Monday, July 7, 2014

Dangerous Ground


We've all done it: compared ourselves to others. Whether we compare our bodies, our families, our jobs, our callings, or where we are on the journey, the temptation can be so subtle we barely recognize it. But it's dangerous ground we would be wise to avoid.

Comparing ourselves to others does a lot of things--none of them good:

It creates pressure - When I read certain writers whose flowing, beautiful words evoke deep passion, sometimes I'm tempted to try to emulate their style. But the pressure to be someone else makes me miserable and in the end I always fail. We don't need the pressure of trying to be something and someone we're not. When we're true to ourselves, there is no pressure.

It leads to frustration - Nothing squelches our ability to fulfill God's specific destiny for our lives like comparison, and that is frustrating. He has equipped us for every good work, but only when we're following His plan for our lives--not when we're trying to be like someone else. When we pursue the Lord and His plan, frustration is alleviated.

It fosters insecurity - And insecure people don't get far. Insecurity prevents us from maturing, because it partners with fear to hold us back. But when we instead strive to know God's unique plan for our lives, we grow in both ability and confidence.

It makes us feel small - We've all experienced a moment when we felt pale and insignificant in the shadow of another. But the truth is we are exactly who God created us to be, and it grieves the Holy Spirit when we think of ourselves as less than all God's word declares. Instead of standing in someone else's shadow and allowing ourselves to feel small, let's dwell under the shadow of the Almighty, confident in our identities and giftings as God's daughters.

It breeds competition - Comparison turns our hearts into scales--we're constantly weighing what others have and we don't. Remember, this is a race to the finish of our own God-given destiny, not a race to beat someone else. We can cheer each other on, pray for one another and remember that we're on the same team!

It robs us of our unique identity - There's no way we can become all God intends for us to be when our eyes are on others. When we keep our focus on the Lord and His plan for us, we can grow and excel in our own individual style.

Every one of us possesses a valuable, God-given destiny. As we choose to trust in God, focus on Him, and obey His direction for our lives, then He is honored. And we are anchored to the One who holds our destiny. This frees us to authentically pursue His calling on our lives, while authentically cheering on our sisters. When we resist the urge to compare ourselves, we avoid dangerous ground and demonstrate the belief that our own callings, however small or grand they may feel, hold value.


Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won't need to compare yourself to anyone else. (Galatians 6:4)


Comparison Prayer:  Father, help me to clearly perceive and respect my own God-given destiny, resist the urge to compare myself, and avoid the dangerous ground of comparison. When I am tempted to compare, I will instead cooperate with Your Holy Spirit by paying attention to my own work, and I will joyfully cheer on those around me. Thank you for the good plans You have for me. Enable me to honor You and fulfill my God-given destiny without comparing myself to others. In Jesus’s name, Amen. 

  • FREE CHAPTER ~ If you would like encouragement to pray for YOU, you can read Chapter One of Prayers for a Woman’s Soul for FREE! To get your free chapter, PLEASE CLICK HERE.



Tuesday, July 1, 2014

When Your Heart Feels Crushed



I had prayed earnestly. Through tears. For what felt like an unendurable length of time.

Glimmers of hope occasionally sparked encouragement in my heart. So I’d believe and expect, knowing that God can do anything. Hoping for the best.

But after many years without change, I eventually wanted to give up. My heart felt crushed.

What do you do when you’ve prayed and prayed and then prayed some more, but nothing changes?

Realize God is doing something in us. All the icky stuff we go through that we’d rather not endure? It’s accomplishing something eternal. “For our light, momentary affliction (this slight distress of the passing hour) is ever more and more abundantly preparing and producing and achieving for us an everlasting weight of glory [beyond all measure, excessively surpassing all comparisons and all calculations, a vast and transcendent glory and blessedness never to cease!” 2 Corinthians 4:17

Recognize that He is still at work, even if we can’t see evidence. Just because we can’t see results right now does not mean we never will. So keep praying, because “God will make this happen, for he who calls you is faithful.1 Thessalonians 5:24 

Understand that His timing is not our timing. If our times are in His hands, (see Psalm 31:15we know He’s still in control, even during our hardest times. We are also told that “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Ecclesiastes 3:11 So we can remain confident that our time of beauty is coming!  

Believe that He is over everything. I love this verse, which declares that God is over all things, including our current (and future!) situations. O Lord, the God of our ancestor Israel, may you be praised forever and ever!  Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is yours, O Lord, and this is your kingdom. We adore you as the one who is over all things.1 Chronicles 29:10b-11 

Stand on the truth that His grace is sufficient. Though waiting through hard situations is never easy, God strengthens us through the power of His Holy Spirit. “I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].” Philippians 4:13 


As we shift our focus away from our heart-crushing circumstances—not in a head-in-the-sand way—but rather in a “…looking away from all that distracts unto Jesus” way and focus on God’s word and believe it, our hearts will be revived, encouraged, and strengthened. 


Friday, June 27, 2014

Because the Opposite of Anger is...Love {And a FREE Printable!}

If you’re visiting from Proverbs 31 Ministries’ Encouragement for Today, welcome!  (To read my devotion, God is Not Mad at You, CLICK HERE.)

I grew up surrounded by anger, which made me cringe inside. A lot. The angry undercurrents in my home created an insecure girl who longed for something different. Something as far away from anger as possible.

Love.

I craved love. Yearned for it fiercely. But love seemed like a sparkly promise that always eluded my grasp, like dandelion fluff floating away on the breeze.

Until I met Jesus.

I discovered that as I spent time with Him and meditated on Scripture, His love became more and more real, displacing my insecurities and filling my deepest yearnings.

Because love never fails.

So the thing I once lacked began flowing abundantly in my heart and life. Like a fresh, beautiful rain shower that gently filled a once dry place. Only God can do such a thing!

  • FREE PRINTABLE ~ If you, too, yearn for authentic love—love that never fails and that never stops—I have created a FREE printable featuring Scriptures on love just for you! To get your free printable, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
  • FREE CHAPTER ~ If you would like encouragement to pray for YOU, you can read Chapter One of Prayers for a Woman’s Soul for FREE! To get your free chapter, PLEASE CLICK HERE.
Thank you for dropping by today. I pray that as you pour over scriptures on love, God's mighty love and His very real presence will flood your heart! 



Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Hold On To Your Dream

If you’ve got a dream in your heart (and I believe we all do!) then you understand there are times when the dream feels within inches of your grasp. These are good days—times when you sense its nearness, when you sense God at work, when your faith is strong.

And then it happens.

The thing that makes your heart heavy.

The situation that makes your faith feel as rickety as an antique bicycle.

Like a sudden breeze sweeping dried leaves across the sidewalk, your dream flutters and begins to blow into the yard next door.

Holding on to a dream is hard.

But when our hearts feel heavy, we can encourage ourselves in the Lord. Just like King David did. He endured rough times. Dangerous times. Times that distressed him and made his heart heavy.

David was greatly distressed, for the men spoke of stoning him because the souls of them all were bitterly grieved, each man for his sons and daughters. But David encouraged and strengthened himself in the Lord his God. (1 Samuel 30:6)

I like knowing I’m not the only one who goes through rough times. But what I like even more is the biblical truth that when we feel distressed, when our hearts are heavy, we can encourage ourselves in the Lord.

What does that look like? How, exactly, do we encourage ourselves in the Lord?

We pray in faith, knowing that God is greater than our circumstances. “I know that You can do all things, and that no thought or purpose of Yours can be restrained or thwarted.” (Job 42:2)

We worship—with all our hearts. Worship that is based not on our feelings but on God’s worthiness.  “I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth.” (Psalm 34:1)

We assure ourselves of His goodness. This is when we declare (out loud, people!) that God is greater than anything else. We say, “God, You are good! You are my Strength and my Song. You a good Heavenly Father!” Then we use Scripture to declare His goodness: “Yours, O Lord, is the greatness, the power, the glory, the victory, and the majesty. Everything in the heavens and on earth is Yours, O Lord, and this is Your Kingdom. We adore You as the One who is over all things.” (1 Chronicles 29:11)

We focus on who He is:

He is faithful.
He is trustworthy.
He is powerful.
He is good.
He is able.
He is victorious.
He is mighty.

He is my Redeemer, the Lover of my Soul, the Righteous One, the Prince of Peace, The Lord God Almighty, Faithful and True, Light of the World, Chief Shepherd, Word of Life, the Truth, my Shield, my Refuge, my Defense, my Comforter.

And we trust. We trust that the Lord is at work in spite of how things may appear. We trust that God is able to move in His perfect timing. We trust that as we cooperate with His Holy Spirit, things we change. We trust that as we invite His presence into every detail of our lives, He will move.  

Ultimately, when we do the things above, we will honor God, our hearts will be deeply encouraged, and we will hold on to our dreams. 


I'd love for you to join me for daily encouragement on the 

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

How to Change the Atmosphere of Your Home

I’ve been on an extended blogging break due to ongoing family health issues, which are, thank God, now much improved.


If you’ve ever collapsed into bed feeling overwhelmed by the atmosphere of your home—bad attitudes, anger, confusion, or just a tangible, weighty oppression—I understand. For years the atmosphere of my home felt oppressive and heavy, and though I longed for change, I had no idea how to make change happen.

The truth is, sometimes our homes (and hearts) are being influenced without our awareness. Whether we completely understand it or not, darkness is at work.

Darkness as black as night covers all the nations of the earth… (Isaiah 60:2)

Scripture points out that there are unseen powers at work in the spiritual dimension that can have an effect in our homes—especially if we share our home with those who don’t yet know the Lord.

You used to live in sin, just like the rest of the world, obeying the devil—the commander of the powers in the unseen world. He is the spirit at work in the hearts of those who refuse to obey God. (Ephesians 2:2)

But the good news is God is greater. The second part of Isaiah 60:2 says it all

but the glory of the Lord rises and appears over you.

Light always displaces darkness. We combat darkness by inviting God’s light and truth into our homes. Below are keys to help change the atmosphere of your home.

1. Ask God to make you aware – Sometimes the cultural darkness in our area is so pervasive we become accustomed to it, unintentionally yielding to it because to us it feels normal. The first step is becoming aware; the Holy Spirit heightens our awareness when we ask Him.

2. Cultivate discernment – Scripture tells us to “watch and pray” (Matthew 26:41)As we do, we will more quickly recognize and discern darkness, which makes it easier to resist at its onset (James 4:7).  

3. Resist encroaching darkness – We never have to yield the atmosphere of our hearts or homes. Here are some solid resisting techniques:
  • Pray – Immediately ask the Lord to intervene. Thank Him for His power at work in your life in spite of how things appear.
  • Worship – Sing to the Lord or turn on worship music.
  • Speak out Scripture – It’s living, active and powerful (Hebrews 4:12)and Jesus defeated Satan for 40 days in the wilderness via Scripture. We can, too.
4. We need to deal with our own hearts - Sometimes we bear the bad attitude or allow offense or unforgiveness into our hearts. When we humbly examine ourselves and ask the Lord to point the log in our own eye (Matthew 7:5), God moves, as He always gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6).

5. Invite God's presence into your home - If the hills melt like wax at the presence of the Lord (Psalm 97:5), then surely the hills of anger, confusion, and oppression in our homes will melt as well. Tell Him that you desire His presence in your home.

The atmosphere of our homes will change as we diligently pray, seek Him, and apply these truths!

Here is a prayer to get you started. You can click on it and then print it out.  J






Monday, March 17, 2014

{My Calling} Our Last Week in the Prayers for a Woman's Soul Online Study!

Hi Sweet Friends,

Wow, our time together has zipped by! We’re already on the last week of our 6-week prayer study, praying for topics voted for by YOU. And the number one topic women wanted to pray about most is: MY CALLING.

I think this is because deep inside we all sense we were created to live fulfilling lives that matter and honor God. We yearn to do the very things God has wired us to do—but sometimes we aren’t sure what, exactly that is, or how, exactly to move forward into our callings.

Have you ever asked God about your calling? He is the One who uniquely created you to accomplish specific things on this earth. Whether you feel called to raise a family, open a bed and breakfast, or do scientific research that leads to the cure of cancer, God will lead and guide you as you seek Him and cooperate with His Holy Spirit.

This week as you pray, ask God to show you what He desires for you specifically at this time in your life. Then ask Him what your next step should be. And don’t allow yourself to feel overwhelmed as you pray and ask. We can start small, asking the Lord which baby steps to take first, knowing that by His grace we will accomplish the very thing He desires.

Your Assignment for Week #6: Read Chapter 50, My Calling

Chapter 50 Excerpt: “Dreams are where faith, passion, and hard work collide. When we diligently apply ourselves and cooperate with the Holy Spirit, our dreams begin to unfold. Yes, we start out taking baby steps. But eventually we will run like the wind—empowered by God.”

This Week’s Verse: 

“I consider my life worth nothing to me; my only aim is to finish the race and complete the task the Lord Jesus has given me.” (Acts 20:24)

This Week’s Questions:
  • Ask God if you have been sidetracked from your true purpose.
  • What steps have you already taken in the serious pursuit of your calling?
I will be praying for you all week long as together we pray for and about our callings. Leave a comment about your dream/calling and what’s holding you back and I will pray for you.

Thank you SO MUCH for joining me on this wonderful 6-week prayer journey. I hope that as you prayed you felt God's presence in a greater way, and that your heart has been refreshed and renewed. 

If you desire and are able, please join us on the Prayers for a Woman's Soul COMMUNITY FACEBOOK PAGE any time during the week and share your thoughts and experiences!

If you are reading this via email, please click here to share your thoughts by leaving a comment. 

Monday, March 10, 2014

{My Distractions} Week 5 – Prayers for a Woman’s Soul Online Study!

Hi Sweet Friends,

Do you feel pulled in too many directions or tugged off-task more frequently? I’d say that distractions are one of our most pressing issues to regularly pray about.

Have distractions interrupted or taken over your life? It seems like our culture has less down-time and more opportunities to waste time than ever. Technology and social media are fantastic, as long as we control it and not the other way around.  Being wise stewards of our time by remaining focused and on-task will help us ear much good fruit that remains (see John 15:16).

I am definitely not perfect in this area, but I am learning to pray, “Lord, help me be focused and fruitful for You today.” And when I do, it makes a significant difference.

On a practical note, two things have really helped me avoid distractions and stay on task:
  1. Spending time in prayer and God’s word each morning
  2. Doing my most important work first thing in the morning—before interruptions start happening.
Your Assignment for Week #5: Read Chapter 6, My Distractions

Chapter 6 Excerpt: “It’s nearly impossible not to be at least occasionally distracted. As women, wives, and mothers, we’re the busiest people on the planet. However, with Christ all things are possible. He alone can grant us the clarity and wisdom to make wise choices so that we recognize and avoid needless distractions.”

This Week’s Verse: 

“Looking away from all that will distract to Jesus, Who is the Leader and the Source of our faith…” (Hebrews 12:2)

This Week’s Questions:
  •  Could some of your activities be distractions in disguise?
  • Do you think that some distractions/interruptions could be God’s way of redirecting us?
I will be praying for you all week long as together we pray for and about distractions. Please leave a comment sharing what distracts you most and know you are not alone!

If you desire and are able, please join us on the Prayers for a Woman's Soul COMMUNITY FACEBOOK PAGE any time during the week and share your thoughts and experiences!

If you are reading this via email, please click here to share your thoughts by leaving a comment.