I said a prayer. Jesus was in me. I could almost hear the chorus of angels singing in tandem, “Laa….You’ve arrived!!!”
Now, my whole life would change for good…
I’m God’s… No problems.
I’m saved. Things will go smooth.
I know the truth. No more mistakes.
God’s my backer. People will no longer annoy me.
Did someone, like me, sell you easy, breezy Christianity?
It’s hardly the case. It’s much more like being on an elite training team. It’s like learning to be a Navy Seal or something. There’s refinement, tests and drills. There are huge growing pains. There’s an enemy to throw you off. There are loads of tired days and hard work.
There is sweat, grit and perseverance.
There is heart.
There is passion.
There is dedication.
There is vision.
I wouldn’t have it any other way. Because, no matter what – with Jesus, there’s always hope.
No Jesus = No hope.
Know Jesus = Know constant hope.
And there is peace.
No Jesus = No peace.
Know Jesus = Know peace.
Jesus delivers. Not just for eternity either. Many a day, I need a deliverer in a moment, and then, I need a deliverer, once again, in the next moment. Jesus holds me. He relieves the pressure. He picks up my slack.
He delivers me from evil and then delivers me from my own mind that, once again, wants to get its dirty little hands stuck in evil and conniving thoughts.
Jesus is so…good. He surpasses easy. He is that good.
And, so, our battle is good.
It makes us warriors.
Being a warrior makes us aware.
Being aware of war makes us need God.
Needing God makes us want him more.
Wanting him more makes us draw near more.
Drawing near more allows us to know joy, peace, hope and life.
Our battle is good, profitable, worthy and fulfilling.
It’s hardly about arriving, but all about journeying into holy: pinching a hem, clenching His will and riding out love, wherever it will take us.
This is where agony turns into testimony.
We remember the difficulty; they see all His glory.
God is smart. He makes things look easy. But, for the ones, like us, who have been through the wringer, we know, we know the full story.
Not only that, but we also rejoice in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out His love into our hearts through the Holy Spirit… (Ro. 5:3-5)
Through trials, we search out his love.
Through pain we find inner-progress.
Through heartache, we remember Jesus on the cross.
Through persecution, we uncover real faith.
Through shame, we realize we have a new name.
Through life, we discover, Jesus is all life.
Through mistakes, we dig up the healing grace.
We become the most radiant and dedicated warriors ever. For, deep in our hearts, we know, there’s nothing better than what we have. For what He’s given us, is truly – the very best. Our commander rocks!!!
She looked at herself in the mirror, all 3-years of her life, and sized up her outfit. Her dress had layers of tulle, her face had a smile and her pigtails were long, nearly reaching her shoulders. She waved her head a bit and considered them as I said she looks, “Oh so cute…”
“Are they all going to laugh at me mommy?”
She’s already asking herself this question? God, please don’t let this question rule her life, like it had mine.
Oh how I didn’t want her valuing her worth on no-filter 3 year olds with mouths that sound like waterfalls of ruthlessness. Oh how I didn’t want her to determine her beauty based on comments. Oh how I didn’t want her living her life based on others opinions. Oh how I didn’t want her to pander to mankind. Oh how I didn’t want her to lose herself.
My heart sunk.
“No Madison. I think you look fabulous. But, even if they do laugh. You know who sees you? Who loves you? God does. Always.”
I deeply worried my words would fall empty, repeated words, landing in the great abyss of things moms speak, but are never truly heard. Please, God, no! I could almost see the thieves of school, boys and society snatching truth from her. Ripping it out of her heart. Claiming it as theirs.
How do I seal up beauty within her?
We headed downstairs. Me? A million questions stirred. Can I really do this? Will she ever know? She is more than a cute dress. Her small hand clenched mine.
“Mommy, do you think he will like my dress?” She looked longingly at me, inquiring about her brother.
I shrugged, already overwhelmed with the barrage of thoughts firing off in my mind.
We made it to the kitchen.
Son stared at her. She stood there.
He looked at her. She waited.
He formed his hand into a known symbol: a big thumbs down sign.
What?! What in the stinkin’ world?
And, as if every single one of my insecurities was highlighted, I felt completely and entirely angry! Furious.I felt like my very own son had degraded – me!!! Her!!! Every single woman who ever wanted to feel good about herself!
But, he hadn’t.
As he put it, he was kidding.
But, as I saw it, it was no joke. He transformed. My son was all those people who hurt me. He was every single detractor of my worth. He was completely wrong. He was messing up my daughter. He was in trouble: I badgered him. I nagged him to say he was sorry. I came down on him. I was unforgiving. I was obnoxious.
I projected my fear, to try to protect my heart from the past.
Do you ever do this?
We might be prone to project when:
We respond super sensitively.
We make comments predictors of our worth, then hate others.
We become a punisher.
We are extremely, overwhelmingly and exceedingly angry at a person.
Yes, my son was rude, but projecting had made me a monster. That’s usually what it does.
And, so, here I sit. Guilty? Yes. Totally.
But, forgiven? Yes. Completely.
I am not perfect. Neither are you.
The fact of the matter is we are all still working through our pain with God, aren’t we? We are all still realizing the areas we’ve once been hurt, aren’t we? We are all still in the process of letting redeemer redeem the beauty we once lost, aren’t we?
God forgives. And, my son will forgive me too. I will tell him my story: a story where I was put down, hurt and let down by the world, a world that can pick people apart instead of loving them.
I will let him know how I never want to do that to him. And, to daughter? I will hold her hand through life, keep my voice next to her ear, relinquish control and let God take the lead. I will trust that even in her hard moments, he won’t let go of her hand.
All through the month of February you will find freedom messages on Jami’s blog about the truth about how Jesus feels about you. From our darkest fears to our greatest folly He is with us – and for us! You can check out these posts by following this link!
I’m delighted Patricia Holbrook is hosting the linkup today! Patricia is faithful in her calling. She is honest and transparent. She has a story that will meet your heart in its dry places.
Leave a comment for a chance to win a copy of Patricia’s book, 12 Inches!
The Lord said to Gideon, “I will deliver you with the 300 men who lapped and will give the Midianites into your hands; so let all the other people go, each man to his home.” Judges 7:7
It was Friday night. I absently stared at the TV, thinking about how lonely I felt. Looking through my phone book, I knew that the options were not good. Friends who would be available on a Friday night would quickly offer me a tour back into my life before Christ… Places I knew not to visit anymore.
My new Christian friends were all busy with their husbands and family. It was me, my TV… and… my Bible. I glanced down and picked it up.
A new Christian, I had heard that Jesus was all I needed, but was unsure of how to let Him fill the void.
I surrendered my life to Christ only months before, and experienced unprecedented joy and peace. I spent the following weeks and months on a spiritual high, attending a new Christian discipleship class, prayer meetings and various church functions.
Yes, I made several new friends, but they were, well… new. And most of them were married, anyway. Loneliness filled my heart on the weekends. That particular weekend was the hardest of all.
As I held my Bible, tears streamed down my face. One of my best friends of eight years had turned her back on me.
Betrayal. Pain. Confusion.
The last drop in the bucket.
“Jesus, I thought you would fill my life, not empty it!” I cried out.
It was there, lying on my couch, that I heard His voice, whispering in my heart for the first time.
“I am preparing the soil for new sowing. For a new harvest.”
It was then that I saw it. I had a vision. As in a dream, I saw a large, bare field. The soil showed places where trees once stood. It was desolate-looking. Ugly, even.
Then I saw seeds coming down from Heaven, falling inside each hole on the ground. And finally, I saw the same field, green and full of beautiful, tall trees.
“Behold, I am making all things new,” I heard.
Twenty Years have gone by since that day…
And I behold the harvest.
I can close my eyes and see the faces.
My husband, our two daughters and wonderful, faithful friends throughout the years, planted in the field of my life. Besides one very best friend from my youth and my immediate family, they are all new.
They all have been planted by Yahweh’s faithful hands. And they have flourished and yielded fruits of joy, peace, love, patience… true friendship. True Love.
I stand amazed.
The vision was hard to believe at the time when loneliness filled my days. When God removed what I thought was true love… and those whom I considered real friends.
He plucked them all, one by one, and left me wondering whether I’d ever feel loved again.
But before He planted a new harvest in my life, He had to teach me to make Jesus my all in all. He wanted to become my very best friend.
Instead of giving in to the feelings of loneliness and depression, I sought His face.
I made the Bible my greatest companion. I woke up in the middle of the night to talk to my Savior and started serving Him at church. And before I realized it, He started planting beautiful new seeds into my life.
God showed me that, just as He gave Gideon victory over mighty enemies with a small army of faithful servants, His children don’t need 10,000 soldiers to win life’s battles.
When God is in control, He weeds out the unfaithful, and fills in the void in our lives with the 300 faithful few.
Gideon was afraid of not having enough. He couldn’t see how he would defeat his powerful enemy with such a small army.
You may not see how your life can continue without a particular person. Or how you can give up your old friends and still have joy. I challenge you to trust Him. Trust that He is weeding out the unfaithful, cleaning out the soil, preparing it to yield a new harvest.
All He needs is your heart. Your surrendered trust.
I promise that one day you’ll stand amazed, as you contemplate the lush green fields that Yahweh will plant on your current bare land. As you give yourself to Him, believe me: He will give it all back to you.
Pressed down, shaken together and running over.
Because that is the kind of Friend He is.
Just trust His pruning. Trust His plucking. He only cuts out what doesn’t belong, anyway.
*This blog post is an excerpt from Patricia’s Book: Twelve Inches: Bridging the gap between what you know about God and how you feel.”
***Comment for a chance to win a copy of the book! Also, share Patricia’s words on social media!
Patricia Holbrook is the President of Soaring with Him Ministries, author, columnist, blogger, wife and mom. Her passion is to encourage her audience to “soar above life’s circumstances” by the power of God’s Word and the Holy Spirit’s guidance. She writes about making beauty out of brokenness, trusting God in the dark, the blessings of obedience and her love for the Savior.
Among other places, you can find her writing weekly on her
I forgive you. In fact, I’ve already forgotten about what you’ve done. I’ve tied a weight around your worst and thrown it into the great abyss of my endless, all-consuming waters never to see it again.
So, why do you still hold on to it?
I’ve separated it from you. I’ve removed it hemispheres from your mind, being and soul. It’s so far, there is no sight of it in my eyes. There is no value to it in my economy.
So, why do you still hold on to it?
You expressed your remorse. You asked for forgiveness. It is done. I judge you not and I consider it not stuck to you, not even a grain.
So, why do you still hold on to it?
Hear this, I declare your righteous, holy and blameless. When I look at you, this is what I see. This is the sum of you are.
So, why do you still hold on to it?
Do you believe clinging on will help you improve? Be better? As if your fear will produce righteousness? As if slapping your own hand will finally make you act better?
If I don’t require this of you, why do you require it of yourself?
You want to hurt yourself so that you can finally be better. But, guess what? Jesus already took the hurt. He took the pain, for you. For moments just like these.
Jesus was forsaken, so you could be forgiven.
So, why do you still hold on to it?
It is not charges upheld, inflicted, that will mark you changed. But, charges released, absolved, that will give you hope, freedom to find my voice that will change you. In the space of forgiveness, you have room to hear my voice, to listen to my words, to find a new way, a different way. Here, your mind doesn’t talk like jury and judge. Here, you accept the fact – I’ve thrown out the court proceedings. Here, there is only new ground, a fresh day and the start of new opportunities – with me. Here, you find peace, you see my way and you uncover my revelations, progress and growth.
May I suggest you, let go?
Let go of what you can’t let go of. I’ll take it for you.
Lay back in the knowledge I’ll hold you. I won’t ever let you go.
Unclench your hands and believe I will lead you on your best path.
If you run after me, you will find me, when you search for me with all your heart.
What mistakes you keep seeing, have no value in the space between your eyes and mine.
For where we are going together, there is no need for dead weight and there is no necessity for you to control your own progress. I am the one molding you. I am the one keeping you. I am the one leading your family. I am the one in charge of your day. I am the one who you need. So, turn, face me and let’s go to where you haven’t been able to go because you’ve been holding all that.
Our foster-love has entered into the broad world of the wall-eyed fit.
We have epoxy-stained concrete floors in our house. It only took a couple times for her to rethink throwing her entire body weight onto the floor and screaming her head off.
It hurts, so the effectiveness of showing her frustration was overruled by the knot on her noggin.
Now, when she is frustrated she gently sits, then lies blithely on the floor… and then proceeds to throw a fit.
We cannot help but giggle as the drama of her tantrum is overridden by her cautious technique of getting to the pinnacle of the spectacle.
Often we wonder, as long as it took her to get prostrate had she forgotten what she was mad about?
And this may seem silly but recently I was upset with God. I felt He had pulled the rug out from under me. I found myself flat on my back, hurt and angry that He hadn’t been there to stop the insanity train from leaving the station.
For the better part of two days, I ignored my habitual instinct to “pray without ceasing.” I found myself audibly saying, “I am not ready to talk to you about this…”
I went so far as to get out some stationery and pen to write out my complaint. With Thesaurus in hand and my gift for the written word, I would tell God exactly how I felt about the current downward spiral.
Yet the longer I postponed the tantrum, the more I worked through the calamity, the more my vision cleared… and all of the sudden I had new clarity.
He didn’t do this to me.
There were natural consequences for our current trial. He was not dishing out troubles, yes He allowed them and then walked with us through them, but He was not in the business of destroying us.
When did I first believe Him to be cruel I do not know?
But I am rejoicing in the new-found message of GRACE.
Freedom in Jesus wasn’t something He promised just to hear Himself talk.
If we are free… then we are free indeed.
How I love falling into His arms.
How I need Him to catch me and show me it is all okay.
He makes all things new. And all things work together for good for those who love Him. In the midst of a trial, I was refreshed and renewed that He was for me.
He is for my marriage.
He is for my children.
He is for my good will.
Who is this God who we encourage others to adore? Is the walk of salvation a trick manifested just to get others to fall in line? Or is this the real deal?
Pray, I say to you He is so real… so dear and wise.
In my folly, I have questioned Him. In the explicit moments, He has welcomed me, without judgment or harshness, and allowed me to lie at His feet and worship.
What God is this that shows such mercy and love?
My God… my love and life’s breath. He will never leave me or forsake me.
He is for me and He is with me, affording mercy and grace… even unto the carefully executed wall-eyed fit.
Matthew10:16(NASB)”Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.”
Jami Amerine is a wife, and mother to anywhere from 6-8 children. Jami and her husband Justin are active foster parents and advocates for foster care and adoption. Jami’s Sacred Ground Sticky Floors is fun, inspirational, and filled with utter lunacy with a dash of hope. Jami holds a degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (yes Home Ec.) and can cook you just about anything, but don’t ask her to sew. She also holds a Masters Degree in Education, Counseling, and Human Development. Her blog includes topics on marriage, children, babies, toddlers, learning disabilities, tweens, teens, college kids, adoption, foster care, Jesus, homeschooling, unschooling, dieting, not dieting, dieting again, chronic illness, stupid people, food allergies, and all things real life. You can find her blog at Sacred Ground Sticky Floors, follow her onFacebook or Twitter.
Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email –click here.
My husband and I decided, after I returned to the car from grabbing coffee inside a busy supermarket, the answer to this question is the difference between peace and panic.
We pondered this thought because he’d literally just placed himself in a position of worry. You see, while I was inside procuring two grande Americano’s, he could have chosen to wait in a peaceful low-stress parking spot, however he didn’t. Instead, he drove his car right up to the front lane and waited right where all the traffic was. Sure, he pulled to the side and put on his hazard lights, but, by doing this, he put centered himself in a lane of stress, worry and anxiety.
The whole time he fretted: I don’t want to be in anyone’s way. I don’t want to cause any issues. I don’t want to annoy people.
In his haste to be efficient, he had wasted precious moments of peace. How often do we do the same thing? How often do we place ourself – front and center – right into a position of worry?
Recently, I’ve been waking up, putting the final touches on my blog post and sending it out. Usually, no more than 1 minute after I press send on the blog post – a kid wakes up. Then, I stress.
Because of my distraction, I missed connection with God. I was rushed. I’m angry at myself.
Day-in and day-out, though, I do the same thing.
Why am I putting myself in a position of worry?
Why am I repeatedly subjecting myself to the same outcome?
I can make a change. I can decide to take 10 extra minutes at night to do what the morning is stealing away from God. I can choose to place myself, not in the center of worry, but in a place of peace. You can too.
Creating a place of peace is:
Considering what to reschedule to make more time for your kids.
Relaxing your mind in prayer instead of regurgitating your ongoing mistakes.
Choosing to speak less rather than speaking in a way that hurts a loved one.
Deciding to stop ruminating on the past, so you can remain present in the moment.
Eating breakfast in the morning, so you don’t turn into a ball of anxiety by 11:30.
Letting people handle own their problems, rather than feeling you have to fix them all.
Asking God to handle what you can’t.
Halting your place of worry, by taking pro-active steps to figure out a new path to peace.
What might need changing so you can park your mind in a place of peace?
Today, I welcome Christy Underwood! She is not only my dear friend, but she is also a woman who fights to stand strong in Christ. I admire her perseverance and endurance. I think you will too. May her story below be an inspiration to you.
The ultrasound tech asked, “How many pregnancies have you had?”
What’s even tougher is learning at your first ultrasound that there’s nothing in the sac. Nothing. That was a first – and I was devastated.
On my way home from the doctor’s office, I heard the song “Come Alive (Dry Bones),” by Lauren Daigle:
“Breathe, oh breath of God Now breathe, oh breath of God Breathe, oh breath of God, now breathe
As we call out to dry bones Come alive, come alive We call out to dead hearts Come alive, come alive.”
Ezekiel once saw dry bones in a vision. God told Ezekiel to prophesy over the bones. When he did, God put breath in them and they came to life. I knew the story behind the song before I was pregnant. Hearing it this time, I cried. I badly wanted God to breathe life into me, into my baby.
In the days ahead, I had bloodwork done, and my hormone levels were consistent with a normal pregnancy but not rising as much as expected. I still was hopeful, but, at our next ultrasound the result was the same: No life. No baby.
There are no words to explain the sinking feeling.
Yet through this heartache, amazingly, I’ve experienced more of God’s love. It’s unlike anything the world can offer. Sure, I’ve wept – and wept, but God extended strength, peace, and joy during the difficult times. I’m not depressed. I’m not anxious. Only God, the Creator of all good things, could have carried me through this.
Do you ever stop to consider God’s point of view when you’re going through a hard time?
He’s a good, loving Father. When I see my daughter hurting, my heart breaks. I desire to give her good things. Yet, because I love her, at times, I must withhold things for her benefit.
God could have given us this child, but maybe He didn’t because He wants me to share my story with others who have experienced loss. Maybe He saw how this would strengthen my faith and the faith of others. Maybe He saw how He would be glorified.
And, maybe, God intervenes more than I realize, maybe, more than – we – realize…
I started reading Safe in the Arms of God by John MacArthur. Here, it occurred to me, God might have prohibited a situation from happening that would have been even more difficult.
Maybe I don’t need to know it all…maybe I just need to trust a good, loving Father.
Yes, I continue to pray for a child, but I want God’s plan for my life more than a child. I choose to trust Him for myself, my husband, and my daughter. Trusting for my daughter is the most difficult. Sometimes I want another child more for her than for me. God reminds me that I need to trust Him. Isn’t it hard though when we think we know what’s best?
These words encourage me. I hope they encourage you too:
When you don’t move the mountains I’m needing you to move When you don’t part the waters I wish I could walk through When you don’t give the answers As I cry out to you I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in you.
– Song, Trust in You by Lauren Daigle
Whether it seems big or small, God cares and desires to reveal His love for you. He wants to breathe new hope, joy and peace into what we look at as dead, dry and done with. Even with Jesus, what looked dead, at the right time, came alive. Day by day, let’s trust God, even when our plans don’t seem to align with His.
Prayer: God, thank you for who You are. You are a Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, the Everlasting Father, and the Prince of Peace. Help us to trust in You when we don’t know what tomorrow will bring. Help us to keep our minds and thoughts on You instead of the worries of this world. Help us to expect You to show up, that we would feel Your love and know the peace that only You can bring. Amen.
Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email –click here.
Christy 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 is faithful. She pursues God in a way where she doesn’t let her heart quit. I admire her, I love her and I thank her for using her extreme difficulty as a God-exalting opportunity. Daddy is well pleased.
I stood in line at the drug store, arms loaded with candy and party supplies. My son had done some good listening and as I promised, we were going to do a “movie party.” He paced, streamers and balloons in hand, excited to get home. But, with the line 7 people deep, and a woman tapping her foot behind me, I started to get irritated.
That woman behind me is too close. She’s breathing down my neck. Great, now she’s panting. Look at her now – she’s showing off her exasperated stance. There are better ways, lady, to show you’re impatient. Jeesh! Look around! We’re all waiting and wanting to get out of here.
I wanted to turn around and inform her to take a chill pill and to come back a different day – one when I wasn’t in front of her. But, of course, God had other plans; He tugged. Listening, I reluctantly shushed my inner voice of selfishness to hear God’s inner voice of selflessness.
She’s sick, Kelly. She’s real sick. There is often more than meets the eye, darling.
Rather than looking at her as enemy #1, I can choose to be the compassionate one.
Rather than seeing things from my limited view, I can see from God’s caring view.
Rather than keeping space, I can offer her, through Christ, access to a better place.
I breathed deep. I was about to do something, I really, really, didn’t want to do.
But, with Christ, you suddenly do what you thought you couldn’t. It’s a typical thing in a Christian’s life. I asked her if she wanted to swap places with me in line.
“No, thank you. I am in a lot of back pain. I am getting surgery next week.”
God never leads wrong.
“Good lesson God.”
I bought the stuff and left. But, no sooner had I got to the car, than I realized I left a bag inside. Walking and debating internally about why these little blunders happen – why we have to be pressed for time and then do something to throw everything off, I grabbed the lost bag and the wandering kid. I ran back to the car. That’s when I saw her. There she was (she still hadn’t left?). She was in the handicap space, hunched, shoulders slumped. She stared off.
“Now God? Bad timing, God.”
I approached her window…
“What’s your name,” I asked her, “I want to pray for you, later.”
So, I prayed for her right then and there, in the parking lot. Over her procedure. Over the surgeon. Over her peace.
She said thanks. We left.
“Get off me God, haven’t I done enough?!”
Yet, I’ve learned, to turn away from God is to turn away from all things good. So, I listened to Him: Kelly what you prayed for was good, but it wasn’t great. Believing is great, especially when you believe in more than meets the eye.
He yanked. What God prompted in my heart was:
Kelly, your unbelief often holds me back. Who are you to limit me?
What is man that you are mindful of him… Ps. 8:4
Okay, God, I guess I could have prayed with greater faith. I guess I could have believed that if you heal my little girl’s boo-boo’s you could heal that big girl’s boo-boo too.
Who am I to limit God? Why not ask for the biggest, the best and the bold things?
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Mt. 21:22
With this, I admit to you today, friends: I’m done holding back God’s unlimited power because of my limited mind. Today, I am pulling the leash off my prayer life. I’m going to rush to God, full-throttle, with the biggest, the best and the boldest prayers there are. Care to join me?
Where have you boxed in God?
Where have you determined grounds too off limits for his miraculous hands?
Where are you panting, exasperated and needing healing?
What we don’t believe by faith, we won’t see by faith.
What we cannot imagine and cannot fathom, won’t really happen.
What we don’t give a chance, remains unchanged.
Yet, what we believe in, God works in.
If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer. Mt. 21:22
Decisively, join me today, and choose to believe bigger.
Then, believe it, but be prepared, also, to receive it.
Be warned, though, this is not a prosperity gospel, name-it-and-claim-it type deal. What I am talking about here – it rings differently. It sounds like: God, you can do what you want to do, and in what you want to do, don’t let me be the one to limit you.
It is done by a person who understands: the launching pad for God’s astounding plan is at the point of belief.
What’s the worst case scenario? You are let down? Embarrassed? Made to feel awkward?
What’s the best case scenario? Someone’s life is changed forever. They see the actual power of Jesus. They are left never the same for it.
Let the power of Christ out. Unleash it.
Why not believe his greatness is bigger than your mind’s capacity to understand him?
Today, I am welcoming Michele Cushatt. Michele is she knows what it’s like to lose her footing, and to wonder if she’d ever again be able to stand. But she also knows what it’s like to cry out to God for grace and discover the miracle of His Presence and His Purpose right here, right now. You will love her words….
Comment for the chance to win Michelle’s book and her I AM scripture cards:
The storm hit hard and fast and without warning.
Several hours before, we’d loaded kids and adults into our family boat for a day of skiing and tubing on Las Vegas’ Lake Mead. The day started in perfection. Blue sky dotted with cotton clouds. Bright sun reflecting on glasslike waters.
It was the first time we’d taken my niece out on the boat. Only three years old, she took it all in with giggles and wide-eyed wonder.
But the laughter died the moment the storm struck. Cotton clouds turned ominous. Glasslike waters turned foamy and whitecapped. With a glance at the shore, I knew it would take more than a few minutes to get to safety. But with each second, the swells grew, threatening to overcome our tiny boat.
I reached for my niece, pulled her onto my lap, and held her close while my husband kept his hands white-knuckled on the wheel. To drive directly to shore, we had to steer straight into the gale-force wind. But to drive into the wind meant a risk of capsizing. We needed to get off the water. But how?
I closed my eyes and prayed. As my three-year-old niece gripped my arms, my heart reached for the God I knew could deliver us.
Save us, God!
I hoped for a Jesus-sized miracle, like the day He spoke to a Sea of Galilee storm, and wind and waves came to a dead stop (Mark 4:39).
But our storm continued. In spite of my faith-filled prayers, Jesus didn’t deliver. If anything, the wind grew in intensity. I tried to stay calm for the kids, but my heart pounded with fear. I grew up on boats, knew a storm or two. But nothing like this one. Not even close.
While my brother navigated from the bow in an effort to keep the boat balanced, my husband started cutting z formations in the water. Turning left, then right kept him from driving straight into the wind. As a result, we inched closer to the shore.
Our nightmare lasted about an hour, a lifetime to a family who thought they might drown. Soaked and cold, weak from fear, we pulled ourselves and our boat out of the water and made for the safety of home. There I could finally contemplate my nagging questions:
Why didn’t God deliver us?
Why didn’t He calm the storm? I knew He was more than able; I believed it to my core. Thus the reason I prayed, because I knew my God could deliver.
And still the storm raged, oblivious to my request. Even so. We made it home. It took years for the lesson to have its full impact on my heart. For a long time I wondered why some storm-prayers are answered with calm and others are not. But now I see that day on Lake Mead a bit differently: Sometimes God delivers us from a storm. But other times He delivers us in it.
That day on the lake, God gave my husband the wisdom to z his way back to shore. God kept the boat balanced in waves far bigger than it could handle. And He kept all our children and family members wrapped up in life vests and out of the water. He didn’t still the storm. But He calmed my kids and gave us a great story to tell our friends.
To those praying for a Deliverer, John 10:10 records Jesus making a powerful proclamation: “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”
I always loved that verse, probably because it sounded like the promise of a happy life. Naively, I believed Jesus’ words included protection from all harm. Like a divine umbrella, God would spread the expanse of His arms over me and my loved ones and keep us from all rain.
It didn’t take long to end up soaking wet.
But that’s when I remembered more of Jesus’ words, only six chapters later in John 16:33: “In this world you will have trouble.”
Not “might have trouble.” Not “could have trouble.” “In this world you will have trouble.” It’s not a matter of if; it’s a matter of when. The same Jesus who promised deliverance also promised trouble. At first glance, Jesus’ words sound contradictory. And yet His life proves otherwise. It was His death that made possible our lives. Hardship to realize hope. Trouble today for the promise of a party tomorrow.
Can I trust Jesus to deliver me through one to arrive at the other?
The unexpected is unavoidable. My dream of a trouble-free life was more than a little far-fetched. It doesn’t matter whether you live in an affluent suburb of upper-class America or in an overcrowded slum of poverty-stricken India. The rain falls on each of us in good measure.
The question, then, is this: do you trust the Deliverer?
He’s the hiding place, the shelter in the rain. Yes, there are moments when God delivers you and me from our troubles. Children overcome obstacles, illnesses are healed, marriages are revived.
But more often than not, He doesn’t deliver us from harm; He delivers us in it.
The first is merely protection. The second is presence. The first causes us to cringe, as we wait for the next calamity to fall. The second provides a harbor of rest, regardless of the weather.
Life is more than calm and predictable circumstances. Life—full life—is weathering the unexpected storms and the impossible waves knowing the Deliverer is present with you in them.
I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world. —John 16:33
These words pulled from the pages of Michele’s most recent book—I Am: A 60-day Journey to Knowing Who You Are Because of Who He Is—were penned during her long and grueling recovery from a third diagnosis of tongue cancer, during which she was permanently altered physically, emotionally and spiritually. In it, she speaks with raw honesty and hard-earned insight about our current identity epidemic and the reason why our best self-help and self-esteem tools aren’t enough to heal our deepest wounds.
Michele and her husband, Troy, live in the mountains of Colorado with their six children, ages 9 to 24. She enjoys a good novel, a long walk, and a kitchen table filled with people. Learn more about Michele @ michelecushatt.com.
From the moment a woman wakes until she falls, exhausted, on her pillow, one question plagues her at every turn:
Am I enough?
The pressure to do more, be more has never been more intense. Online marketing. Self-help books. Movies, magazines and gym memberships. Even church attendance and social media streams have become a means of comparing ourselves to impossible standards. Am I pretty enough? Hip enough? Spiritual enough?
We fear the answer is “No.”
When a brutal bout with cancer changed how she looked, talked, and lived, Michele Cushatt embarked on a soul-deep journey to rediscover herself. The typical self-esteem strategies and positivity plans weren’t enough. Instead, she needed a new foundation, one that wouldn’t prove flimsy when faced with the onslaught of day-to-day life.
I Am reminds us that our value isn’t found in our talents, achievements, relationships, or appearance. It is instead found in a God who chose us, sent us, and promised to be with us—forever.
The lady was confident. That was my first issue with her.
If she was just beautiful and – not confident, she might not have bothered me. But, she was SO sure of herself. She knew she was made of. No one in the world could tell her otherwise! No one could stop her! She brought her brilliance with her wherever she went!
She sat like the statue of liberty. I was a small seagull whose job was to soak in her glory.
It didn’t help she had a great job and wouldn’t shut up about it. That really irked me, because at this time, I had a horrible job and I loved to whine about it. I have too much work! I can’t do it! I need a new job!
This lady spoke to my husband differently: My job is a dream! My boss is inspirational. My life is fantastic!
Puh-lease….someone pass me the salt shaker – so I can pour it on her head.
I could almost see it, me – the small one, salt-shaker in hand – wrecking her moment. Her, the large-and-in-charge one melting like the Wicked Witch of the West.
But, she is not wicked. I am. Ever asked yourself…Why am I thinking this way?
I sat back in my chair, tuned out her conversation and considered – why am I thinking so – meanly?
Her strength is depleting mine.
Her success is ruining my moment.
Her great attitude defines me as less than.
Her belief in herself is stealing my joy.
Why does one woman have such a great impact – on me? Can 1 lady take away all of God’s promises with 1 sparkly super-white smile?
Is this what God intended? For me to hate girls who are happy, successful and beautiful?
Somehow, in this moment, I know my heart has followed a rabbit trail – straight away from God’s glory. I’ve gone got myself stuck in a pit now.
Have you found yourself in a pit lately? Perhaps someone shines better than you? Always has a perfect answer? Has the job of all jobs? Is PTA mom extraordinaire? Is driving your dream car? Has perfect kids? Constantly shows off Facebook vacations?
God says, our pits are escapable, with his help. “He lifted me out of the slimy pit…he set my feet on a rock & gave me a firm place to stand.”
God has the strength to lift me up from the yuck I put myself in.
When I set my eyes on God, not her, he, like a medivac, pulls me to safety. Choose to stand upon the solid rock – the ground that is not sinking. , that is not wavering and that will not quake under the pressure of earthly measures.
Here, I see: I am not less than, I am just right in God’s eyes.
I am not struggling, but victorious, because I am chosen as daughter.
I am not without a plan, because God has created good works for me in advance. I am not alone, for God sees the desires of my heart.
I am not dependent on others, but fully dependent on God – and who he says I am.
I pull out of my thoughts and find myself at that restaurant table. Her voice emerges, except it no longer sounds like nails on a chalkboard, but another girl, who’s excited to be who she is created to be. I mention how blessed she is to have a good job. She smiles. We talk – and have fun.