If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.
But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind.
That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.
Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do.
If you have read my blog long enough, you know that I have struggled with lots and lots of things in my life.....
doubt, insecurity, stress, grief, and the list goes on and on and on.....
As I read verses like the ones above, I am reminded that in this walk with Jesus there is
NO ROOM FOR DOUBT!
When we reach places in life were we feel as if we are being tossed around in the sea by crashing waves, we need to step back and reexamine the depth of our faith.
I know that we will have moments of doubt in life.
This life is tough.
But let's don't stay in that state of instability...there is no peace in a life where we are blown and tossed around by every passing wind.
Plant your feet on the Rock.
Brace yourself for the storms.
Hold on tight.
And boldly ask for wisdom.
He promises to answer that prayer when our confidence is in Him and Him alone!
And not just give us wisdom but GENEROUSLY give us wisdom!
Praying for you as I head to school!
Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.
Not lacking anything.
These words and phrases all sound so attractive until we read what it takes to reach them.....
Trials of many kinds.
Testing of our faith.
Perseverance finishing its work.
Today, as you face difficult moments remember this:
You are on a journey away from immaturity and incompleteness.
Allow God to lead down winding, uncertain roads...
so that you can reach the end in wholeness and maturity!
Praying for you today,
But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
I Thess. 5:8
Does your heart ever get hurt by people's words or actions?
Do you ever find your mind filled with worry or doubt?
I love that God offers protection for both our heart and our mind.
Faith, Hope, and Love......
We need them all, don't we?
Today, remember all the ways God has been there for you in the past even in the toughest times (we're not promised an easy road just a road we don't have to walk alone). When you remember these moments, your faith will grow.
Think of your love for the people you hold dearest in your heart then multiply that love times a billion several times and you will have a fraction of the love God has for you.....
Put both this faith and this love in front of you as you face the world...........
Let them protect you. You are not alone.
I love Psalm 18:2829
You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
Picture yourself advancing with your heart protected by faith and love. I love this image!
Then figuratively slip on your helmet, the Hope of your salvation!
How can my mind wander when my every thought is wrapped securely in His Hope!
The slogan for the high school I teach at is this,
"It has to be a new day...."
Friends, God has the same slogan!
"His mercy is new every morning!!"
We belong to the day...........this new day!
Protect yourself with faith, hope, and love!
In Christ, "IT HAS TO BE A NEW DAY!!!!!!!"
Praying for you as I get ready for my new day!
The winner of Renee Swope's book, A Confident Heart, is........
I am always so excited to announce the winner, but I wish I had enough copies of the book to send you each one! You know I would if I could!
Holly, please send me your mailing address when you can. Congratulations! I hope this book helps you live with the confidence that comes from knowing without a doubt that you are a daughter of the King!
I pray that all of you are learning to walk with this kind of confidence as you draw closer to Him every day!
I thought that since I wasn't able to give everyone a copy of Renee's book, it would be a great time to give away another book!
When I think of the pain and loss that has consumed so many years of my life, knowing that God is going to use it to help others strengthens me deep inside..
I've clung to (and still do) the verse that says that those "who sow in tears will reap songs of joy!"
I've told God so many times as I have cried that I will keep sowing for Him because of this promise and because I love Him and trust Him even when I do not understand His ways.
When I arrived home from school on Thursday, I found a box on my kitchen table!
In the box I found my writer's copies of Chicken Soup for the Soul Stories for Tough Times!
(I have a devotional in this edition.)
Please leave a comment below to be entered in this week's drawing for
Chicken Soup for the Soul: Stories for Tough Times.
A winner will be announced next Sunday evening!!
I love you all and pray that God will give you songs of joy even as you sow in tears,
I know because I love you, and I can hear the words you say to me.
His unfailing love will keep you from falling.
Just lean back in His arms and let Him hold you up.
I woke up this morning with those deep breaths of anxiety.
Trying to mutter my first words of morning,
"I rise before dawn and cry for help. My Hope comes from Your Word."
Those are the words I cling to and have clung to ever since Nick died.......My Hope comes from Your Word...
Without His Word, I don't know where I'd be.
His Word fills me.
His Word strengthens me.
His Word sustains me.
His Word comforts me.
His Word corrects me.
His Word challenges me.
His Word breathes into me.
His Word breathes out of me.
His Word reminds me......
It reminds me that
I'm never alone.
Yes, I put my trust in His Word daily.
So, why do I wake up with deep breaths?
Why do I wake up thinking that I can't do everything that is waiting for me today?
An all day teacher's meeting followed by an after-school meeting followed by Open House......then getting ready for tomorrow night's women's retreat.....and Erich and Mallory coming to visit this weekend and one of my dearest friend's daughter's wedding this weekend....an hour and a half away....and 5K details that have to be taken care of......and Olivia's ball games and 8th grade night.........and Evan waiting to hear about a job interview in California....and..and..and....
Then I remember His Word.
I remember a verse I memorized while Nick was facing cancer and almost monthly MRIs.
When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise-
in God I trust and am not afraid.
What can mere mortals do to me?
Psalm 56: 3-4
And I smile.
I smile because I know that there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING on this planet that can separate me from God's love.
There is NOTHING that can hurt me.
I just have to check things off the best I can and trust in Him.
Trust in Him.
Trust in Him.
Trust in Him.
That's what I'm doing this morning as I want to type more but Olivia is needing help in the kitchen...
I'm going to help her just like God longs to help me and you.
Because she called for me, I go.
When we cry out to God, He comes...
and He is all we need.
Last night several women joined me to help make the posters and clouds for the memory walk which will take place a week from Saturday in our small town in Kentucky.
Clouds will line the route, bearing names of those we love who are "surrounding" us from above. My dream is for this race to remind people that even though we have had to say "bye" temporarily to many whom we love, they are still with us in a powerful way...
cheering us on!!
I am so thankful the BIble includes Hebrews 12:1-2,
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses,
let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles
And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,
fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith.
For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame,
and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God
This walk/run is being hosted by Nick's Foundation and will provide help in purchasing memory box supplies. A portion of the proceeds will also be going to diabetes research in memory of a sweet girl named Snowy Hall who was killed in a car accident two years ago. Funds will also be shared with a family in our town whose daughter is facing multiple surgeries in the near future.
The only direction that matters!!! UP!!!!
I hope your day is filled with moments where you are reminded in special ways that your loved ones are surrounding you!
Knowing I am being cheered on by not only Moses, Abraham, Joshua, and so many Bible characters but also Nick, Adrienne, and so many more I love and miss keeps me pressing on to the finish line!!
Press on today!!
I love you,
Doubt and insecurity...........
These are just a couple of things I have wrestled with in my life as a young girl, daughter, college student, wife, mom, friend, and teacher.
Renee Swope, author of A Confident Heart and dear friend of mine, would say the same thing to you about her life if she were writing this blog post.
I think that's why I loved her book so much! She made me realize I am normal! As I read each chapter of her book and highlighted Scriptures and spiritual truths, I was reminded that I am not alone in my highs and lows. I realized very quickly that living in this world qualifies each of us for episodes of second-guessing ourselves.
Riding to the airport with Renee late this summer, I got so tickled as I realized that (even as an author) Renee drives a mini-van which is happily overflowing with kid's toys, sandwich wrappers, and other reminders that her life is made up of more than moments of speaking at women's events and writing books! More important things!
She does not lose her confidence in the midst of the ordinary, though, and continues to humbly walk a life much like yours and mine.
Throughout her book, A Confident Heart, Renee talks about what we should do when doubt whispers haunting words like,
"I'm not good enough!"
"I'm such a failure!"
"I don't have anything special to offer."
"I can't stop worrying."
"I can't follow God consistently."
As I have faced a new full-time job this year, a son heading to college, a son moving across the United States to live 34 hours away from home, a daughter going through all sorts of things in middle school, and the list goes on an on, I have referred back to Renee's book many times for reminders that God is with me. When I remember Renee's story about learning to stop living in the shadow of doubt, I am able to live life in the light of God's promises and I am able to walk confidently!
If you want to learn more about Renee and her book, please visit her webiste by clicking on the word blog! She would love to hear from you!!! You can also meet Renee on Facebook!
You can order her book from Amazon by clicking here.
I have one copy of her book that I want to share!
Please post a comment (even if it's just a "hello!") by Sunday evening at 7 p.m., and you will be entered for the drawing!
Thank you for sharing life with me!
In His Grip,
Why am I surprised that my mind has been swirling this weekend with anxious thoughts?
Erich's all-night work schedule followed by all-night driving with Tim and Evan to get to California, his flight back home to Nashville, Mallory being home alone while he was away.........
Evan's hunt for a place to live, his upcoming job interviews, the California traffic he has to get use to.......all things I can't control.
Todd's transition to college, dorm life issues, relationship changes........so many more situations that are out of my hands.
Olivia's friendships, her feelings of insecurity and need for a best friend, her classes at school.........more and more things that I want to somehow magically "make better."
I should have remembered how "fully relying on God" became a bigger struggle as I prepared to speak on the topic. Maybe then I wouldn't have been so shocked when I found myself trying to carry the load for all of my kids when I am speaking on the very topic this Friday night.
There's so many different kinds to carry.
Sometimes it's our past that weighs us down. Sometimes it's fear of the future.
And yet other times, it's the very present road we're walking that seems to hand us overloaded suitcases.
I walked last night and talked with God the whole time. I tried to be honest (He knows my heart anyway). I tried to tell Him I want to let go of all of these things that aren't mine to hold anyway. I've got to find a way, and for me I think it's going to be a literal suitcase, to place all my worries in His Hands.
Tonight, I am going to get in the attic and find an old suitcase, and I'm going to write down everything that is weighing me down on slips of paper and fill the suitcase up. Then I'm going to shut it and put it somewhere in plain sight. I want to be reminded daily that God carries all my worries and doubts............when I remember this, I can breathe more easily, sleep more peacefully, walk more confidently, and run more freely.
I told God yesterday that deep inside I want to write my own story and I want to write my kids' stories, but I felt like God was telling me to put the pencil down.
He is the Author and Perfecter of my faith (Hebrews 12:2) and my kids' faith. My story and their stories are being written by Him not me.
When I let go of the pencil and set down the suitcase, I am able to lift my hands and worship Him and Him alone.
Today, that's what I'm going to try to do......
Praying you can do the same.
Last week was spirit week at Olivia's school, and she decided to "go all out!"
Looking at her pictures makes me wonder, "What if Christians were this excited about having Spirit?????
Can you imagine a world where Christians chose to "go all out" with their faith???
WOW! What a world it would be!
Let's get fired up!!! We have more than spirit.....we have the gift of the Holy Spirit!
I just have to end this post with a little cheer!
"I've got Spirit,
yes I do!
I've got Spirit,
how bout you??"
I can feel the peace that only comes from knowing Him who holds all things together.
I'm thankful this morning for that kind of peace.
This morning my before-school blogging time was spent writing Evan a letter to go in his notebook I put together as a going-away gift. In this notebook are notes and Scriptures from friends and family who wrote to encourage Evan as he starts his new life chapter.
I'll write more this evening.
Thank you for your prayers.
I love you all so much!
I flipped my Scripture calendar over to September 14th right after writing this post, and this is what it said!
As I woke up this morning and realized that I only have about 24 more hours of Evan living in our house, I felt that all-too-familiar sense of panic and sadness rising up in me. I spent the evening helping Evan sort through years of memories, clothes, and other things.............
trying to get him ready for the big move on Wednesday.
I've never wanted to fight something like I want to fight this and yet felt excited at the same time.
It's as if I know that this is what has to happen in order for Evan to venture into manhood, but my heart isn't ready to say "Ok, it can happen."
Evan came by the high school yesterday to see my room and say "bye" to some of his teachers. My students are so sweet. They could tell by my face that I was having a hard day, and they made sure I knew I was loved and everything would be okay.
One of my students is writing me a poem about letting Evan go. I can't wait to read it!
As I was thinking this morning of how difficult this has been for me, a thought went through my mind that had never gone through it before in quite the same way.
Did God cry when Jesus left for Bethlehem???
The Christmas story seems so beautiful from our perspective.
Wise men bringing gifts.
Mary and Joseph, holding a tiny bundle of joy, and a stable filled with God's love.
But God knew the rest of the story, and I wonder if He cried a little.
Ultimately, He knew there would be a happy ending, however, for 33 years He knew that Jesus would face lots of heartache, rejection, sadness, and pain.
I'm thankful that God didn't change His mind when He thought about the cost.
I'm thankful that He understands on a much larger scale what it's like for me to let Evan go to a faraway place to be surrounded by people I do not know.
I know He's going with Evan, and as much as I love Evan, He loves Evan even more. That 's an awful lot of love.
So, I take a deep breath, and place Evan in God's lap (He's there anyway, right?), trusting God with Him just like I trusted Him with Nick.........
I have one more evening with my sweet boy at home.
Then I'll be counting down the days until I see him again.
I'll bet God was counting down those days til Jesus came Home too.
For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.
It's humbling and embarrassing that I spent the weekend speaking at a retreat on the topic of "Fully Relying on God" and then woke up this morning feeling consumed with anxiety about the fact that Evan only has two more days to live in our house.
Two more days.
I tossed and turned a bit and tried to whisper somewhat broken prayers then Tim woke up and said, "Are you ok, baby?"
I burst into tears and said, "I'm going to miss Evan so much."
He tried to comfort me by saying, "I really think we'll see Evan as much as we see Erich." This caused me to cry more, because I miss Erich too.
Tim prayed with me, and the reality hit that I had to get up and get ready for school.
Life doesn't stop because tears appear in our eyes, does it?
Thankfully, I was able to spend the whole afternoon yesterday with Evan.
He even took me out to dinner; and as we visited, he drew a map of the Los Angeles area for me. It helped to see the layout of the city and where he might be working and taking classes and living.......
This morning as I thought about writing about joy I felt a little conflicted inside of myself, because joy didn't seem to be an emotion I was experiencing.
So I began Googling things about "empty nest syndrome" and ran across a few articles that helped me look at my situation through a different lens.
We are entering a new chapter with Evan, and I need to be excited about what this chapter holds even if it hurts to see the one we are in ending.
As I came back to my blog to write, it occurred to me that when baby birds leave a nest they fly to all kinds of different branches. It would be pitiful to see a bunch of big birds trapped in a nest with a mommy bird demanding that they do not fly.
I don't want to be that kind of mom.
Wednesday is a huge day at our house. Tim and Evan pull out in the afternoon, leaving Maria, Olivia, and me to face the reality of what this next chapter is going to look like.
I want to choose joy as we face this new chapter knowing that one day all of our goodbyes will be transformed into an Eternity of NO GOODBYES!
Oh, what a day that will be!!
I told Evan that I am not going to say "bye;" I'm just going to say "see you soon!"
When I think of Nick and Adrienne, I think the same words and it makes me smile!
"Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God's will for you in Christ Jesus."
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
F.R.O.G., Fully Rely on God, is such a cute little phrase.
Living it out, though, isn't always so easy.
I met so many women this weekend who are facing such incredible situations in their personal lives and yet continue to try living in such a way that they "Fully Rely on God."
How do we rely on Him when the carpet is pulled out from under our feet........
sometimes more than once.........
We cling to His Word even when tears blur the promises.
And we cling to each other......knowing that we don't face our struggles alone.
I'm thankful for my time away this weekend. I was refreshed, reenergized, and reminded that God's love is never ending, His family is filled with beautiful people, and eternity is going to make all the difficult things we face in life seem like a foggy dream.
I knew it was going to be a great weekend when I received this hilarious "FROG" hat from Tammy Andrew and Laurie Muller!
I couldn't believe it when another one of my dear college friends, Georgia, who I hadn't seen in over 20 years, hopped in! She has been involved in work in Haiti ever since we got out of college! I'll share more about that soon.
Lindsey and Rachel, precious students from KCU, were also at the retreat! Lindsey actually rode up with me and helped navigate the twists and turns on the curvy roads! I appreciated her company so much!
College friends from two of my worlds (CCU and KCU) came together to serve God by organizing the entire event!
They were quite an amazing team! I love you, Jennifer and Lisa!
Olivia had such a good time sharing the weekend with me. It was her first women's retreat, and I am so thankful that she came along!
Laurie and I, on the other hand, were just hoping the ropes course didn't conquer us.
I had to "fully rely on God" while walking on wires over 40 feet in the air. I also had to depend on ropes to hold me up!
Being with friends was wonderful.
Facing the ropes course was inspiring.
Best of all, meeting so many Christian ladies who are striving to FULLY RELY ON GOD in their day to day lives left me feeling so thankful!
I LOVE being with women and sharing the love and power of God!
It was such a blessing to spend my weekend at Elkhorn Valley Christian Camp!
I was thankful for the almost $900 love offering for Nick's Foundation, too!! This will help restock our supplies for memory boxes!
Fully relying on Him even when I don't understand His plan,