He Covers

He Covers

As I laid in bed with my daughter telling her stories before bedtime, we could hear the thunder getting louder. At first it was so faint, she was unaffected by the distant rumbles.

A few minutes later, the claps of thunder got closer and louder. She stopped for a moment and held still, realizing a storm was beginning to pass over us. “Can you get closer to me, momma?”

A couple more booms and she interrupted our story. “Momma…can you get your arms and hands and hold me?”

I moved as close as I could to her and wrapped my arms around her, holding her head close to my chest. I could feel her nervousness in the tension of her little body. I hated that she so scared, but I loved being right there with her—guarding over her, wrapped around her. We finished our story and I sang our nightly lullaby. Ever so slowly her breathing softened and her muscles relaxed.

Even after she fell asleep, I laid there for a few extra minutes absorbing the sweetness of my girl’s words—“can you get your arms and hands and hold me?” I loved that I was her security. I loved that I was the one that brought her comfort and peace. I loved it because sometimes…I just need that too.

Whether it’s been one of those days, or I’m in the thick of a really challenging life issue, there are times my heart begs God, “Can you please just get your arms and hands and hold me?” Some days I just need to feel that comfort and security wrapped around me and covering me completely.

God, can you please just get your arms and hands and hold me?

God’s Word says that he is our refuge and strength (Psalm 46:1), our rock, fortress, deliverer and shield (Psalm 18:2). The entire book of Psalms is overflowing with people’s pleas for God’s rescuing, as well as declarations of God’s faithfulness.

After I lost our first baby six years ago, I laid in an ER bed trying to process the emotional and physical brokenness that I had just endured. The chaplain walked in to talk with us. He laid a mint green shawl down the length of my body, covering me. It was crocheted by a hospital ministry and given to mommas who had just lost a baby. Over the next few weeks, I held it, I wrapped it around my, and I covered myself with it. And every time I physically covered my body with it, my heart was being covered too.

As humans, we all have this need to be covered in different ways. We need shelter to cover our families. We need clothing to cover our bodies. We need bandages to cover our wounds. Maybe you’ve even heard the expression, “I’m covering you in prayer.” We are all in need of covering.

Even now, as I pray at night, I ask God to cover my life and everyone and everything in it. Cover it with his protection, his blessing, his anointing.

When it seems like darkness is swallowing the world, He covers.

When evil threatens the security of our hearts and minds, He covers.

When anxiety attempts to steal our peace, He covers.

It doesn’t mean that the pain dissolves—but He promises to cover you with comfort. It doesn’t mean that brokenness disappears—but He promises to cover with restoration.

Our God is a God who covers. He sees and knows and covers. His love covers you and it destroys fear. His light covers you and it drives out darkness.

He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. Psalm 91:4

Dare to Be Beautiful

Dare to Be Beautiful

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“You look beautiful! I love your hair! And your earrings are so pretty.”

Any time I was given a compliment, I instinctively pointed out something flawed about myself.

“Oh…well…thanks. I have such bags under my eyes today and my hair is a total mess. And these earrings? Ugh, I’ve had them forever.”

WHY!?

Why did I always feel the need drag myself down when someone was lifting me up? Why did I need to partner every kind compliment with a negative comment?

You are beautiful. You look lovely.

I felt like the person would eventually discover one of my many imperfections so I might as well point them out first.

“Why do you do that?” I was once asked. “What?” I replied, unaware of what I had done. “You never accept a compliment. You always say something negative about yourself.”

It was true.

I never simply accepted a compliment. I felt so flawed that compliments actually made me feel…uncomfortable. And I realized it was because I didn’t feel worthy of such statements.

Beauty=perfection. And since I was far from perfect, I must be as equally distant from any kind of beauty. Right?

Do you find yourself doing that same thing? When someone says something kind to you, do you feel the need to say something unkind about yourself? When a piece of your beauty is complimented, appearance or character, do you instinctively counteract it?

If we’re honest, it’s really really easy to feel inadequate in our culture. It’s easy to feel we aren’t beautiful enough. Or talented enough. Or smart enough. It’s easy to feel like we just aren’t enough in general! We criticize ourselves. We complain about our flaws. We become discontent. We grumble about our chunky thighs, our fluffy tummies and our lack of defined calf muscles.

I get it. I so get it.

My definition of beauty was based on something that doesn’t exist. The standard to which I was holding myself was a mirage. Worse than a mirage…a complete lie.

It can be a long and difficult journey learning what beauty really is—and believing that we really are beautiful.

But dear friend, please hear this…

You are beautiful. And you are enough.

And it’s not because of the image you’ve created, but because of Whose image you were created in.

For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. Psalm 139:13

From the moment He began knitting you together in your mother’s womb, He has been telling you…YOU ARE BEAUTIFUL.

Every day, every night, He is singing over you…YOU ARE LOVELY.

And in the quietness of your heart, He is whispering this truth…YOU ARE WORTH IT.

The LORD your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing. Zephaniah 3:17

Oh, precious friend. You are beautiful.

Serving Jesus Mac and Cheese

Macaroni

As my daughter was coloring on the living room floor, she looked up at me and asked, “Momma, tan I haf some apple juice, pwease?”

“Sure, sweet girl. I’ll go get you some.”

On my way to the kitchen, I noticed a wet diaper laying on the floor that hadn’t made it to a trash can. So I picked it up and headed towards the kitchen.

As I tossed it in the trash, I noticed the can was almost full, so I decided to grab the bathroom trash cans to empty into the kitchen trash can, so I could take it all out. You know, optimize the empty space in the bag before sealing it.

After I emptied the contents of the little cans into the big one, I tied up the bag and sat it aside. Then I noticed some kind of sticky orange substance smeared across the lower cabinet door.  Sticky and orange? What do we even own that is sticky and orange!?

What. Is. That.

I walked over to the sink to grab a rag and realized I would have to go fish for it in the murky dishwater because the sink was overflowing with dirty dishes.

Instead of simply shifting around the dishes, I decided to do the responsible thing and load them in the dishwasher. I eventually found the dishcloth at the bottom of the green swamp, along with 3 others that smelled horrible.

I grabbed them, took them to the washing machine & began sorting the clothes and towels. You know, to optimize this sour dishrag load.

I designated piles into darks, lights and towels.

Feeling accomplished, I made my way to the bedroom to start folding some clothes.

And then a few minutes later…a tiny, parched voice from the living room…”Momma? Apple juice? Pwease?”

My patient, dehydrated, little thing.

I maneuvered my way around multiple piles of laundry in the hallway. When I walked into the kitchen to finish the task I had originally set out to do, I realized I was surrounded by semi-finished tasks instead.

Garbage bag laying over here. Mystery orange goo over there. Opened dishwasher waiting to be started.

Our culture has learned to juggle more things at one time than any circus performer ever has. Chairs, chainsaws and bowling pins set aflame? That’s child’s play. How about raising children, investing in a marriage, keeping the house from collapsing, being intentional with relationships, completing projects on time, fulfilling church commitments and doing everything in between? 

Downtime is now defined as the moments I can pack the little things into. Like when I can throw a load of laundry in the wash, make a phone call, wipe down a bathroom, vacuum the house or shower.

I mark one thing off my to-do list and there are 4 more to add to it.

I find myself rushing. All the time.

It is stressful. And it is  e x h a u s t i n g .

I can try to blame the constant rushing (and being late) on having to coordinate kiddos’ routines or getting an entire family out the door…on time…with clothes on.

But really, I don’t think having children changed that aspect too dramatically for me. I’ve been jam-packing and rushing most of my life. Which almost always leads to me being late. There are only so many little things you can cram into a certain amount of time before the entire thing explodes in your face.

I’m sure you probably know the story of Mary and Martha. I’ve heard that story since I was very young.

Poor Martha. She got a bad rap. I really feel for her. You know she was just trying to get stuff done.  Dinner. Cleaning.

Jesus, the Savior of the world, was in her house for goodness sakes! I mean, if Jesus was staying in my house, I’d want everything to be perfect too! I’d go so far as to actually clean out from under the stove and fridge instead of kicking all the crumbs underneath them. Which some people do…I’ve heard.

I believe Martha was busy doing good things, things that really did need to get done that day. She was juggling all this stuff alone, working herself up. And you know she was grumbling in her mind. I sure would have been.

“Oh no, Mary. You just sit there and enjoy Jesus. I’m sure dinner will make itself. And the dishes will wash themselves too. You may not mind serving Christ mac n’ cheese on paper plates, but I do. So I’ll do all the work. Just sit there and relax, you annoying free little spirit you.”

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a village. And a woman named Martha welcomed him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to his teaching. But Martha was distracted with much serving. And she went up to him and said, “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things, but one thing is necessary. Mary has chosen the good portion, which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42

Mary sat and listened.

Martha served and was distracted.

I heard this analogy a couple years ago and it’s as true now as it was then:

Imagine a bunch of cups in front of you that represent the different areas of your life that take your time and energy. Your marriage, your children, church commitments, cleaning the house, your projects, your workplace, etc.

Having a balanced life doesn’t mean that every cup is filled up the same amount. It means that you take 2 or 3 of the most important and fill them up.

The rest of the cups may have just a little, or even nothing, in them. You may have to step away from some commitments in order to keep the most important things and people in your life filled up.

And the most important cup of all is the empty one we come to Jesus with every single day.

Martha’s cup may have been clean, but Mary’s cup was full.

What I am learning is that a clean house, an empty sink and perfectly folded clothes will not last. The house will get disorganized, the sink will fill up with dirty dishes and the loads of laundry will once again pile up no matter how much I try to keep up with them.

Sitting at the feet of Jesus is what matters. That is what lasts. If my relationship with Him isn’t my top priority, everything else will become unbalanced because they’re not in the correct order.

Whether your busy-ness comes from being a mommy, some other demanding job or just life itself, sit at the feet of Jesus before you get up to wash the dishes. He loves it when we do and promises to give us “that which will not be taken away.”

Grieving Good Friday

Cross

Good Friday.

The day Jesus died.

We know the story. And we know what happens 3 days later.

For years, I read through the story of Jesus’ crucifixion in a steady rhythm with the resurrection already in my mind. It eased the sting of the words. It made it a little happier to read. I resisted soaking in the visual of my Savior being mocked and tortured…for me. My stomach churned to settle into that place.

Oh yes, Sunday was coming. But Friday came first.

The explosion of Christ’s glory was coming. But his blood came first.

I wonder how “good” the day Jesus was crucified looked to his followers.

Their King, their Savior, was betrayed, captured, mocked, spit on, tortured, then crucified. That doesn’t bring the word “good” to mind.

It looked like it was all over. It looked like darkness had won.

The Messiah; the one they had hoped for, the one they believed in, the one they gave everything up for; was now hanging lifelessly on a cross.

The forehead that wrinkled in empathy for the hurting and the lost; the forehead that crinkled when he laughed and smiled, was now wrapped with a crown of thorns. Blood poured out, streaming down the length of his mangled body.

The strong arms that had embraced little children were now stretched out. The same rough, carpenter hands that touched blind eyes to give them sight and that washed the feet of his disciples, were now nailed to the cross.

The feet that had walked countless miles to bring hope to the hurting were also now nailed together.

The voice that commanded the winds and the waves, “Peace! Be still!”; that called into the tomb, “Lazarus, come out!”, was now crying out from the cross, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”

Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani. My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

We have come to call today Good Friday. We call it good because that day changed everything.

On the day He died, we were brought to Life.

My heart and mind settle into that raw place of his crucifixion. My stomach still churns knowing He took the punishment I deserved. And my heart aches with raw gratitude knowing how desperately I need his salvation. It breaks me. It brings me to tears.

Chants of victory are coming…

…but groaning cries of bitter mourning came first.

So today, allow yourself to grieve and feel the weight of that day – the day that changed everything.

But he was pierced for our transgressions; he was crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the chastisement that brought us peace, and with his wounds we are healed. Isaiah 53:5

Life Lessons & What Remains

girl-flowers

I’m going to tell you about a few things I’ve learned in my 29 years of life so far.

At the age 2, I learned gummy worms are delicious, but the ones in the backyard are not. And being the thorough 2 year old I was, it took me biting into 2 of the little squirmers to come to the conclusion that these were not the rainbow colored treats that grandma brought over when she visited. To this day, I prefer gummy bears.

When I was 4, I discovered that my baby sister was not a real life baby doll; she did not need Audrey Hepburn bangs, therefore I shouldn’t practice my hairstyling skills on her. I thought I did a fantastic job and deserved an award. Mom didn’t agree and thought I deserved a time-out.

When I turned 6, I discovered that boys throw dirt at you when they like you. Why this happens, I still don’t know. All I do know is that my favorite Winnie the Pooh shirt was terribly mud-stained from JP’s crush on me in kindergarten. Tragic, I know.

When I was 10, I began to realize my parents didn’t know everything. The immediate years following this realization were an interesting time for my mom and me. I became Miss Sassy Pants and started thinking I was right all the time. I was shocked that everyone else didn’t agree.

When I turned 16, I discovered that no matter how hard my parents tried to teach me to drive a manual car, I was not at all coordinated enough to do so successfully. If stick-shifts were that great, then please tell me why automatics were invented.

At age 18, I realized being considered a “legal adult” didn’t at all make me feel like one.

When I was 20, I experienced how wonderful being in love was & how painful it was when it wasn’t with the right person.

At 22, I discovered how incredible it was to fall in love with my best friend at summer camp; and at age 23, what a fairytale it was to marry him.

At 26, I knew the heartache of losing a baby. And for the first time, I experienced the peace that surpasses all understanding.

At the age of 27, I was consumed by the beautiful experience of giving birth to my daughter and having her move from my womb straight in to my arms. Oh, that moment. I also discovered that the hospital doesn’t hand you a baby manual nor do they give a list of do’s and don’ts when it’s time to go home. I remember buckling her in to her car seat and looking at the nurse like, “You’re coming home with us, right? You do realize I’m not a grown up, right? I’ve never done this before. I can’t even keep a houseplant alive.”

Yep, I’ve learned a lot of lessons. Some of the lessons made me cry. Some of them changed my life. But the truth that has gripped my heart the tightest, has been this:

My God remains constant.

As an inquisitive toddler making important discoveries in the backyard, my God was there. Now as I’m raising my own toddler and trying to teach her that the toilet is not a pool for her baby dolls, my God is here.

Through heartbreak and joy, sending babies to heaven and holding babies here on earth, in brokenness and in restoration, He has remained faithful. He has remained good.

Your steadfast love, O LORD, extends to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Psalms 36:5

When my emotions are unstable, when my circumstances feel unsure, when my life changes, He remains constant. He is my anchor. He is my strength. He is my God. He remains faithful in every moment.

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God, the faithful God who keeps covenant and steadfast love with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations… Deuteronomy 7:9

The Freedom Trap

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There’s been this “thing” that’s really been bother me for a few years. I couldn’t pinpoint the exact reason I was feeling the way I was, but recently was I able to put my finger on it. I desperately want to be clear on this subject & make sure I’m coming across the way I mean it. I don’t have judgment for any one person or group. There isn’t one thing that I’m focused on or trying to rant about.

But this “thing” is real & we as believers are allowing it to happen. And we must stop. We are being called to a deeper level in our faith. I truly believe the Lord is preparing His children right now. And we must cut away things that are hindering us, harming us or simply just not beneficial to us.

So here is what this “thing” is.

I think we sometimes focus on the “liberties” we think we’re entitled to, more than the One who has freed us.

We think if we show restraint in something that we’re “allowed” to do, that it means we’re thinking legalistically or needlessly missing out on something enjoyable. But I’ve watched many believers, including myself, become imprisoned by something because our definition of “freedom in Christ” is wrong. Too often our cling to a “freedom” that is completely self-centered. And most of us, don’t even realize this has happened.

“All things are lawful,” but not all things are helpful. “All things are lawful,” but not all things build up.                                1 Corinthians 10:23

I think we can all agree that each of us is constantly sending out messages to the world about who we are. The way we dress, the way we talk, what we eat, what we drink, how we love, how we serve, how we treat one another. It’s all a part of our message.

Likewise, urge the younger men to be self-controlled. Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity, and sound speech that cannot be condemned, so that an opponent may be put to shame, having nothing evil to say about us. Titus 2:6-8

I think it’s an utter tragedy when the way we act & represent God’s name differs depending on what environment we’re in or who we’re with. Oh how wrong that is!

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven. Matthew 6:1

They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. Titus 1:16

 

I want to be genuine no matter where I’m at or who I’m with. But if I represent myself one way when I’m within the four walls of my church & very differently when I’m not, which one is the genuine me? What is my heart truly focused on if my actions & words waver so easily? We gravitate towards what we love. So what is it that we love? Most importantly, who is it that we love? Ourselves? Or Jesus?

Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. 1 Peter 2:16

As we focus on Jesus & seek Him daily – wholeheartedly seek His heart- we become more like Him. That truth leaves me speechless. We don’t have to use behavior modification on ourselves & just try to make habits of the things we know are “right” or “holy”. No. He will transform us from the inside out! His likes will become our likes. His words will become our words. His heart will become our heart! Wow!

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 2 Corinthians 5:17

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:33

And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. Matthew 22:37

Is there something in our lives that we cringe at the thought of giving up? Do we get angry or defensive at the the idea of showing restraint from something? This quote from Tim Keller says it perfectly I think: “The sin that is most destructive in your life right now is the one you are most defensive about.”

We’re only deceiving ourselves if we desperately hold onto something but are convinced it isn’t effecting our hearts. Or others.

So today, I ask God for clarity in our minds & hearts. I pray that His children would become more desperate for Him. And that what we desire to eat, drink, say & do will pale in comparison to our desire to love & glorify Him. May we be sensitive to His voice as He shows us things in our lives that we have placed above Him. And may we have the courage to abandon everything that hinders us from running after Jesus with all that we are. Because HE is all that matters.

I declare our God as faithful!

A Voice in the Silence

I wonder if the Lord chooses to whisper sometimes so we will listen for His voice with more intention & with greater desperation.

I know that’s how it has been for me. When I feel like the Lord isn’t speaking as loudly or as clearly as He usually does, it makes me pause & listen a lot closer. The interesting part is, the silence I feel has usually come to me during times in my life that are “good”. And I think the “silence” has a lot more to do with me than Him. I allow my situations & emotions to be the things satisfying me, instead of staying in a constant state of hunger for Jesus.

But listening for Him in the silence can be just as sweet as hearing His words. Because even in the silence, He is there & He is working.

 

For God alone my soul waits in silence; from him comes my salvation. Psalm 62:1

 

I love that about Him. He is constantly guiding me, like a Father. Constantly correcting, instructing & teaching. I envision a little lamb walking with her Sheppard. He is always nudging & directing her along the winding & sometimes dangerous terrain. He keeps her safe & guides her.

 

My sheep hear my voice, & I know them, & they follow me. John 10:27

 

I have to remind myself that just because I don’t feel emotionally passionate or energized, doesn’t mean He’s not speaking. If I am reading His Word, I am hearing His voice. And just because I’m not experiencing life-changing revelations every day, doesn’t mean He isn’t working & transforming my life. If I am meditating on His Word & spending time with Him, I am becoming more like Him.

 

So faith comes from hearing, & hearing through the word of Christ. Romans 10:17

 

The voice of the Lord is so sweet. His whispers can bring alive even the driest of bones. How precious is His Word. We never have to question if He is speaking to us. All we must do is consume the words He’s given us & continue to listen. He promises to answer.

He will always answer.

 

Call to me & I will answer you, & will tell you great & hidden things that you have not known. Jeremiah 33:3

 

My beautiful friend Amber, recently wrote this on her Facebook status:

It’s okay to be in the quiet place. To be still & learn & soak & sit & wait. And not think about your own worries but to think on who Jesus is & ponder this, & soak in the amazing reality of who He is that He desires to live inside of us and do everything to enliven us supernaturally. And not only that but that He wants us to have our very nature be transformed by His grace alone; to have His desires; to have our heart beat as His. That we would be driven by what drives Him! Amazed. Simply amazed. In awe. And thankful.

So as you sit in the silence, my dear friend, know His presence; feel His heartbeat. And may your heart be totally sensitive to every breath & word that comes out of His mouth. He will answer. And when He does, may His life pour into that place in your life that you desperately need it to.

I declare my God as faithful!

Honestly

I have to honest with you.

I’ve been working on a happy post for you. But the more I wrote the heavier my fingers felt. They got so heavy that they finally stopped typing. I couldn’t force it. I didn’t want to. You are too important to me.

The reason that this post changed isn’t a dramatic one. But here’s the truth. For the past few weeks I’ve been in this place of emotional & spiritual…sluggishness. I’ve felt less passionate & more worn, less motivated & more distracted. I’ve been here before. And the moment I realize where I’m at, I want out.

I love when my feet are moving steadily in life. I love when passion moves me so greatly that it causes me to start running. There are also times in life when something will happen & I have to crawl for while. But at least there’s forward motion.

That’s why I dislike this place so much. I feel like I’m trying to walk while I’m knee deep in mud. Does that make sense?

I haven’t been consistent submerging myself in God’s word. And that’s what I need – to be consistently submerged. Not sprinkled to feel good but drenched! But when I’m not consistent in this, it causes my heart to start drying out. I know what the result will be if I put my guard down, but I allow myself to passively slide down into this ditch. And the thirst grows greater.

My focus then becomes fixed on what is wrong, instead of the One who renews & refreshes us daily, the God that changes hearts & the Savior that transforms lives.

For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. Romans 8:5

Yep. That cycle.

But He is here. He is always where I’m at. And He continues to demonstrate the endlessness of His grace. When my feet become bogged down, it causes me to look up more intensely. When I’m having trouble moving on my own, it truly makes me rely on Him more fully.

He is showing me that it is ok to be still & to even feel stuck. Even if my feet don’t feel like they’re going anywhere, I can stay focused on Him. That is what matters. That is what He wants.

Let your eyes look directly forward, and your gaze be straight before you. Proverbs 4:25

What a beautiful, merciful & gracious God.

What love.

Have you been in this place I’m describing? Maybe you’re there now. We might be sitting next to each other.

Well, we are not alone. Our God remains faithful & is with us. And this is my prayer for us – for you, dear friend.

Lord Jesus,
We come to You right now feeling empty, stuck & even frustrated. You are acquainted with our hearts & see into the depths of our souls. There is no hiding from You. So we honestly express the weariness we are feeling & we desperately cry out to you for the freedom that only You can give. Please come into these places in our lives & hearts that feel so dry & motionless. We know that if we keep our eyes focused on You, You will guide us out of every ditch, over every mountain & through every valley. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

I declare my God as faithful!

A Stuffy Nose & A Firm Foothold

Hello sweet friend.

I am so happy to be sitting & talking with you. The last couple weeks have been an absolute whirlwind. I had a cold for what felt like forever & then experienced a sinus-infection for the first time. Having an almost constant headache, stuffy nose & plugged ears was just pitiful. It got a little awkward asking people to repeat what they were saying over & over. I eventually just started smiling & nodding. I have a feeling that one is going to come back to haunt me. Who knows what I agreed to, signed up for & smiled at at an inappropriate time. I’ll keep you posted on that.

And you know when you’re not feeling well it’s hard to handle normal life stuff much less an emotional blow?

Well, I had both.

I experienced an emotional attack this week. It was just…ugly. And the fact that I couldn’t breathe out of my nose or stop sneezing didn’t help. It was something that would have knocked me down & possibly even broke me a few years ago. But this time, it has actually refocused & empowered me because it made me focus & rely on God’s steadfastness even more. It was a clear reminder that when I am focusing on God, the enemy WILL try to distract & discourage me.

But instead of being overwhelmed or discouraged, I’ve truly been so overwhelmed by God’s heart towards me. His protection & care for my heart has been incredible. His goodness is evident every day, but I guess you could say I’m aware of it in a new way. Experiencing it a little deeper. Pressing into it with a greater intensity.

I know Who my foundation is & I know that He is immovable, unshakable & steadfast. So when the violent winds from this world start blowing, I cannot be broken if my feet are firmly planted on Christ. I remain confident. I remain standing. When the Creator of the universe, the God of the heavens, the Ruler over all covers you with His hand…well, the winds become calm & your foothold stays solid.

The Lord is my rock & my fortress & my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield, & the horn of my salvation, my stronghold. Psalm 18:2

Are you experiencing an attack on your heart? Maybe you’re feeling overwhelmed or discouraged. Perhaps the mistakes of yesterday are consuming the possibilities of today. Whatever your case may be, know this…

“But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.” 1 Peter 2:9

I know what it’s like to not be able to handle things alone. But we aren’t meant to. Your God loves you beyond measure. He promises to always guard over you, always unconditionally love you & always stay with you. Submerge yourself in His Word & trust in His promises!

He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty. I will say to the Lord, “My refuge & my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” Psalm 91:1&2

He is our anchor in the stormy sea. He is our shelter in the violent storm. I declare my God as faithful!

Anxiety & Fear

Anxiety.

That word just sounds ugly to me.

Have you battled anxiety before? I sure you have. God’s Word repeatedly tells us that there is a battle for our minds & thoughts. The root of many addictions, fears & problems start in our minds. If it’s true that our minds hold such power, then of course that is exactly where the enemy wants to attack & weaken us. He wants us distracted, anxious & focused on anything other than the sovereignty & peace of our Savior.

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ. 2 Corinthians 10:3-5

This issue is very close to my heart. I have battled fearful, anxious thoughts since I was a child. I remember experiencing my first panic attack when I was about 11. There were a few things that I could do to lessen them, but it was temporary & another one would eventually happen.

After I got married, I would ask my husband to pray over me when I would begin to have a panic attack or feel anxiety trying to settle in. He would pray over me, but then he would always ask me to pray over myself…out loud.

As I would be lying there completely paralyzed with fear & anxiety, the last thing I wanted to do was pray out loud. I didn’t feel bold. I didn’t feel strong. I didn’t feel like my words could battle anything because those words were coming out of a very scared, overwhelmed girl.

But with every attack, I began to rebuke any fear & anxiety & declare my God as more powerful than any fearful thought trying to take hold of me. I would keep verses all over the house so that I could look at them & claim them out loud when I began to feel anxious. Even if I couldn’t think straight, all I had to do was look over at the verses, read them & claim them out loud. As I would verbally claim God’s Word, I noticed that the anxiety lessened & lessened. After a while it wasn’t nearly as bad as it had once been.

I know a lot of things can cause anxiety. Sometimes it has a lot to do with chemicals or hormones in our bodies. Sometimes it’s a spiritual attack directly on our minds. Sometimes, it’s a mixture of both.

With new seasons come new things that try to cause us to worry or be anxious. After feeling so much better for so long, anxiety came back & it came back with a vengeance. My breaking point came soon after my daughter was born. I have never loved another human the way I loved her & the responsibility in that was too much to think about at times. I wanted to roll her up in bubble wrap & keep her home forever. I never wanted her to feel the pain of this world. I never wanted her heart to be broken. I never wanted her to experience the disappointments, hurts & sadness that life would surely throw at her. All these thoughts coupled with raging, mommy hormones, was a combination that on my own, I couldn’t handle. They brought me to my knees. No, they knocked me to my knees.

I looked around & saw my mommy friends handling motherhood like champs. And here I was at 2am making my husband check all the locks on the doors…for the third time that night. Why couldn’t I handle it with grace? I hadn’t showered in 3 days much less been out of the house. I felt alone. I felt inadequate & overwhelmed.

Isolation is a dangerous thing. It makes us feel like we are the only ones experiencing something; that we’re the only ones that can’t handle the situation we’re in. What a lie. Almost every mommy I talked to felt the same way I did. I wasn’t treated like a failure. They loved on me & empathized with me. Sometimes the first step towards freedom is being brave enough to ask for some help & support. After I did just that, things began to change.

You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you. Isaiah 26:3

I began giving God this new fear & anxiety that was trying to steal my mind & thoughts. It was a slow process over the course of a year & I still battle anxiety sometimes, but I know the power to defeat it is held in God’s Word!

If you feel anxious, no matter to what degree, always remember that you are not alone. And no matter what thoughts try to consume you, God’s Word is your shelter, shield & sword! His promises & truths are yours to claim! So claim them out loud.

For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7

You are loved & treasured! Please let me know if I can support you in prayer during this process! Victory is yours!

I declare my God as faithful.