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How to Find the Holy in Ordinary Trials

Holy in Ordinary Trials

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

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.

5 Ways to Be (and Stay) at Peace

steadfast faith

Are you at all like me?

Do you get in the car and, immediately,
start running down your list of worries?

Do you try to keep calm
but inevitably lose your cool with that one person?

Do you try to be near to God,
only to get caught up with fear things won’t turn out well?

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast
because they trust in you. Is 26:3

I’ve got to figure out what it means to be steadfast because one thing I know is that – I want peace.

Lately, I’ve been moving my two kids in duck-formation; they know by now, they better follow Mama.  I am going places. Doing things. Accomplishing stuff. There’s order, discipline and diligence in our house. People, best follow in line.

I think it is pretty apparent to all – I’m running my house like a jerk. I’ll be the first to admit it.

Wake. Breakfast. Don’t spill it on the floor. Get your plate to the sink. Get those clothes on. Why isn’t your lunch box in your bag? Can’t you get those shoes on yourself. Shuttle. Home. Dinner. Get a book. Hustle kid. Move it. Don’t talk back. You are getting time out. Clean that floor. Lights out.

I look like the wicked step mother, my kids look like Cinderella incarnate. I horrify myself.

You will not keep in perfect peace,
those who minds are controlling, obnoxious and abhorrent
because they trust only in themselves. Kelly 1:1

You all, I am not God, but I am a woman who knows the opposite of Isaiah 26:3 and it is what I wrote above.

I feel convicted.

Truly, to only see my way is to miss God’s.
To be demanding is to raise the flag of pride. 
To bark marching orders is to lose pleasure in Him. 
But, to release a mind into the fullness of his Word, leading, promptings and character – is dig up perfect peace.

I feel released.

Able to see more clearly, I realize: She who stays in peace is she who dwells on Him, who is Peace.

On the other hand, she who stays in worry and anxiety is she who settles for fakes. She’s like a girl who walks down the streets in New York City and grabs imitation handbags when she has wads of cash in her pocket. She’s the rich girl, the one with everything, who picks up and studies 5th rate Chinese Chanel bags because she thinks she doesn’t have enough. She forgets she is rich, so she settles. She suffers. She buys up stress instead of the real deal – God’s peace.

I buy up stress instead of staying steadfast and certain in God. Do you?

Those who pay regard to vain idols forsake their hope of steadfast love.” Jonah 2:8

I don’t know about you, but I often rely on vain idols:

The Facebook F: Here, I focus in on a girl’s clothes, and completely forget about my devotional time.
The Pinterest P: With this idol, I figure my friends will judge me based on napkins and centerpieces.  I try to be perfect.
A mirror: I stare at it and criticize myself.
My bank account: I think it will protect me more than God.

The prized possession of steadfast peace is lost
when a girl bends down to grab lower shelf goods and gods.

What are you reaching for?

Let me remind you, steadfast love always sits high and mighty.

To identify it from fakes, it looks like this:

In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us
and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.”
 1 John 4:9-10

Steadfast love looks not like a crazed girl on an elliptical trying, sweating and endlessly pumping – but a gal just being, just sitting, in Christ’s love. It is one open, ready and willing to receive his riches. One who lets God determine her value.

What does this practically look like?

It looks like:

Seeing devotional time as sitting time,
not striving time, with God.

Viewing success as Godly-connection
rather than always-perfection.

Letting go of the psychotic pace to
continually dwell in God’s grace.

Quieting your inner-hater,
to find the Always-Lover.

Relaxing with God in the moment,
rather than demanding he reconstruct your future.

Remembering all Jesus did,
not what you need to accomplish.

To be steadfast is to walk steady in the idea you will not move fast.

It is to walk steady at God’s pace – moving only with him.

So, today, rather than rushing, huffing and puffing – and blowing our house down, this truth we can cling to. We don’t have to push ahead. We don’t have to yell and scream and feel anxious that people are going to mess up. We only need to slow down, grab his hand and trust, He will carry us through- straight up to perfect peace.

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Why Christian’s stay Blind and Struggling

Blind and Struggling

I’ve been praying lately, to be rid of this flesh-eating bacteria. I know, trust me, I know, it sounds weird. And, I guess you wouldn’t even call it a “flesh-eating bacteria,” because it is more like “soul-eating bacteria.” Or maybe a “peace-eating bacteria”. A “night-time sleep-ruining bacteria.

It chases at my heels telling me I should settle tomorrow’s emotions rather than claiming right now’s peace. You too?

Worry.
It smothers hope; making you desire fix-it dope to feel better.
It exchanges the peace of God for fear of _____.
It stunts the muscles God plans to grow during trials.
It debilitates peace.
It corrodes holy.
It eats joy, causing doubt.

This is why I pray so often, “God, I don’t want to worry. I don’t want to continuously think about people or problems one day longer.”

Because these things blind me. 

..Some people brought a blind man and begged Jesus to touch him. He took the blind man by the hand and led him outside the village. When he had spit on the man’s eyes and put his hands on him, Jesus asked, “Do you see anything?” Mark 8:22-23

Do you see anything when you worry?

Where does worry incline your eyes?

He looked up and said, “I see people; they look like trees walking around.” Mark 8:24

People like trees? Jesus, the miracle-maker, the Prince of Peace, the great physician left this man seeing – trees?  Did the greatest healer – fail? What kind of jacked-up miracle was this?

Let’s consider this deeper…
When the blind man opened his eyes, following Jesus’ touch, “He looked up and said, ‘I see people.‘”

Notice: The blind man did not focus on the Man with Power, but the people with none.

The very God before him – he did not see.
But, he what did see was – his issue.

Where do your eyes head 10-minutes after you get with God?

To people? Problems? Predicaments?  

Sometimes our focus prevents us from seeing – and receiving – God’s greatest work. Like a stray lover, we look at everyone but our first love; we miss his best intentions towards us. We can’t see, because we are too busy looking elsewhere. We become infected with the virus of looking-at-man, looking-at-issues or looking-at-distractions. We partially see God, but we mostly do not.

If we focus on people over the person of Jesus, we’ll never see progress. But, if we focus on the person of Jesus, before the face of our problems, we will face peace.

When we:
1. Wake and seek Jesus as our first thought, our day often is established.
2. Pray and expect God to answer, we get excited to see.
3. Look in order to find God we, many times, do.
4. Ask to see the Lord’s handiwork it becomes more obvious.
5. Hope and request to feel his love, it circles.
6. When we believe that God can do the unthinkable, we perceive God can do the unthinkable.

Once more Jesus put his hands on the man’s eyes. Then his eyes were opened, his sight was restored, and he saw everything clearly. Mark 8:25

I don’t believe this man could see because hands were – on his eyes,
but because Jesus was entirely – in his eyes.

When he opened his eyes, the second time, unlike the first time, he didn’t see problem people, but Jesus, all Jesus, the full-force of Jesus in power and glory, standing right before him. You simply cannot come face-to-face with Jesus – you simply cannot let him into your heart – without something miraculous happening.

This man? With the radiant power of Jesus before him, all he could do – was see. For, Jesus, the man known to have eyes like torches (Dan. 10:5-6) opened his vision to a whole new path. A path to recovery. 

He saw everything clearly. Mark 8:25

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3 Ways to Stay Close to God (& 10 Faith-Squeezers)

Stay Close to God

I love God. I love him a lot. So, why do a whole bunch of common things, seem to draw me away so easily? Not all these things, in themselves, are bad. Many are not damaging. Almost all, are not sinful, and perhaps this is just the problem. They go undetected as their current moves me out.

Do you feel yourself slowly drifting?

What normally goes undetected as it floats you miles off?

10 Faith-Squeezers that are Likely Happening in your Day:

– Going gangbusters on family activities
– Getting caught up with life’s incidentals
– Becoming all wrapped up with another person
– Planting my face on TV, iPhone or iPad
– Driving like a routined robot on a schedule
– Expecting things to happen
– Getting frustrated when they don’t
– Allowing anxiety and worry to seep in as a result.
– Letting the monotony of life, make me monotonous

When we float by the tides of life’s demands,
we sink into a rip-current that seemingly sends us miles from God.

So, how do we stay, as we always were? How do we stay on fire?

3 Tips To Stay Wild About Your First Love:

1. Put God first – and keep him there!

Just the other day, I was outside. I was taking a second to bask in the wonder of Spring budding. I was observing. Until, someone called my attention away. They needed me. I couldn’t say no. I felt awkward saying, in a random moment, “Hey, I’ll get back to you in a bit, I am spending time with God.” Sometimes, our need to please gets in the way, of our need for God. It doesn’t mean, we shouldn’t value those we most value, but it means we must always value God first.

I keep my eyes always on the Lord. With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken. (Psalm 16:8)

Apply this:

– Set aside time with God, and reserve that as his.
– Devote your first portion to God in the morning. Wake up and be with him.
– Ponder God’s Word throughout your day.

2. Experience him.

When I am in my car, sometimes the most restorative thing I can do, is worship. It is my time to turn up the music, to focus my mind and to literally see Jesus as the music plays. Whether it is in a car, at your house or on a 5-minute walk, Jesus is always waiting. Experience the fullness of his life, death and resurrection. When you find yourself in the center of God’s amazing, it is hard not to more and more drawn to it.

Apply this:

– Turn on worship music.
– Observe nature on a walk and thank him for his creation.
– Close your eyes and see Jesus, hear his words and ponder his parables of old.

3. Ask.

I used to tell my brother (yes, I was the bossy oldest child of six), “You don’t receive, because you ask not.”

I don’t have any idea who says something like this, but apparently – I did! But, I can’t help but think how often this is the case with us. In our relationship with God, we often ask not and then we get not. It’s not that he doesn’t want to give, but just that it is hard to force a giant gift into someone’s hands that are closed. Are your hands closed?

When we ask, we sending God a message of acknowledgement
that he is provider, sustainer and giver; his reply often – confirms it.

Apply this:

– Say, “God, I want you first of all and above all.”
– Ask again, all day long as things go wrong – and right.
– Ask for wisdom on how to respond to those who bang into you.
– Ask for a mind set on all things Spirit.

Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. Mt. 7:7

God has not left you, most likely, you have left God. But, be not discouraged, you are raising your arms, pulling together your strength – and with these three tips – are well on your way to swimming back to him.

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7 Biblical Benefits: Why You Must Get Quiet

Get Quiet

The majority of the time I can seem to keep quiet.

It is not so much that I am always talking, but it is much more that I am always retorting, rebutting or formulating in my mind.

They should do this…
I wonder if he has considered…
I have to say this next…
I can’t forget to mention…

When talking, it is very hard to be listening.
When planning, it is very hard to be receiving a plan.
When speaking over God, you simply can’t hear him.

Yet, when you allow your selfish ways to create space for his sacred will – God has a stage to show off. When you allow dialogue to give way to deep seeking – direction makes an appearance. When you strangle fear – fear of God lets you breathe again.

7 Biblical Benefits of Getting Quiet Before God

1. When your mouth shuts, you appear wise and discerning to others.

Even fools are thought wise if they keep silent, and discerning if they hold their tongues. Prov. 27:28

2. You dwell in the the comfy and cared-for knowledge that God cannot and will not leave or forsake you. Not only this, but you find Godly prosperity and good success.

This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.  Josh 1:8

3. The filing cabinet of your mind has room to store fear of the Lord – and all the resulting wisdom that accompanies it.

Only fear the LORD and serve him faithfully with all your heart. For consider what great things he has done for you. 1 Sam. 12:24

The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. Prov. 9:10

4. By listening, considering and blocking the VIP door to your mind, you make space for things that bring peace, life and renewal.

Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.  What you have learned and  received and heard and seen  in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. Phil. 4:8-9

5. The impossible becomes possible by the strength of prayer. You can walk down the painful, but glory-filled, roads you’d normally run from.

And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, (Jesus) departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed. Mk. 1:35-36

6. You land at transformed, rather than conformed. With more confidence you head towards what is good, pleasing and perfect in this world.

Do not be conformed to this present world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may test and approve what is the will of God–what is good and well-pleasing and perfect. Ro. 12:2

7.  You ponder, praise and get passionate about your fist love – and then God delivers you.

The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them. Ps. 34:7

Solitude gives way for the magnitude of the gospel to resound.

Rather than God fighting the rush hour of the world, trying to move above fray of a believer’s heart and or squeezing into the small space left for Godly awareness – quiet makes space . In the quiet, God bakes activated love.

We find more than we could ever ask for.
Not by posturing for it, but by seeking him in it.
When we seek him, we find him.
When we find him, we can’t help but share him.
We open our mouths, we speak life. 
We speak life, because we found life.
​Loudly. Confidently. Boldly.

“Quiet” works out loud proclamations of glory.

He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. Mk. 16:15

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When We Smother God’s Fire With Well-Meaning Activity

Blog Post by Abby McDonald

I poked at the fire, frustrated that it wouldn’t stay aflame. This girl was no scout. The temperatures outside had reached single digits, and our furnace was having a hard time keeping up.

After spending an hour trying different techniques, adding wood, scraps of paper, and using more fire starters than any person should, the flame blazed hot enough for the wood stove’s fan to cut on, circulating the heat throughout the house. My mouth spread into a victorious smile.

The problem was, I didn’t know what I’d done right.

Later, after my husband returned from a business trip, he explained the basics of fire building to this city girl. I listened intently, determined not to have the predicament repeat itself.

Even my son, the cub scout, knew the basics of fire 101. I guess I should have asked him, right?

As any seasoned camper may know, fires need three basic components: heat, fuel, and oxygen.

It turns out, I had given my fire plenty of heat and fuel, but I’d neglected oxygen almost altogether. Instead of giving my flame room to breath by spreading the wood in a triangular shape, I’d smothered it.

Fires need room to breathe. And much like the flame I’d suffocated with its own fuel, I often adapt the same pattern in my spiritual life.

I know my heat comes from the Holy Spirit living inside me. I feed the flame with his Word and plenty of good reading material, podcasts and worship.

I gather with other believers. I lead and serve.

But often, I don’t allow space to breathe. To digest what he’s teaching me. To sit in his presence and be still with no agenda, no checklist or index of requests I need to present.

While we fixate on the lines of our life story, God often speaks in the margins.

In the spaces in-between the carpools, the play dates and the prayer meetings. In the moments where we slow down, we sit and we wait. Because the voice of God is always worth waiting for.

“Be still, and know that I am God;

I will be exalted among the nations,

I will be exalted in the earth.”

Psalm 46:10 NIV

So instead of piling more stuff onto my never-ending to-do list, I’m carving out time to listen. Even if it starts with fifteen minutes before my kids roll out of bed, it will be worth it.

I’m creating a space to not simply read the Word, but hear from the Word.

Have you stacked too many scraps on your fire, suffocating it so it has no room to breathe? Have you placed a list of chores on the altar of life, forgetting what God wants most is our hearts?

I have. I am guilty. But thanks be to God, his mercies are new every morning.

It is never to late to realign our priorities, to make a change or create a new beginning. Today is the day.

Fan the flame.

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Abby McDonald is a writer who can’t contain the lavish love of a God who relentlessly pursues her, 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.

How I Saw God Last Night (and you can too)!

I Saw God

Do you miss it?
It is right before your eyes.
Waiting for your astonishment…

It is God showing off.

If you are head down in iPhone…you won’t see it.
If you are worrying your pants off about what is to come…you won’t see it.
If you are yelling to that person next to you in traffic…you won’t see it.
If you are looking at what everyone else is wearing…you won’t see it.
If you are more concerned with your ways than his…you won’t see it.
Not because he doesn’t care for you, because he absolutely does.
Not because you aren’t his loved son or daughter, which you hopefully are.
Not because he is angry at you, because he is not, he just waiting for you to run back to him in repentance.

You won’t see, because you don’t allow yourself to see.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jer. 29:13 

Eyes that are looking for God, find him. Eyes that are distracted, miss him.

Last night, my son ran into my room with a mid-night dream he wanted to share. I hushed him up and pushed him back to his bed, deathly afraid I would turn into a walking-zombie mother the next day from lack of sleep. Success! He returned to bed.

Until, he came back. He woke me again, but this time I hugged him. I loved on him as Christ might. I enjoyed the quietness of the moment. Then, I looked out the window…and saw it. Bright as day, as close as the breath of my own child, as bold as a phone call in the middle of the night – it stood. It was the moon, except for one thing…this moon’s rays shined only two ways – horizontal above the earth, and vertical – ground to heaven.

This moon was emitting rays in the shape – of a cross.  A cross that owned the world.

FullSizeRender (2)

(This picture does the cross no justice, because its rays extended far and wide, long and distanced, crisp and sword-like, prominent and powerful. They went straight down to the ground and straight up to the sky…it was gigantic and breathtaking.)

This moon declared Jesus’ victory over the plains of the fearful and the plans of evil.
It proclaimed the earth as belonging to God.
It blazed like a victory flag over our mayhem-ridden land.
It shined eternal sovereignty, which will never, ever, fade.
It confirmed it can’t beat the the sacrifice that will always endure.
It magnified Jesus’ ability and desire to cleanse the world of all pain, agony and hatred.

But, what if I had missed it?

What if instead of stopping to let my eyes adjust to the light of God outside,
I let sleep lure me inside?

Awaken! God is all around, but when our eyes look down, we miss the exact places where he is found.

Let all the earth fear the LORD; Let all the inhabitants of the world stand in awe of Him. Ps. 33:8

If we stop in the middle of rush, we will see – that it is us that God wants to touch.
If we look for wonder, we will find ourself wondering how we have such a great God.
If we pray to see, God will open our eyes up wider than they are after our third drink of coffee.

God waits to awe our socks off!FullSizeRender (3)

Nature testifies to the natural goodness of God. It is the present testament declaring both testaments of our living King. It confirms his majesty, administration and intentions.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities–his eternal power and divine nature–have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse. Ro. 1:20

If you only see the white noise hum of “bore” before you – you’ll miss the “tremendously more” that God has – for you.

Worship the LORD with reverence and rejoice with trembling. Ps. 2:11

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The Myth Of Control

I am more than delighted to welcome a true woman of the Lord, Karina, to the Purposeful Faith blog. From the minute I met her, I could see love, joy and passion written all over her. Karina is an example of transparency and authentic pursuit of God. I couldn’t be more happy to have her on Purposeful Faith as a regular contributor. I hope you enjoy her heart as much as I do.

Post by Karina

I have this struggle. I’m sure I am probably the only person who struggles with this issue. I kind of, sort of, maybe, like to be in control. Just a little bit. When a say a little, I mean a lot!

The last 6 months or so have been a bit paradoxical in nature. What I mean is that many amazing things have happened to me! I went out of town several times, have had a few exciting writing opportunities, connected with dear friends and met some new ones! During those exact same months, I have been searching for a roommate. I’m 35 and single and living alone is ridiculously expensive. I normally have a sense from God in which direction to go in when making decisions, but this time around, I had no direction.

I, under no circumstances, like the way that feels! I did my part. I exhausted every avenue to find a roommate and searched high and low for other housing. Nothing made sense. Countless options came and went. No other housing option fit my budget. Again, still no direction. My sweet friend Holly prayed for me one night a couple of months ago after small group. She told me the Lord wanted me to know that this situation was not my fault. I hadn’t done anything wrong. That filled me with such peace and yet still, there was no direction.

Over the past few weeks, the Lord has been so faithful to remind me of the truths that I so easily forget.

For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Isaiah 55:8-9

God is God. I am not. He is omniscient.

He know all things…the past, the present and the future. His timing and mine are rarely the same thing. After all, He is the one who created time itself. I can effortlessly believe the lie that what I see is all there is or that my time line is perfect. That is NEVER the case. There is a great deal happening in the supernatural that I cannot see and may never see. I am learning to embrace the mystery in knowing God and trusting His ways and His heart especially when I can’t see Him at work.

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good,
for those who are called according to his purpose.
Romans 8:28

The never changing truth is that God loves me deeply and He loves you deeply. What He does or doesn’t do, what He says or doesn’t say is always for our good. That is what He does and who He is as our Heavenly Father. He doesn’t send pain or suffering or doubt or confusion. Every good and perfect gift comes from Him. When our circumstances are not good and perfect, it breaks His heart. And His desire is to come in and bring healing, purpose and restoration to our lives. I am learning to let Him do just that.

Are you? Is there an area of your life where you have been believing the myth that you are in control?

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Karina 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.”

Help Me Catch My Breath

Catch My Breath

Post by: Katie M. Reid

I am running. Panting hard, unsteady breath—not effective.

I need air. I need to breathe deep and steady or I’ll double over from exhaustion.

I am covering ground but I am losing it at the same time.

I’m exerting an excessive amount of energy and depleting my reserves as I take shallow breaths. I am flying past the scenery and missing out on the depth of beauty found on these country roads.

As I mentioned before, I am training for a half-marathon. The task is beyond me. I can’t do it without the help of the One who put this body together and is able to sustain me when I reach my limits.

In just a little over a month, I’ll come face to face with cold November air and more than a dozen miles stretching before me.

I have been living as if life is a 100 meter dash, not a marathon. I need to grasp a marathon mindset or be injured or maybe even taken out of the race.

But I’m not just talking about this literal race.

Covering Ground

Have you been training? Have you been doing time on your knees? Have you been stretching your faith muscles through prayer, so that you are prepared for what’s to come?

Are you giving your body a rest?

Have you been taking time to slow so that your body can be repaired?

Are you caring for those in your charge or are you pushing them to the limits as you race ahead?

Are you relying on your strengths to push forward or are you receiving His grace for your lack?

I am not proficient in prayer or rest—in fact sometimes I’m a downright pathetic pray-er and a restless rester. I want this to change. It has to change for the sake of my health, family and spiritual life.

For the next 31 days I am focusing on this dynamic duo—prayer and rest—and asking God to help me grow.

I like to plan my course, but I want God to lead these days instead.
I like to know what the outcome will be, but I want Jesus to overcome me instead.
I like to avoid pain, but I want the Holy Spirit to burn through my weaknesses instead.

Are you following His pace for your path? Are you leaving space for grace?

As we settle into our stride may we keep in step with the Spirit. May we not lag behind nor run ahead. May we stop running ourselves ragged and run instead to that old rugged cross—wrapping ourselves around His love.

May we enjoy the route that He has ordained for us—even when it’s uphill, even when it’s muddy, even when there are detours.

We will likely stumble on this journey, but instead of throwing in the towel, let’s receive and extend His grace for ourselves and those around us.

There is beauty to be found at our feet, let’s not miss it. Let’s embrace His pace for each of our lives.

Let’s Pray

Dear God:

Help us to catch our breath and wake up to Your Presence. We are not able to breathe without you. May we not take the next breath for granted but “breathe in Your grace and breathe out Your praise*.”

May You recharge us as we go down the road that You have laid. Help us to drink in Your grace as You set the pace. Help us to lay down our hurry and scurry and grab hold of Your Body and Blood, broken for us.

We repent of wimpy prayer lives and ask You to strengthen our resolve to cry out to you, often, and with great faith. Help us to unwind in Your Presence, through prayer and rest, as we grow in trust that You will be with us each step of the way. Help us to run the race set before us, faithfully.

Thank You that You are able to take our frazzled and harried days and transform us—free and healed.

Amen.

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*adapted from Your Grace Finds Me lyrics by Matt Redman

Katie M. Reid Headshot by Adopting Natinos

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, four children and their life in ministry. Through her writing, singing, speaking and photography she encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. Katie is a contributing writer here at Purposeful Faith and also over at God-sized Dreams. Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com