Word of the Week: Peace

Ironically, “peace” is a confusing concept Biblically.

Without any word study at all we observe that Christ at once claims He did not come to bring peace (Matthew 10:34) and at the same time Christ claims He is our peace (Eph 2:14.)

The definition of peace clarifies, citing that peace is:

  • A sense of welfare
  • Being undisturbed
  • Wholeness

When Jesus works, donning a sword, He disturbs our wrong perspectives. He exposes the incomplete pieces of our lives as we try to piece it all together for ourselves.

Peace, on our terms, is all about effort. Striving to maintain welfare, fighting to be undisturbed, and clinging to pieces we want to fit together.

Peace, on our terms, is anything but peaceful.

That’s the kind of peace Jesus didn’t bring.

The kind He did?

When we turn to Jesus as our source of peace, He establishes us without the peace-depleting, stressful effort on our part.

Our welfare is secure as we find our refuge and strength in Him. In Christ, nothing can disturb the connection with God He guarantees. We are in progress, yet simultaneously complete because He is working in us and promises to bring us to completion ultimately.

With Jesus, there is no lack, disturbance, or threat we need fear. We can be at peace because of who He is and whose we are.

Christ’s peace is so much more peaceful than peace on our terms!

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Peace We Trust

{The twelfth and final installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Each and every topic in this series has convicted me. They’ve all added up.


Here’s what I’m finding as I wrap it up...

Every “thing” I trust in besides God, I trust in with one goal in my heart. Obtaining peace.

I want the easy way because I want things to occur peacefully. I rely more on relationships than the Lord because I crave the feeling of peace that comes with connection. My plans, my busy habit, my obsession with knowing anything and everything- these all are submitted to in my heart because of what I hope to get out of them: peace.

You too?

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We want peace. We are desperate for peace.

As a people and as families, peace is the goal in everyday life. As churches, as a country, as a generation in this world, we do what we do to gain peace. It’s the banner we raise and aspire to.

We want to gain peace because we trust peace is the answer to all problems.

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This isn’t a new issue.

Jesus addressed it head-on: “Do not suppose that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I did not come to bring peace, but a sword” (Matthew 10:34.)

People back then wanted peace to be the solution.

But the issue is even older. We read about it in Ezekiel 13:10:

“…They lead my people astray, saying, “Peace,” when there is no peace, and because, when a flimsy wall is built, they cover it with whitewash.”

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The peace we seek is all too often just whitewash.

The kind of peace we seek offers no resolution, no redemption. It’s a cover up for the stuff we’re tired of looking at, the stuff we’re ashamed of.

Yet Scripture is clear.

There is real peace available to us, and it isn’t found in jobs, on Google, in knowing the outcome, or in avoiding the scary. We don’t gain real peace by doing more or planning things out perfectly. Peace isn’t something to be controlled or had.

Peace is someone we turn to.

As Ephesians 2:14 proclaims:

“He Himself is our peace.”

Oh, Lord. This is convicting. This changes things.

We’re tired. I hear it in the media, I hear it from everyone I know, I hear it from my own lips day after day.

We are tired of manufacturing our own forms of peace and seeking our own sources of peace.

Stacking our hopes and our sense of security upon these man-made sources of peace results in collapse. We end up hunched under them, holding them up by ourselves. Our versions of peace fail because they were never meant to hold our trust. They buckle under the weight, and so do we.

Pursuing peace instead of resting in the One who is our Peace is exhausting and disappointing.

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Friends- if we aren’t trusting the one who has bridged all of sin to make peace between us and God to give us true peace in this life, what are we doing?

Trust is balanced precariously on belief: belief the one we trust in is trustworthy.

The only one worthy of this trust, the only one actually able to trade the troubles of this world and our lives for lasting peace, is Christ Himself.

We simply need to come before Him. To hand it all over.

We need to trust Christ that He is who He says is: OUR PEACE.

In your life, trust Him to be who He alone is. Amen?

Thanks to all who participated in this series as readers, comment-encouragers, and guest writers. I have been blessed, and I know many others have too.

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Still

“He says, ‘Be still, and know that I am God’” –Psalm 46:10

Busy, busy. Becky just wrote about our false trust in “doing” through busyness. It’s a tough one to accept because our busyness is a habitual coping mechanism.

No more.

Be still.

This word the Lord uses can also be translated “sink” or “relax.”

Other connotations here include: loosen, let go, cease, abandon, fall limp, become helpless.

This word is for children clinging to things, fraught in their activity, wound up over whatever. It holds the power that a parents’ embrace does when a child is scooped up and put at ease.

Thank the Lord we are children of God.

His tone is steady, calming, and reassuring as He commands as a loving parent would: “settle down. I’m here. I’ve got it.”

God is the perfect parent. There is no unsupported claim in His Word.

When He says sink back on me, relax with me, I’ve got this…He can back it up.

Sink into that. Relax. Whew. Be still.

This post may also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Busy We Trust

{The eleventh installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Glad to have Becky here today- she believes in embracing grace in the messy real of life. At My Ink Dance, she captures hard, uncomfortable, often unspoken feelings and brings light, honesty and God’s truth to them in a relatable way. Becky is a wife and mother of three in Connecticut writing imperfect and finding faith along the way.

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One glance at my calendar and you’ll see more handwriting than white space. Sports, doctors, meetings, parties, holidays, and there always seems to be more. Even in all this “more” I feel like less.

My days keep filling up and I am being drained out.

busy trust

Empty is not a way to live.

It’s easy to fall in line and run from thing to thing waving a flag to show just how important we are. Our calendars scream of our significance, of how needed we are. We have so much to do, we must be important. We must matter. Right?

Busy gives us a false sense of worthiness. True worth only comes from God.

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I hate how I feel like I’m running and running, yet I find myself mentioning how busy things are and how the running was so hard like I was name dropping a celebrity. Maybe if people see just how much I do, they’ll see how valuable I am.

We trust this idea that busy is an indicator of how important we are in this chaotic world. There isn’t time for slow. There isn’t time to enjoy. We snap every picture and post and share to prove our lives are full.

No millisecond shutter will capture just how full your life really is, and no amount of likes will fill your heart.

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We give so much of ourselves for the sake of fitting in. The kids do the sports, we serve on the committees, off to church on Sundays, we work a job or maybe two, we make all our meals and have date nights and the list never ends. These are all good things, sometimes even Godly things. But when we seek these things to fill us up, no matter how good they may be, we find ourselves worn out, lonely, and empty.

You were made for so much more than worn out, lonely and empty.

God longs for us to live lives to the fullest. To live trusting fully in who He created us to be without feeling the need to chase meaning and value in full calendars and a life of running. He wants you to know who you are.

But the best part?

He sees us feverishly filling those calendar squares and chasing what we think our value comes from, and He doesn’t go anywhere. He stays. Even when we’re chasing busy and trusting in our status instead of Him, He stays and waits whispering only one thing:

be still

Friend, I know we can’t throw our calendars away. We have responsibilities and bills to pay and kids to grow. But none of those things will give us what our heart desires. Maybe it’s time to let go of our trust in busy and find even the smallest moment to trust in His stillness.

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Direct

Earlier this week, Carly shared about trusting in plans. She realized her “planning was not enough” and that she “needed God to…make it come together.”

The verse she wrote about is a challenging one:

Trust in the Lord and lean not on your own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. ” –Proverbs 3:5-6

To not lean on our own understanding is to not depend on manmade schemes and rationalizations over what the Lord teaches. This involves leaving space for His leading and work when we’d rather do it all on our own.

Likewise, to acknowledge Him in all our ways is to recognize, glorify, and seek Him with all our lives and being.

God directing our paths?

This is where I start to beam and where I recognize that the plans I make for my path make a mess.

In this context, the word direct refers to the work of the Lord as He is….

  • Smoothing out
  • Straightening up
  • Setting aright
  • Making agreeable

…our paths.

There’s One Way folks, and we know Him. The path is narrow and it does not change. He has one plan for each of our lives, and He planned it a long time ago.

When we read that He will direct our paths, God isn’t coaching us through a course still being conceived. He’s going ahead of us. Straightening up the messes we spread ahead for ourselves. He’s smoothing out the bumps we trip over when we’re caught up in plotting our own steps. His work evening out the surface keeps us from slipping.

He makes the road we walk more agreeable.

He does go on ahead of us, just as Deuteronomy 31:8 says.

When we acknowledge God and follow the Lord, we walk in the way He prepared for us. We set aside our plans, messy as they are, to enjoy what He has planned out for us.

His plans, despite our mess, He has straightened up, smoothed out, righted, and made pleasing according to the plans He has also prepared for us. His good, perfect plans.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Planning We Trust

{The tenth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

For open words on life, faith, and the unfailing love of the Lord, visit Carly over at Life In The Spacious Place. So grateful for Carly's honesty and simple, plain truth-telling way. 
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All my life I have been a planner.  I was always the child who had their homework done on time, who had everything they needed with them, who saw all the detail in a situation and kept others organised.

As a teenager, before a family holiday to Disney World, I even read a guidebook and created a detailed plan of exactly which order to go on the rides and attractions in order to minimize queuing and make the most of the day!

I didn’t like the feeling when things were out of control, and planning became a way to combat that.

As I got older I learned to relax a bit and accept that life doesn’t always go according to plan, but sometimes the desire to find control through planning can still kick in.

Proverbs 3:5-6 instructs us: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding.  Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.”

I have learned to trust God, but I struggle to trust him with all my heart.  It is easy to divide my trust between God and my own planning.

I realised last year that this was an issue.  Part of my work is organising camps and events for young people and it was becoming increasingly stressful.  The week leading up to an event would be filled with sleepless nights, while the days would be a frantic flurry of photocopying, of thinking up wet weather alternatives and creating back-up plans for every eventuality in case other people didn’t do what they were meant to do.

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I’d have said I was trusting God, but really I was relying far too much on my own planning and that was the root of the stress.  The worst thing was that other people were beginning to rely on me for everything too, which only added to the pressure.

Fortunately God had a plan to address this.

Part 1 of the plan was that I forgot something for an event, which I realise is not as earth-shattering as it seemed at the time.  I couldn’t understand how it had happened but I’m convinced that God was behind it.  I had written a list of everything we needed and triple-checked it.  It seemed impossible that I could have forgotten something, especially something obvious and important.

It was embarrassing and it was an inconvenience to sort out, but God definitely worked it for good.  It showed me, and others, that I was not invincible, I learned that others would show me grace, and I realised that we could deal with the situation and it wasn’t the end of the world.

Part 2 of God’s plan was thrusting me into leadership in a situation so completely chaotic that I hadn’t a hope of being in control.  There were too many unknowns, too many factors that depended on other people, too many difficulties that could never have been foreseen.  Every time I felt I was making progress something else would go wrong.  There was no way my planning was going to fix it and I had to accept that from the start.

It made me look to God: to seek him, to truly learn to rely on prayer rather than planning, to let my first response be turning to God instead of finding my own solution.

It forced me to admit that I couldn’t deal with it myself- that my planning was not enough but I needed God to bring order from the chaos and make it come together.

It allowed me to see God’s power and faithfulness as he did just that (at the last possible moment, which really exercised my faith!) and I knew that in the end, the successful result was all down to him and not to me.

Planning is still something that comes naturally to me, but I don’t want it to be an idol, or the place I put my trust.  These verses from Proverbs remind me that my trust has to be firmly in God and that it is his plan I should be seeking and trusting him to lead me.

We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps.  (Proverbs 16:9)

Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails.(Proverbs 19:21)

Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed.  (Proverbs 16:3)

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Works

Solomon declared that all of his works brought only vanity and vexation. He drew for us the conclusion that none of our works are meaningful under the sun. Later, He encourages us to enjoy what we do for God approves of those who fear Him and keep His commandments.

But in all this, Solomon wasn’t just talking about occupation.

“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” –Ecclesiastes 2:11

In other translations, this verse is rendered without the word “works.” Some simply say “all that my hands had done.” Other translate “All of my activities.”

As Ashlee suggested in her guest post about trusting in a job, “works” can be defined as many things.

The definition of “works” in this context is a long list, including descriptors like:

  • Accomplishments
  • Achievements
  • Business
  • Arts
  • Activities
  • Actions
  • Labors
  • Practices
  • Yields
  • Things

Things is actually on there.

Our “works” are our “things.” They are what we do throughout our days.

Your “thing” of cleaning house?

Your “thing” of making others smile?

Your “thing” of mastering a lesson?

They all count.

Remember the famous, freeing words?

For it is by grace you have been saved through faith, and this not from yourselves; it is the gift of God, not by works, so that no one can boast.” –Ephesians 2:8-9

The definition of works here is very similar.

None of the things we carry out on earth earn us meaning, worth, or eternal profit under the sun. Can’t earn those. That’s all the free gift of God in Jesus Christ.

I’m thankful for that. Because if I’m honest, it gets tiresome trying to build myself up creating some great profit or meaning out of the cleaning, the smiling, and the learning. These all have their role under the sun and they all have a place in my life.

But all the “more” I seek is found in Him. All the gain comes in Christ alone. Fearing Him and enjoying what he provides is enough.

So my works can just be things. They don’t have to be more than that. I don’t have to work on my works being more meaningful. What a relief!

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Jobs We Trust

{The ninth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Grateful to have Ashlee' Perry here today. A courageous writer and serious student of the Word, Ashlee humbly shares devotional posts and thought-provoking questions focused on Scriptural truth over at her blog, The Maze.

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No, I’m not talking about Steve Jobs here.

Our jobs are our primary source of income. With it, one is able to financially provide for the needs of one’s family, to buy necessities and pleasures of everyday life. Jobs are great, awesome, and the Bible specifically speaks and command us to work, because a laborer is worthy of his wages (1 Timothy 5:18) and if we don’t work, we won’t eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Working is a part of life, being commanded by God for us to do since the Creation and the Fall of mankind (Genesis 3: 17).

There’s nothing inherently wrong with work, but good things can also become our idols.

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Since May 2015, I have been in search for a full-time job. Although I love writing, and would one day hope to become a full-time writer, at this point in life, I know that isn’t possible. Every day for eight or nine hours, I alternate between job hunting and applying for jobs, which takes up most of the day, and exercising for breaks. With this day to day pattern, and with the constant reminders of the need of income looming around me, it’s hard not to obsess and idolize having a job.

When working becomes an idol, we begin to neglect the things God has stewarded us, placing that thing above God.

When you think of stewardship, most Christians think along the lines of money, but actually that’s only the tip of the iceberg. Stewardship goes far beyond giving money to a charity that you like, or volunteering for a weekend with underprivileged children. Biblical stewardship is our acknowledgment of the various gifts and talents that God has graciously given to us, and using them in such a way to give Him all the glory. With our jobs and time we spend with our jobs, how well are we being a steward?

When things are out of order, and when we have our priorities out of balance, work can become an idol.

We become neglectful of the things God has stewarded to us, to the extent that it becomes a detriment to us and those around us. God gives each of us certain talents and abilities, and when they’re used for things other than to glorify Him, our works become useless. In the words of Solomon, he states:

“Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor in which I had toiled; and indeed all was vanity and grasping for the wind. There was no profit under the sun.

Ecclesiastes 2:11

When God isn’t in the center of our business, our work, or our jobs, all those “good actions become completely futile. Stewardship without the presence of God is just good works.

Good Actions

By trusting in our jobs or talents over the One who gave us those skills, we’re in a sense demoting the power of God working in and through us. We’re creating for ourselves another “god” and placing it before the One True God. It’s easy to fall into this trap, whether it is with our jobs or personal life. We place our value and worth into those things, when actually, they can be swept away from us in any given moment. As Christians, our validity isn’t found in what we have or the job we possess. Our validity is found only in Christ.

Proverbs 16:3 gives strong words on what happens when our work is done to glorify God – our thoughts are established by Him. This isn’t saying that whatever we want, God will give it to us like a genie we make wishes to. I’m actually saying the opposite here – by submitting our will to God’s will, whatever He desires for us will be accomplished, for our good and for His glory. Our purpose isn’t defined by our job, title or position; it’s defined by our reverence and trust in God (Ecclesiastes 12: 13&14).

So, where does your trust lie?

Is your trust rested in the things that you possess and can obtain, namely your job, money, or resources, or does it rest in the redemptive work of Jesus Christ on the cross?

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

Word of the Week: Cast

“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.”1 Peter 5:7

Earlier this week, Liz shared about stepping away from anxiety to trust more fully in the Lord. Take a closer look at that word “cast” in this beloved verse.

Here’s what it does not mean:

  • Gently set
  • Hand over carefully
  • Share between us
  • Pass off in turn

What “cast” is defined as:

Giving our anxieties to God doesn’t need to be a process of careful deliberation and slow surrender. Rather, as Scripture instructs, we do well to simply throw our anxieties upon Him. No agonizing required.

What happens when we throw things?

They are instantly out of our reach (assuming we have any aim at all!)

Thrown things are removed, they have no bearing.

When something is thrown to a catcher, we give up our hold on that thing completely. And, in the case of anxiety, its hold on us.

Heave your anxieties at God. Hurl them into His perfect grasp. It doesn’t matter where or when. You don’t need to be cautious about protecting your pride or keeping some part of control. God is not in danger not ashamed of your worries.

He’s got a place for anxiety. In His hands. Which is way better than in yours, weighing you down and keeping you from keeping up with His will.

Cast that anxiety, friends, as quickly as you can. Relief will come.

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.

In Avoidance We Trust

{The eighth installment in the In ____We Trust Series}

Honored to welcome writer Elizabeth Giertz to the blog. A veteran turned army wife, Liz is a strong and courageous proclaimer of the Lord's goodness and truth. This post was originally featured on Liz’s blog and is shared in this series with her permission. Please join me in welcoming Liz and praying with her for those who serve to protect us and our freedom (and those who love them!)

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I laced up my boots and straightened my starched uniform every morning as I left for work before the sun rose above the horizon. I was a Soldier and a combat veteran.

Strong. Confident. Competent.

But I packed a MESSY secret deep in my cargo pockets.

I couldn’t shake the thought of a black sedan with government tags pulling up in front of my town house and dress uniform wearing Soldiers knocking on my door. My heart pounded and my stomach was tied in knots. For months on end, I did everything within my power to be anywhere but home during official notification hours.

If your spouse has been deployed in a combat zone, this scenario might sound familiar.

But for me, common fear crossed the line into unhealthy anxiety.

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By the grace of God, my husband came home from that deployment unscathed, but my experience uncovered an uncomfortable truth in my heart.

My faith had been tested and found insufficient. I lacked confidence that God would take care of me if something should happen to my husband. I was consumed by fear because my the roots of my faith were shallow.

Have you found yourself in a similar situation?

A lack of trust often presents itself as worry, fear, anxiety, discouragement, or a constant desire to fix things our own way.

I believed in God and knew that His son was sacrificed for my salvation, but I didn’t have a relationship with Him. Believing in God and trusting Him are not necessarily synonymous. To trust Him, we must know Him – like a Friend, Father, Protector, Sovereign Lord, and Redeemer. To establish a strong relationship with Him we must read His love letters and communicate with Him in prayer.

My faith had to be more than an entry on my dog tags.

To find peace in troubling times trust God.

Instead of being consumed by my earthly needs, I learned to seek God’s Kingdom and then trust Him to provide all that I require for righteousness (Matthew 6:33).

In place of fretting I began to pray and give thanks (Philippians 4:6-7) even for the smallest of blessings, acknowledging that all goodness comes from above.

Rather than agonizing over the possibility that I would suffer unspeakable pain, I trusted God would never leave nor forsake me (Deuteronomy 31:6) no matter what happened, because He is near the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18).

In lieu of allowing worry to consume me, I began to cast my cares on the Lord, knowing that He cares for me more than I can imagine (1 Peter 5:7).

Friends, it works.

Since instituting these practices into my life, I have not experienced a single moment of all-consuming anxiety during any of my husband’s more recent deployments. In fact, I have learned to look forward to deployments as periods of significant spiritual growth, but that is another post altogether.

I replaced worry with trust.

This I know, that God is for me.

In God, whose word I praise,

In the Lord, whose Word I praise,

In God I trust, I shall not be afraid.

Psalm 56:9-11

Will you join me? Together, let’s commit to trusting God so that the enemy cannot steal one more second of the peace that surpasses all understanding (Philippians 4:7).

For the next few weeks, guests will be writing each Monday on something (or someone) we tend to trust in besides God. 

What about you? How do you fill in the blank: In ______ I Trust?

This post will also be shared on: #TestimonyTuesday, #RaRaLinkup, #Intentionally Pursuing, #WomenWithIntention, #TellHiStory, #Thought-Provoking Thursday, #DanceWithJesus, #LLMLinkup, Faith-Filled Friday, Sitting Among Friends, and #SoulSurvivalLinkup.