Purposeful Faith

Category - approval

What is in a Name?

a name

Names. What is in a name?

I didn’t used to think a name amounted to much. Until years later…

Now, you all might see me as a fighter kind of girl. If you’re read this blog long enough, you know I wrote a book called, “Fear Fighting.” But, what you may not know is I am also writing a book called, “Battle Ready.” You’ll meet it come July.

The point is not me; it is my name. My name means “warrior”. Kelly is warrior. I never knew that. I never knew I was a warrior, until God called me to write these books.

Before this point I would have laughed at this idea. But, now. Now I say,  “Wow, God, I really am who you say I am. You knew day #1 who I would be, even though I never believed in who you made me to be.”

He is amazing.

Even though I used to call myself other names, like… “You stupid!,” “You idiot!”, “You worthless piece of…”

Still, God never had names like those for me.

What names do you give yourself? What name might God give you?

Did you know, even if your name has no obvious meaning…God gives you names: daughter, loved, friend, royal priest, light of the world? These are your names, even if you can’t believe them now, Christ’s fulfillment is written over each and every name, just like I learned mine was.

I pray you come to see…

Sometimes, I doubt my name. I am all…I am not a warrior today. But, do you know what is best of all? Jesus always is Jesus. Father always is Father. Daddy is always still there.

Knowing the firm names of God supersedes the names of doubt we call ourselves.

This is why, this Christmas, I delight in the names included in the Christmas book, “The Unwrapping of the Names of Jesus” by Asheritah CiuCiu.

Jesus is:

King of Kings (the height above any height moving on our behalf)
Light of the World (the light that casts out all darkness, always and forever)
Lion of Judah (the roar that makes every knee bow)
Alpha and Omega (the start of everything and the end that has no end)
Prince of Peace (the only answer to peace and the fulfillment of it in our lives)
Bread of Life (the only truth we eat to feel full)
Lamb of God (the lamb slain so that we don’t have to be when we feel self-doubt and shame)

Jesus’s name is the height of all names. It gives cause to my name, even when I doubt myself. This does not matter, because God remains the same, consistent and power-full.

This Christmas Season, what if you were to usher in, not just the baby, but the power of Jesus’ name with a humble in-awe view of the saving light it casts on you?

How might, through Christ, you begin to see yourself differently?

Learn more about Asheritah’s new book, Unwrapping the Names of Jesus: An Advent Devotional.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

When Your Mouth Speaks Stupid

Speaks Stupid

It was an odd encounter. I am not sure why. I didn’t intend to make it odd, but my mouth got ahead of my mind. What was meant to come out as, “Wow! You are so talented…” rolled out as, “What do you think you are being led to do in life?”

As if she wasn’t already doing enough.
As if God wasn’t already using her.
As if there was more to life than the moment she was currently in.

The second my question made its weird appearance, I wanted to withdraw it. I wanted to grab it and stuff it back into my mouth because I could see what it was producing: a seat-shifting sense that she should be doing more. That where God planted her feet today wasn’t good enough.

Yet, where she was — was entirely good enough. In fact, I was very much struck by the individual. And although I’d just met her minutes ago (another reason my mouth should have shushed it), I knew her wisdom and insight would have an impact on my life, as it has with so many others.

I left the gathering. On the way home, all I could think was: She thinks I am an oddball. I came off as prideful. She feels put down…not used enough…like she should have some greater mission…all because of my fast track mouth.

My hands clenched the car seat. My ears tuned out my husband and my embarrassment stuck on me like icky glue. It kept on bothering me — for days.

Yet, something hit me as I wrote this story down, after seeing it in black and white. What if the big deal I made about my words was really only a small deal to her? And what if her shifting around was only because she was bound to a clock and needed to start the meeting? What if her short response was only because she was thinking about what she needed to do next?

What if I read into things? And what if her words were far less about me, because she was already on to the next thing?

What if she didn’t really think I was:

the weirdo
the oddball
the arrogant one
the insensitive girl

What if she just thought I was a new person who seemed nice, who she is interested in getting to know as well?

How many times do we personalize predicaments and let them name us poorly? How many times do we let the enemy declare us bad when God is trying to set up a good friendship? How many times do we see our failings when others aren’t seeing that at all?

That night at the prayer gathering, I lost my prayer mojo because I kept thinking I injured her. I lost the chance to plead for, impact and change the hurting lives of others because I was caught up in my own mind-story. I lost God’s better plan.

When we personalize issues that really are not personal, we always lose God. We let our feet venture off his track and we head down some windy road with the goal of making man love us. We divert love. We walk away from Him who is love.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ (Gal. 1:10).”

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Drawing Near Will Make You Want Him

draw near God heart

Post By: Angela Parlin

Long ago, our kids asked for a dog. A puppy is a lot of work, I said. So we gave them fish. But nobody can cuddle a fish, and next we appeased them with a guinea pig. That’s a long, smelly story for another day.

Soon we were back on the puppy train. The dachshund train, because I grew up with this sweet breed. I don’t know if you’ve encountered many dachshund owners, but there are no other dogs in the world, once you’ve loved a doxxie. My husband simply humors me.

The day came to choose a dog, and we picked Blaze. If we had known about his issues—how he would chew through shoes, bag straps, blue jeans, and even mess with the legs of our kitchen table—we might have named him Marley. 🙂   But we only knew his sweet baby eyes, that tiny whimper, and the way he snuggled into our necks and stopped crying when we sang to him.

Eight months later, the little guy’s quirks and offenses are clear, but so is the laughter he inspires.

Blaze lays at my feet nearly every day when I’m making dinner. He sits down and places one little paw over my foot. As I move about the kitchen, he follows me. While I know he wants to be near the food I drop, he also wants to be close to me.

No matter what I’m doing or where, if his eyes are open—they’re usually on me. He wants to be near me, all the time, no matter what.

It’s had me thinking about the way I long to be near God, and the times I’ve been too busy to be with Him.

God loved the world so much, that He sent Jesus to pay for our sins—not to condemn us, but to save us.

When we believe in Him, we are given the privilege–the blessing–of being in His presence.

We are able to talk with God and listen to Him. To come to Him for all the help we need. To go to Him boldly and with confidence as His beloveds, without any fear.

Jesus came near to us, so that we might move toward God.

And when we come to Him, we find incredible joy, blessing, and goodness. He fills us, He satisfies us, until we echo the psalmist’s words, His nearness is my good. There are many benefits of drawing close to God, but these can only be understood by experiencing Him. When we draw near to God, we experience His love, and we want more.

Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22, NIV

Have you moved toward God with a true heart and full assurance of faith? If not, will you call on the Lord in a prayer of belief today? Will you seek out someone who knows the Lord, to show you the way?

Those who believe—think about your heart. Are you drawing near with a true heart? Let us lay at His feet, longing for more than the food He drops, longing to be close to Him.

Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.

 

 

 

What Does That Woman Think of Me?

think of me

We climbed the train, tucked away our luggage for the long haul, then headed to the lounge where we got some waters and drinks. Relaxation time! Well, not so much. The kids were nuts. They tackled each other on the booth cushions and screamed like animals at a wrestling match. I eyed the woman staring at me to the left. I glanced down the row at a man who couldn’t keep his eyes off them. I motioned to my husband, “It’s time to go.” But what came next shocked me.

As we headed out, the woman with a pixie haircut and eyes that didn’t quite catch you straight stared a bit beyond me and said, “You have beautiful kids. We love watching them.”

I was shocked. You love them?

She went on to tell my family and I that we shouldn’t leave the lounge. And if we did, we should return soon.

And with this thought, I began wondering how often I suppose women hate me when they actually: A.) Want to get to know me B.) Are intrigued by me or, C.) Are looking my way, yet not even thinking about me?

Recently, I learned about the Spotlight Effect. It means the vast majority of the time you think people are critiquing, watching or condemning you, they aren’t. They’re likely thinking about themselves and what they are wearing, doing or saying. They’re caught up in their own spotlight.

To boil this down further, it means people are quite often thinking about themselves. And when they aren’t, they are thinking about what you are thinking about them.

Everyone is wrapped up in their own world.

So, those women who I think hate me?
They’ve probably moved on to pondering who hates them.

The person I offended, who I am convinced constantly tracks it?
She’s probably wondering why she doesn’t …blah…blah…blah…

The girl I was a terrible boss to years ago?
She’s probably just concerned with doing a good job at her work, today.

What if we let go of the pressure of what everyone else is thinking? What if we let go of the burden of owning other’s contentment? What if we just let our goal be to please God and seek him, plain and simple?

What if we let go of everyone’s load? Because it pains us to carry it.

“For each one should carry their own load.” (Gal. 6:5)

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

On Numbing Out

Post by: Karina Allen

A few weeks ago my Pastor began talking about all things summer. Summer is great and all, but as a single with no kids, my summer pretty much just looks like the rest of the year. My church schedule does lighten a bit. But long gone are my college days where I had summers off. For so many of my friends, however, a summer schedule is a real thing. Summer can be amazing! It can hold endless down time, late start mornings, night owl bedtimes, unhurried rhythms, traveling adventures and untapped brain power.

On the other hand, summer can bring a whole new set of unintended circumstances. I have learned that so much idle and unpurposed time can be just the open door the enemy desires. My Pastor has been determined for our church to not fall into a summer slump or to fall victim to the schemes of the enemy or simply going through the motions. I love that his heart is for us to experience as much of God or more of God than we would during the rest of the year.

Summer doesn’t discriminate, nor does it hold back on the issues of life. Relationship drama, financial distress, all manner of loss, hurt feelings, etc… can all be experienced during these hotter than necessary months. It is just as important to stay plugged in to both the Lord and to community.

Do not forsake the ‘Secret Place’.

“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

The upside of summer, if your schedule does become laid back, is just that, it’s laid back. There is no need to be somewhere all the time at a certain time. That sounds like the perfect opportunity to dive deep into time with God, even if you have littles running around. My amazing friend Lindsey has literally been living this out with her 4 kids. She is a single, stay at home mom. She has been walking through really hard marital challenges, but she decided to let that bring her closer to God instead of push her away. Then, she made the best decision. She decided to bring her kids along on the journey. They read devotions together along with books about missionaries. They pray and worship. It is beautiful to watch her kids fall in love with the Savior simply because she has chosen to put God first and cultivate an atmosphere of intimacy with the Lord. She doesn’t know where this extra time comes from. All she knows is that He multiplies it as she continues to be obedient in keeping Him the center of her family.

Do not forsake a persevering spirit.

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Seeing as how, trials and hardships don’t take a break during the summer, it’s key for us to keep up the fight. The enemy is after our minds and emotions and callings and lives. When we become complacent or too familiar with God and the things of God, he takes full advantage of those moments.

It is extremely tempting to become inactive and forsake our time with God or serving or being committed to the Church. I want this summer to be the opposite. I want to have some of the most intimate times with God. I want to have some of the best times in corporate gatherings. I want to have some of the wildest adventures with community. I want to have some of the sweetest times meeting the needs of those around me.

Summer is not the time to give in to an anything goes mentality. It is not the time to numb out. Now is the time to press in and watch a mighty move of God take place.

How are you or can you keep from numbing out and pursue a deeper relationship with the Lord this summer?

 

About Karina Allen

Karina AllenKarina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.

Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”

 

 

When God Goes Silent (& 3 Ways to Reconnect)

God Goes Silent

Ever opened your bible to only hear crickets from God?
Ever felt like you and your Father were neighborhoods apart in connection?
Like you somehow lost your close standing next to your high King?

I feel this small creep. The creep of “something is not right,” the creep of pulling away, the creep of “I am not hearing as much.”

Small creeps away from God over days, turn into giant mile gaps over months.

What I have noticed is, the sooner my heart checks it’s receptivity to God, and adjusts its channels the more of a chance, I have of hearing his voice. Usually, I can avoid the “slow creep” seep – but I have to first start by being aware of when it.

The slow creep seep can be sneaky – if you aren’t aware that it can move in at any time.

Now, don’t get me wrong, there are times God does go silent.

Sometimes he shuts down the music, the connection and here is why:

1. To help us remember God is God and we are not.

When you did these things and I kept silent, you thought I was exactly like you. Ps. 50:21

2. To settle our hearts in the deep places his trusting love.

The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy. Zeph. 3:17

3. To handle “Kingdom causes” outside of our comprehension.

Why do You look with favor On those who deal treacherously? Why are You silent when the wicked swallow up Those more righteous than they? Hab. 1:13

What I want my heart to finally learn is that: God does what he does, but he always reigns from above, out of love.

This is always God’s MO, battle plan, driving force, and charge – every time.

On the other hand, sometimes the issue of silence is not founded in God’s plan it is founded in us. Like a cavity, we may have stored up so much decay that our faith bite loses its power.

Here’s how we remove decay and get back to the fullness of pleasure as we digest all the goodness of God:

1. We beat out bitterness.  

Bitterness can be a byproduct of unforgiveness.
Who do you need to forgive – God, yourself or others?

2. We ask to hear and plead for God to come near.

O God, do not remain quiet; Do not be silent and, O God, do not be still. Ps. 83:1

When we ask, God listens.

3. We dive into the Word of God, to be replenished by his Words always read to bring truth.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Lu. 11:28

When we hear the Word of God, we hear God.

4. Worship the one who surrounds you with his glory.

…God’s invisible qualities-his eternal power and divine nature-have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse. Ro. 1:20

See God around you and you will start to feel God well up in you.

5. Seek and serve up love in all you do by giving, helping, serving, opening up, receiving and pouring out.

No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 1 Jo. 4:12

The more we learn love (including the receipt of it), the more we feel God’s love.

The truth is – God is love. If we are operating from love, we are operating from the tabernacle of God’s goodness. Different days, call for different strategies. Sometimes, we are restored with his love, sometimes we are restored by a love of his Word and other times, we are restored to share

Different days, call for different strategies. Sometimes, we are restored – to love, sometimes we are restored – by His love and other times, we are restored – to search out greater love.

No matter what his call for you today, one thing is for sure, slow creeps are simply not from him. So, lets allow our hearts to creep back to the throne of the King of all care. He waits for us – with love.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Filtering the Voices You Let In

Filtering the Voices

Two moms duked it out, while I tried to pull a floppy wet shirt off my body in the pool stall. I’d tell you all I wasn’t eavesdropping, but I’d be lying; I was 100% listening to every word that flowed from their mouths from the safe-confines of my bunker.

“Harvard is going to be such a far drive for my son come Fall. I don’t know how we are going to do it.” Said mom voice 1.

“Well, thank goodness, He’s going to Harvard because Stanford is farther and I get sick flying on airplanes, even in first-class.”

Now, these two, who I was sure were perfectly toned, impeccably made-up and outrageously beautiful, brought to the surface my every insecurity. And based on their words, I was scheming… trying to internally figure out how to corral my son, tie him down and drag him to the local tutoring session post-school… It’s not too much to ask a kid to do SAT questions at age 6 is it? A mom’s who starts early, wins.

My competitive juices were flowing. My mind racing and twisting and…all of a sudden – Godly wisdom struck: I don’t have to enter into this life-killing race with these women.

I can choose not to be a part of this rat race. I can unsubscribe.

Unsubscribing sounds like this: They can do what they want to or say what they say. They can work hard to acquire wealth, goods or status. They can talk about it. They can make it their life goal. But, just because that is what they are doing, doesn’t mean it is what I should be doing. What I should be doing is: making Christ my aim, making Christ my thoughts, making love my goal. 

I can’t change people, but what I can change is: my mind, my thoughts and my goals.

This feels like freedom.

I sense there are some of you who need freedom right now too. Maybe from a person who is causing your mind to go to places God hasn’t invited it?

Right now, join me in asking God, “What words, goals or pursuits have I been allowing to take hold in my heart that are not from you?”

Listen for his response. Be aware of how God might be leading you.

Then, ask him, “How can I protect my heart in a better way?”

I believe he’s saying to me: “Kelly, everything you hear doesn’t have to go to your heart.”

And, I agree. Starting today, I’ll filter what I let in.

Thank you God, you are faithful.

 

 

Don’t Miss The Journey Together Summit, June 5-8! Join 34 leading authors with the sole mission of helping you discover new bravery. Whether you desire to be brave at home or at work, in your marriage or with your children, in ministry or in the mess of the day, dealing with a surprising life or just organizing it – this is the event for you.  There is something for everyone with over 34 topics of fear covered (wait till you see them all!).

Want to win a bundle of 10-books here, enter to win here.

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.
Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Don’t Wash Your Own Feet

Wash Your Own Feet

Post by: Candice Curry

There’s a picture buried deep in a box somewhere, stashed away in my mom’s closet. Staring back at you, from a worn out Polaroid picture, is a family who seems put together. The little girl squints her eyes to lessen the glare of the sun. She’s wearing a striped dress and her hair is carefully combed into two, long ponytails. The picture is filled with pinprick holes from someone moving it around the church bulletin board more than a few times.

It was one of the few occasions that I would actually wear a dress. I was a jeans and t-shirt type of girl. But, on the rare mornings when we actually made our way to church I thought I had to wear a dress or I wouldn’t be allowed in. I don’t remember a single thing about being there except that I felt we had to act a certain way and dress a certain way to fit in.  I knew very little about what church meant or why we even went in the first place.

I thought Jesus was only for certain people. I thought Jesus was for people who had their lives together and never messed up.  I thought Jesus was just for the people who spoke with eloquence and dressed like they had just walked out of a designer store. I wasn’t sure what sin really was or whose was worse, but I knew I didn’t want my dirty sins exposed. I didn’t want to go to church and let everyone see what a disaster I was. I didn’t want to face rejection.

The same feelings carried over into adulthood and I continued to fear Jesus for all the same reasons. I thought Jesus was only for the good people. I thought Jesus was for those without sin and those who navigated through life effortlessly. I thought he only shined on those types of people who were more like him and less like me.

So I stayed away.

I hid from church people.

I hid from Jesus.

I had walked through so much in life that the dirt on my feet was heavy and weighed me down. I dragged my feet everywhere I went and did everything I could to hide the evidence from other’s eyes. I promised myself I would wash them one day and present myself to Jesus when I was good and clean. Maybe then he would open his arms to me. Maybe if I could just be good enough, clean enough, rich enough, married, educated, the list was endless. Maybe if I could just wash the dirt off of my feet so he wouldn’t know where I’ve been.

When I was well into adulthood, married and a mother of 4, I started to attend the church near me because my cousin had signed my oldest daughter up for their choir program. I went out of support for my daughter and not my desire to be in church. I sat quietly in the very back of the sanctuary, under the dimmed lights, and tried my best not to be noticed. The congregation might not have seen me but God did.

And then I met him.

I met Jesus.

And he washed my feet for me.

I spent most of my life thinking I had to be perfect for Jesus to love me. No one ever told me that I could come to him just the way I was. No one ever told me that Jesus already knows about the dirt on my feet. I thought I had to transform into someone better for Jesus to be in my life. I didn’t know that I could come to him the way I was and that he would transform my life for me. He would be the one to wash the dirt off of my feet for me, gently and with mass amounts of grace and mercy.

You don’t have to wash your feet to be loved by Jesus.

You are accepted and loved exactly the way you are right now. No sin is too big, no failure too deep and no past is too dark. Jesus is for the broken and the lost. Jesus is for the underdog, the guy struggling to find a way. He’s for the broken hearts and bruised bones. He’s for the sinner and the thief, the liar and the cheater. He is for us, me and you.  He loves us in our mess and through our mess. All we have to do is show up.

You don’t have to wash your feet.

Come as you are and Jesus will wash your feet for you.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.


Candice Curry, the author of the book The Con Man’s Daughter
spent years working in sales doing what she felt she had to instead of what she wanted to. Then she put her faith in God and gave it all up to share her story through writing. The daughter of a con man and convicted criminal, Candice started a blog as a form of therapy, which has grown into a worldwide ministry and landed her on TODAY and Good Morning America. A speaker and a contributor to The Huffington Post, Today.com, and several other sites, Candice has a passion to give hope to those suffering the pain of rejection, the burden of unforgiveness, and the emptiness of great loss. Candice and her husband, Brandon, have five children and recently welcomed her teenage sister into their home. They live in San Antonio, Texas, in the former home of her childhood best friend. Connect with Candice at http://candicecurry.com/.

Learn more about The Con Man’s Daughter.

The Choice Before Us

We sat in the parking lot staring blankly ahead with the doctor’s words still ringing in our ears.

“Some people just can’t have children. Now is when you need to start working on accepting that.”

We were stunned in spite of the clues. The previous years’ experiences had pointed to this moment – the months of negative pregnancy tests, the losses, the testing and exams and poking and prodding, they all pointed to the possibility of infertility. Except now it was real. Now it was our story.

In the weeks that followed our diagnosis I found myself facing a critical juncture in my faith. I could refuse to believe that God might have plans for my future that include infertility and I could live in a state of anxious denial (a place I’d been sitting in for too long already.) Or, I could do as the doctor suggested, and work toward finding acceptance and faith and peace. For several weeks I chose the former and it twisted my stomach and heart in knots. Then one day I chose the latter.

Sometimes peace is a choice. Peace is a choice that doesn’t always come naturally for me, though. I tend to be an anxious person who likes to be in control of, well, everything. I want to know exactly how the day will go and I want to be able to manipulate my surroundings to fit what feels safe, secure, and right to me. But life doesn’t often comply with my version of how things should be. This is where faith and fear collide for me.

Life has taught me I have a choice in how I respond to things outside of my control. Things like infertility. I can’t always control how I feel about these things – if I could take away my grief and pain I would… who wouldn’t? But I can choose to believe in peace and love and hope.

On one of the worst nights of my life – the night I returned from the hospital after losing our first baby – I turned to my Bible for something that would bring me comfort. I don’t think I really believed peace was possible in my grief, but I just wanted something to get me through the night. I flipped the pages and they eventually landed in the book of Isaiah, chapter 54. My eyes fell on verse 10 and I began to read…

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”

In those words, I found everything I didn’t know I needed…

Unfailing love from the Father in the midst of tragedy and loss.
Peace that will never leave – no matter what.
And compassion for my broken and baffled heart.

In the months that followed, I found myself navigating the often lonely waters of grief and learning that I often wouldn’t feel peace, but Isaiah had told me it was there. So I made a choice to believe it, whether I felt it or not. Still today, I choose to believe that the peace that surpasses all understanding still covered my life even in times of turmoil. I choose to believe that hope is a fact.

I believe this is what Horatio Spafford had in mind when he penned the words to famous hymn, It Is Well with My Soul. After losing his son, his business, and then his four daughters (who drowned in a shipwreck) he wrote,

“When peace like a river, attendeth my way,
When sorrows like sea billows roll;
Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know*
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”

It is well. Or, as my son has taught me to say, “It’s Okay About It.” Saying, “it’s okay about it” or “it is well” doesn’t mean declaring that we are unaffected in the face of hardship and loss. It is simply choosing to believe that love, peace, compassion, and hope are true. That they are promises we can believe no matter what comes our way.

So though my heart broke in the pain of infertility and the grief of miscarriages I choose peace and hope, knowing that God will redeem my pain.

When my children suffer I remember God’s compassion for us.

When I face disappointment and rejection I declare the truth of God’s unfailing love.

When I face anxiety and panic over an unknown future and circumstances beyond my control I choose His covenant of peace.

Because of the truth of God’s word and the hope of heaven I can say with assurance, “It’s Okay About It.”

Lauren Casper is the founder of her popular blog, where she shares her thoughts on life, parenting, and faith. She is a top contributor to the TODAY Parenting Team and has had numerous articles syndicated by The Huffington Post, the TODAY show, Yahoo! News, and several other publications. Lauren speaks in various locations around the country at conferences, retreats, and church events. Some of her topics include: adoption and foster care, infertility, parenting children with special needs, building meaningful community, and facing fear.

Lauren’s first book, It’s Okay About It, released May 2, 2017. In it, Lauren shares poignantly simple yet profound wisdom about removing the barriers we construct around our hearts and doing life full-on, all from the least expected source: her five-year-old son, Mareto.

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Making Marriage Strides

marriage strides

Pop Quiz: What is 1 thing you likely take for granted, yet could bring monumental joy, growth and connection if paid attention to it?

Answer: Your marriage.

Friends, most days I hardly look at it: I rush through breakfast, trying to start my day; I give a little hello near the Keurig; I listen and quickly respond; I go through the bare-bottom motions, trying to make sure I’m at least good enough to get by; I get ready to watch TV instead of to connect; I respond based on my own opinions, rather than hearing his; I focus on the kids and then remember he’s there too.

Uh-oh. Can I admit to you all? I am not the model wife.

And, while it pains me to write this, I have found such encouragement in the book, “A Wife’s Secret to Happiness” by Jen Weaver.

Right off, in the first chapter, her words meet my heart: “God will not call us anywhere his presence does not go with us,” she says, “He will not ask us to do what he has not equipped us to complete. The Lord longs to lead our marriages into spacious place, interwoven with his peace and strength…the day you made your vows He participated in an active agreement, invisible, yet majestic in glory.”

Thank you, God…we are not doing this thing called marriage alone. The Creator of our universe is creating something new, as we listen, go and respond with him. He is working within the confines of our arguments, annoyances, and mishaps to create space, love and peace. Bring it, God! I need that.

To ignite his power, one question remains: Will we let him in to work – by listening, seeking and following or will we continue doing the same ‘ole stuff?

What does it look like to let Him work?
I’m finding, it’s:

Prayer over panic.
Listening rather than responding in flesh.
Trusting God’s timeline to change, rather than my own.
Seeking to notice his good, before his bad.

Jen Weaver breaks down specific ways to see these high and lofty goals through (Thanks Jen!):

  1. Write down index card prayers. Carry them with you.
  2. Ask God to bless your husband right when you’re in the heat of battle.
  3. Remind yourself to welcome God’s presence. Put reminders around your house with verses.
  4. Scribe 5 pain points you have about your marriage. Bring them to God and ask them how he wants you to work them out.
  5. Remind yourself, through scripture, how God has been there for you and won’t abandon you now.

Marriages that work, take work. If I’ve learned anything – it’s this.  But, I’ve also learned, when God is at work, things seamlessly fall into place. Like Tetris. Bing! Connection happens.

Where do you need to let God take the lead? How might he want to put things together again? How might his small nudges be leading you to a greater outpouring of love?

Love that looks like:
A hug.
A listening ear.
An open fist.
A generous portion of time.
An opening of your whole heart.
A letting down of guard.
A soft-spoken word.
Open arms.
Undue forgiveness.
An offering of grace.
A handing-over to God (Re: the past).
An excitement for the future.
Reliance on the Sustainer, Overcomer, and Creator.

Wherever God is calling you – if you step in, He’ll meet you there.

Learn more about a Wife’s Secret to Happiness!

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