Thursday, November 13, 2014

This is the Day


                “This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it” Psalms 118:24.  A straightforward verse with pretty simple instructions-God made the day, we should rejoice. Simple enough until “life” enters the picture.
Life that begins like, “This is the day” my children have complained and fought all morning.  “This is the day” my husband lost his job.  “This is the day” I received the cancer diagnosis from my doctor.  Or “This is the day” I received the call that my child was gone.
How do I rejoice then?  The bible states that our rejoicing should be a result of the day we are living in, not the circumstances that surround it.  Yet, we’ve all experienced times in life that made us feel as though we wouldn’t make it through the day, much less be able to rejoice in it.  The loss of a loved one, in particular can leave us feeling numb and without direction or hope.  The surrounding questions of “why” and “how” seemingly unanswered.
We are promised in John 16:33, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace.  In the world you will have trouble; but take heart I have overcome the world.”
Many times in life, we find ourselves searching for someone who understands our situations and has been through our struggles.  It seems to help fill the void and provide hope and direction.  There is just something about connecting with others who have survived similar struggles and turmoil. 
There is no one better to search for when our hearts are troubled over loss than God.  It is not a coincidence that He allowed His son to die for us.  Not only did He take our place, but through the pain and loss, God is able to say to us without a doubt; “I understand what you’re going through and you will make it to the other side.”
I pray today that if you are struggling in your circumstances, remember what God told the Israelites, “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt; open wide your mouth and I will fill it.”  Psalm 81:10
God longs to fill the voids in our lives with His love and mercy.  We’ve tried everything else, why not try Him.  I pray “This is the day” you try God.

Friday, October 24, 2014

Right Behind God


In working with hundreds of men and women over the past eight years who have a goal of losing weight and living healthy, the biggest challenge for most to overcome has little to do with knowing what to eat and when to exercise.  Interestingly, the biggest challenge for most is realizing that God wants to be involved in their health and wellness journey and He is capable of having a major impact if He is allowed access.
The story about Jonathan and his armor bearer paint a wonderful analogy of what it looks like to realize that God wants what’s best for us and is capable of seeing it through.  1 Samuel 14:6 states, “Perhaps the Lord will work for us.  For nothing restrains the Lord from saving by many or by few.”  In other words, it doesn't matter who is coming against you or tempting you; with God on your side nothing is impossible. 
However, there is a catch.  “Of course there is,” you say, but hear me out.  In order for God to be fighting for you, it is imperative that you are close enough to hear His orders.  1 Samuel 14:13 tells us,  “And Jonathan climbed up on his hands and knees with his armor bearer behind him; and they (the enemy) fell before Jonathan.”  With Jonathan going up first, the battle was over even before it started.  The same is true for us if we stand where we are told; right behind God.  Too often, we get ahead of Him in our haste to fix a situation, or too far behind when fear and anxiety take hold of us and freeze us in our tracks. 
 God knows as well as you and I do that struggles in weight loss or any other area of our lives can grip us to the point that we have no motivation or will to fight.  Not to mention the impact on our self-esteem and the guilt we experience when we “fail.”  Struggling with weight loss (much like any other struggle) more than anything is about learning to trust and believe that God can and wants to fight for you in the battle.
The next time your stronghold begins to take hold of your life, remember; in order to hear God you must remain close to Him.  And, just like when you want to shield and protect your child from something that might be too great for them to handle, the safest place to be is “right behind God.”

Friday, October 17, 2014


That’s How God Operates
                Lately, I’ve been experiencing feelings I couldn’t really explain to others, and assuming it was just a normal way of life for a mother trying to raise three kids, be a good wife, and serve God in this crazy day and age.  But in attending church and bible study over the last few weeks, two bible teachers I greatly admire, spoke on a subject and very colorfully put into words exactly what I was experiencing. 
                They both questioned the listening audience asking, “Do you experience a heaviness of heart throughout your day over situations that have not come to pass?  Are you burdened about the ‘what if’s’ of life?  What if my children get sick?  What if my husband loses his job? What if my wife leaves?  Do you feel pressure to perform, wondering if you measure up, or are doing all that you should be doing?”
With tears in my eyes, I wanted to scream, “Yes, Yes!”  That’s me.  Interestingly, in both cases these two well respected bible teachers were describing personal experiences; both labeling this heaviness as oppression and a spirit of affliction that lurks in this world thanks to sin.
It makes perfect sense.  How else can you explain waking up on a beautiful morning, in a warm and cozy home with three healthy children and a loving husband and still be haunted by “what if’s?”  We all have our own set of “what if’s,” and Satan would like nothing more than to keep you entangled in a myriad of questions and doubts.  All the while, God is whispering in your ear, “Didn’t I bring you this far?  Why would I stop now?”
              I am grateful to have learned that the heaviness I have been carrying for so long can be lifted; through prayer.  Philippians 4:6, 7 reminds us to pray, give thanks and make our requests known to God.  Yet what many glaze over in this section of the bible is that we are reminded by doing so, “Our hearts and minds will be guarded in Christ Jesus.”  In other words, the burdens of today, tomorrow and yesterday can all be lifted in one way-just pray.
                Through prayer this week, may you be granted the ability to live as though the places you go, the people you love and the things you have are gifts from God, not burdens to worry about.  He simply wants you to care for them, give thanks for them, and talk to Him about them.
                That’s how God operates.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Praying for you from Head to Toe


 

As my children get older, it’s becoming very obvious to me, that there will be (already have been) choices they make regarding friends, behaviors, music etc. that are completely out of my control.  After all, I cannot “police” what they are doing online and follow them around 24/7.  (I know this because I’ve already tried and it’s exhausting.  And even then, I still missed a few things.)  Although I am very grateful and praise God when they make good decisions, my heart has already been wounded by some not so great decisions as well.  It’s just proof positive that we live in a fallen world and we (and our children) are prone to sin and no amount of church attendance or bible reading can completely obliterate it from our lives.
Yet what is a parent supposed to do?  Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, worry and anxiety can (and will) run rampant every time our children leave home if we are constantly focused on what they’re doing, who they’re with, what they’re listening too. 
Recently, I came across a prayer:  Praying For Your Children From Head To Toe.  The control I regained praying this prayer is powerful.  I am reminded every time I pray through it, that “I can’t control these outside influences and be everywhere all the time God, but You Can.
May you be blessed and feel more in control when praying this prayer for your children too.  (Keep in mind; it’s a wonderful prayer for adult children who are struggling and out of your reach.)

Dear Lord,
Today I pray earnestly for my children:
For their minds: That they would earnestly seek wisdom and knowledge
and stay centered on the truth of Your Word.
For their eyes:  Protect their innocence and focus their
attention on doing what is right.
For their ears: May they be quick to listen to instruction and
hear Your still small voice.
For their mouths:  Keep them from speaking evil and lies.
For their hearts:   Bless them with happy and cheerful hearts.
For their hands:  Let their hands not be idle but that You would establish
the work of their hands.
For their legs:  Let them not walk in step with the wicked.
Let them find wise and godly companions.
For their feet:  Direct their steps and protect them from stumbling.
Pray for your children from Head to Toe today, and watch God work.
“Pray without ceasing.”  1 Thessalonians 5:17
(Prayer adapted and taken from www.lovinglifeathome.com )

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Pure Satisfaction

Looking for comfort and peace in the middle of a storm today?  Or just the hustle and bustle of life?

"For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness."  Psalms 107:9
"You open Your hand and satisfy the desire of every living thing." Psalms 145:16
"And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus."  Philippians 4:19

Those verses have stirred my soul in recent days.  The shear realization that God is ready and waiting to meet and exceed my needs is overwhelming.  If your soul is hungry, God is waiting to fill it with goodness.  If you have desires, He is waiting with an open hand to satisfy and He will supply ALL your needs.
May the God I have come to serve and love show you today that He and He alone can FILL your hungry soul, readily satisfy your every desire and supply all your needs according to HIS riches in glory. 
Now that's what I call pure satisfaction!
In Him,
Julie

Friday, January 3, 2014

What Challenges are Coming Your Way?


“O’ Lord, I pray, please let your ear be attentive to the prayer of your servant, and to the prayer of your servants who desire to fear your name; and let your servant prosper this day, I pray, and grant him mercy in the sight of this man.”  Nehemiah 1:11
                There will be many challenges for us in 2014.  (Maybe you’ve already had your fair share in January.)  Challenges regarding our finances, future plans, issues in the workplace, church, or neighborhood.  The list is endless.  Challenges can cause us to do many things; act in haste, run away, become discouraged, remain on edge, or “clam up” and freeze.
                We could learn a lot from a certain man in the bible about how to face challenges.   A man by the name of Nehemiah we’re told was, “the king’s cupbearer.”  This meant he acted as bodyguard, advisor and food taster for the king.  (I don’t know about you, but that sounds a lot like the role of a parent to me.)
                Yet when Nehemiah was in great distress over the ruin of Jerusalem, his homeland, the bible tells us he, “sat down and wept, and mourned for many days; I was fasting and praying before the God of heaven.”  Nehemiah 1:4
                Nehemiah did not act hastily, run away, become discouraged, remain on edge or “clam up” and freeze.  He did not become outraged or “check out” with pills or alcohol.
                Make no mistake, he was hurting and he took his pain and overwhelming circumstances to the only one who could fix them; God.
                What’s also interesting about Nehemiah’s response to his situation is what he did first; “sat down and wept.”  Many of us try not to weep when problems arise.  We feel the need to “remain strong” for our spouses, children, and others who may perceive our tears as discouragement, weakness, or “breaking down.”
                In my recent journey to more fully experience the presence of God I often find myself weeping uncontrollably in a church service.  And even my precious six-year old is aware of the negative connotations associated with crying, as she is often the first to ask, “Are you sad mommy?  Don’t cry.”
                Tears can be profoundly cleansing, a detox of the mind, and incredibly healing.  A good cry has the ability to provide great clarity and direction.
                You may not feel the need to let out a good wail in public the next time you’re faced with a challenge, but in the coming year, I challenge you not to hold back when the tears are persisting.
                If one of your resolutions for the new year is to grow closer to Christ, and become a stronger man or woman of God, remember what John 11:35 says, that even “Jesus wept.”

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

What Do You Want From Me?
 

                Relationships are tricky, to say the least.  Navigating moods, rough patches, and the general ups and downs of life (and that’s just with your children) can leave you frazzled.  But what about the other relationships in your life:  the spousal, co-worker, friends, and family?  Attempting to get along in these situations can leave a person wondering, “What do they want from me?”
Too often, we make relationships in our lives more complicated than they need to be.  We tend to “think for the other person.”  Assuming we know what they want from us and feeling frustrated, because we can’t always muster the resources to give it.
We assume the spouse would be happier if we lost weight, so we join the gym and the weight loss group.  We think the children would be happier with more “things” so we work overtime five days a week.  
As for the co-workers, neighbors and friends, we often assume they need our “two-cents,” so we freely give it, telling them step by step how to maneuver their struggles (yet we cannot seem to maneuver our own,) and feeling exhausted and frustrated when we find they didn’t heed our well thought out advice.
And what about God; what does He want from me?  Make no mistake, God does want me to be obedient, to walk in His ways, and to witness to others about Him.
Yet, above all those things, what God wants more than anything, is my heart.  And with my heart comes my time and attention. The bible tells us, that God doesn’t look down from heaven to see if we are living righteously or not, “The Lord looks down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there are any who understand, who seek God” Psalm 14:2.  The Lord watches and waits for us to seek Him. 
Interestingly, when I compare what God wants with all the other relationships in my life, I find what they all really crave is the same; my heart.  And with my heart, comes my time and attention.
Fifteen minutes playing football with my son goes a lot further than a new pair of Nike socks.  Fifteen minutes playing Barbie’s with my five-year old, means more than a new Barbie.  Fifteen minutes listening to my 12-year old talk about horses means more than a new riding helmet.  (Well, I may be pushing it, on that last one.)
However, one thing’s for sure, “You will show me the path of life; in your presence if fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”  Psalm 16:11
Today, experience the fullness of joy and pleasures forevermore simply by spending time with God and those you love!