Purposeful Faith

Category - doubt

The Good in the Bad

Today, I am overjoyed to welcome Shanelle Wagner! Her words speak encouragement and life. Shanelle is the Women’s Ministry Coordinator at First Denton Church. Shanelle, we are thankful for you and everything you do! Keep trekking into your calling.

Post by: Shenelle Wager

Are you seeing a storm full of no’s, changed plans, erupting conflicts and sideways suggestions?

Maybe you are beginning to think, “This is not what I signed up for? Did I make a mistake, a wrong turn? What is going on? Am I cut out for this? I’ve done something wrong, I don’t have control.”

When you know what God wants for you, suddenly you feel peace where you are going. (3)

God brings us to situations that are more than we can handle alone, so we can depend on Him.

James tells us to consider it joy.

I used to roll my eyes in unbelief and run from this idea, I just couldn’t’ wrap my mind around how the bad should make me joyful…but He has been patient with me, gently pursuing me.

And this is what I’ve discovered: God is faithful to work in these types of downpours.

These bolts of doubt, waves of no’s, changed plans and conflicts test maturity. They indicate where you are. They are not used for the purpose of shaming, chastising or catching you. On the contrary, they are because he cares for you. Because He is about to take you to the next level.

He lets you see where you are weak, so you can see how to be strong – in Him.

Now, if you fall and revert back to your old ways, don’t panic. He has more work to do with you to strengthen you for the next level. One thing I have come to learn, though, is he loves cooperation and willingness (Example: bible study, confession, accountability, recovery group).

I believe, it is all worth it, for what you find is: the testing proves out – your progress.

Ever noticed this? When you see progress, it offers a confidence a boost.

God is preparing you. He does this for the ones He sees and loves. The ones He has specific plans and purposes for.

This is you. This is me.

Hanging on. Trials can certainly leave you empty and ravaged.

3 Ways to Keep the Faith in Storms

1. Fix your eyes on Him, know who He is and believe His truths. (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Remember you are not alone. He sees you and all you are experiencing, He knows. Let His peace comfort you.

2. Cast your cares on Him. To cast something you must first hold it, look at it, perhaps name it, then you can cast it at His feet (1 Peter 5:7). Know He is with you, sit with Him, and ask Him to help you name the struggle and what is going on inside of you. Tell Him why it bothers you and how it makes you feel, act, think.

The Good in the Bad

3.  Trust what he is doing with the no’s, changes, and interruptions (Prov 3:5). Thank Him for the good. Thank Him for the sun in the sky. Thank Him for the drive thru that offers you a hot drink on a rainy day. Just thank Him for it all. Thank Him for the work He is doing that you cannot see or understand ()1 Thess.5:18.

God can be trusted to complete the good work He begun in you. He is there in the storms.

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About Shanelle

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 4.04.49 AMShanelle is a wife to a super supportive husband, who happens to be her best friend and biggest cheerleader in life.  She is also a mom to two young boys. Shanelle entered vocational ministry when her oldest was a toddler and her youngest came along 17 months after that. She has been learning the ropes of ministry and motherhood simultaneously. Shanelle will tell you that both are the hardest jobs she could ever love. Shanelle can tell you many stories about Lord’s faithfulness all along this journey! Her days have truly not been her own…even though She confesses to  wrestling Him weekly for them.  She will tell you of His is graciousness and patience while she has learned to let go and let him…. work everything out for His purposes.

Shanelle has personally lived out Proverbs 16:9 and 2 Corinthians 12:9, He orders our steps and He is strong in our weakness. She has had to depended on Him to show her every step to take, and there have been times many, many times where anything that was accomplished was not of her own strength, but His. Shanelle continues in her role as Women’s Ministry Coordinator at First Baptist Church Denton, while enjoying the abundance of giggles, cuddles and love with her family.

Broken Perfectionism

Broken Perfectionism

I could not be happier to have Angela Craig joining us today for Ministry Monday. Angela is on fire for the Lord; her passion exudes from her (and I have only talked to her online, so this says so much!). She is a gift sent by God to this world and I am excited to honor her here today. Welcome Angela!

“A dangerous leader is one that has great familiarity with their skills and gifts
but cursory knowledge of their inner brokenness.”
– Dan White, Jr.

I will admit it. I want everyone to like me. The two things I have struggled with most of my life are people-pleasing and perfectionism. In the past, if someone didn’t like me or critiqued my work, I would spend an unhealthy and disproportionate amount of time lamenting on where I went wrong. Then I would make a plan to fix it. The problem was, no matter how hard I tried, I still disappointed people and made mistakes.

It could be because I am human. As far as I know, human beings can strive for excellence but they can never be perfect. Having the hope of perfectionism is like having a boat with a hole in it and thinking you can stay afloat if you can just keep the water out of the bottom. Eventually, you will take on more water than you can bail out and get tired of trying to fulfill other people’s expectations. This leads to burnout or drowning. Neither, a good option.

But what if I was perfect? Would everyone like me then?

Actually, the answer is no.

Listen for a moment to this story of Jesus. On Palm Sunday, Jesus made his triumphal entrance into Jerusalem on a humble donkey. The people were so enamored by Jesus they lined the street with their cloaks and palm leaves in honor of who they believed to be the next royal King from the line of David. Jesus could do no wrong. Five days later, that same King hung on a splintered wooden cross with a crown of thorns on his innocent head – naked, accused, mocked, beaten, hated, and judged – but still perfect.

As the story ends, we see it was obedience, not perfection that changed the world forever.Broken Perfectionism

As leaders, it is easy for our interactions with others to become performance driven. We can become actors on a ministry stage. Our actions being guided and directed by audience approval and recognition. If left unattended, the approval and recognition of others will eventually affirm or challenge our identity and self-worth, leaving God’s opinion back-stage.

We must maintain the ability to embrace our gifts, God’s words, and our brokenness at the same time. For me, a broken perfectionism has been the path to being a healthier leader.

You are unique and distinctive. Your leadership matters. Live fearlessly for Jesus today, my friends, and be encouraged by these last scriptures and a quote from Brennan Manning. I will be here cheering you on!

Brennan Manning wrote: “God loves you without condition or reservation and loves you this moment as you are not as you should be!
Real freedom is the freedom from the opinion of others. Above all, freedom from your opinion about yourself.”

“Man looks on the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart” (I Samuel 16:7 NIV).

“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” (Galatians 1:10 NIV).

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8 NIV).

About Angela Craig

image001 (1)Angela’s 10 years of international speaking experience covers leadership and women’s conferences, non-profit events, and on-line leadership training. Angela is the Director of the women’s department at the Northwest Ministry Network where she has the honor to lead a team who is responsible for the development and empowerment of female leaders in over 320 churches. Angela is an ordained minister and a certified coach with Gallup Strengthsfinder, SLTA 360, and AGC. A life-long learner, Angela has a Ministry Leadership degree from Northwest University and a Master of Arts in Organizational Leadership from Gonzaga. Angela is honored to teach as an adjunct professor at her alma mater, Northwest University. Angela is also the founder of the GIVE GOOD Awards Foundation, an organization that recognizes inspirational people and promotes volunteerism.

Devoted to helping others reach their fullest potential in life and leadership, Angela has authored two books, The Story of Leah: When life is not what you expected it to be and Pivot Leadership: Small Steps – Big Change . You can read her weekly blog encouragements and leadership tips on angelalcraig.com and  on hervoiceblog.us, a blog specifically designed for women in leadership.

A Pep Rally For Those in a Bad Mood

Bad Mood

Hey you, things not going well?

Hey you, struggling again?

Hey you, people driving you batty?

bad mood

I am so sorry it feels everything is working against you, I know how that is. I really do. It’s tiring. It’s hard. This world has rough edges. It is not gentle with them either.

I also want to say, “God is for you.” I can almost hear your response, “Ya, ya, ya, Kelly, we’ve heard that one before. It sounds nice in theory.” 

Let me tell you something – you can know it – and not live it. But, when you live it – you more and more start to know it.

What takes voice is not vile or vitriol but, love, grace and hope; it heals.

It may look something like this:

Screamers in the car? “God is for me. God wants this to work out. God will equip me with patience.”
Waiting around for something to happen? “God is readying all the players, so his game can be won.”
Enduring a trial that won’t quit trying you? “God is training me. He molding me and making me more like Christ.”
Deathly tired? “Today is #anightmare, tomorrow is #newmercies.”

What if rather than seeing how life is fixin to ruin me
I sought to see how God is renewing me?

To let the weight of God’s love sit heavy, is to not allow worry to break your back.

What if we saw things differently?bad mood

Sure, it may feel we are on our last leg, about to tumble over. Sure, we may feel tired. Sure,we may feel like our emotions are a hot mess. But, what if we chose to give a little hat nod to all that and then determined to fix our eyes somewhere else?

When I said, “My foot is slipping,” your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.
When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy. (Psalm 94:18-19)

Notice this, it says: “My foot is slipping.”
Notice the fell-swoop rescue: “Your unfailing love, Lord, supported me.”

Daddy-bird protects his young; God lifts us from our injury through the power of love. 

Notice this: “When anxiety was great…
Notice this: “Your consolation brought me joy.”

Anxiety was plentiful, but joy was available.

What does joy in distress look like?

5 Little Glimmers of Joy against Distress

1. It looks like, “Thank You.” God, thank you that you love me. God, thank you that you are with me. God, thank you that in every single moment, you are singularly focused on helping me. Thank you that Jesus proves it isn’t always easy, but you are always faithful. Thank you that there is life beyond this wretched life.

2. It looks like, “Worship.” God, you are mighty. You are strong. You are capable. Where I cannot, you can. You will redeem, because that is who you are. You are Redeemer. Faithful and true. High and lofty. Holy and worthy. Greater and stronger. I am small, you are big and, because of this, you can do the impossible. I see a mountain, you just see a molehill.

3. It looks like, “I trust you anyway.”  God, let the chips fall where they may, because where they fall is just where you want them to land. And, when they do, it will be your jackpot that rings out. For what you are working, is greater than what I am seeing. And where we are going, is greater than where I feel my emotions stand today.

4. It looks like, “Help me.” God, I need you. Restore my joy. Hear my cry. Answer my call. I need you.

5. It looks like, “I will go with you.” God, I choose to see you in my day. I choose to see the little gifts of joy – the smiles on my kid’s faces, the butterfly passing by, the river that rolls on steady, the sun that is ever at my back. I choose to let you in, when darkness abounds. You are there. I will search you – and then, find you.

bad mood

Bad Mood Prayer:
I don’t have to, God – for you will. I don’t need to God, for you are. It is okay that I feel down. It is okay to struggle. It is okay to have a hard day. God, you can handle my worst day. You will be faithful to me. Restore me, bring me back to the place of love, of consolation – for that is all I need. Amen.

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When You Don’t Know What to Do

What to Do

I am living in the center of chaos. Clothes are hanging off the brink of my mind.  Papers are strewn all over the place – and I am quite certain the wind just blew one in my face.

what to do

I feel like I am stuck in a desolate landfill of all the stuff I have consumed over the last 4 years – stuff I don’t really need. Stuff that holds me back in a way, from being free. It tethers me to the demand that I find – home (big home, even). It demands I – arrive somewhere. It pushes me. I glare at it.

I guess I want to be free. Free to find home with no reservations required – as the Spirit leads.

To be delivered to the Promised Land of peace, friends and love – unrestrained.

I haven’t gotten there yet. That stinkin’ place? It eludes me.

You too?

What place do you want to be delivered to?

What home of peace, answers, calm, relational bliss or finances are you pining for?

I sat down, in the center of it all, everything I wanted to escape – and placed my face in my hands. I looked at all the things I couldn’t handle, I considered all I couldn’t bring about and I realized there was nothing left to do. Anxiety can nearly kill a woman, you know.

The pressure to do, the stern inner dictates and the will to take care of all the baby birds, it’s enough to induce panic.

“God, save me from my self. Show me your ways.”

Every prayed that prayer?

It works. He answers.

It takes the traveler, the one stuck to eternal roaming with bags too large and heavy for her own britches and sends her on her way. She moves from jet-lagged and famished, walking around, searching (otherwise called living-hell) – and heads home.

what to do

She gets somewhere.

Something rises up.

It sounds like this: “Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” (Is. 30:21)

Bags unloaded, it is a resting spot. Where, bags down, you lay and look up. It doesn’t matter what anyone else thinks. It doesn’t matter what time your flight is to destination delightful. It doesn’t matter how you go about making it there. It just matters that God is going to be faithful.what to do

When you see God and you see his way – it doesn’t matter so much about – your way.

A voice rises above the mayhem. It is not about being delivered from what plagues you, but being delivered to – who calms you.

I missed all that.
Have you?

The truth is:

Jesus wants to be with me – wherever I stand.

Jesus has a way for me – wherever I am.

Jesus has planned life for me- in whatever I do.

Jesus has truth laid out for me – wherever I go.

I don’t have to fret the when – for Jesus already figured out – the how.

He’s never one to let me fail – and every time his love prevails.

what to do

The world may spin, but the cross is steady; it is planted in the solid rock of truth. Truth walks me to life. Life is knowing, God will lift my foot up and put it where it needs to go. He will manage my wavering opinions, doubts and fears.

Do you believe he will do that for you?

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the LORD establishes their steps. Prov. 16:9

I lean back. My lungs fill. We don’t have to control chaos, peace knows the way. And out of the chaos, we get what we were always after – home – his waiting love.

The question is, will we, like prodigal children, return to it?

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Changing When You Hate Change

Hate Change

After college, I fled my home on the east coast and rushed to a west coast adventure. My new boss and I flung around the sun-soaked city streets of L.A. in a black Mercedes. I felt free. I felt ready. She was teaching me the ropes of sales and how to close the deal with men who were in high positions. I was a sponge – ready to learn, ready to train and ready to acquire knowledge – but, her instruction? It stopped me…

“Kelly,” she said, “You just do what you have to do – to get the deal done.” 

My heart sunk. I got the subliminal message.

Smiling (and with what I am now convinced was a – wink?), she pulled next to my dream car – a luxury red-hot convertible. It shined succulent. She looked at me and said, “Bite it.” No, she didn’t say that, but almost, she said, “Kelly, if you want that car, it is yours…”

Hate Change

And there I was. I stood on the cliff of decision.

Would I welcome change or would I be changed forever by not changing jobs?

Change is interesting. It is like an unwelcome demand by someone (namely God) to do something I am not ready for. It almost always comes at the wrong time – and I’m almost always resistant.

Are you resistant?

Usually, a silent warning lays right under its surface…“You better do something about this or you are going to get hurt….”

Pondering this, and gazing out the window, I couldn’t help but think that God doesn’t demand nature change seasons. It is gradual and seamless. Natural. Welcome, even. 

What is the difference?

What am I missing?

Author Daniel Strain, from Science News, describes nature’s budding process like this: “The buds suck up water, growing until they are ready to explode. The petals and sepals – the outer, greener portion of a flower gradually invert, then peel open like a banana and form a blossom.”

Hate Change

4 Things That Buds Know About Change That We Don’t:

1. The buds “suck up” water. Do I? Do you? Do you drink in the living water of love so that when you hit the desert you don’t think it’s your new home?

“But whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst.” Jo. 4:14

2. The buds are ready to “explode”. If I fill myself up with truth about what God will do, I will much more be able to explode into life change.  I just remember: 1.) God is with me 2.) God is for me 3.) He always has a very, very good plan.

3. The outer portion of “the petal turns inward”, before turning outward. Changing hurts; this is why you draw in. You have to cover, pray and seek God, before you can bust out and shine.

Hate Change

4. They peel open “like a banana”. Getting peeled like a banana, well, it doesn’t sound too buttoned-up and managed. It sounds humble. Willing. Receptive to what is happening. It sounds much like losing control, in trust, that God is in control.

God is consistent. Nature knows. It awaits the beautiful about to explode from barren.

Maybe we become like nature?  We might then be able to believe and proclaim, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17

Hate Change

We will know – all will turn out okay…

We just suck up water, explode with truth, turn in and then – unfold into the new creation that, God, all along, has been working us into.

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Confession Is Good For The Soul

Confession Is Good

Post by: Karina Allen

I feel like confession is one of those topics that is wildly misunderstood and feared. I grew up in the really traditional religion of Catholicism. I went to Catholic schools all of my life and every week, we went to confession. I never had a super firm grasp as to why we needed to go to a Priest and confess our sins, but I did it. It was what we did. It was all I knew. I didn’t question it, I just went with the flow.

During those times of confession, I never really had any new or concerning issues. I was a very compliant child. To this day, that still holds true. I pretty much stated the same list of sins to the Priest. My main one, was that I didn’t speak respectfully to my grandmother. I tend to be a bit sarcastic. I never seemed to have any new struggles.

Today, is a different story. I have struggle on top of sin on top of struggle. I need help and I recognize that I need help. That’s the first step, right? Now, I have no issue with thinking of all of the ways I fail and fall short. I’m sure you do too.

There are two main areas where confession must happen in our lives…with God and with others.

Jesus is our great High Priest.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9

The idea of confessing our sin to the Lord should never scare us or intimidate us. We should never feel embarrassed or ashamed. We can trust Him with every sin. He is a safe place for us. God is a loving Father who never brings condemnation. He knows everything there is to know about us and loves us still. Our confession to Him is not for His benefit. It is for ours. He sheds the light of His truth on our dark places and ushers in hope and healing. The enemy of our souls wants to keep us bound to our sin. The Lord wants us free!

Confession in community is God’s design.

Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective. James 5:16

Don’t let this freak you out. This is not a call for us to share every intimate detail of our lives with everyone we meet. But, it is a call for us to get brave and to get intimate with a chosen few.

Guard your heart out there. All are love-worthy. Not all are trustworthy. Authenticity with all. Transparency with most. Intimacy with some.” Beth Moore

God’s intent for us was never to live in isolation. We were created for one another. This verse in James clearly states for us to confess to and pray for each other. We don’t do this with everyone but we do do this with a select few.

There is a healing that only comes when we confess to one another.

Jesus had the 12. He had the 3. Then, He had the 1. He modeled what covenant friendships are supposed to look like. If He believed these relationships were important. How could we believe anything less?

Do you feel safe to confess to God and others? I’d love to pray for you today.

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BjBC4hzUKarina 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.”

10 Lessons: Don’t let Worry Steal Your Joy (One Day Longer)

I spun like a crazed woman on a treadmill, except for the fact that I was actually on an elliptical. My arms moved as if they were ready to punch the world right out of my way. My eyes focused as if I was really going to finally get myself somewhere. My legs moved trying to knee pressing issues right out of the way.

I was the wild gym-goer –
the girl trying to force herself to new ground –
ground that was unattainable to get to.

I kept spinning. Spinning worries. Spinning problems. Spinning up things that could go wrong. Building a whole lot of motion that was moving me nowhere.

Untitled design (50)

Motion.

In my mind’s dictionary, it means: 
1. Trying to force yourself to go, make progress or get ahead.

In the dictionary of classical mechanics (which, I know by heart – joke!), it means:
      1. A body either is at rest or moves with constant velocity, until and unless an outer force is applied to it.

An outer force? There was no outer force around me, just an inner force, an inner force of doubt driving my pursuits.

I didn’t trust “Outer Force” would work on my timeline, or according to my demands or with my outcome. God may have some answer like, “Kelly, wait.” Or, “Kelly, my will is being done.”

I get frustrated with those kinds of answers. I get internally irate and put an arm up – choosing worry over wonder.
Do you?

Pumping. Sweating. Pressing in – to my more. I considered God.

And, as if the clouds parted and my mind hit some new parallel of peace, it landed – softly.

Worry Steal Your Joy

I watched him through the giant window. Chilling. Eating. Laughing, almost, at me. He came to teach me something.

10 Lessons Taught by A Bird:

1. Don’t ever forget this verse when you start to worry: Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? (Mt. 6:26)

2. God doesn’t look at his answers for us as limited, but unlimited. Just as the birds pluck for ample food on the ground, so does God have ample food for me.

3. Life is not feast or famine; it is a continual feast I have to choose to believe in. The birds don’t walk heads down, they walk heads high, knowing God is right about ready to deliver them to their next feed.

4. It doesn’t matter what everyone else has.

Worry Steal Your Joy

God has intentionally mined the ground with “glorious riches in Christ Jesus” meant just for me. (Phil 4:19)

5. There is no need to bump up against other people who don’t do what they should. God has them on their own path for food and joy.

6. There is an invitation by God to frolic and fancy life. In between his great providence, there is a game of “chase” going. We can join in like a little baby bird, who knows life is short and troubles pass.

7. What looks like a dark, vast covering of trees before you, is really just a call to adventure. It is the place you fly into knowing that God is going to take you on a ride that will thrill you. You just have to grab onto his carpet and let him lead.

8. Be present and be calm. Birds don’t have one dang concern about pending storms or world issues. I don’t see them building bunkers or walking around with defensive artillery. It seems they let go of threats that surround them – and let God ground them.

9. To see God everywhere is to see peace, joy and answers abound. Birds keep looking. They move their head left and right like little pendulums. Somehow, I guess, they are soaking things in.

Worry Steal Your Joy

10. We see life through the vantage point of me, myself and I, yet God’s view is sky-high – like a bird sees. There are things up there we can’t see. Probably, things that would blow our mind – disappointments that were used by God to create divine appointments, things like that. It’s a symphony of eternity; it reverberates beyond us.

These birds. They speak to me – almost – singing, “You gotta trust the bird’s eye view to get through.”

My velocity and intensity settle. My arms feel like they can finally be – at rest. I look and soak it all in.

Worry Steal Your Joy

God has this.

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5 Personal Vulnerability Points That the Devil Attacks

Devil Attacks

I didn’t know where the thought came from. Like an unwelcomed visitor, it showed up unannounced. It just pushed its way in – and sat down.  Holy had to leave. It doesn’t do well with things vile, deplorable and downright not from God. Worship left the air too. All eyes were on the house warming gift of worry in the middle of everything; it was tied up with the bow of anxiety. It’s a horrible gift.

In me, what felt like a temple, now felt tainted.

 Devil Attacks

Certainly, I let in a monster that wasn’t supposed to be around, but I wasn’t sure what to do about it. When you let this kind of thought in, they don’t leave – they are rude like that.

So rude, that sometimes they keep you up all night as you try to wrangle them like untamed and bucking broncos. They rise and let you know how tall they are. They contort around you spelling out the word D.O.O.M.

I hate them, usually.

Knowing this, I come to these very important question…

How do I block the random attacks of the enemy that arrive like arrows in the night?

And, are there certain conditions that make me more vulnerable?

I think there are. Paul lets us know that we should be wise to their schemes (2 Cor. 2:11).

If we want to stand firm, we have to keep up our defenses up and our knees down to the ground.

You see, to be aware is to stand active in prayer.

So that your heart does not pursue an enemy affair.

 Devil Attacks

Prayer is our best defense. God is our best offense.

Beyond this, if we know when the devil is prone to attack us, we can raise up our requests and calls for protection during these times. In essence, we can F.I.G.H.T back!

5 Times the Devil Loves To Attack Christ Followers…When they are:

  1. Famished.
    If you are hungry for life and not filling up on God, you are prime meat.
    If you are hungry for food and are feeling a little off kilter, you are a tasty choice.
    If you are head in iPhone, not soaking in the love of God, you are often – toast.
  2. Irritable.
    If you are off-footed and nearly falling, even more the devil knows his punch will knock you out.
    If you are in a bad mood, he knows you will open the door to his negativity.
  3. Gullible.
    If you are open to lies, he will feed them to you.
    If you are willing to listen to pride, he will lure you to it.
    If you are up for misunderstanding God, he will distort him to you.
  4. Hurt.
    If you are discouraged, he will lure you to quick-fixes.
    If you are beaten in relationships, he will feed you bad words about the another person.
    If you aren’t seeking God, the devil will seek you and make you wonder if God is really good.
  5. Tired.
    If your mind is confused, he will confuse it some more.
    If your will is weary, he will wear it down to its breaking point.
    If people get testy, he will test your limits.

We can’t blame everything on the devil. Nope. That would miss this thing called flesh (Gal. 5:16) that works in its own self-serving way. But, when the devil is at play, the fertile ground described above is primed soil ready for insecticide-ridden hands.

Yet, when left protected and guarded, God grows something new –  it is called perseverance and determination.

 Devil Attacks

F.I.G.H.T.!!!

Praise be to the LORD my Rock, who trains my hands for war, my fingers for battle. Psalm 144:1

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When You Keep Losing What You Want

When You Keep Losing

My dear friend, Christy Underwood, is joining us today. As you will see, her endurance and perseverance is both admirable and touching. I saw it in action as she went through this trial. Today, her story reminds me that even when we feel like the world is hurting us, still, God is always pursuing us. 

The nurse came into the room. The test came back negative. My fears were confirmed. I was not pregnant. I had lost the baby. It was difficult but I was thankful that it was early on in the pregnancy and I had minimal physical side effects from the miscarriage.

The doctor told us we should wait a few months before trying again. In the meantime, I went to a women’s conference with our church. A girl at our table told us about a book she was reading called, “Heaven is for Real.” She shared a part where the little boy meets his sister who had died in his mom’s tummy. I excused myself from the table, went to the bathroom, and cried. The Lord spoke to me in those moments. It hit me that the baby we lost is God’s child too, just as I am God’s child. I had focused too much on how I lost MY baby. I was able to see how God loves our/His child the same way He loves me. I realized that God wanted life for His child just like I did. He is the Creator of life. So, why did our child die?

Because we live in an imperfect world.

God could have intervened – but He didn’t.

He chooses not to control our world, because He wants us to have the free will to choose – Him or not. 

A few months later, I got pregnant again. I was scared but knew I had to trust the Lord. Our sweet girl is 3 years old now.

After lots of trying – and waiting – to get pregnant again – it happened. Yet, when they did the initial ultrasound, they couldn’t find the heartbeat.

“Take this medication and return in a week.” That’s what the doctor said.

That week was one of the hardest, most anxiety provoking weeks of my life. Nothing had changed. They could see that I had been pregnant, but we lost the baby again. I waited for my body to do what God designed it to, but I was on an emotional rollercoaster. I sought the Lord and He spoke to me. I questioned if God understood my pain, my loss. He said that He indeed understood more than I would ever be able to understand.

He allowed His Son to bear our sin and pay the price, so that we could have a relationship with Him.

“This is how God showed love among us:
He sent His one and only Son into the world
that we might live through Him.”
(1 John 4:9)

Time passed, and I got pregnant again. The technician was able to show me the baby and the baby’s heartbeat but the baby was measuring a little smaller than expected. I was hopeful but nervous. I went back a couple weeks later and the baby had barely grown. There was no longer a heartbeat. Again, Lord?

We lost this baby the day before my daughter’s 3rd birthday.

For some, this may have ruined the day. For me, I saw God working. I was thankful to have a brief time of mourning and then found myself rejoicing in the child He had already given us. The Lord was reminding me of all I had to be thankful for. I knew he was going to teach me something. The message I heard this time was, “Praise Me. Focus on who I am.” A song came back to me that I had briefly focused on during my last miscarriage, “Praise You in This Storm,” by Casting Crowns.

Here are some of the lyrics:

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am

And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

What storm are you trying to survive?

How is God calling you to praise Him in the midst of this storm?

It comes down to a choice. Will we choose Him or not? Let’s keep our eyes on Him no matter what a fallen world sends our way.

We don’t know what the future holds or what God’s plan is for our lives, but I know – I will do my best to trust Him and seek His will above all else.

Will you?

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Christy (left) is a wife, a mother to one sweet girl, and a speech therapist. She’s lived in Southern California her whole life. Kelly and Christy met in their early 20s at a church retreat and have supported each other through all of the crazy transitions life keeps bringing.

Kelly’s must-add words about Christy: Christy inspires me to be a better friend. She asks the real questions, the tough questions and the caring questions. She is honest and fun all at the same time. She is a woman who seeks after God with her whole heart. I thank God that he made matched us together, two friends who “get” each other. I can’t wait for all the years she and I have ahead of us – in this crazy ride called life.

Thank you, Christy, for using your story for God’s glory!

I Am Tired of the Sidelines

the Sidelines

Post by:Karina

I’ve been thinking, maybe obsessing, about dreams, purpose and calling. I’ve been thinking about my present circumstances and where I’d like to see my life in 10, 20  and 50 years. Many times, people have a gift or skill or talent that is obvious. It stands out. It gets them noticed. That’s not me. More often than not, I feel completely average. I’m not saying average is a bad thing. I’m just saying that I don’t often think I stand out. And that’s okay as well.

Over the past year or so, my dear friend Aimee has been speaking over our lives that we have in many ways been placed in a hidden place by the Lord . We have skills and talents and gifts, but we’re not necessarily flashy and in the forefront. I’m sure many of you feel the same way.

Over the past several years, I have literally watched friend after…both online and in my everyday life, launch businesses and non-profits. It feels like everyone else’s dreams are coming true. I feel left behind.

For me, being in this hidden place has caused me to shrink back from stepping out in faith and taking chances. By nature, I’m not a risk taker, but I want to be more of one. I want to take the risk that trusts God and builds His Kingdom.

Some aspects of calling and purpose have come to mind as it relates to what I can do and the timing of it all.

God works in His own timing.

“And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45

There are several truths wrapped up in this one verse. It refers to blessing, patience in waiting and fruition. The time of waiting between our now and our future can either make us break us. So much of our character is forged during this time. It is here where we come to know and truly believe the promises that God has spoken to us. It is here where we push past what we can see in the natural and trust that God is working in the unseen.

We are co-laborers with Christ.

“For we are co-workers in God’s service; you are God’s field, God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9

We have a part to play in our dreams, calling and purpose. It doesn’t all rest on our shoulders. Praise God! But, we have work to do! This is the fun part! We get to embrace who God  has created us to be and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. Before the foundations of the world, He prepared good works for us to do. And the beauty of that is that He has equipped us uniquely for each of these good works. There is a deep satisfaction in playing a small role in God’s great story.

Seek the giver of the dream more than the dream itself.

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

Dreams are great! For the believer, they are God-given and God-sized, but scripture clearly tell us that is God who brings the increase. A man plan’s way but it is God who directs our steps. We can strive and hustle and take situations into our own hands. We can speak pretty, persuasive words, but if all of that wasn’t birthed in the heart of God, it will all fail.

Only God’s plans are guaranteed for success.

He will always bless those plans. We are to seek His heart, His purposes, His truth, His way and His Kingdom. He will take care of the rest.

He will fulfill the desire of our hearts when our desire is for Him.

Cheer on those who are stepping into the fulfillment of their dreams.

“Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.” 1 Thessalonians 5:11

Sometimes I think I have this one under control. Other times, I know I don’t. It frustrates me to no end because I am an encourager. God has gifted me with this. It comes so naturally most of the time. Sometimes, I have to work at it. The times where I have to work at it are the times when my friends are getting opportunities that I’d do anything to have. I don’t begrudge them, but I would like to have them as well. I easily fall into the scarcity mentality that believes an opportunity for someone is one less opportunity for me. This just simply isn’t true. It’s a lie from the enemy.

He wants us to be divided and warring against each other. But, the heart of God is for unity and oneness. The best way to combat this battle of comparison is to cheer wildly and pray fervently for one another. We need to believe the best for one another and call out the gold in them.

A win for my sister is a win for me.

A win for me is a win for her.

So no more sideline living for me! I am going to chase hard after my Jesus, confident in who He says that I am and trusting in His goodness. He’s got everything else!

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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.”