Purposeful Faith

Category - Contentment

Finding true contentment

Do you Need God’s Saving Power?

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)

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Drawing Near Will Make You Want Him

draw near God heart

Post By: Angela Parlin

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.

 

 

 

The Simple Way to Strength

“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:

  1. Weary
  2. Weak
  3. Lacking might
  4. In trouble

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:

– protects
– preserves
– does not give people “over to the desire of their foes”
– sustains
– restores those who are weary and lacking.

Seems like everything I need. What about you?

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Are you Feeling Crushed by Life?

crushed by life

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)

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

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What Does That Woman Think of Me?

think of me

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)

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Why Do People Always Let Me Down?

What do you do when, despite everything, people don’t do what you want them to?

Surely, this is the real question of life. Surely, if people fell in line, had no comebacks, did as I wanted and/or put up no fight, life would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?

I couldn’t help but think this as my daughter fought me tooth and nail to go to sleep. I couldn’t help but think this as my best efforts were overlooked by family members today. I couldn’t help but think this as I was stood up by a friend, even though we’d made plans – and confirmed them, twice. I couldn’t help but think about how someone dear to me talked behind my back.

I sighed, then thought…

Why can’t people follow through?

Do what they are supposed to do?

Be consistent?

Be loyal?

Not cause me issues?

Without all their issues, life would be easy. I’d live in continual peace, unending joy, and I’d be kind, considerate and easy-going to boot. But, bring these people into it and they’re a nail in my tire. They deflate me…

Subconsciously, I’m sure, these thoughts swirled in the back of my mind as I gave my son a well-timed lesson. I said, “My dear, we want our ‘yes’ to be ‘yes’ and our ‘no’ to be ‘no.’”

We want people to know we’ll do what we say. That we follow through. That we are considerate…not mess-ups like those horrible meanies who let people down.

(Um. I didn’t say that. But, I guess, I sure thought it.)

My son turned to me and said, “Mommy, you didn’t let your ‘yes’ be ‘yes’ when I wanted to see the solar eclipse that time.”

And by George, he was right. I didn’t. I forgot that time. Then, I fumbled and bumbled because despite my best intentions, I didn’t follow through. I tried to make up a story as to why it was better to see some half-baked moon, rather than the real deal. I faked it, to cover my mistake. Why? Because I felt horrible.

“Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?” (Mt. 7:3)

And maybe it’s the same for these people. Maybe they had good intentions… Maybe they planned to do something good… Maybe they hoped to follow through… Maybe they wanted to see me… Maybe they wished things turned out different… Maybe they hoped they acted differently…

Maybe.

We’re all just trying to do this thing called life. Not one of us has a monopoly on “perfect.”
This thought = freedom.

The more leeway I give to others’ mistakes, the more grace is free to work into mine. It’s a funny thing. Somehow, this wiggle room makes room in my heart, mind and soul for me to contend with the fact we’re all just people trying to do as good as we can. Then, forgiveness and love makes space for others. It allows their explaining, discussing, apologizing. It listens. It understands. It empathizes. In a sense, this gives my own imperfect self the same permission I extend.

In the giving of grace, we learn to receive it. It’s a crazy thing.

So today…

Grace to the person who cuts me off. I’ve ripped into the right lane to get off an exit.

Grace to the husband who speaks quickly. I’ve cut him off 100 times.

Grace to the woman who reacts sharply. I’ve had hard days too.

Grace to the mom who is anxious. Oh yes, I’ve walked a day in your shoes.

I’ll give you love and God will give me room to know I can lean back on him, even when I find myself leaning right into a pile full of problems.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Do You See What I See?

Post by: Jami Amerine

Our three-year-old son Charlie was throwing a tantrum. As he thrashed on the floor screaming and crying. I went about my daily list of to-do’s, trying to ignore him.

After 15 minutes, my patience was waning. The bellows were piercing.

I walked over and stood next to him.

He stuttered through his sobs.

“I – want – to – pway – wif – da – my – pad.”

“I am sorry,” I explained, “you may not play with the iPad because you bit your brother.”

“Get on da fwoor wif me, down heeewr you can why come I had to bited Sam!”

I didn’t want to get on the floor, actually I was pretty sure if I got horizontal I would lose the day. I would end up watching Maxx and Ruby all day, wondering where their parents were, napping, foraging for snacks under the couch cushions and ignoring the laundry.

I grabbed the remote and dropped to the floor.

Charlie cuddled into me and whimpered.

From the floor view, I could see what he saw.  I needed to vacuum.  The furniture needed steam cleaned, I spied no less than 8 Cheetos (bonus.) Everything was much more daunting. Maybe biting was the best defense for trying to get your turn, when no one seemed to listen or see your point of view. Sure, violence against your brother…sin is never the best defense, but it is usually my first line of defense.

Offense.

An offense as defense is never a good play, still, it is usually how I roll. Truly, I am not much different than the towheaded toddler grieving “mypad” time in the crook of my arm.

Suddenly, it occurs to me this is why Jesus came to Earth. What better way to identify with us? To experience our point of view, to live as human so He could simply say, “I know baby… I know.”

Most assuredly He was both God and man. He overcame temptation like a boss, but He faced it. We can assume as a boy He skinned His knees. He hungered and He was thirsty. We are told He was tired, angry, exasperated, pained, and most importantly, Jesus wept.

We were sent a Savior and left a Helper. The Helper reminds us that the Savior understood the view down here.  This is dear to me. The truth of a God who would die for me so that when I behave badly when I stumble in my humanness, He is there to catch me, holding me close.

Charlie reached up and played with my hair and said, “Sowwee I bited mommy.” I reached behind me and pulled a Cheeto and an M&M out from the cushions and handed them to him.

“I forgive you, baby.  It’s not easy being human.  Grace to you my love.”

I switched on the tv and we watched Maxx and Ruby, ate couch granola, and wasted the day being human beings with a perfect view from way down here.

“Like the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life to redeem many people.” Matthew 20:28

 

Jami AmerineJami 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.

Stop Trying to Fix Yourself

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.

For days.

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?

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

When People Attack You

attack you

The person said something horrendous about me. They said I take things personally and don’t always see things for what they are.

I have to tell you, I took it personally.

They were the ones with a finger pointed at me.
They were the ones with three fingers pointing back at them.
They were just as guilty of everything they accuse me of.
They were attacking me with mean words and I didn’t want to listen.

They pushed me to my boiling point. I was enraged with my stomach was in knots and my chest red hot with anger. Clenching my firsts, I wondered, “Why am I always the problem?

I didn’t want to listen anymore. I wanted to walk away. I wanted to be done with them and the hurt they caused.

They aren’t for me. They are against me.

Sometimes it’s easier to mark people as one way or the other: For or against, good or bad, rude or kind, attacking or compassionate. It’s easy to mark someone, turn the other way and be done. Be done with what feels intrusive. Especially when it attacks your heart in a personal way.

But what if their words have merit? I considered this: Perhaps the words I am trying to kill could heal if I let them.

What words have you taken personally?  What might happen if you permitted what you pushed away to inch its way into your heart? How would God use it?

“Listen to advice and accept discipline, and at the end you will be counted among the wise.” (Prov. 19:20)

What if the words being sent to us are heaven sent? What if God doesn’t allow them for our demise, but he uses them so we can rise?

Powerful is the woman who sets her mind on God, changes, and grows in his name. She listens to others. She considers words aside from her feelings, quick responses and rebuttals and sees the other’s view.

Friends, I admit I do take things personally. I get hurt easily. I am sensitive. I like to be seen in good light. I have a hard time seeing my flaws. But in Christ, I am not reprimanded and sent to bed with no dinner. I am not chained to my sin. I am not berated and yelled at to do right.

I am helped. I am comforted. I am encouraged.

I may not be perfect but as I actively pursue Christ, I am helped. I am moving from glory to glory, grace to grace and peace to peace. I am shedding off Kelly Balarie and finding the real Jesus.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me.” (Gal. 2:20)

The pain of listening, admitting and owning is worth it…for when we die, we find Jesus alive in us.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.

Why Coming & Going is Not Boring

Not Boring

Ever noticed how life feels jam packed with comings and goings? We come to our day brushing our teeth, and go from our day in a similar way. We come to our morning commute and go home in a like fashion. If we’re not careful, everything can feel like coming and going, commuting and coming home, hurrying then returning.

Even our Christian walk can become routine. Or communion. We come to the bread; we go back to our seat. The wine comes to our seat; it goes down the row.

I have been thinking of the power of coming and going. But, perhaps there is power in this coming and going…

Jesus said, “A time is coming when I will no longer use this kind of language but will tell you plainly about my Father.” Jo. 16:25

“I came from the Father and entered the world; now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.” Jo. 16:28

In coming to Jesus, we go forward loved.
In coming to the cross, we go into the world with fears relieved.
In coming to communion, we go forth with continual freedom.
In coming to God, we find our flesh going away.
In coming with hunger, we find God working in and nourishing us.
In coming with active pursuit, we find ourselves filled to go out into the world.

Jesus does this. In coming to him, he prepares us for whatever go we have ahead. Even if it’s rough. Even if it requires our mind. Even if we don’t think we can.

Our coming prepares our going. And it settles our future…

In Jesus’ coming to earth, we can go to heaven as children of God. No matter what.
In Jesus’ coming to save us, we find ourselves going forward with purpose, even when all our chips are down.
In coming to see our inadequacies, we find God’s saving power going out from his Word.

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.” (Jo. 6:35). 

Never. Ever.

We come to him, and we go away from the world to become his light.

They are not of the world, even as I am not of it. (Jo. 17:16)

Father God, we are coming to you and going away from our world. We are coming to your peace and going from our fear. We are coming with our heart moving and going away from our hardened heart. We are coming with the hard work of forgiveness done and going away expecting you have better things. We are coming knowing you are what we’re hungry for and going with reliance on you. We are coming to the knowledge of your power and we are going out with greater strength. Teach us God. Send us out in your ways. May we take and eat of you every day, so we go and meet with you in all our ways. In Jesus’ name, we pray. Amen.

 

Kelly’s new book, Fear Fighting: Awakening Courage to Overcome Your Fears has been called “A must read,” “Breathtakingly honest” and a “Great Toolbox to Overcome Fear.” Read it today.

Discover how to flee from fear and fly in faith through 4 Days to Fearless Challenge.

Get all Purposeful Faith blog posts by email – click here.