How to Fight Fear

 

fear, hopeless, fighting, hope

Hi Friends,

What are you afraid of? Today, if you were to make a list of your top fears what would they be?

  • Mine would look like this:
  • Husband’s upcoming trips for work
  • Projects at work piling up
  • Children’s health in this crazy flu season
  • Family relationships
  • Finances

I bet if you were to list your fears they might be similar.

Some days these fears just hover in the back of our minds. They might not be taking over our thoughts, but they’re there constantly picking at us.

On other days, these fears bully their way to the front of the line and cower us. They send us running for cover and take over our day.

As I was being bullied by my fears this past week, God reminded me of Isaiah 41:10 on three different days in three different ways. Don’t you just love when he does that? It says,

So do not be afraid, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

If you have a moment, I would even encourage you to read all of Isaiah 41. In that chapter, Isaiah addressing the the people of Judah, and they are scared! Their enemies are a constant threat, and Judah doesn’t know where to turn. In the past they have turned to idols, but now God is calling them to himself.

This chapter has three distinct parts that teach us how to address our fears.

First, we’re reminded to not trust in idols. To leave behind those things we place before God.  Looking down at the calendar at my next few weeks, I could lose hope. There is a lot of overwhelming items there if I look at what’s in my hands. But when I instead turn away from what I can see and place my hope in God, I’m reminded of how he’s been victorious in the past, and it gives me hope for how he’ll come through in the future.

Second, God reminds us of who He is. He reminds us he controls the nations, and though things may seem out of control, he is the one who guides the leaders. He also reminds Judah and us he is our Redeemer. He is the one who saves us. This reminder gives them and us hope. In the midst of our fears, we can know the all-powerful God is the one who is with us.

Last, he tells us our ability to not fear is based on God alone. He doesn’t tell us the circumstances aren’t scary. Many times they are. He doesn’t tell us we’re big enough to handle the situation. Often we’re not. In this chapter, he tells us the reason we need to not fear is because He is with us, and He will help us.

In verses 17-20, Isaiah paints a hopeless picture: the needy searching for water and finding none, and a barren desert with nothing growing. In both cases, God’s presence brings hope. Water flows in abundance and the people’s thirst is quenched, and the barren desert becomes full of trees and beauty.

In our lives, God’s presence can bring hope, too. When we remember who he is and he’s the one who’s fighting for us, then we can have hope even in the scariest of circumstances, even when everything looks dark.

Today, think about where are you placing your trust? Then remind yourself of who God is. Make a list of what he’s done for you in the past. Then turn to books like Job and Psalms where we’re reminded of how awesome and powerful our God is. Then list your fears. Confess them to him and ask him to work in those situations. Give them to Him.

When I’m afraid and find it hard to release my fears to God, I have a prayer box. In it I have listed Isaiah 41:10 and other “fear not” verses like Psalms 33:20-22, 34:4, and Jeremiah 29:11. They remind me where to put my trust. I also have a little commitment written out inside the lid that says:

Everything, every worry, stress, and fear I put in this box is to be forgotten and left in God’s hands. This is to remind me he is in control. I’m not. And he always has my best in mind.

After I place my prayers in this box, I have a tangible way to remind myself throughout the day where I have put my trust. Anytime I feel myself worrying again, I remember I left those fears and worries in God’s hands, and I can relax knowing he’s in control.

If you don’t have a prayer box or another place to record your prayers, find one today. Give yourself a way to physically place your fears, anxieties, and stress in his hands. It doesn’t matter what you choose a box, notebook, or a paper on the wall, what matters is reminding yourself to not to fear because God is with you, and He’s in control.

God, you are our Redeemer. You’re the great God who created the world and set the planets in motion. You created light out of the darkness, and I know you can shine your light into the dark corners of our hearts where fear dwells. Please help us today to let go of those idols we trust in over you. Help us to remember who you are and to release our fears to you. Not because we are awesome but because you are. Thank you for your presence in our lives that gives us hope. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Sometimes when we’re struggling, it helps to hear someone else’s story who has walked through their fears with God to be reminded he is right there with us. A few years ago Sandi Schwab shared this God Story with us. Her story of heartbreak and God’s presence through it all brought me such hope in my dark times. I hope it brings you hope as well. Find her God Story here.

Another resource for you is our Mom’s Resource page. There you will find a variety of resources to help you connect to God, fight fear, and find hope.

 

When You Need Some Mommy Encouragement

at home with sally and friends

Good morning!

Have you ever felt like you needed a mentor to come alongside you and help guide you along the way? To speak words of hope and healing from further down the road? If so, you’ll want to subscribe to Sally Clarkson’s Podcast At Home with Sally Clarkson and Friends.

Sally Clarkson is the co-founder of The Whole Hearted Mother Conferences. She has been doing these and others for many years. She’s also written several books like The Mom Walk, and The Life Giving Home, which I’m still trying to find the time to read. Oops! However, if you’re like me and have no time to read but still desperately need encouragement on a regular basis, you’ll want to check out her podcasts.

Sally seeks hard after God, and in her podcasts, she teaches other Moms how to seek him too, during all stages of life, through the great times and the hard times. She shares openly about how some of her children had very difficult “out of the box” problems that she had to learn to navigate day-by-day, and how through it all, she sought the heart of God for her family. In her podcasts, she teaches us how to seek him, too.

When I listen to Sally, it fills me with hope. I see someone who has successfully navigated raising four children to be strong Christians who all follow after Jesus using their unique gifts, and by watching her, I know that I can do it, too.

She also reminds me of truths I already know or verses that I’ve heard before, but she connects them together in ways that take me into a deeper relationship with God. Love!

 

You can subscribe to her Podcasts via any Podcast App (Overcast and iTunes are good choices) and listen to them driving in the car, while washing dishes or folding laundry, or even while hiding in the bathroom taking a Mom moment for yourself. Wink*

Whether you’re a new mom just starting out or an old pro, you’ll benefit from Sally’s stories of hope, grace, and wisdom. Come join me! You can find her podcasts by searching “At Home with Sally and Friends” on your app or for more information click here. You’ll be so glad you did!

And for more encouraging resources for Moms, visit here….

Sometimes Love Looks A Lot Like Prayer

love equals prayer

Good Morning Friends!

During this season, we often equate how much we love someone by the gifts under the tree. We think we have to spend a lot of time, money, or effort to prove to our husband, kids, family, and friends that we really love them. Just this week I’ve spent hours cruising Amazon for the perfect gifts. The ones that will make my children’s eyes light up as they come running down the hall Christmas morning and help my friends to know how much they mean to me. The quest for the perfect gift can be exhausting!

I realized recently the times I’ve felt most loved by my friends and family weren’t the ones when a gift was involved.

Just this past week my friends poured love out on me. I felt it running down my face and dripping from my fingertips, but it had nothing to do with gifts. On Monday I sent out a request for pray warriors to pray over me as I worked on the second draft of my Choose Freedom Bible study. Within moments my phone was chiming repeatedly with “Yes!” “How can I pray for you today?” “You frequently make my prayer list. I’d be honored!” One of my friends, who I haven’t even spoken to in five years, since she lives halfway around the world, even called me to to learn more about the project and tell me she would love to pray for me. Since then, I can feel their prayers holding me up and helping me put one word behind the other, especially on the days when I have little time to write.

This whole week I have struggled to find time to write. I’ve been grading stacks of papers, caring for sick kids, feeling sick myself, but I still kept writing. I’m even here now, at 10:30pm on a Saturday, writing this post because of their prayers.

I’ve felt this love waterfall at other times, too. Times when I share my heart with a friend and she asks right then, “Can I pray for you?” and we stop right then in the moment and go before God together. Pure love.

So if praying for each other means so much, why don’t we do it more? I’m not talking about the quick “Praying!” as a comment to a Facebook post. Those are good and needed, too, but why don’t we stop and pray specifically for others more? Why don’t we send them notes or emails saying, “This is how I’m praying for you today” and then pray for those specific blessings or struggles?

Lately, I’ve felt such a burden to pray. For my kids, husband, family, friends…It’s like God is just weighing on me the burden to bring them to his throne. To lift them up to him and bring them to his throne.

Would you join me? This week ask your friends how you can specifically pray for them. Then let them know through a note, email, or text the words you spoke over them as you brought them before God. If a friend shares their heart with you, even though it may feel awkward, be courageous and ask, “May I pray for you right now?” She will feel loved, I promise.

Let’s love one another not just in gifts but with specific prayer during this season. Let’s not worry that the words aren’t right or we might sound strange. Be brave and take your friends and family to the Father and pour pure love out on them. It’s a gift costs nothing, but the benefits are eternal.

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Some of my favorite prayer resources right now are:

 I love this resource! It is my go-to book for praying for my sons. You can pray straight through its short chapters, or you can look up specific areas of struggle in the moment and pray scripture over your sons. For example, are they struggling with kindness? Flip to that chapter and you have many verses and prayers to pray over them right then! Love.

This book is good whether you have boys or girls. However, if you are a boy mom, the MOB Society (Mothers of Boys) has a monthly Tribe subscription that gives you access to daily scripture prayers over your boys, a daily prayer journal, organizational resources, and a community full of godly boy moms at all stages of life. They have helped me out so much in my walk as a boy mom. If you’re looking for strategies for prayer and a loving community check out the MOB Tribe here. 

If you’re struggling to connect with God, check out this book. It’s not a therory book on prayer, instead, it get you praying, now. Gerhardt has many different suggestions for how to pray and connect with God, so if one way doesn’t fit your situation, another might. Reading this book helped deepen my prayer life in ways I hadn’t connected with God in years.

The hands folded book is her Prayer Journal for kids based off of Prayer, in Practice, and an adult version is in the works. So not only can you connect with God yourself, but you can encourage your children to do it, too. I like the children’s book so much, I bought it for all three of my boys (7, 5, & 2) to have for when they get older. It is recommended for ages 7-12.

These two books are by a sister writing duo, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers. They have written a variety of children’s books, however, I really enjoy these books on praying Psalms 23 and the Armor of God over my children. The Psalms 23 book brought out aspects of this well loved Psalm that I hadn’t even considered before. So good!

These are affliate links. Click on the pictures to purchase great resources and help support our ministry here at Overacup. 

When You Feel Hopeless

Christmas Hope

Good morning friends,

If there’s one thing I could sit down with you and whisper over you right now it’s, “God’s got this!”

It doesn’t matter if “this” is stress from work, school, relationships, sickness… God is there with you in the mess, and he can make something beautiful from it. How do I know? Because I’ve seen him do it over and over again in my life.

One of the hardest times in my past was December of 2009. I was pregnant with boy #1 and was teaching 7 classes for two different schools. Despite this situation, I thought, “No big deal! He’s due during my Christmas break. Easy Peasy!” I had visions of getting all my grading done and then having time to finally get the nursery in order.

As the Fall progressed, #1 carried so low that I had to wear a belly band while I taught, so he didn’t feel like he was going to hit the floor. I also drank a ton of smoothies to keep myself hydrated during my classes, and I remember sitting at my desk spending hours grading paper after paper while #1 danced around from my Oreo overdose.

As finals week approached, I still wasn’t worried. Not even a little bit because baby was due the Monday after finals week. My Mom had me two weeks late, so the thought of him coming early didn’t even cross my mind.

You’ve guess this already. He came early.

A week early the Monday of finals week. After a two-day stay in the hospital, we got to go home on Wednesday.

Wednesday afternoon we pulled into our driveway, however, our house had no windows. Months ago we had scheduled for windows to be installed mid-December and that was the day. Baby and I had to wait in the car while the installers put a window into the baby’s room for us. When we got in the room, everything was covered in dust. Hubby ran out to the store to get an air purifier, and then baby and I tried to get some sleep with the racket of the other windows going in.

That night I laid him down in the bassinet beside my bed expecting him to go to sleep like he did at the hospital. He didn’t.

At 5:30am the next morning I finally called my Mom begging her to come and rescue me. I had no idea what I was doing, and 72 hrs into being a Mom I was calling “uncle!”

She coached me through how to co-sleep with baby, so he could eat and I could get some sleep. Then she came and helped out that whole next week. My hubby set me up on the couch with a wireless key board and mouse, and my Mom sat close by as I held baby in the Boppy on my lap, sat the keyboard on the edge of the pillow, and cranked out 80 graded essays in record time.

That was not the way I had planned to welcome my #1st child into the world. I had visions of the nursery being done. Of a calm peaceful first week, but none of that happened. Just 10 days after he was born, we got snowed in Christmas Eve in the biggest snow storm Oklahoma had seen in decades. For three days we were stuck inside with my entire family. 5 other adults, me, and a newborn. It was every bit as nice and crazy as you imagine it to be.

With God’s help, a creative husband, and good Mama, I made it through those first few weeks of baby #1’s life. It wasn’t ideal, but it is one for the story books!

This isn’t the only time I’ve seen God come to my rescue. Time and time again through people, his words, or just a sunset, he lifts my head and reminds me that he’s on his way. That HOPE is here.

Just this morning as I was doing my daily quiet time, I was reminded of Psalms 3

Lord, how many are my foes!
    How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
    “God will not deliver him.”

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
    my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
    and he answers me from his holy mountain.

I lie down and sleep;
    I wake again, because the Lord sustains me.
I will not fear though tens of thousands
    assail me on every side.

Arise, Lord!
    Deliver me, my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
    break the teeth of the wicked.

From the Lord comes deliverance.
    May your blessing be on your people. (NIV)

Friend, whatever you’re going through today be assured of one thing. Hope is here, God is your deliverer, and He’s got this!

Praying for you during this holiday time!

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3 Great Book Ideas for Christmas

books for gifts

Hi Friends,

If your family is full of bibliophiles like mine (A few Christmases ago my family gave over 20 books to each other as gifts!), or if you’re struggling to come up with a great idea this Christmas season, there are three newly released books I’ve just got to tell you about!

The first book, Goodbye, Regret, launched this summer. It is a labor of love from my friend Doris Swift of Walking Deeper. In it she helps her readers let go of the past and find freedom from regret.Using the story of the Women at the Well, Doris helps us dig deeper into the forgiveness we find in Christ. This quick 15 min read packs a lot of truth into a little bit of space. There is also has a short Bible study to go along with the book if you’d like to dig even deeper into these truths. You can find her book here.

Another favorite book that recently launched is Fresh Out of Amazing by Stacey Thacker. If you’re a mama who struggles to feel amazing through the day-to-day of life, or if you’re the woman whose world has had its foundations shaken, this book is for you. Based on the lessons God has taught Stacey and the lives of Biblical characters, she shows us how God meets us in our fresh out of amazing places and provides a way through them. I’m 3/4 of the way through this book and am learning so much. Get it here!

The last book is Think Good by JL Gerhardt at GodScout.com. It launched on Election Day November 8th, and I’ve already gotten my copy, yeah! This summer I attended her Think Good workshop, and the truths I learned during that 3 hour workshop have really helped me overcome some thought battles (let’s be honest–sin) I’ve fought for years. The book has her workshop material plus more! One of my favorite parts of her writing is the application part, and she included it here, too. Throughout the book, you’ll find reflection questions, exercises, and prayers to help you apply what you’re learning right away. If you struggle with the dialogue that goes on between your ears and need some Spirit led resources for how to win those thought battles, you’ll want to sit down and spend some time with this book. You can find it here!

These three authors have really helped me through some dark days over the last few months. Their words of God-led wisdom have the power to help us overcome the struggles that hang us up while helping us grow closer to God. Love.

I’d love to hear what you think! Have you read these books? Will you? Which one did you like best? Do you have others you’d add to this list? Please share!

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Affiliate links are used in this post.

 

 

New Format and Renewed Commitment

Letter to Readers

Good morning friends,

Maybe you’ve noticed I’ve struggled for words lately. After starting my job as an instructor for Oklahoma State University in January, I came to the fast conclusion I can’t do it all. Surprised? I thought not. Thank you so much for your patience while I figure out how to balance work, home life, and writing! I love writing and sharing with you all, but it’s taking much longer than I thought to figure it all out.

One thing I do want to change is the format I’ve been writing in. One of the greatest gifts for me is a personal letter. I treasure each one I receive and hope there will be one in the mail box every time I open it. If you have sent me a letter in the last 25 years, I have it. Thank you letters, invitations, short notes, long letters…I have them all because I see notes as a precious gift of the sender’s time.

Before kids, I used to spend a great deal of time picking out cards. My cards from Hallmark were so well-known with my nieces and nephew they knew a Birthday card with the gold crown sticker was from me. I wouldn’t just grab one at Walmart like I do now. Instead, I would spend an hour perusing the aisles at Hallmark. Picking up and reading almost every card in the Birthday section searching for the perfect one. Even the cashiers knew me well, and I would chit chat with them as they checked me out. Now, I spend five minutes in the store. Grabbing the first card I see off the shelf and praying it’s okay. Then I rush through the checkout line before my sons can begin their “gimme” tantrums. Been there?

Even though I can’t send all of you a hand-written card, I am going to begin to write letters to you instead of more formal blog posts. Many of you have been with OverACup for the last 8 or 9 years, while others have just joined in the last year. Some of you are my good friends, while others I’ve never met; however, the time you spend reading these words is precious to me, and I want to give you the best of myself and for me, it’s a letter. I treasure your writing, too, so if you ever want to drop me a line, know I will read  every word and treasure the time you put into it.

Through this change in format, I’m also making a commitment to myself. After cleaning out my office and unpacking boxes from our move three years ago, I found my stash of journals. There’s 47 of them (I counted!) from the last 25 years and many are filled cover to cover. Though I get to do my dream job of teaching writing, I don’t want to let my other dream of writing drift away, so this month I’m working on the 500 words a day challenge with Jeff Goins. Every day 500 words. This time will help me to continue to improve in the craft I love so much and help guarantee regular posts.

I’m also using those 500 words to work on a Bible study over Galatians. It’s called Galatians: Choose Freedom! This Bible study is the culmination of the lessons God has been teaching me about living in freedom with him over the last 10 years or so. The ladies at my church are getting a taste of the study this Fall, and you’ll be able to have it in hand next year.

My prayer is this format and time commitment will continue to lead us into a deeper relationship with Jesus and each other.

I love you all! Thank you so much for meeting with me here.

Grace and Peace,

Tara

Lessons learned Falling: When you just have to fall apart

Fall has finally come to Oklahoma this year. “And all the church said, ‘Amen!'”

As I’ve been looking around, I’ve noticed all the things that the leaves had been hiding. From my back porch, I can see the beautiful white tree bark on our Sycamore showing through. While driving, I’ve noticed barns, pastures, and a house that I didn’t know existed because the leaves had hidden them all.

As I enjoy the Fall weather, I’m reminded that it is a time of year many look forward to. The crunch of leaves under our feet, cooler temperatures, comfort food. But all these come at a price.

In order for us to enjoy our favorite Fall activities and rituals, the earth has to fall, lose its grandeur, and rest. Normally, when we fall in our lives, we do everything we can to prevent others from seeing it. We vainly try to super glue all our leaves back in place. We put on a smile when we really just want to fall apart. We seclude ourselves from those who could help because we don’t want anyone to see the real “me.”

I did this camouflage act in college. At the time my family was falling apart. My parents were constantly fighting and eventually separated while I was in college. On top of that, I was finally free to process the abuse I had gone through growing up and many times would find a safe place to hide and just cry. But I doubt anyone but my few closest friends had a clue. I did see a campus counselor, and though she helped, none of the adults I was close to at school knew what was going on at home. Ironically, during the hardest semester I had, I made straight A’s. It was either drown myself in busyness or get drunk. I reasoned since getting drunk could get me kicked out of my private Christian school, drowning in busyness was the better alternative.

The camouflage act didn’t work. Even through the worst of my teen years, I have never felt so much internal pain. Never felt so alone. There were times I would look out the window of my dorm room and seriously consider jumping. It was only God’s almost tangible arm around me that kept me from it. Falling in that way, in relative secret with no one to help was not healthy and almost undid me in the end.

On the other hand, being real with my friends after college, when my parents did eventually divorce. And then being real again and inviting mentors and friends, and even at times you readers, in on our journey the last five years as we’ve moved all over the country has been extremely healthy. Has it always been pretty? Absolutely not. I have called my mentors, while at my wits end; talked it out with friends over coffee; prayed, while screaming at God; even shared some of my frustration and “why” questions here, but I never got to that black place I did while in college.

The difference I think was transparency. During my parent’s divorce and then during this crazy trans-ocean-state journey the last few years, I have tried to stop hot gluing all my leaves back on and pretending it’s not Fall.

Fall can appear to be dry and brown, but just as when the trees lose their leaves and we can see what they’ve been hiding, allowing others to see the real us and what we’ve been hiding isn’t bad either. Sometimes it’s cleansing and frees us up to be real and be ready to actively participate in life again when Spring comes around.

How Are We Made Right With God?

 

Winter church

But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners… Clearly, God’s promise to give the whole earth to Abraham and his descendants was based not on his obedience to God’s law, but on a right relationship with God that comes by faith. If God’s promise is only for those who obey the law, then faith is not necessary and the promise is pointless. ~ Rom. 4:5, 13-14, NLT

I no longer try to convert other Christians to the Church of Christ.

Growing up I was taught that the Church of Christ was the only church going to heaven. We had a corner on the market and all the others were wrong for various reasons. As I’ve gotten older, I’ve discovered most churches teach this belief to some extent but put their own church in the “in” group.

Even as a young adult, I believed this message so much that when I was first dating my husband and I discovered he was going to a community church, I freaked out and broke up with him. He had done nothing wrong other than going to a different church. I’m thankful we did stay friends and kept talking to each other. Now we’ve been married for almost 15 years. Though we both go to the Church of Christ, it is no longer because we believe they are the only ones who are “right.”

So what does make a church the right one? Why are there so many out there trying to convert members of other churches to theirs?

As I’ve dove deeper into God’s Word I’ve learned, the name over our door doesn’t matter as much as we think. Any church who tells you you’re made right with God for any reason other than putting your “faith in God who forgives sinners” is not teaching the truth.

If they are telling you that you must show up three times a week, tithe 10%, sing with or without instruments, dress a certain way, say special words in prayer… they aren’t teaching truth. Yes, those things are beneficial. I’m not saying we should stop doing them, but I am saying if our reason for doing them is to be made right with God then our faith is in the wrong thing.

But what about all those things we have to do? What about following God’s law?

Jesus says during the last supper, “A new command I give you: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other” (John 14:34)

Then in Romans Paul writes,

…If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God’s law. For the commands say, ‘You must not commit adultery. You must not murder. You must not steal. You must not covet.’ These—and other such commandments—are summed up in this one commandment: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no wrong to others, so love fulfill the requirements of God’s law. Romans 13:8-10, NLT

Jesus and Paul are saying God’s law boils down loving others. Yes, we have examples of what that looks like, and yes, Peter and Paul both gives lists of how to practically live out loving others in our everyday lives, but these lists are not prescriptive checklists for us to be right with God.

The different churches seem to choose to focus on different parts of the New Testament over others and create checklist out of them. The Church of Christ focuses on meeting three times a week, especially on Sunday because that’s the example in Acts. They also choose to take communion every week, and most sing A Cappella because that’s the example given by the early church. However, I don’t believe any of those things are necessary to me being made right with God.

I do believe meeting with other Christians is good and needed. I can’t exactly love others if I’m never around them, and some of my seasons of growth in Christ have come from our regular church meetings. I do believe that taking communion is important because Christ asked us to remember him in that way, but I don’t think the frequency that we take it matters. I do believe we need to praise God, especially out of thankfulness for what he’s done for me, but with instruments or without is not important—it’s my heart.

Paul writes further in Romans:

I know what enthusiasm they have to God, but it is misdirected zeal. For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law. For Christ has already accomplished the purpose for which the law was given. As a result, all who believe in him are made right with God. Romans 10:2-4, NLT

As I study Galatians and Romans, I’m learning being right with God is about where I put my trust. Not the name over the door. Today, consider are you putting your faith in Christ to make you right with God or are you putting your faith in a prescriptive to-do list?

Being at Peace with God

Peaceful Strem

Do you know that you have peace with God? If you’re a Christian, no matter the circumstances that are swirling around you—a struggling marriage, a sick child, financial problems, depression, infertility, life changes—you are at peace with God.

It’s not something you have to earn or do enough to reach. It is your state of being as his child. Romans 5:1 promises it as part of our inheritance in Christ:

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us.”

Let that truth sink into you today.

You’re a Christian. You’ve been made right in God’s sight by putting your faith in what Christ did for you. THEREFORE, you have peace with God. No strings attached. No checklist to fill out. No performance bar to reach. It is your state of being.

Yes, we need to love God and love others. But those loving actions are grounded in knowing who we are in Christ. Even Christ’s loving actions were grounded in his relationship with God.

Consider this, John 13 tells the story of the Passover feast and some of the last words Jesus spoke before his crucifixion, but as the story begins, John writes:

“Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going to go back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist.” John 13:3-4, NLT

Did you see it? He knew who he was in relationship to the Father, where he had come from, and where he was going, then he began the journey to the cross.

Friend, you can have the same certainty. God does not ask you to earn peace with him through loving your family, friends, and community well. Instead, after he’s finished washing their feet, Jesus tells his disciples,

“So now I am giving you a new commandment: Love each other. Just as I have loved you, you should love each other. Your love for one another will prove to the world that you are my disciples.” John 13:34-35, NLT

Jesus first loves and then asks us to love, not to earn his peace but because we already have it.

As you go throughout your day, love others not from a place of obligation but from knowing you have peace with a loving God.

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Hi Friends, you may have noticed that we took a break during the month of July. We hadn’t “taken off” in several years, so we took a much needed vacation. We’re back now, but due to several projects in the works, you may expect 2-4 posts a month instead of the previous 4 posts. My project is a Bible study on Walking in Relationship with God. So many struggle with what freedom in Christ really means, and we’re going to unpack that in this study. Cindy is learning the ropes of a new job and praying about how to dive deeper into prayer. And Amber is working on several projects. One is her Equine Therapy business, Equuis. If you’re in the Austin/ Fort Hood, TX area and are considering seeing a counselor, you might want to talk to Amber about Equine Therapy. 

School is starting soon for many of us. My prayers are with you as you gather supplies and find your new “normal” as the school year starts. 

Grace and Peace,

Tara

God’s Story ~ Some Encouragement for Your Week

This month I’ve rounded up some of our most popular God Stories from the past four years to share with you. These are stories from women who have been in your shoes, stood where you are, and have seen God show up in their lives. They aren’t endowed with superior strength, but like you, they serve a God who is. These are His stories…

“When I Started Listening” by Kristi Dye: This is one of my favorite of God’s stories from the last several years. I can’t tell you how often God brings to mind the lesson he taught Kristi about being a student of our children.

“God’s Story ~ Kelly Tyson”: In this one Kelly shares about her struggle with anger. Something many of us can relate to. Find out the lessons God taught her through a painful encounter.

“God’s Story ~ Sandi Schwab”: God’s story in Sandi’s life is about his steadfastness in the face of difficult and painful changes, even the loss of a child.

I pray you are blessed by God’s stories shared by these women this month. If you would like to read more of God’s Stories as shared by our readers over the past fours years click here. If you have a God Story you’d like to share, I would love to hear it! Please click here to find out more.