Purposeful Faith

Dealing With A Scary Future

Scary Future

Just a short while ago, my husband and I were traveling in Texas. We didn’t know the area so well, so when our GPS service broke, we shifted into high-anxiety mode.  We were driving roads that we didn’t know. We had no idea where we were headed, but we most assuredly figured it was all the wrong way.

Have you ever been there? Lost?

In a place of not knowing?

What your future holds?
How God will do it?
Where he will send you?
How he will take you?

The unknown is scary.

It threatens today’s joys with tomorrow’s pain.
It whispers words of fear over faith.
It steals the joy of the moment and replaces it with the stress of questions.

For my family, it wasn’t so much that we thought our life was in danger, but it was that we felt aimless, we felt misdirected and we felt lost.

Underneath the surface worries and anxieties, we felt out of control. We lost our power to handle things, to know, to handle and to plan.

What future seems lost and unknown to you?

A decision?
A living location?
A marriage?
A relationship?
Finances?
Life issues?

God knows.

But, in his all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful way, he decided we shouldn’t.

He hasn’t left us though.
He goes with us.

And, perhaps, what we thought was lost is really found as we turn to God in the midst of uncharted territory.

Because here we get an opportunity to “try on” the glasses of faith. And as we do, our vision sharpens.

Instead of seeing all we can’t grasp, we start seeing the one who grasps everything with perfection – God.
As we see our lack of control, into vision comes the one who controls all our life’s controls.
As we see the maker, we see how he can make all things in our lives work for good.

“I once was lost, but now am found;
Was blind, but now I see.” – Amazing Grace 

It’s in the “not knowing” that brings us to our knees in prayer, to lift our hands in honor, to surrender our heart with abandon. Then, we start seeing truth. We start to realize that even when we had sight, we were always lost – without Him.

There is power in admitting you are fully lost without Jesus.

Because then, rather than living lost in the abyss of an unknown future, we can start living lost in the awe of a deeply known Savior.

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Ps. 23:4

Imagine:

Through the black darkness of the valley Jesus walks with you saying, “Do not fear.” 

Even though evil seems to lurk around every corner, God rests his hand on your shoulder, saying, “I am the world’s holder.”

As passing shadows, shoot from right to left, Jesus speaks, “These things, too, shall pass, but my love endures forever.”

As death comes in the night, God offers you his rod and his staff.  You know you will find your way, not because you can see, but because you are being led by his always-vision, that sees you through any situation.

The God of comfort is leading, guiding and holding you now – and forevermore.

My comfort in my suffering is this: Your promise preserves my life. Ps 119.50

We may feel lost, without GPS, but one thing remains true – Jesus will see us through. And, we don’t have to see, in order to believe that God is for us, with us and will never abandon us. No matter what dark roads lurk, we remain secure in Him – yesterday, today and tomorrow.

For we live by faith, not by sight. 2 Cor. 5:7

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The Incredible Bravery Found in Hiding

The Bravery Found in Hiding

In the past, it’s been easy for me to want to hide.

To say little white lie not to be punished.
To run to my room to avoid wrath.
To cover my head to stop feeling shame.
To not feel so as to not have to deal.  
To cast blame on another so it’s not on me.
To compare so as to hide my faults.
To fight back to protect my vulnerable areas.
To judge to highlight faults.
To avoid prayer when I am deep in sin.
To push the love of God out the door when I feel bad.
To feel he God doesn’t like me when I fail.

I’ve played this game of hide-and-go-seek my entire life. Deep and dark hiding places were intimate spots of coverage. They kept the stampede of critiques, condemning words and criticisms far.

Yet, as alluring as this game appeared – there was one thing I always found true – it’s a flat-out a losing game. The seeker finds the hider. And when they do, the hider comes out exposed, vulnerable and embarrassed.

Isn’t this really just a game of shame
hidden under the disappearing cloak of safety?

We think we are hiding our worst parts, but we never really are.
What we cover for a moment, but are left vulnerable for a lifetime.
We want to go unseen, until we realize we are unseen even from ourselves.
We distance ourselves from the light of God, only to realize we have become acquainted with darkness.
We hide – obstructing us from the love of others.

We are alone.

The crazy part about this game is – as much as we think we hide, we are – and always have been – seen. 

The Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?”

He answered, “I heard you in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid.”

And he said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?” Gen. 3:9-11

God may call out to us, “Where are you?” but please rest assured – he knows where we are.  

How do we answer him? Do we admit our ineffective strategies? Our location? Our true heart? God’s power is best seen in the light and our transformation best occurs with God in sight.

What is he calling you to reveal?

He will take care of you. You see, God understands our need to hide – and, interestingly, he is not against this strategy, he’s just against doing it the wrong way.

He wants us to have cover, protection, a safe home, a guarded spirit.

Here is how the Word instructs us to hide:

You are my hiding place; You preserve me from trouble; You surround me with songs of deliverance. Ps. 32:7

Keep me as the apple of the eye; Hide me in the shadow of Your wings. Ps. 72:8

For in the day of trouble He will conceal me in His tabernacle; In the secret place of His tent He will hide me; He will lift me up on a rock.  Ps. 27:5

Under God, we hide.

Then, we don’t sit cowered in fear, but empowered with his bravery.
We step into the world with courage, rather than retreating discouraged.
We live true to who he made us to be, rather than trying to flee.

God is love. He sees us for who we are and he accepts us. If he didn’t want us, we would have already let us go. But, he didn’t. He sent his one and only son to pave a way to bravery for us.

There is bravery found in hiding. This bravery is found by retreating into the deep, sacred and loving hiding places of God. Only then, do we become brave.

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Today, I join #LiveFreeThursday, #DancewithJesus and Five Minute Friday.

 


Like a Treasure

Treasure Kingdom of Heaven Jesus

Post By: Angela Parlin

What do you desire?

It may be the most important question you’ll ever answer.

Before you respond with the answer you think you should say, give it some thought. Resist the temptation to use the fast-pass. Let these questions help you get to the heart of what you desire most.

  • What makes you happy?
  • What is it you crave, that you’re sure would make you happier?
  • What do you worry about?
  • What are you afraid of?
  • Where do you run for comfort?
  • What do you fear losing, or fear never attaining?
  • What would you never want to live without?

Think about these questions, and you’ll probably yield more than one honest answer. You’ll uncover the truth not only of what you desire, but also what you treasure.

Jesus spoke about treasure in the book of Matthew. He told a mini-parable, comparing the kingdom of heaven to a treasure.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and then in his joy went and sold all he had and bought that field.” (Matthew 13:44, NIV)

After this, Jesus moved on. He told another parable, with the same storyline.

Many people think Jesus makes the point that we should treasure the kingdom of heaven so much, that we’d give up everything in order to gain it.

While most of us would agree, that finding the kingdom of heaven is like finding treasure, we struggle with the part about giving up everything.

Let’s be honest, don’t you want to believe Jesus wants you to have it all—and Him too? Yet this parable shows us something different.

In his Joy  he went and sold all he had and bought that field.

Clearly, the man saw something wonderful there. He found joy in the treasure.

We, too have found joy in God’s Presence. But like our mothers used to say, we “want to have our cake and eat it, too.”

We’ve turned our eyes upon Jesus–but for many of us, the things of this earth have not yet grown dim.

We know He’s the only One who satisfies–yet we look to other people and things and involvements and accomplishments and pleasures–to fill our souls.

We need to bring it all to Jesus–to offer Him our worries, dreams, fears, and desires–and then ask Him to BE our greatest desire.

Even so, there’s another interpretation of this parable. It changes the whole conversation.

What if the man in the story who found the treasure is Jesus?

He sold all He had to save the world. With joy, He gave up everything, to reconcile us to God.

But the story didn’t end there.

He endured the cross, with joy, so we could taste and see His goodness. He bought the field, to make us His family.

He gave up all, in order to open wide the door and let us enter. And then everything He owns becomes our own.

The man in the story is Jesus. Which also means WE are the treasure.

And the world grows dim. Does it not?

May the world remain behind us, and the cross before.

 

Angela Parlin

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.

 


Biblical Decision Making That Won’t Steer You Wrong

How Does the Bible Help in Decision Making?

I had an important choice to make.

It was a fork-in-the-road type of choice. Both roads looked equally as enticing for completely different reasons.

One road had my heart written all over it. It was simple. The path seemed light. The way seemed easy.

The other seemed sure. Like it would get me to where I needed to go. Like a way had already been forged. It appeared the head-smart way to go.

But, what do you do when you just don’t know?

What do you do when you stand in front of the fork
feeling like you have been jabbed with the fork of uncertainty?

That is where I stood.

As I looked down the paths, I knew I wanted to go down the one the Lord had set before me. Because, I have learned far too often that if your not on his road of purpose, you are only on the road headed to aggravation, dead-ends and insecurity.

I certainly don’t want that.

So, as I stare at these two roads (both of which were biblically sound by the way), I decided to ask myself 3 important questions.

Biblical Decision Making

Question 1: Which decision will allow the love of Christ to most richly dwell within me?

“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”

Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. Mt. 22:36

Question 2: Which decision will allow the love and glory of Christ to most richly shine into others’ lives?

And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.” Mt. 22:39-40

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit Mt. 28:19

Question 3: Which decision will deepen faith and trust in Jesus Christ?

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Col. 2:6-7)

Sometimes it is easy to choose the path of least resistance.
Sometimes it is easy to choose the path of safety.
Sometimes it is easy to choose the path of happiness.
But, often these are not the way of faith, love and discipleship.

God calls us out onto risky paths. He calls us out onto rocky paths. He calls us out onto faith-shaping, trust-building and steep-climbing paths. They don’t always look like our first choice – but they are our best ones – not because of how they appear, but because of how He appears as we walk down them.

He never calls us down sinful or abusive roads. He doesn’t encourage us to make decisions out of shame, guilt or regret. These are not God’s motives. When we move towards Jesus, we always move towards great love. If this isn’t happening, we are wise to question the originator of our plans.

So, where am I today, with my decision?

Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. (Ps. 27:14)

I have brought my decisions before the throne, not fearing the unknown and trusting God by not walking on my own. And, it has been amazing! He has made the decision as clear as day for me.

Will this always happen? Likely not.

But, God’s abundant providence will always show up as we seek after his righteousness in decisions. Even if we don’t have clarity through questions, he will provide the ultimate answers because we are diligently seeking his kingdom in the process. 

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Mt. 6:33)

This is Godly assurance.

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Time to Give Up (Linkup)

Giving up

Have you ever heard that small little voice in your head?

The one that says, “You can’t really do that.”
The one that says, “Why try, you won’t be like her.”
“No one really cares.”
“You don’t matter.”

This is the voice sent to knock us down.

To throw us off track and to keep us back.

It has tried that with me – to say that requirements and protocols are greater than God’s great call on my life.
To say that others’ will succeed and I won’t.
To say, no one will really want you.
To say, you need to do things your own way – make things happen.

These thoughts, so often, propel me into self-protection mode.  A mode where I have to strive to be loved. Compare to find encouragement. Delay to protect myself from failure. Or simply waste into the effects of self-doubt.

Jesus speaks of giving up our lives for others.

So, how can I be giving up my life
when I am trying to grab hold of it for myself?

“Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  John 15:13

“Self thoughts” – are not “God thoughts.” They are simply red flags that show I am off God’s track for me.

Because “Self” weakens courage with words of debilitating doubt and flat-out failure. Self makes us live like leeches: drawing affirmations from others and consuming criticisms that destroy all the same. It makes us reliant on blood, but not the blood of Jesus Christ.

No wonder we don’t really get anywhere. No wonder OUR purpose stagnates. No wonder we feel unsure.

When we break free from God – only to see our self – we break our spirit, our passion and our great mission handed down from God above.

The hard truth, and it is hard to believe sometimes, is that: God’s purpose is not centered around me.

With God, it’s never been centered around one person – except for the one who hung on a cross.
The second we see it is all about Him, is the second we step into God’s great mission.

Then, we don’t lose God’s great vision.
We stop running like a gerbil in a hamster.
We no longer lay claim to discouragement.

God moves in and inadequacy moves out.

God, the supreme dream maker moves in.
The visionary leader moves in.
The requirements shatterer moves in.

To move us into life-lasting and eternal purpose.
His purpose.
A grand master plan created uniquely just for us to live out.
One that transcends us, time, people and the devil.

He send us down roads that he knows will bless us, even though it’s not always about us. Our roads may not look like we planned, they may not send us where we intended to go, but all the same they will drop us down on our knees in complete awe and wonder. They will stagger us.

We can’t begin to fathom. We can’t draw this up ourselves.
And we certainly can’t attain this with voices that are not from God.

As we listen to the right voice, we will see his greatness unfold through us, for us and for others.

As we set our eyes on him,
his unique and well-thought-out mission comes into view.

One that is not defined by our desires.
Or necessarily our dreams.
Or others.

But solely by the power of his loving authoritative hand.
Found through hearts that trust him.

Found by ones who have a deep understanding that God is for them – and not against.

Can you hear the power behind this?

God is at work in us and through us, as he works his grace and love.

In this, we can wave our white white flag wildly in surrender. Over here God! Do you see us? We are the ones who want to go where you want to go. We will follow you, not that small voice of defeat.

We can live wildly, passionately and with fervor. We only need him. He is the only way. He is the ultimate way. He will unfold both our heart’s desires and his “kingdom come” here on earth. He is working all things out. Let’s listen.

***Side note: I couldn’t get this post right today. I tweaked it until the last minute. The voice of self-doubt creeped in the whole time I was writing it. All I could hear was “this really is the worst post you have put up.” I wanted to take it down, but I am fighting that voice and posting it right now.  I am fighting back because Jesus reigns – not self-doubt!

Find encouragement in this amazing song of purpose!

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Worthy Works – 2 Parenting Books You Will Love

Parenting Books

So often, I wish that, upon delivery, the baby came with an instruction manual. Can you imagine? How easy would that make it?

No sleep training discussions.
Every tantrum figured out.
Every emotional issue handled.
Every bad boyfriend shoved out the door.

But of course, it doesn’t.

Second best, though, are the ample books on the market. I have found two that I want to share with you today. I hope you love them as much as I do!

As a side note, leave a comment! One random commenter will win a free copy of the book “Rescue,” by Candy Gibbs.

1. Rescue by Candy Gibbs-

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When I look in my daughter’s eyes I see an innocent heart. A heart that will likely be swayed by the world, others and life in general. Yet, I want her heart only to be swayed by god.

How do I go about this?

How do I help lead her heart to the love of Christ,
rather than let the world take it away?

The book, “Rescue” by Candy Gibbs addresses these concerns with powerful insight and encouraging words. Candy, a mom of 3 and the Executive Director of CareNet Pregnancy Centers in Amarillo, has  counseled many a mother unsure of how to lead a child’s heart.

While children are still toddlers, Candy writes about how to reach teens in a drowning culture. But, yes! I need to know about this.  There is never a time too early to start learning how to protect, guide and love your child.

I valued the perspective of the “lifeguards,” a group of young adults, who are closely acquainted with the childhood perspective.

These lifeguards taught me that:

– Arguments are sometimes children’s best lessons.
Kids walk away learning what you speak when you are mad.

– Boundaries with explanations are the best bet!
Yet, seeking to control is a losing deal.

– Christian parents often “direct children away from things they shouldn’t be part of,”
rather than directing them towards Christ.

– Many kids respect our parenting decisions,
even though in the moment it is hard for them.

Candy offers biblical insight and is not afraid to address hard cultural topics.

One random commenter will receive “Rescue,” a book loaded with biblical counsel, tips and guidance. Leave a comment!

2. In This House We Giggle by Courtney De Feo

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I want to giggle. I do, but so often I don’t. Instead, I run a tally of to-do’s off in my head. I see all that needs to be cleaned. I run into the house in a fluster.

That is why, I was in desperate need of giggles. Courtney DeFeo’s book, “In this House We Giggle” came at just the right time!

– It offers fun!
I want to bring this into my home.

– It offers 60 ways to “bring out giggles”!
My busy mind, loves the help on coming up with things to do.

– It helps the faith of little ones come alive.
I plan to apply this question DeFeo offers, “How’s your heart?” 

– It guides me to the right heart condition.
I feel encouraged to let out some tensions and to let a few laughs rise up.

I happen to love the practicality of this book.  Often, I read a book where I underline a hundred and one things, but I don’t know how to put anything into action. This book is the opposite! You underline a ton, but when you’re done, you can’t wait to start the fun!

The more I read the more my heart feels lighter. I am becoming aware of the deep importance of meaningful fun.

This hilarity was the result of my happy reading!

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Thanks Courtney!

More on In This House We Giggle.

On Another Note:

I am delighted to have put together a curated collection of items to support Work of Worth.

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Work of Worth exists to sustainably employ entrepreneurs in dignity from poverty and the sex trade. Each purchase of their quality items helps to support men and women who desire a choice for freedom and dignity for their families.

Don’t miss the opportunity to change lives and employ women at high risk of being trafficked. Check out my page and learn more! 

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Living Unfulfilled Dreams

Living Unfulfilled Dreams

I always wanted to be someone.
I wanted to do things.
I wanted to pursue life.

I thought, tomorrow, I will live as God wants me to live. I knew if I wanted to be someone tomorrow, I had to do something today. Yet that was the hard part.

No matter what I did, I couldn’t seem to follow through.

I studied to become a realtor and never got myself to the test.
I planned ways to bring chef dinner parties to people’s home, but I never got it off the ground.
I had goals of starting my own marketing agency, but I never made it happen.

Tomorrow. It’s the day we always hang our dreams on. It’s the day filled with hope, possibility and longing. Yet it’s often the greatest hindrance to where we want to go.

Tomorrow held me back and I kind of hated it for that reason. I lived in a perpetual dream cycle of tomorrows. I became the aimless girl who roamed from idea to idea – hoping one would stick.

I felt misguided.
Angry at myself.
Frustrated by my lack of follow through.

Until one day, God spoke a different story into my life – a different calling.

As I listened, put pen to paper and spoke his words of life, I could sense a powerful seed growing. Something was starting to take bloom! 

I could feel the uprising of something big.
I could sense new life in my lifeless walk.
I could sense a new arrangement of purpose taking shape.

When these sensations came over me, I remembered that aimless girl. I remembered how she felt. And, sadness washed over me. I longed to rewind back to yesterday to tell her a couple things: hold fast to following God and trusting him, don’t get down today and believe in tomorrow!

Why? Because:

Sometimes we actually aren’t in hesitation mode,
we are in God’s preparation mode.
 

What we wait for today,
develops our character for tomorrow.

 He has to plant the seeds of his love within us,
before we are ready to plant them around us.

 It’s always about his seeds arising,
verses ours attained through striving.

God faithfully watered my soul that thirsted to serve him, to love him and to bring Him glory. I am so thankful he took the time to water. It has been his greatest gift to me. I have grown and I have prepared, so I may go.

In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit. Is. 27:6

Now I see what he arranged within me, isn’t to satisfy me, but it’s to satisfy others. He has developed dreams that extend far beyond my hopes and wishes, although they do completely satisfy them.

The truth is, God is always in the process of planting and blooming. There are parts of us that are ready to bloom, parts ready for water and parts ready for seeding. But, one thing we can trust is that he is always at work – and it’s not just for our good, it’s for our great!

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands. Ps. 138:8

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Linking with Suzie Eller’s fabulous #LiveFreeThursday, Susan B. Mead’s #DancewithJesus and with Five Minute Friday.


Remember God’s Faithfulness

Post by Katy

The word tumor took my breath away.

Even through two months of watching the little bump on Elijah’s head grow, that word never once invaded my thoughts. But there I stood, with my 5-month old son and a doctor looking at me with those words, It’s a tumor. We’ll have to remove it.

Why do words you never want to hear stick with you for a lifetime?

Two weeks later I handed my son over to the nurse with one last kiss. One last prayer. One last, I love you. Luke and I walked hand in hand down the hall. I stared at the floor choking back tears. Be strong, I whispered in my head. Tears won’t help now.

Those two weeks between the diagnosis and surgery gave us plenty of time to think, to wonder, to ask … Why does he have to go through this? Did we do something wrong?

We prayed like we’ve never prayed before. We begged. We pleaded. Please God heal him. Please God let this be benign. Please protect him. Bring him through this.

Luke and I sat shoulder to shoulder on the couch, every few minutes asking each other, “You okay?” We felt helpless. We begged God for mercy.

 Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31 (NIV)

Doctors expected a 4-hour surgery, so when they met us in the waiting room just 2 1/2 hours later it caught us by surprise. Benign. He said the word, benign. I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry or scream Hallelujah! My son’s going to be okay!!!

Thank you, Jesus. Thank you, Jesus.

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God filled the days following surgery with grace like only He provides. This happy boy never needed pain medicine. He recovered like a champ, and fittingly his name means “spiritual champion.”

I tell you this story because that baby turns 8-years old this month.

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And I believe in the power of remembering God’s blessings.

… Let it remind you always to recite this teaching of the Lord: ‘With a strong hand, the Lord rescued you from Egypt.'” Exodus 13:9 (NLT)

When God freed the Israelites from Egypt He told them to celebrate their escape every year. God called the annual festival a “visible sign … like a mark branded” on their hands or foreheads.

The same God who led the Israelites out of Egypt called us out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.” 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV)

Has God freed you or rescued you from something? Answered a prayer? Heard a cry of your heart? Declare His praises!

Today, take a minute and remember. Remember God’s past faithfulness.

It may be something as simple as God giving you a happy baby when all the other kids need baths and you’re running solo. Celebrate it!

Or maybe a tank of gas lasted miles and miles longer than it ever should have. Celebrate it!

Maybe you asked for a last-minute baby sitter and God provided. Celebrate it!

Maybe you’re whole world fell apart and God pieced (or is just starting to piece) it back together with His gentle, patience hand. Celebrate it!

The further we travel from the moment God’s strong hand so intimately connects to our little lives, the easier it becomes to grumble. Complain. Doubt. (See the book of Exodus!)

Choose to remember God’s faithfulness. And let God’s past faithfulness lead you to a future built on His promises.

Will you share something you’re celebrating today? Leave a Comment!

Sincerely,

Katy

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it's safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don't look quite like they did ten years ago, but I've learned along the way dreams do come true ... even if you're not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife's life at www.katymccown.com and I'd love for you to visit me!

I left my job as a television news reporter to join my husband, Luke, on our adventure in the National Football League. 10 years, 12 moves, 6 kids, 5 teams, and 4 states later, it’s safe to say the road has been anything but predictable. Our dreams today don’t look quite like they did ten years ago, but I’ve learned along the way dreams do come true … even if you’re not a Disney World. I blog about a football wife’s life at www.katymccown.com and I’d love for you to visit me!

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How To Deal When Life Gets Tough

when life gets tough

When Life gets tough

Where can I go when I am tired? Worn? Weary?

Because sometimes in life:
A minute overwhelms.
A day get’s to be too much.
My schedule feels too full.
People get a little forceful.
Bad things happen.
Circumstances throw me off guard.

Just the other day, a troubled heart started to sink me with anxiety. I turned on the TV to find a moment of peace, a second of calm and to possibly hear from God.

Yet, within 2 minutes, my so-called “peace” was interrupted.

My son called out,
“Mommy, be with me. Just be with me. Sit next to me. I need you.”

A monster loomed.

And, although I first approached him with a stern face because my rest was interrupted, God set me face-to-face with something far greater – my son’s reaction.

You see, when the bad things loomed, my son, knew something very powerful:

He knew my presence was greater than the monster.
He knew that nothing could hurt him when I was near.
He new that safety was all about my closeness.

Am I this way with God?

Do I understand the power of calling on Him for covering, closeness and connection?

Do I realize that I can call on him at all times, for all things, in all ways, on all days
and fully know that he will be there?

Do I realize that just his presence is greater than my biggest problem?

When monsters come, do I come against them – with the power of God?

Because he is always ready to sit next to me.
He is always ready to hold me in my struggles.
He is always ready to run to my rescue.
His presence always confirms my safety.

How blessed is the one whom You choose and bring near to You To dwell in Your courts. We will be satisfied with the goodness of Your house, Your holy temple. Ps. 65:4

The LORD is near to all who call upon Him, To all who call upon Him in truth. Ps. 145:18

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Mt. 11:28

God stands ready to impart so much to me as I incline into him: nearness, a knowledge that he is near, rest, blessings, satisfaction, goodness, holiness.

What does it really look like to incline?

I think of “the disciple whom Jesus loved.” John. John also deeply loved Jesus.

There was reclining on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved. Jo. 13:23

Did you catch that? John was reclining or laying right on Jesus’ chest. What an act of love, humility and surrender. John leaned in…He drew near and drew strength.

When we lean, when we fall, and when we rest our faces on the power of Jesus, we love and we are loved.

Falling in means we know we won’t fall down.

No matter what we are secure in Christ.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. Ja. 4:18

God leans into us. Let’s lean in. Let’s lean in when life gets tough, circumstances happen and people hurt. Let’s lean in hard, fast and with an extravagant pursuit of his love.

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From Bad Self-Talk to A Good God (Linkup)

Bad Self Talk

CLICK HERE  TO LISTEN (2)

I think to myself:
You are not doing that right.
You’re coming off as a know-it-all.
Kids don’t love a mom who acts annoyed.
You always drop the ball with your husband.
You are being too selfish.
You are a continual mess-up.
God won’t bless that.

Condemnation. Like rain, it sure can pour down. Yet, somehow I have grown to think it’s an ordinary part of life.  It’s like a fly in the house. Sure, it’s annoying, but I can deal with it. Sometimes, it even becomes familiar. Provided it doesn’t bother too much, we can co-exist.

But I wonder, how much does it hurt me to co-exist with condemnation?

Because when I think of it, I see that self-condemnation left unchecked…
leads to self-loathing and self-loathing left unchecked…
leads to self-inadequacy and self-inadequacy left unchecked leads to…
a fear-filled turned-in spirit that doesn’t turn-out towards God or others in faith.

Condemnation may not injure our current actions, but it sure impacts our future ones. It may not hold us back from dreams, hope and a future in the present, but it’s lasting effects do bite.

And yes, friends, I do know that God says, “There is no condemnation in Christ Jesus,” but sometimes I just don’t consider that in the moment – the moment when the thoughts move in as fast as a freight train.

Mostly,  in that moment, I am just trying to get by, to live the hand of cards dealt – even when they leave me flushed with thoughts of how much I lack, what I can’t do and where I can’t go.

Sure, I hate those cards, but at the same time I am used to them. That doesn’t make them right though.

Yet, as I stare intently at those cards, wanting something more, my eye starts to focus on the King, the King who wears the crown. The King who is high. The King who can change the game.

I remember his love, I see his royalty and I admire his crown.  I see something. I grab hold of something…

I realize the King’s love has already condemned condemnation.

Thinking of it in this way, allows me to grab hold of this truth.

His love is what changed – and changes – the game. And it is what changes my thoughts.

Let your eyes look directly ahead and let your gaze be fixed straight in front of you. Prov. 4:25

If I can keep my eyes fixed on what is love – Jesus – my thoughts will follow him. He will lead my mind in truth. The King will teach me the right way to go.

The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart. Lu. 6:45

I know Jesus calls me towards obedience. I can’t help but think of this verse: take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ?” 2 Cor. 10:5

I want to be obedient.

Next time, that hand is dealt and that fly buzzes, I am going to ask myself 3 questions:

1. How does Jesus see you in this moment?
2. Is this thought rooted from a place of Christ’s love?
3. Could I imagine Jesus speaking these words to me?

Perhaps, then, I can discard the things that trump his love and grab hold of the ultimate King of hearts. Perhaps then bad hands won’t be a precursor to bad actions. My eyes will be set on the King.  

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