The Kingdom of the Journey {Guest Post}

A big thank you to all of the contributors that have helped give me a bit of a break this summer!

The Kingdom of the Journey

Sharing the journey #testimony #journey #allergies #trust #jesus @gosdchicki
Just before my husband and I got engaged, we went to a Christian conference at the time (Soul Survivor UK) and there was a fantastic talk on “The kingdom of now and not yet” which we took great comfort in, especially as my father-in-law was very ill at the time.
 
The talk encouraged us that God’s will will be done. That when we seek and petition Him with our prayers He always answers, whether we hear and see a yes or a no, or a not yet. He is invested in our situation and His will will be done in our lives and our healing, even if that manifests as a “not yet” because His healing can come in death when we join Him. He always gives an answer, even if it’s not the one we want or expect.
 
We took comfort in this when we lost my father-in-law, we took comfort in this when we had our eldest son and then when I was hospitalised because my gallbladder ruptured. We have continued to take comfort in this with the trials and tribulations life has thrown at us.
 
When we had our second son his health was never quite right, from irregular stools from 4 days old, to eczema following his vaccinations which turned out to be symptomatic of an immune hypersensitivity triggered and exacerbated by them. This began a challenging voyage into identifying why his immune system was haywire, and how we could support his healing. Then came identifying the dozens upon dozens of food and environmental triggers that can causing anything from flushing to anaphylaxis.
 
There are few things in life as scary as holding your 18m old in your arms as their lips turn blue because of respiratory distress, triggered by a dust-mite allergy.
 
Before that reaction we had felt God speak to us as a family and assure us that this would not be to the death, but for the journey.
 
Though, when your child is being starved of oxygen before your eyes the fears slip in…
 
…what if I misunderstood God.
 
…what if our journey includes caring for a child that is neurological or otherwise damaged from oxygen deprivation?
 
We don’t know what our journey’s will hold. But we can trust in God.
 
For we know He works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purposes.
 
Which brings me back to the kingdom of the journey…
 
God has gifted us with free will, and the responsibility of stewardship of the dominion He has put us in. As a global scale we have neglected and abused this responsibility, now our collective health is suffering.
 
We live in a world plagued by illnesses, autoimmune diseases, neurological conditions and mental health disorders, cancers and so much more. Our bodies don’t function in the way they should because our environment, stressors, medications and nutrition have manipulated our genetic expression to make us more prone to being ill. We have entered the first generation that predict children won’t live as long as their parents.
 
This is not progress.
 
So, it’s our responsibility to bring the kingdom in our journeys.
 
People share testimonies all the time of salvation and healing, which – Hallelujah – is worth rejoicing over; BUT we need to bring our testimonies of the journey.
 
That salvation isn’t the end of our transformation, that miraculous healing isn’t the only kind worth talking about. We need to share our lives testimony. Through the ups and downs, battles with the normative practices that have played such a huge role in the condition of our world and health. We need to bring God’s glory back and rejoice in His kingdom where we are.
 
Be the change you want to see in the world, is a cliche for a reason. But we are called to lead by example, in our faith, which should include our stewardship of our health and our environment both close to us and on a global scale.
 
The Kingdom of the journey, to me, is trusting God’s will and plan for our lives, because even though miracles do happen, the bigger witness can be to bring glory and healing through the trials and stewardship of our lives.
LillieWHiteLillie blogs over at TED Mamas. One mums experience, discoveries and intrigues through a Total Elimination Diet, allergies, breastfeeding and parenting her little joys.
You can also connect with her on  Facebook.

Don't Judge Someone Based on One Piece of Their Puzzle {Guest Post}

A big thank you to the contributors that have helped to make this summer break possible!

Don’t Judge Someone Based on One Piece of Their Puzzle

We do not always see the big picture. #grace #bible #jesus #scripture #bigpicture @godschicki @herarms_strong
Someone just told my husband they’re worried about me because it seems like my child is my whole life, and my two-year-old child is so attached to me.

My automatic response was to defend myself. “Nuh uh! I go out with my friends for girls night. There’s date night. I have my own hobbies…blah blah blah.” The defensiveness came from a place of hurt and anger that I was being judged by only one piece of my puzzle this person sees.

Here’s the thing about judgment: We all do it. Judgement is simply looking at an incomplete picture of a person and their life and filling in the blank spaces with our own ideas and assumptions. It’s not fair. Chances are the assumptions we make are largely clouded by our own baggage, and that means those pieces of the puzzle we’re filling in are probably wrong. Even if we get a piece of the puzzle right, we’re still missing twenty other pieces that fit together and impact every other piece to create a full picture.

This person’s judgment is fueled by concern, so I understand why she said something. And she’s partially right. I do spend every day with my kiddo. We’re pretty inseparable, even down to the fact that my son needs to nap in my arms, he still breastfeeds, I post about our adventures together online all the time, and we plan to homeschool.

But this person is missing a lot of pieces. Like the fact that it brings me deep joy to spend time with my son since a struggle with infertility left me doubting I’d ever get to have a child. She’s missing how much peace breastfeeding brings us both because it’s a nifty comforting tool in the tumultuous toddler years full of wild emotions. She doesn’t see that sleeping in my arms brings him the best sleep, which means I get quality me-time to write, read, or watch Netflix. She doesn’t see that I catalog our adventures online because it’s the easiest way for me to keep track of precious pictures. She doesn’t know that my motivation for homeschooling is to give my son the most freedom to follow his own interests and passions. And she doesn’t see me going out with my friends, out to date nights, or working on passion projects that are just for me.

After I got past my defensiveness, I realized a few things.

1. I’m not ashamed that my child is “my whole world” or that he’s so attached to me. Family is big in our family. We’re tight-knit, always there for each other. I want to raise my son to appreciate and love family too. I can’t imagine withholding affection, comfort, love, time…and for what? Societal expectations? Nah, I’m good. We follow a unique path.

2. It’s not my job to defend myself or our lifestyle. Every family is different. Clearly, this person does “family” a little differently, or she wouldn’t feel this concern and make these judgments. And that’s okay! Her family culture is hers, and my family culture is mine. God is my defender, so I don’t have to defend myself. We can just live our lives and appreciate differences.

3. I judge other people too. Like I said earlier, we all do. Storytelling is a passion of mine, so it’s in my writerly nature to fill in the blanks when it comes to character thoughts, backgrounds, and motives. But I carry those tendencies into real life and fill in the blank pieces of real people’s puzzles. That’s not fair of me. It doesn’t bring peace. Judging like this actually causes me a lot of anxiety because I bring my own insecurities into their picture and assume they’re thinking the worst of me.

It all needs to stop. I need to stop judging you. And I hope you will stop judging me. Instead, let’s celebrate and appreciate the pieces of the puzzle we do see. Let’s take everyone at face value–trust a little more. If we wonder about something, instead of filling in the blank ourselves, we can ask! Ask that person what they mean. Ask why they do things this way. Or if we’re not comfortable asking, it’s okay to be comfortable with mystery. We don’t need to know every puzzle piece to see the beauty in a person’s picture.

Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them. Who are you to judge someone else’s servant? To their own master, servants stand or fall. And they will stand, for the Lord is able to make them stand.

“One person considers one day more sacred than another; another considers every day alike. Each of them should be fully convinced in their own mind. Whoever regards one day as special does so to the Lord. Whoever eats meat does so to the Lord, for they give thanks to God; and whoever abstains does so to the Lord and gives thanks to God. For none of us lives for ourselves alone, and none of us dies for ourselves alone. If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living.

“You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:

“‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord,
‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’

“So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

“Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

-Romans 14:1-13

My note:  We are called to help keep our brothers and sisters accountable, but it needs to be a matter of prayer, and founded in Scripture. This is not judging, God does that. When the Spirit leads, we should follow in a gentle reminder.
This is about giving grace to people, because we do not always see this big picture.



JessieMullins

Jessie Mullins blogs about gentle parenting, crunchy living, and faith on Her Arms Are Strong. She’s married to her middle/highschool sweetheart, and together they have a son. This trio loves to spend time with family, thrift shop, and explore nature.
You can also connect with her on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Twitter.
 
 

Slayed Yet Vindicated {Guest Post}

Thank you so very much to those that contributed to make this summer break possible!
Slayed Yet Vindicated
This morning as I was doing my devotion I was reading the daily My Utmost for
His Highest and what Oswald Chambers had written really penetrated my heart.
Encouragement for when your are going through the refiner's fire. #encouragement #bible #job #refining #toughtimes #hardtimes @godschicki
I mean, I still find myself drowning in amazement at how what he wrote can so perfectly fit into our everyday lives. He had used Job as an example in his writing this morning and to be honest, it made me want to read the book of Job from beginning to end. (I don’t even know if I have done that before.)
I am just so quick to complain when things may get hard or when life brings me to a crossroad and I am left to decide one thing or another.
Poor me, having to make tough decisions and poor me when the wi-fi is down
or I have no phone service.
And God knows it is a tragedy when my blonde is attributing those brassy penny colored hues.
But seriously, who has been there before?
When not only the day or week but the whole month, maybe half the year seems to not
be going our way!
The first thing I know I don’t do is praise the Lord. That’s for certain.
Because why would I?!
My life is literally falling apart!! Right?
Haha. So, so wrong, my beautiful friend. Our lives are simply falling into place.

“Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.”

Job 13:15

Though it may feel like the Lord has a chisel on our lives and is constantly pounding at
that chisel, will you choose to trust Him still?
Is He the same God you learned about as a child that would never leave you, never let anything “bad” happen to you, the God who loves you this big? (Opening your arms as wide as they can go.) Yes, yes He is and He will always be.
I will be the first to admit that this is something I struggle with every single day.
Whether it’s because my life seems like it will never come intact, I will never
lose that weight, I won’t succeed, I am not a good mother or simply because I see
another mom who looks like they have it all together even though she has 10 kids. Ha.
Because we all know those are fiery darts straight from hell that the enemy endlessly
shoots our way.
Whatever it is that may be slaying you at the moment, let God have His way.
Trust in the stretching and uncomfortable straining you might feel right now
because soon, He is going to release you just like an arrow in an archers’ bow.
God sees the ultimate target and He is doing what is necessary to get us there.
So please, whoever you are, wherever you may be, whatever you may be feeling:
DO NOT GIVE UP. DO NOT WAVER. PERSEVERE.
Trust in the God you could never even doubt when you were a child. Trust….in the God who is bigger than the universe. He’s got you. He’s got me. He even has those who you may be praying for.

“See now, I have prepared my case, I know that I shall be vindicated.”

Job 13:18

Bianca WIlliamsBianca Williams is a mother of 2 handsome boys and wife to an amazing husband, Chance. “If you were to describe to me the life I have now when I was in high school I would have literally died from laughing so hard. But that is what makes this life worth living. The fact that God can take who we were and turn us into who He has created us to be. I started writing as a form of venting and it was not until recently that I began to Blog and share what God was placing on my heart with others. I am nowhere near where I believe God can take me but that is what my Blog is about. Simply being Beautifully Unfinished. I hope that you remember that when you feel like throwing in the towel or when you just don’t think you can take one more ounce of pain. Christ is right beside you ready to endure all that you go through. Step by Step. Love you all and hope you have a blessed day.”
You can connect with her through her blog, Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.
 

Biblical Encouragement For Weary Moms

A big thank you to all of the contributors that made this summer break possible!

How to Find Encouragement in the Bible, Weary Mom

How to find encouragement in the Word when you are weary #bible #mom #encouragement #weary @godschicki @juliealoos
Parenting kids is hard.
When I was newly married, older and wiser adults told me numerous times to enjoy the time alone with my spouse for as long as I could. Their comments were met with rolled eyes or the tuning out of words.
But now as a parent, I’ve come to the realization that they were right.

Now don’t get me wrong, I love my kids, and I love being a mom, but it’s not for the faint of heart.
Honestly, it’s the hardest and most challenging job I have ever had. It requires nights, weekends and little to no time off.
Momma, are you weary like I am? Do you pour out into the lives of littles and then wonder if you’re doing anything right?
Maybe a child acts in a way that makes you shudder or says something that breaks your heart, and you collapse into tears. Surely, you feel like you’re the worst mom ever.
Sometimes our kids like to play into our guilt and shame us by reminding us how “So and So’s parents” never make mistakes or aren’t mean. Our kids can really pack a punch on the days when we are already feeling low.
Momma, I’ve been there on numerous occasions. You are not alone, and succumbing to those feelings is normal, but moms, you need to rise up and put your faith in the Lord.

God Never Grows Weary So Ask Him For Strength

God has had every reason to give up on us. Can you imagine how hard His job is?
He tells us how to live and what rules to follow, and we mess it up every day (I mean every few minutes).
However, we know that God never grows weary and that His love isn’t based on conditions.
So on those really hard days when you want to give your pink slip, let’s remember what God does for us.
When we blow up at our husbands, God nudges us to show love and ask forgiveness.
On the days we grump at God and ask Him why our lives turned out this way, He sends extra measures of His love.
When we tarnish His reputation, God extends His mercy to us.
God never grows weary with us and has promised to supply us with new grace, mercy, energy, and love when we are struggling as moms.

5 Bible Verses to Center Our Prayers on When We’re Weary

 I wait quietly before God, for my victory comes from him.

Psalm 62:1, NLT

 In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, O Lord, will keep me safe.

Psalm 4:8, NLT

 

God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble.

Psalm 46:1, NLT

 For I have given rest to the weary and joy to the sorrowing.”

Jeremiah 31:25, NLT

 He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless.

Isaiah 40:29, NLT

How to Pray Using these Scriptures on Days When We’re Weary

When our child acts out, we can ask God to give us the power and wisdom to understand how to discipline and ask Him to grant us the strength to persevere in the discipline.
When our child makes a mistake after being warned, we can ask God to be our refuge and to help us both in this time of trouble.
If our child does something that tarnishes our title as mom, we can confidently know that God will give us victory in some aspect. (Maybe growing in our faith and trusting more in Him as we parent).
Here’s the truth, we aren’t alone in parenting. It doesn’t all depend on us especially when we are Christian. We have the Lord of the Universe on our side, He is hoping that we ask Him for wisdom, help, protection and every need that He can supply us.
Because we know He is on our side, we can seek Him in greater ways on those days when we weary knowing in full confidence, He will uplift us and give us the provisions to parent our kids.
“We must never despair; our situation has been compromising before, and it has changed for the better; so I trust it will again. If difficulties arise, we must put forth new exertion and proportion our efforts to the exigencies of the times.”- George Washington
JulieLoos
 
Julie Loos is the mom of 5 kids and has been happily married to Greg for 18 years. She loves to read, eat chocolate, drink iced tea and spend time writing in the midst of messes. You can connect with her on her blog, FacebookTwitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.
 
 
You can also check out my series on Scriptures for Weary and Overwhelmed moms in these posts:
Renewing Your Mind | Scriptures for Weary & Overwhelmed Moms | Verses For When Trials Come
 

Viewing People As God Does {Guest Post}

A big thanks to all of the lovely contributors that helped make this summer break possible!

Viewing People As God Does

One evening, while standing on top of a parking deck, I was prompted to look all around at the bustling people of downtown Greensboro. Office buildings, cars driving by, people waiting for the bus. There are people everywhere. I don’t know them, they don’t know me. But there they are, going about their business.
I began to wonder at the thought of how many people there were – and potentially could be – within my limited line of vision.
I was asked, “How do we view people?”
How do we view those around us? Especially the lost? #evangelism #Christian #Bible #jesus #jesustotheworld #saltandlight @godschicki
This thought struck a chord.
Oftentimes we view people (especially those with whom we aren’t familiar) through a lens of physical judgment. We base our opinions of people – and, therefore, our levels of appreciation and respect – on what they look, dress, sound, or act like. We narrow-minded humans can only seem to value others based on our view of them. We are quick to judge and to label.
This particular evening, I was inspired to view people in a much deeper sense.
I viewed each person I could see (and those in office buildings, I imagined) through God-lenses. I wondered what thoughts were going through their mind, what emotions they were feeling, and if they had joyful or broken hearts. What they were dealing with and what they were working towards. Heartbreakingly so, the question of the destination of their souls arose.
“Every name has a soul, every soul has a name.” –Dr. Jim Stagg
When we view people through our sinful lenses, they become worth what we feel they are worth. We often feel this way ourselves. We find our worth in what other people see in us – not who God created us to be.
So, how do we view ourselves?
Feeling valued plays an extensive role in our lives. People have started to find their value, worth, purpose, and identity in what they have accomplished in life, and what people say about them. We tend to find our worth in our title and job description. Those who attend college identify as students. Those who are parents identify as parents. Those who work in the corporate world identify with their job position – secretary, CEO, etc.
We find our worth in how good we are. Straight A student vs. a student who scrapes by on C’s. Those of us with a larger paycheck vs those who work a number of part-time jobs. How many followers we have on social media or the number of likes we get on our content.
This logic that we use to define our worth is flawed and misguided, a tool used by the enemy, Satan.
The Bible has a lot to say about our worth in Christ! Maybe you feel like you’re a mistake, or you know someone who does. But, my friends, if you feel you are a mistake, then you are saying that God has made a mistake – which is impossible!

“For it was you who created my inward parts; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.  I will praise you because I have been remarkably and wondrously made.  Your works are wondrous, and I know this very well.”

-Psalm 139:13, 14

If you’re afraid that this is outdated because it’s in the Old Testament, I must caution you against that dangerous kind of thinking.
However, your worth is talked about in the New Testament, as well.

“Aren’t five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten in God’s sight. Indeed, the hairs of your head are all counted. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

-Luke 12:6, 7

Everyone has been made uniquely and with purpose in God’s eyes. Everyone has a soul. Everyone matters. You don’t matter because of the words I am telling you, you matter because of the sacrifice that was made for you by Jesus Christ on the Cross. I do not have all the answers about for what purpose God created you, aside from for His glory.
Imagine, we have been created in the image of God, the One who is perfect! He made you, every curve, dimple, and mole. Embrace who you are in Christ!
You may think you are worthless because of your past. But, take heart!

“For all have sinned, and fall short of the glory of God.”

–Romans 3:23

 

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has come!

-2 Corinthians 5:17

 
But if no one tells the lost and lonely about the Good News, then how will they find their true worth? They will remain searching, hopelessly, among the dead-ends of this world. A relationship that is abusive, where they remain because they feel no one else could “love” them. Addicted to alcohol or drugs, because they think it will take them outside of their tormented minds – but only temporarily. Working themselves into the ground, for their mind is set on promotions and their income determines their value as a human being.
Maybe they feel worthless because they are different from other people around them. What they see in the media as being “ideal”, they strive for. A worldly interpretation of perfection that is wildly in and of itself, imperfect.
Who knows, they could have come in contact with Christians who made them feel as if they were not good enough for church, or even Jesus. There was a church who turned their back on someone in their time of need. There was someone who proclaimed loudly that they were a Christian, yet they didn’t treat others with love and respect. Or they didn’t tell someone about the Good News and the love of Jesus because they were different from them.
How can the lost and lonely find their true worth in Jesus, if we treat them so differently? If we treat them like they aren’t good enough for Christ?
Jesus is for everyone. He is for you, He is for me. He is for every color, every age, every background. He has the power to change hearts, we do not. So why do we try to change people before they meet Jesus? If it is such a turnoff to the Gospel, why do we persist so aggressively?
Changing people is not our job.
Showing them the Good News through our words, lifestyles, and attitudes, is.
How do you view people?

Acts 10:34 – “Now I truly understand that God doesn’t show favoritism.”

The context of this verse is extremely important in our understanding this issue of God favoring one person over the other.
This verse is a quote from Peter, a Jew and one of the twelve apostles of Jesus Christ. During this time period, the Jews still held onto the mindset of being God’s chosen people – which they were – but that God was only for them. When Jesus walked the earth as 100% God and 100% man, He paved the way for the new mindset: God, and therefore the Gospel, is for everyone. Jew or Gentile. Peter was learning this lesson on a day filled with visions from the Lord, an officer in the Roman Army named Cornelius, and God breaking down the barriers of nationality. It was not only natural for a Jew to dislike a Roman officer, but even against traditional Jewish custom!
Cornelius was a leader, a God-fearing man, and a Gentile. He had an obvious respect and fear of God, but he didn’t have the Gospel – the Good News. God used Cornelius in Peter’s life, to break down the aforementioned barriers, and He used Peter in Cornelius’ life to tell him the Good News.
The whole story can be found in Acts chapter 10!
I challenge you today to view people differently. To view them as individuals who are different, fearfully and wonderfully made, and in need of Jesus.
SarahRichardsonBorn and raised in a small, southern town, Sarah loves calling North Carolina home. Saved by Grace, and passionate about helping others find boldness. Though she is often at home working on her blog, she enjoys exploring new places – England is next on the list! Flannels, coffee, mountains, and deep conversations are essentials.
You can connect with her through her blog, FacebookInstagram, and Pinterest.
 
My note:
Ephesians 2:10 is also a great verse on our worth in Christ:

For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.

 

Joy & Sorrow {Guest Post}

Thank you very much to each of the contributors that have helped give me a bit of a break this summer!

Joy & Sorrow

Joy & Sorrow {Guest Post} #joy #sorrow #mourning #gladness #hope @godschicki
Photo by Yaoqi LAI on Unsplash
It was September 18, 2008 – my freshman year of Bible college – and I was driving two hours to Syracuse, NY to say my last goodbyes to the man who would become my father-in-law (though he did not live long enough for me to call him that in person). I don’t remember the trip to the hospital but I do remember walking into the room. I remember seeing this man I loved so much in the last moments of his life. I remember how loud the hospital seemed. I thought the whole world ought to be weeping. Didn’t they know who they were losing?! I remember the quiet sight of my mother-in-law as she told her beloved he could go, they would be ok, he didn’t have to fight anymore. I remember feeling like he waited for me to get there. I remember the doctor coming in and shutting off the machines. I remember the surreal feeling of stepping onto the elevator. It all seemed wrong. He should be with us. I learned a lot about sorrow in those days.
 
Sometimes sorrow settles for a while deep in the crevices of our hearts. It finds a home and makes itself comfortable. People hurt us, our own sin threatens to undo us, financial struggles fill us with anxiety, sickness and death come knocking at the door of a loved one’s life, and sadness creeps over us and remains. Life moves forward but the sorrow hangs in the air like a curtain separating us from the rest of the world.
 
On the other hand, sometimes joy is unexplainably beautiful. It comes in waves filled with gratefulness. Friendships are made or restored, babies are born, our income exceeds our need, health is revitalized and enjoyed, people are saved from their sin, and the joy feels tangible. It seems as though the whole world should jump for joy with us.
 
Two and half years after that awful day in the hospital, I married that man’s son and the joy hung thick in the air so that we could almost slice it. A snowstorm swirled outside but we were safe and warm, surrounded by dear ones, and making the most joy-filled covenant of my life.
 
Most of us have experienced both utter joy and sorrow. I have felt the amazing joy of answered prayer, real soul-deep friendship, a snowy white wedding day, and the birth of my two children. I have also felt the very tangible sorrow of grief, chronic illness, a broken heart, and a familial betrayal.
 
When sorrow and sadness take over my life, my temptation is to dwell on the pain and challenge of my circumstances and allow my heart to grow bitter and angry. When joy and happiness swoop in, my temptation is to find contentment in the circumstances I feel I have acquired for myself and allow pride to gain a foothold in my heart. Both are wrong.
 
Both sorrow and joy are supposed to make me long for home with Christ where everything will be restored. Pain will be taken away, death will no longer reign, friendships won’t face an uphill battle against miscommunication and misunderstanding, and familial ties will be written in the blood of Christ which is stronger than any bond on Earth. Heaven will be glorious.
 
Sorrow, like the sour taste of a beautiful lemon, reveals the utter inadequacy of everything that is beautiful here. It is all stained by sin and groaning to be made new. Joy, like a commercial for ice cream, is supposed to make me long for the lasting peace that can only come when I am home in Heaven with Christ.
 
Nothing here can fully satisfy. Sorrow reminds us of that. But a day is coming when our hearts will be resting fully for eternity and joy reminds us of that.
 
Sorrow and joy mingle together in this life, with the ultimate purpose of making me love, worship, and long for the presence of Christ eternally. It is my challenge now to not to be satisfied in the joy and not dismayed by the sorrow but to look to Christ with anxious expectation for a day that is coming when my joy will be eternal and my sorrow a distant memory.
 
And, won’t that be a glorious day? When all the saints from history will join together in one song, proclaiming the excellency of Christ. And our praise will be all the more amazing because we have experienced those heartbreaking sorrows that drew our hearts on Earth. And we will think how gracious it was for God to give us a tiny foretaste of this beauty through the joys He bestowed on us.
 
May we never think that this world is all there is. When we face joy, may our pride never cut us off from reality. When we face sorrow, may we look with longing for the day that will be so far greater than our earthly realities. And may we proclaim with the apostle John, “Come Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
KatieDeckert
Katie is a wife, homeschooling mom to littles, and writer from New York. She spends her days perpetually picking up toys and opening the door to her home. She blogs at Hospitable Homemaker where she discusses the joys and stresses of hospitality, homemaking, adoption, and the Christian life.
You can connect with her through Facebook and Pinterest as well.

When Anxiety Threatens Your Personal Peace {Guest Post}

A big thank you to all of the contributors this summer!

When Anxiety Threatens Your Personal Peace

{Guest post} How I deal with anxiety from a Christian perspective. #anxiety #help #peace @godschicki @tammykennington

Photo by Bruno van der Kraan on Unsplash

It waits in the shadow of thoughts; sitting real and large on my chest like a rock pressing sharp edges into earth’s soft soil. Settling into tender places until the pressure builds and the corners of my heart fracture enough to allow tears to seep through and thin shocks of electricity shoot down my arms into the tips of each finger–seeking release.
I’ve been managing anxiety well for years, but its risen from dormancy the last several weeks. I’m not terribly surprised. For a short time, my husband was hospitalized. A colleague threatened suicide. A dear one is battling against the stronghold of depression. And the only evidence now of a long-time canine companion is a small pink collar and unused dog dish.
Unwelcome, apprehension greets me in the morning and whispers in my ear as I lay my head on the pillow at night.
You should have done something for her today. Why didn’t you call him? What if he doesn’t know how important he is to you? To God?
I gather the thoughts and then release them in prayers.
This sort of battle resides in the mind, but is as real as any visible enemy. For some, its roots may have sprung from a biological bent toward mental illness. A lack of feel-good chemical production. Others may have suffered trauma or loss. Perhaps a loss so overwhelming that is seems to grow uncontrolled and ever-larger–like a nightmarish beanstalk in a child’s fairy tale.
Friend, when we feel impossibly small as we hack away at anxiety–burdened by the hard of circumstance or overwhelmed by worry, remember that Christ conquered every power. Every principality. Every plot to separate us from Him. In His name we can stand against the lies of the enemy, denying satan the right to shift worship from Christ to concern.
Pray against worry. Pronounce Christ’s truth over yourself. And, cling to His promises.

Action Steps to Help When You are Anxious

P-When assaulted by an anxious thought, immediately pray against it. Renounce it as powerless in the name of Christ. (John 14:13)
R–Remind yourself of God’s promises. Memorize scriptures you can pray back to Him when you’re struggling. (James 4:8)
A–Ask others to pray with and for you. (James 5:16)
I-Develop intentional habits to help ward off anxiety. These might include daily Bible reading and meditation, regular exercise, and eating well. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
S-If anxiety becomes part of your day-to-day struggle,seek help from a counselor or doctor. (Proverbs 12:15)
E-Press into God, enduring with patience and hope for He will bless you. (James 1:12)
Blessings,
Tammy
TammyK
Tammy Kennington is a writer, speaker, education workshop presenter, and child abuse awareness advocate. Familiar with the impact of trauma, mental illness, and parenting in the hard places, Tammy hopes to lead women toward a deeper understanding of themselves and their relationship with the God who loves them.
You can connect with Tammy through her blog, Facebook,  or Twitter.
 
 
 
 

Biblical Encouragement For The Lonely Wife {Guest Post}

A big thanks to all of the contributors this summer!

Biblical Encouragement For The Lonely Wife

There are times when most of us feel lonely as a wife or mother, here is some Biblical encouragement for those tough times. #encouragement #biblical #christian #wife #mother #lonely #toughtimes @godschicki @marriagemomlife
I don’t think it’s completely off base to say that a lot of wives go through some period of loneliness. Whether you have been married 10 years or 10 minutes, that feeling can come creeping in!
Maybe you’ve moved away from family and friends to somewhere new, had kids, a job change, or life has been just plain old overwhelming lately.

YOU ARE NOT ALONE.

I’ve been there too; right after my husband and I got married, we moved 3 hours away from my family and started ministering as youth leaders in a new church. I didn’t know anyone. I was far away from my mom (we all need our mamas, no matter how old we are right??) and best friends.
Then we had our first child. I love my daughter with all my heart but nobody told me how lonely the “4th” trimester could be!
All it takes is for that one thought to enter in. That whisper from the enemy that says, “no one knows what you’re going through,” “you’ll always feel this way,” and the worst one, “no one cares.”
But God’s Word says something different.

“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:1

God cares, and He never leaves us.
So, as wives and moms, what do we do when we are feeling this way? Here are three ways to combat loneliness with holiness.

Remember that God is ALWAYS faithful.

He never leaves our side. 2 Thessalonians 3:3 says:

“But the Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one.”

He is always there, no matter where we go or how far we feel we have drifted. He is there when the water is abundantly flowing, and when we’re in the desert. The Bible says that He has established us. Not only is He faithful but He also guards us against the evil one! Loneliness is from Satan, not from the Lord. We can always turn to God for comfort.

Examine your hearts for hidden idols.

1 Corinthians 3:11 reads:

“For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.”

Anyone else ever have times where they place their identity in worldly things? Our spouses, kids, church, books, our jobs… all of these are gifts that have been given to us! However, when they become more important than the ONE who gave, we lose our focus and seek fulfillment outside of Christ.

Pray for the Lord to bring people into your life.

In James 4:2, he writes:

“you do not have because you do not ask God!”

God is not too big or too little for our prayers. The prayers that go unanswered are the ones that we don’t lay at his feet!
Do you desire godly friends in your life? Ask! We are created for relationship. We are meant to share our struggles and pray for each other, encourage and uplift each other. He wants to give us close community because we were never meant to go through this life alone.
Who else is thankful that God gives us ways to conquer these feelings of loneliness? When we stop believing the lies from the enemy, and start listening to the Truth, that is where transformation happens! We have each other and His Word to lean on, and I pray you take encouragement in these words.
Remember, sister, you are not alone!
MindySueJones
Mindy is the creator of Marriage & Mommyhood. She is a Christ follower, loving wife and mama to a sweet little girl, with a passion for seeing marriages thrive, and sharing mom-tips. Her hope is to offer you encouragement in your marriages and as mothers. Let’s figure out life together!
You can connect with her on her blog, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Instagram.

Learning to Make the Changes You Need to Live Intentionally

A big thank you to all of the contributors that have helped make this summer break possible!

Learning to Make the Changes You Need to Live Intentionally

Intentional living is so important, but it does not always come naturally. Do you need to make some of these changes? #intentionalliving #intentional #makeitcount #memories #makingmemories @godschicki @HeartsHomeward
 
Long before they coined the phrase, “FOMO” (Fear of Missing Out), I lived with a feeling I had to say yes to everything that came my way.  One day, while I was in graduate school with an important part of my thesis needing to be completed, I stood at the edge of the ocean.
My boyfriend at the time (who eventually became my husband) had invited me to join him and a group of our friends to play volleyball.  Knowing I had to finish my homework, I had a nagging feeling in my mind. As I stood there staring across the water, I realized I rarely, if ever, said “no” to invitations, requests or opportunities.
It dawned on me that I couldn’t bear the thought that life was going on somewhere else while I was busy doing something mundane like writing a paper, doing laundry or cleaning my home.  I had to be in the center of the action.
As if that weren’t debilitating enough, I had this unnatural need to help others when they were in trouble.  Your need was my need. Compound that with a healthy dose of perfectionism and I was one of the busiest girls in town.  

Running on Empty

In those days people used to comment on my capacity to juggle so many things.  I took those observations as compliments. I felt I was living a full life and making the most of the time God had given me.  It never occurred to me that an overdeveloped sense of responsibility and the attending perfectionism were actually the opposite of what God wanted for my life.  
Ultimately, no one was built to go, go, go.  The side effects of my frenetic lifestyle started to pile up.  I lived with a nagging feeling that I was constantly forgetting something.  I often stayed up too late trying to catch up. That meant sleep deprivation which made me lean on caffeine to make up for exhaustion.  My mood was edgy. I didn’t feel the peace of God. Instead I felt the panic of an overwhelmed life. As Lysa TerKeurst says in her book, “The Best Yes,” we can live with overwhelmed lives and underwhelmed hearts.  

Through the Back Door

God wants us to learn our limitations, to choose wisely and to depend upon Him.  He also calls us to incorporate rest into the rhythm of our lives. In my misguided busy lifestyle, I almost missed the intentional life God planned for me all along.  
Awareness that we are drowning in our own self-created mire doesn’t instantly result in a turn-around in our choices.  God had a plan, though. One summer, a group of friends asked me to lead a summer Bible study. The book they had chosen was called, “Beating Busyness,” by NavPress.  Through that study and the weeks I spent with the group, I learned to evaluate why I said “yes” all the time. I learned how Jesus made decisions. Most of all, God planted hundreds of little seeds showing me how He intended for me to live a more slow paced, intentional and abundant life.  
God brought my most needed lesson by asking me to serve a group of women.  He knew I wouldn’t seek practical knowledge without Him ambushing me at that point in my life.  God meets us where we are to bring us where He plans for us to go.

From Amateur to Advisor

Since the year I taught that first summer Bible Study, I’ve made a hobby of reading books and blogs on slowing down, rest, and learning to choose according to God’s call.  I also taught that study four more summers. What can I say? I’m a slow learner. I’ve practiced and failed and learned some more how to balance the multiple demands of my life.  I’ve discovered the gift of that evasive and powerful word, “no.”
The life I live now no longer resembles that of my former frenzied self.  Rather than dashing out of bed, breathless before the day begins, I wake up ten minutes before I need to get out of bed most mornings so I can enjoy snuggling the covers.  I spend time reading the Word and praying and then I look over plans for the day.
I know my primary goals for each season because I plan things out prayerfully for each 90 day segment of my life.  I live one day at a time with assurance and dependence upon God for guidance. My life is full as every mom’s is. I simply know my limitations and priorities now.  
I have taken my hard-earned lessons and started writing a blog six years ago about motherhood and intentional living.  I even began coaching others in time management. Me! The girl who always took on more than she could handle until life had her in a choke hold.  I now help others learn how to cut back, assess their limitations and focus on what matters most. I’m even in the process of writing a book and an online course to bless moms with all the knowledge I’ve acquired and practiced.  Can you believe it?
My transformation shows how God moves.  He takes the Sauls of this world and makes them Pauls.  It’s what He does. He’ll do it for you too. If you are swamped in the overwhelm of your life, know you don’t have to live this way forever.  No matter the season of your motherhood or the number of commitments you have said, “yes” to, God can help you find your way through to the abundant, yet slower, life He intends you to live.  
Patty ScottPatty writes to inspire and empower moms to love intentionally and make room for what matters most. She’s been married to her surfer/skater husband for over 20 years. They have two boys and a home full of neighbor kids most days. Patty’s life was transformed by Jesus. One of her deepest passions is walking with women as they heal and grow into greater intimacy with God.
You can connect with her through her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Verses For When Trials Come

I have been sharing some Scriptures that I turn to on hard days. Today I am sharing ones more specific to trials, though they all go together somewhat. You can check out the first post in the series, Renewing Your Mind, and the second, Verses for Overwhelmed and Weary Moms. I am writing from a mom’s point of view, but they are really good even if you are not a mom.
Verses for When Trials Come #biblestudy #jesus #christian #trials #bible @godschicki
Sometimes as a mom, and especially lately, it seems like it is just one thing after another, after another. These verses have encouraged me to press on during the trials.

Scripture Verses For When Trials Come

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.  Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

Hebrews 4:15-16

Our high priest is not unsympathetic. He knows what it is like to be tempted. To go through hard times. We can go with confidence to the throne of grace for mercy and grace to help in time of need.

 Blessed is a man who perseveres under trial; for once he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.

James 1:12

Persevere means to “continue in a course of action even in the face of difficulty or with little or no prospect of success.” When we have renewed our minds, and are focused on the end result, it makes it much more bearable when we are going through trials.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us…

Romans 8:18

Again, mindset is huge.

 Fight the good fight of faith; take hold of the eternal life to which you were called, and you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.

1 Timothy 6:12

Fighting is active. It often requires being prepared to put up a good fight.

 For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline.

2 Timothy 1:7

Remembering the power within us is important. Discipline is never easy.

 You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:1

It is in His grace that we can be strong.
 

 For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.  And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,  so that you will not be sluggish, but imitators of those who through faith and patience inherit the promises.

Hebrews 6:10-12

God will remember your work for Him, as well as the love you have shown for Him by ministering to the saints. We need to be diligent in our service for the Lord.

 Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials,  knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance.  And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him.

James 1:2-5

God allows trials to refine us. To make us more like Him. Remembering that there is a purpose behind the struggle is important:

 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, so that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

1 Peter 1:6-7

 

 Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. The farmer waits for the precious produce of the soil, being patient about it, until it gets the early and late rains. You too be patient; strengthen your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is near. Do not complain, brethren, against one another, so that you yourselves may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing right at the door.  As an example, brethren, of suffering and patience, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord.  We count those blessed who endured. You have heard of the endurance of Job and have seen the outcome of the Lord’s dealings, that the Lord is full of compassion and is merciful.

James 5:7-11

 

 Do all things without grumbling or disputing;  so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world,  holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain. But even if I am being poured out as a drink offering upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I rejoice and share my joy with you all.

Philippians 2:14-17

 

Let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we will reap if we do not grow weary.

Galatians 6:9

 But as for you, brethren, do not grow weary of doing good. …

2 Thessalonians 3:13

Even in hard times, we need to remember that we should not let ourselves grow weary.
I hope these help you when you are going through trials.

The Quiet Homemaker