Timeliness: What Could Be Holding Us Up?

img_5465Sometimes let’s face it, it can be impossible to be early or on time to an event or meeting, but if we are regularly late, it can be a cautionary red flag for something with which the Lord may be wanting to highlight and help us!

Here, I quickly share my desire to grow in readiness! Join me!

via I Want To Be Ready!

I Want To Be Ready!

“…So prepare your minds for action and exercise self-control. Put all your hope in the gracious salvation that will come to you when Jesus Christ is revealed to the world. So you must live as God’s obedient children. Don’t slip back into your old ways of living to satisfy your own desires…” 1 Peter 1:13-14 NLT

“Hurry up Elli! It’s time to go!” I tell my 5 year old determined daughter. “Now!”

It was already past that safe buffer. We were no longer technically on time. We were nearly late, and for the 3rd time that week, she was holding us up. She just could not seem to get herself down those steps. She was so close, but would. Not. Go! Something was keeping her. What was it?

FullSizeRenderI’ve said it before, but there’s 54 steps from the main living room of our house to the car, and those are some of the hardest steps our family ever takes.

What was holding her up? Well, for one, my daughter has this strong mothering gene in her. I think she shows more potential than I did actually! She cleans for fun and enjoys changing diapers! She has an “American girl” type of doll and also a baby. Lately she’s been bathing, dressing, and taking them with her wherever she goes. She’s become a mother and friend, and the responsibilities far outweigh the more timely obedience she once knew.

Does this sound familiar?

She’s become a mother and friend, and the responsibilities far outweigh the more timely obedience she once knew.

It is exactly what I am facing as a wife, mother, friend, and the list can go on.

My responsibilities can drown out the Lord’s whispered call of love and obedience. He never yells at me, but He’s graciously been faithful to tell me many times what I’m supposed to do or not do.

When I’m busy, I’m unable to listen. When I’m overwhelmed, His Words are so easily drowned out because the thought of any more input seems impossible to sort through.

Lately, I’ve been super overwhelmed with finishing up our second year of homeschool, renovating the kitchen counters and backsplash, replacing flooring in the basement for the 3rd time in 6 years (don’t ask unless you really want to hear a story or two), and trying to heal from a virus that’s given me quite the trouble!

With all this struggle, what readies me for getting out of bed?

Well, do you know what I want it to be?

I want it for me to be the best Sarah I can be in Christ! But often it’s dread. Dread of finding something to feed the kids in a rush, or to let the dog out before he has an accident. Often it’s reacting to the demands already on me.

But what if what readied me to get out of bed was to lean into Jesus to be the best me I can be? What if I had a question that I needed answered that led me into this pursuit?

Lord, what do You want me to learn today? What can I discover more deeply in Your word and in my life? Or if I’m feeling sick, “What does it look like to love like Jesus when I’m feeling achy today?” And if I were struggling with a relationship, “How can I better see this relationship through Your eyes today, Lord?”

I want to be an enthusiastic explorer of my day, not a weary responder.

I want to be ready! In the same way I want to be ready for each day to do what I need to do and say what I need to say, I also really want to be ready for eternity!

I don’t want to hear Jesus say He never knew me like the scriptures caution. I want Him to say, “Dear Sarah, I knew you so well; And oh the joys and sorrows we shared!”

I want to live like today will be the day I see Jesus face to face because I live like I am face to face with Him already! I want to lean on Him like He is right here with me. I want Him to lead me out through the door of the unknown day I face tomorrow. I want to make memories of me with Him! Yes, you read that right! 🙂 I want Him to take me out of my bed, out of my pit of fear or worry with each day, and I want to remember those memories of Him working and share them with others! I want to be ready to give a reason for the hope within me! I want Him to make those worries fade in light of His presence and promises!

I know you do too! I really believe He’s placed a sense of joy-seeking eternity like that in every believer!

In my teenage years, I recall the words to a special Sandi Patty song which helped shape my understanding of what it looks like to walk with the Lord! I restyled it to acoustic guitar and would love for you to hear the sweet words and pray and worship with me! It’s not professional, but I pray it’s personable and welcomes you right in just the same! ❤

May God bless you bunches!!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 1:3

 

Lord, we long for You to cleanse us, to give us joy with each new day, and to fill us with Your love! Lord, draw us nearer to the beauty of You, and keep us so content with You alone! We love You and trust in Your steadfast work among us! In Jesus Name, Amen!

 

 

 

My Hope is In My Own Potential Part 2

How can shifting our hope from ourselves and onto Christ change the way we love people deeper? Here I delve deeper into what it looks like to put those Gospel glasses on in the midst of suffering and turn our eyes toward the people around us! Please join me!

******************Go here for Part 1 of this little series! *******************

How can I suffer and still invite people in for discipleship if I feel too weak and weary to witness the gospel? 

In preparation for Easter, my children and I began reading this week from John starting just after Lazarus was raised from the dead and Jesus came in on a donkey. In our reading, we got a precious glimpse of what Jesus might have felt when weeping later in the garden.

“Now I am very troubled. What should I say? Should I say, ‘Father save me from this time of suffering’? No, I came to this time so that I could suffer. Father do what will bring you glory!” John 12:27-28 ERV

When you reference that first sentence on Jesus’s troubled nature, you find three occurrences in the ESV reference Bible. One led Him to weep over the death of Lazarus (loss of a loved one). One was over His betrayal with Judas, and one was when His sweat became drops of blood in His prayers at the Garden of Gethsemane (suffering).

Jesus knew trouble. Jesus knew hardship, yet sin did not overcome Him. Troubles did not overcome Him. His strength was not in comforts of this world, but in His Father and His Father’s purpose.

Jesus faced friends who betrayed him. He experienced circumstances that could tear Him down, but neither man nor trial did. He prevailed with steadfast love. Yes!

He loved all the more.

He walked the way of suffering, loss, and betrayal. He will walk it with us too.

Trust Jesus

“And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast.” 1 Peter 5:10

His perfect ability lies in you, believer and follower of Christ. In Christ, it’s not about our own potential anymore. We have to die to that. We have to say, “Lord, it’s up to You!” And it has to be what we say first thing and over and over!

If we don’t continually trust in His hand tending to us, we will only see our hand, and our good news will be whatever we can find to idolize.

Jesus enables us to endure trials and suffering through our relationship with Him. We endure through a constant dependance on Him with continual prayer and patience. 

It may not happen overnight, just like any flower or fruit, but He does help us!

Christ In You: The Hope of Glory

Don’t fear the  hard soil of those around you or the circumstances before you.

 

Followers of Christ are not driven by their own capability, but are broken by it. They know where they need to go and realize it’s impossible. Their Hope is Christ working in them to grow them and produce in them more and more of Himself.

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He can enable us to shine for His glory in any environment. Don’t stop shining. Don’t stop trusting the Lord to work in and through you.

I’ve struggled so much with my health lately. It seems ironic that someone who enjoys facilitating worship and has in the past treated vocal disorders is now dealing with laryngeal reflux and this thing called muscle tension dysphonia. I’m basically faced with this strong pressure to figure out how to treat myself and I don’t know of anyone who can help me, except Jesus.

Being with people now seems to drain me because it’s so hard to be with my own pitiful self now that my health is not going well. Perhaps you can relate? Do you struggle to be alone with yourself with nothing to do but think, pray, and meditate?

It’s having an effect on me. My personality seems different. I’m usually pretty fun and love to laugh, but lately, I’m not so quick to find humor in things. If I’m truly honest with myself, I’ve stopped allowing the Lord to filter my thoughts to be His thoughts in my quiet times. I may read and write, but I don’t pause anymore to let Him filter through my thoughts before I write out prayers.

Much of my spare time has been studying voice therapy. I’ve not allowed myself to just be still and put up with my winy self.  😁

As soon as I see a need, I have to pray, but I’d be so grateful for you joining me, especially if you can relate: Lord, please help me come before you and filter my thoughts so much more than I do. Help me to run to your counsel. Let my thoughts turn into your thoughts and then give me the determination to write down what you have changed in me through my prayers and studies!

Suffering in my health has made me reclusive in the way I relate with people. This desire to be known and understood by others seems impossibly met these days. I have this mindset of, “Here I am, Woe is me. Please feel sorry for me.” But this is not a gospel-centered life-style! No! My lifestyle should be such that I’m looking for opportunities to offer a reason to say, “Look at Jesus!” I can’t look for these opportunities to make much of my Lord if my thoughts are consumed with making much of my potential or troubles. I have so much to learn!

In having more time with the Lord, I’m learning that God gives purpose in our suffering. That is why we can peacefully and joyfully endure it. We have hope that He is working all things for our good. Christ allowed Himself to suffer, and in so doing, He found such purpose that He saw suffering as an opportunity.  He said, “Should I say, ‘Father save me from this time of suffering’? No, I came to this time so that I could suffer. Father do what will bring you glory!” John 12:27-28 ERV

I long to be the same way and see suffering not as something to be anxious about or fear but as an opportunity. He can help me deal with the sin in my heart that makes me feel unable to relate with people where I am. He can help me surrender to His goodness in the midst of my struggles and trust His purpose, even if I can’t see it.

Hope is trusting in the Perfect Potential of Christ in us!

He alone changes us for His glory!

Share Jesus

A little further down in John 12, after the palm branches, He spoke of how the Son of Man must be lifted up!

When Jesus had said these things, He departed and hid Himself from them. Though He had done so many signs before them, they still did not believe in Him, so that the word spoken by the prophet Isaiah might be fulfilled:

“Lord, who has believed what he heard from us, and to whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?”

Therefore they could not believe. For again Isaiah said,

“He has blinded their eyes and hardened their heart, lest they see with their eyes, and understand with their heart, and turn, and I would heal them.”

 

Isaiah said these things because He saw His glory and spoke of Him. Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in Him, but for fear of the Pharisees, they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God. John 12:36-43

What keeps us from really sharing the name of Jesus with our lives?

One instance, this pastor I’ve mentioned had a wonderful opportunity to mention Jesus.

He spoke for many minutes on the importance of getting away from people who bring us down. He never spoke of loving people: Only of loving yourself and pursuing your own destiny. This is not the message of Christ.

He said, to be with people who can lift you up and who are stronger than you are, but He never spoke of Jesus as the ONE who is. He never said, sit with Jesus. Meditate on His Word. In fact, he even said, “Peter will pick you up.”

What?

At some point everyone will let us down. Everyone. Our church family, our co-workers, our friends, our immediate family, we even let ourselves down-that’s why we desperately still need Jesus, and we need Him everyday!

Sharing Jesus may mean denying yourself completely. Sharing Jesus means you are encouraging people to follow not yourself, but Christ! You may not get anything you want. You may lose what you dream, but God can redeem and restore you to the sweetest of His spiritual blessings, blessings not found in man or stores!

pexels-photo-415571.jpegDon’t let the worries or distractions in your life keep you from sharing what God has been doing. Keep your eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of your faith! What is He doing? Really consider regularly and praise Him for it!  Pray for His help and watch closely for His hand! Be ready to give a reason for the Hope that you have-that is Jesus!

One final thing I couldn’t help but notice about this man was that his eyes were red and irritated and blinked constantly as he spoke. It was as if he could not see well physically or spiritually, yet so many are following him. I can’t imagine the pressure he faces each week, but imagine the impact he could make with more references to the gospel! Imagine the impact we could make with more references to the gospel! That finger points both ways, doesn’t it?! Lord, please help me!

Lord, please help this man see the truth and run hard after It. Free Him from the need to please people. Please free us all and give us strength to face the day, even in suffering, loneliness, and fears. Help us not to cling to what we can do with our own potential, but help us to cling to You and Your potential!

We praise You, Lord that You are the One who tells us of our need for You, not man.  Please help us to see You are so much more personal and loving in the way that you lead us to repentance, righteousness, and joy that we could ever imagine. Thank you that even today I was led by your Spirit to apologize before man ever made me. Only You can do that! This does not come from my own self. You give me eyes to see, ears to hear. Lord, your Spirit is an abundance of life! Help us to crave You! Your Word fills us with every Good Thing. Help us to long for Your Truths! Speak to each one reading and guide us closer to Your heart. Lead us to life everlasting, and let it start today! We love you! 

In Jesus’ Name!

Amen

Salvation:

Do you know Christ as your Savior? If this post has got you to thinking about whether you are a daughter of the King, that could be the Holy Spirit working! He could be knocking on the door of your heart asking to come in to dine with you forever (Rev 3:20!) If so, I’d be honored to  help you in your decision to follow hard after Christ!

Pray these things:

Admit that you are a sinner in need of Jesus. (Rom. 3:23)

Believe on the name of Jesus as the only One who can save you from this sin, all of it, sweet sister, all of it. (Rom. 10:9, John 1:9, 14:6 )

Confess and Repent of your sins. Ask for Him to forgive you of all your sins. Turn from your desire to do any and all of it. (1 John 1:9, Acts 3:19)

Trust in Jesus as your Savior and as your King. He must now become the Lord of your life! Ask the Lord to help you as you commit to following Him. (Titus 3:5, Ps. 37:5-6)

Receive His Spirit in your life, and listen for Him as you pray and read His Word regularly!  (Rev. 3:20-21)

Worship Him! Thank Him for what He has done, is doing right now, and will do as you live your life for Him. I’m celebrating with you in this decision! It will be a journey of ups and downs, mistakes and incredible experiences, but through it all…Jesus will be beside you! And no matter what you mess up on, His Spirit and His Word will continue to help you! Keep clinging to Him!! Go and tell people of what He has done!

Please find a good church family to call your own, a pastor who preaches from the Bible unapologetically with love and a few girlfriends to whom you can go for accountability to continue on your journey of following the Lord regardless of your inability or circumstance- His Spirit will enable you to will and to work for His good pleasure! Enjoy the journey alongside other Christ followers! Let me know if I can be praying for you too! I’d be honored! Rejoicing with you and all the angels too! ❤

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I referenced a  sermon by Joel Osteen on 2/25/2018 on the Power of the Soil.

My Hope is In My Own Potential?

Sick at home, I decided to tune in to what the television is offering to so many on Sunday mornings.

My heart hurts.

My prayer is that the Hope of the Gospel would be heard and received for true and faithful growth thru Jesus Christ alone.

I’m referencing Matthew 13 in this post. Please feel free to go ahead and give it a read!

A famous pastor just tried to tell me that in this scripture, Matthew 13, that the seed is who I am, the farmer is my circumstances, and that the bad soil, or lack there of, is an attitude of negativity, and if I’ll just get rid of the negative people around me (control my environment) or look inwardly to trust in myself with enough positive talk and cheer (controlling my thoughts with my own thoughts), then I can surely make myself grow in great soil.

I am not kidding. I just heard a sermon on it. I even saw so many people shaking their heads up and down in agreement and with smiles as if they understand it to be the truth of scripture. This pastor spoke and his eyes blinked over and over way more often that normal. The entire time I thought, is he even aware of what he’s preaching? Is his purpose to share the Gospel’s hope or man’s hope? So many are deceived.

Please don’t hear me mocking them. I am not. Hear me completely heartbroken for the deception of thousands of hearts, people whom God loves. 

See Jesus

If you read Matthew 13 without Gospel glasses, what I wrote at the top is all you will see. Your hope will be in your own potential. Jesus has nothing to do with that way of thinking, except that He gave the parable.

Also, if you read without Gospel glasses, do you see how the thinker might see himself as the center of everything? The main character in the parable is the seed. It’s only natural that we would want to consider ourselves the seed. Man’s hope is man-what he can do for himself.

But put Gospel glasses on and you will see the Gospel is the main thing and that it needs to be spread everywhere, that it might grow in the hearts of all who will hear!

Listen to Jesus

Jesus said,

“12 To those who listen to my teaching, more understanding will be given, and they will have an abundance of knowledge. But for those who are not listening, even what little understanding they have will be taken away from them.

13 For they look, but they don’t really see.
They hear, but they don’t really listen or understand.
14This fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that says,
‘When you hear what I say,
you will not understand.
When you see what I do,
you will not comprehend.
15For the hearts of these people are hardened,
and their ears cannot hear,
and they have closed their eyes—
so their eyes cannot see,
and their ears cannot hear,
and their hearts cannot understand,
and they cannot turn to me
and let me heal them.’”

The pastor did not preach on this part.

Please hear! Please do not let anything keep you from the Prize.

The soil is our readiness and willingness to listen to the message of Jesus and then respond to Him. The world will tell you if only you had _____, you’ll be okay. But the problem is, that will break and you will need the next thing! It’s our worries and continual pursuits of what this world can give us that’s choking us. All we need is Jesus and as the soil, we are given Jesus. The question is, what are we going to do with Him?

The world will constantly tell you that it’s everyone else’s fault that you’re struggling. It’s not others’ negativity that is choking us or stealing us from our own potential. It’s our lack of faith in hard times and unwillingness to depend on the Lord when trials and persecutions come that makes the joy of the Good News fade away.

It’s our own hardened heart that refuses to listen to the Hope of Christ through His Word today. In It, we find Christ’s potential for us through the work of Christ!

His Word is our Blue Print! His Spirit is the best Amazon Prime we can get!

Understand Jesus

When you first believed your sins were forgiven and trusted in Jesus as your Savior and Lord, you were given salvation through Christ. But, your tendency toward sin did not disappear. It still has the power to hurt you on this earth, if you let it. Sin can steal your joy and rob you of Christ’s potential for your life! Christ died so that sin lost it’s grip on us. It no longer has the power to destroy us, but this is only for those who put their trust in Christ. If we put our trust in our own devices, sin will have its way.

You can believe in Jesus and call yourself a Christian yet still not live as a Christ follower.  My question is, can you be a Christian and not a Christ follower? Have you ever considered how  you fit into those terms?  A Christ follower follows Christ’s example and submits to His leading when prompted of sin. A Christ follower willingly repents and relies heavily on the Spirit of God to do anything. You can believe in Jesus, but so does the enemy. As someone of faith, your ability to listen, understand, and trust Jesus has to change the way you want to live, and by the Spirit’s work, you do.

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Experience for yourself what the Kingdom of God is like: where Christ reigns, maybe not yet in the hearts of all men, but in your own heart: and joy abounds, maybe not yet by all men, but in your own heart, and certainly by nothing any of us can merit!

To Him be the Glory!

What is the source of your negativity? Only Jesus can show you as you pray to Him! Listen to Him, not others. Don’t stop pursuing Him till you hear from your precious Lord! Don’t let man’s perceived emotions toward you drive a religion out of you. Let your relationship with Christ, that is your willingness to listen and respond to Him, be what changes you! Know Christ first-hand. Know and cherish Him. Know Him not as the Lord of your mother, but as your own Lord. Know the reason for your hope right now, not 10 years ago when you went to the altar, I mean right now, in the thick of your muck and mire situation. What is the reason for your hope? And please don’t say it’s something you can buy on Amazon prime. (I’m talking to myself here!) ❤

Heavenly Father, we are desperate to know You. Help us to seek after You that we might know and understand You so much more. Father, we live in a time of knowledge and incalculable resources where it’s so easy to seek out, listen, and know almost anything we want, yet we fail to listen for You to know You more. Lord, break our hearts for your Love. Give us a hunger for You that we might listen for You and run hard after You in any circumstance. Turn our ears to Your voice. We love You and trust You, In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

**Please be sure to go here to read the second part to this post !**

As you consider these questions, do you also question your salvation?

Salvation:

Do you know Christ as your Savior? If this post has got you to thinking about whether you are a daughter of the King, that could be the Holy Spirit working! He could be knocking on the door of your heart asking to come in to dine with you forever (Rev 3:20!) If so, I’d be honored to  help you in your decision to follow hard after Christ!

Pray these things:

Admit that you are a sinner in need of Jesus. (Rom. 3:23)

Believe on the name of Jesus as the only One who can save you from this sin, all of it, sweet sister, all of it. (Rom. 10:9, John 1:9, 14:6 )

Confess and Repent of your sins. Ask for Him to forgive you of all your sins. Turn from your desire to do any and all of it. (1 John 1:9, Acts 3:19)

Trust in Jesus as your Savior and as your King. He must now become the Lord of your life! Ask the Lord to help you as you commit to following Him. (Titus 3:5, Ps. 37:5-6)

Receive His Spirit in your life, and listen for Him as you pray and read His Word regularly!  (Rev. 3:20-21)

Worship Him! Thank Him for what He has done, is doing right now, and will do as you live your life for Him. I’m celebrating with you in this decision! It will be a journey of ups and downs, mistakes and incredible experiences, but through it all…Jesus will be beside you! And no matter what you mess up on, His Spirit and His Word will continue to help you! Keep clinging to Him!! Go and tell people of what He has done!

Please find a good church family to call your own, a pastor who preaches from the Bible unapologetically with love and a few girlfriends to whom you can go for accountability to continue on your journey of following the Lord regardless of your inability or circumstance- His Spirit will enable you to will and to work for His good pleasure! Enjoy the journey alongside other Christ followers! Let me know if I can be praying for you too! I’d be honored! Rejoicing with you and all the angels too! ❤

 

 

I referenced a  sermon by Joel Osteen on 2/25/2018 on the Power of the Soil.

Fear

It’s that time again. It’s earlier than usual a.m. I’m up and typing my heart out in second person because I need to preach to myself. 🙂

Time to tackle and battle out the fear trying to have its way inside me. This time, I thought I might invite others in. Maybe you can relate?

Fear: Fuels a Lie

Jesus: Enables Me to Live By Truth

“For God has not given us a spirit of fear and timidity, but of power, love, and self-discipline” 2 Timothy 1:7

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When you wake, and your worries want to tell you that you are

  • too timid to face the day
  • too weak to deal with your present circumstance
  • too frustrated, tired, or distracted to be patient and loving
  • and too rebellious to care about being self-disciplined with what you know you need to do today

You must remember that it is not God’s will for you to listen to those lies!

You have to decipher these thoughts as lies and stop listening to them!

It’s not your cup of tea. It’s not your gasoline. It does not fuel you.

You simply will not go with that stuff.

Choosing to listen to those lies suggests you are not putting your faith and trust in God’s lovingkindness, His goodness, and His sovereignty.

Choose today whom you’ll serve and let nothing stand in your way, give Him the praise He deserves!

Wake up, and praise God that He’s given you a new day to sing every praise that belongs to Him. Look for every single reason you have to praise Him today and do so as if it’s your battle cry!

Write down anything you can think of, if you need to (perhaps this makes it more serious for you and you need to put up a serious fight right now), but give the Lord your sacrifice of praise that whole day. Play worship music when possible. Sing songs to yourself! Read the Psalms!

In focusing on His praise, you will be reminded of His perfect sovereignty. You will want to come under His control. You will be reminded also that He is the Greatest Orderer of the chaos,  not yourself. Rest in the work of His Hands, His kind and gracious Hands.

The Spirit of Jesus Is Your Fuel

He will take you exactly where you need to be, in the right time, and with the right attitude. It’s incredible how His Spirit works!

God hasn’t given you a spirit of fear, it does not belong to you. For you, Christian, it’s not even a thing.

So don’t receive it; don’t allow your mind to dwell on those worries to try to conceive them or allow your heart to ponder them enough to understand how this fear or worry makes you feel. It’s not the spirit you’ve been given to live by today! Recognize it for what it isn’t and focus on truth.

You have been given a spirit of power, of love, and self-discipline.

Fear: Fuels a Selfish Purpose

Jesus: Frees Me to Love Others

To fight fear: another thing you will want to do, besides praising God, is commit to the purpose of loving people because in Christ Jesus you can! 

Through Christ Jesus, you have been freed to love others.

“And we have come to know and believe the love that God has for us. God is love; whoever abides in love abides in God, and God in him. In this way, love has been perfected among us, so that we may have confidence on the day of judgment; for in this world we are just like Him. There is no fear in love, but perfect love drives out fear, because fear involves punishment. The one who fears has not been perfected in love.

We love because He first loved us.…” 1 John 4:17-19

Your worries want to bind you up and make you crave other’s pity. Instead of focusing on understanding others better and caring for others’ needs, you seek to use man to get  affirmation, or pity. It’s as if you need to be loved first to love. It’s not necessarily a bad thing. You just want to be understood. Truly understood.

But Christ is your first love and because of His love, you have been freed from your selfishness to love others. If instead of the worries, you choose to dwell on His already given and continuously proven love, then you will be filled and ready to pour out, even in the midst of suffering!

If you fail to find purpose in Christ to love others, your attempts will be selfish. You will seek man’s approval. There are two problems with that.

  1. Man will never truly understand you. No matter how much you share, there will always be something you didn’t share that could have made you more clearly defined. You will likely always feel there is something else you wished you could have explained.  While it is good to cultivate close friendships, especially with your spouse, he or she is not your First Love. Your husband does not need to hear your every whine, worry, or health concern. God is calling you to commit every explanation of yourself to the Lord Himself. Confide in Him. Cast all your anxieties on Him because He cares for you! (1 Peter 5:7)

    “Commit everything you do to the Lord.
        Trust him, and he will help you.
    He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn,
        and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun.

    Be still in the presence of the Lord,
        and wait patiently for him to act.” Psalm 37:5-7

  2. You don’t even understand yourself. But God understands you deeper than you understand yourself. He is your truest and most trusted Counselor. Pour out your heart to Him; let Him counsel your every fear battle. Go to Him first in prayer and meditation of His Word. Speak to man if you must, but do so after you’ve sought after your Lord hard! He is the One who can declare you innocent among men. He’s the One whose kindness can meet you with more empathy than any man can. He is the One who can tell you how you truly feel about anything. He governs your heart, does He not? Let the peace of God rule in your heart! (Colossians 3:15)

pexels-photo-236164.jpeg“You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.” Isaiah 26:3

Jesus said, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” John 14:27

You can love others more freely through the peace by which He rules over your heart. His peace turns your heart and mind away from your own suffering and onto others. You become more Christlike through His peace, not your strength. Let Him rule your heart, your soul, and your mind! Why? He loves you and knows you more than anyone else.

“O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!”  Psalm 139:1-6

Trust Him!

Fear: Fuels Distractions and Worldly Pursuits

Jesus: Offers All I Need and More

Fasting was meant not to make a wimp out of you, but to strengthen you into a more devoted and dependent follower of Christ. Fasting was meant to make you a better listener of the hunger inside of you. When you fast from things, you realize just how much you need the great Helper Himself and how WORTHY He is of your dependence on Him.

Fasting may mean you start fasting with one thing and have to move to another thing. The thing is, you start by fasting from sweets/desserts and find yourself shopping for things online you really do not need. Keep fasting from that too. Fast from whatever you need to fast, but depend wholly on Your God in prayer. Lean completely on Him. Repent from any sin He shows  you. Be surrendered to Him, and be open to His leading. Discover or re-discover what a first-hand experience with God really is. Pursue Him and His powerful Word until you find His governing peace. Know Him for yourself in this season and abide there. Your confidence in His love for You will overwhelm you far more than any anxiety. You will be overcome with joy and love for your Great God. You will be so taken by His Spirit that-

Fear will flee.

Fear cannot abide where God rules.

God loves you more than you can imagine. Fear hates you.

Who will you serve today?

Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony. And let the peace that comes from Christ rule in your hearts. For as members of one body you are called to live in peace. And always be thankful.

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts. And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. Colossians 3:14-17

Lord, my heart aches for You. Show me how I can depend even more on Your strength, love, and mercy today. You are all I need. Enable me to see You and love You and worship You with all that I am today. Give me freedom from fear. Free me to love and serve those around me by Your perfect peace. Take away the distractions and worldly pursuits. I love you and trust You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Faith Like A Child II

What if? What if my initial story ended in the hospital waiting room, or on the front row of a funeral? How would my faith look? Do you ever struggle with this? Faith like a child is faith untarnished, untested by the hard circumstances of this world. Perhaps, dear one, your faith has been tested. Tried and tested, and your faith has left you nearly defeated. Maybe you yearn for childlike faith, but you cannot even imagine what that would look like now. Life is far too heavy, too overbearing to even look past the pain, loss, fear, or struggle you now face.

Earlier this week I posted a story from two years ago of something that happened to our family. Today, I’ve come to love learning how to turn any story into a Good News Gospel story; however, in trying to be quick last week, I failed to finish the message. Today, I wish to finish my message with a part 2! I want to dig deeper into what it is about a Christian’s faith that makes any struggle, sorrow or pain worth it or something we could even consider counting joy (James 1:2-3). I want to tell about the life changing Hope found in the Good News, which is the foundation of our faith and the very core of our hope.

Recently, I’ve been overcome myself, not so much now with my own family’s needs, though things have been hard enough lately, but truly my heart has been so very burdened with many around me who are watching and waiting for their Lord to work. I’m burdened by a precious child’s need to heal from an infection in his brain, or one who is trying to care for their husband fighting cancer when in fact they are struggling just to care for their own special needs. I think of a friend who has been hit in a wreck, the young man who hit her passed away and she is left with pain in her hand and back, but even more difficult is a memory that won’t go away. A wounded church who’s left without a pastor for another season. A father who is fighting for custody with his children. A wife and mother and her husband who know what is ideal, to press on together till death parts them, but the struggles  and fear they face perhaps seem impossible to press on through together.  The list goes on and my heart hurts. Does yours? Do you relate? It seems the more we grow in Christ-likeness, the harder our suffering. We experience so many more trials and even then still empathize so much deeper with those we love.

It makes me think of the time a dear friend of Jesus died. Remember that time He cried? (John 11:1-44)

Jesus was so very close to this family. Martha had hosted (perhaps at the last minute) His gathered teachings in her home. Mary had grown to drop everything to be with Him. And now, their brother Lazarus was nearly dead, and if only Jesus could have said “Shush!” I’m in a hurry can’t you see? My dear friend needs me to visit him, and I must go now! ” Had He of replied that way, things may have been different. If He could have just been a little more aware of time, (like we seem to be today) of when to stop listening to those in front of Him so as to of had more time to travel quicker, perhaps His dear friend would have never died. *(He was never rushed, always so present with those around Him, wasn’t He?)

But Jesus let Lazaus die.

Jesus let His dear friend die.

I’m amazed about that. I think Mary and Martha, especially were too.

But Jesus was a friend of Lazarus. And it just so happened that Lazarus’ Friend was God!

And as a Good Friend of God, Lazarus, though He had to die, would soon be raised to life!

Dear sister, whatever it is you are struggling with right now, even if it feels your very life is being beaten out of you, there is a Friend Who sticks closer than a brother. And not only does He offer His presence, He offers His power! He willingly offers His strength to fight back in this trial with your faith, with your praise of Him, with your continual trust of who He is. He also offers peace that passes all understanding; seek It out! Search for it and maintain it, the scriptures say! And finally He offers perseverance to continue facing these trials. When they seem to be unending, Christ prevails in you!

Do you believe that to be true?

If so, can I take us a little closer to His Holiest of Holies? Can I take us so close to the Living God right now that it’s uncomfortable? We may even feel we must take off our dirty shoes, our makeup, we may want to cover up our bodies, and just fall to our faces!

I believe to really experience peace with our Lord we have to be willing to see and understand our sin and let the Lord Jesus Himself wash it out of us. We have to show Him the dirtiness to let Him wash it out. It has to be our willing surrender that works out our salvation. The working out of our salvation is the acting out of our faith. It is trusting that Jesus has died to save us from the penalty of our sins, that He can help us battle those sins waging war in us still, and then that He will conquer the battle upon His return! This is the Good News of Jesus!

Dear sister, is not our fears of the future, our anxieties, and even our self-pity not somehow rooted in our sin? Is it not from lack of faith? And why do we choose a lack of faith? Is in not because we are sinful?

When I feared my husband was unsafe or in a wreck those times, was it not my sin of wanting to control things my way, or not believing God has Jason and me and our family in His hands-that He will take care of us? Should Jason have died that night, would it not have been in God’s mighty hand? Would Jesus not have let it happen?

Yes! Jesus would have let it happen.

Do I trust Him even still? Oh Yes! But Lord, please help my unbelief!

Either He will have a way to bring Jason back to physical life in the hospital, or hear this sweet sister:

Should the love of my life have passed away that night, you and I had better believe The hand of  Jesus would have come and worked at just the right time to bring me back to life, to awaken my spiritual being from the death of grief within me, and He would have absolutely helped to heal my heart.

It would not be the same heart, but it would surely be a stronger one. One that knows sin will rob me of my peace in Christ, should I let it knowingly live there.

It would be one that knows my hope rests not in the well-being and healthy presence of my family, the security of a stable income, or a home that’s not falling apart, but in the presence of my God.

It would surely be a hope that rests in Jesus as the One who takes away my fears- my sins that make me absolutely miserable in my anguish- and would replace it with His strength.

He will enable me to suffer like Him. He will help me to understand how to suffer with joy, and it will come from Him alone. And that joy, that joy and peace and comfort that He gives will be the same comfort I will be able to give to others. It’s the same joy that James speaks of in his first chapter.

I will be able to consider it joy because of Christ working the sin out of me and the Hope in me. Only Christ can do that. (James 1:2-4,12)

We have to know the reason for our hope in any situation.

Do yourself the biggest favor- Imagine the worst thing that could happen to you in your present state and then imagine the Gospel of Jesus Christ washing over you. Name the sin, call it out for what it  is in your imagination. Is it fear? Is in anger? The Holy Spirit will show you. Just wait on Him. It may take a while. 🙂 As you consider that most horrible predicament and give it to the Lord; let Him free you of your present pain and your fears. Let Him empathize with you. He is Your best friend, after all, and He understands so well.

In his book, The Silent Shades of Sorrow, Charles Spurgeon speaks about the importance of keeping a journal and “taking hold of our past mercies.” Then he later writes,

“Lay aside that sackcloth and those robes of mourning! Snatch your harps down from the willows and let us sing together praises unto Him whose love, power, faithfulness, and goodness shall always be the same! If there are any here who are strangers to all these things, I can only wish that they might even know our sorrows, in order that they might have an experience of our joys to treasure up in remembrance. Believers in Jesus are not a miserable crew-they have songs to sing and they have good reason to sing them! They have enough to make them blessed on earth and to make them blessed forever and ever!” Charles Spurgeon

cyprus-2635490_1920.jpgWe have songs to sing!! It’s time to get out of the grave we’ve been placed in or that pit we have dug for ourselves and live this life! In Jesus, we have songs to sing!!

We have songs to sing because regardless of what happens, Christ Jesus will call our name to wake up and to get out of our grave or our pit! Can you hear Him calling for you? He will heal us His way! He will revive our hearts! He will bring what’s dead to life! Let Him breathe new life in you! Regardless of what happens, if we will surrender and let Him, He will awaken us from our sinful tendencies and enable us to live freed more and more from the very thoughts, habits, feelings, etc that are weighing us down. He will do this again and again until the day He returns and the fight is over! He will continue to sanctify us through and through!

Please understand this battle is not for our salvation! Our childlike faith that had not been tested told us that we first believed in Christ Jesus as our Savior. Now, dear sister, we are being tested. Our faith is being put through the fire, but once tested it will come forth as gold. We must not give up. Please just don’t give up. (Job 23:10)

Instead, let’s just take this next step of faith, won’t you come into His presence with me now? And let us praise Him together!

“3 Come, let us tell of the Lord’s greatness;
let us exalt his name together.
I prayed to the Lord, and he answered me.
He freed me from all my fears.
Those who look to him for help will be radiant with joy;
no shadow of shame will darken their faces.
In my desperation I prayed, and the Lord listened;
he saved me from all my troubles.
For the angel of the Lord is a guard;
he surrounds and defends all who fear him.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Fear the Lord, you his godly people,
for those who fear him will have all they need.
10 Even strong young lions sometimes go hungry,
but those who trust in the Lord will lack no good thing.
11 Come, my children, and listen to me,
and I will teach you to fear the Lord.
12 Does anyone want to live a life
that is long and prosperous?
13 Then keep your tongue from speaking evil
and your lips from telling lies!
14 Turn away from evil and do good.
Search for peace, and work to maintain it.
15 The eyes of the Lord watch over those who do right;
his ears are open to their cries for help.
16 But the Lord turns his face against those who do evil;
he will erase their memory from the earth.
17 The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help.
He rescues them from all their troubles.
18 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted;
he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.
19 The righteous person faces many troubles,
but the Lord comes to the rescue each time.
20 For the Lord protects the bones of the righteous;
not one of them is broken!
21 Calamity will surely destroy the wicked,
and those who hate the righteous will be punished.
22 But the Lord will redeem those who serve him.
No one who takes refuge in him will be condemned.”
Psalm 34

If you are without peace today, remember who Christ is! Remember what He has done, and be sure of what He will accomplish in you!! Know the reason for your hope!

Preach to yourself the good news of Jesus; remember the character of your God and His promises and finally, pull out your instrument, should it even just be your weak hands before you and your shaky voice within you, as that’ll surely do, and sing to Him with everything you’ve got! You and I, we have songs to sing, we have not time for this self-pity!

He has overcome it. Jesus has overcome every bit of it! Praise Him!

🎶Jesus, Jesus, Jesus!                                                                                                                     Sweetest name I know                                                                                                                            Fills my every longing                                                                                                                      Keeps me singing as I go

Dear Lord, thank You for Your tender mercies that remind us of just how blessed we are to be in Your path of care, that You would be with us and for us in all things that weigh us down. Thank You for Your Son, who can offer such peace because of the work done on the cross. Thank you that we don’t have to live in sin. Thank you Lord. Thank you so much! Free us today Lord! Bring us to live in Jesus and let us know full well and be ready to tell the reason for our Hope, the very person of Christ Jesus!! In Jesus Name, Amen!

Chew on This-Referenced Scriptures:

 eCount it all joy, my brothers,2 when you meet trials fof various kinds, 3 for you know that gthe testing of your faith hproduces steadfastness. 4 And let  steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be iperfect and complete, lacking in nothing. James 1:2-4

12 uBlessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive vthe crown of life, wwhich God has promised to those who love him. James 1:12

“But He knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job 23:10

Faith Like A Child

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to Him must believe that He exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek Him.” Hebrews 11:6

A couple of years ago, my children and I decided to venture out on our own for 4 days while my husband stayed behind for work. We were headed to my parents’ church to participate in their annual Vacation Bible School.

Earlier that afternoon, my husband had called to tell me to be careful because there was flooding near his workplace that day. He knew I would have to go by there to get to my parents’ church, but I knew he would also have to leave by there to get home. “You be careful too,” I told him.

Once we safely arrived at my parents’ church, I was unable to get in touch with my husband. I tried all afternoon, all evening, until after 11:30 that night!

Meanwhile, late that night, we watched this movie about a little girl who’s mother was killed in a car wreck, and she had to go live with her father who built these airplane-like inventions that flew him in the sky. It seemed so dangerous, but he flew without fear and taught his daughter to join him so they could rescue geese.

Watching their experience of pain and loss was just too close to home. The whole time I was forced to keep handing over my fear of my husband’s travels to my Great God. It was very hard. I wanted to scream in pain actually.

Have you ever been that fearful? That deep in worry? It’s pretty dark down there.

Early the next morning I called my husband before he went to work. He answered! He apologized and reassured me he was fine. He told me he left his phone in the car and didn’t realize it until he had left for work that morning. I was so relieved he was okay.

Thank you Lord!!

Fast forward four days later, my husband met back up with us at my parents’ house and was following us to the church’s last day VBS events. He didn’t exactly know how to get to their country church. So, I made sure he was following me.

Until I didn’t.

I completely lost him. IMG_3933.JPGA blaring ambulance came rushing by. It was all I could do to move over. I had an emergency of my own! I was backtracking to look for him, a wreck, anything!

We never found him on those roads. So we turned back to the church. On the way, we decided we needed to pray for Daddy’s safety. At this point even the kids were getting worried. So, we prayed.

“Lord, please protect Daddy. Help him to be okay and safe.”

I prayed in absolute fear. My son prayed in absolute faith.

“And Lord please help Daddy to find the church and meet us there.” He prayed.

In Jesus’ Name. Amen.

Well, we got to the church parking lot and there was no sign of him. In my mind I was thinking I could absolutely not go thru another day wondering where he was. You see, this time, my son had his dad’s phone in the van with us. My husband had no way to communicate with us.

We turned the van around, and I turned around to the children. I told the them we would need to start heading toward the hospital.

Now, before you get to thinking I’m assuming he’s nearly dead. Hold on a minute!

The hospital I was referring to was the one he worked from earlier in the week. He had told me earlier that day he was going to go back by there later that day to finish up some things before meeting us at home.

See? I wasn’t as much of a worry wart as you thought! haha!

Just then, JJ said, “No mommy! I trust that God will bring Daddy to the parking lot like we prayed.”

Not a minute later, my husband’s car was spotted turning in on the other side of the parking lot.

“JJ, you taught me how to have faith and not fear! Praise God! Our Lord heard your prayer and honored your faith in Him to work!” I told him with absolute awe!

Oh me of little faith.

Sometimes as adults, we see so many things go wrong, we forget just how often our Lord works. We forget how good He really is!! This day, I was reminded of just how faithful our Lord is and how easily I had fallen into a habit of fearful thinking. Either I will fly in faith or fall in fear. God worked a miracle in our family’s life when He so quickly and specifically answered JJ’s prayer. Praise Him!

I told JJ never to forget how the Lord worked in our lives that day! God is building his faith! Praise God forevermore

Lord, help me not to forget that day. You taught me faith is an adventure, like flying. Lord, teach me to enjoy the ride as I anticipate Your hand lifting me thru the toughest experiences. You promise to be with us. Grow my faith oh Lord, I pray! And please contunue to grow my children’s too! In Jesus’ name. Amen.

 

Seeking The Lord With Those Hopes And Dreams

Have you ever longed to do something for the Lord only to be sent down another path? A path that was not necessarily your dream? Me too, but it’s brought me hope through Christ lately, and I just wanted to share the story with you!

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 29:11-13
binoculars-1209892_1920
             Tough circumstances can lead us to panic and quickly seek help with everything known to man. Do you know what I’m talking about, or am I the only one? I blame the internet! Haha! It’s so easy to attempt to find help these days-the latest health craze, the prettiest styles on Pinterest, the best method for getting your kiddo to sleep through the night, and while it’s good to try many of those, the truth is those things will never offer the peace that God longs to bring us as we draw near to Him first! I’ve had to learn this the harder way, and maybe you have too! You and I could sit down and talk, couldn’t we? 🙂 I’m so grateful to the Lord  because He has promised us that He will show us more and more of Himself and His good plan for us as we seek Him.
            Bless my heart! Even after all that seeking, I still don’t know the fastest way to get healthy (without sin creeping in and taking over, I might add-this has been such a process for me), or how to get rid of skin inflammation (what a process), or how to get my children to eat what I eat (*sigh), or how to find workers here who want to actually help me fix our house so that it’s not worse than it started (by the way, if you know of someone who enjoys fixing houses and does it well ’round here, please holla!) but I do know Who gives me Peace and Hope regardless of those circumstances. And it’s in Jesus! And it’s through Jesus! Praise the Lord for this gift. He is all we need!
 Christ died to give us all we need in Him as we remain in Him! Dare I say He is all we need even if all we do is suffer through this life!? Praise the Lord for such a gift! Our Hope is Christ indeed!
               With that said, I cannot thank you enough for all the support you’ve given me with the Her Hope Is Christ ministry.  It has been so fulfilling and so fun for me to get creative with no rules and just learn as I go! The Lord called me to reach out of my home in this way as I was coming out of difficulties with my health. From that time on I have had the opportunity to speak my heart to you, and I’m so grateful for your patience to listen, to pray for me, and let me grow.
            After much prayer this year, and this is hard, but I’m writing to let you know it’s time for me to let go of the Her Hope is Christ online Bible Study ministry and the Facebook page/group. I wasn’t going to write about it, but then I thought it might help me with closure so why not? Plus, maybe someone reading can relate with me.
             I think the Lord is leading me into a different direction for a while! This year, I’ve started taking baby steps of faith, and gradually I’ve found myself training on how to implement social communication therapy and facilitate social groups. I saw a need for social communication groups (especially for my own precious son) to help those who are longing to communicate more freely with their peers, who maybe have anxiety with growing deeper relationships, but don’t know how or need more practice. My heart breaks for children who are hurting or could potentially hurt from this. We need each other. Feeling disconnected from my own peers lately because of proximity and just being busy has made me more aware of the need for children to develop and practice these skills for life in a safe place!
              I’ve always tried to fight that speech therapy path, yet the Lord has placed me there time and time again. Y’all, I wanted to go to seminary and He said, “No!” Instead, He opened wide the doors to study communication disorders. It seemed all my friends went down the path of love, excitement, and willful determination while I went the path of dreaded obedience. Painful, hard obedience. I’ve felt so hurt that God would lead me to go down a path that didn’t seem to include worship or discipleship. I loved studying the Bible and helping people grow in a relationship with Him. How could it not be His will?
             But God graciously gave me a break from speech therapy over the past few years of motherhood and offered to me what I’ve always wanted-just pure ministry (as I imagined ministry to be), a few seminary classes, opportunities to lead worship, writing, and teaching, even speaking (which I never imagined I’d have the opportunity or ability to do!).
            It was as if He so sweetly kneeled down to me, looked me in the eyes, rubbed my frizzy head, and gave me what I’ve longed for. He filled me, loved me deeply, and affirmed me as no person on earth ever could. I  had sought affirmation from man to gain permission to serve the Lord. God wanted me to seek after Him as the only driving force to serve Him. Only God could fill me enough to selflessly pour out right where I am.

I sought affirmation of man to gain permission to serve the Lord. God wanted me to seek after Him as the only driving force to serve Him. Only God could fill me enough to selflessly pour out right where I am.

             That moment I first heard my son’s cry and saw his frowning face, my heart broke for his needs, and it was all I could do to hand him to the nurse. Similarly, I saw a need for him to have less anxiety ever since he was just a toddler with being with his peers. He wouldn’t let go of my leg until he was three. Precious boy! And I didn’t really want him to let go. There was a part of me that wanted to be needed. I believe God places that longing in our hearts to be needed that we might serve right where we are.

Ministry begins the moment we step out by faith into the needs right in front of us and it continues as we lean into the strength of the Lord to keep going, even if it means the death of us, our desires, and our dreams.

I couldn’t see speech therapy as a ministry because I was seeing ministry as a selfish ambition, a pursuit of my own identity.  My identity is not in ministry, that thing I do. It’s in the person of Christ and who He is making me to be! The Lord had to break me to help me see ministry is selfless love that looks to the needs of others. It has nothing to do with me.  As we surrender to the Lord’s will He will show us that this suffering, those sleepless nights, the feelings of inadequacy are all secret pains, which join us closer into the fellowship of Jesus.

               We can walk with Him through it, leaning into His strength and His Word. We can pray our hearts out, and He will listen! He will strengthen us, and He will enable us to endure it. He will comfort us, guide us, and y’all He even gives us joy in it. Praise Him!
              He had a plan: A plan to love me, personally affirm me,  guide and teach me. He took my dreams of ministry and He is meshing it in His perfect timing with the education He has given me. He’s enlarging my heart to love with what He’s given me right where I am! Maybe He will renew a new passion in me, giving me joy and passion in this job that I never knew! Only He could do that! Oh I pray He will! And in motherhood too! 🙂 Everyday I need His renewal!
             If you think of it, I’d greatly appreciate your prayers for focus and perseverance to learn all I can while preparing for these things. Also, please pray for time management. If the Lord leads me to do more work in this field, I have not worked out of the home my whole motherhood life, and it’s been 8 years now since I have! God bless those of you who balance both worlds. I’d love your insight and wisdom here!
           Thank you from the bottom of my heart for walking this road with me. It has been a pleasure!
Thank you Lord, for blessing us. Thank you for giving us Hope in Christ Jesus and a future with You by our side no matter what. Please help every lady reading know this Hope and to learn to anticipate a future with You, regardless of their circumstances. You are so good. Please help anyone reading here who feels stuck in a tough place know that You are near. Help them to find hope in what You have in store for them and to keep taking those baby steps of faith as they keep walking after You! In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
             In a world that seeks to be seen and known, may we be all the more persistent to see those around us, determine to know them, and affirm, encourage, inspire, serve and love them well. May God continue to bless you as you lean into His goodness, His strength, His sovereignty, and His love, which is deeper still. And may that relationship with Him, that growing love you have for your God and His presence, which is nestled in you and is always before you, continually ready you to give those hurting and hungry people you encounter a reason for your Hope-that is Jesus!!
In Christ’s Ever Ready Grace,
Sarah

If All The World’s A Stage (Part 3)

Who in this world are you? Do you describe yourself by what you do? What you know? With whom you relate? Join me as we talk about what it means to have an identity in Christ and how it affects the way we live!

Welcome back sweet sisters in Christ! I trust and pray you are enjoying His presence more and more! If you’re struggling today, consider yourself in good company! As you read, please know I’ve prayed for you! ❤

Well! We are wrapping up this series of If All The World's A Stage! I hope you've enjoyed it! If you've missed the other posts, you can easily find them on the Series page listed in the menu of this blog!stage

We last talked about how we can please God just by clinging to Him. He so loves being with us! Today, I wanted to talk about finding our identity in Him and how that leads us to worship Him!

A Hard Lesson for Mom

Prior to having children, there was a time when you could have easily found me in a closet at a school playing games and secretly teaching children how to communicate better, like how to say their /r/ sounds. Since my son was born, I stopped working that way and started working in a completely different way.

Motherhood changed me. It gave me a reason to serve and love wholeheartedly in my everyday routines, yet I fought it. Boy I did. I wanted to use my mind; after all, I’d spent all these years in school trying to be one smart cookie! I hadn’t learned much of anything those years about using my hands. Housework was just not fun. The Lord helped me by giving me a reason to carry out all that handy, not so dandy, but rather blandy work!

Today, when I fold clothes and hopefully put them away, it’s not just so I’ll have something to wear tomorrow (and know where it is), it’s so I can teach my kids how to sort colors, organize messes, match like items and to serve others too. It’s also to relieve them of any anxiety or stress and to help our day run smoother. Motherhood has taught me that children are much more complex than a speech impediment and are worthy of our best love, time, and attention, even if some of that attention is teaching them to do things I really don’t like to do!

Since beginning homeschool, I’ve realized those things I used to do are just not as possible to do. Take working on my own son’s /r/ sounds, for example. He should be saying them fine by now, but he has not learned that so quickly ( what are the odds, truly!?)

Instead of adding speech therapy to my plate, I decided to send him to another therapist.

Now that was humbling.

This was extremely difficult to let go of, but it was also freeing.  I no longer saw him as someone I need to fix where I felt the pressure to meet /r/ blend goals at the sentence level like everyday, all day. I can see my son only as my sweet boy whom I love and enjoy communicating with him. I can just hear his jokes and laugh!

You see, it was very easy for me to be very critical of my son’s speech. It was as if I saw my son as someone who had this problem, like something was wrong with him that I really needed to fix. It kept me from enjoying his ideas. I’d interrupt him just to see if I could illicit a good /r/ sound.  I didn’t have patience with him. I couldn’t just enjoy being with him in those moments. But imagine how he felt trying to tell me something he was excited about only for him to leave frustrated that he couldn’t articulate it AND that his mom couldn’t share in his joy in that very moment. It breaks my heart to realize it, but I just couldn’t hear him.

He came with the most willing heart to spend time with me, and all I could hear was his problem.

Our Father Loves Us Just the Way We Are

Do you ever feel your Heavenly Father thinks that way about you, sweet sister? That He can’t hear you because you keep messing up?

When Jesus died on the cross to save us from our sins, He RIPPED that curtain that said we weren’t good enough to stand and be heard by the God of the Universe.

As Christians, We are already loved, cherished, and pleasing to our Father because of what Jesus did when He died on the cross to save us from the penalty of all our sin.

(If you are unsure if you are a Christian, please go here!)

God sees us as His children and He loves us for who we are! We don’t have to do anything differently to be loved any more by our Heavenly Father, just as my son would never have to fix his /r/’s to be any more loved by me!

If we will let our Lord help us and as we cling to Him, the Spirit of Jesus with His Word becomes  our own therapist, if you will. 🙂

He helps us to learn the next thing and practice it, and learn it and practice it and practice  it some more in different ways until we get it!

Jesus is helping us, sanctifying us through and through because it helps us to communicate His love more clearly to those around us, that God might be more glorified. He doesn’t need us to bring Him glory, He already has all the glory, but He loves us so much, He chooses to shine through us! This is how we shine as stars in the world!

“Therefore, my dear friends, as you have always obeyed—not only in my presence, but now much more in my absence—continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, 13for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose.

Do everything without grumbling or arguing, so that you may become blameless and pure, “children of God without fault in a warped and crooked generation.” Then you will shine among them like stars in the sky as you hold firmly to the word of life…” Philippians 2:12-16

Verse 13, helps us to see that God is the One who works in us to will and to work for His good pleasure. He’s the one that gives us the get-up-and-go. He’s the one who powers us to move! We do not do good on our own. As we surrender to the Lord and cling to Him in prayer and meditation on His Word,  we will experience more of His power.

Not too long ago, it would have been nearly impossible for me to have shared with you my sinful heart against my own son. People pleasing has been such a struggle, including protecting my image or my identity. It’s silly really. Christ in me and Christ being shown and known is all that matters!

I love that precious boy more than anything in this world! I wanted him to not be hindered by his speech. I’d protect him from every joke or anxiety from it if I could!  But could it be that his speech wasn’t as much the problem as my own pride? Pride that said a skillful speech therapist’s son should have perfect speech?

My identity is not found in being a great speech therapist or in being a perfectly loving mom.

Who would I be if not for Jesus!?

My Identity Is In Christ Alone

The sacrifice of Jesus’ perfect body gave me my identity!

Once I became a Christian, I lost my old identity. I no longer can identify myself by what I do, where I live, who my parents are, how I feel, to whom I’m attracted, where I’m from or what I’m knowledgable in as my identity-No! my identity is completely in Christ! I don’t need to justify my tendencies OR my circumstances as part of who I am.

Here’s the thing-stay with me sweet sister: Regardless of whether or not I have a tendency to eat too much when I’m stressed, or if I have a tendency to neglect the dishes right after dinner- those tendencies (the things I do) OR whether it be how I’m shy with my neighbors, or nervous when someone else drives (the way I think and feel). They do not define me as gluttonous, or lazy, shy, or a nervous person!

My identity in Christ frees me from those worldly labels because He has already justified me as holy and righteous! Even if I continue to fight these tendencies whether they are sinful or potentially sinful, my desires are becoming like His, and He is helping me to be like Him as I cling to Him: to only eat when I’m hungry more and more, to wash the dishes when they are dirty more and more, to reach out to people whose doors are closed, and to bite my critical tongue more and more. 🙂

The Spirit of Christ will help me to act on it! I can do what He’s called me to do, with joy, with peace, with strength, with love, kindness (list the fruit of the Spirit) because of the ability with which Christ supplies me as I cling to Him in prayer and pray His Word!

My identity is not found in my son’s clear speech, in my occupation, in my role as mom or in my tendency towards pride.

My identity is in Christ. He is the only one I need to focus on, be more like, and please!

If we are identifying who we are with anything but Christ as the main thing, we are losing our sense of value, purpose, and peace. We will be reaching for a deeper love, a need to please people, a need for acceptance, self-worth, and purpose all our lives, but we will not find it until we realize our ONLY identity AS CHRISTIANS (If we have truly surrendered completely to Christ) is found in Christ.

 

Have you found it? Oh I pray we all do! And that we do so more and more!! If you have, please don’t be afraid to share it! The world desperately needs to know, and we all need to be reminded!

A Worshipful Heart Pleases the Lord

His character is so deep, vast, and precious. It’s a joy and a privilege to learn more about our God!

“1Therefore I urge you, brothers, on account of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to discern what is the good, pleasing, and perfect will of God.”Romans 12:1-2

As we choose to offer ourselves to God by surrendering our will to Him, clinging to Him, and trusting Him, we can’t help but worship Him! It is in this willing worship that our lives truly bring God glory.

Worship is not a production we must somehow pull off perfectly on the big stage of life. It is not a production for people to see what we want them to see, or hear what we want them to hear, or think what we want them to think.

Willing worship, is the personal accountability that we choose to put on ourselves as we consider how God’s Word and our relationship with Him is truly affecting the way we ultimately do anything.

When Job fell to his knees and worshiped God amidst all that loss, he did so willingly because He knew God was worthy. All that Job had known of God and experienced with God led him to surrender under God’s will, God’s mercy, and God’s love.

“Then Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshiped. And he said, “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord. In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” Job 1:20-22

As we learn to please the Lord by clinging to Him, trusting in Him, surrendering to Him, and worshiping Him, it helps us to live a life that is a pleasing aroma to Him not because we are good at doing something, but because we are learning to want a closer relationship with Him.

Yes, we are simply learning to love Him more.

No matter what happens, no matter what we lose, no matter what they think, no matter what we did wrong.

Simply put, willing worship of God is pleasing God alone while relentlessly seeking to love and cherish Him more than we did yesterday.

That is it.

And we don’t even need a stage for that! 😉stage.jpg

Application:

In every injury, trial, critical comment, honked horn at us when the light already turned green (but I didn’t see it ’cause my arm was reached way back, nearly out of joint handing something to my crying kiddo-yes, pleasing my kid- and myself, I might add 😉 ), whatever it is-

In everything, can God still be worshipped?
Yes! He is always worthy of our praise! Find His Praise! In every tough situation, practice seeking His praise and proclaim it! People who have contagious joy know how to seek and find His praise! Don’t lose it. We cannot forget the power of praise! Don’t forget the thrill of such treasure! ❤

  1. Recall that God is worthy of our worship in everything: The next time you find yourself pressed with emotions, stress, or complacency, how can you worship God? Cling to Him by dwelling on His worthiness by remembering anything about who He is, what He’s done, what He’s doing and what He’s promised to do! Sounds great, but are we really doing it?! Ask the Lord to show you!

Should this series overwhelm you with personal failures or needs, just ask the Lord, “What is my personal next step of obedience? Lord, what would You have me to repent of, grow in, or trust You in?” Please do not try to do it all right now, we cannot. I repeat, we cannot. Just ask Him, what one thing is it? And go from there! I would love to be in connection with you on how the Lord is working!!


**I’m super happy to share with you all that I am now a proud momma of a dear son who has now learn to say his /r/ sounds correctly!! Praise the Lord!!😊🙌

Pray With Me!
Lord, teach us what it means to live our lives in willing worship. Open our hearts to go to You and Your Word for our sinful tendencies. Lord, we worship You alone and we long to be more like Christ! We want to shine as stars in this world! We want to bring You glory and bring your hope to those around us! Help us, Lord! Lord, free us to grasp a heart of worship that revolves around You alone, and no other. We need You alone. You alone we worship. You alone we praise in every situation.

Take us to our knees. If our knees won’t hit the floor, Lord, take us there!

If our eyes won’t look to You, Lord, take us there!

If our hearts don’t long for You, Lord, take us there!

Enable us to grasp Your love that we might grow in our adoration, praise, and love of You alone more and more with each passing day!

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen.

I hope you enjoyed the 3 part series on If All the World’s A Stage! You can go here for the 1st part and here for the second! God bless you bunches!! ❤

If All the World’s A Stage…

Have you ever been caught up in fear about what people may think about you? Like many reality TV shows we have now, life can feel like we are up on this stage and everyone’s watching and critiquing everything we do! How do we know if we are good enough? Join me as we talk about the dangers of people pleasing and how to overcome it!

Imprisoned by Man’s Approval

We  finally chose to homeschool this fall and actually followed through with it! It’s something I’ve wanted to do for years, but I have been scared to death that I wouldn’t have the health to keep it up. I sort of chickened out last year at the last minute, you see. God has been faithful to provide with every baby step of faith I’ve taken (and even when I didn’t take them, He has carried  me!) Praise God!

Well, would you believe part of homeschooling means digging back into the deep, classical literature? 😉 (You forget that might happen). Now, I am finding myself revisiting these words, words which I barely read in school myself (and gladly put up on the back shelf of my brain long ago) for the sake of teaching them to my son! I’m learning all over again, folks. I hope I don’t lose some of you here…

Jaques:
All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players;
They have their exits and their entrances,
And one man in his time plays many parts,
His acts being seven ages. At first, the infant,
Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.
Then the whining schoolboy, with his satchel
And shining morning face, creeping like snail
Unwillingly to school…

( Act-II, Scene-VII, Lines 139-147, Shakespeare’s As You Like It)

Reading this concerned me, not so much because Shakespeare makes children seem depressing here (although he does, does he not?! I think it has something to do with his humor 😉 ). The depressing cloud I seemed to sit under with this little quote wasn’t even so much because I felt I needed to hide the “whining schoolboy” bit from my son, lest he might feel the need to keep that act up (a little too close to home, I’d say), but more so because life can seem depressing if we feel as if we’ve missed our act, that stage in life we thought we were supposed to take.

Or perhaps we might feel as if we aren’t doing our part as well as someone else is. We can look at those around us and wonder if they agree with us, or approve of what we are doing. “Do they even accept me for the nut I am?” We can even judge ourselves harshly because we are still stuck in the first Act or frozen in fear, unable to do what we’ve been called to do.

At some point, I believe we all have a tendency to forget the Kingly role of Christ and Who’s opinion matters most in all we say and do.

A Christian’s Role

We are all different, but as Christians, the thing which will always unite us is our common love of God-our desire to grow in our love of Him and our service to others.  We grow in this as we choose to live out no other role, but the “Christ-like” role as we follow after Christ. In so doing, we bring Him glory and please Him!

We can trust that He will help us to do our best in any circumstance because of Christ working in us as we surrender to His rule!  The tricky part is to focus on His opinion of us alone.

Understanding this has been a life-long struggle.

My Story

I grew up a preacher’s kid and a child who enjoyed performing every chance she got. Put both together with this perfectionist personality and you’ve got some great reasons for one to care greatly about the way others perceive her. Making new friends was a huge part of my life growing up, so social awareness was a skill I was always trying to get better at; then good behavior was very important because I was watched by everyone as the oldest sibling of a principal and preacher! “Carried by grace” is a great way to describe those years! 🙂

And then music was fun for me, so I grew up singing, playing piano, or dancing in one way or another all my life!  If I couldn’t get good enough at singing, I would try playing, and if I couldn’t get that down, I’d do some dancing, and if that didn’t work well enough, I’d go back to singing. I even tried my hand at a little acting (Mom would say a lot of acting 😉 )!

I was a bit of a stinker, always changing my focus, very similarly to how I changed schools and friends. I wouldn’t trade anything for all the lessons I’ve learned, the many friends I’ve met, and memories I cherish, but with it, there were challenges (like anyone!) Mine came with this continual need to be accepted.

Striving By Our Abilities Gets Us Nowhere

Over the years, the Lord has allowed me to use my interest in arts to serve Him only to be confronted with this thought, this fear each time that I’m not good enough. One random situation after another, the Lord kindly and graciously closed doors. Instead of seeing God’s goodness, protection, and sovereignty in it-that I’m just a big toe, I just work for Him* and it’s time to go to the next thing to which God calls me-I would see man’s disapproval, disapproval which rarely existed, but I saw it as such; it was this perspective that shaped my thinking, leading me to question in the deepest places of my heart if I would ever be good enough.

 I wanted to be good enough. I needed to be good enough.

Have you ever had a situation like that, where you felt you needed desperately to feel good enough? Was it your education? Your job as a stay-at-home mom? Your job? Your relationships? Your  weight? Your attempts to just be single and content right now? Or even to just be content with anything that comes your way-sickness, loss, getting older? I have struggled with every single one of these at some point and still do! You are not alone!

 

I have been in many of these situations, so worried about the way I’ve acted, sounded like, played, or appeared that I have lost the script Jesus gave me, to focus on Him and be like Him, and instead started watching and focusing on what others wanted me to say, act like, look like, and sound like. If I’m focusing on Jesus, I will do my best naturally with no fear of man! I will have an inner confidence in the Lord! I will be bold, courageous, and joyful in what I do!

The Plot of People Pleasing

The Lord graciously helped me to see the root of this problem was people pleasing.
I was greatly entangled with worries and fears, which kept me imprisoned.  Desiring man’s approval was burdening me to such a point that I was unable to freely worship God alone in my everyday life!rope-1030976_1920

Again, I wanted to be good enough. I needed to be good enough.

I wonder how many of us are distracted from growing deeper in our relationship with God because we are too consumed with how we convey ourselves to be? We just need someone, anyone to tell us we are good enough!

By pleasing people, we are forfeiting our Christ-like role and taking on a completely different plot, one that doesn’t bring God glory, but one that strives to bring glory to ourselves.

People pleasing takes our hearts and minds off loving others and our God and leaves us empty and possibly even bitter toward others.

Somehow my calling to grow in the grace and likeness of Christ just got all tangled up with these critical thoughts of how others perceive me. I allowed myself to get bound up; imprisoned by what I thought others were thinking and feeling.

When we are bound up by others’ perception of us, the truth is, we won’t be able to escape until we get their approval their acceptance.

What if, dear sister, we never receive it?

It is God’s role to judge our motives, not man. We can be freed in knowing we are not responsible to man for proving our motives!

I also managed to become my own critic. Instead of seeing God’s work in myself and anticipating more and more of His good work (and celebrating as it happens), I became consumed with what the enemy wanted me to believe about myself, keeping me further imprisoned with lies, things that do not define or identify me as God’s daughter, His beloved.

I must focus on Christ!

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off every encumbrance and the sin that so easily entangles, and let us run with endurance the race set out for us. Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.…” Hebrews 12:1-2

Many of us are running hard, doing all we can to serve the Lord, putting off sin, putting on righteousness, I mean really running, but could it be possible we are forgetting the part about fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith? He knows where we’re going, and He alone is leading us there! No one else knows our personal path. We aren’t taking anyone else’s path but the one that Christ has set out for us, given our personal sin struggles, our trials, and our calling!

We don’t have to be occupied anymore with made up stories about what we think others are thinking about us or what we should be doing for man’s eyes. We can be freed from that by focusing on what is true!

We must remember who we are in Christ! Our Christ-like role, found only in the script of God’s Word, grounds us in any circumstance to be all we are called to be. I am a child of God! Man did not write my script! And he didn’t write yours either, sweet sister.

Instead of worrying about what others are thinking about our thoughts or actions, we can choose to think about what God knows of our honest hearts as we go to Him regularly in prayer, commune with Him, read His word, and lay our burdens and any sins with Him!

And sweet sister, we can surely rest in the fact that He is shaping us to be more like Christ, in His timing! He will finish what He has started in us!

So what if my “skills” are still growing? I am not performing, I am living with freedom in Christ! I will enjoy the journey!

So what if my “Act 1” seems to go on forever? It’s written by the Best!! It’s bound to be a good one!!

Lord, thank you for identifying us as your children, whom You love dearly. Forgive us and please stop our critical, judging hearts; help us to trust that You are working mightily in us! And Father, keep our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith that we might not be so quick to get consumed with the thoughts of those around us! Free us to be found in You alone.

In Jesus’ Name,

Amen!

Questions: 

How could people pleasing be affecting your contentment with everyday life? Your passions? Your calling?

How could people pleasing be affecting your relationships with others? With Your God?

Find some things God is doing or has done today to encourage you, reassure you, or show His love and acceptance of you and write them down! A song? Scripture? A circumstance? Look for it and anticipate it!  Sing His praises as you do and share it!! 

****DOES THIS TOPIC INTEREST YOU FURTHER? A great resource for the New Year from which I referenced, “I’m just a big toe; I just work for Him” comes from  Keller’s book: The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness: The Path to True Christian Joy by Timothy Keller (Amazon prime gives free audio credits and can be used for an audio version of this book!)