I Missed My Turn but I Didn’t Miss God by Becky Keife

Do you believe it’s okay to fail? If you asked me, I’d be quick to say, “Yes! Failure is a part of life. Failing means you’re human. Failure is an opportunity for learning. Failing means you tried.”

But turns out, what I know is true doesn’t always translate into how I feel.

Recently I messed up. I was talking on the phone while driving (yeah, I know) and I missed a turn. I didn’t realize my mistake until much too late. So late in fact that by the time I turned around, backtracked, and made it to my appointment, I was told that the doctor could no longer see me. The appointment I had waited months for. The appointment I had taken time away from work and arranged childcare for.

I stood in front of the receptionist, flustered and sweaty and desperate to turn back time, and I started to cry. Tears of frustration and embarrassment. And also tears of shame. But as I drove home, silently wiping tears and berating myself for my mistake, I realized that my response was less about the inconvenience I caused and more about what I believe:

I believe I shouldn’t make mistakes.
I believe I should always be focused and timely and efficient.
I believe a string of bad nights’ sleep shouldn’t affect my clarity of mind.
I believe failure is an indictment on my character.

As I type these words though, I can name for myself all their slippery slopes and half-truths. I would never believe these things for you.

But sometimes it takes missing a turn and crying in front of a stranger to realize you’ve got some work to do in the department of self-kindness.

Self-kindness doesn’t mean making excuses or justifying poor behavior. But it does mean making space for mistakes. It means acknowledging that you’re human. Perfectionism is a myth. Performance-based living is soul-crushing. So why do we live like a mistake-free existence is the ultimate achievement?

I drove to my mom’s house to pick up my kids. I thought I had collected myself, but as I sat on a little stool while my mom putzed around the kitchen, the flow of tears started again.

“I just feel so stupid,” I confessed.

My mom hugged me and affirmed that failures big and small can just feel plain devastating. Then she made me a plate of sausage and sweet potatoes.

Space to cry. To be held. Loved. Fed. Those were gifts I wouldn’t have received if I hadn’t missed that turn and seemingly messed up my whole day.

And this is the beauty of God: He loves us at all times, and He works in all things for the good of those who love Him (Romans 8:28) — not just on the days when we have our ducks in a row and everything goes as planned.

Today I want to hug the me from that day and tell her that she is no less valuable or loved because she messed up. Today-me knows that appointments can be rescheduled and God’s mercies are new every morning. I cannot miss His love. 

For more reminders that your limitations don’t disqualify you from God’s love and kindness, check out Becky’s upcoming book The Simple Difference, available now for preorder.

This article first appeared on (in)courage. You can find the original article here.

I Missed My Turn but I Didn’t Miss God (incourage.me)

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Correct Tire Pressure

I’m starting this post by asking a favor of you. Will you please tell a friend, someone who needs a bit of weekly encouragement, about my writing? If they are inclined to subscribe to this blog, send them to the link below and ask them to follow the instructions on the left side of the page. I will not share their email address. Like you, they will begin to get my weekly essays via email every week.

 Smoother Sailing | How to’s from the Big Book (wordpress.com)

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And now on to my somewhat silly story…                

Our car monitors various items of safety, displaying messages as needed. Last week, “Correct Tire Pressure” showed up on the screen.

“Well,” thought my misinformed husband, “how nice of them to give us that bit of encouragement!” Upon further reflection, of course, he realized the word “correct” was being used as a verb, not an adjective, as a warning, not as a compliment.

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The Mystery and Miracle of His Might by Rachel Kang

In the middle of the night, when all is dark and all is calm, and I am tired and trying to hold open my heavy eyes, I behold my newborn son and gaze down upon his small silhouette, his little life. In the darkness, I feed him. I change him. I burp him. I cradle him. I lull him. When I am done and simply stay there to hold him, I feel his hand on mine. Holding my finger, he grasps to keep me in his grip. And though he is but two months old, his hold on my hand is unbelievably strong, and it is both a mystery and a miracle to feel the cling of his clutch wrapped around the thin of my finger.

One year ago, when the pandemic put a pause on the world, I found myself announcing that it did not put a pause on God’s plan for my family, for life swelled and swirled within me. It was a gift, even in the middle of so much grief. And I could not have known then that when I chose to name the child within, he would really live up to the meaning of his name — that even at two months old, he would show himself to be small but strong.

Aaro is his name. Of all the different variations of meaning his name holds, “mountain of strength” is the one we chose because we want for him to see himself just as a mountain — to see and know he is not a small or hidden or helpless thing.

On a day like today when I am thinking about the mystery and miracle of might showing through the smallness of my son, I cannot help but hear hope for the here and now: Those of us who feel small and insignificant and unseen are, in fact, seen and loved greatly by the One who created the greatest galaxies.

He sees us for who and how we are and shines through us with a strength we could never imagine ourselves.

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Refreshed by Beth Smith

The York Candy company once ran a series of commercials, each beginning with the words, “When I bite into a York Peppermint Pattie, I feel…” followed by images of extreme refreshment—like falling into a pristine pool on a hot summer day. While I love Peppermint Patties, the refreshment I get from God is even better.

Refreshment can mean relief, and God gives us relief from sin. “Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord” (Acts 3:19).

Sometimes when we say we need refreshment, we mean we’re desperate for renewed strength. The Bible promises us that as well. “But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:31).

Maybe the refreshment you’re looking for stems from some other need. Still covered! Philippians 4:19 promises that, “my God will meet all your needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus.”

The help, the refreshment we need, often comes from God’s Word. Once I was very nervous about flying to Europe. I prayed about it, but I was still really scared. Here’s the Bible verse that freed me from fear. “Even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast” (Psalm 139:10). God helped me with his Word, and I was refreshed! He’ll do the same for you. Tell him what you need, and the expect him to come through.

Part of the refreshment God gives us comes from a renewing of our minds and bodies as we submit to him. Paul wrote, “And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:1-2 NLT). Note, please, that our part is to submit to God. His part is to change us, to refresh us, to supply our needs.

Next time you are refreshed, whether by a mint, or a cool drink of water, or even a nice long nap, think about the ways God refreshes you. Praise him. And keep on going to him—reading his Word, spending time in prayer, submitting to his ways, choosing to trust—for refreshment every day.

America

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I asked friends what they’d like for me to write about in the coming year. (It’s not too late for you to weigh in on that!) Here’s what one dear friend told me,

Brenda, I’d love to get encouragement on the situation in America. As believers we know God is in control but at the same time it can be disheartening.

Of course, she made the most important point right there in her comment: God is in control. Some have dubbed 2020 the worst year in history. I have to question that. What about world wars? Bombs dropping overhead so often that adults headed for bomb shelters on a regular basis, having already sent their kids off to a safer place? What about illness before antibiotics, or surgery before antiseptic? What about living—right now—in a place where your only source of water is a three mile walk away, and full of deadly contamination at that? (And if you Google “Worst Year in History,” you’ll get all sorts of depressing descriptions of the past.)

We have not just lived through the worst year in history. And, if Steve were writing this, I expect he could convince you, far better than I, that there have been many worse years, politically and otherwise, in America’s history.

So, my first point of encouragement is this: God has gotten us through worse.

Ah, but you might say, “People died in those bombings, and from the lack of clean water and good medical care.” Yes, that’s true. It is a fallen and painful world. I hate that. And I hate the hate I’m seeing, something also far from new. Did you go to a high school like mine where race wars began under the bleachers at the football games?

But, my second point is this: This is not our home, and there is little hope for any of us who forget that. (Cue Steven Curtis Chapman, a man who knows what heartache is, here). In pain or in comfort, we have to remember that we are not home yet. We are here to glorify God and to serve those he puts in our path. Sometimes we’re better at that in times of hardship.

Better in times of hardship. Don’t you wish we could ignore that fact? I’ll bet plenty of Bible heroes would have preferred a different path than the one God gave them. But not in retrospect. Paul and Esther and Joseph and Jesus knew God used what they would not have chosen. Ditto Corrie Ten Boom and Jim Elliot and, well, you get the picture. Even if our lives were to change into something awful, we might well be right where we belong.

Malbie Davenport Babcock wrote, “This is my Father’s world. Oh, let me ne’er forget that though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.”

Samuel Rutherford (1600-1661), said “Believe God’s Word and power more than you believe your own feelings and experiences. Your Rock is Christ, and it isn’t that Rock that ebbs and flows—but your sea.”

Our sea may look pretty stormy right now, but we stand on the Solid Rock, our only source of encouragement. Truth be told, that is enough.

Goose Down

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A little boy of particular importance said this to me last week.

“Mommy got me a new pillow. It’s made of eagle wings!”

Hmmm. Eagle wings. I had to think about that for a moment. Ahhh. He  wasn’t familiar with the term “goose down,” so his brain simply morphed those words into something more familiar. Goose = Eagle. Down = Wings.

A down pillow can be comfortable indeed. But imagine if we could all sleep on eagle wings. ‘Sounds delightful. Empowering. Full of rest, of soaring and trusting.

Come to think of it, doesn’t God offer us all of those things? Aren’t we able to go to him as the source of our power? Doesn’t he promise us rest when we trust? He even tells us about soaring on wings of eagles. And so, why don’t we, in a sense, sleep on eagle wings? I think, far too often, we all miss out.

We can rest every night in keen awareness of the delightful love of our Lord. We can begin every morning with a whispered prayer, “Lord, thank you for this day. Be in charge. Cause me to hear your voice, to know it, to trust, to obey. Empower me to do your bidding, and bring peace to my heart.”

Tonight, when you call it a day, whether your pillow be foam or down, I hope some part of you will imagine yourself cushioned by, or soaring on, eagle wings. The Lord loves you! So close your eyes and sleep on that!