Purposeful Faith

How to Find the Holy in Ordinary Trials

Holy in Ordinary Trials
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Daily life is living a grind. You wait at a light, people pass. The light turns green, you go. You hit a red light, you stop. Then, you go. So does everyone else – every minute of the day, that make up hours, that make up days, that make up weeks, that make up lives. You get the picture. But, do you?

We stop and we go, we pause and we laugh, we cry and we try again, we fear and we fret, and before we know it – that was our life.

Breathe deep.

What if you acknowledged every moment as holy?

The dog rushing out the red door? You chasing after him in 10-year old pajamas. Holy.
The disagreement with that family member?  Holy.
The homework hour with the kid who doesn’t get it? Holy.
The carpool line that makes you feel less than? Holy.
The project at work that never ends? Holy.
The preparations for another dinner? Holy.

My son screaming in agony because his stomach hurts? Me, holding the bag around his neck as the yuck came out? A night of no sleep? Sitting here, with the face of baggy eyes and an oozy head – and a day of lost work ahead – it becomes a little harder to throw this blessed word to the wind and to watch it fly. Everything is always harder when it is personal.

If God, Father of all…
is over all and through all and in all (Eph. 4:6),
then he fills all ordinary moments with holy.

If we look for God’s holiness,
we will find it.

Between grabbing the trash bag and putting it around his neck, I laid my bruised hip on the ground with a grunt (I fell down the stairs the day before).  And in the middle of one of my super-wide I-really-hope-this-is-all-said-and-done yawns – it came. The holy, the special, the heaven unzipping moment we all search for: “Mommy, thank you for loving me. Thank you for taking care of me.”  

He saw love in action.
I saw raw thanks.
It inspired me.
Holy.

What have you written off as worthless? Dead? Not important?

What you consider worthless, God considers priceless, holy valuable.

Holy valuable means that the fleeing dog
is a reminder of how God pursues you when you’re lost.

Holy valuable means your disagreement is
a humility bootcamp preparing you for big missions.

Holy valuable means homework with the frustrated kid
is your chance to illustrate grace.

Holy valuable means the carpool line is a meeting point
to find God’s unconditional love over man’s tempermental approval.

Holy valuable means you learn God is in control of the project.
You surrender; He helps you.

Holy valuable means you remember, as you prepare dinner,
Jesus prepares a room for those who serve him.

Holy valuable means 8-hours of no sleep highlights the meaning of sacrificial, deep and authentic love – and how it works.

Breathe deep.

God is not only in your big “I-need-huge-faith moments”, but he is in your little moments. The faith garnered there, is faith that launches you to bigger there’s.

Noah did what God commanded him (Gen. 6:22). He saved nations.
Daniel prayed 3 times a day (Dan. 6:10 ). He saw miracles.
Elijah followed through in what God called him to do (2 Kings 1:15). He spoke the very prophecies of God.
David got reliant on God. He conquered not only lions and bears but giants (Sam. 13:34-37)

How might God use you for big things,
if you sought after his heart, presence and promptings in the little?

Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. Lu. 16:10

Little trials are big doors that walk us right into God’s epic story, his unparalleled vision for this world. You count it momentary, he counts it monumental. You count it nothing, he counts it everything. You count it unseen to others, and he says, “Yes, that’s the point.”

Breathe deep and recognize – your ordinary moments are holy valuable.

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Are you Behind Schedule?

Behind Schedule
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I am delighted to welcome Marlinda Ireland to Women’s Ministry Monday. Marlinda’s words inspire my heart not to fret the timing but to trust the maker. This is just what I needed to hear. Welcome Marlinda!  

Have you prayed and prayed for open doors of opportunity,
but heaven is silent?

Are you tempted to act on some long-held desire?

Yet, deep down you know that the timing isn’t right. Perhaps God has not yet brought the necessary pieces of your purpose together and you’re feeling, well, stuck!

Now, it feels as if your life is behind schedule.

Let’s face it, waiting for answers from the God can be frustrating and discouraging. If we’re really honest, waiting can even make a strong woman weak. Having patience with God is especially hard in our microwave millennium.  We’re often judged by how quickly we reach the proverbial brass ring.  If you’re not married with two children, making a six-figure income, living in a five-bedroom house and enjoying all the finer things in life by age thirty-five, you’re labeled as someone who’s behind schedule.

In reality, most of us are judging our insides by other people’s outsides.

Pressure to conform to unwritten timelines set by society is intense. However, comparing yourself to others only leads to jealousy, envy, competition and discouragement. I have to admit that this was how I felt, not too long ago.

David and I married while I was still in college. However, because of our financial needs as newlyweds, I was unable to continue my education. So, the dream of being the first in my family to graduate from college was put on hold. Two years later I became pregnant with our first child, our lovely Danielle, and the dream was delayed again. Time passed and we had another beautiful baby girl, Jessica. Then, David transitioned from consulting engineering into full-time Christian ministry. So, I became the proverbial pastor’s wife. That was my title! Poof! Before I knew it, my dream was so behind schedule that catching up seemed impossible!  Please don’t get me wrong. I was grateful for our flourishing family and ministry. But, secretly, other parts of my soul were dying on the vine.

I also felt God calling me to participate in missionary journeys to other countries.  When David was away on such trips, well-meaning friends frequently asked me, “Why don’t you travel, too?” At that time, the question made me feel like I was doing something wrong…that I was not being a strong, assertive woman.  So, in desperation, I cried out for wisdom. One day, God spoke to my heart, “Marlinda, personal goals and ministry opportunities will always be around for you to nurture. However, your children will not.

Boom, it was crystal clear that our children were indeed my number one priority in that season. As David traveled, I was to hold down the fort. God was not releasing me to even leave our children with friends or family.

Still, at that time, I didn’t fully understand the principle of divine delay—how He uses them to prep us for the future. So, it was a struggle to feel content in His timing for my life. Then, just as the girls were finishing up high school and I was about to give up on these desires, opportunities for their fulfillment came into view. I felt moved to apply and was accepted into a graduate program that made allowances for people who had many years of ministry experience and several years of college. They even waived my tuition. Then, invitations to speak in the U.S. and overseas started flowing into my office. God’s blessings and timing were perfect.

The Bible declares“God has made everything beautiful in its time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Amplified Bible). Abraham, Sarah, Joseph, Lazarus all experienced divine delays.

Can you trust that God has established
a unique timeline for you, too?

Our lives are similar to fruit bearing trees.

Different kinds of fruit ripen and mature in different seasons.  Similarly, we each have a special timetable wherein we blossom and ripen into the plans of God.  The rate in which this happens is not always determined by our own efforts or schedules—it’s also based on God’s divine timing. So, perhaps, you’re not really behind schedule. Perhaps, you’re in a divine delay!

Whatever the concern, rest assured that God’s in full control!

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About Marlinda

img_0143Marlinda is a wife, a mom, Bible teacher, and a “creative.” She is the co-founder, an associate pastor and the women’s ministry director at Christ Church in Montclair and Rockaway, New Jersey.

Through all of the challenges and joys that go along with her many life-roles, the Father has etched on her soul the meaning of full-blown-surrender. It’s out of this internal imprint that she does life, loves the broken and encourages the chosen.


Are You Viewing God Wrong? (1 Attribute that Changes So Much)

self critical
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I remember. She was small, innocent, her skin was so white. It hadn’t been touched by the sun. The pink of her newly formed organs nearly showed. She was precious.

God is merciful.
Just.
Holy.
Ever present.
All-powerful.
Unchanging.
Infinite.
Wise.
All-knowing.
Sovereign.

I held her gently. I knew she didn’t have the muscle to support her neck. I supported her where she was weak. I carried her, the one unable to do more than move her little limbs.

God is refuge.
Hope.
Peace.
Mediator.
Living Water.
The Door.
Helper.

I pulled her close. I sang to her. Not just any songs, but the most special songs I had in reserve. I sang songs of her future, of her beauty and of her worth. I sang songs that tried to imply, “Mommy is here and I will never leave you.” I fed her the milk that would continue to offer her life. I wanted her to drink it all in. I stroked her cheek. I carried her close, like the greatest treasure ever.  I wanted her near.

God is tender.

We have a lot of names for God, we think of who he is in many capacities, but rarely do we consider him tender.

When we can’t walk, God carries us.
When we have no life, he feeds us.
Wherever we are, he sings over us.

Not just any song, but a song of complete love, a song of our own story – with him.

Where are weak, he presses nourishment into our heart.

Where we want more, he feeds us his best.

Where we are broken, he pulls us close.

His touch is all we need, to need nothing more – to be content.

But we were gentle among you,
like a nursing mother taking care of her own children. 1
Thess. 2:17

If man should have the capacity to be tender like a mother,
how much more does God hold that same capacity?

God is tender. Have you ever opened your heart to let him love you this way?

Have you ever looked to see how the “God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3) wants to reach out to the helplessness of you – to bless you?

Perhaps, today, you need to fall back into the arms of the Savior. Perhaps you need to know he is a God who holds you, who gently touches you, who sings over you with the most precious words of passion. Perhaps you need to know that he is not a God that will drop you. He is not a God who will hide out in the room with the TV on. He is not a God that should forget to clothe and feed you. He is not a God that should let you get ill and not care for you.

He is at your bedside, he is at your table, he is in your heart. He will not stand to do anything less than to hold you in his arms. He doesn’t hold you at an arms distance, he pulls you close.

Have you envisioned this? Have you let it sink in that God, the God of every miraculous and all-powerful quality, loves you like this?

Like a shepherd, he cares for his flock, gathering the lambs in his arms,
Hugging them as he carries them, leading the nursing ewes to good pasture. Is. 40:11

The God of passion and compassion is pursuing and adoring your heart.

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Related Reading:

When Those Who Wander Get Lost

Going with God instead of Going in Fear

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When You Long to Do Something Bad

Beauty In Imperfection
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I was in the store. I looked left and I looked right. I winked at my co-conspirator. I knew what I was going to do was wrong. Real wrong. But, I wanted to follow through. I wanted the thrill, the goods and the joy of her knowing I could do this. I grabbed the shirt and ducked in the dressing room.

Guilt followed me.

Is there something you’re doing behind the curtain?

Is there something you know you shouldn’t do,
but feel inclined to do anyway?

What is done in secret is still seen by God.

Ouch! That hurts right?  The reality is, we don’t want to stop. We want to keep going because the idea of approaching it the right way feels too difficult, emotional or vulnerable. It is hard to stop what you already have going, what you’ve already invested in. Stopping sin, sometimes feels like stopping a freight train going 100 miles an hour with your bare hand.

Just this morning, I wanted to approach something the easy way. There was a clear-cut solution to a difficult problem. I saw a direct path; it was wrong. I convinced myself it wasn’t really wrong. I counted up the ways, it could be right. I negotiated with my holy side – God can make a little allowance for this one.

God didn’t agree. He gave no peace.

“Just this once, God?”

When I try to grant permission to the wrong way,
I miss seeing God’s way –
 finding the reward at the end of the path called, “faith.”

“And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.” Heb. 11:6

Faith is believing in God so much, you do the right thing. It is deciding it is hard, but determining he will take care of you. It is believing that even without the thrill, he’ll thrill your heart. It is believing, even if you have to do it the long way, he’ll give shortcuts. It is believing, pain in the making is all about the new God is creating.

You can go the right way because God’s way always treats you right.

Provider will provide.
Lover will love.
Helper will help.
Guider will guide.
Creator will create opportunities.
Healer will heal.

When you open yourself up to God’s will pushing from behind you,
his new life-giving way opens up before you.

Will you believe by faith so you don’t walk fretting bad decisions?

Certainly, the result of one who walks by faith is being near to God. But, the lengths of God’s blessings don’t stop there, friends, he goes beyond this. He says he “rewards” the person who seeks him.

When you walk in obedience, by faith, he rewards in abundance – that very faith.

Imagine that?!  What you want, will be greater, if by faith, you let him give it to you.

Fear not.
Strive not.
Lust not.
Drink not.
Compare not.
Want not.
Steal not.
Lie not.
Worry not.

God has the best gift waiting for you.

“Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean…”  (Heb 10:22)

Let nothing come between you and the giver and sustainer of life. He has what you need. He is what you need. So,drop all that holds you back and walk towards him, unhindered, into all that he is ready to give you.

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Related Reading:

Sometimes, Failing Precedes Blessings

How to Really Fight Back using the Sword of the Spirit

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When You’re Self-Critical and Feel Unhealable

Self-Critical
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Do you hate yourself when you yell – again?
Do you want to flick your wrist when you eat those brownies you should’ve dumped a week ago?
Do you call yourself an idiot for forgetting that appointment?
Do you believe you’ll never get better, live better or act better?

Freedom can feel far.
Hope can feel lost.
Deliverance can taste like an extra-large pizza,
when you are one who berates yourself in your head.

Half my life, I’ve looked at my mistakes and asked, “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”
I say something dumb. “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”
I bump someone’s bumper with my bumper, “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”
I miss an opportunity, “Kelly, why are you so stupid?”

No wonder, one of my big fears is of being stupid. I’ve been speaking that fear into my heart for a long, long time.

What have you been speaking into your heart? Does it look – and hit – hard, like a hammer to the head or does it look and feel soft – like grace?

If you’re a heavy self-hitter, like me, listen up, because this is important: You no longer have to be hard on yourself, because the world was already hard on Jesus.

Let it really sink in. It hit him hard – and he took it.

Have you considered the weight of that? You don’t have to beat yourself up because, Jesus, the bodyguard of all bodyguards, took all your hits. He got hit so hard his flesh broke wide open.

So, while you sit and stare at your injuries, thinking, “They’ll never heal,” God says, “If I conquered the cross, surely I can conquer what plagues your heart today.”

Your brokenness is of no magnitude
that the maker of heaven and earth can’t fix it.

When you whisper, “Please God, help me, help me, help me. God, I can’t. God…God…God…”

God hears and nearly whispers, “Jesus”.

Because if you see this man on the cross,
if you see the fullness of his gift,
if you see the King,
nearly riding to death on a donkey,
in this place of poverty and powerlessness,
if you just see him,
you’ll see how he hung –
arms wide open,
for you,
the weak, wounded and restless one.

You’ll see mercy,
care
and foreknowledge,
pour out.

You’ll see his heart
to save –
both for today and yesterday.

When we see, Jesus, the man who won our freedom,
we really begin to trust his life can  save us.

He didn’t died for us yesterday,
only to give a half-hoot about us today.

When Jesus spread his arms on the cross, he welcomed our pain. He welcomed the addicts, the rapists, the depressives, the adulterers, the anxiety-prone, the controllers, the abusers, the abused and the proud. He basically says, “See me, I am reaching out to hug you, to embrace you – to receive the worst of you. Don’t forget what I’ve done. Let yourself be saved from your plague.

With this idea friends, knowing his heart, I want to be saved afresh. There is an area so wounded in me, I keep on trying to layer dirt over it. I keep trying to wrestle it down in my own mind. I keep wanting to tell it to go hide out in Timbuktu. It never does. It tapes itself to me. It labels me.

Well, today friends, today…today, I say, Jesus, you are my only way. I am willing to travel through the hurt to find your help. I am willing to get honest with you, so I can get healed by you. I am willing to give it a shot, knowing that you surpass my slip ups.

“Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God.” (1 Pet. 2:16)

Hurt one, are you ready to live free? What’s holding you back?

“He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.” Ps. 147:3

Related Reading:

10 Reasons to Stop Being Hard on Yourself

When Forgiving Yourself is Hard (Linkup)

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How to Be Unshakable in the Face of Turbulence

be unshakeable
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What are you going after?

This is a question you do not ignore. Instead, it is one you put a pretty design around and then get tattooed on your hand.

It is that important.

You wear this question as if it is a badge of your dedication. You return to it often.

During my days in corporate America, I tried really hard. In my mind, I did really good. I responded to emails with lightning speed. I came up with proactive ideas before my boss even voiced word of the problem. I arrived not just with plans but complete SWOT analyses of the whole situation. I was always a step ahead.

After a long day at work, I’d run to release some steam. I’d run and think “I wonder if my boss sees all I am doing? I wonder if his boss sees too?”  I assured myself, “Kelly, you’ll go places. They’ll uncover you and say, ‘Wow, what a gem.'”

Between striving and running. I was exhausted.

I was going after the wrong thing: the desire to be the star.

I wouldn’t have admitted this, but:
People were often a casualty in my race.
Problems were my ticket to a Kelly-solved-it phone call up the chain.
Work was a means to my end.
I didn’t feel good unless I looked good.

A woman dedicated to self-exalting ways
will run with skinned knees and deep discontentment.

What is your end? Not the one you try to convince yourself that you’re after, but the one daily you live for by your actions? The one that makes you feel cruddy?

Are you after people knowing the great things you are doing? The feeling you are finally enough? The one-track-mind goal of being published? The phone call that ends your waiting time? The approval of that person that restores your sense of self? The success that erases your feelings of illegitimacy? The desire to be wanted by family members? The spotlight that shows millions accept you?  The achievements that are all about you?

Make no mistake, my fellow seekers, we are all after something. Many of us just don’t acknowledge it – because we are afraid to look at what our heart really wants. We are embarrassed; we don’t really want God after all.

No shame here friends. I get off track all the time. I blow it!

Getting off track is not the major problem,
but remaining in denial of the problem – always is.

Where are you in denial? 

Confront these questions (this means really consider them):

What is your heart’s goal on the daily basis?
Is it about pleasing God or pleasing man?
Seeking self or glorifying God?
Self-protection or God-dedication?

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus,
giving thanks to God the Father through him. Col. 3:17

Draw a line. Draw, not a grey or fuzzy line –
we have enough of those –
but an I-will-do-it-all-in-the-name-of-Jesus line.

Draw a line that says, I will be resolute, determined and steadfast
in only going after the right thing.
In going after – God’s thing.

This way, instead of allowances, excuses and rationalizing, you make progress.
Then, you and I claim a warrior-like mentality. It talks like this:

Speak to me, something that is not from him… I’m not listening.

Divert me with a call to selfish ambition… I’m shutting down.

Send me down a path of sin that will lead me astray…
Nope, I’m not going there, I want God.

Try to get me to make it about me…
I don’t think so. It is all about Him.

Aim my heart at some target off the path of God…
Forget it. That’s not contentment.

We’ve gotta stop doping around.

A woman dedicated to do it God’s way,
finds the upsurgence of God’s heart
ready to explode from within her.

Drive emerges:

Your heart swerves left into discouragement,
but you jerk back and remember how he has always taken care of you.

Your mind stalls –
you pray and uncover your next step to get moving again.

Your doubts backfire –
but you fire back truth that kicks doubt out of the car.

Your friends speak lousy words –
you nod your head and exhale them like exhaust.

Your hard work proves fruitless –
you remember he’s the one taking you somewhere.

You release demands and pressures. You fly free of the strings of the world. No one and nothing is tying you down. Like a hot air balloon, you are released to new heights.

You can see it all, from God’s view.

You move like a woman with laser-vision, dead-set on eternity. You fight hand-and-fist, tooth-and-nail, jackal-style, against the world that wants to wedge its way into your heart. You scream. You run. You stay near God. But, what you don’t do is let it get its sticky fingers on you.

You won’t have it.

And, when it does, when you feel icky because you went the wrong way, so you trash that empty wrapper, as quickly as you can, and say, “It’s not that I have fallen that most concerns God, it is that I get up and get going with him once again.”

And so you do. You just go where he wants to go, knowing that it is the ONLY and the BEST place to go.

A woman dedicated to the Lord
is like a ship anchored to the core of the earth.
What comes against her doesn’t move her an inch.
She is unwavering, unbreakable and unshakable.

Prayer to be an Unshakable Woman

God, help us. Where we are weak, make us strong. Where we are wavering, help us lay our anchor down. May we find strength through knowing you hold us. We no longer need to be held down by the world’s claws. May we believe you are so believable we see your hand in our everything. May we so fall into your arms of grace, so we never feel the pangs of condemnation rip us apart. That is not you. And, truly, we want nothing that is not associated with you – it will only leave us empty. God, you are one that leaves us on full. Not once, but all the time. God, give us you. Increase our faith; make us into fighters who don’t back down. May we know, strongly, you are what we need to run after. You are the answer to everything. You are the only way. Tie down our heart into you. Amen.

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Related Reading:

Magnificently Inspiring Faith Manifesto

Chasing God

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When People Complicate Things

People Complicate Things
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I thought about bringing them in. But, if I do everything will get turned upside down. There will be questions, problems, ideas and suggestions about how I should do things. There will be recommendations for how the games should be played and different ideas on how the event should look. There will be deep discussions on outfits. Whether to serve mushrooms or asparagus. There will be rabbit trails I am too busy to commit to – and honestly could care less about.

I want to move alone. I want to lead the charge.  Is there anything wrong with that?

People = Problems

I like:

Kelly = Leader
People = Quiet doers

Hate me if you will, but I am being completely honest. Sometimes I can’t handle people. I’ve always had an issue with them. They get loud. They get opinionated. They get political. They get whiny. They get long-winded (you open your mouth to speak only to have the words stolen from you). They get advice-oriented, especially when you already have a good plan in motion. They diss your ideas. They judge all the time…! They get critical. They hurt you.

Sometimes it feels better to shove people
down a rabbit hole and cover the top,
then let them give voice to things that might hurt you.

Ever noticed?

I throw them a carrot every now and then if they’ve been good. If they’ve been obedient and rule-sensitive down there.

But, if they’ve been a vwery bad rabbit, I tend to:

– Ignore them.
– Try to advise, derail or shush them.
– Avoid them
– Squeeze them out.
– Talk about them behind their back or in my head.
– Get filled up with so much steam, I exhale scolding words.

I punish those disobedient rascals. Mostly, I punish them because I am afraid of them.

Oh, boy…it’s true.

I am afraid they’ll: look better than me, come up with better ideas than me, steal my show, be liked more by other people, grace the world better than me, make me realize the ugly parts of myself.

Can’t have Kelly feeling uncomfortable! No way, friends. That is the first rule of avoidance. 

Better to diss than be dissed, right? Better to be the first one to walk out on that boyfriend, than to have him dump you. Better to let your eyes roam the room with your eyes, than to have others do it to you. Better to step away than have to deal with your friend liking the other girl more. Better to disassociate than associate with potential pain.

Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Phil. 2:3

There’s that…

It looks the opposite of my approach. It’s one of those verses you recite because it sounds so beautiful. It sounds so Jesus. It sounds like, “Yes! I am great and humble and self-sacrificing and writing for Jesus (or fill in whatever holy excuse you use to not really love).

Self-protection is not holy affection, friends.

It’s a sack of nasty pride.

Am I being too hard on you – and on me?

Maybe. We’ve been hurt. It’s been painful. People have played – not nice. I know, I really know. It stinks.

Let’s throw a pout-party and squeeze our face muscles real tight and remember their icky-ness. Let’s.

Then, let’s toss them to the wind. Let’s let them fly away from us, because those past pains are holding us up from receiving present love. We are missing moments. We are losing joy. We are hiding away and into ourselves. We are losing the depths the real warmth that comes from letting someone really knowing you.

Our pride party is pointless.

Our joy is incomplete.

Our glass isn’t half empty, it is depleted.

He who is faithful to love operates in the gaps of people’s messes. If we are looking for pariahs of perfection, they don’t exist, but He does. He will layer in love, where they have left holes. Friends, it is not a person we are looking to fill us, it is God. We find him in the holes of man, for that’s where he leaves us – holy.

Prayer for Recovery of Relationships:
Dear Lord, today, I confess, I get scared. I get scared that someone will hurt me the same way as yesterday. It feels like a very real, present and oncoming threat. Help me trust you. Help me leave my heart in your hands, knowing that your wrapping of it is a covering that no man can penetrate. Help me believe that you are good, even when man is messed up. Help me know that my identity is in you and it is not indicative of man’s opinion. Lead me in your grace, mercy and fearlessness. Amen.

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Related Reading:

When People Are Disgusting

Broken Perfectionism


When you Feel Rejected

Feel Rejected
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We loved each other, I thought. Dashing up to him, I placed a decorated plate of deviled eggs before him, my favorite. I hoped he loved them, because coming off a fresh loss, my heart was hurting and looking for care. I completely botched up the championship basketball game by dropping and kicking the ball out of bounds on the court. Not once, but twice. Whoops. All I wanted sympathy, compassion. My heart hurt – but, little did I know, it was about to hurt even more.

He looked up at me and shoved the eggs away. His eyes said it all, he no longer wanted to know me. I wasn’t good enough. He got up and grabbed something behind the door. It was a woman. Ushering her in by her hand, he carefully sat her down in my chair and gave me the look, “I am done with you. It’s time to go.”

Aimlessly roaming the streets, I found myself homeless. I had only my comforter, a blanket that was a prize from the basketball game. Not knowing where to go, I held it close – it had my teammates signatures on it. I walked on and on.

When someone deserts us, we walk in a desert.

With a million piles of past rejection on us.

I woke. Thank you, God, this was only a dream. But, was it? Perhaps, it is reality.

Have you ever noticed, the rejection today carries the weight of yesterday?  What pours is the same waterfall of emotions.

Just yesterday, I walked outside a military base. I grabbed coffee first. Intending to go in, I stared down at my shirt. Dang it! I’d gone splashed coffee all over myself.

I can’t go in there.
Not around those people in starched up uniforms.
Ones dressed to military perfection.
They’ll stare.
They’ll laugh at my stains.

They’ll see straight into me. They’ll be confronted with my faults. My botch-ups. It is too much, way too much.

Afraid of being a walking eye sore, I stop mid-step – I remembered something…

Whether I’m walking stained or with fresh rejection pain,
just like in my dream, I always walk with the inscribed Comforter.

Do I even give it credence? Do I allow it to serve its purpose?

But the Helper (Comforter, Advocate, Intercessor—Counselor, Strengthener, Standby), the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name [in My place, to represent Me and act on My behalf], He will teach you all things. And He will help you remember everything that I have told you. (Jo. 14:26 AMP)

Do you cover yourself with the warmth, protection and safety of the Comforter when you feel uncomfortable? When you feel undone in shame?

You can, because He is with you. We don’t roam this barren earth without support, without care.

As Christians, we can press up against the Comforter who:
1. Leads us in the way we should go. (John 16:13)
2. Brings freedom. (2 Cor. 3:17)
3. Dispenses love and joy. (1 Thess. 1:6)
3. Speaks the mind of Christ to us. (1 Cor. 2:16)
4. Points our heart back to Jesus. (John 16:14-15)

When we draw near the Comforter,
we draw real and tangible strength from the Savior.

Jesus, He chose me, stains and all.
Jesus, He covers me with his love.
Jesus, He did not abandon me. And never will.
Jesus, He will make me white, no matter how coffee-splattered my shirt is.
Jesus, He will reflect light onto me as I turn my darkness into it.

I walked right onto that military base.

I walk, stained, amongst the perfection of starched uniforms, precision strides and measured haircuts.  I walked, me – a stained, plain girl. But what I also walk with – is comfort.

It reminds me, I need not be perfect. I need not be flawless. I need just walk with my Comforter, the one who inscribes the name of Christ on me. Then, suddenly, it is not about me – or giant coffee stains – any longer. I find hope.

“For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.”  (Gal. 6:8)

If I could, I would sow that Comforter right on me. But, you know what? I don’t have to, he’s sowed in me.

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Desperation Can Give Birth to Dedication

Desperation can give birth to dedication by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith
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Post By: Katie M. Reid

Are you in a desperate situation? Does it feel like you’re facing a brick wall, with no way to get around it? Are you struggling to find hope as the season changes?

In 1 Samuel 1:1-27, 2:1-11 we read about a woman, named Hannah, who found herself in a time of desperation.

Hannah was deeply loved yet she carried around a haunting emptiness. In a time when a woman’s womb was wound up tightly to her worth, Hannah’s barrenness must have flashed “broken” like a neon sign in a dark alley.

Not only was Hannah unable to conceive but her husband’s other wife, Peninnah, had children. Not only did Peninnah have children but she provoked Hannah bitterly about her closed womb (see 1 Samuel 1:6).

Have you known that sting? It’s salt in the wound when you are lacking yet someone nearby holds the very thing you long for. Maybe they aren’t hanging it over your head but deep down you struggle to celebrate with them.

Maybe you are dealing with infertility and Hannah’s account hits a little too close to home? Or maybe you long to birth a book, or have more money in your account, or receive a clean bill of health, or to live somewhere else, or for your husband to be more attentive, or to even have a husband?

No matter what leaves you empty, I think we can all relate to the ache that Hannah carried.

She had a life-giving longing and yet, year after year, she was left unfulfilled.

Have you been there? I have. Like Hannah, I longed for a baby to hold. I had three children at the time but God birthed a deep desire to adopt a child. I assumed my God-given desire would be granted in no time; I was wrong.

Some nights I crept into the empty nursery and rocked. The tears fell and my arms ached as I longed for this baby. Where was this little life that had been conceived in my heart so many months ago?

It is hard to trust God in the dark places, when you can’t see a way out of the tunnel and you wonder if the secret desires of your soul can even be seen at all.

But in those difficult times, we can bring our desperation to the Lord and trust Him with it.

Our desperation can give birth to dedication.

My prayer is that we learn from Hannah, not so much that she finally received what her arms ached for, but that in her anguish she poured out her soul before the Lord (see 1 Samuel 1:15).

-She allowed God to see the depth of her pain (vs. 15).
-She didn’t run from God but ran to Him and asked for intervention (vs. 11-12).
-She believed God could do what she had asked of Him (vs. 17-18).

Now it came about in due time, after Hannah had conceived, that she gave birth to a son; and she named him Samuel, saying, ‘Because I have asked him of the Lord’” (vs. 20, NASB).

Be assured the Lord hears you when you pour out your soul to Him. You can trust Him with the tender places of your heart.

Have you wanted something so badly that it ached?
And then to make things worse someone else had what you were longing for. It is irritating and painful, and can leave you hollow; fighting for hope amidst the heap of ashes at your feet.

Left unguarded your ache can drive you away from the Lord or it can drive you to your knees.

Hope can be found at Jesus’ feet. He willingly died on the Cross—and rose again—so that you can be emptied of sin and filled with His Presence.

Like Hannah, may your desperation give birth to dedication as you cling to His unchanging hope despite your circumstances. May Jesus’ love light the way through the gray as you take the next step towards Him.

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Author & Speaker Katie M. Reid image by Adopting Nations
Katie M. Reid is a tightly wound woman, of the recovering perfectionist variety, who fumbles to receive and extend grace in everyday moments. She delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Through her writing and speaking, Katie encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Twitter and Facebook.

P.S. Here is a free gift from our heart to yours!

As Katie waited to adopt she recorded an album, Echoes of My Heart. As a special gift Katie is offering a free download of a song from that album entitled, “Waitin’ On Someday”. May you be encouraged as you keep trusting the One is with you through it all.

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When You Feel Abandoned By God

storms-of-life
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Blog Post by Abby McDonald

“Well, this isn’t how you prayed this moment would turn out.”

The thought passed through my filter of truth and circled my mind on repeat. I knew it was a lie, but I listened to it. I stood there with my four-year-old, who was starting a new school, and tried to hold back tears.

His own tears flowed freely.

“I want to go to old school,” he said repeatedly. The school staff gathered around, trying to calm him.

“Buddy, this is your school now. You’re going to have lots of fun and you get to go to school with Jay,” I said, faking composure.

Big brother stood beside us, cool as a cucumber. He told little one everything was going to be okay and talked about the things he was going to do with his class.

I looked at my firstborn’s cherub-like face with amazement. He was a little beacon of sunshine in this mess of a morning. A reminder from God that He was still there.

The guidance counselor distracted little one with a walk over to the school’s pet lizard and settled him. With her prompting, I snuck outside to my car, praying my baby’s day would improve.

My day did not. A rough morning with my youngest turned out to be only the start of hours of chaos and like an old habit, I questioned God again.

Why is this happening? Please, God. Make it stop.

For weeks, anxiety over life’s circumstances had been mounting. I worried about my youngest starting school. I worried about a family conflict. My mind turned to the baby growing inside me and I worried about the postpartum months.

You’re not going to have anyone to help you. You’re going to be alone.

With each lie I listened to, I was more overwhelmed. And this crazy day was the culmination of it all, begging to verify all my worries were true.

Except they weren’t.

Those beacons of light that began with my firstborn’s calm demeanor kept coming. A friend offered to help with the kids at the last minute when I needed to go to the doctor.

You’re not alone. You have friends to lend you a hand.

In the middle of a pregnancy scare, I called my doctor’s office to set up a spur of the moment prenatal visit. And in a practice with a dozen doctors, I got an appointment with the one I trusted the most.

I’m here with you in the chaos, child. I haven’t gone anywhere.

When troubles abound, we’re tempted to question God. It’s our human nature. But you know what? The flesh is a liar.

It lied to Eve in the garden when she listened to the serpent and felt like she was lacking something, even though she lacked nothing. It lied to David when, in the midst of being pursued by Saul, he thought God had abandoned him. (Psalm 13:1)

Our circumstances may change like the wind, but God’s faithfulness does not.

He is steady and constant, reaching into our problems with a soft whisper, “I am with you. I go behind you and before you.”

That pregnancy scare? It turned out to be a false alarm. And my sweet Gabe transitioned into his new school with ease after a rough first morning. While I know things won’t always turn out the way I desire, my chaos-filled day served as a reminder of one simple truth: God never leaves.

The next time you’re in a middle of a storm, look for the beacon of light. It may be as faint as a jet stream, but it’s there. And when you find it remember at your weakest point, He is strong.

He’s whispering to you in the storm. You just have to focus your ears and listen.

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AbbyView More: http://kimdeloachphoto.pass.us/allume2015 McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues here, even during her darkest times. When she’s not chasing her two little boys around, she loves hiking, photography, and consuming copious amounts of coffee with friends.

Abby would love to connect with you on her blog, Twitter, and Facebook.

 

 

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