Why God says, "Be Holy." @charitylcraig

“Be holy, for I am holy!”

We hear the Almighty’s voice thunder through the room. His body leaning over the table, and with every word his powerful fist pounds the table. “BE. YE. HOLY.”

We shrink back in our seats, tears spring up in our eyes, and with a shaky voice, we whisper, “I’m trying.”

Sure, we know about Jesus and the grace his death provided, but that doesn’t “let us off the hook“. Grace isn’t some “free pass ticket to live however we want, so we kneel a little bit longer, we plead a little bit louder, we scrub our heart a little bit more. With a fervent heart, we work a little bit harder, and we promise to obey a little bit better.

We feel good. We feel holy.

Except, for those days we fail, fall apart, and come crashing down. We pound our chests, we grovel, we proclaim, “I’m not worthy“. Then, after our due penance, we began again. We kneel a little bit longer, we plead a little bit louder, and we work a little bit harder to be holy. Never admitting our heart’s one question, “Why do you ask the impossible of us?”

Wait just one second. There’s something not right about this contradiction of a loving God. Maybe we’ve been playing the wrong movie reel all along. Maybe we’ve heard the tone of his voice all wrong.  That’s when I began to read those words through the lens of Love. I stepped back from His righteous anger, and said, “Let me read your words the way you said them to me.” God is love, so I must find his love in his long list of ‘dos’ and ‘don’ts’. I don’t want to feel the pounding of his fists. I want to feel the pounding of his heart. That’s when I began to hear the Infinite speak with a lot less holy indignation, and a lot more Love. Let’s try this again.

He leans across the couch, and gently wraps his arm around our shoulders, and with voice that is soft says,

Be holy. Know who you are, for you are formed in my likeness. Your DNA is my DNA. When you stare into the mirror, you stare into my eyes. Honor who you are, love who you are, because when you honor yourself, you honor me. When you love yourself, you love me. You are sacred, as I am sacred, so live a life that reflects who you truly are.

You see, I am holy, because I am fully aware of who I am, and because I understand my Infinite existence and likeness, I honor who I am. I separate myself from unloving things. I do not think, speak, or do anything that does not reflect my nature of Love.”

The lists weren’t just lists for obedience sake, and they were not created to prove how wretched our hearts are, but rather the Infinite was telling humanity who they are, how to honor themselves, and to live as He lives, but the truth of our likeness, our DNA, was kept hidden from man, so humanity awkwardly stumbled around in the darkness trying to resemble something holy.

Why God Says "Be Holy" @charitylcraig

 

Enter Jesus. He came to this earth fully aware of his identity in God. He was born without the veil over his eyes. He knew exactly who he was, and walked with upright confidence in his oneness with God. It’s in Jesus that God shows us who we are. It’s in this holy man that we can see how God views mankind. Jesus reveals who we were created to be. Then, it’s Jesus’s death that forever shattered the invisible barrier between us and God, thus flooding the hearts of humanity with Himself — forever revealing the truth of our DNA, and forever uniting us with God.

When we see ourselves for who we really are, when we get a glimpse of Love woven into the fabric of our existence, everything changes. When we see the Infinite staring at us in the mirror, when we see the Creator of all things in everyone we meet, we are forever changed, and the invisible barrier between us and God is shattered, and with confidence, we began to live a life of holy love.

Now, it’s up to us to trust the journey of understanding who we really are. We can walk with confidence as we become one with God, as Jesus was one with God.

Hear the voice of Love whisper,

“You are in me, and I am in you.

Know who you are, as I know who I am.

You are holy, as I am holy.”

Several weeks ago, I received a phone call from an old acquaintance for twenty years ago. (I know you can’t believe we’re that old. You’re probably like, “Charity! You must’ve met her in the hospital nursery!” Yeah, not quite.) As Anamaye began to share her journey of the past few years with me, my heart immediately connected with her, and I asked her if she’d be willing to share her story on camera. Now, it was one of those spur of the moment thoughts and my mouth spoke what it was thinking. I don’t know, maybe in that moment I thought I was Oprah, and I could take my Chai with Charity to a ho’ nutha level. I’m not sure what came over me, but all I knew is that the world needs to hear Anamaye’s story, and to see her beautiful heart.

Anamaye Shares Her Story @charitylcraig

So, we got together in my kids’ play room. I only have one camera, no extra lighting or mics, and I don’t have a hired camera man, but no excuses, right? We ended up talking for forever. The camera shut off twice, so we had to keep back tracking our interview and start again. It was a classic #GoodEnoughMom moment, but I’m so happy we did it. I ended up editing the video down to just the first 12 minutes, because I’m not 20/20 (yet).

Anamaye’s story is messy and beautiful. As she began to embrace her story, and recognize the beauty in the imperfect journey, Anamaye has become more and more the person she was always meant to be, and she’s now creating the life she’s longed to have. She’s brave and strong, and I love to hear her desire to help and encourage other women take the same journey to personal freedom.

She and her husband, Lucas, have recently started their own business with Rodan and Fields, and they’re are excited to see where their journey together takes them. You can find their business here,  and if you’d like to know more of her story, I know she’d love to talk with you. Feel free to hit her up for a chat. You can find her on Facebook and Instagram.

Anamaye Shares Her Story @charitylcraig

Anamaye, you’re an amazing woman, and I know one day people are going to line up around the block to hear you speak.

Thank you so much for taking the time to hear Anamaye’s story, and my very first interview. I hope you’ve been encouraged to accept and honor your messy story, and you too see the beauty in the broken.

If you haven’t downloaded my free e-book, The Secret to a Happy Marriage, please take a moment to download it. You’ll love it!

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Until next time.

I can remember trying to make my first vide. I cried. Matt and I got in a big fight when he tried to coach me on how to act natural in front of the camera, but there was something inside of me that wanted to push myself out of my comfort zone and give videos (or vlogging, as all the bloggers call it) a try.

I'm Baaaack! Chai with Charity @charitylcraig

Well, hundreds of takes later, I’ve decided I have so much fun recording my thoughts with you on camera, so I couldn’t stay away. I’m Baaaack!!

This week on Chai with Charity, I give my update on the ole book writing. When I first embarked on taking the huge undertaking of putting 78,000 words to paper, I thought, “Eh? It’s going to be like writing a hundred blog posts”, but for some reason that’s exactly how it wasn’t. I was hitting a huge mental block, and I don’t know why. I know there are those who will tell me to keep pushing, keep making yourself write that book. I’ve decided to take a different approach. I share how that book writing pot just needs to simmer a little bit longer before it’s ready, and that’s ok. It’s not like I somehow missed God’s will or something. The time is just not right now.

Have you ever tried something out and discovered maybe the time isn’t right? Share in the comments below about a time you put yourself out there, but quickly realized the timing wasn’t right. Did you trust the voice inside? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

If you haven’t already downloaded my new e-book, The Secret to a Happy Marriage, you totally should. It’s a great resource for anyone married or even single, planning on getting married. You’ll love it!

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There's no such thing as a perfect marriage, but here's the secret to a happy one! Downloaded your free e-book now!

 

I think it’s safe to say that we all plan on having a happy marriage, otherwise, if we were planning on fifty years of matrimony misery, none of us would even bother saying ‘I do’. Am I right? Sure, we know it’s going to be work, but when we have a true and lasting love like ours, well, it will never really be work.

Until…

it is work, like more work than love, and you’re more miserable than happy.

Then, being single seems a whole lot better, or maybe being married to someone better would make you happier. Maybe you really do love the person you’re married to, but you’ve grown apart, and happiness seems like a far off fantasy. This is a scary and hopeless place to be in a marriage, well, do not be dismayed, because I have a secret that can change it all around for you!

This was Matt and I several years ago, except I was too afraid to admit it, and it took the explosion in our marriage for me to figure how to be brave and find myself, but what I discovered during those dark, dark days is the secret to a happy marriage. I know it sounds cliché, but I’m serious, we can all have a happy marriage. A perfect one? No, but happy one, yes! You can find happiness right now in the marriage you’re currently in, with the person you’re currently sleeping with (or not anymore). Or even if you are looking to get married, this is for you, too, because this secret will give you an edge on your future marriage.

The Secret to a Happy Marriage ebook @charitylcraig

I wrote an e-book that I’m giving away to you for FREEEEEE! (*cue Adam Sandler in Bedtime Stories*), called, The Secret to a Happy Marriage, so if you want to know the secret, you’ll have to download it, and after you read it, please leave a comment here or email me and let me know what you think. I’d love to hear from you.

If you’ve already subscribed to this blog, then the download link will magically appear in your mailbox soon. *happy dance*

I’m super excited about this e-book, and I know you will be too, so please download it, and share it with everyone you know!

Happy Marriage!

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A little over a year ago, I was in the middle of my #GoodEnoughMom campaign, and looking to connect with other mommies I placed a small sponsored ad in a Mom’s network (that I can’t remember the name of), and when the newsletter came out, there was my ad right next to an ad almost identical to my own. Intrigued I clicked on the little box, and it took me to Crazy. Simple. Love. blog. Everything about the blog mirrored my own blog, from the message of Love to the same color scheme. We were even using the same exact blog theme that we purchased from the same designer. It was like I was staring into the eyes of my soul sister. I knew Ashley and I were destined to be friends.

Homemade Salad by Charity L Craig

This past year, she has since changed the look of her blog, but we’ve stayed connected through Instagram, and a few weeks ago she asked me if I would be a guest on her blog, and write about my health journey (oh, the irony that I, the biggest couch potato, would ever be asked to write about health). Well, I’m so honored to be over on her space today, sharing my imperfect journey to a healthier lifestyle.

Here’s an excerpt,

I think most of us live on a proverbial teeter totter, bouncing between our culture’s definition of a beautiful body image and the real world we live in. We curse the magazine racks with their perfect Photoshopped cover models, but we lament when our cottage cheese thighs won’t fit in our jeans any more, and to make ourselves forget that we don’t have a size two frame we order another Starbucks grande Caramel Macchiato, and as we sip liquid heaven we wonder why God made all the bad foods taste so good and exercise hurt so much?

Be sure to read the rest here. I also share how to make The Most Amazing Spring Salad. See, you should totally go check it out, and while you’re there check out an amazing Christian conference giveaway she’s a part of, and follow Ashley!

… … …

Thank you so much for taking the time to write the words I write. You can also find me at some of my favorite places: Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and now Youtube! Come by and let’s chat.

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Close your eyes. Now, take a deep breath — deeper. Feel your chest expand until you feel the pinch of capacity. Hold it there for just a moment, then with steady control exhale. Feel the air rush out of your body. Relax. Repeat five or six times. Focus. Feel your body breathe. Feel this moment (Go ahead, I’ll wait until you’ve finished).

Do you know what that is?

Life.

It’s your life.

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return. -Leonardo da Vinci quote

Your life is a journey. A journey that you are worthy to travel, and even though it seems like the life’s happiness comes with some mystical destination, you know, like when you’re skinnier, or richer, or have kids, or get married to the right man, or get rid of your current man, but just like the pot of gold, all those ‘somedays’ will leave you always searching, and never finding.

How should you live on this journey? Your past? Well, it’s past. There’s nothing for you there. You can never return, so now all you can do is accept it. Try it. Breathe in slow and begin to practice accepting the life of your past, because it’s on that broken road that you’ve arrived at this beautiful moment.

Your future? Tomorrow isn’t promised, and it will take care of itself. So, let’s not focus on something that is not yet in our hands.

But this moment? This very second is where life happens. It’s this moment that we must be present, breathe, and be fully alive, for it’s in this moment that all is right in your life. It’s just the way it’s supposed to be —  yes, every single broken part, and for that you must practice gratitude. You must not wait for someday to live your life. You can’t wait until everything is perfect, because life is not a destination. It’s a journey, a journey that you are responsible to walk down. Now fall in love with this journey.

Breathe in all that is good in your life. Use your voice. I am grateful for this life. I am grateful for…

Breathe out with a heart of gratitude. I am grateful for all the broken pieces of my life, for it’s in those pieces that I found my wings to fly.

Beautiful dove, you are meant to live this life wide open and with gratitude. You are meant to soar high, now it’s up to you to make it happen, because once you do, you will never be satisfied in your cage again.

… … …

I’ve added this to Holley Gerth’s weekly link-up.

Also, be sure to come connect with me through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Come by and say hi!

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There's no such thing as a perfect marriage, but here's the secret to a happy one! Downloaded your free e-book now!

 

 

When the wounds come from the unknown, when there’s no one to blame for the stabs to the heart, it can get muddy when navigating those difficult waters. This month we hear from a wounded dove who recently walked a dark journey of a loved one and cancer.

Christa and I have become online blogging friends sharing some of the same passions, like photography and writing. Even both of our roots come from Southern California. I love Christa’s honest and vulnerable words, and I know you will too.

Things Not To Say (When My Mom Gets Cancer) @csterken

 

The Wounded Dove

My phone chimed and the message read, Could you call me, please?

I immediately called my Mom. Something felt off.

Is everything okay Mom?

No, but it will be.

In that moment my world changed forever. My mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer.

I would like to say I bravely spoke words encouraging and wise. Words of hope and comfort. Instead, my body shook with silent sobs as the tears rolled down my cheeks.

As I tried to express my heart and share the news with friends, a few comments stood out. They quickly comprised the list of Things Never To Say To Someone Whose Loved One Has Cancer.

  1. Well, there are no guarantees you know. People could die anytime
  2. Well, it’s not about you, it is about your mom
  3. Well, how old is she anyway? My _______ was _____ when they died. Your mom is young.

Most words were caring and full of compassion. Those were the cradle that gathered me in when these comments stabbed through the cracks. The other comments? Not so comforting.

I wanted to scream. And scream.

The Things Not to Say @cskerten via @charitylcraig

Why would ME having feelings render me incapable to express them, without sounding like a jerk? Like they meant I don’t put my mom’s well-being first?

Empathy overtook me. It’s crushing during these trials. For all of the people I love and for how this would impact them. Wishing, desperately wishing, I could shield them somehow.

Yet, I am the one huddled alone on the closet floor; feeling guilty for daring to express my heart need of wanting to go home. To my mother. To do something practical to help and keep my sanity.

I am from her body. I am her daughter. We are forever connected in a way possible only by that bond.

It is unique. And it matters. It is not either/or. My needs vs. someone else’s. This or that.

There should be no tsk, tsk for a grieving daughter. For if her mother wasn’t her primary concern, there would be no tears at all.

No fear of what her mother would soon endure.

No sorrow for what she, as a woman, will lose.

Every mile feels like broken glass. Impossible to navigate safely, but necessary to come out alive. Surviving the crash of cancer.

Just hug me and let me express. Don’t offer words that are meant to encourage but fall flat or make me feel like a selfish jerk.

I am a 44 year old woman. Who leads and manages a life; reduced to a whimpering terrified little girl who doesn’t want to lose her mommy.

Helpless.

My husband incapable of offering me what I need; I see it in his discomfort. My kids unsure of how to approach me, when their strong mother suddenly has tears streaming down her face during a family game— that was full of laughter but a few minutes prior.

My necessity to be broken, conflicts with my natural role as protector.

Agreeing with the internal conflict that has always been there, of feeling like my mom’s protector.

She does not want this from me, never asks, but it is there nonetheless.

I feel furious that I am not free to shout, I AM SCARED.

I LOVE MY MOTHER. I NEED TO EXPRESS THIS. I AM NOT THINKING OF MYSELF OVER ANYONE ELSE.

But of course, in the dark moments, I am.

Thinking of her soothing arms around me, whispering “sweetie pie”. And worrying I will never feel hat comfort again. The comfort of my mother.

No one tells you how to cope with your mom having cancer.

When she has two sisters. One lived. One died. Both had breast cancer.

I called her a week later. Two sentences in, she stopped me, Christa, you aren’t ok!

The dam burst and I became a daughter. Free to cry to her mother every fear and frustration and hurt feelings of being misunderstood.

And her words felt to me reminiscent of my childhood. Remembering being sick and her hand rubbing the hair off my forehead, smoothing.

Her voice smoothing. Soothing.

And it felt better.

Like we could be in this together.

I am a terrible liar. My emotions are raw and visible on my face for the world to see. Pain and joy share space and it are impossible to hide, or fake my way through life.

And that is ok, you know?

Life has pain. We need to allow ourselves, and people in our world, space to feel it. Knowing that after every storm comes the promise of a new morning.

I am smiling today. Soon, I’ll go home to help care for my mother during her recovery. It will be hard and surely the tears will come in the darkness when I know she suffers.

But the sun will rise and we will too. Fighters rising from the ashes of heartache; our tears having washed clean the smudges of yesterday.

She is my mother and I am her child. Age and time and distance never alter that. So I will go, and this time? When my mom feels sick, perhaps I will gently smooth her hair back.

Reminding her she is stronger than she knows. And God will remind me, as He always does, that I too am stronger than I know.

Because He is the giver of morning mercies and the life preserver that brings us through the storm.

… … …

Christa Sterken has a passion to  encourage others  to live with intentionality and CS14b sqgratitude.Noted for being a gentle truth teller, she is honored to be motivator, challenger, and co-traveler with readers. Created to learn lessons as an active participant, she shares the journey transparently with others.  Christa is wrapping up her last years of homeschooling, and excited to see where God leads her next steps.  She blogs at www.christasterken.com and loves to hear from readers at writeme@christasterken.com

The Wounded Dove

Thanks for taking the time to read this guest post. I’d love to stay connected with you through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Come by and say hi!

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There’s a holy hush over the earth. Christians and non-Christians, alike, are darkening church doors to pay reverence for the most famous death in history, a death that split time and created a new religious movement. Every year, thousands travel a pilgrimage to a Holy City, just to experience that sacred moment in their hearts. Sure, only days following there will be a celebration of a resurrected life, but there’s something about the death of divinity for the sake of mortals that brings a wave of hushed awe.

I think most of us feel guilty about the death of Jesus, as if, after thousands of years dealing with screwed up humanity, God decided he’d had enough, and in some passive-aggressive sense of obligation, he came to earth to clean up our debauchery and filth.

God, The First Godfather + Good Friday @charitylcraig

Then, to his bad kids, said, “There, are you happy now? I made a way for you to grace my presence. Now get it right.” Sigh. Eye roll.

Except there’s more to this love story. There’s a foundation of love in this story that’s as strong as death. A love that burns like a blazing fire, like a mighty flame, and this passionate love is established in ancient times with a bloody pagan ritual and a man named Abram.

We all understand promises. We’ve all made one or two in our lifetime. I’m sure we’ve even signed a contract that states that if either party betrays their part of the contract, legal action will take place, like a repossessed car or a lawsuit, but there’s a greater commitment between two parties, one that’s more than a promise and a handshake. It’s an ancient and bloody pagan ritual called a covenant. Now, when two men decided to go into covenant with one another, they committed the rest of their lives to the other person, as in, they were united as one, serving one another — death being the only release from the covenant. The best way to think of a covenant is our modern day Mafia. Once you’re in, you’re in for life. Except, if I’m going to trust you to have my back for the rest of my life, then I’m gonna need more than a, “I promise, dude.” Ancient people understood something, “the life of all flesh is its blood.” So, to prove your commitment for life, you were gonna have to put some skin in the game — like blood.

There are ancient documents that tell accounts of when two men who decided to go into covenant with one another, to make the covenant binding, they would each cut their forearm, take a quill, drink the other’s blood from the incision, and then write his name in blood on a document. Once both had drank and signed, they would each wear an identical copy of the covenant in an amulet around his neck for the rest of his life. They would live the rest of their lives in service of one another, and committing to shed his own blood if he broke his covenant.

God, The First Godfather + Good Friday @charitylcraig

Many times animal sacrifices would be used. They would slit the throats of animals until their blood flowed together, and each party would walk through the blood, calling on pagan gods for blessings. Curses would be declared on the one who ever betrayed the covenant — the curse declaring, just like the animals shed their blood for this covenant, so the same would be required of the one who broke his end of the deal.

Today’s Italian Mafia be like, Fo’get about it.

When the Sovereign God called a pagan man to represent all humanity, and promised this childless man children that were too numerous to count, and He would call them His people, Abram said, “prove it.” So, when God asked for the blood of animals, Abram knew exactly what was about to go down. Abram was familiar with the custom of a blood covenant. This covenant pretty much established God as the original Godfather (Hahaha. Yeah, I cracked myself up on that one).

Abram laid the animals across from each other, the blood from their sliced throats flooded into one stream. Abram was ready, 100% committed to walk the bloody path. He waited, shooing away the vultures. As night came, Abram felt a dread come over him. I can’t prove it, but as he slipped off into a troubled sleep, I’m sure Abram’s heart thought God wasn’t not going to show up. God wasn’t going to keep his end of the bargain, and put some skin in the game (Genesis 15:8-21).

Only, this Sovereign God’s pause in the darkness of the night was a pause of compassion, because “He knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust” (Ps 103:14). God knows our weaknesses more than we do. He formed our humanity, and understands our limited capabilities. He understands.

As Abram slept his troubled sleep, God walked that bloody path alone. God sealed the commitment of the covenant with himself. Alone. God declared that night standing alone in the sticky heifer blood, Whether I break this covenant, or whether you — humanity, break this covenant, it doesn’t matter, I take full responsibility for both of us. I accept the curse. I will pay for the broken covenant with my own blood.

Thus, he placed the required payment of blood for betrayal on himself, establishing that we have never been responsible. There’s no letting us off the hook, because we were never on the hook to start.

This Easter season, listen to the Sovereign God whisper to your heart:

“Do not be afraid, Abram (humanity).

I am your shield,

your very great reward.” (Genesis 15:1)

So, as you stand in your quiet reverence, as your heart ponders the death of the Son of God, let your heart ignite with the same burning passion He has for you, let yourself feel the beat of his heart pound incessantly for you. Let Love be your shield, your great reward, because Jesus’s death was never your responsibility. You were never the one who was supposed to walk that bloody path.

… … …

Thank you so much for taking the time to write the words I write. It means a lot. You can also find me at my favorite places to hang out: Facebook, TwitterInstagram, and now Youtube! Come by and let’s chat.

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It’s one more Chai with Charity! I’m actually putting my video series on hold for the time being, so I can focus on the next chapter with The Wounded Dove. I’ve decided to write a book. Even though some people seem to be able to spit out books like it ain’t no thang, but for me it’s a big deal, and it’s taking up all my brain capacities, so I’m taking time off this video series.

This is a link up with my girl, Jen, at JVKom Chronicles. I love you, Jen!

Also, check out Jeremy Cowart’s inspiring video here.

 

JVKom Chronicles

Thanks for taking the time to watch this video. I’d love to stay connected with you through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Come by and say hi!

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There's no such thing as a perfect marriage, but here's the secret to a happy one! Downloaded your free e-book now!