When You Are Too Tired to Fight… Simply Stand

A friend’s husband fights for his life in a battle against an inoperable, malignant tumor… Another dear friend’s heart tires from a long drought of the soul… A neighbor loses her husband to a devastating type of cancer… Riots, hate and division flood our country… Hurricane waters devastate a thriving city… the images reminding me of the time my hometown in South Brazil was destroyed by flood waters twice during my youth. In each of these circumstances, it’s not difficult to lose hope and allow our hearts to believe that the worse is yet to come. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places.” Ephesians 6:12 I know – That is a weird insert in the middle of this blog post. “What on earth does spiritual battle have to do with these devastating issues?” you may ask. Oh, but it does. I’m absolutely not saying that every evil happening out there is CAUSED by the devil. That is certainly not a biblical concept. But this I know: Our trials have everything to do with OPPORTUNITY for the Enemy. This idea has been playing repeatedly in my mind, as I pray for the people I know, who are deeply hurting today. I don’t know if it’s because I have gone through cancer and other draining health problems; through unemployment and the financial uncertainties that it brings; through natural disaster and their devastating consequences. But I know firsthand how the enemy takes advantage of our weakness and pain to...

How to Embrace Seasons of Change

Change: we all go through it at some point in our lives and it happens whether we want it to or not. So what do we do when the winds of change start to blow and we simply don’t want things to change? Do we stomp our feet like little kids and cross our arms, forbidding change to happen? Do we jump on an imaginary surfboard and ride the waves of change like a free spirit? Do we go through the motions of change, doing what we gotta do, all the while wondering, “what just happened?” If you are anything like me, you’ve probably done all three at some point or another in your life. This year though, has been different. This year has been all about change in every single arena of my life. Okay, so not every single arena. I am still very much happily married, but pretty much everything else has changed and this has proven to be one of the most emotional, gut wrenching, spirit checking, soul searching seasons in my life. I’ve always pictured myself as an “adventurer” type of person. The one who leads change, blazes new paths, plows right ahead. It wasn’t until everything changed that I realized just how comfortable my life was and how much I liked it that way. Isn’t that usually the way it is in life? You think things are one way, then quickly realize you were off in your view of reality. This has absolutely been the case for me, and while I wrestle with all the change, I’m slowly starting to let the words from...

The Gravitational Pull Toward Self

There’s a gravitational pull toward self. It’s a force that naturally happens. It takes effort to lean away from self and notice others. Considering others’ perspectives and needs requires sacrifice. Focusing on self doesn’t take much effort, yet it, too, involves a sort of passive sacrifice. There is things we give up, we miss, when we focus on ourselves. We miss an awareness of the world around us. We miss perspectives that challenge us. We miss a consistent, reliable reality check. When we become focused on ourselves, we too easily affirm ourselves. Everything makes sense to us because we create our own narrative. Or at least, we begin to believe we do. But our narrative isn’t the true narrative. The gravitational pull toward self excludes the possibility of growth. We simply cannot and do not grow on our own. We need something outside, bigger than us. Our stories involve others. Be sensitive to the gravitational pull toward self. The more you practice, the more sensitive you’ll become, and as your mind or routines become mainly about you, an alarm will sound, challenging you to open your eyes, heart, ears, and hands. Leaning away from the selfish pull creates a resistance, a tension that helps you become stronger. Refuse to be passive, to be weakened. Lean toward God instead. Let him strengthen you. Let him truth-check you. Let him grow you. It isn’t going to be comfortable or easy much of the time, but the effort of faith is worth the...

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Have you ever run a marathon? Although I enjoy exercising, I can honestly say I’ve never considered participating in a long distance run. I admire those who put themselves through the rigors of training and discipline themselves to eat right to achieve maximum performance. I understand it’s as much a mental challenge as it is a physical one. When a runner reaches the 18-mile mark something happens. The muscles reach a point of fatigue so overpowering it’s easy to entertain thoughts of quitting. Running 18 miles is quite an accomplishment – something to be proud of. But it’s only through perseverance and focusing on the finish line that the runner can complete the remaining eight miles of the race. The race of life On a much larger scale, the apostle Paul used the analogy of our entire life being a race: Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. Hebrews 12:1, KJV There are those who are watching us; cheering us on and keeping us accountable. Paul cautions us to keep our eyes open for distractions. There are also things that need to be set aside so we can run a good race: sin, our past, defeat. When life gets tough, it’s tempting to give up (click to tweet). We can get discouraged by what might lie ahead. Or we can keep pushing ahead. The choice is ours. When our eyes are focused on the...

Cling Tight Dear One

When life seems to keep knocking you down and you start to wonder when will you see the sun again just remember to cling tight, dear one. This has been the four words that God keeps pressing on my heart these last few months. Oh how I wish that I could tell you that the Christian life was all sunshine and roses, but truth is that it’s not always easy. Yes, there are times when It’s full of sadness, disappointment, and hurt, but there are also times full of happiness, joy and love. Thank goodness for that, because can you image how hard it would be to even get out of bed each day if it was only the hard stuff? Here’s what I will tell you — I’ve grown more as a believer in the hard times than in the easy times. Sit there for a minute. It’s a hard truth, for sure, but it’s true. It’s when things are tough than we run (not even walk) to God. It’s not when things are going smoothly. So, what’s one supposed to do when you are buried deep in the middle of the hard times? Well, that’s where these four words come in handy…cling tight, dear one. These four words have been on my mind for months now. Every single time I cry out to God for help, relief or comfort I feel Him say to me, “cling tight, dear one”. Why those four words and why every single time I pray these days? I think I’m beginning to understand and it’s my hope that these four words will...

The One-Mile Marker… Is It Time to Quit?

“‘I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.” Exodus 6:6   He left the presence of the Lord, repeating the words God had given him several days before. “I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgements”. He hung on to that promise as he got ready to request yet another audience with the King of Egypt. Between you and me – Moses had to be tired of it. When we get to Exodus chapter 9, Israel’s leader had seen God strike Egypt five times with miraculous, awesome wonders, and yet, Pharaoh would not waver. And although God had told him that He himself would harden Pharaoh’s heart, there’s no doubt that pressing on was a hard thing for Moses to do. How much more, Lord? How much will it take for this hard-headed, prideful king to let your people go? How many more wonders do you have to perform until he finally believes? You know exactly what it will take to break him, and yet, you choose this slow, painful path to set us free. Why? Why? True – I may be stretching Moses’ thoughts a bit, but we know that Israel’s leader at the time had serious issues with unbelief. He questioned God’s sovereignty over and over again, while presenting his excuses to defuse the task of leading the Jews out of slavery (Exodus 4). Surely it was hard to go again, and...

You Can Go Your Own Way Or You Can Seek God’s Will

 And they did not do as we expected, but they gave themselves first to the Lord and then to us in keeping with God’s will. ~ 2 Corinthians 8:5 Have you ever tried to do things your own way? When the focus is on trying to do what you want instead of what God’s will is for the situation? Me too! Truth be told, I am somewhat of a “control freak.” There, I said it. Whew, I feel a little better now. You know you are a control freak when you will do whatever it takes to make sure that things are done “just right”–whether it is the dishes, the laundry, the project at work, or even your hair. The catch twenty-two with this though is that people around you like that you things get done and that they can count on you when the going gets tough, but it can also frustrate and tear down some of those same relationships, not to mention the fact that it keeps us focused on what “we” can do. When our focus is on what we can do, handle and get done then the weight of the burden rests completely on our shoulders. We start to feel the weight of all these things we’ve picked up along the way because we are get it done girls who like things done the “right way”. Each step we take throughout the day seems harder and heavier until we feel like we can’t take another single step. In our pursuit to do things our way we somehow managed to sidestep God. We left Him out and...

When Your Deepest Pain and Purpose Collide

We want to change the world and do something big. We want to know our lives, pain, and tears on this earth matter. Searching for our purpose, we read books, say thousands of prayers, and beg God to answer the question: “What in the world are we here for?” We get glimpses, but it still looks hazy. We see other people doing great things and wonder if they have some secret hotline to heaven we know nothing about. I read this scripture a few weeks ago and I’m still digging for all the treasures found here. Psalms 126:5-6  They who sow in tears shall reap with joyful singing. He goes back and forth weeping, carrying his bag of seed {for planting}, will indeed come again with a shout of joy, bringing sheaves with him. Oh friend, we have made this way more difficult than it needed to be. And way bigger in our minds than it needed to be. Our culture tells us that our purpose has to be this “big thing” we must strive for, when God is saying, “It’s right in front of you. Look at those around you who are in need.”  What I’ve discovered about people who have done great things is that it always started with small things done with great love. (Mother Teresa). There is a quote that says, “Show me a man’s wounds and I’ll show you his purpose.”  Think of your deepest pain: the things in your life which have hurt you and cut you so deeply that they just about did you in. Now, ask yourself these questions: Who is out...

Behind The Makeup

Over the years I’ve been blessed to serve in ministry at the local church. Most of the time you hope and pray that what you are doing is making an impact, but truth be told you never fully know just what that impact is. A good friend of mine, Michelle Garrison, shared this with me a few weeks ago and I immediately knew that this was something that needed to be talked about with you as well. This is something that many of us wrestle with, as a matter of fact, it’s one of the things that I talk/write about more than anything else: Girlfriends, vulnerability and being real with each other. It’s not easy to do, that’s for sure, but something incredible happens when we start to get behind the makeup. I pray you are as encouraged by her words as I have been…she is not an author, speaker, or even someone that likes to be in the spotlight, she’s a real woman, doing real life and trying really hard to live out her faith and I just love that about Michelle. Her words are from the heart and I know that it will challenge you as much as it did me. As I assessed my face in the makeup mirror this morning, I was so thankful that I was able to hide my imperfections under the mask of makeup. The day before, I hung around the house and wore no makeup. It is amazing how good you feel when you look all put together. On that no makeup day, I wasn’t feeling at my best. Then, my thoughts...

He Gives Rain… In.Due.Season.

“If you walk in my statutes and observe my commandments and do them,  then I will give you your rains in their season, and the land shall yield its increase, and the trees of the field shall yield their fruit. Your threshing shall last to the time of the grape harvest, and the grape harvest shall last to the time for sowing. And you shall eat your bread to the full and dwell in your land securely.” Leviticus 26:3-5 (ESV) – emphasis added The land was vast, and yet, seemingly desolate. A desert of sorts, the people knew that, unlike the Egyptians who had the fertile Nile to irrigate their crops, Israel was solely dependent on the rain season to be able to harvest bountiful crops. When I visited Israel many years ago, I remember listening to the tour guide describing the abundance of its harvest. I had never tasted fresher fruit and vegetables before. Indeed, this tiny piece of land yields some of the most beautiful crops on earth. I find it especially interesting that of all places on the planet, God would choose to place His chosen nation in a land that would completely depend on rain to produce successful harvests. But then again, The Holy God of Israel knew the heart of His people. Had he chosen Egypt as the Promised Land, the people would gladly depend on their own ability to channel the waters of the Nile into their crop beds. Rain would not have been a deal breaker every year, necessarily. However, the success of any given harvest season in Israel did not depend on...