Advent, Christmas, Jesus, holidays, rest, busy, busyness, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Long to Return: Resting Our Hearts and Minds During the Holidays

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, December can be a restless month for many. We long to return our souls to rest. How can we calm our hearts in the midst of all the busyness?



It’s December, y’all!

Are you relishing in the cooler weather, holiday traditions, and pretty lights? Maybe you’re more like me with a rush of adrenaline accompanying this month and the feeling that no matter how you try to prepare for the busyness you still always feel caught off guard by it.

Either way, it’s here along with the hustle and bustle, Christmas cookies and school plays, family visits and visiting family. This time of year is supposed to be one of peace and joy. Yet so often it’s easy to be short-tempered and on edge with places to go and deadlines to meet that leave us always going to the next thing.

We want to slow down and enjoy this season and remember our Savior, but the to-do list is daunting. It appears nothing can be cut from it. Let’s face it. December is just plain busy and exhausting!

December can be a restless month for many. We long to return our souls to rest. How can we calm our hearts in the midst of all the busyness? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Jesus #busy #rest #holidays #busyness

Return

You guys, I get it. December sneaks up on me every year. I know it’s coming, but somehow, I’m never ready. My husband works for a shipping company which means, of course, this is their busiest time of year. He’s always working, and we always miss him. Our daily schedule is at the mercy of his daily changing work schedule. The lack of consistency and family time wears on us all. Each year I think I’ll be better prepared, though each year I find myself blindsided, unable to breathe in the midst of the busy.

How do we balance keeping the obligations and traditions that are necessary and important while still finding rest in the middle of the business?

Speaking to Our Soul

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
When I was brought low, He saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

Psalm 116:5-7, ESV

When I need to breathe again, I often go to this passage. Here, the psalmist speaks to himself. “Return, O my soul, to your rest.” As the psalmist did, I must also speak to my own soul. I must reach into my hurried heart and speak the reminder “return to your rest.”

Where does this rest come from? What provides rest to weary, busy souls?  The rest comes in remembering the Lord’s work.

Rest For the Restless Days

Before speaking to his own soul, the psalmist spoke to God’s work in his life. God is gracious and righteous. He is merciful and preserves the simple. When the psalmist sunk into the depths, God saved him. He reminds his soul of this. Yes, soul, “the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” That is where his soul finds rest…in the bountiful work of his God, his Savior.

Following the example in this passage, I speak to my own soul. “Soul, rest in His work. God has dealt bountifully with you. He is faithful. The Lord keeps His promises always. He saved you and called you Daughter. Return, O my worn and weary soul, to your rest. He will refresh you.”

This time of year, we remember and celebrate the birth of Christ. When we see the images of our Savior in the manger, that God-man in infant form, let us speak to our souls. Let us remind our busy minds and distracted hearts of the ways this child King has dealt bountifully with us.

As we sing Christmas carols of infinitely precious truths, let them be reminders to our souls of His gracious care of us.

While we are out and about going from one place to another to attend to our family’s holiday schedules, let us keep with the example of the psalmist and breathe, speaking truth to our souls and find rest in the restless days of December.

Dear one, return, you precious soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

December can be a restless month for many. We long to return our souls to rest. How can we calm our hearts in the midst of all the busyness? Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #Advent #Christmas #Jesus #busy #rest #holidays #busyness

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
breathe, rest, anxiety, Oh Lord Help Us, ministry, Christian, women, encouragement

Breathe: Return to Rest on Life’s Difficult Paths

The paths God leads us on in this life can be hard. He leads me down many tough, but necessary and worthwhile, roads. I want to share a lesson learned while walking towards healing from abuse. It applies to many circumstances. Perhaps one comes to mind as you read. After all, we all struggle to breathe from time to time.



There are days on this healing journey when the bumps in the road take my breath away. Some days, I will be going along and doing okay, feeling what I call normal, and then the anxiety grips me out of nowhere as I stumble over rocks I didn’t see on the path in front of me. I feel the breath being sucked out of my lungs. I breathe in…I breath out. A few second later, I remember I never took a breath in again. I sharply breath in the air though it doesn’t seem to fill my lungs. I have to actively remind myself to take the next breath.

When I forget to breath in, I don’t feel that suffocating feeling you get when you hold your breath for too long. I feel nothing, then I simply remember I did not breathe; even then, I only feel the air racing into my lungs though they never seem to take enough in. My lungs never feel empty. I just don’t feel the lack of air. My lungs never feel full. I just can’t seem to feel satisfied with the air I have. Breathe in…breathe out…breathe in again…breathe out…I keep reminding myself to breathe. On these days, breathing seems voluntary. Breathing takes physical work, and it’s exhausting. Do you ever feel this way?

The paths God leads us on in this life can be hard. This lesson of learning to breathe, and return to rest applies to many circumstances. We all struggle for breath from time to time.

Stumbling

Today I found myself struggling to breathe. All morning, I was fine, but as the day progressed, I began to stumble. I’m not really sure what rock I stumbled on, but my feet couldn’t seem to find the ground anymore. Stumbling blocks are hard to see sometimes, aren’t they. I forgot to breathe. Anxiety began to close in as air was pushed out. I had to tell myself “breathe…breathe…breathe” just to stay alive. My mind began to race, and I couldn’t complete a single thought before more words and more panic started a new one. As I tried to slow down to breathe, my mind kept moving faster until I couldn’t keep up. Just…breathe…

I knew there had to be help somewhere in my Bible, somewhere among the words God has spoken to my soul. But when my mind is racing and all my energy is put into breathing, the Bible seems awfully big and the fresh air I need seems like a needle in a haystack among the pages. So, I pulled out my kindle. I didn’t know what I was looking for, but I knew somewhere in the pages of Scripture was a breath for me. I used the search function, and I started looking for air. And God, ever faithful, showered me with His breath to fill my lungs and settle my soul.

The Lord is gracious and righteous;
our God is compassionate.
The Lord guards the inexperienced;
I was helpless, and He saved me.
Return to your rest, my soul,
for the Lord has been good to you.
For You, Lord, rescued me from death,
my eyes from tears,
my feet from stumbling.
I will walk before the Lord
in the land of the living.

Psalm 116:5-9, HCSB

Returning

The whole of psalm 116 ministered deeply to my suffocating soul. Tucked away in this psalm of praise for God who delivered His child is a reminder. The psalmist recounts the Lord’s faithfulness to him then speaks to his own soul, “Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” And with the psalmist I say “For You, Lord, rescued me from death…my feet from stumbling.” I remember God’s faithfulness. Every step of this journey, I remember God has gone with me and before me. At every stumbling, He has grounded my feet once more on Him, my Rock. He has not condemned me for faltering or sent swift judgement on me for falling down at a sharp twist in the path that caught me off guard. He has indeed been gracious and compassionate as the psalmist points out.

So I begin to remember how God has been good to me.

  • He has called me “daughter”
  • He has been faithful
  • He has stayed with me
  • He has steadied my feet
  • He has calmed my mind
  • He has held my heart
  • He has covered me in His healing balm one wound at a time
  • He has loved me perfectly

At every stumbling, He has grounded my feet once more on Him, my Rock. Click To Tweet

Remembering

Slowly, I remember to breathe again. My mind settles. My thoughts slow down, so I can manage them one by one. These lungs feel fuller. My heart feels His peace creep in and stay. I remember He cares for me. I remember He is faithful even when I stumble, even when I forget to breathe. I forget to remember, and yet, I still breathe. Little by little, I work less and less to breathe as my body takes over what it was made to do on its own without thought. Anxiety falls away slowly as air flows around me once more. He fills my lungs with the air of His promises, and breathing is easy again. And I find joy in every breath I take without giving up because I know that is one more step I’ve taken towards a healing I’ve been promised though I can’t see it from my spot on the road.
“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.”
Breathe in… He is with me
Breathe out… He will never leave me
Breathe in… He is faithful
Breathe out… He loves me perfectly
Breathe in… He goes before me
Breathe out… He knows where He is leading me
Breathe in… He leads me gently
Breathe out… He leads me to His healing…

The paths God leads us on in this life can be hard. This lesson of learning to breathe, and return to rest applies to many circumstances. We all struggle for breath from time to time.

 

Dorothy Lin

Faithful: Pressing On Through Doubt When Tempted to Wander

Like the Israelites, we are prone to wander. Even through our doubt, God is faithful, urging us to press on toward His promises.



Last time, we began the journey of the Israelites from slavery in Egypt to the Promised Land. The Israelites began in a place so broken and hopeless, they scoffed at the hope of God’s promises given through Moses, yet God remained faithful. He stayed true to His promises and did not condemn the children of Israel for their lack of faith. Instead, He strengthened their faith as He remained faithful to bring them out of Egypt, to safety on the other side of the Red Sea.

We all have an Egypt. We all have a Red Sea to cross. But the story didn’t end there. Crossing the Red Sea, freed from slavery only began their journey. They were not yet at the Promised Land. So let’s continue to learn from this story…

After the Egyptians died in the Red Sea and the Israelites found their freedom secure, what did they do? They had a worship service. There on the opposite side of the Red Sea from where they began, they saw God’s promise of freedom fulfilled, and the praised Him!

Then Moses and the people of Israel sang this song to the Lord, saying,

“I will sing to the Lord, for He has triumphed gloriously;
the horse and his rider He has thrown into the sea.
The Lord is my strength and my song,
and He has become my salvation;
this is my God, and I will praise Him,
my father’s God, and I will exalt Him.

Exodus 15:1-2, ESV

Doubt

Though they rejoiced with strength and vigor, their faith quickly turned again to fear and doubt. As they moved on towards the Promised Land, daily life was hard. Water and food were not as easily available as they were in Egypt, and the Israelites did not believe God would provide for them. They quickly began to long for the very slavery they so desperately wanted out of not many days before.

Even as they complained, God still provided. Their faithlessness did not cause His faithfulness to falter. It is impossible for God’s faithfulness to falter due to human faithlessness. Yet as He provided, they kept complaining. They made idols of gold, and they made plans to go back to the slavery of Egypt willingly. In the harsh wilderness, they longed for what was familiar even though it meant chains and slavery.

When they finally reached the edge of the Promised Land, they did not rejoice as they did before. They doubted God and sent their own spies. The report was not good. The inhabitants of the land seemed too powerful to overthrow despite God’s promise to do so for them. Only two of the twelve spies remembered God’s promises and encouraged the Israelites to trust Him who proved faithful again and again. The people ignored them, and they wailed, feeling hopeless once more. They thought it would be better if they died in the wilderness. They called for a leader to take them back to the chains of Egypt.

Retreat

As I considered their desire to go back to the bondage they wanted out of so badly before, I thought about the many times I believe going back to my Egypt—the place of resignation to how life is and that healing isn’t real—is better too. When this journey towards healing feels too hard, I think it is better to go back to the very place I wanted out of for so long. Sometimes, I get to the point where I feel so overwhelmed I can’t see past the moment I’m in. His promises for healing and redemption again seem too far out of reach. Going back appears to be the best choice in the moment, and it seems like the only way to find the relief I am desperate for. I am just like the Israelites once more.

But God wouldn’t let the Israelites go back because He knew it wasn’t best. He led them 40 years in the wilderness, still promising to lead them to the Promised Land, though they now had a very long detour because of their unbelief. He tested them in the wilderness, one year for every day the spies checked out the land. The very generation who wished they died in the wilderness instead of fighting for the land God promised were given their desire. It was their children He would lead into the Promised Land.

When this journey towards healing feels too hard, I think it is better to go back to the very place I wanted out of for so long. Click To Tweet

Wander

He still provided for their every need even when they didn’t believe He would while they complained relentlessly about the journey He was taking them on. He was faithful where they fell short. They were so close to the Promised Land. They stood on its border, but they wandered for 40 long years due to the hardness of their heart.

Therefore, as the Holy Spirit says,

“Today, if you hear His voice,
do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion,
on the day of testing in the wilderness,
where your fathers put Me to the test
and saw My works for forty years…”

Hebrews 3:7-9, ESV

I’m so much like the Israelites so often, but I don’t want to be. I am admonished to learn from their example. They stood on the edge of the promise fulfilled, but because they couldn’t see past the very moment they were in, they gave up and wandered for decades. I do not want to give up when I am so much closer to the Promised Land than I realize, just because I cannot see past the step directly in front of me. I don’t want to wander on this journey longer than I have to.

Like the Israelites, we are prone to wander. Even through our doubt, God is faithful, urging us to press on toward His promises.

Pressing on

When I’m in the wilderness and I want to turn back, I can remember that He is still faithful, even when I can’t hold on to the hope He promises me. I can remember His faithfulness to Israel even in the hardness of their heart. I can remember their hardness of heart and plead with God to remove any hardness I may be harboring, so I can keep walking towards the Promised Land. When I want to go back to my Egypt and just feel nothing again and pretend nothing happened again, I can remember I’m closer to the Promised Land than I think, that the wilderness really is better than Egypt and that God is allowing what is best for me. I can cling to His faithfulness and keep pressing on in the difficult wilderness.

He is still faithful, even when I can't hold on to the hope He promises me. Click To Tweet

I’m in the middle of my own Exodus still. Maybe you are too. Your Egypt and wilderness and Promised Land may be different than mine, but I suspect, if we are honest, we all have an Exodus to travel. We have an advantage the children of Israel didn’t have though. We have their example to remind us to remember who God is, to heed His voice, and not harden our hearts, shutting down again. Also, we have evidence of His faithfulness in the middle of their doubt to remind us He is faithful in the middle of ours.

Sometimes, Egypt seems like a great place to go. The wilderness we muddle through seems too much to bear. The Promised Land seems more like a dream than a reality we will reach one day. We must remember we are in the middle of our own exodus story, and the same God that brought freedom and redemption to the doubting Israelites, leading them every step of the way in the wilderness, is leading the way for us in our wilderness and will bring about our freedom and our redemption just as surely as He did for them. As I was reminded just the other day…keep at it; Jesus is worth it.


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Like the Israelites, we are prone to wander. Even through our doubt, God is faithful, urging us to press on toward His promises.

Nick de la Force

Faithful: Beginning the Journey from Anguish to Hope

The Lord is faithful and leads us on a journey from feeling anguish and hopeless, to a place where we can experience hopefulness.



Growing up in church, it’s easy to glaze over at familiar stories. However, God often times will use these familiar tales to teach me as my husband and I share them with our children. He sets a familiar to me Bible story before my kids and works in my heart just as much as theirs. A while back, God taught me and grew me as I taught my children the story of the exodus.

Before God led the people of Israel out of Egypt, He spoke to Moses, the man He raised up to lead His people out of their slavery. God spoke to Moses this…

“Moreover, I have heard the groaning of the people of Israel whom the Egyptians hold as slaves, and I have remembered my covenant. Say therefore to the people of Israel, ‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment. I will take you to be My people, and I will be your God, and you shall know that I am the Lord your God, who has brought you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. I will bring you into the land that I swore to give to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. I will give it to you for a possession. I am the Lord.” Moses spoke thus to the people of Israel, but they did not listen to Moses, because of their broken spirit and harsh slavery.

Exodus 6:5-9, ESV

The Lord is faithful and leads us on a journey from feeling anguish and hopeless, to a place where we can experience hopefulness.

Anguish

As I read this passage, to which I am well acquainted, how the Israelites responded to these incredible promises God gave them through Moses struck me deeply. They didn’t even listen to him. But did you catch the reason? It was “their broken spirit and harsh slavery”. I never noticed those little words before in the many times I’ve read through the book of Exodus, but it really resonated with me.

I decided to look up the meaning of those words and learned that “broken spirit” can be translated “anguish”. That is a strong word for deep hurt. The Israelites were in such anguish of spirit because of the oppressive conditions they lived under for so long that the precious hope held out before them wasn’t even something they could grab hold of. The children of Israel were completely and utterly hopeless.

I know that place of total hopelessness. Just as the Israelites found themselves beaten down to nothing by their slavery and oppressive conditions in Egypt, so, too, I once lived in my own Egypt.

Hopeless

My Egypt is the place I lived after first disclosing my abuse. It was not well received, and for many years, people who claimed the name of Christ wanted to punish me for what happened and the way trauma was playing out in my life. So, I thought God did not care, and I needed to make it all go away.

I spent a decade pretending nothing happened and trying to hide the impact that “nothing” took on me. Too many people told me too many times I shouldn’t be impacted by what happened if I was truly a new creation in Christ. The less than a handful of times I attempted to reach out for help because “nothing” got that bad, I was shamed or silenced or both. Many times Christians acted as Egyptians beating me down to the point of hopelessness. I resigned myself to the way things were and to the lie that God did not care. Complete and utter hopelessness.

Hopeful

However, a few years ago, I heard a new message from someone else claiming Christ. This message was different than any I’d ever heard. A new pastor told me God does care. He does heal. The way things were is not where God wanted me to stay. This pastor held out hope, true hope stemming from God’s never-broken promises. But I responded just as the Israelites.

Hope was in front of me. Hope from God which cannot fail, yet I couldn’t grab hold of it. Not only did my broken spirit not believe this promise of hope, it simply couldn’t. To believe in hope that things could get better, and for healing to be real, was more than my finite mind, broken by the years in my Egypt, could understand. When God’s promises were held out before me, I didn’t believe it was real. I reacted just like the Israelites when Moses brought them hope for the first time in centuries.

Hope was in front of me. Hope from God which cannot fail, yet I couldn’t grab hold of it. Click To Tweet

Faithful

The story of the Exodus doesn’t end there though. Israel doubted, but God kept the very promises they could not believe. Even in their disbelief, in the midst of their brokenness and slavery, He was faithful. God kept His promises because His faithfulness never depended on their faith. He didn’t condemn the Israelites because they faltered and doubted. No. In the middle of their doubt and sufferings, He had compassion on them. He still showed Himself mighty. God still brought about the freedom and redemption He promised but they couldn’t grasp the hope for.

So God started working. He sent Moses and Aaron to Pharaoh. Pharaoh refused to let Israel go, so God worked miracles in the plagues. As He worked, their faith strengthened and their doubt gave way to trust, faith, and belief. By the time the tenth and final plague was upon the land, God told the Israelites to kill a lamb and put the blood on the doorposts. He gave them all the directions for the Passover meal, and they didn’t question Him. They obeyed and trusted and believed He would spare their firstborn when the firstborn of each household in Egypt died in that last and dreadful plague. And He did.

He then told them to plunder the Egyptians by just asking for their valuables. It is absolutely ridiculous to think people will just hand over their most valuable possessions without a fight because they were asked. Yet Israel believed God and did what He said. They were given their loot, and they left Egypt behind.

By the time they arrived at the Red Sea, their faith was strong. They trusted Him enough to walk through the Sea on dry land, enormous walls of water towering on either side of them. They believed He would hold the water until they got to the other side safely. Of course, He once again proved himself faithful, holding back the water until they were all safely across.

The children of Israel started in a place so broken they couldn’t believe the hope God held out for them. Still God was faithful in the midst of their doubt. He brought about their freedom and redemption just as He promised. In the process, their faith strengthened tremendously.

Journey

I also started in such a broken place that when hope was offered, I didn’t know how to accept it. Intrigued by the prospect the pastor held before me, I moved towards the hope he offered in Christ without believing it was even possible. Yet in my doubt, God remained faithful. He worked healing little by little where I doubted healing could ever touch. I took the first step out of Egypt, and as I moved forward towards the hope offered, I crossed my Red Sea.

The Exodus story isn’t over yet. The Israelites still faced a long journey ahead to reach the promised land. There were still many lessons for them to learn. Just like them, moving towards the hope offered was not the end of my story. I faced a long journey ahead to reach my promised land. God taught me more from this story, but that will be for next time….


If you have found this inspiring, share the encouragement…

The Lord is faithful and leads us on a journey from feeling anguish and hopeless, to a place where we can experience hopefulness.

Denys Nevozhai

safe, unknown, peace

Safe: Have Peace, Even with Questions About the Unknown

I like to feel safe. Most people do, I believe. There are so many things that make us feel unsafe. Usually, though, it seems to boil down to the unknown. We don’t know what will happen, fear easily creeps in, and the comfort of safety disappears. How do we feel safe in a world of unknowns?



Not long ago, I read “The Hiding Place” by Corrie Ten Boom. She was a Christian who hid Jewish people during the Holocaust. The Nazi’s caught her, but she survived her time in a concentration camp. The book is her story, and she passes on great wisdom on finding safety.

While reading the second chapter, which spoke of memories from when she was a little girl some decades before Hitler rose to power, she mentioned one particular memory with her father. Her father, a clock and watch repairman, regularly took her on a train to Amsterdam. She enjoyed the time alone with her father, no siblings or extended relatives around.

She was about ten or eleven years old and after reading something in school she didn’t understand, she asked her father about it. What the question was, she didn’t say, but like most kids, she was curious about topics that were well beyond her years. Her question was a hard one, and the answer was equally difficult. The response Corrie’s father gave stayed with her through the rest of her life.

Her father took down his travel case and asked her to carry it off the train for him. When she tried but couldn’t, she told him it was too heavy for her as it was filled with watch parts and clock parts. Here are the following paragraphs.

“Yes,” he said.  “And it would be a pretty poor father who would ask his little girl to carry such a load. It’s the same way, Corrie, with knowledge. Some knowledge is too heavy for children.  When you are older and stronger you can bear it.  For now you must trust me to carry it for you.”

And I was satisfied.  More than satisfied–wonderfully at peace. There were answers to this and all my hard questions–for now I was content to leave them in my father’s keeping.

What a beautiful picture of a father’s love and protection of his daughter. She asked a question in which the answer was beyond her years, more than her young heart could bear. Her father knew that one day the knowledge she sought would be given, but he understood that the particular moment they were in was not the right time.

He explained she would know one day, but at this time, the answer would be too heavy. He asked her to trust him to carry the knowledge that was too much for her to carry on her own until she was strong enough to bear the weight when her maturity caught up with her curiosity. In her childlike wonder, with her innocence still intact, she was at peace leaving the answers to her hard questions safely in her father’s keeping.

God is a perfect Father to us. The glimpse we see in Corrie’s father is a mere reflection of the love and protection our heavenly Father bestows on us. He promises.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.

Isaiah 26:3, ESV

Facing the unknown threatens our security, and the feeling of being safe. This post discusses how we can have peace in a world full of unknowns.

Safe through the unknown…

In everything we want to know, yet remains unknown, God calls us to leave it in His keeping. It’s safe there. When we leave the unknown—whether knowledge sought, but not gained, or a promise that cannot be made, or a situation we don’t know how will play out—safely in our Father’s keeping, we find peace. Even when the unknown remains, we trust and know our Abba safely keeps it for us. Not only does our Father keep the unknown, He keeps us also.

The Lord is your keeper…The Lord will keep you from all evil; He will keep your life. The Lord will keep your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forevermore.

Psalm 121:5, 6-7, ESV

When we leave the unknown safely in our Father’s keeping, we find peace. Click To Tweet

God keeps us. Nothing in our lives is unknown to Him. He is not caught off guard or surprised by the circumstances we face, not even once. When we are drowning in questions for which we don’t know the answers, we know God holds us safely in His care, and He holds the unknown answers too. His timing in revealing what we don’t know is perfect as well. We find safety, even in the unknown, as we are kept in our Abba’s protection.

So just as Corrie was content to leave her hard questions with unknown answers safe in her father’s keeping, we contently leave our unknowns and even our very lives safe in our Father’s keeping. After all, there is no safer place to be kept than in the arms of our Father.

What do you need to leave safe in your Father’s keeping?


You are intimately known.

But if anyone loves God, he is known by God. 1 Corinthians 8:3, ESV

known, bracelet, beads


If you have found this inspiring, share the encouragement…

Facing the unknown threatens our security, and the feeling of being safe. This post discusses how we can have peace in a world full of unknowns.

Suhyeon Choi

hurt, pain, Hannah, overwhelming, emotions

Emotions: God Can Handle Our Raw and Honest Feelings

The emotions that arise from hurt and pain can be overwhelming. Instead of shutting down, we can be honest with God about our feelings. This post looks at the life of Hannah to learn what to do with our feelings.



If we are honest with ourselves, I think most of us would admit we struggle with emotions. They can be so big and rise so fast. Sometimes we anticipate them while other times they overwhelm us without warning. It’s easy to settle into the extremes of emotions too. It’s often more comfortable to either camp out in believing all emotions are sinful and must be avoided or emotions are all right and must be followed without fail.

For many years, I stayed firmly in the “all emotions are sinful and must not be felt” category. I am really good at numbing feelings or ignoring them. Yet as much as I work to push them aside, they are always there. I succeed in not feeling them for a time, but eventually they cannot be ignored any longer. Plus, as I have studied the Bible more and more, I have seen emotions in the Scriptures in ways that are not sinful. That challenges everything I believe about them and led me to study deeper.

As I dug into God’s word looking for His truth about emotions which He created, God took me deeper into the story of Hannah in 1 Samuel. We may not immediately think of her story when thinking about emotions, but Hannah has much to teach us about feelings and the God who hears.

Hurt and Pain…

Hannah’s story is one of heartache and pain. Her husband married two women, Hannah and Peninnah. Even worse, Peninnah had children while Hannah remained barren. Hannah longed for a child, but she could not conceive. The ache was deep. However, Peninnah taunted and provoked her, deepening her pain. Hannah’s barrenness was thrown in her face time and time again as each month passed as the one before. Grief upon grief, sorrow upon sorrow.

In looking closer at her story, the words used to describe her pain stood out to me. Her various places in her story and in various versions, descriptions of her pain include bitterness of soul, anguish, great anxiety. She is described as deeply hurt and deeply distressed. These are strong words for intense pain. Even if you cannot relate to the causes of Hannah’s pain, maybe you can relate to some of these feelings. I know I can.

So what does Hannah do with this deep, aching grief she carries year after year?

She was deeply distressed and prayed to the Lord and wept bitterly.

1 Samuel 1:10, ESV

Eli, the priest, saw her praying, moving her mouth but praying quietly in her heart. He accused her of drunkenness.

But Hannah answered, “No, my lord, I am a woman troubled in spirit. I have drunk neither wine nor strong drink, but I have been pouring out my soul before the Lord. Do not regard your servant as a worthless woman, for all along I have been speaking out of my great anxiety and vexation.”

1 Samuel 1:15-16, ESV

Earlier in the chapter, it says Hannah wept year after year. Days, months, years would come and go, yet her circumstances remained unchanged, her pain persisted, and tears fell hotly down her face. However, she took those tears, that pain, unashamedly to God.

The emotions that arise from hurt and pain can be overwhelming. Instead of shutting down, we can be honest with God about our feelings. This post looks at the life of Hannah to learn what to do with our feelings.

Honesty…

She poured out her soul. She wept bitterly. These were not quiet tears. She did not pray a prayer merely throwing out a request as if she was okay and it wasn’t important to her. This longing for a child, the taunts from words that cut her to her core, it mattered to her, and she let God know that. It was not drunkenness pouring out of her but pain and grief flowing from a deep bucket inside of her. She came to God anxious and vexed, distressed and broken. She laid all her emotions, no matter how hard or painful or ugly, at the feet of her Father.

Yet He listened. He didn’t turn her away and tell her to repent of being grieved and distressed. No, He heard the cries of His daughter. He welcomed her prayers and her feelings, and He listens and comforts her.

Then the woman went her way and ate, and her face was no longer sad.

1 Samuel 1:18b, ESV

After pouring out her pain and weeping bitterly of anguish and anxiety to her Father, she went on her way, ate, and her face wasn’t sad any longer. Her circumstances were the same. She was childless, and surely Peninnah continued her taunts. Still, God comforted her as she laid her grief before Him in raw honesty.

You probably know God granted her request. She conceived and bore a son, Samuel. Our prayers may not be answered in such fashion, and sometimes the pain just keeps aching, deeper and deeper. Still, we learn from Hannah who prayed such tears not knowing if God would answer the way her heart desired.

Though she knew she may never be given the child she longed for, she still went to God and with unmasked heart, she prayed and wept and found God in her grief. With the load of grief lightened, she walked away with the sadness gone from her face, resting in the promise that her God hears her.

The emotions that arise from hurt and pain can be overwhelming. Instead of shutting down, we can be honest with God about our feelings. This post looks at the life of Hannah to learn what to do with our feelings.

Our emotions…

We each have our own pains, our own griefs, our own buckets inside of us with anguish, anxiety, and hurt. We can try to numb them, not feel them, push them aside, or we can let them push us about on their every whim, unanchored and unstable. But there is another option. Following Hannah’s example, we can come to our Father with unmasked heart, pouring all the brokenness wrapped up in our grief at His feet.

We can weep bitterly, pray honestly, and rest in the promise that our Father hears. Every emotion, no matter how ugly or painful or difficult, we can take to our Abba and know He will meet us in our grief and carry our burdens with us. We can then stand up, though circumstances remain, with heart lighter and face brighter, for our God welcomes us into His arms, emotions and tears and all, gives us comfort, and hears our hearts.

For the God who welcomed Hannah’s weeping prayers of emotions all those years ago, is the same God who welcomes our weeping prayers of emotions today.


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The emotions that arise from hurt and pain can be overwhelming. Instead of shutting down, we can be honest with God about our feelings. This post looks at the life of Hannah to learn what to do with our feelings.

Jordi Ganduxe

adopted, identity, redeemed

Adopted: Knowing Who We Were, and Who We Are

Our identity is made up of who we were, and who we are. We have been adopted, and given a new name. Our identity comes from the One to whom we belong.



Identity. We all have one. Often times our identity is multifaceted to encompass the many parts that make us who we are. It is vital that we understand our identity, but that isn’t always easy.

Half way across the world, there is a little girl who, for reasons unknown, cannot grow up in the family she was born to. Where she lives instead, she is identified by her status as an orphan. She has lost so much, experienced trauma no child should, and though she’s too young to understand it all right now, her identity to those who care for her is tied up in the title orphan. It’s a title she never asked for, born out of trauma she never deserved.

Adopted: A New Identity

This little girl, thousands of miles away, is soon to be my daughter. My family is matched with her. We expect to board a plane, fly clear across oceans, and sign the papers to bring this child into our family. We couldn’t be more excited.

In a moment, with the stroke of a pen, this little girl’s identity will change. She will no longer be an orphan. Rather, she will bear the title beloved daughter. She will no longer own the name that identifies her with the orphanage that now cares for her, but she will own the name that identifies her with our family. She will be a Fox.

I know, this sounds so wonderful and beautiful, and it is. However, my husband and I signing a paper will never undo the parts of her story that left her without the family she was born into. We can never remove that part of her story. We wouldn’t want to. It’s part of what makes her, well, her. However, in that moment when the adoption is finalized, she will not be identified by her trauma, her orphan status anymore. Those parts of her story remain, but she will be identified by her family.

When she receives her new identity as daughter, sister, Fox, she won’t understand what that means. She will join our family still living from the vantage point of all she’s ever known…a child without a family. All the coping mechanisms she has developed and uses to get by in an institution she will continue to use in our family. She will join our family scared and untrusting because she has grown up so far only counting on herself.

She will not understand how her new identity changes life for her. We, as her family and parents, will patiently love her and teach her and watch her grow into the identity that will already be hers once the papers are signed. Her identity will be secure, but we will come alongside her and help her learn that and trust that because it won’t be instant. We will stick with her no matter how long it takes as she heals from her trauma in the context of a loving family all the while learning what it means to be a daughter.

We will sit with her, listen to her, cry with her, laugh with her, join her in memories she has from before she joins our family, make new memories with her as part of our family. We will share her pain and her joy, her fears and her courage. It will be full of broken beauty, and we know God will be with her, with us, in all of it.

Adopted: Who We Were

Can you see the gospel yet? Do you see your own adoption into God’s family?

In similar fashion, I am adopted into God’s family. Before, my trauma identified me. Those years of abuse touched and wounded places so deep inside me it became me. The effects showed in every aspect of me. Yet, my identity as beloved daughter was sealed and secured the moment God saved me.

Just like that little girl across the world, when I received my new identity in Christ, I did not understand what it meant, how it changed life for me. The coping mechanisms I developed and used to survive the trauma continued. The effects of my experiences on me did not just disappear. God doesn’t erase the years of trauma. That remains part of my story, but now, in God’s family, that does not define me. It is not my identity any longer.

Our identity is made up of who we were, and who we are. We have been adopted, and given a new name. Our identity comes from the One to whom we belong.

Adopted: Who We Are

Though I was a victim, I am not A Victim. Now, God calls me My Delight is in Her.

You shall no more be termed Forsaken…but you shall be called My Delight is in Her…

Isaiah 62:4, ESV

Over the years since God brought me into His family, He continues to patiently love me, teach me, grow me into the identity He secured for me on the cross all those years ago. I came to Him scared, unsure how to trust, living still from the identity of my trauma that was so familiar. He came alongside me and still does, teaching me what it means to be Beloved Daughter.

Surely He has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows…

Isaiah 53:4, ESV

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty One who will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you by His love; He will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17, ESV

This growing into my identity in Him, in His family, is ongoing, yet He is with me daily through it all. He sits with me, listens to me, weeps with me, laughs with me. He meets me in the memories that haunt me, and He joins me in new memories with Him and His family, my family. He shares my pain and my joy, my fears and my courage. It is broken. It is beautiful. It is redemptive. It is adoption.

Our identity is made up of who we were, and who we are. We have been adopted, and given a new name. Our identity comes from the One to whom we belong.

Your turn…

What identity of your past do you find hard to shake?

Look to your Abba Father who is with you, teaching you, growing you into the identity of His daughter He secured for you long before you knew Him.

His Delight is in You.


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Our identity is made up of who we were, and who we are. We have been adopted, and given a new name. Our identity comes from the One to whom we belong.

Jenna Christina


I was afraid, and running, and broken; but God loved, pursued, and redeemed me. It is because of this that I am beautiful, and enough.

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Right: Forging New Paths Through the Valleys of the Unknown

The new year often brings with it excitement at new possibilities, but it also brings with it a lot of the unknown. It’s easy to struggle knowing which way is the right way to forge ahead. How do we face all that is to come…the good and the bad, the planned and the unexpected?



It’s hard to believe a new year is already upon us. The older I get, and really I’m not old at all, the faster time seems to move. Still, with each new year comes a sense of new beginnings. The struggles of the last year are met with a renewed hope that this year could be the year of finally seeing God’s promises fulfilled. Anticipation at what may come and perhaps a tinge of nervousness about the unknown propel us to look at the future feeling ready to make the coming year better than ever…at least that’s what we plan, right?

As we enter together into a new year, I want to look to a well known psalm to give us a well balanced view into what lies ahead—both what we know and what remains unknown. I want us to anchor our anticipation of what we expect to happen and our uneasiness of the unknown which occurs without warning in the One who is with us through all of it. So let’s take a look at Psalm 23 (HCSB).

The Lord is my shepherd; there is nothing I lack.
He lets me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
He renews my life; He leads me along the right paths for His name’s sake.
Even when I go through the darkest valley, I fear no danger, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff—they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
Only goodness and faithful love will pursue me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the Lord as long as I live.

The new year brings excitement and new possibilities, but it also brings a lot of unknown. We struggle with which way is the right way to forge ahead.

Right: When the path makes sense

There is so much in these six verses. I’m not going to take one verse at a time, but I want us to look at each thought chunk. No one knows everything that will happen in the coming year. However, we can start each year with the truth that God is our Shepherd.

He guides us, His sheep, along the journey prepared for us. As such, there will be places on the path this coming year that are still, peaceful, calm. There will be green pastures and quiet waters to rest and refresh and renew our lives in. These are the paths that feel right. When I am in green pastures, calmed by the sound of quiet waters gently flowing, all seems right in my world. I breathe easy. There is a lightness to life in these renewing and refreshing places along the path.

Right: When the path turns unexpectedly

However, sometimes I find the path taking me down a dark turn. The road turns rocky, and I quickly lose my balance. Stumbling over stubble I didn’t see, I fall. The unexpected leaves me beaten up and bruised. The darkness surrounding me finds me fearing the unknown that lies ahead. Certainly I took a wrong turn. Nothing about these parts of the path feel right. Surely, I’ve wandered down the wrong trail.

Yet the right paths David, the psalmist, mentions go from green pastures and quiet waters of renewal right into the darkest valley. Many translations call it “the valley of the shadow of death.” The dark places in life, they can feel that way, can’t they. David acknowledges that our Lord, our Shepherd leads us on paths that include the dark valley—“even when.” There is no if. The right path He leads us on for His name’s sake will make its way through darkness and valleys.

While in the darkness, the lies are easier to believe because I cannot see. I retreat within myself thinking I am safer only trusting me.  Shrunk into myself, I listen to the lies running on repeat in my head and forget the truth. I find myself trapped, afraid to take the next step without knowing where it will take me…is it leading me to the way out? Is it taking me deeper into the darkness, further into the valley? I feel certain I am alone.

The new year brings excitement and new possibilities, but it also brings a lot of unknown. We struggle with which way is the right way to forge ahead.

Right: An anchor to steady stumbling feet

Thankfully, there is comfort even in the darkness, in the valleys I must travel through one step at a time.  Even in that valley where darkness surrounds me and panic easily takes over, I do not have to fear.  I am not alone.  Danger may lurk in the darkest valley, but I can take comfort knowing it will not overtake me.  God is with me.  Though I may not see Him in the dark, He is still there.  He has not, He will not, leave me.

Dear ones, when you too find yourself in the dark or the valley, afraid and feeling alone, remember this one truth. He is with you. When you don’t see the danger up ahead, He does. He is still a good Shepherd, and He cares for you even in the valley of the shadow of death. This path is still right. His kingdom purposes are still working in your life. Though you may not see, He is the God who sees. Though you may stumble and fall, He will lift you up and place your feet on solid ground again. Fear no evil, for your God is with you in the darkness, the valley, the unknown.

We cannot know what lies around the corner. Perhaps around the bend the light dawns and quiet waters bring much needed renewal. Or maybe just around the bend the light dims and darkness sets in. The unknown is often frightening itself. Yet we know, our Shepherd guides us and stays with us both through green pastures and dark valleys. In the end, when our path on earth is complete, we find the path—with the darkness and the pastures—lead us to dwell in our Father’s house forever.

Right: Considering the path ahead

Whether we are in green pastures by quiet waters or stumbling our way in the darkest valley, we must anchor ourselves on the truth that God is with us in all of it. The times we feel we must have taken a wrong turn, we find assurance that this valley is still the right path, and God is still with us. Other times, while He renews us by quiet waters in green pastures, we breathe deeply of His faithfulness to always lead the way.

As you enter into this new year, as you walk the path laid out before you, remember this one truth. The Lord, your Shepherd, guides you.

Are you in green pastures? The Lord, your Shepherd, renews you there. Breathe deeply. He is with you.

Are you in the darkest valley? The Lord, your Shepherd, sees for you there. Take heart. He is with you.

Are you fearful of the unknown ahead of you? Fear not. The Lord, your Shepherd, is with you.


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 The new year brings excitement and new possibilities, but it also brings a lot of unknown. We struggle with which way is the right way to forge ahead.

jens johnsson


The valley is dark and full of unknowns, but God loves us. In this love, fear no longer remains.

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busyness, return, rest

Return: Finding Rest in the Restless

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, December can be a restless month for many. We long to return our souls to rest. How can we calm our hearts in the midst of all the busyness?



It’s December, y’all!

Are you relishing in the cooler weather, holiday traditions, and pretty lights? Maybe you’re more like me with a rush of adrenaline accompanying this month and the feeling that no matter how you try to prepare for the busyness you still always feel caught off guard by it.

Either way, it’s here along with the hustle and bustle, Christmas cookies and school plays, family visits and visiting family. This time of year is supposed to be one of peace and joy. Yet so often it’s easy to be short tempered and on edge with places to go and deadlines to meet that leave us always going to the next thing.

We want to slow down and enjoy this season and remember our Savior, but the to do list is daunting. It appears nothing can be cut from it. Let’s face it. December is just plain busy and exhausting!

You guys, I get it. December sneaks up on me every year. I know it’s coming, but somehow, I’m never ready. My husband works for a shipping company which means, of course, this is their busiest time of year. He’s always working, and we always miss him. Our daily schedule is at the mercy of his daily changing work schedule. The lack of consistency and family time wears on us all. Each year I think I’ll be better prepared, though each year I find myself blindsided, unable to breathe in the midst of the busy.

How do we balance keeping the obligations and traditions that are necessary and important while still finding rest in the middle of the business?

Return: Speaking to Our Soul

Gracious is the Lord, and righteous;
Our God is merciful.
The Lord preserves the simple;
When I was brought low, He saved me.
Return, O my soul, to your rest;
For the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.

Psalm 116:5-7, ESV

When I need to breathe again, I often go to this passage. Here, the psalmist speaks to himself. “Return, O my soul, to your rest.” As the psalmist did, I must also speak to my own soul. I must reach into my hurried heart and speak the reminder “return to your rest.”

Where does this rest come from? What provides rest to weary, busy souls?  The rest comes in remembering the Lords work.

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, December can be restless. How can we return our souls and hearts to calmness in the midst of all the busyness?

Return: Rest For the Restless Days

Before speaking to his own soul, the psalmist spoke to God’s work in his life. God is gracious and righteous. He is merciful and preserves the simple. When the psalmist sunk into the depths, God saved him. He reminds his soul of this. Yes, soul, “the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” That is where his soul finds rest…in the bountiful work of his God, his Savior.

Following the example in this passage, I speak to my own soul. “Soul, rest in His work. God has dealt bountifully with you. He is faithful. The Lord keeps His promises always. He saved you and called you Daughter. Return, O my worn and weary soul, to your rest. He will refresh you.”

With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, December can be restless. How can we return our souls and hearts to calmness in the midst of all the busyness?

This time of year, we remember and celebrate the birth of Christ. When we see the images of our Savior in the manger, that God-man in infant form, let us speak to our souls. Let us remind our busy minds and distracted hearts of the ways this child King has dealt bountifully with us.

As we sing Christmas carols of infinitely precious truths, let them be reminders to our souls of His gracious care of us.

While we are out and about going from one place to another to attend to our family’s holiday schedules, let us keep with the example of the psalmist and breathe, speaking truth to our souls and finding rest in the restless days of December.

Dear one, return, you precious soul, to your rest, for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.


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With the hustle and bustle of the holidays, December can be restless. How can we return our souls and hearts to calmness in the midst of all the busyness?

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Healing: Understanding that God’s Goodness May Be Uncomfortable

God promises healing of our wounds, but this can be an uncomfortable process. Understanding this, we can trust His goodness and accept His healing.



“Mommy, why do my eye lashes feel weird?” A quick look at my preschooler’s eyes, and I knew we woke up to pink eye. Ugh. Pink eye is just gross, but really, it’s not a big deal. We went to the doctor, who took one look at him and declared it was, in fact, pink eye, and left for the pharmacy to get some antibiotic eye drops. One week later all is well, and the pink eye is gone.

You may be wondering how in the world this little family adventure of mine has any connection to God, but God oftentimes uses my children to teach me about Himself. This small hiccup with pink eye was no exception. I’m sharing today what God taught me about Himself as I cared for my little guy.

Healing: Uncomfortable

To treat the infection, I gave my son one drop of medicine in each eye three times daily for a week. At first, eye drops excited him. It was the novelty of it really. His older brother used eye drops in treatment, and little brother thought “cool, now I can have eye drops too.” Then the first drop hit his eye. It was not a pretty sight. He wailed. He realized eye drops are just not fun. The first few days, it was a tremendous battle to get those tiny drops in his eyes, but I had to win this battle.

Though he hated the drops, they were necessary to heal his eyes. There I was, three times a day, making my own child cry. I didn’t like it any more than he did, but I understood that this unpleasant week was for his good in the end. My actions towards him that caused his discomfort and crying came from a place of care. The deep, unwavering love I have for my child meant doing what was best for him even when he didn’t like it.

I am also healing from deep wounds at the moment. They are not visible like my son’s pink eye. There is no medication to make it better in a week, but there is healing. God is the Great Physician. My wounds, the deep wounds of childhood trauma, can heal. He promises.

The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.

Psalm 34:18, ESV

Yet He isn’t only near to the brokenhearted but…

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.

Psalm 147:3, ESV

God promises healing of our wounds, but this can be an uncomfortable process. Understanding this, we can trust His goodness and accept His healing.

Healing: Understanding

Many times in this healing process, which is not a fast one, I find myself facing a next step that I don’t like. Like the eye drops, it’s not fun. There is discomfort. It is hard, and I don’t want to go through it. Just like my child battled against me as I gave him healing medication, I battle against God as He leads me along this healing journey.

I feel the brokenness. I gush from the wounds. Yet the binding and the healing doesn’t feel good, and often it feels worse before any semblance of relief hits. I fight against my Father who only wants what is best for me, even when I don’t like it.

I was reminded, as I saw myself in my son, just how good my Father is.

Withholding eye drops from my son because he didn’t want them would not have made me a good mother, though he would have been quite happy. That would have caused him more harm in the long term as the infection would continue to get worse. Providing him with care no matter how much he disliked it was the loving action to take. I was a good mother to him because I did what was best for him.

My good parenting moments are such a small, imperfect reflection of the goodness of my Father. As I considered the good I was doing despite my child’s protests, I found my own heart softened to the next steps in healing that my Father was lovingly taking me on. I did not like what lay ahead, but I found comfort knowing I have a good Father who is binding my wounds and healing my heart even when it hurts, or makes me uncomfortable. Though I protest, He is still good in continuing to provide what I need as He heals me. He is a good Father, and He always does what is best for me, His beloved daughter.

God promises healing of our wounds, but this can be an uncomfortable process. Understanding this, we can trust His goodness and accept His healing.

Healing: Acceptance

Sometimes the places we need healing require a treatment we would rather not endure, and we protest. Being honest, we all battle against our Father sometimes, don’t we?

What places in your heart is God bringing about healing, yet you still find yourself fighting against Him?

Sister, let me remind you how good your Father is. That healing and binding that is causing your discomfort and maybe is downright painful…He is only doing it because He is good, and He knows what is best for you.


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God promises healing of our wounds, but this can be an uncomfortable process. Understanding this, we can trust His goodness and accept His healing.


You may feel broken, but God loves you, and pursues you, and will redeem you and your story!

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