I approached him, “Get your backpack. We need to get in that car.”
He marched right past me holding the shovel like a sword, swinging it as if he just won a war. He wasn’t going anywhere, this I knew. My words floated over him like the wind. His eyes were dead set on the game he was playing.
I was annoyed, for what stood between me and peace – was a 5-year old, a pretend game and a wrestling match of words that was about to explode.
What is standing in between you and peace? Between you and God?
For me it is distractions. Consider this: Just 5 minutes before my son’s victory march I was praying to God, asking him to be with me and wanting to walk forward in his love. So, what happened?
(Deep breath.) 3 distractions bubbled up – ones that so often pull me off track:
I let the demands of this world, steal my delight in the Creator.
I allow urgency to replace intimacy – between me and God.
I let destination take precedence over God’s invitation to let loose.
(Another deep breath.) When I am worried about time, (I don’t have enough of it, I am stressed out by it, I am going to be late, I am missing out, I am too old, I am too young, I should be somewhere already, I don’t want to wait, I must think about my future, rather than be present) I work myself into a tizzy. And, here, in all my trembling – I can’t see God.
…But all too quickly the message is crowded out by the worries of this life…so no fruit is produced. (Mark 4:19)
I want you to do whatever will help you serve the Lord the best, with as few distractions as possible. (1 Cor. 7:35)
If I am distracted I can’t as easily be engaged with God. If I am worried about many things, I can’t be enthralled by the One thing. If I am trying to press through a tight knit schedule, I can’t as easily press peace into this world.
I want more. Do you? I want to take God through my day with me. Not just in the morning time, but all the time. Not just when I think of him, but as I do everything. I want to invite in his love so I can spread his love.
No longer do I want to fear the rush, the clock and the game – that calls me to sprint ahead, but I want to stop and sit and savor and sip up God’s goodness. Maybe you do too…
For we serve a God who is limitless and unbound by time. The truth is, he can work within any barrier that lays before us. He just outstretches his hand and it expands in a way where we can do what we once thought we couldn’t.
Just yesterday, I met up with a friend. She’s stuck in a foreign prison. She can’t find her way out. Jesus saved her for heaven, but on earth, she nearly lives daily in hell. Depression, despair and dejection have claimed her.
When I got home, she was all I could think about. The way her tears broke down her face, the way her heart was spread out on the table and the way it seemed there was no way out.
I wish I had been there for her more.
We live is in a world of hurt; there is no denying that. And, where I sit is in a chair, angry, I can’t fix things. I can’t rework their lives. I can’t restructure the story or rewind the tape. Oh, how badly I want to get up like a super-genie with blonde hair, an explosive attitude, with a good sprinkle of Jesus, and just swipe away the pain, as if I’m sending them back to those smiling pictures of old. I want them to go – back there.
But, I can’t swipe it all away. I can’t swear it away. I can’t superwoman it away either.
Here pain stands.
And so do I.
What will I do this time?
What will you?
Because the pain of the world isn’t going anywhere. And neither are needy people. Here we all are. Look left, you’ll see her – in the wheelchair. Look right, you’ll remember, yes, that person, who lost their spunky 30-year old spouse. Look across the street, you’ll see him, the dad with tired eyes and a drug addict child.
See what you try not to see, today.
They walk everywhere. I guess the real question is, what will we do? Will we continue on with our day or will we step in to a new way?
10 Ways to Be There For Someone Going through a Hard Time
Realize you are just as needy. Think you don’t have problems? Think again. Meet your neediness first.
Soften your heart. Let your covering of to-do’s fall to the ground. Let judgements go. See afresh.
Smile. Smile at yourself because today, you are choosing to go a new way. Who you abandoned in the past, is forgiven by Christ Jesus.
Ask God for His eyes to see.
Recognize. What you think needs fixing, God may think is down-right astonishing when seen from the angle of his great plan.
Don’t be a Mrs. or Mr. Fix it or Madam Know-it-all. Refuse to allow pride to break the stride of God’s perfect love and timing.
Be. Be in the moment with your own feelings and emotions. Listen from this place and love in that space.
Pray with all your heart, then act as the Holy Spirit leads.
Expect the Lord to be faithful through your prayers. Even more, expect him to grow you along the way.
Enjoy. Enjoy what the Lord is doing, even if it looks nothing like you thought.
A weird thing happens as you love, you find out God is loving you. He gives back what you are giving and he gives out what the other person’s soul most quenches. All of a sudden, what happens is you – and them – are unified. It is not about pity, judgement or charity, it is about two souls in need, hungering and seeking for more. Drawing strength, building hope and seeking rescue. It is a beautiful thing. It is God in action. It is – lives – coming alive. And – it is never too late to find.
My son lives like a son. Meaning, he takes all momma wants to give him. If I walk in with a plate of cookies, he dives into them. If I offer him a hug, he runs up to get it in full. If I sit down with him, he delights in showing me things. If he gets injured, he runs to me and asks how I might help. He takes what I give, eagerly and willingly.
Somehow he knows where he is –is safe. And, what I am giving – is good.
Christians aren’t always good children. It’s not because we aren’t loved, adored and chosen, we completely are, but it’s mostly because we grew up.
I’ve been meeting a lot of children of God in need lately, but when he tries to use me to love them, they shut it down.
Here’s how it tends to go:
I say, “Need prayer?” They say, “Nope. But, I know someone who does.”
I say, “Are you struggling with anything?” They say, “Nope. Not at all.”
I say, “I’d like offer you a gift – God has put you on my heart.” They say, “Nope. I never take gifts from others.”
I say, “You are courageous.” They say, “I don’t want to talk about me. Let’s talk about you.”
Rather than living as a needy children, we living as arrogant adults. To turn away the love of Christ is to turn down the greatest gift moving on earth. We do it often.
Maybe, because we don’t want to owe people things. Maybe, because we feel guilty or embarrassed. Maybe because we feel undeserving.
The maybe’s don’t matter.
What matters is, like children, we open our arms up to hold the gifts God is outpouring through others. What’s important is that we see all the ways he is trying to love us. What is important is that we let this love in, so we can let this very love out.
God wants us to sit at his feet and feel his love. He wants us to grow in community. He wants us to receive the glorious inheritance of his riches, which often walks into our life through the other body parts of Christ. He wants us to stand in need, so we see that he can stop what is making us bleed.
10 Questions to ask yourself: Are you not receiving God’s love?
Do you let his love in?
Do you embrace what God is offering you?
Do you make time to sit next to God?
Do you listen?
Do you remember God’s goodness?
Do you notice God through your day?
Do you seek spiritual eyes to see?
Do you trust by faith?
Do you push off distraction?
Do you renew your mind when it gets off track?
For a large part of my life this word was not in my dictionary. “Unstable.” “Unable.” “Unsure.” Now, these were the type of words – I knew.
I was “unstable” as I dealt with depression, a debilitating eating disorder and the deep knowledge I could never do enough or be enough to satiate the world’s unbelievable appetite – for perfect.
I was “unable.” Unable to fix a looming diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis. Unable to hold a job down. Unable to endure in friendships. Unable to believe in myself. I quit things before they started. I ended opportunity before it could hurt me. I unsubscribed from risk before it could eat me up, chew me up and spit me out like the failure I knew I was.
I was “unsure” God really was good. I knew him in my mind, but absent was his love from my heart. With this, I walked not in Christ’s identity, but with a disguised limp of insecurity. All I could see was how you were better than me and more likely to do great things. I was unsure why I was born. I was jealous, burdened.
These sticky labels seemed to attach to my heart with permanent glue: unstable. Unable. Unsure. They owned me. They declared my worth. They drove my being. The more I looked at my discouragement, the more I felt discouraged.
Have you been there? Do you know this place?
When we see all we – are not, we have a hard time focusing on all that – God is. This is what I’ve realized. You see, through the power of prayer and a heart-seizing of God’s Word, accompanied by the simple grace afforded by Christ on the cross, I am walking, more and more, out of a place of containment and into the refreshment of God.
It awaits us all. It calls out to us. It is ours to step into.
We grab first for God’s forgiveness; it welcomes us. We run into daddy’s arms; they wait wide-open for us. We feel the warm embrace; it cares for us. We talk to the one who created us; He affirms us. We renew our strength in him; he recommissions us.
And, by the very nature of God – and not by our own doing – we step out, little-step by little-step. Until, we get to the point where we glance back, to see how far we’ve come. And, what we see is – somewhere along the way, he brought us to the power-infused and potential-unveiling place of – unshaken.
It feels like a miracle and, now, we acknowledge – it actually is. We give thanks. We worship. And, we add the word – “unshaken” to our dictionary. We own it. We step into it. We go. Our heart is on fire.
What might small step might God be calling you to move into? How might your life look if you stripped of the mindset of fear to live free of people’s opinions? Undefined by problems? Liberated from the past?
I am delighted to welcome Asheritah Ciuciu! She is both a friend and a woman with an important story to tell. Be blessed by her words today!
I hugged the pillow and sank back in her couch, trying to look relaxed while hiding my bulge. This new friend I had made was friendly, welcoming, and open about her past struggles.
She was trusting me with a part of her past, and I felt honored and humbled.
She shared how God had set her free of her past hurts, and I felt a stirring in my heart. I wanted to return the token of friendship, to share with her a hidden part of my story too.
And so the words came out, awkward at first but tumbling faster and faster as I tried to make sense of what I was saying.
“I think I have a food addiction,” I said, sheepishly, twisting the decorative frays on the pillow between my fingers as I kept my gaze down. “I mean, I don’t know, I just find myself controlled by my desire for food instead of by the Holy Spirit.”
I chanced a glance up as I shared this discovery I had made about myself the week before.
And I held my breath.
The air felt tight in my lungs because we all fear rejection. Every one of us.
We long for friends who will know and love us as we really are. Not the instagrammed version of us. Not the 140-character witty us. Not the perfectly curated media stream of us.
No. Not that. We’ve had enough of that.
We yearn for someone to see us, every layer of us, and love us anyway. Cellulite and all. Love handles. Baby bellies. Thunder thighs.
Shame keeps us silent, convinced we’re the only ones who struggle. And our enemy continues to taunt us that “good Christian girls” don’t talk about these things. Blazes, they don’t even struggle with these kinds of things!
But in the midst of my own food addiction journey, here’s what I discovered: truth will set you free.
“You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” John 8:32
Telling the truth. Declaring truth. And embracing Truth Himself.
You see, we have a very real enemy, and he comes only to steal, kill and destroy (John 10:10). Satan will use whatever tool he can to distract you from seeking satisfaction in God, and if money, sex, or power don’t hold any sway over you, then French fries or skinny chocolate lattes just might.
For me, it was just that. Food addiction just about did me in.
Almost… But for truth.
Back to the living room scene, there I was, holding my breath.
Her gaze filled with compassion as she nodded and said, “I know what you mean.”
“You do?” I asked, my eyebrows arching as I let out my pent-up breath. I sized up her tiny frame.
“Yeah,” she continued. “Even skinny girls struggle with food, you know. I’ve begun to realize just how much a bar of chocolate comforts me, and it’s scary.”
I shut my eyes and relished the feeling of coming home. Here, finally, was someone who knew my secret and did not condemn me. In fact, she put her arm around me and invited me to walk this path toward freedom together.
“I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life. No one comes to the Father but by Me.” (John 14:6)
Jesus, Truth Himself, sets us free from our strongholds and welcomes us into the Father’s presence, where we find fullness of joy and life to the full.
And you want to know the most surprising part? If we let Him, God uses our stories of brokenness to heal others too. That’s a miracle in itself.
Though this journey has had its ups and downs, I’m so grateful He carried me through my doubts and insecurities to free me to tell my story. From food fixation to fullness in Jesus. From shame to shouting out His goodness. Because every day I receive emails from women saying, “I thought I was the only one who struggled with food fixation. But when you told your story, you were telling mine too. And now I’m asking God to give me victory just as He has you.”
I’m not that special, really. Just one woman who’s been set free calling out to others to join me in finding sweetness and satisfaction in Jesus. But we don’t have to go it alone, and there’s beauty in that.
Tell the truth, declare the truth, and embrace the Truth… and then prepare to receive the full life Jesus came to give you.
No more hiding. No more pretending. No more second-guessing.
Just beautiful, authentic, abundant, overflowing, satisfying life. Not always easy or trouble-free, but always filled with His presence and provision.
He’s done this in mine, and I know He’ll do it in yours, because God always keeps His promises. Always.
About the Book
If you’ve ever felt stuck in a seemingly endless cycle of overeating, yo-yo dieting, and obsessive thoughts about food, you know how hopeless this struggle can be. But the answer isn’t finding a new diet or a miracle pill. The answer is seeking satisfaction in the right place.
Asheritah Ciuciu is a popular blogger, speaker, and author. She grew up in Romania as a missionary kid and studied English and Women’s Ministry in college. Her passion is leading women deeper with Jesus through daily devotions and spiritual disciplines, both in her local church and around the world through digital discipleship at www.onethingalone.com. Asheritah is married to Flaviu, her childhood sweetheart, and together they raise their spunky children in northeast Ohio.
Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email –click here.
I laid in bed afraid. Alone, vulnerable, it felt like simply closing my eyes was an invitation to injury. What if, a bad guy broke in? What if I really didn’t lock the back door? What if someone knew my husband was gone?
Darkness surrounded me – in more way than one – lately. In truth, these days, I felt unsure and tense. I was unable to let go. I was incapable of changing things back to the way they were – light. I was mad about it. I was mounting up frustration inside. I was taking it out on my family and unloading it in passive-aggressive ways.
Do you lay in the darkness today? Unsure? Tense? Unable to let go? Incapable to change anything?
In the dark, our irrational fears live (boogie men, bad guys or burdensome worries or worse). In the dark, life feels like it might fall down on us. In the dark, we can’t see our way. In the dark, we think we will never walk into light again. In the dark, we declare, we’ll always stubbing our toe. In the dark, we are left by ourselves to struggle with the shadow of depression, fear, health issues, failing relationships, marital issues, financial concerns or worse…alone.
What dark has convinced you – you’ll always be afraid?
Recently, I chatted with a friend, she said, “I used to be afraid of the dark.”
Of course, I understood this. I’m convinced, no one likes the pitch-black, you-can’t-see dark. Why? As I figure it, in the absence of light, we often feel absent of God. In the dimness of this world, it’s easy to let your heart turn dim as well. In the places we can’t see, we decide we’ll never find our way.
But, this friend had more to say. She spoke, “If you just turn your head, away from the darkness of your room, you can always find light. Starlight. Moon beams. Street lights. Reflective light. Car lights.”
The light is always out there. You just have to look for it.
It’s all about your perspective, I guess…
The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. Jo. 1:5
Her words remind me: Jesus is the light. He is not able to be put out. His help is always with us. His reach is always towards us. His power is always moving, always casting, into our darkness. No power, no force, no scenario, no situation, no person – can overcome Him. He is more permanent than our dark rooms. He is more powerful than perceived problems.
What if we were to choose to see him instead of the darkness that surrounds?
What if we were to search for even the smallest ray of his light? How might it change things?
I am delighted to welcome Jessica Van Roekel as a guest blogger today. Jessica is faithful, diligent and obedient. I am proud to feature her words.
I’m good at bravado, but not so much at living brave. I know how to stand tall and smile with the best of them, but inside I’m cowering, hiding tears, insecure, wondering if I belong or even if I’m wanted.
I know verses. I know that if I’m full of God then there’s no room for anything else. I know that my song is God’s song. I know that he is my refuge, my shield, and my fortress. I know he holds me close and sings songs over me. I know he calls me chosen, beloved, secure, approved, and beautiful. I know all these things and I was so mad at myself for the disconnect between my head and my heart.
So there I sat—alone, with no one beside me—listening to the melody, learning my part or trying—all the while fighting back tears. It was absolutely ridiculous and I was furious with myself. And to be totally honest, furious with God. Why would he compel me to audition for this musical and then humiliate me in this way? It didn’t make any sense.
Have you felt this way? Has God ever shown you a truth and set you free from your bondage and then in an instant you were in bondage again or so it seemed? Have you ever felt you utterly failed God and yourself?
May I offer you and I this encouragement: God is not disappointed with you or me. God is not going to send us into a situation and then leave us to work it out in our own strength. He will provide us with opportunities to exercise our faith in the work he’s doing in our lives. And just like with regular exercise, we will stumble until we figure out the rhythm or the sequence, but if we keep practicing we get better, we grow stronger, we become more fluid, and it becomes second nature because we’ve trusted him and let him work through us.
Freedom from fear of man came for me through one definitive moment a few years ago, and since that moment God has been showing me how to live free. It hasn’t been easy, but it has been worthwhile. My perspective has shifted from being afraid of people to being settled in God’s thoughts towards me.
You know, I wanted to run from that audition room and never, ever look back. In fact, I walked out of rehearsal that night determined to quit and planned on letting the director know my decision the next morning.
I didn’t though. I leaned into the pain because I’ve learned that sometimes healing comes through the pain, not by avoiding the pain. So I took my younger self by the hand and let her feel the pain. I let her remember and shed her tears, and then I walked her through forgiveness. Was it easy? Uh, absolutely not. Is it over? No, but the cleaning out of the wound has happened, the salve of God’s truth has been applied, and the wound is tender, but it’s healing.
Sometimes we have to experience the hard so that God’s word becomes alive, and once the revelation of his truth, his freedom, and his healing has been revealed, it’s not ever to be taken away by someone’s words, approval, disapproval, memories, or event.
Becoming fear fighters happens when we’re transformed from the inside out and it requires us to keep taking steps towards faith and bravery, clinging to truth and always, always trusting God’s heart for us.
Jessica Van Roekel is a woman on the journey to wholeness through brokenness. She believes that through Christ our personal histories don’t have to define our present or determine our future. Her greatest desire is to see people live this ‘God-life’ with all the power and grace that God provides. Jessica lives in a rural community with her husband and four children. She leads worship on Sundays, but seeks to be a worshiper every day. You can connect with her at www.welcomegrace.com and on Facebook: www.facebook.com/yourJessicaVanRoekel
Get all the Purposeful Faith blog posts by email –click here.
“So, because you are lukewarm–neither hot nor cold–I am about to spit you out of my mouth.” Rev. 3:16
This. This verse right here. It gives me the chills. It’s one of those things that makes you sit up straight. It reminds me of coasting on a bike. The thing about coasting is – you can’t coast up to God, you’re always coasting somewhat downwards and away from him.
I don’t want to coast. I certainly don’t want to be looking at the world and living my life, only to die and find out – I was never really that close to him to begin with.
Whoops! Big Whoops! Eternal Whoops!
You all know I just wrote the book, Fear Fighting. So, it’s not that I have to fear what I am doing wrong, it’s just that I have to fear God. Get my eyes on him. Seek him. Be with him. Pursue him.
Like dominoes, everything falls in line when we do this. We get near him and he gets in us. I like that.
With this in mind here are my 25 Ways Not To Be Lukewarm:
3. Practically search out ways to love others
4. Read scripture
5. Ask God for help.
6. Submit all your plans to God.
7. Enjoy creation with God.
8. Remember Jesus and his sacrifice on the cross.
9. Forgive others.
10. Forgo anxiety and replace it with praise.
11. Encourage another person.
12. Hold fast to the belief that trials are training you into the image of Christ.
13. Grab on to faith, even when you feel like you are falling.
14. Thank God for everything.
15. Die to your selfish ways and live for Christ’s.
16. Renew your mind in truth, throughout the day, every day.
17. Worship through songs and Psalms.
18. Seek to understand others, verses judge them.
19. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your guide, then follow.
20. Seek holy in everything you do.
21. Put on the armor of God (Eph. 6)
22. Proclaim the gospel, no matter how scared you may feel.
23. Remember God’s faithfulness in the past. Speak it over your life.
24. Receive and extend grace. Repeat.
25. Uncover your heart and ready it for God’s transformation.
The good news is – even if we’ve lived lukewarm, we don’t have to fear our salvation. If we are saved, it is as done and done is done. We also don’t have to fear that we messed up, drifted away from God or turned our back for moment. Why? Because God’s love is greater than our deep worry we won’t be loved again. It extends beyond our feelings, thoughts and hurts. It reaches in – and once again – accepts us.
Staring out the backseat window, my daughter noticed a van in the next lane. I wondered why she cared about which cars shared the road with us. Questioning her further, I learned my 8-year-old daughter was afraid of dark vans.
When I was her age, I had the same irrational fear.
For me, it started with a Crime Stoppers commercial. I accidentally saw a piece on the news one night, about a store robbery and a couple of men pulling away in a big, black van. I couldn’t forget it. It changed my life, but not in any good ways.
Fear consumed my thoughts and ruined activities I previously enjoyed.
When a black van drove down our quiet, country road, I imagined a man would jump out and stuff me into the back. Or take my Mom away. Some days, it kept me from playing outside. I thought about it often, always measuring how far I was getting from my parents.
They tried coaching me through this fear and praying with me, after noticing changes in my behavior. But mostly, I didn’t speak my fears aloud. I kept them on the inside. Maybe this was the reason the enemy had a hold on me through fears, at such a young age.
When my fear of dark vans went away, other fears arrived, one after another.
The temptation to ponder my worries, cares, and fears rather than give them to the Lord has always been a great struggle for me.
1 Peter 5:7 (AKJV) says, “Casting all your care on Him, for He cares for you.” I would cast my cares on the Lord, but then reel them back in, holding them tightly in my own hands.
I don’t know about you, but I want to be a believer in Jesus Christ, who can say with certainty, “I trust God for everything.” I’d rather not own this struggle with fears. But trust is an action verb, and sometimes, I do not trust.
Sometimes I hold my most precious possessions back from God, as if I have any control over them.
I’m still learning to trust the Lord completely, with my life’s most important pieces (or people).
Speaking of what’s most important in our lives, what are your greatest fears? Your answer will show you what you fail to entrust to the Lord.
Through seasons of life, our fears may shift. When I had babies of my own, and when they were no longer “safe” and warm inside me, my fears not only shifted. They metastasized. Maybe you can relate?
One of the greatest lessons I’ve been learning is the same truth I repeat to my own children night after night—
God is good, and we can trust Him.
We live in a scary world, and we hear of scary things happening to people around us all the time. In this world, where bad news abounds, we must battle for trust in God over fear.
“Do you fear God—living life in awe, in anticipation, and in adventure? Not fearing Him in a way where you get all shaky and nervous and defensive, but in a way where God moves into position number one. In a way where He gets to stand above everything else you fear.”
When we give in to fear, it’s a lot like putting our faith in something other than God. Instead, may we trust in the all-powerful, cares-for-us, praise-worthy God Almighty.
When I am afraid,
I put my trust in You.
whose word I praise—
in God I trust
and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 56:3-4, NIV
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.
I snapped off the news. Nothing there but terrorism and guns. Who needs all that?!
My heart felt tired, unsure, but, all the same, I figured I should get with God. Maybe try to muster the strength to get up and fill my mind with excellence and good report.
“I should watch something uplifting.”
Unable to discern what, I just stayed put on the couch. Immobile. In tiredness. In a body unable to even gain the strength to end the day’s war under the covers of “tomorrow’s going to be better.”
I just lay there.
“God, why am I missing you lately? Why do you seem far?”
I got the sense of God whispering back to me, “Kelly, I am not far, you are.”
I used to spend my days looking for God, now I spend my days looking at how I am messing up.
I used to offer thanks, now I offer myself solutions for how I can improve.
I used to consider momentary lessons, now I consider how God really needs to teach me a lesson.
I used to just delight with letting God be, now I pressure him to show up.
I used to let fears fly out the window, now I roll it up.
I press my eyes tighter and ask, “What happened God?”
I hear nothing. Figures.
“You’re missing the moment where I am, because you fear the moments where you are.”
Let in love.
Land in my arms.
Let me carry you.
Leave behind demands.
My closed eyes – relax. God is inviting my mind to travel – with him. No demands. No requirements. No facades. No prerequisites. No achievements. No guilt. No shame required.
He wants my attention in the moment. So, without distraction, I can see him in the moment.
I open my eyes.
And then I see. God brings clarity: He loves me. He died for me. His light is always pursuing me.
My presence shall go with you, and I will give you rest. Ex. 33:14