God’s Guaranteed Grace

MEME - Hebrews 4 v 16 - Dec 4, 2018My heart ached as I recalled a friend saying, “I know my pain isn’t as bad as yours, but would you please pray for me?”

I grieved when I remembered the various apologies and fear-filled prayer requests.

 I’m so sorry to bother you with this prayer request.

 I know others are worse off than I am, but do you think God will help me?

 Is it okay to ask God for help when so many others are hurting around me?

 Is my request too small, too personal, too self-centered to bring to God?

How many precious children of God fear or avoid asking for intercessory prayer because they feel their needs are not as important as someone else’s?

How many beloved brothers and sisters in Christ keep quiet, ashamed of wanting to ask for their needs to be met because their neighbors’ problems seem bigger, more severe?

God cares about every single detail of our lives.

Our compassionate Creator wants us to come to Him, whether we’re suffering from illness, trudging through seasons of grief, or battling discouragement, fear, insecurities, or doubt.

How often have I been afraid to be accused of whining before God’s throne of grace instead of being confident in God’s amazing grace?

What would it take for me to be assured of God’s limitless love, perfect faithfulness, and immeasurable mercy?

Would the Lord care if I’m weary when someone else is fighting for their lives?

Yes.

Would He care if I’m discouraged when someone’s family is falling apart?

Yes.

Would God care if I need courage to work towards a dream when someone’s struggling to make ends meet?

Yes.

The Lord doesn’t minimize or neglect any of His children.

He doesn’t compare us to one another, because He knows He created us as unique individuals.

He orchestrated every twist and turn, every mountain-top moment and every step through the dry and lush valleys.

MEME - Quote - God's Guaranteed Grace - Dec 4, 2018Our Wise Counselor, our Good Shepherd, our Mighty God is prepared to equip and encourage us through the paths He’s planned for us.

He uses His unchanging Word to arm us with courageous and persevering faith.

“For the Word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” (Hebrews 4:12)

God changes us as He challenges us when we walk with Him daily.

He purifies our hearts and minds and motives, aligning our thoughts and adjusting our longings until we mirror Him, by the power of His beautiful grace.

We can’t trick our Father, pretending we’re mature just because we’re good at looking polished and presentable.

He knows when we’re broken, when we can barely breathe.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.” (Hebrews 4:13)

He knows about our sins, our selfish thoughts, our self-centered jealousy.

He knows about our wants, even when we’re afraid to admit them.

He knows about our struggles, even when we’re drowning in denial.

He knows about our joys and our pains, our hopes, our dreams, and our greatest fears.

Because Jesus is the great High Priest, who has ascended into heaven, we can hold unswervingly–without fear, without hesitation, without a single doubt–to the hope we profess (v. 14).

Our mighty Lord understands everything we’re going through, as He showers us with compassion and magnifies His loving perfection and limitless power in the midst of our weaknesses (v. 15).

With these truths anchoring our faith to His promises, we can trust Him, surrender to Him, walk with Him, and embrace the freedom of His forgiveness when we repent and turn away from our sins.

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

When we need rescue, relief, or rest, God cares.

When we need encouragement, God cares.

When we need a miracle, God cares.

In our personal time of need, God cares enough to promise us that He’s approachable and abundant in grace.

God’s plentiful love for us gives us the confidence we need to come before Him with our needs, to pray for others and for ourselves as an act of worship and a brave display of our trust in our Savior.

—–

Thanks for assuring us that You are our Great Physician, our generous Provider, our gallant and good Shepherd, our Almighty King.

Thanks for never comparing our circumstances to the circumstances of others, Lord, for never minimizing our feelings, for never belittling us for struggling.

Thanks for reminding us that You care equally about every little detail of our day-to-day living and every overwhelming burden that weighs heavy on our minds.

Good Father, please give us courage to come to You for all things. Help us know You’re not randomly picking or choosing one concern over another.

Empower us to trust Your timing and Your plans are perfect in every way.

Please help us rely on Your ability to love without limits, to extend immeasurable grace without running low, and to be fully present and caring with each of us without neglecting any of us.

 Thank You, Lord Almighty, for the privilege of loving You as we learn to accept the unconditional life-changing love You have for each of us.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

—–

Have you ever been hesitant to bring your prayers to God when you compare your requests with the requests of others?

How does knowing God never compares us with others increase your gratitude for His loving care, your courage in prayer, and your depth of faith?

—–

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Hope is Worth the Risk

MEME - Colossians 3 v 2 - Nov 23, 2018Hope can hurt.

I learned that lesson firsthand this week when I started physical therapy in hopes to strengthen my core and back muscles while waiting for another nerve ablation.

I realized just how weak my upper body is when my therapist, Marea, introduced the first steps toward my slow healing process.

 

But in that weakness, I also discovered a strength I had no idea still existed.

Surprisingly, my muscle memory was still intact . . . somewhere deep under my extra layers of not-muscle.

Marea called me strong.

Her affirming words encouraged me to believe in the glimmer of hope that my strength could be renewed after over twenty years of debilitating pain and over compensation, which damaged other areas surrounding the original injury. After giving me a few exercises to work on at home, she reminded me that the healing process would be slow.

So, I decided to accept her help, expect the inevitable setbacks, and embrace the pace required to build up what had been destroyed.

Still, when my secret cravings for instant-gratification were denied, I struggled with discouragement.

I fought frustration when my progress didn’t go as quickly as I’d hoped. I expected slow . . . but not too slow.

I wrestled despair when it hurt to hope, when it ached my heart to endure another delay, when I began to doubt. What if physical therapy didn’t work? What if nothing worked?

For years, I’d tried to protect my back from further injury and lived a hindered-life. My hurting body affected my relationships. And as I began to draw nearer to Christ, I sorrowfully admitted my relationships were damaged by my wounded spirit, too.

I approached my physical healing the same way I often approach emotional or mental healing from hurtful words, from grief, from betrayal . . . the list goes on.

I wanted to stop hurting, to get over it, to feel stronger, to be healed . . . immediately.

Impatience nudged me toward discouragement, which threatened to drown me in despair.

Past pain drove my decision-making process.

Fear of pain, disappointment, and failure kept me from risking my hopes being dashed and tempted me to avoid the much-needed work that would strengthen me.

I needed God’s help and the support of others, as I accepted that healing would take time and hoping could hurt when facing setbacks.

The process wouldn’t be easy. The fix wouldn’t be quick . . . but the rewards are worthwhile now and in eternity.

If I was going to persevere, I needed to place my hope in something bigger than physical, emotional, or mental healing.

When the apostle Paul was in a Roman prison waiting for his trial before Caesar, he wrote to the “faithful brothers and sisters in Christ” in Colossae:

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1-4, emphasis mine)

Because we have the power of Christ in us, we no longer have to live a hindered-life limited by our weak spots.

True life, the only unhindered life, is “hidden with Christ in God” (v. 3). Our weakness withered away when the Lord washed away our sins by giving His life for us (vv. 5-6). When He rose again, He empowered us to thrive in freedom, no matter what our circumstances.

Jesus holds the answers we need, the peace we long for, the hope we desperately seek. When He appears again, we will be with Him in glory. Our hope is wrapped in assurance, in the promise that fuels the persevering faith we’ll need if we’re going to walk away from the life we lived before Jesus (vv. 7-8).

As we ask God to help us nurture healthy relationships with Him and others, He frees us from our old ways of thinking.

We can grow stronger as we’re immersed in our “knowledge” of the Creator of our “new self,” our no-longer-self-centered self, our no-longer-alone self, our no-longer-controlled-by pain-or-fear self (vv. 9-11).

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved,” we’re no longer controlled or limited by how we feel physically, emotionally, or mentally.

This doesn’t mean our feelings aren’t valid. The Lord never minimizes our feelings. He only affirms we don’t need to allow feelings to drive our actions or determine how we interact with others.

We can choose to be kind to others, forgive others, and love others (vv. 12-14), even when they don’t choose to be kind, forgive, or love us.

We can live at peace with others and at peace with ourselves, be thankful and content . . . no matter what our circumstances (v. 15).

We can nurture heart-deep joy as we encourage one another and intercede for others as we point each other to Jesus (v. 16).

“And whatever [we] do, whether in word or deed,” we can “do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him” (v. 17).

As we focus on things above, seeing beyond ourselves, we can recognize how small our biggest mountains are in comparison to the bigness of God.

We can begin to understand how we’re all connected, how every one of us makes a difference in the lives of others, how our trials can actually be used for good as God grows us spiritually and uses us for His glory.

We can sharpen our Kingdom Vision and learn to trust He’s working in and through all things for the good of all who love Him . . . not just us, but all people . . . even those we don’t know, agree with, or understand.

And as we surrender each moment of our slow-as-He-determines healing journey to our loving Father, we can risk hoping in Jesus‒who is and always will be our eternal hope.

Lord, thanks for reminding us that You are our only true hope, so we can never truly lose hope. Please fuel us with the peace of Your enduring love. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

How can placing our hope in Christ, who is unchanging and faithful and just, help us when our current situations feel hopeless?

 In what situation have you been afraid to hope or hope again?

 Who has God used to encourage you to hope again?

—–

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Announcing the Winners of the God Hears Her Book Giveaway

God Hears Her with Swag pic for giveawayI thank the Lord for each and every one of the amazing members of my blog family. Yes, that means you!

Thanks for subscribing to my blog, for showering me with God’s love wrapped in kind words of encouragement, and for joining me as we dig deeper into His Word and draw closer to His heart. Thanks for being radiant lights for Christ in my life and for allowing me to encourage you by sharing what the Lord teaches me in my day-to-day walk with Him.

Today was a great day, as I rejoiced in another unexpected and exciting ministry opportunity. God is working on the details. I can hardly wait to share more as He reveals His perfect will in His perfect timing during this day-by-day adventure.

Today was also a rough day, as I struggled with pain management and the frustration of caring for our 15-year-old senior dog battling arthritis and losing her “housetrained” status.

Isn’t the Lord so wonderful, as He gently reminds us that each day is filled with reasons to worship Him, surrender to Him, and rely on Him?

He gives us countless opportunities to trust Him and welcomes us to cry out to Him in prayer and praise Him with reckless abandon.

What a blessing it is to know that God is keenly aware of our weaknesses. He understands when we get frustrated.

God . . . gets . . . us.

Our patient Lord isn’t surprised or disappointed when we fall short or fall flat on our faces.

Our loving Father simply remains constant and true to His Word, fully prepared to wrap us in mercy as He loves us unconditionally.

Our Almighty Maker and Sustainer refreshes our spirits and strengthens us with compassion that exceeds all expectations.

Our Good Shepherd extends grace freely and consistently, waiting for us to realize we can count on Him time and time again.

Our faithful Redeemer and Restorer gave me so many reasons to shout praises of joy today. So, why did I focus on shaming myself every time I got upset because I was stumbling again, struggling again, and failing again?

As I grumbled my way through another fumble, after losing my cool when my faithful old dog made life a bit more inconvenient, I prayed.

That’s when I realized the time had slipped away from me. I was late in choosing the winners of the books I was scheduled to give away on my blog.

Just as I started with the self-inflicted forehead-slapping guilt trips, our gracious and generous Father overwhelmed me with His all-encompassing grace and a healthy serving of gratitude.

I thanked Him, in awe of how His love flowed through your beautiful souls as I read your comments.

God’s grace was more than sufficient . . . again. His power was made perfect in my weaknesses . . . again. And His perfect peace, His eternal hope, and His endless joy prevailed . . . again and again and again.

Hallelujah!

I’m excited to see what the Lord has in store for us as we continue nurturing our relationships with Him and others.

The responses to this post blessed my heart beyond measure. So, I decided to give away an extra copy of God Hears Her with that sweet swag.

I am pleased to announce our three winners and am already looking forward to planning another book giveaway.

Today’s winners are Judy Picton, Jana Engelmann, and Patricia Kohn.

Congratulations!

Please email your complete mailing addresses to Xochi@xedixon.com at your earliest convenience.

Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement.

I hope you’ll return to join me in praising our Almighty Lord and Savior, as we seek Him in His Holy Word and rest in the peace of His constant presence.

Thanks again for all of your support and encouragement. It is my pleasure and privilege to serve You as we grow in love for Him and others.

—–

Lord, we’re so grateful for Your everlasting love. Thanks for affirming that You hear our heart cries, even before we can manage to whimper or utter an incoherent word.

Thanks for assuring us that You’re already ahead of the game, already prepared for the unexpected twists and turns that will often punch us in the gut and bring us to our knees.

Thanks for confirming You are delighting us, rejoicing with us, and working in and through us, sweet Savior.

Make our praise genuine and infectious as You make Your name glorious!

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

“Keep me safe, my God, for in You I take refuge. I say to the LORD, ‘You are my Lord; apart from You I have no good thing.'” (Psalm 16:1-2, NIV)

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God Hears Her - Discovery House - 2017 - Book CoverYou can purchase more copies of God Hears Her on the Discovery House Publishers website. This beautiful Our Daily Bread 365-Day Devotional includes devotions written by my fellow ODBM sisters in Christ. I’m grateful that eleven of my devotions are included in this book, which is the perfect size for a stocking stuffer and a lovely just-because gift. Thanks for supporting Our Daily Bread Ministries.

—–

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God is Moving in the Wait (And a Book Giveaway, too!)

MEME - Lamentations 3 vv 21-24 - Nov 11 2018During the last three months of blogging-silence, life has been anything but quiet. My husband and I followed God from California to Wisconsin . . . yep . . . Wisconsin.

As native Californians, we should have been freaking out when Alan received the job offer in July.

But we’d been praying for years, waiting for God to show us the next step He wanted us to take after Alan graduated. We anticipated a move, but never imagined the Lord would provide my husband with a job he never applied for . . . at a university we’d never heard of . . . in a little midwestern town we never knew existed.

Well, God did all of those things.

Filled with an unexplainable peace, we packed with the help of our two grown sons and said goodbye to friends and family in less than a month.

20181109_132527The Lord provided a home with a fenced yard, an oh-so-rare amenity in our area but perfect for our senior dog, Jazzy (pictured here), and the new pup we adopted the day after I arrived in Wisconsin, Callie (see photo below).

We waited for blessings upon blessings to flow after such a big step of obedience.

A few days after our move-in date, nine tornados touched down in our new small-town.

For the first two months of our Wisconsin life, the Lord gave us plenty of opportunities to get used to midwestern thunderstorms. While He spared our home from flooding (Thank You, Lord!), a few of our neighbors didn’t fare so well.

The torrential rains transformed the creek next to our yard into a river and, for the first few months of our residency, Wisconsin experienced the worst infestation of mosquitos in over a decade.

During this life-altering adventure, my chronic pain has been constant and often difficult to manage. My husband is still recovering from his back surgery, so his pain levels often cause complications. We’re still living in totes and, after our first snow-day on Thursday, realizing California-Winter clothes are not Wisconsin-Winter clothes.

This move has challenged us physically, emotionally, mentally, and even spiritually.

But every time frustration bubbles up, every time we begin to wonder if we heard the Lord’s direction correctly, He reminds us He’s moving in the wait.

20181109_102543The Lord blessed us with Wisconsin friends who welcomed us before we even stepped over the threshold of our new home. My husband loves his new job and his colleagues. I’m grateful for the great team of doctors who are working to help me begin to manage my pain again. We can’t thank God enough for our fabulous veterinarian, who happens to be an Our Daily Bread reader with a staff that loves both of our doggy-daughters.

So, we’re at peace as we adjust to Wisconsin Life.

We’re waiting expectantly for the Lord’s purpose to prevail as He works in and through our new experiences and helps me finish my book.

What book?

Waiting for God: Trusting Daily in God’s Plan and Pace will be published by Discovery House Publishers in the fall of 2019.

To God be the glory, the honor, and the praise . . . praise . . . praise!

Though we’ve faced many obstacles, our heavenly Father has been faithful and good through every moment of our transition.

As we face changes or delays in life, we’ll encounter tough times. We’ll grow weary, grieve great losses, suffer from afflictions, and maybe even battle bitterness in the wait. But we can count on God to be with us and for us . . . no matter what’s behind us or ahead of us.

In Lamentations, traditionally ascribed to the prophet Jeremiah, the writer admits his bitterness over past afflictions, confesses his wandering ways and recalls his disheartenment, but calls to mind the countless reasons for his hope (Lamentations 3:19-20).

Whether we’re moving into new territories or stuck at a stand-still during the seemingly endless waiting seasons in life, God’s love will strengthen our resolve.

His compassions never fail . . . never. When we feel we have nothing left to give, the Lord’s mercy revives us. (vv. 21-24)

“The LORD is good to those whose hope is in Him, to the one who seeks Him; it is good to wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD” (vv. 25-26).

God’s loving care isn’t dependent on our feelings of worthiness or our check-list of good deeds. He remains faithful because He is God in all His perfection and goodness.

When we’re right smack-dab in the middle of a waiting season battling trials left and right, we may begin to question ourselves. Did we hear God correctly?

We may feel misguided or cast aside, but we can be sure that we are far from forgotten.

“For no one is cast off by the Lord forever. Though He brings grief, He will show compassion, so great is His unfailing love. For He does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone” (vv. 31-33).

We don’t need to fear change or hesitate when God calls us to move toward the unknown. Our loving Master goes before us, remains with us, and stays true to His word.

Lord, thanks for assuring us that You will never lead us in the wrong direction. Give us wisdom and discernment as we seek You and courageous faith as we follow You. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

—-

Why is it tempting to fear change or hesitate when God calls you to move toward the unknown?

 In what situation did the Lord seem silent, but later proved to be moving in the wait?

BOOK GIVEAWAY:

God Hears Her with Swag pic for giveawayAs I prepare for the Fall 2019 release of Waiting for God, I’m giving away a copy of God Hears Her, an Our Daily Bread 365-day devotional that includes eleven of my devotions.

You can purchase copies of God Hears Her, along with some sweet swag, on the Discovery House Publishers website today!

To enter for your chance to win a copy of God Hears Her with this beautiful swag (a notepad and pen), please comment below. (Winner will be announced at 8 p.m. (PST) on Thursday, November 15, 2018, and must live in the United States.)                                                                                                                                                         —–

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How to Overflow with Hope in the Meantime

MEME - Romans 15 v 13 - Photo by Deb Garland -Aug 8, 2018

This year has been as memorable and filled with answered prayers as it has been quick in passing. For the last few months, God’s been doing a bit of refining work in the lives of my family members.

We’re all dealing with different challenges but, by the Lord’s insurmountable grace, not one of those situations has knocked us out or kept us down. Hallelujah!

The trials have brought us closer to God and one another in ways I never dreamed possible.

Perfectly? Not a chance. Personalities don’t always mesh well within families. Hopeful? Absolutely. God’s note even close to being done refining us through these fires.

When we come up against seemingly endless journeys filled with impossible obstacles, it’s often tempting to misunderstand the purpose of the wait.

Though it’s not always easy, God can clear our perspective about the reasons we can hope with bold confidence.

God gives us the power to recognize the benefits of His planned seasons of stillness, the goodness behind His deliberate pauses, the immeasurable and life-transforming reach of His mercy in the meantime.

The apostle Paul shows us how to overflow with hope, God’s hope, by first accepting that hope is not a momentary or stationary state of mind.

Hope is living and breathing faith that assures us that God’s promises will continue flowing, when needed, as needed, and even before we know we have a need.

We serve the God of hope, the One who bases the guarantee of His promises on His unchanging character.

The Lord Himself fills us with all joy and peace . . . all . . . as we trust Him.

All. As. Such simple words jampacked with the implication of perseverance, continual shows of Spirit-empowered courage and strength.

Why does He do this? Why does the Lord choose to fill us, to energize us, to empower us . . . to hope with expectation that’s solid and strong?

So that . . . we may overflow with hope that covers every trial, hope that runs in and through every one of our relationships, hope that changes our vision and revitalizes the weariest of spirits.

We can praise God in the meantime and trust He is always working in and through the moments we wish would zip by faster. But in His perfect love, He stills our jittery hearts and reminds us that He’s got great plans for us in the wait.

How do we overflow with hope in the meantime?

Stick close to the trustworthy King of kings, seeking Him, surrendering to Him, and being dependent on Him.

Hope anchored in the Sovereign Lord keeps our praises bursting through the atmosphere of despair, fear, anxiety, discouragement, and insecurity.

Because of God’s ongoing consistency, we can face changes and persevere with great expectations through every moment of His ordained waiting.

 Lord, thanks for helping us walk with steps solid in contentment and confidence in Your perfect love and all-around goodness. Please help us remember that trust is a verb that tugs us onto the rocky-edges of mountaintop faith. As You secure our footing in Your infallible truth, we can turn to You and count on Your love to carry us, change us, and cover us in Your healing mercy. Please help us breathe in Your everlasting hope and exhale with grateful hearts as we share Your hope with others. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Special thanks to Deb Garland for blessing me with the privilege of using her photo to create this week’s encouragement meme.

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Does God Want Us to Be Weak?

MEME - Psalm 46 v 1 - EDITED May 20, 2018

(Suggested Reading: 1 Corinthians 1:20-31 and 2 Corinthians 12:1-10)

Some questions make us feel uncomfortable. Some questions uncover deep wounds, fears, insecurities, and dashed hopes. Some can’t be answered on this side of eternity.

Browsing through the book of Psalms affirms God understands our need to wrestle with questions, process our emotions, and feel understood and confirmed.

Earlier this week, a reader sent me an encouraging note about a devotion I’d written for Our Daily Bread. After dealing with decades of pain, this reader struggled with the concept of God allowing Paul to live with a “thorn” (1 Corinthians 1:20-31).

“What is somewhat frustrating is that, unlike Paul and other great men and women of faith, I live a very common life and nothing extravagant has happened to me that God has had to purge potential conceit from my life.”

Sorrow filled me as I considered the weariness that led to this beloved reader thinking any life God created would be considered common‒ordinary, unexceptional, mediocre.

Anyone who has dealt with day after day of chronic pain knows perseverance is a gift from God, an extravagant display of faith and breath-by-breath trust in the Lord.

When we can’t take the simple things in life for granted, we may forget the true definition of weakness is lack of strength.

Anyone who has endured decades of pain may feel weary, but they are certainly not weak . . . even when we struggle to take each step.

This reader continued: “When I didn’t have pain and the accompanying anxiety I was a much more peaceful and contented a person than when I feel weak and impotent.”

Hallelujah! Another human . . . just like me.

Who wouldn’t feel more peaceful and content without pain and the anxious thoughts that tag-along with any type of affliction?

I wanted to shout, “Me, too!” But the reader’s next question tugged me into a wrestling match with truth.

“Do you think that God wants us to feel emasculated rather than strong?”

Oh, how a part of me wished I could give this reader a cheerful answer, holding my chin out and declaring with surety that the Lord wants us to feel strong, assured, peace-filled and worry-free all on our own.

That moment of insanity passed quickly.

Does God want us to feel weak and impotent (powerless, helpless, unable, and incapable)?

Does God want us to feel emasculated (ineffectual, feeble, unimpressive, and incompetent)?

I could give useless personal opinions or go straight for the infallible truth-source‒the Bible.

When I struggle with weakness and weariness, I think about the apostle Paul. He lived a “common life” fully aware that his strength came from Christ.

In my experience, there are no “great men and women of faith” who are not fully aware of their complete dependence on God.

Paul reminds us that “God chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things and the things that are not to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before Him.” (emphasis mine,1 Corinthians 1:28-29)

The apostle rejoiced in God’s grandness by accepting the reality of his own lowliness‒meekness, commonness, and humbleness that led to willing submissiveness.

He stated, “My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power” (emphasis mine, 1 Corinthians 2:4-5)

God’s power. God’s strength. God’s wisdom.

If the Lord wants us to be weak, why would He offer to be our strength?

Why would He affirm that His “grace is sufficient” for us; His power “is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 2:9).

God knows we’re weak (Psalm 103:13-14). He knows we can do nothing without Him (John 15:5).

God knows because He chose to experience the feebleness of our fleshly existence (Colossians 1:15-20), without giving up His divinity (Hebrews 4:14-15).

We can “approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16)

God knows we’re weak, so He invites us to abide in Him, rely on Him, and submit to Him. He wants to give us all we need to stand strong, rooted in His unchanging truth and love.

Like the brave reader who couldn’t see the great courage and strength the Lord gave him to reach out with such vulnerability, I’ve succumbed to the weariness and worry that accompanies just about any waiting season.

Today, my physical pain has been constant and overwhelming. I’ve been trying to write this article for days, but my body and mind are tired and beat down.

Praying and knowing I’m covered in prayer, I’m finally typing this sentence with eyes half-closed and heart wide-open.

In God’s enduring love and sufficient grace, He is our peace, our faithful power source.

“Do I think that God wants us to feel emasculated rather than strong?”

 I’ll let His Word answer this question:

“The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and He helps me.” (Psalm 28:7)

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.” (Psalm 46:1)

“Blessed are those who dwell in Your house; they are ever praising You. Blessed are those whose strength is in You, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” (Psalm 84:4-5)

When our “hearts are set on pilgrimage,” we remember this side of eternity is not our final destination. He doesn’t want us to be weak. Our all-knowing, all-powerful, all-good, and all-faithful God wants us to let Him be our strength.

Lord, please help us stop believing the lie that You will never give us more than we can handle, so we can start living in the confidence that You‒our Creator and Sustainer‒will always be our strength. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

 —–

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Have a Hope-Filled Mother’s Day

MEME - 1 Samuel 2 v 2 - May 12, 2018

Suggested Reading: 1 Samuel 1-2

On Mother’s Day, some of us will enjoy quality time with our mothers. Some won’t have that privilege. Others won’t even want to speak to their mothers.

People will be rejoicing over the wonderful relationships shared with their mothers, while others will grieve over broken bonds.

Moms will feel loved and appreciated.

Moms will feel neglected and rejected.

Some mothers will be elated and in love as they celebrate the children God has entrusted to them, whether biological, step, fostered, or adopted.

There will be mothers who willingly sacrifice for their children, while other moms leave their children to fend for themselves.

Happiness. Heartache. Gratitude. Grief.

Life doesn’t just stop because a national holiday pops up on the calendar.

This year, I’m still missing my mother after her yearlong battle with Leukemia in 2014.

I’m at peace as I grieve and celebrate the child I never got to hold, as my wonderful husband and I prepare to announce the name we should have chosen when we lost our first child to miscarriage in 1995.

I’m praising God for blessing me with my loving, compassionate, hard-working son, Xavier, who is now almost twenty-two.

And I’m grateful for the ways the Lord is now restoring a relationship with my stepson, who is loving and kind to me . . . though he prefers not to have his name mentioned in my writing.

Happy and sad. Laughter and tears. Sobs of wailing and songs of worship.

Crying out to God. Relying on God. Praying and believing God is with us.

Even though Mother’s Day won’t be a happy day for everyone, it can be a hope-filled day for those who place their trust in the Lord.

Elkana’s wife, Hannah, understood the desire to be a mother and the complexity of motherhood.

Her husband loved her, cared for her, and provided for her. But he couldn’t heal he infertility (1 Samuel 1:1-5). Hannah was ostracized and endured great sorrow as she longed for a child (vv. 6-8).

“In her deep anguish Hannah prayed to the LORD, weeping bitterly.” (1 Samuel 1:10)

She didn’t mask her pain or approach the God’s throne of grace with a superficial thankfulness or praise. She acknowledged her suffering. She begged and bartered with the One who she knew could help her. She showed no concern over those who would witness her display of desperation (vv. 11-12).

“Hannah was praying in her heart, and her lips were moving but her voice was not heard.” (1 Samuel 1:13)

She poured out her soul to God and refused to pretend everything was “fine” (vv. 13-16).

After Eli, the priest, encouraged her, Hannah moved forward in faith . . . “her face no longer downcast.” Her situation didn’t flip overnight, but her attitude certainly did an about-face (vv. 17-20).

In God’s perfect timing, Hanna was blessed with the baby she prayed for and loved, cared for and dedicated to the LORD. She cared for Samuel and never gave up on him (vv. 21-28).

If God’s people would have celebrated Mother’s Day back then, Hannah would have experienced joy and grief jumbled into a big lump of hope-filled heartache.

Motherhood includes a mesh of emotions and moments worth celebrating and mourning.

Hannah’s prayer reminds me how much more appropriate it feels to wish people a hope-filled Mother’s Day.

Though her scars of sorrow ran deep, Hannah sang: “There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” (1 Samuel 2:2)

She prepared a gift for the son she would embrace and release, celebrate and grieve, visit and leave . . . year after year after year (1 Samuel 2:18-20).

With our eyes on the Lord and our hearts completely surrendered and secured by the surety of God’s proven faithfulness, we can move forward in faith when life can’t be explained by pat answers.

“The LORD brings death and makes alive; He brings down to the grave and raises up.” (1 Samuel 2:6).

Motherhood, a beautiful yet complicated and priceless gift, wraps us in an array of feelings we never realized we could experience.

Thankfully, the Lord remains unchanging, sovereign in power and unlimited in love and grace.

God was enough for Hannah. God is enough for us.

When Mother’s Day or any day doesn’t feel very happy, we can rejoice in Christ’s sacrificial love for us. We can rest in the peace of His constant and almighty presence.

We can thank the Lord, our Rock and our Redeemer, for empowering us to move forward in faith with hope-filled hearts today and every day.

Lord, thanks for loving us, for knowing our names, and for caring about our deepest needs. Please bless the women who are longing for children, mourning children, and trusting You with their wandering children. Please bless the women who are at peace with Your decision for them to be childless, for women who have adopted or fostered children, and for those of us who are doing the best we can to love the children You’ve entrusted to us. Please be our peace, our strength, and our joy, as we lean into Your endless grace and spread Your truth and love with hope-filled hearts today and every day. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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Please join me in sharing this post and praying for those who need to experience a Hope-Filled Mother’s Day.

To God be the glory, the honor, and the praise!

—–

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Persevering When God Hits the Pause Button

MEME - Proverbs 4 vv 25-26 - May 2, 2018Blah-days sneak up on me once in a while. The hours pass normally, but time feels like it’s standing still. I feel God’s presence and know He’s working, but nothing else seems to be moving forward.

Today, the morning and afternoon crawled by without a hitch. I wasn’t sad or discouraged. So, I couldn’t figure out what was wrong.

Sure, I was tired and still battling chronic pain. But today was one of the better days I’ve had in a long time. Thank You, Lord.

Sure, my husband and I are waiting on the Lord to show us the next step in several areas of our lives. But, we’re at peace and on the same page. Hallelujah!

Today was a good day. Praise the Lord!

So, why the blah-feeling?

Why couldn’t I focus? Why couldn’t I get motivated? Why couldn’t I write?

When my husband called, I shared my dilemma with him. In his wisdom, accompanied with his adorable laugh, he said, “Why don’t you just rest?”

We chatted for a bit longer before hanging up. His simple, but profound question lingered in my mind.

Why didn’t I just rest?

I didn’t have a deadline today. I’m ahead of the deadlines I do have. So, why didn’t I relax and enjoy the downtime?

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with being still in God’s presence. Why did I feel like I had to do something to be productive?

My blah-day gave me an opportunity to ask God to adjust my perspective and replenish my strength.

Perseverance requires waiting, which is an active verb.

Waiting on the Lord and walking with Him demands our attention in the present and is one of the most productive things we can do.

Proverbs 4:25 says, “Let your eyes look straight ahead; fix your gaze directly before you.”

We can waste valuable time and energy looking over our shoulders. But stressing over what might be catching up to us, might be ahead of us, or might be coming around the corner will only cause anxiety and extra worry-wrinkles.

My husband likes to say that stress is self-inflicted. I used to think he was crazy when he said that, but now I’m rethinking my approach to stressful situations.

Though sometimes we’ll want to believe we can’t help but worry, Scripture affirms God gives us power over our perspective.

We can “let” our eyes stray to the left or right, or “look straight ahead” and focus on God instead of watching the clock tick-tick-tocking away.

We can “fix” our gaze behind us and fuss over things we can’t change or rely on the Lord’s goodness to be reflected in the ways He’s ordained our steps.

When we’re gazing “directly” at the Lord, we can follow Him in Spirit-empowered obedience.

We can cleave to His unchanging truth, count on His constant and powerful presence, and avoid being ambushed by worry, paralyzed by fear, or distracted by selfish motivations.

Scripture says we should give “careful thought” to the paths for our feet and “be steadfast” in all our ways. (Proverbs 4:26)

“Giving careful thought to the paths” God has set before us can prevent us from jumping ahead of Him.

The Lord knows stillness is a vital part of energizing our faith for the long stretches that require endurance.

Persevering when God hits the pause button in our lives involves patience and stillness, which can cause us to exert lots of energy and show great restraint.

The next time a waiting season surprises us or drags on way longer than we feel necessary, we may tire and even honestly pour our frustrations out to the Lord.

Rather than trying to avoid blah-days, long waits, and pit-stops, we can ask God to help us recognize the value in His deliberate delays.

He’ll secure us in the still moments. After all, He’s already planned how to use these necessary times of preparation for His glory.

Lord, thanks for assuring us that You are in control of the whole journey You’ve planned for us. Thanks for guiding us and reminding us that Your love is enough to carry us through life’s rough roads and tough time-outs. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

How has God helped you deal with a waiting season that surprised you or dragged on way longer than you felt necessary?

 Why is it often hard to feel productive during times of stillness?

 What is the hardest part of persevering when God hits the pause button in your life?

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No Matter What Comes‒Jesus is Still Enough

MEME - Mark 1 vv 1-3 - April 22, 2018

I’ve been praying over what to share on my blog for the last couple of weeks. When I planned on writing, the Lord led me to wait. I believe in obedience when it comes to following our all-mighty and all-knowing God. So, I waited.

During my time of stillness, life around me sped up and threw a few unexpected punches.

My last back procedure led to the expected four to six weeks of sporadic and high-level pain as the nerves die.

While dealing with elevated pain levels and fatigue, my husband shared some news that left us facing a few challenging situations and seeking the Lord’s direction with a couple of big decisions.

My check-up appointment with my doctor became a painful procedure that led to a glimmer of hope in my healing journey.

My doctor thinks he finally found the root of the injury in my upper thoracic back, which could help him determine a treatment and healing instead of pain-management. Praise the Lord!

God can heal me with a whisper or a thought. He can heal me through my doctors. He can also choose to empower me to continue trusting Him through this physically and emotionally draining affliction.

On Tuesday, a friend asked me if I would “rather be healed or write with great beauty and passion.”

I responded: “I’d rather honor God’s choice and trust His will, not my wants.”

Yet, by Thursday, I still couldn’t write this post.

With so many life-altering decisions to make, so many unknowns, so much pain, frustration, discouragement in my life and in the lives of loved ones, all I could do was stare at the blank piece of paper. (Yes, I still write my first drafts with an old-school pen and pad.)

I opened my Bible and asked God what He wanted me to learn, or re-learn, so I could share.

I leaned into His grace, totally at peace . . . and waited . . . until I landed in the Gospel of Mark.

John the Baptist reminded me of my purpose as God’s beloved child.

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make His path straight.” (Mark 1:3)

John the Baptist reminded me who was in charge.

He “who is mightier” than I‒Jesus (Mark 1:7).

He who baptized me with the Holy Spirit‒Jesus (v. 8).

The Father is well pleased with the Son‒Jesus (v. 11).

My Heavenly Father is also pleased with me, His beloved child.

God loves us . . . completely.

No matter how we struggle.

No matter how often we fall short or fall flat on our faces.

No matter how much we feel overwhelmed by our weaknesses, frustrations, discouragement, worries, and even doubts.

No matter how long we’re battered by the winds of worry as we wait in the wilderness of what-else-can-go-wrong.

God remains sovereign, loving constant and caring (vv. 12-13).

He knows we’ll face temptations.

He’s ready to meet all our needs.

He’s not surprised by whatever the “wilderness” looks like in our personal lives.

The Lord empowers us to navigate the obstacle courses riddled with pain, heartache, tough decisions, shaky ground, long lines, depleting resources, and foggy horizons.

His ordained paths lead straight to the center of perfect will . . . according to His well-planned timing . . . not ours.

We don’t have to fear God’s deliberate delays or detours.

We can trust His compass, believe His complete goodness, rely on His proven faithfulness, and surrender to His Word.

No matter when, where, or how we land on this path God has planned for us, we’ll be safe in the refuge of His life-restoring love.

No matter what comes . . . Jesus is still enough.

Father God, thanks for giving us confidence in Your abilities, Your trustworthiness, and Your never ending supply of love. Thanks for reminding us that we don’t need to know what’s ahead because we can trust You no matter what comes. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

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We Can Count on God . . . No Matter What!

MEME - Easter - Job 42 vv 2, 5 - March 31, 2018

Suggested Reading: Job 45:10-17

We don’t have to be overwhelmed with life-altering problems, suffering great loss, physically hurting, disabled by discouragement, or overwhelmed with worry to be tapping-our-foot-and-crossing-our-arms-impatient with God.

We can feel desperate for a breakthrough, even when we’re not quite sure what we’re hoping to break through.

How can our weary-of-waiting souls be refreshed when we can’t hear past our own exasperated grumbling, whining, or exaggerated sighing?

How can we glimpse hope when we can’t see past our hand-painted murals of if-onlys and what-ifs?

How can we experience the joy of gratitude and contentment when we’re scribbling comparisons and complaints in tattered wish-my-life-were-different notebooks?

Sometimes, all it takes is a slow drip of discontent to tempt our eyes to wander over our neighbor’s fence.

After my health took another dive, my slow drip of discontent burst into waves of disheartenment crashing against the weathering rock-wall of my resolve.

When will things get better? What else can go wrong now? Will I be able to take much more?

Even the minor inconveniences felt like huge blows.

Yet, with a loving outpour of mercy, the Holy Spirit reminded me of a man of great faith who endured immense personal devastation, who persevered through unfathomable suffering. Job.

When life’s circumstances socked him in the gut, punched him in the jaw, stomped on his head, and busted down the door to his grieving heart, Job spoke honestly to God.

Approaching the Lord with raw emotions and hard questions displayed Job’s depth of faith.

How did the Lord respond?

Scripture says He spoke to Job “out of the storm” (Job 38-41).

God didn’t explain Himself, reason, or promise to comfort to Job. He simply invited Job to reflect on the unquestionable majesty of His Creator and Sustainer of all.

“Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation?” (Job 38:4)

“Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place, that it might take the earth by the edges and shake the wicked out of it?” (v. 12-13)

“Do you send the lightening bolts on their way? Do they report to you, ‘Here we are’?” (v. 35)

“Does the hawk take flight by your wisdom and spread its wings to the south? Does the eagle soar at your command and build its nest on high?” (Job 39:26-27)

Did Job wrestle with the reality of God’s bigness . . . of his own smallness? I know I have.

Did he cry out in awestruck wonder when the Lord listed the evidence of His glory? I know I do.

Did a humble whisper of worship trickle over Job’s trembling lips as he spoke? “I am unworthy‒how can I reply to You?” (Job 40:4)

Instead of allowing Job to withdraw in defeat, the Lord said, “I will question you, and you shall answer me.” (v. 7)

He affirmed His majesty. “Who has a claim against me that I must pay? Everything under heaven belongs to me.” (Job 41:11)

Everything . . . including all of His beloved children. And God cares for those He loves.

Job’s circumstances didn’t change. He didn’t wake up and realize his devastation was just a dream. His grief hadn’t faded or gotten easier overnight.

Though his weariness still lingered, hope glinted as he gazed upon the Lord and said:

“I know that You can do all things; no purpose of Yours can be thwarted . . . My ears had heard of You but now my eyes have seen You.” (Job 42:2, 5)

The confirmation of God’s grandness and Job’s smallness both comforted and humbled him.

“Therefore, I despise myself and repent in dust in ashes.” (Job 42:6)

If we’re not careful, we can misinterpret this beautiful interaction between the Father and His beloved servant. We can fail to recognize the Lord’s incredible mercy.

After Job submitted to God, the all-powerful, all-merciful, and all-loving God lifted him to a place of honor as a servant, an intercessory prayer warrior (v. 8).

He accepted Job’s prayers on behalf of this friends (v. 9).

The Lord restored Job. He “gave him twice as much as he had before” (v. 10) and “blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the former part” (v. 12).

God wasn’t trying to replace what Job had lost.

Even after the Lord blessed him in abundance and empowered him to move forward, Job still had hard days . . . just like all of us.

Some days were harder than others. Some days were merely filled with little frustrations.

The only constant in his life, in this life, in our lives . . . is God.

Whether we’re feeling inconvenienced or crushed by the complications life tosses our way, the Lord doesn’t compare us or our circumstances with others or measure our hurts against the hurts of others.

When we’re feeling forgotten in the wait or beat up by life, when we’re tempted to slip into discontent, our loving Creator and patient Sustainer continues to love us, extends grace, and remains faithful.

Jesus loves us and remains with us through every trial.

He meets our deepest needs and increases our compassion for the hurting.

He strengthens and heals us‒according to His perfect plan and pace.

As Easter approaches, we can reflect on God’s grandeur and the priceless sacrifice Jesus made on the cross.

We can rejoice and place our eternal hope in Christ, our Risen King, as we celebrate Resurrection Day.

We can count on God, no matter what, because He is and always will be unchanging, unlimited, and undeniably faithful.

Nothing . . . nothing . . . nothing can thwart the power of our Lord’s sovereign plan or throw a wrench in His flawless pacing.

Hallelujah!

Lord, thanks for giving us Your Word and being the foundation on which we stand, no matter how rough the road ahead feels or how long the wait seems. Please help us rest in the unshakeable peace of Your constant presence. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

 Happy Resurrection Day!

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