Life is Hard… God is Good

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Life is hard sometimes.

I mean really hard.

We plan and we strive.  We do are best, and sometimes

It feels like it’s not enough.

So why do we try so hard?

Something that I have had in my head for quite a while is this picture of our world.

Each and every one of us has been placed here, not by mistake and not by accident, but for a very specific purpose.

This whole world is not where we are meant to be in the long run, but for right now, we are.  When we are done fulfilling our purpose here on Earth, we can finally go home.

It’s such a wonderful feeling to have this reoccurring vision in your mind and understand that we were placed here in a giant mission field to fulfill a task for our Father, and then He will bring us home.

So back to my original question.

Why do we strive so much? 

Why do we even try when often times we just feel like we will never get it right?

Because of our purpose.  We are not here for us, but for each other.  We are here for the Father to live out our purpose and God’s plan for us.

In those times when we feel so useless and so discouraged, we can lean into His arms and trust that He will be strengthening us and guiding us along the way.

I wish to know my full purpose.  I wish to know what I am supposed to do here.

But while I wait for it all to unfold, I will

               

                                                Lean

                                                                In

                                                                                And

                                                                                                Trust

 

While I focus on the here and now and the present day.

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In Our House We Do…

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves in compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.  Colossians 3:12

Tonight I was able to capture what happens on a daily basis in our household.  Our mission as parents is to raise up our children in the faith.  Teaching them about the truth of the gospel and the freedom that comes with it.  Our daily prayer is that the Lord would find favor with our children and that they would grow in wisdom to become mighty warriors in His army, deeply devoted to and in love with their Savior.  We pray that He places a burning fire within their hearts to go forth and make disciples of all nations through love and kindness.

So how do we teach this you might ask?  Well, mostly we pray A TON with them, teaching them to pray and showing them how we pray.  On Pinterest (I love me some Pinterest!) I found this really cute idea for a prayer pail.  For us, it’s a prayer cup because we don’t have a pail.  We write the names of anyone we want to pray for on Popsicle sticks and place them in the cup (Our daughter helped us with this list of names).  Then every time we sit down at the table to pray Azy will draw one stick out and that’s who we pray for.  It’s so hard for her to only pick out one name, she often grabs a whole handful proclaiming, “Mama, who dis, pray.”

Tonight we prayed for our good friend John and we added in G-Daddy (grandpa’s name).

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We are constantly listening to our “Jesus music”  and often when she hears the name Jesus Azy will start singing Jesus Loves Me (her favorite song).  When we are in the car she will point to the visor where all the CD’s are and say “Mama, Daddy, Jesus?” asking for her Hillsongs CD to be put in.

Though we are not perfect at this, and we could be way better, we nightly read our Jesus book (Bible) or some story books about God.  Right now her favorite books are God Bless My Boo Boo and God Made Me This Way.  

One of the biggest concepts that Christ teaches time and time again throughout scripture is kindness and love.  “And now these three remain, faith, hope and love, and the greatest of these is love.” 1 Cor. 13:13  Even in the secular world, being kind is a “good thing” to do.  Good thing God imprinted these concepts on our hearts when we were created (Rom. 2:14-16).  

So in our home we do kindness.  We are constantly teaching Azy what is kind and what is unkind.  Taking a toy from your brother when he is playing with it is unkind, please give it back and play with something else.  Sharing Kiya’s bunny with him is very kind and so nice, thank you.  Now taking that bunny right back after you gave it to him is not kind, please ask him nicely if you can have it back and I’m sure he will share (especially since little brother is only 3 months old and doesn’t really care about the bunny.)  If she is asking for something and you say, “How do we be kind?”.  She will then say please in the most heart melting voice.

“Parenting is about teaching, not about punishing.”  This is the most powerful saying that I have heard recently.  Children are not born knowing how to do things.  Their brain must develop over time, and they must be taught how to be kind and considerate.  How to share and how to eat with a spoon and not shove food all up in their hair after you have just given them a bath (true story my friends).  God tells us this in Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”  It may take a long time, and a lot of frustration,  but God blessed us with these little ones and with the opportunity to train them in His ways so they will not leave His side when they are older.

In our house we do prayer, we do Jesus, and we do kindness.  Even to elephants named Flappy…

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When God Doesn’t Listen to My Prayers

Matthew 7:8  Everyone who asks receives.

Psalm 34:4 I sought the Lord and He answered me.

So if God tells us time and time again that when His children ask, they will receive, then why is it that so many prayers go unanswered?  Why do we feel like God isn’t listening?  A revelation I received today:

God considers all that we ask for through the filter of His perfect will.

Because God is omniscient, He knows everything that the future is going to hold for us.  He holds our hearts in His hands, and because of His great and mighty love for us, He wants so much more for us than what our non-omniscient minds can fathom.  

For instance, we might ask for a puppy, and want one with all of our heart.  We might think that that puppy would offer so much joy to our lives.  But God may be there saying, “You think you would have joy, but when you get that puppy you are going to be so frustrated that you have to potty train it and it’s going to have many accidents.  You will have to wake up with it every three hours to take it out to use the bathroom.  And oh yah, you have a newborn baby, I’m pretty sure that is a very bad combination.”  

In case you were wondering, this was a real life occurrence for me when Azy was a newborn. Puppies are cute, but this was like having twins.  Twin moms, I don’t know how you do it!

David wrote,

“No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” Psalm 84:11

We might think that He is not listening to us, or is always saying no, but when He is filtering it through His omniscience, it is hard to think that any outcome could be any less than perfect for us.

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things.  Romans 8:32

God showed me today that there are about 5 ways that He answers prayer, and in these 5 ways, they are really all a yes, just in a different way.

The first way He answers is “Yes, immediately” if our request lines up perfectly with His will and timing.  The really incredible thing is that God is not bound by time, so He could essentially start answering our prayers many years before we even utter the words.  Or, if He really wants to blow our minds, He could give us what we ask for before we even finish the sentence, like He did with Rebekah at the well.

Second, He says “Yes in due time.”  The tricky part with this is that you can’t let a delay mean a denial in your mind.  Think Zechariah and Elizabeth.  He started praying for a child when they were very young.  Then after years of a seemingly denial to his request, God says, “Oh hey, remember that request you had for a child, yah, so your wife is going to have a child.  I know you are old, don’t worry about it, I got this.”  OK, so He didn’t use those exact words, but you get the point.  Knowing this, there is one very important thing you should remember.  

Don’t let yesterday’s seemingly unanswered prayers stop you from praying again today and tomorrow with just as much freedom and faith.

Third, He says, “Yes, so you’ll learn from it.”  Sometimes we think we know what we want, and God tries to convince us otherwise, but our stubbornness insists on it.  So God will say yes if He thinks that we can learn something from it.  

Another real life example.  Ryan and I were doing ministry in New Mexico on a Native Reserve.  We had just had Azy, and were feeling extremely homesick for our family.  We insisted that we wanted to move closer and that that’s what would make us happy.  God told me this, “You can choose to leave, I don’t need you here.  But if you choose to stay then I will bless you and use you as a blessing.”  We chose to leave.  And still to this day we believe we made the wrong choice.  Now, this doesn’t mean that God did not use us and bless us in Michigan.  And we certainly wouldn’t be here in Illinois doing the ministry that we know for a fact God called us to do.  But that does mean that God said yes to our request for provision to leave even though it would have been much better if we would have stayed.  The lesson I learned through this is that God has our best in mind, and knows exactly what our hearts need.  I don’t know if my heart will ever fully heal from the hurt of leaving that wonderful place.  I still have visions of the people in my dreams very regularly.

Fourth, God says, “No because you’re heart’s not right.”  Sometimes you ask and do not receive because you ask with the wrong motives so that you may spend it on your pleasures. James 4:3 If we ask for financial provision, God may not give it to us, not because the timing isn’t right, but because He knows that we haven’t learned to manage our provisions yet.  He knows it wouldn’t do us any good.  We would just go blow all the money He gives us as soon as we receive it. It is so important to come before the Father and lay down all our sins and shortcomings at the foot of the cross, asking Him to help us learn what He would want to teach us.  In other words, get your heart right with the Lord first, and then bring your requests to Him.

Fifth, God says, “No, I have something better in mind.”  Sometimes our requests are too small for the greatness of God.  Sometimes we ask for a grain of sand and He wants to give us a mountain.  I like to think that this answer is really a yes, but on a much grander scale.  This is an answer that will be given with so much more glory to the Lord.  

So to sum it all up, If you could take one nugget from this post, please remember this, when we pray we are in the presence of the almighty, and we are allowed to pray big prayers, realizing that God is a good Father.  He might not answer in the exact way that we wish, but He hears every prayer, and answers every prayer.  He withholds no good thing and He may just choose to amaze us even further than we ever imagined possible.

If you haven’t already, I implore you to watch War Room, and read the book that goes with it, The Battle Plan for Prayer.  You will never be the same again!

Be the Master of My Heart

“Master, we toiled all night and took nothing, But at your word I will let down the nets.”  And when they had done this, they enclosed a large number of fish, and their nets were breaking. Luke 5: 5-6

How many times do we find ourselves trying so hard to get things done on our own?  We make plans, we organize, we set schedules, and then they all seem to be for nothing.  I’m thinking especially in regards to being a mother.  About a month ago I developed a schedule thinking that that would help me feel more productive.  I blocked out when my two children would nap, when I would do chores, when I would nap (very important), when I would relax, when I would teach them and read to them and play with them.  The very next day Kiya decided that he wasn’t going to take a nap when Azy did and he was only going to sleep for 30 minute periods.  Azaria decided that she was going to be crabby and impossible to try and get to do anything, and I was going to rip my hair out trying to get the house even respectable for when Ryan came home.  When my plans and aspirations failed, I felt like a failure myself.  I praise God for swooping in and taking over.  I praise God for loving me enough to show me that I don’t have to try so hard. I praise God for granting me sanity when I do not deserve it, and in more abundance than I ever imagined possible.  When he says the word, the mountain shall move and the nets shall become full!

When life doesn’t make sense.  When it seems like something is impossible, but you are positive that God is leading you there, trust, and He will do the unimaginable!

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Lean On the One Who Gives Peace

Dearest child, why do you try so hard?  Why do you seek after what the world expects of you?  Why don’t you sit and abide in my presence and holiness?  Why don’t you seek after what I call you to be, and what I created you to be?  You try so hard to be all you think you should be, but what I know you should be is much better.  For my ways are higher than yours and my thoughts much better.  You, dear child, have been redeemed by the blood of the sacrifice I made of my son.  You have been remade and called holy by me.  Not because of anything that you have done, but because of all that I have done.  I desire to draw you closer to me.  By doing this, life will be made so much easier for you.  So why do you still struggle?  Why do you strive for something that was just not meant to be?  Come to the water all you who thirst and I will give you drink.  Come to the table all you who hunger, and you will be fed.  My body and blood has been shed for you.  So live in that grace dear one.  Live in the person that I have made you to be.  

There are so many things that we choose to give our hearts to in this world.  We strive after so many different things, yet we won’t come into His presence.  Why is this?  The one place that can give us peace and rest, yet we choose not to go there.  Time and time again I find myself struggling to pick up the Bible or utter a word in prayer.  I keep myself busy with the day to day tasks and the things that I think I should be doing.  But If I would just settle myself and take time to spend in the word and with Him in worship and prayer, peace would come over me in all areas of my life and He would give me grace to help me through the rest of my days. The Lord has never failed me before, so why do I doubt His presence in my life now?

O you who hear prayer, to You all men come. Psalm 65:2

No fear when everything is counted as joy!

“Count is all joy brothers when you meet trials of various kinds.” James 1:2

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Christ calls us to “pray and we will receive.”  He even says, “Where two or more are gathered in my name, there I am also.”  There are lots of things that are mentioned throughout scripture on the subject of prayer, and yes, prayer is extremely powerful.  But, are we praying for the right things?

Continue reading “No fear when everything is counted as joy!”

Take a moment to reflect on who God is!

Child, slow down!

Your trust is not in me,

You are seeking after all you could be.

I need you to let go of who you are

And let be all I made you to be.

Your trust is in the Son of man.

He will not satisfy you like I can.

Trust in my presence.

Trust in my peace.

Trust that I will lead you where you need to be!

Let go of your dreams.

Let me sanctify your being.

Trust that I will uplift you and give you more than you could fathom.