Purposeful Faith

Tag - trials

Why I Declare There Is Hope Indeed!

Why I declare that hope is here image with a field of purple flowers by Katie M. Reid Photography

Post by: Katie M. Reid

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 rests.
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 Writer and Speaker at katiemreid.com

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.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 

Embarrassing Bravery and Insane Courage

courage is required as we free fall into grace quote by Katie M. Reid for Kelly Balarie's Purposeful Faith

Post by: Katie M. Reid

There is a captivating quote in the movie, We Bought A Zoo: 

You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.

For ten years my husband and his sister wanted to go skydiving together. Their plan was to go once she turned 18. Time went by and the dream remained tucked away, but not forgotten. Then a few years ago there was a great deal on Groupon for skydiving nearby—and the rest is history.

These adult siblings demonstrated insane courage and embarrassing bravery as they plummeted to the earth (I have to say that their father and I also displayed some too by promoting, watching, and documenting the experience). I am proud of them. Ultimately, it was a lesson of trust, growth, and quite the bonding experience.

Isn’t this like our faith?

When we “sign-up” we count the cost and take a leap into unknown territory. The Lord asks us to trust Him in the midst of fear, obstacles, and at times scary and exciting circumstances.

The giants are present, but the slingshot is in hand. The hand looks weak, but the power is in the One Who called, Who holds together.

God equips for the task at hand. For what is laid out, He knows the course. We ride this journey, tandem.

What is God asking you to trust Him with?

Is He calling you to something that seems impossible in your own strength? Is it self-control, parenting well, mending a relationship, being kind to that “hard-to-be-nice-to” person, getting out of debt, faithfully spending time with God, learning a new skill?

My father-in-law once preached a great message about how, with God, the impossible is possible (Matthew 19:26). We might find ourselves between a rock and a hard place so we will trust and look to Him, and not rely on our own strength.

I have a few friends right now who are facing impossible types of circumstances. It’s hard to watch as the winds of loss, pain, and injustice beat against their face. They find themselves between a rock and a hard place, and the outcome is uncertain. Yet, I’m reminded of Moses, God put him in the cleft of rock while His glory passed by.

Could it be that when we are in a hard place, or a seemingly impossible season, that God’s glory is very near?

and it will come about, while My glory is passing by, that I will put you in the cleft of the rock and cover you with My hand until I have passed by. Exodus 33:22

Courage is required as we free fall into grace. Bravery is needed as we trust God in the midst of the unknown. We do not go alone, as we take a leap of faith. Our Lord has gone before us, and goes with us.

Look to the cross, Jesus is definitely the example of insane courage and embarrassing bravery.

1 Corinthians 1:18

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.

1 Corinthians 2:4-5 
My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

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Author & Speaker Katie M. Reid image by Adopting Nations

Katie M. Reid is a writer and speaker who encourages others to find grace in the unraveling of life. She 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.

Connect with Katie at katiemreid.com and on Twitter and Facebook.

Life is a Puzzle, Without the Full View

Life is a Puzzle, But We're Missing the Full View

Post By: Angela Parlin

Some nights, my little girl stops me from heading out of her bedroom after I’ve tucked her in.

Before I move on to the next kid’s room, she needs me to help her sort through scary questions, unfathomable for a just-turned-9 year-old. Matters of life and death and everything in-between.

It’s a gift to talk deep with her, because I get to point her to the HOPE I know, again and again.

I get to help her see where Jesus resides within the gains and the losses of this world.

But it also tears my heart out. She’s seen enough now to know it’s not all going to be okay. Not in the way we would like it to be.

She’s seen the broken way of things here. She’s walked through loss and several near-losses with us. She’s wiped tears and cut out pink heart-shaped cards, adding stickers and cursive I love you’s. She’s served up comfort in mugs of hot tea with a side of dark chocolate & almonds.

She knows things I wish she didn’t know.

It’s a terrible world, one with ISIS and earthquakes and anger and leaving and loss. It’s a world where we sometimes shake our heads and cry and say I don’t know. I don’t understand.

Recently a friend of ours lost his sister suddenly. She was younger than me.

She’d had a hard run, and when he stood to speak at her funeral, he said, It seemed like she could never really catch a break in life.

He shared what he has left of her, his memories. He talked about how she loved to put together 5,000-piece puzzles, and laughed that there was one currently spread across a table at Mom and Dad’s house–missing that one piece like always. Then he asked a question, and it left a lasting picture in my mind.

What’s the most important part of a puzzle?

It’s the top of the box. The completed view.

The picture of how things are supposed to look in the end.

Without that, we don’t know where we’re headed.

Without it, the puzzle doesn’t make sense.

That day, remembering his sister, was a little like putting together a puzzle without the box top. Without that one missing piece.

Why did God allow it? We don’t know. Will it all be okay? Yes, and also no.

What we do know: Jesus resides within the loss. It hurts, and God still moves. He is working toward the good of drawing us each to Him. One day, the losses will end. He will bring so much beauty out of all this chaos.

It will be okay, but only because Jesus never loses the view of the top of the box.

It will be okay, because of Who God is–the Eternal God and the Everlasting Father. Because He is Good and He cares for us. Because He is full of Mercy and Kindness and Grace. It will be okay, because we trust in Him, even when we don’t understand.

We see blurred images in this mirror, but one day we will see clearly.

Life is a puzzle, and today we’re missing the finished view.

Now we see things imperfectly, like puzzling reflections in a mirror, but then we will see everything with perfect clarity. All that I know now is partial and incomplete, but then I will know everything completely, just as God now knows me completely. Three things will last forever–faith, hope, and love–and the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:12-13, NLT

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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.

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When You Think, “There is No Way”

no way

We all have our monsters. The real vile ones are from days of old; they give us night-shivers to remember. The fast ones whip us, encouraging us to more quickly chase perfection. The obnoxious ones form in our mind, informing us we are no better than our worse fears. The slow-moving one arrives like an envelope with amounts past due, they point to the depths we can never climb. But, the worst – the absolute worst – are the types that tell us our big God is small. They that tell us we fooled ourselves; God doesn’t really come through for our likes.  These ones are beasts. Tall. Ferocious. Salivating. Beasts. Throwing insults.

(Goliath) said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come at me with sticks?”
And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. 1 Sam. 17:43

Our Goliath-monsters speak too, you know?

Am I not threatening enough –  that you think you can beat me?

Am I to laugh, that you think you can beat me with prayer?

Am I an imbecile, that you speak thousand-year old bible verses and think they’ll work?

Am I not injurous enough, that you believe in something you cannot see, when you see the heights of me?

Am I not pleasurable enough, that you would come at me with the thought God makes you enough?

Ba….Ha…ha…ha!

Look at her…

The finger points.
The chants ensue.
We stand there. Nearly naked.
Sweat dripping.

We feel the assault on a God who seems silent.

We wait, looking left and right hoping to do something. Needing – to do something.

What giant monster taunts you?

What does he say?

When I was a waitress, we used to say, “I’m in the weeds.” It means someone is about to dump a plate of spaghetti on your head because you’ve gotten too far behind. It also means that the appetizer you’re holding should actually be dessert and you are pretty much hated by multiple tables. You crawl under a table cloth at the at point. You are stuck. You hate yourself.

I have a book coming out a couple of months. I’m in the weeds. The monster is there. He speaks,
“Kelly, you have no time, you have no ability, you have no power to succeed.
What others have 
in talent, you don’t. You’re an imposter.”

Yet, when I fight to hear God’s voice. Something surfaces.

When you hear insults over invading love,
you can be sure that you’re hearing the insidious voice of a monster,
not God.

David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hands…All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” (1 Sam. 17:45-47)

I love how David talked back. We, good girls, don’t do this enough. We’ve been taught to cross our legs, dot our i’s and cross our t’s, but we’ve hardly been taught to snap back. We’ve hardly been taught to stand up for ourselves.

But, what if, rather than being women of subservience to bad monsters, we talked back?

What if, instead, we got defiant, not reliant on these voices?

I almost see it… women, rising, a valiant insurrection,
not directed at husbands or people who annoy us,

but at the internal voices of lies.

I want that.

I want to talk back to these insidious voices with truth
so insurmountable it instigates a movement of unstoppable women for Christ.

Imagine that.

Now, that little monster voice tells me, “Kelly, you’re sounding extreme again.”

But, you know what? I shush it up and go “bad-girl” on it.

I laugh in it’s face.
I spit.

I say, “God can do all things. So, shush it up! I am tired of your lies. You’re a dog that I should laugh at you.”

David triumphed over the Philistine with a sling and a stone; without a sword in his hand he struck down the Philistine and killed him. (1 Sam. 17:49)

1 Stone.
1 shot.
1 sling.
1 vote of full confidence in his Lord.
1 belief that it didn’t matter what he had, but who he had.
1 ounce of trust that miracles can and do happen.

David didn’t need much.
I don’t need much.
You don’t either…

…but, God.

God is the everything we need.
He is the Filling to our gap.
He is the Provider to our debt.
He is the Answer to our need.
He is the Way through our dead end.

Find His life to gain life.

That thing that looks too big to accomplish – is smaller than God.
That thing that seems like it will kill you – cannot overcome the life of Christ.
That thing that plagues you with a screechy voice – is silenced by the peace of God.

Let the monsters speak, because there is one who speaks louder.
Who rides higher. Who is greater. Who will ride in victory, apparent, in glory before all mankind.

I saw heaven standing open and there before me was a white horse, whose rider is called Faithful and True. With justice he judges and wages war. His eyes are like blazing fire, and on his head are many crowns. He has a name written on him that no one knows but he himself. He is dressed in a robe dipped in blood, and his name is the Word of God. The armies of heaven were following him, riding on white horses and dressed in fine linen, white and clean.  Coming out of his mouth is a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations. Rev. 19:11-15

The fight is on your behalf. If you don’t believe Jesus can win for you – I don’t know who can.

Next time the Goliath-monster starts spouting off again, tell him to shush up and sit down, Faithful and True is on your side! And, with Him, you’re about to win.

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Lost in The Wilderness

Lost in The Wilderness

Today, it is my joy to welcome Tracey Rogers to Women’s Ministry Monday. Her words both uplift and remind my heart that there is safety in my struggle and hope in my longings. Thank you, Tracey. 

I got lost in the wilderness.

I hadn’t planned to even go out there, but there I was right in the middle of unfamiliar territory. I did, however, know what was on the other side. THAT I knew, so I was confident on how to maneuver myself through the uncomfortable deserted land.

But I got lost.

No, not literally. The deepest I have been in any kind of wilderness is a color-coded, well-worn hike through many Tennessee State Parks; hardly a place for loss.

No, my wilderness was God’s doing. Leading me out of my comfort and leading me into a place of uncertainty and trial and pressure and temptation.

The wilderness is not an unusual place for God’s people.

He often leads them into the wilderness. 

Moses was called by God from the burning bush while Moses was in the wilderness.

Elijah receives encouragement from God while spending 40 days in the wilderness.

The children of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness
unlearning the pagan influence from Egypt and becoming a people of God.

They found their identity in the wilderness. 

Even Jesus, Himself spent 40 days in the wilderness being tempted before beginning His earthly ministry.

David, too has a season in the wilderness. 

David was anointed king of Israel as a young man, and through a series of God-ordained coincidences he found himself in service of the present king of Israel, Saul. I imagine David saw the path to kingship. He imagined that he would learn from Saul; be mentored by this present king so he could one day step into the role that was destined for him. Although David knew the way the story would end, with him being king, I think the process ended up being very different than he expected. Saul began to see David as a threat and David was forced to run for his life. Where did he run?

To the wilderness. 

The wilderness is a place ripe for God to shape and grow David into the king He called him to be.

1 Samuel 21-31 record David’s time in the wilderness. I don’t think this turned out to be the way he expected God to grow him into a king, but that is exactly what God did. In the wilderness, David went from shepherd to leader. 

David learned how to handle opposition.
David was met with challenges, yet followed God.
The wilderness was where David found shelter in caves, yet knew the shadow of God’s wings.
It was where David found rest beside still waters and found his soul restored.
And David, had tests and temptations, but resisted them and proved worthy of the call.

The wilderness isn’t just for God’s people in the Bible. He is still calling His own into the wilderness today, and that is where I found myself.

But I carved the path. Wondering, how can I get out. How will God actually work things out?

Real surrender is not the act of acknowledging hard times,
but of letting God walk you through them, altogether.

What path do you follow? Is it providing refuge?

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, 

For my soul takes refuge in You;

And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refuge

Until destruction passes by.

I will cry to God Most High, 

To God who accomplishes all things for me.

He will send from heaven and save me;

He reproaches him who tramples upon me.     Selah.

God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.” Ps. 57:1-3

And so I remained in the wilderness, but no longer felt lost. I found comfort and I think that is exactly what He had in mind.

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About Tracey Rogers

View More: http://keonik.pass.us/traceyrogersTracey Rogers is a gifted Bible teacher who brings passion and enthusiasm to the life-giving Word of God. Tracey speaks with authority and authenticity leaving her listeners wanting to spend more time with God in His Word and inspiring them to live lives that shine His light. Tracey has also taken her revealing teaching lessons and unique insights and put them in her new book, Life Lessons from the Book of Job.

She lives in Franklin, Tennessee with her husband of almost 19 years, Kevin, along with their children Preston, 15; John John, 13; and Josie, 10.  In addition to serving on the adult groups staff at Church of the City, she has been incorporating her love of scripture by teaching Christ-centered yoga for 4 1/2 years.

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The Good in the Bad

Today, I am overjoyed to welcome Shanelle Wagner! Her words speak encouragement and life. Shanelle is the Women’s Ministry Coordinator at First Denton Church. Shanelle, we are thankful for you and everything you do! Keep trekking into your calling.

Post by: Shenelle Wager

Are you seeing a storm full of no’s, changed plans, erupting conflicts and sideways suggestions?

Maybe you are beginning to think, “This is not what I signed up for? Did I make a mistake, a wrong turn? What is going on? Am I cut out for this? I’ve done something wrong, I don’t have control.”

When you know what God wants for you, suddenly you feel peace where you are going. (3)

God brings us to situations that are more than we can handle alone, so we can depend on Him.

James tells us to consider it joy.

I used to roll my eyes in unbelief and run from this idea, I just couldn’t’ wrap my mind around how the bad should make me joyful…but He has been patient with me, gently pursuing me.

And this is what I’ve discovered: God is faithful to work in these types of downpours.

These bolts of doubt, waves of no’s, changed plans and conflicts test maturity. They indicate where you are. They are not used for the purpose of shaming, chastising or catching you. On the contrary, they are because he cares for you. Because He is about to take you to the next level.

He lets you see where you are weak, so you can see how to be strong – in Him.

Now, if you fall and revert back to your old ways, don’t panic. He has more work to do with you to strengthen you for the next level. One thing I have come to learn, though, is he loves cooperation and willingness (Example: bible study, confession, accountability, recovery group).

I believe, it is all worth it, for what you find is: the testing proves out – your progress.

Ever noticed this? When you see progress, it offers a confidence a boost.

God is preparing you. He does this for the ones He sees and loves. The ones He has specific plans and purposes for.

This is you. This is me.

Hanging on. Trials can certainly leave you empty and ravaged.

3 Ways to Keep the Faith in Storms

1. Fix your eyes on Him, know who He is and believe His truths. (2 Cor. 4:16-18). Remember you are not alone. He sees you and all you are experiencing, He knows. Let His peace comfort you.

2. Cast your cares on Him. To cast something you must first hold it, look at it, perhaps name it, then you can cast it at His feet (1 Peter 5:7). Know He is with you, sit with Him, and ask Him to help you name the struggle and what is going on inside of you. Tell Him why it bothers you and how it makes you feel, act, think.

The Good in the Bad

3.  Trust what he is doing with the no’s, changes, and interruptions (Prov 3:5). Thank Him for the good. Thank Him for the sun in the sky. Thank Him for the drive thru that offers you a hot drink on a rainy day. Just thank Him for it all. Thank Him for the work He is doing that you cannot see or understand ()1 Thess.5:18.

God can be trusted to complete the good work He begun in you. He is there in the storms.

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About Shanelle

Screen Shot 2016-06-13 at 4.04.49 AMShanelle is a wife to a super supportive husband, who happens to be her best friend and biggest cheerleader in life.  She is also a mom to two young boys. Shanelle entered vocational ministry when her oldest was a toddler and her youngest came along 17 months after that. She has been learning the ropes of ministry and motherhood simultaneously. Shanelle will tell you that both are the hardest jobs she could ever love. Shanelle can tell you many stories about Lord’s faithfulness all along this journey! Her days have truly not been her own…even though She confesses to  wrestling Him weekly for them.  She will tell you of His is graciousness and patience while she has learned to let go and let him…. work everything out for His purposes.

Shanelle has personally lived out Proverbs 16:9 and 2 Corinthians 12:9, He orders our steps and He is strong in our weakness. She has had to depended on Him to show her every step to take, and there have been times many, many times where anything that was accomplished was not of her own strength, but His. Shanelle continues in her role as Women’s Ministry Coordinator at First Baptist Church Denton, while enjoying the abundance of giggles, cuddles and love with her family.

Remember our BIG God

BIG God

DSC_8325 copyAToday, I would like to welcome, Sue Allen, as a guest poster for Women’s Ministry Monday. Sue, is in women’s ministry at Northside Methodist Church in Georgia. May her words remind your heart, as much as they did mine, that God’s love is bigger than our widest conception of it…

 

Guest post by: Sue Allen

I was on an elliptical machine in a hotel fitness room in Asheville, N.C. when my phone signaled her group text. Throughout the day, five of us Bible study friends had been texting support, encouraging our friend whose ten-year-old daughter was undergoing her six-month scans for the cancer she has battled for the past five years. As always, we prayed that the scans would reveal three sweet letters: N.E.D. (No Evidence of Disease).

“Really bad news. They found 2 large bumps.”

Instead of three sweet letters, these eight frightening words broke our heart. We all quickly texted back loving words. “Let this be a bump in your road, not a bolder.” “Love and big prayers are coming your way.” “Praying for you and wishing I could give you a big hug.” “We are your prayer warriors.” “Sweet friend, leave it in God’s hands.”

Clearly God at work, Susan Anderson Yates, beloved Christian writer, had just sent me a copy of her new book Risky Faith. Right before the group text came in, I read the following words on page 14. “I had let my concern for this child grow and grow. It had become so big in my heart that the problem itself became my focus. Perspective was lost. Instead, I was overwhelmed by this current issue. I finally realized I had forgotten who God was.

I had forgotten how very much He loved my child and me. I had forgotten He knew my child much better than I did. I had forgotten He was working in ways I could not see. He was in this issue, totally involved, and His love was perfect. He was so much bigger than I gave Him credit for. It wasn’t that these concepts were new to me. It was more that I wasn’t living day in and day out in the assurance and knowledge of how BIG He is. I was missing out, and the result was anxiety, loss of perspective, and an anemic understanding of God’s personal love.

In that scary moment when I stopped working out and started looking in to find the words to text my friend, I integrated the wisdom I had just read. “I am so sorry. I know this is so frightening and so overwhelming. Remember our God is bigger than cancer, bigger than any circumstances, and the LORD shares His power freely with us. Crumble before Him, sweet friend. Let His loving strength take over for a while. Please call if you want to talk or text until your fingers are tired. We are here for you in any ways you need us.”

But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do, James 1:25 (NIV)

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More about Sue Allen:

big godEnjoy a daily inspiration this summer. Sue Allen, Northside’s Women’s Ministry Director writes a morning blog for men and women, young and old. The 2016 Summertime Devotional, “Breathe God Everywhere”, will come into your inbox each day from June 1 to September 1. To receive this motivational message sign up hereVisit her website to read more blog posts.

Reply here to contact Sue Allen personally.

 

 

When You Keep Losing What You Want

When You Keep Losing

My dear friend, Christy Underwood, is joining us today. As you will see, her endurance and perseverance is both admirable and touching. I saw it in action as she went through this trial. Today, her story reminds me that even when we feel like the world is hurting us, still, God is always pursuing us. 

The nurse came into the room. The test came back negative. My fears were confirmed. I was not pregnant. I had lost the baby. It was difficult but I was thankful that it was early on in the pregnancy and I had minimal physical side effects from the miscarriage.

The doctor told us we should wait a few months before trying again. In the meantime, I went to a women’s conference with our church. A girl at our table told us about a book she was reading called, “Heaven is for Real.” She shared a part where the little boy meets his sister who had died in his mom’s tummy. I excused myself from the table, went to the bathroom, and cried. The Lord spoke to me in those moments. It hit me that the baby we lost is God’s child too, just as I am God’s child. I had focused too much on how I lost MY baby. I was able to see how God loves our/His child the same way He loves me. I realized that God wanted life for His child just like I did. He is the Creator of life. So, why did our child die?

Because we live in an imperfect world.

God could have intervened – but He didn’t.

He chooses not to control our world, because He wants us to have the free will to choose – Him or not. 

A few months later, I got pregnant again. I was scared but knew I had to trust the Lord. Our sweet girl is 3 years old now.

After lots of trying – and waiting – to get pregnant again – it happened. Yet, when they did the initial ultrasound, they couldn’t find the heartbeat.

“Take this medication and return in a week.” That’s what the doctor said.

That week was one of the hardest, most anxiety provoking weeks of my life. Nothing had changed. They could see that I had been pregnant, but we lost the baby again. I waited for my body to do what God designed it to, but I was on an emotional rollercoaster. I sought the Lord and He spoke to me. I questioned if God understood my pain, my loss. He said that He indeed understood more than I would ever be able to understand.

He allowed His Son to bear our sin and pay the price, so that we could have a relationship with Him.

“This is how God showed love among us:
He sent His one and only Son into the world
that we might live through Him.”
(1 John 4:9)

Time passed, and I got pregnant again. The technician was able to show me the baby and the baby’s heartbeat but the baby was measuring a little smaller than expected. I was hopeful but nervous. I went back a couple weeks later and the baby had barely grown. There was no longer a heartbeat. Again, Lord?

We lost this baby the day before my daughter’s 3rd birthday.

For some, this may have ruined the day. For me, I saw God working. I was thankful to have a brief time of mourning and then found myself rejoicing in the child He had already given us. The Lord was reminding me of all I had to be thankful for. I knew he was going to teach me something. The message I heard this time was, “Praise Me. Focus on who I am.” A song came back to me that I had briefly focused on during my last miscarriage, “Praise You in This Storm,” by Casting Crowns.

Here are some of the lyrics:

I’ll praise You in this storm
And I will lift my hands
For You are who You are
No matter where I am

And every tear I’ve cried
You hold in Your hand
You never left my side
And though my heart is torn
I will praise You in this storm

I lift my eyes unto the hills
Where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord
The Maker of Heaven and Earth

What storm are you trying to survive?

How is God calling you to praise Him in the midst of this storm?

It comes down to a choice. Will we choose Him or not? Let’s keep our eyes on Him no matter what a fallen world sends our way.

We don’t know what the future holds or what God’s plan is for our lives, but I know – I will do my best to trust Him and seek His will above all else.

Will you?

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Christy (left) is a wife, a mother to one sweet girl, and a speech therapist. She’s lived in Southern California her whole life. Kelly and Christy met in their early 20s at a church retreat and have supported each other through all of the crazy transitions life keeps bringing.

Kelly’s must-add words about Christy: Christy inspires me to be a better friend. She asks the real questions, the tough questions and the caring questions. She is honest and fun all at the same time. She is a woman who seeks after God with her whole heart. I thank God that he made matched us together, two friends who “get” each other. I can’t wait for all the years she and I have ahead of us – in this crazy ride called life.

Thank you, Christy, for using your story for God’s glory!

How to Really Fight Back using the Sword of the Spirit

Sword of the Spirit

What do you do when something terrible, horrible and life-impacting happens –
especially when you are sinking into fear and anxiety?

This is what I was asked as my hard work disappeared before my very eyes. This is what I was asked as my progress was erased. This is what I asked as I thought about the myriad of things flipping, flopping and dying right my very eyes.

In this reflective moment, in the pause right before the full tsunami of tension hit, I had a choice:
Would I stand in the power of God or would I fall to the power of fear?

Ever stood here?

This moment, it is a critical one. If you leave nothing filling that second, you will inevitably succumb to distrust. If you leave it untended by God, you will certainly feel alone. And if you leave it empty, you no doubt fill it with endless thoughts of preposterous scenarios. But, if fill it with truth and life and warrior words, you will wage war – and win –  against what intended to take you down.

Here is how it works: Read a portion of scripture (we will use Psalm 62), personalize it and speak it aloud. Choose to believe it. Believe it over your body, believe it over every relationship that hurts, believe it over your finances, believe it over your family, believe it over you heart, believe it over your discouragement and believe it over anything that is coming against.

When you let the good yeast of God’s truth, rise above the lies –
you find it squeezes out worry.

Psalm 62

My soul finds rest in you, God;
you are my salvation.
You are my only rock and my salvation;
you are my fortress, I will not be shaken..(Psalm 62:1-2)…

My soul, finds rest in you God;
my hope comes from you.
You are my rock and my salvation;
you are my fortress, I will not be shaken.
All my salvation and my honor depend on you, God;
you are my mighty rock, my refuge.
I trust in you at all times, every single time;
I pour out my heart to you,
God, you are my our refuge.

I am but a breath,
Nothing, only a breath.
I will not put vain hope in stolen goods;
I will not make riches the center of my life
nor will I set my heart on them.

For I know:
“Power belongs to you, God,
and with you, Lord, is unfailing love”;
and, “You reward me
according to what I have done.” (Psalm 62: 5-12)

The more Gods’ Word sits in,
the more thoughts of negativity and disaster are forced to move out.

It simply works like this: You speak it, you believe it and because you believe it, you live it.

The answer to oncoming attacks and injuries is not to wait for the blow to knock you over, it’s to step into it on offense, with the Sword of the Spirit in motion so you can slay what Christ Jesus has already beaten. This doesn’t mean that every single predicament is fixed and tidied up, but what it does mean is every predicament is seen through the power of God’s eyes.

God wants to give us spiritual clarity and he wants to help us fight our battles.

What might God want to slay if you gave his Word a chance to fight on your behalf?

God is your rock, your fortress and your refuge – in him, you cannot be shaken.

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When Someone Really Offends You

Offends

Someone said some things that made me question some things – about myself.

Things that made me wonder:

Do I shine Christ well?
Do I really have anything important to say?
Does God’s mission for me count?

Their words unloaded doubt, fresh pallets of discouragement set directly on my heart- the weight of which seemed nearly unbearable.

Every part of me wanted to yell back at them, “Be nice! Don’t you know I am fragile.” 
“I just poured out my heart to you – and you’re now stomping on it?”
“How dare you? You are mean.”

But, grown people don’t normally talk this way. So, I didn’t.

What I did say, or rather hear from the Word of God was this question (which is probably a million times more impactful than my original response):  Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? Gal. 1:10

This verse plays out to us, hurt ones, in layman’s terms much like this:

– Dear child, others may try do define you, but I have made you.
– Dear child, you may not be good enough for them, but I have created you good enough for me.
– Dear child, I don’t rule according to man’s opinions, I rule according to my truth.
– Dear child, I am looking for those who follow at all costs, not those bending and breaking to man’s needs.
– Dear child, if I led you, you can’t be led wrong.
– Dear child, if you listen, you will hear my voice and can walk assured of my path.
– Dear child, if I am for you, no one can be against you.
– Dear child, if you do something with me, no grain or crumb expended is a waste.
– Dear child, take a pause, for I have told you not to seek applause.
– Dear child, you do not know their internal battle; perhaps you are the peace to their war.
– Dear child, people speak from the depravity of flesh but I speak from the wellspring of life.

When you hear these kinds of things from God, you look at God and say, “Ok. You know best.”

And somehow, maybe even unknowingly, you set that person free in your mind, figuring, in them, God is probably doing some work. You see them flying smaller and smaller in the distance and you trust that God’s will is being done – in your life and theirs.  And maybe, just maybe, you even let it sneak out – a little smile.

One that all can see as you walk. One that shows that, with God, you are just a tad bit more at peace, full and taken care of than you ever could have been without him.

Suddenly, you don’t feel so bad anymore. For you know, that this small progress is what faith is made of and that small scales up a mountain, before long, land you at the top – where you can see everything with clarity.

So you trust God, and step up by faith – knowing that, one day, you will stand on the mountaintop of eternity, where all things culminate – and where real life begins. So, until then, you stay firm in your pursuit of what matters and carry on fighting and climbing, listening and returning, hoping and trusting – until that one day comes where you find yourself, home.

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