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Posts Tagged ‘trusting God’

 

Seasons change. Kids grow up. Hair goes gray. People leave the things they knew. I am facing a change of seasons. My kids are growing up. My daughters are now in their young 20’s and are building families and lives of their own. My sons are 18 and 16. They are growing into young men that are testing their independence and boundaries. I will be 48 in three months and as I look in the mirror, I see more strands of gray everyday. I realize with some sadness and with some excitement that 50 is right around the corner and my life has just opened up.

I’m tired of struggling as a single mom living in poverty. I’m tired of fighting to keep cars running and having to beg for rides to work and the store for a year at a time because I couldn’t afford any car at all. I’m tired of working a dead-end job that doesn’t even pay enough for me to rent a small apartment at market value. I am tired of money being the reason I stay in that job instead of taking a chance and doing what I really want to do. I am tired of living a mediocre life. Please, don’t think I am saying that raising my kids was something I hated or that I was dissatisfied in that role. I love my kids more than I could ever express, but I will not hide that those were hard years and sacrifices were made in order for me to be the mom I needed to be for my kids. They have always been my first priority.

I currently live with my daughter, Cherokee, her fiance, Chris and four kids combined. The house is perfect for them, but it is tight with me in the mix. My time here is coming to an end and even with working 32 to 40 hours a week, I can’t afford a place on my own, so where does that leave me? It leaves me with some uncertainty about the future, but I feel an excitement about the possibilities. The sky is the limit. My past does NOT define me. My age will NOT limit me. My lack of money will NOT stop me. I have a three step process that I will use as I go into this next season of my life. I call them the three P’s:

Pray: Before I take a step forward, I need to pray for God’s guidance. I need to make sure that I am heading down the path that God has marked out for me. I have to depend wholly and completely on God. I don’t have a significant other that I can enter this next season with. I am alone to face the future. I will be praying for answers to these questions: where will I go? How will I make a living? Where will I live? God knows the answers, I just need to be patient in the process.

Plan: Any type of change takes some amount of planning. Deciding if God wants me to move to another city or stay where I am. If I decide to move, I will need to find a job or source of income, a place to live and health care since I am a diabetic. Is the area close enough to make some research trips to get to know the community and available resources? I will need to list my needs and find the resources to meet those needs before I proceed with any action. I will need to make a list of possible obstacles and solutions. If I stay, I still need a place to live that I can afford, without going on housing. I will need to find a source of income that doesn’t drain me of energy and passion for life.

Proceed: After I have planned out my course of action, then I can proceed with my plan. If I have planned well enough, hopefully everything will go according to that plan, but life is unpredictable and ultimately God is in control. If I have prayed and have planned according to God’s will, then I know that I can trust God with the outcome.

If you are facing a new season in your life, you are not alone. Life is all about change. Change can be good. Change can keep us from becoming stagnant. Change can keep us from living a mediocre life. Embrace the change. Embrace this new season in your life as I am embracing the new season in my life. If you pray and plan before you proceed, then you can be certain of success. You may face some bumps in the road, but God is in this with you.

I will keep you updated on my decisions as I embrace this new season and as I embrace the gray.

 

 

 

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Proverbs 31:25

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.

I was at work this week and a Sister asked me how my daughter, Kiowa was doing. Kiowa has been stationed in Japan for 2 years now and with the threat from North Korea, the Sisters have been faithful prayer warriors. This question led to a conversation about world events (such as the school shooting in Florida and the mass killings in China) and how much hopelessness there is in the world. I mentioned how all of this despair can cause anxiety and worry and she mentioned the Bible verse that mentions the Proverbs 31 woman who can laugh at the days to come. I reflected on that verse for the rest of the day and looked it up as soon as I got home.

Having the ability to laugh at the days to come takes faith in God. Something that comes and goes with me. I can be the epitome of faith at one time and completely lack faith at another. Thinking about the days to come can cause me to shake in my shoes. Why is that? If I have complete faith in God like I’m supposed to, then why is it so hard for me to trust God with the days to come? Aren’t Christians supposed to have faith in God at all times? WHY IS IT SO HARD?

I want to be the woman who laughs at the days to come. I want to be the woman who has no fear of the future. I want to be the woman who trusts God with every situation that comes my way. How? How do I keep my faith from coming and going like leaves upon the wind? I know of two ways to strengthen my faith:

  1. Pray: God blesses us when we pray. God gave King Solomon wisdom when he prayed for wisdom and God will give us faith when we pray for faith. When we pray, God moves mountains on our behalf. He will answer our prayers for faith.
  2. Read the Bible: The Bible encourages us to be strong, to be courageous and to have faith. When we read the Bible we fill ourselves with the promises of God. We fill ourselves with the power of God through the Holy Spirit.

I remind myself that even King David’s faith wavered at times. The disciples didn’t always have faith. Peter denied Jesus 3 times, because he didn’t want to face the persecution that came with being a disciple. I am human. There are times when I may not have the faith of David facing Goliath, but the Bible says that if we have the faith of a mustard seed that NOTHING will be impossible for us (Matthew 17:20). Certainly, I can summon the faith of a mustard seed!

As the enemy continues to create chaos around the world and we see the pain and heartache caused by the evil he unleashes, I know that I really need to focus on becoming that woman that can laugh at the days to come.  I need to be in constant prayer and I need to be meditating day and night on the Word of God, so that I will be able to trust God completely with whatever the future holds. I don’t want to be that Christian that is found cowering in the corner, biting my nails, fretting over what may happen. I want to face the future with courage.

My challenge to you: if you find yourself lacking faith, I challenge you to pray and dig into the Bible. The world is a scary place and things aren’t getting better. We all need to find the faith to face these events with courage and faith. We all need to be able to trust God with our future. The goal of ALL Christians should be to have the faith of the Proverbs 31 woman and be able to laugh at the days to come. If we can not summon that faith then we will find ourselves locked in a prison of worry and fear.

If you find yourself struggling in your faith, or suffer from anxiety, worry or fear, contact me. I am here to pray with you and encourage you. I will walk with you as you build your faith in God. I know how hard it is. I’ve been there and on some days am still there. You do not have to suffer alone.

 

 

 

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I have been reading a book on prayer, Busy Lives and Restless Souls: How Prayer Can Help You Find the Missing Peace in Your Life, written by Becky Eldredge. In the book, Becky talks about the instances when God says NO! to our prayers. She asks us the question, “Would you still be willing to say Yes! if God’s answer is NO!?”

As I pondered on that question, I realized that there have been times when God did say NO! or NOT YET! and I still found myself trusting Him. Hanging onto Him until the storms of life passed. Yes, I have struggled through a divorce and the transition to single motherhood. I have struggled with poverty, chronic illness, and anxieties. I have prayed for God to alleviate the pain that these issues have caused. I have prayed for God to work in the tough situations of my life. I have heard my fair share of God’s NO’s! I still struggle. I still deal with the same situations. 17 years later and life is still a struggle. But, I have NOT prayed for the healing of a child or spouse and still had to watch them die. I have NOT lived through a mass shooting or a terrorist attack, praying for an answer and never seeming to get one. I have not tried to save a fellow Marines life while in the middle of a firefight, only to see him die and trying to find the Why in it. As much as I have struggled in life, as many times as I have prayed for help, I have not had to live through a life altering trauma such as those listed above. If I had to live through such a tragedy as any of these, could I still say, Yes! to God. Could I still say, “Thy will be done”?

Luke 22:39-44

39 Jesus went out as usual to the Mount of Olives, and his disciples followed him. 40 On reaching the place, he said to them, “Pray that you will not fall into temptation.” 41 He withdrew about a stone’s throw beyond them, knelt down and prayed, 42 “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” 43 An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. 44 And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground. 

Jesus prayed for “this cup” to be taken from him. From my perspective, this can only mean that Jesus did NOT want to die. He knew the suffering that He would soon endure and He did NOT want to face that suffering. But, in the same breath, he says, ” yet not my will, but yours be done.” Remember that God said NO! to Jesus. God said NO! to His beloved Son and Jesus still had faith enough to trust God’s will.

If Jesus, facing death, and dealing with human emotion, was willing to say, “thy will be done” when God said NO! than I should be able to follow that example when God says NO! to my prayers. But can I? Will I? I wish I could say that I knew for sure that I would still say YES! to God in that type of situation, but because I am human and I do deal with anxieties, I honestly don’t know.

This is something that I am working on. I continue to pray. There are times when God says YES! and there are times when God says NO! I continue to go deeper in my relationship with God. I continue to push myself to where I can say YES! in any circumstance. I continue to grow in my faith.

CHALLENGE: Reflect on the question, “Will I say YES! when God says NO!?” Be willing to get real with yourself. Don’t be afraid to admit that you would not say YES! Don’t be afraid to admit that you are still growing in faith. That’s okay. Most of us are. Get real with God and find out what you need to do to get to the YES!

In the meantime, I am always here if you need me to pray with you or journey with you. You are NEVER alone!

 

 

 

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Kiowasiouxburris

 

I watched her disappear down the boarding ramp. My heart ached. As the tears streamed down my face, I couldn’t help but remember when she was 2 and stuffed worms in her coat pockets. I found them when I did the laundry, all shriveled up. She still has the crack in her tooth from a stunt she tried on her bike when she was 10. Always the dare-devil, she would ride her bike down the porch steps, nearly giving me a heart attack. She ran her first half-marathon when she was 14 and finished in the top 4 percent. When she was 17, she defended a classmate who was being bullied at school. A week before her 18th birthday, she ran her first marathon. She finished just 8 minutes shy of qualifying for the Boston Marathon. I shouldn’t have been surprised when this courageous, risk-taking, defender of justice announced that she was joining the Air Force. She had served four years of JR ROTC in high school, but had always sworn up and down that she would NEVER join the military!

Yet, there I was, my heart pounding with a mixture of pride and fear. I gave her a farewell hug, whispering, “Stay strong and trust God.” As I watch her plane take off, taking her to a far away land, I whisper the same words to my own heart, “Stay strong and trust God.”

Easier said than done. How can I trust God to protect this daughter of mine? How can I trust Him to keep her safe from harm? Matthew 10:30 tells us that God has numbered the very hairs on our head. I love my daughter with all of my heart and soul, but I have not numbered the hairs on her head. How much more must He love her, to have every hair on her head numbered? As much as I love her, He loves her so much more.

Do I still worry? I would be lying if I said I didn’t. These are troubling times. I think some worry lurks in the heart of every military mom. I remind myself that I serve a God that is in control of ALL circumstances. Nothing happens on this earth that He doesn’t know about. I pray for her safety, as she does her job as an electrician. I pray that God will keep her out of harm’s way, here and abroad. I pray that God will continue to give her courage as she serves this beautiful country that we call the United States of America. When the worry creeps in, or missing her becomes to much for me to handle, I feel the whispering of the Holy Spirit in my own heart, telling me to, “stay strong and trust God.”

 

 

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I-have-come-as-light-791x1024

Matthew 10:26-31

26 “So do not be afraid of them, for there is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known. 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs.28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered.31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.

Evil will ALWAYS be found out. It may take years for darkness to come to light, but be assured at some point God WILL shed light on the darkness. Because Satan roams the Earth, we will have evil and darkness. God has overcome the darkness and sent us the light of Jesus to shed light on the dark places.

I want to encourage you, if you are being oppressed by abuse by another person, substance abuse, or any other evil. If you are hiding in the darkness and feel hopeless, don’t give up! Look to Jesus, my friend! Jesus IS the truth and the light! Keep praying, keep believing and trust that God will shine His light on the dark places in your life. God loves you and cares about your life. He loves you enough to have every hair on your head numbered. Do not be afraid of the dark places. You are NOT alone. God is with you and is waiting for His perfect timing to reveal the light in your situation. Never give up hope! No matter how long it takes, NEVER GIVE UP HOPE! God has a plan and a purpose for your life (Jeremiah 29:11).

If you are the one that can reveal the light on the darkness in someone else’s life, you need to do so. You may be the hope they have been praying for. If the Holy Spirit is compelling you to bring someone out of the darkness, you must obey. You may be the only person that can help. Obey the leadings of the Holy Spirit. Don’t think that it is none of your business. God calls us to fight for justice, and fight the oppression when we see it around us. Don’t think that there isn’t anything you can do. Even prayer moves mountains.

We are living in a time of oppression, injustice and evil and we need to fight it where we can. We need to be that light in our communities, our cities, our nation. Don’t leave it up to someone else. Do something! Even if it’s something small, do something. We can never go wrong if we follow the leading of God’s Spirit.

I love these words from Marvelous Light, sung by Ellie Holcomb:

There’s no place I would rather be

Your light is Marvelous

Your light is Marvelous

You have come to set us free

You are Marvelous

Your light is Marvelous

So I walked out of the darkness and into the light.

From fear of shame into the hope of life.

Mercy called my name and made a way to fly.

Out of the darkness and into the light.

Walk out of the darkness, my friend. Our heavenly Father is calling your name and He loves you. He wants to erase the shame of the past and pour His light into your life. Won’t you let Him?

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commited

2 Timothy 3:12

In fact, everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,

Christians who are blessed enough to live in the United States are lucky. We don’t know what true persecution is. For the majority of us, we have never had to answer the question, “Do you believe in God?” knowing the answer could mean our death. We have become lazy in our faith.

My daughter, Cree, just started college and has become part of a Christian fraternity called, Chi Alpha. She met a young Egyptian man who has been beaten for his faith. He is 20 years old and has been in the U.S. for 3 years now. In Egypt, he was beaten because of his faith. Even at his young age, he was not ashamed to say Yes, when faced with the ultimate question, “Do you believe in God?” I had to admit to my daughter, that I am not sure how I would answer that life or death question. I would like to think I would say, yes, with complete faith in Jesus, but honestly, I don’t know. I think if we are honest, most of American Christians do not know how they would answer that question, if it meant they would be beaten and killed. We have become lazy in our faith. Now, before you get fired up with righteous indignation, I am as lazy in my faith as the next American Christian. I try, but then I get busy, distracted, and tired. These are my excuses. Completely lame and when it comes to following Jesus, no excuse is a good excuse for being lazy in our faith.

When I think of our Christian brothers and sisters in China, India, the Middle East and other countries where Christians are persecuted, I feel guilty for my laziness and my lack of passion for all that Jesus has done for me. Jesus made the ultimate sacrifice! He gave His life, so that we can have eternal life with God. He died, so we may live. I feel ashamed that I have not been willing to make any sacrifices for the one who gave His life for me.

There are 4 important lessons that we can learn from these persecuted Christians:

  1. Hunger– They have a true hunger for the Word of God. Some of them do not even have access to full Bibles, but tuck away the bits and pieces of scripture they have to encourage themselves and others. They memorize the scripture that they have access to and truly hide the Word in their hearts. They know that having a Bible or having anything with scripture written on it could cost them their lives, so they hide the Word of God in their hearts. American Christians have access to Bibles, Christian bookstores, Online Bible commentaries, etc. With all of our access to the Scriptures, most of us never crack open our Bibles, except on Sunday mornings. Sometimes, not even then, because the sermon scripture is usually shown on the big screen at the front of the church. We listen to the sermon and never give it a second thought as we go about our weekly duties. We never memorize scripture. We think that as long as we dedicate one day a week to God, that should be enough to get us into Heaven, right? Think again.
  2. Prayer– They pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The Bible tells us pray continually, but here in America, we usually only pray when we need something or times are tough. We very rarely pray when things are going well. Prayers of thanksgiving and praise are few and far between. Our persecuted brothers and sisters pray continually. Not only do they pray continually, the majority of their prayers are prayers of thanksgiving and praise! They give thanks in their suffering! They lift their voices in praise for their trials! As we, Americans Christians, sit here and wallow in our misery, wondering why God doesn’t work on our behalf.
  3. Sacrifice– They sacrifice their safety and well-being to meet together, read the Bible, and even talk about the Gospel. They know what true sacrifice means. They know that if they are caught meeting together, possessing a Bible, or talking about the Gospel they could be beaten, imprisoned, or killed. In America, we are blessed with the freedom to worship as we wish. Reading the Bible in public will not cost us our lives. Meeting together will not cause us to be imprisoned. Sharing the Gospel will not result in us being beaten. We sacrifice very little to follow Jesus. Even in tithing, we figure out our bills and then see how much we have left to give back to God. Our persecuted brothers and sisters give out of their poverty, trusting that God will provide their needs.
  4. Unified– They are unified in their faith. They come together in unity as the ONE Church of Jesus Christ. In America, we are all divided by man made denominations. We allow ourselves to be separated by denominational lines. Each denomination thinks that they are “right”, even though, each denomination interprets scripture to suit their own beliefs. We need to let go of our denominational ties and worship God as ONE Church.

I am challenging Christians in America to WAKE UP! We never know when we may be asked that one question that could cost us our lives. What will your answer be, if challenged by the question, “Do you believe in God?” Will you fearfully answer no, or will you say YES, trusting God for the outcome?

Psalm 86:11-13

11 Teach me your way, Lord,
    that I may rely on your faithfulness;
give me an undivided heart,
    that I may fear your name.
12 I will praise you, Lord my God, with all my heart;
    I will glorify your name forever.
13 For great is your love toward me;
    you have delivered me from the depths,
    from the realm of the dead.

This is my prayer. Let it be yours, also.

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thorn in the flesh

2 Corinthians 12:7-10

or because of these surpassingly great revelations. Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. 8 Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. 9 But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. 10 That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

No one really knows what the thorn in Paul’s flesh was. It doesn’t really matter what it was. What we do know is that, it was a messenger from Satan, sent to torment him and keep him from becoming conceited. God refused to remove the the thorn in Paul’s flesh. I have wondered if Paul had an arrogant personality and God used this thorn to remind him of who was in control.

Poverty has been the thorn in my side for 22 years now. I have prayed for God to pour out financial blessings on me and my children, but He does not. That isn’t to say that He doesn’t provide. He absolutely does provide! Vehicles break down, but I get to work and the kids get to where they need to be. We have a roof over our heads and food on the table. It is hard to struggle paycheck to paycheck, but I know that my survival completely depends on God. I understand that God wants me to experience true Holy Spirit given joy in my life regardless of how much money I have in my bank account. God wants me to look to Him for fulfillment and not material possessions. God wants me to trust Him to provide for my needs instead of trying to provide for myself without Him. Only in depending on Jehovah Jireh alone does my relationship with Him grow in intimacy. Only in trusting God alone is my relationship with Him taken to the next level. It is not always easy and there are times when I want to scream at the unfairness of it all. Why should millions of people have to suffer in poverty when there are many many people who hoard their wealth, refusing to share with those in need. I will admit that even after 22 years I am still learning to be content with my circumstances. I am a work in progress!

What is the thorn in your flesh? Have you cried out to God to remove it? What is the lesson that God might be wanting to teach you by not removing it? Will you allow God to work in your heart and draw you closer to Him?

In a journal or other safe place I urge you to have a conversation with God and open your heart to what God is trying to show you. Let it all out. Don’t be afraid to open up your heart to God. He can handle it. God has not placed this thorn in your flesh to punish you, but to mold you and to draw you closer to Him. Stop fighting it and find out what it is God wants you to know.

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