Faith, focus, perspective, strength, mountains, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Finding Perspective: Focusing Your Eyes on Jesus

Many difficult experiences in life, shift our focus to the chaos around. Finding perspective is key. Keeping our eyes on Jesus gives us the strength to carry on.



Mountain Top Experiences

In Bible times, when someone wanted to fully experience the presence of God, to clearly hear His voice, to embrace His power completely, they took to the mountains. There is just something about being on the peak of a mountain that not only moves you physically closer to God but spiritually as well. You cannot be atop a mountain, walking among the clouds, without being in awe of its Creator and His all-mighty power.

We all have difficult experiences in this life. Finding perspective is key. Keeping our eyes on Jesus gives us the strength to overcome any difficulty. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #faith #focus #perspective #strength #mountain

Finding Your Burning Bush

It was at the top of Mount Sinai, the mountain of God, where Moses first encountered God in the form of a burning bush. On this mountain, God commissioned Moses to lead the people of Israel out of their slavery and oppression (Exodus 3:1-10).

It is this same holy mountain that Moses returned with the Israelites, where he received the Ten Commandments (Exodus 19-20). It is this same mountain that Moses climbed to be in the very presence of God, to seek His guidance for the journey he must make to the Promised Land.

If it is true that you look favorably on me, let me know your ways so I may understand you more fully and continue to enjoy your favor…The Lord replied, ‘I will personally go with you, Moses, and I will give you rest—everything will be fine for you.’ … ‘I will make all my goodness pass before you…but you may not look directly at my face, for no one may see me and live.’

Exodus 33:13-14 & 19-20, NLT

Finding Your Silent Strength

During Jesus’ ministry, He dealt with all of the same stressors that we as humans face today, only to a much greater degree. He frequently retreated to the mountains to pray for strength and guidance; to just be rejuvenated. If Jesus needed time alone to speak with God, how much greater is our need for moments of solitude and solace?

On these mountain tops, Jesus imparted some of His greatest words of wisdom, including the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). It was on the top of a high mountain that Jesus was transformed and His glory shown to the disciples.

There He was transfigured before them, his face shown like the sun, and His clothes became as white as the light.

Matthew 17:2, ESV

While that kind of experience was not necessarily my intention when I started my journey up the mountain, that was definitely how it ended.

Finding Your Faith

There have been many great lessons learned at the peak of a mountain, and I am sure that mine is not nearly as profound as some, but I did learn that food poisoning and climbing, or should I say descending, mountains do not really mix. The climb up the mountain was filled with breathtaking views and tranquility. However, the climb down was a much different story, one that was filled with a different kind of beauty. The kind of beauty that can only be felt when you go through the fires and come face-to-face with God.

Shortly after eating our lunch on top of Mt. LeConte, I suddenly began to feel very sick. I later realized that the hummus I had just consumed was maybe not the best choice. Instead of being properly refrigerated, it sat in a hot backpack the day before and overnight. I can tell you, it will probably be a good, long while before I eat hummus again; it is definitely not as good the second time around. Some of you may think it’s not even that good the first time.

Just Keep Walking

I knew there was only one way off that mountain, and it was 6 miles of hiking through treacherous terrain. So, I did what I had to do, I just kept walking, and I prayed–I prayed like someone who has come to the end of themselves and knows that they won’t be able to make it on just their own abilities. I pleaded with God, “Lord, please help me make it down this mountain!” And a verse immediately came to mind:

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

Psalm 23:4, KJV

Jesus Will Meet You Where You Are

I have always been comforted by the story of Peter walking on water. Shortly after Jesus had descended the mountain, where he had been praying alone, He met the disciples who were already out in the middle of the lake. And by met them there, I mean He walked across the stormy waves to where they were tucked safely inside their vessel. Jesus beckoned to Peter:

‘Come,’ He said.

Matthew 14:29, NIV

Keep Your Eyes On Jesus

And Peter cast his fears and anxieties aside and put his faith in Jesus. He left the safety of his boat behind to brave the deadly seas. The world was quite literally crashing down around him. But he remained unscathed as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus. However, like most of us, he became paralyzed by the chaos surrounding him.

But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, ‘Lord, save me!’

Matthew 14:30, NIV

It was that same calm voice that cried out to Peter that I heard calling out to me:

“KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME.”

It became a chant in my head:

“KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME.”

As I walked over thin strips of land, with only a cable to hold on to on one side and a sheer dropoff on the other:

“KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME.”

While traveling down slick, steep rocks:

“KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME.”

Steep Cliff at Mt. Leconte
Finding Perspective

Finding Perspective

And I did, I kept walking, and I kept my eyes transfixed on Jesus. And after a while, I began to feel better, until I had only a couple of miles left to go, and I again became very ill and weak.

My mouth was parched. I knew I was dehydrated, but every time I tried to take a drink, it only made my stomach start to churn. I sat down and didn’t know how I was going to be able to get back up and finish. Again, that still, small voice returned. Only this time, with a slight difference.

“KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME. YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!”

So, I shakily got back up and did the only thing I could, I just kept walking and walking and walking…with Jesus’ voice encouraging me until I eventually made it to the crystal clear, flowing stream and serene waterfalls that I enjoyed so much at the beginning of the hike.

He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Psalm 23:2-3, KJV
Flowing Brook on Alum Cave Trail to Mt. Leconte
Finding Perspective

When we focus on God’s power instead of our problems, we can face even the most treacherous mountain. Finding perspective helps us face our mountains. And we all have our mountains. Times when there are steep cliffs surrounding us, and one false step feels disastrous. Rocky terrain that is difficult to maneuver. A difficult stretch of land that seems like it will never end. Days when we feel we just can’t go on.

In those times, when you just can’t do it on your own, Jesus whispers:

“KEEP YOUR EYES ON ME. YOU’RE ALMOST THERE!”

When we focus on God’s power instead of our problems, we can face even the most treacherous mountain. Finding perspective helps us face our mountains. Click To Tweet

We all have difficult experiences in this life. Finding perspective is key. Keeping our eyes on Jesus gives us the strength to overcome any difficulty. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #faith #focus #perspective #strength #mountain

unsplash-logoWillian Justen de Vasconcellos
chronic illness, mental illness, circumstances, hardship, moments, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Circumstances: Allowing God to Use Us through Moments of Hardships

Unexpected circumstances can be crushing, but there is purpose in our hardships. We can allow God to use every moment for His glory.



Life very rarely goes as planned. But it is in those unforeseen hardships, those moments that catch us completely off guard and knock us to our knees, we find God and we find out who He wants us to be. And in those circumstances when we feel we are the most unusable, that is exactly the moment when God chooses to use us.

Maybe you have been there. Maybe you still are. A diagnosis you weren’t expecting. A spouse that has chosen not to honor the vows once professed. The loss of a job. A child who has renounced their faith and their family. All of these circumstances have one thing in common–they strip us of the identity we thought we had and leave us grieving for the life we thought we would have. But the Bible tells us that we are given a new identity in Christ (2 Corinthians 5:17).

‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’

Jeremiah 29:11, NIV

Unexpected circumstances can be crushing, but there is purpose in our hardships. We can allow God to use every moment for His glory. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #ChronicIllness #MentalIllness #hardships #moments #circumstances

Unexpected Circumstances

I have had a lot of unexpected health issues this past year. In February, I suddenly started having some unexplained severe back and neck issues, along with some scary symptoms that have kept me from being able to do a lot of my regular daily activities.

Initially, I did what I always do when I have a health concern, ignore it and hope that it goes away. I know this may not sound like sage advice, but in all honesty, it seems to have worked for me more times than not. However, this time the problem didn’t go away; it only seemed to intensify. Even now, the doctors have not been able to figure out the root cause.

There is nothing more terrifying than not knowing what is wrong or if it will ever improve. Especially if you are an overthinker. My life was altered drastically overnight, and I felt imprisoned by the things I could no longer do. 

Some days, doing ‘the best we can’ may still fall short of what we would like to be able to do, but life isn’t perfect–on any front–and doing what we can with what we have is the most we should expect of ourselves or anyone else.

Fred Rogers, The World According to Mr. Rogers

But in all the “not doing”, there were also things that I was now able To Do that normally would have taken a backseat. While there were plenty of losses, there were just as many gains.

The Gift of Humility

In Kyle Idleman’s book, The End of Me, he says, “I’ve come to realize that if me gets his way, I’ll miss out on the real life I’m meant to live. The life in which I love others and make a difference in the world.”

Not being able to do what I wanted forced me to follow the path God had laid out for me.

What if getting the one thing you wanted would keep you from the blessings God has planned for you?

What if it would keep you from making a difference in someone else’s life?

God does not waste our pain. He uses every bit of our circumstances for His glory.

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

Romans 8:28, NIV

The Gift of Empathy

I have found that I am much more capable of understanding someone else’s pain when I have personally experienced it. It is so much easier to give someone else grace when I myself have needed it. Not only have I had more time this year to help, but my eyes and my heart have been opened to the needs surrounding me. Since I am not able to do as much physically, God led me to help in other ways.

I started writing inmates as part of a prison ministry, and one of the ladies began a Bible study in the prison with the study I sent her. I have connected more with my elderly neighbors. And I have had time to sit on the phone with friends and just listen. Sometimes you may have nothing else to offer someone besides your support and your prayers, but there is no act of kindness that is too small.

Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.

Matthew 5:7, NIV
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So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.

Matthew 7:12, NIV

The Gift of Community

I have always had a difficult time asking for help. I don’t know why that is. Maybe I subconsciously equate it with being lazy or weak. Maybe it’s because I have a hard time trusting others. Or maybe it’s because I find it terrifying to relinquish control. Most likely, it’s a little bit of all three.

Whatever the underlying reason, this has always been one of my weaknesses. But what do you do when there are things you just can’t do yourself? Well, you learn pretty quickly to swallow your pride and ask for help. And you learn to trust in the faithfulness of God and the kindness of others. We all fall down sometimes, that is why God surrounds us with a community of fellow believers to help lift us back up.

Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

Ecclesiastes 4:9-10,12, NIV

The Gift of Perseverance

The most important lesson I learned is to just KEEP GOING. In the powerful words of Martin Luther King Jr., “If you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”

I only had two options. I could either focus on what I was no longer able to do and just give up on life or I could focus on what I could do and live my life to its fullest potential.

Like Lot’s wife, I could gaze longingly at the life I once had, only to turn into a pillar of salt, or I could keep my focus on the Promised Land ahead. I was encouraged by the lyrics of Leonard Cohen’s song, Anthem.

Ring the Bells That Still Can Ring

Forget Your Perfect Offering

There Is a Crack In Everything

That’s How the Light Gets In.

Leonard Cohen, Anthem

Ring the Bells

That soon became my mantra. Whenever I got frustrated about something I couldn’t do, I reminded myself, “Ring the Bells That Still Can Ring”. I listed all the ways God was using me where He couldn’t before. Yes, my life is different than it used to be, but not all change is bad. 

  • Joni Eareckson Tada was paralyzed after a diving accident, yet she has become a positive and influential Christian writer and speaker. God has used her circumstances to encourage others with similar disabilities.
  • Thomas Chisholm had planned to be a preacher in a small town in Kentucky, but when sickness kept him from his plans, he spread the gospel in another way. He wrote over 1,200 poems, many now hymns. One of his more popular hymns, Great is Thy Faithfulness, is still sung all around the world today. 
  • Sheila Walsh’s father committed suicide and she herself had a very public battle with anxiety. Through her writing, speaking engagements and television programs, she has used her personal experiences to help end the stigma surrounding mental illness.

If our lives did not need to be redeemed, would it be possible to have as deep of a relationship with our Redeemer? There is a crack in everything. That is how the Light gets in.

What if you have come to current circumstances for such a time as this? What if your pain has brought you to your purpose?

It is in those unforeseen hardships, those moments that catch us completely off guard and knock us to our knees, we find God and we find out who He wants us to be. Click To Tweet

Unexpected circumstances can be crushing, but there is purpose in our hardships. We can allow God to use every moment for His glory. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #ChronicIllness #MentalIllness #hardships #moments #circumstances

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt
darkness, encouragement, devotional, scripture, hope, legacy, light, words, love, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Words: Living and Leaving Behind A Legacy of Love and Hope

Words are the most powerful weapon and have a long-lasting impact. May we live and leave behind a legacy of love and hope through the words we speak.



Have you ever been encouraged by someone else’s words? A friend? A family member? A teacher perhaps?

The word encourage is defined as “to speak courage into”. To speak courage into! How many times have we needed that in our own lives? And what a great comfort when we find it. Some of the best words stick with us for a lifetime. Their power seems only to increase when the one who spoke them is no longer around.

Words are the most powerful weapon and have a long-lasting impact. May we live and leave behind a legacy of love and hope through the words we speak. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #words #legacy #hope #love #darkness #encouragement

Legacy of Love

This year has been one of those years where I have visited the funeral home far too many times and the newborn nursery not nearly enough. The world has lost a lot of good men. But when I begin to think back on some of the truly great people I have known in my life, I realize they are never truly gone. Their words still linger long after their physical bodies have left this world behind. They have left a legacy of love and light that inspires the rest of us to be better.

Listening to all of these eulogies got me to thinking, what do I want to be remembered for when I am gone? What do I want to leave behind?

Words Matter

While words can be used to bring people together, they can also be used to rip them apart. Just one quick glance on social media tells you that words are oftentimes used more like a sword to cut people down than a hand to lift them up. If you want to see just how hateful and vile man can be, look no further than the comment section of any news post.

Words are the most powerful weapon any of us have. The words we speak to others, the words we speak to ourselves, have a long-lasting impact that will persist long after any physical injustices have healed.

The most useful piece of advice you learn in any writing class is the significance of the first and last sentence—this is the main impression you will leave your audience with. In the beginning of the Bible, the very first official act, God speaks light into existence. What greater example could He leave us with?

And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light. God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:3-4

Speak Light

Our words have the power to build people up or tear them down. They have the ability to encourage or inhibit. Our words can promote peace or harbor hate. Each moment, each breath, each word we speak. We only get one choice, so what will it be?

The tongue can bring death or life;

Proverbs 18:21a, NLT

Each day is a new chance to choose, choose wisely. While things are stronger where they were once broken, if not allowed to heal properly, they leave scar tissue that never fully heals. Be the balm that soothes the weary soul, the cast that helps strengthen someone’s broken areas.

Use your words to build people up, so they can rise up!

Speak Life

Not only did God speak light into existence, but He spoke life into existence.

Then God said, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness.”  

Genesis 1:26

But God did not just create life, He created us to live that life fully and with purpose.

I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.

John 10:10

And there is no greater way to live a life in abundance than by giving to others. There is no greater purpose than to love others and bring them to the One who is Love. Sometimes we may have nothing more to give than our kindness–our kind words, our kind deeds. Currency is not only made of green paper.

In my job, we are required to take a CPR class every two years to learn how to resuscitate someone if the need ever arises. Luckily, it hasn’t. But I wonder, how many times have I come across someone in need of emotional resuscitation? Someone who needs me to breathe life back into their situation? Or someone who needed me to circulate fresh air—a fresh way of seeing things—into their lives? How many times have you? And how many times have we been too busy to even recognize the warning signs?

Words Pierce the Darkness

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… In Him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 

John 1:1,4-5

May our words be used to build others up, today and every day. Let our words be the balm that soothes the weary soul. Let our words be the light that leads people out of the darkness. Finally, let our words be the light that leads others to salvation through Christ.

There is no greater way to live a life in abundance than by giving to others. There is no greater purpose than to love others and bring them to the One who is Love. Click To Tweet

Words are the most powerful weapon and have a long-lasting impact. May we live and leave behind a legacy of love and hope through the words we speak. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #words #legacy #hope #love #darkness #encouragement

unsplash-logoAnita Austvika
hope, pain, perseverance, restored, suffering, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Gain: Understanding God through Our Pain and Suffering

God does not promise an easy life. We will see pain and suffering, but we will gain a better understanding of Him through those seasons.



I have always avoided the book of Job. To be honest, I was somewhat afraid of it. It just didn’t feel like the God I believed in. I had this irrational belief that if I ever came to terms with a God that would test Job in this way, maybe, just maybe, He would test me in a similar way.

God does not promise an easy life. We will see pain and suffering, but we will gain a better understanding of Him through those seasons. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hope #pain #suffering #perseverance

Gain Understanding through Job

So, when Lisa Harper’s Bible study on Job was announced as the next one our women’s group would be doing, I struggled with whether or not to sign up. Deep down a part of me knew what I was really signing up for.

The next week as I was perusing through the library, something drew me to Harold Kushner’s The Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person. For the next couple of weeks, it sat on my nightstand unopened, taunting me. It felt like some kind of sign that God wanted me to understand Job, really understand Job. So against my better judgment, I signed up for the Bible study and forced myself to actually go.

The Story of Job

For those of you who are not familiar with Job or those who have also hidden from it, the first chapter introduces you to a man named Job who seems to have everything–great wealth, land, family, friends–but most importantly, he is considered blameless and upright by God. Wow! It sounds like his life is pretty much perfect, and that is where Satan steps in.

He tries to convince God that the only reason that Job is righteous and loves the Lord is because God has protected him and given him everything his heart desired. If all those things were to go away, so would Job’s love for the Lord. But God knows better. Not only does Job have faith in God, but God has faith in Job.

So Satan strips away all of Job’s comforts: he loses his cattle, his servants, even his own children. In chapter two, we learn that Job is also afflicted with a disease that brings constant pain and suffering.

The story continues with Job trying to make some kind of sense of his senseless suffering. He talks to his friends, who instead of empathizing with him, try to persuade him that he must be to blame for this sudden turn of events. Job eventually comes face-to-face with God and receives the answers in which he desires. And in chapter 42, Job’s health and wealth are not only restored but doubled.

Making It Through

See, I think that most of us are living a story much like Job, although maybe not quite to the same extreme.

And if we could, we would take a time machine from one end to the other and miss the mess in the middle. But for all of you mathematicians out there, what is the difference between 42 and 2? That’s right, 40. If you took that time machine, you would miss the “40”.

Trials to Transformation

40 in the Bible has always been symbolic of a period of testing that leads to transformation.

Because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.

James 1:3-4, NIV
  • When it rained for 40 days and 40 nights, Noah learned that he could trust God to help him weather any storm.
  • The Israelites wandered through the desert for 40 years to prepare them for the Promised Land.
  • Jesus was tempted by the devil for 40 days in the wilderness before his ministry began to give him the strength he would need to overcome him.

It is through these trials of life that God prepares us. That He transforms us.

We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,  and endurance produces character, and character produces hope,  and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Romans 5:3-5, ESV

During those 40 messy, middle chapters of Job’s life, his eyes were opened in a way that would not be possible without his suffering.

Redemption Over Retribution

Those 40 middle chapters of Job dismiss the Jewish belief of divine retribution; the long-held belief that suffering is caused by sin, while prosperity and peace come to those whom God is pleased with.

Bad things DO happen to good people. People get sick, lose their job, get divorced… every day, and sometimes through no fault of their own. Job was blameless before God and still endured terrible hardship. Yet, through it all, he remained faithful to God.

Empathy Over Sympathy

The story of Job is not only an example of how we should handle our own suffering but that of those around us as well. God does not want us to be like Job’s friends and blame others for their problems. Or to look down on them in judgment.

God wants us to look past people’s misgivings and show them empathy and love. He wants us to show others the grace that He has shown us. It is not our job to ask how they got into that situation, but instead, we need to ask ourselves how can we lead them back to the One who can redeem all situations.

Relationship Over Religion

God’s praise of Job and reproof of his so-called friends, shows that God wants honest communication with us–relationship over religion. Job’s friends said what they thought God wanted to hear; their words were only for show.

Job, on the other hand, hid nothing from God. One minute, Job seems confident that God will hear his pleas, and in the next, he seems to have lost all hope in God’s willingness to listen and rectify his situation.

Sound familiar? God wants us to persist in asking, questioning, and sharing our thoughts and emotions with Him. In His time, He will respond with the answer that is best for us.

Eternal Over Temporal

God is forging a new deeper, relationship with Job. Job tells God, “I heard about you from others; now I have seen you with my own eyes.” (Job 42:5). There is nothing as powerful as the life-altering experience of being in the presence of God. There is no time that we are closer to God than when we are walking through those dark hallways of life; closed off from all the “should be’s” and the “might-have-been’s”.

But here’s the thing about hallways, they lead to a better destination. And during those dark times, we are reminded of what truly is important. All those little things we have been fretting over, just don’t seem to matter anymore. We start to see things a little more clearly, a little more like God. We start to focus on the eternal, instead of the temporal.

I suggest to you that it is because God loves us that he gives us the gift of suffering. Pain is God’s megaphone to rouse a deaf world. You see, we are like blocks of stone out of which the Sculptor carves the forms of men. The blows of the chisel, which hurt us so much are what make us perfect.

C.S. Lewis
During dark times, we have hope. All those little things we’ve been fretting don’t seem to matter anymore and we start seeing things a little more like God. We focus on the eternal instead of the temporal. Click To Tweet

Gain Over Loss

I wish I could say that I did the Job Bible study, nothing bad happened to me, and I was blessed beyond measure, but that’s not the truth of it. We cannot get to the promised land without first making our way through the wilderness.

The full story sounds a little more like this: I did the Bible study, some bad things happened to me, yet God never left me and I was blessed beyond measure. However, I don’t believe that my health issues occurred because I finally read and understood the message of Job. I think that God gave me the message of Job when I needed it most to help me gain an understanding of my suffering.

So what I really learned from Job is that sometimes instead of asking WHY, “Why is this happening to me?”, I need to be asking WHAT, “What does God want me to gain from this?”

And I can promise you, the gain will always be greater than the loss.

God does not promise an easy life. We will see pain and suffering, but we will gain a better understanding of Him through those seasons. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #hope #pain #suffering #perseverance

unsplash-logoAnnie Spratt