Posted: April 14, 2014

THE PLAYGROUND AND THE MEADOW

The playground has a castle and a drawbridge and three slides and a climbing wall. There are tire swings and baby swings and regular swings and even big red chair swings the adults can sneak onto if there aren't a lot of kids around. 

When we're at the playground, my kids are wild and rambunctious and run around yelling and playing and leave every ounce of energy there. The surrounding fence keeps them IN and they swing and slide and climb and run and there's just so much to DO there. 

The Meadow is a wide-open space with exposed granite and a gentle stream.  It was made to be a 'backyard' for our mountainous neighborhood full of wild hills and forests of trees. There's one pond and one picnic table and six Adirondack chairs. The stream has tadpoles and the pond has rocks at the bottom from two summers ago when my littlest toddled over, crudely tossing in every pebble he could find. 

An army of trees circle the Meadow – more a protective shield than a boundary line – and cast long, lean shadows over the stream and the pond and the exposed granite. In the late afternoon, the sun peeks through with a wide smile like it’s trying not to get caught in a game of hide and seek.

In the Meadow, my kids imagine they are Susan and Edmund exploring Narnia, defeating the White Witch valiantly. They chase butterflies and bring me dandelion bouquets and pretend the big oak is their secret hide out. He chases after her, desperate to be big like she is, and she holds his hand as they cross the slippery rocks so he doesn't fall and scrape his knee yet again.

In the Meadow, there isn't as much to DO – there are no swings, or slides, or castles – but there's so much to BE. In the Meadow, they are free to Be imaginative, Be together, Be relational, Be intentional. 

They have fun DO-ing together at the playground, but love BE-ing together at The Meadow. 

“He lets me rest in the meadow grass and leads me beside the quiet streams. He gives me new strength. He helps me do what honors him the most.” Psalm 23:2-3

I get caught up in the doing of the playground, too. My playground is ministry and work and friends and family and home. It’s joyous and blessed and holy and necessary. It can become a playground of To-Do’s though, if I’m not careful.

I see the fence surrounding my playground, and it’s the only salvation that keeps me from crossing over into chaos. Though it tries to beckon me to stay in, seeing it is a reminder that sometimes it’s necessary to leave.

“Because the Lord is my Shepherd, I have everything I need!”    Psalm 23:1

The playground ceases to be fruitful if I haven’t first sunned myself in the Meadow. I can’t run and jump and slide and swing through all the To-Do’s if I haven’t first sunned myself in the To-Be’s.

When I escape the pandemonium and go to the Meadow, I am still and calm. My soul is restored and my mind is free to imagine once again – to dream. I'm free to take someone's hand and help them over the rough places. I’m free to Be intentional and build relationship and explore. 

“Even when walking through the dark valley of death I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me, guarding, guiding all the way.” (Psalm 23:4)

The trees that encircle remind me that God doesn't desire for me to be trapped IN, but rather, seeks to protect me and keep things OUT. The Meadow is green pastures and still waters and a reminder that I do not want for anything. It’s the place I find courage in the face of evil and the place where my cup is filled to overflowing.

“You provide delicious food for me in the presence of my enemies. You have welcomed me as your guest; blessings overflow!”    Psalm 23:5

The Meadow is my refuge – my place to BE.  Sometimes I forget that I can't DO the necessary work of playground until I've first taken time to BE near the still waters of the Meadow.  I can't leave every ounce of energy on the swings if I haven't first been fueled by sunning myself on the Rock. 

I forget this often. But in unsolicited grace and love, He nudges me as I watch my children.  He whispers Truth to me yet again and I lean back to face the Son and relax into His arms and remember,

“Your goodness and unfailing kindness shall be with me all of my life, and afterwards I will live with you forever in your home.”    Psalm 23:6

Monica

 

* * *

Monica Steely is a writer, speaker, coffee iv’er and transformation whisperer. She blogs at Elevate Ideas and procrastinates anything related to cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. She’s also the co-founder of Be Still Be Free…a mindset revolution seeking to encourage women to BE first and DO second. Find BE on Facebook and Twitter, and listen on iTunes.
Photo ©Monica Steely

 

 

 

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Posted: April 7, 2014

When You Wonder Where God Went

If I'm brutally honest (and let's face it...I usually am here),  I didn't feel like writing today.  OK, as long as we're being honest...I wanted to write, but I just didn't know what to say today.

So, being the disciplined writer that I am (ahem), I searched high and low for inspiration (meaning I read through some things I'd written long ago hoping I'd find something usable).  That's when I stumbled onto this little nugget from a couple years back when my now-independent-kindergartner was a mere preschooler (sniff).

Turns out...I really needed to read it again.  I thought if I needed to be reminded of this truth, you might need to be, too?

From the archives...January 2012

When I dropped my Little Man off at preschool this morning, a rare thing happened. Instead of giving his usual good-bye kiss and smile, he clung to me and wailed, "I don't want to go, Mommy! I don't want to go!"

My Mommy Reflex kicked in and told me to hold him tightly and cry, "You don't have to! You don't have to!"

If this had been his first day of preschool (or he had been my firstborn), chances are that's what would have gone down.  But this wasn't his first day. It wasn't even his first year! He has been coming to this preschool (at our church, mind you) for two years!  Most days he hops out of the van with a smile on his face and returns at the end of the day excited about the things he learned, the songs he sang, and the friends he played with.

For some reason, that didn't happen today.  And by now we were holding up the car line.

So I gathered up every Super Mommy power I could muster, kissed his head, and hugged him tightly.  I assured him I'd be back at the end of the day, and I handed him over to the loving arms of his teacher.  As I climbed back into the driver's seat, I watched his teacher carry him off as he reached for me screaming, "No, Mommy! Don't go!"

Summoning the rest of my Super Mommy powers, I drove away...around the corner, out of sight...and cried.

Driving away from my screaming child went against every fiber of my being.  The rational side of me recognized I had done the right thing (even if the emotional, Mommy part of me argued profusely!)

He would only be there a couple of hours, and he was in a loving environment with people who care deeply for him.  Experience told me he would calm down and go on to enjoy his day.

I had to be strong and look at the bigger picture.

That's when I realized how often I feel just like my Little Man. When life gets uncomfortable or circumstances don't turn out the way I want, I look at God and scream, "What are you doing?! How could you just leave me here?! I don't want to be here! Don't leave me!"

The truth is, He doesn't leave us.  Ever.  He has promised not to.  Even when we feel alone.  Even when we feel abandoned.  He is right there...holding us, weeping with us, loving us through every moment.  All the while, seeing the bigger picture.  Seeing the other side.  Knowing we will come through it stronger, more mature, and more dependent on Him.

Even though I physically drove away from my Little Man today, you better believe I called and texted his teachers until I was convinced he had calmed down and returned to his happy, easy-going self  (which he did shortly after I left).

You see, as a mom my children are not "out of sight, out of mind."  If I...an imperfect, human parent...am that consumed with my child's safety, his well-being, and his happiness, how much more our perfect Heavenly Father!

The LORD is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble. Those who know your name trust in you, for you, LORD, have never forsaken those who seek you.      Psalm 9:9:10

What are you going through today that makes you feel alone?  God has not forgotten you.  He has not abandoned you.  He is with you.  Hold tightly to Him.

Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate.  When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family, she can be found writing about embracing grace at There is Grace.  Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world, her husband and two children.

 

 

 

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Posted: March 30, 2014

GOD HAS THIS

Marching to battle is the last thought in anyone’s mind as springtime flowers bloom and allergies abound but long before weapons of mass destruction, Old Testament warriors battled in the spring ready to engage the enemy in hand to hand combat. This spring, the most BEAUTIFUL modern day warriors will receive their marching orders via doctor’s orders. She’ll battle against an enemy that defies all rules of engagement, an enemy named cancer.  Armed with a medical arsenal of IV poles & tubing, lead shields, hypodermic needles, and for some, cytotoxic chemical warfare known as chemotherapy. These BEAUTIFUL and brave women, will battle on all fronts: physical, emotional, and spiritual.

I have walked this cancer journey on a well-worn warpath with my two sisters-in-law and sister.   The only weapon that would train our hearts and ready us for battle were stored in a place of worship-our heart. There are times when even the strongest warriors feel outflanked by surprise attacks and need both an offensive and defensive weapon found only in God’s word.  God’s truth is the only weapon that defeats an unseen enemy that can leave visible wounds.  As you walk in His amazing grace you move from warrior to OVERCOMER.

Thanks to Carrie Rester’s ministries Gulf Coast Blessings and together with Lisa Goodman over at GOD HAS THIS,  our army of prayer warriors shouts the battle cry, “GOD HAS THIS!"

With wide open arms and heart, I placed Compassion That Compassion and our Compassion Bags into God’s hands and asked Him to use me to reach BEAUTIFUL overcomers and their families.  Daily, I pray to God and remind Him that I am only one person and a writer.  He reminds me that He is God and He authors my life.

These past few months have been the greatest leaps of faith for me. I absolutely could not have done this without my incredible husband Royal, my precious daughters, Grace and Annelise and the loving support of my family and friends. God's given me a whole new collection of divinely appointed friends and many unbelievable stories!  He’s honored the desires of my heart to show God’s love and compassion to women in the battle of their life with Compassion Bags.  My deepest gratitude and thank you to our many prayer warriors, financial supporters and those who’ve blessed us with their invaluable professional services.  Without all of you, we couldn’t have blessed

500 BEAUTIFUL CANCER OVERCOMERS WITH COMPASSION BAGS!

You read that right…500.  Follow us this next week and see God's love in action. To God be all the glory!

Agape,
Kristianne

Kristianne’s life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose.  Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels and follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith

 

 

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Posted: March 24, 2014

5 Things to Say to Someone Facing Cancer

Last month, on our Compassion That Compels blog, I shared what not to say to someone who is facing cancer (or any devastating life event, for that matter).  I didn't want to simply leave you with what not to do. I want to give you some tips to help you know what to do.  

I realize cancer is a delicate subject, and not everyone handles it in the same way.  Responses and reactions can change daily, sometimes moment by moment. For those and many more reasons, it can be difficult to know what to say, particularly if you don't know the person well.  While each person copes differently, the following tips will help you bring hope and encouragement to the person battling cancer.

 "You're beautiful"

Even if she looks tired, weak, or weary. Even if she's lost weight or gained weight. Tell her she's beautiful. She's probably self-conscious of her hair loss or weight gain (or loss), and it took a lot of courage for her to face the world today.  Let her know that when you look at her, you don't just see the effects of cancer, you see her.  (While this is specific to women battling cancer, I assume men would like to be told they are looking good, too...but maybe not "beautiful.") :)

 "You're strong"

Cancer and its treatment takes it's toll on a person's body and emotions.  When your body is weary, your emotions can run wild.  Simple tasks become overwhelming and everyday moments become a constant reminder of your weakness and fragility.  Even if she seems strong, there's a good chance she doesn't feel strong. Tell her she is, because she probably needs the reminder right about now.

 "You can do this." (Better yet, "We can do this.")

Cancer is an overwhelming adversary. At times it seems unbeatable, even in the most treatable cases, and it creates a constant "what if" scenario in the back of one's mind.  Your friend or family member needs to know she can do this and that she doesn't have to do it alone.  Even if the odds are stacked against her. Even if the prognosis isn't good. Tell her she can do it.  With God's help. With your help. She can do this.

 I'm praying for you.

This is easily my favorite thing to hear from people. I believe in the power of prayer. I believe that prayer moves the hand of God, so the more people praying for me, the better. I've had people I don't know stop me to say they're praying for me. I get emails from friends around the country telling me their churches are praying for me. I've even had teachers at my children's school stop to ask me how I'm doing and say they are praying for me. Bring it on. I will take all the prayers I can get!

 What do you need?

Early in my journey, many people offered help, but I didn't have much need yet. Those same people were still there when my needs did arise. Some drove my kids to and from school and took me to doctor's appointments. Others brought meals and offered to get groceries or run errands.  Some simply checked in from time to time asking if I needed anything. Each offer was an answered prayer, meeting whatever we needed at that time. If you don't know what to say to someone, offer to do something for them.

For those of you following my journey, here's a quick update: A PET scan in January showed the tumors have continued to shrink, so I am taking a break from chemotherapy for the time being (woo-hoo!)  I appreciate all your prayers and will continue to keep post updates.

  

Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate. When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family, she can be found writing about embracing grace at www.ThereIsGrace.com. Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world, her husband and two children.

 

 

 

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Posted: March 17, 2014

Peace is Yours for the Taking

I sat at my desk, ready to begin a full day of work.  I glanced at my to-do list, and my heart started racing. Panic set in. I’m going to work as hard and as fast I can!  I thought.  Within a few hours, my head was throbbing.  God tried to get my attention several times, but, unfortunately, I refused to listen. “Just ask,” he offered. “I’m too busy!” I replied.

After wasting hours of precious time and energy running around like a crazy woman, I gave in.  Frustrated and exhausted, I cried out,  “God, I need your help!”  The Lord heard my prayer and came to my rescue.  The burden I’d been carrying was lifted.  I felt relieved.  I also felt like a fool. Why did I wait so long to pray?  I wondered.  Why did I choose to remain anxious when I could have rested in God’s perfect peace?

Peace, according to the world’s definition, is the absence of conflict or war.  For the believer, though, peace is completely independent of outward circumstances.  It’s an inner calm that comes when you trust in the Lord no matter what is happening in your life. True peace is possible in any situation,  even if the midst of a raging battle. In order to walk consistently in God’s peace, you need to understand five important truths:

Peace is a gift.

Peace is not something you can produce. Jesus told his disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid”  John 14:27. Peace is a gift from God that you must choose to receive.  D.L. Moody, a man God used mightily in the 1800s to bring revival to the United States and England said, “A great many people are trying to make peace, but that has already been done. God has not left it for us to do; all we have to do is to enter into it.”

Peace is the product of obedience.

Peace is cultivated in your life as you spend time in God’s Word and in prayer.  Great peace have those who love your law, and nothing can make them stumble Psalm 119:65. When you choose to trust God and believe his promises, you will experience his peace.

Peace is your destiny.

Colossians 3:15 says, Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace.  Peace is God’s will for you.

Peace is a promise.

God’s peace is available to you today and every day.  You don’t ever have to worry.  The Bible is clear: God promises peace for his people (Psalm 85:8).

Peace brings glory to God.

When you trust in the Lord through a trial, others will notice. They’ll see peace on your countenance and hear peace in your voice. They’ll ask questions about your faith, giving you an open door to share the gospel. Your peace will point people to the Lord.

One day when Jesus and his disciples were out at sea, a severe storm broke out.  Jesus was sleeping, but the disciples were paralyzed with fear.  They woke Jesus and said, “Don't you care that we're going to drown?”  Mark 4:38. Jesus got up and said, “Peace! Be still!”  Mark 4:39.  The storm immediately stopped, and everything became calm.

The next time strong winds blow, don’t be overcome with fear.  Turn to God, and put your trust in Him.  The peace you seek is yours for the taking.  All you have to do is receive it.

 

Kristen Feola is passionate about helping others become more spiritually and physically fit. She is the author of The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast and her second book will be released in December 2014. Kristen has worked as a personal trainer, nutritional consultant, and fitness instructor. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Springfield, Missouri. Kristen's website is www.ultimatedanielfast.com. Follow her on Facebook and Twitter

 

 

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Posted: March 10, 2014

ALWAYS. PANTOTE.

 

Always be joyful.       1 Thessalonians 5:16

You know the verse. It’s the first part of a long command to always be thankful…always pray… no matter what happens.

Always be joyful.

A stand-alone sentence is a stand-alone verse blended into a unified command reiterating to always. And I wondered about that word always…because really, it can’t mean a-l-w-a-y-s, right?

Always be joyful.

It can’t mean be joyful during…

…moments when your marriage is struggling.
…days after you’ve received a difficult diagnosis.
…weeks when your child is wayward.
…months when money is tight.
…years that relationships need reconciling.
…decades you’ve lost all dreams about your future.

It can’t mean to be joyful when Life shows up the way Life does – unannounced and uninvited, with fists flying and guns blazing.

Always be joyful.

It certainly can’t mean that.

I looked up that word always with defenses raised, ready to arm myself with proof that always really means sometimes and in most cases means rarely.  But to my dismay, the Greek word is pantote and means “at all times, always, EVER.”

Then the dictionary defined it as “every time, on every occasion, without exception; all the time, continuously, uninterruptedly;  in any event, at any time.”

Always be joyful.

The truth cannot be escaped – this command, Always Be Joyful, means to be full of joy consistently, constantly, ever, invariably, regularly, repeatedly, perpetually, eternally, everlastingly, evermore, for keeps, till I’m blue in the face and till the cows come home.

Always be joyful.

We tend to define joy as a feeling of great pleasure or happiness. But a deeper look into God’s word shows that biblical joyfulness is something else entirely.

His people in the Old Testament were fabulous expressers of joy.  When David ran for his life from Saul, spared at the literal last minute by God’s intervention, David sat down and penned,

This is a good life – my heart is glad, my soul is full of joy and my body is at rest.       Psalm 16:9

Really?  He’s barely caught his breath after fearing for his life and his first words are “my soul is full of joy”??

Always be joyful.

Further digging shows most Hebrew words for joy are connected to joyfulness, shouting for joy, singing for joy, rejoicing and making joyful noises.  They refer to expressive, loud, cannot-contain-it-for-one-more-second types of joy:

[Always] Samach: to rejoice, be glad; used for louder expressions of joy, as of those who make merry, who utter merry cries
[Always] Teruwah: alarm, signal, shout, blast of war or alarm or joy, war cry, battle cry, shout of joy
[Always] Ranan: to overcome, cry out, shout for joy, rejoicing – not with an articulate voice
[Always] Alats: to jump for joy, exult, be joyful, rejoice, triumph
[Always] Giyl: exceeding joy, gladness, greatly rejoice
[Always] Patsach: break out in joyful sound, break forth into joy, make a loud noise
[Always] Renanah: a shout for joy, joyful voice, singing, triumphing

And us – those blocking the swinging blows Life throws us – we willingly downgrade joy to simply a feeling of great pleasure or happiness. We base it on circumstances and situations; we accept it as a brief or fleeting feeling instead of a perpetual state of being.

But God – God says joy is an expression that erupts from the depths of our soul and something we should always be. He says it should be so deep we cannot help but explode with an outward, expressive action. He says joy is already present in us.

The joy of the Lord is our strength  (Nehemiah 8:10)
Joy is made possible by the Holy Spirit ( Romans 14:17)
Joy is a fruit of the spirit  (Galatians 5:23)

Joy is the evidence of the Holy Spirit in our lives. We cannot manufacture it ourselves — it comes from God and it’s already there.

Always be joyful.

Being joyful is to be full of God’s presence and His grace regardless of circumstances, situations and emotions. (click to tweet that)  It isn’t something we muster up ourselves, or find in our own strength. It isn’t something we plaster on our face to mask worry or pain.

Joy isn’t possessing only peace or only contentment – those are uniquely their own qualities.
But joy – joy already exists because of Christ in us, and the Holy Spirit in our lives.  Joy is Jesus.

Always Jesus.

When we focus on Christ alone as Our Joy, we can Always Be Joyful. We can allow shouts of joy and joyful noises escape from the depths of our souls simply because we are and He is.
I’m ready to fight for joy!  To counterpunch Life’s attacks with shouts of joy and battle cries and joyful noises, declaring I will Always be Joyful. That I will at all times, always, ever be joyful.

Pantote Joyful.

Will you join me in fighting for joy today?

Monica

 


Monica Steely is a writer, speaker, coffee iv’er and transformation whisperer. She blogs at Elevate Ideas and procrastinates anything related to cooking, cleaning and other domestic activities. She’s also the co-founder of

Be Still Be Free…a ministry/movement/podcasting-thing seeking to encourage women to BE first and DO second. Find BE on Facebook and Twitter, and listen on iTunes.
Photo © www.thinkstock.com/jillchen

 

 

 

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Posted: March 3, 2014

When Your Plans {and Life} Get Hijacked

I had big plans for last fall.

With my youngest starting kindergarten, I would finally have some time to do things I wanted to do. I could finally find time for a regular work-out routine. I could increase my volunteer responsibilities at church and at my kids’ school. I might even get around to cleaning out that basement closet I've avoided for three years.

Don't forget the writing: I had big plans for writing....blog posts, e-books, maybe even launch another blog. Seriously, I had pages and pages of ideas for content, series, and e-books.

What I did not plan for is cancer.  But that's exactly what happened.

I admit, my first reaction was, "Seriously, God?!...Again?!...NOW?!" I was shocked. I was devastated. I was ticked off.

Didn't God know I was going to do all these things?  Didn't He know I had plans?!  It's not like I was going to sit around and watch TV...I was going to do things—good things.  I was going to volunteer...at church.  I planned to offer my time and talents...to my kids' school.  And I wanted to write...about Him.

One day, in the midst of this pity party, I received a text from a friend with this verse:  The Lord says,    "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you."      Psalm 32:8

Huh. That was different from the other verses people had sent. You know, verses saying, "Do not fear..." "I am with You..." "Nothing is impossible with God..." but  "I will guide you along the best path for your life?"
How could cancer possibly be the best path for my life? Could it be that God had another plan...one that was less about me and my agenda and more about Him and His plan?

In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.  Proverbs 16:9

Please don't misunderstand.  I do not believe God gave me cancer.  God is good and He does good.  Cancer is not good; therefore, cancer is not from God.  However, God can take something terrible (like cancer) and bring good from it.  (Yes, He's that good!)

God is eternal, which means He exists beyond the confines of time. He sees all of time at the same time. He sees the end as well as the beginning.

My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.     Psalm 139:15, 16 

God knew about the cancer long before I did.  As a matter of fact, He knew about it long before my parents knew about me.  He did not cause it, but He did allow it...for a time.  And if He allowed it, He must have a plan in it.  That's just the way He works.

God knew what he was doing from the very beginning. He decided from the outset to shape the lives of those who love him along the same lines as the life of his Son.  Romans 8:28

I am limited in what I can do about my situation. I can follow the advice of doctors. I can go to chemotherapy.  I can take care of my body.  I can pray and believe for healing.  But beyond that, I have little control over my situation.

What I can control is my response to it:  Will I allow God to use it for good?  Or will I wallow in self-pity and grow bitter over the fact that He allowed it at all?  (Lest you think I'm far more spiritual than I am, I assure you I've had my moments of wallowing!)

I love how TobyMac puts it:

If You wanna steal my show, I'll sit back and watch You go;

If You've got something to say, go on and take it away...

(watch the full song here)

If I believe that God is good...and that He loves me...and that He is in control, then it makes sense to let go of my plans.  Instead of writing my stories this year, it makes sense to hand over my keyboard and let God write His story.  I have a feeling His will be much better than mine would have been anyway!

There Is Grace,
~Nancy

Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate. When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family, she can be found writing about embracing grace at www.ThereIsGrace.com.  Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world, her husband and two children.

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted: February 24, 2014

Seeking a Vineyard

 

A wife of noble character who can find?  She is worth far more than rubies. Her husband has full confidence in her and lacks nothing of value.  She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She selects wool and flax and works with eager hands. She is like the merchant ships, bringing her food from afar.  She gets up while it is still dark; she provides food for her family and portions for her servant girls.  She considers a field and buys it; out of her earnings she plants a vineyard.                                                                                                                                                                                     Proverbs 31:10-13

Proverbs 31...okay, so who can really challenge this gal’s bio? No skeletons in her closet.  Her man doesn’t question her value because it cost him more rubies than he had.  She is a glass- half-full kind of girl and an expert in retail products.  An early riser, she packs a healthy lunch and extras to share with others. She has her eye on prime real estate and drives such a good bargain that she can plant a vineyard.

That’s where I stumble.  The vineyard gets me.  She had a place of her own from her earnings. Something that represented her intellect.  I hold my breath as something stirs in my heart-envy.  I want this woman’s vineyard. I covet and am blinded from what I do have, embracing what someone else has because there are times that my “field” as a wife and mother is defined and measured by repetitive tasking and asking.

How many times do we find ourselves questioning the field, our life, God has given us?  How will we ever be able to gain any earnings when we just scrape by on what’s in our field when we are so easily overwhelmed and defeated by the day’s challenges before our feet hit the floor each morning?

In the parable of the sower the seed falls onto different soil, that soil being the condition of our hearts.  For a woman, the seeds of envy are found just beneath the soil of our heart.  They grow at random and germinate from our insecurities.  First, as the little girl seeking love and approval, shouting, “Watch me! Want to see do that again? Hold me!!”

The thorny stems plucks through our adolescence with, “Do I look pretty?  Why don’t they like me? Then the plant reaches out, engulfing the blossoming flowers around it.  “Why doesn’t he like me? She is prettier than me, more popular.  She doesn’t have acne or even body odor!”

This starts the unrealistic comparison game that follows into young adulthood.  “I would have had that job if I were smarter, funnier.  He would have loved me if I was more spontaneous.  My life would be different if only I ______”.

The insecurity plant’s roots can infiltrate our heart soil when we become mothers.  There are times in our life that we try to live vicariously through our children.  We celebrate their developmental milestones as infants, their achievements, their victories as our own, and then we brag.

I often think of Mary, Jesus’ mother.  Picture Mary and a friend we’ll call Naomi, on a play date.  The kids play while Naomi and Mary sit by chatting about the kids activities, then Naomi casually mentions that Benjamin’s ram’s horn and lyre teacher thinks that Benjamin is quite talented and gifted.  In fact, she blushingly admits, “My Benjamin is a prodigy.”  Mary sits there quietly seemingly appreciative of Benjamin’s rare giftedness.  Doing that “treasure and ponder it in her heart” thing.  Now, don’t you think Mary could have quickly replied, “That’s lovely, Naomi, but my son’s the Christ. You heard me, M-E-S-S-I-A-H: Messiah!”  Certainly it would have silenced Naomi. I mean after all, who could top that?

That probably never happened to Mary, but what about to you?  Have you felt the sting that you can never measure up?  What if you truly believed your field was God’s plan for your life? It’s then we should stop, and consider God, ruler of the universe, who hangs the stars in the sky. He gave you your field and expects you to tend to it.  We can’t be imitators of Christ, aliens to the world system if we define ourselves by the latest trends or others.

If we can’t get past the insecurity, we can never allow Jesus to heal the wounds of inadequacy.

We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves.  When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.  We, however, will not boast beyond proper limits, but will confine our boasting to the field God has assigned to us, a field that reaches even to you.    2 Corinthians 10:12-13

What if all the little things in life that we are faithful to; the acts of service which go unnoticed, were to fill our hearts and out of the overflow, the scraps, God began making nutrient rich compost?   Would your bio read, “She has compost but she covets a vineyard.”  Or would you allow the Holy Spirit, the master gardener to till your heart soil changing your bio to, “Out of her abundant compost, she helps other women tend their field-reaping an eternal harvest.”

 Agape,

Kristianne

Kristianne’s life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal, and their daughters Grace and Annelise.  Collecting people and gardening are among her passions.  Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose.  Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels and follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith

 

 

 

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Posted: February 16, 2014

Never Say This to a Cancer Patient


I get it.  Cancer is one of those words.

No one likes to hear it whether it's about yourself, a loved one, or a complete stranger.  And no one knows quite what to say in response to it. For that reason, I dreaded telling people I was battling cancer.  It was one thing to tell those closest to me who walked the journey with me in faith. It was another thing altogether to tell my child's teacher or the neighbor I ran into at the grocery store.
My announcement of the “C” word was always met with awkward moments of silence. I’m sure that was a result of the other person's mind racing to come up with just the right thing to say.  I’ll let you in on a little secret...there really isn't a right thing to say to someone facing cancer.  Offer hope,  offer encouragement,  offer prayer,  but don't try to find the right thing to say,  because you probably won't.

There are,  however,  some wrong things to say when someone tells you they are facing cancer.  The most shocking response I received was when I told someone I hardly knew that I had been going through chemotherapy.  After I explained a rather discouraging visit with my doctor, the person replied, "Well, I guess we never know when it's our time to go..."

What?!?!  For the record,  that is the WRONG thing to say! I would think that would be obvious.  Others are not so obvious.

Like this oldie, but goodie: God won't give us more than we can handle.

It’s meant to be encouraging,  I know.  I've even said it on occasion when trying to lift someone’s spirits.  But we all need to stop saying it. Why?

Because it's simply not true.

God does give us more than we can handle.

Did God allow Satan to ransack Job's life, stripping from him everything he held dear (including his own health), because He thought Job could "handle it"? Job sure didn't think so!

“Why did I not perish at birth, and die as I came from the womb?" Job 3:11

Job was in so much anguish, he wished he had never been born. He had reached his breaking point. God had given him more than he could handle.

Even the Apostle Paul begged God to remove him from a difficult circumstance.  In 2 Corinthians, he wrote:

"I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me"  2 Corinthians 12:7, 8

We don't know the details of Paul's circumstances, but we know that they overwhelmed him. So much so that he pleaded with God to remove him from it. But God didn’t. Instead He answered Paul,

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (verse 9).

God didn't tell Paul to buck up and get a grip.  He didn't assure Paul that he could handle it. Instead, He reminded Paul that he didn’t have to do it in his own strength. Because God knows when we come to the end of ourselves, that's when we find Him.  And when we find Him, there is grace.

When we receive news that knocks the breath from our lungs....grace.

When our bodies are weak and exhausted...grace.

When we think we can't take another doctor's visit, or more discouraging news...grace.

When we can’t find the strength to do the day-to-day tasks that still need doing, despite our lack of energy or motivation....grace.


My friend, Madi Walker, says it so beautifully in her song  "His Grace"...

When I'm broken, and when I'm fighting...

When the news I hear tomorrow could be frightening...

When I'm scared, when I'm unprepared...

When time goes faster than I'd like it...

His grace is enough for me

His mercy, His mercy is all I need

When my tired heart is heavy,

When I fall onto my knees,

His grace is enough for me.


Madi is offering her song, “His Grace” as a special gift to Compassion That Compels readers. Click here for the Free Download -- His Grace.  You can purchase Madi’s entire album,  Names, on i-Tunes.

So we should really stop telling each another that God won’t give us more than we can handle,  because when we say that we’re really saying we don’t need to rely on God.  We can take care of it. More importantly, we need to stop living like we can take care of it on our own. 

The truth is God does give us more than we can handle.  But when we come to the end of ourselves, when we’ve exhausted all of our own strength, God is there.  And when we let go and fall into His grace, He picks us up and carries us through in His strength.

Are you facing circumstances today that are beyond your own strength?  Don’t worry my friend, you don’t have to handle it on your own.  Lean in to God’s grace and receive His strength today.

There is Grace,

~Nancy


Nancy is an author, speaker, wife, mother, cancer-fighter, and lover of all things chocolate.  When she’s not playing cook, chauffeur, maid, or referee to her family,  she can be found writing about embracing grace at www.ThereIsGrace.com.  Nancy lives in Missouri with her favorite people in the world,  her husband and two children.

 

 

 

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Posted: February 10, 2014

It started with a letter and a sweater ... Compassion Bags

 

Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.  Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts. They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.  You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully.  Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!  Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.   As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!  I will obey your decrees.  Please don’t give up on me!    Psalm 119:1-8 

I watched through the day as sunbeams moved across the waiting room like solar spotlights, settling along the length of a piece of furniture, highlighting its occupant’s emotions. The day had passed and I was alone in the hospital waiting room.  I’d read and reread my sister-in-law’s letter. Her words were written in red.  “I want you to know I’m secure and very peaceful with you being here waiting on me to wake up. So while you’re in the waiting room, you show someone your heart and make their wait a little more peaceful.”

My thumb ran imaginary creases across the folds of the letter.  Rather than waiting on a call, I made my way to the recovery room and slipped past the nurse’s station.  The chorus of beeps and bleeps emitting from machines guided me to Sonja’s lone bed. “Sonja, I’m here.” I watched her fingers pull lightly against the sheets.  “Kristianne, I knew you’d come.  I kept calling for you but I knew you’d come.  I’m so cold.”

I pillaged every piece of wheeled furniture around me for a blanket with no success.  My eyes fell to my bag and a wrinkled cardigan sweater.  I picked it up and laid it weave-like under and over the tubes that disappeared within the sheets, and into my precious sister-in-law.

I didn’t know it at the time but what started with a letter,  a sweater,  and three women I loved diagnosed with cancer;  began my Bible studies and ministry, Compassion That Compels.

BAG:  Anyone who has walked through cancer or alongside a cancer overcomer has at one time stuffed their clothes into an oversized plastic bag, closely resembling a reusable cold bag.

JESUS CALLING DEVOTIONAL:  God’s word reminds you, a cancer overcomer, that you are first an overcomer in Christ.

JOURNAL:  To record those thoughts just between you and God.

 SCRIPTURE TEA:  Because hospital coffee at 6 pm is often thick as glue.

REUSABLE CUP OR MUG:  For when even coffee glue can’t be found.

NOTEBOOK & PEN:  To phonetically write down all those big, Latin sounding words that confirm this won’t go away with antibiotics and wish you’d paid more attention in science class.

SCRIPTURE MINTS:  During treatment your mouth is always dry or suddenly becomes dry when you see a doctor approaching with your chart in hand.

SMALL THROW:  If you’re not freezing, the person next to you probably is.

CHICK-FIL-A CARD:  Just to get away from a hospital cafeteria to a land flowing with sweet tea and nugget sauce.


I am a stranger and a temporary resident on the earth; hide not Your commandments from me.    Psalm 119:19 

This life is just a waiting room.  So while you’re in the waiting room, do what Sonja wanted everyone to do -- show your heart.

Agape,

Kristianne

 

Kristianne’s life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose. Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels and follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith


  

 

 

 

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Posted: February 3, 2014

Break My Heart

"Heal my heart and make it clean.  Open up my eyes to the things unseen.  Show me how to love like You have loved me. Break my heart for what breaks Yours.  Everything I am for Your Kingdom's cause.  As I walk from earth into eternity."

Those words haunt my soul; "Break my heart for what breaks Yours."  Oh God, do I want my heart to break?  Is that the pain I feel when pulled between serving and selfish desires, God?

"Yes," the still small voice replies.

And I (The Lord) will give them singleness of heart and put a new spirit within them.  I will take away their stony, stubborn heart and give them a tender, responsive heart.    Ezekiel 11:19 

Like the layers of an onion, the Christian life is a continuous peeling off and breaking away of what does not belong;  attitudes, reactions, self-preservation.  Anything that builds the stony, stubborn heart walls back up must be broken off.

As I allow the Holy Spirit to massage my heart and its responses, a new awareness is emerging deep within my soul of why people say the things they say and do what they do.  My desire is for more of this in my life!  It is a process and I thank God for the baby steps He has allowed me to take.  Responses by email or social media now go through the grid of this new awareness.  Could it be a tender, responsive heart is at work?

Could that be offensive?
Could that hurt someone?
Is that self serving in some manner?
Does it start a negative pattern or line of thought?

Allowing the Holy Spirit to break my heart for what breaks His interrupts the rebuilding of a heart of stone around my heart of flesh.  Daring to turn off the “what about me” part of any situation,  I moan and ache as I pause and consider my words and actions. I contemplate the awesomeness of many lovely hearts and the patience extended to me on the road to having a more compassionate heart.  Why have I been so delayed on this road of considering others first instead of feeding the insatiable hunger of my selfish heart?

The words of Jesus say it loud in Matthew 22:39,  "Love your neighbor as yourself."  My heart must be broken to complete this command.

Realizing the heartache a friend is going through with her young adult son, now disabled and unable to provide for his young family, my heart breaks like God’s.  Her harsh words no longer affect me because of the work of the broken heart.

Observing a young man who is making wrong choices through the lens of the broken heart dispels the judgmental words from my lips.

What happens when I don’t respond from the broken heart?  The sloppy mortar of my futile attempts to rebuild of my heart of stone causes me to slip and fall on my face.  I call a halt to the repeated thoughts,  drop to my knees asking forgiveness of God and those I have offended.  Peace and that tender heart quickly return.

Psalm 51:17 (NLT) The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God.

Psalm 73:26 (NIV) My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.

During this month of love, I pray you will take time to consider the Lover of your soul and allow Him to break your heart.

Blessings,

Gwen

 

Gwen Plauche, aka Momma Gwen, is married to the love of her life, mom to five (ages 16-26) and loves to share encouragement found on the pages of her Bible.  Visit Gwen's blog www.MommaGwen.com and Twitter@MommaGwen

Hosanna, Words & Music by Brooke Fraser
© 2006 Hillsong Publishing

 

 

 

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Posted: January 27, 2014

I’m GNAT Eating That!

 

Blind guides! You strain your water so you won’t accidentally swallow a gnat, but you swallow a camel!         Matthew 23:24 

Dashboard sensors flashed red, signaling impending peril as the front end of my car narrowly missed the fast food drive thru line. A computerized voice erupted from the super-sized neon menu. “Welcome to It’s a Wonderful Life.  Order when you’re ready.”  My flesh rumbled.  I can’t imagine why I am so hungry!  It’s only 11 am but it had been a busy morning.  I’d already had a heated chat with my Yorkies of questionable pedigree and my computer.  My fellow commuters and trapped passengers had received free driving instructions.  And I still had a meeting with a contractor for a quote on shade covering to my corner of our home’s rooftop.

My voice oozed sweet tea kindness.  “Yes, may I please have a camel burger with manna fries,  Aqua Vida bottled water,  and a spiritual fruit medley cup.  Oh, by the way, is your special sauce gnat free? Because I’m gnat intolerant.”  Okay, so maybe it didn’t exactly happen like that.  Whether it’s passing judgement on someone and waiting for them to clean up before we share our Jesus or barking out more commands than a NFL quarterback on Superbowl Sunday, these are the moments when we can home in with laser intensity on the spiritual gnats.  Those spiritual gnats are the little things that really don’t matter, but blind us to the camel called sin.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives:  love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  23  gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!  24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there.  25  Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives      Galatians 5:22-23 

It really comes down to the fruit of the spirit. Fruit is singular here.  Just like when we have to answer to God,  there isn’t any collective we and there isn’t any fruit medley cup.  We can’t have the love without joy, peace without patience, kindness without goodness, faithfulness without gentleness.  In the memory game of our heart, the match for self-control is submission to the Holy Spirit. 

The religious leaders in Jesus' time on Earth, questioned his authenticity but this one in particular is my favorite in Mark 12:32-34.

 “Well said, teacher,” the man replied. “You are right in saying that God is one and there is no other but him." That's bold! It takes nerve to tell the creator of the Universe-God that He's "spot on."  Then our friend has his "a ha moment' and repeats the teachings,  "To love him with all your heart, with all your understanding and with all your strength, and to love your neighbor as yourself is more important than all burnt offerings and sacrifices.”  Today, most of us don't routinely have incense burning in our home or scour the local pet store for sacrificial, unblemished animals but we do forget to love God with every part of us.

The word impact is often used as a verb meaning to cause an effect or change.  The word means nothing if we don't learn from the impact as a noun, the collision itself.  My impact happened when cancer collided with my Christianity.  Showing God's love and compassion to the lost and the hurting became my ongoing spiritual impact.  

 Realizing how much the man understood, Jesus said to him, “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.”  And after that, no one dared to ask him any more questions.    Mark 12:34

Like the religious leader over 2000 years ago, we need to stop questioning and begin surrendering.  A Spirit led life tethers our heart, soul, mind and strength to God's will.  His lead transforms love from me to we  when we obey God's greatest command and love our neighbor as ourself.  

 Agape,

Kristianne

 Kristianne’s life of love is filled to overflowing for her husband Royal and their daughters Grace and Annelise. Collecting people and gardening are among her passions. Painting lives in brilliant hues of God’s love and compassion is her purpose.  Join Kristianne on Facebook Compassion That Compels  and follow her on Twitter Kristiannefaith

 

 

 

 

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Posted: January 20, 2014

Get Spiritually Fit -- FAST!

If you’re like most people, one of your goals for 2014 is to get in better physical shape.  While that’s certainly a worthy ambition, it’s also important (and even more so) to improve your spiritual fitness this year.  Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come  1 Timothy 4:7-8 NLT 

One way to train your spiritual muscles is to fast.  Fasting provides a unique opportunity to grow closer to the Lord through prayer and self-denial.  When you do a Daniel Fast, you abstain from certain foods for a specified period of time as an act of surrender and worship to God.  You are, in essence, saying,  “God, I have to have your help in this situation.  I don’t know what to do, and I’m willing to sacrifice my plans, my physical comfort,  and my desires so I can hear from you.”

Several examples of fasting appear in both the Old and New Testament. One of the most telling passages occurs in Matthew 6:16, as Jesus is teaching his disciples basic principles of godly living. Addressing the issue of fasting, he begins with, “When you fast,” notIf you fast.” Jesus’ words imply that fasting will be a regular practice in the lives of believers.  Here's a few reasons why you should embrace this powerful spiritual discipline:

Fasting is the example set by Jesus.

We should fast because Jesus did.  Our Savior spent forty days and nights in the wilderness fasting and praying before he began his public ministry (Matthew 4:1-11).  During that time, the Lord was able to defeat Satan’s attacks because he was prayed up and armed with the Word of God.  Jesus’ example shows us how fasting equips and empowers us for victory over sin.

Fasting helps you grow in faith.

Self-denial does not come naturally to us because the flesh is wired for indulgence.  When you commit to a fast,  you understand and acknowledge that you can’t do it on your own. You realize how completely dependent you are upon the Lord’s strength. You learn to lean on him for the perseverance you need to finish strong.  If doing a long-term fast (more than three days) seems overwhelming, consider fasting one day a week as a starting point.  One option is to join the "STOP to Pray" www.ultimatedanielfast.com/videos/stop-to-pray campaign I offer through my website.  Parents and grandparents are encouraged to fast and pray each Thursday for their children and grandchildren.  If you’re single, you can still participate.  My friend, Lori, isn’t married, but for the past two years she has taken advantage of this opportunity and prays for her nieces each week.  For more information and to register, visit STOP to Pray at www.ultimatedanielfast.com/videos/stop-to-pray.

Fasting changes you.

Fasting allows you to experience a greater sense of the Lord’s presence and the indescribable joy that comes from walking in obedience. I recently received an email from a reader named Dave, who participated in the Daniel Fast this month.  He said, “I’ve been in bondage to food for years, so I’m doing this fast to rid myself in the Spirit's power from my addiction.  What’s happening is miraculous! Chains are being broken! I thank God every day for the fast.”  Dave’s experience is a perfect example of what happens when you spend focused time in the Lord’s presence. You are transformed as you meditate on the truth of God’s Word and apply His promises to your life.

When accompanied by fervent prayer, fasting will help you develop intimacy with the Lord like nothing else can.  You’ll experience a greater sense of his presence in your life, along with the joy and blessings that come from obeying His Word. Don’t make the mistake of thinking fasting isn’t for you. God invites each of us to draw near to Him, and He promises to reward those who do.

If you desire to become more spiritually fit this year, consider doing a fast.  Trust in the Lord to provide the strength and perseverance you need.  He is faithful to satisfy those who hunger and thirst for Him.

Kristen

Join Kristen's online Daniel Fast January 5-25, 2014,  www.ultimatedanielfast.com  sign up and receive daily emails, recipe ideas, and fasting tips.

Kristen Feola is the author of The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast, an encouraging resource for individuals and groups participating in the Daniel Fast. Kristen has worked as a personal trainer, nutritional consultant, and fitness instructor. She lives with her husband and two daughters in Springfield, Missouri. Visit Kristen's website www.ultimatedanielfast.com and follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/kristen.feola  and Twitter www.twitter.com/kristenfeola

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted: January 14, 2014

Just Say KNOW!

Do you remember the days when things were simpler…days when Google, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter didn’t exist?  I remember waking up in my college years to coffee, prayer, and Jesus. It was quiet.  That time was all that I wanted.  It was all that I needed.

Life changes.  Marriage vows are spoken. Children arrive. Sleepless nights won’t let up.  Laundry grows. Dishes stink. Cleaning never ends. Work demands increase.  Unexpected trials come.

As responsibilities increase and needs accumulate, I fight harder for my relationship with my heavenly Father.  Navigating mornings in search of peace, requires wading through diapers, sleeping children, blinking phone messages and the open computer screaming my new Facebook notifications.  My favorite, Instagram, calls for me to take a quick peek.  Last night’s dirty dishes shamefully condemn me as I walk past.  The laundry I forgot to fold the night before beckons me.  These are not bad or unimportant things, but they must wait.

DISTRACTIONS!  Now I know why Jesus went outdoors to a place of solitude to pray.  They are everywhere and are increasing as our society progresses with the next best thing.

I am the vine; you are the branches.  If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

When I resist more of these earthly distractions, I find what my soul truly needs.

ineed Him.

ineed the only thing that satisfies my restlessness.  ineed to just be with Jesus.  I wash my mind in His Word and climb in His lap to hear His whispers of love. ineed Him to remind me of who I really am.  ineed.  Yes, ineed.

 

2014 is my year to fervently determine to really KNOW God and be a little less “social” by saying, NO.  No to social media, that is.  I will know God when I make my most important ineed;  abiding with Jesus.  I must pave the way for my children and show them what is most important because they too are embarking on this same journey and facing this same battle with increasing resistance,  and never knowing a world without technological distractions.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.              Jeremiah 29:13

My friend, what lures you away from undistracted time with God?  It’s easy to readjust your “social media life” and resist the world's distractions…

Just Say KNOW!

 Love,

Joy 

For more of Joy Scott's blog and Hope For Joseph Foundation, visit www.theunstoppablelife.me  and http://www.hope4joseph.org  

 

 

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Posted: January 6, 2014

Press On Toward the Goal

“I press on toward the goal….” – Philippians 3:14a

The apostle Paul is one of my favorite people in the Bible.  I love his boldness, tenacity,  and  humility.  He was a mighty prayer warrior and spokesman for the Lord.  

But before Paul was a missionary, he was a murderer.  Paul had a past.  A rough one. 

Paul not only mocked Christians,  he had them killed.  Yet, when the Lord appeared to him on the road to Damascus,  Paul was radically changed.  One visit from the Savior,  and his life took a different path.  The wicked persecutor was transformed into a passionate preacher of the gospel.  However, Paul was human. Even though he preached tirelessly about God’s grace,  he must have struggled with deep remorse over his past.  No doubt the enemy reminded Paul daily of his former ways, hoping to paralyze his faith. 

Paul refused to be lured into captivity.  He made the decision to leave his transgressions at the cross.  I believe that’s precisely his motivation for writing,  “One thing I do:  Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead.  I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.”     Philippians 3:13-14

Instead of focusing on his failures, Paul celebrated his freedom.  As a result, he experienced joy and peace in serving the Lord.  What an example for us to follow!  No matter what regrets you have  –  whether they occurred ten years ago or ten minutes ago – let them go. 

Forget what’s already been forgiven. 

If you have been born again,  your sins are no longer counted against you. You're free to enjoy God's unconditional and eternal love without guilt or shame.  Romans 8:1 promises, “There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

One way to deepen your relationship with the Lord is by fasting.  

The purpose of a fast is to deny yourself food, or certain foods,  for a specified period of time as an act of surrender and worship to God.  When people think of a fast though, the first image that usually comes to mind is going without food for several days and drinking only water,  broth, and/or juice.  Another option is the Daniel Fast.  On this fast, commonly enjoyed foods are restricted for twenty-one days as you devote yourself to seeking the Lord.  Since you’re able to eat solid food, the Daniel Fast is much less intimidating than a liquid-only fast.  Plus, you’ll be more likely to stick with it.

My first Daniel Fast experience was in 2009.  I had no idea how that three-week journey with the Lord would change the course of my life.  God flung open new doors of ministry for me, which included writing my first book,  The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast.  He certainly did more than I could have ever asked for or imagined in my wildest dreams!

God has amazing plans for you as well.  Your mind can’t even begin to comprehend what he has in store!  Don’t allow fear, laziness, or the excuse, “It’s too hard!” keep you from stepping out in faith.  Commit to a time of prayer and fasting this month.  You can do it.

Trust in the Lord to provide the strength and perseverance you need.  Don’t waste any time in reaching for your goal.  Press on to know Him!

Kristen

Join Kristen's online Daniel Fast January 5-25, 2014, www.ultimatedanielfast.com  sign up and receive daily emails, recipe ideas, and fasting tips.

Kristen Feola is the author of The Ultimate Guide to the Daniel Fast, an encouraging resource for individuals and groups participating in the Daniel Fast. Kristen has worked as a personal trainer, nutritional consultant, and fitness instructor.  She lives with her husband and two daughters in Springfield, Missouri.  Visit Kristen's website www.ultimatedaniefast.com  and follow her on Facebook www.facebook.com/kristen.feola and Twitter www.twitter.com/kristenfeola  

 

 

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