Two shadows appeared. One was a small, old, hunched over man with a cane and the other a young and vibrant woman with a flowery dress.
Sitting, they leaned in toward each other and talked. A father and daughter?
All I could think as I noticed this man’s feeble body, his leaning body on that old war memorial was, “He must be telling her about a life that counted.”
He’s saying, “Sure, I paid a mental price, seeing all that war stuff, seeing people fall. The battles, the pain, the sacrifice. But when push comes to shove, I gave my all. My life. I offered up what mattered.”
Only a few minutes later, I saw the “Vietnam War Veteran” pin on his cap. I wanted to remember this man, because without saying a word, he delivered to my heart a message from God: Kelly, if you give it all up for me, you won’t look back and regret your life. You’ll sit on a memorial of what I did and rejoice over it.
I asked the man if I could take his photo. And I did. But after, he couldn’t get up. His hands wouldn’t support his weight. When I reached out my hand, he looked hesitant at the thought of grabbing it, but he did.
“Pull hard,” he said. I gave it my all. And all I could think as I pulled up the strength of this man, who was so weak, was how Christ gave it all. And how, at the right time, his broken body beat the ravages of earth to reign in heaven.
Jesus gave his everything to bring us all life and hope. Jesus paid it all so we could sit under the shadow of that memorial cross. Jesus gave it all so that we could end our lives, knowing all will end up being okay as we leave this earth. Jesus paid it all so we could accept a helping hand on the days we feel weak. Jesus paid it all so we wouldn’t have to kill ourselves by pretending we are strong, when we actually are weak.
Jesus fought for and bought our freedom. He won.
And he is winning today. He is winning whatever war you face. He’s behind you. He’s in front of you. He’s your future. He is your life. He is your answer. He is the beginning of your new thing. He is your help.
Live for him in a way so when you get to that memorial of your life and you look back, you’ll say, “With Jesus, I gave my all. In him, I fully believed.”
When the box arrived, he immediately tore it open, throwing pieces of tape behind him. It was the gift he’d saved up for after setting up summer lemonade stands, selling books online and doing odd chores around the house. I couldn’t be happier for him. Joy oozed out of him.
He pulled the metal detector out and held it high, seemingly admiring the little switches, dials and sounds it made. Now he could search for hidden treasure in the lawn. And that’s just what he did. He searched. Like a lawnmower, he went back and forth in precise lines…making sure not to miss a blade of grass. He worked so hard.
But he wasn’t finding anything. Nothing.
My heart sank.
He pressed on. He wasn’t going to give up. He even pointed to the other large lawn across the street and asked if we could go there. I motioned for him to finish up on this strip, before moving on to the next. Head down, he kept working at it. Nothing.
Wanting good things for him so badly and to reward his work, I had an idea. I snuck my hand into my purse, opened my wallet, grabbed a quarter and threw it onto the grass.
My son, pursued finding “treasure” with such heart, diligence and perseverance…I couldn’t help but secretly reward him.
“Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.” (Mt 7:7-8)
I can’t help but think, just as I couldn’t help but reward my searching son, God rewards our search too.
We keep asking…we get.
We keep seeking…we find.
We keep knowing…the door is opened to us.
God secretly drops a blessing right along our path, because he loves us. He sees us doing our part by faith, and he rewards us. It is not because we deserve it or because we earned it, but simply because he is good. He is a good daddy.
He sees our persistence. He sees our pursuit. He sees our dreams. He sees our hopes. He sees our desires. He sees our life. He sees our joys. He sees our pain. He sees how we drop down at his feet or ask him for help again and again and he doesn’t push us off or tell us we whine too much. Instead, he notices how we seek him as if he is our greatest treasure. Then, undeservingly, we dig up something amazing. Something that is just what we wanted. He does it in just the right way.
Because he knows us, we are his daughters. He is a good daddy.
I’m not sure if any of you are like me. I have seasons where I am thinking all of the deep thoughts. I’m not sure what it has been about this summer, but my thoughts have weighed heavy on me. Since the Spring, I have felt a bit tormented in my thought life. It has come in waves and at times has overtaken me.
I have never really been one to deal with a scattered and heavy thought life, but here we are. I can’t help but think that the enemy can sense that the Lord has something of significance awaiting me.
I am also not one to look at the world around me and be so discouraged and yet, here I am. It seems as though there is attack and opposition and hate and oppression at every turn. The enemy is working overtime to destroy us.
I don’t know about you, but I never want to give him the satisfaction of knowing that he beat me. As far as I know, our God calls us overcomers. He says that we are more than conquerors. He calls us to continue to fight the good fight and hold on to hope. Hope’s name is Jesus.
What does it look like to be an overcomer and to have hope when all appears hopeless?
We stand on the promises of God.
“…so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11
God’s Word is the ONLY the thing that has stood the test of time. Leaders and kingdoms have risen and fallen. Buildings and monuments have been built and have toppled to the ground. Religions have arrived and faded away. But, the everlasting God has never changed or left or lost His power. He is the same God who was before the foundations of the world. He is the same God that will reign for eternity when the world has burned away. This very God spoke and creation came to be. His word is a firm foundation. It doesn’t waver or fail. It is alive and active. It goes forth and accomplishes what He set out for it to accomplish. It does not return void. His Word instructs us to live by faith and not by sight. That requires us to hope despite what we can see.
We surround ourselves with truth tellers and encouragers.
“Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love.” Ephesians 4:15-17
The world and all of its voices are unstable to say the least. Fair weather is the name of the game. One moment the crowd is for something and in the very next breath, they are against it. It’s honestly quite exhausting. I am ridiculously blessed to be surrounded by a strong community that is rooted in God’s Word. They have convictions and are not prone to compromise. They speak truth with all authority and call me up higher in my thinking and my doing. When I am hopeless, they have hope for me. They speak hope into my spirit. They remind me that my hope is in Christ and not in my circumstances.
We proclaim the grace of God boldly.
“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” Revelation 12:11
The blood of Jesus and the Word of God are meant for salvation and changing lives. His Word is meant to bring hope to a hurting and hopeless world. And we were meant to conquer…to conquer the enemy, our flesh, fear. We were designed to be ambassadors and witnesses across the earth. But, how will the world around us ever come to know the hope we have in Christ? We must shed our fear and doubt and proclaim boldly His love, grace, mercy and forgiveness for His creation. We must declare that He is trustworthy and that He is the bringer of hope and the lifter of our heads.
“In hope he believed against hope, that he should become the father of many nations, as he had been told, “So shall your offspring be.” Romans 4:18
Abraham was the king of hope. He followed an unseen God to an unknown land. He believed the promises of this unseen God decades before the promises was fulfilled.
Oh, that we would be a people of God…
Who hope when our flesh is weak.
Who hope when others tell us to give up.
Who hope when the enemy is waging war.
Who courageously hope against all hope.
If you are in a hopeless situation, I’d love to pray for you!
About Karina Allen
Karina is a devoted follower of Jesus from New Orleans, Louisiana, but has made her home in Baton Rouge for the past 15 years. She spends much of her time leading worship at church, writing, reading, dancing and mentoring the next generation. She has a huge heart for serving and missions. She is an advocate for the local church especially the one that she attends, Healing Place Church. She also enjoys working out, traveling, photography and going to concerts/conferences.
Karina believes that every woman has a God-sized dream on the inside of them and it is up to an encouraging community to help nurture that dream. Her goal in writing is to see women get a revelation of God’s Word and discover how to apply it to their lives in order to walk in freedom and live the life that God intended. But the most important thing to her is to live out the call of Isaiah 26:8…For His Name and His Renown are the desire of our souls! You can connect with her at “For His Name and His Renown.”
Getting rid of my furniture, indeed, was hard. As each person came to pick up their new goods, a little part of me went out the door with the cushions, the tables, and the lamps…. It’s just stuff, Kelly!
But, it was my stuff!
So, trying to make the best of a hard situation, we turned on music. My three-year-old daughter jumped around and my son ran all over the room. We sang words about God’s faithfulness, goodness, and promises. But, I never expected what happened next…
Son took all his money, contained in a large Ziploc bag. The pennies, quarters, and dimes he’d been saving for weeks. The money he’d earned through lemonade stands, house chores and online book sales. The pile he’d been guarding like a military soldier. He dug deep into the bag and – fistful by fistful – he threw it in the air so it landed before the throne of God.
“More. I’ll give God, more,” He’d say, returning to the bag, until it was all gone.
Why? He said, “I felt God wanted me to give this money to him.”
My son gave his treasure. He said: It’s all God’s.
What I have: is all God’s.
What you have: is all God’s.
How do we use God’s money to bless Him?
After our worship session was done, I asked my son if he wanted to give that money to our church. He said, “No mom, I still want to get a drone.”
And, while, for a moment, I was unsure about his reply, the more I thought about it, the more I realized, God doesn’t guilt us into giving.
I mentioned to my son he might want to: think about sharing it, let a friend borrow or ask God how he can use it in a way that serves his purpose.
How might God be calling you to honor him with your resources – your time, your passions, your money, your heart, your life, or your living room furniture? How might it look to adorn his throne with what you’ve been given?
It’s all His. It’s all entrusted to you. It’s all waiting to be used for his glory, with no guilt attached.
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.
A few years ago, I thought I wanted a big house. I wanted massive square feet. I wanted a big yard, a long driveway and grass to plant flowers. I wanted it all. At least I thought. Until, I realized what I didn’t want: I didn’t want house problems, like leaks. I didn’t want snow plowing, every winter. I didn’t want, lawn mowing bills every week. I didn’t want house cleaning all the time. I didn’t want furniture bills up to my neck. I didn’t want housework without kid playtime. I didn’t want to live far away from friends. And, I didn’t want to feel like I was drowning under house chores.
That year, we sold the house – at a huge loss.
In retrospect, I realize, after selling the house, I stood at a decision point…
I could either wallow in my misery, thinking, I always lose money. I wasted so much cash on furniture I didn’t need. I cannot figure things out. I’ll always be lost. I’ll forever feel I don’t belong.
Or, I could recognize the issue, bring it to God, reframe my situation, and think differently. Like this:
Money comes and goes, but God’s care and providence for me endure forever.
Worth is what I invest in heaven, not what I see here.
My value is not my home, but God’s vast love for me.
What issue do you face? What seems to impossible to fix? How might you reframe it?
Begin by infusing into your problem what you’re thankful for. Then, move to praising your God for who he is thru your problem. End by requesting from God for eyes to see your problem afresh.
And always remember: There is no victory Christ can’t bring.
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.
Does your mind hone in on what you do wrong, more often what God is doing right?
Maybe you’re quick to notice your quick temper, the error of all your past ways — your choices, your parenting style, your marriage mannerisms. Or, maybe you’ve made some horrible financial decisions and found yourself at a loss. Usually, there is an area in our lives we hate; sometimes it is our thighs.
We are good at circling problem areas and critiquing them. Somehow, as women, we give ourselves permission to whine to each other. We think, it’s fine to share our worst, don’t brag about your best though.
So, we do. And, we learn to do this in our mind too.
I hate that I hate playing silly games with my kids. I don’t listen well either. I always give in to my kids. They always, nearly get what they want. Oh, I’ve been afraid to do spankings. I have a whole list of things I can improve on; I am aware of them.
I think of them as often as I think about what to eat next. They are a record of wrongs that follows me. Which is why, I needed some reprieve from them. And, fortunately, I found it.
I was in the kitchen, 6-year old so came in and said, “Hey Mommy, earlier, I almost ate the box of cookies in the pantry, but then I didn’t.”
I laughed it off.
The next day, he looked at me and said, “Mommy, I almost pulled all the toilet paper off the roll, but then I didn’t.”
And, it was at this point that wisdom hit me like a hammer: I can choose to see what I am not doing, or I can choose to see how I am improving. By focusing on how I am improving I remember important things.
I am being sanctified, upgraded day-by-day, into the image of Christ (1 Cor. 6:11).
I am moving from glory to glory (2 Cor. 3:8).
I am growing (Ro. 8:29).
We can’t look at a day and demand of it what God is doing over a year. I felt peace land on me. I felt peace land on my son as I looked on him with proud eyes. And, I imagined how God must look on me, when I try, when I improve and when I ease up on myself.
My friend Bev Sheasby of Liberated Living Ministries has been helping me limp across the finish line of a very hard season. She says wise and beautiful things that come at just the right moment. Words of affirmation, wisdom, and encouragement. She’s been such a comfort to me.
We recently had the loving privilege of handing our long-term foster daughter back into her birthmother’s restored arms.
Simultaneously, our oldest son became a Marine.
That same week, our oldest daughter eloped. This was a blessing, we are thrilled for the happy couple. But it has just been one thing after another.
And then another.
We welcomed an injured foster placement that same week. I may be a glutton for punishment, but actually, she has been a delightful distraction. It’s an honor to care for her.
Still, sending adult children off into the great beyond, I wonder… was it enough? Did I teach them everything they needed to know?
And I am not of the mindset that the Jesus I love was wholly made theirs simply by my prose. Scripture memory, “Jesus Loves Me,” and “Larry and the Giant Cucumber” are a start, He will have to take them to the finish.
But what about these “temporary” sons and daughters? There’s a chance they’ll hardly remember me? Let alone the whispered prayers or the lullabies of a Jesus who adored them, unto His death. I panicked, not so much in a lapse of faith, but a lack of confidence – a state of weariness. That sinking feeling, you know the one, where you feel you must be everything to everyone, every second of every day.
And something Bev said came into my mind, as I let some tears fall and whispered some small, but heartfelt prayers for healing.
“Within the seed is the potential for the entire plant.”
In my quest to provide for all, I realize what I often forget is how very small I am. Barely a seed myself, yet I think I must do it all and be all and fix all.
Alas, if I planted an apple seed, I could water it – but would it be me that would turn it into a tree? Would I be responsible for ensuring it produces a harvest? Could I even accomplish this? Even if I wanted to?
Furthermore, if I planted an apple seed and then I moved to a different farm in another state and left it to the elements, would it not be watered by the sky? Fed by the sun? And pruned by the wind? Isn’t it completely likely, aside from placing the seed in the earth, the earth would take care of the rest?
Within the seed is the potential for the entire plant. My comfort and rest come from this. I will continue to plant the seed and trust the Maker of all to finish the rest.
“The Lord will send a blessing on your barns and on everything you put your hand to. The Lord your God will bless you in the land he is giving you.” Deuteronomy 28:8 (NIV)
Jami 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.
At church, I was feeling unmotivated. Call it one of those mornings: you drive into the church lot with a frown on your face, kids screaming up a storm an, an argument brewing. It’s frustrating.
That’s where I was.
Once in the service, worship started, and I worried: I am not feeling this. I feel far. Disconnected. Demotivated. Blah.
My mind bounced to different topics like: I haven’t heard her sing before. I like how she smiles so big when she sings. I wonder if that cross was always on that wall or if they ever had it in the front of the church? Why do they always use that stand when they sing? It can easily tip over. . .
. . . until. . .
. . . a lady, a beautiful, tall and full-bodied hair woman completely interrupted my train of thought. The strength of her voice sounded stronger than the band. She belted out the words to the song, “God is good…so good,” and she belted them loud. She sang “His faithfulness endures forever…” to the rafters.
I wasn’t sure if I should move, hide or shoot her the evil eye. Her voice was moving into my atmosphere of annoyance, and it continued to. Until she shifted my atmosphere of annoyance to one of utter awe: She believes in God that much. She doesn’t care how she looks. She loves her God so much. She has such wild faith in what she is singing.
And, what she put out from her mouth, seemed to land in my heart. I took her strength on as my strength. And, then, I sang with her. And, as I did, as I let her heart encourage mine, I found my own song.
“I once was lost but now am found, Was blind, but now I see…”
I could see 2 things:
Our actions have the ability to lift others up or tear them down. We often don’t realize what an impact we are making, but make an impact, we do, when we pour out love.
We have the ability to lean on the faith of others. If we get near someone strong, their testimony, faith and fervor often rubs off on us. We just have to pick up the phone, send the email or show up on their doorstep for connection.
We need each other. God designed us as – better together. And, this day, I thank God for the lady who knew how to belt out her love to Jesus.
How might you reach out to the world with lyrics that belt out?