Thursday, May 18, 2017

Take Courage





Slow down, take time
Breath in He said
He'd reveal what's to come
The thoughts in His mind
Always higher than mine
He'll reveal all to come

Take courage my heart
Stay steadfast my soul
He's in the waiting
He's in the waiting
Hold onto your hope
As your triumph unfolds
He's never failing
He's never failing

Sing praise my soul
Find strength in joy
Let His Words lead you on
Do not forget
His great faithfulness
He'll finish all He's begun

And You who hold the stars
Who call them each by name
Will surely keep, Your promise to me
That I will rise, in Your victory!



Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Brave Women Overcome





Today we had our last session for the spring season of Women's Connect. Six different women shared their testimonies in front of the group of around 50 women. These women are brave! They chose to face their fears and stand up in front of a room full of women and share their very personal stories with tears rolling down their faces. One of my friends shared her testimony of healing. She was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm months ago and our whole group has been praying for God to heal her body. A couple of weeks ago she went to see her specialist as a last step before surgery. The specialist had some surprising news for her, the latest test results showed that the brain aneurysm was gone. Jesus still heals people today, both emotionally and physically.


The other five women shared stories about facing their biggest fears and about a hunger to be the best at something that eventually led to sick leave from work. One of the women shared about her struggle with anxiety and depression that started after she received some devastating news this year. She talked about how God has been showing her that in the midst of the darkness He is good and He will never leave her. I could relate to every single woman's story and every story encouraged me. I was reminded of how even if every individual is unique our struggles are similar. We all struggle with feeling insecure and inadequate. We struggle with letting go of control and trusting that God knows exactly what he is doing in our lives. We are afraid of getting vulnerable with each other because we fear rejection, failure and being judged by others.


Last week Jen Pollock Michael was speaking at our Women's Connect gathering and she said that she doesn't like speaking in front of a crowd because she doesn't like being judged. I thought to myself: "You are an amazing, wise and famous speaker, I don't judge you I think you are great!" Most of the time other people don't think nearly as negatively about us as we think about ourselves. Why? Our spiritual enemy, the devil, has many different strategies to try to ruin our lives but the most efficient one is when he gets to us from the inside. He speaks lies into our souls and gets us to believe that they are true. Here are some of the lies he tells us:
"You are never going to be good enough, you just don't have it in you." 
"Nobody likes you."
"God doesn't love you, not after what you have done. God will never love you."


It's hard to not listen to these lies and believe them. The enemy knows our weak spots and that's where he will strike us. The amazing thing that happens when we get into community with others is that we become very hard for the enemy to break. When we choose to get vulnerable with a group of other Christians we give God an opportunity to use people to speak truth and encouragement into our lives. There has been a couple of times when another Christian woman has spoken something to me that she felt God wanted her to tell me and I had to fight back tears because it spoke right into my current situation. These were private things that I hadn't told anyone about and the woman just shared what was on her heart, having no idea that God was using her to bless me in that moment. This is what doing God's work will look like a lot of times.


God will put people in front of you and if you choose to love them you have no idea what he can do through you. We shouldn't let people use us but the goal is to let God use us. God uses women to carry babies and then to raise up the next generation that will take over the Earth after we are gone. God uses women to love and encourage their friends and family members, even strangers, whenever there's an opportunity. God uses women to go on mission trips and save other women and children from sex trafficking. God uses women to serve meals to the poor in homeless shelters. God wants to use us. Will we let him?


Pastor Holly Wagner's airplane story is a good example. A very mean lady entered the airplane and started yelling at the flight attendant who got tears in her eyes. When the mean lady went to sit down she sat down right beside Holly. Holly felt angry at the lady on the inside and planned to ignore her for the rest of the flight. God had other plans. God started nudging on Holly's heart and asking her to talk to the lady. Holly talked to the lady but only got an irritated answer back. The answer made Holly even more angry at the lady but God kept pulling on Holly's heart, asking her to try again. Holly decided to give it another try and at that point the lady broke down and started crying. After Holly had talked to the lady for awhile she found out that the mean lady had just found out she had terminal cancer. Holly ended up praying for the lady on the airplane and exchanging numbers so that she could continue to help her. The lady got connected to Holly's church and received help to walk through this very difficult last season of her life.


If we choose to stop looking at other people as competitors/annoyances and are open to letting God use us it's mind-blowing what God will do through us. God works in many different mysterious ways but one of his favorite ways to reach people and love on them is through other believers. We are the body of Christ. We are all here on Earth to love God and other people. He never said it was going to be easy.


Monday, May 15, 2017

When you can't do it anymore





Even the strongest people will have weak moments when all they want to do is give up. Pastor Steven Furtick from Elevation Church preaches a great message in this video about those moments in life when we have lost all hope and are ready to quit. Quit on a relationship. Quit on a ministry. Quit on our purpose. Quit on our kids, maybe even quit on life. How can we go on when we have no hope for the future? Sometimes it’s not after a failure that we want to give up but rather when we have reached success in our lives. Why? Success can often require a lot more strength out of us than the struggle prior to our success. Steven Furtick mentions four different factors that can make us want to give up in life:


Disappointment

Sometimes it’s not when our dreams don’t come true that we want to quit but rather after they come true. We tend to struggle with reconciling the picture we had in our imagination with what reality looks like. We grew up watching Hollywood films about love and now our marriage looks very different in reality than it did in our dream about marriage. We dreamed about having a baby but when the baby came being a parent ended up being a lot harder than we had imagined in our dreams.


Responsibility

We want God to bless us with a great career, with children, with a husband and when we receive all these blessings we want to quit. Why? It’s not easy to live a blessed life because the blessings come with responsibility. The responsibilities we have in our lives can be heavy to carry sometimes. Life was easier before our dreams came true. It’s a great privilege to get to see your dreams come true but oh how difficult it can be to live in the blessings of life sometimes. Now when our dreams have come true we have more work to do than before, more people to love and nurture and less time to sleep in on the weekends. When we want to quit in life it’s usually not because we don’t want to do it anymore but because we think we can’t. We say “I’ve had enough” because on the inside we believe that we aren’t enough. We feel like we have done everything we can and we don’t know what else to do.


Opposition

Certain battles we expect in life but what about when difficulty arises in an area we didn’t expect? One area we often don’t expect opposition in is in our inner being. We expect opposition from other people but what about when your greatest enemy lives inside of you? That voice on the inside that tells you that you aren’t going to make it through this struggle and that you aren’t enough. It’s a lot easier to fight off opposition from others than it is to fight the enemy within.


Position

“The reason you have collapsed is not because of your situation, it’s because of your position.”
Steven Furtick

When we find ourselves in a place in life where we want to give up chances are we aren’t finding ourselves very close to God in that moment. In the midst of our struggles God whispers to us to come back to him. God has the power to turn our situation around but we can’t do this all on our own. We need God to intervene in our lives. We weren’t meant to carry all the heavy burdens of this life on our own. What we need to be able to go on when we want to quit is not a change in our feelings, we need a change in our focus.



Only Just Met You





Lost in my wilderness
In all Your tenderness
You found me hiding in the night
Reached out Your gentle hand
I did not understand
You spoke a word and there was light

You give me galaxies
Wash me in salty seas
It's almost more than I can bear
There's not a single fear
It cannot touch me here
I can’t remember who I was

And You've only just begun
And if You've only just begun
Oh, what can I do

Only gets better, only gets better
Only gets better from here
Only gets better, only gets better
Only gets better from here

For such a mystery 
It makes so much sense to me
And I only just met You 



The Story of the Bible





Jon Collins and Tim Mackie explains the story of the Bible in a very simple way with the help of an animated video. The story of God's relationship with humanity isn't as complicated as we sometimes can assume. We each have a choice to choose good or evil. We can either do whatever we want, or we can choose love. We all adore the word love, but living it out is far from easy. Choosing love will require us to go against our own natural urges many times. We choose to forgive, even if we crave revenge. We choose to practice self-control even when we want to gossip. We choose perseverance even when we want to quit on our difficult human relationships. Love is beautiful but it is seldom an easy route to choose. God helps us do the impossible, to choose love even when our whole being craves going down the evil route.


Healthy Eating Made Easy





One of my New Year's Resolutions was to focus more on healthy eating. One reason I tend to slip into unhealthy eating habits is because I get bored with eating the same foods. I used to find new healthy recipes in fitness magazines but these days the magazine industry seems to be slowly dying. I haven't found any good recipes in magazines for the last couple of years. Social media is the new place to find your inspiration.

There are tons of people on social media who blog about healthy eating and exercise but not everyone is a professional. One of my favorite youtube channels about healthy eating is Becca Bristow. Becca is a registered dietitian and I love her "What I Eat in a Day"-videos. I like that Becca's meals and recipes are simple and quick to make. I don't like when healthy eating becomes too complicated and time-consuming. If you are on the lookout for some healthy eating inspiration I recommend Becca Bristow's Youtube channel!