The Day I Touched the Sky

A photo by Eli DeFaria. unsplash.com/photos/qKXnwCIaULI

The other day I spent some time on some much needed “knee mail.” I confessed my broken heart to the Lord. It was messy and let’s just say I could’ve invested some money in Kleenex stock. Yes, the tears came way too easy and I was overwhelmed. What could possibly cause such a deep emotional response from within?

I let my heart touch the sky and released my pain.

In the last four months I lost both my mom, 91, and dad, 94, to Alzheimer’s disease. We were personally involved in their care for almost three years. I don’t know if you’ve been down this road but it’s hard, specific and each parent required different care.

The details were love-driven but the sentiments were often lost in the details and mostly confusing to my parents. What we experienced as a family was challenging and difficult. But I sit here today to encourage you, if you are looking at a similar situation, there’s peace available to you by the measure of God’s grace that goes before you.

I have many stories I’m collecting in a book which will someday help someone, I just feel it. Role reversal in families is often hard, isolating and intense. However, I learned the most about peace of God who offers this peace by going through it. There are seasons in life only experienced by going through it.

“We do what we have to do.” says every mom.

With any big decisions, and we all face them, wouldn’t it be helpful to have a manual of knowledge with all the answers? You know it would. Wouldn’t it be comforting to know you could just “tube it” to get the answers you needed? The world as we know it is asking “Dr. Google” for everything. I am reminded we do have such a resource to help us figure things out what life sets before us.

We do what we have to do because the Holy Spirit helps us.

Jesus said (in His last few hours on earth) it was best and good for Him to leave so the Helper could come and be our advocate. It is good for man to release what he can’t do and find the Help to cover what man can’t do. That’s not to say you don’t have a part in God’s business, you do. You simply trust God has you covered and He is working out things according to His best plan for you and you do the next thing as He leads. God peace protects you from making wrong decisions. I am grateful today HE is my Shepherd and knows what I need, even before I have need of it.

Yes, He’s so good at being God and our good, good Father.  He anticipates needs before you have any needs. Think about this: God who has NO needs meets ALL of yours. And He knows every one of your needs and is at the ready to meet you and show you. So let us fix our eyes, look to the hills, look up and live a vertical life. Let’s reflect His countenance, and meet Him in the morning and again remind ourselves in the evening. Could it be said if we simply live with God, we won’t be fighting the will of God?

Life is a great teacher and I’m taking many notes. (By the way, I heard a preacher say once there’s a special gate in Heaven for us note takers!) With God’s help, He makes the ways of faith known to you and for you. It’s His grace goes before you and secures your mind. It’s His peace assures you when everything isn’t going okay. There’s comfort in sharing with friends and receiving godly counsel. Encouragement can come in many ways, and God loves to use you to help people too. Hard times teach you to lean upon Him and look to Him to help point the way for others in healing and keeping peace.

Keeping our head up is the challenge, as well as fighting discouragement plus trudging through life on our own strength. There are other times when God loves to grow us through situations which cause us to trust in Him in no uncertain terms, with the eyes of faith. When we believe He leads through adversity by His character, then we see the wonder of who God really is. Only God can give this kind of holy assurance to help us let go of the things we can’t control. And nothing can replace such kind of peaceful assurance!

How have you seen God’s peace in your life?

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Six Words To Get You Through

A photo by Wilson Lau. unsplash.com/photos/MvjO-aMRwkE

It was 20 years ago when my husband was diagnosed with cancer. I’ve watched him struggle to a decent level of health with many medical complications as a result of his diagnosis. There have been some good days for sure, but as a wife and help-mate, there have been more days that I wish we could do over. Instead of harboring regret and resentment, I’ve learned that every marriage has “those” days when it’s cloudy and the skies are not singing a sunny attitude.

Change in attitude came by faith in his simple prayer one day, “God, help us to be optimistic about all things.” I realized what I had leaned on to get me through the hard years was more than the disappointments that life had to offer.

Six words that have gotten me through struggles like cancer and hard days since are:

“You’ll get through this, have faith.”

Life is full of many scenarios and simply said we didn’t “sign up” for trouble. Like it or not everyone has good and bad “stuff” to contend with. Problems aren’t specifically set up for the result in disappointment but rather problems present opportunities to see God get you through…by faith.

There’s a choice in how you respond to life and when holding to a positive attitude, it can get you through the toughest of days. Let’s break this encouragement down word by word. In those six words, I found these treasures:

1. “You’ll – You will: Remember, yes you, reading this right now…aren’t singled out. The world is not against you. No one is out to get you. You can’t control every circumstance that comes your way, but remember you CAN choose how you respond to it.

2. “Get” – You get: Don’t buy into the lie that a bad situation has come because God is upset with you or you’ve done something wrong. God is for the good and right in this world. Whatever the situation is God can reach down and help you. He is always on your side, in a good mood and you get to ask Him to intervene!

3. “Through” – Get you through: there is an end to suffering believe it or not. “This” too shall pass. Healing comes for the hurts and wounds. Tomorrow is a new day, there’s newness every morning. Even when it seems endless, storms don’t last forever. Pray continually and don’t stop once the clouds clear!

4. “This” – You and “this”: There are many events that come into our life that the Enemy uses to marginalize, isolate, and segregate us from hope and God’s love. Satan knows when we have loneliness, rejection, and oppression, we become weak and closed off. Our numbers tank spiritually, physically, mentally and emotionally. When we want to run from our conflicts or storms that’s when we should be reaching out for comfort and support through together strength with friends, spouse, church, and family. There’s strength in numbers. No man is an island and as humans, we weren’t built to go through life alone. Even in paradise – the Garden of Eden – God said “It is not good for man to be alone.”

5. “Have faith” – You MUST have faith: Jesus said you will have trouble in the world but John 16:33 ecnourages our faith by taking part of His heart, to overcome whatever has come to plague yours. When having faith it strengthens you to the end! Help is surrounding you, to navigate you through. There is a difference in talking about what faith is and believing God is your help and strength by faith. God is who He says He is!

Through it all, we count it all joy.  But how can you be joyful?  The truth is numbers don’t lie, but they often don’t tell the truth. Consider the joy that Jesus had as His reward on the way to the cross. What I know about crucifixions, the process is the most cruel way to die, but yet Jesus went joyfully. The process of life is often full of handling cruelties and torments of this world. But remember, you too will get through, because there’s joy to be gained by going through it with Jesus.

Hope that helps you this week as you are going through some tough situations. I would like to pray for you so please let me know what your situation is and I will!

Facing off with Fear

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A year ago I prayed a simple prayer that reversed a lot of negative feelings into positive ones.  This past year has been one full, absolutely brimming and chocked-full of spiritual stretch marks. What knowledge I’ve gained isn’t really about the answers but about the process of trust and how I’ve learned to apply trust in God in the face of uncertainty and fear.

Living free in this deep spiritual knowledge has brought me long the way in my healing. It took a lot of courage to get outside of the box.  God has all the courage we need to make life changes. Courage is basic to living free and is composed of three parts:

…fierce hope, fearless faith, and God sized love that takes our breathe away.

How do you start this kind of ripple effect that can propel you out of your state of feeling stuck and towards building momentum with God in a positive way? You simple lay your soul before God and ask how you need to change. In praying, a few simple words, you are opening yourself up to what takes more of the Holy Spirit to accomplish.  The Holy Spirit has been waiting to have His way in you. You have to make the first move to step out to find out. If you have to, even use your hands to reach out, stretching them towards heaven.

There is a part in a movie, “The Croods”, that hits me every time. If you haven’t seen this movie, watch it. It’s all about breathing in courage and conquering fears one step at a time. The story line is of a caveman family where the dad leads a survivalist trek across unknown territory.  At first he is fearful to step out, but finally musters up the courage he needs but never knew he had until he uses it to save his family.

Here’s the deal, the Crood dad has to go way out of his comfort zone to find it by conquering fears.  The good news that he finds that he has the ingenuity, the where-with-all strength, a sound mind AND along the way, he gains confidence!  I’m inspired by his tenacity to hang in there when the going gets tough.

Often, courage is not found until you have to use it.

Since we all face off with fear at some point in our lives, we tend to think that each fear builds momentum to work against us.  Often, we hide behind what we term our inadequacies and those insecurities stops us from moving out of our comfort zones. Friends, let’s just get real for a few moments here.  The best way to live free is to breakthrough in the face of fears and do it anyway.  What you find at the end of your fear is more courage than you could ever need.

It’s one thing to know freedom, but it’s a whole new level to live free, and trust God in the unknown. Sometimes, the unknown looks daunting, uncertain, and like a whole bag of fears and tears.  Trusting God with these areas allows God’s answers to invade your circumstances.  Your praises of His faithfulness will always open the door to what He has for you!

“For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.” 2 Timothy 1:7

There’s nothing to fear when the Lord is near!

His ways will help you out of the darkest places by the light of His love.  What I have found in the uncertainties of life, there’s a strength that shines brightest when faced with the unknown.  Love and fear can’t co-exist.  We lose so much to fear when it renders us powerless.  So remember…be encouraged, you’re not alone!   You have nothing to fear, Love is here!

 

In each and every season

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“Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.”  –Corrie ten Boom

Ever found your soul just down right parched?

Three years ago I was in spiritually dry place that I couldn’t quite speak about. It was a particularly difficult time in such a personal way.  God dealt with some issues that left me looking upon Him and the faithfulness that only He is.

I sensed God’s comfort in the stillness and knew that He was good even though it was hard to see forward into all that season held.  God comforted in one of the lowest places of faith and where His encouragement helped beyond words.  I remember everyday my heart was breaking…open.

God’s faithfulness is a quality that endures in every season.

I found comfort in speaking only a few words during prayer time but I had assurance and a sign from heaven that my cries were heard with His open and listening heart.  I was unaware of the preparation that God was working in my life.  Even though I was seeking Him in many ways, I had my moments where I wanted to give up and give into weakness.

But yet my trust in His faithfulness endured through a hopeless season.

When you seek, believe, trust and obey in each season, God’s faithfulness will lead you.  I’ve been thinking about David’s faith and I am so amazed at his endurance through all those up and down years of rule and reign as king.  From the outside, its looks like just a few hard years to develop such a strong, rich faith legacy that is captured on a few pages of Biblical history.  It took all of his life to seek, believe, trust and obey God’s ways and walk in the way of faithfulness and devotion to the Lord.

To live in God’s ways I’ve found no other way than to depend on His faithfulness throughout every season.  You know it’s easy to say that God is faithful when you aren’t staring into the face of cancer, house fires, and death.  It’s easy then, but when life brings uncertainties, trials and afflictions, you have to gather up the memories of faithfulness to bolster the hope and faith to get through.

I believe life is full of opportunities to develop deeper ways to know God.  What would happen if we asked God to reveal Himself in everyday and in every season?  Would it remove us from having problems all together?  Would each and every season be smooth sailing or as clear as glass in regards to decisions we make?

Our lives are full of moments and seasons that encourage endurance, perseverance, and faithfulness by seeking God’s face.  Living in the problems, trials, and struggles teach us about faithfulness.  If your season is dry right now, remember these things to help you find God in them and enable you to cling to an abiding faith in your journey:

You are not alone, God is with you and knows your needs before you do.

Believe God for who He is, a God of His word.

When you can’t see His hand, trust His heart of love FOR you.

Obedience to God by faith pleases God.

Dry seasons are hard, long and sometimes lonely, but I wonder if we would learn any other way.  In knowing that I am not alone, it lifts my hope to meet my faith.  Belief in God, coupled with trust, removes fear.  Experiencing His love by way of trials brings me closer to Him over any other method.  My faith is enriched each and every time I trust in God’s ways and as I walk in obedience.

God wastes nothing in your faith-building process, there’s strength to be received every season.  So consider this, in season and out of season:

Your need to control takes a back seat to His omnipotence.  Your need to understand is protected by His peace.  Trust in Him and fully surrender to His plan as He weaves His beautiful tapestry for your life.    You too can trust in the name of the Lord our God in every season.

When You Are Disappointed

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“Be glad for all God is planning for you. Be patient in trouble, and prayerful always.”  Romans 12:12

There are times when life is full of one disappointment after another.  Or so it seems.  Disappointment comes in all shapes, sizes, and at different times.  There’s worry, fretting, and anxiety.  When reality actually shows up and doesn’t meet our expectations, it often leaves us with the lack of contentment.  Disappointments are hard to navigate through, so here are three heart-hitting questions:

  1. Are these just your unmet expectations?
  2. Have you forgotten to be thankful for what you do have?
  3. Is there something to change to turn your disappointment into a God-appointment?

Ever been disappointed and said “me too?”

Usually after self-examination, it’s best to look for what God is teaching through the unmet expectations.  Asking for wisdom and anticipating His better good, plan and purpose helps get you back on track.

Our good, good Father really does know you best and the best for you.  No matter how many disappointments emerge, there is always hope.  There are times to surrender your need to understand to override the doubt.  There are times when we don’t need to understand, but just obey.  There are times we need to trust more.  Often, God’s purpose isn’t realized until a later time.

There’s a little project on my heart right now that is finally birthing life.  It started with a simple thought but took a lot of hard work to pull it out and off.  Bearing the fruit took guts, courage, and a whole lot of prayer, but loaded with hope for the next generation.  It also came with many disappointments along the way.  I just kept focusing on God’s purpose.

I’m grateful that God had a purpose and a promise in it all.  We have a Savior that is in the business of reconciliation and hope.  Jesus never promised it would be easy.  While walking this earth, even He encountered many trials and troubles, but He died so we could be overcomers of disappointment and have joy and gladness in all things.  Disappointments often don’t feel joyful or make you glad, but the purpose may still be for your benefit.  I’ll never forget,  in the middle of searching for answers, those great conversations with the One who holds the plan in His hands.

So grateful that His love is undeniable and His peace is unspeakable.  We have a good, good Father and nothing is wasted in His purpose for you.  People can disappoint you but God never will.

 

What does God hear?

listening to our hearts

I woke up this morning to the mayhem of getting kids ready for school, packing lunches, organizing my work homework and all the while checking emails and the latest bus stop weather forecast on my phone.  And all this by 7:30 a.m.  I said a quick prayer to God to cover my jammed packed day.  I thought I needed some extra covering to get me out the door.  Then my oldest spilled the entire bag of cat food on his way out.  And I moaned.

Why I let things like this get to me, I asked silently.  I started a complaining moment and was ramping up to give my son a “What were you thinking?” comment in a not so gentle tone.  Then, the Lord held my tongue with this one soft reminder….”A gentle answer turns away wrath.” At His reminder I felt a little overwhelmed, just a little.  There was I time I believed that I wouldn’t be a mom at all.  We had tried several years with no results nor babies.

After a diagnosis, then God planted a dream of desire to be a mother in my heart.  And eight years later to be exact He blessed our lives with not only a son, but a daughter four years earlier.  I stopped formulating my complaints and started a list of blessings.  I silently bent down and started to sweep the cat food with my hands.  My son, bent down, dropping his homework and helped.  When we were done, I grabbed his hand and thanked him for helping.  Then I looked up and he said, “Sorry mom, I didn’t mean to.”  With tears in my eyes, I said…”softly, I know, I know.  It’s okay.  I love you to the morning sunrise and back.”

With our eyes facing east by then, we gathered up our thrown gear and then swiftly headed out the door.  All the way to school bus stop, I thanked God for the blessings that rode safely in my car.  It was a healing moment for me when I felt the “hold” on my tongue that day.  I can remember one day as a child my father not being so gentle with me.  You see, I was a “spiller” too and it seemed like every day I spilled some water or milk or some kind of drink at the breakfast, lunch or dinner table.  He gave unkind comment about needing a drain in the middle of the kitchen.  I can still remember how that made me feel.

My heart was so crushed.  He never knew.  When I heard the clatter of the cat food in the utility room that morning, it reminded me of the clattering tone my dad had once that crushed my spirit.  I am so grateful that when God hears our prayers that He checks our heart’s attitude while He listens.

Ever think about what God does when we pray?  I thought it was an interesting concept to consider one day during my quiet time.  Of all the times I’ve poured my heart out to God, I realized that our words don’t fall on His empty agenda list.  No, He hears each one, but He listens to more than just our words to Him, He listens to our heart’s attitude too.

That’s why the Bible says to offer words of praise and thanksgiving continually.  God hears past our words and hears the fragrance of our hearts.  Honestly, my prayers haven’t always been as purely led by love as I would like them to be, but it’s a process where God is definitely working in me to improve and clean up my love language.

When there is an attitude of gratitude towards God I am comforted that He hears my prayers.  He hears them all, but what better way to open our hearts to hear His answers than with a pure heart of gratitude.  I remembered there many times in my life that I didn’t always express that first.  I remembered the anxiety of not knowing if I would ever bear children.  I remember the chaos I felt when I heard about the last school shooting.  I remember how it felt when I didn’t know what God could do before I accepted Him as Savior.  I remember that many still don’t know Jesus as Savior.

Remember who God is and check the attitude of your heart as you are praying.  It can really change the tone of your prayers.  When we focus on the image of a loving Father that listens to every one of our needs and works on our behalf 100% of the time, then I can’t help but praise Him.

When I remember…I’m so glad to offer praise back and have that outlet to talk to God 24 hours a day and 7 days a week.  And even though requests take longer than others, God sets to work on our prayers right away.  When I have to wait for God’s best, I know that in the waiting He is working all things out for my good.

So don’t believe that your prayers are falling on deaf ears of God who doesn’t care.  He does and he tenderly reminds us of who He is in the process.  I love that about His character.  He’s never gruff or angry, critical or accusing.  He is patient and kind, gentle and good, faithful and true, and loving all the same, no matter what spills out of our hearts.

So instead of a meltdown, I prayed and thanked God for all that He had done in my life.  I smiled and prayed for the grace to not only get through today, but thrive and enjoy the journey. And I even prayed for new opportunities to reach even more people…and I will have to remember that I got what I asked for when it happens.

Perserverance of Mother’s heart

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“Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

God has been teaching me more about prayer these days.  Not necessarily in the way to do it but the enduring process of prayer.  What this means is that I’m having more consistent conversations with the Lord and He has let me know in His own way that He is listening as I lean in to listen to Him.

I can’t tell you the things that I have heard from Him, that’s for another time.  I wanted to write to you to encourage you to do the same.  One of my teachers is giving a sermon series on prayer and he reminded me that we sometimes ask things that are too small for God.  That was a good reminder because when we are hidden away in our little prayer closets, we sometimes for get what God is capable of.

God is able to do all.

Friends, the words we say to God aren’t just empty words to an “I’m-oh-so-busy-I-don’t have time for you” God.  No, God is not like that.  He strains to hear our words.  He yearns to hear our voices, He loves to hear our cries, He softens when He hears our hearts.  God listens to what we have to say.

Never discount the power of prayer.

I know what you are thinking right now…you don’t know where to start.  That’s kind of what I said to my friend, Larry, who was advising me about how to write a book.  He said, “All you need to do is say ‘HELP’!”  My friend Larry has a way about him that speaks of enduring prayer.   Prayer has gotten him through so many tough years and he has the scars to prove it.

Our role in this Christ-like busyness of life is to model Jesus in every way, in every day.  Jesus certainly endured through prayer, especially in the Garden of Gethsemane.  Many times, Jesus left the company of his friends and followers and sought the Lord out alone, on his knees, downloading from the Father what he needed to hear.   When I think about even Jesus needed to be encouraged, well that speaks a lot to me about how important conversations with God are.  I often forget that yes, even Jesus needed endurance and empowering from prayer while walking on this earth.  I’ve never prayed to the point of sweating by blood, but I have felt the pressure to pray with that kind of intensity.

Part of my daily prayer time is to receive perseverance.  One of the most powerful things we can pray for is to endure and not give up on God.  He will always be there for us.   I’m experiencing those deep emotions in prayer.  I was thinking the other day, if I died today, one thing I know that the Lord would recognize is my voice as he has heard it.  Only He knows what I’ve been speaking and believing in my prayer closet.  Knowing that gives me comfort.

There’s a story of a lady named Lydia who was known for selling purple cloth in the marketplace.  She also hung out down by the river that ran through her community and said many prayers.  She taught many others to pray as well, she started prayer groups and the position of prayer spread like a wildfire.  She probably lead out in the first organized prayer day.  She would’ve done something like that because she knew the power of her words to the Lord.  That same power that she prayed for Paul and Silas, that same jail-breaking power, that same miraculous power is available to us today as well.  You can read her prayer journey in Acts 16.

It’s not noted that Lydia had children, but I know her prayers mothered so many.  Enduring prayer is persevering, consistently, and constantly in prayer.  And if all you can say is “HELP” that’s enough to get God’s attention.

I remember the prayers my mom must have said over me at the kitchen sink.  I have adopted the same practice of a nightly cleaning of my soul and praying for my family, sometimes yes at my kitchen sink.  I remember K.P. Yohanannon saying once, at his home in India, that “I wouldn’t be here today, except for the prayers of my mother.”  It was a striking moment as a powerful man, leader and founder for Gospel for Asia, admitted that the prayers of one devoted heart influenced in him ways that she would never know.

That kind of influence is powerful and power-filled.

When I think about a mother’s heart saying prayers for her children, I know they carry our emotions to the Father.  I believe that our love for them activate more than we realize, no matter their unwillingness, waywardness, and willfulness. Those nurturing character traits are exported into many precious hearts and nurtured by the enduring prayers of our own mothers.

“Lord, show us your ways to endure today”.  “When the fire of prayer goes out, the barrenness of busyness takes over.” George Carey.

Many of us battle silently in prayer, hidden under the wing of God.  Some of our people have forgotten about the privilege of it all.  I won’t forget that God is never to busy to hear us.  Too much of my life depends on His help and I want to show up and be present to hear everything He’s got to say to me today and everyday.  As I hear His heart for me, I understand more of my heart for Him.  That’s the kind of enduring prayer that I need to make it through.

There’s not a victory without a battle.  These days are filled with this fight or that skirmish but there is true victory in being held by the power of prayer that comes from your heart.  No matter where you pray or how you pray, just talk to God.  He’s waiting to hear from you.  Be encouraged, God is listening.

A hard place to be

“And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all sufficiency in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work.”  2 Corinthians 9:8-9

Surrender Sunset
Photo credit: Paul Chasusa

Recently, my husband and I celebrated the 20 year anniversary of his cancer recovery.  Actually 20 years ago, the day of the OKC bombing incident, was when his health demise actually started but it was from that first surgery we count as an anniversary of God’s healing measures that He has given to our married life.

Healing comes in many forms and the hardest place for me to be is in a place to receive the blessings of faith.

Usually when you lose something, you also gain something.  Usually when you surrender what you have, you receive more of what the Lord has for you.  Usually though as it is in faith, the Lord often asks you to give up something and requires you to wait for healing, answers, and blessings.  Usually we expect immediate answers, usually.

It’s twenty years later and we are celebrating our anniversary of faith that has helped us persevere through some very hard times with my husband’s health.  We consider him healed from cancer, but because time takes it’s toll on human bodies, we daily deal with the repercussions that cancer has left.

One of the hardest places for me, his wife, to be is by his side as I watch him daily struggle with health issues.  In fact, I know that he will hate that I am writing this to you.  But my purpose to encourage you today is that when you are in a hard place, the one thing that God requires of us is to just persevere.

Why is this so important?  Because our  faith in what we can’t see, will help us get through what we can see.

“I know what this feels like,” the oncology nurse said, “it feels like you are on a bobsled to Hell.”  Knowing that Hell is a real place and that it scared me to death, her words hit on my emotions.  Yes, when you are in the hard place of cancer with a loved one, it feels like you are on a bobsled towards a dangerous hard place.  Even if you are educated and there are cures available for the type of disease you are experiencing.  There is nothing about illness that feels good or safe.

In our faith, we have to be bound to what we know is true, right, and good.  God is at the end of all those words that direct our unseen thoughts towards Him.

Faith affects our thoughts.  Our thoughts also affect our faith.”  Bill Johnson

When you are in a hard place, and I have no idea how this will hit you, I’m here to testify that your faith is what is going to get you through.  It’s simple to start this process of faith…you humbly come before the Lord and say, “Lord, you are able.”  My faith has been shaped in the hard places of our lives and it has helped me persevere many hard places since 20 years ago.

And yet today, I had to come back to my place of simple faith to remind myself that in this hard place I am in right now, the help of the Holy Spirit will help me persevere.  I am thinking differently about faith these days because of necessity and it keeps me deeper connected to my Father’s heart for me.

What I know about life in general is that fear dictates, but it never bears the fruit of the impossible.  The mind of Christ is my inheritance.  I don’t have to beg Heaven for a thing, because my God has freely given me ALL things.  In believing this in every sense, in my emotions, I know that the Lord establishes ALL things through faith.

When you are in a hard place, you find faith that will establish you in the Lord.  How has your faith helped you through a hard place?  Comment below and share your testimony.  We can all be encouraged together.

The third woman who prayed

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1 Peter 5:6-7  “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you.”

Once upon a time a woman had a dream about three women praying.  Jesus drew near to each of them.  As He approached the first of the three ladies, He bent over in way that gave a tender touch and much grace, smiling as he could hear her heart expressed in her raw emotion.

Jesus stepped to the next woman praying and only placed His hand upon her bowed head, and gave her an approving look.  He moved to the third woman in the dream and passed her by without saying a word or giving a glance.

The dreaming woman watched Jesus as He moved around the praying ladies and said to herself, “How greatly Jesus must love the first woman praying, to the second woman he approved her, the third however must have grieved Jesus in a deeper way, because He barely stopped to listen to her prayer, only gave His silence to her without a passing look.

The story goes that woman who was dreaming inquired upon the Lord what the third woman had said that must have grieved Him over the other women.  To His response about the first woman, the Lord replied.  “How wrongly you have interpreted Me.  The first kneeling woman needs all the weight of My tenderness and care to keep her feet in My narrow way.  She needs my Love, thought and help every moment of the day.  Without it she would fail and fall.”

“The second woman has a stronger faith with a deeper love, and I can trust her to trust Me however things may go and whatever people do.” explained Jesus.   But the third woman, Jesus went on to explain, is one “whom I barely took notice of, she has faith and love of the finest quality, and in her I am training for the highest and holiest service.”

The third woman’s prayers are confident prayers in her relationship with Christ.  Her confidence is not reliant on her job title, her bank account, her circle of influence but rather her intimate friendship with Jesus.  She knows the Savior so intimately, and trusts so completely that she doesn’t need a physical touch, or an approving look every time she talks to God.  She is not dismayed nor discouraged by negative circumstances that enter into her life.

The third woman trusts Jesus so completely that even when her natural instinct is to doubt and rebel, she simply trusts because she knows that God is working in her for eternity and that it’s not necessary to know the purpose or explanation now.  The time she is effectively praying is for trusting, understanding will come later.

The story of the three women teaches us about how God responds to our heartfelt prayers in ways we don’t know about what is going on in our lives.  He cares about every little thing and every big thing.  He cares about every thing that is important to us.  Every one of our dreams, our goals, our hurts, bruises, and festering wounds.    But God is more than our crisis Manager.  He is the giver of life and love and for those reasons alone we can run to Him first with everything, every single thing.

Because of His heart of love for us, and is always working His favor in our lives, we kneel to His soveriegnty, faithfulness, and His abiding presence.  Because of who He is to me I can trust Him with all that I say to Him.  God is sometimes silent in His love and power, but I know and believe that He expresses beyond what words can say and certainly more than my mind can comprehend.  Where I have been growing the most is my understanding of His responses to my Spirit-led prayers and His responses from His deep heart of love.

It’s the work in me that only He sees.

Confirmations are exhibited without me asking for them, “to make sure I am on the right path.”  How often we look to His signs and wonders without believing that He can work a wonder in us without them.  I once found myself looking for the evidence of His hearing of my prayers over just simply trusting that God hears them all.  That day changed my relationship with God in prayer as I asked the Lord to give me a renewed trust in my faith filled prayers.

Praying in faith is believing that God is trustworthy with everything you lay before Him.  Yes, I do believe and trust in our friendship, the Lord and I.  Yes, I pray continously, and yes, I hear His answers.  When I hear His silence though I am learning to trust that all the more.  He is a God of many expressions and emotions, and because He is who He says He is, I can trust Him with all that I am.

How do you come to the Lord in prayer?

What you need to know today

I gently slipped her little size shoe off, it was nap time.  Time to rest, and by taking off the shoes, which lay within feet of my hands, they rest. How often do we let our minds rest before the Lord?

If I were to follow myself around with a pen and paper I would dutifully examine all of my choices, behaviors, what I listen to, what I eat, the habits I have, the thoughts that I think in an effort to live out the days I have left with God’s grace and mercy.  As I slipped off that little shoe, God spoke to my heart to say “it’s ok to self-examine yourself to see the changes that I am doing in you, but it’s ok to know that today, you have to leave room in your mind to rest.”

Resting on what we know about God keeps us content to abide in His rest.  

Taking time to reflect is good.  We are supposed to ponder about the things that of God.  We are supposed to leave this time of fellowship with a sense of wonder and mystery.  We don’t have to figure God out.  We can’t wrap human reason around a boundless God, and Infinite Power, and our Eternal Source.  

What you need to know today is that we can’t hear Him unless you rest in His stillness.  The world constantly teaches to produce, accomplish, and make a name for yourself.  To take charge of what you can do.  To promote yourself, to look at the works of your hands, or to take note of what you are about.

“Just do it!”  Just start, and do what you need to do to take care of your “still” time with God.  What this does is build in that rest that we need to hear God’s voice in the stillness or the unproductive times, the times when we don’t feel like we are accomplishing anything.  We need to know it’s okay to rest on those days when we are only planting seeds, and watching for the seedlings of change to take root.

What I know about seeds, there is a period where the heart of the seed has to soften, to germinate to grow, to expand, to prepare to produce.  God’s still voice prepares us to produce and abide in the grace that goes before each one of us.   

Intimacy with God will take you the distance that keeps you “abiding” in His presence, enables you to hear His voice, and keep you in right relationship with Him.  Before we can turn back to Him, we must repent of the things that took us away from Him in the first place.  As we set aside time for reflection and solitude, the Holy Spirit will show us the ways we need to confess and give us the grace to experience forgiveness and fellowship.

Just do it friends, there is no place to start than where you are right now to examine your ways and what is wrong and/or right in your life.  Allow His sweet stillness to give you the forgiveness to get you back on track to experience His stillness.  I too need reminders of restoration and rest that are always needed.