Just Don’t Get Caught

I was reclining in a chair, watching as my children played “Red Light, Green Light.”

Sometimes I sit and watch them play and just marvel at how awesome it is to have such great kids who enjoy playing together. Today was not that day. 

Today I was focused on something else.  See, the person who won the round of “Red Light, Green Light” got to call the next round. So obviously, all my children wanted to be the caller. Well, the caller was purposely trying to get them to mess up, so that they would have to go back to the start line… I noticed that often they would mess up by going when red light was called or running when yellow light was called.

But all my children would only admit they messed up if they knew they had been caught. One of my children gave a certain facial expression every time she knew that she messed up…But she only went back when someone called her out on it.

She only admitted to being wrong when she was caught.

 don't get caught

Ok, I can relate to that. Especially when I compare my life before I started walking with Christ to now.

Growing up I got this subtle message that it was ok to do “bad” things as long as you didn’t get caught.

Drinking- The legal age for drinking alcohol is 21. BUT if you are going to drink, don’t drink and drive.

Sex- Sex is meant for marriage. BUT if you are going to have sex, use protection. You don’t want an STD or unplanned pregnancy.

I know the adults in my life meant well. I know they were just being realistic about the culture I lived in. But I really felt like they were telling me, “Here’s what I am supposed to tell you… But if you are going to do it, don’t get caught.”

This concept flooded into so many areas in my life. The moral line became so blurred. I know I am not supposed to do this. But…as long as I don’t get caught, it’s ok.

It really piled up when I started giving myself permission to just tell a little lie. Then I would have to tell another lie to cover that one up. Then I would have to exaggerate a story and add details so people would believe me. I would get so caught up in defending my little lie with more lies, that soon I didn’t even really remember what happened. I would get so worried about getting caught, that I didn’t even know what the truth was. This is an exhausting way to live.

If you are only worried about getting caught, all you care about is not being found out.

I’m so glad the Holy Spirit came into my life and started showing me a better way. Not long after I met Jesus in my backyard, I learned a really important lesson. The reason you don’t do those bad things is not because of others, but because you want to grow in relationship with God.

For example, alcohol restrictions are in place to protect young people from the negative effects of drinking. God told us to obey the law of the land. Also, his word tells us not to get drunk on wine.  It never says don’t drink. You can do that. But responsibly and within the limits of the law. Make sure you are in control of your actions and emotions when you do. Those boundaries are there to help you and guide you.

The reason you shouldn’t have sex before marriage is so much more. God put a boundary on sex because sex was meant to be a good thing. It was meant to show a union between two married people and yoke them together. By choosing to wait until marriage, you are respecting God’s boundary. You are growing in relationship with the Father. And as you grow closer to God, you are preparing your heart for a marriage that will glorify God.

See, I missed all that, when I was focused on me. When I was focused on not getting caught, I had no clue that the first part of that message was about a relationship with Christ.  The adults in my life knew that the world would tell us otherwise, so they were trying to keep us safe.

Truthfully those truths were easy to see as they were spelled out to me. However, the ones I am still learning have a deep and meaningful impact on me.  For example, the Holy Spirit really got a hold of me when it came to lying and gossiping (as you can probably tell by the topics of most of my blogs.)

See prior to walking with Christ, I had a really bad problem with stretching the truth. I had a horrible issue with gossiping. I didn’t even realize I was doing it. I just wanted people to see why I felt the way I did. So, I told the story with colorful glasses on. I left out parts that made me look bad. I added details to make the other person look like a monster. Before I knew it, the story I told only shared a thread of truth. I was not a good person before I meet Jesus.

But a lesson I have learned through this sanctification process is that the truth frees you. If you always tell the truth, you don’t have to remember what you said.

Tell the truth. The truth frees you. It frees you from the worry of being found out. It frees you from the tornado you create to cover up your “bad” actions.

When you walk the way God calls you to walk, you don’t have to put on a show, fake the funk, wear a mask, or pretend to be anything other than what you are. You don’t have to worry about being caught.

You are exactly who you are.  A flawed sinful human trying her best to be the woman God has called you to be.

So, if you are worried about getting caught, I challenge you to pray about that situation. Ask the Holy Spirit to convict you, lead you, and help you overcome that area. It won’t be easy, but I promise it will be freeing.

You were not meant to carry the weight of your sin on your shoulders. Walk in peace. Go and sin no more.

Just a Little…

Last week my children and I were in a little fender bender. We were traveling on the interstate and switching highways during rush hour. While we were stopped on the exit ramp, a lady rear-ended us.

As I sat in my van waiting on the police officers to show up, I was annoyed. Annoyed that I had to sit on the side of the highway while I watch the traffic get thicker. Annoyed that now my van has a dent in the bumper. Annoyed that now my children have officially been in an accident. Annoyed that my husband insisted that the EMTs check us all out. Annoyed that I was supposed to have an extra hour and a half to get to my location, and now I was going to be late. It was just a little fender bender. We are fine.

So, after almost two hours, we were finally on our way to our chosen location.

But guess what? We weren’t fine. That little annoying back ache I told the EMTs about started to be a much bigger pain. The pain slowly crept down my back, into my bottom, and shot down my leg. So, I went to the hospital.

I was officially diagnosed with a sprained shoulder and back pain due to an irritated sciatic nerve.

It still all seemed annoying. It was just a little fender bender!!! How can it cause such a big impact?

Even if it’s just a little bit… it’s still enough. Enough to cause pain. Enough to cause trouble. Enough to throw you off completely.

just a little.jpg

 

Just a little…

That’s all it takes.

Just a little gossip.

Let me just vent this one frustration.

Next thing I know I am swirling in a tornado looking for more juicy details to justify my stance.

Now, I am separating myself. Of course, I am separating myself from the person who has wronged me. But I am also separating myself from God.

I am not acting the way a Christian should act. I am misrepresenting that person. I am causing others to think poorly of that person- why? Because I let my emotions control me and gave into that sin God has been convicting me of.

But it was just a little.

And I was right…

Well, at least I thought I was right…

Now, I’m not so sure… But everyone else thinks I am right, so I dig my heels in.

I backslide just a little.

But just a little is enough.

Now my peace is disrupted.

Now my personal time with God is a checklist.

Now I am living for myself.

It was just a little gossip, God. Why does it have to have such an impact?

Because when I give into the temptation to gossip, I have put other people’s opinions above God’s. I have started looking for satisfaction from other’s opinions and misfortune, while looking to others who have negative opinions. I have lost sight of God, because I have put too much focus on others.

When I was under the strong conviction to stop gossiping and to only talk positively of others, I realized just how hard that was. But I also realized this desire to gossip came from an unhealthy value of other people’s opinions. I wanted them to like me. I wanted them to care about what I said. So, what if I said she looks like she’s trying too hard to dress nice. It’s the truth. But whose truth is it? My truth or God’s truth?

Ladies let me tell you, we all want to be accepted. We all want to be loved. But when we are looking to others to accept us and love us, we fall victim to the trap of sin. We allow ourselves to think and act negatively. So, instead of tearing someone down to feel good, try building her up so you can both feel good.

Gossip is a much bigger deal than our culture wants us to believe. It’s everywhere!!! I mean just checking out at the store you see magazines filled with gossip. Watching television, you rarely see people talking well of another person unless it makes them look good. Kid shows are teaching young girls its ok to be frenemies. (A person you call your friend but really dislike.)

We have to shine a light into this darkness! We cannot allow our daughters to think its ok to be frenemies with anyone. We are called to love others above ourselves. When we give into the temptation to sin, we are loving ourselves about all. We must show others the love of Christ, and that starts with our hearts.

Create in me a clean heart O’ Lord. We have to train ourselves to think positively. To think the way God calls us to live. Only then can our action be true and sincere. It must be an overflow from our hearts.

It’s not an option. We must teach our children to live the way God calls us to live. And we must teach them by modeling proper behavior. We are called to live counter-culturally. 

Our culture doesn’t care about your well-being. Everyone who lives in the world cares about themselves. Which is why the world drives you to be selfish. It temps you to fall back into that trap of sin.

Even if it’s just a little bit.

It’s enough.

God’s not trying to be a “mean dad” by withholding something from you. He’s trying to free you from the weight of that sin. Only then can you draw closer to Him and continue to be transformed into the image of Christ.

Thank you, Lord, for never giving up on me. Thank you for your convictions that free me from the weight of my sins. Thank you for the peace you have filled my life with! Thank you for walking with me as I go through this process. Thank you for being the awesome and amazing God you are!

“Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior.”

Ephesians 4:31 (NLT)

My Comforter

A  few weeks ago, I had the opportunity to take my youngest two children to the park without older siblings. After my 2-year-old ran all over the playground equipment, she settled into the swings.

She asked me to push her high. So, I obliged. Then she told me, “I do it by my own-self.”

So, I walked away and sat on a swing next to her.

She smiled ear to ear as she went back and forth on the swing.

But then the swing started slowing down.

“Mom, will you push me high?” she asked.

I got up from my swing,  stood behind her, and gave her a push. Then I went to push her again, but she told me, “No, mom. I do it by my own-self.”

Sure enough, this repeated a few times. Eventually, I was tired of the get-up, push, sit-down dance, so I told her to find something else to do.

Of course, my two-year-old was not happy to hear this, but she did as she was told.

What a perfect picture of how I tend to treat God.

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I recognize the need for Him. I ask him to give me that first push.

But then as life gets going, I get prideful. I start thinking I can do this by myself.

I forget the momentum that started the whole thing was God. And I cannot keep going without Him.

Yet, I let my pride tell me I am responsible for the movement. I am the reason I am doing so well.

Then that swing starts to slow down. Things are out of my control… again. I recognize I need help.

I recognize my pride. I ask for forgiveness, ask for help, and then start the whole thing all over again.

Sometimes, I honestly sit and wonder why I suck so much!

I am currently under a huge conviction to put down my phone. I’ve had this conviction before. I’ve walked this same walk before. Yet, I fell right back into the trap.

Since I’ve had this conviction before, I thought I knew how to handle it. I will just stay off social media.

Well, social media was only part of the problem. Mindless scrolling through articles online. Mindlessly checking my email… which still only has junk in it… mindlessly checking work related stuff…

I let my pride tell me I knew what to do… only to have it revealed to me, that social media was not the main source of my struggle- I turned my phone into my comforter.

When I am bored… I go to my phone. When I am overwhelmed… I go to my phone. When I just need some me time… I go to my phone.

The problem is not my phone. The problem is how I am treating my phone. I’ve turned it into a mini-idol. It has become my source of comfort. Ouch!

If I am constantly going to my phone to numb my feelings, I give God no room to move. (Don’t get me wrong, He’s moving… I am just missing out.)

If I am overwhelmed and mindlessly start scrolling through my phone, I have missed the opportunity to hand my frustrations to God. Those feelings haven’t gone away, they are just placed aside while my mind goes elsewhere. Now I am holding onto those feelings instead of laying them at the foot of the cross.  I have missed the opportunity to grow in relationship with him.

When I’m upset by bad news and I turn to Google for answers, I missed the opportunity to go to the only one with answers. Google may have facts, but Google cannot offer me comfort. Google cannot give me any peace. Google is not my God.  

So here I sit again, on a swing slowing down in momentum. Asking the wrong thing to give me that comfort. Looking to be numbed rather than given life…I’m slowing to a stop, rather than looking to the only One who can make me move.

 

Praise God for His mercy. Praise God that He is still completing that good work in me. He knows I need a Savior, and His blood already covers me.

If you are in a similar situation, trust me when I say- I get it. But this conviction is straight from the Holy Spirit, don’t miss out on the opportunity to grow closer to God. God is the only one who can truly comfort. God is the only one who can give you what you need. 

Lord, I don’t want to ever think I can do this on my own. Yet, often my actions reveal otherwise.  I’m sorry God that I have let yet another thing take your place in my heart. I am sorry Lord, that I sin. But God, I am so grateful that you already knew I couldn’t do it on my own. You already knew I would fail. You already sent your Son to die for me, so that His blood already covers my sin. Thank you for refining me. Thank you for showing me the errors in my way. Help me stay on the straight and narrow path. Help me avoid the traps of this sin. Let me find rest in you and you alone. 

Trusting God as Your Provider

On Sunday I got the opportunity to be the Student Ministries elementary teacher. I really love teaching these kids about Jesus! Well, this lesson was on trusting God with your family. We specifically looked at Abraham and Sarah as they had to trust God’s plan to give them children at a very old age.

One of the sermon illustrations involved us asking God to provide water. I drank the last of my water from my water bottle, and I was “very thirsty.” We prayed that God would fill my water bottle so I could have something to drink.

When I opened my eyes, the water bottle was still empty. “Guys what happened? Why didn’t God answer my prayer?” I asked the kids.

They had some good suggestions. “You forgot to include us.” “You forgot to say amen.” “You didn’t say in Jesus’ name.” So, I changed my prayer to meet their suggestions, but guess what? God still did not fill my water bottle.

Instead, a nice man came in with a bottle of water and asked if I would like it.

Amazing! God answered our prayer, but not in the way we expected it.

Obviously, this was a sermon illustration and completely staged, but this is a perfect illustration of how we come to God in prayer.

We think we know our needs. We definitely know our wants. And we know how we think God should meet our needs. But we are not God.

In fact, we are imposing our will on God and not looking for His will to be done. Isn’t it funny how we are always trying to impose our will on God and yet, He never imposes his will on us. God will not violate our free will, and yet we think that we can do that very thing to God… 

Trust God Provider

I can specifically recall a time early in my marriage that Ben and I were struggling financially. (Let me clarify, we were not smart with our funds and did not understand budgeting at this point.)

We were living paycheck to paycheck and feeling every bit of it.

Then my husband came to me and says, “Renee, I really think we need to tithe.”

WHAT!!! We don’t have enough money as is it, how is giving the first 10% away going to help?

So, I reluctantly let my husband lead. I was very skeptical. I may have even made fun of the idea by saying, “So what are we just going to magically win the lottery now?”

Well, within a week of being obedient and tithing, we saw God provide.

We got a check in the mail we were not expecting. Wow!

Ok maybe there was something to this tithing thing.

Over the course of the next year or so, I started to see God providing in ways I never thought possible. From random checks in the mail, to new job opportunities, to lower cost of fuel, to generous friends paying for our meals.

God answered our prayers, just not in the ways we thought He would.

When I was teaching on Sunday, it was all I could do to NOT laugh as we changed our prayers. But honestly, that’s what I do.

I sit there and rearrange the words, rearrange my thoughts, and put an expectation on God. Really, I should be presenting my request and watching as he provides.

Not too long after our whole tithing incident, I witness God provide for another church member.

There was a guy who was sitting near us. He randomly walked over to a lady in the back of church and handed her something. When he came back, he was almost shocked. Apparently, he felt a stir in his heart to go give that lady the $5 he had in his wallet. He was reluctant because that was supposed to be his lunch money, but he obeyed. The old lady told him she almost didn’t come to church today because she didn’t have gas money for the rest of the week. But God assured her He would provide, and He just did.

Upon hearing this, the man he was talking to said, “Hey let’s go get lunch. It’s on me.”

I sat there amazed. I just witnessed God at work through His people!

Sometimes that nudge at your heart… that feeling you just can’t shake… that may just be the Holy Spirit prompting you.

You have to learn discernment to know for sure. But for me, when this feeling pops up, I ask myself the following questions:

-Does this align with God’s will?

-Could this be supported by scripture?

-If another Christian is with me, I tell them the prompting I am having and see if they have input.

But the deciding factor is always, “Is this something God would want me to do?”

It’s an amazing feeling to know that God used you to bless another person. 

We have to learn to trust God, in all areas of our lives.

We may think that we know what is best. But we must remember we are the clay; God is the potter. God will provide in His ways… in His timing.

We know Abraham and Sara got tired of waiting on God to do what He promised. We know that they devised a plan to get their family in their timing. But that was not God’s plan. And even though, they carried out their own plan, God blessed them while carrying out His plan. God’s plan showed everyone who the one true God was.

 God is faithful. We can trust God with our family. We can trust God with our lives. We can trust God in all areas.  He will provide. He will show up. He will be ever present. In fact, he is the alpha and omega. The God who is, and who was, and is to be.

Trust Him. Be obedient. Align your prayers with His will. Watch Him work in you and those around you. 

“Some trust in Chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the Lord our God.”

Psalm 20:7

Dietary Restriction

We recently learned that our daughter is lactose intolerant. Let me tell you, I had no idea how hard a dietary restriction was on a four-year-old.

The first week, I felt like I had to make her “a special” meal for every meal… apparently I overuse dairy in my kitchen. Luckily, she was a champ and thought making a special spaghetti was pretty cool…  

I made some adjustments in the kitchen, gathered some dairy-free snacks, and life seems to be moving smoothly…

Until we are out in public and someone offers my kids a treat. Chocolate, cookies, muffins, donuts, cheesy crackers… guess what they all contain- dairy…

Even when they do try to accommodate (and I really do appreciate it), she still feels cheated… I can’t really blame her. What kid wants to eat pretzels while her sister is eating a chocolate chip cookie???

My poor daughter doesn’t understand. She knows she can’t have dairy. But she really wants it. She knows a belly ache is coming if she eats it, but she still really contemplates it.

The world does not really care about her needs. It’s a fact- she can’t have dairy. Yet, everywhere she goes, people will be eating dairy products. I will continue to be the “mean-mom” who tells her she can’t have it, while allowing her siblings to have some. I know it doesn’t seem fair, but they don’t have the same needs. 

There are many people who are just now learning about her dietary needs and trying to accommodate. They are looking for treats she can have and offering them instead. I know as more and more people come alongside her and understand her dietary needs, it will be easier. But the world will still offer diary… a lot…

dietary restriction

I have definitely felt like my daughter during some of spiritual pruning.  Sometimes I know the area God is working on me, and I am striving to align my will with His. But then I see other Christians doing the same thing God is leading me to NOT do.

It doesn’t seem fair. It doesn’t seem right? Why is God choosing to convict me of gossip while the ladies in the front of the church are sharing not so great information about another member of the church? Why is God convicting me of my love of food, yet every gathering has an unlimited supply of junk food.

The world doesn’t care about our convictions. The world cares about themselves. Knowing this, we can go out in the world prepared to battle that sin.  But it feels different within our Christian circles. We are following the same God, who is a personal God, yet works on us each individually.

The truth is life is not about other people. It’s about God!  The Holy Spirit is leading you in this way so that you can grow closer to God. Your job is not to understand but to submit.  

You have no idea what God’s plan is. Maybe your conviction will change your behavior and help spread His light. Maybe you will help inspire a conviction of other people. Or maybe you will be the safe person that this person can turn to once the Holy Spirit reveals a similar sin to them.

Instead of thinking it’s unfair, pray. Sanctification is not meant to be fair; it’s meant to be personal.  Pray for the strength to overcome this sin. Remember to keep your eyes on the Lord. You cannot ask a neighbor to remove their speck while having a log in your eye. My relationship with God is between God and me. God is completing a good work in you and is faithful to carry it out to completion. 

Guess what? He’s doing the same thing in every believer’s life. It’s our job to love other Christians, walk beside them, and help them in their walk. Remember your convictions are your convictions. Share those convictions, but do not push them. It’s not your job to change another person, that’s God’s work. Clean up your own spiritual diet and allow God to do what only God can do.

We all have a spiritual diet. What we fill our hearts with is very important. Use those spiritual disciplines and listen to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Read you Bible. Pray. Meditate. Yes, even if that means waking up early or staying up late. Find a time. Do it.

Gather for fellowship. We have a very real need to be surrounded by like minded people. Iron sharpens iron.  

Share your testimony. Share your God moments! Share your struggles.

When God first called me to share my testimony. I straight up told Him I don’t want to. I cried wondering what people would think. I cried knowing just how hard it would be to share the pain I have endured.

Then God showed me the Garden of Gethsemane. Guess what? Jesus didn’t want to do it either. He begged His Father to let this cup pass. But He submitted, “Not my will, but Yours be done.”  

I, too, submitted. I learned that sharing my testimony may help others. But really, it’s helping me. It’s showing me just how active God is in my life. It’s helping me recognize His activity. It’s helping me leave the old life behind and embrace the sanctification process.  It’s helping me be open in all areas of my life. Yes, being open about my shortcomings, struggles, and faith has also helped some other people do the same. But really, this was about obedience and growing closer to God. Not just about helping others. 

Share your testimony. Share how God is active in your life. Someone else may see their new convictions as a “dietary restriction” and needs to see you holding your head high walking with the Lord. They need to know they are not alone.  

Up Close and Personal

My family and I live near the airport in St. Louis. There are days I see countless airplanes flying overhead. They often resemble those toy airplanes. I can usually make out the color, airlines, and sometimes I can even see the windows. 

 

However, there are other days that I do not see a single airplane. It’s definitely not because there are no airplanes flying. This one is on me. I live by the airport; I tend to tune out the sound of airplanes now. 

 

Yet, sometimes when I am driving on certain roads, we can catch the airplanes coming in right over our heads. They’re so big. Those planes are up close and personal!  Though I’ve seen this several times, it really is just as neat each time. When this happens, I wish I could see another one do the exact same thing. 

 

This is a really good illustration of how I tend to see God’s movement. When I am looking for it, I see it. But I can easily be distracted and not pay attention to it. But then there are those moments when God is so BIG and so amazing that I just want to experience His movement again and again. 

 

But can I be honest? I want to experience God and His movement, but I don’t always want to experience those “things,” that “stuff,” that brings me to those God size moments. 

 

When life is good! Yes, let me feel those WOW moments. But when life is not so good… I just want the not so good to go away. But it’s in those not so good moments… those moments where my only choice is to admit my weaknesses and hand that “stuff” to God, that I experience those airplanes up close and personal. That’s when I really get to see how BIG my God is!  

up close and personal

If there is one thing that I have taken for granted my entire life- it’s my health. I always pray to be happy, healthy, and safe…but it’s more of a recited checklist. 

 

Well… in 2012 after having baby #2, my body started acting… well pregnant again. I was sooooo tired. I had weird aches. My vision was doing funky things.

 

I didn’t exactly have a doctor. I was 27 and not too worried about my health. Yet, I couldn’t keep ignoring these crazy symptoms. By the grace of God, I was able to get a new patient appointment with  a doctor rather quickly. After my first visit with this doctor, she properly diagnosed me with Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis. (This is almost unheard of in the world of autoimmune diseases!) She put me on some medicine, referred me to an endocrinologist, and I began to learn about the crazy world of autoimmune diseases. See, my immune system recognizes my thyroid as “bad” and is attacking it like it would attack a virus.

 

Correct medicine. Occasional blood work. Life goes back to normal. Four kids later… the same things are happening but on a different scale.

 

My hands and feet are hurting and are swelling like crazy. I get random headaches. And man, that fatigue!  So, I asked my doctor to run bloodwork to see if I have another autoimmune disease. I honestly thought I had Rheumatoid Arthritis.

 

A few days later, the nurse called me with my results. She said my rheumatoid test came back clear, but my ANA test came back positive. This is an indicator of Lupus.

 

At first, I was like, “Oh, ok. No biggie.” I have one autoimmune disease, what’s another?

 

But then I started reading about Lupus. At first it was just to check my symptoms. Then I started realizing what all Lupus attacks-joints, muscles, tissue, skin, heart, lung, kidney, brain… Wow! This could get bad. It seems unpredictable. I could actually die from complications related to this disease.  

 

Then I started pleading with God. Please God, let me live to see my kids graduate high school. Let them get out of the house before you take me home. I don’t want to be the reason they are mad at you. Then I was like, `Oh I want to see my kids get married.’ `Oh, could I see my grandkids…’ my mind completely went haywire. 

 

I know how ridiculous this train of thought was, but it happened. I didn’t even know if I had this disease. I didn’t even really know the ins-and-outs of Lupus, how it’s treated, or anything… Even though I read that 90% of people with Lupus have normal or near normal life expectancy, I thought I was going to die. I just let my mind roll while completely focusing on worst case scenarios.

 

I had to ask God to help me be ok with this diagnosis. I had to learn to live while I was suffering.

 

God gently pointed me to a book I picked up months ago and never finished- It’s Not Supposed To Be This Way by Lysa Terkeust. It was like the chapter I stopped on was written just for this moment. 

 

God allows us to suffer, but He is still a good God. We cannot possibly see the big picture, because He is the master artist.

 

See, I had been giving into tactics of the enemy. The enemy wants me focused on my pain, my suffering, my shortcoming, so that my eyes are not on the prize- Christ. As Lysa words it, “God wants us transformed, while Satan wants us paralyzed.” I was paralyzed for sure! 

 

I could not keep my eyes on my current and potential suffering. I needed a new perspective. I needed to see God’s perspective. I needed to realize, I am the clay- He is the potter. He is the master artist. 

 

As I closed that chapter of the book in peace, I knew things were going to be ok. I prayed and thanked God for answering my prayer. But He had another message for me, and I could feel it in my bones. I sat at my kitchen table with a few minutes before I needed to get my kids up and decided to check my email. As I looked at my email, I saw a link I just knew I needed to click.  

 

(Here it is if you want to read it: https://joyfullifemagazine.com/oh-death-where-is-your-sting/?utm_source=newsletter&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=new_post_oh_death_where_is_your_sting_by_bekah_bowman&utm_term=2019-07-12)

 

This article was written by a momma with two sons diagnosed with chronic fatal illnesses. She went through and explained that she was mad at the disease. So mad that she couldn’t even see her son. Then God gently showed her the cross. She realized He knew what it felt like to see His son unfairly suffering. As she was pointed to the Cross, she felt God’s compassion. Here she got to experience God up close and personal. Here she felt His love. Now, she was able to see her son, not the disease that was eating his life.

 

That was a message I needed to hear-Our God is a God of compassion. He understands how we are feeling. He wants us to give him our burdens. 

 

I needed that article. I needed that book. Both of those writings were written by the hands of God’s servants and placed into my hands at just the right time so that I too could see God up close and personal! The testimony of their suffering brought me peace from God.

 

God is a good God. God is a compassionate God. And God cares for you.

 

God also has the power to heal, but sometimes He choose not to. Sometimes greater glory comes to God through our suffering. If I was not in a place of suffering, I never would have been in a place to see Him up close and personal!  In our suffering, we more willing to draw nearer to God and experience Him in a whole new light.

 

Do I wish God would take away our suffering? Absolutely. And one day He will. One day we will all be in a perfect place with God forever. Until then, I will worship God for who He is. He is a BIG God! And He is a good God, all the time… even in our suffering. He is near to those who call on His name.

 

If you are in a period of suffering, I know God wants you to experience His peace. Draw near to Him. I pray that God gives you peace, comfort, and the opportunity to experience His love up close and personal!

Escape Room

 My husband and I had the opportunity to do an Escape Room Challenge for our anniversary. It was super fun! If you have never done one, I would highly recommend it. We will definitely be doing another one soon.

 

Well during this challenge we were locked in a room for an hour with clues and a ton of locks to open. We sifted through the clues and found the first combination. But then we went to a lock… and it didn’t work!

 

What! So, we tried the combination backwards… nothing…  we had to ask for help… we used our first clue. Do you know why we needed that help? We were on the wrong lock!!!

 

So, we started trying all the other locks. Some locks were key locks, so we knew those wouldn’t be the right lock. Some locks had longer combinations. But it still took us a little while to figure out which lock it was.

 

As I looked at the clock ticking down, I wondered how we would complete this entire task on time. But we ended up finishing with 15 minutes to spare.

 

See as we went through the process, it got easier. We started piecing clues together quicker. We also knew where all the locks were. We started seeing the patterns quicker and were able to use previous knowledge to help us in our current situation.

 

Yet, we still did struggle occasionally, especially with having the right numbers, wrong order.

escape room help

This is such a clear picture of a Christian’s walk with Christ.  When we start out, we are excited and ready to start the journey. But that first bump leaves us a little shaken. We are not real sure what to do next.

 

It’s so important to ask for that help! The person who helped us with our challenge knew exactly why we were struggling… and he knew exactly what we needed to complete the task…  but we were frustrated and confused.

 

While we were in this rough spot of the challenge, my husband and I could have chosen to throw our hands up. We could have decided to vent about how ridiculous the challenge was or how dumb the lock was. But that would not have actually helped at all with our challenge.

 

One of my biggest hang-ups in my Christian walk has been gossiping. See, I was the person who needed to vent. But my venting sessions usually including me talking poorly about the other person or thing that was causing my frustration. I was seeking the approval of the person I was venting to and definitely not sharing the whole story- just my frustrations. This was in no way helping me grow closer to God. In fact, it was 100% feeding my flesh.

 

I learned that venting did not actually help the situation… and sometimes… most of the time… it was downright sinful. It never fixed anything and still left me feeling defeated.

 

I needed to go to the one who could actually help me in this situation- God. I needed to go to the Lord in prayer. Instead of venting, I needed to pray for that person. I needed to pray that God would help me see that person the way that He sees them. I prayed for patience, understanding, peace, and growth. And I began seeing answered prayers.

 

Through this process, I also learned that I am not alone in this struggle. Other people have this struggle too. Everyone struggles with sin. It’s part of our nature. I needed to intentionally look for other women and men who have walked the same path I have walked and are still standing strong in their relationship with Christ. I need mentors. I need my sisters in Christ.  

 

Think about it- my husband and I would have never gotten out of that Escape Room had we not asked the mentor- the person who knew our path- for help.

 

Sometimes it’s hard to find that circle of Christian women to surround us. As a baby Chrisitan and very much an introvert, I found a lot of support through online communities like Proverbs 31 and Club 31.  It just so happens that during this season of my life, they were doing a book study on the book Keep it Shut by Karen Ehman (a Bible study on gossip). I know this was no coquidence, but a God thing. I learned to love all the ladies who write for them. They are so relatable. They make me feel like they understand my issues, that I am not alone, and I can conquer that sin with God on my side. They gave me the courage to start sharing my own testimonies, struggles, breakthroughs, and so on. 

 

But don’t stop there! Online support, books, blogs, they are great tools. But we are called to fellowship!  A friendship rooted in Christ is an amazing gift! Get involved in your church. Join that prayer group. Join that Bible Study. Join in that fellowship opportunity. 

 

And when you stumble, because you will, reach out to someone for help. Let them console you. Let them pray for you. I know it can be scary to just put yourself out there. But when someone tells you that you are not alone, they’ve been there, and here’s what I’ve learned- it’s seriously a gift from God! Sometimes, you may not like what they have to tell you, but that doesn’t mean they are wrong. It means you need to look to God and access His ways. 

 

We are all on this journey called life. Don’t let a little bump derail you. Keep your eyes on the prize- Christ. And when you need help- ask. 

 

“But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.”

1 John 1:7