Broken Pieces


We decided to go down to the beach for one last walk to look for shells.

It was much colder that morning and the wind was blowing the dry sand across the beach. The waves rolled and crashed and after a few minutes we threatened to go in.

I love hunting for treasures. When we vacation in the summer with our kids it is one of my favorite things to do. It maybe be quartz or agates or shells….but the thrill of finding that one perfect treasure keeps me going. So that morning I kept walking.

The reality was that most of what we found was broken. Hurricane Matthew had done some major damage on those beaches in Georgia just months before and so what was washing ashore was broken pieces of once beautiful shells.

But as I walked I reflected on some of the broken pieces of my own life. Times where I too had found myself shattered. Times where I had done the damage to someone I loved. At the time I could only see the shards of what was remaining….it didn’t seem like beauty could come from the brokenness.

But over and over again God has restored those broken places. Not because I deserved it, or even because I had changed, but simply because He is sovereign and merciful and He loves me.

As I picked up the pieces of the broken shells I could imagine what they looked like whole. I could see their beauty despite their brokenness.

I spent some time that morning walking and praying. I thanked God for all the ways in which He has changed me. I thanked Him for His love and mercy. God has been faithful to restore and redeem me even when I have fought Him and actively gone against His will before coming to that place of surrender.

He has always been constant in my life. A good, good Father. We sang that song in church a few weeks ago and it is so beautiful. A praise to the One who makes all things new.

Even when we can’t see it, when we are in the midst of the struggle, God sees us whole. Because of the saving sacrifice of His Son, God sees me as the perfect shell. He doesn’t see the chips and cracks, the shards left from the brokenness I have caused…no He sees the whole me. A vision of myself I may not comprehend this side of heaven.

Friends, I don’t know what might be the cause of your broken pieces, but I am sure you have them just like I do. It is easy to get stuck in the pit, focused on all of the negatives and unable to see the beauty.

But the beauty is there. Sometimes it takes a perspective shift to see it…but it is there. It is a new year. A time for fresh starts. Take a moment today and look for the beauty around you. Acknowledge where God has moved in your life and thank Him for that. Hold tight to the truth that He sees you whole and that those broken pieces in your story may just be the thing that gives another hope.

Merry Christmas from the Smith Family!

I wish that I was able to send out a Christmas card to everyone that has stopped by my blog over the years, but since I can’t I thought that I would share our Christmas letter and some of the most recent family pictures we had taken.

Merry Christmas to all of our family and friends! I am always amazed at how quickly time has passed when I find myself here once again sharing about our year!

Isaac, now 20, is in his second year of college. He switched his major after his first year and is now living in Sioux Falls with my parents. They enjoy having him there while he attends classes through the University Center and SDSU. He is working at the Hy-Vee pharmacy in Sioux Falls and he plans to continue working and focusing on his general courses through next year. After that, maybe Pharmacy school….we will see where God leads him!

Gabriel is officially a teenager and is in the seventh grade. This past year he has grown several inches and is now the proud wearer of glasses and braces! He is in an upper level math course this year and doing well. It is a lot of hard work, but he has grown in knowledge already, and it is exciting to see that continue. He is involved in jazz band again this year and they recently started their practices. Last year, because of his hard work, he earned a solo at the All City Jazz concert!

Elijah is seven and in the first grade at Parkside Elementary. He likes his teacher Mrs. Peterson and enjoys being in her class! He has become a wonderful reader and we are amazed at how much he has grown since the start of last year! He currently has four loose teeth that mom really wants to pull out for him!

Karlena is so very ready to turn six on the 20th of December and is in kindergarten at Parkside this year. She loves school and her teacher Ms. Austin! And she enjoys seeing her older brother in the lunch room or on the playground each day! She continues to love all things horses and has declared that when she is Isaac’s age she will buy one of her own and ride it to school. We fully support her and her dream! If anyone can do that, she can!

Dominic and I continue to work together at Legal Estate Planning Solutions, and we are grateful for each and every client we have had the privilege to work with in both Minnesota and South Dakota. We were invited to participate in a leadership and discipleship class through church earlier this fall and we spend each Monday night with others from our church learning and growing in our faith!

Our prayer for each of you this coming Christmas season would be that you be filled with an understanding and gratitude for the gift that Jesus is for us! In this time of what seems like increasing darkness in our country and our world, we, as believers, can hopefully be a light of peace and hope to others. Merry Christmas!

Love, Dominic, Kristin, Isaac, Gabriel, Elijah and Karlena Smith

Keep Searching

I can hardly believe it is almost Christmas. I don’t know what happened really, I blinked and December was gone. The reality was that late in November our son was sick, then I got pneumonia which wiped me out for days and days and then he was sick again. We had a weekend stuck indoors because the straight temp outside was -25 degrees and now here we are a few days away from Christmas and all the plans I had to slow down and seek God through this month feel a lot like defeat.

And I guess there may be many of you that have found yourself here as well.

We start the season with the best of intentions. This year will be different and then, well LIFE happens, and we come through Advent just hoping to survive until the new year. Can I just say that we should all take a collective deep breath and relax?

I still have gifts en route that will need to be wrapped by Saturday morning. I have cookies to frost and clothes to organize. Our kids are still in school (I KNOW, WHAT IN THE WORLD?) and we have meetings at our office through noon tomorrow.

Yes, Christmas will come and go just as fast and I will wonder what happened there too…but I realized something this morning that helped me to accept where I am at today.

Just because the season will be over in a few days doesn’t mean we have to stop searching for the One, the Gift, that we celebrate during this time.

The story didn’t end with Christmas, we know that. And while we make attempts to focus and slow down during Advent it is still important that we keep seeking Him all year through.

I shared back in November about the Shepherd on the Search kit that I received from Dayspring. I knew it would be something fun that I could use to be intentional with my kids in December. I was excited about the daily activities they had on their web page and had plans to take even 15-20 minutes a night to be engaging in the Christmas story with them.

And then, you know….LIFE.

But like I said, the story doesn’t end after this weekend.

Yes, it is important to teach our kids about the significance of Christ’s birth at Christmas…but they need to keep searching for Him throughout the year as well. I want my kids to seek Him in all things. In all seasons!

Using these recipe cards is one way that I can do that. Day 15 is a lesson on the importance of giving to others. Day 21 encourages us to find ways to bring Joy to others, our neighbors or friends. And throughout the month you will find memory verses that will help place the Christmas story on our hearts over and over again.

I am learning more and more that if I want to know God, I have to seek Him out. I have to spend time with Him, learning about Him, being His light to others. Not just at Christmas but always.

It was a challenge my own heart needed this morning. I could feel frustrated that my Advent season didn’t look like I thought it should….or I can celebrate that the story is ongoing, and so is my search for Him.

My prayer for you friends is that you will be able to give yourself grace today. Enjoy time with your family this weekend, celebrate the Christ child and then continue to seek Him throughout the year! Merry Christmas!

Original Photo Credit: Dan’l Burton

Walking The Path We Are Given

I don’t remember when I first heard the story of Rory and Joey Feek, but once I found their blog This Life I Live, I knew these were people with an incredible story to tell.

If you read anything that Rory has posted you will know without a doubt that he loved his wife. Theirs seemed like that timeless love we all hope for. And yet they found themselves walking a path they didn’t see coming.

In the new documentary movie, To Joey, With Love, we are given a glimpse into their real-life, day to day as they journey into parenthood and then an unexpected cancer diagnosis.

Not realizing the significance of his decision, Rory decided to start capturing their life on film as they waited for the arrival of their daughter. Soon after her birth they discover that their daughter has Down Syndrome. Unexpected yes, but they knew this was the path they were walking on and they trusted God through all of it.

Being a new mom can be difficult enough, but at her 12-week check-up, Joey receives some devastating news.  Cancer.

I can’t imagine the fear she must have felt, and yet Rory and Joey walked this path with hope and trust in God’s plan. The new media caught wind of what they were dealing with and soon their story had spread like a wildfire.

People all over the world were praying for Joey and reading Rory’s blogs. We all hoped for a miracle. But sometimes those miracles don’t come in the way we would hope or expect.

As was true with this story.

While the outcome wasn’t as so many prayed for….it doesn’t mean that God wasn’t there. The love Rory and Joey had for one another inspired others. The faith they had encouraged the weak. Their choice to celebrate the joys in the journey remind us all that even when it is dark, blessings abound.

To Joey, With Love was a beautiful, intimate film and I was a bawling, hot mess once I finished it. It is available for purchase on December 20th but I have a free copy to give away to one of my readers!! Just leave a comment below and you will be entered to win!

For more information about this new movie, watch the trailer below (Email subscribers click here to view)

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Thank you to the Icon Media Group for the opportunity to view and review this movie in advance of its release.

All pictures and media found on the To Joey With Love website.

Looking for Him this Season

shepherd-on-the-search

We have had an unseasonably warm fall here in Minnesota, something that has been such a gift this year. So it has been hard for me to get in the “Holiday” mindset. Maybe it is the impending blizzard watch we are under for later in the week or the fact that every store is decorated for Christmas, but thoughts of Christmas were on my mind this morning.

I was remembering the times we spent at my grandparent’s home and how before we opened any gifts on Christmas Eve my grandpa would pause and read us the Christmas story. As a child, I was filled with the excitement and anticipation of what was in the packages under the tree …not of the miracle of Christ’s birth.

But my grandpa recognized something that I now understand more deeply myself…the season should be a celebration of the amazing gift God sent for all of humanity. 

I try and put myself in the place of those we read about in Luke 2. How must Mary have felt, carrying the Son of God inside her? What was the journey like that the wise men took to travel incredible distances to bring gifts to Jesus?

Or the shepherds, have you ever thought about the shepherds?

Typically the shepherd was kind of the low man on the totem poll. They spent their days and nights out in the field with sheep. And yet God sent His angels to the shepherds so that He could announce the coming Christ child.

Luke 2 paints a beautiful picture for us:

And in the same region there were shepherds out in the field, keeping watch over their flock by night. And an angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were filled with great fear. 10 And the angel said to them, “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11 For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be a sign for you: you will find a baby wrapped in swaddling cloths and lying in a manger.” 13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
    and on earth peace among those with whom he is pleased!”[d]

15 When the angels went away from them into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let us go over to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they went with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby lying in a manger. 17 And when they saw it, they made known the saying that had been told them concerning this child. 18 And all who heard it wondered at what the shepherds told them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart. 20 And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all they had heard and seen, as it had been told them.

As a parent, I would love for my kids to see the wonder of Christmas in the birth of Christ and not just in the gifts laying under the tree.

With wish lists and toy guides and elf-on-the-shelf, often Christmas loses its focus on Christ pretty quickly.  So we have to be intentional during the Advent season to bring things back into a right focus.

One of the ways we will be doing that this season is with Dayspring’s Shepherd on the Search kit. In the kit is a book, a small shepherd doll and a box that creates a manger scene. The book tells the kids the journey the shepherd will be on throughout the month of December.

Inviting the kids to go on a journey of their own, each morning the kids will search for where the shepherd might be. His final destination is the stable on Christmas Eve. One of the things that I loved about this kit was that Dayspring has a website specifically dedicated to sharing ideas on how you can incorporate this kit in your day to day life.

This is a fun, yet focused way that you can incorporate the anticipation and celebration of Christ’s birth every day during the Advent season.

Dayspring also has a Christmas CD that features kids singing some of our favorite Christmas Carols! What a wonderful way to create a worshipful environment all season long!

The excitement of presents and new toys will always be something our kids will have, but my hope is that with a daily focus on the miracle of Jesus, we will help establish them a love for the true meaning of the Season.

What are some of the ways you keep Christ present in the Christmas season for your kids? I’d love to hear your ideas!

 

I was provided the Shepherd on the Search kit for free from Dayspring in exchange for my honest review. All stories and opinions are my own.

Love You More

3-crosses-love-you-more

Music has long been a point of heartfelt worship. I don’t get much time alone, but when I do and am in the car, I will crank up the music and belt out worship songs to my God.

Tonight was no exception. It had been a long day already because of the short night the before. Watching, like many of you, the election results come in and wondering at what was next. I finally gave in at about 11pm and went to bed for a few hours. Dominic came to bed a little after 2am with the news.

I knew that no matter what the results there would be people that I love affected. People that strongly supported her and were now dealing with fear, others that thought he was the only choice at a change and saw this as a victory.

I couldn’t sleep and spent the next hour in prayer. Prayer for both the candidates and their families. Prayers for our nation and for unity. I remember seeing something on Facebook awhile back that challenged those who shared negative posts about either side and asked how often we first stopped and prayed before we shared something negative.

I know that I am guilty. Guilty of making assumptions and not doing my own research. Guilty of seeing and believing the worst and not recognizing that person is a child of God just like I am. I no longer want to be part of the problem…but instead I committed to praying for unity and peace, acceptance and kindness, fairness and equality.

I had heard the song “Love You More” by Nicole Nordman many times before. A song about loving God more…sure we all want that don’t we? But tonight I was challenged by the words. How do I do that? How do I love God more?

You see, it isn’t just about me feeling love towards God for all He has done for me. I have LOTS of reasons to be grateful for who He is in my life, and of course I love Him for it. Tonight though I thought maybe, just maybe, it is being love to others that is the best way I can love God more.

Loving those friends that I don’t always agree with.

Taking time to really talk to the people I come in contact with in my community.

Being a light in what seems like a very dark world.

Finding ways to unite with others, to educate myself, and understand another’s point of view.

I love God more when I love well on His people.

I love God more when I pray for our leaders.

I love God more when I let go of judgements and disagreements and seek to find unity with my fellow man.

I don’t have any idea what will happen when the presidency changes hands. I don’t know what shape our country will be in 4 years from today when we are facing yet another election season. But I do know that I can make a difference, in the name of God, by being His representative here.

I want to share the words of Love You More here because I want you to see them. I love how she takes broken, sinful people from the Bible and marries that with God’s incredible love for us. God really has been loving us forever. Chance after second chance. Even when we have run away, blamed Him, cursed Him, crucified Him.

I know I won’t ever love with the unconditional love that God has for me. I am incapable of it. But with God’s grace and guidance I can be His love to others. I am committed to that tonight…won’t you join me?

Love You More – Nicole Nordman

You said, “go and sin no more …”
Though my eyes could not meet Yours
I started running the third time the rooster crowed

You threw a party just for me
Though I squandered everything
I was blinded in the middle of the road

Climbed up in a tree to see You
Swallowed by the sea to flee You
Sold You for a little silver and a kiss

Killed a man to love his woman
Burned a bridge back to Your garden
Hung beside You while you took Your final breath

You’ve been loving me since time began
You’re behind my every second chance

I love You
I’m trying to
Love You more

I’m ready
Please help me
Love You more

I keep thinking there’s a limit
Sure I must be getting near it
When I’ve used up every pardon and regret

But You promise there is freedom
Gathered up the broken pieces
Scattered them as far as East is from the West

You’ve been loving me since time began
You’re behind my every second chance

I love You
I’m trying to
Love You more
I’m ready
Please help me
Love You more

With all the sand that fills the hourglass
With every breath between my first and last

I love You
I’m trying to
Love You more
I’m ready
Please help me
Love You more

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The Unmaking

the-unmaking

Recently I had the opportunity to hear Nicole Nordman perform. She has a very powerful testimony and she shared about  how walking through some of the darkest moments of her life helped her to find God in a new way.

Then she sang this song called The Unmaking. It was incredibly powerful and as I have listened to it over and over again I have realized that this is where I am finding myself once again.

It is coming to that place where we are broken because we can’t manage life on our own. It’s the giving up of the lies we have believed, the things that have shaped us and kept us stuck. It is the letting go of the need to control and finally being ready to trust God with our lives.

The chorus of her song says it beautifully:

This is the unmaking
The beauty in the breaking
Had to lose myself
To find out who You are
Before each beginning
There must be an ending
Sitting in the rubble
I can see the stars
This is the unmaking

I have walked some difficult roads over the past several years. Ones that were hard by my own doing. Through a lot of hard heart work I have come to that place where I am letting go of shame, embracing who God has made me to be. I am finding joy and contentment in where I am (especially with my writing here) and am letting go of the burden of jealousy and envy. Something that has tripped me up for far too long.

Just like the song says, I had to come to that place where I was completely unmade and yet because of my faith, I could trust that God had a plan for it all.

Freedom came from that refining. I wrote an entire 31 Days series that came as a result of that time in my life. I am so grateful that God met me there and I really thought that maybe I was done with my “trying” times for awhile.

But today I had a realization that I once again was going through a refining time.

I am inching closer to 42. When people told me that things would change once I turned 40, I didn’t really think it would happen to me. But (of course) it did happen and over the past almost 2 years I have gotten more physically weak, more tired and deal with back pain every day.

Something had to change. I was tired of making excuses and so I joined an accountability group that’s led by an amazing coach and started on my first round of the 21-day fix exercise program. Guys, it’s HARD. And this morning I shared the following in my accountability group….

“My husband and I were talking to our oldest son a year or so ago and joked that when you turn 40 all bets are off. It gets harder to keep off the weight, to exercise etc. We made up this acronym to describe ourselves. WOLFS. You would think it might mean something strong but no, it stood for Weak, Old, Lazy, Fat and Soft. That’s how I have viewed myself for the past year or more.

Back in 2012 he and I were doing the 30-day shred videos. I was stronger and more fit than I had ever been. I felt great about myself. Then my husband fell off a 15ft extension ladder and shattered his heel bone into 3 pieces. It was a major injury, changed his life. He lives with constant pain and will never run again. He has 10 screws and a plate holding his foot together. It was a miracle he didn’t break his back, leg etc.

Once that happened I felt guilty when I would go exercise because he physically couldn’t. For 4 months he couldn’t even walk on his leg. And so I quit. Once I stopped it was easy not to get back into it, to make excuses.

Today as I did the pilates fix I struggled. At one point I cried. I am so not flexible. I can’t even fully straighten my legs. I always have to follow Kat (the modified exercises) and I am so tired of being a WOLFS.

This is not only a physical battle for me but an emotional and spiritual one. I believe lies much faster than I do truths. I get discouraged and quit when it gets hard. This time I want something different. So while I am discouraged at how poorly I do on the exercises, I am determined to keep going. I am only 4 days into the actual program. But I have done at least 20 minutes of hard exercise 9 out of 11 days. That’s huge for me.

I can do this. Tomorrow I will get up and do the next cardio workout in the program. I will probably have to stop and my body will hurt, but I am getting stronger. And I will see results. I am holding on to that this morning.”

Sharing that truth felt like a weight lifted.

But laying on the floor this morning I realized that I was in that place of brokenness once again. I could stay there and feel sorry for myself, or I could commit to getting back up and working for my best health.

I don’t know where you are today, what needs rebuilding in your life, but I am guessing you are stronger than you realize. God has equipped you and will strengthen you and even in the rubble you can see the beauty…the hope that’s available.

If you are holding onto lies, I am praying you would ask God to reveal the truth. And remember that when we are at our “bottom”, the only place we can look is up. I encourage you to listen to the entire song The Unmaking…I hope it blesses you like it has me!

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Photo credit: changeable focus

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – Just the Beginning

Fervent Prayer

Well friends, what can I say? It has been a fun and challenging journey for the past 30 days. I hope more than anything that you have done some seeking on your own and discovered how important having a strong, fervent prayer life is.

I know it won’t always be easy. As we have learned, the enemy is constantly attacking us. He wants to see us broken, stressed, overwhelmed and as far from God as possible. If he can keep us busy enough, mad enough, distracted enough, selfish enough…he will do it. Anything to drive a wedge between us and the abundant life God has for us.

But we have a weapon. A powerful weapon that we can use to fight against these attacks and that is prayer!

So my biggest prayer here for you on this last day of October would be that this journey towards fervent prayer would just be the beginning.

Tomorrow will be another day to do battle. Another day to put on the armor so that you can withstand the fiery darts of the enemy. Another day to seek God in all things and to remain alert and aware of the enemy’s schemes.

I also hope that after this month you will have walked away changed. Maybe you have started a prayer journal and you are documenting the requests and the answers so that you don’t forget. Or perhaps you are getting on your knees and establishing a new routine before you start the day. Or you are writing out scripture on your prayer cards and hanging them in your prayer closet (or armoire).

If we have done the hard work of building a routine of fervent prayer we will see the results. No, not every prayer will be answered in the way that we might hope. But we will likely be more aware of all the ways that God is working.

After studying fervent prayer and all the ways the enemy comes at us, we are wiser. We can see more clearly and have learned to fight the battles with a power that only comes from God. We have full access to Him, may we never forget that!

So I encourage you to keep going. I think that reading and re-reading Fervent again and again will only reveal more. I have different things underlined and highlighted from each time I have been through it.

Yes, this is just the beginning.

We are stronger, smarter, suited up and ready to walk in the callings that God has for us.

We are ready to march around our walls and declare victory in God’s name! We have spouses, kids, parents, siblings and so many more who need our prayers. We need to take what we have learned and get to it!

Let this last day of the month be the beginning of a lifelong journey of fervent prayer!

Lord, we just thank You for all You have taught us through this journey. Thank you that we have such intimate access to You through prayer. Lord,  I know we will face challenges and disappointments in the coming weeks and months. Please guard our hearts and our minds. Give us Your strength so that we can go forward in Your name and Your power! Thank you for the transformations that have taken place over the past month. Stir our hearts that we would continue to seek to know You more! In Jesus Name, Amen!

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – Wisdom

Fervent Prayer

James 3: 13-18 13 Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. 14 But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. 15 This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. 16 For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. 17 But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. 18 And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.”

Some heavy words to start our day today but man did they challenge me when I was looking at the chapter in Fervent on relationships.

One of the things I like to do as I am studying God’s Word is to read the passages in different versions of the Bible. The BibleGateway app is wonderful for things like this! I use an ESV Bible, but at times the Message Bible offers a more “plain language” view and it is particularly relevant here.

13-16 “Do you want to be counted wise, to build a reputation for wisdom? Here’s what you do: Live well, live wisely, live humbly. It’s the way you live, not the way you talk, that counts. Mean-spirited ambition isn’t wisdom. Boasting that you are wise isn’t wisdom. Twisting the truth to make yourselves sound wise isn’t wisdom. It’s the furthest thing from wisdom—it’s animal cunning, devilish conniving. Whenever you’re trying to look better than others or get the better of others, things fall apart and everyone ends up at the others’ throats.

17-18 Real wisdom, God’s wisdom, begins with a holy life and is characterized by getting along with others. It is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings, not hot one day and cold the next, not two-faced. You can develop a healthy, robust community that lives right with God and enjoy its results only if you do the hard work of getting along with each other, treating each other with dignity and honor.”

Whenever we are trying to look better than others, things fall apart. Can I get an Amen!

But when I stop and look at my own behavior in relationships, isn’t that what I find myself doing? The need to fit in, to belong, can often translate into a striving for success so that we appear like we have it all together. This can lead to pride.

Pride in my life is a bad thing!

I start puffing myself up, making myself look good and then I start to think “hey, I’ve got this life managed pretty well…” I stop praying, stop seeking God’s wisdom and start relying on my own. What is that saying? Pride comes before the fall?

Each and every time friends…each and every time!

I want to be remembered as someone who is gentle and reasonable, overflowing with mercy and blessings. Isn’t that what we all want?! But I can’t do that and be fighting for my place at the top at the same time. I want people to see Jesus through me, in all areas of my life.

Priscilla said this, “The magnet that draws other people out of darkness toward the light and hope of Jesus Christ is so often not the A-B-C evangelism presentation they hear but the one they see – the recognizable change and difference in people who claim to be at peace with God themselves.” Fervent p.174

As we walk through the end of this journey of Fervent Prayer I hope that we would be stirred to seek God’s wisdom for our lives. That we would be humbled and gracious towards others. That we would be that light in a dark world. That we would daily seek God for the strength to do those things. Without prayer, without God’s help, I am a hot mess.

But through Him and because of Him I can build relationships with others, disagree and be respectful at the same time, offer compassion and mercy to those suffering around me. I can’t do these things on my own, I need God’s help. Today I am grateful that His work isn’t finished with me yet. That I have the opportunity to make a difference because He has made a difference in me.

Lord, we just thank and praise You for who You are. We ask Lord that You would pour out Your wisdom over us. Give us eyes to see Your will, hearts that seek to love others the way You loved us. This life is a gift, help us to be the kind of person that people will know, we are different because of You. May our lives bring You the glory and honor You deserve! In Jesus Name, Amen!

31 Days of Fervent Prayer – Peace and Unity

Fervent Prayer

“Together we are a mighty force. Satan knows that. And by remaining united, we let him feel that.” Fervent p.171

We are in the home stretch friends, can you believe it?! Priscilla addresses the final strategy when she looks at how the enemy can and does attack our relationships with others. And more specifically, our relationships with other Christians.

If you have spent any time online recently you have likely seen Christians on both ends of the spectrum. Especially in a presidential race…everyone has an opinion about who is best, or worst. Labels are thrown around and division can happen quickly!

This is right where the enemy wants us to be.

This fictional quote (not a real C.S. Lewis quote) was shared all over FB, and while it wasn’t actually in Lewis’ Screwtape Letters, it is an interesting look at how the enemy may work in situations such as these.

Be sure that the patient remains completely fixated on politics. Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration, and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure the patient continues to believe that the problem is “out there” in the “broken system” rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself. Keep up the good work.  Uncle Screwtape

How easy it is to become divided from one another when we are focused on all the problems we believe are out there and refusing to see our part in it?!

We have been attending a wonderful church in a community close to ours since we moved to Minnesota. It can be hard to find a place to “belong” in a new town and it was so important for us to find a solid, biblical church. Even after the first week, we felt welcomed. It was a good fit.

But then something happened to me. I started focusing on what I thought everyone else was doing together. I began to feel that I (we) weren’t being included and the pity pot of “poor me” became by close companion. I thought “if only they’d invite us….this would finally feel like home.”

That became my focus week after week. But here’s the deal, I didn’t do anything about it either. I waited for the invitation, but never did the inviting myself. I craved community but didn’t want to do any work to cultivate it.

I felt jealous and I misjudged people. I made myself pretty unapproachable. I would come in, find a seat and not talk to anyone. I am an introvert by nature so some of it is who I am…but I made myself seem closed off when I put up my walls. And then I blamed others when I felt alone.

The enemy works on our insecurities.

I have long struggled to feel like I belong. And when I kept myself disengaged from community, expecting everyone else to just come to me…my feelings of rejection built. Rejection led to resentment and I have already shared what that can do in my heart!

Then one Sunday morning our pastor preached on community and something he said struck a chord with me. I had been waiting on others instead of looking for ways to offer the very community I was seeking to those around me.

Of course the enemy wants to see those in the church in disharmony! If he can cause a division, he wins. We must fight back with prayer!

Priscilla says this: “Prayer helps us stay focused on bigger things, on much more eternal things than the petty stuff that threatens to puff itself up beyond actual size and become some huge deal it doesn’t deserve to be. In prayer we experience the kind of hard-fought peace that unites us into an army of soldiers for Christ.” Fervent p.172

Are you feeling left out? Pray about it.

Are you struggling with the opinions of a fellow believer? Pray about it.

Seek God in all these areas, and with prayer we can ask for clarity. We can pray for direction and seek out our part in a specific matter. We can pray for courage to take some action that would foster positive change. We often don’t have the grace to handle these situations without God, so pray first. He will guide your steps!

1 Cor. 12:25 “…that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.”

1 John 3:18 “Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.”

Lord, we know the enemy seeks to draw us away from one another. To disrupt our sense of community and belonging among believers. Lord guide us, especially in our interactions with other believers. Help us to remain united, to be a light with one another. Let there be no place for disharmony and may we choose to always be in prayer for our relationships with one another. In Jesus Name, Amen!

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