You need peace? Yeah, me too.

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I don’t like admitting fault or failure, but there’s this one thing I’ve had to repeat multiple times because I just can’t get it right. It’s like God is sitting up in heaven saying, “You can do this! I know you’ve got it in you. Just take this test one more time.”

It’s the test of first choice. God is working on me to turn to Him before I turn to anyone else. Anyone. Any one person or any one thing. 

I have this temptation- yes, temptation- to find affirmation in the thoughts, feelings, and opinions of others before I find them in Him. And do you know what that does to a Jesus girls heart? It makes it weary, discouraged, anxious and sometimes a little snarky. Just saying. Basically, it makes me full of pessimism when I should be full of peace. It’s the temptation to push Jesus aside and push through something myself and I can tell you, it always ends awful. 

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Mark 4:35-41 (NLT)

 As evening came, Jesus said to his disciples, “Let’s cross to the other side of the lake.” 36 So they took Jesus in the boat and started out, leaving the crowds behind (although other boats followed). 37 But soon a fierce storm came up. High waves were breaking into the boat, and it began to fill with water. 38 Jesus was sleeping at the back of the boat with his head on a cushion. The disciples woke him up, shouting, “Teacher, don’t you care that we’re going to drown?”39 When Jesus woke up, he rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Silence! Be still!” Suddenly the wind stopped, and there was a great calm. 40 Then he asked them, “Why are you afraid? Do you still have no faith?” 41 The disciples were absolutely terrified. “Who is this man?” they asked each other. “Even the wind and waves obey him!”

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The first words that Jesus said should have been enough: Let’s cross to the other side of the lake. Simple, right? They had a plan: a starting point, a destination and the in between. He clearly told them where they were going and they confidently got into the boat. It’s what took place on the way there that became anything but simple. A storm came. And with that storm came all the tensions that a storm can bring: fear, anxiety, hopelessness, fault finding, and the reminder that the elements were out of their hands. I don’t know what’s scarier, the actual storm or the thought that they weren’t in control. 

Sometimes storms are from the enemy. They are meant to destroy our hopes, dreams, faith or even our lives. We get on the boat and expect smooth sailing. After all, the plan is to get from here to there, right? The enemy loves to work through expectations. It's his jam. But...

Sometimes storms are strategic. God uses them to show us where our heart goes first when we hit choppy waters. Not only was Jesus on the boat, but so were some very skilled sailors. Sailors know how to read the weather when a storm is coming. They see it in the clouds, feel it in the winds and a storm of this magnitude builds. Do you know what that means?

Jesus wasn’t their first choice.

  • He wasn’t their first choice when the clouds rolled in and grew dark.
  • He wasn’t their first choice when the winds picked up and the boat started rocking.
  • He wasn’t their first choice when the rain started to fall. 

They leaned into each other, they leaned into their equipment, they leaned into their own knowledge, but they didn’t turn to Jesus until it became a raging storm. 

And I just have to pause here and say: yeah, me too. I do that too. I’m so guilty.

I phone a friend, send a text, ask for prayer and even dig up a scripture before I simply go to Him and say, “Hey Jesus. I’m really afraid right now. Can you speak to that?”

And do you know what happens? Anxiety floods my soul when He’s not my first choice.  

I become afraid of failing. I become afraid of being a failure. I become afraid of not making it to my destination. I become afraid I’m not enough. I forget who's in my boat. 

Confidence and peace are not dependent on my circumstances, they’re dependent on my choices. When He’s my first choice, peace abounds. He reminds me that we are going to get to the other side. And here’s the crazy thing: when He’s my first choice, I learn to appreciate the thunder, lightning and all the in between. In fact, I even see where the strong winds and rising waters can actually get me where I’m going, faster. They tend to give me a little push that still waters can’t accomplish. 

What’s that saying? A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor. 

He’s my first choice.

 

Ok God, Why?

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When the new year rolled in, I joked with a group of friends that we were going to get shirts made that said, “I survived 2016.” We were joking about the shirts, but serious about our summary of 2016. It. Was. Awful. 

Is that true for you? Maybe. Maybe not. 

  • One of my friends had a serious health scare with her oldest daughter. Like, serious. 
  • Another went through the worst year of her marriage, had tried everything she possibly could and nothing was working. Nothing was enough. 
  • Another endured year three of trying to have a baby and month after month, she found out she wasn’t pregnant…over and over again. 
  • A lost job.
  • A church torn apart. 
  • A dream shattered.
  • Prayers that weren't answered the way we wanted them. 

2016- we hated you. Everywhere we looked, we saw devastation. And we're a positive, life-loving bunch of gals. So, can we catch a break?

We kept saying, “Can this year please end? PUH-LEASE?”

Now, here we are in 2017 (oh, we’re Houston girls by the way) and we just endured Harvey. Everywhere our eyes can see is devastation.

  • Flooded homes. 
  • Flooded roads.
  • Destroyed furniture, heirlooms, precious possessions- all gone, spread across South Texas. And I turned on the news to hear about Irma and the wildfires (the list could go on). Oh my. 

I had to ask. I just had to: Ok God, why? I know He didn’t smite us and He didn’t cause this. We do our own thing. We live in a fallen world, with fallen people on a planet that does it’s own thing too. I get it. But I had to ask. 

He didn’t answer, but He did open my eyes. And do you know what I saw in every single devastation? The emergence of a pure, unfiltered devotion towards mankind. It’s the kind that notices the heartache, fear, pain, and loss and says, “I’ll stand with you. I’ll pray for you. You are not alone.” In other words, with devastation comes devotion. From God and from each other. 

Last week I was helping clean out several homes that were flooded by Harvey. We ripped out baseboards, carpet, sheetrock, threw away water damaged things…it was hard work, physically and emotionally. Things like that cause you to think deep thoughts. I paused for lunch with a friend. 

As we sat down, I asked her how her (devastated) marriage situation was going. She proceeded to tell me how God was beginning to restore and answer the prayers that she had prayed for years. I know it should have been a beautiful moment. We should have clapped, danced and toasted our Dr. Peppers, but she shared her feelings about emerging from devastation. She said: I’m standing in the middle of my victory, surrounded by defeat. It’s like winning the battle you’ve been fighting for so long, but you have to make the long walk off the field of casualties. I know that feeling! I’ve felt it. I painfully understand. Yet, the beautiful thing about that victory walk is we don’t walk it alone. 

He puts His arm around us.

He sends reinforcements.

He teaches us as we go.

He works all things together for good. 

Yes, with devastation comes devotion. I’ll toast my Dr. Pepper to that!

Isaiah 41:10 ESV

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.

Romans 12:21 ESV

Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

Psalm 145:17 ESV

The Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all his works.

Romans 12:12 ESV

Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.

Philippians 4:6-7 ESV

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.

Why God Allows Rejection (an excerpt from Bare Naked Truths)

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On Rejection: an excerpt from Bare Naked Truths.

What people cast aside, God keeps close.

Judges 11:1-3 (NIV)

Jephthah the Gileadite was a mighty warrior. His father was Gilead; his mother was a prostitute. Gilead’s wife also bore him sons, and when they were grown up, they drove Jephthah away. “You are not going to get any inheritance in our family,” they said, “because you are the son of another woman.” So Jephthah fled from his brothers and settled in the land of Tob, where a gang of scoundrels gathered around him and followed him.”

Sent away. Cast aside. Completely unwanted. Have you ever felt it?

It’s the feeling of trying out for the team and not making it. Like being the girl that wasn’t asked to the dance, or interviewing for your dream job and being told, “No, thank you.” It’s the emotion that can cause us to question if we’re even in the will of God at all. We’ve all had that dreadful, sinking feeling in our heart. It seems to come partnered with a certain fear that our dreams might be going down with it. It’s not a good feeling and it comes with question marks- lots of them: Do you really have a plan for me? 

Have I completely missed your calling? 

Where do I fit in? Did I do something wrong? 

Is there anything inside of me you CAN use? 

Why am I constantly overlooked? 

We can question ourselves into a corner and then feel like we’ve been put into a spiritual “time-out.” I’ve done it more times than I care to admit. All the while, God is patiently waiting by the sideline, ready to answer; just waiting to be heard.

Jephthah appears doomed from conception with a mom who had no interest in him. Add brothers who told him he didn’t belong and dismissed him, he had nowhere to go. Just like that. They chose their inheritance over their brother. The very ones that were supposed to love him the most cared the least. I wish scripture told us about his reaction. What did he think? How did he feel? Where was God in all of this? I often wonder if the men and women in the Bible trusted the Lord in their most difficult times. I hope he knew that even though he was disposable to them, he was invaluable to God.

I hope you know that too. What feels like the ridicule of rejection can actually be the sweetness of God’s love and protection. When people fail us, God will not. 

When others scream No, His love is still there. 

Maybe we aren’t ready. 

Maybe they aren’t the right friend. 

Maybe that job would’ve been the worst experience of your life. 

Maybe you lived through something horrendous and the sheer fact you’re still alive is proof that God’s love is chasing you down. 

 

All hope is not lost. 

 

A “no” to our heart is an opportunity to welcome a “know” from God; to know Him more intimately. Sometimes we just need to know in the depth of our being that even if every human on the face of the earth doesn’t see value in us, God’s love will sustain us. Rejection is painful but it is not permanent. God will allow our soul to ache if it means we find Him in our despair. He desires to be the one we run to. The times in my life I’ve felt the most pushed aside, God was pursuing me and instilling purpose. We must dare to hurt if we are to be truly healed.

Back To School Prayers

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Well, it’s that time again. I really can’t believe it, but back to school is upon us. 

Fierce schedules.

Fall sports.

Studying.

Homework.

I hate to say it, but…exams!

It's here, y’all. It’s here. 

As a mom, I have compiled a list of scriptures to pray over my kids that I thought I’d share. These are fitting for parents to pray over their kids, college students to pray over themselves and teachers to pray over each other. 

Here are some prayers and scriptures I am praying over my kids:

*Translation is ESV unless otherwise noted.

 

Patience: Lord, bless my kids with patience this year. May they desire to grow and mature each day. Give them grace as they learn to give grace to others. 

Romans 8:25  But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience.

Galatians 6:9  And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.

James 1:3  For you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.

Galatians 5:22  But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,

Preparation: Prepare their hearts for the good days and the bad, for victories and defeat. Point them to scripture in their celebrations and frustrations. Bring them your word and hide it in their heart. 

Isaiah 54:17 (NKJV) No weapon formed against you shall prosper.

Matthew 24:13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved.

2 Timothy 2:15 Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.

1 Corinthians 9:24 Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one receives the prize? So run that you may obtain it.

 

Peace: I pray that they would learn to trust you and the peace you offer. Show me how to bring your peace where there is anxiety, anger, dissension and beyond. Your peace overwhelms the things that overwhelm us. 

Matthew 5:9 Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.

2 Thessalonians 3:16 Now may the Lord of peace himself give you peace at all times in every way. The Lord be with you all.

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

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

 

Purpose: I pray that every day my kids would discover their purpose a little more. Show me the things that ignite their passions and strengthen their gifts. 

Romans 8:28  And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

1 Corinthians 2:9 But, as it is written, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God has prepared for those who love him."

Psalm 138:8 The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your steadfast love, O Lord, endures forever. Do not forsake the work of your hands.

Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.