Looking at it, I considered the thought deeper. I hadn’t been giving a lot of thanks lately. Mostly just gripes to God about people, timelines and the endless cause of trying to keep my house clean. In reality, I’d forgotten about thanks.
So when I considered which of the mugs to give away, it was hardly shocking that I nearly heard God say, “Kelly, thanks is made to be given away.”
Here, a mug short, I picked up the “Give Thanks,” mug. I would give it away with a heart of thanks. . .
…for, thanks is meant to be given away.
And this is the heart of hospitality. You give because you are thankful. You receive and say thank you.
So when the ladies came to my house for the event (I told you all a couple of weeks ago, that I was completely nervous about) and they selected little mugs to take home, I nearly kissed my favorite mug goodbye. Except. . . I didn’t.
When the event was over, the mug still remained on my counter. After texting the group to ask who left it, I got no response. So what I gave away in thanks, I kept.
What we give away to God, in thanks, we also keep…
We keep a smile on our face when we think of that precious moment of joy.
We keep a memory of a moment that we will treasure forever.
We keep a belief that God really will come through.
We keep a hope that God really can do the miraculous time and time again.
We keep a heart that is willing to change because God’s results are great.
We keep a fresh perspective on how much we have.
We give: thanks. We keep: everything. God doesn’t take away our cup; He fills it.
Everyday, I know I should at least fit a walk into my schedule. I should get my shoes on and move beyond the boundaries of my complacency, so I don’t:
– lose strength
– waste away
– gain unintended weight
– make my heart unhealthy
We all think about our physical health, at least sometimes. We take vitamins, make vegetables, drink water, take the stairs. Even if we aren’t so good at it, we normally think about it, or how to improve it. We know it is important to our vitality.
But how often do we consider our spiritual health? Our spiritual fitness?
So we don’t:
– lose strength in the Lord
– waste away, only to find ourselves one with the world
– gain unintended weight, or baggage, we are not meant to carry
– find our our heart unhealthy
Today, let’s stop for a moment and consider why our strength and fitness in the Lord is so important.
“I don’t know about you, but I’m running hard for the finish line. I’m giving it everything I’ve got. No sloppy living for me! I’m staying alert and in top condition. I’m not going to get caught napping, telling everyone else all about it and then missing out myself.” 1 Cor. 9:26-27 MSG
We want to be spiritually fit. But what does that mean?
I believe it means we:
Are led by the Spirit and not the flesh.
In the Spirit, we are strong. But if we’re driven by our own efforts, we quickly learn — we’re weak.
Follow Christ’s life, truth and ways.
“Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.” Ps. 91:11
Be fishers of men.
When God calls us to cast our nets into risk, and we do, he often encourages our hearts to keep doing it. Here, we learn to be risk-takers instead of home-dwellers.
Fellowship with God, constantly.
In Christ, we come out of our weakness, stress and fears to find ourselves equipped and empowered by his grace.
Have a readiness to go.
The more we get our running shoes on, the easier it gets to move out the door.
Stand firm in our identity.
When we know who we are, it doesn’t work so well when the enemy tries to tell us we are someone else.
When sin drops off of us through confession, we become more and more alive. We’re aware of the God who lives in us and all the promises he has for us. Rather than getting caught up in our shame, we become enamored with His name, Jesus.
Today, may you and I choose to walk in spiritual fitness.
The stale air of the subway felt like her closest companion. She was surrounded by people yet no one seemed to notice her. Some passengers looked straight ahead, others seemed to look through her, and most were on their phone. A few, very few, were engaged in conversation.
I’m hungry. She cried out.
And the passengers were unaware…or unmoved.
I’m hungry! She called out again.
I heard the cry. Not just from the mouth of this fellow passenger, but deep within my soul.
I have known hunger too: soul hunger.
And I wonder how many of us join in this refrain? I’m hungry. I’m hungry!
On the days when there’s nothing left in the cupboard. For the times when the house (or inbox) is devoid of life. In the aftermath of unexpected storms that barrel through. There is one who hears, who sees, who understands. One who has experienced loneliness (and hunger) in ways we can’t even imagine.
He answers our cries with Himself: the Bread of Heaven broken for us.
He doesn’t look through us, He lives in us. He invites us to feast as He provides soul manna that never runs out. He never runs out on us. Jesus. Not a trite answer but THEE answer for our deep soul ache.
Tried and true, tested and proven, His Love saturates lonely, aching places.
Here for us; always. When others ignore, when they overlook, or when they inadvertently hurry by…He remains.
Here are 7 verses to feast on when you’re feeling lonely:
Then Jesus declared, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never go hungry, and whoever believes in me will never be thirsty (John 6:35).
Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me (Revelation 3:20).
Don’t you know that you yourselves are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in your midst? (1 Corinthians 3:16).
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand (Isaiah 41:10, NLT).
Where can I go from your Spirit?Where can I flee from your presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are there;if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn,if I settle on the far side of the sea, even there your hand will guide me,your right hand will hold me fast (Psalm 139: 7-10).
For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:38-39).
Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age (Matthew 28:20, NLT).
There is a verse here for each day of the week. May you be comforted as you cry out to God and bring your loneliness to Him. Oh how He cares for you and is more than able to provide for the hunger of your soul.
Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages you to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next summer with Waterbrook!). She inspires you to embrace your identity in Christ and live out your God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in the Midwest. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST). Join in the fun and unwind in this vibrant community.
I took a walk the other day. God blessed me with a walk was on the beach (yippee!!!). I inhaled; it was peace. I listened to the pounding of waves, the strength of his wind and the might of his strong-hitting waves. All was good.
I passed a woman. She sat in a camping chair pressed against the rolling waves, bible in her lap, head down with a bandana around it. As I saw her, something in me called to reach out to something in her. I almost felt as if there was something God wanted to say to her, but I hadn’t the faintest idea what, so I kept walking.
It wasn’t until about 100 feet away that something struck me. I suppose it was the word – “faithfulness.” I looked down at my little footmarks in the sand, leading forward. I decided they needed to do “a turnaround.” They needed to loop back. They needed to address something.
But what God? What am I supposed to say?
His nudge was: pray.
Feeling all happy that God has great ideas, I went over and asked my sister in Christ if she needed prayer. Her feeble head lifted up slowly from her phone and she said, “Yes, my husband is in the hospital with a heart condition and I need strength.”
Indeed. Of course she does. Of course God knew. He always does. He also knew this prayer time, as she stated, would be “just what she needed,” a “confirmation from God.”
I’ve been realizing the turnaround is powerful. Because for once, I’ve been doing it…
I made some ongoing rash judgments about people.
Turnaround: After much stomping of my feet, I apologized.
I was quick to respond when tiredness, hunger and overwhelming feelings conquered me. I normally brush my reactions aside.
Turnaround: I’ve been seeing truth for truth. These days, I’ve been humbling myself and saying sorry.
I forgot friends. I don’t want to get caught up in my world, but I do.
Turnaround: I’ve asked God to help face them (despite my shame).
To turnaround is to see God again. It’s to face him outside of the realm of shame, and let him welcome you to healing, whether it belongs to you or someone else.
Where do you need to turn around? Where are your foot marks in the sand headed? Your way? Or home, into God’s arms?
He never hurts children who’ve done bad. He welcomes you in. He’ll lead you to his better thing. He’ll nudge you with the words to speak. He’ll uncover the greatness of freedom in the error of your ways.
“Now return to the LORD your God, For He is gracious and compassionate, Slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness And relenting of evil.” (Joel 2:13)
I’ve been watching the show, The Partner. In this show, Marcus Lemonis, puts many to the test but is selecting one right-hand-man or woman to be his partner. He puts each person through the wringer: he tests their knowledge of financial statements, has them run their own businesses, and places them in high-tension sales situations.
In a different way, God, also, is looking for just the right person…
…will He find you?
For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. (2 Chron. 16:9)
Just as Marcus noticed how his contestants endured under fire, God notices as well. Not with the goal of eliminating us, but much with the same goal – of promoting us.
Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much. (Lu. 16:10)
Have you considered, the tests God is permitting are because he knows you’ll prove yourself strong, steadfast and worthy to move to greater things? Have you considered – he believes in you? Have you realized – he desires to move you into great and glorious things for his making?
At the end of the show, The Partner, there was 2 woman left: one was a Harvard genius the other was humble and willing to learn.
Marcus chose the second. I believe God often does too.
Where is your heart? Are you willing to learn? Or, are you set in your ways?
Notice: In 2 Chronicles 16:9, God didn’t say his eyes roam the earth for the best person, the wisest or the most qualified, he said he roams the earth to strengthen hearts “fully committed” to him.
To have a heart “fully” committed is to:
Ask God to search your heart.
Be willing to see what needs change.
To be humble enough to consider doing things differently.
To be open to God’s leading as he helps you do things differently.
To recycle, over and over again, items 1-4 above.
I believe, for this person: new doors are opened, their life is changed, and God’s hand blesses them in tremendous ways. Today, check your heart.
My 3-year old daughter and I were playing a game. She was behind a box “counter”, I stood in front of it: ordering. I was supposed to buy some food, because, this was a restaurant.
I told her I wanted a salad and ice-cream. Trying to be good, but wanting to indulge, this was my kind of order. Add a chocolate dip to the ice cream and this is what summers are made of. I digress…
Anyway, daughter fixed up my food, looked me in the eye, while handing over my imaginary goodies, and declared “Now, you get what you get and you don’t get upset.”
My jaw dropped. She nailed it.
So many of us internally chide our self with this same kind of diatribe, as if God says this to us. As if this is how we are supposed to cope with life. As if, we are meant to get a crumb and tell our stomach to feel okay with it. Now don’t get upset!!!
Surely, I know this verse: “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well-fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” (Phil. 4:12)
Yet, somehow I think we’ve got it all wrong. God never told us to lie.
Yet, we’re convinced we must show the world we are strong, we tell our self, “We get what we get and we don’t get upset.”
Outside we look like a gracious kid at a candy shop, while inside we are throwing a fit like an irate toddler because we’re unseen by the world, unrecognized for who we are and uncared for.
I notice Paul, in the verse above, mentions the words, “I have learned. . .” Why are we ashamed of learning? Of journeying? Of admitting we feel the struggle?
So often, we already can sense when this is the case with someone. Why do we hide so?
“And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Cor. 3:18).
Today, consider this: In the light of God’s glory, there is no shame in transforming.
It is true that hope deferred makes the heart sick (Proverbs 13:12). When your hopes are delayed, deterred, or detoured you are left with emptiness. Like a stomach that just heaved, you feel hollow; left with a bitter taste in your mouth.
But, when your longings are fulfilled, you are satisfied, like partaking in a delicious, savory meal with loved ones gathered ’round the table and laughter filling the air.
Dreams may come and go, morph and change, but my Hope is lasting and unwavering.
The outcomes of your dreams may not unfold as you picture them. Don’t be so distracted or despaired by your losses that You fail to see the greater miracle of My faithfulness.
True Hope is Me, found in Me; a Hope that does not fade, spoil or quit.
I do not change, nor leave you or forsake you. When others let you down, when you let yourself down, when your hopes sink rather than float, remember that My Hope is upon you: steady, unchanging, and anchoring you with Truth.
I know all about your dreams, I do. But I have bigger plans that you can fathom. I have greater ideas that you can ever muster up(Ephesians 3:20-21).
Hope in the One who holds you tight, who holds you close, who is capable of holding you together when you fear you’ll fall apart.
I am He who made you, understands you, and loves you with more love than you dare to imagine.
Come, let’s walk together, with Grace, through this brand new day; full of hope.
Katie M. Reid is an author and speaker who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life (look for her first book coming out next summer with WaterBrook!). She inspires others to embrace their identity in Christ and live out their God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. She is a fan of cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea. Katie and her husband host the popular Facebook Live show, “Stop! Hammock Time” (which airs Wednesdays, 9pm EST).
Everything seems to be bursting with life these days: fragrant lilacs, strong oak leaves, delicate baby birds in their nests, and my friends’ bellies as their babies grow within.
The winter is over and spring is in full swing. Yet for some, things looks grim. Some are discouraged as they keep waiting with no end in sight. Others feel small, almost invisible in contrast to the loud and showy crowds.
But tucked within, deep inside that heart of yours He formed, He has planted the seed of something powerful.
Dig a little deeper, beneath the surface and see. It might be covered in dirt in the wake of rubble and ruins but it is present, not dulling with age. Even when you feel you’ve lost it, look for it, like buried treasure; it’s waiting to be discovered and held close.
Look closer, it’s there. It might be camouflaged—masked by hedges and shrubs, but hope is present. Its roots grow as you cut off the lies that choke life and fertilize with truth that gives life.
Yes, I declare, there is HOPE!
Look up instead of down and find it resting above, secure. Lasting hope is found in God.
Hope rises and you are changed because of what it brings to the mundane, how it sustains through the muck.
Hope can make all the difference between giving up and hanging on.
I know things are hard. I understand the wrestle, the stumbles, the worry, the here-we-are-again moments. Life is certainty unpredictable and can’t often be tied up in a nice, neat bow.
Do you fear the unraveling because you wonder if you can handle what might come your way?
Take heart! You don’t have to figure it all out. Call to mind what is true in this moment.
God wove you together and He holds you together. It’s not up to you alone.
Lean in. Lay your head on His chest as He keeps gently, yet persistently, telling you of His love until it sinks down from head to heart—until it works its way into the fiber of your being.
Your Heavenly Father stitched you together with care and affection, and sang over before He brought you forth. He is the Giver of this valuable gift.
Oh how you are loved with a sustaining, unwavering, life-giving hope.
And this hope is not stagnant, it is active:
It gives life.
It usurps the impossible.
It is true.
It is lasting.
It is not taken down by circumstances or discredited by darkness.
Hope rises still; once buried but now resurrected.
There is always hope. And His name is Jesus.
Stand up, on two feet, and walk forward in Hope; a constant companion and faithful guide. Don’t apologize for it walking by your side.
Look up, hands up high and move. Go on, He is with You. And in Him: YOU HAVE HOPE!
Take the next step in confidence, with Jesus. He is our never-changing, ever-present, unwavering, unmatched, never-ending HOPE!
Romans 5:5 “And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.”
Tune in to hope today!
Share hope with those around you.
Find hope in the promises of God, and you will not be disappointed!
Katie M. Reid is a writer and speaker who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. She inspires women and youth to embrace their identity in Christ and live out their God-given purpose. Katie delights in her hubby, five children, and their life in ministry. Cut-to-the-chase conversation over hot or iced tea is one of her favorite things.
We sat in the parking lot staring blankly ahead with the doctor’s words still ringing in our ears.
“Some people just can’t have children. Now is when you need to start working on accepting that.”
We were stunned in spite of the clues. The previous years’ experiences had pointed to this moment – the months of negative pregnancy tests, the losses, the testing and exams and poking and prodding, they all pointed to the possibility of infertility. Except now it was real. Now it was our story.
In the weeks that followed our diagnosis I found myself facing a critical juncture in my faith. I could refuse to believe that God might have plans for my future that include infertility and I could live in a state of anxious denial (a place I’d been sitting in for too long already.) Or, I could do as the doctor suggested, and work toward finding acceptance and faith and peace. For several weeks I chose the former and it twisted my stomach and heart in knots. Then one day I chose the latter.
Sometimes peace is a choice. Peace is a choice that doesn’t always come naturally for me, though. I tend to be an anxious person who likes to be in control of, well, everything. I want to know exactly how the day will go and I want to be able to manipulate my surroundings to fit what feels safe, secure, and right to me. But life doesn’t often comply with my version of how things should be. This is where faith and fear collide for me.
Life has taught me I have a choice in how I respond to things outside of my control. Things like infertility. I can’t always control how I feel about these things – if I could take away my grief and pain I would… who wouldn’t? But I can choose to believe in peace and love and hope.
On one of the worst nights of my life – the night I returned from the hospital after losing our first baby – I turned to my Bible for something that would bring me comfort. I don’t think I really believed peace was possible in my grief, but I just wanted something to get me through the night. I flipped the pages and they eventually landed in the book of Isaiah, chapter 54. My eyes fell on verse 10 and I began to read…
“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed,” says the LORD, who has compassion on you.”
In those words, I found everything I didn’t know I needed…
Unfailing love from the Father in the midst of tragedy and loss.
Peace that will never leave – no matter what.
And compassion for my broken and baffled heart.
In the months that followed, I found myself navigating the often lonely waters of grief and learning that I often wouldn’t feel peace, but Isaiah had told me it was there. So I made a choice to believe it, whether I felt it or not. Still today, I choose to believe that the peace that surpasses all understanding still covered my life even in times of turmoil. I choose to believe that hope is a fact.
I believe this is what Horatio Spafford had in mind when he penned the words to famous hymn, It Is Well with My Soul. After losing his son, his business, and then his four daughters (who drowned in a shipwreck) he wrote,
“When peace like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows roll; Whatever my lot, Thou hast taught me to know* It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
It is well. Or, as my son has taught me to say, “It’s Okay About It.” Saying, “it’s okay about it” or “it is well” doesn’t mean declaring that we are unaffected in the face of hardship and loss. It is simply choosing to believe that love, peace, compassion, and hope are true. That they are promises we can believe no matter what comes our way.
So though my heart broke in the pain of infertility and the grief of miscarriages I choose peace and hope, knowing that God will redeem my pain.
When my children suffer I remember God’s compassion for us.
When I face disappointment and rejection I declare the truth of God’s unfailing love.
When I face anxiety and panic over an unknown future and circumstances beyond my control I choose His covenant of peace.
Because of the truth of God’s word and the hope of heaven I can say with assurance, “It’s Okay About It.”
Lauren Casper is the founder of her popular blog, where she shares her thoughts on life, parenting, and faith. She is a top contributor to the TODAY Parenting Team and has had numerous articles syndicated by The Huffington Post, the TODAY show, Yahoo!News, and several other publications. Lauren speaks in various locations around the country at conferences, retreats, and church events. Some of her topics include: adoption and foster care, infertility, parenting children with special needs, building meaningful community, and facing fear.
Lauren’s first book, It’s Okay About It, released May 2, 2017. In it, Lauren shares poignantly simple yet profound wisdom about removing the barriers we construct around our hearts and doing life full-on, all from the least expected source: her five-year-old son, Mareto.