bible study

Mini Devotional | Making a Difference

“But God doesn't call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn't come through.” ― Francis Chan; Crazy Love

More and more each and everyday I realize that I am simply a vessel used by God. I literally am nothing without Him, through Him. I learn that it doesn’t matter how many times I fail, how many times I give up, or how many times I have no earthly clue what I’m doing—He’s going to use me despite all of my mishaps and crazy, only for His purpose.

In fact, He’ll use me even when I’m feeling the most confused and “unusable”.

Sometimes I think that if we were to remind ourselves of this greater purpose on a regular basis, we might see life a bit differently.

I don’t understand why things happen in this world most days, but I can tell you this, God is still alive and well and moving. I know because I see it each and every day. People look at me like I’m crazy, but friends, the things I witness on a regular basis are nothing short of a miracle.

God. Is. Real.

God is alive and well.

I have phone conversations with people I wouldn’t have dreamed of speaking to in 1,000 years, and we talk about dreams and the “greater good”. Some of them pan out, some of them don’t.

But God used me . . . . somehow, in some way, I was used. Those conversations had a purpose. Growth happened inside.

Even something as simple as witnessing a chicken lay an egg, and sharing that with my friends or family—getting back to the land—God used me.

Even in the midst of a conversation with a hurting wife online who needs direction, even if I don’t have all the answers, God used me.

Do you know that no matter what you do or say in this life, nothing matters unless you’re doing it with a greater purpose in mind.

Someone said to me today, “I’m not in the business of entertainment anymore, I’m in the business of making a difference.”

And the flood gates open wide . . . and in that moment, when your heart is completely open to whatever may come your way . . . . God uses you too, friends. He uses us to make a difference.

A lot of the things in life that God asks you to do, or leads you to do, will be simple. But the reality is that we serve an incredibly big God, and sometimes, He’s going to ask us to do incredibly big things when we have no idea how to do them.

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

So I challenge you right now to think of something that you know God is calling you or asking you to do. You know it. You’ve probably already thought of it in that split second of reading this.

And then, put it on your calendar. Open your heart. And see what God does. See how God uses you. Friend, it’s going to be crazy. But it’s going to be worth it.

Be in the business of doing, of making a difference, not just entertaining the thought of it anymore .

“But God doesn’t call us to be comfortable. He calls us to trust Him so completely that we are unafraid to put ourselves in situations where we will be in trouble if He doesn’t come through.” ― Francis Chan; Crazy Love

A Study of Job | When God Doesn’t Answer Prayers

It is the biggest lie in Christianity today. It’s the lie that if we’re good enough, humble enough, and kind enough, that good things will come our way all the days of our life. It’s the lie that if we live our lives completely devoted to God through religious law, we will never have to feel heartache, we will never have to go through trials, and we will never have to worry about anything.
First of all, worry is a choice. Certainly, you make that decision on your own.
But what about the rest? The trials, the heartache, the loss of a loved one, a miscarriage, losing your job, not having good health, financial struggles….the list goes on…
And so the question is,
 
Why does God answer some prayers, and not others?


There are two major things we need to consider when answering this question. Believe it or not, it’s a pretty cut and dry answer. Most people would like to believe that there’s some mysterious meaning behind God answering or not answering prayer. But the reality is that He clearly lays it out for us in the Bible. Unfortunately, sometimes, we tend to only cling to scriptures like Psalm 37:4, where God gives us the desires of our heart. Or Mark 11:24, where it says “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
 
I could ask for a million dollars right now in prayer, and believe the heck out of it, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to get it.
While those are both very true and honest scriptures, we can’t just take those scriptures and only cling to the good parts. We must be logical and know the Bible as a whole. Otherwise, we throw out major role players in scripture, such as Paul, who was one of the greatest disciples of Christ, and yet was thrown in prison, and had huge health issues. We disregard people like King David, who was a man after God’s own heart, but still struggled in his own sin. And then we find men like Job. And that’s where we will begin.
Job. Poor Job. He was a righteous man who did everything right. He believed that God dictated the life of a person by how good or bad they were. But that’s not God’s character at all. Not completely. Because we have a God who loves us no matter what our flaws and sins may be, if He were to dictate people’s lives by the way they act, most of us would be dead by now.

And so we’ll begin with this passage in Job. Now, remember, Job was a righteous, God fearing man who had devoted his life to the Lord and was extremely blessed by Him.

“Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” 

“Does Job fear God for nothing?” Satan replied. “Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.” 

The Lord said to Satan, “Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger.”

Then Satan went out from the presence of the Lord.”  [Job 1:8-12]

First thing’s first. We are reading from the old testament, where God was still very much audibly involved in His people’s lives. Now that we are living under the new covenant, He has given us the Holy Spirit and Christ within us. There’s a big difference now than there was then.

Second, let’s look at Satan for a moment. This story always intrigues me, because in this instance, Satan was required to come into the presence of the Lord to ask Him for permission to try Job. Of course, we all know that God is all knowing and powerful, so I imagine He had a hint of sarcasm in His voice when he said “have you considered my servant Job?”.
And third, this verse debunks every single theory of “if you do good, you’ll be treated good” and that “God wants all of His people to rich and prosperous at all times”. God is no respecter of man. In fact, in everything He does, it is to edify the person, the body of Christ, or to bring glory to His own name. Let us never forget that when praying for things we want. In fact, scripture even says, He will supply all of our needs, not wants.
For the sake of not dragging on, most of us know the story. Satan comes and puts Job through many trials. Job loses his wife, his children and all of his animals and land. Everything that he owns is taken away from him. Everything.
He seeks comfort and consultation in his friends, who are seemingly ignorant in their own knowledge of God. They go through scenarios of why God is allowing these things to happen to Job. They convince each other that it must be because Job has sinned terribly against God, and Job drives himself crazy trying to figure out what he has or hasn’t done. In Job’s own righteousness, he goes through examples of how good he is. Through the next 30 chapters, it is a non-stop dialogue between Job and his friends. Rambling, useless information. But an important reminder that sometimes, we are just as Job and his friends.
 
We over think it.
We ramble on to ourselves and our friends, looking for validation of why our prayers aren’t being answered, or why some people’s are answered and not ours.
 
Something must be wrong, we say to ourselves. There must be a reason why this is happening.
 
All the while, missing the major point of our lives as Christians…
to bring glory to His name.
to bring testimony and salvation into other’s lives through our own trials and struggles.
and to remember that no matter what, He will use us for His glory and honor, not our own.
In chapter 41 of Job, God finally speaks to him through a great storm. And in all of scripture, it is the one passage that shakes me to the core. A reminder of just how great and mighty the King of Kings truly is. We often get stuck on the gentleness of God, but sometimes, we need to be reminded that He is in charge of all things.
“Who then is able to stand against me?
Who has a claim against me that I must pay?
Everything under heaven belongs to me. [Job 41:10-11]

 

Job—as do so many of us—had the false assumption that because these things in his life were given to him, that they were his. But yet, even his own life was not his own. The scripture goes on as God questions Job. Corrects Job. And reminds Job of who He is. I encourage you to read it.
But even more so, I am in love with Job’s response. It is not one of “but why, Lord”. He does not question God. He does not fight with God. He does not cry out his plea of why he should have a better life. He simply says,

 

“I know that you can do all things;
no purpose of yours can be thwarted.
You asked, ‘Who is this that obscures my plans without knowledge?’
Surely I spoke of things I did not understand,
things too wonderful for me to know.
 
 
“You said, ‘Listen now, and I will speak;
I will question you,
and you shall answer me.’
My ears had heard of you
but now my eyes have seen you.
Therefore I despise myself
and repent in dust and ashes.”
[Job 42:1-6]

And yet, even in the mist of Job’s ashes, God blessed him abundantly, trading ashes for beauty. He was given a double portion of what he lost. What he gained was even better than what had been lost. Surely, he spoke of things he did not understand when questioning his trials, because he was unaware of the wonderful things God had prepared for him in the end.

Job went on to have an incredibly blessed life—a double portion of what he had before. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. And he also had seven sons and three daughters. [Job 42]

Job is a wonderful example of how God works in ways that are not our own. And that His ways cannot be thwarted. The greatest lie you will ever hear, is that God is not in control of everything. Because yet, in scripture it clearly states that God uses everything for His good, and the good of His people.
There is no key. There is no trick. There is no way to manipulate God into answering your prayer—to give you financial blessing, good health, and the things you’ve been praying for. But consider this…
We Were Given the Gift of Free Will
…and God will not take back a gift He has given. He loves us so much, that He allows us to decide how we want to live our lives. But this also means that we suffer our own consequences. There are so many things that we choose to do or not do in our lives that can cause us pain, bad health, financial stress and debt. Many times, we cause our own self-destruction. Listen, God isn’t going to force Himself on anyone. He is a complete and total gentleman. If He did, it would completely contradict everything He stands for when He gave us the gift of life.
If you’re eating 6 cheeseburgers a day and you weigh 400 lbs, but you’ve been praying for good health, then you are the issue…not God.
If your child has health issues and you consistently allow them a less than nutritional diet, God isn’t going to step in and just automatically heal them because of your selfish ambition. This child was entrusted to you, never forget that. You have freedom of choice, don’t allow it to ruin someone elses life. 
 
If you’re continuously spending frivolously, and you keep asking for financial blessing and not receiving it, then you are the issue…not God.
If you’re in and out of relationships and can’t find “love”, then you might consider your own choices and mistakes. And if you are fervently praying for a spouse, then trust that God will bring that spouse instead of trying to make it happen all on your own. Because within that, heartache surely lies.
Whether it’s health, relationships, money, love, anger, hurt, or despair. Remember that your free will can cause your own issues. And if that’s the issue, that could be a reason your “prayer” isn’t being answered. You are, to some degree, in charge of your own life.
We Are Not Our Own, And God’s Plan is Greater
Just as with Job, he knew not of the beauty that God had prepared for him. Had he not of gone through what he did, the greatness of his life would not have been recorded for us to learn from, and he would never have received the bounty he did. Even if it wasn’t what he “wanted”, he wanted it once he received it. Sometimes, we don’t even know our own desires, until God shows them to us. We need to realize that the desires of our hearts are the desires of God’s heart. The desires of God’s heart is NOT the desire of our heart. Because out of all things, the heart is the most deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). We forget that, when reading that particular scripture.
But we must also realize that our desires change like the wind, God’s desires do not. Ultimately, the desire of God’s heart is for us to bring more people into His kingdom, while being happy. Believe it or not, God wants us to be happy. But that doesn’t mean we’ll live a happy life. Did you get that?

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]

Do you realize that no matter what life brings you, you are instructed to rejoice always and give thanks in all circumstances. This is the will of God concerning you. Never once did God promise that we would not have trials. How so, you ask? Just look at His greatest followers in the Bible. Each and every one of them had trials they went through. Some worse than others.

Our unanswered prayers are sometimes unanswered because they are not God’s plan for our lives. In fact, sometimes, unanswered prayers are a blessing, because He has something far greater in store for us. While it may not be your desire now, it could be your desire once you see it.

God had a plan for Job. Job prayed continuously that God would save him from the depths of despair, but had God have intervened when asked to, Job would not have received a double portion of reward in the end. While it would have brought Job temporary satisfaction and joy, it would not have brought him the ultimate joy. In fact, Job’s joy didn’t come from the things he received from God in the end. It came from knowing that God, in His almighty power and mercy,  was still in control, was still almighty and powerful, and was still in love with his child Job and his life.

Life sucks sometimes. Good things happen to bad people. And bad things happen to good people. But when we can look at our lives as “use this for your glory, Lord” or “use ME for Your glory, Lord”, instead of, “why is this happening (or not happening) to me, Lord”. Our outlook on life completely changes.

When we can rejoice and be joyful, no matter what our circumstance, then we are in the will of God. And the will of God will never once fail you. Never once.

It doesn’t mean we can’t grieve.

It doesn’t mean we can’t be sad, upset, angry, or heart broken.

Jesus came to earth and felt every single emotion that we feel. And because of that, He provided us with a comforter—the Holy Spirit. Lean on Him. Love on Him. Cherish Him. Have a relationship with Him. But never forget that, while your life may be temporarily not going the way you had hoped, it doesn’t mean God isn’t creating beauty from ashes. It might take days, weeks, even years. You may not get what you want. But if you’re not having prayers answered, and you’ve weeded out the option of “is it a self consequence”, then I encourage you to stand strong in the Lord. To lean on Him for guidance. And ultimately, seek Him and allow Him to use your trial for His glory. And remember that God might not be giving you the desire of your heart, because the desire of His heart for your life is so much greater than you could ever imagine.

Job was tested time and time again, the worst trials a person could seemingly go through. And yet, in the end, the one thing God wanted Job to understand and realize is that just because Job had been “blessed” for so many years, it was from nothing of his own doing. Everything came from the Lord. Everything under the heavens belongs to Him. No matter what life brings, you are still His. And He is still the King of all the earth. The fact that we are sons and daughters of the most high God is comfort in and of itself.

Bible Study | The Story of Nehemiah

One of my New Year goals has been to Bible journal more often. I started bible journaling last year when I came across Darlene Schacht’s  (Time-Warp Wife) Bible Journaling facebook group. It seemed silly to draw in my bible at first, but then it quickly became therapeutic. It caused me to really connect with the words and understand. Unfortunately, I don’t have a “journaling” bible. However, I found a cute little mini journal on Amazon and prefer journaling and doodling in there. Since I’m a note taker and researcher, this was the best option for me. However, you can find amazing journaling bibles online as well.

Getting back on track—at the beginning of the year I consistently kept seeing or hearing the name Nehemiah. I thought to myself, you know, that’s not a book of the Bible I’ve really dived into yet. There are a lot of books in the Bible I haven’t dived into yet. So, last Friday night, I read through the entire book of Nehemiah.

I’ll admit, it was quite boring at first. I began to doubt that this was something timely for my life right now. But boy, was I wrong.

I flipped through the pages, painstakingly reading through about a hundred names of written genealogy. I reminded myself that genealogy can be important, we had just learned about it in church a few weeks before. But honestly, I wasn’t “getting” anything out of this family tree.

I continued to press on. It had already been quite a trying day and evening. There were things happening in our life that had simply gotten to the point of just giving up. I was angry at a man on the other end of a telephone because he couldn’t give me answers I needed. I was mad at his co-worker for lying to me. I was angry because I just spent $500 on a doctor visit that afternoon that got me absolutely no where. I was almost on the verge of screaming at someone I had never even met face to face. It just hadn’t been my week. And still, I pressed into Nehemiah.

To give you some background, God set a desire and promise into Nehemiah’s heart—a direct instruction from God. Nehemiah was to rebuild Jerusalem. If you know anything about those times, anyone who hated the Jews didn’t want Jerusalem rebuilt. But Nehemiah knew it was God’s will, and so he set out to rebuild Jerusalem. To set things into perspective for you, Nehemiah wasn’t a warrior or amazingly talented architect. He was a cup bearer. A cup bearer.

When people caught word of Nehemiah’s plan, the Jews rejoiced, but were scared as well. And of course, there were some nay-sayers—threats, people lying about Nehemiah, people making stories up, and people wishing to kill him.

But Nehemiah pressed on.

In fact, a certain group of people constantly begged him to come and meet with them, but he knew their motives were not pure. Those people then accused Nehemiah of being “out to get them”, and Nehemiah’s response was absolutely incredible. He replied, “Nothing like what you’re saying is true. You’re just making it all up in your head.” In fact, the KJV says, “you’re making it all up in your heart.”

Distractions came at Nehemiah every which way. Distractions that would have discouraged and caused any other man to forget the path laid before him.

Nehemiah pressed on.

Nehemiah completed the job he had set out to do.

And Nehemiah could have given a crap less what everyone else had to say about it, or him. I thoroughly enjoyed Nehemiah’s attitude through out the entire book. He was so sure of himself, because he was so sure of who he was in God.

We could all learn a few things from Nehemiah.

Press on through the distractions.
Set your mind on things above at all times.
And pay no attention to the people who are determined to think what they want to think about you.

There are some people who live their lives in manipulation, and if you allow it, you’ll become exactly like them. Do the work God has called you to do. Because when you know who you are in Christ, you become incredibly unshakable.

I wanted to hug the guy on the other side of the phone this morning, but I got his voicemail. A virtual hug may not have been the best way to start our conversation anyhow.

The things happening in our lives right now are just a distraction from the greater work that God has called us to do.

And then on Sunday…our Pastor said something like this…

And it all set itself into place.

Don’t chase after the blessings of God. Let the blessings of God chase after you. Because when you are diligent, and kind, and kingdom minded, and faithful, His blessings follow you. That’s not to say his blessings don’t follow people who are struggling—we all struggle. Some of us simply don’t broadcast it as much as others. But don’t seek them (blessings) out. Seek HIM first, and all these things will be added unto you.

I’m pretty sure Nehemiah became one of my favorite books in the Bible this past week. The simplicity is exactly what this soul needed. I hope you can learn a thing or two from Nehemiah and apply them into your life this week! I encourage you to read it as part of your personal study time.

 

When My Heart Is Overwhelmed {and a free printable}

There are those moments in life when you’re just overwhelmed. We go through these moments — work is busy, home life is busy, motherhood and homemaking are busy, there are chores that need to be completed and projects that need to be started. There are places to go — needs and wants. And through it all there are flaws and imperfect people living in an imperfect world with less than perfect actions and reactions…and their hearts are just as overwhelmed as ours.

I have found that it is far easier in my heart to stuff it down and deal with it on my own. But the heart is deceitful…

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and beyond cure. Who can understand it?” 
Jeremiah 17:8

King David has always captivated me. His story is one of strength and courage, but my, what a flaw drenched man he was. He was a warrior and a king, a man after Gods heart — but he strayed off that straight and narrow at times.

I cannot imagine the things that weighed down David’s heart. And yet even in his greatest times of despair, he cried out to God. Not only did he cry out to God, he believed that God would hear his cry and save him.

My busyness, my heartaches, my embarrassments, my angers and my weighed down heart cannot compare to Davids. And yet, He cares for me. God hears my cry, even when it is radiating from my heart rather than my mouth. If He cares enough and does not forget the sparrows that fall from the sky — and I am worth far more than sparrows to Him — then what makes me think He wouldn’t care about my heart as well?

The heart tells us those things — your troubles aren’t bad enough to care about, you’re acting silly and emotional, try having a real struggle in life to be overwhelmed with.

But scripture tells us the complete opposite.

And I see my hands cupping an ocean of doubts, fears, worries, emotions and struggles. Don’t move too quickly, or they will all spill over. Round and round we go, on a merry go round of daily life. How do I not spill a little here and a little there?
Then His hands appear….outstretched, rough and peaceful. They are more than capable of holding it. Give it to me, I’ll hold it…..
 
And my hands open up like flood gates to pass over an overwhelming ocean into the hands of my Creator, making a conscious choice to never take it back. My hands are still soaking wet with the remnants of stinging salt water, but there is freedom.
You see, as your hands fill with the overwhelming thoughts and emotions, the struggles and messes, they pile one on top of the other…..on top of the other. Letting go of them as they come to you is the only way to ensure freedom.
We could all learn a little lesson from King David — when my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to the rock that is higher than I. Because come wind or storm or rain or flood…..He’s still there….He’s still higher….He is still God, and I am still man. And whether we like it or not, He wants all of it, every single bit of it. Our hearts were not created to “do it all”. But our Creator was….
FREE PRINTABLE BELOW
 
 
 
 
— Click on the “when my heart is overwhelmed” graphic above to save and print. 
Please do not copy or sell! —

{Personal Journey} Never Trust Your Tongue When Your Heart Is Bitter

I had an entire blog written out in my head yesterday morning. My mind and my heart had been overwhelmed for far too long when it came to certain people and situations. My husband asked me a question about a situation in my life, and my answer surprised me. I responded….

“No, I don’t have the patience to deal with it or her anymore. It’s too overwhelming. And to be honest, patience is just too tiring. The older I get, the less patience I have. I’ve been extremely patient my entire life. And *enter expletive here*, I’m tired of being tired from forcing myself to be patient with people.”

Wow. That felt good and awful all at the same time.

My mother always commended me for being one of the most patient people she knew. As did my grandmother, and all kinds of other people. But it’s hard….

You see, it’s easier to give up. It’s easier to wave that flag in the air and say “screw it”. Even for those of us who have been patient our entire lives. Even a patient person has their limits. And apparently I finally reached mine after 27 years.

I’ve lost my patience with people in my life, don’t get me wrong. I’ve had my moments just like everyone else. But I’m talking about those real life hard situations. The situations you can’t change but you know you still have to show grace and patience through it. Those people who annoy the crap out of you. That paycheck that is two weeks late. That family member who “just can’t get it through their head”. That thing someone said about you that totally wasn’t true, but everyone believed them, even some people who you thought knew you better. That friend you just don’t know how to say “our paths aren’t the same anymore” to. The house that never stays clean. That thing your kid does that you pray so hard they will understand why they shouldn’t do it, but it never seems to happen.

These people who have no issue telling you their opinion on everything but act like it’s the end of the world when you speak your mind….and then block you on facebook….

That was my final straw yesterday. It wasn’t even the fact that I had been blocked from seeing their “friend posts” and had been put on “restricted profile view”. It was the fact of who it was, and not knowing why it was done. I’d been nothing but nice to this person. And I assume the restriction came from answering public homesteading and farming questions from public posts on facebook. But even then, really? It’s not like we’re debating politics or religion here. I mean, what’s the point of being “friends” with someone on facebook if you put them on restricted profile view? Just have the guts and hit the un-friend button instead of being conniving about it…and then I hit the “un-friend” button.

You’ve got to be kidding me. My head fell into my hands because I just couldn’t wrap my mind around the madness.

This is what our lives have boiled down to. A “friend” and an “un-friend” button….and just like that, you’re done. 

Life was never intended to be so dramatic. Life was never intended to have “social media” or “cell phones” or “birthday reminders” or “selfies”. I’ve stepped away from facebook for this very reason — only posting for business, not really scrolling through my news-feed unless asked to find something specific. It has been liberating, and then this…

I demanded an explanation in my own mind. I felt entitled to one. 

Why in the heck am I so freaked out and angry about this!?

I realized something….something I’ve shared with a dear friend of mine over the past year. It was time to take a dose of my own medicine, once again.

This situation got out of control because of the overwhelming things I’ve been dealing with emotionally over the past 6 months. It honestly had nothing to do with the facebook friendship. But everything to do with my own heart….

It could have been anyone. I bet at least 25 or more people have me on a restricted profile view on facebook. Who cares?! I typically don’t care, in fact, I use that “restricted profile view” button often myself. But it just so happened I came across this one, this one day — the day when I was dealing with all kinds of other stupid things — at this one moment…..and the flood gates opened.

“Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.” Proverbs 4:23 NIV

I haven’t been guarding my heart very well recently. So it shouldn’t have surprised me that this happened. It just surprised me that it happened when it did. But I realized something even deeper….

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.” 
Ephesians 4:29-32 NIV

All those things that had been wearing on my heart…..all of those things people had done or hadn’t done….all of those things didn’t matter.

What mattered is that I had never cupped them up in my hands and handed them over to the King of Kings.

I never dropped them at His feet and said “here, I can’t carry this anymore”.

I allowed bitterness to set into my heart, and into my bones, and into my mind….

…because guess what, I can’t carry the weight of what this world offers me.

None of us can, and if we truly believe that we can, we are only lying to ourselves.

I cannot imagine a world without Jesus. Because if I can be honest for just one second, I would have lost my mind a long long time ago.

These annoyances….these things that had been overwhelming my heart….

….they don’t seem as “big” anymore.

In fact, I sit here writing this, and I laugh at myself. Wow, how silly you are for feeling that way.

But it’s not silly. We all have feelings and emotions that get tangled up inside and many times, they have nothing to do with the root of the issue. The worst part is that we end up taking them out on people that we care about. Or we end up neglecting situations that we shouldn’t be neglecting, simply because it’s too heavy for us to bare.

Don’t do that…

Because there is a God that is greater than anything this world can throw at you.

Don’t forget that….

Because when you do, the weight will sit so heavy on your chest that you can’t breathe or function or even put together a proper (kind) thought without bitterness flowing from your mouth.

Never trust your tongue when your heart is bitter.

I got all of my words out. Everything I wanted to say in that blog yesterday morning. I wrote it all out. I read it over and over and over. I stepped away for an hour. Read it again, and then clicked that big “delete” button.

I sat starring at the screen for few minute. Part of me felt frustration, I can’t believe I just deleted this long blog of my thoughts, I deserve a “say so” and I deserve to defend myself. But the other, more quiet part of me just said a simple, it’s ok…

 
“Blessed are the poor in spirit,

 

for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are those who mourn,
for they will be comforted.
Blessed are the meek,
for they will inherit the earth.
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness,
for they will be filled.
Blessed are the merciful,
for they will be shown mercy.
Blessed are the pure in heart,
for they will see God.
Blessed are the peacemakers,
for they will be called children of God.
Blessed are those who are persecuted because of righteousness,
for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matthew 5:3-10

 

But the best part comes after those verses….I’ll let you look them up yourself.

Remember this….

We are the salt of the earth and light of the world. We cannot serve our emotions and our Savior at the same time. I took the high road, the road of “letting it go” and handing it over. And that says a whole lot about my heart, too…..

Be the salt and the light. Because if you run with the crowd….if you do the most popular….people get hurt. And if you lose your “saltiness”….what good are you to the kingdom of God?

 

What is Faith?

He looked up at me with those ocean deep blue eyes, he knew I was terrified to let him go, but mostly, he was terrified that I wouldn’t let him go. I closed my eyes and let out a big sigh — I could hear my mother in the back of my head, you know we used to let you do it when you were little, paybacks are awful. I opened an eye to see if he had, by some miracle, stopped looking at me and moved on…but I knew better. This little boy of mine could not think of anything better than to ride granddad’s tractor, but he had the wrong shoes on, slippery as all get out, and this was granddad’s old tractor, not the plush new enclosed one.

My grandfather could tell I was screaming on the inside, as he grabbed Jr’s shoulder and said, “c’mon boy, you’ll be just fine.” It’s always better when other people make decisions for me, but the only thing I could do is whisper, “be careful.”

You see, it wasn’t the fact that I didn’t trust my grandfather’s ability. It was the simple fact that I was terrified something awful would happen to my one and only baby, and mommy wouldn’t be there to save him.

As the engine started and I watched them disappear over the hill, my chest tightened, my heart pounded in my head, and I remember feeling this overwhelming feeling only a very few times in my entire life. I stood on the front porch, grabbed my chest and closed my eyes. I could still hear that engine driving about the farm, and I cringed every time it hit a bump or a dip in the soft summer ground, and the engine dipped into a lull just a little.
I knew that if I didn’t get my emotions under control quickly, they would ruin me, and they would ruin the entire experience for my grandfather and son. Another sigh settled deep into my lungs as I whispered to myself, I am helpless, I cannot control this, protect him and give me peace — I place him completely in Your hands, I trust You.

 

My eyes opened and I instantly felt peace. I could tell that my human body was still confused, but my spirit literally soared with peace and understanding. And in that moment I realized, this is faith.

It wasn’t that I didn’t understand faith and how it worked, but I understood it from a human standpoint, not a spiritual one. On that day, and every other day I had felt that way, I realized that there wasn’t one single thing I could do to save my child if something were to happen to him. Nothing. Absolutely nothing. And in that weakness, in that brokenness, instead of  praying about it and hoping for the best, I literally knew that I was helpless and that my child’s life and fate completely relied on the fact that he rested in the hands of my almighty Jesus.

Did you get that?

I realized that there was absolutely nothing within my own strength and power that I could do to save him…to heal him….to protect him. Even a simple prayer was not the answer. Prayers filled with words are useless, but prayers filled with brokenness and the realization that I am not God, are powerful.

I’ve heard it said once, that if you think you have enough faith when you’re praying, then you probably don’t. I never understood that saying until I experienced situations like these. It’s funny, because I’ve actually looked at a mountain and told it to move, knowing I had lots of faith that God could move it, and it didn’t. But didn’t the Bible say I could do that? Of course, I wouldn’t suggest doing that — besides the fact that there was no reason for the mountain to move, I was simply just “playing around”. But what about deeper issues?

I have prayed for people countless amounts of times — for financial blessing, for redemption, for healing — and they’ve never seen the bright end of the tunnel. But I had enough faith, didn’t I? I thought I did, I mean, a mustard seed isn’t that big at all. It should be pretty easy to have faith, right?

The biggest issue with faith is that we over think it. The moment you wonder, do I have enough faith to heal this person, is the moment when faith simply crumbles. Do I have enough faith to get through this rough patch in my marriage? Do I have enough faith that our needs will be provided? Do I have enough faith that my child will be healed of cancer? Do I have enough faith…..

There’s also that feeling of not doubting yourself, and having too much pride. That, I have enough faith because Jesus told me I could heal the sick and raise the dead. And that’s totally true, He did say that. But please do not confuse your self righteousness with humble faith. While we’re told through out scriptures that we’ll do everything Jesus did and more, we must remember that we are not Jesus. Jesus was God in human form. He is all knowing, all powerful, all holy and righteous. We are not, contrary to what you may believe.

So we have two extreme’s here — the person who prays and doubts their faith or is curious about their faith, and the person who prays with pride and self righteousness.

Neither are faith.

faith
n.1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence. See Synonyms at belief, trust.3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.4. often Faith Christianity The theological virtue defined as secure belief in God and a trusting acceptance of God’s will.5. The body of dogma of a religion: the Muslim faith.6. A set of principles or beliefs.

 
My favorite definition is the first one. The definition that faith isn’t a feeling or an action. Faith is the absolute confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing. Faith is the absolute confidence in God…in Christ. Because faith is simply empty words without Him. Faith doesn’t resound through the church hallways when it is a prayer that is recited or practiced. Faith isn’t something you just “have”. Faith is a complete surrendering of yourself, your idea’s, your feelings, and your motives…to Christ. Completely.
 
You can’t think about it. You can’t over think it. You just do it, because in that moment you realize you are completely helpless. That moment when you realize that medicine isn’t making your child any better. That moment when you realize all the natural herbal remedies in the world aren’t curing your husbands illnesses. That moment when you realize that your mother isn’t going to pull through this cancer no matter how much you pray for her.
Brokenness is beautiful, because when you are broken…when you realize you can’t do it. And I mean really truly realize that it is completely out of your control, even the simplest of things….that is where true faith lies. That is where total surrender of your will and your “I can fix this” attitude happen, and without thinking about it, faith happens.

Listen, bad things happen to good people. Does it mean they didn’t have faith? No, not always. We have to remember that God is all knowing, and sometimes we suffer the human consequences of our own free will choices. We live in a broken world with broken people where sin is rampant. And we also have to remember that sometimes a journey of illness or death can impact someone else’s life for His kingdom. Sometimes, we have to be ok with that.

I’ve known some pretty incredible people who have fully surrendered to God and haven’t seen their family members healed or saved. But, I know I’ve prayed for people and not had faith. I’ve put all of my emotion into it, cried out to God almighty, and felt pain in my heart like never before….and nothing happened. I’ve prayed for people with empty words or words that just came to mind. I’ve prayed for people the way I think Jesus would have prayed for people…..and absolutely nothing happened.

But when that tractor started back up the hill on its way home, and that little boy gave me the biggest hug….

When that doctor told me that my son had almost completely outgrown asthma and he should be as good as new within the next year…..

When my doctor looked at me and said, “we were scared at first, but it looks like the second biopsy came back perfect”…

When my Ob/Gyn said “his heart beat has dropped tremendously and we have to get him out immediately”, and he came out wailing and swinging….

…faith.

Because in every single one of those moments, I didn’t pray an elaborate prayer of fancy words and holiness.

Because in every single one of those moments, I barely prayed a prayer at all. In fact, the only words I was ever able to utter were these….

I cannot do this. I cannot control this, not even the smallest of parts. I am broken, and I simply want to curl up in your lap and weep. I trust in You, as I completely place this in your hands…..I am nothing. I can do nothing.  You are God, and I will praise You through it. I TRUST YOU.

But the biggest and hardest part was not picking it back up. Because once you surrender something, it is no longer yours….ever.

Faith isn’t a thought, isn’t an emotion, isn’t a way of living. Faith is the complete and utmost realization that God is God, you are man, and that nothing is possible without placing it in His hands…completely. I know that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, but I cannot do them on my own. I cannot control it. I cannot heal it. I cannot make it happen. That’s God’s job, not mine. I am simply a vessel that He uses, and sometimes, I’m just a mama who needs to place her control into His hands, and never take it back….

That is faith.

“Apathy is a dangerous thing to have in your heart….”

My heart change journey began about a year ago. It seems like a lifetime, but honestly, it wasn’t that long ago. I’ve seen the most growth in the past 8 months, and many times I have to remember that just because my heart is changing, it doesn’t mean that others forget the way I treated them before this journey.

If I have ever wronged you. Talked about you unjustly. Made you feel like you were worthless, not good enough, or useless……I am so so sorry. In fact, there are so many people that I should apologize to, that I can’t even remember them all.

I’m sorry.

I remember the exact moment when my heart light flickered on, and I thought, “maybe she’s right”. All while being offended at the same time.

There was something happening in the news that I felt was insignificant to the other things going on in the world. In fact, I can tell you exactly what it was. It was the trial of Casey Anthony, the mother who killed her precious little girl in Flordia several years before. I was angry that so many people were still talking about this trial on tv, facebook, and the likes. There were so many other important things that Christians should have been talking about, but they weren’t. And while I still agree, to an extent, that it was over publicized, I learned one thing very important that day….that day I decided to share my opinion on facebook….

“As iron sharpens iron,
So a man sharpens the countenance of his friend.”
[Proverbs 27:17]
 
And I was offended….to.the.max.
There were a hundred comments agreeing with my post about all the other important things going on and how we need to “get over” it, and few disagreeing with me. And naturally, in our society, we go with the flow. But then, someone I barely knew commented, and with just a simple comment, my heart flickered. She said…
“Apathy is a very dangerous thing to have in your heart…”

How dare you. How dare you say that to me. You barely know me. You think you’re a know it all. How “holy” of you to make such a comment, as if you’re perfect.

And then it flickered again.

…and again…

…and again…

She doesn’t realize it, but she changed my life. And maybe she won’t ever know, though I have a feeling she might eventually read this and remember her words. But if not, I am so incredibly thankful for her. In fact, many times in the past 6 months, she has given me strength simply by seeing her strength as a wife and mother. She’s incredible. Lisa K., you are incredible. And I bet you don’t hear that often enough.

That entire day all I could think about were the words she said to me. I was so angry and bitter.

It’s how I can always tell when my offense is in the wrong, because I dwell on it so long.

God, how I wish someone would have said that to me sooner….

I wish someone would have taken the time to just look me in the face and say “you have to stop living like this,” instead of talking about me behind my back.

I wish someone would have taken the time to send me that page long email about how badly I hurt them with the words that I said or the things that I did (or didn’t) do.

I wish someone would have called me up and said, “hey, let’s go to lunch one day….I feel like we should talk.”

I wish someone would have called me out in private, personally, rather than subliminally on facebook.

She did….

And with 11 short words….one short sentence….from someone I barely knew…..she “got through” to me….

From that moment on, the sharpening began….and I hope that I can sharpen others in the body of Christ. Because it isn’t that I say things to offend, nor should I. And if I do, please tell me. Because I want to know. I want to change. I want to be more and more like Christ. But I also want to edify His body.

So please, forgive me if I see you walking the same path as I was and I’m terrified for your life. Because I might just say something.

Please forgive me if I am ungraceful in doing so, I’m still learning.

Please forgive me if I stumble during this walk. And please, don’t put me on a pedestal, because I am sure to disappoint you at some point.

Please forgive me when I do….

This past week a family just a few miles down the road from me died tragically. The father killed his 3 little girls, their mother, and then himself. Some people grieved with them for the day and moved on as if nothing happened the next day. Others didn’t care at all….

Yesterday, Robin Williams, the famous actor who was full of joy and laughter on the big screen, killed himself. Some people grieved for him yesterday, and tomorrow they’ll probably forget about it. Others didn’t care at all….

Last Summer, teenagers across the country killed themselves because they felt there was no hope. I bet 95% of you reading this don’t even know their names, or know what the statistics are. Because I don’t….I’ve read about it, but I can’t remember….did I even care?

What about the Christians and Iraqi’s that are dying every day in the Middle East? Who are they? Have we become immune to it?

And where are the Christians in America? Shouldn’t our hope be so loud that it radiates to others? Shouldn’t our love for Christ sustain us enough that it overflows to others? Forgive me, sweet Jesus, for being so caught up in my personal life, issues, and successes…that I’ve forgotten about Your people….

I don’t know any of these people personally. So why should it matter to me…I thought to myself.

Because it matters to God. Each and every single one of them was and is loved by our Almighty King.

A year ago, I would have shown great apathy. Who cares!?…I would have come across.

“Are not two sparrows sold for a copper coin? And not one of them falls to the ground apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows.” [Matthew 10:29-30]

I’m not telling you to fill your life with negative things, in fact, we’re commanded not to. I’m not telling you to dwell on death and heartache, or worry about the world going down the drain. Again, we’re commanded not to.

But we are called to be empathetic and sympathize.

We are called to love and comfort in every situation, just as our Father does. Even if we don’t know them personally. Don’t just say “aww, that’s unfortunate”pray for them.

We are called to be graceful, kind, and full of prayer….daily.

When I share my personal journey, I pray so wholeheartedly that it touches those that it needs to touch the most.

My only intent is to share a tidbit of my testimony, that is constantly growing every single day.

My only intent is to share what God has done and is doing in my heart, so that it might encourage you — you who may be on the same journey as me (or know someone that is) — to continue with that good and faithful fight. Because it isn’t easy….ever.

“And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” [Revelation 12:11]

“And he did not permit him but said to him, ‘Go home to your friends and tell them how much the Lord has done for you, and how he has had mercy on you.'” [Mark 5:19]

 

I pray that you would have eyes to see, not just pass over.

I pray that you would have ears to hear, not just hear with the intent to answer.

I pray that you would have a mouth that is righteous and slow to speak, slow to anger, and slow to show apathy.

I pray that through all of this you would come to know the God that I know. A precious Savior who cares for everyone, no matter who they are or what they’ve done.

I pray that through all of this, you would realize that being a Christian is more than just living your life well — but about caring for the body of Christ.

I pray that through all of this, most of all, you would love unconditionally.

Because I know that all of us stumble and fall, and goodness knows, I certainly fall short of the glory of the Lord every.single.day.

I pray that you would realize if this blog speaks to you, just as it will speak to hundreds of others, that you have a choice — apathy? or empathy?

“choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve….. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” [Joshua 24:25]

 

{amy}

 

“Give it a try…,” whisper’s the heart.

I am dog tired this morning. I am exhausted, my body aches, I have a headache (on top of other womanly issues today), and the cloudy sky is not a friend to my already downtrodden body.
I woke up early, made husband his coffee and lunch — drank a quart of coffee myself, it seemed.
My eyes are still scratchy from dusting 38 chickens with Sevin dust yesterday…yes, Sevin dust. Don’t judge me unless you’ve got good reason…because when there are hundreds of lice crawling on a few chickens, you must kill them or douse yourself in gasoline…one or the other. That’s a whole other story, don’t get me started. I’m getting over it slowly, but I learned my lesson the hard way when bringing new chickens into our flock, even if from a trusted source.
My week has been anything but routine. And it shows in my dirty floor, kitchen sink, and the water that’s standing on the bathroom floor from my 4 year old “brushing his teeth”.
My 4 year old will be 5 at the end of this month.
And time continues….
I felt defeated before I ever woke up this morning, and then I opened my Bible…
I’ve been on a journey of learning about David and Solomon. I really don’t know why. But ever since I finished my Job study, I’ve been reading about David and Solomon. What started as a Bible study about Solomon, quickly turned into something so much more. But it has taken me this long to get back on track with it….months.
As I sit here and crack my neck, trying to get the stiffness out…
I haven’t talked to God much this week. But I see Him everywhere.
In the tomatoes that are blossoming on my vines. In the pup hiding Jr’s toys in a freshly dug hole. In the patience I have when I wash the dog off with the hose, calmly telling myself, “this too will pass, enjoy it”. 
I see Him in Jr’s innocence….in his smile when he holds his BB gun, and says, “mama, take a photo of me”.
 
But when I opened my Bible this morning, there He was. Right there in front of me….with arms as wide open as they were when I last left Him...too long ago.
I started reading the Psalms this morning, after going through chapters in previous books about kings and wars and nothing that really had my attention. There He was…
I know that my God watches over us, even when we aren’t faithful to Him. He is so incredibly faithful to us. He has never ever left us or forsaken us.
And somehow, a little bit of strength comes, but not my own….
When I closed my Bible this morning, I got on facebook. Naturally…duh.
But God was there too.

So many of you know some of the struggles I’ve been dealing with over the past year. Some of you have been going through them with me as well.

And I kept seeing this quote, all.over.facebook. this morning. It was everywhere. Every page I clicked on, every time I refreshed my newsfeed….other’s had posted and reposted it.

So many times, even this morning, I told myself these things…
It’s impossible…
It’s too risky…I’m happy with my life right now.
It’s pointless, even if I did want it badly enough, it would never happen.
In fact, I was saying those same exact things this morning when I saw this quote….
And I read another Psalm…

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers,the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?”

I saw a woman post a pregnancy test this morning, but it wasn’t the “oh look we’ve been trying for a month and I’m already pregnant,” post…

She explained her joy as a miracle, how she had been infertile for over 10 years, and now, completely taken off guard, she was expecting, simply due to the fact that she has changed her lifestyle into a healthy all natural one.

And I cried.

And I laughed.

And I rejoiced with her, because my week had been far from easy, and I needed something to rejoice in.

I rejoiced with her because the angels were rejoicing with her.

And there was God, and my heart whispered….“give it a try…”

Not just in fertility.

Not just in a healthier lifestyle, which we have already started.

Not just in tending to farm animals, raising our own food, trying to go all organic and chemical free, or in homesteading.

Not in trying to keep the floors mopped, dishes done, laundry put away….

Not just in taking time out to just “be” with my Savior.

But in everything…

What is man, that you are mindful of him? That you care for him? You created the heavens and the earth…the stars rest in your hands. What am I, who am I, that You should even care about my hurts, my pains, my frustrations, and the stiffness in my neck?

I am constantly amazed by the God I serve…the one who came to serve, rather than be served.

I am constantly amazed by Him, because He cares for me, even though He doesn’t have to…

…He cares for me, because I am His daughter…

…He cares for me, even when I could care less about Him…

And so, in the stillness of the morning, my heart whispers, “…give it a try.”

And there He is….

 

When God is Silent….

It happens to all of us at some point in our lives. Some of us more than others….

That drowning feeling that God doesn’t listen…

…that God doesn’t answer prayers.
…that God doesn’t care.

…that God doesn’t understand my needs, my wants, my heartache.

…that if God cared so much about me, He would make me a better person, a better friend, a better wife, a better mother, a better Christian.

…that God doesn’t care about me as much as I thought He did, otherwise, He wouldn’t let these things happen.

…that God doesn’t speak to me, answer me, or hold me close.

It happens to all of us.

But what if He does….

What if, in the midst of our struggles, our heartache, our pain, or daily life….what if He is speaking to us, answering us, loving us, caring for us?

I always hear the phrase, “God doesn’t give us more than we can handle.”. I’ve even had people tell me it’s in the Bible.

….it’s not.

The scripture that people often refer to for this quote is 1 Corinthians 10:13. It’s a great scripture, but it’s speaking of sin, not of the non-sin related struggles we deal with — death, pain, sickness, a broken heart…

In fact, it’s just the opposite.

God promises heartache, suffering, pain, persecution, hatred.

Some God, huh?

Actually, He’s amazing.

Because even during those quiet moments when you think you can’t go on….your heart still beats.

Even during those moments when your heart literally feels like it’s going to ache out of your chest…your lungs still take in air. Breathing in and out.

In….and….out….

Your heart knows why it’s beating…

Your lungs know why they are breathing…

And the fact that your fragile body is still functioning on its own, it should be enough for you to realize how much of a miracle you really are. You’re still here…..we still have a purpose.

And yet, He is still silent…..

…and you’re still questioning His reasoning and purpose through every struggle.

Here’s the mind blowing thing…

“‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts,
Nor are your ways My ways,’ says the Lord.
‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
So are My ways higher than your ways,
And My thoughts than your thoughts.
‘For as the rain comes down, and the snow from heaven,
And do not return there,
But water the earth,
And make it bring forth and bud,
That it may give seed to the sower
And bread to the eater,
So shall My word be that goes forth from My mouth;
It shall not return to Me void,
But it shall accomplish what I please,
And it shall prosper in the thing for which I sent it.'”
  

[Isaiah 55:8-11] 

And then we get to Paul…oh, Paul….

“Concerning this thing I pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” [2 Corinthians 12:8-10]

Paul says in Philippians 4:13, that he can do all things through Christ.

Or what about John 15:5 where Jesus says “without Me, you can do nothing”….

Breathing in…..breathing out….heart still beating….

Paul knew it….

“For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. 

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.” [Ephesians 3]

God will give us more than we can handle. Often….

We have a God that loves to love us, cherish us, give to us, and heal us. We have a God that performs miracles today, just as He did 2,000 years ago. We have a God who saves us more times than we can count, because, after all, He wouldn’t be protecting us if we were always confronted with what He’s protecting us from.

He still answers prayers. Even yours…

He still loves you.

He still hears you.

He still cares.

But His purpose has never, ever, changed.

….to bring glory to the name of Jesus…that He would be glorified through it all. Even when He is silent…

…to bring others into the knowledge of Christ, so that one day, they can enter through those pearly gates right along with us.

It’s hard to think about when we’re so selfish. We were born with the need to be needed…to be taken care of….to be loved. But have we forgotten what our purpose really is?

Your story can change someone’s life. That doesn’t mean you have to accept it. That doesn’t mean you don’t get to mourn, get angry, have a little talk with God about “why me”.

But it does mean you have to get back up. You have to fight the good fight…run the good race. It does mean that you are called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ, even when you don’t want to be.

Your situation doesn’t define your identity in Christ.
Your situation refines your identity in Christ.

The quote above, “….even when God is silent”, speaks so much to my heart. The quote was found on the walls of a concentration camp. I can imagine it was scribbled there by the fragile, dirt caked hands of a Jewish man or woman….wondering when their last breath would be….where their children are….when their God would save them.

And in that moment, they felt their heart beating….their lungs rising….up and down….and they remembered….

Maya Angelou once said, “Listen to yourself, and in that quietude you might hear the voice of God.”

God does allow more than we can handle. The world gives us more than we can handle. And the hardest moments are the ones when the world is ringing so loudly in our ears that we can’t hear our hearts beating through the noise.

The hardest moments are the one’s where, we have forgotten about God…and yet we’re the ones who think He’s left us….we’re the ones who think He’s not answering.

But through Him, we have strength.

We have peace.

We have joy.

We have purpose.

So through it all, even when I am weak, even when the world piles it on….I will boast all the more gladly….because when I am weak, He is strong.

Through it all, I will aim to glorify God. Because after all, that is all He asks of me.

Through it all, I will remember that, maybe He is silent because I stopped listening.

…and maybe, just maybe, He is silent…because He is listening….

…and at the end of my days, no matter what the hurt, the pain, the heartache, the struggles….it will all fade away when He whispers in my ear…. “well done, my good and faithful servant”….

….well done….

To the mother watching her child lay in a hospital bed, wondering when his last breath will be. Stretched to the max with tired eyelids and a broken heart. Whispering fragile prayers of miraculous healing that hasn’t yet come….

To the grandmother aching with pain from cancer, but still singing praises through it all….

To the sister watching her siblings family do a nose dive away from Christ, don’t go that way, soaking her pillow with tears every single evening, and ending her prayer with “be glorified”

To the wife who just watched her husband walk out of their front door for the very last time, wishing she would have kissed him instead of yelling at him….there will be no more kisses…or yelling….as she quietly bows her head in mourning…. “Your ways are not my ways…there must be a reason”….

To the woman sitting in her bedroom, hanging her head, questioning her purpose…“I’m a bad mother, I’m a bad wife, why me, Lord?”….who suddenly feels her heart beating and her mind at ease….and she praises Him…gets up…and starts a brand new day.

…well done, good and faithful servant….well done….

 

Daily Ramblings | A New Creation…an old life….

He’s tugging on my shirt, asking for attention.

The phone is ringing off the hook — twenty different directions were facing me the other morning.

I wasn’t sure what to tackle first, the five loads of laundry in the hallway or putting the phone down (for the eighteenth time) and getting into the word…something I should do more than I do….normally I choose laundry.

And then those words were uttered…words no one wants to hear…

Those words when a friend calls you up and says, “I’m telling you this because I’m a friend, and you should know what they are saying about you….”

It happens often, especially when you choose the field of work that I have…but to hear it from someone else, not work related…

 A few years ago, non-related to the story above, when I was still very active in the workplace, there was a large situation that occurred which caused me to almost lose my job because of a rumor that a very bitter person started.

I almost lost my job…and my sanity…

But the most amazing thing happened.

For the very first time in my entire life, I completely handed it over to God.

The outcome was amazing, and still rings true to my heart today. It was a much needed lesson in forgiveness, self control, and knowing my identity in Christ.

In fact, I saw that person, two days after the incident. I smiled, said hello, and let it go.
I can’t say that the incident was completely horrible — I learned a lot about myself from it, and I’m still learning from it. Its switched gears now — from being angry and hurt, to praying for your “enemies”. And then when you look back, you realize that, the two of you both had your flaws to work through….
Skipping forward to the here and now.

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Praying Without Ceasing, even when it’s hard

Prayer is one of those things that I’m extremely good at sometimes, and is extremely non-existent at other times.

In those amazing times and spans where I’m fully focused on God with prayer in my life, life becomes so amazing, light and care free. I feel like I’m dancing on air most days, and even those hard moments that come along with being a mother, aren’t so hard to get through.

But in those moments….days or weeks, even….when I simply forget to pray — when I find my days are becoming extra long and stressful…when I don’t pray because something becomes a bigger priority than God — my life changes. It’s heavy. It lacks self-control. And ultimately, my life is prayerless, and becomes more so the longer I go without prayer in my life.

I’ve been going through one of those dry spells these past two weeks. Some days have been great, but more days have been full of heaviness and stress. I get this way every few months, when quarterly work deadlines arise and I’m sitting at a computer as the TV babysits my child. One thing that I hate more than anything during this time of the quarter.

I try my hardest to do the homeschool. To do mothering. To do homemaking. But work takes priority when the paycheck is your source of life.

And then I stop and think….“did I really just say that?”Click here to

Pinpointing that exact point of change in heart is hard for me to figure out, but it happens once every quarter when I get to my deadlines. But that’s been an excuse for far too long. What’s my excuse the remaining 10 weeks in the quarter?

And then I realize….

Prayer isn’t a daily priority in my life. Which means, in so many cases, God isn’t the top priority in my life.

So what then? What do I do with this? You would think that it would be easy. You’ve realized your issue and now you just strive to pray more, right?

Wrong…

See, prayer isn’t just this 10 line paragraph that you recite to the King of the Universe. Now I lay me down to sleep I pray the Lord my soul to keep….

Sure, it’s great for the kids. It allows them to learn a prayer that they will remember their entire lives. It builds their foundation of their prayer life. But prayer is so much more, as you grow in Christ.

Prayer is your love language to your Savior. It’s an expression of love, of praise, of sovereignty, and of worship. You don’t just pray when you have something to pray about — you pray without ceasing.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” 
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 NKJ
When you realize that, no matter what, you are required…you are commanded…by the King of Kings to pray without ceasing — to always be in prayer, every.single.day. — it changes. We don’t get to just pray when times are tough. We don’t just get to pray when we have something to pray about. That’s not prayer — that’s the lie of manipulation.

So how, then, do you pray without ceasing, especially during those days when you’re crazy busy or when you just “don’t want to”?

That part is easy.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths.” 
Proverbs 3:5-6 NKJ
 
He just asks us to trust in Him. To lean on Him even through those hard times. Trusting in who He is and what He is. And when we can acknowledge that He is the only thing that is our source of life — not the paycheck, not the food on the table, not the quiet alone time, and not the everyday happiness that we think we need in order to function through out the day — then, and only then, can He direct our paths, when we allow Him to in our personal lives.

When we trust. When we believe that the purpose of praying without ceasing is because of things yet seen or experienced, it becomes easy. When we come to Him simply because we have nothing to ask of Him, but just to love on Him and thank Him for what He’s done and what is yet to come — to bless Him, instead of Him blessing us. That’s what prayer is. Though yet I have nothing, and on my own I am nothing more — I am everything when I’m with Him and in Him. I am His, and He is mine.

Yes, pray for healing, pray for deliverance, pray for salvation, pray for protection, pray for health and finances and life, pray for new birth and revival….but don’t just pray for those thing.

pray.without.ceasing.


And when He answers you….

pray again.

Seeking God During Those Simple Everyday Moments

I’ve been talking to God in my head alot this past week, especially about my prayer list for 2014. One of my worst character traits is becoming easily overwhelmed, even with simple things. So one of the things I’ve been praying a lot about recently is strength and direction on how to overcome that.

But this week has been different, because God has been dealing with my heart on so many other things.

You see, I’m one to always have a quick answer when it comes to biblical questions or when someone is looking for advice. I love giving Godly advice, I always have. You can ask my mother, she’ll tell you that I’ve always been one to speak my mind and give good advice….even to her 😉

But with that said, my biggest obstacle is being “quick” to answer. When in fact we’re called to be slow to speak.

“So then, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath;” [James 1:19]

I realized this week that while I have bible knowledge and try my hardest to allow the Holy Spirit to speak through me, I rarely pray before giving an answer. And that’s extremely dangerous….

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The Book of Job and a Surprising Lesson

I started getting back into the word several weeks ago. I had been slacking, big time. I have had a lot on my mind in the past 2 months, especially this past month.

When I asked where I should begin, I was lead to the book of Job. When I say “lead”, I mean, I really don’t know how that works. It’s like a soft whisper to the heart, and you just “know”.

Everyone knows the story of Job, I thought to myself. Job complains for about 30 chapters and then God speaks and Job lives happily ever after.

But I, reluctantly, began to read

Verse one…

This is already boring, can we please stop now?

Chapter 10…25….34….

At this point it had taken me a month to get this far. I was procrastinating, but I knew that God lead me to Job for a reason, and I would just have to stick it out to the very end to find out.

And if I didn’t find out, I’d read it all over again.

“And then, the Lord spoke…”

 

Finally, we’ve gotten to the point where Job stops his complaining and God finally speaks to him….in riddles, albeit.

But then, something amazing happened. I’m almost to the very end of the book of Job and I read this section of verses. This section of verses that immediately sends me into an emotional state of guilt, pain, and heartache. It was one of those moments where, should my husband have been home at the time and my child have been awake, they would have thought I was a big giant mess of a baby.

But as the tears streamed down my face, guilt faded and peace entered into my heart.

I’ve been having a lot of emotional and one on one talks with God lately. Sometimes I think I could solve all the mysteries of the world when I talk to Him. But, quite honestly, they are one sided.

He sits and listens while I complain to Him, or about Him — and when I’m done complaining, I move onto the next household chore or email response and forget to listen to His response to the case I’ve presented to Him.

But these verses, it was like a universal salve. The answer to a million questions. And while I don’t expect you to understand what I’m saying, I know that another mama might be going through the same things I’m going through right now — asking the same questions and needing the same comfort from our Savior. Someone who might be wondering what the reasoning is behind direction or discipline from the Lord.

What did the verses say, you ask? They are not what you might expect. There’s really no amazing revelation within these verses, unless, at the proper moment, God opens your heart and mind to read it when you need it the most.

“She [the ostrich] lays her eggs on the ground and lets them warm in the sand,      unmindful that a foot may crush them, that some wild animal may trample them. She treats her young harshly, as if they were not hers;    she cares not that her labor was in vain, for God did not endow her with wisdom or         give her a share of good sense.Yet when she spreads her feathers to run, she laughs at horse and rider.” [Job 39:14-18]

I know, it doesn’t make any sense, but it makes sense to me.

In that moment, when I read these verses, I knew.

I knew that I didn’t want to be this type of woman. I don’t want to be this type of mom.

I knew that the easy way out (laying her eggs in the warm sand so that she didn’t have to sit on them) isn’t always the best way. I knew that in the end, the easy way was the one with the most risks — risks that weren’t necessary. I knew that if I didn’t properly train my child, then I’m leaving him wide open to being trampled on by the world.

I knew that I didn’t want to be a harsh mom. And not that I am a harsh mom, or that I am a harsh mom because I want to be — but because I don’t deal with being overwhelmed very kindly.

I’m not compassionate enough.
I’m not kind enough.
I’m not humble enough.
I’m not loving enough.

I don’t want to be the mom who makes her children feel like she doesn’t have enough time for them simply because she has so many other things to do.

I’m not that mom….

I’m not that mom…

I knew that I didn’t want to be the wife who cleans the house because her husband says she has to (laboring in vain). I knew that I didn’t want to take care of my household simply because I’m told to. I want to do it because I get to, because I take joy in it.

I don’t want to labor in vain. I don’t want my work as a wife and mom to be done out of bitterness, anger, or with an unappreciative attitude. I don’t want my calling as a wife and mom to be watered down, simply because I’m too worried with other things that don’t really matter.

I don’t want to be the woman of God who thinks her way is best — because the sad fact is that just because I have feathers, it doesn’t mean I can fly. Sure, they serve a purpose — I have a purpose. But it’s not always what I think it is. While I’m created in His image, I’m not the same, and other people aren’t like me either — whether I wish they were, or are happy they aren’t.

In just five verses, I learned more and repented more than I have in a long time. A verse about an ostrich changed my entire outlook on motherhood and about being a wife…a woman of God.

I had to be patient and obedient to read through the entire book of Job — and yet, my Bible Study about Job had nothing to do with Job at all.

I don’t know why God couldn’t just say “go to the 39th chapter”. I don’t understand His ways.

But I do understand, now more than ever, that His ways are so much better than mine. I know that my Creator has a plan for me, even if what I’m seeing is what I think I’m getting — it can all change in an instance….for the better…whether we believe it or not.

I was beginning to wonder why God even chose to record the story of Job — and now I know. Not just for the five verses that struck a chord with my heart, but because of all the wisdom and knowledge that God imparts to us through the story and scriptures of Job.

Maybe it’s time to start listening to that little whisper to your heart. Maybe, just maybe….

Yesterday evening, after finishing the book of Job, I asked God where I should start reading next. I kept thinking of the name Jedidiah. In fact, auto correct tells me that Jedidiah isn’t even a name.

I knew Jedidiah was in the Bible, but where? Who is he? When did he live? It took me a few minutes, but after realizing that Jedidiah was really the name that God called King Solomon, I was intrigued. Another strange fact: Jedidiah is only mentioned once in the Bible. Hmm…

I’m starting with the book of 2 Samuel, the story of King David (Solomon’s father) and will continue into Solomon’s story from there.

However, I have a feeling that this has nothing to do with Solomon….or Jedidiah….

“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the Lord.”
Isaiah 55:8

 

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