Friday, August 18, 2017

The Inevitability of Change

Ecclesiastes 3:1-8
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up; a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose; a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate; a time for war, and a time for peace.

I’m not one who deals with change very well.  In fact, I generally resist it even if it’s a good idea.  I need time to sit with it, think about it, dwell on it and mull it over and the maybe I can deal with change.  It doesn’t matter if it’s a big change or a little one, I find them all difficult. 

As I age, I realize that change is inevitable and I have to work to control those negative emotions, but it’s definitely work.  And of course the big changes are the ones that are the most difficult. You know the job change, the move to a new city, marriage, divorce, birth of a child, etc. These big changes – inevitable and sometimes glorious, and sometimes painful.

This week I deal with the emotions of some big changes.  Our son who has never been in school since we have homeschooled him his whole life. He’s always been involved in the homeschooling environment since he could sit under the table and answer the questions his sisters were being asked about addition, history and anything else.  He has always loved learning and we are excited that he will take a new step.  While we aren’t stopping homeschooling, we are moving to a hybrid of sorts.  He will go to a cottage school 3 days a week and have teachers who will give assignments and teach material, test and grade him.  It’s a change to turn over his education to someone knew in some ways, but it’s going to be a good change for him.  He will be challenged in this environment and that’s a great thing for a young man who we long to grow into the adult man that God wants him to be.  Of course it’s been challenging for me as I’m concerned that he will forget to write an assignment done, or leave his lunch at home. 

But that’s not the only thing going on this week. Our oldest daughter is leaving home for the first time.  She’ll be 20 this fall and she’s headed off to start her junior year on campus.  I’m excited for her of course, but it means a big change.  Of course she could have taken off 2 years ago and we thought she likely would, but we had an extension of shorts when she decided to stay and go to the community college and live at home.  I’m not going to lie.  It has been a special time over the last two years.  A time for us to watch her grow, to see her step out and take responsibilities, to go after goals. There have been difficulties and challenges but we have been together and God has blessed these years.

But the season has come and change is in the air.  I’m not gonna guarantee I won’t cry.  I probably will.  Goodness, I cry for sappy movies and really good books, so the likelihood is high.  But I won’t be a blubbering mess.  I know she’s ready and I’m not worried about her leaving.  But growth can be a bit uncomfortable and change isn’t something I seek.

Seasons are good though and growth is good.  If we aren’t growing, we are stagnating and nobody wants rottenness. Just as we look forward to the advance of the next season, we can look forward to the advance of seasons in our families.  There’s always a wistfulness that things are changing, but the next stages can also bring much joy.  I’m working to remind myself of that now.




Monday, August 14, 2017

Walk Your Path

By: Jenifer Metzger

When God created you, when He knit you together in your mother's womb {Psalm 139:13}, He made a plan for you. He laid out this path that is your path. One He needs you to walk. It is uniquely created for you. The problem is we often see other paths that look more appealing. Her path has a bigger house. Her path has more Instagram followers. Her path has a more romantic husband. Her path has a skinny body. Her path has kids headed for ivy league colleges. We see these other paths and we detour off our own path in hopes of walking these better looking roads.

Jonah did the same thing. Now Jonah wasn't chasing a better looking path, he was just trying to get off of his. We all know the story. God told Jonah to go to Nineveh and preach but he didn't want to so he got on a ship headed in the opposite direction. He didn't like the path God laid out for him. As a result, God put him in a time out to think about what he did wrong. A long, stinky, pretty gross time out.

Whether we are chasing a better path or just trying to get off our own, when we stop following the path God laid out for us, things get hard. We feel discontent, anxious, unhappy, and even guilty. Things stop working the way they should because we have left our God given path.


Your path is yours. Own it. Love it. Enjoy it. It may not look like the next path, but that's because it isn't like it. That is her path. You are called to walk yours. You may not be able to handle some obstacles on her road and she may not be able to handle some of your obstacles. God calls us to our own. We just need to walk our path.

Are you feeling discontent? Do you feel like you aren't doing what God wants? Do you feel like you've gotten off your path? It's okay friend. All you have to do is ask God to forgive you and help you get back to your path. Just as God helped Jonah get back to his path, God will help you get back to yours.



Sunday, August 13, 2017

Hope...


I've been reading through Psalm 119 this last week and this morning as I read verse 116, I was burdened for those who are struggling with hopelessness. "Uphold me according to your promise, that I may live, and let me not be put to shame in my hope", the verse reads.  I began to remember the many times and situations that I, myself, struggled with hopelessness - when I was sure God was going to come through with a financial miracle and instead we went through a season of great loss - when someone hurt and betrayed me and the relationship never recovered - in dealing with a chronic pain issue - in a long, long season of not seeing an answer to a deep heart prayer - in a two year struggle with depression - in watching my daughter struggle through over a decade of infertility and miscarriage.  I'm sure it wouldn't be hard for me to recollect other times when it felt like I was barely holding on by a thread to the rope of hope.

It's at times like these, when you are being haunted by hopelessness, that someone coming along and quoting Romans 8:28, "And we know that for those who love God ALL THINGS work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose", can be a bit like rubbing salt in your wounds.  I certainly don't want to do that, to be that person who callously throws out a verse hoping to comfort you, but refusing to enter into your suffering with you. Just a Bible verse can be cold comfort when what you need is a hug, or to hear the words, "I understand", or to be offered a cup of coffee and a listening ear.   At the risk of doing what I just condemned, I couldn't help but notice a similar thought to Romans 8:28 found early in chapter 119, verse 91.  "ALL THINGS are Your servants", it says.  As I recollect my own times of despair and hopelessness,  I can testify to this truth.  In the times when it felt like God didn't come through for me because He didn't answer my prayer the way I thought He was going to, in the times when hope deferred made my heart sick but after years of asking, praying, and pleading I finally saw the answer come, in the areas where I'm still praying and have yet to see the promise come to pass - in ALL OF THESE THINGS, God has used every test, trial and circumstance as His servant, as His tool, to do His work in my life. At every point when hope was slipping through my fingers, every time the enemy fanned the flames of hopelessness and despair that seemed to be consuming me, it was at those times that God supernaturally intervened and gave me the power of endurance that helped me to hold fast to hope.
For whatever was thus written in former days was written for our instruction, that by [our steadfast and patient] endurance and the encouragement [drawn] from the Scriptures we might hold fast to and cherish hope. Now may the God Who gives the power of patient endurance (steadfastness) and Who supplies encouragement, grant you to live in such mutual harmony and such full sympathy with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, 
 Romans 15:4-5 Amplified Bible, Classic Edition
My point?  My point is that when it appears that God isn't working in your situation, He is still working and He is still working in you.  He does not waste anything that happens in our lives but uses ALL THINGS for our good and for His glory. The older I get, the longer the view in the rearview mirror of my life, and I can now see how even my hardest and most hopeless situations He wove into something beautiful in the end. Sometimes it took over a decade, sometimes even longer, for me to see and understand what He was up to, for me to see any good in it.  But, now that I see in hindsight so many instances of His handiwork in the midst of my difficulties,  it is easier to hold onto hope in things that I'm currently facing.  We've got history together now, God and I, and I know with confidence that all of hopes and dreams, all of my expectations, are safe with Him.
still following, 
www.justfollowingjesus.com

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Defeat the Lies

By:

Emily Miller

It all can begin innocently enough.



A moment that could have been easily passed off or taken to be a growing experience blows up into something bigger.

This is because of satan's lies. We let him weasel his way through that crack that has opened up in our lives and all of the sudden we are thinking more lowly of ourselves than we ever should have due to certain circumstances and misunderstandings.

We have the power though! As daughters of the Most High, He has given us incredible authority as it is written in the scriptures.

But in that coming day, no weapon turned against you will succeed. You will silence every voice
raised up to accuse you. These benefits are enjoyed by the servants of the Lord; their vindication will come from me. I, the Lord, have spoken!
-Isaiah 54:17

We have the power to refute these evil thoughts and lies that cross our minds! Not one of these lies will be able to pierce us if we only turn to the truth of what the Lord has to say and who we are as daughters of the Most High God!

So if you are feeling discouraged today, join me in claiming this affirmation!

Blessings,

Emily

Friday, August 11, 2017

Where to turn when you're overwhelmed!

by Victoria Duerstock

It doesn't take long to feel overwhelmed in our daily lives.  Moms especially, while the masters of juggling many things, often find ourselves past our breaking point and feeling burnt out.  I'm not sure about you, but it tends to sneak up on me when I least expect it.  I seem to be able to manage many moving parts in general but one unexpected event, or added responsibility can cause me to teeter off.

What can we do when feel that the walls are collapsing in around us?  Running away is not the answer, although in many ways it feels like a viable option. Instead we have to turn to the Source of our strength and lean in to His power when we find ourselves at the end of our ropes.

Whether we are feeling financial or emotional pressure, marriage strain or any other myriad of other things, one constant remains.  

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change 
James 1:17

In a world that changes frequently and people fail us, putting our trust and hope in the One who never changes and never fails us. 

Practical tips that help bring balance:
  • Take your time to sit and reflect on God's Scripture. Read your Bible friends!  Fill your mind with truth.  Many times when we are stressed and overwhelmed, we can usually find our minds dwelling on the wrong things.  Reading God's Word will get our minds back and centered on Christ.
  • Brain dump.  Seriously write it all down.  All the things rattling around in your mind. The things that distract you and overwhelm you. Write it down. 
  • Spend time praying about the things that you know have bothered you and ask God to order your day.

While this doesn't make our problems and difficulties go away, putting our mind in proper order to face whatever it is in our path will make the burdens much easier to bear.