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10 Lessons Our Son’s Life Has Taught Us

This year marks the 10th anniversary of our son Bowen’s passing.  In 2011, our lives have been changed forever.  We wanted to share, how he has impacted our life over the past 10 years.  We wouldn’t be where we are today nor would we be doing what we’re doing if it weren’t for our son Bowen and what God has done in our lives.

Here are 10 lessons Our Son’s Life Has Taught Us:

Lesson #10-  HOPE is for REAL. We named our son Bowen, because of its meaning,  ‘small victorious one.’   He truly lives us to his name in heaven where the victory has already been won. Because of Bowen, we founded Bowen’s Hope in 2013, where we helped kidney kids who had kidney disease and their families at the Phoenix Children’s Hospital.  We came up with the acronym for Bowen’s Hope B- Bringing, O- Others, W-What, E-Everyone, N- Needs, HOPE!!!!!  Because of what we went through, we realized there were other families who deal with their child who has kidney disease, which can be so demanding mentally and physically. God used our pain for HIS greater purpose to help at the kids’ kidney camp, called Camp Maska, get families sponsored for Christmas, and hold toiletry drives to help with some of their needs.  God showed us the true meaning of coming alongside others in their hurt.  When we set out to help others, they end up helping us more than we help them.

 “who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.”  2 Corinthians 1:4

Lesson #9- The Joy of Less.   We have more when we have Less.  Bowen taught us how precious life really is, every life matters, and to cherish every moment. Life is too short to be filled with things and stuff that doesn’t matter. To live simply and have less, is to have more time for adventure, making memories and spending time together. Our stuff taught us you don’t own stuff, stuff owns you. You can read more of our story in “Chicken Soup for the Soul:  The Joy of Less.”

“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroy and where thieves do not break in or steal;  for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”  Matthew 6:19-21 NASB

Lesson #8-  We can do hard things in Christ.  Bowen’s life taught us not to let the pain of suffering consume us but to pour it into something positive for the greater good. His life took us to places we never imagined or thought were possible. After Bowen, I started running and training and qualified for the Boston Marathon in 2013. Sadly that was the same year the Boston bombing occurred.

'I can do all things through Christ who gives us strength.' Philippians 4:13Click To Tweet
I don’t have a picture with my medal smiling after the finish line, because we were trying to get safely back to our hotel in the midst of crowds, police cars and SWAT teams all around us. The bombing taught us when we run in fear there will always be another finish line to cross, when we run in the victory of Christ there is only one finish line to cross and never have to run in fear again.  The other picture is my husband at the finish line of the Iron Man he completed in AZ. We would have never have been able to accomplish all these things without the strength of Jesus and our son giving us the courage to say I can.

Lesson #7- Kindness Matters. Our Son’s life taught us every life matters and is valuable. Everyone deserves kindness no matter who they are. Kindness is a gift from God. If no one received kindness no one would know the love of Jesus.  Bowen’s life challenged us to extend kindness to others by doing a 13 Day Kindness challenge for everyday he was alive. Doing acts of kindness was so healing, and allowed the legacy of Bowen’s life to live on.  Giving kindness to someone can be the key to their breakthrough and the very thing they need. Be the kindness this world needs. Kindness is contagious. Pass it on.

“Be kind and compassionate to one another.”  Ephesians 4:13

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Lesson #6-  Life is Better together.  Even though we didn’t choose for our son’s life to be taken by this horrible disease, time and time again, every race we ran, every fundraiser, every event put on in honor of Bowen, brought people TOGETHER. Life is meant to do and LIVE TOGETHER in UNITY with one another.  Matthew 18:20- “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them.”

1 Peter 4:8-9 “Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins. Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.”

Lesson #5- How Beautiful are the Feet that Bring Good News. If there is One thing God is able to do is bring Beauty out of Ashes. Here are beautiful works of art people made for me after Bowen died. One is a beautiful portrait of our son where his his body is preserved untouched by his disease. Another is the Beautiful feet picture of the Bible verse in Romans 10:15. Another is a picture someone painted I didn’t even know, God placed in her heart to paint and give us this picture with the verse By His Stripes we are healed Isaiah 53:5. The last picture is a Bowen’s beautiful name tattooed on my foot, (thank goodness we will have beautiful feet in heaven LOL) for anyone who asks I can tell them how beautiful are the feet that bring good news—His name indeed brings good news, that we will see Him again One day in heaven. God is able to turn our Tests into Testimonies our Misery into His Message our Trials into Treasures.

Lesson #3-  Be Thankful.  Our son’s Life taught us to Be Thankful for what you have, it could always Be Worse. There is always something to Be thankful for no matter what your circumstances. Thankfulness helped us get through some very tough times—when we were grateful it turned what we had into enough and more than we ever needed. You never know when will be the last time to see a loved one or be here on this earth. Spending our time being grateful is time well spent.

Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend. Gratitude makes sense of our past, brings peace for today and creates a vision for tomorrow. #quote #MelodyBeattie
Lesson #2-  Live life with Adventure and with more margin. Bowen’s life allowed us to get rid of a lot of clutter and distractions in our lives and trade them in for making memories and adventures with our family.  More Margin allowed for schedules to be free to allow for spontaneous moments and for the unexpected. He showed us the meaning of seeking adventure and allowing room for it in our lives.  Leaving margin allows us to be available in God’s timing to be vessels when he needs us to be his hands and feet.  Click Here to watch our adventures from Alaska.

“But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”  2 Corinthians 12:9

 

Lesson #1-God Can Turn UnAnswered prayers Into Something Better.  God doesn’t always answer our prayers the way we want them but answers them in a bigger way than we could ever imagine.  We prayed for Bowen to be healed and for him to come home.  When he died, at first I thought God didn’t answer our prayers, Why?  But then I realized God did answer our prayers, just not in the way we wanted.  He indeed heal Bowen and brought him home to heaven.

Our son taught us—When God is all you have God is all have, God is all you need. There is no sorrow on earth that God can’t heal (David Crowder lyrics). Our son’s short life continues and will continue to teach us so much. We have valued and cherished our time with Bowen’s Hope but had to close this chapter of our lives. Even though this chapter closed, God continues to open new chapters and continues to use Bowen to be apart of our lives, just in a different way. He will continue to challenge us and make us step through new doors of opportunity wherever that may lead us.
Our son has taught us more in these 10 years than we would have ever done on our own. What the enemy uses for evil God will use for good (Genesis 50:20).Click To Tweet

God is good all the time no matter what our circumstances or trials we go through.  I hope and pray these lessons we’ve learned can be applies to our everyday lives and never forget why we are here–to love one another and allow our trials to grow us.

To celebrate and honor our son’s life for his 10 year anniversary, our goal is to have 10 kids through Compassion International be sponsored.  So far 3 kids have been sponsored and need 7 more families to reach our goal!  We have really enjoyed sponsoring Victor, who we started sponsoring after Bowen died.  Would you consider sponsoring a child?  To read our story visit instagram to read more.

 

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Am I Living By Faith or By Fear?

Take the first step in faith.  You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.  #quote Martin Luther King

Recently I finished a Bible Study Habakkuk by Moody Publishers by Dannah Gresh.  At the same time I read a You Version Bible Plan Hope in the Dark by Craig Groeschel which also followed in the book of Habakkuk.  I didn’t realize the plan would be about Habakkuk as well, but how amazing when God orchestrates His plans.

The book of Habakkuk is in the Old Testament and only three chapters long, but it is packed full of godliness and wisdom.  Each chapter has an important pattern of ask questions to God, WAIT, and Praise.  The chapter starts out with Habakkuk crying out to God, asking why all the violence, all the iniquity, injustice (Habakkuk 1:2-5)?

God responds-

This study was so timely for me.  I’ve been working in the COVID ICU’s taking care of very sick patients.  I wouldn’t wish what I do or see on anyone.  All of it is so heavy and hard to watch over and over.  I feel like Habakkuk, looking around seeing all the suffering, the injustice, and loss of life at the hands of a violence but in my case a virus.  I can just picture him on his knees before God crying out, ‘how,’ ‘why,’ ‘when?’  It’s hard at times not to focus on the fear of it all, am I next?  Am I exposing others? How many more will suffer? When will this all end?

It can be difficult to see that God will use all of this pain and devastation for His greater work in us and the nations.  It’s hard to believe God will use all this to strengthen our faith when we wait and trust in His timing.  Physically, logically my brain can’t comprehend what is going on around me, but by faith I don’t have to have it all figured out and answers to all my questions.  The only thing I need to know is God’s outcome is loving and good.

I admit there are times I have to catch myself and question, Am I Living More in Fear or in Faith? Click To Tweet

Being honest, I’ve focused a lot on my fears of what surrounds me.  It FEELS as though God has left and I’m walking through this battlefield ALONE, just waiting for the explosion to go off.  BUT I KNOW, these thoughts come from a place of FEAR.  They are NOT God’s TRUTH or what He PROMISES US.

It’s easy to look around at what the world is doing and Fear there will be more spread of the virus.  People are at their wits end and just want to be TOGETHER.  I believe God doesn’t want us to LIVE in FEAR, but He wants us to also practice Discernment and Wisdom.  He wants us be in community to support one another by giving empathy and compassion.  God is the creator of universe and science. We will all have a different opinion and comfort levels on what we believe is safe for our health and well-being and that’s okay.

It's Not my JOB to FIX the outcome, control people, or take away others' FREE WILL. My Job is to Love them and Trust God's outcome is BEST. Click To Tweet

When the world of chaos feels out of control, I have to stay anchored, centered, and grounded in the ONE who IS in CONTROL.  The balance of trusting, surrendering, having faith, and standing firm can be a fine line to walk.  My HOPE will never be found in the ability to figure it all out.  When I CHOOSE to LIVE in FAITH and not by FEAR, there is always HOPE.  When I TRUST and ALLOW God to GROW my FAITH way beyond anything I could ever do on my own.

He is the God of HOPE.  He is the God of PEACE.  You are loved.  You matter.  You are KNOWN to God.  What you are going through Matters and He will use for all for His good.

“His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of his praise.  His brightness was like the light;  rays flashed from his hand;  and there he veiled his power”. Habakkuk 3:3-4

I will ask.  I will wait.  I will praise.  Just like Habakkuk.  My faith will carry me and  take me further than any amount of fear can.  When I am troubled by what surrounds me.  When I waiver at the battle before me. I remember the one who has it all in His control.

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How To Heal From Hidden Hurts: Half the Battle Book Review {& Giveaway!}

Have you ever faced a battle in your life and wondered ‘why me?’ or ‘when will this ever end?’  Well today you are in the right place.  I’m excited to share with you a book written by Dr. Jon Chasteen, Half the Battle:  Healing From Hidden Hurts.  A lot of us go through life discrediting the hidden hurts and trauma of our past, stuffing it down to hidden areas where it can’t hurt us anymore.  We tell ourselves lies, ‘they don’t matter,’ or ‘I’m fine, that was the past,’ when in reality we keep those hurts hidden away, not healed from them, just put in a different area of our hearts.

Funny thing how the body works.  It wants to heal.  Although this method of suppression will serve you well for probably many years, it never lasts.  God has a way of surfacing those hidden areas we’ve managed to keep ‘safe,’ by nudging us into areas of His eternal healing.  It’s our choice whether we want to be healed or keep sitting on our mats like the paralyzed man.

“Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb.  It was a cave, and a stone lay against it.  Jesus said, “Take away the stone.”  Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time thee will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.”  Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?”  John 11:38-40 ESV.

In biblical times, the dead weren’t necessarily buried but put in caves with large stones to seal them (cave burials were for the wealthy).  They did this so there wouldn’t be the horrific odor from the dead that was buried there.  The odor was kept hidden by the stone.  Dr. Chasteen calls this the ‘stench behind the stone.’  He uses this example as a parallel of our undealt with pain.

'Jesus is not okay with permanently sealed tombs.' #quote Dr. Jon Chasteen #HalftheBattle #healingClick To Tweet

How To Heal From Hidden Hurts

What’s so amazing about the story of Lazarus is, everyone had started the mourning process, there was no possibility of a miracle, their loved one was dead, end of story–Jesus entered the scene and changed everything.  So why allow Lazarus’ sisters Mary and Martha, and all his loved ones go through all that pain in the first place?  To show us what it looks like to invite Jesus into our pain.  Dr. Chasteen, uses the story of Lazarus to paint the picture of what we do with our pain.  How we try to bury our pain and seal it off in a grave without truly healing from it.  He wants us to see what happens when we invite Jesus into our pain, how miracles and healing happen when we do.

Jesus can resurrect any pain and bring it back to life Click To Tweet

Our pain is Jesus’ pain.  You’re pain matters to him.  “Jesus knows where you’ve hidden your pain” (quote, Chasteen).  He wants us to take Him to that exact place where we stopped believing and gave up hope.  Healing isn’t healing if it’s done half-way.  Jesus knows the way to heal because He is our Healer.

Maybe your pain stems from the pain of rejection.  Or from the pain of being abandoned or forgotten.  Maybe you’ve been the victim of abuse or racism.

Whatever the root of our pain, 'God can take whatever pain, whatever rejection, and whatever shame you carry and use it for His glory and for your good' #quote Chasteen #halfthebattleClick To Tweet

The enemy will always use our pain for his evil plan.  He’ll whisper lies it’s better to keep our pain hidden, attach shame to it, not allow Jesus in to help us, and to carry this burden on our own.  We can’t change the pain of our pasts.  We can’t pretend our past didn’t happen.  We can only take steps towards allowing Jesus to have access to all areas of our hearts so He can heal the forgotten hidden areas of our heart.  What the enemy uses for evil God will use for good (Genesis 50:20).

I will never forget when God did this for me in my life.  I knew there were areas of pain and hurt I was holding onto.   I knew God was nudging me to deal with them and allow Him to lead Him to the root.  I kept saying, ‘no,’ until one day I couldn’t say, ‘no,’ anymore.  He had brought me to the very place our son died in the hospital, when our daughter had broken the tip of her finger.  God asked me in this moment, ‘Do you want to heal?’  I finally said, ‘yes.’  He then nudged me to walk into the place that caused so much of my pain, the room where our son died.  The moment I stepped into the room, God gave me an overwhelming sense of peace, letting me know, you don’t have to hold onto your pain anymore, I have your son, I’m taking care of Him, you will see him again one day.

The key to healing is our willingness to heal.

Healing is hard but so worth it.  Half the battle is being willing.  Our willingness allows for places of honesty and vulnerability places where Jesus will do His amazing work in us, when we allow Him.  We don’t always have to know how only trust that God knows a better way.  We will never find healing and restoration in shame and pride.  Everlasting peace and freedom will only happen when we partner with Jesus and let Him in, not when we try to carry our burdens on our own.  We were created and made to have a holy dependence in God not a holy independence (kind of never works out when we do).

God doesn’t always provide the front door approach to our pain, because He knows many of us won’t walk through it!  Sometimes He uses the back door approach, allows us to go through the battles, pain, and struggles so we can draw closer to Him and invite Him in.  If you struggle with allowing God to have your pain, Half the Battle will help lead you to those place where hidden hurts reside.  Dr. Chasteen will help you roll the stone away so you can deal with those hidden hurts that don’t allow one to heal.

Do you invite Jesus into your hidden hurts?

Where do you keep hidden hurts?

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When You’re Identity Isn’t You’re Identity

In case you haven’t noticed, anyone you talk to nowadays has had their DNA tested by some sort of DNA testing company such as ancestry and 23 and me.  These companies make it so easy, just swab or spit into the container they provide and ship off the specimen in the mail.  They are not only able to test what your ancestral composition is but your genetic health as well.

People choose to have their DNA tested for all sorts of reasons.  It could be they were adopted and want to know more information about where they came from.  It could be to find out if their ancestral heritage is really what they’ve been told.  Or they just want to know if they have a variant for a certain genetic disorder.

Whatever the reason, people are curious about what makes up their genetic DNA, because that makes us who we are.

When You’re Identity Isn’t You’re Identity

I recently had my DNA tested and was very surprised to find out what I discovered.  I knew I was Scottish and British and was told my whole life I was Native American.  Well, DNA is DNA and evidence does not lie.  My DNA did not show one drop of Native American blood.  In fact it showed I was 8% African American and 5% Ashkenazi Jew among 13% French German and 2% Scandinavian and Spanish/Portuguese.

I was quite surprised to discover my DNA didn’t show what I was told my whole life.  What I’ve discovered on this journey, is creating a family tree to trace back who your ancestors really are helps.  I have found there is some truth to what I’ve been told and what my DNA shows.

The only problem is once one starts digging into the past and building family trees, one might discover there’s a lot of skeletons in the closet that some don’t want uncovered.

We all have messed up and broken pasts that may reveal ugly parts of our past.  Even Jesus did.  Check out this short video done by Bible Gateway that shows the messed up past of Jesus’ genealogy.  He was related to Rahab the prostitute, King David a rapist and murder, And King Solomon a big time polygamist. Click here to watch the short video.

One might think how can Jesus our Savior, who never sinned have such a messed up past? Click To Tweet

We may want to dismiss our own broken pieces of our past to somehow make us more ‘holy’ if we didn’t have these things as a part of our lives.  But the Bible doesn’t cover up the brokenness of Jesus’ past or anyone for that matter.  In fact, the Bible leads with the brokenness of the most highly esteemed people in the Bible.

To cover up the broken pieces of our lives is to cover up Jesus.Click To Tweet

We miss out on our true purpose and identity when we deny how God made us.  We may not like our flaws, our idiosyncrasies, or even our past mistakes, but it is how God made us and will use everything for His greater plan.

Our brokenness and past mistakes don't define us, our choices and who God says we are does.Click To Tweet

What’s so amazing about Jesus’ history is no matter who we are, no matter what our past reveals he can identify with our messes!

Our identities will never be found in our past.  They will never be found in what we wear or even how much money we make.  They will never be found in titles, the more we have or how many people we know.

Our true identity will always be found in Jesus in who he says we are.  Hallelujah praise God for that!

We all have different genetic DNA, but when we accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior we all have the same spiritual DNA making us all apart of God’s big family.

“God decided in advance to adopt us into his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do, and it gave him great pleasure.”  Ephesians 1:5 NLT

We obtain a new identity in Christ when we accept Him as our Savior.

“I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”  Galatians 2:20

We no longer want or desire our old ways.

“Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.”  Galatians 5:24

We become a new person in Christ.

“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”  2 Corinthians 5:17

Our old selves are no longer. 

“For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.”  Philippians 1:21

To live in Christ is to gain.

“Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Phil. 3:8 ESV

Friend, you were made for this.

Your past does not need you, your future does.

You were made and created just the way you are for God's bigger plan and purpose. Praise God our identities aren't in what this world says but in who God says we are. Click To Tweet

Have you ever believed something about your identity that wasn’t true?

What part of your identity do you struggle with?

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Dear Lord, Even If You Don’t……

Have you ever heard the lyrics to the song “Even If” by Mercy Me?

I know You’re able and I know you can, Save through the fire with your mighty hand, But even if you don’t, My hope is you alone…..

Have you ever felt like these words?  Ever felt like giving up thinking to yourself, what’s the use?  What good is it to do what I’m doing?  Or It’s hopeless, my situation will never change!

Maybe you’ve prayed the same prayer a thousand times and never seen any results.  Or maybe you’ve been on the crazy cycle doing the same thing over and over, not getting anywhere.

In the midst of it all we are never hopeless, we are never powerless when we have the one who is able with us.

Sometimes the road of devastation we walk can seem like an endless road to nowhere but I can promise you these roads of brokenness are always paved with his glory.

Even If you Don’t…….

“On the seventh day, they got up at daybreak and marched around the city seven times in the same manner, except that on that day they circled the city seven times.   The seventh time around, when the priests sounded the trumpet blast, Joshua commanded the army, “Shout!”  For the LORD has given you the city!”  (Joshua 6:15-16).

What if God told you I will give you everything you could have ever imagine (and then some)?  How would you respond?  What if He told you, The Promised Land I’ve promised you is right at your fingertips.  But first you must………

Ahhh, there’s always a catch right!?!?  Yes and No.  Last week’s post Letting Go and Letting God addressed Moses leading the Israelites out of Egypt and wandering the desert for 40 years.  At this point The Israelites had already crossed over the Jordan River and were thinking, ‘Yes! We’ve made it!’  Well not really first they had to face some giants a whole army of them.

So God gives Joshua the instructions to march seven times around the ginormous walls of Jericho for six days.  And then the seventh day march 7 times around!  For six days the Israelites marched in silence until the seventh day.

Can you imagine after marching for 7 days straight in a row their surprise when those walls of Jericho came tumbling down?Click To Tweet

I think I would have been feeling quite tired and weary of marching around a huge city for 7 days straight to see nothing happening.  Not being able to speak and just march in silence day in and day out.  It makes me think how heavy their feet felt, each step they took.  How heavy their hearts felt each day that passed, thinking why must we keep doing this?!?!?

Haven’t we’ve been through enough Lord?!?!?!?

I can’t imagine the thoughts that must have ruminated in their minds as they marched.  What if God doesn’t do what he said he would?  What if God isn’t going to come through?  What if this is all for nothing?

How glorious it must have been to see those walls fall, after enduring everything they had been through year after year and to have the faith to keep on marching!Click To Tweet

Maybe you are running out of fuel and have nothing left.  Maybe you can relate to The Israelites, the trials they endured in the waiting, in the wandering, in the when will this end?!?!  Even in their despair, in the unknowing they kept placing one foot in front of the other and kept on marching.  When they did, they saw God’s amazing plan unfold, the indestructible city of Jericho’s walls fall down.

Have you ever felt like giving up?

Have you ever felt like what you go through is all for nothing?

Every road of brokenness is paved with his glory, we just have to stay on it.  Don’t give up. Whatever road you are on towards healing, restoration, redemption, reconciliation stay on it, it’s so worth it.

Even if you don’t Lord, I know you are good.

Even if you don’t Lord, I know your are faithful and keep your promises.

Even if you don’t Lord, you are still my Maker, My Creator, My God in whom I love and am Thankful for.

Even if you don’t Lord, you are MY God in whom I trust and know your ways are greater and better.

Prayer:  Dear Lord, 

I know you’re able and I know you could just wave my pain away right now and that hurts.  I know that you can see me And have been watching me year after year go through what I’m going through.  I know you have heard every prayer I’ve cried.  Even if you don’t answer my prayer, even if you my sorrow doesn’t subside, I know you are faithful and good. My hope is in you alone, Lord.  Despite what I’m going through I want to believe there’s a better way, a better outcome, you’re glory refined.  I know you don’t need me, but you chose me. I know your way is better, your plans are amazing.  I pray for your unsurpassed peace to supersede in the midst of the chaos, in midst of the pain. When my hope is in you, your glory will arise and make the most beautiful masterpiece ever out of my situation.

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The Jericho Prayer


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Letting Go and Letting God

I will never forget when my family and I went on this one camping trip.  We had a golden retriever named Ginger.  My dad handed my eight-year-old sister the dog leash and gave her the instructions, ‘don’t let go.’  I was standing next to her and a squirrel ran across the parking lot up a tree.  You can only imagine what happened next.  The dog chased the squirrel, the only problem was my sister was holding on to the leash.

My sister was then drug across the gravel parking lot holding onto the leash.  I yelled, “Let go! Let go of the leash!”  I couldn’t believe it.  If a dog who weighed as much as me ran across a gravel parking lot, I would have let go of the leash.  But for some reason my sister held on and endured scrapes and injuries from the gravel as a result of holding on.

This picture of my sister holding onto the leash shows me this is what a lot of us do in life when we are going through hard times.  We think we have to hold on so tightly to what God is allowing in our lives, and just take the injuries along the way.  In reality we have a choice to let go of what we’re holding onto so tightly and allow God to handle it or keep holding onto it and endure more suffering.

Recently,  I was in a group discussion about what it means to “Let God and Let God.”  This phrase is used all the time but what does it really mean to be able to accomplish the task of letting go and letting God?

According to Psychology Today, Letting go means, being willing to allow life to carry you to a new place, even a deeper more true rendition of self. Holding on means trying to push life into the place of your making or be damned

In our group discussion we determined letting go meant, trusting in God that things will get better, to accept the things we cannot change and having the courage the courage to change the things we can.

Letting go doesn’t mean keep holding on and hoping for the best.

Letting go doesn’t mean keep walking around your problems hoping God does his part.

Letting go doesn’t mean sit back and wait for God to do all the work.

Which part do you struggle with, the letting go or the letting God part?Click To Tweet

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose”  Romans 8:28 NIV

Letting go might feel like you are walking away and don’t care, but in reality it’s the exact opposite.  Letting go allows God to do his job of what he was intended to do in the first place.  When we hold on, we just get in the way.

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. 19 See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland”  Isaiah 43:18-19 NIV

Letting go might mean to let go of expectations or resentment.  Letting go may even mean one needs to forgive to be able to let go of un-forgiveness.  We may even have to let go of the outcome.

One group of people who learned the epitome of letting go, were the Israelites.  They had expectations God was going to deliver them from Egypt into The Promised Land.  God is a God who ALWAYS keeps His promises we just might not agree with His timing.  God delivered the Israelites out of Egypt but not immediately into The Promised Land.

“Then Moses raised his hand and struck the rock twice with his staff, so that a great amount of water gushed out, and the congregation and their livestock were able to drink” (Numbers 20:11).

At this point the Israelites had been wandering around the wilderness for 38 years.  Over the years God had provided food, protection, etc. for them time and time again.  This time they were groaning for water complaining they were surely going to die if they didn’t receive it.

Moses and Aaron went before God with their request.  God instructed Moses to take the staff and TELL the rock to yield water.

As you can see in the above verse, this is not what happened.  Instead Moses took the staff and struck the rock twice.  Although there is only a slight difference in what God told Moses to do and what he actually did, this caused a BIG difference in the outcome.

I can relate to Moses.

Maybe he was frustrated the wandering was taking so long.  Maybe he couldn’t handle the Israelites complaining anymore.  Or maybe he held onto pride, let it get in the way and wanted to deliver the water the way he wanted instead of how God intended.

Whatever the reason, we can see God honors our obedience. God says to them, “Because you did not trust in me enough to honor me as holy in the sight of the Israelites, you will not bring this community into the land I give them”  (Numbers 20:12).  Ouch.  That consequence had to hurt.

Because Moses wasn’t able to let go of frustration, resentment, pride and/or expectations, he acted out because of it and received a heavy consequence.  When we hold on to what God is asking us to let go of we aren’t trusting He is able.

Letting go may be one of the hardest things we do, but allowing God to have whatever we're holding onto is trusting He is able to accomplish anything.Click To Tweet

Letting go will never pull us into a direction that will intentionally hurt us.  Letting go will allow room for God’s original plan in our lives to fill us with His joy, peace and freedom.

What does letting go and letting God mean to you?

Do you struggle with letting go and letting God?

What has God asked you to let go of?

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Does Our Faith Save Us?

Is our faith enough to save us?

Earlier this month a beloved Pastor named Jarrid Wilson took his own life.  He was a Pastor of a Harvest Christian Fellowship and founder of Anthem of Hope Ministries, a ministry to help those who struggled with depression and suicide.  He brought many to know Jesus and was an accomplished author of a few books, “Love is Oxygen,” “Jesus Swagger,” and “Wondrous Pursuit.”

As a Pastor and Man of God we think how can this happen?  It goes to show struggles are real and even godly people aren’t exempt.  How is it a man who walked with God so closely, spread His good news, helped hundreds with depression and brought many to Christ take his own life?

Jarrid Wilson’s situation asks deeper questions.

Did Jarrid not have enough faith?

If His faith didn’t save him, then what’s the point of having faith?

So many people in the Bible can ask the same question.

Did Daniel’s faith save him from being thrown in the lion’s den? No

Did Shadrack, Meschack, and Abendago’s faith save them from being thrown in the fiery furnace? No

Did the Israelites’ faith save them from being attacked by the Egyptians? No

Did Jesus’ faith prevent him from being crucified on the cross? No

You may be thinking, then what is the point in having faith if it doesn’t keep me safe?

Samaritan’s Purse put out a movie a couple of years ago called  ‘Facing the Darkness’ which was a documentary of the Ebola crisis outbreak.  Dr. Brantly the doctor and first American to contract the Ebola virus, said something so profound. He said, “Faith is not something that makes you safe. My faith did not save me but got me through it. My Faith actually brought me to the Ebola crisis.”

These examples of faith did not PREVENT them from being put in scary, dangerous circumstances. Standing firm in their faith DID PROTECT them and allow for God’s greater plan to happen.

If Daniel didn’t have faith we would have never seen GOD’S POWER to shut the mouths of lions.

If Shadrack, Meshack and Abendago didn’t have faith we would had never seen GOD’S POWER protect them from being burned in the fiery furnace and how God was with them.

If the Israelites didn’t have faith we would have never seen GOD’S POWER to part the Red Sea providing a way out from their enemies.

If Jesus refused to put his trust in His Father’s hands, we would have missed out on the greatest plan that ever existed—OUR ETERNAL SALVATION.

Each example of faith, including Dr. Brantly’s brought them to the heart of a crisis where their lives were at stake. Through each act of faith, we were able to see how trusting in God’s plan moves mountains and makes the impossible, possible.

How big is your faith?

Matthew 17:20 “Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”

It’s not the size of our faith that moves mountains, but the size of our God.  

IF our FAITH was enough to save us, there would have been no point in sending Jesus. Click To Tweet

Our faith allows God’s greater plan to play out. Our faith does not save us, but God’s grace does. 

Our faith will not SAVE us from our bad circumstances or GUARANTEE us a life without struggles. Our FAITH will not prevent us from being thrown into a pit of lions, a fiery furnace, being attacked by our enemies or contracting a deadly disease. Having faith does not exempt us from harsh realities of this world.

Our faith DOES allow God to be in control and puts the trust in HIS capabilities. Our faith is the very thing that will get us through to the other side and live in the abundant blessings God has to offer. It doesn’t matter what circumstances we are up against, when we have faith we become OVERCOMERS in Christ. Our faith allows us to experience PEACE in the storms and JOY in our struggles because of what God has already gone ahead of us and done.

Where will you allow your faith to take you?

Our faith may lead us into scary, dangerous places.  Be encouraged……..

God's grace will not take us where his love cannot protect us. Click To Tweet

God’s grace and love are greater and bigger than anything in this world.

1 John 4:4 “ You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world.”

How has your faith protected you in your hard circumstances?

Friends, suicide is never the answer.  If you are having suicidal thoughts please reach out and ask for help, call a friend.  Please know your life matters, you are worthy and valuable.

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He Makes All Things NEW

He Makes All Things New

Ever wonder why we go through what we go through?  After our son died,  I was left with a lot of questions, “Why?” “How could this even happen?”  When bad things happen in our lives, we can question if God is a good God then how could he allow something like this to happen?

I’ll never forget when someone gave me a little story book called, “Water bugs and dragonflies.”  I wondered, ‘why would someone give me a children’s book after our son just died?”  As the story goes, there was a family of water bugs.  Every so often the water bugs would venture off up the stalks of grass, above the surface of water to never return or be seen again.

When it was time for the water bug, narrating the story, turn to leave, he discovered when he went to the surface, something amazing happened.  He gained wings!  In his excitement he realized, ‘wait, I have to go back to tell my family!’  Then he realized he couldn’t because of his wings, and in his transformation, no one would recognize him anyway.  He would have to wait until the rest of his family went through their transformation to see them again.

Something New will be Born

Do I bring to the moment of birth and not give delivery?” says the LORD. “Do I close up the womb when I bring to delivery?” says your God. Isa. 66:9 NIV

He Makes All Things New

When life hurts and we think God’s promises have failed us, one person in the Bible reminds me that God never leaves us and uses everything we go through for his greater purpose.  Job was a man of great wealth, blameless, upright, feared God and turned away from evil (Job 1:1).  He had a big family, a big house, lots of cattle, and servants.  Everything Job touched was blessed.

Then Satan comes along and wants to test Job, put him through trials, to see if he would still praise God and stay faithful.  God granted Satan access to Job to be allowed to test job in ways that were beyond imaginable, knowing whatever Satan did, Job would never turn away from Him (Job 1:8-12)

Satan’s first set of attacks on Jobs targeted his family (killing all his children) and cattle (all were taken and stolen from his property).  Imagine losing all your children and cattle all at once.  The depth of despair and loss must have been heavy and great.  Despite this Job still cried out to God and said, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away;  blessed be the name of the LORD” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:21-22).  

Satan’s second set of attacks, targeted Job’s health leaving him with sores all over his body (Job 2:7).  Job’s wife even said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die” (Job 2:9).  But he said to her, “Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive  evil?  In all this Job did not sin with his lips” (Job 2:10).  

In other words, life encompasses good and bad.  Are we to only embrace the good parts of life and not the bad parts?

Jobs’ his life had been good up until this point, just because bad things were happening now, does that mean God wasn’t good?

When Job’s three friends heard of his suffering and turmoil, they came to support and mourn with him.  For seven days they sat in silence, wept with him and comforted him (Job 2:11-13).  After those seven days, Job starts opening up about his heartache and hardship to his friends, questioning, ‘why was he even born?’ or ‘why must he go through all this suffering?’ 

Then his three friends chime in and given their own opinion and reason for Job’s suffering.  If Job was the target of all this suffering, he must have done something in his life to deserve all this.  Job’s circumstances must be a result of not being right before God and he needed to repent of any sin to make his suffering go away (Job 4).

“As I have seen, the who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same” (Job 4:8).  His friends believed somehow God was judging Job’s character and he was now reaping the consequences.  It is true there is a law of sowing and reaping in Galatians 6:7 and 2 Corinthians 9:6, whatever effort we put into things we sow what we reap.

To turn that around and apply this concept to God implying he punishes and condemns us for our past mistakes is not the truth.  God is a loving forgiving God.

'We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are' (Romans 3:22 NLT).Click To Tweet

Yes it is true God allows certain circumstances to happen in our lives, but that does not mean God is evil and wants us to suffer.  There is nothing we can do, that would make God Not LOVE us.  We can be forgiven no matter what we’ve done, how lost we are or how far away from God we are.  His love is for everyone and anyone has the choice to be saved and forgiven.

The part of Job’s story I love the most, is how he remained faithful and praised God despite is horrible circumstances.  I love what Job says,

'I know that you can do all things, and that no purpose of yours can be thwarted' (Job 42:1)Click To Tweet

In the end, God restored Job’s fortunes and blessed him with twice as much as he had before.

Our past does not define our future. #quote Pastor Rick Warren

Job may have endured a lot, but he persevered because:

  1. He praised God even in his darkest moments
  2. He didn’t listen to naysayers (his friends)
  3. He held onto the goodness of God and trusted what God had for him was greater

God may allow us to endure hardships, but will use them to refine us and rid of us anything getting in the way of His greater purpose.  Job never turned his back on God and allowed his story to be all for God’s glory.  God can do all things and no amount of evil can ever stop God’s purpose and plan of what He’s already done for us.

No trial, no heartache, no struggle is ever wasted. Just as a woman goes through the pain of labor, God doesn’t allow anything to happen in our lives without something new to be born.

“And he who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Also he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true” (Revelations 21:5).

I love how God can turn the most tragic circumstances into His greatest plans ever.  Just like the water bugs, God makes all things new.  

Have you ever had a trial or hardship in your life that God used for his greater purpose?

How has God made things new in your life?

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In Him,

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Have You Ever Been a Holy Mess? Interview with Michelle Rabon’s New Book: Holy Mess

 

Have you ever just felt like your life was a mess?  Or maybe even a Hot Mess?  But a Holy Mess?  That’s a whole other level!  Just reading the title makes me relate!

What if our Holy Messes were apart of God’s Holy Purpose for us?

What if God’s Holy Purpose could not be carried out in us if we didn’t have our Messes?

Our messes are God’s platform to carry out His greatest plans.  He doesn’t need us to do this, He WANTS US to carry out His plans.  He could have chosen to live anywhere in the world but He chose to reside in our hearts.

I want to introduce you to Michelle Rabon the author of a Holy Mess.  She actually wrote “Holy Mess” as both a traditional book with a coordinating Bible study. The benefit of the book is to help women find freedom from the messes of their life through Christ and walk forward in faith. It will help women see that God meets us in the midst of every mess we will face in this life and He will walk us through it all.

So let’s get started!

Heather:  What is the story behind Holy Mess?  What drove you to write this book?

Michelle:  I never set out to write a book in all honesty. I accepted Christ at the age of 19, but it took until my late 20s to really understand what it meant to be a woman radically changed by the Gospel. I know God saved me and changed me, but I didn’t know how I was supposed to live that out. 

From the time I was 19 to my late 20s, I was married, had three children, lost my father, brother, mother in law and had two miscarriages. There was a lot of life, a lot of hurt and little understanding of how the Gospel could meet me in the midst of it all. Holy Mess really is 10 years of hard fought lessons in one book. Everything God has used to teach me about what the Gospel really means for our lives every day. 

I wrote the idea on a piece of paper three years ago. I knew that all I walked through was not without reason and it was meant to be shared. The desire of my heart and the burden God placed on my heart was to help other women see the power of the Gospel for every area of her life. 

Heather: What does it mean to be a woman who is radically changed by the gospel?  

Michelle:  Being a woman who is radically changed by the gospel is a reflection of the power of what Christ can do in a woman’s life. When we accept the gift of salvation and surrender our lives to God because of Christ,  who went to a cross on our behalf – God begins to shape us into His holy daughters. Our perfection isn’t required because He meets us in the midst of our messes. 

When we are radically changed we are moved from our old way to a new way, a new life. A life of abundance and hope. It does not mean God is offering us a perfect life, but He says I will meet you in it. He says I am with you every step, and He will be faithful to bring the holy to His radically changed daughters.

Heather:  What was your favorite and least favorite part of the process of the Holy mess?  

Michelle:  My favorite part of the process was learning so much about the women of the Bible. There is so much that God will teach us through the people in the pages of Scripture. Their stories resonate with us because they are like you and I, just a few hundred years between us. 

My least favorite, having to walk out what God was teaching me, every word I wrote I lived out first before it found its way onto a page. It wasn’t easy but it was worth it. 

Heather:  If there is one take away message you can share from the Holy mess what would that be?  

Michelle:  That if God can change the women of the Bible then He can change you, and when He changes you, He will walk this life with you. 

 

Michelle is a wife and mom of three who is learning to embrace the messiness of life and walk in the grace of God. When she isn’t chasing or homeschooling her little ones, she is writing, drinking coffee, and serving women in her local church. You can find her at Displayinggrace.com, Instagram @displayinggrace and Facebook @displaygrace

All book information is at www.holymessbook.com

 


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10 Bible Verses That Will Give You More Courage

10 Courageous Bible Verses

 

Have you ever been stuck in a rut or the same pattern that keeps repeating over and over?  You wonder how do I get off this treadmill that leads to the land of nowhere?

Sometimes I tend to blame my situation or circumstances of why I can’t move forward or get off that treadmill when I realize I AM the stumbling block.  I’m the one trying to do things my own way, with my own strength, forgetting to rely on God for HIS Courage to get me through.

When you feel yourself getting into a rut or running on the treadmill keep these verses near and hide them in your hearts, so we don’t keep trusting in our own strength but in God’s strength.  When we refer to the ONE who is the PROVIDER of COURAGE we will always have an endless supply.

Here are 10 Bible Verses That Will Give You More Courage:

What is Courage?  The Bible defines courage as as the ability to do something brave out of a motivation of the heart.  Courage wouldn’t be courage if we weren’t taking risks towards growth that scared us.  In reality, courage helps build our character for what God has in store for us, helps strengthen us and helps us learn how to draw closer and depend on
God.

When we need to depend on God.

  1.   “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.”  Joshua 1:9

This Bible verse is hanging in my bedroom above my bed.  I love how I can physically see this verse and be reminded of it’s power.  We don’t have to fear or be afraid when God is holding our hands.

2.  “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.  In God, whose word I praise— in God, I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?”  Psalm 56:3-4

In my experience, displaced trust causes more fear.  When we put the trust in ourselves we will always fall short and fail.  We don’t have to be afraid when our trust is placed in God our PROTECTOR who is able to keep us safe.

3. “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

I love how before Jesus left this earth, he gives encouragement we don’t have to be afraid.  We can receive a peace that’s not of this world when we focus our hearts on HIM and not our circumstances.

When God’s courage strengthens us.

4.  “Wait for the LORD;  be strong and take heart and wait for the LORD.”  Psalm 27:14

God uses EVERYTHING we go through for HIS GLORY and HIS PLANS.  He uses our circumstances, our trials, burdens, our struggles to strengthen us and build our COURAGE so he can use us for what He has in store for us, if WE LET HIM.  When we patiently WAIT for what he has for us we will see HIS glorious plans unfold within our lives.

5.  “Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD.”  Psalm 31:24

God never says what we go through isn’t going to be hard.  He left instructions in how to strengthen the courage he gives us.  Courage needs strength in order for it to be courage.  When we depend and seek God for our strength we will have all the courage we need.  We can trust his courage is enough and all we will ever need.

6.  “Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.”  Ephesians 6:10

We can rest in God’s mighty power for our strength and courage.  We don’t have to use our own strength to go through what we’re going through.  Nothing in this world can compare or even come close to be being more powerful that God’s power and strength.

When God’s Courage motivates us to accomplish His will for us.

7.  “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.” 1 Corinthians 15:58

We don’t have to be discouraged.  Whatever work we we do, when we do it for the Lord, it will never be in vain.  We can stand firm even when don’t like our circumstances and trust he will use them for something greater.  The assignments God has for us can’t be messed up by the circumstances of our past (@OhSheNoble).  God made us with flaws and all.  He made us all with a specific purpose.

Our flaws don't disqualify us from HIS plans our disobedience does. Click To Tweet

8.  “For the Spirit God gave us does not make us timid, but gives us power, love, and self-discipline.”  2 Timothy 1:7

Don’t miss out on the journey God has for you, because of fear-filled thoughts and discouraging doubts.  God didn’t create us to live in a world of defeat but be victorious in His strength and courage.  Embrace who you are in how God made you, flaws and all and allow HIM to use them as a platform for HIS strength.

We can trust in His plans.

9.  “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

We can trust God’s plans are the best plans.

10.  “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.”  Galatians 6:9

Whatever you're going through, DON'T GIVE UP! God's Courage is Strong Enough to Get you Through! #dontgiveup #choose #courage #brave #choosegrittyClick To Tweet

When you feel the tug of defeat weighing on your heart, refer to these verses.  And Remember…………

How God use situations of adversity like David when he defeated Goliath.  A young boy was an unlikely choice to defeat a giant, but God used David’s skill and God’s courage to defeat a giant 4 times his size.

Remember how God used a storm to show Peter, when we step out of the boat in obedience to God’s calling we see miracles happen (walking on water).

Resting in God’s endless supply of Courage will his greatest accomplishments to arise in US!  God’s strength is ENOUGH!

Do you need more courage?

What makes your courage stronger?

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Need a reminder to Be strong and Courageous?  Here’s a FREE Downloadable printable bookmark.  Just Download and Print! Just Click on this link: We need to know we are not alone.

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Need ways to make your courage stronger?  Here are 3 ways that may help!  Click Here.  


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