Mommy Behind the Blog

Here it is. My very first blog post, and I’m tingling with excitement! I’ve debated on how to start my introduction. Should I go with something semi-funny but mostly cheesy like, ‘Hello Blog World!’? I decided against it. Definitely more cheesy than funny, so direct it is.

I’m a stay at home mom of 3. For several months the idea of writing a blog has been growing in the back of my mind. I asked my bff/niece her opinion and she said, ‘Go for it! Why not?’ Why not, indeed! Her encouragement has led to me filling your time with my thoughts and madness.

As a mom of 3 it gets wild at my house at times, as you can imagine. But my heart is reaching for more than just my hilarity. (And let’s face it, if you know me, you know that my life is hugely insane. You can’t make this stuff up!) Amongst the chaos, I want to leave encouragement along the way for the other moms and women out there roughing it in the sloughs with me. In the world we live in today, it’s so busy and demanding that it seems like we don’t get a moment’s peace. There’s violence in the news, Kid #2 just spilled chocolate milk on the floor, Dad is working late again, your Facebook feed is filled with opinions of other people’s opinions, and your coffee is getting cold. (That last one is enough to send anyone over the edge!) The devil is working overtime to rip apart our families and fill our home life with chaos. But don’t worry, Moma. It’s not just you! We’re all in this boat together, and we’re all paddling overtime to meet the demands placed on us. My day started quiet with coffee and prayer and turned into a rat race. I came close to writing this first post this morning, and I had a grandiose idea of being witty, hilarious, and totally readable. But as the day wore on, all I could think about was the verse in the Bible where Jesus said, My peace I leave with you. Ah, blessed peace! Something women with and without children alike long for. Oftentimes it’s hard to find that peace in the chaos of work, spilled milk, diapers, grocery shopping, laundry, and life in general. It’s in those little bits of in between times that we have to remember, Jesus left his peace with us. He knew what this world was going to come to, and he knew the demands life would saddle us with. So clean that mess up, end your work day like a champ, and remember the laundry will always be there later.

‘Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.’ John 14:27

 

 

 

 

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Only Jesus

An old song I used to sing has been on my mind this morning. The chorus says tells us that no one can touch us like Jesus can. No one else can give you peace beyond all understanding like He can. There’s not anyone else with nail-scarred hands that can bind up your hurts and wounds like Jesus. I find it to be entirely true. No one can touch you like Jesus can.

I know that at some point in life we’ve all gone searching for the thing that would fill the void in our lives, our hearts. Maybe you searched before you knew Jesus. Maybe you were like me and decided this wasn’t all it was cut out to be and let rebellion fuel you. It’s not something I’m proud of, but it’s certainly something I learned from. There is not one person, one group, one thing, one shiny temptation this world has to offer that can touch me like Jesus.

No one else has the power to understand my pain. No one else has the humility to crawl beside me when I struggle. No one else has a love for me that can cover the multitude that is my sins. No one else could ever extend mercy that compares to His. No one else has grace that can wash me. No one else has a name so powerful that just the mention of it all of Hell would tremble.

You can search long and hard. In fact I’ve watched as people have walked away from the church and they searched long enough and hard enough that they were a broken mess when they made their way back. Know what happened then? Jesus took those precious nail-scarred hands and wrapped them up. He covered their scars with His own. He washed them in His love and bathed them in His mercy. That’s how He works, folks. Even if you induced some of those upon yourself, He is more than willing to heal them. A line from another blast from the past song I love says, “You can search the whole world over and no greater friend you’ll find. He’s not good just once in a while, He’s good all the time.” I’ve found that to be true time and time again. You can search. You can look. You can choose person after person, thing after thing to compare Him to. They will only fall short.

Happiness found in the world is short-lived. Peace gained outside of Him is nothing more than a mirage in a desert. You’ll find that it’s not really peace you have, but a distraction from the pain and longing that you carry. Only Jesus can give true peace. Only He can truly make the pain that you have in your heart become lighter. He knows your pain. He understands it. He feels it. When His people hurt, He hurts. He doesn’t enjoy seeing us suffer, but we have to remember that He sees the bigger picture and all we can see is a small snippet. He didn’t promise us there wouldn’t be pain and struggle, but He did promise that He would walk with us and bear the load with us.

Whatever you’re searching for, wherever you’re searching for it, let me help you. It’s Jesus. Only Jesus. Only Jesus gives real peace. Only Jesus gives life-altering grace and mercy. Only Jesus can guarantee a relief from the pain. Only Jesus can hold you through the storms without wavering. Only Jesus can heal your broken heart. Only Jesus can give you the promise of hope.

Only Jesus can take a broken, tattered life and make it new again. Trust me, I know. He did it for me. I searched. I compared. I ran back into His arms and I don’t ever plan to leave again.

Let Him love you.

Let Him hold you.

Let Him heal you.

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Worship: Option #1? Or Option #2?

My heart is heavy this morning, and my spirit is troubled. It seems that no matter where you look or turn, the church is being fought with a vengeance. Saints that we never dreamed would waiver are falling away from and stepping out of the church. Sickness and death are rampant. Depression, oppression, anxiety, and fear are at an all time high. To say that Hell is fighting and we are facing struggles would be the understatement of the year. It’s serious, folks. Hell is pulling no punches and sparing nothing to come at us. Satan will use every dirty, low, twisted trick in the book to trip us up and drag us under. Maybe you think I’m exaggerating, but my spirit tells me I’m not. My spirit screams at me to do more. Pray more! Fast more! Where’s your Bible?! Read it! Memorize it! If I fail at these things, I will surely fail at standing strong when Hell  turns its evil head toward me.

In this hour, we stand at a fork in the road. Worship stands in the middle of that fork with us, waiting to see which side we choose. One options lends us to sitting down on worship. We can let the oppression of Satan and the struggle of this world beat us down until we decide we just can’t go any further. We can literally and figuratively sit down on our worship, deciding that it’s just not worth it. The second option is to use your worship as a launching pad to push you to the next level. Worship has always been and will always be what gets us through. Worship takes the focus off of us and the storm we face and puts it on the only One who can calm the winds and waves. Worship is a living, breathing, essential element to being in the church. Without, our spiritual lives would surely shrivel up and die.

My personal opinion is that Option #1 is less than ideal. By giving up on your worship and letting it die on the vine, you’re cutting the connection with the One who desires our worship. The One who deserves it. No one else has been as good to me as Jesus. No one else has ever  saved the life of my child. No one else has pulled me from the pig sty I was making of my life and set my feet on a path of righteousness. No one else has healed me. No one else has protected me. No one else has blessed me with goodness beyond compare. Not worship Him? Sit down on Him? Slack off? Let the struggle define me? That simply isn’t good enough, and it isn’t going to happen.

I may struggle in a lot of areas, and my walk with Him will always have room for improvement, but it won’t be for lack of trying. Sure, I’m going to get tired. Yes, I’m going to trip and fall flat on my face once in a while. I’m not perfect. But I am determined. I’m determined to keep pressing toward the mark for the prize. I’m determined to keep praying for my lost friends and family. I’m determined to grow more in Him. I’m determined to be available to Him, and see how He uses my life for His glory.

Maybe that’s the part we sometimes struggle with. This life isn’t my own. It was never meant to be lived selfishly and for myself alone. I was meant to live for Him, in Him, through Him, and with Him. My life is to bring glory to Him and Him alone. Every word I write, every word I say or sing, it’s all for His glory. To point someone to Him. I want my life to resemble a flashing neon sign with a big ole arrow on it pointing straight to Him. I was never meant to live this life alone, and I wasn’t meant to live it for me. It’s all for Him.

Which leads us back to Option #2 in the fork in the road. If we truly believe and understand that this life is not about us, it’s all about Him, then this is the only option. When you can get that mindset, you become a worshipper. Facing a storm in your life you didn’t see coming? Worship. Dealing with the sting of betrayal by someone you love? Worship. Reeling from the loss of a loved one? Worship. Fighting an attack on your mind? Worship. Struggling to keep your family together? Worship. Blinded by fear and insecurity? Worship. Overcome by the weight you carry? Worship.

It’s always worship. Worship will always get you through. Will it be an instant cure that will make things right in your life? No. But it will equip you to handle it. It will take your focus off of what you’re dealing with and put it on the One who can help you. The One who wants to help you. God doesn’t like to see us struggle or hurt. But as God, He sees the entire picture, beginning to end, and He knows what is necessary for us to become stronger. Being a worshipper in the face of adversity isn’t always easy. In fact, sometimes it will be a downright fight to lift your hands. I’ve been there. I’m not preaching something I haven’t experienced.

I’ll be extremely personal here for a moment. I don’t like to bring the light onto myself, or to put myself out there, but sometimes we’re called outside of our comfort zone. A couple of years ago I was facing some health problems. Nothing major, just some fatigue and tiredness that I couldn’t seem to shake. So I go in and see my doctor, we go through the preliminaries, my history, then the history of my family. All of a sudden I went from nothing major to, you have several signs of lupus, with several other concerning tests that needed to be done. My maternal grandfather had lupus, among several other serious health conditions. I learned that after my appointment with my doctor and I’m ashamed to say that fear set in. I had a husband and three kids to care for, one being very small. What if I was sick and that hindered how I did that? How much would my life change? I allowed my mind to ask too many of the wrong questions instead of making truthful statements. The Lord is my Shepherd, I shall not want. He will never leave me or forsake me. His righteous have never been forsaken or His seed begging for bread. With God all things are possible. When I let my worship lapse, I forgot all the truths of Who and What God is.

For the first time in my life, I was held captive by fear. I can’t explain it. It just hit me like a big truck and stayed there. In general I’m a fairly open worshipper at church, but I could barely lift my hands. I found it hard to let myself go enough to sing His praises. My focus was on myself and the fear of the unknown. I remember the day I walked to the altar, heavy and tired of carrying the burden of fear and what-if. I did what had always been second nature to me. I put my hands up, and I cried. I cried out to Him because in that moment, I knew the only thing that could lift that burden I was holding onto was Him. When I released my worship, suddenly it didn’t feel so heavy. It was still there. Until the myriad of test results came back, there were questions that didn’t have answers. The situation was the same, but I was not.

Worship may not always change your situation, it may not heal a sickness or change the outcome of decisions made. What it will do, is change you and your view of the situation. What once looked like a mountain will become a speed bump. It may slow you down, but it won’t stop you. Impossible will become possible.  We have two options to fight Hell in this last hour and become over-comers. We can worship, or we can sit down. Which one are we going to choose?

The Voice of Truth

How do you fight the lies of Hell?

You fight them with truth.

What is truth?

God is truth.

His Word is truth.

His actions are truth.

His faithfulness is truth.

His goodness is truth.

Hell would have you believe it’s lies that God isn’t good, that He left you.

If you look around, you’ll see He’s still standing there.

Hell will whisper to you that it’s no use in fighting any longer, just give in.

If you check in with God first, you’ll find that He still has many plans for you.

Hell will tell you that living for God isn’t what you want, He’s too restrictive, too oppressive.

Boundaries aren’t meant to keep one in, but to keep danger out.

Hell doesn’t like being shut out.

There’s freedom in surrendering to an Almighty God, One Who knows beginning from end.

After all, when we’re surrendered to Him, what do we have to worry about, or fear?

What is truth?

Truth is that Hell has no good in mind for you.

Truth is that Hell doesn’t care about you.

Hell has an endgame, dragging you down to suffer for eternity is at the center of the play.

Truth is that Hell has no truth.

Satan can tell no truth.

Christ can tell no lie.

Which will you believe?

God has never forsaken you, even if you can’t see Him.

Hell has never helped you.

Hell will leave you alone and hopeless, with no way out.

God has beautiful, good, prosperous thoughts toward you.

Hell has no plan for you except destruction.

You’re merely a pawn, another soul Hell has stolen from the arms of God.

Which will you believe?

The voice of truth?

The voice of endless lies?

One lie will only lend itself to another.

The path of lies will lead you to an eternity of suffering, without hope.

Just like Hell likes it.

Hell wants to squash the voice of truth.

It screams it’s lies louder to drown out the still, small voice of truth.

The voice of truth is there, we need only to listen.

A choice must be made.

Hell won’t go lightly.

You must fight to pave a way for the voice of truth.

You must push against the lies that would consume you, reaching for the truth.

Which will you choose?

Lies?

Or truth?

What is truth?

Not Hell.

Only Christ.

Which will you choose?

I Am Weak, But He Is Strong

Jesus loves me,

This I know.

For the Bible,

Tells me so.

Little ones to Him belong,

They are weak,

But He is strong.

 

From the time we are small children, this is a song many of us have learned. It almost seems that it’s a staple for children. It’s just ingrained in them. We grow older and we may not sing it as much. We have children of our own and of course, we teach it to them. I’ve taught it to my children. It was a favorite of my daughter’s to sing when she was toddling around in tiny pigtails. But today I find myself wondering if I really taught them the essence of that song. Did I teach them what it really means to be loved by Jesus? How big that love is? Did I teach them that it’s okay to be weak, because it is in our weakness that He is made stronger? If not, I have failed and I have new things to teach them.

I will be honest when I say that this blog will be hard for me to write. My heart hurts. In prayer this morning I felt led to write this, and my eyes have brimmed with tears since then. The thought of anyone being in so much pain, gripped by so much fear and hopelessness that they think they have no way out, or that their only way to escape is to take their life; it’s almost more than I can bear. But knowing that someone who has known truth, someone that has touched the Father, felt His love, extended that same love to others, served the kingdom and given of themselves, to know that they felt they couldn’t escape the despair in their mind. It’s almost more than I can bear.

Is it because they should have known more? They should have prayed and fasted more? No. A thousand times over, no. It is because Hell will fight God’s people in any way, and the mind is not off limits. It is because I know there have been times when I have missed the mark. How many times have I been so wrapped up in my life, in my own hurts and problems, that I neglected to be a safe place for brother or sister?

I can be perfectly honest with you when I say that until something of this magnitude touched my family in a very personal way, I didn’t understand. I can’t, not fully, because I didn’t experience it myself. But I’ve seen it. I’ve lived it with someone I love. I didn’t understand the power that a depressed or anxious mind has over a person. It consumes them. It makes them shake with fear. It makes them live in fear. It wraps it’s tentacles around everything they know, and makes them doubt it. I’ve watched an anxious, fear-ridden mind sit and wrack with sobs. I’ve felt the helplessness of standing there on the outside, fearing for them while they fear the unknown. I’ve also seen the shame.

It is perhaps the shame that is worse than the fear, worse than the hopelessness. Maybe they are in equal parts. But rest assured that shame plays a huge role. People don’t want to feel weak. Fathers don’t want to be seen as too weak to lead their children. Men don’t want to be seen as too weak to provide for their families. Women don’t want to be seen as petty, or too weak to handle the life that God has given them. You’re far too blessed to be so depressed. God is too good to be so sad. God can fix that. God can heal you. Pray about it some more. Buck up and think happy thoughts. Don’t dwell on the negative.

I’ve thought some of these same things. I didn’t know. I’m not an educated person. My blog has always been written off of my life experiences, my thoughts. I don’t need a college degree or special training to say this: We have to stop downplaying something that is so serious. It’s becoming so obvious to me that God is showing me that the things I used to consider weak are no weaker than the struggles I’ve faced. Just because I don’t fight the same battles as someone else doesn’t make their battle less than mine. In fact, I would say that their battle is harder and they are stronger for still standing, sitting, or even crawling their way through it.

Having a depressed mind doesn’t make someone weaker than me. As the children’s song should have taught us, we’re all weak. We’re all in need of our mighty God to hold us, to carry us through when we can’t. But we have placed a stigma on matters of the mind. We automatically label people as ‘weak’ and feel like they need to ‘get over it’. Well, what if they can’t? What then? Is it any wonder that people would rather suffer (some to extreme measures) than to open up to us, God’s people? We don’t understand it, it’s foreign and unknown to us, so we want them to push it back down, to hide it. Why? Because it makes us uncomfortable? It did me. The first time I watched the strongest person I know weep with the weight of hopelessness, when I watched them experience a panic attack that they truly thought they might not live through, it was quite uncomfortable. But guess what? It wasn’t a walk in the park for them either. It was embarrassing. They simultaneously wanted to hold me and push me away. I didn’t know what to do. I was afraid. I did the only thing I knew was a sure-fire, proven way to make it through anything. I called on the name of Jesus and I held on. I loved them. Did it heal them? No. Did it let them see that whatever they went through, I was willing to walk that road with them? Yes.

I’m not praising myself. Actually, I’m quite ashamed at not having done more sooner. I’m sad that I didn’t hug harder, love more freely in the face of any weight they carried, I ignored the signs. When you see someone as a hero, a knight in shining armor, it’s hard to accept that they are weak. They’re human. They’re flawed. I’m weak and I’m flawed, but don’t you dare be too weak! Don’t you dare be weak in a way that I have too much responsibility! Don’t fight a battle that is so unknown to me, that it requires me to step out of my comfort zone. I remember the day like it was yesterday that I came face-to-face with the truth of my feelings. I had begun to resent someone I loved. Not because they were weak or broken, but because I was out of my comfort zone and facing something I didn’t understand. How trivial. It was a small matter then, and it’s an even smaller matter now. My comfort does not matter. Not in the grand scheme of life, and certainly not in the grand scheme of the Kingdom of God.

If there are people sitting on our pews, across the dinner table from us, laying in the bed next to us, or worshipping beside us that don’t feel they can come to us with their depression, fears, anxiety, panic, or loss of hope, then we are failing. We have dropped the ball. We’ve lost sight of what we are here to do. We’re here to love just like Jesus loves. We’re here to be His hands and feet. We’re here to shine light into the dark places. Even if those dark places attend our church or share our last names. It’s a lie to tell ourselves that the church is off limits for an attack on the mind. I would venture to say that we, as the church, are at the top of hell’s hit list. Satan doesn’t care if you were raised in the church. He doesn’t care how far you’ve come since you came into the church. Suffice it to say that Satan just doesn’t care. He will fight the church in any way possible and as someone close to me always says, The mind is his favorite play place.

We can’t bury our heads in the sand. We can’t make light of the weight that those around us carry. We may not understand, but we have to love them. If you don’t know what else to say or do, just love them. Be available to them. Be a safe place. Be their safe person. Be willing to step out of your comfort zone for them. I don’t have all the answers. Sadly, I will likely drop the ball again. But I’m going to pray. Oh, I’m going to pray. Pray for eyes that see a hurting person, legs that run to them, arms that hold them, ears that hear them, shoulders that take some of the weight they carry, and a heart that is sensitive to where God wants to lead me, no matter how far outside of my comfort zone it may be.

I don’t know every person that Jesus healed while he walked this Earth. They’re not all recorded. But somewhere amongst them, maybe more times than we think, a hurting mind was one of them. He didn’t set boundaries on who needed help more than others. He simply loved and healed and helped.

If you feel like you’re a weak link, too weak, too broken, too hopeless, remember this: we all are weak, it’s only Him that is strong.

The Storm Can’t Take Your Song

This morning I had coffee in the dark, as I watched through my front door at the show the weather was putting on. The rains fell, the wind blew, thunder rolled, and lightning struck. It was a typical end of the week thunderstorm much like we’ve been experiencing so often lately. It was in one of the calmer moments that I realized I could hear birds singing. In the midst of a storm blowing all around, the birds were still singing their beautiful melodies.

“What do the birds know that we don’t?”, I said to myself. For surely there must be some secret that they possessed to allow them to continue singing while they were in the middle of a storm. The rain was still falling. Thunder still rolled intermittently in the distance. It was when I asked myself that question that I realized the birds knew something, but it was no secret.

Storms don’t last forever. Doesn’t really jump off the page as a major revelation, right? In all of its simplicity, it’s still a major difference between us and the birds during a storm. The birds know that storms come and go. They’ve been through storms before. (Especially these little Louisiana birds!) They know that as sure as the storms come, eventually they always pass. Sure, the rains may get heavy and the winds may blow increasingly hard, but eventually they must end.

The birds don’t focus on the storm. They already know it won’t stick around forever, so why worry about it? They had their song before the storm, why should it stop now that a storm has arrived? The birds don’t stop being birds because a thunderstorm decided to roll in. They don’t stop hunting for their breakfast, they don’t stop singing their morning chorus. They’ve always been birds, why should that change now? Why would a stormy day, that they know will pass, change who they are and what they do? No, the birds don’t keep their eyes on the storm.

Maybe by now you’re starting to understand why the birds made such an impact on me this morning. (It’s amazing what having coffee with Jesus can do!) Storms in life come and go as sure as the storms in Louisiana will come and go. There’s no way to avoid them, there’s nothing we can do to stop them. But as sure as they come, rest assured that eventually they will go. They don’t last forever. The winds may knock you around a bit, and the rains may drench you. Just keep holding on, it will pass. Remind yourself that it won’t last forever. God didn’t leave you during the last storm, and He won’t leave you now.

The storm can’t take your song. The storm can’t take your ministry. Who and what you are can’t be taken by the storms. They may change you, make you stronger, teach you some lessons, but the storms won’t change who you’ve been created to be. God created each of us with a unique song and purpose. No matter how rough the storms get or how hard the devil fights, who God has created us to be can only be changed by our unwillingness to be used.

If you were singing a beautiful melody when the storm began to roll in, don’t stop singing. Remember the birds, how they sing in spite of the storm. If you were a worshipper before the storm hit, keep worshipping. Whatever your hands found to do for the Lord, whatever your ministry or place was when the storms in your life began to batter you, keep doing them!

If you’re going through a storm, keep holding on. Keep singing. Keep close to the Father and the comfort of knowing He’s never failed you yet. Eventually you’ll see that while you were singing, the storm passed right on through.

Miracles Can Happen: Life Lessons From A 3-Year-Old

This morning as my baby was waking up, (He’s 3, but he’s my baby!) he started singing to himself. I was very delighted and a bit surprised to hear him singing, “Miracles can happen, miracles can happen, miracles can happen in this place.” It’s a song we sing at church, more specifically his mama sings that very part. Two things hit me hard after hearing him sing.

The first thought was: Why was I surprised to hear him singing that song? Maybe I just didn’t realize he knew it. He’s so young. But he’s not too young to understand what is important in life, what’s the most important to me. He sees what his parents do, what we put first in our lives. He sees me on that platform every time I step up there, and he sees my life when I step off of it. My children aren’t too young to put God first as long as they see Mom and Dad doing it. Children lead my example and it’s my job to put forth an example of Christ, making Him and His kingdom first in my life. It’s a weighty responsibility, one I pray I never take lightly.

Every step we make, every word we say, every song we listen to, every movie we watch, every decision we make is being watched and will one day be imitated by our children. I don’t want to wait too late to get committed to God and teach my children how to follow Him. I want loving God and serving Him to be so ingrained in my children that it’s second nature to them. I want this life of loving Him and living for Him to come natural to them. I can’t to a disservice to my children by being lazy in my walk with God. I owe it to them to give them a clear example to follow. I want them to grow up with a testimony of hearing their Mama pray over them when they were sick. I want them to grow up watching me read His Word, working in His church, loving His people, loving His kingdom, being willing to go where He’s called me to go. I don’t ever want to forget that my greatest ministry, my greatest contribution to the kingdom, is my children.

The second thing that has been in my heart is this: When did we stop believing in miracles? It’s so easy to read God’s Word and be in awe of the miracles we read there. It’s not hard to envision the Red Sea parting or the strong walls of Jericho falling. I fear that too often we see these stories as just that, stories. They seem so big and impossible that the miracles meant to be a pattern for our lives become a storybook of things passed.

Hebrews 13:8 tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today, and forever. God didn’t change. Somewhere along the lines He didn’t just stop being the God of miracles. He didn’t become the God of small miracles, or miracles only for other people. There are no restrictions on what God can do, how He can do them, or who He can do them for. If you’re reading this, you’re a candidate for a miracle!

I know that sometimes in life we face obstacles that cause us to feel hopeless. We feel stuck in a rut and find ourselves wondering where God is in all of our hardships. I’ve been there, too. Probably all of us have. But God is still a miracle worker. He’s still the God of the wind and the rains. He still controls the stormy seas. Every day He tells the sun to go up and the ocean how far on the sand it can go, all while knowing exactly how many grains of sand are there. He knows how many sparrows this world contains and He sees if even one of those little birds fall. He’s the God of the stars and the trees, the flowers and the butterflies. He’s the God who created Adam from dust and Eve from His rib. He’s the God who knew you and I before we were ever formed in our mother’s womb. He’s the God who knew this mountain would in your pathway. He’s the God who knew how many times I would fall and then rise up again. He’s the God who knew I would get discouraged and wonder why He hasn’t stepped in yet.

He’s the God of Joshua and the God of you and me. He’s the God who knew someone needed a reminder today not to stop believing for your miracle. Remember, it took 7 long days of marching for Jericho’s walls to fall. Keep pressing on and your walls are going to come crashing down. That’s when you’re going to see your miracle on the other side.

Miracles can happen, miracles can happen, miracles can happen in this place. We just have to keep believing.
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I’m Not The Strong One

“You see, we’ve never been strong. It’s always been Him manifesting His strength in us.”

 

This little tidbit was part of my devotion I read this morning. It felt like it jumped right off the screen and hit me between the eyes. Let’s face it, we’ve probably all felt like we were tired of being strong. We’ve heard people say they’re tired of being strong. We’re human. We get tired. Some days we just don’t care that the battle has a rainbow and victory at the end, we’re just tired. Been there, felt that!

I think that’s why those two little sentences grabbed my attention. They’re a reminder that even though I may be ‘tired of being strong’, I really haven’t been the strong one most of the time. On a good day I need God’s strength. On the bad days, I’m desperate for it. In reality, I’m wrecked with weak flesh and I can’t make it a day without God’s hand upholding me. No, the road is not easy. Yes, the fire gets hot. Yes, the winds blow hard and the rain blurs my vision. My flesh gets weak. It gets tired. But it’s never been the strong one.

Lets face it, the world we live in is crazy, it’s hard, it’s emotionally trying, and the church has to fight hard to keep its head above water. Trials seem to lurk on every hand. I would try to list examples of hardships, but I could write forever. We know what we fight. We know what our friends and neighbors fight. And we know that the church is under attack like never before. But God never changes.

I know it’s hard. Believe me, I’ve fought my share of battles and I will fight more as time passes. I know you get tired. You get tired of the fight and the constant struggle. I believe it’s in those moments that we have to turn to the One Who never gets tired and fall on Him. It’s okay to become desperate at His feet. It’s ok to cry out to Him in brokenness and admit that you just don’t want to do this anymore. He knows it’s hard. His heart breaks when His people hurt. The heart of God is filled with love for His children. We have to remember that maybe, just maybe, He’s been trying to position us so that we stop relying on our strength and give in to His. It’s in the broken, desperate moments that we cling to Him harder than we did before. The corners of our hearts that we tried to keep hidden so He couldn’t touch them become open and available when we get broken and desperate.

It’s in our moments of absolutely broken weakness that we surrender everything completely to Him. If we look at our hearts or back on our lives, we know that there have been times we held onto some things so tightly. We held things we didn’t want Him to take away, or we tried to hide things we didn’t want Him to bring to light and use. Maybe we had a calling that we were running from that had been gathering cobwebs in the recesses of our heart. Maybe we’ve let a little hurt or bit of jealousy creep in and rather than ridding ourselves of it, we allowed it to linger and it became a part of us. Perhaps we want so badly for our families to turn to Him, but we love them so much that we almost don’t trust Him with them.

I may not know much in this life, but a few things I can guarantee. God is faithful. God is able. God is TRUSTWORTHY. Someone needs to understand that. You. Can. Trust. God. God is not a fallible human that can fail you. He is incapable of failure. There is nothing that you can’t trust Him with, no situation or person that you can’t relinquish to Him. I don’t care if every single person in your life has let you down, God will NEVER let you down. God is powerful. There’s nothing He can’t do. He’s loving. There’s no good that He doesn’t want for His children. As our Father He must let us experience hurt and trials to teach us, but He wants only good for us. There’s no part of you that will scare Him away. It doesn’t matter how scarred, bruised, battered, broken, ugly, or colorful you or past, He can handle it. Guess what? He wants to handle it. He wants to love you. He wants to be strong for you. He wants you to stop being tired of fighting and start leaning a little harder on Him. He wants you to know what it feels like to rest in arms that will hold you and never drop you. He wants you feel His strength and His power. He wants you to realize just how big He truly is. He wants you to trust Him with your heart, your hurts, your everything.

If you’re tired today, let this be your reminder that God never gets tired. He never sleeps. He never takes a day off. If you’ve been leaning on Him, lean a little harder. If you’ve been trusting Him, trust Him with a little more. Learn something I’ve learned time and again, and it’s such a sweet lesson each time. I don’t have to hold back from God. He loves me in my beautiful, broken, desperate messy places. I can trust Him with the hidden things.  I can trust Him not to let me down. I can trust Him to uphold me when life makes me tired, and I’m ready to give up. Before you give up and run away, open your heart a little wider and let your Father carry you.

 

 

The Potter Knows the Clay

This blog has been written for several weeks, but I didn’t feel like it was ready to be shared. At the time I wrote it, so many thoughts were rolling through my mind. Finding the words to adequately express how I felt in the midst of turmoil felt nearly impossible. My mind was telling me I should fear while my heart was urging me to lean on the everlasting arms. When the fire is hot on every side, its hard to look at it believing that God will make a way. My eyes often will tell me that there is no way. Desperately I turned in circles, searching anxiously for an exit, an opening in the fire that would free me from the heat.

Unfortunately, that’s not how it works. The pressure from the inside of the fire feels like more than I can bear, but I’m not holding all of the answers to the questions why. Only the Potter can see the clay and know if its been in the fire long enough. Are there still cracks that need to be fixed? Is it strong enough to come out of the fire? Will it survive, or is it too early yet? Sure, I want Him to reach down and pull me out. Nearly all of me wants to shout, begging Him to turn down the heat, to pull me out of the fire. Then I remember all of the times I’ve prayed for Him to use me. To make me like Him. To mold me. To try me and make me beautiful like gold. To strengthen my faith. It is then that I stop and ask myself, “How did I think He was going to do that?”

A friend sent me a song a little ways back, reminding me that God always knows what we’re going through, where we are, how much we can take. The song was called ‘The Potter Knows the Clay’ and it has been on my mind constantly for days. The chorus goes like this:

But the Potter knows the clay,

how much pressure it can take.

How many times around the wheel,

’til there’s submission to His will.

He’s planned a beautiful design,

but it’ll take some fire and time.

It’s gonna be okay,

because the Potter knows the clay.

It was such a timely reminder, and something I don’t often consider. If He’s the Potter and I’m the clay, then He absolutely knows just the right amount of fire and pressure I can handle. He knows how much I need. He knows that if He takes me out of the fire too soon, I won’t be ready. I looked up a little bit of information on baking clay. One place said something so interesting. “Under baked clay is not only less flexible, it is susceptible to breaking and crumbling.” If He turns down the fire, if He removes me from the fire too soon, He knows I may not be as strong as I need to be. I could crumble if I don’t stay in the fire long enough. Maybe worse, what if I’m not flexible enough? When the Potter tries to mold me, will I bend, or will I break?

He knows the weaknesses that I have. He knows if I need to go around His wheel one, two, half a dozen more times. His masterful hands know where I need to be mended, to be worked on more. He knows the areas of my life that need a little more molding, a little more pressure, to get me where I need to be. His work isn’t for naught. He doesn’t mend and mold without a plan or purpose. He not only has a design, He has a perfect, beautiful blueprint for my life. There’s no part of my life that He didn’t know would go awry, not a day that He didn’t already know would happen. He knows me. He knows my life, my struggles. He knows the mountains I’ve climbed and the valleys I’ve walked through. After all, He was with me every step of the way.

He knows me. He knows how much I can take, what I need to get stronger, to be more like the vessel He wants me to be. He knows how desperate I feel in the fire. He didn’t leave me when the fire got hot. He’s still here with me. He simply can’t remove the heat until I’m ready. If I desire to be more like Him, to be a vessel that He can use, I have to endure some pressure. The pressure isn’t fun, it isn’t comfortable. My growth won’t come in comfort. It is in the fire, the pressure, in the midst of chaos and turmoil that the hands of the Potter can mold me into what He wants me to be.

As always, my words come from a place I’m in, or have been. The fire is hot and feels like it may never end. But I remind myself that He knows me. He has only my best interest in mind. He only wants what is best for me. He’s teaching me, molding me. I just have to hold and trust the Potter’s hand. When He does pull me out of the fire, all I can think about is the blessing, the glory, the way He’s going to use me! The isn’t for nothing! He has a plan for me, to use me. Anointing can’t come without hardship, and more than anything I desire to be an anointed vessel that He can work through.

So no matter what you’re facing or going through, remember that the Potter knows the clay.

When Your Mountain Won’t Move

“When You don’t move the mountains
I’m needing You to move,
When You don’t part the waters
I wish I could walk through,
When You don’t give the answers
As I cry out to You
I will trust, I will trust, I will trust in You.”

Many of us are probably fairly familiar with this song by Lauren Daigle. It’s certainly a personal favorite. I’ve heard it many times, but the last day or so it’s been on my mind and the words are taking on new meaning. There have been SO many times in life that I see a mountain and think, “God if you will just love this mountain, everything will be just fine!” After all, doesn’t His word say to speak to the mountain and it will move? Surely there’s some fine print there that we don’t read, telling us that occasionally there’s a mountain in our way that simply isn’t meant to be moved. At least not for right now. God doesn’t work on time scales like we do, and the mountain we think has to be moved right now might not be meant to move just yet.

What am I saying here? I’m saying sometimes I stand at the base of the mountain, or on the shores of flood waters, wondering why God isn’t moving. My Bible tells me He has done it. My heart tells me He can do it. Yet my eyes tell me nothing is happening. My faith begins to wonder why He won’t move on my behalf. My mind questions my worth, my situation, and doubt begins to creep in.

Maybe that’s too transparent, but at some point we’ve all stood staring at a mountain we KNOW God can move, and we wonder why it just isn’t moving. It only takes a mustard seed, and surely our faith is that big. Still the situation looms ahead of us, and we begin to doubt everything we see.

This is the point where I usually remind myself that what I see isn’t all there is to my situation. The side of the mountain I can see isn’t the only side the mountain has. While I’m waiting on God to move the mountain, He may be waiting on me to climb it. What if this side is just strength training to help me grow and get to the blessings on the other side? The flood waters I stand and gaze across with no boat in sight may be God’s way of teaching me to swim. Better yet, what if He’s going to teach me to walk on water? Peter never would have walked on those stormy seas if he hadn’t first taken a step out of the boat. As long as I’m on the shore or in the boat, I’m safe from the risk of drowning. I’m also blocked from the miracle of walking on the waters to get to Jesus.

I’ve said before that sometimes we can’t base our actions on what we see, but rather what we know. Sometimes I have to take those words and point them back at myself, reminding myself that what I see isn’t all there is to my situation and to my God. Just because God doesn’t move a mountain when I think He should doesn’t mean He isn’t good or faithful. It’s because of His goodness that He doesn’t always remove every hardship in my life. How can I grow stronger if I never get any resistance? My faith muscles will never grow if they are always pushing against the same weight. It’s when more weight is applied that they begin to work a little harder before and in turn start growing and gaining strength.

Just as Lauren sings, I’ve also stood crying out to God with questions only to get a silent reply. At the rate I talk, probably more questions than He wants to hear. The poor angels at His side probably have a hard time keeping up with me. Even now I could tell you that there are areas of my life that I have big questions marks on. Questions I have. Answers? Not so much. It’s easy to get stuck here in the valley of the unknown, easy to wallow around in a dry place. Eventually my spirit starts yearning for some water, and that dry place just isn’t good enough anymore. (Speaking for myself, that dry place is usually my pity party where I feel sorry for myself and why God just won’t tell me what I think I need to know. Feel free to insert a childish foot stomp here.) Just like a teacher isn’t going to tell you the answers to a Math test before you take it, God isn’t always going to give you every detail of every step He asks you to take.

To pass a test, one must study. So I study the Word. I study how to stretch my faith. I feed my faith muscles some miracle grow by reading about Abraham, Noah, Esther, and Gideon. I get rid of my pity party by going back and remembering Job. Listen friend, we’ve all stood looking up at that mountain. Maybe at this point you’re yelling at it to just get out of your way already. Maybe you’ve exhausted yourself and you’re sitting down, leaned up against this huge thing that just won’t move. You know what? That’s ok. Let out your frustration. Take a moment to regroup. One thing that I’ve come to realize lately is that whatever we’re feeling, God can handle it. He already knows, so why not share it with Him? Give Him your hurts and frustrations, your fears and disappointments. Hand them over to Him at the bottom of your mountain and then take His hand and start climbing. Stretch your faith muscles and follow Him even when the path isn’t clear. Trust Him when the answers aren’t evident and you have no idea how you’re going to make it through tomorrow. Lean on Him when your tomorrows are too much, because yesterday nearly did you in.

I don’t have it all together. I don’t have all the answers. I have mountains and seemingly no climbing gear. I have water with no boat in sight. I have question marks with no replies. I have a God Who is bigger than the sea, the mountain, the storm, and Who holds all the answers in His hands. And if I’ll let Him, He also holds me. It’s easy to be intimidated by the mountain. It’s easy to doubt if we’re going to make it through. Anybody can do that. We all do that. What separates the little engine that could from the little engine that can’t is the willingness to try harder. The willingness to take a chance and believe that I can make it and that I WILL make it. What separates a winner and a loser in a foot race? I’m going to say it’s that last push, that extra burst of “I can make it!” You can make it, sister. We don’t need the answers, the maps, or the plan. We need only our faith in the God that is on our side and to place our trust in Him. When you start putting your trust in Him, eventually those mountains start shifting and the waters start receding. Who knows? Maybe it’s not the mountain that ever needed to move at all. Maybe it was you and me. ❤️

Grace Sufficient

I should be brushing my hair and getting kids ready to head out the door, but I’ve got something on my heart this morning that I need to get out. (So everyone pray I’m not late because I was typing instead of brushing! Haha!) I found myself thinking about grace this morning, and how often I’ve been given it and how often I’ve given it. I’ll be honest when I say I’ve probably gotten more than given and I KNOW that my sweet Jesus has given me much more than deserve.

Though there have been plenty of times I’ve not extended grace when I should have, I thought of all the times I have given grace. None of us deserve grace, and I didn’t show grace because someone deserved it. It was because I’ve been given grace undeserved and Jesus expects us to return that grace. Now don’t get lost here and think I’m pinning roses on myself with grace-giving, because here’s the catch: I don’t always want to extend grace. There. I said it. My little secret of the grave I’ve given and will give. I don’t always want to show grace toward others, especially when I don’t feel like they deserve it, have earned it, or even worse, when they don’t seem to care or want it. In those cases the grace given isn’t always so much for them as it is for my heart, and then that grace covers my heart and keeps seeds of bitterness from being able to take root.

There have been times when I knew I had to show grace, and have grace, in a certain situation and I sincerely felt like my we’ll of grace was empty. I felt as if I would send that bucket down to retrieve a heaping abundance of grace only to reach the dry bottom with nothing more to give. If I had relied solely on myself and my abilities, that would have been the case. Thankfully, the grace I’ve been given but never earned or deserved, came from a Heavenly Father who never runs out of grace. I can run to Him in those times when I feel like I’ve given all that I can, and He’s sure to replenish me with His own grace. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says:

“And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.”
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He has grace enough for each of us no matter the situation or the circumstance. Maybe you’ve been wronged and you have a hurting heart. Maybe hard feelings are welling up inside of you. Perhaps you’re just struggling with grace in a general sense of having it in every situation possible. I know I do. I can’t count the times I wish I had let my mouth and my mind respond with grace first.

2 Corinthians 12:9 says that His grace is ‘sufficient’ for me. Merriam-Webster dictionary defines sufficient as being ‘enough to meet the needs of a situation or a proposed end’. His grace covers sins, shortcomings, failures, seemingly impossible situations, apparent hopelessness, hard hearts, bitterness, hurt, defeat, and all of the large and small things our human hearts hold and struggle with. God is more than just a supreme being that doesn’t onownor understand the fears and struggles, the pain and frustration that we experience as humans. He robed himself in flesh so that He could walk among us, and He felt the same hurts we feel. He cried tears just the same as you and I. He was betrayed by those closest to Him. He was laughed at, mocked, mistreated, and abused just like some of us have been. He knows and understands every part of our lives and He has grace sufficient for each of us and what we face. His grace won’t run out. His grace won’t ever end. There’s no place we can be that His grace can’t reach us. There’s no situation that is so impossible that His grace can’t cover you, and in extension cover that situation for you. There’s no hurt deep enough that His grace can’t heal and help you overcome.

There is truly nothing that His grace can’t overcome. It’s up to us to reach for that grace, allow it to wash over us, and apply it to our lives.

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