Month: August 2021

  • Trust God In The Messes

    Let’s face it: Life can get messy. And we all respond differently when problems arise in life or when we are in the middle of a mess. Maybe you create a to-do list of things you can work on to try and fix the situation on your own. Maybe you reach out to your best friend and tell her the sob story all the while hoping that she has the solution. Sometimes you might be tempted to act like nothing’s wrong and avoid addressing the mess, hoping that it will magically disappear or resolve itself on its own. Other times you may turn to God and trust Him to handle your problem.

    There will be ups and downs along the way. Life can be going smoothly for a season and then suddenly life throws you a curveball. Isn’t that what happened to the whole entire world last year with the pandemic? Most people were going about life as usual and then the world shut down. The things we all felt secure in, all of a sudden felt shaky and uncertain. I know for me, in the first few weeks of the pandemic, I played the wait and see game and just told myself that this will be over shortly. As the year went on and things didn’t go back to “normal,” I started talking with friends about how they were dealing with being in the middle of the mess. We asked ourselves questions like “how can we trust God in this circumstance even when we cannot see a resolution?” or “how can we trust Him when we do not understand what is happening?”

    As I had more and more of those conversations, I began to realize that trusting God is more than a feeling; it’s a choice to have faith in what He says even when the circumstances around me would have me believing something different. Trusting God is not about ignoring the reality of the problem or my feelings about the mess. God doesn’t ask us to pretend everything is okay when it isn’t.

    Instead, God tells us that in the midst of our problems we are to:

    Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord, and he will give you your heart’s desires. Commit everything you do to the Lord. Trust him, and he will help you. He will make your innocence radiate like the dawn, and the justice of your cause will shine like the noonday sun. Be still in the presence of the Lord, and wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes”

    Psalm 37:3-7 NLT

    What I love about this piece of Scripture is that God clearly outlines our respective responsibilities when we face problems. Our responsibility when we face problems is to trust God by:

    1. Doing good;
    2. Delighting in His wonder;
    3. Committing our work to Him; and
    4. Waiting patiently and without worry.

    I don’t know about you, but that last part usually trips me up. I am always willing to ask myself how I can make someone’s day even when my day (or week for that matter) might not be going well. I can discover delight simply by looking out at the night sky, or at a flower growing in the garden, or another person’s smile and just wonder at all that God created. I can commit to doing my best and getting things done even during the hard times in my life, but waiting patiently and without worry, now that’s another story.

    Even though I have heard it thousands of times, “we are human beings, not human doings,” I still wrestle with the “be” part. How about you? Which of these responsibilities do you struggle with when you are in the middle of a messy situation?

    What I am learning is that God has commanded us to do these things not perfectly, but rather in partnership with Him. And that is what trust is all about. It’s about walking in partnership with Him, knowing that I don’t have to do it all on my own. Then I don’t have to worry, knowing that He is with me each step of the way.

    Psalm 37:3-7, tells us that when we trust the Lord by doing good, delighting in Him, committing our work to Him and waiting patiently and without worry, He promises to act on our behalf. When we do that, God promises to keep us safe, to prosper us, to give us our heart’s desires, to see that justice is done and that we will shine.

    So no matter the problem you are facing today, I pray that you hold tight to this Scripture and remember God isn’t just interested in some parts of your life, but rather every part of your life—the good, the problematic and the messy! He is trustworthy and always keeps His promises. So bring it all to Him and may you be still in His presence and know that you are not alone!

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  • God Is Always At Work

    “MOMMY! I HAD A BAD DREAM!” I could hear my 4 year old calling to me from his room and the fear in his voice was palpable. His little frame was shaking as the scary scenes from his dream were still fresh in his mind. I scooped him up in my arms and stroked his soft curls as I whispered, “It’s ok. Mama’s got you. You’re safe.” I repeated the words until slowly, his little body began to relax and his strained expression faded as a look of peace washed over his face. After a while, I tucked him back into bed with his favorite blanket, and as I began to rise to go back to my own bed, he looked up at me pleadingly and asked if I would stay with him, “just until he falls asleep.” I agreed, and within moments he was sound asleep, without a trace of distress left on his sweet little face, trusting that I was at work, watching over him. 

    Mom or not, we have likely all experienced a scenario similar to this. Perhaps you were the little one, pleading with a parent to watch over you while you slept. Maybe someone close to you just felt safer and more at peace having you there with them. Maybe you long to have that same sense of safety, peace and rest in your own life, knowing that someone is at work watching over you. 

    A couple nights ago before bed, I was feeling especially anxious. I always do my best worrying at night and true to form, as I tried to sleep, one thing after another kept popping up in my mind. 

    “That dental bill was expensive and there’s more work to be done. How much is that going to cost us?”

    “I have so much to do tomorrow. Call the repair guy for the grout, schedule appointments for the kids, plan a birthday party and schedule playdates…oh and I can’t forget to call back my friend that called me over a week ago. I hope she’s not mad at me…”

    “A lot of people are getting sick with this new Delta variant of covid…what if the baby gets sick? What if we all get sick?” 

    “What is school going to look like for the kids this year? Will anything ever feel normal again?”

    “I don’t think I’m spending enough quality time with the kids, I need to find ways for us to get more quality time in.”

    “Man, my hubby and I need a date night without the kids.”

    “I should go check on the baby.”

    And around and around I went. So I started making plans. 

    I lay there wide awake, troubleshooting plans A, B and C, hoping to engineer the best possible outcomes for all the things. In the back of my mind, I knew I trusted that God was working, but because it’s sometimes hard to see exactly how, I came up with plans X, Y and Z, “just in case”. 

    Now I’m not knocking a good plan, I think that’s part of responsible adulting and a normal instinct when things start to stack up and get overwhelming. But in that moment, my planning was a feeble grab for control in a world in which I have very little. It was coming from a place of self-reliance instead of prayerful dependence on God. 

    After a short while, I found myself wishing I could just put everything down and give my brain a rest from its ceaseless planning and fretting. I wanted someone else to stand watch over my fears and anxious thoughts and work through the problems of the world, so I could just close my eyes and sleep peacefully.

    I picked up my Bible. I had been reading the book of John and had just gotten to chapter 5 where Jesus heals a paralyzed man by the pool in Bethesda. The miracle happened on the Sabbath and when the Jewish leaders found out about it and began harassing Jesus for breaking Sabbath rules. Jesus’ reply to them in verse 17 commanded my attention:

    But Jesus replied, “My Father is always working, and so am I.” (John 5:17 NLT)

    As I slowly repeated His words in my mind over and over, the weight of their meaning began to sink in and my shoulders began to relax for what felt like the first time all week. In that one sentence from Jesus, I was reminded of two very important things. 

    First, Jesus is stating with authority that He is the Son of God. As the Son of God, Jesus is much better equipped to solve life’s problems than I am. He has an eternal perspective greater than anything I can conceive, and it is His wisdom I should be depending on instead of my own. Through Jesus, I have direct access to the Father, and all the power and resources of a child of God. When I pray I have a personal audience with Him and the very best plans always start in a conversation with God. 

    Second, I was reminded that God is always at work. Not just part-time, not whenever He can get to it or when He remembers. Always! He is constantly at work, healing us, forgiving us and providing for us. He doesn’t phone it in or do anything halfway. He gives us His very best, putting into place detail after loving detail. God never tires or wearies. His strength is boundless and His stamina endless.  

    And because God is always at work, I don’t have to be. 

    My mind doesn’t have to churn out solutions to all of the problems in one night. I can hand God my worries, my stresses and my best laid plans and He will go to work. He will stand watch over my fears and anxious thoughts, so I can just close my eyes and sleep peacefully. I can trust Him to stay with me, and remind me that He’s got me, and that I’m safe. 

    And while I sleep He continues to work. He goes before me and makes plans and provisions. He works powerfully on my behalf, but He doesn’t stop there. Because God can see the bigger picture of all our lives, His plans always bring about the most benefit to the most people. If He works something out in my life, I guarantee that it will bring blessing to others as well. His goodness and love ripple out like waves in the water, touching many hearts and lives all at once. He truly is a good, good Father. 

    Dear friend, if you are like me and struggling with whatever is swirling around in your head today, know that you can set it all into the capable hands of Jesus. If you want, play the song at the link below and imagine Jesus right there beside you, gently whispering words of comfort to you. Picture God wrapping you up in His strong embrace as He lifts the weight of the world off of your shoulders and exchanges it for a peace that passes all understanding. You are safe and you can rest, because God is always working. 

    Cecie’s Lullaby song, by Steffany Gretzinger

    Read the lyrics here

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  • Learning To Trust

    Have you ever had that feeling in life like the bottom is going to drop out? Like if one more thing goes wrong you will just crumple like a pile of yesterday’s laundry?

    Some years ago I had a season like that. Everything seemed to be going wrong. Unexpected job transitions, health problems, super tight finances, and family conflict on top of trying to raise the kiddos, keep our marriage afloat and somehow not lose my mind completely.

    It seemed like life wouldn’t slow down enough for me to catch my breath, let alone gather my strength. When I did catch a moment of peace, I spent it frantically writing lists, trying to plan my next move and anxiously waiting for the other shoe to drop. Again.

    On top of that, I wasn’t taking good care of myself. I had completely packed my schedule, so I was always on the go and sometimes double booked myself thinking I could somehow bend time to my will. I wasn’t getting enough sleep and was constantly eating on the way to or from someplace. I found myself needing to drink coffee all day to stay sharp and try to keep all the plates spinning. Then in the evening, I was so tired, wired and anxious that I would find myself turning to a glass of wine to relax and dull the anxiety pains in my chest, hoping that my brain would let me sleep that night.

    I would pray throughout the day, but it was more of a distracted cry to God to help me get from one task to the next. “Lord, give me strength.” I’d mutter under my breath as I refilled my coffee and reviewed my never ending to-do list.

    One day, in the midst of this particularly messy season, I had spent the morning pouring over my planning notebook, venti coffee in hand, stressing and brainstorming how to get through another week. I knew God was just waiting for me to stop and turn to Him and really spend time with Him, but it felt like one more demand on my time that I couldn’t afford. Oh, how the devil loves to make us believe that lie when we are running on empty. The reality was that time with God was the one thing I couldn’t afford to miss!

    But that morning, for some reason I remembered Jesus and how when the crowds were pressing in, and the demands on His time and resources were at a zenith, He often withdrew to lonely places to pray (Luke 5:15-16). Spending time with the Father was how Jesus recharged and realigned His perspective. I knew it was long past time to sit down with God and recharge.

    I put down my planning notebook, picked up my Bible and found Psalm 62:5-8 (NLT):

    Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

    I sat quietly with His words in front of me, took a deep breath and said, “Hey God.”

    My walls were still up, with a fierce independence in my heart. I hadn’t slowed down like this in so long, it was hard to let my guard down. I was fearful that letting Him in meant letting all of my emotions out and I wasn’t sure I could handle that.

    After several minutes of silence, just sitting in His presence, I remembered who I was dealing with. This was the God who has been with me all along. He has pursued me in my darkest moments only to show me love and kindness. His very nature is love. He has set His heart on me, why shouldn’t I lay my whole heart before Him?

    My shoulders started to relax, my breathing slowed down and I began to pour out my heart to Him. I sat on the floor, spilling my guts, and leaned against the edge of my bed as though they were His arms and cried. I told Him all I had been feeling and thinking, all that I needed and hoped for.

    A couple of things happened in that moment, as I began to pour out my heart to the Lord.

    First, my trust in Him was renewed. As I prayed, He reminded me that He was the God of all my moments, the One who has seen me through the best and worst of life. I could come to Him with anything, anytime. He would not only understand, He would hold me up and reign over every detail in my life with attention, love and kindness. He reminded me that He would provide for my every need, physical, spiritual and emotional. He would be my rock and my refuge, my redeemer and the ultimate source of my victory.

    Secondly, my heart began to change. Spending time with God and praying to Him was not just an opportunity to get some things off my chest and make my requests. It was a time to renew my heart and my mind. For Him to show me where I was wrong and where I needed to change.

    In His loving kindness, He brought my sins to light so that I could hand them right back to Him, asking for His forgiveness and for His help. I wanted to live in a right relationship with Him and in the abundance that He calls His children to, regardless of my circumstances.

    That meant I had to trust in Him at all times. Not just when it fit into my schedule and I had the bandwidth for it, or when I had run out of other options. I had to adopt a rhythm of consistent and intentional relationship with Him. No more stubborn self-reliance and winging it on a latte and a prayer. It was time for real help and real transformation. Time to trust the One who could be trusted with everything.

    Through the power of the Holy Spirit, I began to make changes. I started creating margin in my schedule for rest and for God. I sought wise counsel and stopped relying on my own strength and the coping mechanisms of the world. No longer would I be ruled by my to-do lists and calendar. No longer would I be a slave to my stress and anxiety. I would trust God with all of it and allow Him to work in and around me in all situations.

    While all of these changes are good things, they alone didn’t immediately alter my circumstances. The stresses would still be there for a while longer. But because of God, I had changed. My perspective had changed. My trust in God had changed. And in trusting God with my heart, I found peace that passed understanding and a strength that surpassed my own.

    In God’s perfect timing, jobs eventually stabilized, family conflict resolved and relationships healed. Our marriage and kiddos thrived and we never went without anything we truly needed. Even when things worked out differently than we had imagined, God provided for us beyond all we could ask or imagine, and my faith was bolstered once again by God’s faithfulness and love.

    We have all had seasons in life that felt like it brought way more than our fair share of hardship. Those times when we feel all we can do is wave the white flag and cry out to God for rescue. Sometimes there isn’t even anything in your heart that needs to change, you are just weathering what feels like an impossibly difficult season.

    In these times, to hear “Pour out your heart to God and trust in Him at all times” can sound like such a platitude. But the truth is, God is faithful, yesterday, today and tomorrow. He does not fail, He sees us in our mess and is not idle. He works powerfully on behalf of His people and when we remember that we are His children, nothing can shake us! Trusting in Him will never leave us empty handed or unfulfilled. Even if things turn out differently than we imagine, we can be assured that God sees us, hears us and loves us so very much.

    So be still before Him, let your guard down. With God, you are safe. He will never be careless with your heart. You can trust Him to hold you up and sustain you. Let Him lovingly show you if you are relying on anything other than Him to get by. Maybe it’s deep diving on social media or binge watching Netflix to escape. You could be leaning on staying busy (even with good things) to avoid turning to God and trusting in Him. I invite you today, instead, to ask God if there’s anything you need to change, and then step out in faith to ask for help when you need it.

    We aren’t meant to navigate the struggles of life alone, and trusting in God is no different. We can encourage one another with our stories of God’s faithfulness and spur one another on to a deeper faith and trust in God. Chances are there is someone you know right now who is struggling to trust God with something and your story might just be what encourages them!

    We want to be here for you as well. If you could use some prayer, encouragement or just someone to listen, drop us an email or comment and we will pray for you. God can be trusted with whatever you have going on in your life and He is there right beside you. Allow yourself to fall into His loving embrace, knowing that He will never let you down.

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