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.

Marriage Hurts but Marriage Heals

Marriage is the most difficult and beautiful thing I have ever experienced. Both hard and easy at the same time. Sounds impossible right? But it’s true. I find marriage both as natural as breathing and as difficult as rock climbing rope free up a 750 foot mountain (that escalated quickly).

Marriage, how I understand it, is the unification of spirit and flesh; two spirits and flesh becoming one. That’s why in the flesh marriage hurts; and in the spirit, your marriage can heal.

My husband and I just recently went through one of those “fun” growing times together. Personal struggles and relational struggles came together to a pinpoint which led to a perfect storm of tension and conflict.

The hurts of marriage come when one flesh fights against itself, injuring the other part as if it were somehow separate. Harsh words, wrong thoughts, selfish actions, all of these come against the flesh of your marriage and attempt division and anger.

Satan is against your marriage from the start, I hope you know that. That’s not to cause fear or trepidation, but it is to cause you to be on alert and stop treating your marriage so trivially. He wants to divide and conquer; divide the marriage, conquer the family. And all we have to do is look at divorce rates to know that he is somewhat succeeding.

I believe it’s because so often we live in the hurt factor of marriage without ever touching the healing portion. We allow the fleshy part to rule over the spiritual and then wonder why our “godly” marriage pictures that of the world.

We got to the pinpoint and realized that it was time to fight back. We put the baby to bed, came together and battled in prayer. We asked for forgiveness from one another, we confessed our sins to one another, and we reminded one another of our vows and love.

And although there had been hurt, surrending the fleshy part of our marriage to God, allowed for His hand to come in and bring about the most beautiful healing my spirit has ever felt.

Tears, smiles, kisses, and redemption all met together there in complete surrender. It was a glorious moment in our marriage I know we will remember forever. All it took was surrender; surrender of pride, surrender of bitterness, surrender of expectations. All of it, tossed into the hands of the One Who carries us.

I say all of this to bring hope to the broken marriage or the single person afraid of taking that step into marriage.

Amidst a world that only highlights the brokenness of such a holy covenant, there is another side of complete restoration and redemption that is available as well.

I’m not here to say my marriage is perfect and we are doing everything right (obviously). What I am saying is after a week of trying to do it all on our own and in the flesh, we found it was so much more beautiful to hand it over to the Father.

So take that step of surrender. Confess your sins against your spouse, whether that’s bitterness, anger, unfaithfulness. Request forgiveness and make sure to forgive. Remember why you chose marriage and love and continue in it. And let God do His beautiful work in your lives.

Happy homemaking is about making your home happy and holy. And a strong marriage will do the trick! Love you guys!

#Momfail: They All Fall Down

Can I just be honest and vulnerable here? This week has felt like a non-stop strand of mom fails. Non-stop.

Have you ever just messed up so many times you just feel like stopping? Or running away? Or just crying? Or maybe all of the above? That’s been me this week.

So John has been accelerating in movement. I’m talking crawling, pulling up on furniture, moving from item to item, trying to LITERALLY JUMP OFF OF STUFF. I’m pretty persuaded he wants to injure himself.

It’s one thing if babies hurt themselves when you’re not watching, but to have them hurt themself everyday when you’re just two steps away is pretty frustrating.

Let me let you in on this week. He fell off the bed, he hit his eye on the dresser knob (don’t ask me how), he’s fallen from holding on to the table about 15 times, slipped in the bathtub and got water in his face, and the list goes on and on.

It has really made me question my ability as a mother this week. I am sucking it up real bad at the moming. I know all babies fall down, especially when learning to move their little bodies, but at the same time you can’t help but blame yourself when it happens and you can’t stop it!

In all honesty its just been a really hard week for me in general. As a mother and wife I’ve been going and growing through some things. I have felt like no matter how hard I try, I end up failing. I’ve been studying the fruits of the Spirit and ironically feel like I’ve done nothing but walked in the flesh this week. Impatience, anger, frustration. Just falling on my face, over and over.

And as I write this, maybe that’s the whole lesson for me this week? Maybe God is wanting me to realize, like babies, we all fall down. But scripture says the righteous man falls seven times but gets back up.

So, if you’re a mama who has failed this week? Get back up. If you’re a wife who has been naggy a little too much, get back up. If you’ve complained instead of being thankful, cursed instead of blessing, or have really done a bad job at portraying Christ, my answer is this: get back up.

Keep pursuing holiness and not perfection. Keep pursuing His strength and not your own. Keep leaning all of yourself on Him completely.

Paul says that he boasts in his weakness, because where we are weak, God is strong! (2 Corinthians 12:9)

God’s grace is sufficient for you AND your clumsy little baby.

I love you guys! Happy homemaking!