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Pilgrims in the World: Embracing Our Identity in Christ

As believers, we are pilgrims in the world but are not of the world. We must embrace this identity to truly follow Christ. 



Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul.

1 Peter 2:11, KJV

As believers, we are pilgrims in the world but are not of the world. We must embrace this identity to truly follow Christ. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #belong #identity #pilgrims #salvation #provision

Pilgrims in the World

Recently my sister in law made an intriguing comment. She was recounting a simple, yet profound statement that her pastor had made to their congregation. He told them that, as believers, if they do not feel out of place in this world, they could be headed for trouble. If they always feel at home in the world, perhaps they’re trying too hard to fit in.

Her pastor was encouraging them to live as Christ instructed His followers to live: as pilgrims passing through. Ultimately, her pastor’s point was that, as believers, we are called to be in this world but not of this world. So, if at times, we feel out of place, most likely we’re actually doing something right in our walk of faith.

If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

John 15:19, KJV

Leaving Egypt

A few years ago, I found myself in a situation where I truly felt out of place in the world, even among some believers. I had earned a Master’s degree in Social Work and had worked as a community organizer and advocate to empower people in poverty. My husband had a degree in economics and owned a small business as a general contractor for high-end residential projects.

By all accounts, we were doing pretty well in this world. We were establishing successful careers, building a large community, and just generally enjoying life’s pleasures. But our faith in the Lord was small. He was about to completely dismantle the safe, little life we had arranged for ourselves through our own pride and strength.

Just like the Israelites, little did we know that we were embarking on a pilgrimage out of Egypt into the wilderness. Over the span of about two years, our careers, our community, and really our entire life changed drastically. After having our first child, my husband and I prayed and asked the Lord whether I should go back to work or stay at home to care for our baby…

It became very clear that I needed to resign from my salaried position with a large nonprofit. There went a big chunk of our steady, reliable income along with our health insurance coverage and my professional identity.

Questions…

About a year later, a number of times in prayer, my husband had heard from the Lord that it was time to close his small business. His company was our family’s only source of income. So, he was naturally resistant. And we had a second child on the way. These things did not make sense to our natural minds. And I had a lot of questions.

Why was the Lord calling us away from the careers we had been working so hard to establish? What would we tell our friends and family? How could He expect us to walk away from our only source of income? What about the mortgage? How would we feed our family?!

The Lord was trying to show us that our earthly provision was not secure. He was our provider and the source of our security, financially and otherwise. So, after a great deal of discussion, prayer–and quite a bit of fear and trembling–we decided to follow Christ’s instruction to close my husband’s business.

Pilgrims in the Wilderness

For the next year, we became pilgrims wandering in a financial, spiritual, and emotional wilderness. Stripped bare of all our earthly identities, we truly began to learn what it felt like to be outsiders. With a baby and a toddler in tow and no source of steady income, we were living in the world, but we did not have the means to be part of it. We could barely even explain what we were going through to ourselves, let alone to our friends–many of whom were not believers.

We tried to share our hearts with people in our church and fellowship groups, but even to them, the choices we were making seemed foreign. I often felt completely isolated and alone. Watching the world go on about its business, I felt as if I were orbiting just slightly outside of their circles. Despite the fact I was following the Lord and growing in my faith, a part of me was still desperately wanting to fit in. To re-enter the world’s normal orbit and simply go with the flow.

A Peculiar People

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.

1 Peter: 2:9, KJV

As believers, we are indeed a peculiar people. Pilgrims from a kingdom that is not of this world. Part of being a pilgrim passing through is following Christ, even when He calls us to say or do things that don’t seem to make sense to the world. And Beloved, this can be a tough and lonely row to hoe. The world might look at our faith and call us unreasonable, irrational, irresponsible, even crazy. Because faith is not their paradigm, reason is their religion.

I’m not saying that believers should not act according to reason. But sometimes what the Lord calls us to do can feel like it doesn’t make any earthly sense. Sometimes there are spiritual steps of faith that we must take in order to follow Christ. We have to learn to trust that even if those steps don’t make sense to our natural mind, they are still the right ones to take.

We can’t let our faith be swayed by what others–in the world or in the church–think of us. And if we’re faithful and obedient to follow His leading, we will see there is a rhyme and a reason to how and why He takes us in certain unlikely directions.

Sometimes there are spiritual steps of faith that we must take in order to follow Christ. We have to learn to trust that even if those steps don't make sense to our natural mind, they are still the right ones to take. Click To Tweet

Rebuilding

Honestly, our wilderness season was one of the most difficult and frightening times of my life. Yet during that pilgrimage, my faith in the Lord and my trust in His goodness grew exponentially. I saw Him move in miraculous ways on behalf of our family. We went without many things that the world calls necessities. But we never starved, and we always had clothes on our back and a roof over our heads. Ultimately, the Lord had taken us on a journey out of the worldly system and into the wilderness. And today we are living in what feels like a promised land where we can rebuild what was lost.

We are once again establishing our careers, but this time, we’re doing so according to the gifts and callings that He has placed on our lives. We’re building community, but now we’re doing it intentionally with other believers who are on their own pilgrimages. And we’re enjoying life again, but not just for the earthly pleasures that the world offers. Now we’re experiencing the true joy that only Christ can bring. I get the sense that this is only the beginning of what He really has in store for our life.

From Pilgrims to Citizens

Our pilgrimage made no earthly sense at the time. In retrospect, however, I can see how the Lord perfectly orchestrated each step of faith. I feel so thankful that He considered us worthy of having that experience. It made me realize that I do not need the world.

But it also showed me how desperately the world needs Christ. Now I can show Christ’s love to a world that is lost, even when they feel like they are at home. Somewhere deep down, they want and need to be found. They long to know that they are not alone. That there is a real, lasting place for them. That is the beautiful offer of the gospel: to be pilgrims in the world for a time but to belong for eternity.

Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow citizens with the saints, and of the household of God.

Ephesians 2:19, KJV

When have you truly felt like a pilgrim in the world? How have you balanced living in the world but not being of it?

As believers, we are pilgrims in the world but are not of the world. We must embrace this identity to truly follow Christ. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #belong #identity #pilgrims #salvation #provision

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Gratitude, thankful, perseverance, God’s Kingdom, serve, serving, trials, work, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Serving God’s Kingdom: Persevering Exhaustion and Unfulfillment

Day to day tasks and work can feel unfulfilling, causing exhaustion. We must persevere through negative attitudes to continue serving God’s Kingdom.



Don’t grow tired of doing good… I know it’s easier said than done. I know because I’m exhausted with it.

Day to day tasks and work can feel unfulfilling, causing exhaustion. We must persevere through negative attitudes to continue serving God's Kingdom. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #GodsKingdom #serve #hospitality #perseverance

Exhausted

I’m exhausted from homeschooling my children so they will be trained in righteousness and the truth of God’s Word. I feel the weariness of changing diapers from my two youngest sons, and the foster children I had the years before them.

I’m so tired of giving my husband my full attention at the end of a long day. Not just physically -if that’s what you’re thinking- but the full attention he needs from me to listen to his stories. He loves to share his work with me and let me tell you, it wears me out to be fully attentive.

However, these are the good works I was made to do. The Lord knew he would be my husband, He called me to homeschool my children, and to be a foster/adoptive mother. When I’m singing songs and explaining history and wiping bottoms and making dinner, I’m doing it for Christ! I am serving God’s Kingdom.

Enthusiasm

Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying. When God’s people are in need, be ready to help them. Always be eager to practice hospitality.

Romans 12:11-13, NLT

I think sometimes we forget that our husbands and children are God’s people. We serve others outside our home with such enthusiasm and generosity but can have a begrudging attitude about the people we claim to love most in this world.

Our tendency to this, I believe, is because we don’t get any recognition for doing our work day in and day out. We do what we have to do because we have to do it. When others outside our homes need help, we do it because we love Christ, yes, but there’s also an element of feeling good about ourselves. Often, I tend to do better for near-strangers than my own household.

Sacrifice

I realized this ugliness in myself just a week ago. A neighbor, also a believer, needed help after a surgery. So, I went and cleaned her bathrooms with more detail and fervor than I’d given any task in my own home in months.

As I was cleaning, I felt very convicted. Why was I so willing to do her bathrooms when just wiping down my own countertops and mirrors made me feel like an unappreciated servant? I think the root issue in my life is laziness and pride. I want to do the things that make me happy and bring me joy and have forgotten that’s not what life is.

A life lived for others is full of sacrifice and self-denial. If I say I want to love God and serve others but only mean it when I’m enjoying myself, then I don’t have the right attitude.

A life lived for others is full of sacrifice and self-denial. If we say we want to love God and serve others but only mean it when it's convenient, then we don't have the right attitude. Click To Tweet

Mundane Work

My family deserves my service to them with a heart full of joy. I am serving my King because I’m obeying His call on my life. He wants me where I am and I don’t want to serve Him begrudgingly. My life verse is a great motivator for me when I feel like I can’t find the point in the mundane and repetitive tasks in my life.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him.

James 1:12, NIV

Am I wrong for comparing my housework and vocation to a trial? Perhaps, but I’m only being honest about how it can feel.

I’ve been through many terrible and hard circumstances in my life, and I know that what I’m experiencing now is nothing like it. I need to have an attitude of gratitude and persevere in serving God’s Kingdom; in the work our loving Father has given me. I pray that my story will encourage some of you struggling in this area to persevere as well.

Day to day tasks and work can feel unfulfilling, causing exhaustion. We must persevere through negative attitudes to continue serving God's Kingdom. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #GodsKingdom #serve #hospitality #perseverance

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Gratitude, thankful, thankfulness, thanksgiving, burdens, thank you, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Thank You: Burdens Disappear in the Presence of Gratitude

When we choose to dwell on the struggles of this life, we can easily become burdened. A simple ‘thank you’ releases these burdens through gratitude and thanksgiving to God.



Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe,

Hebrews 12:28, CSB

We have all had days that start off on the wrong side of the bed. We wake up to instant chaos and all things wrong, knowing it’s an extra cup of coffee kind of day… only to find we forgot to buy more coffee at the store.

When we choose to dwell on the struggles of this life, we can easily become burdened. A simple 'thank you' offered to God releases these burdens. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #thankfulness #ThankYou #burdens #thanksgiving

The Burdens Are Real

I have had so many days like this! At this point, I feel like they have become my normal routine. Children wetting the bed at 5:30 A.M., an hour before the alarm clock goes off. Someone getting sick on a day I have tons of errands to run. Forgetting the keys as I walk out the door, only to find I locked the door before shutting it.

Getting in the car to take kids to school and suddenly realizing I never filled up the car with gas the day before. Yep, it’s a miracle I’m able to write and share this with you today. But hey, God has a sense of humor, and I like to think He includes my life in it. Whatever helps me cope, right?!

Point being, we are all faced with messes we have to clean up. We are constantly greeted with unexpected frustrations that try to get the best of us. At any moment we may choose to drop it all and have our own fallout, pity party, adult tantrum; wishing all these burdens would magically just go away. At least, that’s how I feel most days. I realized my soul was struggling inwardly to understand how to receive peace the way Jesus spoke of in John 14:27.

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.

John 14:27, CSB

The Inward Struggle Is Real

We all have asked this question at one point in our lives or another: What’s the point of all this? Every day has the same repetitive issues while juggling a whole new set that gets thrown our way. The cycle of life seems never-ending, and most of the time, just flat-out depressing and exhausting.

I want to be happy and at peace, but this world seems to completely rob me of that luxury. How on earth, literally, ON EARTH, am I supposed to have joy and peace when I am surrounded by all this negativity and mess? This translation in Ecclesiastes, I think, perfectly describes how I feel most days…

That’s when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth. What’s the point of working your fingers to the bone if you hand over what you worked for to someone who never lifted a finger for it? Smoke, that’s what it is. A bad business from start to finish. So what do you get from a life of hard labor? Pain and grief from dawn to dusk. Never a decent night’s rest. Nothing but smoke.

Ecclesiastes 2:20-23, MSG

I have a feeling I’m not alone in this way of thinking. I’m sure Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, knew people would think this way too; which is why he wrote it.

Listen Carefully

I found myself in another jumbled up chaotic day where nothing was going right. I was tired, frustrated and just completely fed up with life. I woke up irritated with an extra load of laundry from a child wetting the bed; the kids were late for school and my car wouldn’t start after dropping them off! Of course, I did all this without coffee because I forgot to buy more at the store. Like I mentioned earlier; it’s a miracle I am able to write this!

This was just another day full of annoyances and frustrations that were causing my attitude toward my husband and kids to be very unkind! I am never a pleasant person for them to be around when I start my day like this. Somewhere in the middle of the chaos of my day, I quietly heard God whisper to me: “I am here…I am with you…I know how you feel. Go and sin no more.”

I huffed and complained the whole way, but finally decided to sit down and spend time with God. I turned off all the distractions around me, and I turned on my ears to hear what He was trying to teach me through this messy day. God sweetly spoke to me; “Offer up prayers of thanksgiving child.”  The Lord wanted me to go throughout my day so far and find the things that went right, rather than wrong, and say thank you for them.

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7, CSB

Follow His Guidance

And so the list began…

Thank you, Lord, for the laundry detergent that allowed me to wash my child’s sheets. Thank you for the water for him to shower and the soap to get him clean. Thank you for the person you provided today to help jump-start my car when it died. Thank you for giving my husband the knowledge to know what was wrong with the car and the ability to fix it. Thank you for allowing me to have this time spent with you so I can reflect on the things that went right instead of wrong.

With every thank you I sent up, a new feeling of peace and calm were sent down. I finally understood what the Lord meant when He said…

Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28, CSB

The more I offered up those prayers of thanksgiving to God, the more I felt the burdens of that day drift away. Through this, my soul found rest.

Say Thank You

We were never meant to carry the weight of life’s daily frustration and stress. The whole purpose of the cross was to take those burdens away from us. Jesus took our place so we could enjoy life, not be burdened by it.

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.

Psalm 118:5, ESV

When we all sit down and really think about what Jesus did for us, how can we honestly say anything BUT, Thank You?

Today, I invite you, dear reader, to try this out for yourself. When you feel burdened by life and things seem to be falling apart around you, don’t get discouraged, Friend! Instead, reflect on your day or situation, and find something to say thank you to God for. It’s there. You just have to be intentional to find it.

We were never meant to carry the weight of life's daily frustration and stress. The whole purpose of the cross was to take those burdens away from us. Click To Tweet

When we choose to dwell on the struggles of this life, we can easily become burdened. A simple 'thank you' offered to God releases these burdens. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #thankfulness #ThankYou #burdens #thanksgiving

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Gratitude, thankful, thank you, joy, provision, peace, community, strength, God’s love, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry, nonprofit

Say Thank You: Remembrance and Gratitude are Keys in A Life of Joy

How many times do we slip into the muck of life because we are stuck in our own pity-party? Get out of the muck, and say thank you. Enter a life of gratitude and joy.



“It’s ok to have your pity party, but then you need to move on.” This is some sage advice given to me by my husband’s grandmother when I was a newlywed. I cannot for the life of me remember what prompted this advice, but it has stuck with me for nearly two decades. Perhaps this wisdom was shared in a moment of tough love, but I received it well, and treasure it greatly.

There are still days when I have my pity parties. Things seem too difficult. I feel too tired. There are moments when I want to throw in the towel and call it quits. Days I feel all alone in a crowded space. My feelings are hurt, yet again. And before I know it, I am wallowing in the muck.

In the middle of the muck is usually when I heap on a big dose of guilt and shame. You know, to make myself the martyr of my own demise. I think I shouldn’t feel this way, I should be tougher, I should be better, I should do more. No wait – I shouldn’t do more – I should do less. I should be grateful. Meanwhile, the promise of abundant life slips by.

How many times do we slip into the muck of life because we are stuck in our own pity-party? Get out of the muck, and say thank you. Enter a life of joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #joy #ThankYou #PityParty #provision #community

Pity Party

There are things that are too difficult. There are problems I simply cannot fix because I do not possess the means. But, hallelujah! They are not too difficult for God.

I do feel tired at times. But the things I am doing like parenting and leading and teaching are good things. They continually bring me back to my knees.

There are moments I want to quit. A life of joy doesn’t mean easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. It means peace. Things can be hard yet peaceful.

There are days I feel alone. The loss of friendships has left gaping wounds. I hide behind facades, too afraid to let people see the real me. But I am NOT alone. God continually meets my need for community.

My feelings do get hurt. Having a sensitive heart is a strength of compassion. This is how God created me, and I am confident it is a gifting He gave on purpose. But honestly, it is often my own insecurity that causes my wounded pride.

Gratitude

Gratitude is woven throughout a life of joy. And gratitude begins with awareness. By acknowledging and remembering the blessings in life, our attitudes shift from doubt to confidence.

Remember God’s faithfulness of provision in your life. And say thank you.

If we are able to solve our dilemmas on our own, we would not need to rely on the Lord. And if we provide the solution, then we receive the credit. When there seems to be no solution, God will provide. He will receive glory, and we learn to trust in a deeper way.

Remember God’s strength gives you endurance. And say thank you.

We are in continual training. Every trial we go through prepares us for further work. This is our hope and comfort. Because we know that our future is for eternity and that our life has purpose by glorifying the Father, we see value in these trials.

Remember God’s peacefulness brings you comfort. And say thank you.

Because the task we are enduring is one we are called to, part of His provision is comfort and peace. There is a difference between stretching our faith, and a struggle with the Spirit within ourselves. We have His peace within the discomfort.

Remember God’s plan for community. And say thank you.

Instead of focusing on the loss of friendship, focus on the friends we have. Invest in these people, build trust, and love them well. God does not desire us to be alone, He created us to need community.

Remember God’s love for you and all His creation. And say thank you.

Getting the focus off of ourselves, onto others, we can see that we are loved and cared for. Recognize this. Be thankful for the love other people give. Receive it well.

Move On

If you find yourself in the muck, go ahead and have your pity party knowing you will not stay there. Feel all the feelings – sad, stressed, overwhelmed, hurt, scared. Then remember. Remember how God cares for you, the provisions, the blessings. Acknowledge the good in your life. Focus on what you have, love who you have, use the time you have and do it all for the glory of the Lord.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT

Feel all the feelings – sad, stressed, overwhelmed, hurt, scared. Then remember. Remember how God cares for you, the provisions, the blessings. Click To Tweet

How many times do we slip into the muck of life because we are stuck in our own pity-party? Get out of the muck, and say thank you. Enter a life of joy. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional | Christian Nonprofit #devotional #scripture #gratitude #thankful #joy #ThankYou #PityParty #provision #community

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thankful, gratitude, burdens, struggles, peace, Oh Lord Help Us, Christian, women, mentor, ministry

Burdens: Offering Gratitude and Thanksgiving to God

When we choose to dwell on the struggles of this life, we can easily become burdened. We can release these burdens through gratitude and thanksgiving to God.



Therefore, since we are receiving a kingdom that cannot be shaken, let us be thankful. By it, we may serve God acceptably, with reverence and awe,

Hebrews 12:28, CSB

We have all had days that start off on the wrong side of the bed. We wake up to instant chaos and all things wrong, knowing it’s an extra cup of coffee kind of day… only to find we forgot to buy more coffee at the store.

Choosing to dwell on the struggles of this life can cause us to become burdened. We release these burdens by offering gratitude and thanksgiving to God. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #burdens #thankful #gratitude #struggles #peace

The Burdens Are Real

I have had so many days like this! At this point, I feel like they have become my normal routine. Children wetting the bed at 5:30 A.M., an hour before the alarm clock goes off. Someone getting sick on a day I have tons of errands to run. Forgetting the keys as I walk out the door, only to find I locked the door before shutting it.

Getting in the car to take kids to school and suddenly realizing I never filled up the car with gas the day before. Yep, it’s a miracle I’m able to write and share this with you today. But hey, God has a sense of humor, and I like to think He includes my life in it. Whatever helps me cope, right?!

Point being, we are all faced with messes we have to clean up. We are constantly greeted with unexpected frustrations that try to get the best of us. At any moment we may choose to drop it all and have our own fallout, pity party, adult tantrum; wishing all these burdens would magically just go away. At least, that’s how I feel most days. I realized my soul was struggling inwardly to understand how to receive peace the way Jesus spoke of in John 14:27.

Peace I leave with you. My peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Don’t let your heart be troubled or fearful.

John 14:27, CSB

The Inward Struggle Is Real

We all have asked this question at one point in our lives or another: What’s the point of all this? Every day has the same repetitive issues while juggling a whole new set that gets thrown our way. The cycle of life seems never-ending, and most of the time, just flat-out depressing and exhausting.

I want to be happy and at peace, but this world seems to completely rob me of that luxury. How on earth, literally, ON EARTH, am I suppose to have joy and peace, when I am surrounded by all this negativity and mess? This translation in Ecclesiastes, I think, perfectly describes how I feel most days…

That’s when I called it quits, gave up on anything that could be hoped for on this earth. What’s the point of working your fingers to the bone if you hand over what you worked for to someone who never lifted a finger for it? Smoke, that’s what it is. A bad business from start to finish. So what do you get from a life of hard labor? Pain and grief from dawn to dusk. Never a decent night’s rest. Nothing but smoke.

Ecclesiastes 2:20-23, MSG

I have a feeling I’m not alone in this way of thinking. I’m sure Solomon, the writer of Ecclesiastes, knew people would think this way too; which is why he wrote it.

Listen Carefully

I found myself in another jumbled up chaotic day where nothing was going right. I was tired, frustrated and just completely fed up with life. I woke up irritated with an extra load of laundry from a child wetting the bed; the kids were late for school and my car wouldn’t start after dropping them off! Of course, I did all this without coffee because I forgot to buy more at the store. Like I mentioned earlier; it’s a miracle I am able to write this!

This was just another day full of annoyances and frustrations that were causing my attitude toward my husband and kids to be very unkind! I am never a pleasant person for them to be around when I start my day like this. Somewhere in the middle of the chaos of my day, I quietly heard God whisper to me: “I am here…I am with you…I know how you feel. Go and sin no more.”

I huffed and complained the whole way, but finally decided to sit down and spend time with God. I turned off all the distractions around me, and I turned on my ears to hear what He was trying to teach me through this messy day. God sweetly spoke to me; “Offer up prayers of thanksgiving child.”  The Lord wanted me to go throughout my day so far and find the things that went right, rather than wrong, and say thank you for them.

Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7, CSB

Follow His Guidance

And so the list began…

Thank you, Lord, for the laundry detergent that allowed me to wash my child’s sheets. Thank you for the water for him to shower and the soap to get him clean. Thank you for the person you provided today to help jump-start my car when it died. Thank you for giving my husband the knowledge to know what was wrong with the car and the ability to fix it. Thank you for allowing me to have this time spent with you so I can reflect on the things that went right instead of wrong.

With every thank you I sent up, a new feeling of peace and calm were sent down. I finally understood what the Lord meant when He said…

Come to me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.

Matthew 11:28, CSB

The more I offered up those prayers of thanksgiving to God, the more I felt the burdens of that day drift away. Through this, my soul found rest.

Say Thank You

We were never meant to carry the weight of life’s daily frustration and stress. The whole purpose of the cross was to take those burdens away from us. Jesus took our place so we could enjoy life, not be burdened by it.

Out of my distress I called on the Lord; the Lord answered me and set me free.

Psalm 118:5, ESV

When we all sit down and really think about what Jesus did for us, how can we honestly say anything BUT, Thank You?

Today, I invite you, dear reader, to try this out for yourself. When you feel burdened by life and things seem to be falling apart around you, don’t get discouraged, Friend! Instead, reflect on your day or situation, and find something to say thank you to God for. It’s there. You just have to be intentional to find it.

We were never meant to carry the weight of life's daily frustration and stress. The whole purpose of the cross was to take those burdens away from us. Click To Tweet

Choosing to dwell on the struggles of this life can cause us to become burdened. We release these burdens by offering gratitude and thanksgiving to God. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional #devotional #scripture #burdens #thankful #gratitude #struggles #peace

Samara Doole

gratitude, remember, acknowledge, Oh Lord Help Us

Gratitude: Remember and Acknowledge for a Life of Joy

How many times do we slip into the muck of life because we are stuck in our own pity-party? Get out of the muck, and into a life of joy and gratitude.



“It’s ok to have your pity party, but then you need to move on.” This is some sage advice given to me by my husband’s grandmother when I was a newlywed. I cannot for the life of me remember what prompted this advice to be imparted to me, but it has stuck with me for nearly two decades. Perhaps this wisdom was shared in a moment of tough love, but I received it well, and treasure it greatly.

There are still days when I have my pity parties. Things seem too difficult. I feel too tired. There are moments when I want to throw in the towel and call it quits. Days I feel all alone in a crowded space. My feelings are hurt, yet again. And before I know it, I am wallowing in the muck.

In the middle of the muck is usually when I heap on a big dose of guilt and shame. You know, to make myself the martyr of my own demise. I think I shouldn’t feel this way, I should be tougher, I should be better, I should do more. No wait – I shouldn’t do more – I should do less. I should be grateful. Meanwhile, the promise of abundant life slips by.

How many times do we slip into the muck of life because we are stuck in our own pity-party? Get out of the muck, and into a life of joy and gratitude. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

Pity Party

There are things that are too difficult. There are problems I simply cannot fix because I do not possess the means. But, hallelujah! They are not too difficult for God.

I do feel tired at times. But the things I am doing like parenting, and leading, and teaching are good things. They continually bring me back to knees.

There are moments I want to quit. A life of joy doesn’t mean easy-peasy-lemon-squeezy. It means peace. Things can be hard yet peaceful.

There are days I feel alone. The loss of friendships has left gaping wounds. I hide behind facades, too afraid to let people see the real me. But I am NOT alone. God continually meets my need for community.

My feelings do get hurt. Having a sensitive heart is a strength of compassion. This is how God created me, and I am confident it is a gifting He gave on purpose. But honestly, it is often my own insecurity that causes my wounded pride.

Gratitude

Gratitude is woven throughout a life of joy. And gratitude begins with awareness. By acknowledging and remembering the blessings in life, our attitudes shift from doubt to confidence.

Remember God’s faithfulness of provision in your life. And say thank you.

If we are able to solve our dilemmas on our own, we would not need to rely on the Lord. And if we provide the solution, then we receive the credit. When there seems to be no solution, God will provide. He will receive glory, and we learn to trust in a deeper way.

Remember God’s strength gives you endurance. And say thank you.

We are in continual training. Every trial we go through prepares us for further work. This is our hope and comfort. Because we know that our future is for eternity and that our life has purpose by glorifying the Father, we see value in these trials.

Remember God’s peacefulness brings you comfort. And say thank you.

Because the task we are enduring is one we are called to, part of His provision is comfort and peace. There is a difference between stretching our faith, and a struggle with the Spirit within ourselves. We have His peace within the discomfort.

Remember God’s plan for community. And say thank you.

Instead of focusing on the loss of friendship, focus on the friends we have. Invest into these people, build trust, and love them well. God does not desire us to be alone, He created us to need community.

Remember God’s love for you and all His creation. And say thank you.

Getting the focus off of ourselves, onto others, we can see that we are loved and cared for. Recognize this. Be thankful for the love other people give. Receive it well.

Move On

If you find yourself in the muck, go ahead and have your pity party knowing you will not stay there. Feel all the feelings – sad, stressed, overwhelmed, hurt, scared. Then remember. Remember how God cares for you, the provisions, the blessings. Acknowledge the good in your life. Focus on what you have, love who you have, use the time you have and do it all for the glory of the Lord.

Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, NLT

Gratitude is woven throughout a life of joy. Gratitude begins by acknowledging and remembering the blessings in life. Then our attitudes shift from doubt to confidence. Click To Tweet

 

How many times do we slip into the muck of life because we are stuck in our own pity-party? Get out of the muck, and into a life of joy and gratitude. Women of Faith | Spiritual Growth | Scripture Study | Christian Mentoring | Daily Devotional

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Humble: Accept the Thank You and Move On

Accepting gratitude for a job well done seems to be a hard thing to do. Our desire to be humble doesn’t mean that we can’t accept thank you without a qualifier.



“Thank you for staying late to help.” “No problem. It really wasn’t a big deal.” Even though I had to have my husband pick up my son from tae kwon do, change dinner plans, and cancel another meeting.

“That dessert is awesome.” “It’s just something I threw together.” Even though I had to make an extra trip to the grocery store, not go to the park to play with my little boy, and feed my family sandwiches for dinner since I had to baby sit the cake to make sure it didn’t fall.

“My kid loves being in your class. Thanks for all the extra help.” “It’s my job and I’m happy to do it.” Which I am, but it takes a lot of extra effort and time to text parents after school, put together meaningful assignments that help each child, and means I usually work from 7:30-5:30 everyday.

Maybe some of these situations sound like something you have encountered. Do you find yourself, like me, brushing off the compliment? I wonder why that is. Why can’t we just say “Thank you” and move on?

A Desire to be Humble

I have a theory that women have a predisposition to appear humble. Humbleness means we are gentle, cooperative and together therefore accepting a compliment that includes “thank you” is difficult.

But I submit to you lovely, humble readers that “thank you” is exactly what we should say and leave it there. Don’t diminish your work.

Let someone else praise you, and not your own mouth; an outsider, and not your own lips.

Proverbs 27:2, NIV

As long as you are not touting your own accomplishments, you should accept the gratitude of others. Let me ask you, do you want your daughter to brush off her accomplishments? Do you want God to brush off your accomplishments done in His service? Absolutely not. That sounds absurd doesn’t it?

As long as you are not touting your own accomplishments, you should accept the gratitude of others. Click To Tweet

Gratitude

God invites us to a life of gratitude and thanksgiving. He is so proud of us when we choose to follow Him and the path He sets out for each of us. Sometimes that involves baking a cake, making a meeting that was unplanned, or teaching His children. Saying “thank you” acknowledges the hard work you did.

Pray like it depends on God and work like it depends on you.

Mark Batterson, The Circle Maker

These are cherished words in my heart because they show the partnership I have with my Heavenly Father. We are together in this world and He is always near. In a very real way I need to accept the “thank you” for both of us. And so do you.

Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18, NIV

Accepting gratitude for a job well done seems to be a hard thing to do. Our desire to be humble doesn't mean that we can't accept thank you without a qualifier. #humility #gratitude

The Take Away

This is something I need to work on. Recently I was talking about why I have such a hard time accepting “thank you” without a qualifier that makes it seem like it is no big deal. I think the need to be humble is part of it, but not all. Maybe some of it is because all the women in my life have made similar statements in the face of gratitude and I am following their example.

But I don’t want my children to do the same. I want them to feel proud of their accomplishments because we pray over them. We give thanks to God for His direction, we ask for help when things don’t seem to be going exactly right, and we give glorious praise when the course ends up being more wonderful than the bumps along the way. How can we not accept gratitude when He is part of the equation of our lives?

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.

Colossians 4:2, NIV

So in light of my new discovery, I want to ask God to help me be more accepting of the gratitude of others.

Dear God,

Please open my ears and heart the the thankfulness of others. Help me discern the difference between boastfulness and gratitude. Let me remember that You are a part of all gratitude and that in accepting it fully I am drawing closer to You and the path You have set before me.

love,

me

Accepting gratitude for a job well done seems to be a hard thing to do. Our desire to be humble doesn't mean that we can't accept thank you without a qualifier. #humility #gratitude


This is where the story changes…

mug, but God, coffee, tea

Annie Spratt

Content Within the Discontent

The holiday season is upon us and I have been inundated with the message that I need to be thankful. And I’m sick of it. What if I don’t want to be? You don’t know what has happened to me! What if I don’t feel like I have anything to be thankful for? What if I want to be surly and miserable? Stop telling me to be happy all the time!

 

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Real Life, Real Gratitude

Do we really need to be thankful? How do we find this place of contentment when times are hard? What’s the point? Can we just “fake it til we make it” or does is have to be real? What if we can’t seem to get to this place of contentment?

It turns out we do need to be grateful.

This is the day that the Lord has made; let us rejoice and be glad in it. Psalm 118:24

Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good, for His steadfast love endures forever. Psalm 136:1

Even when our circumstances are not ideal.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

But sometimes we are discontent for a reason. If we were truly content all the time, we would never be prompted to change or grow. The hope we have is that our discontentment in not in vain.

…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…. Romans 5:3-5

And we don’t have to fake our contentment. Sometimes life is just truly crappy. For real.

Save me, O God! For the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in deep mire, where there is no foothold; I have come into deep waters, and the flood sweeps over me. I am weary with my crying out; my throat is parched. my eyes grow dim with waiting for my God. Psalm 69:1-3 (“I sink in deep mire” sounds a whole lot like “I’m in deep crap,” don’t you think?)

But the waiting can be long, no doubt. I’m not even going to sugar-coat that for you.

Wait for the Lord; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the Lord!

 

 


Final Thought

Take a deep breath. Feel God’s love embracing you. And wait patiently for Him to move you out of your discontentment. Thankfully He loves us and we can trust Him.

 

Are you feeling discontent at the moment? Are you feeling discouraged? What have you found to help get you through times of discontentment in the past? 

 

xoxo