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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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.

When God Goes Before Us Into Battle

soldiers going to battle

Once more the Philistines raided the valley; so David inquired of God again, and God answered him, “Do not go directly after them, but circle around them and attack them in front of the poplar trees. As soon as you hear the sound of marching in the tops of the poplar trees, move out to battle, because that will mean God has gone out in front of you to strike the Philistine army.” So David did as God commanded him, and they struck down the Philistine army, all the way from Gibeon to Gezer  ~1Chronicles 14:13-16, NIV

Picture it. David’s army is geared up and going out to battle. They reach the poplar trees as instructed.  All of a sudden David and his army hear a large army marching toward them from behind. They swing around, expecting an ambush and see nothing, yet the sound gets louder and louder. They then realize it is passing over them. They hear the loud marching in the treetops way above their heads. Then the sounds begin to fade and they snap out of it. They realize that just as he promised, God sent his army ahead of them to fight for them. They follow quickly.

I don’t know about you, but at times when I have needed to fight a significant battle in life is when I have felt the least qualified and able to do so. I wanted God to go fight that battle for me. In fact, I have gotten a little irritated because I was responsible for fighting the battle. It was mine alone. And I didn’t know how I could possibly do so and why God would not simply take care of it.

But read again the astonishing story above about the battle that David and his army needed to fight against the Philistines. God was going to help them in the battle, however, he was not willing to let David and his army sit in their tents while His own army fought the enemy. God knew that his army was going to go before David and fight, however, David and his army had to still gear up, get on their armor, and march out to battle.

It doesn’t take long wondering to come up with at least a few good reasons why God does not go out to fight our battles for us while we sit on the couch watching TV:

  1. One of the quickest ways to make a person weak is to do for them what they are capable of doing themselves. In years past, I have worked in geriatrics. One of the best things a nurse can do for an older patient is gently, firmly encourage the patient to do what they are capable of, then just a little more. Even though the patient may think the nurse heartless, this helps him/her maintain and gain strength.
  2. We humans get a sense of entitlement very easily.  What originally we are very thankful for soon becomes accepted as the norm and then it is a short trip to feeling that we deserve it.
  3. For someone to do for us what we are capable of doing ourselves steals the sense of accomplishment we get from completing a difficult task. If we do not attempt something, how will we ever know whether or not we could accomplish it?

Does knowing the above make me like putting on my armor and marching out to fight whatever the next battle is before me? Many times, no. But I do it anyway. Stormie Omartian has written an excellent book titled, Just Enough Light for the Step I’m On. That is an apt description of how it feels when I’m gearing up one more time for battle. Many times I do not know the outcome or the way, but God provides for me just enough light to illuminate the step I am on. Then, when it is time for me to take the next step, God helps and God leads, but he will not take the next step for me. God in his mercy knows how to grow his people. {Click to tweet!}

Hugs,
Cindy

Our Future Bible Study Plans: Verse by Verse

time with God

You’ve probably noticed that since I took a full-time teaching job in January things here have slowed down. And they have. I’ve spent the last 6 months getting my feet under me and figuring out what life looks like being a wife and mother while also working full time. As many of you know, it’s not for the feint of heart! You simply can’t do it all. And I don’t. I have my own little “cheats” to help take the burden of doing everything off my shoulders.

So what does this change mean for OverACup? Don’t worry we’re not going anywhere. But this change in my season of life has given me insight into many of your lives that I didn’t have before. One thing I have quickly learned is that week-to-week studies, especially long ones (ie. Search for Significance…Did anyone finish it? I still have a giveaway hanging out there if you did!) though very good, aren’t very doable for many of us. It simply isn’t the season of life we’re in right now.

However, the more I study about “Living in Relationship with God” (future study coming!) the more I see how very important it is for us to connect with God regularly. We are the heart of our families and where we go our families follow. However, we cannot live out the life God intends for us without knowing and connecting with him. This doesn’t mean we need to spend 30 minutes to 1 hour every day. That would be nice, but you can still grow in your relationship with God in 5-15 minutes a day, too.

My heart is to encourge you to spend time with God and grow in relationship with him by spending time regularly with him. My quiet time is in the morning before my kids get up. It’s just 15 min most days while seated at my kitchen table or out on my porch swing, but when I miss those few minutes, my family notices. And in those few minutes each morning, I grow and am changed.

I wish the same for you, too. This past week we’ve begun something new in our OverACup Facebook group. Instead of doing a full out study, we’re going to meet each week over just one verse. Just one. I’ll post the verse over the weekend, and then as we have time throughout the week, we can all share what thoughts God spoke to us during our quiet time and how it impacted our lives that week. This way if you’re doing another study but still want the accountability and encouragement our OverACup group gives, you can have it. Also, if you fall off the wagon for several weeks (or months), then you won’t be lost when you come back. You can just pick right up where we are.

Each week you can take the verse and journal over it, post it around your home or car where you can see it, spend time in prayer over it…Whatever is your best way to learn and meditate on God’s Word, do that! By memorizing and focusing on these verses we’ll be reminding ourselves of the inheritance we have in Christ and will be equipping the Spirit inside us with God’s Word to fight off the Devil’s darts when they come our way (Eph. 6: 14-18).

We would love to have you join us for this ongoing one verse per week study. No extra emails. All you need to do is request to join our OverACup closed Facebook group. Then just look for the verse I will post each week.

Thank you so much for being a part of our OverACup community. I hope this change in our study helps you connect with God and deepen your relationship with him. I’m praying for you all!

Grace and Peace,

Tara

How to be FREE from the Stay-at-home vs. Working Mom Guilt

working-mom Image Credit: Chicagonow.com

What if we could be free from the guilt we feel about working or being a stay-at-home mom?

Recently, I changed from being a stay-at-home to a working mom. The funny thing is while I was a stay-at-home mom, I felt so guilty for “just” being a mom. For not making any “real” contributions to the family. Now I knew that wasn’t true, but it was the way I often felt when I saw other moms who appeared to be doing it all, or whenever someone would ask me, “What do you do?”

Now that I’m a teacher, I feel equally guilty for not seeming to place my kids first. For not giving every minute of every day to my family. For sharing the responsibility to “be there” for our kids with my husband.

This internal struggle I’ve been fighting has gotten me thinking about what it means to be a Christian and put God’s priorities first. Because that’s who standard I should really be trying to live up to, right?

The more I look about me, though, the more I realize God often doesn’t have one “right way” to do something. He is the God of creativity and variety! Yes, Jesus says, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, and no one come to the Father except through me” (John 14:6, NLT), but once we’re in Christ, there is so much more variety and ways to live out the Christian life than we ever thought possible!

Think about this… All through the Bible, we learn about how Jesus is the light. At first glance, there is one sun and one light coming from it. However, as scientists have learned, there is actually a whole spectrum of light. As that spectrum hits the different flowers, plants, and trees God created, they all reflect that light back in different ways. The maple trees in Vermont reflect back brilliant reds and oranges in the fall. The Pine trees in Colorado reflect back their deep greens in the winter.

They both are reflecting God’s light, but in different and unique ways according to how he made them.

 

Tree collage

 

What if we applied the same thoughts to ourselves? I have several friends who are stay-at-home moms and homeschool their children. They do a wonderful job and brilliantly reflect God’s light through their families. I just love to be around them and learn from them.

But just because they do a great job in their God-given role, doesn’t negate the life God has called me to right now. My family can also reflect God’s light through me working and my kids attending public school.

Quite honestly, this thought process is a huge struggle for me. I grew up in churches and a culture that taught one “right” way. I was convinced if I didn’t stay at home and homeschool my kids then they wouldn’t grow up to be strong Christians. However, as I look around me at other families, especially some of my mentors who have raise Godly children, I see my kids can be strong Christians either way.

Jesus says, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32, NLT). But how can we claim that freedom? It is so easy to feel chained by the expectations of others. So easy to feel chained by our belief that there is only one right way to live for God.

It all starts with God. We can pray and ask for guidance in this area. If you’re like me and need explicit signs from God that this is what he wants of you right now, ask for those signs. He loves helping his children understand his will!

Then once you set the course, find verses and mementos to help you claim the freedom that is yours. Verse like,

“There are different kinds of spiritual gifts, but the same Spirit is the source of them all. There are different kinds of service, but we serve the same Lord. God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.” 1 Cor. 12:4-6, NLT

Go ahead and read the rest of 1 Cor. 12. Yes, it is talking about spiritual gifts specifically, but the same thoughts can be applied to working or being a stay-at-home mom.

I also look to nature itself for reminders to claim the freedom that is mine in Christ. If you need to, find pictures like those of maple and pine trees above to post somewhere and remind you that reflecting God’s light differently than your friends is okay and natural.

Today, allow God’s truths to sink deep into your soul. Our God is a God of vast creativity and variety. The way we both reflect his light may be different, but they are both equally pleasing in his sight. {Click to tweet}

Learning How to Wait

This post first appeared on OverACup 4 years ago. Surprisingly, its lesson is one I recently remembered and am trying to reapply to where I am now. I’m no longer in a period of waiting, but I still want to practice keeping my hands open and holding the blessings God’s given me during this season loosely. I never again want to return to a place where I hold my blessings so tightly that when He asks for them, I refuse. I hope this post and its lesson on waiting bless you like it did me 4 years ago and today.

 

Open Hands- Waiting

Unsplash.com by Milada Vigerova

“Bless the LORD, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless his holy name! Bless the LORD, O my soul and forget not all his benefits…” ~Psalms 103:1-2 (You may also want to read Psalms 103 and 104.)

Usually, I’m writing from a place of fullness and the overflow of my writing, time, and specifically time with God. This week, to be perfectly honest, I just feel empty. But I am committed to keeping to a posting schedule, so here I am.

Right now much of my emptiness can be chalked up to being in a place of waiting. Right now I’m living in limbo. Though waiting to buy a house is not as stressful as selling one per se, it is every bit as frustrating. You think you found the perfect house and someone else’s contract is accepted. Or wait, there it is, and boom! it’s gone before you can even see it. Or you just can’t find exactly what you’re looking for.

It makes me recall other times I’ve had to wait and how exhausting they can be. Waiting for school to be over, waiting for babies to come, waiting to get pregnant with babies, waiting to find a job, these and other times of waiting just wear me down!

Why is that? Why is waiting so physically exhausting? For me, often times it is because there are repercussions for being in the waiting place. Right now on top of being two, Ethan is making it abundantly clear he is not happy living in an apartment and wants to go home. He just doesn’t understand why we don’t go back to our old house or buy one of the handful of new houses I’ve drug him through in the last few weeks.

It’s also due in part to the work going on inside us while we wait. “The testing of your faith producing patience” is not a painless process. Just like any type of growth, it often hurts and requires us to push the boundaries of what we are comfortable with. It requires us to trust when we cannot see.

This situation reminds me of the Israelites at Mt. Sinai in Exodus thirty-two. They often get a bad rap and looked down on for making the golden calf while Moses was up on the mountain. God has just brought them through so much and shown up in many big ways, and yet they lose faith, become afraid, and look for something tangible to hang on to. But don’t you and I do the same?

Don’t we find it hard to trust when we’re peering into the darkness? When God hasn’t yet revealed the path ahead? Don’t we become afraid and find ourselves ringing our hands and panicking because deep down we’re not sure he’s going to show up this time? We wonder, “he brought me this far, but maybe, this time, he will leave me hanging? Maybe this will be the time he doesn’t show up?”

Or maybe you have had great faith in the past. You just knew God was going to come through. And he didn’t. The last song was sung, the curtain closed, the audience left, and he didn’t show. Oh, later you may have seen how he did show up in a very different way, even a much better way, but the pain of perceived betrayal still hurts.

And so we wait. Hoping and praying that this will be the time God comes through. That this will be the time he comes with all the fanfare and others will see in a big way that we can give him the glory. Yet, like the Israelites we to want to reach out for something a little bit closer to home, a little realer and tangible.

So while I wait, while I’m exhausted and worn out from being in the waiting place. During this time, I’ll practice keeping my hands open. Open so that I can release any physical, tangible things that I’m putting my trust in instead of God, so I can worship him and be open to receive his best for me in whatever form it comes, especially if it’s in a way I don’t expect.

 

Casting Crowns – ‘Just Be Held’ from casting-crowns on GodTube.

When God Surprised Me With His Mercy

Love heart

 

I have written about the abuse I suffered through in the past, but I thought I would, in this month of Valentine’s Day, tell you about God’s mercy to me since that time ended.

After my divorce, I began praying for the gift of singleness. I had enough living from crisis to crisis, living with frequent rage attacks, living with an unstable income. After all, I was a nurse; I had the opportunity to make my own living, staying in the same town as long as I chose, paying my bills on time, having more than sixty dollars per week for groceries, doctor/dentist appointments, and household items. For the first time in my adult life, there was peace in my house. After the divorce (I got the house), I regularly walked through my house asking God to please fill every nook and cranny with his Spirit, every inch of the property, casting out the bad. There had been so many fights and arguments, chipping away at the spirits of the victims in the house for so many years, I just wanted it all cleaned out.

This worked for about five years. Then I began participating in a class at church based on the book, The Search for Significance, by Robert McGee. After one of the classes, a tall gentleman about my age came up to me and attempted to strike up a conversation. I have to admit I was rather dismissive (his words). After all, I was praying for the gift of singleness, working full-time and going to school full time. I had assignments with deadlines to complete when I returned home.

I didn’t see him for several more months. Then as I was sitting in the church auditorium one Sunday morning, waiting for a friend of mine to show up and services to begin, the same gentleman came over, sat on the edge of a seat in the row behind me and struck up a conversation. To be honest, I had not thought of him again since the initial encounter, but this second encounter gave me pause for thought. As each of us was waiting for a friend, he moved on when services began.

Again, several months passed. Then one Sunday morning as I was coming through the atrium (our foyer) of the church building after Sunday morning services, I spoke as I was passing by this gentleman. He struck up a conversation. I don’t remember what my ex had done that day, but I was so angry, I probably would have told the Walmart checker all about it. To his credit, this gentleman listened attentively and then said, “Would you like to continue this conversation over breakfast?” I paused. I reasoned to myself that I needed to stop by the grocery store, and if I ate breakfast first, then I wouldn’t buy everything in the store, and as I had to take the time to eat anyway, I said yes. Driving to the restaurant I was racking my brain trying to come up with his name. No luck. He rescued me as we sat down at the table in the restaurant saying, “Danny. My name is Danny.”

I don’t remember what we talked about at that meal, but I do remember that as we were parting afterward, he asked if we could do it again. I made it clear to him that I was not interested in romance, but friendship would be okay and he stated that he was okay with that.

I would not give him my phone number. My ex had called so many times a day needling me that I did not trust that I would not go through that again. I had told a previous would-be suitor that if I ever became romantically interested in another man, the poor guy would have to pay for the sins of the first and that wouldn’t be fair. I wasn’t even interested in Danny romantically, and it had already started.

We did exchange email addresses, however. The first email didn’t go so well. He emailed me on a Sunday evening. I gave him a short reply telling him that I was signing off (I stayed exhausted, honestly, I was going to bed). He thought he offended me and made the mistake of asking if he could call me, to which I replied, “NO!” and signed off. The next morning, I found an email from him asking what he had done to offend me. This irritated me and I shot him an email back telling him that, believe it or not, it was not all about him. That I had simply been exhausted the night before and was heading to sleep.

I just realized this story is going to take a while to tell, so I will leave you with this first part. But I will add that when folks tell me that I am lucky to have found Danny, I tell them that God found him, because, honestly, I wasn’t even looking.

Love you! Talk with you more next time!

Hugs and blessings,

Cindy