You are restless. Life doesn't look like you envisioned it. You keep thinking if only I had a different job, or a different spouse, or a different child, or a different ___________. Right now, the proverbial grass on the other side of the fence looks to be your favorite shade of green.
But what if? What if the job doesn’t improve, the spouse doesn’t change, the kid doesn’t wise up, the ______________ doesn’t change? Then what? Do we live in neutral or in a “woe is me” state or just give up?
God didn’t create us and put us in this time-period, in this location, in this situation for us to give up! As Christ-followers, we have the power of the living God inside of us!
In fact, Romans 8:37 reminds us that we are MORE than conquerors through Christ. But in reality, many of us are living as the conquered. We’re continuously striving, grumbling, complaining, and are down-right grouchy.
Goodness. We need to shake this Eeyore mentality of woe is me... my life is so wretched... my situation is so hard...etc. etc. etc. Wake up, O Sleeper! This life isn't about me, nor is it about you. It's about God and His glory.
That hard place you are all grumbly about? That's God's invitation to test Him, to try Him at His Word! He's inviting you to get up! Throw off the shroud of winter! Allow spring to bloom in your soul!
You know Philippians 4:13, “I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength.” Have you glanced back two verses? Check it out?
“…for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. “ Philippians 4:11
Content. Wow! Paul learned to be content in whatever situation. Do you know what content in this context means? It means independent of external circumstances. No matter what situation presented itself, Paul was at peace. He unwaveringly believed whatever hard situation - beatings, imprisonment, ship-wrecked, etc. - was before him; it was God’s will for him to make the most of it. That, my friend, allowed him to boast “I can do ALL things through Him who gives me strength.”
That’s the secret, dear one. Contentment. Peace. Right where you are, whether in a stressful job, or a loveless marriage, or a terrible parenting situation, or _____________. Like Paul, we must learn -- get in the habit of -- to be content.
I wish I could take your hand into mine, look into your eyes, and speak this to your soul, "You, dear one, were made for hard things. Because of Jesus, your life should exceed the normal humdrum existence.
Bloom, Jesus Girl!
Bloom in that hard spot! Let God's resurrection power soften the soil of your precious heart with hope and joy and peace!"
When the marriage is hard, press in to God's promises. When the job is frustrating, press in to His life-giving Word. When the parenting is hair-pulling, press in to His peace and long-suffering. When the _____________ is tough, press in to Jesus.
Press in. Learn to be content. Like Paul, unwaveringly believe that whatever hard situation is before you; it is God’s will for you to make the most of it.
For me, when I'm in those hard places, I repeatedly pray, "Your will, not mine, Lord. Your will, not mine. Change my heart to beat like Yours." Here are some verses I press into in those hard places:
Marriage - Ephesians 4:32, 1 Peter 3:1-4, 1 Corinthians 7:16, Ephesians 5:22, 31-33,
Parenting - Ephesians 4:32, Ephesians 6:4, Deuteronomy 6:4-9, Malachi 4:6
Job - Colossians 3:23, 1 Corinthians 10:31, Ephesians 6:6, Titus 2:10-11
People - Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 3:12-17, Galatians 6:1, 1 Peter 3:9
Situation - Psalm 56:3, Proverbs 3:5-6, Romans 15:13, Exodus 14:14
Dear one, I don't know your situation, but if God hasn't closed the door, you are probably exactly where you are supposed to be. May you learn to be content so that you can thrive! I'm cheering you on as you press in and bloom in the midst of this hard situation. <3
We can rejoice, too, when we run into problems and trials,
for we know that they help us develop endurance.
And endurance develops strength of character,
and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.
And this hope will not lead to disappointment.
For we know how dearly God loves us,
because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love.
Other great posts to help you push thru the hard
Self - When You're the Lost Sheep
Marriage - Winning at Marriage
Parenting - The Best Kind of Parenting
Situation - Confrontation. the Dreaded Word
Jesus Girl. Wife. Momma. Student. Teacher. Confidante. Lover of milky coffee, dark chocolate, deep talks, lively laughter, and a front row seat on the beach at sunrise.
How We Are Called to Have a Spirit Like Mary's
In one of the most touching scenes in the Bible, we see Mary, with hair unbound, kneeling at the feet of Jesus as she lovingly poured her expensive perfume onto him. The fragrance of this exquisite aroma filled the entire house. She poured it liberally onto his head, like one would do when anointing a King or a Priest. Then, she moved to his feet, as a servant would do for his master, and poured out the rest before using her long tresses to wipe them clean. It was an intimate moment that caused the men in the room, who were most likely dirty and dusty from all their travels, to look on. Devotion such as this can hardly be ignored.
The intimacy of this moment was quickly shattered as the naysayers began to pipe up.
“Why this waste of perfume?”
“It could have been sold for more than a year’s wages and the money given to the poor!”
Their rebukes were strong and swift. But, so was that of Jesus.
“Leave her alone,” he said. “Why are you bothering her? She has done a beautiful thing to me… She did what she could. She poured perfume on my body beforehand to prepare for my burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the gospel is preached throughout the world, what she has done will also be told, in memory of her.” Mark 14:6-9
All of this commotion started over one thing: where Mary placed value. Had Mary not valued Jesus above everything else, her expensive possession would have remained sealed in its bottle long after the dinner guests had left. But, Mary DID place Jesus above all others. Pouring out the costliest thing that she had–both her perfume and her affection–was a beautiful sacrifice that she willingly made. It was her act of worship. And, because of it, Jesus said that it would be remembered forever.
Oh, what I wouldn’t give to sit at the feet of Jesus and pour out my affection like Mary did! I would gladly sacrifice my costliest possession because HE IS SO WORTHY OF IT! If only I had that same opportunity!
Or, maybe I do.
Last week, I wrote about a little thing that we do in our house called Operation Pretty Heart. I shared about a moment when I was led to put all my daughter’s pretty things away for a period of time so that we could focus more intently on keeping her heart pretty. As I boxed up all the pretties and looked for a place to stash them, I was hit by the surprising thought, “What if I packed away all my pretty things whenever my own heart was ugly? What if my outside always mirrored my inside?”
Led by 1 Peter 3:4 which says that your beauty should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight, I began to put great effort into modeling a gentle and quiet spirit to her. However, as hard as I try, some days are just plain tough. The ugliness of my sin is exposed. The fleshly desires of my heart dominate. Gentleness and quietness are nowhere to be found.
When studying this verse for last week’s post, I was surprised to learn a key connection that it has to the story of Mary anointing Jesus. Did you know that the word “expensive” used to describe Mary’s perfume in Mark 14:3 is the EXACT SAME WORD as “great worth” used to describe a woman’s gentle and quiet spirit in 1 Peter 3:4? This word, polutelés, equates the value of Mary’s costly perfume, which was so great that the act of “wasting” it on Jesus caused such an indignant response from his disciples, to the same value of a woman’s gentle and quiet spirit. Wow.
The word polutelés means very costly, very precious, of great value. Peter was telling the Christian wives scattered all around the world that the beauty hidden inside of them, marked by divinely-inspired inner calmness, is as costly and as precious in God’s sight as Mary’s perfume was. He told them to put their inner beauty on display, focusing on what comes from within instead of without, so that, "if any of them (husbands) do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives." He encouraged these wives to give as lavishly and willing as Mary did but in a different way.
How We Are Called to Be Modern Day Mary’s:
Yes, I want to be remembered for devotion like Mary’s. And, through these two sets of Scriptures, the Lord is showing me how. Unlike Mary, I don’t need a bottle of perfume. Instead, I need a gentle and quiet spirit to pour out of me. Will it cost me something? Initially, yes. But, like Mary, there will come a day when it flows so freely, willingly and liberally, that I no longer consider the cost. The value will not be able to be calculated.
So, as Operation Pretty Heart continues, the Lord is showing me that the greatest way to show my daughter what a gentle and quiet spirit looks like is to show it to her daddy first. Devotion such as this can hardly be ignored. She will notice it. And, she will be changed by it.
And, so will he.
And, so will I.
First, I am a child of God. And, like a child, I am always learning and growing. The more I know Him, the more I love Him. Second, I am a wife to a good man. Missions is his thing while teaching women to love God’s Word is mine. Third, I am a mama to three plus a sweet cockapoo who thinks he’s #4. My children are my ongoing sanctification. Fourth, I am a passionate advocate of all things healthy & natural and a dreamer/designer. Old friends call me Becky, newer ones call me Rebecca, and the most intimate ones call me Beck. You can just call me friend.
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We have a three year old named Jude. Most people ask if we named him after the Beatles. Although he knows just about every word to “Hey Jude”, that was definitely not our reasoning for choosing his name. To be honest, we thought the name was unique, cute and a little trendy, but, we also love what Jude in the Bible stands for.
The book of Jude is made up of only one chapter, a total of 25 versus and he is writing to the Jewish Christians. We see in Matthew 13:55-56 and Mark 6:3 that Jude is the half brother of Jesus and James. In his book, Jude reminds the church to keep strong in their faith and to oppose heresy. We knew our Jude would grow up in a world that does everything it can to go against and construe the Gospel. So this is our prayer for our son, that he will come to a relationship with the Lord at a young age and that he will boldly stand for Christ, even when others don’t.
Jude begins by warning about the danger of false teachers. Verse 3 says, Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people. Jude emphasizes here that while salvation is of the utmost importance, sound doctrine and true faith cannot be twisted or manipulated. Without correct doctrine, we can’t fully understand the truth about Jesus and salvation.
I was just talking with someone the other day who’s family member is so confused about their faith. They hear so many different opinions of “religion” and they are not sure what is truth. There is one thing that never changes and that is God’s Word. It’s inspired by God and should never be added to or taken away from. If you ever feel confused because you have different opinions thrown at you, just get into the Word. Read it and discover truth for yourself.
Jude goes on in versus 5-7 to refresh their minds about rebellion that had taken place. He talks about how even the angels joined Satan and rebelled against God (2 Peter 2:4). This is where we have to be mindful and on our guard about the authors we read and the speakers we sit under. The one thing Satan wants more than anything is to turn Christians away from God or find a way to cause division. He will use any tool he can, and he even uses topics within our own denominations to divide.
And while we are on this topic, I have to insert a side note...while devotions and Bible studies are fantastic tools to help us go deeper, please don’t ever replace them with God’s Word. I believe that even the most well-known authors will tell you that. The only thing with complete truth comes straight from Scripture. The By Faith She Girls say often that we don't want you to take our word for anything either. Please, please compare our blogs with scripture and let God's Word be your guidance.
Jude goes on to talk more about false teachers, but in versus 17-23, he calls us to action! He calls us to get our hands dirty and fight for God’s truth.
But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, "In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.
But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.
Be merciful to those who doubt; save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
We are living in the last days, and we can see these verses unfolding before our eyes! In the news recently, Christians were called mentally unstable! The world does not understand because they don’t believe.
Jude gives us pretty clear instructions on how to handle someone who is twisting the Gospel or who are living in sin.
Be Merciful to those who doubt;
Mercy means to have compassion or forgiveness for someone. Jesus is our example of how we should treat those who do not believe. We should always treat them with love and kindness. Now, this is not to be confused with speaking truth. We must stand for Christ, but do so in love. Here are some Scriptures on how Jesus walked and talked and loved on unbelievers.
Mark 1:33-34; 6:30-42
Save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear - hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.
Witnessing to those who don’t have a relationship with Christ should be priority for Christians. We should be burdened and fearful for those that will spend eternity separated from God. “Hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh” means hating the sin. We should also be able to stand firm enough in our faith that we do not fall to compromise. We must influence them for Christ and not let them influence us to sin!
Just like Jude began his book with assurance, he ends it the same way.
To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy—to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.
Our country continues to try to force God out of our daily lives, but we know that if our faith is built on Christ, we don’t have to fear. We will one day be united with our Savior and in His presence! What a beautiful day that will be! We still have work to do now, so let's be diligent to what the Lord has called us to.
Laura is a pastor's wife, mom to two crazy fun kids, part-time marketing director, loves hanging out in her community and building relationships...oh and loves to laugh!
There are so many things I have loved about this blog, but probably my favorite thing is just being able to share what I’m learning from the Lord as I am learning. It creates such a passion to be able to share what I’m experiencing. And to have women come up or send a message and tell me that what I shared spoke to them, took them farther in their faith, encouraged them to pursue The Lord…makes every minute spent writing worth it all!
I would always prefer to speak well of my health, and focus on the blessings of life. However, I also believe in doing everything you can to bring glory to God in every situation. So, heres the latest. In the past I’ve shared a few things about some health issues I’ve experience and I was recently faced with another big health shock and an even bigger decision. This was fairly new territory and neither Jordan or myself had any knowledge about the decisions we would be making. Honestly, I was in a bit of a depression for the first two days. All I could think about were the negatives of every angle. But, as I began to share with close friends, one of them asked me a question that changed everything. I should have known she would ask. She always does. Tammy, yes By Faith She Tammy, asked me the same question she does every time I take a problem, concern, situation… to her. What verse are you claiming over this decision? Well, honestly I hadn’t thought about it yet. I had most definitely pulled out my trusty Fear Not booklet to focus my thoughts on the Lord and remind myself He was still in control. But, we still had a huge decision to make, so what verse was going to lead me in that? We desperately needed wisdom since neither of us had any on this subject. That was it! Wisdom!
James 1:5 says, 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.
Wow! Yes Lord! I NEED Your wisdom. I am lost in this situation. Please lead me, guide me, show me which way to go! This became my prayer.
Now, I’m not sure what I was expecting. But did you know that the Lord began filling my mind with people who had been through similar situations. So I started calling them and asking questions. And guess what happened? I began to understand my predicament. I began to gain knowledge about my situation. Throughout the next couple of weeks, The Lord sent teams of people to give me guidance, personal experiences, and yes, you guessed it…WISDOM!
This was still not any place I wanted to be, but I know that my plans are not God’s plans. I also know that I would rather follow His lead than mine any day! I was now armed with the information I needed. Although, there were still a few pieces of the puzzle I just didn’t know which way to go. I began praying that these would be non issues. Things that were decided for me so that I could just trust that it was God’s way and not my own. He took care of each one of those pieces and the decisions were made with confidence.
Girls, God’s Word is TRUE! We can trust it. It never fails us. What decision, problem, or issue are you faced with today? Find a verse to claim over your situation. Read it, pray it, memorize it.
If you're not sure how to find a verse, try using biblegateway.com Using the keyword search, type a word that pertains to your situation. Need wisdom, or peace? Are you fearful or anxious? Try these words and see what gems you will find in God’s Holy, Perfect, Guide!
Audra and her husband Jordan are called to ministry and he is the senior pastor at their church. They have two beautiful children who bring them tons of joy, lots of laughs, and on occasion new grey hair. She is a former teacher who still loves to teach, enjoys cooking and baking, and has a passion to lead other women to know Jesus and live out their faith in Him.
Here's a recap of our week!
Somewhere along the way you got lost. Maybe a bad habit took over and is in control of your life now. Maybe one bad choice after another has led you farther and farther away. Maybe your life just got too busy. That busyness may even be for the Lord. Caring for your family, serving your church and community... However it happened, you now find yourself far away from your Heavenly Father.
Teaching our kids how to manage life starts in our homes. We want to teach our kids the Biblical view, so when the world begins throwing it’s view at them, they will have a firm foundation to stand on. It’s scary raising kids in the world today. We want to encourage you to be intentional with your kids and point them to Christ. It's a scary world out there and our kids should find comfort, safety and direction in their homes.
After her tears were wiped away and further explanations and assurances were given, I picked up the box with the intention of stashing it away. As I looked for a good spot to hide it, my very next thought took me by surprise:
“What if I packed away all my pretty things whenever my own heart was ugly? What if my outside always mirrored my inside?”
Is Suicide An Unforgivable Sin? by Tammy Valdivia
This lie about "those who commit suicide are damned to hell forever" has pretty much planted itself as truth in the mind of many Bible believers. The evil one does not want us to know the truth, especially when grappling with life’s tough questions. How slimy of him to plant the lie that suicide is unforgivable. But what is the truth about those who commit suicide?
For many of my 14 years, I never had a very good answer to the question, “How do I know God is real?” In my heart, I have always known that God is real, and I could give the “Sunday School answers” like “The Bible tells us God is the beginning and the end and created everything so He is real.” I could recite my favorite Bible verses…but I never really knew how to tell people from my life experiences that I know that God is real. Until last summer, where we pick up my story.
The Prince Warrior Trilogy - Audra's pick
One of my favorite Bible Study leaders, Priscilla Shirer, has written a trilogy for tweens/teens! It’s very Narnia like and kept my boy wanting to read more. These books are great for individual or family reading time.
The Blue Door - Laura's pick
It is so important for our teens to find their gifting and to know that their role in life is part of God's bigger plan and this is exactly what this book brings to life. It's written by a Christian author that points the reader to God in the midst of adventure and spiritual warfare.
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events - Rebecca's pick
This is a fun and engaging series for children ages 8 and up. According to my boy, these witty books take you on an adventure through mayhem, mystery and mischief. They keep the reader in suspense until the very last page.
Andrew Peterson's The Wingfeather Saga - Tammy's pick
Songwriter Andrew Peterson penned one of my teens' favorite series, the Wingfeather Saga. The tantalizing titles - On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness and North, or Be Eaten and The Monster in the Hollows - afford a glimpse into the marvelous world inside these books. The reader quickly slings on his backpack and joins the protagonists in this thrilling adventure full of twists and surprises.
Best of all, this series speaks to the hero inside of our teens. The hero who longs to fight a good fight and be victorious. So, so good! There are currently only three books in this series, but my kiddos are hopeful he'll write a fourth. Enjoy!
The Giver - Anna Blair's pick
I like this book series because it shows that being yourself and not following the crowds is always best.
Hey! This is Laura and I am so excited to have our first student contributor on the blog today! I met Anna Blair in 2012 and have had the honor of watching her grow into a beautiful, Christian young lady. As a Christian, a wife and a mother, I love to hear about how the Lord is moving through the younger generation. I hope you are blessed today by Anna Blair's faith journey.
I am 14 years old and have attended church all my life. I was baptized when I was 12. As long as I can remember, I have loved Jesus, but for many of my 14 years, I never had a very good answer to the question, “How do I know God is real?” In my heart, I have always known that God is real, and I could give the “Sunday School answers” like “The Bible tells us God is the beginning and the end and created everything so He is real.” I could recite my favorite Bible verses…but I never really knew how to tell people from my life experiences that I know that God is real. My life had always been filled with the assurance that God is real in my life and that He showers me each day with His blessings.
Now, however, I have a story to tell about how God showed his realness to me time and time again! I am a dancer. I have been dancing since I was three. I love all types of dance – jazz, tap, ballet, hip-hop, lyrical, pom, kick and musical theater. While dancing is a major part of my life, the practice is rigorous. Four, sometimes five afternoons a week, are consumed with dance practice.
My story began two years ago on a regular night at dance. When I was stretching, my coach saw that something was out of line. She noticed that my right rib cage was elevated above my left one. My coach mentioned it to my dad that something might be wrong with my back. Because my dad is a Physical Therapist, when I told him what my coach had said during a routine practice, he, too, could tell that something was definitely wrong. So, the next morning I went to my doctor and had an x-ray. When I saw the image, my heart dropped. My spine was shaped like an “S.”
The x-ray was sent to another doctor for further reading, but the diagnosis was clear. I had a severe case of scoliosis. How was I going to continue to do the things that made me happy with a curved spine?
I soon found out that this was a journey that would change me forever.
As I sat in the waiting room of the orthopedic clinic, I was unsure and nervous about what was to come. My parents and I listened to our options from the doctor and concluded that bracing was the best option. A few weeks later, I was fitted with the brace that I would wear for a year. My curve seemed to decrease with the help of my brace, but it would not completely correct it. When I would take a break from wearing my brace (even though the breaks were short), my curve would increase again. Despite a long, hard year of wearing this uncomfortable, restricting brace, it was not a sufficient tool for handling my scoliosis.
Even though having a corrective surgery was my biggest fear, it was the best option for correcting my scoliosis and getting rid of my pain. My surgery was scheduled for the summer of 2017. In the meantime, I was told to have fun and not worry about this big event. However, waiting was the hardest part. I had many “what if’s” running through my mind. What if I am not able to dance again? What if I can never walk again? My nerves were comforted by surrounding myself with people who loved and supported me.
When people told me that they were praying for me, I was reassured that I am never alone and that God will take care of me always. During the days leading up to my surgery, I felt the love and prayers of so many people. Knowing that others were sharing my struggle calmed and comforted me. When I went into my surgery, I was so calm and ready for the new chapter ahead of me.
After my six-hour surgery, I felt the prayers being poured on me. In addition to the presence of my family, many of my friends came to visit me at the hospital. I am very thankful for all of those friendships and what each friend means to me. Those friends supported me and stayed with me through this whole journey and I am so blessed.
Along with the support of my friends and family, I had so many great doctors and nurses that helped me through surgery and recuperation. For me, they were the hands and feet of Jesus. They took a personal interest in me, and I have formed many good relationships with them.
As I think back on the last two years, I see the “realness” of God through the prayers and actions of so many people including the coach who first noticed the misalignment of my spine, the pediatrician who confirmed it, the orthopedic surgeon who proposed options, the family and friends who prayed for me and encouraged me, and God, who comforted me in my pain and gave me hope that I would be able to continue dancing. All of these people who ministered to me during this time gave me assurance that God is real and is present in my life and continues to lead me.
Anna Blair Jackson
Anna Blair is finishing her 8th grade year and writing has become a gifting she has discovered! She has written two poems. One that placed first in Tennessee and went on to win first place in the United States. The other placed first in Tennessee and the Southwest region. She is also an editor for her school's yearbook and has written articles for her local newspaper.