When All We Can See Is Bad

Turn on the news and it’s heartbreaking.  Devastating.  We don’t see a lot of good going on and the world we live in seems to get scarier and scarier. It’s a messy, fallen, broken world full of messy, fallen, broken people.  What are we to do??

When all we see is bad, we lose sight of the good.  We wonder where God is in all of the pain and suffering, not only in world events but the circumstances we might be experiencing in our own lives.  We wonder how a good God could allow such bad things to happen…

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding;” Proverbs 3:5

It’s not God’s desire to cause people to hurt, but my how He can use painful times to bring about good, growing us and causing us to turn our eyes toward Him.  What we see or experience is often hard to comprehend, so we must know and trust our God.  We must know and trust that He is good, He is with us, He is in control, He knows all and sees all, He loves us, has a perfect plan, can redeem and heal even the messiest situations, and can bring comfort and peace to a heart filled with the opposite.  I will say it again, He is good, He is with us, He loves us and He can bring good from bad.

Sunday night I was overcome with emotions over the recent events in our world.  Fear, sadness, desperation…I got on my knees and cried out to God to protect His people.  But then I realized although it’s a good prayer, and one we should be praying, it’s a selfish prayer.  God’s people are sealed, guaranteed eternal life through His son, Jesus Christ.  Shouldn’t I also be praying for protection and salvation for those who don’t yet know Him?  Those who need Him in the here and now but also for all eternity?  For the Lord to use these bad times for good, to draw others to Himself?

Christians, may we use this time as an opportunity not to shrink back but to rise up and be bold in our faith.  For it to flourish and grow.  May we take hold of Christ and shine His light of hope and peace in the darkest of places. May we seek God through His Word and with other believers so we know exactly who this God is that we place our trust in.  He is peace in the chaos, He is faith and not fear, He is worthy of our trust.  May we turn to Him when the anxieties and fears creep in (like they did for me last night when I watched the news again…ugh). 

“When I am afraid I will trust in you.” Psalm 56:3

I pray we also can be honest with our children about our fears but never stop pointing them to the One that is bigger than any of our fears.  Let them in on the verses above and below, memorize them together, pray together.  The news isn’t getting any better and we are raising the next generation, oh how I pray they are a generation that seeks God’s face amidst any and all trials and circumstances.  We can teach them that He is good, He is with us, He loves us and He can bring good from bad.

When all we see is bad, let’s look at the good.  Look for God, seek His face, and let His goodness unfold through the storms.  It’s where He works best and where we seem to grow the most.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”  Isaiah 41:10

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” John 14:27

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear but one of power, love and self control.” 2 Timothy 1:7

One of a Kind

IMG_5869While at the store one fall day, I picked up some small striped pumpkins, mainly because I thought they looked really neat and would add to my seasonal décor, but when I took them out of the bag at home, I noticed how vastly different each one was even though they were the same type of pumpkins.  I immediately thought of how different each of us are; how different God makes each of us.  We are all human, we are all made in His image (Genesis 1:27), yet we individually have certain character traits and physical features that set us apart from one another, just like these pumpkins.

Not only did these little pumpkins remind me of God’s creativeness in fearfully (meaning with reverence or awe) and wonderfully designing each and every person that ever was, is and will be, it makes me feel very special and loved to know that I was thought of and known even before my conception- even before the world began we were thought of by our God! It’s so amazing!

“I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:14

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you…” Jeremiah 1:5a

“Long before He laid down the earth’s foundations, He had us in mind, had settled on us as the focus of His love…” Ephesians 1:4a

We were made by God and for God.  Ephesians 2:10 states that we are His handiwork, designed for the good works He has already determined for us when we walk in them.  Basically, God has a unique plan for each and every one of us!  When we walk in the way of Him and His design for us according to His Word, He does a mighty work in and through us.  By faith and in our obedience, His artistic process of making us into His image continues.  It’s beautiful, isn’t it!?

You, like these cute pumpkins, are one of a kind; there is no one else like you nor will there ever be anyone else like you.  Memorize these truths for yourself and let them sink into your being so you never doubt your (or other’s!) beautiful design, uniqueness, purpose or the plan God has for you (or them!)!

An activity for children:

  1. Gather two or more pumpkins (other items could work great too- fruits, vegetables, plants, flowers, leaves)
  2. Have the children take note of the differences in each one…if you have older children, they could write them down, maybe making it a fun game of finding ten things that are different between the pumpkins, you could also circle any obvious differences on the pumpkins.
  3. Talk to your child about how just as God created these pumpkins one of a kind, he made each person one of a kind.
  4. Going over Ephesians 2:10, let them know they were created in their Creator’s image, they are His workmanship, His work of art; they were thought of by God way before they were even in their mother’s belly!
  5. Talk about how awesomely and wonderfully God made them; how unique, beautiful, loved and wanted they are by God and you!
  6. List the ways they are unique and beautiful.
  7. If they have siblings, celebrate their differences.  Let them know they are one of a kind and there’s no need to try and be like anyone else.  Often we want to compare our children (or ourselves!) to others…this, too, takes away from God’s unique design of your child, try not to do it.


~Grab a Bible and look up the verses together, they are woven all throughout the Bible–you could make this a Bible drill type of game or just use it as an opportunity to get into the Bible together and find the verses together.

  • Genesis 1:27
  • Psalm 139:14
  • Jeremiah 1:5
  • Ephesians 1:4
  • Ephesians 2:10

~For younger children, the verses can be broken down:

    • (child’s name)    , you were created in God’s own image (Genesis 1:27)
    • You are so awesomely and wonderfully made! (Psalm 139:14)
    • God thought of you long before you were in mommy’s belly, even before He created the world! And He even knew you then! (Jeremiah 1:5, Ephesians 1:4)
    • You are God’s work of art! (Ephesians 2:10)

~If your children can read, write the verses (or fragments) out and have them read them aloud.  Have them practice memorizing the verses in their entirety.

~Remind them that just as they are God’s handiwork, so are others; they should not only treat themselves as such, but others as well.

~Talk about God’s special plan and purpose He has specifically laid out just for them.  Include what God has already done in their life, or any way God has used your child to grow your faith.


~There are so many ways to utilize this activity on a daily basis: with clouds, trees, sunsets, etc…

~When you are shopping at the grocery store you could have a hayday with all the various looking fruits and veggies! And what a way to keep a child entertained while you shop! Give them two of any fruit or vegetable and have them list the differences.

~When shopping at the mall, sit down and people watch, admiring God’s art work in people passing by.

I want my children to know these truths and understand how vastly important and unique they both are.  I couldn’t wait to sit down with them, observe the differences in these sweet pumpkins and discuss the creativeness of our God in each of them…my little pumpkins.

Oh Give Thanks

I woke up really needing coffee this morning- the real thing, not decaf (remember I am growing a sweet baby so my caffeine is limited these days agh). So I go to my Keurig, start brewing a cup and it’s not working right.  I remembered my husband messing with it last night so I called him with urgency to see what he might have done. He hadn’t done anything that would cause it not to work but I got a little angry at the situation because I wanted my coffee!

After trying to get it to work several more times and face timing my husband to show him what he had done was wrong it, I placed my coffee cup a little too roughly in the kitchen sink and it broke.  Ugh.

It was time to get my daughter to school, so trying not to be “mean Mommy” while scurrying the kids out the door, I remembered what we had started yesterday– our Thankful Tree*.  I realized how completely UNthankful I was being from the very start of my day.  I paused (briefly) and tried to be thankful, but was still irritated, tired and wanting my coffee.

We got in the car and on my dashboard was our verse for the week. I had written it out last night, placed one in front of each child, one on my husband’s dashboard and one on mine (oh, isn’t God’s timing perfect!).

“Oh give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever.” Psalm 107:1

I stopped, for real this time, and asked for forgiveness for my spoiled, ungrateful behavior and gave thanks for my awesome husband and my coffee pot and other things that I am so grateful for (like how that verse was sitting in my car waiting on me).  We turned on Chris Tomlin’s His Love Endures Forever and my spirits began to truly be grateful.

I began my day with an ungrateful, irritated heart (all because of a silly coffee pot) and God gently reminded me through His Word and our Thankful Tree to give thanks because He is good. We have so much to be thankful for and I want my heart and life to overflow with gratefulness.  I want this for my children, also.  They are growing up in a beautiful world but one that is full of instant gratification, excessiveness and overconsumption.  I want to fight with prayer, God’s Word and lead by example for my children’s hearts to be filled with the love of Christ and overflowing thankfulness for all things and in all things.

Oh, thank you, Lord.  May we never stop thanking you and may our hearts always beat gratefulness. Show us where we are not being appreciative and help us model thankfulness to our children.  Help us to teach them true gratitude and love.  In Jesus name, amen.

*We started our Thankful Tree last year and loved it so we couldn’t wait to do it again this year.  We each have our own color of leaf (we bought colored paper and printed these off then had fun cutting them out).  Everyday we each write something we are thankful for on our leaves.  We tape it to the wall and in the end it forms a beautiful tree of thanks.  It’s so neat to hear what the kids are thankful for!

This year, we have a verse for each week, too.

  • Week 1: Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the Lord for He is good, His love endures forever.”
  • Week 2: 1 Thessalonians 5:18 “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”
  • Week 3: Psalm 9:1 “I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart; I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.”
  • Week 4: Colossians 3:17 “Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do all in the name of Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God.”

Last year’s Thankful Tree

Happy November, friends, and may we cultivate such gratefulness in our hearts and homes this month that it lasts the whole year through!!