There is a lot to fill you in on from the past few weeks, so I’ll try to make this short and sweet and to the point. Warning: some of these updates are important in life, others are just ’cause I need to tell someone!

Quick Updates:

TWICE now- my alarm has NOT gone off on the day of a speaking event. TWICE. One time it actually jumped time zones, so I woke up an hour early (much better than not going off at all, but still…) iphone 6- WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?

Two weeks ago, I spoke at an awesome MOPS group on overcoming shame for moms.

One week ago, I spoke at an amazing women’s bible study about overcoming shame for women.

Last weekend, I was one of four speakers at the Redbud Writer’s Guild Retreat. Some of the most brilliant and creative women across the country were there (including the wife of the man who saved President Reagan’s life–like actual history was in front of me), and it was an incredibly energizing time.

Yesterday, I walked around Target with these funny glasses on that filmed my shopping habits. I received a $20 target gift card for doing so. And if you’re wondering, NO. The gift card is not my latest giveaway because I will always hoard all target gift cards. FOREVER.

And totally random sidenote: if you are interested in a GREAT read on St. Patrick, go to today.

Now, to the point…
Mine was the closing session at the writer’s retreat, on the Redbud’s theme verse for the year.
(I’ll put it in green for ya’ in honor of St. Patty):

Theologian N.T. Wright writes, “The confidence Paul has throughout this letter is that God himself is a ‘finisher’ as well as a beginner.” 
In other words, He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. 
Paul’s joyful prayer for his beloved church plant, his co-laborers in the gospel, is this: that their love would abound. As my friend Catherine taught at the retreat- abounding in love is to be overflowing, chock-full of, and infested with love. It’s not only a love of the emotions; it’s also a love that impacts our minds, as well as our behavior–a love that grows in knowledge, insight, and the ability to live a pure and blameless life. 
When I was speaking to the MOPS and women’s groups, I asked both to come up with a definition/ example of “shame.” At each session, I was reminded me that sometimes our biggest shame-triggers are those expectations (real or imagined) that others place on us. We feel we aren’t living up to some elusive wow-factor as moms, or wives, or friends, or daughters, and then we begin to question our worth as moms, or wives, or friends, or daughters. 
The truth is we don’t have to live up to anyone else’s standards. In fact, the gospel is that we can’t. We can’t even live up to God’s standards–but Jesus, who upheld all standards, offers himself to us. 
We are able to abound in the love Paul is praying about because Jesus is love and has first loved us. 
We are capable of growing in knowledge and depth of insight because His Spirit is at work in us.
We have the capacity to discern what is best and pure and blameless because He who is best and pure and blameless has begun a good work in us.
So today, in as much authority as I have to do so–I am wearing green, so that gives me some street cred– I give you permission to let go of the false expectations of others and to let go of shame. 
In their place, may you abound with Jesus– your Beginner and your Finisher– who is faithful to complete you. 

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