Hardships and Trials

How I Exposed the Sneaky Death Trap of Fear

women's eyes-205339-unsplash

Fear is a sneaky prowler.

If you’ve been a Christian for a while, you may be able to recite 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV): “God gave us a spirit not of fear, but of power and love and self-control.” I, personally, have recalled and repeated this verse many times. Like when my little sister was diagnosed with brain cancer. Or when our home was going through a short sale and we had to move. We had nowhere to go and would be taking my daughter out of school in the middle the year.

2 Timothy 1:17

I recognized my need for God to help with my fear during these life-alternating events, when my future looked bleak, or dread paralyzed me. In those moments, I could confess my lack of faith that God was in the midst of my hardships alongside me and had a plan for my family’s future.

 

But fear is also a silent, creeping death trap. It’s like a slow breeze caressing your face that you don’t realize is there. Click To Tweet

Recently, the spirit of fear snuck into my life. I have a teenage daughter in middle school—some of you sent up a silent prayer for me just then—and a few weeks ago I had to help her navigate some heavy stuff. Think social media at its worst, and you’ll probably be close to imagining what we were battling. And in truth, she seemed to get through it smoothly, to snap out the sadness and hurt quickly. But what about me?

This incident wrecked me—made me physically sick. It felt as if the pit of my stomach was caving in on itself, and I could think of nothing else for days. I walked around in constant, nagging pain. I prayed over and over for God to move in this situation. I prayed for our kids, their friends, their influences, for protection over their lives. I wrote all of this off as a normal part of parenting, a part of the journey.

Then, I ran into a friend. I knew she’d been dealing with some tough situations pertaining to her teenager and asked her how she was doing. She said something along the lines of, “I’m doing okay. I had to release her to God. I can’t be fearful. I have to trust and have faith He’s working.”

In that moment, I realized all my symptoms—physical and emotional—were really fear, masked as what I thought was a standard part of being a mother. The enemy was causing havoc and keeping me bound like a slave. The devil had used my love for my daughter to weaken my faith in God, and that’s exactly what happened. I didn’t trust enough and believe enough that once I’d prayed about the situation, He would respond.I realized all my symptoms—physical and emotional—were really fear, masked as what I thought was a standard part of being a mother. The enemy was causing havoc and keeping me bound like a slave. Click To Tweet

Don’t allow the spirit of fear trap you in faithlessness. After I went to God with my pain and lack of wisdom over how to help my daughter, I should’ve trusted that He’d set into motion a plan. And then kept praying that I got out of the way to let Him do His thing and claimed victory over the situation.

We must be careful not to allow fear to control our minds. Recite 2 Timothy 1:7 often, not just in the big events and hardships of life, but in the day-to-day struggles as well. When you feel anxious, pray to God and release the fear to Him. He’s got an outcome, one way better than you could orchestrate for yourself. Continue to pray for faith, direction, and wisdom, but never allow fear to seep in. Claim it’s not allowed to live within you in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Let’s talk about this! When have you allowed fear to sneak up on you? How did you deal with removing it from your life?

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content, check out our new devotional book, Anchored & Secure!

Cover for Anchored and Secure devotionalThanks to Christ’s death and resurrection, we don’t have to stress, strive, or perform. We simply need to rest in what Christ has already done. That is when we begin to come; to live as He intended. That’s when we discover true and lasting freedom.

You can purchase the book here.

And make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook!

Worship

An Untapped Way to Worship

I’m convinced exercise is the most underrated way we can tap into worshipping God.

woman's feet, walking
Photo by Arek Adeoye on Unsplash

Some of you just decided to quit reading but hear me out.

Have you seen superstar country singer Carrie Underwood’s latest commercial for her athletic clothing brand, Calia? In it, she talks about putting herself first when it comes to exercise then feeling guilty when she takes the time to get a workout in but also when she doesn’t train. Though, ultimately, she’s decided to stay committed to her fitness journey. (Search #StaythePath and #FindYourPath to see this campaign.)

Now, trust me, I look nothing like Mrs. Underwood, but her sentiments resonate because I am also an avid exerciser. My workouts have changed over the years in accordance to body limitations, injuries, and time, but the constant is that I always follow some form of exercise routine five to six days a week. And honestly, I’m as addicted to it as I am Oreos which is saying a lot (and yet another reason I exercise).

Why has it developed into something I will not sacrifice in my schedule?

Because it’s become mine and God’s time.Why has it developed into something I will not sacrifice in my schedule? Because it’s become mine and God’s time. Click To Tweet Going for a run excites me because it’s such a valuable period of prayer and worship. I’m able to retreat to nature with my favorite worship music and draw close to Him in a way I can’t as easily at home when the chores beg to be done, or my computer calls me to write just a few more pages. The days I go to the gym are different but still worship as I better my body and mind in a Pilates class or pray while on the stationary bike.

In fact, I’m confident I’d be a monster without two things on a daily repeat. Connecting with God and exercise. Really! No one would want to be around me because my stress and anxiety levels would be astronomical, and I’d become a complainer and naysayer. I also know my personality leans toward irritation and impatience but with time have seen the discipline of exercise helps to alleviate impulsive reactions when I come up against things that annoy me.

So, not only can exercise provide stress relief and precious moments spent with God, it also helps us better our physical health.Not only can exercise relieve stress and become precious time spent with God, it also helps us better care for our bodies. Click To Tweet 1 Corinthians 6:19-20 says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit within you, whom you have from God? You are not your own, for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body.” The benefits of regular exercise outweigh the pain. And once your routine becomes a habit, it may become a healthy addiction. With that, you may find yourself pushing through the uncomfortable just to get the workout in.

You were bought at a price

So where can you start? I’m convinced anyone going from no exercise to simply walking (as fast as you can) or riding a stationary bike at least thirty minutes a day five times a week will see their health improve. Start there. Get outside to check out His beautiful nature if possible. But do something. Use it as a prayer time. Sing along to gospel music. Listen to a podcast from your favorite pastor, presenter, or Bible teacher. Just take time to honor God in mind, body, and spirit.

A lady, easily in her eighties, runs in my neighborhood. Whenever I pass her, I can’t help but think, “Go girl!” I want to be just like her—maybe not running at that age—but getting outside hiking, walking, or working my garden. Getting my heart rate up, challenging my muscles and expanding my lungs, all the while tapping into the worship that can happen while doing it. Imagine me rooting you on, saying, “Go girl!”

Let’s talk about this! Where can you start in using exercise as a time of reverence for God? Do you already? If so, what are some tricks you’ve used to keep it up?

Share your thoughts with us in the comments below and connect with us on Facebook and Instagram.

Also, make sure to check out our latest Bible reading plan, available for free on the YouVersion Bible Reading App:

Grace Reading Plan ImageChrist’s grace has the power to change everything. We don’t have to strive, to compete, or compare, or question whether or not we measure up. We’re enough because Christ in us is enough. The cross of Christ sets us free.

Find it HERE.

 

Resting in Christ

Resting in God’s Grace is Sufficient for Me

What does it mean to rest in God’s grace? Does that sound theological and religious to anyone else?

Consider 2 Corinthians 12. Paul asked Jesus to remove a thorn in his side, something Scripture doesn’t reveal but that made Paul feel weak. Jesus response: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul concludes, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” (v.9)

Said a different way: Jesus’ undeserved favor is complete and adequate enough for me. His authority over all shines faultlessly in our flaws and feebleness. His unmatched control over the entire universe adjoins with my lowly self and supplies a lifeline to cling to, a safety net to relax in. Because of my weakness, God can vividly display His divine power.

After Paul heard from the Lord, he decided that his inadequacy was worth it. When he truly surrendered, God could shine brightly through him— which wouldn’t be seen when he relied on himself.When Apostle Paul truly surrendered, God could shine brightly through him— which wouldn’t be seen when he relied on himself... Click To Tweet

But what does “resting in God’s grace” mean for me? Was I doing a good job at letting Jesus take over when I was weak, allowing His power to fix and heal and love?

I contemplated this as I finally got around to something I’d dreaded for weeks—dealing with my son’s behavior and inability to focus at school. I began researching doctors in our network. I called with questions, made appointments, and emailed my son’s former teacher for more information. All in an attempt to get the ball rolling towards a possible diagnosis.

And I’ll be honest, even looking up doctors who might help my son broke my heart. I felt weak, unknowledgeable, inadequate, and scared. The idea of getting him help should bring me hope, yet, I kept thinking, does this mean something’s wrong with him? Surely not, because God made him exactly the way He wanted him to be…

Jesus’ words came back to me. My grace is sufficient for you. Jesus’ favor, or blessing, for me is undeserved and enough to get me through anything. And more, when I am weak, His power rests on me.Jesus’ favor, or blessing, for me is undeserved and enough to get me through anything. And more, when I am weak, His power rests on me. Click To Tweet To “rest on” means to lean on, adjoin to, combine as one. So, if Christ’s power rests on me, then His power is now on me. KristenQuoteGrace I can be sure that God will help me figure out the best steps to take as a mother, knowing God loves my son even more than I do and will hold on to him tightly. I can relax because if God can take my weakness and use it for His glory and power, then He can also do the same for my son’s weakness. He can turn what is hard for him and make it shine somehow.

I will hold on to this verse as we navigate what’s challenging.

What trial or limitation do you need to surrender to Jesus? Claim His power in your weakness and walk forward knowing He’s resting His grace and mercy on you.

If you enjoyed today’s post, would like more inspirational content sent directly to your inbox, and want to stay up-to-date regarding what’s new with us, make sure to sign up for our free quarterly e-mailing. You can do that HERE. 

And make sure to connect with us on Instagram and Facebook!

Scripture taken from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION(R), NIV(R) Copyright (c) 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc. (R) Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

wisdom

Seeking God’s Wisdom

Image of woman reading her Bible
Photo by Josh Applegate on Unsplash

Knowledge may fill our minds and  puff up our pride, but wisdom can save relationships, careers, and lives. It’s using what we’ve learned or know to make decisions, and though bookstores are filled with titles claiming to offer the perfect guidance for practically any situation, only the Bible can make good on that promise. 

Colossians 2:2b-3 says we look to “Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and quote pulled from post with sunrise in the backgroundknowledge” (ESV). As we grow closer to Jesus, our spiritual understanding increases. Our thoughts and perspectives change, and because thoughts determine behavior, we began to act as He did—wisely.

Scripture invites us to seek God’s guidance, especially during difficult times. James 1:5 says, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him” (ESV).

This summer, I served on a South Dakota reservation teaching Vacation Bible School. One of my favorite days came when a friend introduced the kids to the parable of the Wise and Foolish Builders from Matthew 7:24-27. You may know the story. The wise man set his house on a rock, cutting into it deeply and securing a strong foundation. But the foolish man built on sand, leaving his foundation weak and vulnerable.

It’s as if Jesus is saying, “Don’t be foolish! I’ve given you everything you need to stand strong and secure.”

God’s wisdom can help us navigate the crazy twists and turns of life.

But how?

When we apply what we learn from Scripture to our lives, that knowledge becomes wisdom.

The world tells us to read a self-help or leadership book, attend a seminar, or return to school. And these may be good things, but what if we do all this and are still without answers? What if tragedy comes and we feel lost and confused?

Or, consider the converse. What if we’ve filled our hearts and minds with the truths of God and He uses it, in the middle of our pain, to comfort, guide, and strengthen us? What if He whispers those truths to our heart as we sleep, like we read in Psalm 16:7.

If we build our security on things of this lifetime, sadly, be like the builder who built on the sand and our foundation will crumble. It can’t stand against the storm of life. But if our foundation is built on Jesus and His Word, we’ll be like the wise builder who built on the rock. Storms will come, we may be bruised up, but we will stand firm and not be destroyed.

Teaching those children at Pine Ridge about wisdom reminded me of my own need to invest greatly into reading, learning, studying, memorizing, and meditating on His Word. I don’t want to be caught off guard and make choices based on my limited knowledge. I want His never-changing wisdom to guide me.

Let us ask Jesus for wisdom today. And then immerse ourselves in Scripture, so He can open up our minds to His way, not the world’s.

Did this devotion encourage you?

If so, make sure to check out our Bible reading plan available now on the YouVersion app! You can find Cover image for Bible study devotionalit HERE! And make sure to grab a copy of our 90-day devotional, Drawing Near. You can find that HERE. And check out our FREE Bible study, Becoming His Princess, HERE.

Faith, security

An Emergency Responder Who Will Never Leave

Have you ever witnessed a near-death experience? Watched someone deliver CPR to a lifeless body? Or administered the Heimlich maneuver on a choking victim? In our scariest moments, we need to know our God is also a very real and present Father.

Once a large, chalky pill got lodged in my throat. My lungs burned for air. It was terrifying. I was in the bedroom by myself, and I couldn’t scream for help, much less breathe. I began to knock on my stomach while bent over and, with everything in me, force out a cough, even just a tiny one.

Praise God, my meager efforts to dislodge the medication worked. By the time the pill hit the floor and I took a reviving breath, tears already flowed down my face. I was relieved yet shaken by the knowledge that I’d almost, very truly, died. I started thanking God at once because my paltry efforts while the pill obstructed my oxygen couldn’t have worked on their own. He saved me.

This experience had me contemplating salvation. Through Christ, God rescued us from death and brought us spiritual life. Wow! It’s almost unfathomable that the God of the universe took us from hopelessly lost in sin to eternally safe in Christ.

Girl with lit heart

Unlike an emergency responder, God doesn’t save us and return to the fire station. Click To Tweet

But what’s more, unlike an emergency responder, God doesn’t save us and return to the fire station. Instead, He welcomes us into His family and adopts us as His children, making us heirs to His royal and eternal Kingdom. Do you see how deeply God loves us? 1 John 3:1 says, “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” I love that the translation adds the exclamation marks. It makes me want to shout to the hills! We are children of God!

On Father’s Day, we’ll honor dads for all they do for their children. Fatherhood can enable men, who were once immature and selfish, to lavish complete devotion, sacrifice, loyalty, and unconditional love on their children. But even their best efforts can fail.Fatherhood can enable men, who were once immature and selfish, to lavish complete devotion, sacrifice, loyalty, and unconditional love on their children. But even their best efforts can fail. Click To Tweet

If your earthly father has ever disappointed, hurt, or abandoned you, this can leave a deep and painful wound. But there’s One who will always cherish you. Our Father in Heaven goes above and beyond the call of duty. He isn’t simply an emergency responder who moves on after the saving is done. Nope. He never leaves us, nor will He ever fail, injure, or disappoint us. He is fully devoted to us in the good days or the bad.Our Father in Heaven goes above and beyond the call of duty. He isn’t simply an emergency responder who moves on after the saving is done. Click To Tweet

I hope this Father’s Day is a little sweeter as you reflect on your Heavenly Father’s perfect love for you. Take time to thank the One who rescued you and calls you His precious child.

Let’s talk about this! Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below, and join our discussion in our Facebook group!

Our online community is a safe place where women can share their struggles, insights, and celebrations. This is a “closed” group where only members can see posts shared and where confidentiality is practiced. We share prayer requests, hurts and insecurities, and ways God is meeting us in our struggles each day. And you’re invited to heal and grow and learn with us!

Wholly Loved Ministries
Closed group · 320 members
 

Join Group

 

A place for women to come together, share their struggles, celebrations, and insights, and inspire one another to be all God created them to be.

Host…