May 3, 2018

5 Things We Sometimes Have To Do Before We Feel

My sweet daughter has someone she needs to forgive.

She knows she has to do it, but hurt is digging in deep.

The other day, she asked me, "If I forgive, but I don't want to and I don't feel it, does it count?"

I told her it absolutely counted, if she was doing it because she wanted to be obedient to God. I told her that sometimes—maybe most of the time
you do forgiveness first and feel it later. Sometimes a lot later.

When we're walking in faith and trying to become more like Jesus, we have to do what we don't want to do. We can't count on our feelings to motivate or guide us, because they can't always be trusted. Jeremiah 17:9 (CSB) is mince-no-words clear about the dependability of the source of our feelings: "The heart is more deceitful than anything else and desperately sick—who can understand it?" 


Does this mean our feelings are always wrong? Does this mean we should always deny or disregard them? Of course not. God, the perfect Creator Who makes no mistakes, designed us with feelings in all their complexity.

But there is some truth to the advice, "Fake it till you feel it." Sometimes, we have to act in right ways before our emotions catch up.

I struggle with finding a balance here, because I never want my children to think they have to put on a certain persona in order to be loved by God. But I also try to teach them what I'm still learning myself: obedience to God cannot 
be based on what I feel, which changes. It has to be based on Who He is, which does not.

Here are five areas of our lives that sometimes call for the doing before the feeling kicks in.

Love. First on the list because everything else worth doing or feeling grows out of it. God is big on love in action: "Dear children, let's not merely say that we love each other; let us show the truth by our actions" (1 John 3:18 NLT).

Real love is a choice we have to make every day, many times throughout the day. Love often does before or in spite of how it feels. 

Forgive. If we love at all, sooner or later (usually sooner), we're going to have to forgive. Anytime we're close enough to someone to love them, we're also close enough to hurt them and to be hurt by them. And this hurt requires forgiveness. 

God minces no words in His Word about the priority of forgiving: "if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins" (Matthew 6:15). But because feelings of hurt and betrayal are so often tied to what needs forgiving—and because these are such powerful, lingering emotionsthey're often what we feel. Forgiveness, then, has to be done in spite of these and in the midst of them. 

When my daughter asked me about this, I told her, "Forgiveness has to look like something. Sometimes, you do it first and feel it later." I encouraged her to pray and ask God what forgiveness would look like in the particular situation she was facing. Would it look like praying God's blessing on this person? Would it look like being willing to talk to this person? Would it look like getting a mental grip on negative thoughts about this person and deliberately rerouting her mind away from those thoughts? Whatever forgiveness might look like, I counseled her to do it without waiting for her feelings to prompt it. (I know...easy for me to say.)

Worship. I went through a season in my life when I did not want to worship God in the assembly; I did not want to worship Him in the gathered body of Christ at my longtime local church home. I'd been part of the worship leading team for a long time, but some changes beyond my control left me feeling hurt and resentful. I carried that hurt and resentment into the sanctuary on Sunday mornings and clutched it to me. I withheld from God the praise and honor He was still entirely worthy of. Finally, I sensed Him gently but firmly asking me, "Elizabeth. Will you worship me no matter what?" 

Once I decided the answer was "yes," I still had to fight emotion that did not miraculously go away overnight. Praise was still a sacrifice. I had to set aside my self-centered feelings (which I knew God still cared very much about) and reorient my thoughts and actions toward the Object and Subject of my worship.

Pray. Prayer is simply talking to God...which is great, except that sometimes, I don't particularly want to talk to Him. Those "sometimes" include but are not limited to: when I don't like what I think He's trying to tell me; when I'm angry at Him (yes, I'm that kind of Christian); when I'm just worn out. If you're thinking these look suspiciously like ALL THE TIMES, you're right. All the more reason I have to force myself to pray anyway. This is where the prayer P.A.T.H. I follow (praise God, admit my sin, thank God, and ask for help) is so useful; it shows me a way to go to God that isn't dependent on my feelings. Often, I start in rote ritual along this path
saying the words and thinking the thoughts in robotic or resigned fashionbut find that my heart and emotions have joined the journey by about the halfway point.

Rejoice with those who rejoice. I really hope I'm not the only person in the world who struggles here. There's no way for this not to be ugly, so I'll just say it: a lot of times when something good happens to someone else
especially when it's a "something good" I wish would happen to meI don't feel particularly happy for that person, and I most definitely don't feel like celebrating with them. (I told you this was ugly.) Jealousy and envy are what I feel, but what I need to do is say, "I'm so happy for you!!!" and send congratulatory messages and balloon emojis. Not to put on some fake act, but to live beyond myself, to do right for right's sake, to put others first.

Amy Carmichael, m
issionary to India, said, "My feelings do not affect God's facts." I'm so thankful for this. I need God to be steady and unchanging and sure and constant. And the fact is that God tells us to love, forgive, worship, pray, and rejoice with others whether we always feel like it or not. 

The beauty, though, is that when we sacrifice our desires
or lack thereofto Him and choose to do obedience, we usually find the truest feeling of all: the joy of Abba's favor.

*   *   *   *   *   *   *   *
I'm so honored and grateful that this post was featured by Aimee Imbeau on the Grace & Truth link party. This post may also have been shared at some of these link parties.

Grace and Truth Link-up

April 23, 2018

Gluten-Free (Or Not) Sour-Cream Snickerdoodles

My dad and I have an arrangement: I keep him supplied in gluten-free cookies, and he keeps me supplied in home-repair services.

The other day, he came over and fixed the hinge-thingy on my storm door, and I gave him a tin of these cookies. 

It was a new recipe, but I was already pretty sure he'd like them based on the feedback I'd gotten from my quality-assurance testing panel: my teenage daughter and myself. We liked them so much, in fact, that we nearly quality-assurance tested my dad right out of the entire batch. 

If you, like me, are home-repair challenged but know your way around a kitchen, maybe you'll want to barter a batch of these for a new door hinge-thingy or something else that needs fixing around your house.

Gluten-Free (Or Not) Sour-Cream Snickerdoodles {print}

2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour blend for baking (you need one with some xanthan gum in it...I love Krusteaz) OR 2 cups all-purpose regular flour OR 1 cup AP flour plus 1 cup cake flour)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg (freshly grated will change your life)
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 cup butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup shortening
1 cup sugar
6 tablespoons sour cream
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
cinnamon sugar (about 1/4 cup sugar plus a couple teaspoons cinnamon)

Mix the dry ingredients together. Cream the sugar, butter, and shortening together until light and fluffy. (I wouldn't even try this without a hand mixer, but I'm wimpy that way.) Beat in the egg, sour cream, and vanilla, followed (gently) by the dry ingredients. If you have time, chill for an hour or up to a day. 

When you're ready to bake, heat your oven to 350 and grease a cookie sheet or line it with parchment paper. Roll your dough into about 3/4" - 1" balls and roll without restraint in cinnamon sugar. Place on cookie sheet and, if you've chilled the dough, flatten ever so slightly. Bake for 8-10 minutes until cracked and slightly springy in the center. Cool on cookie sheet for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool complete. Protect from passing teenagers if you hope to have any left for later. 

Store, if you get that far, airtight. Makes a couple dozenish.

**This post may have been shared at some of these link parties.**

April 19, 2018

Why I'll Keep Doing Things For My Kids That They Can Do For Themselves

A few mornings ago, I made pancakes for my high school freshman.

The night before, she'd asked me, “I was wondering—and it’s totally fine if you say no—but I was wondering if maybe you could make me oatmeal pancakes for breakfast tomorrow?”

I could. And I did.

Of course she could have made her own breakfast. She does, in fact, make her own breakfast other mornings when I can’t and don’t.

She didn’t actually need me to make her breakfast that day, but doing it for her smoothed out the edges of a morning that was headed toward rough.

And after I made those pancakes, I also packed her a lunch and threw in a load of her dance laundry.

I did some things for her that she can do for herself.
I made life a little easier for her.

I babied her.

And I know I’m not “supposed” to do these things. I know I’m supposed to teach my kids to fend for themselves, to be independent, and, most of all, not to need me anymore.

But here's why I'll keep doing these things for them, while I still have the chance...


**This post may have been shared at some of these blog link parties.**