No Way, No How

Standing on the edge of my own big, wild, crazy nightmares or dreams, I remember the wise words I’ve seen shared around the internet “When there isn’t a way out, go through.”

It’s true. But, sometimes, looking around, there isn’t a way through.

Sometimes the door is slammed shut in your face and all the others are locked tight too. Sometimes the news isn’t hopeful, but terminal. Sometimes you hear “health management” when you were hoping for “treatment.” Sometimes all the encouragement in the world can’t convince the people in authority to say yes.

Sometimes…you know the Lord has called you, led you, brought you…but you have no idea how to continue.

The path has run out. Still, He says press on.

No way-no how, is God’s specialty.

no-way-no-how-is-gods-specialty

The Israelites on the edge of the sea knew it. They didn’t devise a plot using floaties or rafts to make the voyage across. Three friends didn’t perfect the first Nascar firesuit before being thrown into the blazing furnace. Daniel didn’t come out of the pit buck-naked, having used his clothes to muzzle the lions.

The people told getting into heaven was like pushing a camel through the eye of a needle didn’t find their answer on Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Paul didn’t regain his eye sight and a whole new perspective on everything using a special form of Lasik.

Each of these no way-no how impossibilities was met with a God possibility.

In each of these scenarios, there was no way through. No plot to devise. No option left. Not for people with their natural limits.

But God.

He makes the way and is the how when we face our no ways, no hows.

A friend of mine recently shared about the Lord answering her family with miracles they didn’t even know how to pray for. That is so often the case in our lives.

Sometimes our best prayer when we’re teetering on a precipice and the path has run out is “Lord, you know. I don’t. You do.” Aaaand wait. Aaaaand believe.

The Lord doesn’t just come through, He makes the “through.”

Take a look at your no way, no how. Stare it down while you balance on your tip-toes.

Your God, Our Lord, is the maker of possible. And He’s still making possibility anew.

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

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.

What Is Love

We know about many characteristics of love, traits like those listed in 1 Cor 13; patience, kindness, humility, etc.

We certainly are aware of examples of Biblical love, like that provided in John 3:16. The Bible teaches us much about the actions and consequences of love, as in Romans 13 or John 15, which describe doing no wrong to a neighbor or laying down one’s life for a friend as loving.

But…what is love?

Read the rest of this guest post over at Uniquely Yours Ministries

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

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.

But I Feel…

I can’t seem to say the words without closing my eyes. “But I feel” …like there is no good option.

Then, eyes opened too wide, I grope for words to justify the way I feel. I explain all of the reasons I’m stuck. As if I have to be convinced that my own conclusions are correct, I address each possibility.

It’s not just when I feel stuck. The words have a way of blinding my eyes and hiding my hope when I feel angry, sad, jealous, hurt, and even stubborn.

You too?

Fact: “The heart is deceitful above all things” (Jer 17:9 NIV.)

God created emotions, which means they are good. Yet the seat of our emotions lies to us. Scripture never tells us to follow our hearts, but to follow the Lord. He wants what’s best for us and has the ability to lead us in that best direction. Our feelings, persuasive as they are, are subject to sin.

Fact: Feelings fell with Adam and Eve.

Ever since the fall, feelings have fallen prone to the twisting of sin. That’s how verses like “be angry and do not sin” can exist (Eph 4:26 ESV.) It isn’t wrong to feel, but feelings often tempt us to sin. Our emotions often deceive us, which is what sin is all about.

Fact: Following feelings alone is like closing our eyes and wondering why it’s dark and we’re lost.

In the seriously beautiful, convicting words of Isaiah 59 (NIV,) God describes the darkness of separation from Him. He explains how sin hides His face from us and how “feeling our way” leaves us groping for guidance and security. He goes on to speak of us “uttering lies our hearts have conceived.”

Our emotions often deceive us, which is what sin is all about.

Fact: “But I feel,” followed by submission, is a wonderful way to surrender.

The Isaiah passage ends with God declaring His coming to redeem us; His salvation for those who repent. When we allow our feelings to shut our eyes to the truth and lead us into sin, we must repent. David, over and over again in the Psalms, exemplifies this.

How often David would go before the Lord lamenting, groaning, crying out, and even rejoicing. He came with all those emotions, and David confessed them to the maker of all. We find an example in the famous words of Psalm 139 (NIV):

“Search me, God, and know my heart…

See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Would you submit to the Lord with me, asking Him to search your heart, even the “buts” and the “feels?” That He would open our eyes when our feelings want to shut them and lead us in His light, His way?

Fact: He knows our hearts even when our feelings hide our hope. He, our hope and peace, is with us still. Though our feelings might shake us, He does not move (Psalm 62:5 NIV.)

Praise Him!

Interested in guest posting on First And Second? Click HERE…new series on Sin Lies, looking for your thoughts!

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.

Facing the Big “What If”

I recently had the privilege of sharing a brief devotion with a bunch of teenage girls. Weeks in advance, when I asked the Lord what He might have me say, His answer was clear: “tell them they can pour it all out to me, they can always come to me.”

The Lord never gives you a lesson to share He isn’t also going to teach you through.

I kinda forgot that.

See, I talk to God all the time. But I don’t always talk to Him like He is who He says He is.

A few hours before I shared with the girls, He got my attention. Listening to those same girls, I began listening to the Lord about what I know goes on in their lives…and what I know will go on because they are humans living in the same fallen world I am.

They (and we) are going to face a lot of “what ifs” that plunder their prayers:

What if God never has me get married?

What if God never gives me or shows me my dream job?

What if God never makes me healthy again when I get sick?

What if God never heals the broken relationships I can’t fix myself?

What if I fail?

These are valid questions, and it’s alright to ask them. There is wisdom in preparing for many “what ifs.”

But the question of “what if” can also be a positive one.

What if God actually has plans for my life?

What if God is waiting to comfort me in my struggle?

What if God loves me more than the people in my life can and wants time with me too?

What if God is a confidant and an advisor?

What if God can lean in, listen, and embolden me like (or more than!) my best friends?

 What if we believe, when we speak to God, He is listening as lovingly, patiently, kindly, perfectly, gently, and honestly as He says is in His Word?

What if we believe

In Ephesians 6, Paul encourages believers to put on the armor of God. Then He goes on to say “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

Prayer is included right there in the battle plan. But notice it fits in, bound to, other pieces of armor like salvation, righteousness, and faith. Notice how God speaks elsewhere about praying with a right heart, not for our own selfish ambitions (James 4:3.)

In other passages, God tells us we must ask and believe (Matt 21:22.)

What I’ve been convicted of is this: our prayers are plundered when we don’t believe or don’t recognize exactly who it is we’re talking to.

The best place for “what if” in prayer is “what if God is really listening, really cares, and has a perfect plan?” Because He is, and it changes things when we believe Him.

At very least, praying while believing God is who He is changes our perspective from desperately attempting to persuade God to resting in the blessed assurance of Christ.

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.

becky profile

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.

3 (Hopeful) Truths for the Overwhelmed

My calendar always ends up a mess. It seems like everything is happening at once and at the same time like the things that really matter to me aren’t happening at all. I notice plenty of hurry up and wait. In the meantime, I begin to hear the phrase “you can’t do it all.”

Every little thing adds up and I just feel overwhelmed.

You too?

To read the helpful truths that give me hope and slow me down, click here to visit Ashlee Perry’s site The Maze, where I am blessed to guest post today.

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.

Do #LivesMatter to God?

Something breaks my heart extra as tragedy after tragedy arises. I wince over the propeller of much of the outrage being some agenda, not compassion.

People are suffering at the hands of others…

Terrorists. Radicals. Criminals. People of all races. Police Officers. Child Predators. Children. Parents. Even Wild Animals.

Killed and killing.

And People are suffering.

Might the answer involve something related to guns?

Might the answer be training cops more effectively?

Might the answer be teaching children about the equality of all people?

Might the answer be spreading the word about injustice?

Might the answer be more social awareness in churches?

Might the answer be a hashtag going viral?

Maybe in part. Maybe a little. Maybe not.

One thing I know: the answer to the loss of a precious human life is not to turn the departed into a tool.

In this, I observe our world overlooking a bigger issue. One we’re not talking about because it’s offensive, it’s personal, and because we can’t solve or cure it ourselves (Jer 17:9.)

Sin.

Sin’s evil pervades the world and each person in it (Eccl 9:3.)

Evil doesn’t discriminate against weapon, race, gender, age, circumstance, or specie.

It will gladly use and abuse them all.

Because evil sees opportunity in the heart of man.

Evil knows what happens when it takes lives. People, scared, hurting people, get desperate. Showing righteous anger at times, but flailing in desperation. Desperation leads to more opportunities for evil.

It seems like evil triumphs these days.

But God. But our Savior lives. He has the ultimate victory. He can take our desperation and turn it into reliance on Him.

The one answer we know to the problem behind all of this, the one answer that we don’t want to talk about, is the love of Jesus Christ.

We know we need change. We know we need more love and respect. We know we need better self-discipline. We know our world is a crazy, unpredictable mess. We know- God, do we know- that we need hope and healing.

All of these are found in Christ.

To be part of the solution: be part of His work. Let Him save you. When He has, be praying. Be loving those around you. Be listening for the Lord’s instruction. Be sharing the only hope we have in this world, the only hope that remains through every opportunity evil takes. Be in Christ to be living in hope.

Praise the Lord that we have a refuge, a rock, and a protector to turn to in every hardship and tragedy. Praise the Lord that sin will not win in the end. Death and evil will not prevail (1 Cor 15:55, Psalm 18:2.)

This is where we need to start. This is what we need to hear. This is what we need to proclaim.

This is the only hope we have, and the only real, lasting, unchanging, unshakable hope we have to offer.

Christ says it straight, so that we can have peace in this crazy world:

“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart, for I have overcome the world!” –John 16:33

#LivesMatter indeed matters to God. Your life and my life matter so much to God that He gave His only son that whosoever -any life, any person- who believes in Him may be rescued from sin, saved by grace, and have eternal life (John 3:16.)

Offer this hope with comfort. Offer it with respect.

Please, offer it with compassion.

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!)

liz profile pic

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.

Book Review: Unashamed by Heather Davis Nelson

“Fear sets in, and you relationally freeze up, locked in shame.

What now?

You need to be rescued. How about a perfect love that drives out fear (1 John 4:18)?”

–pg52

Many of us are familiar with social fears, along with fear of failure, rejection, and unworthiness. We often read about relationship challenges and there are tons of books focused on better communication or finding contentment with ourselves. But these issues and solutions highlight evidences of a deeper issue.

Shame.

As Heather Davis Nelson shares in her new book Unashamed, shame is “not a topic of conversation at a party, although it is an unwelcome guest in every gathering” (pg18.)

Shame has been around since the garden of Eden. A result of sin, shame isn’t something we can avoid altogether.

With that truth in mind, Nelson pointedly walks readers through several aspects of life in this world to expose how shame is at the heart of so many of human struggles.

Meanwhile, she offers a practical guide for recognizing, facing, and living Biblically with shame. As a Biblical counselor, it’s no surprise that Nelson’s thorough workup of shame is absolutely loaded with Scriptural references and examples.

Nelson explains the different types of shame people experience. Next, she offers guidance for responding to shame in a healthy way. Several chapters then focus on specific areas of shame, such as shame in marriage or in the church.

For me, Nelson’s chapter on performance-shame hit close to home. In it, she addresses one of my favorite excuses for….everything. Perfectionism. Nelson relates perfectionism to shame in such a way that my excuses can’t stand.

But, as in the whole of this book, she didn’t leave me reeling from the recognition of shame as is. Instead, she offered practical advice for changing my audience and, consequently, my need for perfection. Then, she went on to make this freeing point:

“So what are we waiting for? Permission? Approval? Recognition?

We already have it in Christ…” (pg96.)

Amen, Heather Davis Nelson!

Though helpful as a whole, each chapter could stand on its own for counseling or study purposes. Other conveniences of Nelson’s Unashamed are the very practical, down to earth tips for addressing shame and reducing the influence shame has on one’s life. The book can at times feel bulky and heavy. However, this topic is so relevant and Nelson’s writing is encouraging.

Through Unashamed, I think many will find themselves freer and more able to walk in confidence just as God made them.

If you would like to learn more about this book, click here.

To enter the drawing to win a free copy, just comment below on or before July 6th! I will randomly pick the winner on the evening of the 6th.

“Disclosure (in accordance with the FTC’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising”): Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. I did receive a sample of the product in exchange for this review and post. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway.  If you have won a prize from our sponsor Propeller / FlyBy Promotions in the last 30 days, you are not eligible to win.  Or if you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification.”

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.