Perfect Peace

Perfect Peace

Raise your hand if you would like to experience God’s perfect peace.

Isaiah 26:3 tells us that God gives perfect peace to those who “keep their purpose firm,” and “put their trust in Him.” In addition to perfect, the Bible also describes His peace as transcending all understanding in Philippians 4:7.

God’s peace sounds like something worth pursuing, doesn’t it? Continue reading “Perfect Peace”

A Different Miracle

A Different Miracle

“A Different Miracle,” is a song I wrote in honor of my niece, Rachel, and her family. Rachel, her husband, Shawn, and their three beautiful daughters live in Kansas. Amelia is 4, Laurel will be 3 in July, and Caroline is one-and-a-half. To say that their household is busy is an understatement. To say it is entertaining and that they could be one of the most highly-watched reality TV programs (based on personal experience and Facebook videos) is also an understatement. 😂

Before Laurel (Lolo) was born, Rachel and Shawn were made aware of potential challenges she would be born with. The range and extent of the struggles she will continue to endure is a mystery, but they, as a family, face them head-on and are grateful for every moment they get to experience with her. As Rachel says, “we’re so happy watching her enjoy life and love her sisters.” Rachel and Shawn are without a doubt her greatest cheerleaders, advocates, nurturers, and protectors, and all who know them are inspired by them.

This song, “A Different Miracle,” came about because of a conversation I had with my sister, Vicki, Rachel’s mom. We were talking about prayer for a miracle of healing in regard to Lolo’s situation. I remember we discussed the fact that there ARE miracles happening; not the miracle of healing that many of us have asked for…BUT…God’s presence has been felt and seen in miraculous ways…  Continue reading “A Different Miracle”

When Expectations in Marriage Take Over

This is an “In case you missed it” post that I would like to share with you. Last month, I had the honor of being a guest contributor on AWifeLikeMe.com where it originally appeared: Link to original post     (***I would love hearing your feedback on this…this was a tough topic to share about.)

 

When I was twenty, the future I dreamed of included a loving husband and four kids. By the time I was twenty-nine, my husband and I excitedly welcomed our fourth child into our home, and we were living that dream life.

 

However, in my early thirties, my feelings and my reality were not in sync. Looking back, I can safely say I was in the midst of a mild depression. The blessings in my life were somehow not enough, and I felt something was missing. I began to look for and expect that missing piece to be found in my husband.

 

One memorable morning, my husband and I sat on the edge of our bed. Tears streamed down my face as I once again expressed that I was struggling with nearly constant sadness. I will never forget the defeated look in his eyes.

 

Numerous times before that day, he had lovingly pointed out the positives, embraced me, and prayed both for me and with me. But on this particular day,  when my tear-filled eyes locked with his, I realized he was weary and out of ideas about how to satisfy an unfair expectation I had unintentionally placed on his shoulders. Somewhere along the way, I had started looking to my husband to be the solution to my feelings of emptiness.

 

Confiding in my husband about my lack of joy was part of the covenant of marriage, but looking to him to be the solution was not contained in the vows we made to each other back in 1992.

 

Like the line from the movie, “Jerry Maguire,” I was looking to my husband to complete me. In this famous scene, when Tom Cruise’s character declares to Renee Zellweger’s character that she completes him, many viewers see it as the ultimate romantic gesture.

 

But in real life, it is an extraordinary amount of pressure to thrust upon anyone; especially someone we deeply, dearly love. Not only this, it is unfair to ask a person to be for us what God can only be. But here I was, seeking to find in my husband a fix for my empty.

 

I wish I would’ve known that as a wife, looking to my husband for my source of purpose, joy, or identity would only bring disappointment and frustration. And in my case, a low-level depression.

 

Friends, we have a promise-keeping God, and one of His promises is that we can indeed possess complete joy.  God’s Word assures us that our journey to complete joy starts by remaining in an obedient, loving relationship with Jesus.

 

John 15:9-11 (NIV) says, “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.”

 

God goes above and beyond, because a different version of the bible (the NLT) reads, “our joy will overflow.”

 

Let us never burden our husbands with the impossible task of completing us. How wonderful it is that God truly wants us to look to Him to do that. Let us rejoice that He is willing to fill us to overflowing!

 

This truth is freeing and life-giving. God has what your heart longs for. Turn to Him, and see your heart come alive.

 

A note for anyone struggling with depression: the church has historically not been an advocate for mental health. We do not want you to read this and think there must be something wrong with you, because you are looking to God for joy, but still not experiencing it. Please know that sometimes, like in my case, my feelings (of low-level depression) were due to my misplaced source of joy. But for you, it may be due to a chemical or hormonal imbalance, or due to a traumatic brain injury, which may possibly require medication. If you believe you may be suffering from depression, we encourage you to seek the care of a professional to help you seek the Lord in navigating your own unique journey of healing.

 

Wife Step: Spend five minutes alone with God, sharing your heart with Him. Tell Him how you desire new joy in your heart and in your life. Bare your soul to Him and tell God how you’re struggling with your expectations of your husband. He wants to hear, and He wants to fill you with His presence and joy.

 

Prayers For Your Husband

Prayers For Your Husband

How would you feel if you knew your spouse was praying for you and your relationship with Jesus?

I would venture to say that praying for our spouse is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen our marriage. I want to encourage you to begin or continue (whichever the case may be) taking time each day to pray for your spouse or significant other.

(Praying together is also a faith-building, relationship-strengthening activity in marriage and there will be an upcoming blog post about that!)

I would like to share three prayers based on the book of James chapter 1:2-6

Scroll down for a printable that includes these prayers!

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, James 1:2

Dear Lord, when challenges occur in my husband’s life, help him to be steadfast in prayer. Place in him a firm belief that You will see him through. As his faith in You grows, may it encourage all who see it displayed in his life. Lord, may the joy that comes from being Your child increase not only when You bring him through trials, but also in the midst of those trials. Give him the ability to see beauty in unexpected places as You redeem difficult situations in the glorious ways that only You can. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:3-4

Dear Lord, I pray it will become a natural tendency for my husband to persevere when he faces tests of his faith. May he be known as a man of unshakeable perseverance, and may that impact our family for generations to come. Lord, help him to be grateful that his relationship with You will be strengthened as a result of persevering through adversity. Show me the best way to be supportive and loving toward him when he is facing tests in his life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. James 1:5-6

Dear Lord, I ask You to give my husband the desire to seek and boldly ask for Your wisdom. Reassure him that You will generously provide Your wisdom and that You will show him how to apply it in his life. Lord, please remove doubt from my husband’s mind and replace it with strong faith in Your Word and Your way.  Help him to be a man who listens intently for Your voice and has confidence in every word He hears from You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

***Click here for a PDF with these prayers. You can download them or print them out. Tape them to your mirror or use as a bookmark, etc.!

***There are 6 more prayers from James chapter 1 that I will be sharing with you in the next few days…be watching for them!

Luke 8:47 – The Hem of His Garment

Luke 8:47 – The Hem of His Garment

I greatly admire her fortitude, fearlessness and faith. Fortitude helped her withstand twelve long years without healing. Fearlessness compelled her to go to a place where she was not supposed to be. Faith thoroughly convinced her that touching Him would bring healing.

*This post originally appeared on Devotableapp.com on May 9th, 2019

She came up behind him and touched the hem of his clothes, and at once her bleeding stopped. Luke 8:47 CEB

The Bleeding Woman

I love reading about miracles Jesus performed during His ministry on Earth. In the books of Matthew, Mark, and Luke, in between the accounts of Him freeing a demon-possessed man and raising a twelve-year-old girl back to life, we can find the story of Him healing a woman with an “issue of blood.”  And wow, what an issue it was! She endured twelve years of physical pain, being ostracized, and unsuccessfully seeking healing from countless doctors.

Hopeless, helpless and hurting.

I have tried to imagine what my mindset and emotional state would be after a dozen straight years of suffering physically, being rejected socially, and receiving no relief from numerous doctors as they bled my bank account dry. I do not think I would have the strength that she showed when she sought healing from Jesus by pressing into a crowd of people who had likely been unkind and uncaring toward her.

I greatly admire her fortitude, fearlessness and faith. Fortitude helped her withstand twelve long years without healing. Fearlessness compelled her to go to a place where she was not supposed to be. Faith thoroughly convinced her that touching Him would bring healing.

All three of the Gospel accounts record the facts that she touched the hem of His garment, she was instantly healed, and that Jesus told her that her faith had made her well. 

Why Did Jesus Ask, “Who Touched Me?”

Two of the three Gospels include another intriguing detail: When Jesus felt power leave His body, He asked, “Who touched me?”  Of course, He knew who touched Him; He knew everything! Why did He ask that question aloud and await a verbal response? 

Jesus could have continued on His journey, and He and the woman could have kept a special secret between them. He had places to go and people to heal. However, He took the time to ask the question. 

When she responded, the crowd witnessed the fact that Jesus desired to bring wholeness to a desperate woman. They saw that she mattered to Him. Her importance to Jesus superseded His schedule and social norms. 

You Matter to Jesus

You matter to Jesus too. Has anyone told you that lately? 

Regardless of what you are going through, you matter to Jesus. Regardless of which road to restoration you are currently traveling, you matter to Jesus. Regardless of how friends and society treat you, you matter to Jesus. 

You have a Healer who loves you. 

A Great Physician who wants you to be whole. 

You matter.

Muster up your fortitude, fearlessness, and faith. Reach out and touch Him today. 

Prayer – Thank You, Jesus, for who You are. Thank You for loving us and for Your desire to bring healing and make us whole. Help us have the faith it takes to reach out to You. Amen.

 

 

Masterpiece in the Making

Masterpiece in the Making

When I rest my head on my pillow at night, it is fairly common for me to categorize the previous twenty-four hours as successful or unsuccessful. 

When I consider the day to be unsuccessful,  often it is because I reacted poorly to someone or I left a loving deed undone.

For years, a judgmental voice beat me up over my failures after a rough day. Thankfully, it has recently become more common for that voice to be silenced by a gentle whisper, which soothingly says, “being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” 

Friends, you are a work in progress and so am I. It is reassuring to remember that God is not finished with me yet, especially when I have been a below-average follower of the Golden Rule.

In Ephesians 2:10, (NLT) we are called God’s masterpiece. “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”

We can leave the weight of our sins in the past when we choose to move forward with God as we allow Him to do His work in us. We can be confident that He considers each of us to be masterpieces even while we are in the “work-in-progress” process.

The work-in-progress message of Philippians 1:6 is one for us to embrace as we strive to live faith-filled, Christlike lives. But let us be cautious not to allow the fact that God is not finished with us yet to be an excuse to knowingly fall short of striving to be who Jesus has called us to be. 

In between beating ourselves up for our sins and sweeping every offense under a blanket of “Nobody is perfect” grace, there is a line. It is an important line where Christ shows us how to display His character in every situation. A line where we endeavor to stand against the excuses that the world gives us and lean on the promise that God gives us instead: We are a work in progress…a masterpiece in the making!

At the end of those rough days that are undoubtedly going to happen, listen to the whisper that says, “He who began a good work in you…considers you to be His masterpiece!”

3 Ways to Let Our Little Light Shine

3 Ways to Let Our Little Light Shine

Psalm 147:4 (CEB)“God counts the stars by number, giving each one a name.”

When we gaze into the heavens on a clear night, we see a sky full of glimmering, light-giving stars created by God. In Psalm 147, it says He knows precisely how many stars there are and that He has given each one a name. The attention He has paid to the stars reminds us as His prized possession, how valued and precious we are to Him.

Just as God has perfectly designed the stars to light up a darkened sky, He has given each of us the responsibility to shine His life-giving light in the darkness. Matthew 5:16 says, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.”

A catchy song that has been around for many years prompts us to let our little light shine. Within the lyrics of that traditional, well-loved melody are three lessons that we can learn from stars about shining our light.

  1. “This little light of mine, I’m gonna let it shine.” Take responsibility for your God-given task. 

Stars do not have to be continuously told how much, where, or when to shine because shining is what stars naturally do. Likewise, in Matthew 5:14-16, we are told that we are the light of the world and to shine before people, “so they can see the good things you do and praise your Father who is in heaven.” For example, loving those who are labeled as unlovable, forgiving the unforgivable, and radiating Christlike joy even in the middle of tragic life experiences are ways to reflect the radiance of our Heavenly Father and show this world how amazing He is. When our love for God compels us to love others the way He wants us to, this world gets the opportunity to see Him in us and be changed by Him.

  1. “Hide it under a bushel, no, I’m gonna let it shine!” Shine whether we are in the forefront or the background.

Stars do not stop shining if the surrounding stars emit a brighter light. They continue to shine from wherever their position is in the heavens. When we compare what we perceive as our light’s impact to someone else’s impact and become discouraged, we hinder God’s plan. He is a Master Designer, and His design includes us using the unique gifts He granted us to bring Him glory. Comparing our shine to others is a waste of time since God purposely bestowed different personalities and talents upon each one of us. He created all of us differently so that when we are shining our unique light, the result displays His brilliance. 

  1. “Don’t let Satan blow it out. I’m gonna let it shine!” Shine even when others ignore, reject, or complain about the light.

How brightly stars shine is not dependent on the reaction of people who view them. If the light they radiate is not noticed or appreciated, stars keep right on shining. Speaking from experience, being unnoticed or unappreciated can produce an, “I give up. What is the use of even trying?” attitude. To continue trying to live a Christ-filled life when it seems like we are having no impact or even a negative impact on others can be difficult. But when we are focused on the reaction of people rather than the reward of an obedient life, we are missing what truly matters. We might even decide to allow our light to be blown out and therefore give Satan the satisfaction of succeeding in his mission. However, if we shift our focus back to God’s opinion of us rather than the world’s and pray for inspiration to continue shining, I believe we will stay motivated to let our light keep right on shining. 

The next time we look into the heavens and marvel at the twinkling stars that God created, may we allow them to inspire us to persevere in letting our little light shine. “Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!”