“Um, Hang On A Second God.”

A young, sweet friend of mine told me she was doing her morning “quiet time” with the LORD. She grabbed her journal, Bible, cup of coffee and sat down. A moment later, with pointer finger in the air, she whispered, “Umm, hang on a second God, I’ve got to go get my bagel out of the toaster.”

We both shook our heads and giggled as she relayed this story, because it’s absolutely laughable, right? “Hang on a second God, I’ve got to go get my bagel out of the toaster?” WHAT?  As if God wouldn’t be with her when she crossed the room and went into the kitchen to get her toasted bagel.

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BUT it is a pervasive thought many have. In the morning, when I set enough time aside, God is with me. But when I go about the normal activities of my day, I’ve left him behind. Where do we get this kind of thinking? Is God only with us while we sit in our quiet time chairs or saying our prayers?

No! God is with us everywhere and knows everything about us and our days. Every day is written in His book before any of them come to be. Here is a portion of Psalm 139:1-16. As you read it, I hope you will be comforted by the God who is familiar with every detail of your life. You can’t escape his presence.

O Lord, you have examined my heart
and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
and when I rest at home.
You know everything I do.

You know what I am going to say

even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
I can never get away from your presence!
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If I go up to heaven, you are there;
if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
even there your hand will guide me,
and your strength will support me.
I could ask the darkness to hide me
and the light around me to become night—
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but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
Darkness and light are the same to you.
You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.
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We are all in process! We can be thankful for the nearness of God and His presence in the process. He who began a good work in you is faithful to complete it until the day of Christ Jesus. Philippians 1:6 

So say aloud.

  • I am in process.
  • God is still working on me.
  • God is with me, right now!

No matter where we go, no matter what we do or how we feel we have these promises of God:

“Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.” Hebrews 13:5b

“And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

Do you ever feel like God is distant or is uninterested in your life? If so, I hope you’ll take comfort in the fact that God is a “with us” Emmanuel. He is very near.

Thank Him for his presence even in the morning when you are eating your bagel.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bold as a Lion

I went shopping in downtown New York City when my first-born son was pretty tiny. My husband was on a business trip so we went along. I decided to do some shopping to kill time while he was tied up in meetings.

I roamed around some fancy smancy store, I don’t recall the name, I was traveling up the escalator to the third floor when a woman behind me cried, “Aw! Do you have a boy or girl in there? I can’t quite see.”

I turned slightly so she could take a better look. I answered, “A little boy!”

“He’s so precious!” She commented. “Well, good for you to be out and about with him so young. It’s a beautiful day.”

As the escalator reached the top we parted and I immediately took a sharp right. Fortunately, my feet were the one thing that didn’t’ change during my pregnancy so I thought… Hmm? Shoes, I can look and shoes and try some on pretty easily with a baby. Sounds fun!

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I no more than hit the carpet area of the shoe department, when a woman asked, “How old is your baby?”  I answered her query.

She then gasped, “I cannot believe you have that baby out here amongst all of these people and all the germs! WHAT were you thinking?”

I’ll never forget this day. I received such different views and unsolicited advice was thrown at me in a matter of seconds.

I recently was asked to address an audience of young mammas on the topic of “Boldness in Parenting.” I began with that story.  Here is just a taste of what I talked about. I want to share it with you too.

I heard this term “Mom-shaming” recently.  The top definitions is: Criticizing or degrading a mother for her parenting choices because they differ from the choices the shamer would make.

It’s a bit like what I encountered in New York City while out shopping.  The scrutiny moms feel I’m sure is exacerbated by social media. The comments people leave on “friends” Facebook pages and opinions fly around from all angles all the time.  The incessant barrage of thoughts and messages may leave some debilitated.

Here are a few things I suggest:

  • Filter what you hear. (Maybe even FAST from social media for a time or season)
  • Fix your eyes on Jesus.
  • Fulfill what he’s calling you to do.
  • Finish the race!

These things you can do because you have the Spirit of God in you.

Parenting requires wisdom and discernment.  Trust God for strength while raising children:

  • God has given you your children. You are their mother. They are your children. He did not place them in another family for a reason. We may throw a dice, but the LORD determines how they fall. Proverbs 16:33. Nothing with God is random. Your kids are your kids.

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  • Ask for wisdom from on high. Then dispense what you believe to be the best decision, with the information you have at the time, with a surrendered heart, for the child you shepherd and simply do what you do. Then…leave the results to God.

Joshua 1:8,9 “Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous do not be terrified do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Do not be discouraged do not be terrified? I believe fear is paralyzing people on every side.

BUT Perfect love cast out fear. You are perfectly loved by the Father. Right now, in Jesus name. I want to pause for a moment and ask God the Father to lavish His love on you. Will you receive it?

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Father God, thank you for loving these readers. Thank you that you love them with an everlasting unending love. You don’t just love them collectively you love them individually. Allow each one to feel the love of the Father right now. Thank you for each one. Thank you for who they are. Let your perfect love cast out any fear. In Jesus name, amen.

You can be bold.  It comes from knowing who you are and whose you are. It’s an identity thing, really.

Your God knows what the future looks like because He is outside of time and He is all-knowing  and omnipresent. He is Alpha and Omega the great I Am. He sees you He sees me. He knows the purposes of some plans He has for you and they are good, and only good. He has purposes and plans for your children, those plans are good and only good.

If we believe anything else about His character or about His ways we have partnered with a lie. The lie, in and of itself, has no power but to believe the lie and agree with it empowers the liar.

What does God think about you?

  • He thinks you are lovely.
  • He knows you’re His masterpiece, He formed you.
  • He believes that you are worth dying for and He sent his son Jesus to save you.
  • He sees in you what you are becoming, not just who you are now.
  • He sees you as righteous because of Jesus Christ if you have accepted Him. 

When David saw himself as a shepherd boy, God saw him as a king! When Moses saw himself as a mumbler God saw him as a deliverer. When Rachel Inouye sees herself as a wobbly mama. God sees her as one who has come, in His Spirit, to deliver captives, bring hope, release peace and encourage people all over the world. 

You have a circumstance but you must have a stance in that circumstance.  Your stance is in Christ.  So you can be bold as a Lion!

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People all over are watching you. Your children are watching you. I hope that brings you encouragement to be bold. They pay more attention to what you do than what you say. They are watching you. If you cower, if you are not as bold as you can be in who you are, they will not be as bold as they can be and who they are. 

But when you break down and pull down any strongholds in your life and move forward in boldness it actually releases your children and others to live in greater freedom. It’s a beautiful thing! You get to partner with God to be a way-maker in your children and other people’s lives.

When it comes to Mom-shaming, no one can make you feel small. You only feel small if you believe a lie about you. The one who is offended and embraces the offense will quickly have a strong hold of being the victim, that thinking will play out in their life.

The fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the LORD is kept safe. Proverbs 29:25 

We need to filter what comes at us, even criticism. When criticized do you focus on the criticism or your creator? 

The criticism may have an element of truth maybe that’s why it hurts. Bring comments and criticisms to God:

  • ask God what to do about it
  • change what needs to be changed
  • make modifications
  • but don’t stay stuck or believe a lie
  • continue to move forward and use whatever was spoken or said to make you a better person
  • let it sharpen you rather than paralyze you

 

“The wicked flee when no one is pursuing, but the righteous are bold as a lion.” Proverbs 28:1 The righteous are as bold as a lion because God loves them, they have a savior, their sins are forgiven, their conscience is clear and there is no condemnation.

Say aloud:

  • I can do this!
  • I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.
  • I make good decisions-in all my ways I acknowledge God and he will make my path straight. 
  • If I need wisdom I’ll ask God.

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. James 1:5 

Can you receive the love of the father and allow him to speak and sing over you? 

Zephaniah 3:17 The Lord your God is in your midst he is a mighty warrior he saves. He takes great delight in you he will quiet you with his love he will rejoice over you with singing. This is who God is for you. This Gods makes you brave and bold in Him.

He rejoices over you with singing. He is proud of you. He is with you every moment of the day. He does not expect you to handle things on your own. You can be bold in HIM.

He is with you.. If he commands something than he plans to give you what you need to fulfill the command.  Have a not commanded you be strong and courageous do not be terrified do not be discouraged for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.! Joshua 1:9. God IS with you wherever you go. I don’t know about you but that makes me bolder.

God gives us this promise.  I will never leave you nor forsake you. So when you are:

  • in the garden God is with you.
  • doing laundry God is with you
  • waiting in the carpool line God is with you
  • shopping and your kids are hungry and they’re acting like wild monkeys in the store and you wish they would all calm down, God is with you.

“If you are in Christ so are all your circumstances.” This quote is from Graham Cooke. This emboldened me that gave me hope and courage in a time when the enemy wanted me crushed and defeated and discouraged. Reader, God sees you, He knows your circumstances and he loves you. 

So, don’t let anything cause you to shrink back. Step forward into the plan that God has for you.

Ephesians 2:8, maybe very familiar to you, For by grace you have been saved through faith and this is not of yourselves it is the gift of God not by works so that no one can boast.

Verse nine goes on to say, for we are his workmanship created in Christ Jesus to do good works which God prepared in advance for us to do. So relax, do not fear the future but step into it with boldness because God has planned things in advance for you.

I pray that as you step forward in whatever you do, you will be bold.

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With my God I can advance against a troop. With my God I can scale a wall. Psalm 18:29

I’d love to pray for you:

Father, I release boldness and courage from you! I release the boldness of the Father over these readers. I release the love of the Father over them in order to step into their true calling. In order to take up the mantle of being the people you’ve called them to be. I speak rest over them at night. I speak health over their bodies, I bless their marriages, if they are married and I bless their spheres of influence in Jesus name! 

I bless their children to know who they are as they go through life. I pray that the discovery process would be exhilarating and not exhausting. I pray, in the name of Jesus, that you would be the shield around each person and the lifter of their heads.

I pray when they look up they would feel your hand under their chin as you are looking on them with eyes of love. Would you right now, lift up your countenance upon each one and give them your peace. In Jesus name. Amen.

Have I not commanded you be strong and courageous, do not be terrified, do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go. Joshua 1:9

Reader with God…You got this! God does not command us to do something that he does not equip us to carry out. 

I pray that you will be encouraged with these words and you will be as bold as a lion. 

 

Rev up! Gentlemen, Start Your Engines!

“Gentlemen, start your engines!” this traditional phrase is spoken at the start of the Indianapolis 500. I feel a bit like I’m at the start of a race as my fall schedule begins. How about you?

Just two days ago, I had the kick off of my weekly Bible study. My calendar reflects the impending speaking schedule is about to begin in less than a week.  Dom, Dom DOM!

Do you feel it?  It’s in the air.  All around me I feel excitement and curiosity mixed with a pinch of the fear-of–the-unknown with a side of panic. Many of you have sent children off to school or have started back to college yourself or your back to ministries at church.

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I feel a sense of excitement of what is ahead but I know new things and busier times of the year can bring with it apprehension and anxiety.  I get it, I do! But I say, “No!”

“No,” to anxiety.  “No,” to worry or fatigue or restlessness!

I am choosing to believe that what God says in his word as he promises me certain things regarding life in him and about my future:

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I was thinking about all I have on the horizon:

  • finishing a manuscript for a new book
  • future travels and messages to be delivered at events
  • completing the demo and remodel of our master bathroom
  • filming and recording an on-line course
  • painting part of my basement
  • moving forward to begin a podcast
  • even writing this current blog post

I am needing revelation regarding so many things. I was on a FaceTime call with my precious parents today.  We were speaking about upcoming things when I paused and shouted, “I’m looking for revelation!”

My father chuckled leaned forward slightly toward the screen and said, “Get ‘reved’ up! VROOM VROOM”

Get it? REVELATION!  As we hung up the call his parting sign off was, “Gentlemen, start your engines!”

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I knew he was talking about future plans, the things I am in the process of doing and the things that are about to begin. He was referencing all of it. Yes, I desire to commit ALL OF IT to the LORD. He made me. He has good plans for me.  AND good news… He is preparing in advance the things I do.

Let me turn a slight corner here and reference PLANS. I’d like to share a few versions of the same verse:  Proverbs 16:3 

  • Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and he will establish your plans. NIV
  • Commit your actions to the Lord, and your plans will succeed. NLT
  • Ask the Lord to bless your plans, and you will be successful in carrying them out. GNT.  

There are some really great promises. Here are a few cross references:

  • Cast all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. I Peter 5:7
  • Commit your way to the Lord; trust in Him, and He will do it. Psalm 37:5
  • Cast your burden upon the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken. Psalm 55:22
  • In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight. Proverbs 3:6

Isn’t it easy, even in prayer, to speak to God about our plans or about our circumstances? But I believe it’s better to speak to our plans and circumstances about our God.  Just flip that whole prayer over and see it through our really BIG God.

Even this morning while I was praying, a situation came to mind which needed to be better aligned to who God is. I flipped the pages of my Bible to Jeremiah 32:17  “Ah, Sovereign LORD, you have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and outstretched arm. Nothing is too hard for you.” I took a deep breath and exhaled with such peace.

Let me give you one more truth from scripture. I hope it helps both of us as we go about doing whatever we’ve got planned because it will require our strength.

Seriously I am a wimp on my own but with God I’m so amazing and I can do ALL things through Christ who gives me strength. So if you need strength today let me encourage you with this.

For the eyes of the Lord range throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. 2 Chronicles 16:9a

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I’d like to pray for us:

Father, thank you for who you are, righteous, good, our sustainer, way-maker, restorer, provider and deliverer. Your eyes search throughout the earth to strengthen those whose hearts are committed to you.  I call to you because we need your strength.

We can cast our cares on you because you care for us. Thank you that nothing is too hard for you. NOTHING! You made the heavens and the earth with your great power and outstretched arm. You’re absolutely amazing! You are so good and so kind. You love first. Thanks for loving us.

I thank you that we can break off anxiety that attempts to creep in, in the name of Jesus. So right now I do that, I break off any anxious thought and replace it with your peace and your rest!  You promised to keep us in perfect peace as we trust in you. We recieve your perfect peace.

You said let not your hearts be troubled or afraid because you are with us and you have overcome the world. Thank you. You promise to be with us every moment of every day. We are grateful. You don’t take off on us and you don’t lie. What you say you will do, you will do. All your promises are yes and amen. Thank you Jesus! We stand firmly on your promises.

With all we’ve got going in the upcoming days I commit it all to you. In Jesus name, Amen.

So “Ladies and Gentlemen, Start your engines!”

 

 

 

 

Should I Answer a Call From an Unknown Number?

My cell phone rang. I pulled it out of my purse but I didn’t recognize the number.
My mind had, within a split second, all these random thoughts:
  • Hmm? Who is this I wonder?  
  • What? 407 area code?
  • Should I take it?
  • It’s a Florida number.
  • It could be from Uth Stuph? YOUTH STUFF- the Company that my Celebrate T- Shirts.
  • The latest order was shipped and has already arrived.
  • Could there be a question about the order?
  • I’m driving, ahhhhh and have no laptop or order information with me.
  • Should I answer?
  • Yeah, I should take it.
I’m sure glad I did.
“Hello, this is Rachel” I said.
“Hi, Rachel, This is ____________,  we’d like to do a client spotlight on you and your ministry along with the Celebrate T-Shirts…It’s for our blog.” She informed.
I don’t know about you but I giggle at how God works sometimes. I love getting the word out about the message behind the “Celebrate Movement” and my Mantra: “Don’t Compare, Don’t Compete, Celebrate!” He’s been cracking me up lately.
Is God working in your life in odd and fun ways? He is in mine. I often ask Him to surprise me. It’s funny how I am still surprised by his surprises.
I’m tickled about the traction the “CELEBRATE MOVEMENT” is getting. It’s a God thing. I am truly amazed by people. I help people celebrate their significance and the genius of God in them. By the way: I celebrate (Honor, Commend, Applaud) You.
I’m delighted to report that the call was quick and a great way to spread the message. HERE is the interview from their blog.

Uth Stuph Blog

Client Spotlight: Rachel Inouye

Uth Stuph Client Spotlight: Rachel Inouye

Our client Spotlight this week is on Rachel Inouye and her ministry of celebrating God’s love for us! Read our blog to find out more about her inspirational career of changing lives through storytelling.

Uth Stuph: Rachel, thank you so much for being our client spotlight this week! Tell us a bit about your ministry.

Rachel: I help people celebrate their significance in the genius of God in them. God is given me the ability to take tangible things in this life and see a connection to a spiritual truth. I have a fresh perspective for everyday life. This perspective comes out when I’m speaking and in my book, Lily Pads: Stories of God on Displayand in my weekly blog posts.
God is a God of all hope, not just some hope. So no matter what the circumstance or situation, there is hope in the midst of it. God is for us not against us and that no weapon formed against us will prosper. God is good even in the midst of hard times or difficult circumstances.
I thoroughly enjoy story telling, with a love for Scripture, and believe in the power of prayer. God answers the cries of His kids and loves us so much. Those things sum up my ministry.

Uth Stuph: What made you want to become a speaker?

Rachel: I have been speaking since the moment I learned how to talk, NO JOKE!

“Rachel is always talking in class!” is something my parents heard during elementary school parent-teacher conferences. Funny turn of events; I was the class speaker at my high school Commencement Ceremony and some class reunions.

Not only am I a verbal processor, but I’m on the planet to encourage others.
I’m called to exhort the congregations. I began speaking as part of a worship team and traveling on cross-cultural mission trips to Colombia, Peru, Spain, Kenya, India, Guatemala Israel and soon Oman, Lord willing!
I primarily speak and encourage women at small group gatherings, women’s weekend retreats, mother-daughter teas, and Christmas programs. I’ve met so many fabulous people and I’m honored to minister to and with them. God has grown this ministry. It’s amazing to watch and exciting to be on this ride.

Uth Stuph: Tell us about your “Celebrate” T-shirt.

Rachel: This T-shirt is my life’s mantra: “Don’t Compare, Don’t Complete, Celebrate!”
Now it’s become the “CELEBRATE MOVEMENT” as many people have joined. The message of the mantra is for people (not just in the church or corporations), but for people’s lives in general.
Comparison is “killing” people- it’s exacerbated by social media’s view in to people lives. Whether staged or real, it can be a breeding ground for discontentment. Comparison can be absolutely debilitating and even competition can turn ugly.
The antidote I’ve found is simple: Celebrate! Yes, Celebrate who you are as an individual and celebrate other people too.
There is no one alike on this planet. We are each uniquely made and God’s masterpiece, so don’t compare. There is no reason to compete for God’s love or attention. He willingly gives it to each of his kids. Don’t Compete. God never makes junk and you are God’s MASTERPIECE!
I heard a pastor say regarding other people: “Call out their gold rather than tripping over their dirt.”
The CELEBRATE is gold and the T-shirt is black.
Call out the GOLD rather that tripping over the dirt (black)

Uth Stuph: Rachel, Thank you so much for sharing with us about your ministry and the custom shirts that help you celebrate! How can people find you?

Rachel:
Instagram: @RachelInouye
Twitter: 4thgirlrach
JOIN the movement order your own t-shirt! http://rachelinouye.org/Store.cfm
Watch for other ways Rachel spreads encouragement through her online classes and podcasts.

Is Disruption a Good or Bad Thing?

I woke with one word in my mind…Disruption. Disruption? I wondered, Is this a positive or negative thought? I heard God ask. “Is disruption always bad, Rachel?” My response, “Am I supposed write about disruption, Lord? ” 

A few stories from the Bible flooded my mind: Jesus first disruption- simply being born split time, for goodness sake! How about when He overturned the tables of the money-changers in the temple? That was certainly a disruption. Jesus stopped along the road and called down, out of a tree, the short, wealthy tax collector, Zacchaeus.

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” So he came down at once and welcomed Jesus gladly.

(People despised tax-collectors because they cheated and stole from them often. BUT Jesus decided that’s where I’m having dinner tonight! )

All the people saw this and began to mutter, “He has gone to be the guest of a sinner.”

(From Luke 19.)

I realized I had only thought of disruption with a negative connotation. Perhaps it is because I was trained as a teacher and a disruption in the classroom or a disruptive student isn’t typically a good thing .

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Suddenly, I was struck by how Mary’s disruptive act of love and worship caused the Pharisees to have a “disruption in their hearts” because they had to consider Jesus’ willingness to forgive the sinful woman.

A story of disruption:

“One of the Pharisees asked him to eat with him, and he went into the Pharisee’s house and reclined at table. And behold, a woman of the city, who was a sinner, when she learned that he was reclining at table in the Pharisee’s house, brought an alabaster flask of ointment, and standing behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears and wiped them with the hair of her head and kissed his feet and anointed them with the ointment.

(This would have been a HUGE disruption… A women, kissing and wiping Jesus feet with ointment and tears)

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would have known who and what sort of woman this is who is touching him, for she is a sinner.”

And Jesus answering said to him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.” And he answered, “Say it, Teacher.” “A certain moneylender had two debtors. One owed five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he cancelled the debt of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon answered, “The one, I suppose, for whom he cancelled the larger debt.”

And he said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.

You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.”

And he said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” Then those who were at table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” And he said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace.”” Luke 7:36-50 ESV

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Disruption: NOUN- disturbance or problems that interrupt and event, activity or process. 

This morning my activity of walking in beautiful Nashotah Park with a friend was  interrupted by the mushrooms we continually saw along the way. We’ve  had so much rain lately so the mushrooms have had perfect growing conditions.

At first I looked ahead and thought, did someone leave white large kitchen trash bag lying in the middle of the mulched trail?  I was listening to my friend, but I thought, “Gross, that must be a big trash bag up ahead.” 

Then I cried out, “Oh, my gosh! Jill look! It’s a huge mushroom! Let me take a picture of it.”

“Hang on, lemme put my foot in the frame for size reference. It is so big! Oh, brother,” she continued, “Someone must have stepped on it or it just split into pieces.”

“Great. Set your foot right there. I want a photo.” I suggested. “Got it!”

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As our walk continued, I wanted to slow down in order to capture some photos along the way. It was amazing!

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Is disruption a good or bad thing? Let me turn a corner here for a moment. I’d like us all to consider this. As believers, we are in this world to represent Jesus Christ. RE-PRESENT Him. Some people need another look at Jesus or another introduction to His character and nature. We have an opportunity to be that.  I want to re-present him in such a way that causes people to stop and take notice. I’d like to be a disruption or sorts.

I pray my life will cause a disruption of:

  • thoughts that need shifting
  • preconceived notions
  • the course of their day
  • process of dealing with an issue or person
  • their own thoughts or lies about who they are

I’d like to be similar to the mushrooms I saw on my walk. Why? Because I’d like to have so much WATER- and grow HUGE.

Water is often a symbol of the Holy Spirit, may my life be a HUGE MUSHROOM in their path and cause them to take notice. I pray what is seen is a life that interrupts the norm enough to cause them to see the Jesus I represent.

Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16

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

Is there a disruption in your life right now? What is your response to it? Is Jesus trying to disrupt something for your own good? Perhaps you could make a list of the positives you have seen come from it. Ask yourself, ” Is this really a bad thing? Could I see the good in it?”

Could Crying be Good for You? (The Surprising Benefits of a Good Cry.)

“For crying out loud!”  I grew up with this phrase and I’ve said it myself from time to time. Today, I found myself literally crying out loud.

My “good cry” started with just a few tears and I wasn’t sure what particular emotion to assign to them. I think it was, disappointment, then in crept sadness, followed by fresh grief and after that I was pleading with God. I received his comfort and it finally turned into a time of full on thankfulness.  I was still crying but they were happy tears.

adult alone anxious black and white

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

I heard years ago that the chemical compounds are different in the different types of tears we cry. When I heard this, I was amazed and thought, “Of course, that’s so God to make our bodies operate that way. We cry for a variety of reasons and the tears themselves are different too. You are amazing God!”

I briefly read an article in Medical News Today- Eight Benefits of Crying: Why it’s Good to Shed a Few Tears.  *I’ll include a link at the end.

Basically, we cry and shed tears of three types:

  • Basal – tears when we blink the simple tears that keep the eye moist.
  • Reflex – tears that occur when we cut an onion or smoke blows in our eyes while sitting around a camp-fire.
  • Emotional – tears that are in response to a wide range of emotions and have higher stress hormones – so crying could be good for you.

I know I have times when I experience “tear build-up,” it’s like pent-up energy perhaps? But nothing else helps me, until I have a good cry.

I remember years ago a friend of mine told me her daughter would lament, “Mom I know I’m in need of a good cry but I just don’t have time right now to do that. I’ll come home later and cry it out.”

I truly love that! It showed self-awareness to what was needed in her body, heart and emotions.

Could Crying be Good for You? (The Surprising Benefits of a Good Cry.)

  • releases toxins
  • has a soothing effect like when a baby cries before falling a sleep
  • is a way to deal with emotions
  • can reduce pain and lead to a sense of well-being
baby child close up crying

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

 

So crying is normal and has benefits too? I love that! (Of course crying too much and too often could be a sign of depression, but that’s not the purpose of this blog nor is it the type of crying I’m referencing here.)

Let me share a few verses which have been true anchors in my life.

The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.  Psalm 34:17-18 NIV

This poor man cried, and the LORD heard him and saved him out of all his troubles.Psalm. 34:6

You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book. Psalm 56:8

Rise during the night and cry out. Pour out your hearts like water to the Lord. Lift up your hands to him in prayer, pleading for your children… Lamentations 2:19 (I’m sure any parent can relate to this verse.)

So what was the scoop with me today? Well, I simply had a good cry. It was needed and beneficial. It brought me near to God. I know He heard me and like I said, it ended with a time of thanksgiving. I was truly comforted and later, rose and took a walk.

I’m certain God knows when we need a good cry and when we need to get some exercise. He designed us and I’m amazed by the way I respond to both tears and movement. My response was relief.  I felt so much better.

So how about you? How are you doing? Are you in need of a good cry?

adult alone black and white blur

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

Do you think you might need some exercise? If you haven’t done either of those things in a while, I highly endorse them. Cry out! God hears you and he loves you like CRAZY!

Let me leave you with one other verse – NOT related to crying but one that I hope will encourage you nonetheless. The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you. He will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed. Deuteronomy 31:8 NASB

*Eight benefits of crying

 

“You’ve got to be kidding me!” A Divine Appointment!

We’d been planning for years and finally the day arrived. My cousin and I were headed to Bethel Church in Redding, California. We’re both part of Bethel’s on-line community. The Carr Fire in California has been so horrible, yet gratefully even the fires near Redding did not cause a change in our trip dates, our desires or our plans. It was a go!

We flew from our perspective locations and met in Phoenix. Once we hugged at the gate we knew the fun had begun! “It’s good to see you I’m so excited!” I told Annie. We stood in line at the airport Starbucks and rattled away and giggled a bunch too.

While we were first together there in Phoenix, we prayed.

We’ve been praying for years. But that day, seated in the airport, we thanked God for safety and for being together and prayed “God give us divine appointments.”

You know how once you pray something your awareness is boosted a little bit more because you’re looking for what you’ve just asked of God?

Well both Annie and I were in heightened awareness mode. I boarded the plane first and secured my seat and Annie was going to join me.

I always pick an aisle so I can get up and go to the bathroom she came in and sat in the middle seat.

Annie blurted out quickly, “I just heard a lady say ‘Redding’ so I spoke with her briefly. I figured we are probably both headed to Bethel.” She chuckled.

No sooner had she told me when the woman came down the aisle and they visited for a minute. Then she asked, “Could I just sit with you guys in this row? I may as well take this window seat! ”

“SURE!” We answered in unison.

She sat near the window and explained why she was going where she was going. She told us she was flying to Sacramento because her daughter was going to be attending a school out in Northern California and she was going to meet her there and get her settled in a bit.

We asked her where the school was located and she told us Bethel Church in Redding. We quickly replied “Oh, we’re going to Bethel Church this weekend. That’s the purpose of our trip.” I introduced myself, “I’m Rachel.”

She said, “I’m Jill.” She later mentioned her husband and her daughter were traveling from Michigan all the way across country to Redding. “But I told them, guys…I’m gonna just fly out. That’s a long way-I’ll fly and meet you.”

During the course of the conversation we found out things about one another and then I asked, “Could I pray for you?”

“Absolutely!” She replied.

The three of us agreed together in prayer. We prayed for protection as Jill’s husband and daughter traveled across country. We prayed for her daughter’s ease of transition in going to this new school far away.

I prayed for Jill’s “mama’s heart” I know what it’s like to miss a daughter, so I prayed for her as she said goodbye to her daughter in the next few days. I don’t remember the rest of the prayer but that was pretty much the gist of it.

We visited the duration of the flight and then we didn’t see her again. It was as if she were “POOF” gone!

We secured our rental car, decided who would drive and who would navigate, strapped on our seatbelts, logged our destination in the GPS and headed to Redding.”Phew it’s warm in here!” we agreed. “Let’s start the air conditioner.” Then we snapped a photo and peeled away!

We traveled awhile and decided to stop for lunch. My cousin Annie, had never been to California so she wanted the experience of IN and OUT Burger. I mainly eat a plant-based diet so I spotted a Panda Express just down from the IN and OUT.

“Can you find somethin’ to eat here?” She inquired.

“Not really.” I pointed. I’m going to head over to that Panda Express, grab some veggies and noodles and meet you back here. We can sit outside on the patio.”

“Sounds good,” She said.

I ordered my carry-out quickly, exited the restaurant swinging my white carton of food in its plastic bag and was going to meet Annie.

Just then, our new friend Jill came walking out of Starbucks which was next to the Panda Express.

I took one look at her, and said, “Oh, my! Well hello again!” We hugged and visited for a few minutes. I found out that she got her rental car and that she was safe and was making her trek north. “Well, isn’t it funny running into you here at lunch?

“I’ve just eaten at Panda Express, so now I’m grabbing a coffee for the road. God is good!”‘Jill reported.

“Great! Well, who knows, maybe we will see you at Bethel Church on Sunday!” I said. And walked away.

I thought that was the punchline. So odd to see someone again and be able to encourage them and laugh together. Timely encounters.

We continued our jaunt north. We had the address of our Airbnb logged into Google maps. “We are almost there!” Annie exclaimed.

We were both so excited as the GPS was giving our final directives. We pulled up to the row of condominiums, double checked the address to confirm, as the phone said, “Arrived at your destination.”

I opened my door, felt the heat and smelled the smoke, stepped onto the sidewalk nearest the condo and looked up.

“What?” I clapped my hands together and exclaimed simultaneously, “You’ve got to be kidding me!” There was Jill!

“WHAT?”

I stood frozen for a second.

Our new friend from Michigan walked toward me. I looked up to see a man, her husband, carrying hanging clothes draped over his arms and a young woman, her beautiful daughter, holding a box. They were moving in!

Jill approached me and started talking super fast, “I couldn’t believe it, I went up to my daughter’s room and the room adjacent to it had a sign on the Airbnb door that read, ‘Welcome Annie and Rachel.’

I stood looking at the sign dumbfounded thinking, ‘are these the ladies I just met on the flight that I was seated next to on the airplane? These ladies are my daughter’s weekend roommates?!?’

God calmed my mama heart with his attention to detail. He brought people from the Midwest to meet me on the plane to stay in the house with my daughter during her first weekend here. I couldn’t believe it! That’s so good of God!”

She was raving and gleeful…we ALL were.

We entered the air conditioned condo and introduced ourselves to her husband. I’m sure he was spinning…three woman were all jabbering at once trying to explain the story of our divine appointment to him.

We tried to recount the story so we could tell it to Jill’s daughter. “We met your mom on the airplane today she said ‘Redding’…blah, blah, blah.”

I ascended the steps and confirmed the whole deal; our room was adjacent to her daughter’s room. “No way!”

We had prayed for the transition of Jill’s daughter as she went off to school in Redding, California and there she was right before our eyes. Her eyes sparkling as she smiled and said, “Nice to meet you guys!”

Over the course of our extended weekend, we saw them again in passing between the services as they were in line for coffee.

“You guys should try MiMi Grace for breakfast. I tried it last time I visited before I decided to come here for school.”

We had to try it because we both like avacado toast and it was called Mimi Grace…my daughter is Grace.

We had prayed for months but this is just ONE of the divine appointments we had along the way. I could share so many more. “God-incidences” But this one will have to do for now.

God is the kindest person I know. He delights to delight my heart. I’m convinced of it. This made me have a perm-a-grin.

What are the ways God has been showing up in the little details of your life? Do you have a devine appointment you’d like to share?

“But he knows the way that I take; when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold.” Job‬ ‭23:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.” Psalm‬ ‭32:8‬ ‭NIV‬‬

“all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm‬ ‭139:16‬ ‭b NIV‬‬

Custom made clothing – the tailor made suit.

I was asked to be part of a team comprised of such quality ladies in its lineup…so of course I said, “Yes, I’m in!” I was thrilled to be involved and it was truly amazing!  Although it was years ago, I will never forget our wonderful team, nor the women we ministered with and in India. While there, I spoke to hundreds of incredible women who came to the sessions.

As they filed in, the stream of them continued until the large, well-lit meeting room was packed full. I was awestruck with their beauty and by the full array of colorful garments they were clad in. It was a parade of noticeably vibrant color! Whoa! It blew my mind.

woman in sari dress

Photo by Prabhash Sahu on Pexels.com

 

I am slowly coming out of a long, dark stage of colorlessness. In other words I wear a lot of black. But I really do enjoy color!

After spending time and traveling through India, I told a friend, “It felt as if I were in a dream and an artist’s paint pallet had exploded. The result was many bright hues which remained everywhere and on everyone. It was glorious!

One of my mentor friends told me, “I remember the first time I visited Guatemala.” She reflected,”Oh, Rachel I was drunk with color!” I could relate because that’s exactly how I felt while in India, it was mesmerizing, bright and wonderfully intoxicating.

woman wearing blue traditional indian dress and silk thread bangles

Photo by Qazi Ikram Ul Haq on Pexels.com

I marveled at the rainbow of colorful elegant saris and salwar kameez outfits the women wore. A sari is just one of many outfits traditionally worn in India. Another is the “salwar kameez” which is worn both as an everyday outfit and in more formal settings as well.

A salwar is a pair of loose drawstring trousers that are tapered and fit more tightly around the ankle area. The salwar is worn underneath the kameez, which is the long tunic worn on top. The out fit is completed with a scarf. My dear friend told me the scarf is to cover our bumps.

man walking on street carrying metal bucket

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I had the privilege of riding through the streets observing as our driver maneuvered and obeyed the”rules of the road” which felt more like mere suggestions to me than rules. Our team of women were delightedly given an opportunity to go shopping.

man holding white sack walking beside street stores

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It was a lot to take in. A time of major sensory overload. We witnessed so many sights, sounds, smells and colors in the streets and in the local shops. It was bustling and loud yet quite invigorating! I remember going into a bit more up scale shop, it was air-conditioned and was deep and narrow inside. I want to get an outfit from here!

The store housed so many bolts of fabric, all displayed on dark wooden shelves which lined the walls from floor to ceiling. There were hundreds of fabrics we could choose from. Oh, my gosh, look at all these fabrics I get to choose from! I’m going to get a tailor-made outfit…What?

The shop clerk attended to us and pulled many bolts off the shelves, placed them on the counter in front of us to examine and select while the others got fitted.

It was my turn. I was struck by how precise the thin tailor was as he pulled out his tape measure, took my measurements and wrote them each down on his small pad of paper he had on the glass counter top.

He finished rather quickly and I asked, “Is that it?”

He bobbled his head back and forth, then emphatically answered, “Yes! You come back in two days.”

We returned a few days later and both of my tailor-made salwar-kameez outfits were waiting for me. Each had optional longer sleeves attached with a safety-pin to the top of my Kameez. What’s with these?  It was explained to me they were longer sleeves in case I wanted to have them sewn on instead.

I loved wearing my new salwar kameez. I looked fabulous and all put together, but was really super comfortable. It was almost as if I was wearing a set of my favorite PJs. I could grow accustomed to this!

The whole custom-made clothing thing was truly amazing and a lot of fun. I’ve never had anything fit me so well. I wore my two new outfits during the remaining part of our trip.

I remember thinking, I LOVE THESE CLOTHES! they fit me perfectly.

I’m 5 foot 2 1/2 so often, off the rack pants, are way too long. Plus in the shirt category… the darts of a standard blouse are way too long, clearly intended for someone who has a little more on top, if you know what I mean. These special tailor-made “salwar-kameez’ garments fit me splendidly!

fabric scissors needle needles scissors

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Let me turn a corner here and tell you this. I think my life and yours is designed and being made to fit us perfectly,  by a perfect tailor. One who knows us inside and out and doesn’t even need to collect any measurements, because He is the one who designed us. I know God is fitting me for a purpose and he is fitting things for me at the same time. What a grand design!

I really believe God knows us intimately and uses everything in our lives for our good.  I mean every thing. No wasted sleeves attached with a safety-pin to the “kameez” of our lives. Nope! He uses it all. Each circumstance, situation, trial that we live through or joy we experience is tailored for us. All of it is used to make us more like Jesus.

I don’t believe that God causes the hard things. He sure does use them though. Sometimes the hard things are a result of living in a fallen world. Other times its our own decisions or pain inflicted on us, or the choice of another that directly affects us. But I do know God uses it all. Nothing is wasted.

Whatever you are going through right now, God will make it fit you so that you are beautiful as you parade throughout the kingdom. He is for you not against you and he is fashioning us day by day. We can live lives of color and display his glory!

All things can work for us and make us wear the most beautiful tailor-made garment as we love God and minister to others.

You, dear reader, are dressed by him and ready to bless others. You lead a life of color and are fitted with his grace. Let your light so shine before men, that they see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven. Matthew 5:16 And may your life and mine be ones of noticeably vibrant color!

 

Friday Night Live

“Should we go tonight? I think it would be fun! We haven’t been yet this summer and it’s supposed to be great weather,” I asked. My husband and I discussed our evening plans before he left for work. We both agreed we’d go downtown for Freeman Friday Night Live.

I could picture the streets bustling with people and music filling the air. I had a full on day-dream thinking about it in advance. As he fired up the engine and mounted his motorcycle, I was snapped back to reality and said,”Okay, just text me when you’re leaving work so we can figure out if you should come home for me or if we should meet there.”

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Freeman Friday Night Live is an enjoyable recurring summer event. Our local Main Street is blocked off, police officers patrol on bicycles while people walk and dance in the middle of the street and listen to a variety of bands stationed throughout.

Each band plays a different type of music and draws a unique audience. People swarm in from all directions and sections of life. I enjoy it because I love people and I get a kick out of people watching.

Summer time is so much fun and Friday Night Live is a way to mingle with a wide variety of people from all ages. Dressed in summer sundresses and shorts, they bring their toddlers in strollers and young kids ride in wagons as they eat ice cream.  Others are with puppies or dogs on leashes. Some folks are slightly more dressed up and go out for dinner or drinks with friends then walk around and greet their friends.

person holding ice cream with cone

As my day unfolded, I hoped we’d get to ride together on the motorcycle and I wouldn’t have to find a parking spot or coordinate meeting my honey.

Then late in the afternoon, I received a text from a friend, Hey, Rachel if u are not doing anything tonight, we are going to Friday Night Live to walk around. Welcome to join us. Let us know, it will be good see u and get tattoos.

Jill always teases me about drinking margaritas, smoking cigars and getting tattoos, mainly because she knows none are big draws for me. It has become a standing joke the way she hassles me.  I texted back, Yep! We talked about it already but I need to wait until Michael gets off work. So we will see you there.

On Friday night I didn’t drink, smoke or get a tattoo, but I got my photo taken with my friend Jill so we could document the occasion of me getting close to the tattoo parlor.

J7zKwtgBRQOkSD72Tj+yyAimg_2986We had a good time. We walked and talked and saw some other friends we knew and gave them each a big hug, “We saw you ride in on the Gold Wing and I thought, that kind of looks like Rachel…Well it is Rachel and Michael!” I grinned and said, “Yeah it’s me!” We visited with them for a while and then headed home.

It is always good to be with friends and be in the community. I think summertime is one of my favorite seasons because of it.  I got my fix of people watching, chatted with strangers, giggled with friends, took a ride on the momo with my man and strolled through downtown with ease.  It was a good day and a night that did not disappoint.

Let me ask you:

  • What do you enjoy about summertime?
  • If you were to get a new tattoo what would it be?
  • What’s your favorite flavor of ice cream?
  • What’s your favorite season?
  • What genre of music would you stop and listen to, or dance to?

When the Going Gets Tough…

Have you heard this phrase? “When the going gets tough; the tough get going.” I’d have to admit, when things get hard sometimes I’ve just quit. Here’s a silly little example I’ll share to illustrate.

Once upon a time, in a house of a home school family, mine, a magic marker was dropped down inside a blue glazed piece of pottery with a small narrow opening to the “mouth” of it. I tried for a while to dislodge the marker. First, I turned the pottery over, attempted to guide the magic marker toward the small opening.

“Lemme see, maybe this will work.” I said. Next, I shook it, inverted it and checked the placement of the marker. Then I shoved my index finger in, wiggled it and felt around trying to grab the end and guide it out. I followed this by a feeble attempt of my pinky finger. “Rats!” I exclaimed. “I’m so close, I can touch it!”

I tried other things too, but to no avail. I remember I looked down at my young daughter and said, “Let’s just set it aside for now and have Daddy take a look at it when he gets home!” I just quit. Is that pathetic? (I am married to a man who is mo-ti-vat-ed by a challenge!)

bright colored markers colorful colors

Photo by Ylanite Koppens on Pexels.com

Just so you know the rest of the story. Michael took a look at it when he returned from work and did something amazingly clever to free the trapped marker. I call him MacGyver, from the television series starring Richard Dean Anderson, because he fixes most anything using bizarre methods.

I believe someone out there is frustrated, discouraged, or losing hope and I want to encourage you… Don’t give up! The stuck marker and pottery scenario seems small, but it’s the stick-to-it-tive-ness, perseverance and overcomer’s attitude and testing of one’s will or strength I’d like to highlight.

Let me start by telling you this truth. You are stronger than you think, will last longer than you know, and are capable of doing more than you can imagine. (God knows this about you and about me too.)

What’s kind of funny to me is how we love the pain and struggle, in some areas of life, and are even drawn to it.  I have a few friends who’ve done the Iron Man multiple times.  I’ve seen how we can enjoy the toil involved in sports and athletics. I know I’m hooked by the background story of the training process of dedicated Olympians. The amount of sheer determination and grit that led up to the metals ceremony amazes me.

blue and red superman print tank top shirt

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These athletes undergo rigorous training routines as we cheer them on. Their training is excruciatingly difficult, but I have never heard anyone accuse the athletes’ coach or trainer of being too tough.

Rather, the coach is appreciated for pushing the individual and bringing out their best through the hard process of testing. The coach pushes hard which makes a better athlete, period. (A few movies display this well. Miracle, Facing the Giants, Remember the Titans)

action active arena athletes

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adult coach communication face

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However, when it comes to our own spiritual lives or another person’s faith journey, we don’t have the same mindset we use with sports. Instead, when faced with a difficult situation or grueling trial, people doubt the goodness of God or easily assign blame to Him. But God is good and only good. Yes, life can be both hard and good. Yet God is FOR us.

Here are a couple of truths which keep me going when the going gets tough and have helped me thrive and make it through more than I knew I was capable of enduring:

  • the example of Jesus enduring the crucifixtion ‘for the joy set before him’
  •  the fact that God promises to be with us in hard times: “Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor for sake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 

Going through hard things in life, a trial, struggle or a PIT of some sort often makes people doubt the goodness of God. Whether we are the one going through it or we observe someone else in the PIT. I heard Graham Cooke once say, “PIT stands for ‘Prophet in Training’ or ‘Person in Transition.'” Are you going through a hard thing? Are you in the PIT?

I’ve spent some time in the PIT  I hope to see God working to make me a prophet in training and I know I’m a person in transition. I believe God only wants good for me and He is able to do the impossible in my life. Knowing Jesus in a deeper way is the result of my time in the pit because it’s where His presence became so evident to me and my encounters with the Living God increased. So I am actually grateful for the circumstances I’ve seen in my life. We are all in process.

The other day I ran across this verse from Isaiah 42:3 NIV. It is one that ministered to me and helped me believe in God’s goodness for me years ago. But it was needed again the other day as a reminder of that fact that God is NOT out to break me nor does He desire to squash me like a bug. “A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. In faithfulness he will bring forth justice;”

So remember dear believer:

  • God is for you NOT against you.
  • God works all things together for your good.
  • God will never leave you or forget about you.
  • God lifts up his smile upon you and gives you peace.
  • God blesses your coming and going both now and forever more.
  • God promises to be with you in hard times.
  • Be strong in the LORD and the power of His might.
  • God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory.

Let us not be weary in doing good, for we will reap in due season, if we do not give up. Galatians 6:9 New Heart English Version

When we rely on the power of God and trust in His character and rest in His promises, We are stronger than we think, will last longer than we know, and are capable of doing more than we can imagine.. “So when the going get’s tough…Let’s cling to God and get going!”