Grace Expectations

No human will ever be able to meet our deepest needs. This is something I’ve learned over my life.

We often put undue pressure on our husbands, children, friends and family to fill a void in our lives, to be a certain way, or to be who we think they should be so they can meet our needs and our expectations.  Whether we are aware we do this or if we do this unknowingly, it’s wrong.

Let me say it again, no human will ever be able to meet our deepest needs.

It is Jesus’ job to fill that part of our soul and no one else can do it.

Our husbands, friends, family, etc.…WILL fail us, just as we WILL fail them.  They will hurt us, mainly because of these unseen expectations or needs we want them to meet for us.

People will let us down…we live in a fallen world and are naturally sinful and selfish.  By knowing this and remembering this, we can let grace slide into our hurts and our disappointments from others.  This does not mean we are a doormat.  This does not mean that we hide how we are feeling from others, but that we share it openly and honestly with love because unresolved conflict can erupt or turn into bitterness if bottled up.

When we allow Jesus to reside in us and in our relationships there is so much love and grace ready and waiting to be poured out. We should lovingly let others know what we need from them, but give them grace when (not if) they fall short.

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.” 2 Corinthians 9:8

We are given grace everyday abundantly…grace, forgiveness, no bitterness bottling up from Jesus –how freeing is that!?  Let others go.  Set them free of these expectations and just love them.  As unselfishly and as purely as Jesus will let you (is there a cap on that!? I doubt it!).

Love Him and Love others.

The day Jesus Christ died on the cross grace abounded for those who believe and follow Him.  The grace unseen that is weaved throughout Scripture before this one sacrificial act caused grace to truly burst forth for us (can I get a “Thank you, Lord”!?).  Grace that is available to all people if they accept it.  For us to truly offer grace to others we must learn to accept it and embrace it for ourselves. Because of this grace so freely given to us, we are empowered and equipped to give it to others.

Who do we need to free up of certain expectations we have placed on them?  In what relationships do we need to let go of anger, bitterness or resentfulness today (even if we never get the “I’m sorry” we may crave?)?

Lord, You are grace unending. And sometimes we just don’t understand it.  I pray You would help us understand it for ourselves so we can openly give it to others in the freedom of the cross.  Help us recognize where we need to show grace to others in our lives.  You created us beautifully, uniquely, and it’s awesome! You are so creative!  Your hope for us is that we would love You and love others.  You love us with such freedom of grace; grace and love with no strings attached, no performance we have to do to be yours…help us to love Your people with this same love and grace.  In the freedom of the cross may we love and love and then love some more.  In our Savior’s beautiful name, Amen

My Thoughts ~ a Poem and Prayer

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Does anyone else ever struggle with thoughts that carry you away from reality? I went through a terrible season of that a few years ago. While these words are from that time, and the Lord has done a work on my thoughts and mind, I am still in continual need of mind-renewing. Grateful He is our help for just that! For more on this click here. 

When my mind is a mess, what can I do?                                                                                 My thoughts, oh Lord, you must renew!

My heart and soul love You but my mind seems so stuck.                                                    Please, dear Father, lift me out of this muck.

Teach me your ways, help me know You are near.                                                               Teach me to live my life without any fear.

Keep the distracting thoughts at bay;                                                                                        for only You can make a way.

Reign in my heart, reign in my head.                                                                                         Only by You may my spirit be led.

May I think on things pleasing to You.                                                                                       My thoughts, oh Lord, continually make new!

In Your son Jesus’ name I pray.                                                                                                   The name above all and only way.

 

When We Don’t Know Why, God is in the Why

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In less than a year, our community has lost two precious women I had the privilege of knowing. They both loved the Lord and lived for Him, teaching others His Word and shining brightly for Him. They leave behind husbands and children…and it all seems so unfair.

I find myself asking God a lot of questions– “Why?” “Why someone who loves You and follows You?” “Women who teach Your Word?” “Why someone so young?” “Why, Lord?” “Why these women, these moms still raising children?”

I know we are supposed to ask “What now?” rather than “Why?” But for today, I cannot stop the why. And that’s ok because God is in the why. It’s in our questions and our desperation that we seek Him and if we seek Him we will find Him.

I feel that when I doubt God’s plan or His ways I am disregarding all the truths I know to be true about Him, but as long as I find myself back at His truth’s, its’ OK to ask questions, right? Surely His grace still overflows when our hearts are breaking in the unfairness of life and the why’s that may never be answered.

As I wrestle with why, these truths stand out to me the most:

  • God is good even when life isn’t
  • He is always there with His people and to help His people
  • He can redeem hard situations
  • To these women, to live was Christ and to die was gain
  • Even in death and tragedy, others can be saved (hello, Jesus!- the cross!) or brought closer to Him
  • This place is not our home
  • We will be reunited again one day

We just don’t want these people gone from us, do we? We want them here to continue to do God’s work, don’t we?

Then I’m reminded that our work on earth is never done; even when we die, what’s done for Christ will last and these ladies certainly did a lot for Christ. A lot of eternal work. The impact they had on their families, friends, church, and community will live on forever.

“Only one life, ’twill soon be past, only what’s done for Christ will last.” C.T. Studd

God is always working for those who love him as I know these women and their families do. We must hold on to that truth and fill it in our minds when we wrestle with the “whys” of this world.

“God causes all things to work together for good for those who love Him and are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

To my town as we mourn…let’s turn to Jesus and seek His face as I’m sure these women, if still with us, would be so honored and happy if we would all do just that. And please pray- when the only thing you can do is pray, you pray.

In Jesus Mighty name, AMEN.

Verses to cling to from God’s Word, the Book both of these women stood on:

  • “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts. My ways are far beyond anything we could imagine.” Isaiah 55:8-9
  • “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Proverbs 3:5
  • “O Israel, hope in the Lord; for with the Lord there is lovingkindness, and with Him is abundant redemption.” Psalms 130:7
  • “The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalms 34:18
  • “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God. I will help you, I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

There are a million more I could post, but I encourage us all to get into His Word for ourselves and let the truths of who He is comfort and guide us.

For Wendy and Kristie ♥️

To the Anderson and Stokes families…you all are loved and prayed for by so many people who grieve with you. Praying you see, feel and know that the Lord is near.

 

Something Brand New

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Lord we need something brand new.

It can only be done with our eyes on You.

May our foundation be ever so strong

Built to last a lifetime long.

Built on You the ground floor is laid

Brick by brick the price has been paid.

You poured out your love for us on the cross

Our gain of Heaven in Christ’s brief loss.

He was resurrected, redeemed and restored

You still do this here and now, don’t you, Lord?

A plan you have a future you hold

A love story in us waiting to be told

Work mightily in our hearts today

You, Oh Lord, are the only way.

Happy Resurrection Sunday dear friends! Praying we all set our hearts and sights anew today.  Jesus is continually in the business of making all things ~ and anything ~  new. No better time to start than today, Easter Sunday 2019.

Have a wonderful day celebrating Jesus and the beauty He brings- in worship, in our children, in our marriages, in our faith. Praising Him today. Love you all, Sarah


God Knows What’s Next

God knows what’s next.

He knew the day His one and only perfect blameless Son was brutally beaten and murdered what was coming next. He knew He had a plan of redemption for not just His Son, but for anyone who believes and accepts His love, grace and forgiveness.

He knows what’s next.

And sometimes that’s hard for me because I want to know what’s next. I want to know what’s coming so I can be prepared. Braced and ready for whatever. But I’ve always heard that when someone about to have a wreck tightens up because they know a collision is about to happen, their injuries are worse and they are more sore than if their body hadn’t of known what was coming; if they had just gone with whatever happened next.

So while sometime this blind-sighting of pain or tragedy can feel like a betrayal by God- we must know He is not a god of betrayal. He is a good God who loves us more deeply than we can imagine. He knows what’s next but He also knows there’s always a way out and a plan of redemption and healing. In Him, through Him and only with Him.

He knew what was next that gruesome Friday. He knew Sunday was coming.

Are you in a Friday moment? Hold on, Sunday’s coming. ♥️

“He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord.” Psalms‬ ‭112:7‬

A New Year’s Verse & Last Year’s Word

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/07f/54734968/files/2014/12/img_7678.jpgWow, we’re 2 days into 2019.  Someone tell me where 2018 went?? I’m already feeling like I can’t keep up- I can’t decide on a word for the year…maybe a handful will do?? Maybe I should just choose the word “simple” and that would solve all my problems- ha!

While I don’t feel my mental calendar has flipped the page to 2019, it’s here and with each new year, for me, comes the desire to change up a few things in my life.  It’s a time to reflect on the previous year and set some goals or “resolutions” to be better in the following year.  You do it too, right??

Over the years, I’ve set many of these so-called resolutions, but I find, so often, they don’t stick.

Anyone else know what I’m talking about?

I can remember starting a read-the Bible-in-a-year devotional (more than once!)…I made it to about maybe mid January.  I know I started several new workout regimes only to fall off the wagon soon after I got on.  Why is this??  Is it because we are relying upon our own strength and will to set and accomplish these new goals?? Are we setting ourselves up for failure by expecting too much?

What would happen if we prayerfully considered and established goals, words or verses for ourselves and relied we on the power of the Holy Spirit to see things through? What would happen if we resided to rest in Him and the grace He offers when we forget or don’t follow through on those new year commitments?? What if we took the pressure off of ourselves to perform and humbly allowed Him to move and work in our hearts and lives?

“Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit,” says the Lord. Zechariah 4:6

Last year my word of the year was courage- and while I ignored it on some days, there is a vast difference in my courage level from one year ago. HUGE, actually. And it’s because of Him. I’ve struggled with fear most of my life. I still do at times and probably forever will, but who knows, with God all things are possible, right!? So, for me, courage was the perfect word last year. And please know I have in no way reached a pinnacle of “courage” perfection- ha! As I reread my “courage list” I see many areas I still need him to move mightily in!

img_0325This was the cheesy picture I sent my friends as we all shared our words of the year. And below are the words I wrote as I began 2018, the places I needed God to help make me brave.

Courage: the ability to do something that frightens one; strength in the face of pain or grief; bravery, valor, FEARLESSNESS, audacity, boldness.

The courage to trust the Lord.

The courage to let go.

The courage to be authentic.

The courage to be bold in faith.

The courage to surrender.

The courage to be different.

The courage to go against the flow.

The courage not to yell.

The courage to speak the truth with love.

The courage to love freely, openly and with no regrets.

The courage to write.

The courage to speak and speak up.

The courage to give to others.

The courage for missions when it’s scary.

The courage to only seek Gods approval.

The courage to be consistent disciplining my children.

The courage to say yes.

The courage to say no.

The courage to take the risk even though I’m afraid.

The courage to let others in.

Their courage to ask for help.

The courage to be kind.

The courage to be humble.

The courage to surrender.

The courage to do His will.

The courage to say the hard things

The courage to think before I speak.

The courage to forget.

The courage to remember.

The courage to cry.

The courage not to cry.

Courage.

Funny–is it just me or is the word “courage” starting to look misspelled? It’s interesting how looking at a word so long can do that. Even if we say it too much it might start sounding strange.  Which was probably good that everyday I didn’t just wake up and say, “COURAGE!” or continuously repeat the word to myself– it was there when I needed it and an unspoken between the Lord and me. I didn’t rely on the word “courage” to help me but somehow rested in Him and His unfolding of new courage in areas I’ve longed to be more brave in. It’s been like a river He has taken me through, guiding me with the current, developing courage subtly and slowly, without me really even realizing it until now as I reflect upon Him moving and working in my life in the last 365 days.

Maybe before 2020 I’ll have the courage to pick just one of the many words on my heart for 2019 and get back to my initial point of this post!

Not by might now by power but by HIS SPIRIT.

His Spirit will help us in ways we don’t even see or know.

Whatever word, verse, motto we choose this year, may we give it to Him and take note of how He moves and changes us and shows Himself to us. And if you’d like to share, I’d love to know your goals, resolutions, etc…

Happy New Year friends, love y’all!

Thank You, Sweet Jesus for working in ways we can’t even see. Thank you for being so good and faithful even when we are not. I pray today that we feel your love and grace and rest in the plans You have to carry us, mold us and make us new. I pray we press into this new year and forget the things behind. I pray we are steadfast in seeking You and that we wake each day with purpose in our hearts- Your purpose for us. Daily may we give ourselves to You. By humbling ourselves, listening to the Spirit’s leading, and letting You guide us as we determine our goals, word, motto, and/or verses of the year, help us purposefully put them into action each day. May we go into this year with Your grace in our arms knowing that even if we slip, mess up or fail all together, nothing will change Your love for us. In Your saving Name I pray, AMEN. 

 

Broken Hands & Clenched Fists

This was a recent guest post on my friend Emma Mason’s blog (link here). Thought I would share with you all too! Merry Christmas Eve!


A few weeks ago, while decorating the house for Christmas, I came across our nativity scenes. We have two and they both make me super happy because they are both so special. One was a gift from my parents many years ago and the other belonged to my paternal grandmother.

Unfortunately, one nativity scene has several pieces that have broken over the years- baby Jesus’ hand, Mary’s hand and this year, I noticed Joseph’s hand was somehow knocked off. The other nativity scene was in pristine condition as I carefully pulled it from the box then WHAM! I clanked the pieces together and off fell Mary’s left hand. UGH.

As I glued the hand back on I couldn’t help but think of the position of Mary’s hands reflecting the position of her heart. Both hands in this figurine are open to Jesus. Yes, she is His mother, but before God even opened her womb she had opened her hands and heart to Him.

I’m reminded of her response to Gabriel, the angel who tells her of the supernatural pregnancy she will soon experience:

“’I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary said. “May it be done to me according to your word.’” Luke 1:38

Now let’s just stop for a minute and put ourselves in her shoes- I think I might have laughed like Sarai did in the Old Testament if an angel had come to me and told me the news that I would be carrying God’s One and Only Son. The Word, God in human form…the One that was promised long ago to be our Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God and Prince of Peace. The One everyone had been waiting on. I also think I would be very, very afraid of what was to come and what others would think.

But Mary, having open hands, child-like faith and an obedient, willing heart humbly responded to the angel, “OK, whatever you say.”

I mean, wow.

Maybe that’s why He chose her…But honestly, if we are children of God, we are all chosen to have open hands and open hearts to whatever He has for our lives, right?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes I feel my hands are clenched tightly. I lay in bed at night and must consciously relax and open my hands. It seems they have developed a need to retreat to a position of being closed. Has my heart assumed this position too? Maybe my hands are closed because I’m tense or anxious and that’s where it all goes, maybe because I have a phone in my hand so much of the day my hands just assume that position, or maybe it’s my age- I did turn 40 this year? Who knows… but it’s something I must continually do and have become very aware of. Open my hands, stretch out my fingers. Keep my hands open.

Back to my heart- shouldn’t I practice this same exercise here too? Each day wake up and stretch open my heart to the Lord. His ways, His words, His voice and His plans for my life…even and especially if they look different than what I had planned. Keep my heart open.

I’m fairly certain carrying baby Jesus and giving birth to the One who would save people from their sins was not what Mary or Joseph had in mind as they were beginning their relationship. And surely, they had no idea what his life would entail- the criticism, ridicule and His brutal death. And yet, they were the Lord’s servants. Open hearts and open hands to do His will.

Somedays my hands and heart are humbly open to the Lord…other days, they are closed tightly around the things I hold dear and my heart seems shut down and far from him…which begs the question-what truth about God am I not believing?

As I type this, tears are brewing in my eyes because I know what often holds me back- I don’t know what’s next.

But neither did Mary. Neither did Abraham as he walked his only son Isaac up the mountain to the altar. When I think of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane as a grown man begging God to take the cup from Him because He knew what was coming yet He still humbly responded with an open heart and hands, “…not my will but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

With my fists clenched and heart closed off I’m not believing that His ways or plans are good, or that no matter what’s around the corner, He is good still and can bring good from any situation. I’m not believing He truly loves me.

I can’t control people or circumstances, so my hands and heart assume a closed-off position while holding tightly to what I can because I know that sometimes our biggest fears come true. Sometimes people hurt others, babies die before they even breathe a breath and we cannot make sense of the tragedies we see or experience. BUT- I cannot look to or think about these things more than I look to, think about and believe the truths about God. His promises for good, to be our comfort, for peace and joy, the promise of HEAVEN. The promise and help of His Spirit when bad times come, the promise that His character is ALWAYS GOOD and even though this world is often hard, and disaster comes, HE CAN BE TRUSTED to bring good. Somehow, someway. IF we look to Him for help with open hands and hearts.

Keep my hands open. Keep my heart open.

Our 7-year-old son has placed two gifts in his stocking- one for Santa and one for Jesus. How sweet that he is giving something to Jesus this year for His birthday. I mean, we do leave Santa and his reindeer cookies and milk, right? Of course, we should give something to the Lord as we celebrate His birth.

I want to end this post asking, what will we give Jesus this year? What gift can we give Him? Can we give Him our clenched fists, so he can open them? Can we give Him our broken hands, so He can heal them? Can we give Him our whole hearts today and every day? Can we truly say, “I am Your servant…Your will not mine”?

I think we can. After all, with God all things are possible.

Lord, thank You for Your Word filled with many promises we can cling to. Thank you for the many humble, broken people in the 66 books of the Bible that can teach us how to open our hearts and hands to You. Forgive us when we don’t trust You or when we question Your will or ways. Help us get to a place of surrender. Keep our hands and hearts open to You for salvation, Your Spirit, guidance, comfort, peace, joy, grace and to be used by You. May we gift you our hearts and hands this Christmas. May our eyes see you and look to you, not our circumstance or what if’s. If we are going to clench our fists may it be because we are holding tightly to You and the promises of You. The now and always of You- You are a good God, You love us, Your ways are good, and we can trust You. Happy Birthday, our Savior and King. May Your will be done. In Your mighty saving name, I pray, Amen.

Isn’t That Enough, Lord?

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It’s enough, Lord. You can stop.

They’ve already had two miscarriages, isn’t that enough? They had a less than ideal childhood, isn’t that enough? Shouldn’t that cancel out anything bad in adulthood?  They already have a child with a disability, shouldn’t the rest of their children be perfectly healthy? Lord, their marriage is hard enough, can’t You heal it now and not allow any more brokenness? Lord, they’ve had one child die, will You please excuse them from having anything else tragic happen? They’ve already lost one parent to cancer, isn’t that enough? Lord, isn’t one tragedy enough? One diagnosis? One death? Why must some people endure so much, Lord?

It’s as if I think there should be a limit on our suffering.  A place we get to when there is no more because we’ve been. through. enough….and then I am reminded of God’s truths:  none of this pain, sin, suffering and death was in God’s original plan.  It all entered when the forbidden fruit was consumed.  He is not the one to blame, question or be angry with. His Word tells us we WILL have trouble (John 16:33) and to not be surprised at the fiery trials we are going through (1 Peter 4:12). He warns us about this world, which is good of Him.  Because in Him is no bad, just good. So while He allows “life” to happen to His people, people that love and honor Him, He can use it for our good and His glory. In this world we WILL have trouble.  In this world we will suffer and have tribulation and much affliction. And because God is good, there is a place, not of this world, when God says, “OK. That’s enough. It’s time to bring them Home.” And we enter Heaven. A place where sadness, death, sin, sickness, lying, cheating, addictions, pain, etc. are NO MORE.  Trials are part of this life but not part of our eternal home. THANK YOU, JESUS.

So until then, when we see people going through trial after trial after trial, or we are in that place, we can remain hopeful and remind ourselves and others of God’s mighty truths and promises.  He loves us.  He is good.  This isn’t our home.  Our world, our bodies and our lives are fallen. Broken. Sinful. Never to be truly whole, perfect and complete until Heaven. So we endure. We persevere. We remain steadfast under much trial. We have hope! We can trust God to act and work things together for good. We can rest in His love that is bigger than we can imagine. We can know that we know what we know, but we must not only know it, we must live it because others need this hope, too.

I recently read a book* that said instead of asking God “Why?” (which I do often) ask “What now?”. We usually don’t get an answer to our “Why?”, but our “What now?” can be answered.  By the power of the Holy Spirit we can know what now.

I like to tell God how to do His job and make little suggestions here and there that show how feeble my faith is.  How tied it is to the here-and-now, to circumstances and sometimes even people.  As Christians, our hope and our faith can only be in Him.  Because- (I’ll say it again) In the world you will have trouble! But take heart He has overcome the world and can overcome us!  When He overcomes us our faith will rest solely in Him.  Not in anyone else, not in ourselves, nor in our circumstances.  Our foundation must be laid on Him with hope in Him, expectant of Him to shine light in dark places, to bring something, anything good from tragedy and to show us who He is and how loved we are.

Thy will be done, Lord.  Not ours, Yours.  Everything we go through can be turned into good- for our good and for His glory…to make Him known. Relationships can be healed, we can seek Him more, and people can be saved.  We are talking eternal purposes here.  Things we cannot see or make sense of.  We have to trust. To stay in the place of trusting in who He is when we can’t even see through the tears.

What if, with my hand up asking God to “Stop, that’s enough”, I’m not only building a wedge between my Savior and me but I’m praying against the very things that could actually bring freedom, healing and wholeness this side of Heaven?  What if what He has for us on the other side of this suffering is better than anything we can imagine? What if He can really use us amidst our afflictions?

I have a dear group of friends that I am so grateful for, but as a whole, we have lived a lot of life in our 30-something years.  So I say to God, “That’s enough. We’re good. We have learned and will continue to persevere with one another’s help, but can’t this be enough?” I don’t always laugh at the future like the Proverbs 31 woman is supposed to, especially because I know we will experience more pain and heartache. More death. More sin. So, often, I fear the future.  BUT THEN…I’m reminded God holds the future and He holds each one of us. He will hold us up, strengthen us and give us the grace we need to put one foot in front of the other in faith and in life. He has also given us each other to walk through this life with and that is something we can praise Him for daily. We will see more bad…but we will see more good and we will see Jesus as we endure.

He is God. I am not. He is sovereign. Mighty. Loving and kind. All that we go through, good or bad can be used for His glory and our good. It’s a place- a mindset and a heart-set we must stay in to be victorious until we see Him again. When we are reunited with babies we never met, those that were gone way too soon, parents, grandparents and siblings…everything we have endured here will be gone. What will remain are the crowns we will receive.  Because we share in Christ’s sufferings, we will share with Him in Glory (1 Peter 4:13).

Rereading this I am reminded that one tragedy, death and ‘diagnosis’ was, in fact, enough. How tragic was Christ’s death on the cross? I can’t imagine what everyone was thinking.  But God knew.  He knew what would soon happen and how beautiful the discovery of Him being alive forever would be.  His is good and can take really, really bad and make good.  For you and for me, for all who believe.  Both of these events, Christ’s death and resurrection give us hope for now and eternal life to come.  What Christ endured for us is enough for us to have hope in the middle of suffering and enough for us to meet Him face to face one day.

Christ’s death on the cross, the resurrection…ok, that’s enough, Lord.

Blessed in the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

 

*Safe in the Arms of God, John McArthur

 

Isn’t That Enough, Lord?

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It’s enough, Lord. You can stop.

They’ve already had two miscarriages, isn’t that enough? They had a less than ideal childhood, isn’t that enough? Shouldn’t that cancel out anything bad in adulthood?  They already have a child with a disability, shouldn’t the rest of their children be perfectly healthy? Lord, their marriage is hard enough, can’t You heal it now and not allow any more brokenness? Lord, they’ve had one child die, will You please excuse them from having anything else tragic happen? They’ve already lost one parent to cancer, isn’t that enough? Lord, isn’t one tragedy enough? One diagnosis? One death? Why must some people endure so much, Lord?

It’s as if I think there should be a limit on our suffering.  A place we get to when there is no more because we’ve been. through. enough….and then I am reminded of God’s truths:  none of this pain, sin, suffering and death was in God’s original plan.  It all entered when the forbidden fruit was consumed.  He is not the one to blame, question or be angry with. His Word tells us we WILL have trouble (John 16:33) and to not be surprised at the fiery trials we are going through (1 Peter 4:12). He warns us about this world, which is good of Him.  Because in Him is no bad, just good. So while He allows “life” to happen to His people, people that love and honor Him, He can use it for our good and His glory. In this world we WILL have trouble.  In this world we will suffer and have tribulation and much affliction. And because God is good, there is a place, not of this world, when God says, “OK. That’s enough. It’s time to bring them Home.” And we enter Heaven. A place where sadness, death, sin, sickness, lying, cheating, addictions, pain, etc. are NO MORE.  Trials are part of this life but not part of our eternal home. THANK YOU, JESUS.

So until then, when we see people going through trial after trial after trial, or we are in that place, we can remain hopeful and remind ourselves and others of God’s mighty truths and promises.  He loves us.  He is good.  This isn’t our home.  Our world, our bodies and our lives are fallen. Broken. Sinful. Never to be truly whole, perfect and complete until Heaven. So we endure. We persevere. We remain steadfast under much trial. We have hope! We can trust God to act and work things together for good. We can rest in His love that is bigger than we can imagine. We can know that we know what we know, but we must not only know it, we must live it because others need this hope, too.

I recently read a book* that said instead of asking God “Why?” (which I do often) ask “What now?”. We usually don’t get an answer to our “Why?”, but our “What now?” can be answered.  By the power of the Holy Spirit we can know what now.

I like to tell God how to do His job and make little suggestions here and there that show how feeble my faith is.  How tied it is to the here-and-now, to circumstances and sometimes even people.  As Christians, our hope and our faith can only be in Him.  Because- (I’ll say it again) In the world you will have trouble! But take heart He has overcome the world and can overcome us!  When He overcomes us our faith will rest solely in Him.  Not in anyone else, not in ourselves, nor in our circumstances.  Our foundation must be laid on Him with hope in Him, expectant of Him to shine light in dark places, to bring something, anything good from tragedy and to show us who He is and how loved we are.

Thy will be done, Lord.  Not ours, Yours.  Everything we go through can be turned into good- for our good and for His glory…to make Him known. Relationships can be healed, we can seek Him more, and people can be saved.  We are talking eternal purposes here.  Things we cannot see or make sense of.  We have to trust. To stay in the place of trusting in who He is when we can’t even see through the tears.

What if, with my hand up asking God to “Stop, that’s enough”, I’m not only building a wedge between my Savior and me but I’m praying against the very things that could actually bring freedom, healing and wholeness this side of Heaven?  What if what He has for us on the other side of this suffering is better than anything we can imagine? What if He can really use us amidst our afflictions?

I have a dear group of friends that I am so grateful for, but as a whole, we have lived a lot of life in our 30-something years.  So I say to God, “That’s enough. We’re good. We have learned and will continue to persevere with one another’s help, but can’t this be enough?” I don’t always laugh at the future like the Proverbs 31 woman is supposed to, especially because I know we will experience more pain and heartache. More death. More sin. So, often, I fear the future.  BUT THEN…I’m reminded God holds the future and He holds each one of us. He will hold us up, strengthen us and give us the grace we need to put one foot in front of the other in faith and in life. He has also given us each other to walk through this life with and that is something we can praise Him for daily. We will see more bad…but we will see more good and we will see Jesus as we endure.

He is God. I am not. He is sovereign. Mighty. Loving and kind. All that we go through, good or bad can be used for His glory and our good. It’s a place- a mindset and a heart-set we must stay in to be victorious until we see Him again. When we are reunited with babies we never met, those that were gone way too soon, parents, grandparents and siblings…everything we have endured here will be gone. What will remain are the crowns we will receive.  Because we share in Christ’s sufferings, we will share with Him in Glory (1 Peter 4:13).

Rereading this I am reminded that one tragedy, death and ‘diagnosis’ was, in fact, enough. How tragic was Christ’s death on the cross? I can’t imagine what everyone was thinking.  But God knew.  He knew what would soon happen and how beautiful the discovery of Him being alive forever would be.  His is good and can take really, really bad and make good.  For you and for me, for all who believe.  Both of these events, Christ’s death and resurrection give us hope for now and eternal life to come.  What Christ endured for us is enough for us to have hope in the middle of suffering and enough for us to meet Him face to face one day.

Christ’s death on the cross, the resurrection…ok, that’s enough, Lord.

Blessed in the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life which God has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12

 

*Safe in the Arms of God, John McArthur

 

Sweet Surrender

35822694_mSurrender. It’s been my word of the year.  A word so prayerfully chosen at the end of 2014. A word sent straight from God because He knew how much I would need it in 2015, He knew the struggle I would have with it this year.  It’s no coincidence, either, that my verse of the year was Zechariah 4:6, “‘Not by might nor by power but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord.”

Reflecting on 2015, I failed a lot with this word and this verse, but looking back I did learn and can see God’s unending grace in those places I didn’t surrender or allow His Spirit to help me.

Surrender: to cease resistance and submit to God’s authority (yield); to abandon myself entirely, give into Christ, to submit

It’s very easy for me to surrender when the house is quiet and everyone is asleep, whether it’s 2 am or 6 am…but what happens to my surrendering when my littles are up and the rush of the day starts?  It often goes out the window with the first (or second or third) confrontation or cross word from a family member, or even a frustrating inanimate object (anyone else know what I’m talking about!?).  Ugh.  How I wish I could stay in a sacred spot of sweet surrender instead of letting life’s chaos, circumstances, and my to-do list sweep me out from that place, but as the Bible tells us, “…the Spirit is willing but the flesh is weak.” (Mark 26:41b) Oh yes it is.

Surrender is a constant redirecting of our wills to align with God’s. My will is pretty strong so this isn’t always natural, easy or consistent, but I know so many good things come out of a surrendered heart.  Surrender gives me the ability to love, forgive and give grace in the most difficult circumstances.  Surrender is love, it is forgiveness, it is grace. It keeps me in the place and position to love and not criticize, to forgive and not grow bitter or angry, to give grace and not judgment.  Surrender is freedom.  It’s life, victory, peace, joy, purpose, etc…It’s so many good, good things from a good, good God.

In surrender we trust God. It’s sanctification at it’s best and in it we are under the complete authority of our Creator and are greatly guided by Him.  He doesn’t force us to surrender, although sometimes I wish He would.  He leaves it up to us, it’s our choice;  a deliberate commitment necessary to live the life He has called us to live.  A life in tune with Him, a life devoted to Him, a life made abundantly full, whole and complete by Him and through Him.

Surrender: to give control to someone else, to allow something to influence me, to give myself over to Christ

Surrender is taking everything I hold on to so tightly and laying it at my Savior’s feet, giving it to Him- my children, my husband, my marriage, this pregnancy, my fears, strongholds and insecurities. It’s trusting Him with my prayers and dreams and believing He will answer them according to His plans, not mine.  It’s letting Him have me. It’s choosing to breathe and ask Him for help when my kids are not listening and driving me crazy and all I want to do is yell at them.  It’s doing what God has called me to do, even if it goes against the flow; seeking His approval above all else (agh, a tough one for this trying-to-be-ex-people-pleaser). It’s letting go and letting God; saying “YES” to Him and knowing that He has equipped me for whatever He is calling me to do. It’s slowing down and being in the moment, each moment and breath a gift from God to be used for His glory, not my fleshly desires.

Surrender: to agree to stop fighting, hiding or resisting because I know I will not win or succeed

Surrender is choosing to stop and think before responding to someone, because a lot of the time what I really want to say doesn’t line up with what the Lord would have me say.  It’s choosing to pause before reacting in a harsh manner towards someone who has offended or misunderstood me and letting God give me the words to say- or not say.  It’s letting Him guide me, knowing He is always fighting for me, I just need to be still.  It’s giving Him my thoughts and emotions and allowing Him to drive my actions, not my fickle feelings, keeping my eyes on Him, not on what’s going on around me.  It’s knowing this life is fleeting, just a vapor, and we are only here a short time. Bottom line, surrender is allowing God to not only be Lord of my life as I claim but to be Lord, King, Ruler, Decision-Maker of my day, my to-do list, my schedule, my relationships, my words, my thoughts, my all.

A friend recently asked when Jesus became real to us, and for me, Jesus becomes real when I surrender.  Not that He isn’t real when I’m not surrendering but His awesomness and power are extremely evident in my heart, soul and life when I get out of the way and let Him move and work and mold and do His job.

“Then Jesus said to His followers, ‘If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. If you try to hang onto your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it.” Matthew 16:24-25

As I end this year, I am hopeful.  Hopeful that the lessons learned on surrender throughout 2015 will be stored in my heart with gratefulness, knowing how perfect and strong our God is and how imperfect and weak I am.  Never forgetting that God can bring good from any situation, even the worst of them, and committing to staying surrendered even if this good might not look exactly like I thought it would.  I do pray for my mind, heart and soul to surrender more consistently and deliberately in 2016.  Knowing my prideful independent self will at some point resist Him, I am grateful that He will guide me and my strong will back to the spot of sweet surrender never ceasing to give me abundant grace along the way.

A prayer for today~

Dear sweet, sweet Jesus…You made the ultimate surrender when You came to earth, lived, died and rose again for us.  You came to do your Father’s will…oh that we may do the same!  Your will, not our own.  Our lives are Yours!  Use us, guide us, direct us and keep redirecting us as we find this place of surrender to You, the One who knows us better than we know ourselves and has a plan of our lives that is far greater than anything we could ever imagine.  May we surrender it all, not just the places that are easy or comfortable.  We are thankful for Your grace, Your kindness and Your love.   How can we ever repay you but to live wholly for You and You alone.  Help us get out of the way, help us to only hear and heed YOUR voice and no one else’s.  We thank You for the freedom and fulfillment you bring in surrender.  In Your Holy name, Amen.

~Do you do a Word of the Year?  My friend, Heather Patterson, first gave me this idea and I’m so grateful!  Click here to read her blog series about a Word of the Year!

~If you enjoy music, Touch the Sky by Hillsong United is a beautiful song about what happens when we surrender     …I found my life when I laid it down…I touch the sky when my knees hit the ground… 🙂

I Shout for Joy

“You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.” Psalm 92:4 (NLT)

Surreal.  It’s honestly how I feel about all of this.  We are a few weeks into the second trimester and are completely overjoyed.  The fact that this is happening is such a miracle in more ways than I can explain.  God is so good and faithful!  He truly amazes me at His works, His timing and His love.

You see, I just knew God had promised me another baby; I just didn’t know when.  I tried to hold on to the sign He had given me but it got hard and I doubted I had heard Him right.  But then, when I least expected it, a baby.  The fulfillment of a special promise He made to me; a precious gift I cannot wait to have placed on my chest.  Maybe then it won’t seem so surreal, maybe then I can breathe…because I’m not going to lie, the anxieties still creep in from time to time.  But my, how the Lord is teaching me during this time about my anxieties, where to cast them and where to turn with any worry no matter how big or small.  I am grateful for this time of teaching and dependence solely upon Him, His promises and His peace.  May I take away lessons that last my lifetime.

“For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100:5

I am praying the further into the second trimester I get, the more my energy returns.  Although this season of rest has been good, it has been difficult to function some days and my meeting Jesus in the mornings (or anytime) hasn’t happened as much as I desire, and my how that affects things!

As I get back into some consistency, I hope to encourage you with several posts from myself and family members about someone we love very much who we lost 9 years ago this month.  Someone whose legacy will continue in our family as we will name this precious baby after him.  Oh God is so good.

As always, friends, thank you for the prayers.  This baby is not only a testament of God’s faithfulness but also the power of prayer.  I cannot thank you enough.

Panic

“My heart pounds in my chest…fear and trembling overwhelm me, and I can’t stop shaking.” Psalm 55:4,5

It started the minute I put my car in park at the doctor’s office.  A wave of nausea not associated with the pregnancy but with pure anxiety and panic.  I had 30 minutes before my appointment and already couldn’t breathe.

Praying and practicing breathing techniques kept me from throwing up or passing out but the panic overwhelmed me.  It wasn’t mental either, but something physical overtaking my body.  I realized in hindsight this is normally the week the baby’s heart has stopped beating with previous pregnancies and possibly what brought on the mini panic attack.

At one point my 4 year old put his hand on my leg and said, “Oh Mommy, it’s going to be OK.”  Jesus had him say that I just know it (out of the mouths of babes…).  I kept praying for peace and for the feelings to stop…finally they did.  When I saw a gummy bear-looking image on the monitor with a steadily thumping heart.  “Praise Jesus!” I kept saying.

I have the same ultrasound tech each week, and bless her.  She’s been in my shoes before and I’m so grateful God gave her to me this pregnancy.

I don’t mean to put so much hope into this tiny baby’s heart, but I do.  I know my main hope is in Jesus Christ and His Word but there is so much in this sweet baby growing in my belly, too.  And not just for me, but for my whole family.  Jesus is the one to complete our souls.  This baby is the one to complete our little family.

God’s word tells us over and over not to fear (because it is a huge, natural emotion), but what to do when a physical fear overtakes your body?  I realize as I get older I struggle more with anxiety and fear…I don’t like this about myself but I know God can use it and work in it and make me more dependent upon Him.

I go back to the doctor today and I am prepared now for a panic attack but praying I am armed enough spiritually, mentally, emotionally and physically for it to stay away.

I know God is good and He is for me and this baby.  He knows what He is doing and I cannot forget that in any and all situations.

“Don’t panic. I’m with you. There’s no need to fear for I’m your God. I’ll give you strength. I’ll help you. I’ll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you.” Isaiah 41:10

To Him Who is Able

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us.” Ephesians 3:20

“There’s no heartbeat, is there?” First words out of my mouth as I saw the ultrasound on the screen.

“Now calm down,” the tech responded, “…I see a heartbeat!”

“And the yolk sac?! Is it smaller!?” I asked anxiously after noticing the circular sac looking smaller than last week.

“It’s perfect,” she said with a smile on her face.

WHAT?!  Wow.  JOY. Relief. Praise. Tears.

Even though my insecurities rose to the surface initially, I really did think we would see a heartbeat.  What I didn’t expect to see was a normal sized yolk sac.  I, of little faith, had honestly gone through every scenario except the one that actually happened.

In early pregnancy, the yolk sac is responsible for providing nourishment to the growing fetus.  At my ultrasound last week, the yolk sac was enlarged which isn’t always a good sign.  This was the red flag that gave us a 50% chance with this baby.  We’ve experienced this before and it didn’t end well; I will share more about that one day.

I truly believe the Lord performed an amazing miracle and we are overjoyed!  I thank each one of you for your prayers.  I don’t know what next weeks ultrasound will show but I do know that God in His awesome grace and love gave us tangible hope by lifting this “red flag”.

I couldn’t quit thinking of Ephesians 3:20 after seeing the beautiful sight I saw.  The Lord went above and beyond my human thoughts and did what He is best at, miracles.  I think sometimes we forget He still does this.  Everyday.  He is able, we just doubt.  He is willing, we just don’t ask.  He is able to do more than we can think or imagine, in any situation.  Let’s start asking Him to do something bigger and better with our prayers than our minds can grasp.

Now to Him.  Be the glory forever and ever.

Just because God can doesn’t mean He will. But just because He hasn’t doesn’t mean He won’t. The bottom line is that He is able~Pricilla Shirer (God is Able)

 

And So We Wait

Waiting: stay where one is or delay action until a particular time or until something else happens; used to indicate that one is eagerly impatient to do something or for something to happen.

A few weeks ago, I was up at 4am busily getting ready to travel to a conference. I had almost forgotten about the pregnancy test I had taken that early morning, but thankfully, I happened to glance at it before walking out the door. Expecting to see only one line, I did a triple take when I saw not one, but two obvious pink lines. I didn’t even have to tilt it a certain way or put it under the kitchen counter lights to kind-of-maybe see two lines, but there were two lines, as plain as day, staring back at me.

Shock was my initial reaction coupled with great fear. But then I found myself smiling at Gods amazing timing of it all. I then reminded myself of my past and immediately would be fearful again, not allowing myself to get excited or hopeful.

You see, I’ve had experience studying pregnancy tests (anyone else?)…this is my 7th pregnancy. I hold two of my precious babies here on earth while Jesus holds the rest of them safely in Heaven.

The road of miscarriages is not one I would wish upon anyone, but through it all God has been good and faithful. Even when I’ve wanted to turn my back to Him through the pain, He is good, full of grace, and loves me more than I can comprehend. Even when I have lashed out in anger at the loss I have felt, I know I am not alone nor do my tears or prayers fall empty. They fall into His mighty hands that hold all of me. 

We’ve gone through miscarriages publicly and we’ve gone through them privately and either way it is hard. But I know when I don’t talk about what is going on in my life or when I’m not real about my hearts desires or the pain I have experienced, God can’t get the glory.

So. There is a tiny heart beating inside of me; a life growing rapidly inside my body. This life is a precious gift from God. Just in the few short weeks we have known, this pregnancy has been such an amazing blessing, such a joy; and for that I am grateful. Grateful that the Lord chose me to carry this baby. Whether it be to full term or just a few more weeks, it is a life. A God-given, God-ordained life. And I will praise Him no matter what. Of course my prayer is that this is our baby #3 to have and hold, but I know that God’s ways and plans are not always my ways and plans. I trust Him in this journey. No matter what.  Even when the doctor says there is a 50/50 chance this baby will make it, I will put my hope in the Author of life, leaning into Him and not my own understanding.  I will remember the beautiful sound I recently heard of a strong thumping heart and will never forget the awesome sight of it beating away.

And so we wait.  

His Ways are Higher

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”‭‭. Isaiah‬ ‭55:8-9‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Tomorrow we will go to my daughters school to see who her 2nd grade teacher will be.  I have gone back and forth on whether I should request the teacher I wanted her to have or not.   So many people told me I should do it but something just didn’t feel right.  I also heard the sound of a quiet voice saying “Trust Me, Sarah.”  

The Lord knows my heart and my daughter’s heart and knows who we would like her to have as a teacher. We have prayed ferverently on the matter (at times I think I may have begged), but I know in my soul that whoever our little E gets this year is who she is meant to have.

Before 1st grade, we drove by her school once a week and prayed for her teacher and classmates. Her teacher turned out to be a perfect fit,  just who our E needed. She had a great year and we are so thankful!  She made new friends, learned school, life and faith lessons, and we knew, because of our prayers and because of the goodness of our God, that she was exactly where she was supposed to be.

This summer as we have driven by and prayed, I have found peace in knowing God already knows the plans He has for her 2nd grade year.  He was faithful last year and I know for certain He will be faithful this year, too.  This doesn’t necessarily mean we will get who we have been praying for or that everything will be perfect this year, but it means we will be exactly where He wants us … and that is so comforting!

So we are trusting and believing and praying big and bold. But we are also confident God has His mighty hand on this and our baby girl will be in the class He deems the best for her.  I am reminded that as our Heavenly, perfect Father, He truly knows what is best for His children.   And in this, and all situations, I am called to not only trust Him but to listen and let Him guide me.  Never do I want to take matters into my own hands that are better left with the Lord, and this, for us, was one of those situations.

His thoughts are not our thoughts, His ways are not our ways.

Father God may we let this verse reside deep in our hearts, souls and minds. Sometimes it’s hard to not think we know what’s best for our children but You, oh God, are the one who knows all, sees all and you are good and love our children bigger and more perfectly than we ever could. Guide us as we parent them and make decisions for them.  Help us look to You, give you the reins in all areas of our lives and to trust You as a new school year is approaching.  Be with the teachers, staff, students and parents all over our city, state and nation.  May we all know how deep your love is.  In Jesus precious name, amen. 

*Please know I do not think it is wrong to request a teacher for your child.  I feel God calls us all to do different things with our children and in your case He may be calling you to specify a teacher. In our case, this year, He has called me not to. 🙂

Give Them Grace

17925949_mlGIVE THEM GRACE

We never know what someone is walking through…but we can give them grace

We don’t know what they have been through…but we can give them grace

We may not know why they do what they do…but we can give them grace

If God looks at the heart…then shouldn’t we try to, too?

Just give them grace, just give them grace

By praying for them, not whispering about them…we can show them grace

By lifting them up, not putting them down…we can show them grace

Being tender-hearted, kind and forgiving…we can show them grace

With humility, compassion and love…we can show them grace

If any of this we lack, we can ask of God…who gives us grace and shows us grace

Unending

Unfailing

Abundant

Grace…after grace…after grace

So give them grace, just give them grace

“As I have loved you, so you must love one another.” John 13:34b

Into Your Hands

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Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.” Luke 23:46

According to Luke, these are the last words spoken by Jesus right before He breathed His last breath on the cross.  What beautiful words to leave us with and what a humble picture of Jesus’ life on earth; He lived the ultimate example of a life surrendered to God’s will and not His own.  This, of course, was His purpose…but isn’t it ours too?

Surrender: to cease resistance and submit to authority, give up, hand over, abandon oneself entirely, give in to, yield, to agree to stop fighting, hiding, resisting; to give the control to someone else; to allow something to influence or control you

When we surrender to God, we ultimately are saying, “Yes, Lord, I TRUST YOU.”  The true Christian life is lived most full when it is lived surrendered, when it’s lived trusting in Him and His plan for our lives.  This doesn’t mean it will be easy, in fact, it pretty much means it will be hard.  Through circumstances He will continually be asking us if we trust Him.  Do you trust Me?  Do you love Me?  Do you know that I LOVE YOU and can help you live this life free and full of grace, forgiveness and wholeness?

God’s intent for us is to not only to love Him but to trust Him.  There’s the kicker- that trust word.  Sometimes we have an easier time trusting our own ways or friend’s ways than the ways of the Bottom Line (HIS way), and that requires surrendering our spirit into His hands.

So picture yourself, your spirit, your body, your will, your soul and mind in His hands…it’s comforting isn’t it?  There’s not a safer place to live than in His hands.  Fully committed, surrendered, yielding to the work He has for us here, the plan He has laid out specifically just for each one of us.  What an honor to be chosen by God to fulfill His purposes and further His kingdom.  But how often we miss it…let’s not miss it any longer.  Let’s commit our spirits, our wills, and our lives to the ONE who died for us. He will guide and direct us.  He will lead and comfort us.  He will if we will let Him.

The mark of our salvation for those who trust and believe was His blood shed on a wooden cross, the mark of our sanctification and growth is the continual release of entrusting our spirit to Him.  Surrendering, yielding, trusting and believing.  Daily, hourly, momently.

Oh I feel the struggle, though, do you?  Yielding to His will isn’t always the easiest road.  Our flesh often tells us differently, and the norms of society certainly goes against how the Bible instructs us to live.  BUT, our surrender to Him is for our benefit and His glory; our gain, not our loss.  He is in it for US!  Let’s trust Him today and commit our spirits into His mighty, faithful and loving hands.  They are big enough for all of us, thank you, Jesus!

Every day, surrender.  His will, not ours.

Every day, trust, for He is oh so faithful to provide everything we need if we will only commit ourselves to Him.

Father, into your hands, we commit our spirits.  Amen.

Now go.  Go in faith and live like never before.

I Have a Dream

I have a dream…I do.  It’s one where all people stop judging by outward appearance and start looking deep into the eyes and souls of others, seeing them for who they really are; seeing them the way God sees them.

“…the Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them.  People judge by outward appearance but the Lord looks at the heart.” I Samuel 16:7

Who hasn’t been guilty of this, right?  We are human with human eyes and sinful hearts that judge, criticize, scrutinize and make false assumptions…but this, my friends, is so very wrong and sad and not the way God intends it.  We must change it, today!

What does it mean to look past what our eyes see?  What does it mean to look past skin color, social status, and even behavior??  It means we live out the second greatest commandment from our Lord and Savior; it means we LOVE ONE ANOTHER.

“For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14

To love others the way he does, to see others the way He does can only come from Him.  When we truly, truly are loving and seeking Him, amazing love for others, along with true sight for others, is the overflow of this relationship.

“God is love.  He who abides in love abides in God and God in him.” 1 John 4:16

When it’s hard to see past race, ethnic background, outer appearance, may we ask Jesus for help; may we ask for His eyes, not our own.  May we be a generation that chooses to LOVE!

Oh Father God that you would take our eyes and make them your own.  Forgive us when we don’t see past outer appearances.  Help us to see the souls and hearts that you have created.  Thank you for greater unity in this day and age but grow within us- the people of this time and generation and those coming behind us- a greater desire for unity among your people.  We are each handcrafted by YOU!  How amazing you are!  Help us to love You first so we can love Your people–all of Your people.  Help us to live out Your greatest commandment and the most important of faith, hope, and love.  You, Lord are LOVE…oh that we would be too!!  In Jesus precious name, Amen.

Think on these things

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing.  Fix your thoughts on what is true and honorable, and right and pure, and lovely and admirable.  Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”  Philippians 4:8

Oh my goodness this verse.  Today and every moment of every day.

So often our thoughts can get the best of us…leading us far away from the thoughts the Lord would want us to have, far away from peace and joy and sometimes straight into temptation and sin.

I know sometimes I will rehash conversations that have already taken place thinking of what I should’ve said or shouldn’t have said…occasionally I might speculate or make assumptions about what others are thinking or question their motives…often I think about future events that more than likely will never even take place which causes unnecessary anxiety, worry, etc…  What a waste of time and energy, right!? These thoughts and those like them are not from God or of God!

It’s important to recognize what’s going on in our minds.  When impure, false, wrong thoughts enter into our brains we must nip them in the bud before they reach our hearts and souls, taking root.  Memorizing and mediating on Philippians 4:8 is an awesome place to start.  It’s also important to remember that God is the God of peace, not chaos; He’s the author and perfector of our faith, not our fears; He is truth and in Him are no lies, assumptions or speculations.  If He is the Lord of our life, is He the Lord of our thoughts?

My daughter went through a time when she would tell me when she was thinking a bad thought (normally having to do with monsters under her bed or things in the dark- oh to be a child again!).  I would ask her if what she was thinking was from God, the answer always being “no”.  We then would shift our focus to the things of God, that which is TRUE and that which brings peace and joy, not fear.  We would talk about His beautiful creation, our thankfulness for the day and we would pray for her thoughts to be from Him.  We would also occasionally sing, this coming from some awesome advice left behind by my Nana.

 “It’s hard to think bad thoughts when you are singing a happy tune.”    ~Virginia K. Sprott

So what’s going on in your head today?  Is it true?  Honorable?  Right?  Pure?  Worthy of your time to even be thinking about?? Is it time to give those thoughts to Jesus and ask Him to renew your mind?  Is it time to start singing??

Captivate our thoughts Lord!  Own them!  Make them of you, not of what we speculate, don’t know and can’t control.  Our minds are weak, Lord, may we fill them up with You.  May our thoughts be governed by Your Spirit and not by our flesh.  May they be pure and full of grace for others and ourselves.  You know our thoughts and you love us anyway~ and that is something worthy of our praise.  In Jesus’ name, AMEN!

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~If you are looking for further help with your thoughts, Me, Myself and Lies is an awesome DVD driven bible study by Jennifer Rothschild that is all about what is in our “thought closet.”  It’s full of scripture and Godly wisdom about transforming our thoughts.  I highly recommend it for yourself or a small group study!

Running on Empty…

Literally.  This happened this weekend.

I was driving home from an amazing weekend in Little Rock (more on that later, I’m still trying to process it all!) and should have run out of gas…but by the grace of God, I didn’t.

I was listening to music, singing and worshipping in the car while my daughter slept.  I’m grateful she was so tired and so asleep that the volume of the music (or my singing) didn’t affect her :).  I looked down and noticed I had 8 miles until empty.  Oh my.  I had no clue where we were but knew we had already gone through most of the major towns with gas stations. Agh.

All of a sudden I hear the words to the song that had just started playing:

“We will say of you Oh Lord when it seems there’s nothing left

Great is Thy faithfulness

Great is Thy faithfulness…

We won’t doubt, we won’t fear, we know our God is near.

We will stand, we will say, “Our God alone is great.”

So I turned it up and prayed.  And trusted and believed we would make it.

And continued to watch as the number went down…

And then this happened.

gass

But we were still going.  And I was still praying and trusting and believing (and had woken up my daughter but was happy to have her praying too!).

I repeated the song about His faithfulness- several times.

I’m not sure how far we went on 0, maybe 5-10 miles?  But we made it.  Oh I am so grateful because I’m not sure what I would’ve done had we not.

After we filled up the tank and got some gas station bubble gum, we were on the road again.  I couldn’t quit thinking of the words to the song* that came at the perfect time…How applicable they can be in any situation in our lives– literally running out of gas in a vehicle or running out of gas in our own lives.

I wrote this quote down from John Piper months ago; I can’t find the article or sermon I read/heard it in but wanted to share:

The fact that you run out of gas everyday puts you in the station…makes us fill up everyday at His pump. Lest we forget where the gas comes from.

I LOVE that!  Just as a vehicle requires gas or energy to function effectively, we require Him to function effectively; the way we were made to function.

When I was running out of gas in my car, I had NO clue where the next gas station was I just prayed and hoped and trusted we would make it.

In life, I think we sometimes forget where the gas comes from and sometimes I think it takes us driving on empty for a while before we realize we even need gas.  Lord, everyday, please fill us up!  Help us not wait until we are past empty to pull into Your station!  And may we never forget that we need You in all area of our lives!

I learned a few things through this experience…

~Watch the gas gauge in my van 🙂

~Watch the gas gauge in my soul, never forget where the gas comes from, and never stop getting filled up

~His timing is so awesome, even in the timing of a song with words to help me trust and believe we would make it to a gas station

~When we trust and believe God with the small, minor details and we notice His faithfulness in the things we think may not even matter, it helps us trust Him with the really big things.

Great is His faithfulness, even running on empty 🙂

*”Nothing Less” by Charles Billingsley is on his newest album, Only Jesus, set to release in September.  I was able to get an advanced copy at the Women of Joy conference I attended a few weeks ago.  Click here to listen!