The Good Thing about Hard Times

In the midst of all that’s going on in this world, it is easy for you to allow fear to grip your hearts.

Fear of the future, fear of sickness and death, fear of lack of resources, fear of the unknown. I know for my personal life, one fear has attempted to break my peace consistantly and that is the fear of suffering in some way.

Whether it’s suffering in finances, in lacking resources needed for my family, in the economy, whatever it is, there’s this uneasiness about my comfort being attacked in some way. My daily “normal” somehow changing. It can definitely be scary.

Obviously I am not the only one who feels this uneasiness, as toilet paper was the first thing we ran for during the scare. Toilet paper. Think about it. Something that is NOT a necessity being bought over food or water. Because of this one word that has imprisoned us for way too long: comfort.

I was reading in Romans today, seeking peace for my soul during this time and stumbled upon a passage I have read many times. But often His Word jumps out at us when we need it, so I figured I would share.

Romans 5:3-5 – “Moreover (let us also be full of joy now!) Let us exult and triumph in our troubles and sufferings, knowing that pressure and affliction and hardship produce patient and unswerving endurance. And endurance (fortitude) develops maturity of character (approved faith and tried integrity). And character (of this sort) produces (the habit of) joyful and confident hope of eternal salvation. Such hope never disappoints or deludes or shames us, for God’s love has been poured out in our hearts through the Holy Spirit Who has been given to us.”

Wow! What peace this can give us if we center our hearts on its promises. All too often as Christian’s these days, we pray for things like character, patience, integrity, more faith, more hope, and yet we never seem to pray for suffering or trials (I know, who would?)

But think about it. This scripture shows you the formula to having joy, peace, faith, and character; trials and sufferings which lead to endurance. All too often we pray for miracles in our lives and yet would pray against situations where God would be able to work miracles.

“Lord, please deliver us from bondage of the Pharoah BUT why have You led us to the Red Sea to be killed?!?” Sound familiar? The Israelites wanted the freedom without discomfort. But without discomfort the miracle of the splitting of the Red Sea would never have been needed. Without sickness, we wouldn’t see His healings. Without struggle, we wouldn’t see His mighty provision. Without discomfort, we cannot grow.

So I take this time in my personal life to do as His Word tells us and exult in trials and sufferings. During this time where comfort and “normal” seem out of reach, this is a time to buckle down and praise the Lord that we are gaining endurance and patience. That we are learning what it means to rely solely on Him and not ourselves, our social lives, or our government. That during this time of stretching we can be thankful and renew our minds to see everything as He does and not what our flesh wants.

Take this time of isolation and really learn to be dependent on God. This is a time where distraction has been wiped out of most of our lives. Distraction and comfort that all too often keep us from our true Love and our families. Stop complaining, worrying, and fearing, and start praising God and thanking Him for your blessings, your life, and the ability to grow in Him.

Hard times are hard but they always restore my faith a little because it always seems that hard times produce such beautiful fruit in humanity. We see communities come together, servants appear in this individualistic selfish world, and neighborly love everywhere we look. Once again the principles of the Word evident all around us.

I wanted to encourage you in this time to look at things in a different way. Stay in your Word, keep your minds renewed, and walk in thanksgiving. Love you all! Happy homemaking!

Stones of Remembrance: Remembering God’s Faithfulness in the Midst of your Trial

If you have never read Joshua chapters 3 and 4 I urge you to go and read them now. You will read about a miraculous working of God once again in the lives of the Israelites. Essentially, God told Joshua to lead the Israelites across the Jordan, and that when they stepped foot in the water, He would part the waters for them once again as He had done with the Red Sea. What a mighty God we serve.

Although I love to read of His miracles then and hear of them today, that isn’t necessarily the part of the story I want to touch on. As you read in this story, Joshua also tells the Israelites to do something else. As they cross the Jordan (which was by no means a small creek or brook), Joshua tells one man from each tribe to pick up a stone (large enough to carry on their shoulders) from the bottom of the Jordan.

And he explains that the reason for doing so is that when their children, and their children’s children ask why they have kept a stone, that they can then remember God’s faithfulness to them and the miraculous work that He did. These stones became Stones of Remembrance for God’s goodness and faithfulness.

I believe we all make stones of remembrance, but sometimes they are not for God’s goodness or faithfulness to us in the midst of our storms but of the suffering we have. For instance, when I battled anxiety I remember that one of the things I feared was, well, fear itself. At the back of my mind I was always fearing when the next big anxiety attack would hit or fearing if I would live this way forever. It was a dark cycle that was quite exhausting.

One day I was crying out to God regarding this; how am I supposed to ever be free from fear if all I do is fear anxiety?!? I stilled my mind to listen and heard these three words: Stones of Remembrance. I had remembered faintly of this from a teaching at some time, but I could not remember where to find it. So I googled it and read the story of Joshua. What a nice story, I thought to myself, but what does that have to do with what I am dealing with God? (Thank the Lord that He knows how to deal with our sassy attitudes and questionings).

“You have made stones of remembrance to your struggles and not to my faithfulness in the midst of your struggles. When you remember my faithfulness, then you will find yourself free from fear.”

Tears welled up in my eyes and heat filled my cheeks as I realized that I too had made stones of remembrance, but not to my God. I had built stones of remembrance to the onslaught of the enemy, but not to the goodness of God who always delivered me in the midst of those battles. When the darkness of fear gripped my soul, and God would bring peace on my mind, I should have built a stone of remembrance to His goodness to keep His promises. Instead, I remembered the feeling of despair and built a stone of fear’s threats.

Every time I would be going through a somewhat “good” time in my life, my mind would come across those stones made out to fear and fear would have a foothold in my mind. Thus the cycle continued. After God pointed this out to me, I decided to make stones of remembrance to His faithfulness.

Every time fear would raise it’s ugly head and say, “You’re going to have anxiety about this or this will always be a struggle for you,” I would go to my Stone of Remembrance and remind my soul, “Remember the last time you went through this anxiety battle, and God delivered you?” “Remember the last time you thought you would be overtaken, but God strengthened you?” “Remember the last time you didn’t think you could make it through the night, but God was with you until the morning?”

We can replay our sufferings, trials, storms, and traumas over and over again. And when we do we will often find ourselves on the other end of more suffering, trial, and storm. Your mind is a journey and where you allow it to travel, so will your emotions. But when we take control of our thinking and cast down those thoughts and fears and make our thoughts obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5), then we can remember God’s goodness and faithfulness, which will give you hope and strength.

Stones of Remembrance were used by the Israelites to remind them and the generations after them of God’s faithfulness and workings of miracles. They would leave the stones in the place where God worked and when they or someone else traveled upon them once again, they could remember what the Lord had done for them. What I found interesting was that Joshua had them pick stones up from the bottom of the Jordan River. These stones would not have been able to be retrieved had God not done something mighty. The stones we pick up in this life our symbols of God’s mighty power and work in our lives. And when the enemy tempts you with a pity party over your sufferings, remind him of the mighty work God has done and will continue to do because He is able to make good out of what is intended for your destruction (Romans 8:28; Genesis 50:20).

When you go through a trial or storm and come on the other side of it, don’t create a stone of remembrance that will remember and praise the attack, but create a stone of remembrance of God’s faithfulness to you and His goodness to you in that hard time. It’s time we take back control of our thinking and instead of being accused all of the time by our accuser, we can remember the love and goodness of God.

So if you find yourself traveling through the same cycles of fear of the future, fear of the next attack, remembering struggles, sins, and traumas, go ahead and make a stone of remembrance that will help you remember that God gave you the strength to get through it and He will do it again. We do not have to live in fear of the future because we know Who is already there, Who has already prepared the way for us, and Who has already brought victory and deliverance through Christ Jesus.

Clearing the Cobwebs: The Life of a Trail-blazer

You are more Christ-like in the storms, than when the sea is smooth.

Have you ever been hiking before and had the lovely job of being in the front of your group? If you have you understand that often you are the one who gets hit with all of the spiderwebs, branches, and unknowns. I once was the first in line on a trail and felt every single cobweb going across my skin, sticking so fast and hard it was almost impossible to get it off. I quickly learned that lesson and often took the second or third position after that.

It’s quite humorous to watch the first person on a hike because they usually are jumping up and down or swishing their hands in front of their bodies like a ninja attacking an invisible opponent. It’s not as humorous to be the one who is being attacked though.

There was a time in my life I felt like I was getting hit by life’s cobwebs; like I was the person in the front; the trail-blazer. I remember a time when I went from on fire for God to what felt like overnight into a battle with doubt and unbelief. I remember laying on my dorm bed and crying with frustration because I didn’t know why I was battling doubt and how to be rid of it. It was a very difficult spiritual season for me. I remember in the midst of that, I started isolating myself from others (which is a tendency for me in hard times). My best friend made me go out to a movie with her and some of her cousins, so I obliged.

After the movie (which did help distract my mind a little), we ran into an old high school friend in the hallway of the theater. We caught up with him and talked about our lives and what we had been doing for quite some time. I remembered that the last time I had talked with him, he was on fire for God and really passionate about the Lord. But the young man I was speaking to in that movie theater seemed to be a whole different person. He began talking about his struggles with his faith and the doubt that some of his college professors had instilled in his mind. Standing there in that theater the Holy Spirit immediately brought my attention to my struggle with doubt. “This is why,” He said to me.

I was able to empathize with my old friend and in that moment the Lord spoke much wisdom and freedom to him. Things I had been struggling with, the Lord began to preach through me to my friend and I sat back obedient, amazed at His faithfulness. I had bought an apologetics bible to help me with my faith during that struggle, one that helped people defend the Gospel. God told me to give that bible to that young man later that night. When I laid my head down to sleep that night, no doubt or unbelief remained. I was free. It was amazing how quickly it ceased.

I tell this story because that night I realized sometimes we go through struggles in order to help others. Sometimes, quite on purpose, God will let us deal with things in life so that we would be able to serve another in their hard season with empathy and compassion, rather than judgement. I remember that night being amazed at God’s faithfulness to that young man, that He cared so much for Him He would set me up ahead of time to help him.

That is one example of the many times I have gone through things to help someone else. I remember after my miscarriage sitting on the couch with my bestfriend and just talking a lot of my faith struggles out years later. She said something to me, about how I helped ‘pave the way’ for her as she goes through life changes after I have been through them. I remember saying to her in my frustration and flesh, “I’m tired of having to go through every tough battle to help others; I need a break.”

She looked at me and said, “Katie, you’re just clearing the cobwebs for others.” Since then, that saying as changed my outlook completely. When I go through hard times, I think of the “WHO” it may help in the future. When I struggle with something in my mind, my marriage, motherhood, or my walk with God, I don’t see it as an end, but as a beginning of freedom for someone else down the road.

When in a pity party about this trail-blazing anointing, the Holy Spirit spoke so sweetly to my bitter soul as He usually does. “You are more Christ-like in storms than when the seas are smooth.” In that instant I realized that Christ was our trail-blazer. Christ went before us, took our due punishment, and paved the way of salvation so that we could enjoy eternal communion with the Father. He didn’t have to do that, just as we don’t have to let our struggles help others. But He did it because He loved us, and to be like Christ and love others, we also take the struggle for even just one soul.

“For [as a believer] you have been called for this purpose, since Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example so that you may follow in His footsteps. He committed no sin, nor was deceit ever found in His mouth. While being reviled and insulted, He did not revile or insult in return; while suffering, He made no threats [of vengeance], but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges fairly. He personally carried our sins in His body on the cross [willingly offering Himself on it, as on an altar of sacrifice], so that we might die to sin [becoming immune from the penalty and power of sin] and live for righteousness; by His wounds you [who believe] have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:21-24

We also can heal through our woundedness if we allow God to take our struggles, sins, and brokenness and use it for His glory. I believe that God would have sent Jesus for just one person because He sees them as worth it. So even if your struggle helps just one, they are worth it.

So, if you are going through some battles and storms in this life, think of it as just clearing the cobwebs for those behind you. See your overcoming that obstacle as the way in which God can set free someone else. When you see your battle as a tool for the salvation of another’s soul, it makes the fight so much more worth it. So keep your chin up, flail your arms through those cobwebs in praise of Him, and keep blazing that trail.

So that one day you too can say, “I have fought the good and worthy and noble fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith [firmly guarding the gospel against error].” 2 Timothy 4:7.

The Deception of Self Love

Okay, so this is not going to be a popular post. I’m okay with that because I don’t write for popularity but for what God lays on my heart to say to whoever may read it. There is a trend going around that is what I like to call, deliciously deceptive. It’s those topics that come along and are covered in something labeled “good” but are dangerously deceptive underneath. Have you ever heard of the saying, “A wolf dressed in sheep’s clothing?” That’s pretty much the imagery of what I’m talking about.

Now cultural fads come and go. And there’s an easy way to fall into a cultural mindset without weighing whether that mindset lines up with the Word of God. Because it seems good to the eye, then it must be inherently good. One of the things I keep seeing over and over in culture, particularly in women today, is this idea of “self love”. This notion that we as women need to be putting ourselves first, creating a beautiful self image, allowing ourselves to be selfish every now and then because, “Girl, you’re worth it”.

At first you’re like, “That’s right! I should be worrying about myself first.” And you feel really good reading posts that elevate that self esteem and independence and self love. But, if you’re not careful, that’s an easy place to be deceived into becoming self minded or what is really selfish. If I were to say to you, “Girl, you need to do what makes you happy and what makes you feel powerful,” you would probably high five me. But just because something makes you feel good, does not mean it’s biblical or that it should be something we strive for.

Let’s be real with ourselves here for a moment. This world is preaching a lot of messages to us women today, and if we are not careful we can hop on that train into a tunnel of deception. Remember, if you are saved, you are living according to a different culture, the culture of the kingdom of God. Remember, we are not of this world nor are we to think like this world (John 17:16).

“And do not be conformed to this world [any longer with its superficial values and customs], but be transformed and progressively changed [as you mature spiritually] by the renewing of your mind [focusing on godly values and ethical attitudes], so that you may prove [for yourselves] what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect [in His plan and purpose for you].” Romans 12:2 AMP

It’s pretty clear in scripture that we are not to be of the world; that we are not to align ourselves with popular ways of thinking, acting, dressing, that is not in line with the Word of God. So why dear sisters are we women of faith being so deceived into what I like to call the deception of self love?

Scripture is blatantly clear on how we are to view ourselves.

“And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to follow Me [as My disciple], he must deny himself [set aside selfish interests], and take up his cross daily [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me]. For whoever wishes to save his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], but whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake, he is the one who will save it [from the consequences of sin and separation from God].” Luke 9:23,24

“He must increase [in prominence], but I must decrease.” John 3:30

“It teaches us to reject ungodliness and worldly (immoral) desires, and to live sensible, upright, and godly lives [with a purpose that reflect spiritual maturity] in this present age” Titus 2:12

“So then, none of you can be My disciple who does not [carefully consider the cost and then for My sake] give up all his own possessions.” Luke 14:33 AMP

“And he who does not take his cross [expressing a willingness to endure whatever may come] and follow Me [believing in Me, conforming to My example in living and, if need be, suffering or perhaps dying because of faith in Me] is not worthy of Me. Whoever finds his life [in this world] will [eventually] lose it [through death], and whoever loses his life [in this world] for My sake will find it [that is, life with Me for all eternity].” Matthew 10:38‭-‬39 AMP

You cannot show me in scripture where my goal in life should be to glory in myself, to put my wants and needs before others, to do what makes me happy, to seek selfish desires. What you do see is scripture telling us over and over is to lay our lives down, to put others first, to serve others, to humble ourselves before God and man, to give God the glory, to seek the will of God and lay our desires down. I am so tired of seeing a generation of women of faith falling into the trap of the self.

Hear me clearly. No, you are not meant to be a doormat. No, you do not have to be abused, used, or treated like garbage. No, God does not want you to view yourself as ugly, fat, or not good enough for love. But its not to make you feel good about yourself in yourself, but to know who you are in Him.

I’ve found that the many times I have let my self be the focus of my every thought, motive, and desire, I am left miserable. Your prayers, thoughts and purposes should not all be about you. Many of us would feel alot better, have more stable mentality, and live in more freedom if we would walk away from the bondage of self and begin to live a life concerned about others.

Get yourself off your mind. Seek God and HIS righteousness. Seek god and HIS purposes for your life. You can do your hair (not bad in itself), fix your makeup just right (I wear makeup too), take that perfect selfie (to show off how strong and happy you are) and still not ever reach happiness. You can have the new clothes, the starbucks coffee, the designer shoes, the promotion at work, the golden globe (you know who you are), and still find absolutely NOTHING at the end of the day. Because sister, joy and peace are not in this world to be found. They are in HIM and Him alone. Stop forfeiting the purposes of God for your own purposes.

When you find yourself in a cycle of self, slap the enemy in the face and serve someone else! Woke up feeling bad about your appearance? Don’t think about YOU all day, instead compliment other women, thank God for your health and being alive, do something good for someone else! Having a bad mental health day? Reach out to someone you know who also struggles and ask them how you can help THEM. You’re not too broken to be used by God to bring light to someone’s life. And you’ll most likely find yourself feeling uplifted and joyful afterwards too.

This culture for too long as promoted self and self interest; independance from others and fulfilling happiness. But if you are a child of God, happiness is not your goal. Hard to hear right? What we think will make us happy, the perfect body, the perfect husband, the perfect children, the perfect house, the perfect job, none of those things will do it in the end. You will get that next thing and feel good for a little bit… and then it doesn’t do the job anymore. You will get the followers and the attention, but find yourself feeling empty.

Because fullness of joy, fulfillment, and peace come only from Him. Because the only path to true self love is the laying down of self in His hands. You want what’s best for you? Try surrendering every dream, desire, life bucket list and relationship to Him and watch Him truly give you the desires of your heart. Trust me, what the enemy doesn’t want you to know is that behind every culutral pep talk and self love blog post is emptiness and a dangerous deception.

It’s not about not taking a night to yourself after a stressful week to unwind and find peace. That’s not what I’m saying. What I am saying is to not get so caught up in this cultural fad that you find that your self is the only thing on your mind. That is not how Jesus lived, and that is not how we are called to live.

Trust me, I feel it. I feel the tension of cultural ideals and the Word of God. It is so much easier to think about myself all the time than put others before me (thats our flesh’s auto set since birth). But there is no joy in it. Love yourself because you were bought with a price and considered worthy in His eyes, not because of anything you do. Love yourself not because you deserve it, but because God thought you were worthy of His love. Love yourself because you were made in His image, not because you have the perfect body, clothes or smile.

I’m waiting for a generation of women of faith who stand up for biblical principles in a world who will call them “out of date”, antiquated, and stupid. I’m not saying hate yourself, just get yourself off your mind. You will be surprised what you find. You don’t have to worry about not being taken care of either… because when you rest in His hands and take care of others, God is faithful to take care of you too. So, be free to not be in yourself. It is freedom indeed.