My biggest fear came true, the exact one I couldn’t stop mulling over as I lay on my shaking, rattling bed. My 6-year-old was on the top bunk of an Amtrak train bed.
Would it hold him? Would he roll over?
At home, my son was protected. He knew his surroundings. He had comfort. His fall wasn’t 6 feet down. But here, in this new situation? In a bed half his size? One really couldn’t tell what might happen…
I got word in the morning. Husband told me he fell off the bed. My heart stopped. My eyes stared. I looked the kid up and down for train wounds. Nothing.
Husband explained, the safety straps next to the bed (the ones I completely took for granted), caught him. They wrapped him as he fell, like a cocoon, keeping him in a deep well of safety. So dear son was just chilling there, swinging and safe. Unaware of how protected he was…how he’d just been saved. He wasn’t even aware it happened. Dad pulled him back onto his bed without waking him.
How often does our Dad “save” us without us realizing? Pull us onto our bed of safety without us noticing? Wrap us in a cocoon of protection so harm can’t touch us?
Many of us, myself included, never give thought to the family wars, the bitter arguments, the looming bills, the accidents, the woops moments, the injuries he saves us from.
We see the things that hit us, and blame God, but we never consider how he saves us, and thank God.
He’s probably protected you a bazillion times, because God is mighty to save.
“He will not let your foot slip– he who watches over you will not slumber.” (Ps. 121:3)
“The LORD your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves.” (Zeph. 3:17)
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Is. 41:10)
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:8)
Long ago, our kids asked for a dog. A puppy is a lot of work, I said. So we gave them fish. But nobody can cuddle a fish, and next we appeased them with a guinea pig. That’s a long, smelly story for another day.
Soon we were back on the puppy train. The dachshund train, because I grew up with this sweet breed. I don’t know if you’ve encountered many dachshund owners, but there are no other dogs in the world, once you’ve loved a doxxie. My husband simply humors me.
The day came to choose a dog, and we picked Blaze. If we had known about his issues—how he would chew through shoes, bag straps, blue jeans, and even mess with the legs of our kitchen table—we might have named him Marley. 🙂 But we only knew his sweet baby eyes, that tiny whimper, and the way he snuggled into our necks and stopped crying when we sang to him.
Eight months later, the little guy’s quirks and offenses are clear, but so is the laughter he inspires.
Blaze lays at my feet nearly every day when I’m making dinner. He sits down and places one little paw over my foot. As I move about the kitchen, he follows me. While I know he wants to be near the food I drop, he also wants to be close to me.
No matter what I’m doing or where, if his eyes are open—they’re usually on me. He wants to be near me, all the time, no matter what.
It’s had me thinking about the way I long to be near God, and the times I’ve been too busy to be with Him.
God loved the world so much, that He sent Jesus to pay for our sins—not to condemn us, but to save us.
When we believe in Him, we are given the privilege–the blessing–of being in His presence.
We are able to talk with God and listen to Him. To come to Him for all the help we need. To go to Him boldly and with confidence as His beloveds, without any fear.
Jesus came near to us, so that we might move toward God.
And when we come to Him, we find incredible joy, blessing, and goodness. He fills us, He satisfies us, until we echo the psalmist’s words, His nearness is my good. There are many benefits of drawing close to God, but these can only be understood by experiencing Him. When we draw near to God, we experience His love, and we want more.
“Let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water.” Hebrews 10:22, NIV
Have you moved toward God with a true heart and full assurance of faith? If not, will you call on the Lord in a prayer of belief today? Will you seek out someone who knows the Lord, to show you the way?
Those who believe—think about your heart. Are you drawing near with a true heart? Let us lay at His feet, longing for more than the food He drops, longing to be close to Him.
Angela Parlin is a wife and mom to 3 rowdy boys and 1 sweet girl. In addition to spending time with friends and family, she loves to read and write, spend days at the beach, watch romantic comedies, and organize closets. But most of all, she loves Jesus and writes to call attention to the beauty of life in Christ, even when that life collaborates with chaos. Join her at www.angelaparlin.com, So Much Beauty In All This Chaos.
“He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.” (Is. 40:29)
When I read these verses, do you know what I think?
I think: That’s great He does all that – for them.
It’s great that he cares for the weary people who have cancer, or the poor people in India or the single mom in Detroit. He is SO loving to all them. But, I never apply God’s Word to me…
…even though I fall entirely in this camp. I am weary from packing up my whole house and carting boxes all the way to a new state. I am weak from trying to sell off my whole house and I am lacking might in the kindness department as night gives way to another night of no sleep.
But, I hardly count myself like them. I hardly place myself in the camp of the needy and poor people who should get God’s best.
“Blessed are those who have regard for the weak;
the Lord delivers them in times of trouble.” (Ps. 41:1)
What about you? Do you regard yourself?
Do you easily admit you are:
What strikes me is that when we admit these things, we receive strength and power. It’s what this scripture says will happen. But, part of it happening is allowing it to happen.
You know, we can stop it from happening…
I’ve never been able to shove a popsicle in a kid’s mouth who didn’t want it. Nor have I been able to make my husband accept time of rest when he didn’t want it. Nor have I been able to fully feel God’s love when I didn’t make time for it.
David, the man who wrote this Psalm, even said, “Have mercy on me, Lord, heal me, for I have sinned against you” and “Even my close friend, someone I trusted…has turned[ against me.” (Ps. 41:9)
He admitted his gunk. What’s yours?
Psalm 41 says God:
– does not give people “over to the desire of their foes”
– restores those who are weary and lacking.
I heard this horrible story. On a warm evening a few summers ago, a boat hit a dock. A dock full of people.
A moment before this happened, they had no idea what was about to hit them. They drank cool drinks, enjoyed the summer breeze off the bay and laughed…until the load of a power boat hit them full force.
The boat flipped over, right onto it all. Right onto their party. Under the falling weight of this boat a five-year-old boy was caught.
He should have died. He should have been crushed. He should have never stood up again from the weight of it all…except, he did.
He got back up. He had a second life, a second chance, a free pass because an Adirondack chair caught the boat’s fall. It held the boat up at just enough of an angle so the boy could survive. He could crawl out.
And, he did. Despite all odds, he lived.
The cross of Jesus Christ is our Adirondack chair. I don’t care what kind of crushing power is coming against you right now. I don’t care how horrible the bills, the arguments, the conflict, the meanness, the stress, the blows are around you – the cross of Jesus Christ, the strength of his sacrifice and the inarguable greatness of his love – saves. It doesn’t save just once.
Over and over again, when life falls with a blow so hard it wants to kill you, Jesus holds things up just enough so you live again. So you walk out, miraculously, unscathed.
Jesus doesn’t save only for eternity; he saves for today. By faith, believe it. Believe in his saving power. It is in you…
“And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.” (Ro. 8:11)
Thanks to the cross, the power of Christ and the Holy Spirit, we have wiggle room to crawl out from any crushing load that falls on us. There is nothing that can ruin us, ever. Get on your knees again, crawl out, brush them off and know: Because Jesus overcame, you can too.
“We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed.” (2 Cor. 4:8 NIV)
We climbed the train, tucked away our luggage for the long haul, then headed to the lounge where we got some waters and drinks. Relaxation time! Well, not so much. The kids were nuts. They tackled each other on the booth cushions and screamed like animals at a wrestling match. I eyed the woman staring at me to the left. I glanced down the row at a man who couldn’t keep his eyes off them. I motioned to my husband, “It’s time to go.” But what came next shocked me.
As we headed out, the woman with a pixie haircut and eyes that didn’t quite catch you straight stared a bit beyond me and said, “You have beautiful kids. We love watching them.”
I was shocked. You love them?
She went on to tell my family and I that we shouldn’t leave the lounge. And if we did, we should return soon.
And with this thought, I began wondering how often I suppose women hate me when they actually: A.) Want to get to know me B.) Are intrigued by me or, C.) Are looking my way, yet not even thinking about me?
Recently, I learned about the Spotlight Effect. It means the vast majority of the time you think people are critiquing, watching or condemning you, they aren’t. They’re likely thinking about themselves and what they are wearing, doing or saying. They’re caught up in their own spotlight.
To boil this down further, it means people are quite often thinking about themselves. And when they aren’t, they are thinking about what you are thinking about them.
Everyone is wrapped up in their own world.
So, those women who I think hate me?
They’ve probably moved on to pondering who hates them.
The person I offended, who I am convinced constantly tracks it?
She’s probably wondering why she doesn’t …blah…blah…blah…
The girl I was a terrible boss to years ago?
She’s probably just concerned with doing a good job at her work, today.
What if we let go of the pressure of what everyone else is thinking? What if we let go of the burden of owning other’s contentment? What if we just let our goal be to please God and seek him, plain and simple?
What if we let go of everyone’s load? Because it pains us to carry it.
“For each one should carry their own load.” (Gal. 6:5)
So, I know you all know I wrote the book, Fear Fighting. I also know you know if there is anyone who should be fearless – it’s me. But, guess what? I admit it. I am not.
After a recent stressful situation, I was told by a family member, “You need to work on your anxiety issue.” This gave me anxiety.
Before she made this comment, I was leaps and bounds more anxiety-free than ever before. In fact, I considered what God did a miracle. But right after she said this, it felt like someone dropped a 50-pound brick off the Empire State building and it landed on my chest. The burn started up…
For days, I lost any sense of inner comfort and felt a new overwhelming sense of pounding nervousness.
Oh, how I wanted to blame her.
But I didn’t…well, I kind of did.
Man, what I’d worked through, she put back on me.
For days, I worked to work it away. For days, I pressed to bring back God’s peace. For days, I struggled and fought to pretend it wasn’t there. For days, I felt acted upon and angered by it all.
On the 5th day, I said to myself, “Of course, Kelly, you have anxiety. You’ve been through a hard time. You had a big family issue. You had some sin issues within yourself to contend with. You’re taking on a huge project right now, as you write a new book. And, you are also moving in a few days to a new area. It’s like the world is on your shoulders. Make room for this emotion to live, to breathe before God and be patient. God will work there, in the space where self-hatred is absent.”
I realized I could stop “performing peace” and let “Peace” come. And this is what happened. With less attention on performance and a clear focus on God’s love, it faded.
Jesus took it. He took it as I focused on Him – not on it. He took it as I remembered his all-sufficiency. He took it as I made room for rest. He took it as I let go of any anger I once had at that family member. He took it as I found myself free to not fix myself. He took it.
Thank you, God. Please keep it.
What might Jesus want to take from you through peaceful waiting? Where you are absent of self-hatred, remorse and condemnation? Where you don’t demand yourself to improve but wait on God?
I was taking my normal morning walk when something caught my eye and tried to lure me. A hand waving from the side of a building.
Was he calling me?
Sure enough, he was. He wanted me to come over.
Now, this time of day just happens to be my time with God. A time of walk and talk. It’s also a time I am really receptive to being used by him. So, for a split-second, I considered walking down and talking with this fellow.
Maybe I can reach him for Christ.
I took my ear buds off and yelled down the hill, “What do you want?” He motioned for me to come down to him – behind the liquor store.
I considered it, but I didn’t go. I didn’t go because:
He was standing behind a liquor store.
He was a he.
I got the feeling he was up to no good.
And as I walked away, I was in shock: How could I have ever considered doing something so dumb?
Around my house are tons of motels. There are also a lot of drug addicts and prostitutes. I came to realize upon reflection, he was likely a pimp.
Scary, I know.
But what I also realized is that sometimes the enemy can trick us in the name of Jesus. He can pull us into strategies, plans, motions or words we think are God-filled, but are actually traps set to nab us.
The serpent said to Eve, “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” (Gen. 3:5)
The devil appealed to Eve’s senses with something spiritual. He lured her in with a promise of a greater vision of God. He made her believe she was doing something God already knew about. Likely, he made her feel like God was okay with it. He convinced her she’d have greater vision of good and evil.
God would want that, right?
“(Eve) wanted the wisdom it would give her.” (Gen. 3:6)
That doesn’t sound like such a bad cause, does it?
Beware: Just because God is involved doesn’t mean it is a God-cause.
Beware: Just because there is need, doesn’t mean that you’re the one God needs to walk into it.
Beware: Just because you want God’s ways doesn’t mean you go about it on your own.
The enemy will trick us with whatever device he knows will work. Sometimes, it is even things of God.
To fight this:
Act or don’t act.
If you choose not to act, don’t let the enemy trick you with the shame of “not doing”.
If you saw me in the heat of the moment, you’d no doubt say, “She isn’t a good Christian. She made a mess of everything and she’s no good. Rotten.”
Sitting here, I’m inclined to agree.
I made a horrible mistake. I didn’t have wrong intentions, but I certainly used the wrong actions. I pointed fingers at people. I unleashed venom on people. I put an electric current on everyone and everything. Left people fried.
And now I hate myself for it. Sitting here. I really do.
I said my, “I’m sorries.” But it doesn’t take away the fact that I was a bad representative for Jesus. It doesn’t take away the fact that some weaknesses get the better of me. It doesn’t take away the fact that people are still suffering. It doesn’t take away the fact that I feel horrible.
Maybe today, you are considering unsubscribing from my blog. I wouldn’t blame you. Maybe you thought I was a better Christian. I guess I thought so too… I suppose I would have relied on God a little more.
These and a hundred more thoughts consumed me as I pressed my head against the steering wheel today, and cried.
Oh, the regret!
Until, something shifted… I imagined Jesus. There. Weak, on a cross, arms wide open, crying out, “Father, forgive (her), for (she) knows not what (she) does.” (Lu. 23:34)
Forgive Kelly, she realizes not how she speaks before she thinks.
Forgive Kelly, she knows not how her mind gets ahead of things.
Forgive ___, she makes mistakes non-stop.
Forgive ___, she tells little white lies.
Forgive ___, she is desperately afraid.
Forgive ___, she is just looking for attention.
Forgive (insert your name), she is …..
What do you hold against yourself?
Jesus died saying, “Forgive them,” and he wrapped things up by saying, “It is finished.”
And, so it is.
Because it is finished, I can be finished with what I did. Because it is finished, you can be finished with your bad deeds too.
Whether they are from today or 500 todays ago, Jesus already declared your worst deeds are done. Let them die.
When Jesus looks at us now, I see him lifting us. I see him beholding his righteousness in us. I see him declaring his holiness in us. I see him noticing his blood that marks us blameless. I imagine him holding us before the world to say, “This is my daughter, with whom I am well pleased.”
This is who we are in his eyes. His view is all that matters.
Anything left after asking forgiveness of others and God is just shame.
Because in Christ, we are loved even when we feel unlovable. We are remarkable, even when we feel marked with sin. We are whole because Jesus gave up every bit of his body. This cannot be undone. It is the permanent power meant for all believers.
Your shame is finished. Right now, let it poof away. Jesus annihilated it at the cross.
I’m not sure if any of you are like me. I have seasons where I am thinking all of the deep thoughts. I’m not sure what it has been about this summer, but my thoughts have weighed heavy on me. Since the Spring, I have felt a bit tormented in my thought life. It has come in waves and at times has overtaken me.
I have never really been one to deal with a scattered and heavy thought life, but here we are. I can’t help but think that the enemy can sense that the Lord has something of significance awaiting me.
I am also not one to look at the world around me and be so discouraged and yet, here I am. It seems as though there is attack and opposition and hate and oppression at every turn. The enemy is working overtime to destroy us.
I don’t know about you, but I never want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he beat me. As far as I know, our God calls us overcomers. He says that we are more than conquerors. He calls us to continue to fight the good fight and hold on to hope. Hope’s name is Jesus.
What does it look like to be an overcomer and to have hope when all appears hopeless?
We stand on the promises of God.
“…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
God’s Word is the ONLY the thing that has stood the test of time. Leaders and kingdoms have risen and fallen. Buildings and monuments have been built and have toppled to the ground. Religions have arrived and faded away. But, the everlasting God has never changed or left or lost His power. He is the same God who was before the foundations of the world. He is the same God that will reign for eternity when the world has burned away. This very God spoke and creation came to be. His word is a firm foundation. It doesn’t waver or fail. It is alive and active. It goes forth and accomplishes what He set out for it to accomplish. It does not return void. His Word instructs us to live by faith and not by sight. That requires us to hope despite what we can see.
We surround ourselves with truth tellers and encouragers.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-17
The world and all of its voices are unstable to say the least. Fair weather is the name of the game. One moment the crowd is for something and in the very next breath, they are against it. It’s honestly quite exhausting. I am ridiculously blessed to be surrounded by a strong community that is rooted in God’s Word. They have convictions and are not prone to compromise. They speak truth with all authority and call me up higher in my thinking and my doing. When I am hopeless, they have hope for me. They speak hope into my spirit. They remind me that my hope is in Christ and not in my circumstances.
We proclaim the grace of God boldly.
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11
The blood of Jesus and the Word of God are meant for salvation and changing lives. His Word is meant to bring hope to a hurting and hopeless world. And we were meant to conquer…to conquer the enemy, our flesh, fear. We were designed to be ambassadors and witnesses across the earth. But, how will the world around us ever come to know the hope we have in Christ? We must shed our fear and doubt and proclaim boldly His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness for His creation. We must declare that He is trustworthy and that He is the bringer of hope and the lifter of our heads.
“In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” Romans 4:18
Abraham was the king of hope. He followed an unseen God to an unknown land. He believed the promises of this unseen God decades before the promises was fulfilled.
Oh, that we would be a people of God…
Who hope when our flesh is weak.
Who hope when others tell us to give up.
Who hope when the enemy is waging war.
Who courageously hope against all hope.
If you are in a hopeless situation, I’d love to pray for you!
About Karina Allen
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.”
“So, what is your life worth, anyway? Doesn’t look like much…”
Yes, that is what the person said to me. And, yes, it took everything in me, not to hit back with…
Well, hotshot, what’s your life worth?
Because, how do you reply after a question like this?
I didn’t answer. Instead, I sat there dumbfounded with a pocket knife hanging out my side. Like a victim. Bloody. All I could do was stare at it. Then, it hurt more.
And, while I knew, these words were insult-fueled, they were all I could think of…
Am I a waste? Am I no good? Does God think I am a failure?
Insults become attached to us – and come alive in us.
I wonder, has someone insulted you? Maybe they’re insulting you today? Maybe they won’t shut up in your mind.
Insults often hit like this:
“You’re sin caused this to happen.” “You are no good.” “You are ugly.” “You are selfish.” “You are rude.” “You don’t ever ____.” “You are worthless.”
(Add your own)
You know the words, but how do you know how to protect yourself? This is what has eluded me for decades.
Let me tell you about that, but before I do, let me tell you about my daughter.
She has this saying. It is one she speaks if she really doesn’t like, want, or consider something good to hear. When something comes at her like this, she pushes her hands towards you as if she’s handing back what she doesn’t want.
Then, she sings, “Take it, take it, I don’t want to bake it.”
She doesn’t receive it. She hands it back. And, so should we…
If words spoken, are only meant for insult, not to build, grow or transform…if they are only meant to hurt…we should do what my daughter does… push with our hands and mind and say, “Take it, take it, I don’t want to bake it.”
We don’t have to bake in our heart ungodly words deep in our soul. We don’t have to receive kill-words. We don’t have to permit someone’s injury to become ours.
Because then we get hurt and hurt others a similar way.
Instead, we can repent (if necessary) and not accept mean and hurtful words. Take it, take it, we don’t want to bake it!
“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths.” (Eph. 4:29)