No middle ground

Take a trip with me to the “Cross”. How do you feel when you go there ? Every… single… time I take this trip (whether in worship, reading, praying, or just the stillness of a moment),

I am filled with so much emotion. An overwhelming gratefulness that I know I don’t fully understand because of Jesus’ absolute perfection and holiness. His love for you and me is unconditional, and we do not earn His grace on that Cross and through eternity.

I’ve rebelled, fail daily, have made horrible choices. I’ve also prayed, begged, pleaded for, wept for, and worshipped for God’s grace / sobbing in the midst of deep appreciation for Him redeeming me.

But what do we do when someone else rebels, fails, or makes horrible choices? Choices that hurt you or someone you love? Someone that you don’t feel deserves your grace and forgiveness – just as you or I don’t deserve His.

Like, whoa… wait Kristy, right? That heartache still stings, that pain is still there, those hurt feelings are still interrupting my sleep and using my brain for a playground. Yeah, I know… I get it. But, with grace and forgiveness there is no middle ground. We either apply God’s grace or we step off into a nasty journey of bitterness. And well, bitterness is TRAGIC, destructive, and more painful, more hurtful, more heartache, and the very opposite of what Jesus did for us all on the cross.

Friend, the grace from the cross was not meant for us to be greedy with. It’s to be poured out as Jesus did. I’m not saying it will be easy. It’s not deserving (for any of us), and not usually the prettiest circumstances. But…but, have no doubt sister, Christ forgave you and me far beyond what we deserve, and He forgives others the same. Be intentional, be determined, not to fall short of the grace of God because you wouldn’t share that grace yourself. ♥️

“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith- and this not from yourselves, it is a gift of God.” Eph. 2:8

But how?

“To everything there is a season, A time for every purpose under heaven”

Ecclesiastes 3:1

Winter is not my favorite season. There, I said it. I am not a fan of it in the natural (and definitely not spiritually). I miss the greenery and the flowers. I miss the warmth of the sun. I miss the activity of warmer months. I even miss my skin feeling softer.

Winter is gray, cold, slow, and seemingly lifeless. But, there is a purpose for it. Both in the physical and in the spiritual.

I am pretty certain I am finding myself in a winter season in my walk with the Lord and it’s been very hard not to feel like a failure because the joy and the fire isn’t the same as it was during the summer. I understand you can’t always be in bloom but when it seems everyone around you is in a much warmer season with Jesus, it’s hard not feel like you’ve done something wrong. I’ve questioned if I’ve gotten off somehow and “how do I fix this” and the answer is always the same: rest. Or “be still”. Or there is simply silence. He is encouraging a quiet spirit within me. And I was pretty hopeless in this time, feeling like I wasn’t “getting it” or that it would ever change, but while working on this devotional I kept coming back to this verse — to the theme of time — and even verse 11 of the same chapter:

“He has made everything beautiful in its time”

But how can this season be beautiful?

How does this season do any good?

What purpose does winter really have?

So I researched. Winter comes from an old Germanic word meaning “time of water”, this refers to the rain or snow we have during this season. (There’s definitely tears!) It is also associated with dormancy, especially in regards to crops — some plants die leaving seeds behind and others merely cease growth until spring. Surprisingly, earth is also closest to the sun in winter. In the natural, winter has its benefits for growth in the coming seasons — many berry bushes and some fruit trees require a period of rest each winter to prepare to produce fruit the following spring and summer.

I hope you catch all this in the spirit!

This season of winter I am in with Jesus, is for future growth and fruitfulness. A need for rest as preparation that only He can see. A pace only He knows to set. A way to tend to me and my heart with a wisdom only He obtains. And, because He is tending to me, a time when He is closest to me.

Wow. Okay, I needed to know that. Perhaps now, I won’t fight Him on what He has been speaking. And I can lean into the beauty this “barren” season has. I can let the ground rest for whatever He is cultivating. In time, I will see what purpose this season had; I will see a harvest. I will discover how beautiful it truly is. And that is hope to my heart. To my spirit.

This season will not last forever. I can’t guarantee myself it will last the length of a natural season, but I know when it’s time is up, there will be growth. There will be “flowers”. There will be fruit. And it will be beautiful. It IS beautiful. Because God is the Master Gardener, and He tends to our growth — our fruitfulness — perfectly! Just as perfectly as nature is tended.

So, I don’t know about you, but I am going to let Jesus take His time in this season I find myself in to perfect whatever He needs to within me for a future only He can see. And may this encourage you if you find yourself in a similar season to trust His hand tending to your heart and to your life. He is closest to you in the “coldest” seasons. There is a timing and a beauty for each season, my friend. May we find the beauty of this time we are in. And let me leave you with lyrics from a song called “let the ground rest” by an artist named Chris Renzema that has blessed my heart in this time:

“Just let the ground rest cause if it’s not right now, it’s for the best. You’re gonna grow, I know this, but for now just let the ground rest.”

God is bigger

I’d like to tell you a story about a little girl. The little girl had taken swimming lessons for years but did not like them. She wasn’t afraid of swimming, but she was afraid of drowning. Every time she went to swimming lessons she would be gripped with fear. She had panic attacks, she cried and threw fits. She even made herself throw up. As she grew older the fear only seemed to grow. Her mother and her teachers encouraged her, prayed with her, employed tough love, and her mom even shed a few tears of her own, behind closed doors.  One day, after a particularly turbulent lesson, on the way home the mom shared that fear was not from God. Satan was the author of chaos who spreads fear and lies and discontent. The mother asked her daughter who she wanted to listen to, Satan or God? The little girl said she wanted to listen to God, but she really didn’t want to do swimming lessons. The next day, the mom and her daughter prayed and rocked some praise music all the way to her lesson. When they arrived at the pool, the little girl got into the water and did all the teacher asked. The teacher, astonished, told the little girl she was proud of her and asked what had happened to bring about the change in attitude about swimming lessons. The little girl responded, “I kicked Satan out of my brain and kicked God in, and now I can swim.” Thereafter the little girl excelled in her lessons, and even went on to swim in her neighborhood’s swim team. God is so, so good.

The moral of the story? Listen to you mother!!! I’m just joking! But really, if your mom offers you Godly counsel, you probably should listen. Y’all, I happen to be the mom in this story. I shared the truth that God shared with me, and my daughter lived out that truth. God is bigger than your fears. You can conquer your fears. You may not want to do the scary thing, but with faith in God, you can do the hard things, the scary things, the seemingly insurmountable things. God is so, so good!

Confession time. I live in an almost constant state of anxiety and fear. I fear bad things happening to those I love. I fear physical discomfort. I fear judgement from others. I fear change. I fear not being enough, as a Christian, as a wife, as a mother, as a daughter, as a sister, as a teacher. Why did I give my own daughter such good advice for her life, but fail to live out that same advice? Well, I think it is easier to tell someone a truth you know than it is to live out that same truth. We always try to give good and Godly advice to those we love because we know how worth it they are, and we want to see those we care about live abundantly! We need to take our own advice. I’m not there yet, but I’m trying! 

So, when those moments of fear seize me, I try to follow a few simple steps.

1. Pause. Recognize your fear. It is real. Then remind yourself that fear and dread are not from God. 1 John tells us that ‘There is no fear in love. But perfect love casts out fear…’ God’s love is perfect. He lives within me as a Christian. His perfect love can cast out my fear.

2. Ask God to allow you to see the situations through his eyes. I am not trying to minimize anyone’s feelings or the tough situations that inevitably come along, but I have found that when I try to see my problem through a Biblical lens rater than a worldly one, they always seem less daunting. 

3. Lastly, Pray for God to be with you. 

In Psalm 56:3, David writes, “When I am afraid, I will put my faith and trust in you.” That literally translates from Hebrew to mean “On the day that I am afraid (cry out), I will put my faith and trust in you.” David knew he would face fear. He recognized it, and asked called out to God. 

Maybe you don’t have a fear problem, Just know, if you do, you are not alone. And rest assured, while we may never perfectly let go of all fear on this side of Heaven, we can put our faith and trust in God. He is so, so good.

 

Even if

I will be obedient even if I’m scared.

That’s literally what I typed to my best friend a few weeks ago while chatting through text message.

I had reached out to her because I needed a little best friend pep talk. Y’all know what I’m talking about? I can’t be the only one.

Sometimes we just need a little push. A little “you’ve got this, girl” from someone that you love and trust.

We need ladies that will pray with us and for us.

And we need to be that lady for others.

I hope today that if you need encouraging you have someone to turn to. If not, I’m just a DM away.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Check in

Ok y’all.

Goal-getter check in.

It’s January 16th and the month is flying by. Let’s be honest – life has gotten real crazy, real fast. Last week I didn’t meet my fitness goals, but I’m not defeated. I refuse to be.

But let me ask you a question. Are you still as excited about the goals that you set for this year? Do you still have that feeling of grit and determination that you felt January 1st?

Listen, I know you can do it. Even if you’ve already messed up, slipped up, said you are giving up – it’s ok.

Dig deep.

That same lady that was reaching for the stars on January 1st is still there. That same lady that was unstoppable may just need a nap and a good talking to. Well, here it is.

You can do this.

Don’t give up.

It’s hard.

If it were easy it wouldn’t be worth it.

YOU are worth it.

Keep going, sister. I’m rooting for you.

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,” Hebrews 12:1

I choose

I Will Rejoice This Year

Psalm 118:24 “This is the day that the Lord has made, we will rejoice and be glad in it”.

How many times have you heard this verse –

Yet it’s so difficult to live it out. Life gets all up in the way.

We set our expectations for the year on Jan. 1st and we never even give thought to the bad days that will inevitably come.

People are rude. The to-do list grows by the minute. You get a parking ticket. You spill your coffee.

It seems so difficult in these moments of annoyance and frustration to say “-I will rejoice”.

More serious things happen.

We lose a job. Our friends leave. People get sick. We lose loved ones.

It is nearly an impossible task to get up the next morning and say “-I will be glad in it.”

For the longest time I thought if I just fake it, plaster a smile on my face and say this verse, no one will know that inside I’m really saying “Why God?” “Why did you create this day? This is not the one I had in mind.”

Friend, He has you in mind. This is why we can rejoice. This is the reason that we can look our circumstances in the face and say “The joy my God provides is greater than my present situation, and today, this year, I choose to rejoice.”

Hard days this year are sure to come. But God’s love, provision, strength, and joy go before them, are in the midst of them, and are all around them. We can choose to be victims of our circumstances, to let them crush us and our spirit, or we can stand tall and say

“Yes, this may be happening but my God hasn’t left and because of that I rejoice!”

“I may be getting beat down, but I stand firm in the word of the Lord and it says no weapon formed will prosper and because of that I’m glad. (Isaiah 54:17).

“I may be hurting right now but He turns my mourning into dancing, so I will choose to say this is the day that the Lord has made I WILL rejoice and be glad in it.

Because of who our God is, we can rejoice in the hard times.

Let this year be the year of rejoicing in His goodness!

Faith & Football

Faith and football… by Melissa Rathmann

They each have the unequivocal power to bring people together. And when an unexpected event like the collapse of Buffalo Bills’ defensive back Damar Hamlin during last Monday night’s football game unfolded, prayer became the bridge between the two.

In the moments following Hamlin’s collapse, we witnessed his teammates and coaches take a knee to form a prayer circle on national television. We watched fans from both teams unite in the stands to recite the Lord’s Prayer. Later that evening, we saw prayer vigils form outside the hospital as Hamlin received lifesaving medical care. ESPN analyst Dan Orlovsky paused during NFL Live to boldly and unapologetically pray for Hamlin. Then in the following days, we watched the donations in excess of 8 million dollars pour into Hamlin’s Go Fund Me, “The Chasing M’s Foundation Community Toy Drive.”

Regardless of race, religion, or fan base, the world came together in support of Damar Hamlin.

In John 17:22-23, Jesus prayed, “I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one – I in them and you in me – so that they may be brought to complete unity.”

When a group of believers join in prayer, it brings the unity that Christ prayed for.
The Lord himself said: “Where two or three are gathered in my name I am in the midst of them” (Matthew 18:20).

On Saturday morning, the Buffalo Bills tweeted that Hamlin “remains in critical condition” but is “making continued progress in his recovery.” His neurological functions remain intact and he is able to breathe on his own and speak.

A miracle can be defined as an “extraordinary and astonishing happening that is attributed to the presence and action of an ultimate or divine power.” Was this a medical miracle? I am not sure. But this tragedy has the characteristics of a modern day miracle in that this event united people at a time when the world’s faith not only in God but in humanity desperately needs to be restored. The Lord used a tragedy to remind us of His presence, and the world responded in prayer.

When Hamlin asked his doctors who won the Bills-Bengals game, they responded with “You’ve won. You’ve won the game of life.” And this is nothing short of miraculous…

“You are the God who performs miracles; you display your power among the peoples.”
~ Psalm 77:14

New Year, New You

New Year.

New You.

Am I right!?

I’m certain God has spoken to you about the 2023 journey that we are all about to take. I’m certain He has placed God-sized dreams on your heart – ways to help His kingdom grow and thrive. If He hasn’t yet just keep praying. Be patient. He will.

He needs you, girl.

Now, here’s where the devil is gonna try and get you.

In “your” thoughts.

In “your” hang-ups”

In “your” own self-consciousness

In words.

In his words.

Because guess what – if God said to do it then you can in fact do it. You can bet your bottom dollar that the devil knows it. And that ol’ devil will try everything he can to stop God’s plan.

God will equip you. He will give you everything you need. He will get the job done.

You are the vessel.

He is the captain.

Trust Him.

Now, get ready.

Brace yourself for the storms. When God sends you on a trip, storms will be brewing. It’s inevitable. Most of those storms will be merely words thrown at you by yourself or by others. Words are powerful like that.

I’ve had someone say to a room full of people about me, “She’s not as Christian as she claims to be.”

That mess is gonna happen ladies. People are going to talk about you. They are going to bring up your now and bring up your past. After all, they are human, too.

Don’t. Let. It. Stop. You.

And don’t let it get to you.

Don’t let someone’s else’s words stop you from doing what God specifically told you to do.

After all, whose words matter?

God’s or humans’?

And let me add this – don’t be a part of someone else’s storm. Basically, if you don’t have anything nice to say ……. you know the rest.

This year – face the storms.

Face the storms because you know the Captain.

And your Captain is a good, good God who wants to use you to further His kingdom. He knows your potential. He knows you can do it.

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Psalm 16:11

Share the Joy

In today’s day & age everyone is always trying to advance. Whether we want more things, more money, more time, or more friends, we are all trying to have more than what we already have.

But in reality… we already have everything we need: JESUS!!!!

When God sent His son to earth He was giving us the only thing that we needed to live. Because once someone accepts Jesus into their lives as Lord and Savior, they will live forever.

But.. how are we going to share this good news, and this great joy if we Christians in the room aren’t showing Jesus??

My question is: are you showing the joy of the Lord everywhere you go, or are you constantly trying to gain something that will never satisfy you?

If you said yes to that last part then my response is this – don’t postpone joy. Because Jesus is joy. And He is right at your fingertips if you’ll just take a hold of Him!

So many people in this world look to other things to give them joy. But Jesus is our true source of true joy.

As we go into this new year, I encourage each of y’all to look to Jesus for joy instead of earthly things. Instead of watching a show or reading a book or going out – I challenge you to pray, read God’s word, or worship when you are feeling down.

Once we start to find joy in Jesus, we can share the joy of Jesus.

So, don’t postpone joy because you can have it right now!

“And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.”

Luke 2:10-11

Renew your mind

Psalm 91:1. “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High Will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.”

Romans 12:2 “And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.”

As I look back over 2022 I know without a doubt how important those two verses are in my life.

This morning I finished day 75 of a read through the Bible in 90 days plan. Even though I have been pretty faithful to Bible study over the years this plan has been a game changer. It immerses you into the Word. It’s definitely a challenge to read or listen to that much everyday, but it has been so worth it.

In order to not be conformed to this world I have to diligently renew my mind. I have to dwell with the Lord and remain in His shadow. His Word is the way to get that done.

Sisters…..

Get. In. The. Word.

Don’t neglect it. Don’t take it for granted. I’m not going to get too messy, but check your screen time (🙄 preaching to self), you have time. The enemy wants us to stay out of it. He doesn’t want us to be the warriors we are called to be.

As we go forward into 2023 let’s do our part to take control of what we can control. Let’s surrender part of our day to the Word. Let’s dwell with Him and abide in His shadow. Let’s keep our minds renewed. Everything else will fall into place if we seek Him first.

Praying each and every one of you has a blessed and prosperous 2023.

If you need a Bible study partner send me a friend request on the YouVersion app.