brave, courage, courageous, tribulation, suffering, despair, peace

Brave: Having Courage Amidst Suffering

In the midst of tribulation, distress, and suffering, we don’t need to hide. Instead, we can be brave living with courage and complete peace.



Brave

What movie character comes to your mind when you think about someone who is brave? Is it an old movie or a newer one? I’m telling my age here, but Harrison Ford often played courageous roles, such as the president in “Air Force One” and Jack Ryan, the CIA analyst in the Tom Clancy-inspired movies. (Probably not a good idea to let him get in a plane these days!)

For many years, my son-in-law, who is a captain in the military, practically idolized the legendary thirteenth century Scottish hero named William Wallace; I’m convinced he wasn’t alone in his adulation. Wallace was played by Mel Gibson in the movie, (have you guessed it?), “Braveheart.” Grown men far and wide beat their chests and secretly fantasized about being William Wallace, or at the very least, saddling up and galloping to a bloody victory beside him. It’s a guy thing.

Recently, I read an article about not giving into fear as we age, but rather “staying brave.” The author related carefree activities she took part in as a young woman which she has been too fearful to do as an older woman, such as driving alone on a long-distance trip. Her insights are interesting; dancing in the rain, traveling a distance alone, walking in the dark, depending on the individual, may each require a level of bravery, but I am not convinced that what she is offering is the definition of being brave.

Brave is defined as possessing or exhibiting courage or courageous endurance.

Hm.

Courage is defined as the quality of mind or spirit that enables a person to face difficulty, danger, pain, etc. without fear.

Ah, there it is; that’s what I am trying to put my finger on – the spirit within which enables a person to face the giant in the middle of the road we’re walking on.

Courage Amidst Suffering

In the past several days, as horror has soaked through our shock upon realizing the carnage one individual can wreak on so many lives, we have also learned that bravery is not a lost character trait in the twenty-first century, as many in my generation have begun to wonder. Countless selfless acts have been reported, some of which cost people their own lives while they protected others. First responders and police officers running toward the gunfire to steer people away from it, civilians risking their lives to lead others to safety; a husband giving his life to save his wife’s are only a few of the stories we have heard. We marvel at their courage and silently pray that we will be as brave should we ever, God forbid, find ourselves in similar circumstances.

I wonder why we are always numbed with shock when horrible things happen in this world? Thank God we can still be shocked, yes! However, it seems Christians have just as much trouble as nonbelievers grasping the evil byproduct the prince of this world foments…as though there remains within us a stubborn resistance to the truth that the Scriptures repeatedly spoke to us about evil. I John 5:19 states clearly that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. In Mark 7:20-23 (ESV) Jesus says (I’m talking red letters here) after expounding on a list of what defiles someone, “All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person.” Lastly, as a final reminder that evil was here to stay until He returned, Jesus spoke:

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33, ESV

Yes, Jesus was attempting to reassure His disciples, but also His future disciples – us. I love how the Amplified version expounds on this verse. It helps me tease out the richer meaning of the original words that get lost in translation:

I have told you these things, so that in Me you may have [perfect] peace. In the world you have tribulation and distress and suffering, but be courageous [be confident, be undaunted, be filled with joy]; I have overcome the world.” [My conquest is accomplished, My victory is abiding.]

John 16:33, AMP

Final Thoughts

2017 has definitely been a year for tribulation, distress and suffering in America alone, not to mention other areas of the world where hurricanes, mudslides and wars are occurring. It can feel overwhelming to hear one tragedy on the heels of another, one appeal for help right after another one. What are we to do? Be afraid because the “end” is near, as some believe?…

It can feel overwhelming to hear one tragedy on the heels of another... What are we to do? Click To Tweet

Not according to Jesus. In truth, we can have complete peace in Him. In the midst of tribulation, distress, and suffering, we don’t need to hide or quake in our boots, but rather, Jesus told us to do the opposite of what seems to come naturally to many of us. He said to be courageous! ‘And while you’re at it, have some joy with that courage because I have overcome the world, folks, so what could you possibly be afraid of??’

And like William Wallace, strap on some armor…

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm.

Ephesians 6:12-13 ESV

Be brave, sisters.


Encourage others in their pursuit of bravery. These notecards are a reminder that our world may be full of battles, but God has overcome the world!!

notecards, but God, encouragement

In the midst of tribulation, distress, and suffering, we don’t need to hide. Instead, we can live courageously and with complete peace.

Brian Cook

stuck, unstuck, forward, faith, freedom

Getting Unstuck: Moving Forward With Faith

There will always be circumstances or situations in our lives that cause us to get stuck. We’ve got to keep fighting to move forward with faith.



stuck, unstuck, forward, faith, freedom

I grew up in this lovely place called the Lowcountry, where mossy oak trees, salty rivers and pluff mud are just a few of the things that adorn its beauty. Pluff mud. You may have heard of it? It’s the stinky stuff that you smell in the marsh as you drive across the coastal waterway bridges.

Playing in the pluff mud with my Meema is one of my favorite past times. As I recall, every Saturday we would put on our boots and head over to Stoney Creek and truck around in the mud searching for treasures, swinging on trees and chasing hermit crabs. We would begin our journey, over and under the mossy oaks and through the salty marsh grass. Sometimes through our hike, my foot would get so stuck in that mud that I could hardly pull it out. Meema would be a few feet ahead of me and would have to reach back and grab my arm and together we would finally break my foot free from the mud. Can’t that be a constant resemblance of our lives sometimes?

Getting unstuck…

Do you ever feel like you’re stuck somewhere and you just can’t get out? I feel you friend, I’ve been there. That place is all too familiar to me. But, our God does not want us to stay stuck in the pluff mud of life.

…you are a chosen people. You are royal priests, a holy nation, God’s very own possession. As a result, you can show others the goodness of God, for he called you out of the darkness into his wonderful light.

1 Peter 2:9, NLT

A Chosen priesthood, called out of darkness into His light. He calls us out of our valleys and He calls us out of the pluff mud! God wants the best for us but we have to be willing to move in His direction if we want to have His best for ourselves.

Those times that I couldn’t get my foot unstuck, Meema was there to help me. It wasn’t until I reached back and grabbed her arm that we were, together, able to get my foot out of the mud. God is there. He is reaching out to pull us out of our mud, we’ve just got to reach back and grab on to Him. Just as David declares:

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.

Psalm 40:2, NLT

I remember hearing the suction of the mud against my boot as I would try and pull my foot out. With a tug here and a tug there, when I was finally able to pull my foot free, the feeling of relief swept over me. Then, Meema and I would continue to move forward in our hike.

There will always be circumstances or situations in our lives that cause us to get stuck, emotionally stuck, physically stuck, mentally stuck, but we’ve got to keep fighting to pull that foot up and put it in front of the other and keep moving forward, faith forward. And if we’re smart, we’ll ask for the Fathers help, to pull us out of the muddy circumstances of our lives and help us move forward in our journey through life.

If I could encourage you in one thing, it would be this: Don’t be afraid of the mountain top because you’ve gotten so used to being in the valley. Faith forward friend!

Don't be afraid of the mountain top because you've gotten so used to being in the valley. Click To Tweet

What kind of mud are you stuck in?

There will always be circumstances or situations in our lives that cause us to get stuck. We've got to keep fighting to move forward with faith.

Top photo credit: Jean Tanner (Meema)
Ready, Prepared, Perspective, Risks, Pursued, Loved, Strength, Faith, Glory

Get Ready

When getting ready to face the unknown, we must be prepared, change our perspective, and take risks. The Lord is loving, strong, and longs for His glory to be known.



There has been a recurring theme in my life over the past couple of weeks. And one day in particular that caught my attention. Perhaps it take multiple times of smacking me in the face with something in order for me to understand. Perhaps I need to pay attention to what is happening.

Over the past few weeks, I have been doing the Ready Study by Heather Dixon. It is a study on the book of Joshua, chapters 1-5 and teaching how to be ready when we are facing unknown circumstances. I also have been reading through Draw the Circle by Mark Batterson. It’s about praying often with boldness, and is a 40 day prayer challenge. And during my runs I have been listening to Cast of Characters by Max Lucado. In this book he connects our lives with the lives of people in the Bible.

Well, on one day the phrase “Get Ready” came to my attention in 3 different ways.

First, in the study by Heather Dixon, where she says this:

I was sitting on our screened-in porch listening to the early morning songs of my backyard bird friends when God told me to get ready.

Three months after God told me to get ready, I was in the emergency room with two aneurysms. I lost 10% of my kidney tissue. Not long after that, my left carotid artery ruptured. I underwent two precarious surgeries to repair it. I was soon diagnosed with Vascular Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome – a genetic connective tissue disorder that makes my blood vessels, arteries, and organs prone to spontaneous rupture. There is no cure for Vascular Ehlers-Danlos. There is no treatment. There is only a prescription from the doctor to prepare your bucket list and live your life well. The average life-expectancy of someone with VEDS is 48. Indeed, God wanted me to be ready for something. I am convinced that God led me to Joshua’s story as a gracious warning for what was to come. It was the truths I learned in Joshua 1-5 that helped me stay strong through months of uncertainty.

Then, later that day I was listening to a podcast where Heather was being interviewed, and I heard this segment of her story being told again, with her saying, “get ready.”

Finally, in the late afternoon as I sat down to read in Draw the Circle, I couldn’t believe my eyes when the title for day one was, “Get Ready.”

Okay Lord, I get it. It’s time to get ready.

But for what? Is it something good? Is it something bad?

I remember a time in my life where I had a similar whisper in my spirit. I can still tell you where I was when I heard it. I had this feeling of peace, and a general all-is-right-with-the-world kind of feeling. And then the feeling shifted to, what is about to come?

Wow, did life ever shift. In the following months we experienced three deaths in the family, including my mother, as well as moving to a new state with a new job and no friends. My world, and my faith, were shaken.

But this time, I say “bring it.”


Getting Ready…

Be Prepared. In the Ready Study, Heather Dixon talks about how God will prepare us for our battles beforehand. That “He does not call you where His feet have not already marched.” The Lord knows what is coming, He is not surprised. He promises to prepare us for the work to come.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

The Lord knows what is coming, and promises to prepare us for the work to come. Click To Tweet

Change Perspective. In the chapter about David in the Cast of Characters, Max Lucado shares how David could see the giant and how large he was, but more than seeing Goliath, he saw how powerful God is.

Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord‘s, and he will give you into our hand.”

1 Samuel 17:45-47

Take Risks. In Draw the Circle, Mark Batterson (who is also sharing about Joshua), challenges us to step out in faith and be willing to get our feet wet. Notice that God didn’t hold back the water and then tell them to go forward. He told them to get in the water first.

And when the soles of the feet of the priests bearing the ark of the Lord, the Lord of all the earth, shall rest in the waters of the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan shall be cut off from flowing, and the waters coming down from above shall stand in one heap.”

So when the people set out from their tents to pass over the Jordan with the priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and as soon as those bearing the ark had come as far as the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (now the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters…were completely cut off. And the people passed over opposite Jericho. Now the priests bearing the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood firmly on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, and all Israel was passing over on dry ground until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.

Joshua 3:13-17


Final Thoughts…

Do I believe God’s power is bigger than my giant?

Do I face the unknown with boldness?

I honestly do not know if I am headed toward something good, or something bad. None of us know what the day will bring. But… I do know that whatever is to come, I will be prepared for it. I do know that, even though I may not be able to handle it, God can. I do know that God wants good things for me, so if walking through difficult times will bring me closer to Him and bring glory to His name, I am willing to step out in faith.

What are you getting ready for?


PS…

These are the books I referenced, all of which I recommend:

(These are affiliate links. Which means if you purchase from that link, Oh Lord Help Us gets a small percentage at no extra charge to you. It’s not much, but it helps with the cost of keeping this blog up and running. You can read the Disclaimer page if you would like to fall asleep get more information.)

 

When getting ready to face the unknown, we must be prepared, change our perspective, and take risks. The Lord is loving, strong, and longs for His glory to be known.

NeONBRAND

broken, brokenness, beauty, faithfulness, redeemed, redemption

Making Mosaics

God, the Master Artist, looks at the shards of our brokenness and sees beauty that we can’t. God uses the brokenness and creates a new, beautiful mosaic.



I don’t know anyone in this world who has escaped brokenness. I know I haven’t. In fact, brokenness touched my life in profound ways early on in my life. I spent most of my adult life thus far trying to hide how broken I was, but once I began to acknowledge all the scattered pieces of me laying all around, I found myself desperate to find a way to put the pieces of me back together.

I found myself on a journey towards healing from childhood sexual abuse. But every time I thought I had finally fit two pieces of me back together, I would see a new pile of all that was shattered in a corner I didn’t see before. I pleaded with God to put me back together. After all, He promises “He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds” (Psalm 147:3, ESV). Surely healing meant He would put me back together.

As I have walked this journey, I have come to understand healing isn’t what I envisioned it would be. I thought of healing as God putting the broken pieces of me back together like a puzzle. While I can’t possibly put all the countless pieces of me back into the places they were before, I was certain God could. Yet, He hasn’t. His healing isn’t about putting me back together.  It’s about making the old new.

His healing isn’t about putting me back together. It’s about making the old new. Click To Tweet

The problem with putting the pieces back together is that once the pieces were fitted where they were to begin with, they provide an appearance of wholeness yet are still fractured. A puzzle put together still breaks in the same places.  It appears whole, you see the entire picture the pieces come together to create, yet it’s perpetually broken, fractured forever. God’s healing won’t put the pieces back together to give me an appearance of wholeness while leaving me still broken. So what is He doing instead?

God isn’t putting me together like a puzzle. When He looks at the chaotic mess of my scattered shards, He sees a new work of art as only an Artist can. He not only sees this new work of art, He begins creating it. He picks up each broken piece of me, lovingly cleans it and polishes it, and He places it in its new place in the mosaic He is making out of me.

When He looks at the chaotic mess of my scattered shards, He sees a new work of art... Click To Tweet

A mosaic, you see, is made by taking broken pieces and arranging them into a work of art held in place by some kind of glue or cement. That glue holds all those broken pieces together as one work of art. It is whole yet comprised of what was once broken. But the eyes of the artist saw beauty in the midst of the broken, and created something new out of what once was old. Unlike a puzzle, a mosaic, though made of broken pieces, is completely whole. It is held together, cemented in place, so it can’t be taken apart.

God, the Master Artist, looks at the shards of my brokenness and sees beauty that I can’t. The abuse that broke me cannot be undone (trust me, I’ve tried), but God uses the brokenness and creates a new mosaic. He doesn’t place all those shattered pieces back where they once were to create the appearance of wholeness. No, He does more than that. He honors the story of each broken piece, polishing it off, and places it in the glue of His grace and mercy and love. That glue can never be broken again. Out of old, broken pieces, He is fashioning a beautiful, new mosaic.

Of course, the brokenness can be seen and each shard still has a story to tell, but the glue of His faithfulness holding all the pieces together creates a whole piece of art that tells of His goodness through the brokenness. It tells of a love that refuses to leave me shattered. Healing is not putting the pieces of me back together. It’s much greater than that. Healing is making a new work of art…wholeness made out of brokenness.

...the glue of His faithfulness holding all the pieces together creates a whole piece of art... Click To Tweet

As I said at first, I don’t know of anyone in this life who has escaped brokenness, and I don’t know what it is that broke you and left you in pieces. So my dear and precious sisters, broken and scattered, take heart. He is not putting the old you back together. He is not merely fitting pieces of an old puzzle back where they once were so all can see where you broke.

He loves you too much to leave you with the appearance of wholeness yet perpetually broken. He is taking all the broken pieces of who you used to be and artfully creating a new masterpiece, telling a story of how you are being put back together…a story of how where you have walked will shape who you become. You, my dear sister, are not a puzzle to be fit back together into the old. You are a mosaic being masterfully made new.


God, the Master Artist, looks at the shards of my brokenness and sees beauty that I can’t. But God uses the brokenness and creates a new, beautiful mosaic.

To love our children is to teach them to obey. First, to the Lord, and, in turn, to us. How do we teach our children to be obedient and respectful?

Living the Obedient Life

To love our children is to teach them to obey. First, to the Lord, and, in turn, to us. How do we teach our children to be obedient and respectful?



Yikes! That title is super intimidating, but let me sell you for a second. What if I told you it’s vital for Christian living? It’s God’s love language. Our obedience makes His heart happy! Doesn’t it make your heart happy when your children do what they are told without a grumble or a whimper?

“Whoa! How do you get results like that, Katie?” I don’t. Not always. And, I don’t always give my Lord the same respect. I also grumble and complain.

As a parent, I give in. I’m clear on the rule, I communicate the consequence, but, if I am honest with myself, I can be easily swayed. Not hearing the complaining and the whining is a reward to my mental state. This is one of the biggest lies I feed into. “You will be happier if you don’t have to hear one more tantrum.” Am I teaching true obedience to my children if I continually buckle under the pressure of the arguments and crying fits?

Our youngest, at the ripe age of 2, quickly learned to cry for Mommy when he wanted a drink of water at night. The rule is set: no drinks in bed. Consequence: a wet bed, extra laundry, and a grumpy child. It seemed that no matter how many bottles of water I filled during the day or how much was consumed at dinner, his thirst was not quenched until he had that last sip while snuggled under his super hero blankets. We stood firm. Water Nazis, if you will. The worst ever. The tears, the anguish. Ultimately, I submit to one more sip of water to ease my ears and my patience. Choose your battles, right? No. He’s not thirsty. He’s letting me know that he can be disobedient without recourse. He’s getting his way.


Parenting is not for the faint. It’s a constant cycle of holding to account our child’s actions and being held accountable for our own. It’s absolutely impossible to be a successful parent without first bowing to the Lord. How do we teach our children to be obedient and respectful? The answer for obedience is obedience. Respecting and submitting to the Lord’s commands. Love God with our whole existence. To love God is to be obedient to God because He loves us.

I call Heaven and Earth to witness against you today: I place before you Life and Death, Blessing and Curse. Choose life so that you and your children will live. And love God, your God, listening obediently to him, firmly embracing him. Oh yes, he is life itself, a long life settled on the soil that God, your God, promised to give your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

Deuteronomy 30:19-20 (MSG)

Because of this verse we have this verse:

Children, do what your parents tell you. This is only right. ‘Honor your father and mother’ is the first commandment that has a promise attached to it, namely, ‘so you will live well and have a long life.’

Ephesians 6:1-3 (MSG)

To love our children is to teach them to obey. First, to the Lord, and, in turn, to us. The lie says we will be happier in the end, but the truth is the exact opposite. When we choose disobedience in any form, we choose death. Life or death? Thanks, I’ll choose life. Somehow I think that if I would just remember this in the midst of a battle of wills, I would find strength to follow through. If I would just remember that when my children choose to be disobedient they choose to be separated from the Lord. Heavy. No, most children can’t grasp the intensity of this. Especially when it’s “just a sip of water”. So, how do we convey the importance?

Write these commandments that I’ve given you today on your hearts. Get them inside of you and then get them inside your children. Talk about them wherever you are, sitting at home or walking in the street; talk about them from the time you get up in the morning to when you fall into bed at night. Tie them on your hands and foreheads as a reminder; inscribe them on the doorposts of your homes and on your city gates.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 (MSG)

We can’t instill honesty, kindness, love, self-respect, responsibility, and OBEDIENCE in our children with “giving in.” We have to LIVE in obedience without wavering. We have to speak the truth of God. We have to completely submerge our whole existence in God’s living word! This is the most important assignment the Lord has given his followers and ultimately those he has bestowed parenthood upon.

When we choose disobedience in any form, we choose death. Click To Tweet


You’re turn!

Listen, Ya’ll! I feel convicted, even now, while writing this post. It’s difficult. Life is hectic and nuts! It’s easy to let the day pass with just a short devotional, a 5 sec prayer, or even nothing at all (Gasp! For shame!). Honestly, it happens. It shouldn’t but it does. It does for every single one of us. That’s how I know this message is important. Parent or not.

In what ways can you better your obedience to God?

How can we practically show this important lesson to our children?

To love our children is to teach them to obey. First, to the Lord, and, in turn, to us. How do we teach our children to be obedient and respectful?

Daiga Ellaby

temporary, eternal, investment, focus

Temporary Things

We live each day investing our time in things, events, pursuits as though they are permanent, but it really comes down to just these two things…



I’m going to pull a ‘church lady’ here, so bear with me. You might even want to imagine the next words being said with a Southern accent, although I am not considered Southern – probably more country than Southern, truth be told.  (But I do love me some Paula Dean!)

OK, here goes: I’m really happy to be asked to share space on this site with other women who love Jesus…

and who don’t whitewash the truth about their lives and their spiritual walk.

(Oops, that last part slipped out!) 😉

I’m a lifelong learner. In fact, way back in the day before it was the hip thing to do, I home educated our three children for 13 years for somewhat selfish reasons – because it was so much fun for me to learn that cool stuff with them! They were seldom as enthralled by those science experiments as I was, for some reason.

Despite a Master’s in Theology and a Master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy, decades of volunteer service, or jobs, it is my enduring 45 year marriage to a man who is practically a saint, (he’d probably agree with me after living with this crazy lady since I was practically a BABY!) our 3 incredibly talented adult children, their loving, wonderful spouses, and our 6 greater-than-grand grandchildren are the greatest gifts, blessings and ‘achievements’ I can count as my treasures before God. During seasons when I grasp for measurable rewards or accolades for things these hands or this brain begin to believe they have accomplished, the Spirit nudges me back, (or if necessary, shoves me,) to the reality of 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NKJV):

…while we do not look at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen.  For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.

“For the things which are seen are temporary, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” If it was possible, it might help me to have that tattooed in fluorescent ink on my eyelids as a reminder that all the razzle-dazzle of this life – be it material things, awards, praise, the next goal realized, whatever rings your chimes or mine – is tem -po – rar – y…

…as in fades away like that bright red beach towel that was in the sun too long

…as in it dies like I wish the weeds in my flower beds would

…as in it doesn’t last any longer than a middle-school crush.

Temporary – not permanent, as the dictionary simply states it.

Yet, we live each day investing our time in things, events, pursuits as though they ARE permanent, as though our very breath, our entire existence depends on them, as though they are – well – eternal. According to Paul, and I believe he’s on solid ground with God here, the only things which are lasting forever, are NOT seen…

Huh?

Yeah; seems weird, but it makes more sense when we recall what Jesus said in Matthew 6:19-21 (NKJV):

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

So, you might be asking, or need a nudge toward reminding, what – out of all the affairs of life in which we heavily invest – is eternal?  Surprisingly, only two…the Word of God…and people.

Everything else, as Charles Swindoll so eloquently put it in a 2015 article, “is headed for the final bonfire,” (2 Peter 3:7; 1 Peter 1:25 NKJV).

Jesus said in Matthew 24:35 (NIV):

Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. 

That sounds pretty “eternal” to me.

I John 2:17 (NKJV) encourages us with this:

And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.

It’s sobering, really, when I consider all the hours, days, years I have invested in stuff that will be burned up.  I’m not implying that all was vain, but much of what I spent striving for, worrying about, stressing over falls into the “temporary” file.

...much of what I spent striving for, worrying about, stressing over falls into the 'temporary' file. Click To Tweet

Do you remember the credit card commercial asking us, “What’s in your wallet?” Dumb commercial, but for some reason, it makes me think about those two things that are eternal.  What’s in my ‘eternal’ file?

I just wonder, who will be in eternity with me because I invested God’s Word in them?

Who will be in eternity because of your investment?

temporary things, focus, eternal

Annie Spratt

integrity, trust, consequences

Integrity: Doing the Right Thing (and What to Do When We Mess Up)

Integrity is doing the right thing even if no one is looking. This sounds great, but not always achieved. What are we suppose to do when we mess up?



He lied to me. Out right, to my face, he lied. A wave of anger washed over me, only to leave me feeling completely heartbroken. My nine year old son lied to me.

It’s never good when an adult knocks on your door and asks if you are the mother of your child. Uh-oh. She was standing there with her daughter, with two complaints. The second complaint she shared was that my son was shooting her with a Nerf gun while she was on her bike. Apparently this made the daughter feel nervous that she would lose her balance and fall. I’m thinking, what’s the big deal, maybe you need to toughen up a bit. This is not what I said though. I said I would talk to him about it, and I did, saying that if someone doesn’t want to play that way, then he needs to be respectful of that and stop. Problem officially dealt with. Pretty much, stop playing with prissy girls. (#boymom)

It was the first complaint that made my sirens start to go off. Apparently he was “throwing around the F-word” and I don’t mean four fluffy feathers on a fiffer-feffer-feff. I didn’t doubt her since the week prior my son was asking my husband what that word meant. It was explained to him that words have meaning, and there are bad words, and that is the baddest of the bad. He was told, under no circumstance, was he to ever use that word. This of course, just confirmed that he would most definitely use that word.

The neighbor was very sorry to have to tell me this. I assured her that I appreciated being told, and that it would be addressed. My son was sent to his room while my husband and I conferred on how to handle the situation. I would give my son an opportunity to confess. He knows that if he is honest then the consequences are less. I also knew I needed to hear his side of the story, since I don’t trust a neighbor kid more than my own son. Some kids just like to be know-it-alls and cause trouble.

In his opportunity to confess, he chose to share the bit about shooting the girls with the Nerf gun. He claimed it was due to being provoked. They apparently were teasing him for playing with girls. Umm, he was playing with girls. Like I said, he needs to stop playing with prissy girls. So annoying. But I digress…

I gave him another opportunity to confess. He missed it. I point blank asked him if he was using the F-word. He told me that he and another boy were sharing bad words that they knew when my younger son walked over. My younger son asked what they were talking about, and my son just went and said the word out loud.

At this point, I didn’t feel like it was that big of a deal. My husband and I were upset, however, that he would teach this word to his younger brother. Thankfully my younger son thought the whole thing was just silly and didn’t seem intrigued by some random word. My older son, however, craves approval from others. Around adults he is charming and polite, because he gets complimented on this. Around his peers, he acts very silly and tries to impress them with bad words, apparently.

After this confession, I asked my younger son for his version of events. Whaddaya know? Turns out my son lied. Now. It. Was. On.

What actually happened was my son was trying to impress the girls, and when they told him he shouldn’t say that word, he said the word didn’t actually mean anything, and that he could say it if he wanted. Apparently he wanted, because he said it repeatedly. This was not at all what was talked about with my husband. He knew it was wrong, and chose to do it anyway.


Doing the right thing…

We all have these moments. We know we should, or should not, do something, but do the wrong thing instead. We try to explain our way out of it, making excuses instead of confessing and repenting.

So whoever knows the right thing to do and fails to do it, for him it is sin.

James 4:17, ESV

When we mess up…

Trust. God longs for us to trust Him, and it grieves Him when we hide from Him. All the way back to the very beginning, God has desired to care for us. He has provided for all our needs, but we still try to take matters into our own hands. We can be honest and trust Him with the outcome.

Accept the consequences. None of us like consequences. We want to be forgiven and then get off scot free. But just like children, we will only learn if it requires something of us. As parents, we know we give consequences out of love. And this is true with God. He didn’t kick Adam and Eve out of the garden because He was angry. He kicked them out for their own protection.

Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—”

Genesis 3:22, ESV

Once Adam and Even ate the fruit, they knew sin. The Lord is holy and cannot be in relationship with sinful man. If they then ate from the tree of life, resulting in eternal life, they would then be eternally separated from Him. By denying them earthly eternal life, they were doomed to death, but with the opportunity to be re-united with Him because of the sacrifice of Jesus.

Consequences are a blessing designed to bring us back to the One who loves us. Click To Tweet

Death is a gift, but it is not one we were designed for. We were created to live eternally. Consequences to our actions are uncomfortable, but they are a blessing designed to bring us back to the One who loves us.


Your turn…

Was there a time you knew something was wrong, but did it anyway?

Do you trust that God wants good things for you?

Has there been a consequence in your life that you have been thankful for?

 

integrity, trust, consequences

Jez Timms

Living Vulnerable

Learning to be vulnerable can be scary, but the reward of living this way is great. Being open allows God to redeem us and be an encouragement to others.



This is one of the hardest posts I’ll have to write. It’s all about me. I’m not particularly fond of talking about myself, but I am an expert on the matter (sometimes). Simply put, I’m Katie! This is the most “to the point” I can ever achieve. “But who IS this Katie?” So far, I have attained the titles of wife, mother, daughter, friend. Most specifically, I am an Executive of Household Management. Majoring in the Studies of Efficiency, with a minor in Cooking Sciences and Day Planning. Seriously, I’m a homemaker. I make our home run while chasing three handsome boys (one of which is my husband).

I get through the day on coffee, wine, and my sweet friend Jesus. I adore science fiction movies and fantastical stories. I love creating and imagining. I gain most inspiration after conversations with my husband (he’s the “talker” of the relationship) and trips to the beach. Being a mom… Wow! Two of the greatest moments happened when my two boys took form (biased)! They are difficult, and confusing, and make me say the strangest phrases sometimes (I’ll let you imagine what two boys can accomplish). But they bring a beautiful level of love and energy to our home that I would never want to replace.

Now, to the nitty bits… GERONIMO…

It’s difficult for me to pinpoint one or two specific instances that started me along my journey. Most moments in my mind are not compartmentalized. It’s gray in there. However, I can say, starting at a fairly young age, I allowed insecurity to guide my thoughts. I allowed people, loved ones or otherwise, to heavily influence decisions I made and, ultimately, the way I thought of myself. I allowed negativity, of all shapes and sizes, to make their homes in my mind. Instead of a flourishing confidence, a dangerous spirit took hold of my heart. I found it easier to listen to whispers than the booming voice of God.

As you can imagine, if a trend like this continues into teen years, the outcome in early adulthood is crippling. There was, and still is, a constant battle of overcoming negativity and insecurity. Outcomes of this mindset are not shining moments in my life. I entered toxic relationships, cut off friends, passed up opportunities, ignored family, caused myself physical harm, made unhealthy decisions. I don’t look back fondly on these choices. They are ugly, and raw, and very difficult to discuss. These are the bits that are the dingiest and can push people right out the door.

...to make something beautiful, there is a level of vulnerability required. Click To Tweet

However, when you turn your darkest parts over to the Lord and ask Him to make something beautiful, there is a level of vulnerability required. The gritty, nasty pieces need to be on the table to make your testimony valuable. That’s my prayer. That my continued lessons, my pain, my journey bring hope through the saving grace of Jesus. That this life will glorify God, and all that I do and say be in obedience to His commandments.

 

God didn’t set us up for an angry rejection but for salvation by our Master, Jesus Christ. He died for us, a death that triggered life. Whether we’re awake with the living or asleep with the dead, we’re alive with him! So speak encouraging words to one another. Build up hope so you’ll all be together in this, no one left out, no one left behind. I know you’re already doing this; just keep on doing it.  

1 Thessalonians 5:9-11 (The Message)

 

I may not always write about new and exciting things. At times, we may get heavy and raw, but I hope the words you read will, ultimately, uplift, encourage, and wrap you with a warm blanket. Don’t like warm blankets? I have ice water. Let’s laugh and cry together. Let’s learn some hard lessons together! Let’s “do faith” together.

 

 

Julia Caesar

Bold: Living Like Wonder Woman

We all have the ability to fight for love and goodness. We all have the ability to change the world. This post looks to a role model to find out how we can achieve this.



I have loved Wonder Woman even as a little girl. There are stories told of how, at the age of three, I would spin around as I turned into the strong beautiful woman ready to fight evil. I still have a scar on my scalp from when I, as Wonder Woman, was chasing my brother, the villain, and ran into the corner of the wall (I’ve never been super graceful).

This past summer, my husband and I went to see the new Wonder Woman movie. I was once again that little girl. I left the movie theater ready to fight evil. I was ready to fight for love.

Esther is the perfect example of a “wonder woman” in real life. She was in fact very beautiful, but it was her love for the Lord that made her radiate. When I picture Esther, I picture Wonder Woman! It may have been the 12 months of beauty treatments that got the attention of the king, but it was her character that won his favor.

Beauty may get the attention of others, but character is what will win their favor. Click To Tweet


Living like Wonder Woman…

She sought advice.

Esther 2:15-17: When the turn came for Esther the daughter of Abihail the uncle of Mordecai, who had taken her as his own daughter, to go in to the king, she asked for nothing except what Hegai the king’s eunuch, who had charge of the women, advised. Now Esther was winning favor in the eyes of all who saw her. And when Esther was taken to King Ahasuerus, into his royal palace, in the tenth month, which is the month of Tebeth, in the seventh year of his reign, the king loved Esther more than all the women, and she won grace and favor in his sight more than all the virgins, so that he set the royal crown on her head and made her queen instead of Vashti.

She did what was right because it was the right thing to do

Esther 2:21- 23: In those days, as Mordecai was sitting at the king’s gate, Bigthan and Teresh, two of the king’s eunuchs, who guarded the threshold, became angry and sought to lay hands on King Ahasuerus. And this came to the knowledge of Mordecai, and he told it to Queen Esther, and Esther told the king in the name of Mordecai. When the affair was investigated and found to be so, the men were both hanged on the gallows. And it was recorded in the book of the chronicles in the presence of the king.

She used her influence to help others, rather than herself

Esther 4:13-16: Then Mordecai told them to reply to Esther, “Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews. For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Then Esther told them to reply to Mordecai, “Go, gather all the Jews to be found in Susa, and hold a fast on my behalf, and do not eat or drink for three days, night or day. I and my young women will also fast as you do. Then I will go to the king, though it is against the law, and if I perish, I perish.”

She was patient

Esther 5:4-8: And Esther said, “If it please the king, let the king and Haman come today to a feast that I have prepared for the king.” Then the king said, “Bring Haman quickly, so that we may do as Esther has asked.” So the king and Haman came to the feast that Esther had prepared. And as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king said to Esther, “What is your wish? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Esther answered, “My wish and my request is: If I have found favor in the sight of the king, and if it please the king to grant my wish and fulfill my request, let the king and Haman come to the feast that I will prepare for them, and tomorrow I will do as the king has said.”

She was bold when the timing was right

Esther 7:1-6 So the king and Haman went in to feast with Queen Esther. And on the second day, as they were drinking wine after the feast, the king again said to Esther, “What is your wish, Queen Esther? It shall be granted you. And what is your request? Even to the half of my kingdom, it shall be fulfilled.” Then Queen Esther answered, “If I have found favor in your sight, O king, and if it please the king, let my life be granted me for my wish, and my people for my request. For we have been sold, I and my people, to be destroyed, to be killed, and to be annihilated. If we had been sold merely as slaves, men and women, I would have been silent, for our affliction is not to be compared with the loss to the king.” Then King Ahasuerus said to Queen Esther, “Who is he, and where is he, who has dared to do this?” And Esther said, “A foe and enemy! This wicked Haman!” Then Haman was terrified before the king and the queen.

Esther was truly a wonder woman who I want to learn from!



Lord, I desire to be a part of your plan. I pray that I will be humble, and seek advice. I pray that I would be a woman of integrity. I pray that I will recognize the influence that I have and use it wisely and with care. I pray that I will be patient and wait upon you until it is time to act. And I pray that I will act boldly when that time has come. Amen.

 

 

Sean Brown

All scripture used is from the English Standard Version.

Torn: Feeling Like a Contradiction

Introverted or extroverted? Or maybe both? Sometimes our personalities can seem like a contradiction. Today we are talking about believing who we truly are.



I love personality tests. I find them incredibly fascinating, and often I find them to be accurate. I’m one of those who takes all the personality quizzes on Facebook, but then never shares what I got, because, really, I take all of them, and then you would just find me weird. I want to know what Disney princess I am, but I don’t want you to know!

An example of the accuracy of these Facebook personality quizzes, is the one about your political leanings. I had heard before about how our personalities will determine whether we are liberal or conservative, and this was my opportunity to see how accurate this theory was. It asked a series of questions that had absolutely nothing to do with politics. And whaddaya know? It had me pegged. It said I was a Republican. By 51 percent. Which means I am 49 percent Democrat. I have said in the past that I have a well-rounded political view because I was raised by a Democrat and married a Republican. Turns out, it’s just who I am.

This is frustrating for me though. I feel like I can never take a side on anything. When I listen to one person’s opinion, I completely understand and agree. But then, when I hear an opposing opinion, I completely understand and agree. And this isn’t with just politics, I’m finding this to be true with how I eat even! I hear one person’s explanation of why they eat a paleo diet, and I’m all onboard. Then I watch a documentary on the meat and dairy industry, and I’m ready to go vegan. Ugh! I just feel so torn!

What does this mean for me? Will I never have a strong opinion? Well, if you know me, you know this isn’t the case. What it means is that I am a good moderator. I see both sides of an issue, and can see the beauty of how the two sides can strengthen each other if they are willing. It means I was created this way for a purpose.


Feeling like a contradiction…

This past week I was listening to a sermon by Andy Stanley about the importance of being known. There were a couple statements he made which stuck out to me, and that I had to “chew” on for a bit.

The first was:

If we are always working on our image, then we are imaginary.

And the second was:

If we are afraid to be ourselves because people may not like us, then nobody likes us because they don’t know us.

This struck me because I feel like I am often putting on a good face, or having to act a certain way. I had to ask myself if the person people saw was real or imaginary. The answer is that I am all of it. What I want people to see may not be what I am actually feeling in that moment, but it doesn’t mean that I am not that person. I can be both kind and nasty. I can be both generous and greedy. I can be both confident and insecure.

When my husband and I met, I was in a very good place in my life. I was confident and secure, and this was attractive to him. I believe, however, that if he had met me a year prior, he would not have wanted anything to do with me. After some time into our marriage, some of those insecurities had crept back into my thoughts, and I felt guilty. I felt like I had been an imposter, an imaginary version of myself. I felt like I had tricked him. But this, dear friends, was a lie that I chose not to believe or hold on to.

The real me is kind, and generous, and confident. The nasty, greedy, insecure me is the imposter. I was confident when my husband and I met because I was walking closely with my Lord. Jesus brings out the best in us. He allows our true selves to shine, because it is him shining through us.

Jesus allows our true selves to shine, because it is him shining through us. Click To Tweet

Now, there are some parts of my personality that are just complicated. I’m the baby of the family, so I crave attention. But there is almost 5 years between myself and my brother, which means I can sometimes act like an only child and need controlled order. I love having people around, but I don’t want to share. I like to plan, and then rebel against my own plans. Some days I want to be surrounded by a bunch of people who I don’t know really well. Other days I want to have deep conversation with a close friend. And then there are days where I just long to sit alone for hours.

I’m an extroverted introvert.

I took a quiz for that.


Your turn…

What does this mean for you? Do you feel like you are being torn? What parts of your personality are a contradiction?

PS. Earlier when I was talking about about being the baby of the family, but acting like an only child, I was referring to a book I read a few years ago called The Birth Order Book: Why You Are the Way You Are, by Dr. Kevin Leman. It was incredibly insightful, and I highly recommend it.

PPS. Yes, that is an affiliate link. Which means if you purchase from that link, I get a small percentage. It’s not much, but it helps with the cost of keeping this blog up and running. Thanks!

PPPS. Legally, I have to tell you the bit about it being an affiliate link, and I have to give you a link to my super exciting Disclaimer page. Prepare to have you mind blown (sarcasm).

 

Siim Lukka