When the Problem Isn’t Spiritual

Winter can be a tough time to keep our perspective in check. The days are short, the nights are long, the weather is cooler than we’d like. Many people find that their emotions to be rather out of sorts, and if you’re already dealing with personal difficulties, these additional factors can put a real damper on your life.

Following Jesus takes work – learning, studying, praying, combating the enemy and the spiritual forces that are at work in our lives. But sometimes, there are still those lingering feelings that we aren’t doing enough, we aren’t the best Christian that we can be, and while there may be areas where we need to grow, sometimes the problem isn’t spiritual.

Often, we try to work through our spiritual issues, seeking God’s help, as we should. But sometimes we need to listen to our bodies and seek additional help in working through physical issues. Sometimes the problem isn’t spiritual and we need help so that our physical bodies can be working well.

Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) is something that many people struggle with. It’s a physical issue / depression that we often see in winter and is brought on by a decrease in sunlight. You might find yourself feeling down, with a lack of energy, and generally not interested in activities that usually provide enjoyment.

Dealing with SAD can impact most areas in our lives. We feel sad and discouraged, and that often carries over from our feelings into other areas of our lives. If this is something you deal with, or think you might be struggling with, you’ll want to see these 5 tips for dealing with SAD.

How to cope when the problem isn't spiritual - when it might be time to seek physical help

 

Remember that medical questions / treatments should be discussed with your doctor or healthcare provider first. 

 

 

How to Survive a Spiritual Landmine

It’s nights like this when we’re still transitioning to Daddy’s second-shift job, so this mama is taking care of all the homework, all the practices, all the kid needs and pet needs and food needs.

All. The. Things.

And of course, Daddy forgot to put the soccer equipment back where it goes, and he didn’t tell us where the middle boy’s practice is actually taking place, and he hasn’t answered his phone yet. Nevertheless, the mama and the kiddos make it to soccer practice on time, and after practice is over, they make it home safely.

Just as they pull in the driveway, she dares to think for one second that maybe this won’t be so bad – that the Lord is helping her through – that she can do it! She can handle this second-shift switch. She has the Lord with her and in her, and with His help, she is able!

Then it comes, the attack.

The kids disobey repeatedly one right after the other, requiring discipline and delaying bedtime, the dog eats food from someone’s plate, and then, the straw that breaks the mama’s back, the dog poops. Inside the house.

And this mama, she’s sorely tempted to throw a little temper tantrum; a few tears do leak down her face as she wavers between right and wrong. But instead of giving up, she cries, “Mercy! Have mercy on me Lord.” Because in a matter of seconds, she’s been reminded of how great her need is, how quickly she is prone to sin.

He’s there.

She knows He is there.

She believes He is there.

She has faith that He is there.

I can’t, Lord. I just can’t, she silently pleads.

I know, daughter. That’s exactly the point. You can’t, but I can. Greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world! The Father whispers back.

“Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed that he does not fall. No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.” 1 Corinthians 10:12-13 (NASB)

Have you noticed that just as soon as all seems well, and you believe you’ve won the victory, that’s the moment, the moment when the enemy strikes.

And we rarely see it coming when we’re on those mountaintops, do we? That’s what makes the blow so hard, the sudden severity of it all, from calm to chaos with little to no warning. It feels like the blast from a spiritual landmine that was inadvertently stepped on.

Practical advice for when you're tempted to throw in the towel because the spiritual attack seems too great.

 

The key to surviving that blast, to weathering the storm well, is to remember that we are not alone.

We are not alone in being tempted.

We are not alone in our struggles.

We are not the only ones suffering on this Earth.

It’s hard to throw yourself a pity party when you remember the suffering of others, isn’t it? Or when we remember the suffering of Christ?

I share this with you because maybe you’re there tonight, too, friend. Maybe you’re wondering how to survive the latest blast.

Maybe your proverbial back has been broken, but you are fighting like mad not to let your spirit be broken, too. Maybe it’s more than just one bad night for you. Maybe you’ve had all you can take, and you just want to rage against the heavens. Maybe you’re just plain weary of life in general, and you’ve resigned yourself to a hopeless, joyless existence.

If so, I want you to know that He’s only a prayer away, and that He won’t leave us alone to face all the hard things. Just as Paul wrote to the church at Corinth,

we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body.” 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 (NASB)

Did you catch that, friend? We carry the dying of Jesus so that we may also display the life of Jesus, the victory of Jesus! The tough times hurt – oh, yes they do – but they bring with them life!

We must keep in mind that the pain bears a purpose that will one day be revealed to us, even if that unveiling happens on the other side of glory. And that in the meantime, He’s working those tough things together for our good, drawing us near to Him, refining our faith, creating new life in us.

Like a child’s growing pains, the work in progress is painful but life-giving.

That spiritual landmine is not the end of you, friend! You may be weary of survival mode or even recovery mode, but the key to real victory is not arriving on the other side. The key to real victory is just to keep fighting the good fight, no matter how difficult.

Your God is with you, and He wants desperately to carry you through!

Will you cry out to Jesus tonight?

Jen 🙂

Being Confident of This is a website devoted to grace for the work-in-progress woman. Jen is learning to let go of perfection so she can fully embrace grace. She desires to help women from all walks of life understand their identity in Christ and find freedom in it!

8 Scriptures to Pray When Your Glass is Empty

I flop into the driver’s seat of the van for what seems like the billionth time this week, resigning myself to yet another busy day.

As I begin my mental list of complaints to the Lord, I catch the words of Toby Mac’s latest song, Move:

Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
Move, keep walkin’ until the mornin’ comes
Move, keep walkin’ soldier keep movin’ on
And lift your head, it ain’t over yet, ain’t over yet

Holding back hot tears, I think yes, this is what I feel like – a soldier – a weary, weary soldier.

It’s the refrain of my life lately and likely the refrain of your life, too, since the Word claims that our battle is real! We fight against more than flesh and blood; we fight against the very forces of evil. We fight against our own sin nature, too!

That fight can drain a person.

That fight often leaves a person with a glass that is empty, but a plate still full of responsibilities.

Most days, I’m thankful for the power of Christ in me to “keep walkin’.” But some days I desperately want rest. In fact, every few days I throw one of those adult mind-fits – you know, the kind of temper tantrum you can’t see on the outside, but boy, is it brewing on the inside!

On those tough days, I find myself constantly crying out to the Lord for rescue, and as frustrated as I am with my failures, it’s a good reminder of my work-in-progress status and my need for a Savior. 🙂

If you find yourself in a season of life that requires much of you, friend, cling to these scriptures below. Pray them at every opportunity so that you can keep walkin’!

8 Scriptures to Pray When Your Glass Is Empty

He gives strength to the weary,
And to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired,
And vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. Isaiah 40:28-31 NASB

Father God, I feel so weary lately, as if I have nothing left to give. But I know that the enemy’s favorite phrase for me is “you can’t.” Help me to combat that lie with the truth that I already have all of the strength I need in You.

You are the Everlasting God who never grows tired or weary. You give strength to all who need it! Help me to wait on you alone, Lord, so that I can mount up with wings like eagles.

Now He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart… Luke 18:1 NASB

Father, help me to remember that prayer is a powerful weapon. Don’t let me take prayer and time with You for granted.

I know that when I fail to abide in You, I’m setting myself up for failure because I cannot bear fruit on my own. Remind me that I must remain in constant prayer if I don’t want to lose heart!

[W]e are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed;… 2 Corinthians 4:8-9 NASB

Father, when catastrophe comes my way, when disappointment strikes, and when I’m tempted to despair, help me to remember the truth of this promise!

I may feel afflicted, perplexed, or persecuted, but I believe You will not allow me to be crushed or destroyed. You alone have the victory over sin, Satan, and this world – that battle is already won! Help me to realize such feelings are only temporary and do not have the power to destroy me. 

Do you feel like your plate is full, but your glass is empty? Here are 8 Scriptures to pray in those times.

 

Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. 2 Corinthians 4:16 NASB

Father, You have promised to complete the work that you began in us at salvation (Phil. 1:6). When I get frustrated with my body or with my own sin nature, remind me of the truth of my work-in-progress identity.

Even when I don’t see the progress, Lord, I know that You are renewing me day by day as I place my trust in You.

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary. Galatians 6:9 NASB

Father, if I’m honest, I grow weary of doing good, of serving others, of choosing right. Often I just want my own way. Often I desire a break from the burdens of life. Forgive me for my sin and selfishness, Lord. Your Word promises that if I do not give up, I will reap a harvest. Help me to persevere in the tough times. Help me to keep in mind the eternal reward rather than temporary comforts.

For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:3 NASB

Father, when the life seems to conspire against me, let me look to your Son. Nothing I suffer here on this earth will ever compare to the suffering your Son endured because of my sin, yet He willingly paid the price.

Let me rejoice in the gift of salvation and my new-creation status!

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Mt. 11:28-30 NASB

Father God, we hear this scripture so often that it’s easy to gloss over the truth. Our unbelief causes us to doubt that a yoke could be easy or a burden could be light.

But the Word claims a supernatural power for those who come to You weary and heavy-laden. Let us lay down all striving and conniving and take up Your truth instead. Thank you for Your unfailing love!

In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words; and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Rom. 8:26-27 NASB

Heavenly Father, I thank You that I don’t have to speak the “right” words for you to hear my prayers. When tears constrict my throat so that I can no longer speak, Your Spirit intercedes on my behalf.

You alone know what is best for me, Lord, and I trust that even if I ask for things that will not bring good to me, You will keep them from my path.


Friend, I pray these verses bring some comfort to your weary soul today. I’ll be honest – I find a few of them quite challenging myself.

If you have a full plate this week, fill your glass from the only Source that never runs dry.

Move, soldier.

Jen 🙂

 

Being Confident of This is a website devoted to grace for the work-in-progress woman. Jen is learning to let go of perfection so she can fully embrace grace. She desires to help women from all walks of life understand their identity in Christ and find freedom in it!

 

A Light in the Darkness

Have you ever looked at something that you’ve seen countless times, only to realize you’re seeing it in a completely new and different way? How could you have missed it? How have you not considered it from this point of view before?

I’m sure you know what I’m talking about. What was it that you saw new and different? For me, it was the light on a church steeple.

I arrived in the darkness, just like every other winter Sunday night. The drive was so familiar – I’ve made the trip for many years of my life. There was no reason to expect anything new or different – none whatsoever.

I think that may be one of the things I appreciate most about God – that when He makes changes in our lives, old things – ones we’ve seen numerous times – can seem brand new!

I sat in the parking lot at the church waiting for my son to be done at youth group. The evening was completely dark except for a few lights inside the church.

Light drives out darkness – whether it’s a small candle flickering or a bright spotlight directing our focus. And we’re attracted to the light – we’re drawn to it in order to see through the darkness.

That night was not the first night I noticed the steeple light, but it was the first night I noticed the direction of the light.  

Have you ever seen something in a new and different way, even though you've seen it many times? I'm sharing about how our lives can be light in the darkness.

I’m sharing over at Jen’s blog this week – Being Confident of This – about how we can be a light in the darkness, especially as we get closer to Easter. Come on over and join us!

 

12 Scriptures to Meditate on this Easter

It happens each year here in the Midwest – lingering snow melts away and red buds form on the tree outside of my window. Robins return to the backyard with their early morning song. Soon the green tips of our tulips will peek through the soggy earth, too.

All of creation speaks of new life when Spring arrives.

It’s as if Spring is preparing us to celebrate Easter Sunday, the day that we believers celebrate as the beginning of new spiritual life. The Word, who became flesh, endured suffering and death to pay for our sins and restore us to a right relationship with the Heavenly Father. He gave us new life!

But all too often, those of us who have been walking in the faith for some time easily forget our first love, the joy of our salvation. Lately I’ve been asking the Father to restore this unspeakable and contagious joy to me so that I might be enthusiastic about the gift of salvation!

One way to remember what Jesus’ death accomplished is through scripture. What better time of year to focus on the cross and what Jesus accomplished than Easter? With that in mind, I hope you enjoy this collection of verses to meditate on this Easter!

12 Scriptures to Meditate on this Easter

Jesus answered and said to her, “Everyone who drinks of this water will thirst again; but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him shall never thirst; but the water that I will give him will become in him a well of water springing up to eternal life.” John 4:13

I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:51

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6

And Jesus uttered a loud cry, and breathed His last. And the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. When the centurion, who was standing right in front of Him, saw the way He breathed His last, he said, “Truly this man was the Son of God!” Mark 15:37-39

12 Scriptures to Meditate on for Easter - getting your heart ready to celebrate the resurrection of our Lord

 

For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:2b

He was delivered over to death for our sins and was raised to life for our justification. Romans 4:25

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Rom. 5:8

So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men. For as through the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the obedience of the One the many will be made righteous.. Rom. 5:18-19

He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. Matthew 28:6

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. Mark 8:34

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. Romans 1:16

—————————————————————–

Remember both the sorrow and subsequent joy of the cross this Easter.

Savor God’s free gift of Salvation. Ask the Father to restore your joy, your first love, and then walk according to the power of new life in Christ.

Because He Lives,

Jen 🙂

Jen Stults @Being Confident of This

The Advice I Could Not Give

Tell me if this sounds familiar:

A friend shares her heart with you, longing for encouragement, and while you haven’t experienced her situation, you find yourself about to give advice.

Suddenly, you realize that the words taking shape in your head and heart are words not just for her, but maybe for you, too.

Anyone else?

That happened to me this week. A friend was sharing her ongoing struggle and I found myself thinking about what I wanted to say to her. The words I wanted to say to her were so convicting (to me) that I didn’t dare utter them. How could I suggest words that I don’t actively live by in my own life? Those words could have been detrimental to her spirit as well. I certainly don’t walk in her shoes, dealing with the loss and grief she carries, and I don’t want to appear cold and callous in my attempt at encouragement.

Now you’re probably wondering what it was that I wanted to share with her that could have caused her pain, and that convicted my own heart. Well, they are three small words. Only three. And yet, I haven’t been able to shake them all week.

Just 
Show 
Up.

The Advice I Could Not Give - how three small words are changing my life

That’s it. That’s what I was going to say to this lady experiencing so much grief and change in her life, all the while knowing that I’m not even living those words in my own life. I’m still hiding out with my grief. I’m wanting to step out in tiptoe faith, yet I live in a constant state of “waiting for the other shoe to drop”.

And that’s why I had to stop talking to her, and just keep listening. How could I give her advice that I still struggle to heed?  

Just show up. That could apply to many things when you’re struggling with grief and a new lifestyle.

Maybe for you, that means getting to work everyday. Perhaps it means getting yourself to church, or out with friends. It could even mean something as simple as getting out of bed everyday.

The lady I was listening to is a mother who quickly and very unexpectedly lost her husband. Our situations are very different, yet similar. And as I know the grief I deal with, I know that there is no way I could suggest to her that she just show up to life. After all, we all carry our grief differently. We each process loss uniquely.

But this prompted some good thinking in my own heart. It gave me time to reflect on how I’m doing at just showing up, and what I still need to do.

In my marriage –
I wake up every day and thank God for the progress that is being made in my marriage. It wasn’t too long ago that the future of my marriage was completely uncertain. Brokenness was not something I expected in this area of my life. And while things are going well, of course there is always room for growth. It takes time, though, and a heart for God’s will – which is what I’m trying to pursue each day. 

In my family –
My kids are growing up quickly! I’m excited to see the people they are becoming, but it continues to require a good amount of work. With their schooling, their activities, their music lessons, and with college just a few months away, we have a lot going on. It can be overwhelming to try and meet each need for each child, but I’m learning to take it day by day. The kids have family with them at every step of the way, and that’s what’s most important. 

In my relationship with God –
This is the one area that has been my “hiding place”. There are so many days when, regardless of what I’m doing, I’ve had conversations with God in my heart. Sometimes they were pleas for mercy, other times prayers of thanksgiving, other times just talking quietly to God as you might talk to a friend. Some days, though, I can’t say I’ve read all the latest books or learned more verses than someone else, but I can say that God’s promise to guard our hearts and protect our lives is very real, even to this day. 

How about you? What areas are you struggling with in your own life? Can you apply the words “just show up” in any way that might benefit you?

Resources you might enjoy:

           Becoming a Better Wife course

Building a Strong Family Unit

I’m honored to be sharing a post from my friend, Jen. We blog on very similar topics so we’ve teamed up to share our messages on both blogs. Once a month I’ll have a post from her and once a month she will return the favor for me. Jen shares her love for the Lord and her heart for her marriage and her family. If you haven’t yet visited her site before, please take a few moments to click on a link within her post. You’ll be blessed by her ministry!

*          *          *          *          *

This month we are discussing how to build a strong family unit over at Being Confident of This, and every strong family begins with a solid foundation!

While it’s important to teach our children obedience and manners, how to play sports and succeed in school, the most important thing we can ever do for our children is to establish a foundation of faith.

If we think of a family as a home being built, then think of personal faith in God as the foundation of that home. Parents who aren’t well-rooted in faith will struggle to pass on an understanding of the Word, as well as biblical family values.

If you want a foundation of faith for your family, begin with yourself. Work on your own relationship with God first. Pray for and encourage your spouse’s walk with the Lord, as well. In addition, consider these four ways to build a foundation of faith.

4 Ways to Establish a Foundation of Faith

1. Talk openly about your faith, even when you struggle.

Certainly, we can’t and shouldn’t tell our children everything we go through in life. Some things simply aren’t appropriate to share with them. However, parents are often afraid to show any sort of weakness or doubt, especially when it comes to their personal faith.

The truth is, our kids already know that we aren’t perfect. We don’t have to tell them because they see it for themselves! Thus, a strong family foundation depends on parents who exhibit and encourage authentic faith.

Kids need to see authentic faith in action,

and authentic faith is not perfect faith.

Authentic faith admits to weakness, dare I say even sin? Authentic faith apologizes for wrong-doing. Authentic faith teaches and embraces grace. Authentic faith doesn’t shy away from doubts but confronts them honestly.

When we share our struggles and doubts with our children, we also give them an opportunity to see how God works in us. That’s a powerful thing to behold!

2. Involve kids in praying for needs.

I know so many youth today, and even some adults, who are afraid or embarrassed to pray aloud (even when alone). Some of them are also afraid to share prayer requests pertaining to themselves.

A foundation of faith includes praying together and praying for each other.

One practical way to raise children who are comfortable praying is to develop a habit of bedtime prayers. Another way is to allow children to take turns praying at mealtimes or during family devotions, even the youngest members!

Does the family have a specific need? Call a brief prayer meeting!

When kids help to pray for family needs, then they will recognize when God meets those needs.

 

Are you looking for ways to strengthen your family's foundation? Here are 4 faith-builders sure to help create a strong family!

3. Study the Christian faith together.

Obviously, the best way to study the faith is to study God’s Word together. There is no better foundation of faith than one rooted in Scripture. Choose a book of the Bible to go through together, or if your children are younger, try a devotional made for kids.

For older children, consider using a creation to Christ approach to help them understand the Bible as a whole.

We like Firm Foundations: Creation to Christ Children’s Edition from New Tribes publications (in-depth study) or The 7 C’s of History from Answers in Genesis (more of an overview). For teens, we like The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus from Goodseed.

The Bible isn’t the only way to study the faith together, however. Our family really enjoys reading biographies of missionaries and heroes of the faith in the Trailblazers series, also! If you have children who won’t sit for reading, try the Torchlighters video series or even Veggietales videos based on Bible stories. Then discuss together.

4. Attend a Bible-believing church together.

The older I get, the more I value my own parents’ dedication to church attendance. We attended faithfully during my growing up years, even when we lived as missionaries overseas in a tribal village. Why is that significant? It’s significant because we children couldn’t even understand much of what was spoken there!

I recently saw a photo on facebook of believers in the Philippines who were standing knee-deep in floodwaters in their church. Despite the flooding, the church was practically full! The question was: what is your excuse?

While that statement may sound harsh, the creator of this meme has a valid point. In Western countries, especially in America, we easily take church for granted.

In a time when young people are leaving the church by droves, we must emphasize to our children the need to commit to a body of believers for fellowship, for edification, and for accountability. (Heb. 10:23-25)

If we value church as parents, our children will learn to value it as well, even if there are times when they really don’t want to go. 🙂

……………………………………

Ponder these words from Paul about Timothy and his foundation of faith.

“For I am mindful of the sincere faith within you, which first dwelt in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice, and I am sure that it is in you as well.” 2 Tim. 1:5 (NASB)

Most parents endeavor to give their children every opportunity in life, yes?

We want the best education possible for them. We enroll our children in sports and music lessons so that they might become “well-rounded.” We take care with the friendships they develop and encourage good work ethics.

Are we just as concerned about giving them a foundation of faith?

If not, we should be.

Jen 🙂

Jen Stults

*This post makes use of affiliate links. Jen is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com.

The Footprint Challenge

Think about it – you walk in the door on a messy, miserable day only to find…footprints. And if your home is anything like mine, this scenario probably plays out just after you’ve thoroughly cleaned the floors. I can almost hear you sighing in agreement…. 

Muddy, caked-into-the-carpet, gooey, messy footprints. Or wet, rainy, puddle-on-the-hardwood-floor footprints. Maybe they’re snowy, icy, cold, tracked-through-the-house footprints.

Whatever they are, you probably feel the frustration rise up in you and try to determine the guilty party. After all, don’t they know you’ve just cleaned? Who *didn’t* remember the rule about taking shoes off just inside the door when they’re a mess?

The Footprint Challenge - what my footprints reminded me about life. Will you join us?

This week I am away with my family. We retreated to our favorite cabin up in the mountains for some very much needed rest and relaxation. This morning we woke up to snow! Okay, so really it’s tiny little snowflakes that won’t amount to much of anything but a few white clumps here and there. Still – it’s the first snow we’ve seen this season, so it’s definitely worth taking a few moments to savor.

I decided to put on my shoes and coat and go for a short walk. Despite the cold, I was out for a few minutes to enjoy the snow and the bitterly-cold wind blowing in my face. I walked down to the entrance of the campground and then back up again, basically in a circle. So on my way back to the cabin, I was able to see the footprints that I’d made in the walk down to the camp entrance.

Why is that significant?

Not too long ago, I was stuck. Life took some turns that I was not prepared for, that really knocked me down for the count. My marriage was in danger and the “what now” questions were flying fast and furious.

I spent two years hiding, healing, hoping that God truly knew what He was doing.

In those two years, God gave me hope, redemption, and this year He gave the word overcome.

My walk today, on New Year’s Day, signified the beginning of my year of overcoming.

You see, I noticed my footprints. I knew there wasn’t enough snow that I’d track anything back into the cabin, but I had been out in the world.

My footprint was proof that I had literally made an impact on my world.

And that’s what I want to do – whole-heartedly. On purpose. Intentionally.

Those footprints served a reminder to my heart that I have purpose – and so do you.

Sometimes we need the physical reminders that we have purpose. See, God will call us Home someday, but friends, today is NOT that day! 

How do I know?

FOOTPRINTS! 

The Footprint Challenge - what my footprints reminded me about life. Will you join us?

If you can go outside and get your shoe dirty and leave a mark, then God has a purpose for you today. Yes, YOU. Yes, TODAY. 

Maybe we need fresh perspective when those messes – like messy footprints – come into our home. The maker of that footprint still has a purpose. God has a reason for their life today – this very day!

Can I challenge you? And I’d love to actually hear back from you about this one!

Put on a pair of shoes.
Go walk in a little dirt or get the bottom of your shoes wet.
Leave a footprint somewhere.
Say, “God has a plan for MY LIFE – TODAY!”

If you’re really up for the challenge, come join us on Facebook and leave a picture of your footprint!

Your shoes will come clean, the bottoms of them will dry. You might not even remember the footprint challenge someday – and that’s okay!

The footprint challenge is for today – whatever day you happen to read this – to remind us that God has a purpose for us!

Are you up for the challenge?

Come on over to Facebook and share your footprint!

 

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Why Intentional Living is so Important to Me

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I’ve been trying to think of a way to start this post that will kind of ease you in to what I want to share.

However, that’s not going to happen – not this time.

Instead, let’s jump right in.

 

Yesterday was Christmas – Merry Christmas! I had a wonderful day with my family, that started at way-too-early-o’clock. Seriously…it was not even 4am. I’d like to apologize to my parents for all my early-morning Christmas wake-ups. I was so tired! Ironically, my dad was up today before my kids. Go figure! 😉

After a day with my family, I happened to find War Room on demand last evening, so I asked my husband if he wanted to rent it. We watched it and thoroughly enjoyed it!

Even better, though, it drove home a lot of important reminders for me.

If you’ve seen the movie, let’s just start by saying that the way that they depict prayer in the movie – doing battle against the enemy – is the way I’ve been praying for a couple of years now. Maybe not as eloquently, but in the same manner.

I realized early on in my struggle that while the choices made around me were truly sin, that my response did not have to be what others thought it should be.

Rather I turned to God, listened, waited and eventually gained some strength to start praying the enemy out of my house.

One quote really stuck out to me, though there were many good lines in the movie:

“Victories don’t come by accident.”

That seems to tie in so appropriately with the word the Lord has laid on my heart for 2016 – Overcome.

And because of that, I am stepping intentionally into the new year with a few plans that I want to share with you.

Why is intentional living so important to me? Find out what 3 plans I'm working at first in the new year.

 

First off, let’s get the big, scary one out of the way:

Writing. 
I had a few quiet moments last week, and stopped to ponder some things I’d been mulling over in my mind. Within 15 minutes, the outline for something I’ve wanted to write came to life on paper in front of me. I was amazed. I had hoped to write it last June, but that never took shape.

I plan to tackle this intentionally by carving out time specifically for this piece of writing, and by giving myself a deadline – as soon as I decide on one (because that part terrifies me). Fortunately, I have a great group of writer friends to keep me on track!

Healing.
I think we also ~overcome~ on purpose. Yes, there’s a lot to be said for waiting, trusting God’s timing – those are all necessary. But at some point, there comes that moment when we decide we’re ready to move forward. I am at that point. Though what I plan to write about (above) comes from the pain I’ve endured, I am ready to look back on that part of my life, not live in it.

Though the writing will not necessarily be easy, I expect the healing to be difficult. Why? Because the enemy doesn’t just look to knock us over or sidetrack us. No, he looks to destroy:

“Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” — I Peter 5:8

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” — John 10:10

Personal Growth.
Along with a word for the year, God has laid a few very select books of the Bible and people/stories to study on my heart. I’m eager to see what’s ahead as I study through these. 

After watching War Room, I want to be more intentional with my prayer life, so I picked up Fervent, by Priscilla Shirer. The description of the book talks about developing prayer strategies to strike back against the enemy.

I also purchased The Resolution for Women. From the description of the book – “A woman’s banner should be an accurate reflection of who she desires to be-someone completely Christ-centered who blesses and changes things in her world for the better.” This book is for the healing – for moving forward, for regaining my footing as a wife, a woman of God, someone with a calling on her life.

The Lord has also laid on my heart the books of Job and Hosea. While I was at the bookstore today, I picked up these two small devotionals to help in that study.

I’ve never used either of these two books as a Bible study before, but since they were available, I picked them up to begin my studies. I look forward to the time to study and be more intentional in my own personal growth at the start of the new year.

If you’ve been around here at the end of a calendar year, you know I’ve been focused on the  year ahead. You might wonder why? After all, I don’t make New Year’s resolutions, so why the big push to start the new year well?

I guess it’s because I want to be better, to do better, to grow.

In my own life, if I look back, there’s a lot to see. There are many places to look back and choose regret. We all have those times, don’t we?

I’ve spent the last two years just trying to get back on my feet. Those verses above – they’re true. The enemy is vicious. When he doesn’t take you out one way, you can be sure he’ll try another. And that’s what has happened in my life.

I’ve reached the point of accepting my life. The mess has given me some beautiful gifts. Each morning when I open my eyes, I’m grateful for a new day – whether it’s at way-too-early-o’clock, or some more reasonable time. Friends who have walked out have made room for friends who have walked in and God has set a transition plan in place – an answer to a direct prayer to please make these changes in my life serve a purpose.

More than that, though, I’m ready to share what I’ve learned with the next person.

You see, we’re all going to face crises. As women, though, the emotions of trauma, of tragedy, can knock us out and keep us down for some time. And that’s okay. 

The healing, the recovery, the growth – it all takes time.

2016. Overcome. Intentionally. I pray these resources here are a blessing to you.

I’d love to know your plans for the new year, and what God is doing in your heart.

If you want to join us for a fun, intentional challenge,
join us for The Footprint Challenge.

 

The Night the Angels Came

We were just standing there talking as I dried her hair….

Suddenly, a shadow passed across her face, as she turned her head away from me.

I called her: “Honey. Honey? Honey!”

She didn’t respond and her body became dead weight in my arms as she went down.

The next few minutes were a blur as we called 911 and attempted to explain what we could not understand. How do you convey that your daughter was just fine a moment ago, and now she’s unresponsive and completely dead weight in your arms?

And how do you attempt to stay calm when you aren’t sure if she will draw another breath?

Suddenly, I realized that her life was out of my hands and that my heart was begging God to bring her back, while waiting for the ambulance.

After just a few seconds, she opened her eyes. She had no recollection of how she got out of the bathroom and into the living room, and she never heard us calling her.

Within just a few minutes, the angels arrived.
They weren’t wearing white robes and halos, though.

These angels had on dark clothing, latex gloves, they carried stethoscopes, blood pressure cuffs and came with a truck full of equipment that could be used to save her life if necessary.

The Night the Angels Came - How a parenting nightmare changed my perspective on how God views us.

The explanation from the emergency workers was that maybe she’d been too hot between the low-grade fever, the warm bathtub and time spent drying her hair. Her body attempted to cool her off but wasn’t able to properly combat the heat, resulting in her passing out. A follow-up visit to the doctor the next morning confirmed that. The nurse found an additional infection which we were able to treat easily, and our girl has been on the mend.

My real-life situation gave me a new perspective on our spiritual lives.

We are given countless opportunities to speak into people’s lives. We were made for community – to need, and thrive from, relationships with one another.

As Christians, we have the benefit of being able to share about the most important relationship – the one with Jesus Christ.

We have many chances to talk, to interact, to share truth. Every day we cross paths with people who need to hear about the hope we have in Jesus.

What we don’t often consider is that the words we say to someone may be the last words they hear.

We don’t know when a life will come to an end. We don’t know when God will turn the last page of someone’s life.

As a mother who stood over her daughter’s body, I willed her to hear my voice, to come back to me.

As a heavenly Father, don’t you think God does that, too? 

The Lord is…not willing that any should perish.
II Peter 3:9

Consider how many people you see each day – at the grocery store, at your child’s school, church, at a job outside the home, wherever your day may take you.

Now, I’m not saying that you have to talk about Jesus with every person you see, but consider how your actions, your expressions, your thoughtfulness can bless someone.

You are interacting with a child of your heavenly Father. If the person is a believer, that’s fantastic – we’ll have eternity with them.

If the person is not a Christian, though, they have a heavenly Father standing over them, wanting them to come back to Him – much like I waited for my daughter to return to me.

The Father has a love that is so great that He sent His Son to die for us, providing a way for us to come back to Him.

How great the Father’s love for us! 

And we have the opportunity to share that love with others – in word, in deed, in kindness.

Like the first responders who came to my house, prepared to fight for life, we are first responders in the lives of others. We have the key to life – to everlasting life.

[bctt tweet=”We are first responders in the lives of others. We have the key to LIFE! “]

Friends, let’s fight for life this week. Let’s remember that this world here is not our home. One day the Lord will turn the last page in our story.

I hope these thoughts are an encouragement to you; they have stayed with me since the night the angels came.

The Night the Angels Came - How a parenting nightmare changed my perspective on how God views us.

 

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