Answers for Life’s Trials…

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In 8th grade I was confirmed in the Lutheran church. One step in this process was to choose a lifelong Bible verse. Psalm 23:4 became my verse.

If you fast forward to high school my family was going through a lot. My mom moved out of state with her husband and my sister, my dad moved away to get off of some pretty hard drugs, and my grandma was really focused on helping a loved one who was in prison in Mexico. It all felt like a Lifetime movie.

Those years were really dark for me. I felt neglected, unwanted, unimportant, and really depressed. It truly was a dark valley I walked through. There was no hope for my mom coming back. My dad came back but left again leaving another, deeper wound. And the weekends traveling to Mexico took a toll on my friendships and my relationship with my grandma. I saw no end in sight and no hope that things were going to go back to normal or even a new normal.

The worst part of it all was that I didn’t have Christ. I had a psychiatrist with medication but I had no true hope. I had no idea how to take my anger, frustration, and depression and give them up. I didn’t know I could leave them with Christ. I had no one to comfort me.

If only I was reading His word, praying to Him, and listening to Him, I would have found the hope and security I was looking for for so long. Instead, I leaned on my own understandings and focused on only what I could see: the lack of hope, the dark valley, and the lack of light on the other side.

Now, even though Christ has changed my heart, I still have trials. I still have really deep valleys and really dark times that I go through. I’m in one right now! But God has made me to trust in Him more fully and I no longer have to be worried or concerned because God’s rod and staff comfort me. I now repeat specific verses, like my lifelong Bible verse, and they help to regain perspective.

If you are struggling with a trial, fear not! Rest in His words and he will guide you. I know this because He has promised this over and over again. Here are some of my favorite hopeful and encouraging verses:

    • Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all (Psalm 34:19).
    • And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you (1 Peter 5:10).
    • Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him (James 1:12).
    • Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer (Romans 12:12).
    • I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world (John 16:33).
    • Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
    • The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent (Exodus 14:14).
    • Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
    • Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind (James 1:2-8).
    • For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us (Romans 8:18).
    • Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery trial when it comes upon you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you (1 Peter 4:12).
    • Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go (Joshua 1:9).

And these are only some! The pages of the Bible are filled with God fighting for his people and restoring them. Be encouraged; take heart!
Kortnee

How to Trailblaze Through Trials

Here is an encouraging word from my friend, Life Coach Carey Bailey. We have teamed up in June and July for our Summer of Joy series. We would love to hear from you using #SummerofJoy with FB, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram through the rest of the summer…but the end is near, so hurry!  

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Last week was a hell of a week. Please understand my hell of a week is relevant to your hell of a week. You could have had a HELL of a week. Here is a mini glimpse into mine:

  • A routine teeth cleaning for my daughter ended up turning into a referral to an oral surgeon which led to a removal of a spot in her mouth for biopsy which led this mama’s mind down the road to news of cancer.
  • My husband landed on jury duty last Monday which means he wouldn’t be in the office all week. He works in sales and on commission. If he is not in the office actively on the phone making calls and doing demos then there are no sales and that means not fun news at the end of the month.
  • My husbands grandfather died last week. And while that wasn’t personally stressful there was just a sense of sadness for family and wondering if I needed to figure out how to get four people already in the midst of a crazy week to Minnesota stat.

Like I said your week could have been sooooooooooooooo much worse than mine and if it was I am sorry. As my week grew with stressors I found myself asking three consistent questions.

1. What IS possible?

As the doctors appointments started mounting I instantly knew my ideal weekly rhythm was getting tossed out the door and scorched by the over 100 degree sun in the desert.

Option 1: PANIC!!!

Option 2: Grab hold of my non-negotiables.

I choose option 2. The normal routine of laundry, dishes, and following my calender of meal planned meals wasn’t going to be possible but what was going to be possible?

    • Time in God’s Word – check!
    • Prayer time with my kids – check!
    • Scripture reading with my kids – check!
    • Prayer time with my husband – check!
    • Clean kitchen sink – got a 1/2 check!

Knowing what I can accomplish at the end of any day (crazy or not crazy) AND that those “to-do’s” fall in line with the priorities God has set for our family allows my mind to let go of the rest. Does it mean there is lots of catch up this week and some tweaking and adjusting to do? You bet! But, at the end of the day I can lay my head down on my pillow and trust in my heart that I loved God and reflected Jesus. THAT is possible.

2. Who can help?

Often in the midst of trials we sit. We sit by ourselves with thoughts spinning and running like hamsters in our minds. I am 110% guilty of that last week. For days last week I imagined being told my child has cancer. How would I react? Feel? How would I respond to God? What would our life look like? None of that helped anything. What can help? Wisdom. NOT Google…real wisdom ladies!

    • Wisdom from scripture. Seriously, there is not a scenario you are facing that isn’t referenced in scripture. Look at Job for goodness sake. We have example after example of how to and how to NOT handle trials from those who have gone before us. Go to them, learn from them, implement the good of what you see and hear from them.

For me I headed straight to Psalm 121:1…

“My help comes from the Lord who made heaven and earth.”

I said it, sang, hummed it, professed it to my kids constantly.

Don’t live in your perception.
Live in the reality of Truth!

    • Wisdom from friends. Last week I had to bail on what was supposed to be a Wednesday post (it became a Thursday post) from myself for Summer of Joy. I emailed Britta with a confession that the post was not coming her way. She kindly asked if she could be praying and I let her know for what. Well, low and behold Britta had worked in a Periodontist’s office and had so much helpful knowledge for me to assist my little on the road to recovery. Don’t be afraid to ask for help/prayer. You never ever know how God is going to use it to support you in your current circumstance.

3. How can I find rest?

During the week I work towards Sabbath. I get up early,early and I stay up late,late Sunday night through Thursday night knowing that Friday afternoon till Sunday early evening I rest. I am good with this. But, this week my mind wasn’t in it. One day I made the choice to lay in bed, with my two littles, during the late afternoon for close to two hours watching shows. Could I have been up taking care of busyness? I could have. But, it had been a long and hard day and we just needed to be vegetables that veg. One night I threw in the towel and went to bed at 9:00 p.m. rather than my normal 11 p.m. because if I didn’t I was just going to be wasting time mingling about everyone else’s lives on Facebook rather than caring for my own life that needed sleep. Where can you find rest this week?

Trials of any kind bring about a human anxiety filled response in our mind, body, and heart but God is clear. He has already paved the trail for us.

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There is nothing easy about this verse. Nothing. Words like ALWAYS, IN EVERYTHING, and DO NOT make you want to shake your head and think this is impossible. But, with God NOTHING is impossible. {insert another round of head shaking}

If you find yourself in the midst of trials right now then bow your head, close your eyes, and choose hope by handing it all over. Choose joy that comes from an active Holy Spirit residing inside of you that wants to be used to bring you peace. You can do this!

It has been an honor serving along side Britta this summer bringing you a #SummerofJoy. Even though you will no longer have a bookmark telling you to “buy yourself flowers” my hope is that it is now a habit you will not break.

P.S. – Curious about establishing your non-negotiables? Get in on the Pocket Planning craze!

IMG_1814-2Carey Bailey is a woman who loves to dance around the living room with her husband to Michael Jackson, loves Blue Bell Pralines and Cream ice cream, loves reading to her kids in a tree house, and loves having Jesus as her BFF!

She is self professed candy junkie but sugar will never match her deep desire for helping women satisfy their cravings for abundant life. She does this through life coaching, speaking, and by sharing a one-of-a-kind devotional she authored, Cravings {The Devotional}.

You can connect with Carey through her web-site, facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.

Joy. In Trials?

JOY

All I could think was: What person is their right mind would rejoice in suffering, much less their own suffering?  

“We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (Romans 5:3-4).

Still, it seemed like such a great thought to me…that there was someone, out there, who was benefitting from their difficulties.  It just wasn’t me.  I hadn’t actually seen it happen either, not in person.  My church didn’t have any great stories of people triumphing victoriously over difficulties…not that I knew of.  When I was in high school, I looked around and it seemed to me that everyone was struggling.  And not knowing when, or if, the happy ending would come, just sucked the oxygen right out of me.   I was suffocating from lack of hope.

I lived scared of needing people and loving people.  I wanted to be loved, but doubted that I was.  I was looking at everything upside down.  And I guess I stayed that way for years without even realizing it.  And things got harder as I went along.  We got married and had marriage troubles, money troubles, family troubles and health troubles.  I think my life might have made a pretty good Country Music song.  All this is to say that for as long as I could remember, my identity was bound up in this idea: I was helpless, wounded, and vulnerable.  I was a victim.

I don’t know if me saying this makes sense to you, or if it annoys you, or if you feel sorry for any person that lived there for literally decades.  But people are living this way all around you, every day, whether you know it or not.  Yes, Christians too.

This head knowledge did not get real for me until I got to the end of me:

Romans 5.3.4

It was the trials that left nothing, no other choice, but to fall on my face before Him.  So, at some point, I started reading the Bible like it held a great secret that could explain away the hurt and the disappointment.  It does.  I found it little by little.  Like with the verse about trials and perseverance, we need to look at the two preceding verses:

“Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Romans 5:1-2).

My problem was I was living in the second part, the suffering, and forgetting about the first part, the peace with God.  Being justified by our faith…this is where I found my peace.  It means that the most important business in all of eternity has been conducted, and I have been found rescued, loved, redeemed, adopted.  For too long I couldn’t shake my broken identity.  This is so many of us:  we hold on to the painful past, rather than walking in our new identity.

Name on His palm

The Suffering isn’t going to be bearable until you are secure in your identity as The Lord’s Beloved; and it won’ t make sense until you are secure in His identity.  He is: good (righteous and loving), wise, and powerful.  Reading the Bible changed my assumptions about myself and about Him.  I learned to:

  • See trials as opportunities (for growth, to prove His character and mine, for ministry “appointments”)
  • Remember Truth to fight doubt
  • Keep an eternal perspective
  • Acknowledge that I am under The BLESSING rather than under The Curse.

Finally!  Here is that happy ending that I was always looking for; it is the part after the Suffering:

“…hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us” (Romans 5:5).

I lived pretty joyless for a good while.  And finally I learned that JOY is that enduring peace and quiet, persistent hope that rests softly, yet securely, in our hearts; it is the unshakeable knowledge of who I am in Christ and Who He is, always has been, and always will be.

Now, in my [ahem]…mid-forties, I can look backward and see the Memorial Stones all along my path…evidence of God’s steadfast love.  Trials, yes, suffering too, with victory and found courage.  Today I am thankful for the blessings of a praying, Bible-quoting momma; an honorable and faithful father; a generous and loyal sister; a committed and dedicated husband; and kids full of grace for their mom who, sometimes, is still mothering at the on-the-job-training level.

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Photo Copyright Credits: mavrick / 123RF Stock Photo &  philipus / 123RF Stock Photo

F2F Friday: Joining the “Order of the Towel”

quiet

Today’s scripture is from 1 Peter 5:1-5

The elders who are among you I exhort, I who am a fellow elder and a witness of the sufferings of Christ,
and also a partaker of the glory that will be revealed:

Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly; nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock; and when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that does not fade away.

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders.
Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for

“God resists the proud,
But gives grace to the humble.”

 

Peter is speaking to 3 groups: the elders (the leaders), the young (the followers), and then to all of them.  He is exhorting them to do their part, in humility and to submit to one another. The promise he leaves us with is that God will give us grace, if we humble ourselves.  I hope you will take a minute to watch the video to understand better the important role of confession in have a humble heart.  Happy weekend!

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How to Reclaim Your Want To’s

Here is an encouraging word from my friend, Life Coach Carey Bailey. We are teaming up in June and July for our Summer of Joy series. We would love to hear from you using #SummerofJoy with FB, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram. And please be sure to sign up for emails in the sidebar so you don’t miss a thing!

how to reclaim your want to do

We all have our to-do list but let’s call it what it really is. Our to-do list is really our:

need to’s, have to’s, and must do’s.

Do you ever wonder where our want to’s go???

I mentioned last week that when I shifted into the world of work-at-home mom, time was not what I had imagined. There were not any more hours in the day, though I had totally dreamed there would be. What is up with that??? In my first few months I busily went through my to-do’s, checking off boxes which should be satisfying. But I would reach the end the day feeling like: I am not getting the things done that I wanted to. [Insert cry like a baby sound effect here]

One of the most valuable tools in Pocket Planning is taking your Values Inventory. The inventory takes you through a series of questions that allows you to recall everything from your childhood joys to your priorities of today. Once you are able to step back and see a larger picture of yourself, and who God created you to be, an amazing, freedom sized light bulb switches on. It is difficult to take a pass on the reminder that:

live it

When I examine my values, and use them to create my to-do list, it looks radically different. This is my values-influences to do list:

  • Be silly with kids
  • Dance with kids
  • Sing with kids
  • Cook a new recipe
  • Plan a date with husband
  • Paint
  • Journal
  • Read scripture
  • Learn something new
  • Invite friends over for dinner

Pretty cool to-do list, huh?

I want to be silly with my kids, read to my kids, dance with my kids. I want to be a part of them learning their fundamentals and I want to be instrumental in their faith development. I want to date my husband and my kids. I want to have room to read and explore my creative/crafty side. I want to know my friends and their children. I want us to love God and reflect Jesus to others. But unless I pursue my “want to” list as diligently as I check off my “have to” list, those things won’t just magically happen.

So, what is the solution?

Let’s burn our to-do list and be done with a life of check-marks FOREVER!!!!

Let’s give up that life of cleaning and laundry doing!!!

Let’s eat out every night and never worry about another dish to clean or meal to cook?

Amen????

I think we all would do maybe one or two of the above if we could, but there is the looming reality that we know we can’t. There are duties in our day that simply must get done. What I would like to propose is that there is no reason that our duties in our life can’t date and hopefully marry our passions. Opposites attract, right?

Enter partnerships!

I took a look at my consistent “have to’s” and thought, what things on my “want to” list can I do at the same time as my must do list? Here are a few of mine. Please, please remember this is what is working for me. Don’t try to insert them onto your list. Find what works for you.

1. Over breakfast at our island, as I work on emptying the clean dishwasher and tidying up after breakfast (must do), I ask my kids their prayer requests for the day (want to), and jot them in a very boring composition book. I date it, write the child’s name, and their prayer request. As they share about their requests, which are typically pertaining to the various dogs in our family, we have room to talk about prayer as a conversation (want to). I share my requests for the day and then we pray together (want to). It is not a bow your head, fold your hands kinda prayer, but rather an eyes wide open, still doing stuff prayer. I want my kids to see this. I want them to know that you can talk to God as you talk to each other, and at any point of your day.

2. Most days we have to go somewhere. We might be making a run to Target, a doctor’s appointment, a trip to the post office (must do’s) and in Phoenix any place you travel to can equal 20 minutes or 45 minutes. Multiple red lights are involved. Red lights equal some fundamentals check (want to): “Let’s say our phone number and our address.”  “Let’s count in 10’s or let’s spell our full name.” I typically try to do this in a funny game show host type of voice and pretend I am holding a microphone (want to), which gets some great giggles going (want to). I want them to know that learning is fun and I want them to know that learning doesn’t stop and start just when you are sitting down in a classroom type setting.

3. After attending Vacation Bible School this summer, I watched each kid get a new twinkle in their eye when it came to scripture memory. I really wanted to work on it more with them, but we needed more space to review it than just the dinner table. Back to the land of errand running (must do’s).  I thought let’s practice our memory verse every time we put the car in park and every time we take the car out of park in a parking lot (lots of P’s in that sentence). We can all tend to have a “let’s go, let’s go” mentality when it comes to getting in and out of the car, and this is making us slow it down. And before you think “But, I don’t have time!” take a moment to breathe. Seriously, practicing a few word scripture verse in a few funny voices takes MAYBE 1 minute. So you are adding 2 minutes to your time BUT you are getting a WANT TO crossed off. It is two minutes well used.

Are you getting the idea? What are things in your everyday have to-do’s, must do’s and need to’s that you can add a sprinkle of want to’s?

Other places I have created partnerships are when I open the fridge, when I am exercising, and when I am cooking dinner.

Look around today. I bet you can find them. Grab your “must-do’s” and introduce them to your “want-to’s”. This is the kind of arranged marriage that works!

Pocket Planning with Carey Bailey

Don’t forget about the over 40% deal going on for Pocket Planning. Head into the school year with a core values based time management plan.
IMG_1814-2Carey Bailey is a woman who loves to dance around the living room with her husband to Michael Jackson, loves Blue Bell Pralines and Cream ice cream, loves reading to her kids in a tree house, and loves having Jesus as her BFF!

She is self professed candy junkie but sugar will never match her deep desire for helping women satisfy their cravings for abundant life. She does this through life coaching, speaking, and by sharing a one-of-a-kind devotional she authored, Cravings {The Devotional}.

You can connect with Carey through her web-site, facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram.