Spirit, Word and Truth

Shining the light of God's word into our confused world.

Page 5 of 52

My One Word for 2017

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Up until just a few days ago, I thought my One Word 365 word for 2017 was all settled. I’d begun thinking and praying about it back in October, and by the time Thanksgiving arrived I had decided that my word would be Faithfulness. This is definitely an area that I need to work on. It’s a fruit of the Spirit, but one that doesn’t always come naturally to me (although I guess none of them really come naturally, which is why they’re called fruits of the Spirit and not fruits of human nature). Especially when it comes to things like follow-through or stick-with-it-ness. I was feeling convicted in this area and so choosing this as my One Word made sense.

I was all set for this to be my word, y’all. I did a big spread in my bullet journal exploring all of the meanings of the word and how they apply in my life, as well as what scripture says about faithfulness and being a faithful steward. I had a blog post — what I thought would be this blog post — all written in my head. I was already trying to put it into practice in my daily life. This was SO my word, without a doubt.

But then a few days ago another word started forcing its way into my consciousness. It was so forceful that I screwed up my brow and tilted my head and was like, “Lord? Is this from you? Am I supposed to change my word?” And let me tell you, I didn’t want to. Because this new word? It scares me a little. It makes my heart beat faster in ways both good and bad. Plus I had already put all this thought and energy into the other word. I didn’t want to change it. So I tried to just ignore it and hope it would go away.

I’m sure you can guess that it didn’t. So this morning, I presented both words to the Lord and asked Him to please make it plainly obvious to me during my morning devotionals and blog readings which word He preferred that I focus on this year. And do you know what? He did.

And the word?

Abandon.

Even typing that just now gave me butterflies in my stomach. If there is one word that people who know me will almost unanimously use to describe me, it’s “reserved.” I’m extremely inhibited. There are very few things that I ever do with abandon.

But I believe there are some areas where God is calling me to lay down my inhibitions and fear and do with wild abandon. Things like…

Trust with abandon.

Surrender with abandon.

Love with abandon.

Praise Him with abandon.

Hope with abandon.

Dream with abandon.

Run after Him with total abandon.

How might my life be different if I give Him my all in these areas without holding anything back? If I can lay down all of my adult baggage and reservations and have a truly childlike faith? Imagining the answer is both thrilling and terrifying. But I think I’m being asked to find out.

And while faithfulness is still something I need to work on cultivating more of this year, as God was confirming my new word He was also showing me that I had attached an agenda to the previous word. I was looking at it like some kind of magic formula, thinking that if I could just be more faithful with such-and-so then He’ll see that I’m trustworthy enough to handle prosperity and success. And while faithfulness is a worthy goal, my motivation isn’t coming from the right place. God is not manipulated or controlled by magic formulas.

He is wild and uncontrollable, and also wholly in control.

And that’s why it’s safe for me to come to Him with utter abandon.

So that’s my word for 2017. It will sure be interesting to see where this takes me.

What’s your word?

Blessings,
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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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Leaning Into God: A #OneWord365 Review

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About this time last year, I had a theme all picked out for the shiny new year of 2016. It was going to be my “Year Without Fear.” And then I found out about One Word 365, which presents the challenge to eschew New Year’s Resolutions and goal setting and instead, in their words, choose “One word you can focus on every day, all year long… One word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live.”

Of course if I already had my theme figured out my word was a no-brainer: Fearless! Or maybe Brave. Or should it be Courage? Hmm. I figured I’d better pray about it before committing to a definitive word. So I did. And the word God gave me instead?

“Lean.”

This made me wrinkle up my brow in confusion at first. “Lean? What does that mean? How is that a guide word? What does that have to do with not letting fear control my actions?” I thought of the old hymn, “Leaning On the Everlasting Arms” and decided that God was telling me I needed to spend 2016 learning to be more reliant on Him.

And boy howdy, was 2016 filled with reasons to lean on God. My husband’s health battles alone gave us both ample opportunities to lean on Him for strength, for provision, for wisdom, for courage, and I’m sure for many other things. There also seemed to be a bit more than our fair share of things breaking or falling apart and we had to completely rely on God’s provision to take care of it.

But as the year wore on, it became clear that I wasn’t only going to be challenged to lean on God, but also to lean into what He was doing inside me. This included a major work of spiritual healing that involved confronting some things in my past, allowing myself to grieve and process all of the negative emotions, forgiving those who hurt me and finally rejecting all of the negative words spoken over me throughout my life. I realized that the Lord wanted me to lean into becoming the woman He always meant for me to be, but first I had to deal with identity confusion caused by trying to either live up to or prove wrong the labels that had been placed on me both by people who meant well and by people who wanted to hurt me.

2016 became the year that I was released from the bondage of trying to please people and win their approval and discovered the freedom of being true to who God made me to be. And all because of that one little, unexpected word, hallelujah and amen.

This One Word thing worked out so well that I’ll be doing it again in 2017. Based on last year’s experience, I spent quite a bit of time praying about what my new word should be, and again, it wasn’t something I would’ve chosen for myself, but after studying it and mulling it over I can see why God thinks it’s something I need to focus on. I’ll reveal my One Word for 2017 in the next post.

Did you have One Word for 2016? Leave a comment letting us know what it was and how it worked out for you.

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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Happy New Year! A Look Ahead at 2017

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I don’t think anybody is sad to see the back side of 2016, are they? At any rate, I for one am happy to turn the page and begin a brand new year, especially because I think I’ve got a few things to get excited about this year. Like for instance …

  • We’re moving (probably). This isn’t 100% in the bag, but it’s about 99%. At this point it’s more a question of when than anything else, and there’s a good chance that it’ll be soon. Still, I probably won’t talk much more about it here until it’s actually happening.
  • I have a new e-book novella releasing at the end of this month, and a new novel releasing later this year. These are both continuations in the Restless Spirits series.
  • I might be doing my first real book signing in an actual brick-and-mortar book store. My publisher is working on setting this up so I don’t know any details yet, so that’s another thing I don’t want to talk about too much until it’s more certain.
  • A door has opened for a new freelance blogging opportunity that’s a step up from what I’ve been doing and a big step in the right direction toward the kind of topics I want to be writing about.

A lot of my focus this year is going to be on getting the third Restless Spirits novel written and thus fulfilling my contract so I can move on to other things. Between that and the move and the new freelance gig (which is in addition to, not replacing, the current freelance gigs), I’m going to stay pretty busy. But there are a few other things I hope to fit in this year. Things like…

  • Blogging more consistently, both here and on my author blog.
  • Submitting guest posts to some more high-profile ministry blogs.
  • Getting to know our new neighbors and getting more involved in our new community.
  • Finding and joining an actual local church assembly.
  • Re-connecting with my oldest BFF.
  • Getting over my reservedness and INFPness enough to meet up with my local friends face to face.

I’m also harboring some secret hopes and dreams that I’m not ready to talk about yet. I’ll have to see how some other things go before I know if those are even feasible. But that’s where my to-be-revealed word for 2017 comes in. I’m just going to give these dreams over to God and see what He does with them.

At any rate, I have a feeling this is going to be a big year. I just hope and pray that it’s big in a good way. I think I’ve had my fill of Big Bad years for a good long while.

What are you looking forward to the most about 2017?

Blessings for the new year,
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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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A New Year’s Benediction

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May we go into 2017 with our arms, hands, eyes and hearts open so that we don’t miss a single thing God has for us this year.

May we shed any baggage from the previous year, lightening our loads as we cast all of our cares on Him to be swallowed up by the unfathomable depths of His love.

May we stop fixating on the unknowable future and start living our right-now lives, appreciating and enjoying the blessings that are right in front of us, no longer missing out on the present good because we’re too distracted with anticipation of what’s to come.

May we learn to relax and savor the journey as we trust Him with our destination.

May we pursue Him with total abandon, trusting Him without reservation.

May we let our roots sink way down deep into His love so that we may stand firm and walk confidently knowing that we have nothing to fear because He loves us.

May we reflect His grace and glory and bring Him praise as we live fully and richly in the present, letting ourselves be filled with the abundance that Jesus came to give us.

May we loosen our hold on this life and hold tightly to Him instead.

May we let go and rest, and know that He is God, and He’s got this, and He’s got us. And He’ll never let us go.

This we pray in Jesus’ name.

Amen.

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PS: Find more encouragement for your soul at these linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

PPS: Looking for some a-MAZ-ing tools and resources to help you be more productive, write better and/or generally do life while keeping your sanity? I’ve got the goods — sign up to receive Daydreamer Dispatches, a once- or twice-a-month newsletter from yours truly, and you’ll automatically receive a super-sekrit link to My Absolute Must-Have, Can’t Live Without Tools and Resources list! Click here to get your link!

JeanA Jesus girl through and through, Jean Marie Bauhaus is on a journey of healing and rediscovering who God purposefully created her to be and figuring out how to do life within that context. She’s the wife of Matt and mom to a crew of four-legged dependents, all of whom make their home in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Jean counts coffee, dark chocolate and a yarn addiction among her vices. She’s the author of Restless Spirits, a family-friendly paranormal romance/mystery now available from Vinspire Publishing. You can learn more about her novels and short fiction at jeanmariebauhaus.com.

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The Meaning of the Manger

Reblogging this post from last year that provides a lot of insight into the circumstances surrounding Christ’s birth. I’m pretty sure this will be an annual reblog because it (the lesson it links to, not so much the post itself) is just that good.

In other news, this blog will be going quiet until the New Year. I wish I could say it’s because I’m going to be taking a work break but actually a lot of work is coming my way starting right after Christmas. Thankfully I’ve got some posts pre-written for the first few weeks of January. So watch for those in the new year.

In the mean time, I wish everyone a very Merry and peace-filled Christmas!

When You Don’t Feel Like Celebrating Christmas

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Not gonna lie: this time of year is hard for us. And we’re not the only ones. A lot of people feel the exact opposite of jolly during the Christmas season, for many good reasons. Some are coping with grief and loss. Some struggle with loneliness or depression. Some are simply worn out, run ragged by overstuffed schedules and the pressure of meeting high expectations. It can be hard to feel like Christmas is worth celebrating.

For my husband and me, December brings the anniversaries of both our first miscarriage and his mother’s unexpected passing. It’s also a rather in-your-face reminder of our inability to have children. While those initial losses are still painful, enough time has passed to wear away much of the sting. It’s the pain of continued childlessness that is the hardest to endure.

Pregnancy loss and infertility doesn’t just bring grief over what was lost, but also over what might have been, and that latter grief stays fresh. It’s renewed with every anniversary, every due date that comes and goes that should have been a birthday, every time you’re confronted with family, friends and neighbors having and raising children. At Christmas, it’s renewed with every sighting of Santa, every lighting of the tree, every animated Christmas special. It’s renewed when you hang stockings for your pets knowing that no matter how crazy you are about your fur babies they’ll never take the place of an actual child. There’s no getting away from the fact that Christmas is about children.

But when you strip all of that away, you’re reminded that in actuality, Christmas is about ONE child.

ONE little miracle baby who was born into the world to bring healing, restoration and peace.

Thankfully, that baby didn’t stay a baby forever. He grew up to become the Savior of the whole world.

That child-turned-Savior is the only One that can fill the hole in my heart left by the children I’ve lost and am still waiting and hoping to have. He’s the only One that can turn our grief and turmoil into joy and peace.

Whatever it is that defines your hard this season, Jesus can do that for you, too.

And that is something worth celebrating.

Blessings,
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PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

Giving Thanks, and Taking a Hiatus

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This year hasn’t turned out quite like I’d hoped. Okay, it actually hasn’t turned out anything like I’d hoped. But as typically happens when you stop trying to force your will and submit to God’s leading in your life, it turned out like I think it was supposed to.

I had a good feeling around this time last year that 2016 would be a year of big change. Of course, I thought that meant mostly external changes. Changes to our circumstances. Changes for the better.

That really hasn’t happened (although it seems some big changes of that variety might be on the horizon). What I got instead was internal change. I think my husband and I both went through a lot of growing and having our faith stretched this year. I went through some painful but incredibly necessary healing from my past. My husband went through some scary health-related trials. And although I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t disappointed that, outwardly, nothing about our lives has changed, I’m also daring to hope that this was a year of preparation so that we’ll better equipped to handle the kind of change I’m hoping for.

And through all the highs and lows there has been so much to be thankful for. So many blessings–some big and obvious, some a little more hidden. And while I’m of course thankful for the obvious things, like my husband and family and pets and a roof over our heads and a steady income to help keep it there, I want to list a some highlights of what God has done for me this year, for which I’m deeply grateful.

My husband is healthy!

As I mentioned, he had some health scares this year. It was quite a roller coaster ride, but the end result is that everything was treatable and manageable and, overall, he has a clean bill of health. With his medical history, this is seriously something to be grateful for. What’s more, throughout it all we could see God at work, comforting and encouraging us in very relevant and specific ways and getting Mr. B in touch with just the right medical experts who knew exactly what was happening and what needed to be done in the midst of a lot of confusion and cluelessness.

My oldest, fondest dream came true.

A few weeks ago, I became a traditionally published novelist. After a long, long road that included a lengthy detour through self-publishing, I realized a dream I’ve had since I was a teenager of holding a book in my hand that I wrote and that an actual publishing company believed was good enough to publish. I’m not knocking self-publishing, and I’m proud of my self-published books. I put a lot of work into them and I think I turned out some good products. But becoming a self-published novelist wasn’t what I longed for throughout the last three decades of my life. I had almost given up on that dream when God almost literally dropped a three-book publishing deal into my lap last year, which goes to show that if you have a God-breathed dream that seems to have died, just because you’ve given up on it doesn’t mean that God has. He can make it happen. He is faithful, just as he was faithful to answer the prayers of a young girl who dreamed more than anything of being a published novelist some day.

My past no longer hurts.

I didn’t exactly have an easy time of it growing up. Abuse, bullying, constant rejection, a tumultuous relationship with my dad . . . I carried around a lot of pain. I’d believed that they were all scarred over and toughened up, but God showed me how they were simply scabbed over wounds and how easily they could be opened up again. But then he bound up my wounds and truly healed them once and for all. Even more, I realized that I believed all of the lies that were spoken over me throughout my life, and adopted all of the labels that the enemy used hurting people to place on me. The Lord helped me to reject those labels and lies and replace them with His truth and the words that He himself has spoken over me. There’s still some work to do here, but this year I shed so much of the garbage that the enemy tried to attach to my soul and became much more fully my true self, the woman God purposefully created me to be. And it feels really good to be her.

So when I list it all out like that, this has actually been a year of pretty big change after all. It’s definitely been a year of blessing. And as we head into the Thanksgiving holiday weekend here in the U.S. I’m also going to be thankful for small blessings like roast turkey and dressing and pie and cookies and the Gilmore Girls revival on Netflix.

And of course, after Thanksgiving comes Advent. This will be my second year observing Advent (I come from a non-liturgical evangelical background that never really acknowledged it), and as part of my effort to be mindful and focus on what really matters as I prepare my heart and mind for Christmas and the coming year, I’m giving myself permission to slack off on blogging for the next few weeks. I’ll be re-posting some “best of” posts from the archives, and I’ll be back after Christmas to talk about my hopes and plans for the new year, but don’t expect a lot of fresh new content between now and then.

What are you thankful for this year? And if you’re here in the U.S. (or are an ex-pat who’s observing it far from home), Happy Thanksgiving!

Love,
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What the Bible Tells Us about Tumultuous Times

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Regardless of how you voted, or how you feel about the election outcome, the fact remains that we’re living in tumultuous times and the future seems more uncertain than ever. But as believers in Christ, we don’t need to be afraid. Here are 15 passages of scripture to help put things into perspective as we look ahead and move forward.

Joshua 1:9 – 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.”

Daniel 4:17b – to the end that the living may know that the Most High “rules the kingdom of men” and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.’

1 Chronicles 29:11-12 – Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. 12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

Acts 4:12 – And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.

1 John 4:4 – Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.

John 16:33 – 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.”

Psalm 62:5 – For God alone, O my soul, wait in silence, for my hope is from him.

Colossians 3:1-2 -If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

Isaiah 41:10 – fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

Matthew 6:34 – Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.

And that’s not all. I encourage you to read these passages, too:

Psalm 37:1-9

Romans 8:28-39

2 Timothy 3:1-9

Ephesians 6:10-18

2 Corinthians 4:8-10

This election came as a surprise to just about everybody, but it didn’t come as a surprise to God. Rest easy, and remember that God knows how to God.

Have any scriptures to add? Leave them in the comments!

In love,
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PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

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Link Roundup: Struggling Doesn’t Mean Your Faith is Broken

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Sometimes — more often than I like to admit — I struggle with obsessive thinking. When those obsessive thoughts get stuck on a negative loop, it puts me on a downward spiral into anxiety and depression.

I’ve learned that when this happens, I need to take those thoughts captive and redirect my focus through prayer and time in God’s Word, but at times that is way, way easier said than done. I pray and I pray and I cast my cares on God and I proclaim truth and claim His peace, but inwardly I still wrestle with negative thoughts and feelings. And I in turn feel a lot of guilt and shame because shouldn’t this be working? Shouldn’t this be easier? Is my faith broken? Am I not trusting God enough? Am I a bad Christian?

I’ve felt God speaking truth into my life on this topic this week, and that truth is this: we all struggle like this. We’re made to. Our brains, while not all wired to be obsessive, are wired with a bent toward negativity. Our feelings work against us. This is natural and normal and even Jesus and Paul and King David experienced it. Probably every believer ever has.

The fact that we wrestle like this doesn’t take God by surprise, and it doesn’t make Him displeased with us. It’s not something to feel guilt or shame about. The fact that we wrestle against our thoughts and feelings means that our hearts are turned in the right direction. It just takes our minds a while to catch up to what our hearts already know.

Even more importantly, God uses this struggle for our good. He uses it to strengthen us, teach us, grow us, draw us closer to Him and deeper into His Word.

Today I want to share the posts that helped me arrive at this understanding. These first two laid the groundwork:

When Gratitude Feels Unnatural by Heather Enright on InCourage

“What can we be thankful for?”

His startling words broke the dark night. He knows me well enough to read my thoughts, and so he added, “The Bible doesn’t say we have to be thankful for all things. But God asks us to be thankful in all things. I’m just reaching here. But can we find anything to be thankful for to help us look at the bigger picture?”

The Bible talks about the sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving. These words never ring more true than when you are stumbling through the valley of loss and searching frantically to find your way to God. A sacrifice of thanks, indeed.

Gratitude When You’ve Got an Attitude by Holley Gerth

We also don’t have to feel thankful. Our brains are wired with a negativity bias. This means we tend to pay more attention to what’s wrong (like a bear charging at us). This instinct keeps us alive but it also means our emotions and perspective can take time to catch up with our wills. God knows this and we don’t have to feel shame or guilt about the disconnect.

And this one gave me my “A-ha!” moment:

What to Do with Tough Relationships by Lysa TerKeurst on Proverbs31

1 Peter 5:10-11, “And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm, and steadfast. To him be the power for ever and ever. Amen.”
(NIV)

In the end, this struggle can be used by God to make me stronger and more capable in my relationships. If I am humble enough to receive from Him in the quiet what He wants to teach me through this, I can rest assured with whatever the outcome is.

It was those words of Peter — “after you have suffered a little while” — that brought it all home for me this morning. Lysa refers to that passage throughout her post, starting with verse 6. Peter walks us through the process of humbling ourselves before God, casting our anxiety on Him, remembering who our true enemy is and resisting him, promising that the end result will be that God will make us strong, firm and steadfast — but only after we have struggled a while.

Y’all, God knows this stuff takes time. He knows it isn’t easy, and He’s okay with that. He doesn’t condemn us for it. Instead He patiently helps us through it.

We have a good, good God, you guys.

In Love,
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PS – Find more encouragement at the following linkups:

Holley Gerth’s Coffee For Your Heart

Missional Women’s Faith Filled Fridays

#DreamTogether at God-Sized Dreams

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