Three Steps in Finding the Will of God

I remember when I had a decision to make of staying on the west coast or moving my four children to the east, closer to family and away from the greatest tragedy of our lives.

I stalled for months. When it comes to big decisions, how does one know?

I know I’m not the only one who has difficulty feeling confident with major decision making. But especially as an Amish girl, taught to serve, obey, and submit my will to men, I really wasn’t prepared to face the world when I grew older.

Decision making threw me into a panic. But I’ve learned some things since then that I’d love to share with you because they’ve brought me such peace.

1. You can’t always wait to make a decision until all your fears or questions are gone.

Sometimes God leads you to move into something in spite of questions or fears. As with the case for moving my children from Washington state to North Carolina, all I knew was that something needed to change and we needed help. So, I put my faith in Jesus and decided to put in a legal request and trust that God’s will would manifest in the court’s decision.

The day our lawyers fought like cats and dogs over mine and the children’s future was stressful enough to put me into bed for a few hours. The court session ended with no answers except that the judge would keep looking into the situation and get back to us. I waited for days, then suddenly picked up the phone to my attorney’s voice, “Sara, you can move.”

One sentence changed everything.

I still didn’t feel confident but trusted that God knew all things. In the next three weeks I packed up our 3400 square foot home, sold most of our belongings, cleaned out the large shop building, purchased plane tickets, and made the arrangements online to move into a rental we had never seen, in an area where we knew only one other family.

As my therapist always said, “Desperate times call for desperate measures.”

See this—my confidence had to shift from my own fallible self to a good Father God who knew all things and watched over us night and day.

Two years later I see what God saw all along. I’m sitting here smiling, realizing how He was putting pieces together for a better life, long before I knew. He led us to the right church, people, places, and things.

Always remember that courage is not the absence of fear; courage is moving forward in spite of fear. So if there’s a decision to make today, lean into it and make the best one you know how to make. Trust God to fill in any gaps you don’t see, just as you do for your own children.

Move carefully, but always make sure that you’re not giving in to paralysis from analysis.

We can paralyze ourselves from moving into God’s will for us because we’re so afraid of being out of His will. There’s a much better way to live—a way of confidence even while questions remain. Sometimes it takes moving forward to make the cowardly fear slink back into the shadows while the peace of God becomes stronger and stronger.

Immobility can cause even greater havoc in our circumstances or our hearts. Yet, we stay immobile out of fear because we’re so afraid of doing the wrong thing. Interesting, is it not? Satan loves to get us huddled in fear and sorrow when we could be moving in light and joy. Seeing the goodness and grace of God sets us free from immobilizing fear.

2. If the decision to make involves right or wrong, and you’re not sure what is right, look at scripture first.

Feelings are fallible, our minds can trick us, and people can lead us wrongly. But God’s written Word brings light from heaven that will never change or leave.

I was listening to a podcast in my car one day, sent to me by someone who wanted me to believe something was right, when suddenly a car in front of me swerved left with these words on the bumper, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

In that moment I realized that I couldn’t base my personal convictions off any preacher or person’s interpretation of scripture, but on scripture itself. I ended up realizing how “off” the speaker was and how I could not embrace what he taught. And as time went by I found increasing peace in what scripture plainly taught because I put God’s word above all human opinions of His word.

God may use dreams, a sense of personal peace, other people, pastors and speakers to help us determine His will. But His will is never opposing scripture. If someone differs from scripture or your own feelings differ from scripture, always fall back on the Word of God and require your feelings to subject themselves to God.

Don’t listen to people who say, “God would never require that of you.” The truth is, God does sometimes lead us down difficult paths. His way is narrow and He does ask hard things of His children sometimes. But He’s there to carry us along and we find His peace better than any easier way of our own.

In this way, you build a foundation that will never be shaken. Feelings change, people’s opinions vary—but the Word of God stands forever.

Everyone then who hears these words of Mine and does them, will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock.

And the rains fell and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.” (Matthew 7:24&25)

I love and appreciate the fact that I am no slave to my own opinion or feelings. God’s will always sets me free to live a full and abundant life when my own emotions would take me down or lead me into things not lining up to the best life He has for me.

God is always freedom. Saying yes to His will can only bring you upward and onward.

3. Never stay stuck in a place of fear.

Immobility and isolation is one of Satan’s greatest tactics. But when God is at work, things move, change, and bring us into community with others.

I want us to know that putting God in a box is degrading the magnitude of Christ. When Christians hold to standards not found in the Word of God, they do not allow God to move as He’s able.

With Christ, there is wisdom but there are no boxes. If two young Christians decide to join a Christian dating app, rather than freak out, pray for them. When a seemingly positive answer comes along, help them process. Do away with the “Thou shalt nots” (unless it’s in the Bible), and replace them with a constant anticipation of watching God do something for the good of those He loves.

The shift in thinking is life giving to all those around you but immediate and swift judgment and standards on things Christ doesn’t even bother mentioning is oppressive to everyone around you.

Many, many Christians exercise control out of fear. The “will of God” becomes an excuse to push people away, create boxes, draw lines, and limit a magnificent Christ Who loves to wonders in many different ways.

Mobilize yourself into love and keep an open mind to watching God at work in ways you didn’t expect or think of as “normal”.

And remember to back everything up to the Word of God. His no is not deprivation, but always an invitation to a better yes!

When you see all God says yes to, you can easily surrender when He says no. But if you’re immobile out of fear, you will be missing out on the goodness of God and in that way, fall more easily into wrong posture of heart or even sin.

Creating our own boxes keeps us in a box where we don’t see God move and are incapable of living His true will. There, we fall prey to unbelief, fear, depression, and judgment. All the while, God is moving in circles of LIGHT, LIFE, and LOVE where He invites us to join Him as we step out of fear and into His heart.

Stay when He tells you to stay, but remember that, even as you stay, He will move you into good. God is always on the move.

When your circumstances don’t change, remember that God is moving to change your heart. And a heart changed by a moving, loving, intimate Father God is the greatest move of all.

Stay in Grace, release control, have courage in spite of fear, and lean heavily into Jesus where all is grace.

Until next time,

Sara

Clique Christian Quotes: How is Jesus Enough?

I’m the first to say that I don’t like most clique Christian quotes thrown at hurting people in an effort to “help” them.

“Jesus is enough” to someone who’s lonely.

“You’ll see him again one day” to some one who’s grieving a death or miscarriage.

“Be content” to a mother who desperately needs a bigger house.

Or, the famous “Repent of your lack of joy” when tears keep flowing for “too long”.

But what is too long, and why is healing so often delayed?

I’d love to take a look inside the world of sorrow, where joy is a window carved into dark walls, feeling far out of reach to someone whose world has gone up in flames hot enough for smoke to keep billowing into the atmosphere for months and years, affecting the very air they breathe on a daily basis.

I’d love to talk with the person who wakes in despair no matter the amount of Bible verses you tell yourself to believe.

And I’d love to address the sudden frustration you may experience when others speak into your situation with no experience and a few pat quotes to “get you moving along to healing”.

You might feel guilty that you’re not acquainted with the reality imposed on you by those verses. To top it off, you may feel angry by another assuming you needed to hear words that seem so far out of reach. OR, you may feel only despair because you don’t know how to experience what they’re talking about.

I’m here to tell you that those words are not out of reach, and your right as a child of God is to experience them in the deepest recesses of your soul.

Hope, life, healing, and actual joy—how does that sound?!

I’d like to share a few things on how to get there, if that’s okay. Because I absolutely know how you’re feeling right now, and I’d love to breathe hope into you as others did into me.

1. The Christian church often denies humanity in its efforts to attain spirituality.

How about this, instead?

Rather than being in denial of our humanity, we invite Jesus into our humanity.

We weren’t created to deny the truth of our loneliness; we were made to invite Jesus into our loneliness.

We weren’t asked to stuff grief into some inner box while we paste on a “holy” smile at church; we were invited to watch Jesus weep with us, and find comfort in mutual tears. Remember how He wept with Mary and Martha, standing by the tomb before calling Lazarus from the dead?

And in our quest for contentment, we weren’t told to deny that we have needs; rather, Jesus invites us to ASK Him for what we need.

Rather than push our needs away, we are invited to bring Jesus into those needs.

2. Forcing needs to the back burner deprives us of bringing Jesus to the forefront of our lives.

I don’t have much more to say except that the shift in thinking is vital to healing.

Spiritualizing or denying needs makes us more needy because we lock Jesus out when we deny how much we need Him IN.

Acknowledging our grief, loneliness, pain makes us fully aware that we need Jesus to be with us.

This brings us to one of those clique quotes: “God will never give you more than you can handle.”

I beg to disagree! My life was far too much for me to handle. I recognized that as joy threatened to disappear entirely. I begged and asked, cried and prayed—and God came with His beautiful, beautiful presence inside of me.

There are no words for the beautiful presence of Jesus. When you experience Him, there is no one Who could take His presence. Then, when you’re tempted with something, you’ll turn away because your greatest fear is no longer deprivation, it is living without the presence of God.

God replaces deprivation with invitation.

For several years, I asked God for joy. Day spun onto weary day as I did the next thing, trying to find the presence of God to be enough. And as I recognized that I was not enough, I was forced to lean so hard on Jesus, my weight on Him proving that He wouldn’t crash along with everything else in my life. That fact alone drew me to His heart more, more, and more until I was blown away by His good, good presence within me.

The other day I did a short video on finding joy in plan B. I wished I could have explained the hope I felt after living with debilitating grief.

Because when I speak about HEALING, I am speaking about GRIEF.

Grief invites Grace.

Loneliness invites company.

Pain invites Healing.

Let me ask you this: Why can people like Joni Erickson Tada find abundant life?

Because she learned to reckon with a paralyzed body and face her grief over it. Something devastating led her to look to Some One for deliverance.

He did it for me; He did it for her; and He will do it for YOU.

Regaining Emotional Clarity; Finding God in Plan B (Part 7)

Single working moms all know the feeling of dread as they walk out the door for work when all they want to do is enjoy spring break with their children.

You’ll hop onto social media after work has completely sapped your energy and see photos of other moms taking their kids to the zoo, mountains, or beach. It can’t help but sting just a little.

But I’m here to let you know that you’re not alone, and speak to you what God spoke to me–that I cannot always fill in the gaps, that I was not created to have that ability, and I needed to trust God to do what I could not do.

Struggling to fill in what only another can do can bring us to endless anxiety and stress. So to single moms—God never intended for you to be the perfect dad, to be able to do everything with the children that he could do, to give your children everything they would have with a faithful father.

God simply wants you to find Him in plan B, just as you are.

What does that look like?

1. Keep looking for ways to integrate good into the lives of your children, even if it might look different than it did in plan A.

This might look like having your little boy read chapters in the Bible while you head to work and big sister watches him. Maybe he can call or text you to tell you what he’s learned. (Gabb watches or phones are perfect, safe options for this type of thing!)

Satan wants us to throw in the towel and give up rather than look for alternatives. You can spit back at him a little by remaining undaunted and undeterred when it comes to bringing God’s word to your children. Rather than feeling the need to make sure your life looks a certain way, keeping making JESUS look a certain way to your children. And when you can, pull them onto the couch at night for some Bible reading and prayer. I truly believe that mothers are responsible to bring Jesus to their children in whatever way they are able!

2. Whenever possible, help your children push forward.

This might look like telling your teen that she can do it. The smile on my daughter’s face when she finished day one of orientation for a job that had her so freaked out she almost gave up, made it so worth it. I was so proud of her for driving through a storm hours away to join a team older than herself, learn software that was confusing and complicated to her, and push through in spite of her fear. Her words at the end of the day, “Mom, you helped me succeed. You didn’t let me fail.”

Fatherless children often face greater amounts of anxiety and fear as they grow up to be independent. Be there for them, support them, show them you believe in them. If need be, push them toward what they want to give up on. And if you have a resistant child, love him/her and keep speaking truth. Pray in faith and give your anxiety to God. Expect a war for your child, but know you are on the winning side as you align yourself with God’s character.

3. Reiterate this often: You are not a victim, I am not a victim, WE ARE NOT VICTIMS; WE ARE CONQUERORS.

Mothers, you can weep before your children without wavering in the fact that you are a conqueror. Be honest and real; let them see your true feelings from time to time. But then, get back up and do the next right thing. Sometimes, that’s all you can do. The day might be long and difficult, everyone might be exhausted and grumpy—but let them watch you push forward.

And the next morning, take the remote and turn on worship music as they get up. The sun will rise, a new day with new mercies.

4. Grow in grace with God and with people.

Shed your garbage. Say yes to God! When you feel the Spirit nudging you about gossip, over eating, impatience, self pity—you name it—we all know what things we need to shed. Saying yes to God clears your soul, and the rewards are far greater than the cost.

Recently I’ve sensed the presence of Jesus in me so powerfully it almost felt as if my heart was physically expanded. Goodness and grace flowed into my soul, and I realized as never before how faithful God is to single mothers. Our circumstances may not change, but putting Him first changes our hearts.

Out of our own powerful experiences with the God of heaven, we then have wisdom and authority to speak of Him to our children in tangible ways. What satan meant for evil is turned into good, and again, we spit back at hell just a little.

5. Don’t be afraid.

Hard experiences don’t have to make us hard. Accept what is so you can keep your heart soft for what will be. A soft heart is mold-able, pliable, and grace filled. Difficult things can lead us so close to the Divine because we are forced to run, run, run into His arms. There, we find that was the best place to be all along.

I want to say this to you again—don’t be afraid. Single moms have war to wage but in the process, they gain heaven.

On this side of eternity, I’m here for you–and you are not alone.

Embracing Change……..

People asked me all the time, “Are you still writing?” and I looked at them with the answer, “Yes, but most of it’s tucked away because at least for now, it’s rather private.” 

Rather private” was the way I felt more and more. It was unusual for me to crave a small group of people on a Sunday morning over the usual large crowd, but some weeks found me in a small home church soaking up the solitude rather than my own church where I could worship extravagantly with a few hundred people.

I needed the quiet. My head knew it was okay, but my heart had a hard time catching up, because I knew I was called to something.

That call to something had led me to publish a few books and begin public speaking engagements. I thrived in it and my soul came alive because I was living out my calling. Then, a major crisis hit my life and I needed every moment to gather strength and wisdom just to get through.

That place was just as okay with God as the active places had been. Truth is, I was still active—but in other ways. Every day was spent earning money and taking care of my children. Days off were spent resting or rejuvenating.

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I learned to re-live what I had done for many years—be faithful in the moment, with no agenda other than loving God and others.

Because my children were home that day, I didn’t even go to our annual writer’s conference. Last year, I taught a workshop in it. This year, I resigned from the leadership team of it.

I had no extra energy to give, and they understood. But, was I okay with the quiet season?

I had always worked hard. Pushing myself was a life-style, a habit. I wanted to feel good about what the day accomplished. Then I had to learn to be okay in the stillness, because God was there, too, and He didn’t call me to make noise when He knew I needed the quiet.

Oh friends. We can gather satisfaction by living out our calling, but refuse to gain rest when God is calling us to stillness.

Every few weeks, I hiked mountains in silence, pondering life. Friends joined me who were okay with my season, and often, people messaged to share their own stories with me. The calling I had always known I had, continued.

Was I as okay walking women through their tragedies from a place of tears as I was from a place of accomplishment? Truth is, people need love more than they need to see accomplishment—and they just may feel safer walking a valley with you than feeling pulled to a mountain top by you.

I’m here to embrace each of my seasons and I’m sharing them with you so courage rises in your heart to do the same. I look back on my short life and realize this one thing—all good things rise out of faithfulness in small, every day matters.

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My books came out of embracing the urge to write. I was a mother of four small children, had no office, and no private space. Just a laptop (from a yard sale) and a heart saying yes to Jesus Christ. Just a few hands picking up my phone to jot notes down quickly when I couldn’t write immediately and there were words tumbling around my brain as I did the mom life.

The inspiration hit because I said yes to Jesus and listened in when He spoke. There was nothing big about it. Just many small acts of faithfulness for many years, then a “yes” when God let me know I’d turn it into a book.  

There was no striving to get somewhere or do something or be someone. Just a lifestyle of loving God and doing what He created me to be good at.

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The new season is another one of saying yes to God. Yes, I’m still writing because that’s what writers do. No, it’s not as glamorous and there’s a whole lot of pain in a story like mine. 

But in this quiet season, there is still that deep knowing that I’m loved by God, and I’m one of His favorites—as are each one of you, because God can divide His love, yet give each one of us ALL HIS LOVE.

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                                          Seasons change, but His love never will.

Embrace the quiet or the accomplishment because none of it matters as long as you’re embraced by CHRIST. 

Minimize Stuff, Maximize Christ

I shoved two more bags of “stuff” into the car with great satisfaction. There’s nothing as good as clearing the house of excess.

Minimalism is on an all time high. You get the look—crisp white walls with minimal décor and a few succulents gracing a shelf or two. Very different than the oldies look of stuff, stuff, and more stuff.

Just recently I turned old brown paneling into a crisp white wall—well, actually, a painter did–a  super kind one who didn’t charge me a penny for his labor. I sold old furniture and purchased new décor. The results were remarkable.

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I love minimizing.

Having less is great until we carry that over into kingdom living. In God’s kingdom, there is lavish excess and he wants us to tap into it, daily. But, it’s so easy to be frugal with our dedication to God.

Loving Jesus means abundance and passion, excess comfort in all circumstances, and care for every detail of our lives. And such a good God deserves maximum focus.

Americans often give Jesus just enough attention to “get into heaven”. But loving Jesus isn’t about getting to a place; it’s about knowing a person.

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When all you want to do is get to heaven, you’ll treat Jesus Christ like one of those lovely succulents on the shelf of your home, there to grace your atmosphere with His presence and make your life beautiful. But you won’t breathe deeply of the very essence of Christ as you go about your day and your heart won’t really vibe with the good news of being born again.

Words like “born again” will sound like foreign language. Who says that, nowadays?

You’ll feel like Nicodemus when he asked Jesus, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time in his mother’s womb, and be born?” (John 3:4, ESV)

Or, you’ll feel like I did today as I sat a little wearily in a large crowd, but warmth and excitement overtook my heart as the pastor spoke about really knowing Jesus.

Knowing Jesus is different than knowing how to be good. I know what it’s like to be a good girl, but have no peace. That’s because Jesus isn’t interested in my goodness; He’s interested in me seeing that I need His redemption.

I remember the day I realized that no one can be good enough for God, and I had this vile sin nature within me that even my outwardly good life couldn’t answer for. I went to Jesus Christ for his free gift of mercy, and found that the best day of my life came at the end of my own resources. I found mercy only when I realized I desperately needed mercy. 

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But I didn’t stop trying to be good enough for God. I had always, always, always tried to gain the approval of people by being good. And, I figured God would kick me to hell if I wasn’t good all the time. My efforts exhausted my heart, and  still I had little peace.

Then, Jesus showed me who he was. A beautiful, wonderful Savior who was more like a Father. An intimate Friend who was closer than a brother. A Lover who would love me unconditionally. Someone Who was always present, always available. Someone who wouldn’t rebuke me or point out my flaws unless it was met with equal mercy and forgiveness.

I fell in love with THAT PERSON, and there was nothing minimal about it.

I began to pray that God would maximize my love toward Him and all those He loves.

I want to be His hands, His feet, His heart in a world of brokenness and pain (of which I know much). 

I learned to have fun and live fully. I learned to laugh even when I was crying—because the joy of the Lord was my strength, and He gave me richly all things to enjoy. I learned that the key to living a sanctified life was being deeply in love with a sanctified Savior. 

You can’t be connected to Someone without becoming like that Someone.

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This is why, when others talk of church buildings, religion, and denominations, my mind draws a blank and my heart doesn’t resonate. Religion is nothing to me, but Jesus is everything. And sometimes, like He did, I find more love and grace with non-religious people than I do with those who line the pews of a stained glass church.

When they tell me, “I don’t know if I’m a Christian, but I do believe in God”, my heart (and sometimes my mouth) says, “Please make sure you know the person of Jesus Christ.” 

We can be minimalists with every THING, but not with every ONE. Jesus Christ is more than a sweet idea gracing our lives and making sure we get to a certain place; He’s a Person who wants to fill our lives and gift us with supernatural GRACE.

Gateway to Forgiveness…….

I still have that Edward Jones coffee cup in my house, that masculine looking one they gave me after catching those tears during lunch hour.

What does forgiveness look like?” I asked the pastor and his wife. “Because right now, I don’t even know.”

I wanted to forgive. But I also needed to process, and sometimes the process of processing is long, hard, and ugly.

In times of crisis, one may go from grief, to anger, to despair, and all the way back to grief again. It doesn’t help when well-meaning people tell you to “let go and move on” and that you’ll have a better life in a short while.

You didn’t want another life; you wanted God to fix the one you already had, but instead it all fell to flames and the devastation was so great that you didn’t know how to breathe,walk, or move. 

To the soul in crisis, grieving often feels okay, but difficult. It’s the anger part we don’t know what to do with. At least for people like me who were conditioned to believe that anger is sin, and avoided it at all costs.

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For crying out loud, I’d repent in tears if I let the slightest bit of edge creep into my voice when I spoke to my children on a bad day. I hated tension of any sort and wanted everything gentle, kind, and peaceful. But when my life went up in smoke with all kinds of ugly, I knew it was unrealistic to feel “gentle” and “peaceful” about what went down.

I began a quest to be real with my feelings, real with God, and real with humanity.

I realized that Jesus tipped money tables over in righteous anger when the Jews brought their marketing into His temple.

I also realized God sent His Son to die for every sin on the planet. Not only that, one doesn’t need to work hard to receive forgiveness like this. It’s a gift, one none of us deserve, yet all get to receive.

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Daily, I’m struck with the mercy of God and I’ve spent a life-time focusing on mercy. It appeals to my make-up and the way I want to live. But I’ve seen that one can only truly release and forgive if one grasps the fact that God is also a God of justice.

When I see that God holds justice in his hand and invites me to release all wrong to His control, I can truly forgive and release.

My God never said there was no vengeance; He said “vengeance is mine.” When I see that God holds both justice and mercy in a balance that I can’t even describe, I am able release the offender as well as the offense to a God who sees all and knows all.

God won’t just swoop down and force someone to change but get this, ladies who need intervention—He sees it all and knows exactly what to do when you don’t.

This sounds trite and we all think, “Of course He does, but that changes nothing for me right now.”

Broken soul, will you remember this with me: Your God knows when to render justice and when to give mercy.  He’ll give you wisdom when to speak up and when to be silent. Sometimes His justice speaks out strongly; other times His mercy waits quietly. He will show you what to do when you wait on Him. 

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I cannot, hard as I may try, change my circumstance. But seeing God changes everything, and I invite every broken soul to join me on this journey to healing where I’m finding life in hidden places and springs in driest desserts.

I’ll never forget that lunch hour in the office of Edward Jones where my friend handles finances with such expertise. I’ll never forget how she and her husband caught my tears over cups of mid-day coffee.

Because sometimes all we need to know is that we don’t have to know when to feel what, because God knows exactly what to do all the time.”

Let it go, and learn to live fully in the very moment you breathe. 

 

Reality Versus Illusion

As I was driving along, staring at the mountains, I pondered this lovely daughter of mine in the passenger seat.

She hadn’t wanted to go to counseling, but I knew she needed to go. My brain was so full trying to figure out finances and kids, plus deal with my own pain, that I almost did the easy thing to let her avoid this, hiding her struggles in silent brooding.

It was easy to get sidetracked and start living and breathing as if the natural life was all that existed. Survival mode can do that to a soul. Eat what goes down, read what pops on a screen, and work the motions of life while struggling to inhale the air necessary to survive.

I glanced over at the truck next to me, then looked up at the mountains ahead as I wondered why it’s so easy to get swallowed up by the world. The reality is we are spiritual people in a human body but tend to live as though we are humans with splashes of spiritual experiences.

Our spirits live forever, momentarily in a human body that will soon fade away, and, in fact, get older each day as our minds often struggle to embrace the inevitable fading.

Sisters, we won’t be here forever. Forgetting God while remembering the universe and its inhabitants is the greatest illusion we could encounter. Yet, we are so human that we want what we can see, feel, taste, and touch only with our mortal eyes.

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Our mortal eyes were created by an Immortal, All-Seeing Eye which looks over the face of the whole earth to see whose heart is perfect toward him. (2 Chronicles 16:9)

In the God realm, our empty, survival-mode lives are meant to be filled. But it takes faith. Real faith, which is described as the “evidence of things not seen.”

Get that—there is evidence, but it is unseen. There is life which is not understood by mere human experience. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in Spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

There is life beyond this life, and we forget God when we allow ourselves to be swallowed up with circumstances.

When we live as though people can ruin us, we forget that there’s a God greater than people–and He’s always victorious. His word is final and it is always good toward us.

Evil will not triumph over good. The very same God who will judge all evil in the end also has the final say for our souls right now. In his light, pain must be healed, broken must be made whole, and our souls must find peace. He can do nothing other than GOOD!

Right now, no matter what, we can live in a better reality when our souls are connected to the Ultimate Reality–Jesus Christ.

Toss aside the illusion that people, places, and things have the final say over our lives. Live in truth, and we will be free. A created being always finds its greatest meaning in its Creator!

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My daughter fell asleep on the way to her counseling appointment. She didn’t want to go, but she left that room worlds better than when she had entered. We didn’t talk about it as she wanted her privacy, but we bought donuts and realized again that there are better things for us to live for, focus on, and give our lives to.

Sisters, He is a healing God, your Savior, alive and well, never dead, and never silent. He, more than your circumstance, is your Reality! 

Peace Makers or Peace Fakers?

Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.” (Mathew 5:9)

This verse grabs me because I love peace. Rather, I adore peace while I hate conflict and trouble so much I’d love to just run when it happens. You know the fight or flight thing? Well, I’m definitely in the flight category.

But sometimes you can’t run and the unpeaceful  stands tall in your life no matter what you do. For those who hate conflict, this can be debilitating. And, guess what, we can join the false who cry “Peace, Peace” when there is no peace.

Jesus asks us to be peace makers; He never approved peace fakers.

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                    Even a peace maker at heart needs to learn not to fake peace.

Jesus didn’t put the burden of creating peace in every situation on our shoulders, but He did say we are blessed when we can, and we do. This means there are times when we can’t, and times when we can.

Peace makers dissolve fights willingly when they’re able to do so righteously; peace fakers pretend nothing is wrong even when something’s dreadfully wrong.

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Peace makers are humble enough to say “I’m sorry” first; peace fakers say “I’m sorry” just to cover up the problem and move on with the problem still staring her in the face.

Peace makers take the low road of acknowledging personal sin; peace fakers take all the blame, all the time, and pretend another has no sin even when they do.

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Peace making leads to life; peace faking leads to an artificial, superficial existence where the soul is stripped of true inner joy and you soon land, wounded and battered like this boat on the shore.

Blessed are the peace makers who create peace when possible, but never shoulder the impossible.

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Mothers, teach your kids to walk in truth, because only the truth brings ultimate freedom!

When Jesus encouraged us that the truth sets us free, He wasn’t just referring to the gospel; He wants us to own all truth, whether good or bad, painful or easy.

Owning reality helps us walk in clarity. Embrace the truth of your circumstance,             your trial, and allow it to lead you to the truth of God’s deep, deep love. 

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Denial leads to a false sense of reality, and a clouded reality leads to mental confusion. Embrace the truth of all things, then wrap it all up in the truth of God’s love for you in spite of it all. Your heart and soul will clarify as you refuse falsehood and embrace truth.

In this way, you ensure peace making for your own heart whether or not others create peace for you.

Faking it hard never meant making it well. Only truth (on all accounts) leads you to light.  

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    Walk in truth, and you will only go up, even when your circumstances are down. 

Fully Seen by God

I’m willing to be nothing,” I told the Lord over and over again. And strangely enough, He’d ask me, “Are you willing to be something?

It took me aback, but I’d say, yes. Whatever the Lord wants, but why would He ask me that?

Did you know that true humility isn’t conditional on being unseen?  True humility happens when you don’t really think about whether or not you get seen, admired, or praised. You don’t focus there, and you stay real. You don’t care about that side of earthly kingdom stuff, because you are engaged in the heavenly, where all is love.

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As God asked me whether I was willing for both, my life boomed with my fondest dreams, and I began to walk through all kinds of doors. One after another, my dreams came true. I wrote books, and I spoke at conferences. I had a radio interview and an offer for a potential television interview. My soul was alive because I was doing what God asked me to do.

Then, a life circumstance crushed me and swept me away in a torrent of grief.  Godly friends rallied round me and held me up when I could not so much as put one foot in front of the other.

I entered a quiet season, one where it was God and me, alone. One where I woke up with tears and went to sleep with a dull ache in my heart. One where, rather than being asked who I was because they had heard my name somewhere, I was asked how I was doing because they had heard about my circumstance, somewhere.

Oh, friends. Can we except the trial as much as the triumph? Can we embrace the quiet as much as the quest? Can we, really and truly, live for the honor of the Highest One, in whom we live, and move, and have our being?

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I don’t really need the action, I need the Activator. When He activates, all is well. When he quiets me down, all is well. Because all is well where He is.

True humility serves Him well more than it is served well by what He does for us. And in eternity, our focus is on Him, and Him alone. His glory will burst from our beings in eternal hallelujahs round the throne, all for Himself.

This is why our focus here is not on our lives, but on His LIFE. Our reward is not from what we do, but from what He’s done. Will you say it with me, “Lord, I’m willing to be seen or unseen, whatever makes you FULLY SEEN.”

Navigating Your Brain

I took the little ones’ hands and walked as quickly as I could.

We had just emerged from the forest and hadn’t ended up where we had planned on meeting the other kids. My heart was sick with worry even though I knew they were okay.

Though on foot, I hit Google maps and began walking swiftly in the direction it led. After about a half mile, I realized it was leading us astray.

Ever walked in circles trying to get somewhere, worried about your other kids?

The woods were deep and the trails varied and confusing, but we were on small paved roads that should surely lead us back to the car. What was the problem?

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Ever ran your mind in circles trying to come up with a plan that worked? A plan that would lead you out of a mess?

Ever landed up exactly where you were at, before? Wondering how it was possible to waste so much time?

We navigate our own brain a million times, only to come up with a solution that leads us to a shack in the woods rather than our own sturdy home. I wonder when we will tune in on God’s word to us, and tune out on our own words to ourselves.

This God, his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him.” (Psalm 18:30, ESV)

What is God saying to you right now, friend? 

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Did you know his word to your heart is perfect, even when your circumstances are not? Can you take the dare to listen carefully and follow his road map even when your own thoughts run in circles and you’re tempted to conjure up your own plan?

The God who equipped me with strength, and made my way blameless. He made my feet like the feet of a deer and set me secure on the heights.

He trains my hands for war, so that my arms can bend a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation, and your right hand supported me, and your gentleness made me great.

You gave a wide place for my steps under me, and my feet did not slip.” Psalm 18: 32-36, ESV

Are we all the way in with God? We cannot receive his comfort unless we’re first willing to give up our own discomfort.

Rather than fight your trial, purpose to use your energy to pursue the heart of God for your trial. Only he knows the way out of the maze.

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Others may think they do, and God will use them to pull you through. But never allow their words to replace God’s word to your heart. God’s word is sure, and human words may contradict each other, leading you round and round another maze.

Only listen in when human words match with God’s words.

Don’t fear your trial. Don’t fight it. Jesus himself ended his earthly life in excruciating pain while bearing blame he never deserved in a million years.

There would have been no empty tomb had there been no occupied cross.

There are no plants springing up without a seed buried and dead under the soil.

And there will be new life for you when you are fully willing to die to your old.

For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you.

And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your teacher.

And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is the way, walk in it.’”

And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous.” Isaiah 30: 19-21a, ESV

Running your own mind in circles will inevitably lead you to mental exhaustion and, most likely, worthless, fruitless striving.

Slow it down. Breathe. Not everything has to be fixed today.

Only move when the word is sure to your heart. Realize that your part is to receive from the Lord rather than produce for yourself.

As you learn to adopt his word to your circumstance rather than try to fix your circumstance, your way will become bright and sure. You will be a shining light, glowing on a dark path.

No lamp the Lord lights is put under a basket or in a closet. Let His word shine light through you, and you will find that your circumstances no longer control you.

 Let there be rivers of living water flowing through you, out of you, headed to thirsty souls who want to know what grace life really is.

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Let truth govern you, calm you, reign your mind in a world of many voices. Refuse to run the circle, and choose instead to run the race. 

We navigated our way through the maze of small roads, and spotted the van. The kids were there, waiting, wondering where mama had been. I was certainly grateful as I turned the key.

The road led home, and the maze was gone.

Friend, are there others waiting for you to get out of the maze of your own mind? Are your kids longing for you to see clearly and walk with clarity?

Will you tune in on a sure word from the Healer Himself? 

His word will lead you home, out of the maze. And if your circumstances don’t change, your heart will—because God is good.