Do You Trust Me?

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭3:5-6‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I have felt stuck on a hamster wheel going nowhere for far too long. Everyday feels like another battle of jumping on the wheel exhausting every ounce of energy I have only to end up in the same place, worn out and disappointed. Every time I see what appears to be an open door to get me off this hamster wheel I run harder and faster only to watch someone else go through the door and close it behind them.

I’m gonna get real and confess I am so tired of closed doors! I want off this daggone hamster wheel and actually moving forward thriving like some preachers tell us God wants us to be doing. Last night I stopped running in place and prayed a very angry prayer to God demanding I be moved out of the pit and into the promotion in life I long for. I pulled out all the stops too. I reminded Him of how faithful I’ve been and how hard I’ve worked to learn the lessons He’s teaching me on this hamster wheel journey. I also reminded Him of how old I was and that I wasn’t getting any younger so this whole “waiting” thing and trusting His perfect timing no longer resonates well. I lastly reminded Him that I’ve even made efforts to fix my mistakes.

At one point I was so angry I actually told God that I didn’t want to speak to Him. Of course I just kept rambling though. A few minutes later I demanded to hear from Him. No more silent treatment. But the only thing I heard was my own sobs. So I picked up my phone, checked my Bible app and turned to Proverbs 3. I read verses 5 and 6 and cringed. Sounds completely sacreligious to cringe over scripture doesn’t it? Well I cringed because God tends to send me that specific scripture when His answer to my prayer is a big fat “NO!” I throw my temper tantrums and His response Is simply, “Trust in Me and do not rely on your understanding. Acknowledge Me and I will make your paths straight.” Grrrrrrrrrr!

But then I read farther in Proverbs 3 including verse 11; “My child, don’t reject the Lord’s discipline and don’t be upset when He corrects you.” Double Grrrrrrrrrr! How does a person NOT get upset when they’re being disciplined? In my anger I envisioned a callous God with His back against me completely ignoring my cries.

At one point in my prayer rant last night I actually said “You are not the God I know and love right now.” WHOA! Right? Some might think “That’s awfully bold!” Others reading this may think “Who is she to speak to God in such an irreverent manner?” Those words were spoken in a moment of deep disappointment and feeling of great defeat. Those words were spoken to a god who had turned his back away from me. Those words were not spoken to the real God.

You see in my moment of despair, I saw satan’s version of God. But God, through His word showed me who He really is. Even when He tells us “no”, that no may be firm but it’s gentle and it always comes with a “trust Me” after it. God is our Heavenly Father and just like we parents tell our children “no” from time to time, a parent’s no is always for our child’s own good, even if it’s a form of discipline.

I went to bed last night with only this prayer said “I’m sorry for my angry prayer.” My heart was still stubborn so it was all I could offer. I woke up this morning and read this verse; ““So do not throw away this confident trust in the Lord. Remember the great reward it brings you!” Hebrews‬ ‭10:35‬ ‭NLT‬‬ God again sending me a reminder to trust Him. Notice one thing-God was not shaken by my rant. He also-did not ignore me in spite of my spoiled brat meltdown. He will not ignore you either. God loves you and me even when we don’t agree or accept how He handles us or how He answers our prayers.

I don’t like being told no. I don’t like being disciplined. I don’t like this hamster wheel I’m metaphorically running on. Heck-I don’t like to exercise at all. Ha! Ha! But I have to obey God’s directive which is simply to trust Him. So do you. What areas in your life are you struggling to trust Him in? If your heart is angry, so mine has been too. God is so faithful in forgiving a repentant heart and He is faithful to His word. Do you trust Him? It’s what He’s calling you (and me) to do.

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Caution: Icy Roads Ahead

“Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.””‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭31:8‬ ‭NLT‬‬I’m reading a devotional on You Version called “21 Ways to Thrive by 45.” Today’s reading was about facing fear by putting our focus on Jesus and trusting Him. The scripture for today was Deuteronomy 31:6-8 and Psalms 56:3-4 . I’ve heard Deuteronomy 31:6 multiple times in my life. At one point I had it written on an index card taped to my desk as a daily reminder. But I’m not sure the passage from Psalms 56 has ever resonated with me before. I had to read it twice this morning before I felt God nudge me about these two verses. It’s summer time where I live. In a month or two the leaves will start changing color, the temperature will turn cooler and the evenings will get darker earlier. Although this is a beautiful time of year with backdrops full of bright yellow, orange and red, this is also a warning sign that winter is right around the corner. For some, this brings the excitement of winter activities such as snowmobiling or skiing. For me, because this also means poor road conditions, it brings fear.Today’s verses reminded me of a time that I found myself caught in an ice storm. My children had had doctor appointments in late afternoon. Although it was the middle of winter, driving to their appointments, the roads were quite clear. However in a short period of time, freezing rain came down and turned the roads into an ice skating rink. I had a 20+ mile drive home. I proceeded with great caution.What should’ve been less than a 30 minute commute was taking well over an hour as I creeped and crawled in my vehicle to ensure I wouldn’t lose control. Vehicles in my area tend to be equipped with four wheel drive but that doesn’t help on ice. Four wheel drive on ice just means you have four wheels spinning out of control instead of two. The closer we got to our home, the worse the road conditions get. The hills also seem to increase frequency and depth.Two miles before home I stopped at the top of a very steep hill. It was dark with freezing rain still falling from the sky. The ice covered road before me had a bright sheen when my headlights hit it. I thought about the best approach for this hill and then I proceeded. My slow decent took a turn for the worst as my vehicle did a complete 180 and I found myself stuck in a ditch, in the wrong lane facing on-coming traffic. With no success, I tried getting out of the ditch and back up the hill. I realized I was going to have to proceed down the hill backward. As I slowly let my foot off the brake to begin backing down the hill, the ice took over and my car slid backward, landing at the bottom of the hill completely parallel to the crossroad that was ahead of me. I was now taking up both lanes. This was a narrow road with large drop offs on either side. No matter what I tried, I couldn’t seem to get my vehicle turned straight into the proper lane and moving forward again. I prayed. I panicked. I constantly reassured my kids that we were going to be ok. But I was shaking with fear. I feared rolling my vehicle. I didn’t fear for my safety-but I feared greatly for the safety of my children. I’m a momma bear by nature and will risk life and limb to protect my children.I also knew that I couldn’t stay where I was at because any traffic coming from either direction could’ve hit us. My daughter was riding in the front seat, my son in the back. All of us had seatbelts on. I grabbed my daughter’s hand. I told my kids I had to get us out of there and proceeded to straighten out my car. Each attempt pulled me closer to the drop off on the right side of the road. In my mind I had already accepted that rolling the vehicle was inevitable. But I spoke out to my children saying “It’s ok. We’re going to be ok. God is going to protect us.” Just as my vehicle pulled farther to the right and I knew we were going into that drop off, my vehicle straightened and I was facing the right direction again. I drove a few feet away from the drop off, pulled to the side of the road then called for help. Tears of fear and relief flowed as I sobbed on the phone to the person I called. God protected us in a mighty way that night. Do you know every winter I still get anxiety over driving on bad roads? Do you know I still wrestle with fear, struggling to sleep some times? I also avoid chasing my dreams and rarely putting myself out there because of fearing rejection. The verses from Psalms 56 were a great reminder to take my focus off fear and remember Who is really in control. It’s also a great reminder that He promises to protect us whether it be bad roads, bad relationships, poor health, toxic situations, etc. When we focus on the what-ifs we give fear and anxiety all the control. We may even become paralyzed and unable to move forward because we’re listening to fear (or get ourselves stuck in a ditch because we tried to handle the circumstance in our own wisdom.) But when we stand on the promises of Deuteronomy 31:6-8 and Psalms 56:3-4 peace overthrows fear because we know that God is watching over us. Fear is a choice. Trust is too. Do not fear. Choose instead to trust in the One who promises to protect us always.

A Downpour or a Sprinkle?

“He calmed the storm to a whisper and stilled the waves.”

‭‭Psalms‬ ‭107:29‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I believe everyone goes through storms in life. Some storms come in the form of financial despair, loss of a loved one, the end of a relationship, a rebellious child or maybe dealing with some sort of addiction. A stressful situation of any kind, especially the kind that seem to last for years or as if they’re endless, can feel like you’re walking against the wind of a full blown hurricane with no shelter in place to escape. But sometimes, what we imagine or expect to be a storm turns out to only be a little sprinkle. Let me give you two examples of what I’m talking about.

This past Independence Day, the morning started out very hot. My family and I “puddled” as we endured the humid temps watching a parade that celebrated our nation’s birthday. By afternoon we were lethargic and becoming stagnant because no one wanted to move in the heat. Normally we would’ve gone to the beach but this year we had different plans that turned into a day of “playing it by ear.”

Me, being a creature of habit and feeling overheated, felt a strong need to get to a lake. So my niece and I headed to the local lake that has a beautiful walkway trimmed around it. As we were driving the sky started to rumble and large drops of rain sporadically hit the windshield of my vehicle. The clouds didn’t look too stormy and judging by the rain droplets, I assumed whatever was brewing was going to blow over quickly.

For a moment, I was right. By the time we parked and headed on our walk by the lake, there were no raindrops. However, in a few short minutes that changed dramatically. The rain formed a steady sprinkle and by the time we were halfway into our walk we were caught in a massive down pour. When it started raining sideways we decided it was best to turn around and head back to the car.

Did I mention there was limited shelter in the area and lightning was striking over the lakeshore periodically? My niece and I could’ve panicked. But for some reason we just laughed as the rain flooded our heads, faces and clothing. In fact at one point the rain was coming down so hard I could barely keep my eyes open to see where we were going. Once we reached shelter we paused enough to get the water off our eyes and then head back out in order to reach my vehicle and drive home. Once in the vehicle, I had to wring out my shirt and my seats became drenched from soaked clothing. Nonetheless, this was one of the best moments of my life. The rain cooled us off and it was a rare memory that created much laughter with my niece also.

This morning the skies got loud again. The rumbling sound drew me outside to see what was happening. Dark gray clouds were heading my direction and getting noisier the closer they came. The wind was picking up as well. All signs showed one doozy of a storm about to hit. I returned inside and waited for more. Guess what-aside from a five second down pour, this morning’s display was “all talk” with very little action.

Circumstances in life are very much the same way. Sometimes we are hit by situations that nearly blow us over. Sometimes what we expect to be a major uproar turns out to be just a bunch of noise and nothing more. Sometimes, like my niece and I did by the lake, we heed the warning signs and find ourselves up to our eyeballs in a storm that could’ve been avoided. Sure my niece and I made it out and we shared one heck of a laugh as we went through the process but in stormy life circumstances most people aren’t laughing nor do they even know how to get themselves out.

No matter if you’re in a downpour or experiencing a sprinkle, Jesus is the master of the storms. Whether He chooses to calm the storm (like He did for the disciples) or allow you to experience a typhoon like Paul did as a prisoner on a ship, Jesus controls the storm. Even self created storms (brought on by our own sinful choices) can be calmed when we surrender to Jesus and seek His redemption. Jesus may use the storm to break you, but never to destroy you. Also, if you’re being broken by Him, He’s only breaking off what doesn’t honor Him in order for you to grow deeper in and closer to Him.

What situation are you facing today that feels like a major storm? Examine how you got there, confess anything that was self-made (including any lack of trust or disbelief you may be experiencing) and stand on His promise that He will calm your storm and still the waves. Also-ask God for discernment to heed the warning signs and also to know the difference between circumstances that are downpours and ones that are really just light sprinkles or sporadic raindrops.

Published Blogger Friend

Hey all-if you have a You Version account please check out my blogger friend, Randolph Koch’s very first published devotional. It’s titled 9 Keys to Walking In Christ. Below is a taste of what this 9 day devotional is all about:

“How do you walk in Christ? Like eating right and regular exercise, you have to be disciplined in exercising your faith to grow in your walk with Him. God’s word outlines many practical principles that will help you successfully walk in Christ. The aim of this devotional is to guide you through nine of the keys to help strengthen your walk.”

Please comment below if you read this study and be sure to pass it along to your family friends who also have You Version. I’ve already started the plan and can not wait to read day 1.

This publishing is a true testimony to what perseverance and faithfully serving God looks like-especially when faced with multiple closed doors. Seeing my friend’s dream come true is inspirational to keep chasing after my own dreams and trusting God to bring them into fruition in His time and in His way.

I can only imagine how proud your wife and family are but as a fellow blogger I too am very proud of you Randy! Congrats and God bless. Keep using your gift to serve Abba and I know He will continue to bless you with the wisdom that is behind your writings!

A Little Faith

“Then he asked [her], “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?””

‭‭Mark‬ ‭4:40‬ ‭NLT‬‬

This past weekend I was updating my playlist on Spotify. When you look up a particular artist the site will make suggestions of other artists in that same genre. I was downloading some 1990’s pop music and came across Mandy Moore. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I’m a Mandy Moore fan so I downloaded a couple of her songs. One in particular was a rendition of “Have A Little Faith in Me.” I didn’t give it much thought then but later that afternoon when the song started playing God spoke deeply into me and the tears just flowed.

Are you familiar with the song? Read these two stanzas and I’m confident some if not most of you will be moved by them:

“When the road gets dark

And you can no longer see

Just let my love throw a spark

And have a little faith in me

And when the tears you cry

Are all you can believe

Just give these loving arms a try

And have a little faith in me…”

I immediately thought of my children and my heart’s desire for them. I long to be their constant and their comfort in this life. They are teenagers and faced with so many temptations and distractions from what God made them to be. I have to admit we aren’t diligent in attending church every week and our family prayers usually only occur during meal times and bed time. Family devotionals are non existent because of busyness and my being too tired to battle with them over a five minute reading. We do have talks about God but sadly they’re foundation is more sandy than on solid rock. I take full responsibility for failing in building a stronger spiritual foundation for them and my heart worries about their future far too often.

The first thing that ran through my mind when I heard this song was how deeply I long for my children to trust me. As their mom and the person responsible for molding them, I long for them to see that I have 20+ years of experience ahead of them and I only wish to use my wisdom to protect and guide them. As I was dwelling on these thoughts I felt the Lord tell that’s exactly how He feels about me and all of His children. He longs for us to trust in Him and to rely on His eternal wisdom to guide and protect us also.

God then reminded me of a text conversation I had with my daughter the week prior. It was past both our bedtimes and she texted me because she was afraid. She had watched a video on an end of the world prediction (stating the world is suppose to end April 18th) and it was so realistic to her that she was in a panic. I tried explaining the biblical version of the end of the world in an effort to bring her some peace of mind but it was ineffective. I felt myself getting frustrated because I was tired (I did mention it was past bedtime, right?) and being a believer in the Bible’s version of End times, I knew this prediction was utter nonsense. So of course I thought it was ridiculous to be panicked over nonsense.

I finally told her she had a choice to make. She could choose to believe her mom or to believe that video. She never answered that choice but after a few more texts she ended up falling asleep. I however was too on edge at that point to go back to sleep so I ended up watching an hour of a movie.

God used my own words to speak to me. He pointed out I (and you) can choose to trust God or we can choose to trust in our circumstances. When we have a little faith in Him (even faith the size of a mustard seed), we can move mountains (Matt 17:20.) When we choose to trust in our circumstances we build our foundation on sand which means our security and stability is ever changing, completely unstable and can be washed away with every ebb and wave life splashes upon us.

Did I mention that my daughter has admitted to not believing in God? Did I also mention that my son is struggling with his own rebellion that is not becoming of how he is being raised? My heart breaks for my children. My heart is desperate for them to be free of strongholds and walking in a close personal relationship with Jesus. My heart is filled with angst and guilt for the lack of effort I’ve made in developing them spiritually.

Yet God is faithful. He reminded of His work with Abraham and Isaac, Hagar and Ishmael, Jacob and Joseph, Moses and his mother, Hannah and Samuel, and of course Mary and Jesus. Each story is one of a parent or parents crying out to Abba over their child and God being faithful to protect them and bring salvation upon every one of them. He is calling me (and you) to trust that He will keep His promises over our children as well. Just as He did for those in the Bible, He will protect and bring salvation to my children and yours in His time and always in His way.

Take note-faith without actions is dead (James 2:17). So we need to plant seeds of salvation over our prodigal children. We need to cover them with prayer day and night. We need to call out the enemy and his henchmen binding up the enemy’s lies. We need to profess the blood of Jesus over ourselves and our children. And we need to NEVER stop believing in God’s ability to turn their hearts back to Him.

Just now God reminded me of St. Augustine. This was a man raised by a God fearing mother (St. Monica) and a pagan father. Although Augustine was raised in a church, when he reached a certain again his father sent him away to a place that exposed him to many worldly cultures. Monica’s heart was in total anguish. At one point, Augustine denounced God and even created his own religion. It was only when he had been stricken with a near fatal illness that he turned his heart and belief back to God and became an evangelist of his time. Just another example of a prodigal son whose prayer warrior momma refused to give up and whose faith moved mountains that brought about salvation.

Are you a prayer warrior momma bear like me? Are you an armor bearing dad who’s in the trenches willing to engage in spiritual warfare for your child’s eternity? Then fight with the faith of Gideon and pray with the persistence of this woman in Luke 18:

“There was a judge in a certain city,” he said, “who neither feared God nor cared about people. A widow of that city came to him repeatedly, saying, ‘Give me justice in this dispute with my enemy.’ The judge ignored her for a while, but finally he said to himself, ‘I don’t fear God or care about people, but this woman is driving me crazy. I’m going to see that she gets justice, because she is wearing me out with her constant requests!’

Victory for our kids is certain by the power of Jesus Christ and the strength of our persistent prayers! Can I get an AMEN?!

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Lord Above, I Need A Miracle

There’s a Third Day song titled “I Need A Miracle.” The chorus goes like this: “Well no matter who you are and no matter what you’ve done, there will come a time when you can’t make it on your own. And in your hour of desperation know you’re not the only one, praying Lord above, I Need a Miracle.”

Hour of desperation is a pretty powerful lyric. How many have experienced such a time in their life? What does desperation even look like? Hour of desperation is that moment when your circumstance or situation seems completely hopeless. Maybe your jobless and you just ran out of money with rent due tomorrow. Maybe you’re in an abusive relationship and your partner just got drunk again which means it won’t be long before the angry words fly or holes get punched in another wall. Maybe you have a child who’s wandered away from the Christian foundation you built while raising her and says she has no belief in God. Maybe you married the wrong person and you feel stuck because God hates divorce or maybe you’re going through a divorce after marrying a person you believed was from the Lord but turned out to be a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Maybe just maybe, you’re fighting a chronic illness or was just given news of cancer with only moments left of this life and told there’s nothing modern medicine can do. All of these situations and many others not listed are hours of desperation and definitely needs for miracles.

When we pray-God answers. He doesn’t always answer exactly the way we hope or expected, but He answers. Sometimes His answers are provision, redemption, transformation, healing or reconciliation. But sometimes His answers involved a painful refining process where our world is turned upside down and it feels as though He answered completely opposite of what we asked for. What we don’t realize is that refinement is a transforming, redeeming and healing answer that molds us deeper into His image and changes us more into who He designed us to be.

Whatever your Miracle is know this-God is with you. He hears you. And He will answer in His time and His way. When you can’t see His mighty hand moving, cling to the cross-lay your burden down at the alter and trust His way and His timing. Meditate on His word and remind yourself of these words from Jesus Himself:

“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me. If you had really known me, you would know who my Father is. From now on, you do know him and have seen him!”

Don’t you believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words I speak are not my own, but my Father who lives in me does his work through me. Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father. Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”

‭‭John‬ ‭14:1, 6-7, 10-14‬ ‭NLT‬‬

If I can pray for you, please email me at http://www.thewrightwordblogger@gmail.com

The Power of Praise

“Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised, And His greatness is unsearchable.”

Psalm 145:3

Praise-a fairly simple word but at times, most challenging to speak and nearly impossible to do.  But it was David’s go-to through many of the trials he endured.  In fact, the book of Psalms is filled with scriptures of praise!  Don’t get me wrong there are many passages in Psalms where David is crying out to the Lord in great desperation but a lot of those same passages start or end with powerful praises also.  In fact, I want to challenge you to look up each Psalm and see for yourself just how much David praised God.  I am going to challenge myself as well. There are 150 Psalms and I will get through each one but in order to not turn this into a chapter book, I will do a series of posts over the next month covering 10 Psalms in each post searching for David’s accolades to God. So get ready to get your praise on!

Psalm 1-There’s no direct mention of praise in the first chapter but it does start out on a thankful note when David talks about how we are blessed when we delight in the law of the Lord and meditate on His teachings day and night.  Knowing how God blesses us is worthy of praising Him and having a thankful heart!

Psalm 2-This chapter starts out a bit scornful, but through it, David reminds us to worship the Lord (worship is a form of praise), serve the Lord and rejoice (another word for you guessed it-praise!)  David also ends this chapter with a mention that we are blessed when we take refuge in God.  Remember that focusing on our blessings is an act of thankfulness.

Psalm 3-Let the drama begin!  Verse one opens with “O Lord, how my enemies have increased! Many are rising up against me…”  Now I have read the Bible in its entirety and I have studied David’s life before.  But I’m not a scholar on every Psalm to know exactly what was going on in David’s life when he wrote each one.  I can guess this from Psalm 3-David had a few people who were TICKED OFF at him and he was feeling quite helpless.  But in verse 3 he reminds himself (as we also need to do) that God is a shield for him.  He confesses that he sleeps safely because God is watching over him.  He ends this chapter in verse 8 with, “Salvation belongs to the Lord; May Your blessing be upon Your people.”  Speaking God’s truth in the midst of helplessness, reminding yourself Who God is and how MIGHTY He is, that’s a form of worship and in an essence-a form of praise.  For those who disagree-ask yourself this; when you’re listing quality attributes or characteristics of someone to that person, are you not offering them praise?  Well it’s the same with God.  We don’t have to just say “thank you” for it to be considered praising our Heavenly Father.

Psalm 4-David gets direct with God and says, “Answer me when I call…”  He also gets direct with his enemies (“How long will you love worthless things and seek deception and lies.”) His prayer in this one gets even more direct with God when in verse 6 David says, “…Lift up the light of Your face upon us, O Lord.”  (Did anyone else notice he didn’t say “please”?)  But again, David ends this passage with “You have put joy in my heart…in peace I will both lie down and sleep, for You alone, O Lord, make me dwell in safety and confident trust.”  I have to stop right here and point something out that just popped out at me…David ends this passage with “confident trust.”  I’ve gotta be real with you and admit those two words are a HUGE struggle for me.  Anyone else out there wrestle with this or am I the only doubter in the bunch?  Ha-I am confident (no pun intended) there are a few of you who share the same struggle.  I pray this passage and especially those two words inspire us doubters that praise works best when we confidently trust in the Lord.

Psalm 5-In this chapter David is seeking God’s revenge on those who do evil.  It’s reassuring to know that the man after God’s own heart prayed some vengeful prayers.  But again-he didn’t stay stuck in that thought process.  He ends with declaring God’s favor upon himself by saying, “…O Lord, bless the righteous man…surround him with favor as with a shield.” In spite of the fear David wrestled with, the turmoil he was enduring, David knew God’s protection and favor and he declared it over himself and his land.

Psalm 6-When you read the beginning of this chapter you may think as I did, “David has cracked-the pressure has sunk him deep into despair.” At one point, it almost sounds as if he’s saying, “God where are you?  Can you hear me?  Are you even listening?”  I’m thinking he definitely entertained doubt in this chapter.  But even in his admission of weakness, he finds enough strength to declare that God has heard his weeping, God has heard his prayer and that God received his prayer.  That last part is super powerful.  It’s not enough for us to believe God hears our prayers.  We need to believe He receives them as in He has accepted them and will act on them.  This doesn’t mean He says “Yes” to every request we make.  This just means we know that God listens and moves according to His will when we pray.

Psalm 7-David is still struggling with despair and appears pretty weak at the beginning of this chapter.  He even starts thinking maybe God is punishing him.  So he asks God to judge him and if he has sinned to then allow his enemies to crush David into dust.  David was a true warrior-but I think he also wore his heart on his sleeve and felt emotions on an extremely deep level.  He again though stands on God’s truth reminding himself that God is the judge of the people, not man and that although God may punish those who do evil, God shields and defends the righteous.  Then suddenly it’s as if David gets a bit of boldness and he starts describing God’s almighty wrath as if God was Chuck Norris kicking arse and taking names later! In the ends, David writes, “I will give thanks to the Lord…and I will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High.”  David’s choice to praise God is consistent no matter what he is feeling or experiencing.

Psalm 8-This chapter starts and ends with the same exact phrase, “O Lord, our Lord, How majestic and glorious and excellent is Your name in all the earth!”  This chapter is only 9 verses but filled with affirmation to God and a declaration of who God is.  David even humbles himself when he writes, “What is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You care for him?”  David is so much in awe of God that he struggles with comprehending God’s favor over him.

Psalm 9-David again begins this chapter with thanksgiving and praise.  Reading this one I picture David standing on a palace balcony or perhaps at the edge of cliff near the cave he hid in from Saul and I can see him confidently declaring God’s victory over his circumstances, reminding himself that God will conquer his enemies.  In a few of the verses he speaks of calamity that will fall upon the wicked but he describes the stability of the Lord when he says, “But the Lord will remain and sit enthroned forever;…” (Vs 7).  He again reminds himself of God’s protection in verse 9 when he writes, “The Lord also will be a refuge and a stronghold for the oppressed…”  It’s as if David is saying, “You may have a tornado of trouble swirling around you but God is not moved by any of it-He is in control and He is your protector and shelter from this wicked storm!”  Now that’s confident trust.  Am I right?  Oh and he uses those same two words in verse 10 when he declares that he will put his “Confident trust” in God for God does not abandon those who seek Him.  Wow!  That verse alone just made me want to lift my hands up in worship and cry out, “Thank you Abba!”

Psalm 10-Holy bipolar Batman!  And no, I am not making fun of bipolar people.  But when you leave chapter 9 with the mindset that David has increase his faith and then read “Why do you stand so far away, O Lord?  Why do you hide in times of trouble?” in the beginning of chapter 10 you may ask yourself, “What just happened here?”  At least I did.  If David was coming out of the pit of despair in chapter 9, he quickly dove right back in in chapter 10.  This chapter is full of questions and grumbles that I am confident a lot of us can relate to.  David’s not taking a “poor me” stance though-this chapter is more of a “Look at how disgusting my enemies are” stance.  Throughout it I think he either gets bold with God or he cries out in frustration because he writes, “Arise O Lord! O God, life up your hand in judgement and do not forget the suffering.” But then he reminds himself of this, “You have seen it (referring to acts of evil he previously described), you have noted [it],” and “you are the helper of the fatherless.”  Now I don’t know if David was orphaned at this point or if he used the word “fatherless” to simply describe either being absent from his father or lacking that influence in his life.  Regardless, he starts pulling himself back out of the pit by declaring that God hears the desire of the humble and the oppressed, that he strengthens hearts and that he does incline His ear to hear.  He also ends this chapter with verse 18 which reads, “To vindicate and obtain justice for the fatherless and the oppressed, so that man who is of the earth will no longer terrify them.”  Even in his deepest moments of hopelessness, David not only remembered but matter of factly stated that God. Is. Our. Vindicator.

I don’t know what season you’re in but I can tell you what season I’m in…I’m at a crossroads and I am full of despair.  I’ve prayed for deliverance for what seems like years and seeing very little movement from God.  In fact, at times, it’s as if God, like in chapter 10, is “far away and hiding in times of trouble.”  I have prayed for peace, wisdom, strength-all the things you’re supposed to ask for during this kind of season but still struggle with anxiousness and feeling so bogged down that I’m exhausted and scatterbrained.  I cry Every. Single. Day. When I’m not crying, I’m fighting back tears and pouring myself into my work or house cleaning simply to feel some sense of control.  What I’m not doing is handling this season like David did.  And that is coming to an end today.  These first ten Psalms have really turned my focus off my circumstances and back on God where they should’ve been all along.  If you’re in a similar season, my prayer is that you battle your enemies like David did-through prayer, standing on God’s truth and believing in the unbelievable power of praise!

He Never Promised Us a Rose Garden

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to kill and a time to heal…A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance.”  Ecclesiastes 3:1-4 NLT

Can I be bold with you?  Sometimes life just sucks.  For those of you offended by that word, please forgive me but honestly in some situations there’s really no better non-cuss word to use.  Seriously think about it-throughout history there has been generations of people who endured much suffering and I am certain there are people right now in your family or neighborhood who seem to repeatedly get dealt an unlucky hand in the poker game we call life.  Sometimes-we are that person who’s parade is ever being rained on and no matter how hard we fight, crawl, climb, scrape and cry-out for help it seems we’re continuously being knocked down and will forever remain in a pit of bad-luck and despair.

I’ve had my share of “bad luck”-my life has been a whirlwind of high hopes and deep disappointments. I’ve experience sudden deaths of loved ones including my step-dad when I was just 7-years-old.  In my 20’s I lost the one man who was a constant in my life, my grandfather, to lung cancer.  Add to that the betrayal of friends, a few abusive relationships, growing up around violent alcoholics and at times feeling abandoned by own biological father, you could say my life hasn’t been all sunshine and roses. There have been years I felt like I was just moving in circles and other years I felt I was running on a hamster wheel striving to rise above all the junk but really just going nowhere and wearing myself out in the process.

To make matters worse, I’ve seen people I care deeply about have their whole lives turned upside by major tragedies-sometimes it’s a sickness, sometimes it’s a family member (or themselves) battling an addiction, other times it’s a break-up or divorce, sometimes it’s the sudden loss of a loved one or the untimely death of a family member or a friend due to a lengthy illness.  Then I turn on the news or read online and tragedy is splattered everywhere.  Just last week I watched a video of a shell-shocked boy, only 8-years-old being pulled away from rubble and left alone in an ambulance while rescue workers searched for other survivors and casualties.  The clip showed him completely  gray in color covered in ash, with no emotion on his face.  He rubbed his eye, barely blinking, touched his bloodied head and looked at his hand.  The sight of blood on his hand didn’t even excite or upset him.

I cannot tell you how many times I have cried over the tragedy of others.  My heart breaks over my own disappointments and losses but when I see others hurting or going through a trial that just doesn’t make sense I cry for them, I get angry at God for them and there are times I simply ask God, “Why?”  Other times I cry out, “God this is so unfair!”  And I cover them in prayer whenever they come to mind.  When I see others hurting I also tend to want to hug them until their hurt goes away.  I want to make them feel better and make them whole again.  I forget that I am not God and He alone is the One True Healer.  Only God can turn broken hearts into whole ones again.  His word not only says so, He shows how He does it through Job and Ruth.

Ruth was a young widow in a foreign country. Her mother-in-law, Naomi, was engulfed with grief after losing not only her husband but also her two sons.  The only family she had left was her two daughters-in-law.  In that culture it was normal for a sibling to marry his brother’s widow.  Alas, for Ruth and her sister-in-law this was not an option as both siblings were deceased.  Naomi felt her daughters-in-law would be better off returning to their home country for a chance to find new husbands and bare children.  Neither wanted to leave her at first, but after a little urging Ruth’s sister-in-law left Naomi and returned to her home land.  Ruth however clung to Naomi.  One of my favorite verses in the Bible is when Ruth says to Naomi, “Don’t ask me to leave you and turn back. Wherever you go, I will go; wherever you live, I will live. Your people will be my people, and your God will be my God.” (Ruth 1:16 NLT) And Ruth’s persistence pays off because Naomi finally permits Ruth to stay with her.  That decision ends up being the turning point in changing both Naomi and Ruth’s circumstance from despair to redemption.  Ruth lost her husband. Naomi lost her son.  But God placed them in the hands of a kinsman redeemer who became Ruth’s husband and in a way an honorary son to Naomi.  In the ends, Naomi’s friends (or moreover perhaps the town gossips) praise God by saying, “Praise the Lord, who has now provided a redeemer for your family! May this child be famous in Israel. May he restore your youth and care for you in your old age. For he is the son of your daughter-in-law who loves you and has been better to you than seven sons!” (Ruth 4:14-15 NLT)

The other example of God moving a pit dweller into a land walker is good ole’ Job.  In Job 1, he is introduced as a man who fear God and stayed away from evil.  He was also a man who was very wealthy, married and had several children.  Life you could say for Job was “smooth-sailing.”  Along comes satan who mocks Job’s faith by implying Job was only a follower of Christ because God had given him such an easy life.  God’s response?  He allowed the belly-crawler that satan is to attack Job and test his faith.  First Job lost his livelihood.  He had no time to absorb this kind of a hit before he was informed ALL of his children were killed at once.  If that wasn’t enough, God even allowed satan to attack Job’s health and he ended up covered in painful boils. Job didn’t just fall into a pit, he was thrown in by the arrogant punk coward forked tongue fallen angel Lucifer.  AND GOD ALLOWED IT!!!!  For me that is the most shocking part of Job’s story. God allowed a faithful follower of his to hit rock bottom simply to prove that nothing would shake Job’s faith to the point that he would turn against God.

Even though Job grieved, tore his clothing and covered himself in ash-he was credited for not sinning against God during this horribly tragic time.  In the end God restored to Job all that he had lost, two fold.  He doubled Job’s fortune and restored to him the exact number of children Job had lost.  JOb was even cured from his boils. (Job 42)

These are just two examples of restoration and redemption.  God’s word is filled with so many more.  In this life-God still restores and redeem.  If you are going through a difficult time, learning to live life without the person you loved most in it or feeling like you are forever stuck in a pit or just going in circles please be encouraged that God is with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you and just like Psalms 40 reminds us, He will pull us from the mud and the mire.  In fact, I’d like to end this post with Psalm 40.  I pray it encourages anyone who reads it and empowers you to walk tall knowing God is for you, not against you.  If you surrender your wounds to the Father He will make you whole again. Be open to love.  God tends to show His love for us through the love of others.  He’s also been known to use the love of others to mend our brokenness.  Ruth and Job’s hearts were crushed but God not only pieced them back together He enlarged their hearts to love again. After all, they’re hearts had to have grown twice in size at least to love those they had lost and have room to love the ones they had gained also.

“I waited patiently for the Lord to help me,

and he turned to me and heard my cry.

He lifted me out of the pit of despair,

out of the mud and the mire.

He set my feet on solid ground

and steadied me as I walked along.

He has given me a new song to sing,

a hymn of praise to our God.

Many will see what he has done and be amazed.

They will put their trust in the Lord.” (Psalm 40:1-3 NLT)

One final thought before I close-God doesn’t just promise to bind up broken hearts-Psalm 30 tells us He promises to turn our mourning into joyful dancing, and to clothe us with joy (verse 11.)  Grief is part of the process when one experiences loss.  But it’s a process, not a way of life. Eventually to move past grief we have to release the wound and allow God to mend it so that we will no longer have the desire to mourn but instead be filled with joy and gladness once again.

Let. It. Go.

“Do not remember the things that have happened before. Do not think about the things of the past.”

Isaiah 43:18 NLV

Anyone who has a preteen or early teenaged daughter, preschool aged niece or school-aged granddaughter knows about the movie Frozen.  If you’ve walked through the toy department at Walmart, you know about Frozen.  But for those who’ve been off the grid or living in an alternate universe the past few years I’ll give a quick rundown of the movie.

Frozen depicts two sisters, Elsa and Anna, one (Elsa) of which is cursed with a spell that t turns everything she touches to ice.  During one of their playtimes, Elsa accidentally injures Anna with her ice hands and the girls are separated for the remainder of their childhood.  To make the story more dramatic, their parents are killed and Elsa is made queen.  It’s at her coronation ball that the town discovers her curse and she flees fearing her curse has made her an outcast.  At this moment of the movie she builds an elaborate ice castle and belts out the award-winning musical number, Let It Go.

My daughter was in 6th grade when Frozen came out.  And she rode the Frozen fan wagon for a good year. No one could say the phrase “let it go” without her busting out the lyrics to the song.  In the beginning it was cute and we would all burst into song.  But like all things that start out “cute” and get overdone, it became incredibly annoying.  Still to this day, even though she’s now going through her “emo” phase, it’s not unusual for her or my son to burst out in song when those three little words are spoken (and quite frankly I’m guilty of it too.)

In Frozen, Elsa had to let go of her fears and the idea that she was an outcast.  She was actually created for royalty and the curse that was meant to destroy her, became her greatest super power.  How many times have we faced obstacles or setbacks, even felt cursed at times with situations that were created to destroy us.  The enemy will tell us were nothing but a lost cause, or trick us into believing the situation is hopeless.  He’ll do whatever he can to throw us into a pit of despair and keep us there.  But like Queen Esther, God may be saying, “Perhaps you were born for a time a like this?”  (Esther 4:14) Or like Joseph (who was literally thrown into a pit) tells his brothers, “What you intended for evil, God intended for good.”  (Genesis 50:20)

How do we break free from that pit?  We have to let it go.  We have to let go of everything that was created to destroy us. Let go of our past hurts, mistakes, losses.  Let go of our insecurities and doubts.  Let go of the negative self-talk.  Let go of the abusers in our life even.  We have to let it go.  And then, like the saying goes, we have to let go, and let God (take over.)  Trust me, I know all too well that this is easier said than done. But I also know the amazing freedom you will walk in when you finally do let go.

Letting go is a process.  When Elsa belted out that song, she wasn’t free.  In fact, right after her musical breakdown,  she created frozen giants to ward off her sister and others who were trying to save her.  She had to go through the process herself before she could walk in freedom.  That process consists of speaking God’s truth about who we are in Him, aloud over ourselves and our circumstances.  It means we rebuke the enemy’s lies and we call him out for the liar he is.  It means receiving compliments and real love from others.  It also means living a surrendered life to Abba God, stepping out in faith and trusting His lead.

Letting go is similar to jumping off a diving board into unchartered waters near the edge of a dam.  I know, because I did that exact thing two summers ago.  After spending a Sunday afternoon kayaking with dear friends of mine, we gathered near the dam for the men and kids to jump off the diving board.  As I watched I noticed none of the women were jumping in.  We were all just chatting and watching everyone else have a blast being dare devils in the water.  Being somewhat of a dare devil (although at my age it’s much less than what I was as a kid-just as my mom) I decided I needed to step up and be the only woman to take on that diving board.  And I did.  Mind you, there was a grown man in the water ready to catch me if I started to drown.  Nonetheless, when I got to the edge of that diving board and saw how far away from the water I was, I nearly chickened out.  The only thing that pushed me to face my fear was a greater fear of looking like a coward.  I closed my eyes, plugged my nose, thought to myself, “You only live once!” and jumped!  And..I survived.

Although I didn’t start a female diving board club that day-in fact no other women even jumped on that band wagon-I experienced a freedom in letting go of fear.  This is the same freedom we experience when we let go of a toxic relationship, bad eating habits, a habitual sin and negative self-talk.  When we step out on the diving board of life and look down, Jesus is the man in the water, ready to catch us and He will never let us drown.

Whatever situation you’re in today that seeks to destroy the future God has designed for you, I challenge you to step out on the diving board, close your eyes, plug your nose and jump-trusting the Lord to catch you.  If you’re a literal person, stand on your couch or bed and jump picturing Jesus holding out his arms to catch.  Just don’t do anything that will cause an injury or death PLEASE! There’s so much freedom in letting it go.  And since I just wrote those three empowering words, let me help you with the lyrics as you mentally or verbally now break into song:

“The snow glows white on the mountain tonight

Not a footprint to be seen.

A kingdom of isolation,

and it looks like I’m the Queen

The wind is howling like this swirling storm inside

Couldn’t keep it in;

Heaven knows I’ve tried

Don’t let them in,

don’t let them see

Be the good girl you always have to be

Conceal, don’t feel,

don’t let them know

Well now they know

Let it go, let it go

Can’t hold it back anymore

Let it go, let it go

Turn away and slam the door

I don’t care

what they’re going to say

Let the storm rage on.

The cold never bothered me anyway

It’s funny how some distance

Makes everything seem small

And the fears that once controlled me

Can’t get to me at all

It’s time to see what I can do

To test the limits and break through

No right, no wrong, no rules for me,

I’m free!

Let it go, let it go

I am one with the wind and sky

Let it go, let it go

You’ll never see me cry

Here I stand

And here I’ll stay

Let the storm rage on

My power flurries through the air into the ground

My soul is spiraling in frozen fractals all around

And one thought crystallizes like an icy blast

I’m never going back, the past is in the past

Let it go, let it go

And I’ll rise like the break of dawn

Let it go, let it go

That perfect girl is gone

Here I stand

In the light of day

Let the storm rage on

The cold never bothered me anyway!”

One last challenge before I close-that last line, “The cold never bothered me anyway!”- replace the word “cold” with the lies the enemy has been feeding you.  It’s a great start in rebuking the lie and reminding the enemy Who’s really in control.  It’s also a great way to start standing on God’s truth!

Practice Makes Patience

“But if we look forward to something we don’t yet have, we must wait patiently and confidently.”

Romans 8:25 NLT

Patience is not a virtue I was born with.  I’ve said that many times and unfortunately there’s a great truth behind it.  I used to pray for added measures of patience but learned a better way to pray is for opportunities to practice patience.  Yes, you read that correctly-I ask God to give me opportunities to practice patience.  Some of you reading this might be thinking: “Are you crazy?  That’s asking for trouble!”  I’d say “You’re right”-I am asking for trouble because the best way to grow patience is in circumstances that test said patience.  The more opportunities God graces me with, the more my patience will increase.  After all, practice makes perfect, right?

Here’s the area I lack the most patience in-waiting!  It’s the worst for me.  I’m not talking about waiting in line or stuck in a traffic jam (although depending on my day and if I’m in a hurry or not I can lose my patience in those situations also.)  What I’m referring to is waiting in life-on a dream, on an answer to prayer, on a change.  Waiting for the open doors God has for me.  And this “season” of waiting feels like longer than Abraham waited for Isaac or the Israelites waited for their promised land.

What am I waiting for?  God knows what the specifics are but in a nutshell-I’m seeking favor and increase in two specific areas of my life.  And I’ve been waiting for both to come to pass for what seems like an eternity. I have prayed, fasted, attempted to manufacture my own miracles, given up, cried, fell into depression, climbed out the pit and clung to hope again.  I’ve even pulled a Gideon and laid out prayer fleeces asking for specific signs that God heard my prayer and would answer accordingly.

Know what I don’t do-trust God.  Every time I pray I verbally lay my request at the foot of the cross but as soon as I say “Amen” I pick it back up mentally.  I worry, stress, overthink and plan for worst case scenario.  The result-I get in God’s way and end up closing the door myself.  This pattern has took place too much in my life and it’s a terrible habit to break.  In fact just today I woke up sick to my stomach worrying about these requests but unable to find peace, even after praying.  When I ask for a spoken word from Him, He sends me Proverbs 3:5; “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  Not exactly what I was looking for.  When I ask God to specifically show me what’s going to happen and His answer is simply, “Stop overthinking and trust Me”-honestly I get quite frustrated.

There are days I loathe reading Proverbs 3:5.  I want life to be like a book. When the story gets too complicated and I’m too impatient to read on, I simply skip to the end to find out what’s going to happen.  But in real life-we don’t get to skip to the end.  There are seasons that we have to just wait it out.  During that season it will seem like everyone around you is getting your “happily ever after” and you’re sentenced to a lifetime of pit dwelling.  I’ve spent many years thinking the same thing.  But that’s simply not true.  We can either believe the lies the enemy feeds us about our future or we can do what Proverbs 3:5 tells us-simply trust God and stop overthinking.  We can also choose to be content right where God has us. (Philippians 4:11) There’s a reason He makes us wait or takes us on a journey that seems to be opposite of where we want to God. Walking with Jesus doesn’t always makes sense (even His disciples had trouble understanding Him at times) but it always leads to His best for us.  And the secret to peace while we wait-praise.  Praying doesn’t always bring peace.  Especially if you pray like me-obsessively at times just begging God to show me the answer or to make this dream happen or bring this desire to pass etc.  But if I just pray my requests, leave them at the cross and then praise God-I find that peace that surpasses all understanding.  It’s exactly what Paul did when he was in prison (and when he wrote the scripture on choosing to be content in all circumstances.)

If you’re like me and feeling like a modern day Abraham waiting nearly 25 years for your Isaac (that desire of your heart to come to fruition) do what the great waiters in the Bible did-trust Him, worship Him, praise Him and serve Him.  I believe one of two things will happen, God will bring your dreams (and mine) to pass, or He will align our hearts with the desires He has for us.  He promises to keep us in perfect peace when we stay (keep) our minds on Him (Isaiah 26:3).

I want to end today’s post with a prayer of confession as I continue to struggle with this season of waiting.  If you’re reading this and struggling too, please say this prayer with me:

Abba God-I confess to You that I am SO over waiting.  I confess my impatience Lord but what I confess most is my lack of trust in You.  Forgive me for getting caught up in what I don’t have, obsessing over dreams that haven’t come to fruition yet and taking my mind and eyes of who You are.  Forgive me for disobeying Proverbs 3:5.  I give the enemy my joy every time I choose to worry instead of just trusting in You.  Father keep me in Your perfect peace and continue to draw my mind and eyes back to You.  I lay my requests, the desires of my heart, down at the cross and this time Daddy, I’m leaving them there. If it’s Your will Father-I trust You to bring them back to me Your way and in Your time.  If it’s not Your will, I trust You to remove what I should not desire and plant your dreams into my heart.  You are the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords and I am Your daughter.  I am learning that this season of waiting is making me into a modern day Esther and the time will come that I was born for.  I praise You for refining me.  Lord-surprise me because today I place my trust back in You.  In Your precious name I pray, Amen.