An Open Letter from God

Do not fear! I am with you. I love you and walk with you. I will never leave you. Situations and circumstances may change, but I will never change. Lean on me for strength... I will strengthen you for every task. For I go before you. I will not leave you. I know every desire of your heart. I want to be the  JOY of your life. I will satisfy your every need and desire in my perfect timing. I will anoint you. I will show you when to speak and when not to say a word. I love you. You are mine. The plans I have for you are great! Trust me. Every step you take I have already gone before you. Let my shoulder be the one you rest your head upon. Lean on me completely... Do not worry- just trust and pray. Tell me everything. I will guide you and give you wisdom. The things that frustrate you... Tell me and no one else. I will give you insight you need to find resolution. Know that I see you and haven't forgotten you... You are not alone. I am here, closer than you think... As close as your next breath. Do you really need me? Why do you wait so long to find me? Why do you run to others? Am I not faithful? I will be faithful to you... You must first look and want my faithfulness. I've placed you here for this time, this season, at this location. I know it's too much for you to do on your own... But I never intended you to do it on your own. Depend on me. I am here. Lean on me. I will do the work if you'll just be willing to let me. I want you to hear my voice as clearly as you hear me right now. I want to tell you things, but I need you to listen. I need you to find more time to be still before me. When you draw near to me- I will draw near to you... That's when you will hear and find me. You want to hear me... Are you listening? You want to see me... Where are you looking? You want to touch me... Are you reaching? You want to please me? Why do you look for others approval? Transition is coming and I have great plans for you. Yield to me and I will do great things through you and in each area you touch. Do not grow weary, but depend and lean on me. I love you and I am closest than you'll ever know. I know the burdens and worries in your heart. I'm taking care of them one at a time. I'm preparing you for what I've planned and my timing is perfect. You can trust me and put your guard down with me. I know what you really carry, let me carry it for you. Don't forget to dream. Continue to seek new visions, more creativity and ideas for what's ahead. I'm going to move and I am going to use you! I will give you favor and I will do mighty things. I've already started using you in ways you do not see! Trust me. Depend on me. Rest your head on my shoulders and I will carry you. I love you so deeply and I want you to remember that I am closer than you realize. I'm in your heart. I know your insides and outs... I know you deeply, but I want you to know me in the same ways. I love you,

Abba

 

(given to me with permission to share by anonymous)

Praying God's Names- Jehovah Sabaoth

Jehovah SabaothI Am the Lord of Hosts

When I come to the end of my self, When I am at the end of my strength, When I need power for deliverance, Then I rest in You.

When no other way seems clear, When I see no other help, When I am at the end of my resources, Then I rest in You.

You are the One who Delivers. You are the Lord of Hosts.

I come to worship and offer the sacrifice of myself as I plead with You. I know no one else who can help me. I face impossible odds and no one believes I can do what you called me to do. I know you are my power and my strength.

I cannot rely on religion. I cannot depend on icons or symbols. I cannot trust my own strength if I want victory. I must come to you in righteousness.

You are the One who Delivers. You are the Lord of Hosts.

You are my righteousness. You are my deliverer. You are the judge of my enemies. You see my heart and save my soul.

You, Jehovah Sabaoth, are the One who Judges. You, Jehovah Sabaoth, are the One who Delivers. You, Jehovah Sabaoth, are the Lord of Hosts.

By Karen Guthrie December 17, 2008

Praying God's Names- Jehovah Shalom

Jehovah ShalomI Am Peace

True Peace cannot be found apart from You. My peace depends on my relationship with You. When I obey You, I have peace for peace comes as a blessing from You. I rest in You. You hold my future and my hope is in You. Peace comes when I focus on You, when I let go of worry & trust in You.

Your Word – the good, right & perfect way – brings peace. My thankful heart rejoices in You. You hear me & give me peace through Jesus. When I think on the true, honorable, right, pure, lovely, good, excellent, praiseworthy, when I dwell (which is to live or abide) on these things, peace comes from You.

You promised me the Prince of Peace who is Lord of Lords & King of Kings. Through Him I have peace with You. I have peace, no matter what my circumstances, because of You. It is of your very essence.

You have given me Your Peace, not what this world offers as peace, but peace to my soul when I rest in You.

You keep me in perfect peace when I focus on You. As I am filled with Your Spirit, You give me peace for you are my Jehovah Shalom. You are the Lord is Peace.

By Karen Guthrie December 12, 2008

Finding God In... MISCARRIAGE

This is a beautiful reblog from a dear sister, Sherry Clair of Hand Me Downs. Please be encouraged!  

In June of 2016 I sat in my car outside a video store praying fervently to the Lord.  I was begging for Him to give me a child.  Not just any child; my child.  The one that just a week before had been growing and thriving inside of me.  “Please, Lord” I whispered “let this one be okay.  Let us have this one, please make the bleeding stop, keep the heart beating and let this baby grow.”  I stayed in my car with my head bowed, pleading for that little life, tears dripping off my chin for about another ten minutes.  I took a few breaths and began to try to put myself back together.  I was wiping my face when a startling thought popped into my head, ‘but what if He doesn’t?

What if He doesn’t?  What would I do then?  I remembered a story from Daniel about three individuals who were facing the same question.  They, however, had an amazing answer.  In the third chapter of Daniel, King Nebuchadnezzar had set up a golden statue.  He was very proud of this and required that every individual must bow before this image.  Now, there were three young Jew’s, they knew the commandments of God forbid this and they refused.  Nebuchadnezzar was not happy about that and told them that they would be cast into a furnace.

A furnace.  This wasn’t a simple time out or jail time or a slap on the wrist.  This was death and not a peaceful one at that!  This was being tossed into hot, scalding, burning, flesh searing flames and suffering until the very end.  Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were facing a horrifying life or death situation.  But that didn’t deter them.  They had faith that their Lord would indeed step in and save them.  That He would redeem them and bring them out of the situation.  But what if He didn’t?  What if the Lord didn’t intervene and spare their lives?

Daniel 3:18 provides that answer, “But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the image you set up”.  In essence; absolutely nothing will change.  They would walk into that furnace facing certain death, and even if God did not intervene, they would not falter or be shaken.  So where did that leave me?  What if God didn’t intervene and what if I did lose the pregnancy?

If God didn’t step in then I would be forced to walk into that furnace.  I would be forced to face the biting, stinging, painful flames of grief and loss.  But I wouldn’t be alone!  God says in Hebrews 13:5 “Never will I leave you; Never will I forsake you”.

If God didn’t step in then I would be changed.  Those flames would alter little pieces of me and those pieces would never be the same again.  But God would still be the same!  Hebrews 13:8 states that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever”.  He would be as good, and just and loving as He was before the fire.  His heart towards me would be no different than it was before!

If God didn’t step in then I might break.  I worried that the fire would be too much for me to overcome. I worried that I wasn’t strong enough to endure the overwhelming, seemingly unending and devastating flames.  But God would be there in my weakness!  It would be through my weakness that God’s power would be the most evident.  In 2nd Corinthians 12 the Lord says “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness”.  

God didn’t stop King Nebuchadnezzar from throwing the three Jew’s into the furnace.  In fact he was so angered by their response that he demanded the furnace temperature be increased even higher!  He tied them up and had them thrown directly into the flames.  When the king peered into the furnace though he realized that there were no longer three men but four.  There in the midst of the flames, in the furnace hot enough to kill the attendants, who threw the three men in, was the Lord! They emerged from the flames unscathed, not a hair singed or the smell of soot on their clothes.

I prayed, I trusted and I waited.  But God didn’t intervene.  Just like with Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego God had allowed me to be flung into the furnace.  For the second time in within just a few short months I had to say goodbye to another baby that I hardly knew but loved fiercely.  I was deep within the flames.  But I knew with every part of my being, that I was not alone in them.  That the Lord was there with me, even when I couldn’t see him through the smoke and when the flames seemed to consume me, He was there.

There will be many times in all of our lives that we will face the furnace.  We will stand at the door of situations that we don’t want to be in.  We will feel the heat rising up to singe our skin.  The flames may look insurmountable and terrifying.  With fear and worry coursing through us we will call out to God to help us, in our faith we will look to Him who we trust.  Sometimes He will close the door on that trial before we even have to enter.  Sometimes we will have to go into that furnace.  But if we do, remember who is in those flames with you.

Prayer

Dear Heavenly Father, we are so thankful that you are there through every circumstance with us.  You have said that you will never leave us or forsake us.  Please let us be reminded that no matter how difficult our situation may be that you are nearby.  Help us to remember to lean on your during difficult times and continue to find moments to praise you even in the fire.

Finding God In... ABUSE

I was an in abusive marriage for 15 years. It was hard. It broke me. It nearly killed me, quite literally. The last day of our marriage was spent with a loaded gun pressed against me as my assailant – my husband – abused my body one last time, before ending his life. That relationship gave me a lot of insight into toxic people and toxic relationships. Most of it, I didn’t understand until after that traumatic day. There’s so much we don’t see or comprehend when we’re all in love and googly-eyed. We excuse a lot of behaviors and chalk them up to “yeah, buts”: He was angry, “yeah, but he’s under a lot of stress.” Or he said something hateful, “yeah, but he didn’t really mean it.”

And remember that toxic relationships aren’t limited to the romantic. They’re everywhere: at work, school, in families, marriages, and friendships. The key is knowing how to recognize them and what to do about them.

Boundaries are super important here. They can be hard to learn and hard to implement. But they’re necessary. Sometimes people bristle at the thought of boundaries. They picture them as confrontational and angry. But they’re not.

I always say that boundaries are about love. If someone is mistreating you or taking advantage of you, boundaries are a protection. But they really are about love: Love for yourself so you won’t continue to tolerate being treated poorly; love for the other person. How so, you might ask? Well, if the other person is behaving badly and nobody says anything - if everyone just lets them continue to behave in that way - you’re enabling them. That’s never good. If nobody ever indicates to them this isn’t healthy behavior, they continue it, damaging people and bonds along the way.

Even Jesus had boundaries. He practiced self care. He removed himself from situations that he knew weren’t good for him. He expected people to do their part. There are examples of this in the Bible if you research. Jesus wasn’t a doormat, right?

So how do we use boundaries? Again, they’re not an angry confrontation. And you have to decide how, when, and with whom you’ll implement them. If a friend is constantly late for your lunch dates, find out why. Do they have three toddlers at home they need to get ready for a sitter? Do they have an illness that is unpredictable? Or do they just simply use the time you set as a loose suggestion and show up at their leisure? You can see which situations might call for grace.

If the first two are the issue, you might suggest bringing lunch to your friend and some treats to keep her children busy. If the last one is the case, then something needs to be said. Even a simple, “Hey, Liz, I’ve noticed you’ve had trouble keeping our lunch dates. You must be in a really busy season so when you have more time, let me know and we’ll meet up.” It’s kind. It gives her the chance to explain without sticking a finger in her face…but it also lets her know you’ve noticed she’s not respecting your time and you’re done being kept waiting every week.

If it’s a work situation, that’s different as well. Evaluate. Can you speak to your boss about the coworker who’s taking too many breaks and leaving you with extra work? Or talk to the coworker first and find out if there’s a health reason for the breaks or they’re just leaving you high and dry. Don’t let someone else’s behavior be the source of your stress.

Before approaching someone, whether it’s your spouse, your sister, best friend, neighbor, stepchild, coworker, person from church, or anyone else…pray.

Pray about the situation. Pray for that person. Pray for the right words to say. Can you give them grace? Or has giving them grace now turned into you being stressed and feeling taken advantage of, and you need to speak up now? You are not called to be a doormat either. We need to be strong and demand respectful treatment from others, and we need to be respectful. Don’t feel bad about having a chat with someone who’s hurting you or being rude regularly, or whatever the behavior may be.

For folks who don’t deal in boundaries and aren’t familiar with them or just plain dislike them, they may back away from you once you utilize them and have that talk. Be prepared for that, but know also that it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use your boundaries because they might not like it. Their disregard for your feelings doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have them. Sometimes relationships go silent when someone balks at you making rules about how you’ll be treated. Pray about that too and remember that you can’t allow someone to continue to abuse you and your relationship. Let them know you love them (if it’s that kind of relationship) or that you want your working relationship to be comfortable, but that you had to speak up.

Be strong and always be in prayer about the situations, before, during, and after.

 

For more information or to read more of Melanie's amazing blogs, please visit her website at http://melaniespickett.com/

Finding God In... CHRONIC PAIN

As I sit here trying to put into words my journey that has led me to this moment in time, I cannot help but be overwhelmed and brought to tears. Life can bring some unexpected, terrifying, and completely crazy experiences sometimes. And it can happen in the blink of an eye. For the past several years, I have struggled and suffered through many trials...all health related. I was the kid who was never sick. I was always on the go, involved in several things at a time, ran myself thin at times but could always bounce back with ease... until a sudden vertigo attack came out of nowhere (on my honeymoon in Mexico of all places!) Talk about scary! I didn't know if I was coming down with something or had eaten bad foreign food that was not setting right. Well, those attacks didn't go away once we returned home and in fact, they became worse with increasing symptoms that knocked me off my feet. Am I having a stroke? I remember thinking one day teaching my class of 2nd graders as my whole left side went numb briefly. After progressing symptoms and a new introduction to the feeling of extreme anxiety, I began to search for answers and visited numerous doctors. No one could really help me. Talk of migraines, hormones, thyroid, or stress and anxiety were mentioned and of course medication was recommended. But still no real answer. Now, at this point I had always considered myself a Christian...went to church, sang in choir, and read my Bible occasionally. But, I'd never had that strong, intimate connection with God that others spoke of. When I couldn't find answers to explain what was happening to me, I began to turn to my God. He started to lead me to doctors that were able to diagnose me with Chiari Malformation, a rare brain disorder that I was probably born with but never showed symptoms of until that dreadful day in Mexico. Confused yet relieved I had an answer, I continued to ask God to give me the strength to move forward with what to do about this scary thing going on in my head.

After years of MRI's and several other scary tests, I was finally blessed to find a specialist who decided to monitor my case until symptoms proved bad enough to require surgery. In the meantime, I became pregnant with our son and enjoyed the blissful and exciting nine months anticipating his birth. God showed His light throughout this pregnancy for sure. My loving, amazing husband and I had a strong relationship; we both had great jobs, and we were expecting our little boy. Although I continued to have symptoms, they were bearable and I found ways to cope. Noah was born...I had a tricky, long, painful labor and he was born early with minimal complications. I seemed okay.

Until I wasn't.

Symptoms returned, and anxiety rocketed. Doctors believed it was post-partum so I went with that. I remember thinking Lord, please help me through this.

It's crazy what motherhood does to you. You can go from being completely filled with joy praising God for His amazing blessings to crying uncontrollably for no reason. It was during those hard days, sometimes weeks that I began to notice I was struggling mentally. My body was beginning to do strange things. I experienced pain chronically and my thoughts began to be more focused on the negative, what ifs, and worst case scenarios. Still I clung to Him for strength...even though the layers of darkness were beginning to cast a shadow on my seemingly perfect life.

Another pregnancy 2 years later brought my beautiful daughter into our lives...but the overwhelming intense labor of pushing for 2 hours with a 9 lb baby unknowingly made my brain problem significantly worse overnight. Needless to say, I should have had a c-section. Scary symptoms and severe anxiety began to take over and blanket my now mama of 2 gorgeous babies life. More darkness... Still I clung to Him for hope. I was not going to give in to the darkness and fear. My Lord carried me through, some of those days I have no idea how.

After getting to the point of debilitating symptoms and only the grace of God carrying through my days, 18 months after my daughter was born, I faced the decision to go through with brain surgery....7 hours away from home, saying goodbye to my kids not knowing how I would be returning home to them, and putting my life in God's hands (through my surgeon.) I did it. I remember feeling so out of my own body on the drive to Milwaukee, the prep op visits, and preparing for the scariest moment of my life. Watching the worry on my parent's faces, as they tried to be strong for me, clinging to my husband with tears of utter disbelief this was my reality, and questioning God if this truly was what He had planned for me (to be healed of these symptoms that were ruining my life.)

Then, that early morning before my surgery I experienced that peace that people talk about. Praying pretty much the whole night before due to insomnia, I somehow knew that all was well. That He was in control. The next 18 months were long, slow, and at times doubtful and terrifying. However, I can honestly say that I found my true relationship with God. I began journaling and having deep conversations with Him about how this would all play out. But I still kept a tight grasp on trying to control it all. And as much as I said I was giving it all to Him, I wasn't fully in my heart. Until one day, I remember the exact place and time...I did. I surrendered my brain healing process to my Heavenly Father. And I began to see a big turn-around and a peace I couldn't describe.

Fast forward through the next 5 years...life was pretty darn good. I got a new part time job, we moved houses, we found our church home, our marriage became stronger...and although I still had some residual symptoms, I considered myself recovered and in a good place. I began to sing again, one of my true passions, and it made a huge difference in my life. Then, we became pregnant again! Equally excited and nervous about facing a pregnancy, labor, and delivery post brain surgery and the risk of having problems return, my doctor suggested a c-section with our 3rd daughter. It was a great experience with no complications for either of us, and I now had another perfect, healthy baby girl. God continued to bless our lives everyday we discovered what life was like as a family of 5. Life was good.

This past fall I began another new job. All was going just fine until I woke up needing an emergency root canal from extreme tooth pain. Not knowing at all what was to come following this fairly routine procedure, I had it done and returned home a couple hours later. That night, I began to feel so so strange and ill. After trying to stick it out for a couple days, I contacted my dentist and he thought I was having an allergic reaction to the strong antibiotic given to me following the root canal. He told me to stop taking it. That didn't help. I continued to feel awful. I couldn't eat (would gag every time I would try), I couldn't sleep, began having extreme panic attacks, my heartrate and blood pressure were elevated on a regular basis, I suffered from heart palpitations, etc. Many scary symptoms that kept getting increasingly worse started landing me in the ER... still with now answers. I kept trying to push myself to work. Inside I started to feel the internal battle coming back. I began to feel those layers of darkness suffocating me.

What was happening? The Lord seemed so far away. I would cry out...praying for relief but would never see it. After speaking to some friends, talk of Lyme disease came up with a reference to a doctor who treats it. No way I thought. But then I did remember that tiny tick bite I had found the previous summer. Well, long story short. Yep. I diagnosed with Lyme. And not only that, but several other co-infections associated with Lyme. I remember thinking, Are you kidding me? Another bizarre medical problem. Great.

The next four months was a blur. I dropped 35 pounds, suffered from severe anxiety and depression, and completely detached myself from reality. It was terrifying. As I began treatment, I actually started to feel worse leaving me stricken with intense fear all day everyday. Is this all really true? Is this treatment hurting me? Will I ever return to normal? Dear dear God, why aren't you helping me? I can honestly say those four months were the scariest of my life. Yes, even scarier than brain surgery.

So now we've arrived at today- I now have eight weeks left of treatment. Am I healed 100%? No. Will I ever be? God only knows that answer. But I do know that I am changed. I thought I had surrendered my life to Him that day years ago recovering from my surgery. Now I KNOW I have.

Jesus is my everything. In the midst of terror, sorrow, mental illness, and my body giving out on me...HE was there. He was there in the smile on my baby girl's face and her snuggle, He was there in my laughing kids playing outside together, He was there in the warm embrace of my husband, He was there in the reassuring, multiple conversations with mom and dad, He was there in the texts, cards, donations, willingness to help from friends and family, He was there as tears streamed down my face during worship in church. He was always there. Jesus has shown me the Light. That light to keep going, to persevere through the unbearable moments and days, and to keep fighting for my kids, my family. He is restoring my joy. I feel it. I am able to seek Him and find happiness even on the hard days. I read an article the other day about seeing the flowers in life instead of the weeds. And I am so so grateful that through the love of God, I am able to do that more and more everyday. Each day, that's all we can do anyway. Each moment. My husband said to me the other night, The only time we are truly living is when we see the good of our soul reaching out and connecting with the soul of those around us. That is my goal, that is my purpose. To connect with any and every person in my life in the most positive way I can. God has carried me through many layers of darkness for a reason, a purpose...and it's now my turn to begin to find that purpose and do my very best to live for Him, every moment of every day.

The God Who Weeps

For so many of us worry, anxiety, sorrow, and pain permeates our lives. If this discomfort does not push against us daily it still can filter through to even the most protected of hearts during times of stress, fatigue, sickness, and mourning. We are fragile. Our emotions and hearts are prone to breaking. And too often, we weep. We weep with loss, with worry, with anxiety. We weep tears of angst, anger, and agitation. We weep with fear. We weep with and for others... and for ourselves. And when all has come to pass and we are so beyond ourselves and our understanding, we weep for sheer emotion; un-named and un-identified emotion... the waves of these powerful forces simply unhinge us.

Tears often are signs of our undoing. When we are beyond ourselves and cannot control the emotion within... we weep. When the pain or the hurt, the struggle, the worry, the fear overtakes us and we just don't know what to do, where to go, or how to fix it... we weep. When the brave face we so desperately want to display to the world cannot for one minute longer maintain it's stoic countenance... we weep. Tears are the physically manifestation that we are undone.

Jesus is near to the undone. Scripture tells us He was quite well acquainted with sorrow. Having a Lord that is near to our sorrow is a mighty thing... But Christ did one better. He FIXED the falls, He BECAME the tears, He SHARES our sorrows.

Even in our deepest despair and our wells of weeping, we are not without a God who sees us, who understands us, who comforts us... and ultimately, can FIX us. Our God comes down into our watery pits and cries with us. He is not without emotion. He is not without care.

He weeps with us.

Despised, rejected, betrayed, guilt-ridden, apart, sorrowful, grief-stricken, alone, sick, in pain, hurt, worried, anxious, tempted... Jesus knows all too well our suffering. Jesus understands. He weeps with us.

Isaiah 53:3-10 TLB We despised him and rejected him—a man of sorrows, acquainted with bitterest grief. We turned our backs on him and looked the other way when he went by. He was despised, and we didn’t care.Yet it was our grief he bore, our sorrows that weighed him down. And we thought his troubles were a punishment from God, for his own sins! 5 But he was wounded and bruised for our sins. He was beaten that we might have peace; he was lashed—and we were healed! 6 We—every one of us—have strayed away like sheep! We, who left God’s paths to follow our own. Yet God laid on him the guilt and sins of every one of us! He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he never said a word. He was brought as a lamb to the slaughter; and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he stood silent before the ones condemning him. 8 From prison and trial they led him away to his death. But who among the people of that day realized it was their sins that he was dying for—that he was suffering their punishment? 9 He was buried like a criminal, but in a rich man’s grave; but he had done no wrong and had never spoken an evil word.But it was the Lord’s good plan to bruise him and fill him with grief. However, when his soul has been made an offering for sin, then he shall have a multitude of children, many heirs. He shall live again, and God’s program shall prosper in his hands.

Be not dismayed. We have a God who knows, who understands, and who heals. The price has already been paid for the hurt, take rest in the peace that it bought and weep no longer!

Be Still!

Stop struggling. Be still. Quit wrestling. Be still.

Do not panic. Be still.

Cease looking for answers. Be still.

Calm your mind. Be still.

Quit trying to figure it all out. Be still.

I got this. I have you. I am Sovereign.... El Elyon. Be still.

Rest. Come take shelter. Find peace... Jehovah-Shalom. Be still.

You are loved. You are cherished. You are seen. You are noticed. You are remembered. You are important. You are Mine... El Roi. Be still.

“He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, "My refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust." For he will deliver you from the snare of the fowler and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with his pinions, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness is a shield and buckler. You will not fear the terror of the night, nor the arrow that flies by day, nor the pestilence that stalks in darkness, nor the destruction that wastes at noonday. A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. You will only look with your eyes and see the recompense of the wicked. Because you have made the Lord your dwelling place— the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you, no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways. On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone. You will tread on the lion and the adder; the young lion and the serpent you will trample underfoot. "Because he holds fast to me in love, I will deliver him; I will protect him, because he knows my name. When he calls to me, I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will rescue him and honor him. With long life I will satisfy him and show him my salvation."” ‭‭Psalms‬ ‭91:1-16‬ ‭ESV

Be still and know I AM GOD.

Press In

My husband and I attended a marriage retreat this last weekend and the speaker told a story that hit me profoundly. He told of a time when he was sick, discouraged, mad, frustrated... and he purposefully turned all his angst and venom towards his wife. He knew his words would hurt her... he spoke them anyway, admittedly trying to hit as deeply as he could. Her response was to come in from the next room, take him in her arms, and hold him. "I don't know what's up with you right now. I know you're trying to hurt me. I still here and I'm not going anywhere." Stick around Christian groups, meetings, sermons, or books long enough and you'll eventually hear this idea of 'pressing into Jesus'. For those that might be new to the faith, often times we're not great at giving real-life application to these church-y sayings. Yet, this man's story gave me a visual of exactly what to 'press in' looks like.

This sweet wife, in the face of discouragement... even attack you could argue, pressed IN. She pressed towards her attacker. She shortened the ground between them. She moved closer to the fight. Even with the very real possibility of more harsh words, total rejection, perhaps physical wrath- she pressed in.

Just like Jesus.

When assaults come our way there's usually two responses. At worst we attack back. Words are exchanged, sometimes blows are thrown; we match the assault- thought for thought, word for word, fist for fist. We FIGHT! At best, when we are confronted with criticism, ridicule, bullying, back-stabbing, anger, rage, attack... at best we step back and throw up all manner of defense. We COWER.

Self-preservation is an interesting thing- even spiritually. Fight or Flight.

Jesus did neither. He exemplified a third option. Jesus PRESSED IN! To attack, criticism, anger, frustration, deceit, betrayal, even to death... he pressed closer to his enemies. He didn't run, he didn't cower, he didn't stab back, he didn't mince words. He stepped towards, he moved forward, he wrapped arms around, he pressed in- and loved harder. He loved closer. He loved better.

There was no self-preservation about Jesus.

Even at the moment of his betrayal, by a trusted disciple no less, knowing this arrest would ultimately lead to his death, Jesus showed this kind of love. "...Jesus asked him, 'Judas, are you betraying the Son of man with a kiss?' When Jesus' followers saw what was going to happen, they said, 'Lord, should we strike with our swords?' And one of them struck the servant of the high priest, cutting off his right ear. But Jesus answered, 'No more of this!' And He touched the man's ear and healed him." Luke 22: 48-51 NIV

What an example! What a lovely picture of what pressing in really looks like. What or who in your life today dear one needs to be loved closer. Who has betrayed you? Press in. Are you under attack? Press in. What is beating you down? Press in. Don't step back, don't swing out, fight the instinct of self-preservation and take the third option... the Jesus option.

Pressing in to these situations, just as Christ did, enables you to press in to God more as well. Each step takes you closer to the nature of Jesus and isn't that what this is all about?

PRESS IN today dear one!

14 Verses to Overcome Mom Fear

It is a pleasure to reblog a great post about overcoming fear. Abbey has wonderful advice and pulled some amazing scriptures out! She is giving away a copy of Helicopter Mom as well. You can enter the giveaway here.  

Being afraid for our kids comes naturally, but that doesn’t mean it’s right. Fear is not from God. Thankfully, God gives us promises in His Word to help us overcome the all-too-common “mom fear.”

(This post may contain affiliate links. For my full disclosure policy, click here.)

The first time Selah put herself back to sleep without one of us picking her up, I begged my husband to go in and make sure she was still breathing. I was terrified that in the 15 minutes between her waking up and going back to sleep, she had somehow gotten herself into a weird position and died.

My husband loves me, so in he went. Lo and behold, she was fine, curled up on her side, snoozing away. But that was a lesson for me.

I can choose to be afraid for my children. I can live in fear that they’re going to stop breathing or hit their head one too many times or break a bone or electrocute themselves. I can stress over every little thing and let anxiety rule my life.

But is that how God has called me to live? Absolutely not.

I can’t be afraid for my children. I can’t live in that. It’s not healthy and it’s not from God.

If He can hold the world He can hold this moment; not a field or flower escapes His notice. Oh, even the sparrow knows He holds tomorrow. (Sparrows, Jason Gray)

Fear for our kids comes all too naturally. We read horror stories online or in books, and the devil uses them to draw us farther into fear. We start automatically picturing the dresser falling on top of them when we hear a loud noise, or suffocating on a blanket when they fall asleep quickly, or falling out of their crib when we don’t go get them the second we hear them in the morning.

And of course, as good parents, we should do everything we can to keep them safe. Lower the crib mattress. Don’t pack their crib full of blankets. Secure the dressers. Cover the electrical outlets. Those are precautions, and they are good and necessary.

But living in constant fear isn’t good, it isn’t necessary, and it isn’t from God. In fact, He specifically calls us to overcome fear, and He gives us verses in His Word, time and time again, to empower us to do so.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7

Anxiety and thanksgiving cannot coexist. When your heart is feeling anxious for your children, begin to thank God for all His blessings. In return, He will send His peace to guard your heart and mind from fear.

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” Matthew‬ ‭6:25‬-26

As moms, we fear that our children won’t have everything they need. Maybe we don’t know how we’re going to pay for groceries this month or we can’t afford to send them to a good school. Friend, God loves you, and He loves your kids. He will provide EVERYTHING you need.

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

I want you take a few minutes a memorize this verse. Set it as the background on your phone. Write it on your bathroom mirror. Hire a blimp and drag it across the sky. Whatever it takes.

Mama, this verse is your battle cry. God has not given you a spirit of fear. He has not given you an anxious heart. He has given you POWER over the lies of the enemy, LOVE for your babies, and a SOUND MIND to trust in Him. Meditate on that truth.

“There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.” 1 John 4:8

There is no fear in love. NONE. Do you love your kids? Then do not be afraid for them. Christ loves you, and when He died to demonstrate that love, He drove out fear once and for all. He now calls you to be made perfect in His love and to let go of your fear.

“If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,” and you make the Most High your dwelling, no harm will overtake you, no disaster will come near your tent. For He will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.” Psalm‬ ‭91:9-12‬

Your tent=your family. If you make God your refuge and trust in Him, no harm or disaster will overtake your family. He will send His angels to protect you, guard you, and keep you safe. There’s no need to fear, because God is with you!

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13

When we trust in God, He fills us with joy and peace. Fear cannot live in a peaceful heart. If you find yourself overwhelmed with fear, you are not trusting in God. Take a moment, pray to your Father, and be filled with His peace. Then, watch your fear fade away in the light of His hope.

We cannot overcome mom fear on our own. We need the truths of the Word of God to fill us with peace and take away our anxiety and fears.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” John 14:27

God doesn’t give as the world gives. He doesn’t take it back and He doesn’t give you less than you need. He has given you His peace, just enough for today. Make the choice to accept and live out His peace. Remember, you are a living gospel to your kids. Show them how to accept God’s gift of peace.

“For He Himself is our peace…” Ephesians 2:14

This fills my heart with such a feeling of safety. God Himself is my peace. He doesn’t send an angel to take His place, and He doesn’t take a day off. He is my peace. He is with me, and He will protect me from all fear.

Repeat that last line to yourself. “He is with me, and He will protect me from all fear.” That, mama, is the truth your heart needs to hear.

“God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’ So we say with confidence, ‘The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6

We have no reason to be afraid. God has promised to never leave us and never forsake us. He’s there, always, forever. Man can do nothing to us, nothing to our kids. There is no need for fear.

“You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.” Isaiah 26:3

When we keep our minds on God, He keeps us in perfect peace. Think about it. If we are constantly thinking on the Lord, thanking Him for His blessings, remembering His promises, fear cannot exist. It is overtaken by thoughts of God, and replaced with beautiful peace.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31

This verse gives me such confidence! God is FOR US! He wants us to be safe and protected and at peace. And if He wants that for us, then that’s how it will be, and nothing can come against that. God’s will for our life is not one of anxiety and fear, and when we realize that, we can begin to live in peace.

“The Lord will keep you from all harm—He will watch over your life; the Lord will watch over your coming and going, both now and forevermore.” Psalm 121:7-8

This goes for you and your family. God will keep you safe. He is always watching you and taking care of you and your husband and your kids. There’s not one moment of your life that He misses, not one danger that He doesn’t see coming. God’s got you.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10

This is one of my favorite promises. God is with us, so there is no need to fear. He is our God, He is strengthening us, He is helping us, and He is upholding us. How much better can it get??

We cannot overcome mom fear on our own. We need the truths of the Word of God to fill us with peace and take away our anxiety and fears.

“Whoever fears the Lord has a secure fortress, and for their children it will be a refuge.” Proverbs 14:26

Not only is God looking out for us, but for our children, as well. When we fear the Lord, love Him, and serve Him, He surrounds and protects us. BUT WAIT, THERE’S MORE! He does the same FOR OUR CHILDREN. OUR hope, OUR trust, OUR peace, it all trickles down to our kids. When we trust in God, they are protected. That is the best motivation for me to overcome my anxiety, fears, and sin, and truly TRUST God.

KEEP READING FOR A GIVEAWAY!

A couple of weeks after Selah was born, I began to struggle with mom fear. A few days later, in an answer to prayer, I came across the book “Helicopter Mom” by Bethany L. Douglas, and it changed my life.

Bethany is a mom who has struggled deeply with fear for her children. From little things to big, she knows what it is to be afraid, but she also knows how everything changes when you begin to trust God and His promises. Here are a few of my favorite quotes form the book:

“God promises so much help in return for giving up our worry and fear (in short, for obeying Him): His peace. God not only commands us not to worry, He ensures an easy pathway to peace. He promises peace and doles it out freely in exchange for our fear! All we have to do is give it to Him!”

“That’s right: Fear is an idol. Hear me well: We are sinning! We wallow in the fear, of the fear for our kids- so we put up false idols to make us feel better. This idea that we know best because we have researched it, that we know the ideal way, and we have the knowledge to back this up is nothing more than so many false idols.”

“It does not do your kids any good if all you do is focus on the image-the idea-the possibility of blood shooting out of his leg and totally miss the work of faith God is asking you to do in yourself and your children.”

This book changed my entire outlook on mothering. Fear is a lie and an idol and if I choose to live in it, I am not being the mother that God has created me to be. If this sounds like your kind of book (it is), you’re in luck, because I’m giving away a signed copy to one lucky winner! Just enter below for your chance to win!