True Freedom

freedom in Christ, 1 Peter

Happy 4th of July!  As we celebrate Independence Day and our freedoms as Americans, let’s remember that our true freedom is in Christ!  Every believer is co-heir with Christ and we have the power of the Holy Spirit in us- we are blessed, forgiven, washed clean and we are free!  Free from all condemnation!  Free from all guilt and shame–every sin is washed away in the blood of Christ and we are declared righteous and holy!

Enjoy today as a redeemed child of God and give Him glory!
Today, July 4th, my book, 31 Days of Letting Go is FREE today on Amazon.com.  Download your free copy today and begin praying and enjoying freedom in Christ!

Taking Refuge

Life can be scary and painful.  We face horrible dangers and devastating losses every day, but as believers we never face them alone–

God is a shield for all who take refuge in Him! 

A shield from the darts of the enemy and his attacks. A shield which will protect me and keep me safe from every attempt to harm me. A shield which guards my heart, my mind and my soul.  

But, I have to choose to take refuge in Him! I can’t try and shield myself and I can’t try and do everything on my own. I must put on the whole armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18).  I must choose to take refuge and remain in Him!  

I also must remember that this doesn’t mean that I will never face physical challenges or hardships.  I can’t blame God or doubt His protection when the evil of this world and the consequences of sin somehow pierce my life.  

My soul finds rest in God alone and I will have eternal peace and everlasting joy one day.  But right now, in this life with trials and tribulation, my heart and my mind are guarded in Christ Jesus and I have the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, (Philippians 4:7).

And I can have this peace even in the pain and through the struggles of this life.  God is still my refuge and my shield.  The things of this world are blocked from my soul and the evil thoughts and desires do not have to take root- His shield covers me when I choose to take refuge in the LORD!    

Heavenly Father, Your way is perfect and Your Word is flawless. You are my shield of protection and my refuge.  Thank You for arming me with strength and making my way perfect even when I can’t see or understand in the moment.  Strengthen me, Lord to take refuge in You.  You are my God, my Rock, my Provider, and my Protector–thank You!  I praise You for Who You are, for what You have done, and for all You do in my life.  In the precious name of Jesus, Amen! 
As for God, His way is perfect; the Word of the LORD is flawless.  He is a shield for all who take refuge in Him.  For who is God besides the LORD?  And who is the Rock except our God?  It is God who arms me with strength and makes my way perfect.  (Psalm 18:30-32)







How has God been your shield?  Can I pray for you somehow? Please leave me a comment below!

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An Undivided Heart

Teach me your way, LORD, that I may rely on your faithfulness; give me an undivided heart, that I may fear your name.  (Psalm 86:11)

So many things are pulling at my heart, some good, some not, but I am called, just as every believer is, to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength—all of it!  God has been incredibly faithful to me and I am learning to rely on Him in every situation.  I want my heart to be complete and whole, without even a tiny piece divided, but I can’t do this on my own—only in His strength can I learn to love God completely.
Father, teach me to trust You and rely on You—You are faithful!  I admit my heart is divided and distracted.  Create in me a pure heart that is whole and teach me to love you with all my heart, soul, mind, and strength.  In Jesus’ name, Amen!

The Beauty of Hope

Hope!
We need hope—without it, life can become unbearable, but with hope comes renewed energy, positive thinking, and determination.  Hope is indeed a beautiful thing!
Over the last few years our son Connor has faced very serious health problems with countless doctor’s visits, procedures, hospital stays and life-saving surgery.  Facing these dangers and situations has been scary, but the fact that doctors would rarely offer us much hope made it all the more difficult.  Specialists had no idea what was going on and were very clear with us that they had no idea what could happen.  We have continually heard words like “interesting” and “anomaly” but rarely words of encouragement or hope. 
After the life-saving decision to remove his spleen in 2011 and then a frightening stay in ICU, Connor miraculously began to improve—and we rejoiced!  But his doctors told us, “We have no idea what caused this, so we have no idea what to expect…he may never have another problem or he could develop serious complications or other problems at any time—we just don’t know.”  These are very scary words and when all you can do is rely on God for the next breath, that’s exactly what we have done. 
But the incredible fear that can come from the unknown especially in the absence of hope can be debilitating and overwhelming!  Through it all, God has always been faithful and gifted us with incredible peace beyond understanding!  He truly knows the best plan for us and we have learned to enjoy each day.  It’s amazing the perspective you gain when you are forced to constantly be aware of the possibility of fewer—or no—tomorrows!
We are now 3 weeks post-op from Connor’s most recent surgery but this time everything is completely different.  We have hope!  The doctors believe they have found the underlying problem and Lord willing, this surgery has fixed it!  Yes, we have no written guarantees and must still watch, wait, and trust God—but the difference hope has made is indescribable!  We are preparing for the future in exciting ways and talking about amazing possibilities…not what if’s—and those are two very, very different things!
The hope we have and the difference it is making in our lives is incredible and it reminds me how precious our hope in Christ is—it makes all the difference day-to-day and for eternity!  We are never, ever hopeless with Christ—rather we have abundant, never-ending hope that continues into eternity!
We don’t have to face tomorrow—even a scary tomorrow full of every sort of challenge and difficulty—with fear.  We can look forward to an eternity of joy, hope and love and be filled with indescribable peace even in the midst of the deepest pain.  This is the faithful gift of Jesus!
 

Are you facing a difficult or challenging situation?  Please leave a comment and let me know how I can pray for you!  Have a story of hope?  Please share it as encouragement for anyone facing a trial right now and share how God has blessed you with hope!

Heavenly Father, thank You for Your peace in the midst of painful and scary trials and situations!  Thank You for loving us and protecting us and never leaving us alone in this world of sin and struggle.  Thank You for the incredible hope we have in Jesus, Amen!

 

Enjoying the Light




He redeemed my soul from going down to the pit, and I will live to
enjoy the light. 
(Job 33:28)

 

 
I  have been in the pit and I will not go back! 
I will live to enjoy the light!!

 

In 2011, my son was healed after a challenging time of life threatening medical issues.  We witnessed true miracles and at the amazement of doctors and nurses, he recovered and came home and we rejoiced!  However, when the answer to our prayers came and true miraculous healing was given, rejoicing and relief was followed by a very dark, deep pit that almost engulfed me.

Once home, life went “back to normal” –my husband went back to work and family returned home—life as usual resumed.  But what should have been a time of rejoicing and praise was marred by my inability to re-join normal everyday life.  I had “shut down” during the hospital stays and near death experiences in ICU and had been going purely on adrenaline and auto-pilot.  God’s strength had sustained me, but now I was home and I didn’t know how to fix what was now broken in me. 

Thankfully, God lifted me not only out of that pit but took me high above it to a place of peace and rest in Him and I have been learning to enjoy the precious gift of every moment of life.  He has deepened my faith and taught me to trust Him in much more deeper ways than I could ever have imagined!   

 It has not been easy though and I am now dealing with my own health issues due to fibromyalgia, and the ugly pit of depression is trying to rear its ugly head.  Each and every day is a battle to focus on the positive and to allow God to continue holding me and teaching me through this– and this is a battle I must and will win!  The grace of Christ truly is sufficient, and in my weakness I am made stronger through my dependence on Him– and for that I am so incredibly grateful!

 We have known all along that since the doctors didn’t know what caused his previous medical problems, there was always the possibility that something could happen again.   A few weeks ago, just after Thanksgiving, my son again faced life-threatening medical issues and spent 5 days in the hospital.  But thankfully, through God’s grace and the selfless gift of blood donors, he is home and getting stronger by the day! 

The doctors still do not know for sure what is going on in his body and we are trusting that God will give his doctors wisdom and lead them in the right direction.  Thankfully, they do think they know the cause of his internal bleeding, have stopped it and think they know how to make sure it doesn’t happen again and for that we praise God!  While the doctors don’t know the outcome, we know God does and He will sustain us and uplift us with His mighty hand!!

I know this without doubt or fear because I’ve already felt it and seen it!  I know that no matter what, God is in control and will work all things for good.  So while I know we have more tests and unknown trials ahead, I can stand strong knowing God is already there and He is shining His light on my path-He will direct my steps and allow me to not only see but to enjoy the beautiful, warmth of His light!
 
I realize I have a choice.  I can focus on the fear, worry, anxiety, and doubt.  I can allow my thoughts to take me to a dark place feeling lost and alone–but those are lies and there is a much better option!  I can choose to silence the enemy and believe the words of my God who has been so faithful and has always been there for me- His Word reveals just how close He is and gives glimpses of the amazing light that is available for me– I CHOOSE LIGHT! 

 
I will walk in the light that gives me strength, the light that gives me hope, and the light that gives life–and I will not just walk- I will dance and live to enjoy the light!  Not because my circumstances have changed, but because Jesus, who holds my hand and never leaves me, says I can!  The enemy will try and pull me back toward that dark pit, but I refuse to go.  I refuse to listen to lies when I have the perfect truth to cling to–that is clinging to me and will never let me go!!

I pray for so many others who are facing pain and trials and approaching this Christmas with a heavy heart- I pray we will all learn to trust Jesus a little more and learn to live to enjoy the light! I pray for comfort and peace for every hurting heart!!

 Thank You Jesus for always holding me close even when I am fearful, you are there.  Help me walk, skip and dance in the light every moment of every day and help me enjoy Your light–enjoy You!  I don’t just get to see in the light-I get to enjoy it! Thank You!! Teach me to enjoy Your light!  As the sun warms my face may Your light warm my soul!  I love You Jesus, I need You Jesus, and I thank You Jesus that You are my light!

Trusting in the Darkness

I usually enjoy summer storms and love listening to the rain, but the other night brought severe thunderstorms with intense cracks of lightning, floor-shaking thunder booms, and sheets of raining pelting the house. Thankfully we were safely home and not out driving in it, but we were home alone since my husband is traveling for work. 

The boys and I watched the storm through the windows with interest and excitement until the lights began to flicker. We raced for flashlights and candles before the lights went out putting us in complete darkness. The only light available came from the almost constant lightning and the only noise was the thunder. 

Suddenly, everything became completely still and eerily silent. And I became very aware that we were seemingly alone with no help. No electricity, no lights, no Internet or telephone, no way to anyone for help other than our cell phones, which already had low batteries.
Thankfully the storm calmed, but we were still in the dark and I was very aware of being alone.  Before panic could take root and our imaginations could get too far with the infinite list of what-ifs, we turned to the only true source of comfort and security- the One true source of help- God who is our very present help in trouble!  

God gently reminded me that I was not alone and that I am never alone. My Heavenly Father brought such sweet peace and comfort and all fear of being alone left me, and anyone who knows me well, knows what a big deal that is! The boys and I had a fun time just talking for a little while and then we decided to go to bed early since it was dark anyway. 

We took our main source of light with us (because He never leaves us!)  and also our flashlights and calmly and without fear, laid down to sleep, trusting God to keep us safe. Within just a few short minutes, the power came on and we knew the storm was over! 

God is so gracious and loving to us! He is a Holy God and could condemn us eternally for our sin- each and every one- yet He gives us a way to be washed clean and forgiven. And He doesn’t stop there! Once we accept His gift of life, He continues to bless us with more than we can ever ask for or even imagine- peace in the storm, joy in the pain, and strength to face every moment with courage and victory! 
My faith grew deeper that night and I am thankful God allowed the storm and the power to go out so that I could trust Him and lean on Him completely! I am also grateful He let the power come back on! 🙂

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deut. 31:6)

The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” (Deut. 31:8)

Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, “Never will I leave younever will I forsake you.”  (Hebrews 13:5)


Light in the Darkness

My family explored a cave today. We bought our tickets and followed the tour guide deep into the earth to see beautiful formations of limestone and rock, stalactytes and stalagmytes, and feel the cool damp air as we walked through the channels of rock.  It was thrilling to watch my children admire the beauty and savor the adventure of this fun excursion. The path we walked on was dimly lit but we could easily see where we were heading and were aware of curves in the path or low-lying rocks we would have to duck under. Others had gone before us and strategically placed lights, discreetly hidden among the rocks, to light our way and keep us safe.

God does the exact same thing for us on the path of our life. He brings light into our dark world and that light shines brightly. The dark cannot resist or hide from it. Whenever and whereve the light shines, the way is brighter and the darkess cannot overtake it. God has gone before us and has placed His light in our path to illuminate and guide us. He has given us His Holy Word to give us clear direction. He tells us when to watch our step, where to run ahead and when to stop and wait on Him. He tells us exactly which path to take and which to avoid. We do not have to try and feel our way through the darkness. If we will open our eyes and haerts to Him and choose to obey, the path is well-lit and safe. Yes, there will be times that the path is rocky and difficult, maybe even scary. But we never have to be afraid. Our tourguide not only knows the way, He created every detail of our journey and is shining a light on our every step- we simply need to trust Him and follow.

Thank You Lord God for Your amazing light that completely overtakes the darkness. Thank You for guiding me through this life and never leaving me. I trust You in every step and choose to follow You even when it doesn’t make sense to me or I can’t see the path ahead. I know You love me and have all things in Your control. I choose to follow You and I can’t wait to see the beauty and the adventure You have planned for me. Help me to be steadfast in following You and may I always stand firmly on the rock of Your truth. In the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.

My Beach Chair

I love my beach chair! Sitting at the ocean edge with my toes in the sand and feeling the cool water wash over my feet every few waves is pure joy! I love swimming in the water and letting the waves crash over me, all the while knowing I have a dry, safe place to return to for rest when I am ready.

What a sweet picture of how I want my life to be! I pray I always let God put my chair in the best place, right where it should be. As I follow Him and navigate through the waters of this life, sometimes swimming in calm waters, sometimes with waves crashing overhead, may I never forget I always have a safe place of refuge.

 I pray I always know clearly where God wants me to be, always have a chair in the sand to return to for rest, James’ chair right beside mine, and that we are off enjoying life together!