an inspirational book.
  • Dust off your journal and spend some time each day writing about pleasant memories that bring you joy.
  • Take a hot shower and loudly sing your favorite worship song. Who cares if the neighbors can hear you?
  • Snuggle up to a fireplace. If you don’t have one in your home, you can find them in some restaurants, libraries and hotels.
  • Do something kind to someone else – especially if you know someone whose heart is still broken over a recent loss.
  • Visit your favorite museum or art gallery.
  • Plan your next vacation. Research the destination online or through travel books from your local library.
  • Try a new recipe. If you like it, share it with your friends.
  • Visit an indoor conservatory and marvel at the landscape under glass.
  • Make yourself a cup of hot chocolate – don’t spare the whipped cream. Then call a friend you haven’t connected with in a long time.

This is not an exhaustive list by any means. If you go to God in prayer, He has ideas perfectly suited to you and your personality. If you spend some time with Him this week, I’m sure He’ll whisper several suggestions into your ear. Remember Psalm 34:17 tell us: “The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles.”

 Did you hear that – all their troubles? Yes, that includes those nasty winter blues!