Being Confident of This

Grace for the work-in-progress woman

Verses That Pack a Punch (and #TheLoft)

Verses that Pack a Punch, spiritual battle, encouragement, Satan, scripture 

Two weeks ago, I shared about my personal weight issues here on the blog because the Lord just wouldn’t leave me alone about it. ūüôā ¬†I was afraid to open up that part of myself, but I trust that He knows best. The response has been overwhelmingly positive and even resulted in a speaking engagement for me.

Needless to say, I was elated!  It felt like a major spiritual victory to walk in obedience and see such immediate fruit.

Of course, as soon as I began to rejoice in the work the Lord was doing (in spite of me!), the murmuring voice began.

You’re not a speaker. ¬†Who are you to think you have something to say?

You just ate donuts last night, and here all these people are praising you for keeping up the good fight. You’re a fraud.

You’re not worthy.

You’re not worthy.

You’re not worthy.

I felt the arrows of the Enemy, sisters, and I even let a few of them pierce me before I remembered who that voice belonged to.  Even once I recognized the slippery snake, I struggled to ignore his murmurs.  And the more I resisted, the louder he became.

I found myself in the midst of an unexpected battle and I felt unprepared. I had not put on the full armor of God that morning.  My belt of truth was quickly slipping as the arrows came in quick succession.

I cried out for mercy!

Our Father was quick to answer with truth from His word. He reminded me of my pre-approved status. He reminded me that I am a work-in-progress, not yet complete, but fully loved, fully accepted.

My sisters, ¬†when you experience a victory in some area of your life, don’t be surprised to find the Enemy lurking just around the corner. ¬†He loves to set a trap for us when we are the most joyful, the most productive, the most faithful, the most determined. ¬†He delights in seeing us fall from the greatest heights to the lowest depths.

We must be prepared for the spiritual battle,my sisters, for it IS coming.  The Word aptly describes Satan as a prowling lion seeking for someone to devour.

One way to be prepared is to put on the armor of God, specifically the sword of the Spirit. ¬†So, this week at #TheLoft, we’re sharing our favorite fighting verses!

When facing temptation and discouraged by sin:

Romans 7  and 8 РAnytime you feel stuck in sin or discouraged in your walk, read these two chapters. They are too lengthy to post in entirety here, but these verses from chapter 7 sum up the transition between the two well:

22 For in my inner being I delight in God’s law; 23 but I see another law at work in me, waging war against the law of my mind and making me a prisoner of the law of sin at work within me.24 What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body that is subject to death?25 Thanks be to God, who delivers me through Jesus Christ our Lord!

When disappointed in our short-comings:

Eph. 1:6

¬†¬†“…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Rom. 8:1

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

2 Cor. 5:17

Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”

When feeling unloved or unlovable:

Romans 8:38-39

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,¬†neither the present nor the future, nor any powers,¬†neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”¬†

Zeph. 3:17

¬† ¬†“The Lord your God is with you,
    the Mighty Warrior who saves.
He will take great delight in you;
    in his love he will no longer rebuke you,
¬†¬†¬†¬†but will rejoice over you with singing.”

When experiencing trials:

Psalm 34:17-18

¬†“The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them;
    he delivers them from all their troubles.
 The Lord is close to the brokenhearted
¬†¬†¬†¬†and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

Isaiah 55:8-9

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
¬†¬†¬†¬†neither are your ways my ways,‚ÄĚ
declares the Lord.
 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.

When you feel you have nothing left to give:

2 Cor. 12:9-10

¬†“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’¬†Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ‚Äôs power may rest on me. ¬†That is why, for Christ‚Äôs sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.(emphasis mine)

For when I am weak, then I am strong, even when you don’t feel it.

For when I am weak, then I am strong, keep saying it until you believe it.

For when I am weak, then I am strong.

Keep fighting the good fight!

Jen ūüôā

For more scripture that packs a punch, visit the link-up at the bottom!

The Loft is open, come on up!

 

The Loft: A weekly Hangout and Link Up for Christian bloggers
Graphic by Kerry Messer

 

 

 

#TheLoft

 

The Loft is the place for conversation, community, networking, and Christian growth.

Each week we provide a topic to start the conversation.

 

PLEASE NOTE: We want to foster community and transparent conversation with one another, just like we’d do if we were meeting in real life. So we ask that your link stick to the weekly topic and that you mention The Loft in your post. Thank you so much!


Monday night, at 9pm Eastern, the linky goes live and all week you can link up your post on that week’s topic.

We’ll have fun topics, serious topics, practical, soul-ful, holiday, and so, so much more…we can’t wait to get started! This is not only a great way to connect with others, it’s also a fun and easy way to establish a writing habit. If you aren’t a blogger, you are welcome to join in by leaving your comments in the comment section.

So grab your coffee mug and come on up! Hang out for a bit. We betcha you’ll be glad you did.

 

To Participate:

 

1. Be creative. Feel free to use words, photos, video, audio, your family pet, whatever, to communicate on the weekly topic. But please stick to the weekly topic ūüôā

2. Listen twice as much as you talk. If you leave one link, visit two. Trust us on this one~wink.

3. Be a community. Include #TheLoft graphic and/or link back in your post so we can find each other. Also, share the great stuff you find when you visit around…we’ll be doing the same.

 

The Loft Link Up

 

When you link up at The Loft, your link will appear on 5 blogs! We’d love for you to visit The Loft co-hosts and know who we are:

Leah
Kathy
Arabah
Jen
Rebekah

 

 

Now it’s time to link up!

 

This Week’s Topic: “Fighter Verses” (What are some of your favorite, well worn scriptures? Which ones do you find yourself going back to again and again? Tell us what spiritual warfare looks like for you and how you use God’s Word to be victorious. We look forward to learning from each other!)

Next Week’s Topic: “Potluck” (Periodically, we’ll have a “potluck.” This is a blogging version of bring-your-own-dish. So pick a post and link up any post you want to share with our community!)

 

Add Your Link Here:

 

 

Also sharing with:

A Little R & R, Cornerstone Confessions, Messy Marriage, Whole Hearted Home, Jennifer Dukes Lee, My Freshly Brewed Life

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Joy: It’s Not What You Think

It’s Five Minute Friday again, so I’m joining up with the lovely ladies over at Lisa Jo Baker’s place for a stress-free, five-minute, free-write on a one-word prompt. ¬†Join us if you like!

Joy.

We hear people say it, “choose joy” as if it is a thing readily available for the taking. ¬†Just reach out and grasp it and it’s yours to keep.

And some think they’ve found it in a nice house or pretty clothes or a fulfilling relationship, while others are just plain hungry for it.¬†We think we find joy in children’s laughter, walks on the beach, sunny days, a good book.¬†We claim joy in date nights, a healthy bank account, a successful career or ministry, good health, full stomachs, any and all of those blessings we’ve counted up.

We look for joy always in all of the created things; we crave it.

But all of these things, even these people, they are are fleeting, sisters: here today, gone tomorrow.  Any joy based on these moments, based on temporary possessions or circumstances, is destined to pass.

When that happens, we feel cheated somehow, don’t we? ¬†We feel let down. ¬†We may even wonder if something is wrong with us or question why the joy is gone. ¬†Have you been there before? When the sunshine suddenly turns to rain, when laughter turns to pain?

I have. ¬†I’ve walked through seasons where joy seemed scarce and even counting my blessings, though they are many, wasn’t enough to satisfy my soul. ¬†I’ve found myself hungry for lasting joy, a joy not of this world.

joy, pain, suffering, sorrow

True joy, lasting joy, comes from one source and one source only – the Father God who created us purely for love’s sake. ¬†His only Son took upon Himself the burden of the cross “for the joy set before him” so that we might have joy unspeakable.

Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Hebrews 12:1-2

 Are you looking for real joy today, sister, the kind of joy that lasts through the hard times and back again, the kind that wells up from within, unstoppable?

Find it in Jesus.

For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done, I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.
Psalm 92:4
O come, let us sing for joy to the Lord, Let us shout joyfully to the rock of our salvation.
Psalm 95:1

Jen ūüôā

You may also find me linking up with any of these lovely places.

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Choosing the Struggle

Yesterday was Five Minute Friday, and while I avoided it for a day, I can avoid no longer. ūüôā ¬†So, I’m joining up with Lisa-Jo Baker and the rest of the brave free-writing crew. ¬†The word for this week: choose. ¬†Join us if you like!

choosing the struggle, rough day, feeling defeated, struggle with discouragement, hope for the weary

“Choose you this day whom you will serve…”

It’s the first thought that runs through my head. ¬†And the obvious choice. ¬†Yes, I choose Jesus. ¬†I want to serve the Father. ¬†I want to follow hard after Him.

But some days, the choosing is a struggle, isn’t it?

The choosing is easy enough when the sun shines and the warm breeze blows and the blessings flow and joy abounds.  But those days when the fiery darts strike in quick succession? And just as you rise, the wind gets knocked out of you once more? Those days the choosing feels near impossible.

And that’s exactly what our Enemy wants, my work-in-progress sisters, for us to feel helpless! Incapable! Paralyzed! Weary! Defeated! We just want to cry, “mercy” and throw in the towel, admit defeat.

Those lies about our failings will carry us right away if we let them, won’t they? ¬†Carry us right away into a sea of despair, a void of apathy, a pit of depression.

What if we choose the struggle instead, sisters? ¬†In those times when we can’t find it in ourselves to choose joy, when we can’t count our blessings for the crashing waves before us, when we feel incapable of making a choice at all, maybe it’s enough just to choose the struggle.

Even though we may not be winning, we choose fighting the good fight. ¬† We don’t give up, we don’t give in. Even though we fear defeat, even though we falter for a step or two, or even a mile or more, we choose to press on. ¬†What if we throw off the chains of perfection and choose instead the road of imperfect progress? And maybe even some days that road looks less like progress and more like simple survival.

“And without faith it is impossible to please¬†Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is

and¬†that¬†He is a rewarder of those who seek Him.”

Hebrews 11:6

So by faith, we wait on the Lord.

By faith, we cling to the promise of grace and we seek His face.

By faith, we choose the struggle.

And some days, that’s the best choice we can possibly make.

Let’s choose it together, sisters.

It’s the choice that leads to victory!

Jen ūüôā

Sharing with #TheLoft.

You may also find me linking up with some of these lovely places.

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Confessions of a Holiday Hypocrite

Rewind a month and a half to the beginning of December last year. ¬†The hope and joy of ¬†the Christmas season lay spread before me as thoughts ¬†of maximizing holiday fun and education swirled through my head. ¬†On this blog, I shared with you our plans for the Christmas Adventure Box and other Christmas traditions. ¬† I envisioned handmade gifts and peaceful evenings at home near the brightly lit tree. I had the best laid plans…and like many best laid plans, they went awry.

Yes, I fell prey to Pinterest Syndrome, quite deadly to a mama’s often already shaky confidence. ¬†Pinterest Syndrome begins with a few deceptively simple ideas, really good ideas mind you, but it grows into a nasty and surprisingly strong anticipation of all things good and no things ordinary or, heaven forbid, even bad. ¬†Expectations soar to incredible heights, destined to plummet at the first sign of potential failure. ¬†And here I thought I was creating a “simple” Christmas this year… (I’ll forgive you if you snicker a little at this point.)

In my defense, the holiday season was progressing suspiciously well for our family.  Thanksgiving came and went with no major incidents, unlike years past.  Everyone was healthy for the moment, a rare winter treat in a family of six.  My husband and I even managed to put up the Christmas tree and lights with no arguing and minimal frustration, despite the circus of craziness that four enthusiastic children create when forced to wait.  We felt like champions!  We had conquered a pattern of holiday frustration for the first time in years!

Then somewhere along the line, life began to get very real.  Our youngest son, four years old,  decided the holiday season would be a good time to test our parental authority, especially at family gatherings and in other publicly humiliating places including the church Christmas play dress rehearsal.  Not exactly the peace I had anticipated.  Our budget grew tight.  I grew stressed about all of the things on my list.

On top of all of that, we became suddenly busy with all of the typical holiday concerts and gatherings. ¬†So much for those quiet evenings at home listening to my favorite Christmas cds. Instead we hustled back and forth from our children’s school to the church, to ¬†the store, to family gatherings, and so forth. ¬†And it was all fun and good and mostly necessary, but it does make one a little weary. ūüôā

bare tree, winter, disappointment

For the most part, I was able to maintain the joy and hope of the season, after all there was a lot of sweet memory-making sprinkled into the mix, but I held onto a dark secret.

After all of the praise and promise of the Christmas Adventure Box that I shared with you, we didn’t even manage to do it this year!¬† At all. ¬†Nothing. ¬†Nada. Zip. ¬†It just didn’t happen. ¬†In fact, the only traditions we managed to hang onto after the decorating of our tree were the reading of the Christmas story from the Bible and our Christmas Eve supper. ¬†I didn’t even attempt to mail out Christmas cards and I had no pictures available for family members like I usually would. ¬†I felt like a failure.

Add to that ¬†a little family drama and my carefully planned and highly anticipated season of hope and joy crumbled before me. ¬†The disappointment that followed was slightly bitter and came with a side dose of ¬†viral illness, as well as over a foot of snow, that kept me and most of our children cooped up at home for weeks…. literally.

I could have blogged about it, but to be honest, I felt unworthy. ¬†I struggled with the disappointment and the frustrations of life that were getting in my way. ¬†And so like most hypocrites, especially those who succumb to Pinterest Syndrome on occasion, I hid from you all. ¬† I quit writing. ¬†I quit taking pictures. ¬†I made excuses and planned to resume in the new year. ¬†And when I was finally struck with the viral plague that entered our home, I wallowed in my misery. ¬†For a few days, God and I were barely on speaking terms. ūüôā

Honestly, I’m not sad that I took time away from writing here to spend on such a worthy cause as family time. ¬†But I am disappointed in my hypocritical self, not so much for failing to get the Christmas Adventure Box done – after all, it’s not the most important thing in life and sometimes as mamas we have to pare life down to just the nitty gritty in order to survive with sanity (and with a family who still loves us and wants to be around us…). ūüôā

My disappointment is more in my hiding away in blogger shame and silence.

The thing is that I believe in Grace, I really do. ¬†I’m very aware that without Grace, I’d be a hopeless mess, truly I would. ¬†With Grace I still have nothing to boast about except for a God who gives second chances, and third, and fourth, to infinity and eternity, a God who loves me deeply for who I am, not for who the world thinks I should be, a God who through the blood of Jesus, sees the best version of me even when I’m acting my worst. ¬†But like many mamas, I have a hard time extending that grace to my own self.

So, I confess. ¬†I’ve been a Holiday Hypocrite. ¬†In fact, I could be called an everyday hypocrite, too, ¬†because I’m far from perfect, so far. ¬†I still lose my temper. I still forget important events. I still argue with my husband and become impatient with my children. ¬†I’m still selfish with my time. ¬†I’m still prideful. ¬†I still say “no” to the Holy Spirit in so many ways. ¬†I’m still learning who God made me to be.

But that’s the beauty of our journey, sisters, that we get chance after chance to do things differently. ¬†Those failures we feel so deeply are not the end of the story. ¬†We are given infinite opportunities to let our Father God change who we are, from the inside out. ¬†And that good work He began in saving us from a life of sin, He promises to continue to the very end. ¬†We can have complete confidence in that!

red berries, winter, hope

So, keep up the good work, my sisters in Christ, even if your holidays or your New Years failed to live up to your expectations. Fight the good fight.  Run the good race.  And when you fail or fall, let Him pick your hypocritical self  back up again and hold you for a while, heal your wounds if needed, and send you off on your way , but not alone for He runs alongside you.

Don’t let those fiery darts from the Enemy bog you down, not now, but put on the full armor of God so you will stand firm in your faith. No more hiding away, no more pretending to be something we are not, no more fearing what the world thinks. ¬†Just being okay with the fact that we are sinners, helpless and hopeless sinners, but He loves us anyways. ¬†And His work is not yet complete.

“Not to us,¬†Lord, not to us
but to your name be the glory,
because of your love and faithfulness.”

Psalm 115:1

Jen ūüôā

You may also find me linking up with any of these lovely blogs.

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It Will Be Worth It All

When we see Jesus, encouragement, hope

Last week we took our four-year-old twins to a doctor’s appointment for a check-up. ¬†Our daughter was excited, but fairly calm. ¬†Our son, on the other hand, demonstrated a major case of ants-in-the-pants! ¬†He combed over every inch of that examination room, up on the table, down on the floor, inspecting every nook and cranny.

By the time the physician’s assistant arrived, I was feeling quite flustered. Then, because it was our first appointment at this office, she began to ask a battery of questions that required actual thinking, which is really hard to do when you are also trying to keep your rambunctious boy from destroying the room!

It’s not the first time I’ve felt such frustration with my sweet son. ¬†Homeschooling for pre-K gives birth to those same feelings of frustration and inadequacy because our son is a very easily distracted learner (typical for his age)! ¬†Even throughout the day, when I’m trying to get his attention or correct his behavior, he pulls away from me, eager for the lesson to be over so that he can move on to better things.

twins fall, hope, faith

I know he’s just being a four-year-old, caught up in his own little world of fun and furious activity. ¬†I just didn’t realize how like him I am, until recently.

I wrote several weeks ago about waiting on the Lord in the midst of seasons of trial and about finding that light at the end of the tunnel, the hope we can only find in Him and in His purposes. ¬†But I must admit, sisters, that I’ve been so eager for the lesson to be over, to escape the trial and get on with what I want to do, that I’ve been an impatient learner.

I keep jumping up from the Father’s feet, scurrying away from this place of discomfort in an attempt to find my own way to peace and joy and rest, thinking that I’ve learned my lesson. ¬†But He knows, He knows the hard work isn’t finished. ¬†He knows the lessons I still need to learn, so He patiently calls to me. And when I don’t listen, He leads me back to this place of physical and emotional trial to resume the lesson because…it’s what is best for me, even if I can’t see it in this moment.

He does this for me because He’s my Heavenly Father, perfectly loving and perfectly knowledgeable. He loves me too much to let me continue down my own path when He knows there is a better way. ¬†Just as I attempt to reason with and teach my active four-year-old son out of love for him, so my Heavenly Father yearns to teach me.

Of course, Satan would have me believe a host of lies about this place of trial:

It’s too painful.

It’s too difficult.

It’s too long.

It’s unfair.

I’m all alone.

But this week, the Lord gave me a few verses that perfectly fit my current circumstances:

2 Cor. 4:16-18

“So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.

 You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God,

you will receive what he has promised.” ¬†Hebrews 10:35-36

We throw away our confidence, my work-in-progress sisters, when we give ear to the Enemy’s lies. ¬†We throw our confidence when we (and I’m so guilty) wallow in self-pity. ¬†We throw away our confidence when we tell ourselves we can endure no longer.

We forget that we serve a loving Savior.  We forget that He promises to never leave nor forsake us. We forget that our Great High Priest understands and sympathizes with our every pain!  We forget that He has plans to prosper us and not to harm us.  We forget that our hope and strength can come from Him alone and instead convince ourselves that we must somehow manufacture them within us. 

We throw away our confidence and sometimes the weight is so heavy, so, so heavy that we even lose heart.

But the Father, in His goodness, gave me this verse as well:

¬†“Therefore we¬†do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying,

yet our inner man is being renewed day by day.

For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory

far beyond all comparison,

 while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen;

for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.”

2 Cor. 4:16-18

My physical body is really frustrating me ¬†lately. ¬†I’m dealing with a lengthy recovery (from the injury at Buttkill Falls), and lately I’ve had other medical issues as well. ¬†And I know many, many others who suffer daily even more so than I.¬† But the lesson is hard right now, sisters, so hard that I’m tempted to throw away my confidence almost daily.

But we can’t lose heart or the lesson will not be learned! (And this is one I definitely don’t want to have to repeat!) ūüôā ¬†Our bodies may fail us; our children may fail us; our marriages may fail us; our finances may fail us; our churches may fail us; even our friends may fail us….but our inner selves can be renewed day by day if only we quit looking for escape. ¬†We cannot pull away like impatient children who are too wrapped up in self to listen.¬† We must learn to wait for the things that are not seen, the rewards, the promises that we stand upon. ¬†We must persevere!

Because even if the only thing we gain as reward from such trials is a closer, sweeter walk with Him, then it’s worth it, isn’t it? ¬†Even if we must wait until eternity to receive the reward, it’s worth it, isn’t it? ¬†He promises, the glory will be ‚Äúfar beyond all comparison.‚ÄĚ

I want it, don’t you?

It will be worth it all when we see Jesus,

Life’s trials will seem so small when we see Christ;

One glimpse of His dear face all sorrow will erase,

So bravely run the race till we see Christ. 

Let’s run bravely, sisters, not losing heart, not throwing away our confidence, persevering to the very end because it will be worth it all

…when we see Jesus.

Jen ūüôā

You may find me linking up at any of these lovely blogs.

14 Comments »

Truth, Opposite of Lie

“If you can’t say anything nice, then don’t say anything at all,” right? ¬†Maybe not. For Five Minute Friday, Lisa Jo asked us to write about the word truth. Honestly,I don’t have any great new truths to share with you today, just an old truth that I need to hear over and over again. ¬†It’s part of that work-in-progress me, I guess.

I like the words on this blog to be uplifting, but this week I’m not in an uplifting place. ¬†Instead, I find myself in a let’s-be-honest, sometimes-life-stinks place. ¬†I know you understand because sometimes you find yourself there, too. ¬†And I’m learning to be okay with that.

So, here’s the truth, even though it might not be very nice.

Truth.

This is the week that never ends.

The one when my husband and I cannot seem to get along. ūüėČ

The one when I feel so worn down by life that even simple, everyday chores like laundry and caring for children seem to carry such weight.

And I feel like such a whiner for even writing those words because I know, I know, I know the truth,¬†the truth that so many people have it so much worse, and¬†that I…¬†I live a blessed life in many, many ways.

It’s just that this week has left me feeling so discouraged and lonely and needy, and it’s just not me!

It’s a lie, this feeling that I’m stuck, that life will always be difficult this way, that I can’t……

That’s the biggest truth and biggest lie all wrapped up in one, isn’t it?

I can’t.

The statement is true in a sense. ¬†On my own, I can’t. ¬†On my own, the strength is gone, the patience is gone, the desire to do right is gone. ¬†On my own, I want to bury my head in the sand and stay there waiting for better tomorrows.

But “I can’t” is also a lie because I’m not on my own. ¬†I’m in Christ. ¬†And in Christ, I am more than a conqueror. ¬†That’s right – more, sisters! ¬†In Christ, I am already victorious. ¬†In Christ, I am also fully loved, fully accepted, fully provided for, fully complete.

In Christ alone, my Hope is found.

In Christ Alone, hope, encouragement

Truth.

It’s the opposite of the lies I’m tempted to listen to.

In Christ, I can.

And it comes down to my choice, and your choice. Which one will we give ear to today?

I pray it’s truth.

Jen ūüôā

Love this music from Mandisa for a boost!

I’m linking up with the Five Minute Friday crew over at Lisa Jo’s place, where we free-write for five minutes on a one-word prompt – no stressing, no over-thinking, no planning, no editing. ¬†Join us!

You may also find me linked up at any of these lovely blogs.

18 Comments »