Study and do your best to present yourself to God approved, a workman [tested by trial] who has no reason to be ashamed, accurately handling and skillfully teaching the word of truth.
II Timothy 2:15
For he is our peace...
The day I met my husband, he was in the middle of a heated discussion with his dad about the scientific reasons why God did not exist. His life was in turmoil, and he was in a constant state of stress, anxiety, and overwhelm.
You'd never know it today. If you came over to our house this weekend, you'd meet a man who is stable, steady, strong, and totally at peace.
He is the epitome of "Let the peace of God rule in your hearts..." from Colossians 3:15.
What changed? How did he go from living with constant upheaval and turmoil in his heart and mind (and entire life) to being the man of God - totally at peace - that he is today?
He turned towards God. He put his trust in God. He aligned his thoughts with God's thoughts. His actions with God's actions. His heart with God's heart.
And God flooded his life with this promise from Psalm 29:11 which says "The Lord will give strength unto his people; the Lord will bless his people with peace."
It didn't happen overnight. It was a process. A long, hard one in our case. It took decision after decision, day after day, to do things God's way instead of the world's way.
He had to pursue peace. It didn't "just" happen and it didn't happen quickly. My life was in turmoil for a while too because I got down in the trenches with him and helped him fight for peace. But as we pursued peace together, one step at a time, we got closer and closer to it.
We are to pursue peace according to Psalm 34:14 which says "Depart from evil, and do good; seek peace, and pursue it." And Romans 14:19 says "Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace..."
There are so many scriptures that talk about peace - over 400 in the King James! God talks about seeking peace and pursuing peace. He talks about the way of peace, giving an answer of peace, the gospel of peace, words of peace, an abundance of peace, a time of peace, thoughts of peace, visions of peace, and more.
Of peace. Of peace. Of peace.
"For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace..." according to I Corinthians 14:33.
He IS the God of peace. The scriptures say this in at least four places. (Romans 15:33; 16:20; Philippians 4:9; Hebrews 13:20)
Ephesians 2:14 says "For he is our peace..." and I Corinthians 7:15 says "...but God hath called us to peace."
God is of peace. And He has called us, His beloved children, to peace as well.
He doesn't want our lives to be in turmoil, in upheaval, full of stress and anxiety. When that's the way we're living, we're so distracted with the mess we're in that we're unable to focus on Him.
I can't sit down to write if I'm surrounded with clutter or if my toddler is fussing. My thoughts are too scattered, and I can't focus. So before I can sit down to write or do anything meaningful, I have to tidy up the house and make sure Grayson is taken care of. That's one of the reasons why I pursue simple living - because it helps me to be at peace and therefore able to focus on the most important things.
There's a hymn called Constantly Abiding that I love to sing when I'm feeling unsettled. The first verse goes like this:
There's a peace in my heart that the world never gave,
A peace it cannot take away;
Though the trials of life may surround like a cloud,
I've a peace that has come here to stay!
The peace that comes from a deep trust in and relationship with God is a peace like no other. John 14:27 says "Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid."
God also tells us "For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace." (Romans 8:6)
When we're trusting in the world to meet our needs, when we're watching the news 24/7 and scrolling social media day and night, when our thoughts are "carnally minded," there's no way we can be at peace. But when we're "spiritually minded" - meaning we're keeping our thoughts on Him and putting our trust in God to take care of us, that brings not only peace but LIFE to us.
Here are some more highlights from the scriptures about peace:
"He hath delivered my soul in peace from the battle that was against me..." Psalm 55:18
"Great peace have they which love thy law..." Pslam 119:165
"When a man's ways please the Lord, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him." Proverbs 16:7
"Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee: because he trusteth in thee." Isaiah 26:3
"If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men." Romans 12:18
"I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for thou, Lord, only makest me dwell in safety." Psalm 4:8
In the book of Mark, Jesus Christ and his disciples were traveling across the Sea of Galilee in a boat when a storm came up. Mark 4:37-39 says "And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm."
Peace, be still.
And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
We face storms in life all the time. Sometimes they're sudden, surprising us with their fierce winds and churning seas. Sometimes they take a while to brew and we can see them coming from afar. But no storm we face is a surprise to Him, and it's never God's will for us to lose our peace in the midst of the turmoil. Even when it's beyond our understanding or our comprehension, we can be at peace because we know Him.
Philippians 4:7 promises "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus."
Not might, or may, or could. But shall.
That word "keep" means "to guard, protect." It's a military term, a verb that means "to guard, protect by a military guard, either to prevent hostile invasion, or to keep the inhabitants of a besieged city from flight."
So God's peace is protection. It's strong. It's fierce. It's powerful.
The peace of God (which is beyond our understanding!) will absolutely keep, guard, and protect our hearts and our minds.
That's a promise I want to hold on to with all that I am. Because sometimes life's storms are scary. They're big and they're loud and they're dire. But our God is bigger. Our God is the calm in the storm. He is our protector, our provider, our peace.
Just like my husband had to seek and pursue and go after peace in his life, we all have to do the same. The enemy is constantly working to steal our peace (John 10:10). So we have to constantly pursue it. It's worth fighting for. It's worth deliberately chasing after. It's worth making changes to our habits, our thoughts, our actions in order to become "spiritually minded" because that's when we receive the "life and peace" that God promises us.
We can't always stop the storms of life from heading our way, but we can seek safety and shelter and protection in the mighty arms of our Father - the God of peace.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works.
"Comparison is the thief of joy." -Theodore Roosevelt
Comparison is something I've been thinking about a lot lately.
A couple weeks ago, I asked for some advice about our naptime struggles. And what I was reminded of after reading all of the responses is this:
We. Are. All. So. Different.
We mamas are different.
Our kiddos are different.
Our needs are different.
Our goals are different.
Our routines are different.
Our lifestyles are different.
What works for me won't work exactly the same for you and what works for you won't work exactly the same for me.
This means I can't look at what you're doing and how you're doing it and compare myself to you... because when I do that (and it's SO easy to do that, isn’t it?) it steals all my joy and my confidence. It can even steal my trust in the fact that God is working in me to do exactly what my family needs me to be doing for them.
But even though we're different, I can learn from you. I can learn from your example and your experience and your words and your wisdom. And you can learn from me, too.
I Corinthians 12:14-20 in the ESV says “For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body."
God designed us all to be unique individuals, with unique strengths and skills and long suits. And He designed us to work together in the Body of Christ, each bringing our strengths to the table and helping one another.
Hebrews 10:24-25 says "And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near."
In this scripture, "stir up" is one Greek word "paroxysmos" which is defined as "an inciting, incitement; irritation.”
It’s also translated as provoke, encourage, stir up (stimulate and incite), sparking, help (provoke/rouse/encourage), promote, motivate, rouse, stimulate, and inspire.
We're to consider, or to "give attentive, continuous care" to encouraging and motivating and inspiring one another to acts of love and good works.
I don't think that leaves any room for comparison, does it?
In the conversation about our naptime struggles, I stuck my foot in my mouth and commented to a friend that I was praying my next baby will sleep like her first... remembering (probably inaccurately!) that when we were up a zillion times a night, her little boy slept all night long, peacefully in his crib, and took lengthy daytime naps too. She lovingly reminded me that he wasn't a good sleeper until they worked hard to help him become one.
This was such a good reminder for me, not only to not compare my child to hers, but to not assume I knew how "easy" things were for them. I had never "walked a mile in their shoes" so it wasn't right for me to see that he slept well and assume it came easy.
My friend, who could have taken offense and become defensive by my comment, replied with kindness and love - while speaking her truth to me in order to correct my wrong thinking.
She did exactly what God says to do in Ephesians 4:15-16:
"But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."
The Amplified Bible says verse 15 like this: "But speaking the truth in love [in all things—both our speech and our lives expressing His truth], let us grow up in all things into Him [following His example] who is the Head—Christ."
In both our speech and in the way we live our lives, we're to speak and express His truth in love. This love is patient and kind, without judgment, criticism, condemnation, or comparison. It's agapē love - the kind of love that God has for us as His children.
Verse 16 in the Amplified reads: "From Him the whole body [the church, in all its various parts], joined and knitted firmly together by what every joint supplies, when each part is working properly, causes the body to grow and mature, building itself up in [unselfish] love."
The whole body - the whole church - is to be joined and knitted together, working together towards both collective and individual growth and maturity. Just like what we read in Hebrews 10:24-25 earlier, where we're to encourage and inspire one another to acts of love and good works.
In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10 we are reminded that we're better together.
"Two are better than one; because they have a good reward for their labour. For if they fall, the one will lift up his fellow: but woe to him that is alone when he falleth; for he hath not another to help him up."
And Proverbs 27:17 says "Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance [paniym - presence, person, character] of his friend."
It could be stated that "friends keep each other sharp." And once again, there's no room for comparison here... because comparison will put a barrier between friends, ruining the ability for them to strengthen and sharpen and encourage one another in God's love.
Mama, life is challenging enough without adding comparison to the mix.
When we compare, we miss out on one of the most beautiful things God established to help us through the hard things - the ability to work together as the Body of Christ, supporting and encouraging and helping one another to not just survive but thrive.
Let's remember God's truths on this topic as we go about our days, holding fast to His plan to provide us with a support system that includes every faith-filled follower of the Lord Jesus Christ.
And as we have the opportunity to encourage one another by speaking the truth in love, let's do that, too - remembering that when we speak with kindness and a heart of giving, we’re helping to inspire one another to acts of love and good works.
But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.
What do you need, mama?
I can probably take some guesses. A shower, a nap, a hot meal. A little alone time doing something that refreshes and restores you. Some healing - physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual - and maybe all of the above.
The list probably goes on. Financial peace, restoration in your marriage, healing for your children.
Leading up to every weekend, my husband and I do our best to have a conversation about our expectations for the days ahead. He will often start out by asking "What are the needs?" and we go from there.
I'm so thankful for this because it gives me an opportunity to tell him when I need some extra quiet time or to get a couple more hours of sleep after being on the night shift all week.
What are the needs, mama?
God doesn't even have to ask. You don't have to be able to articulate them - He just knows.
And (thank goodness!) Philippians 4:19 promises "But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus."
Not just one need, or a couple needs, or 99% of your needs - but ALL of them.
The Amplified Bible says "And my God will liberally supply (fill to the full) your every need..." Another translation says "But my God shall abundantly supply all your need..." Another says "And my God will fill-up every need of yours..." One says "all your necessities" and one says "all your desire" and one even says "all your want."
Take a minute and think about that.
Filled to the full.
There is nothing too big for our God.
He knows us intimately and personally.
He knows when we're at our limits, or getting close to them. He knows when we're exhausted beyond belief. When we're struggling. When we're hurting. When we're discouraged, weary, sad.
And guess what? He not only knows, but cares and loves and supplies for all our needs.
There's nothing too big for our God. Or too small! Let's not forget that we can trust Him in the small things, too.
Something my dad often says when talking about about God's ability to provide for His children is "...my Daddy owns the cattle on a thousand hills."
This comes from Psalm 50:10-11 which reads "For every beast of the forest is mine, and the cattle upon a thousand hills." The Passion Translation is beautiful. It says "Every animal of field and forest belongs to me, the Creator. I know every movement of the birds in the sky, and every animal of the field is in my thoughts. The entire world and everything it contains is mine."
It's all His.
Going back to Philippians 4:19, the second part of the scripture reads "...according to [through] his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." God's riches are vast, far beyond what any one person could ever need.
"The entire world and everything it contains is mine."
And He gives to us out of that great, vast, limitless abundance.
God knows exactly what we need. In fact, He knows what we need far better than we do. So do we even have to ask Him?
Well, in both Matthew and Luke the scriptures direct us to ask, seek, and knock.
In the NLT...
Matthew 7:7-8 says "Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."
Luke 11:9-10 says "And so I tell you, keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for. Keep on seeking, and you will find. Keep on knocking, and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives. Everyone who seeks, finds. And to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened."
I love how God had this recorded twice, establishing it for us.
The context is really interesting.
Verses 5-8 in Luke 11 read "Then, teaching them more about prayer, he used this story: “Suppose you went to a friend’s house at midnight, wanting to borrow three loaves of bread. You say to him, ‘A friend of mine has just arrived for a visit, and I have nothing for him to eat.’ And suppose he calls out from his bedroom, ‘Don’t bother me. The door is locked for the night, and my family and I are all in bed. I can’t help you.’ But I tell you this—though he won’t do it for friendship’s sake, if you keep knocking long enough, he will get up and give you whatever you need because of your shameless persistence."
Because of your shameless persistence.
I find this fascinating. God knows what we need, and yet here He is still telling us to ask, seek, and knock - with shameless persistence.
Ok, Father. I can do that.
I can be shamelessly persistent in letting you know what I need. To "keep on asking" and "keep on seeking" and "keep on knocking."
So what do you need, mama?
Ask Him - and do it shamelessly and persistently.
Go to Him in the morning, when you first wake up.
Go to Him throughout the day, when you feel doubts or worries or fears overwhelming you.
Go to Him in the evening, as you wind the day down.
This reminds me of Deuteronomy 6:6-7 which talks about how we're to teach our children about God throughout the day. "And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
And repeated again in Deuteronomy 11:19 "And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up."
When you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up - ask, seek, and knock.
God directs us to shamelessly persist in going to Him in prayer. He's listening, always.
When my husband asks each week "What are the needs?" I feel cared for and heard. We talk about them, make a plan, and do our best to get those needs met. It's such a relief to me to be able to express my needs to someone who will do his best to meet them.
My needs go (far) beyond what my husband can meet, though. Which is totally ok, because he is not responsible to meet my every need.
My needs might be deep and wide, large and small, loud and quiet - too much for any one person to meet. But they are NEVER beyond what my God can meet.
When we go to Him in prayer (asking, seeking, knocking), He listens.
And He will abundantly, liberally, completely supply all our need according to His overwhelming riches - and His vast love for us.
What are the needs, mama?
What do you need today, right now?
Take some time to talk to your Heavenly Father about those needs, trusting that He will supply every one of them until you are filled up with His grace, mercy, and love.
Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.
I've been trying to write this devotion for about a week.
I had it all planned out in my head the other night (while taking a long, hot, quiet shower - the best time to think!) but mama duty called as soon as I got out and I didn't have an opportunity to put words to paper before they started to slip away.
I've started it a few times since then, but the words haven't flowed so I've set it aside and moved on to other things.
But it's important. What I want to encourage you to hold on to today is important... so I'm trying again.
Many of you know about the health challenges that we've faced with our son over the past couple years.
The heartaches and the healing.
The sleepless nights and the recent night he finally (finally!) slept through.
The lack of solid poops (yes, I talk about 💩 a lot...) and the recent first-ever-solid that put a smile on my face for days.
Many of you have been praying for us.
Some of you have been praying for us a for a long, long time.
Others of you are just now joining this community and don't know me or our story yet...
In a nutshell, Grayson was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease when he was 3 months old.
You'd never know it if you visited my home today. He's happy, healthy, and thriving.
But when he was a tiny (miserably uncomfortable) little babe he had an autoimmune reaction to my breast milk - inflammation in his esophagus and colon (and probably a lot of places in between) that didn't belong - leading to malnourishment and a lot of discomfort.
An uncomfortable, malnourished baby who couldn't sleep.
There are so many details to our story that it would take me all day to tell it. So let me just skip to today.
We've come so far.
Grayson has healed so much.
Lab work that came back a few days ago showed that he's either stable or improving in all categories.
There are a few things still slightly out of range, and one that's WAY out of range - but that one thing has already improved tremendously in recent months. (So much so that his pediatrician told me it's almost unheard of to show that much improvement without medication - which we've never given him. His "treatment" has been through nutrition and vitamin/mineral supplements alone.)
I don't claim that he has an autoimmune disease.
I believe he's been healed from that - and now we're just in the final stages of strengthening his digestive system and getting rid of the last traces of inflammation in his body.
We still struggle to fall asleep sometimes, or to stay asleep sometimes, or to go back to sleep once waking up sometimes - but nothing like it was even 6 months ago.
We still don't have consistent solid 💩 - but we're doing so much better than we were even 3 months ago.
Notice how I try to frame that? We're still working on some things... but we're doing so well. We've come so far. We've healed so much.
But the reality is that there's still room for improvement.
Those labs all need to get within range. We need normal, healthy sleep patterns. We need normal, healthy poops. We need to be able to give Grayson a piece of fruit or to put him to sleep in his own space and know that he'll rest deeply.
So when someone reaches out to me and asks "how can I pray for you?" my answer these days is always "pray for Grayson's healing to be complete."
So this is the important part - the whole reason for this devotion. Why I'm not letting this one go even though the words aren't flowing like they usually do.
We can pray and believe for complete healing.
Philippians 1:6 in the KJV says "Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ..."
Those words "will perform it" are translated "will bring it to completion" in the ESV.
The AMPC version says "And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you."
I. Am. Convinced.
I'm convinced that my Father, who wishes above all things that we prosper and be in health (III John 2) began a good work of healing in my son. And that He will continue that good work, perfecting it and bringing it to full completion in him.
I don't know how long it will take.
I don't know if it'll be complete before the day of Jesus Christ's return or not.
But I'm convinced that my God, my loving heavenly Father, is continuing to heal my son. And my heart and my prayer and my trust in Him is that it's going to happen here on earth, and soon - that it IS happening now.
When Moses led the children of Israel out of Egypt towards the Promised Land, Psalm 105:37 says "...and there was not one feeble person among their tribes."
Exodus 12:37 says "And the people of Israel journeyed from Rameses to Succoth, about six hundred thousand men on foot, besides women and children."
Some Bible scholars believe this means that there were 600,000 men (Israelites) plus women and children who left Egypt, bringing the total between two to four million people.
I don't know exactly how many Israelites were freed from Egyptian slavery and journeyed to the Promised Land.
But I do know that there was an entire nation of people, which must have included young children, pregnant women, and the elderly.
And I know that God had it recorded in the Bible that "there was not one feeble person among their tribes."
Can you imagine? Leading up to this exodus and long journey ahead of them, there were probably some people who were sick. Some who were injured. Some who were nearing the end of their lives due to disease or old age.
They were slaves in a foreign land, mistreated (Exodus 2:11) and afflicted and oppressed (Exodus 3:7-9).
And yet, when it came time for them to be set free, God must have healed them and strengthened them - every single one - so that there were no feeble among them for the journey ahead.
The dictionary defines feeble as "physically weak, as from age or sickness; frail."
The phrase "and there was not one feeble" in the scripture is one word "kashal" which means "to stumble, stagger, totter" and an extended definition says "to totter or waver (through weakness of the legs, especially the ankle); by implication, to falter, stumble, faint or fall" and it also includes "be decayed, be weak."
So. God brought millions of people of all ages and degrees of health out of Egypt without them stumbling, falling, faltering, fainting - no weakness.
That means they must have been strong and healthy.
If God could do that for an entire nation of people, He can do that for my family.
There are countless other records in the Bible about healing - the woman with the issue of blood for 12 years who was healed by touching the hem of Jesus' garment (Matthew 9); the man lame from birth who was ministered to by Peter and John who then walked and leapt and praised God (Acts 3); Lazarus (John 11) and Tabitha (Acts 9) and others who were raised from the dead; I could go on and on.
Matthew 11:5 summarizes so much of the healing that is recorded by saying "The blind receive their sight, and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them."
God created the heavens and the earth. He spoke into being light and man and animals and every detail of the world that we live in.
He gave us incredible minds to learn about the human body and how to help it heal from sickness and disease, and He gave us he resources to make medicines and treatments to facilitate that healing.
Jesus Christ paused over and over and over again to minister healing to those that were sick, injured, hurting.
If he was walking around on the earth today rather than seated up in heaven, I'd be the woman who believed that by touching the hem of his garment my son would be healed. I'd be the man whose servant was dying who believed that "but speak the word only, and my servant [son] shall be healed." (Matthew 8:8)
If I would believe that big if I were face-to-face with Jesus, why wouldn't I believe that big right now?
I believe every single record of healing in the scriptures, including the resurrection of Jesus Christ, is true. They happened. God is the same today as He was yesterday. He's going to be the same tomorrow. His promises are true and His love is vast.
When I really slow down to consider all of that - all that God has done (since the beginning of time) and continues to do for us, all that He has made available to us - I can't help but become even more convinced that the good work He started by healing my son's body will be brought to completion.
So when someone asks how they can pray for us, I'm going to keep saying "please pray for Grayson's healing to be complete."
We all have things that we're going through. I realize that now more than ever - the needs in our community feel very heavy most days. (This is one of the reasons why we balance out the prayer requests with fun things like emoji contests and lighthearted questionnaires.)
Whatever it is - whatever you (or someone you love) is facing today - pray and believe and trust that God is there, closer than your very breath. That He has begun good work in you. That He will bring that good work to completion.
Pray this prayer today, mama, and hold on tight to it:
"And I am convinced and sure of this very thing, that He Who began a good work in you will continue until the day of Jesus Christ [right up to the time of His return], developing [that good work] and perfecting and bringing it to full completion in you."
I can do all things through him who strengthens me.
I can do hard things.
I'm due to take my son in for lab work at the hospital this week, and it's a hard thing. A very, very hard thing.
No mama wants to see their child in pain. No mama wants to watch the tears roll down their face while they're confused and hurting and crying out for you to make it stop and let them go.
But, it's important. Our pediatrician needs updated labs - so we'll get them. And I'll breathe a huge sigh of relief when it's behind us.
I think about the (remarkably true!) story of Jonah in the Bible.
God asked Jonah to go to Nineveh and speak as God's prophet to the people there, and "cry against it" or "proclaim [judgment] against it."
I can imagine this didn't sound like the easiest request from God. So what did Jonah do?
In Jonah 1:3, the Amplified says "But Jonah ran away to Tarshish to escape from the presence of the Lord [and his duty as His prophet]. He went down to Joppa and found a ship going to Tarshish [the most remote of the Phoenician trading cities]. So he paid the fare and went down into the ship to go with them to Tarshish away from the presence of the Lord."
Thus began a lot of trouble for Jonah. A great storm arose, and Jonah was tossed overboard.
Jonah 1:17 says "Now the Lord had prepared (appointed, destined) a great fish to swallow Jonah. And Jonah was in the stomach of the fish three days and three nights."
One commentary about this verse says "The ancient Hebrew term 'fish' did not make a distinction between fish and marine mammals. There are no marine creatures known today which would be capable of swallowing a man, either because of their anatomy or because of their observed behavior. It is possible that the creature that swallowed Jonah has long since been extinct, or even that it was uniquely created by God for this one purpose."
Jonah prayed to God (it's a really neat prayer - I'd recommend reading Jonah chapter 2) and the Lord commanded the fish to spit Jonah out onto dry land.
Jonah 3:1-2 continues "Now the word of the Lord came to Jonah the second time, saying, 'Go to Nineveh the great city and declare to it the message which I am going to tell you.' So Jonah went to Nineveh in accordance with the word of the Lord..."
It took Jonah a little while, but he listened to God and went to Nineveh as he was directed, doing the hard thing that was asked of him.
God might be asking you to do a hard thing right now.
(Not a harmful thing, because He wouldn't ask you to do something that's harmful. He is light and in Him is no darkness at all. I John 1:5)
God might be asking you to love, when you don't feel like loving.
He might be asking you to give, when you don't feel like giving.
He might be asking you to serve, when you don't feel like serving.
He might be asking you to forgive, when you don't feel like forgiving.
But you know what? You can do the hard thing.
Philippians 4:13 says in the ESV that "I can do all things through him who strengthens me."
I really love the Amplified Version of this scripture. It reads:
"I can do all things [which He has called me to do] through Him who strengthens and empowers me [to fulfill His purpose—I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency; I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him who infuses me with inner strength and confident peace.]"
If God has called us to do something, we are able to do it.
He strengths and empowers us to fulfill His purpose.
We are self-sufficient in Christ's sufficiency.
We are ready for anything. Equal to anything. Through Him who infuses us with inner strength and confident peace.
So I can do hard things.
That's what I'm telling myself this week. And I'm going to keep telling myself until the hard thing is done.
What hard thing are you facing this week?
Claim the promise in Philippians 4. Declare that you can do all things that He has called you to do. And then take action, trusting that He will infuse you with the inner strength and confident peace to do His will.
Love never fails.
I Corinthians 13:8
I’ve been awake throughout the night - praying, reading, learning, growing. There’s a lot of hate out in the world right now. More than ever, we need to love, and pray, and love some more.
I want to let God’s Word do the speaking this morning, because no words I write could be more impactful than the scriptures themselves.
Therefore encourage and comfort one another and build up one another, just as you are doing. I Thessalonians 5:11
I’d like for this post to be a positive encouragement for us all to reference back to on the topic of love - God’s love - healing love.
Love never fails.
I Corinthians 13:8
Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.
Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
1 Peter 4:8
And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.
By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God. So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him. By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgment, because as he is so also are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. We love because he first loved us. If anyone says, “I love God,” and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. And this commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother.
1 John 4:13-21
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?” He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.” But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying, ‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back.’ Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
And one of the scribes came up and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, asked him, “Which commandment is the most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The most important is, ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For the whole law is fulfilled in one word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.”
Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.
Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest.
A couple weeks ago, I asked our mamas to share one word that describes the love they have for their children. One of my favorite responses? FIERCE
This spring, my little man and I have been watching two baby bunny rabbits grow. We've named them Hop and Skip. Grayson loves looking out the back door and seeing them nibbling on dandelion leaves in our backyard.
A few days ago, my neighbor sent me a pretty crazy video of a large snake in her backyard trying to snag Hop (or maybe it was Skip), and mama bunny fighting the snake off. Thankfully mama bunny won the fight and the babies were ok. We even saw them running around this morning.
Mama bunny was fierce as she protected her babies from harm.
I think about how we as mamas have to protect our children fiercely at times. In this day and age, that fierce protection is often in the spiritual realm rather than the physical.
We read in I Peter 5:8 "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:"
We're to be sober - the Greek word is "nēphō" which means "to be calm and collected in spirit; to be temperate, dispassionate, circumspect."
This means we can't let our emotions get the best of us. We have to stay steady and strong even in the midst of startling or even scary situations.
We're to be vigilant - the Greek word is "grēgoreō" which means "to watch; give strict attention to, be cautious, active; to take heed lest through remission and indolence some destructive calamity suddenly overtake one."
This means we have to be alert all the time. We have to keep our eyes open, our ears open, and especially our heart open to God.
The Amplified Bible reads "Be sober [well balanced and self-disciplined], be alert and cautious at all times. That enemy of yours, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion [fiercely hungry], seeking someone to devour."
I'm sure you know exactly what it takes to "be alert and cautious at all times." If you're a mama, you know how quickly our children can get themselves into trouble. We have to be "on" all the time, watching out for our kids and protecting them from harm.
God does the same thing for us. He promises to never leave or forsake us. He's closer than our very breath. He knows the number of days in our lives and the number of hairs on our heads. He's a fierce Daddy looking out for us, protecting us, watching over us, loving us.
Joshua 1:9 says "Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the Lord thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest."
Mama, the Lord our God is with us wherever we go.
Because of that, we can be strong. We ARE strong.
Because of that, we can be courageous. We ARE courageous.
We are not afraid. We are not dismayed.
Just like mama bunny protected Hop and Skip and never left their side as she courageously fought off an attack, our Father protects us - strengthening us, encouraging us, lifting us up - all the days of our lives.
God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
I John 1:5b
God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.
Do you really believe this - deep down in your heart - with all that you are?
Do you believe it when the sun is shining? Do you believe it when the storm is raging?
Do you believe it when you have more than enough? Do you believe it when you're struggling to make ends meet?
Do you believe it when your loved ones are healthy? Do you believe it when your loved ones are hurting?
Do you trust that God is good, all the time?
I can't think of anyone who had more of a reason to stop believing that God is good (all the time) than Job.
Job 1:1 in the Amplified says "There was a man in the land of Uz whose name was Job; and that man was blameless and upright, and one who feared God [with reverence] and abstained from and turned away from evil [because he honored God]."
He was blameless. The Hebrew word is "tam" which means "perfect, complete; sound, wholesome; complete, morally innocent, having integrity."
He was upright. The Hebrew word is "yashar" which means "straight, upright, correct, right; righteous."
He revered God. He turned away from evil. He honored God.
He had seven sons and three daughters. He had great wealth. He had many servants. Verse 2 says "...this man was the greatest [and wealthiest and most respected] of all the men of the east..."
In one tragic day, Job lost everything. Satan stole his wealth. Satan killed his children, and his servants. Satan destroyed life as he knew it.
In verse 20, immediately after learning of the death of his 10 children, Job worships God.
Job 1:20-22 in the Amplified reads: "Then Job got up and tore his robe and shaved his head [in mourning for the children], and he fell to the ground and worshiped [God]. He said, 'Naked (without possessions) I came [into this world] from my mother’s womb, And naked I will return there. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; Blessed be the name of the Lord.' Through all this Job did not sin nor did he blame God."
Can you imagine?
Now that I'm a mama, I have a deeper empathy for how horrific this day was. How distraught Job must have been. How devastated and heartbroken he and his wife were.
Yet, his first act is to fall to the ground and worship God.
He speaks out loud "Blessed be the name of the Lord."
And God makes it a point to tell us in the last verse of the chapter that in all of this Job did not sin nor did he blame God.
Once again, can you imagine?
What trust in God he had - to turn towards God in this moment rather than turn away from Him.
After this, in chapter 2, God reiterates that Job was a man who was blameless and upright, revering God and turning away from evil. God adds in verse 3 "For there is none like him on the earth..." and "...still he maintains and holds tightly to his integrity..."
This is absolutely incredible, isn’t it?
After this, Job was plagued with "loathsome boils and agonizingly painful sores from the sole of his foot to the crown of his head" (verse 7).
And in verse 9 we read "Then his wife said to him, 'Do you still cling to your integrity [and your faith and trust in God, without blaming Him]? Curse God and die!' - she was understandably distraught.
Verse 10 says "But he said to her, 'You speak as one of the [spiritually] foolish women speaks [ignorant and oblivious to God’s will]. Shall we indeed accept [only] good from God and not [also] accept adversity and disaster?' In [spite of] all this Job did not sin with [words from] his lips."
Let's pause for just one moment, and remember that “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” (I John 1:5)
The devil is the source of all evil in the world. God allowed the potential for evil, because He is just. He allowed Lucifer, one of the archangels, to choose to rebel. He was then cast down from heaven along with a third of the angels. Lucifer became the devil, satan, the destroyer, the accuser, the thief, the one who steals, kills, and destroys.
In this verse, Job is not attributing evil to God. He's not saying that it was God's will for these tragedies to befall him and his wife. But he is recognizing a sovereign God who gives good and also the potential for "adversity and disaster" - carried out by Satan.
At the end of verse 10 we're told that "In [spite of] all this Job did not sin with [words from] his lips."
Even when his wife was so distraught that she told Job to curse God and die, he did not. He praised God. He trusted God. He believed that God was good, all the time, no matter what.
This tragedy continued as Job's three closest friends were "miserable comforters" (Job 16:2) and didn't provide the comfort he needed at all.
In Job 42:10 we learn that God "turned the captivity of Job." In the Amplified, it says "The Lord restored the fortunes of Job when he prayed for his friends, and the Lord gave Job twice as much as he had before."
In verse 12 "And the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning..."
He had seven more sons and three more daughters. In heaven, he'll be gathered together with all 20 of his children once again.
After this, he lived 140 more years, "and saw his sons and his grandsons, four generations. So Job died, an old man and full of days."
What an incredible example Job is to us. Despite devastating tragedy, he retained his integrity, praised God, and refused to curse or blame God for the losses and the heartache.
God is good, all the time. All the time, God is good.
Let's really believe this - deep down in our hearts - with all that we are.
Let's believe it when the sun is shining. Let's believe it when the storm is raging.
Let's believe it when we have more than enough. Let's believe it when we're struggling to make ends meet.
Let's believe it when our loved ones are healthy. Let's believe it when our loved ones are hurting.
Let's trust that God is good, all the time, no matter what.
For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace.
A friend and I were texting a couple days ago, and I asked her if she was doing well. Our conversation continued:
"We are! I mean... I would not call this 'ideal' but we’re making it work. How about you?"
"Same! We’re fine. Sad about some things but thankful for so many others, you know?"
In this totally unique situation we're all in right now, it's so easy to dwell on the sad things, the hard things, the limitations and the losses. And I get it! Those feelings are so valid. They're real. They're true.
We can choose to focus on the things we're thankful for. Quality family time. Life slowing down. Health and jobs and God's protection and His provision.
Every time I start to slip into looking at things from the negative, I pause and say "Carrie, you have so much to be thankful for. So much."
That shift in perspective can make the difference between us retaining our joy or us slipping into depression, drowning in anxiety, feeling like we're just surviving rather than living and even thriving in the midst of difficulty.
The first half of Proverbs 23:7 says "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he..."
What we think and believe in our heart is what comes out in our words and our actions. What we think, speak, and do is what changes the trajectory of our days and weeks and months and eventually our entire lives.
Romans 8:6 says it clearly: “For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace."
Today, will you work on claiming life and peace, and on replacing each negative confession with a positive one?
Rather than claiming "my anxiety" or "my sickness" or "my depression" (which may be absolutely true), will you refuse to claim these things as "mine"?
Will you find a promise from God's Word that you can cling to instead?
Instead of claiming "my anxiety," claim "This anxiety that I'm feeling is doing its best to overwhelm me BUT my God is the author of peace and I can pray and let my needs be made known to Him." (I Corinthians 14:33; Philippians 4:6)
Instead of claiming "my sickness," claim "This sickness is from the enemy, but my God wishes above all things that I prosper and be in health." (John 10:10; III John 2)
Instead of claiming "my depression," claim "This depression is threatening to overtake me, but my God brings me up out of the pit and sets my feet upon a rock, establishing my way." (Psalm 40:2)
God's Word contains all the answers - everything that pertains to life and godliness. (II Peter 1:3)
There's nothing new under the sun. (Ecclesiastes 1:9)
No challenge that we face is a surprise to Him, and He always makes a way to escape. (I Corinthians 10:13)
Let’s put on that "spiritually minded" perspective today, and claim the life and peace that God so desires for us.
Yes, there are lots of things to be sad about right now and there will be sad things and hard things and overwhelming things that we face throughout the rest of our lives.
Let's claim God's promises. Let's cling to the good things. Let's earnestly seek the life and peace that He promises.
As we shift our perspectives and refuse to claim the negatives as our own, God will help us fill up on His promises that will provide the "way to escape" and the "more abundant life" that He desires for us as His children.
That’s definitely something to be thankful for.
...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning.
My husband and I celebrated our 8th wedding anniversary yesterday. What an adventure these past 8 years have been!
Like so many couples, our marriage has enjoyed wonderful seasons and endured hard ones. We went through a difficult season early on, and there was a time when I wasn't sure if we'd make it. But we did, and the experience taught me a lot about trusting in God and believing relentlessly for His healing and restoration in my marriage. So today I'd like to share a little more about these topics.
In Genesis 2:18, we read "And the Lord God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him."
The phrase "him an help meet" is one Hebrew word "`ezer" which means "help, succour, one who helps." The dictionary defines "succor" as "a person or thing that gives help, relief, aid, etc." or in verb form "to help or relieve."
God saw that it wasn't good that Adam was alone, and that he needed someone - a woman - to help him.
Genesis 2:21-24 says "And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the Lord God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh."
The one flesh relationship is God's design for marriage. The NIV describes it as "the two are united into one.”
In Mark 10, Jesus Christ is answering questions from the Pharisees about marriage and divorce. He says in verses 6-9 "But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder."
When we marry, it isn't the marriage license that binds us together but God who declares that we are no more two, but one. Therefore, what God has joined together, ESV says "let not man separate” and TPT says “no one has the right to split apart.”
I understand that there are situations where divorce is the only safe option. I realize there are also situations where one spouse decides to leave and nothing can be done to change their mind. I in no way will ever criticize or condemn or judge a mama who has been divorced, or who is going through a separation or divorce, or who may end up divorced in the future. I understand how heartbreaking this can be because I’ve been right there in the thick of it myself.
There was a time not long after we were married when I had to fight with everything I had to save our marriage. For a long time, this determination to stay married was one-sided and I was fighting alone. I was receiving marriage counseling alone. I was studying God's Word on marriage alone. I was listening to faith-based podcasts on marriage and reading faith-based books on marriage alone.
And I was praying and crying and praying some more - not alone but with the support of family and a few close friends who also prayed relentlessly for healing in our marriage.
Had I given up, I know that we wouldn't be married today. But God's Word and His will that "two become one" and "let not man put asunder" were tucked deep down in my heart, and I wasn't willing to walk away from the commitment I made on my wedding day. I knew God could heal our broken marriage and restore us to the more abundant life that He desires for us (John 10:10).
Slowly, slowly, Ian became receptive to receiving God's Word on the topic of marriage and that tiny seed of hope for our marriage that I held on to with everything in me was planted, and watered, and began to grow. God gave the increase as what looked hopeless became hopeful. (Planting... watering... God giving the increase - see I Corinthians 3)
After some very difficult years we got through the hard season - together.
It wasn’t easy, but I finally looked back and said "it was worth it..." and that I'd go back and do it all over again even if I knew what was coming.
Now, a few years past that moment of realizing it was all worth it, I am so very thankful that I fought for us. My husband is a wonderful and loving man of God. He's an amazing provider for our family, and the best daddy to our son that I could ask for. He's fully committed to God, our marriage, and our family. We're far from perfect, but we're committed and our home is full of love.
When I faced this long, stormy season of life, I often prayed for God to show me when daybreak would come.
I thought that if I only knew the day, time, and hour that I'd be through the hard season and out the other side, I could endure. Not knowing how long it would take to get there felt unbearable at times.
I never did get that detailed answer I was looking for, though. Instead, I had to press on without knowing what the end result would be, or when it would happen. I had to believe beyond a shadow of a doubt that deliverance was coming - whether that be the restoration of my marriage or another outcome - and I had to trust God with every part of my heart.
"How long, Lord?" was my heart’s cry during this season. David asked God “how long?” too.
“Have mercy upon me, O Lord; for I am weak: O Lord, heal me; for my bones are vexed. My soul is also sore vexed: but thou, O Lord, how long? Return, O Lord, deliver my soul: oh save me for thy mercies’ sake. For in death there is no remembrance of thee: in the grave who shall give thee thanks? I am weary with my groaning; all the night make I my bed to swim; I water my couch with my tears. Mine eye is consumed because of grief; it waxeth old because of all mine enemies. Depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity; for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer.” Psalm 6:2-9
“How long wilt thou forget me, O Lord? for ever? how long wilt thou hide thy face from me? How long shall I take counsel in my soul, having sorrow in my heart daily? how long shall mine enemy be exalted over me? Consider and hear me, O Lord my God: lighten mine eyes, lest I sleep the sleep of death; Lest mine enemy say, I have prevailed against him; and those that trouble me rejoice when I am moved. But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me.” Psalm 13:1-6
Notice that God didn't answer David's "how long?" plea. He didn't tell David when the heartache would end. But the last couple verses in each of these sections of scripture are profound.
In Psalm 6, David says "...for the Lord hath heard the voice of my weeping. The Lord hath heard my supplication; the Lord will receive my prayer."
And in Psalm 13... "But I have trusted in thy mercy; my heart shall rejoice in thy salvation. I will sing unto the Lord, because he hath dealt bountifully with me."
God doesn't promise to tell us how long we'll have to endure a stormy season, but He does promise that He’ll never leave or forsake us (Deuteronomy 31:6, Hebrews 13:5). He heard David's prayer and "dealt bountifully" with him. Other translations say "he has treated me generously," "he has been good to me," "he gives me even more than I need," "he has accomplished his purpose for me," "he has taken care of me," "he is always generous with me," and in the unique translation of The Message "I'm so full of answered prayers."
Whether you’re facing a hard season in your marriage or a hard season in another area of life, know that God is with you. And not just with you, but dealing bountifully with you, accomplishing His purpose for you, and loving you through thick and thin. The season will come to an end, and “...weeping may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning” (Psalm 30:5b).
Another favorite scripture that comes to mind here is Galatians 6:9 which says “And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not.”
The Passion Translation says “And don’t allow yourselves to be weary or disheartened in planting good seeds, for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming!”
The details of the hard season that my husband and I went through don’t matter. But what does matter is how God saw us through what seemed hopeless and brought us to a place of joy, peace, and rest where "two are [still] united into one" and I'm a faithful "help meet" to my husband - where we're enjoying the wonderful harvest as the good seeds we planted are growing and flourishing.
Keep planting those good seeds of faith in your life, mama. Fight for God’s will in your life, mama. Pray. Cry. Pray some more. Allow others to help water those good seeds that you've planted. And trust and believe that God will give the increase - “for the season of reaping the wonderful harvest you’ve planted is coming!”
She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.
When I was a little girl, my mom instilled in me a love for reading. I don’t remember having a big collection of books in our home, but what I do remember is countless visits to the library - four kids in tow, filling as many cloth bags as we could carry, and “quiet time” each afternoon while we rested and read.
Over the years, that love for reading has grown. I’ll usually choose to curl up with a book over watching a movie, and I’m so looking forward to the day when Grayson will hang out in my lap while I read chapter books to him.
My dad hand-wrote letter after letter to me when I was in college and in doing so, he gave me a love for snail-mail and the time and heart it takes to put pen to paper. He still sends me letters today, and has started writing to my son. What a treasure these letters will be for him when he’s grown!
So today I’m thinking about how powerful our words (both spoken and written) are.
Proverbs 18:21 says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue: and they that love it shall eat the fruit thereof.”
Death and life!
Proverbs 12:18 says “There is that speaketh like the piercings of a sword: but the tongue of the wise is health.”
The words we speak can pierce like a sword. Or, they can speak life and health to those around us.
Proverbs 15:4 says “A wholesome tongue is a tree of life...” and Proverbs 21:23 says “Whoso keepeth his mouth and his tongue keepeth his soul from troubles.”
God cautions us to be careful when we’re speaking. In James 1:19 He says “Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath:”
And not only do our words have the ability to harm or heal, but so does our tone. I’m sure you can remember a time when someone said something to you that was hurtful - not because of the words themselves, but because of the tone with which they were said.
In Proverbs 31:26, “She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness.”
The virtuous woman described in Proverbs 31 speaks with kindness. This is the Hebrew word “chesed” which is translated many times in the Old Testament as kindness, lovingkindness, and goodness.
This scripture is translated quite a few different ways in different versions. Some translations include “loving instruction is on her tongue,” “she teaches others to be loving and kind,” “teaching with gracious love,” “kindness is the rule for everything she says,” “she gives instruction with kindness,” and “loving instruction pours from her lips.”
I love all of those translations. We as mamas teach and instruct our children all day long, and this verse is a reminder to filter everything we say with a loving and kind tone.
David - shepherd, warrior, writer, musician, king - poured his heart out to the Father time and time again in word and in song. II Samuel 23:1-2 says “Now these be the last words of David. David the son of Jesse said, and the man who was raised up on high, the anointed of the God of Jacob, and the sweet psalmist of Israel, said, The Spirit of the Lord spake by me, and his word was in my tongue.”
In both I Samuel 13:14 and again in Acts 13:22, God calls David a man after His own heart. And in the last recorded words of David, he said “The Spirit of the Lord speak by me, and his word was in my tongue.” He wrote in Psalm 35:28 “And my tongue shall speak of thy righteousness and of thy praise all the day long.”
David was a man of God who wrote and sang praise to the Father “all the day long.” (He was also as imperfect as the rest of us, making grave mistakes and receiving God’s grace, mercy, and forgiveness.)
At the end of my life, I would love to look back and say that God spoke to me and by me, and that His word came out of my mouth - praising Him all the day long.
Our words have the power of death and life. They can pierce. They can heal.
May we remember the power of the words we speak, and the tone behind them - and choose to speak life and health to those around us and especially to our children as we instruct and teach them day in and day out, year in and year out - until someday, they have a love for spoken and written words that reflect God’s everlasting love.
Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.
In a few days, my Grayson will turn 2 years old. It’s amazing how fast he’s grown from a tiny newborn babe to a walking, talking toddler full of character and personality.
It really is true what they say - the days (and nights) are long, but the years are short.
I’m usually very focused on the season we’re in, but sometimes I step back and ponder the bigger picture.
I was thinking the other day about how if he only lives at home until the age of 18, that means one ninth of our focused time together has already passed by.
That’s a little hard to swallow, isn’t it? It is for me.
These little people that we love more than life itself... letting them go and live their own lives with their own families; watching them experience their own joys and heartaches; giving them space and grace to decide how they live and what they believe.
Just like God wants the very best for us, His children, we want the very best for ours.
I can’t even put into words the amount of love I feel for my son, or the amount of responsibility I feel for his little life. I’m sure you feel the same.
Proverbs 22:6 says “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”
What a comfort that is.
When we do our part, to train up our child “in the way he should go” (according to God’s Word), he won’t depart from it; he won’t forget what he’s been taught.
A few months back, I asked an artist friend if she would hand-letter in watercolor Deuteronomy 6:5-7 for me.
It’s the most beautiful piece of artwork, and every afternoon as I rock my son to sleep for his nap I see it hanging on the wall across from me. It reads...
“And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.”
We are called as mamas to teach our children.
We teach them how to eat, how to talk, how to tie their shoes, how to ride a bike, how to make their bed. We teach them how to cook and clean and pay their bills. How to navigate friendships and heartaches and the joys and the sorrows of life.
But the most important things?
We teach them who God is.
We teach them how to “love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.”
We teach them how to pray.
We teach them how to read His Word.
We teach them how to receive salvation and the gift of eternal life.
We teach them spiritual matters. (For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace. Romans 8:6)
When Grayson was a little tiny babe, I told him over and over again “Mama loves you, dada loves you, and God loves you - that’s all you need to know.”
I prayed with him each morning, and his daddy and I prayed with him together each night.
Our Father tells us to teach our children diligently.
Diligent means “constant effort to accomplish something; attentive and persistent; done or pursued with persevering attention.”
When we sit in our house.
When we walk by the way.
When we lie down.
When we rise up.
This is the great joy and privilege we have as faith-filled mamas. To teach our children how to love the Lord with everything that they are - all their heart, all their soul, all their might.
To teach them diligently, constantly, attentively, persistently, perseveringly - when we sit in our house, when we walk by the way, when we lie down, when we rise up.
The days are long. There’s so much time each day to lead our children into a loving relationship with their heavenly Father.
The years are short. Before we know it, they’ll be grabbing the keys to the car...
Let’s not let precious time pass us by without focusing on what’s most important.
We teach by example. We love the Lord with all our heart, and all our soul, and all our might. We pray. We read His Word. We have a relationship with Him.
And then we speak of God and His love to our children all through the day.
When they’re tiny, it can be as simple as “God loves you.” As they grow, so does the depth of the spiritual matters that we teach them.
Then, our children by their own free will have to choose.
This brings to mind one of my favorite sections of scripture in Deuteronomy 30:19-20:
“I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live: That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”
God gives us options - life and death; blessing and cursing.
And He also gives us the right choice - choose life!
That both thou and thy seed [your children] may LIVE.
For HE is thy life, and the length of thy days.
It’s our responsibility, and our privilege, and our joy to teach our children about Him so that when the time comes, they of their own free will choose LIFE. That they will choose to receive salvation. To live for Him. To walk and talk with Him all the days of their lives.
And eventually, to do the same with their children.
It’s so easy to get caught up in the mundane. The diapers, the laundry, the cooking, the cleaning, the shuttling children to school and activities.
Mamas, I’m writing this for me. To remind myself not to let precious time pass by without pouring my heart into teaching my son everything I can about God and His love.
I pray that in writing this for myself, it’s a reminder and an encouragement to you as well.
When you sit in your home, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, when you rise up - keep your eyes fixed on Him, and share your love for the Father with your children.
It will have a ripple effect of eternal significance throughout their lives, their children’s lives, and for many generations to come.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.
When my little boy was 3 months old, he underwent an upper and lower endoscopy and biopsy under anesthesia at a children’s hospital. We knew something was wrong with his tummy, and a long and winding path through lactation consultants, pediatricians, and gastroenterologists led us to that point.
I can’t even describe what it felt like to send him off in the care of others while I paced and waited and paced and prayed that day. Or what it felt like to try (mostly unsuccessfully) to comfort him as he came out of anesthesia.
It was one of the hardest days of my life.
After the procedure, he was diagnosed with a rare autoimmune disease called eosinophilic esophagitis (EOE) and eosinophilic colitis (EOC) - what a mouthful, right? I quickly became an expert on not only how to spell those words but what they meant.
In the simplest of terms, it meant that his body was having an allergic reaction to the “food” he was consuming. At just 3 months, it could only be one thing - my breast milk.
Enter mom guilt, in full force.
I can’t hardly think about it without tearing up. (And that’s progress, because the tears used to be automatic. Now, I can hold them back if I try hard enough.)
There’s a ton more to this story... things that led up to that point, and the many, many ripple effects of that diagnosis and corresponding treatment. It would take a few hours of us sitting and chatting over a cup of tea for me to share it in full. And I can pretty much guarantee that a river of tears would fall.
And the guilt. And the heartache. And the sorrow.
Oh, the guilt. If I had done A and B and C and probably D differently, he might not have developed this “disease.” I knew better. I should have known better. I could have prevented this from happening. I. I. I.
And then, after the diagnosis, if I had done A + B + C + D differently, he would have healed so much faster, and we wouldn’t still be dealing with those ripple effects. But we are. And boy, have I learned a lot. Mostly from making the wrong decisions - even though at the time they were encouraged by Grayson’s medical team and we all did the best we knew to do. Even though.
Navigating the physical health challenges that our son has faced has been enormous. But even bigger and longer lasting and harder has been navigating the mental and emotional challenges that I have faced along the way.
And that brings me back to mom guilt. It’s so prevalent in our culture that it has an official name... and I’m sure you’ve bumped up against it a time or two.
God calls it condemnation. The dictionary defines condemnation as the state of being condemned. The verb condemn is defined as “to express strong disapproval of; to pronounce judicial sentence on; to demonstrate the guilt of; to judge or pronounce unfit for use.”
How many times have you felt unfit to be a mama? How many times have I?
And clear as day, in the book of Romans, our loving Father addresses condemnation in one quick and clear swoop.
There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (Romans 8:1)
The Amplified says “...no condemnation [no guilty verdict, no punishment]...” and it describes the phrase “in Christ Jesus” as those “who believe in Him as personal Lord and Savior.”
The Passion Translation says “So now the case is closed. There remains no accusing voice of condemnation against those who are joined in life-union with Jesus, the Anointed One.”
So now the case is closed.
The. Case. Is. Closed.
When you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you’re saved. (Romans 10:9-10) You’re no longer separated from the Father - for Jesus Christ is the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father but by him. (John 14:6) And in confessing and believing as Romans 10:9 directs, that separation is gone. You’re a son (daughter) of God, a joint-heir with Christ.
Romans 8:17 says “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”
When you are saved, you’re now “in Christ Jesus” and “there is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
The second half of Romans 7, leading up to Romans 8:1 and God’s declaration that there is now no condemnation, is a long back-and-forth monologue by the Apostle Paul as he talks about the law, and sin, and willing himself to do one thing but ending up doing another.
I would highly recommend reading Romans 7 and 8 in whichever version of the Bible you are most familiar with and can understand the clearest. I went through and read these chapters in quite a few different versions, and The Message has a really unique translation of Romans 7:14-25 that I’m going to share here.
“I can anticipate the response that is coming: “I know that all God’s commands are spiritual, but I’m not. Isn’t this also your experience?” Yes. I’m full of myself—after all, I’ve spent a long time in sin’s prison. What I don’t understand about myself is that I decide one way, but then I act another, doing things I absolutely despise. So if I can’t be trusted to figure out what is best for myself and then do it, it becomes obvious that God’s command is necessary. But I need something more! For if I know the law but still can’t keep it, and if the power of sin within me keeps sabotaging my best intentions, I obviously need help! I realize that I don’t have what it takes. I can will it, but I can’t do it. I decide to do good, but I don’t really do it; I decide not to do bad, but then I do it anyway. My decisions, such as they are, don’t result in actions. Something has gone wrong deep within me and gets the better of me every time. It happens so regularly that it’s predictable. The moment I decide to do good, sin is there to trip me up. I truly delight in God’s commands, but it’s pretty obvious that not all of me joins in that delight. Parts of me covertly rebel, and just when I least expect it, they take charge. I’ve tried everything and nothing helps. I’m at the end of my rope. Is there no one who can do anything for me? Isn’t that the real question? The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ can and does. He acted to set things right in this life of contradictions where I want to serve God with all my heart and mind, but am pulled by the influence of sin to do something totally different.”
Paul talks about how he falls short of the law, time and time again. He decides to do one thing in accordance with the law, but acts another - doing things he despises. But he needs something more! He can will it, but he can’t do it. The moment he decides to do good, sin trips him up. He’s at the end of his rope. But! But!
The answer, thank God, is that Jesus Christ fulfilled the law. The law, which was impossible for God’s people to follow perfectly, for they (and we) are imperfect people. He fulfilled the law, and freed us from condemnation.
So. Back to mom guilt. It has no place in a faith-filled life. We make mistakes. We fall short. We are as imperfect as imperfect could be.
There is therefore now no condemnation.
John 5:24 says “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
If God says it, that settles it. He has the final word. Not our own thoughts of disappointment, guilt, or condemnation.
But it’s up to us to claim that. To trust that. To live that.
When I realized the enormity and the gravity of my son’s health challenges - and started to piece together all the things I could and should have done differently both before and after the diagnosis - it became a daily battle in my mind to not drown in anguish. I don’t say that lightly. The anguish that I felt was deep and wide and seemed insurmountable.
Daily, I had to renew my mind to God’s promises - no condemnation, that He never leaves or forsakes us, that He wishes above all things that we prosper and be in health, that no challenge we face will be beyond our ability to handle - and He always makes a way for us to bear it. (I Corinthians 10:13)
As time went on and I kept clinging to God’s promises, that daily anguish lessened. Every other day. Every few days. Every week. Every other week. I’m able to go longer and longer before feeling that sorrowful weight and needing to fill back up with His Word in order to not drown in anguish again.
And it goes back to Romans 8:1. That simple, clear scripture that we’re freed from condemnation when we’re in Christ Jesus.
You’re free. I’m free.
Our son has healed so much, and is thriving. I don’t know if all these things I’d go back and do differently would have changed the situation - I still believe they would - but despite that, God is good. He is so, so good. He has covered for our shortcomings. He has put answers in our path, and a practitioner who came alongside us and said “I can help you, and your son can heal 100% from this ‘incurable’ disease, and I will pray with you and work with you until we see that full healing come to pass.”
Our son, who was no longer allowed to have my breast milk as a wee little babe was able to drink breast milk again starting at 6 months old. (And, praise God, I still had milk to give him.) Our son, who we were told would struggle for many, many years to be able to eat solids began eating a number of whole foods at 18 months old. Our son, who wasn’t even on the growth charts for month after month is climbing up those charts rapidly now. Our son, who was so uncomfortable in his sleep that he woke up every 20-30 minutes all night, every night, and could only sleep on my chest if I was sitting upright in a recliner, now sleeps 2-3 hour stretches most nights. God has healed him and is healing him.
Let’s set aside the mom guilt.
If me saying “let’s set it aside” sounds flippant or like I’m minimizing how hard that can be, let me assure you that I know it’s not easy. It is NOT easy. It can be a long, hard, grueling fight.
But it is simple.
What guilt or condemnation has been weighting you down? Identify it, and then go to God to find the promises from Him that will help you overcome.
Go to Him in prayer and ask Him to show you those promises. Then go to His Word and seek them out. If you don’t know where to start, or you can’t find a promise that helps heal your anguished heart - reach out. Reach out to me or your spouse or your pastor or a trusted friend - reach out to someone who can come alongside you in prayer and in study to find those promises.
Then, write them down. Pin them up. Save them to your phone’s wallpaper. Put them to song, and sing them in the shower. Quote them. Pray them. Cry them. Cling to them. Fight for them.
There is therefore now no condemnation. It is finished. You are free.
For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
II Timothy 1:7
A couple weeks ago, before we were asked to stay home, I was just about to go see a doctor for something that was bothering me. I even called to talk about my concerns and set up an appointment with a provider. My biggest question for her was "how urgent is this?" and that's when she asked me if there was a history of XYZ cancer in my family.
That's not a question I want to be asked. Ever.
(And the answer was no, thankfully.)
But since she asked, and I had to consider and answer, there it was - and it planted a seed of "what if?" in my mind.
Now that "what if?" could so easily turn into into a doubt. Well, what if I'm wrong? What if there is a history that I don't know about?
That doubt can so easily turn into an ongoing worry. What if I DO have something awful happening in my body? What if I am at risk of having a terrible disease?
Then, that ongoing worry, if left to brew, can so easily turn into a full-blown fear. What if... What if... What if...?
But here's the thing. BEFORE those thoughts start take root; BEFORE those thoughts settle into doubts, and then into worries, and then into fears; BEFORE we go from a mild concern about something to a full-blown panic attack that we're going to die too young - we need to stop. Just stop.
Then, we take that thought captive.
II Corinthians 10:5 says "Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ."
That captive thought doesn't get to run free in our minds. It doesn't get to have power over our peace. It's not in control. YOU are in control.
The Passion Translation takes the phrase "bringing into captivity every thought..." and translates it like this: "We capture, like prisoners of war, every thought and insist that it bow in obedience to the Anointed One."
After we take that thought captive - grab onto it - then we INSIST that it bow in obedience to Christ, the Annointed One.
We insist that the thought bows in obedience to what we know from our big, strong, mighty God. And what do we know?
We know that He is light. He is love. He is good, all the time. He protects. He provides. He sustains. He mends. He heals.
He is and does a lot more than that, too. So if none of those things apply to the thought you've taken captive, then it's time to go to His Word (the Bible) to find a promise that does apply.
Then we take that promise, and we hold it in our minds.
Romans 12:2 says "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God."
We "renew" our minds to God's Word. That means we keep bringing our minds back to His promises, over and over and over again.
How many times? As many as it takes.
The Voice says "be transformed from the inside out by renewing your mind" - from the inside out! I can't remember where I heard this, or find who said it, but it reminds me of the phrase "Thoughts are the seeds of our words and deeds."
Proverbs 23:7a says "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he."
As you think in your heart, so are you. As I think in my heart, so am I.
If I'm thinking about all those "what ifs," I'm going to be anxious. I'm going to doubt, and worry, and fear. I'm going to be weighed down. I'm going to fight depression. I'm going to live a less-than-abundant life.
If I'm thinking about God's promises, I'm not going to dwell on "what if," but rather on "even if."
Even if I face a hard thing, God is with me. Even if I have a doubt, or a worry, or a fear, I can take that thought captive and insist that it bow in obedience to Christ. Even if I feel anxious, I can cast my cares on Him. Even if I feel weighed down, I can lean on Him. Even if I feel depressed (or even if I AM depressed), I can claim God's healing wholeness in my mind and my body.
II Timothy 1:7 says "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."
The dictionary defines "sound" as "free from injury, damage, defect, disease, etc. (sound heart); in good condition; healthy; robust (sound mind); financially strong, secure, or reliable (sound business); competent, sensible, or valid (sound judgment); having no defect as to truth, justice, wisdom, or reason (sound advice); of substantial or enduring character (sound moral values).
I love all of those definitions. You can claim "soundness" in every category of life. You can pray for "soundness" in the physical, or the mental, or the emotional, or the spiritual. God wishes above ALL things that we prosper and be in health (III John 2). And if that's His will for us (and it is, because we just found the promise) then that means we can fix our eyes on Him and expect to receive healing in any and every category of life.
I think we all have moments of "what if."
(And there's no sin or condemnation in that - but that's a topic for another day.)
What if I get sick, what if I don't make it, what if, what if, what if.
When those thoughts come in - and they will, because we have an enemy who knows exactly what's going to get our attention and cause us to start brewing that fear - we stop. We stop those thoughts. Yellow caution tape. Do not enter. You’re not welcome here.
When I'm having trouble booting those thoughts out of my mind, I close my eyes, and I picture myself standing in the middle of a football stadium. (I know, I know - this sounds a little silly - but I really do this and it really works.)
I'm standing in the middle of this HUGE stadium, with the stands reaching high into the sky on all sides of me. The captive thought is a football. Maybe even a pile of footballs beside me, if I'm struggling with a bunch of thoughts from the enemy. And I take that football and I drop-kick it high over and beyond the stadium walls. (I'm a really good kicker, in my mind at least.)
That thought? It's gone. It's outside of my walls and I don't let it come back in.
God created our minds. He tells us to take every thought captive and to renew our minds to His Word. If He created our minds, and He tells us to be in control of our thoughts, then it must be available for us to do so. Our thoughts are not in control, but rather, we "think about what we're thinking about" and align those thoughts with God's promises.
Philippians 4:8-9 in the Amplified Bible reads "Finally, believers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable and worthy of respect, whatever is right and confirmed by God’s word, whatever is pure and wholesome, whatever is lovely and brings peace, whatever is admirable and of good repute; if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think continually on these things [center your mind on them, and implant them in your heart]. The things which you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, practice these things [in daily life], and the God [who is the source] of peace and well-being will be with you."
A few things stand out to me here. We're to think about things that are: True. Honorable. Worthy of respect. Right. Confirmed by God's Word. Pure. Wholesome. Lovely. Brings peace. Admirable. Of good repute.
These are all good things. And more than just good things - they’re His things.
We're to think CONTINUALLY on them. Not for one hour of the day. Not for one day of the week. But all the time.
Just like we teach and correct our children continually. We can't tell our toddler one time when they first start walking to not touch the hot fireplace and expect that they'll never try to touch the hot fireplace. We might say it over and over and over again, and then they get it. For a while. And a couple weeks later, they start inching back towards that fireplace. (Mine does, at least.) So then we teach and correct again. For how long? For as long as it takes to keep them safe - day in and day out, month in and month out, year in and year out.
We need to think continually on God's promises - the things confirmed by His Word.
We center our minds on them. We implant them in our hearts.
Then, the God of peace will be with us.
Now more than ever, we need to think about what we're thinking about. We need to replace the "what ifs" with the "even ifs." We need to kick out thoughts from the enemy rather than letting them take root. We need to hold God's promises in mind, and go back to them continually - day in and day out, for as long as it takes.
Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
(Please enjoy this guest devotion written by Sarah Johnson. Thank you, Sarah!)
My family and I were walking along a nature trail the other evening, enjoying the fresh air, the setting sun and the sounds of nature. The trail wraps around a wetland area and the trees were full of hundreds of birds singing sweetly as we walked. We stopped and encouraged our toddler to “Listen to the birds singing.”
So we took a quiet moment and listened to their beautiful, joyful tunes that they sang out from the trees. My husband turned to me and said “Doesn’t hearing all these birds singing make it seem like everything is okay?”
And it did.
For that moment, we forgot about the trials of the world around us; the sickness, the fear, the unknown. Something so simple as singing birds restored a sense of peace to our hearts. If the birds can sing, unfazed by the trials in the world around them, then I can also be at peace. It instantly reminded me of the section of scripture in Matthew where Jesus is teaching his disciples about anxiety and the Kingdom of God.
"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?" Matthew 6:25-26 NIV
I reflected on this teaching from Jesus and how he used the natural world around him to teach his disciples about spiritual principles. And this is for us to remember and understand today as well. “Take no thought for the morrow” is how the King James reads in verse 25 which means “Have not anxiety for any future day” - not tomorrow, not a week from now, not a month from now.
These birds could sing so sweetly in their trees because they trusted that their needs were met. They weren’t thinking about where their next meal would come from. They simply trusted it would be there when they needed it. This is our example of how we can live one day at a time trusting in our heavenly Father to provide for us. If God, who loves us as His dear children, takes care of the birds and the flowers which are here one day and gone the next, will He not do SO MUCH MORE to take care of His kids?
Christ goes on to teach in verse 31-32:
"So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”
Or in today’s terms “Do not worry about your next paycheck, or your job security, the state of the world, if the stores will have the food you need. God knows! God will provide for you!”
And then here is Christ’s instruction on what we should do verse 33:
"But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well."
God knows your needs today and tomorrow. He is willing to provide for you in ways you cannot even fathom. That is our great comfort right now. I keep reminding myself who is still on the throne. God hasn’t gone anywhere and He is ever ready and willing to provide for anything you or your family needs right now. What we can do is SEEK HIM FIRST.
Go to God in prayer, read His promises, trust His promises, surround yourself with His truth and “all these things” that you have need of will be provided for you.
Finally this section of scripture ends with verse 34:
"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own."
Christ is teaching us that we can have this peace, we can continue to sing joyfully like the birds, because we trust and we know that our needs are met. And tomorrow our needs will be met, and in a month, a year, our needs will be met. We are told to not worry, not be anxious, not be consumed by thinking about any other day than today. There will be enough to think about during each day so let’s not waste our time trying to think about every “what if” tomorrow could bring.
We are God’s children and don’t have to allow our thoughts and lives to succumb to the chaos and fear of the world. Yes, what we’re facing is hard and real BUT our God is so much greater, so much bigger, and so very capable of providing for us during this time and always.
He’s got this. Let’s continue to seek God first and trust that He will provide what we need for today and each day hereafter.
If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.
A few nights ago, I was doing dishes in the kitchen when I heard a commotion coming from the dining room table behind me. Our little boy was choking. His daddy was right there with him, pounding on his back and trying to stay calm - but I could hear the gravity of the situation in his voice.
I rushed over and unstrapped Grayson from his high chair, pulled him out, swept his mouth out with my finger, did an abdominal thrust, bent him over my arm and pounded on his back some more - but it wasn't working.
Grayson's face was full of panic as he tried to draw a breath and couldn't. Tears streamed down his face. I knew we didn't have time to call for help. Ian and I looked at each other and I said frantically to him "I don't know what to do..." and he responded "I don't know either!"
So I stopped. I was already crouched at eye-level with my little boy, arms around him, daddy right there too.
Then I said boldly and loudly "in the name of Jesus Christ, BREATHE!"
One heartbeat. Two.
And then he gasped in a big, deep breath.
In Colossians 3:17, we're taught "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
In John 16, Jesus Christ taught his disciples how to pray to the Father in his name. Verse 24 (NLT) says "...Ask, using my name, and you will receive, and you will have abundant joy."
John 14:13-14 says “And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”
There is POWER in the name of Jesus Christ.
Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name: That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:9-11
God gave him "a name which is above every name" and according to Acts 4:12 "neither is there salvation in any other..."
Here's the context of that scripture:
Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at nought of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. Acts 4:10-12
God sent His son Jesus Christ to be our savior. He was born (Luke 2:7), he grew (Luke 1:80; Luke 2:40), he learned (Luke 2:46; 2:52), he was baptized (Luke 2:21-22), he was tempted by the devil (Luke 3:1-13), and he taught in the synagogues (Luke 4:15).
He performed signs, wonders, and miracles. He healed the sick and cast out devils. He was tempted in all things yet did not once sin (as prophesied in Hebrews 4:15).
Eventually, he was betrayed, then crucified, and then he "gave up the ghost" and died (Luke 23:46). On the third day, he rose again (Luke 24).
In Mark 16, after he was crucified and rose from the dead, Jesus Christ appeared to his disciples and spoke with them before ascending into heaven.
Let's read verses 14-20:
Afterward he appeared unto the eleven as they sat at meat, and upbraided them with their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they believed not them which had seen him after he was risen. And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned. And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues; They shall take up serpents; and if they drink any deadly thing, it shall not hurt them; they shall lay hands on the sick, and they shall recover. So then after the Lord had spoken unto them, he was received up into heaven, and sat on the right hand of God. And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming the word with signs following. Amen.
He says to them "in my name shall they..."
He's teaching the disciples about the mighty POWER of using his name.
Then, in the book of Acts, the disciples carried out this instruction to use the name of Jesus Christ.
Here's an example from Acts 16.
And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour. Acts 16:16-18
Peter, one of Jesus' disciples, taught this:
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call. Acts 2:38-39
(That promise extends all the way to us! How cool is that!)
And in the book of Romans, we learn how to receive salvation:
That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. Romans 10:9-10
We're to confess that Jesus is Lord, and to believe in our hearts that God raised him from the dead. When we do, we're saved - born again. We're given the gift of Holy Spirit and promised eternity with our Father. This is a gift that cannot be taken away from us.
The NLT version says it like this, "If you openly declare that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is by believing in your heart that you are made right with God, and it is by openly declaring your faith that you are saved."
Salvation comes by declaring Jesus as Lord, and we are baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
We're taught to pray to the Father in Jesus' name, the name above all names.
And we can use the name of Jesus Christ to perform signs, miracles, and wonders just like Jesus' disciples did in the book of Acts.
(Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk. And he took him by the right hand, and lifted him up: and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. Acts 3:6-7)
The other night, when Grayson was choking and our efforts to get him breathing again weren't working, I did the only thing left that I knew to do.
I cried out to God in the name of Jesus Christ - and our little boy breathed the most beautiful breath I've ever heard him take.
A few minutes later, after we hugged and cried and soothed, he asked to get back in his high chair and finish his dinner.
God is good, so very very good, all the time.
I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
A couple short weeks ago, we were packing up our home, eating the last of the food in the fridge, using up the last of the toilet paper and the diapers and the wipes, and thinking about getting settled in our new home - which I would then re-stock with all our basic necessities with the click of a button and 2-day delivery or an easy Target run.
When moving day rolled around, we realized that things were rapidly changing... my online diaper order was delayed by two weeks, grocery delivery was unavailable, and the store shelves were emptying out fast. I'm not sure any of us expected life to change so quickly. But it has, and here we are.
So I've been thinking a lot about what Paul said in Philippians 4 about being content.
Philippians 4:11 & 12 says "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need."
The word "content" in verse 11 is the Greek word "autarkēs" which means "sufficient for one's self, strong enough or possessing enough to need no aid or support; independent of external circumstances; content with one's lot, with one's means, though the slenderest."
The phrase "how to be abased" is one word "tapeinoō" - a verb - which means literally "to make low, bring low" or metaphorically "to bring into a humble condition, reduce to meaner circumstances."
Then, the phrase "how to abound" is one word "perisseuō" - also a verb - meaning "to exceed; to abound, overflow; to have in abundance."
Paul knew what it was like to be full and to be hungry. To have abundance (exceed, abound, and overflow) and to suffer need (to be wanting, to lack). And in all this, he was content - independent of external circumstances, he was strong enough and content with his lot.
The Passion Translation is worded like this: "I’m not telling you this because I’m in need, for I have learned to be satisfied in any circumstance. I know what it means to lack, and I know what it means to experience overwhelming abundance. For I’m trained in the secret of overcoming all things, whether in fullness or in hunger."
He was content, or satisfied, with having overwhelming abundance and with lacking. He then goes on to say in verse 13 "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
"I can do" is the word "ischyō" which means "to be strong" or "to have power" or "to be able" and digging even deeper, the word is defined as "to be strong in body, to be robust, to be in sound health" and "to have strength to overcome."
Once again, The Passion Translation is really neat: "And I find that the strength of Christ’s explosive power infuses me to conquer every difficulty."
His strength and ability to be content in all circumstances came from Christ.
What a great example to us in this current situation we're facing. Not only are people afraid for their health, but they're afraid of not having enough - of going without. Fear is from the enemy. The "thief" (the devil) comes to steal, kill, and destroy. But Jesus Christ came so that we might have LIFE and have it more abundantly.
(If you've watched the Hunger Games movies, you may remember a scene where Katniss is told to "Remember who the real enemy is." I keep thinking about this phrase. The real enemy is the devil, satan, the thief, the adversary - the one who promotes fear of disease and fear of lack.)
We're reminded in I Peter 5:8 to "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour." The devil comes as a roaring lion - freezing us and striking fear into our hearts and lives with his big, terrifying, overwhelming roar. We're called to be sober ("calm and collect in spirit") and vigilant (to “give strict attention to, be cautious"). We need to be wise. But we are also instructed to "be not afraid of sudden fear" (Proverbs 3:25) and to fear not.
Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness. Isaiah 41:10
God is with us. He strengthens us. He helps us. He upholds us.
What can we do, when we’re faced with the roar of the enemy and the fear of disease and lack?
We can pray - fervently and often. We can read God's Word and hide His promises deep down in our hearts. We can put our trust in Him to meet our needs and keep us safe. We can "be not anxious" and "cast all our cares on Him." We can be content whether abasing or abounding. And we can put on the whole armor of God.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might. Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Ephesians 6:10-13
We put on the armor of God, and withstand in the evil day.
I want to leave you with the Amplified version of Ephesians 6:10-18, a powerful section of scripture that we should all claim and hold in our hearts in the coming days.
In conclusion, be strong in the Lord [draw your strength from Him and be empowered through your union with Him] and in the power of His [boundless] might. Put on the full armor of God [for His precepts are like the splendid armor of a heavily-armed soldier], so that you may be able to [successfully] stand up against all the schemes and the strategies and the deceits of the devil. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places. Therefore, put on the complete armor of God, so that you will be able to [successfully] resist and stand your ground in the evil day [of danger], and having done everything [that the crisis demands], to stand firm [in your place, fully prepared, immovable, victorious]. So stand firm and hold your ground, having tightened the wide band of truth (personal integrity, moral courage) around your waist and having put on the breastplate of righteousness (an upright heart), and having strapped on your feet the gospel of peace in preparation [to face the enemy with firm-footed stability and the readiness produced by the good news]. Above all, lift up the [protective] shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. With all prayer and petition pray [with specific requests] at all times [on every occasion and in every season] in the Spirit, and with this in view, stay alert with all perseverance and petition [interceding in prayer] for all God’s people.
I'm praying for you and your families. For your health. For your needs to be met. For your peace. For your contentment. Above all, that you are able to stand and withstand by claiming, as Paul did, "I can do all things through Christ who strengtheneth me."
P.S. Scriptures from KJV unless otherwise noted. Definitions of Greek words from Strong’s Greek Lexicon.
Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
Just like many of you, I’m feeling concerned. For my family’s health, for there being enough food in our fridge and toilet paper in our cabinets, for our community and for our country.
It’s ok to be concerned. It’s good to be aware of what’s going on in our local areas, our states, our country, around the world.
But let’s not let that concern and awareness turn in to anxiety, worry, and fear. Let’s not give the enemy what he wants right now. Let’s not give him that power over our lives.
John 14:27 says “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.”
There is nothing new under the sun. Nothing that we come up against that God didn’t know was coming. Nothing too hard or too big or too much for our God.
I think about the spiritual battle that goes on around us day and night. John 10:10 sheds light on this battle:
The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.
The thief comes to steal - our peace, our joy, our trust in God. He comes to kill - to spread sickness and disease and to ultimately take our lives. To destroy - our salvation and our rewards in heaven.
Jesus Christ came so that we may have LIFE.
The Amplified version says “...and have it in abundance [to the full, till it overflows].”
The Old Testament has record after record of battles fought by God’s people. And at times, God instructed His people to be still.
Ye shall not need to fight in this battle: set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you, O Judah and Jerusalem: fear not, nor be dismayed; to morrow go out against them: for the Lord will be with you. 2 Chronicles 20:17
And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever.
The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace. Exodus 14:13-14
The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you... Deuteronomy 1:30
Fear not. Be still. The Lord will fight for you.
Psalm 46:10 says “Be still, and know that I am God...”
According to III John 2, God wants above all things for us to prosper and be in health.
Above all things! If it’s His will for us to be in health above all other things, then let’s claim that promise right now bigger and bolder than we’ve ever claimed it before. Let’s believe that promise with all our hearts and all our souls and all our minds and all our strength. Let’s not give the enemy any room to wiggle in and steal from us. Let’s tighten that hedge of protection around our families tighter than it’s ever been - with confident and bold prayer, with steadfast and unwavering trust in our Father to provide for us and to protect us.
Father, I pray right now in the name of Jesus Christ for each and every mama in this community. I pray for her and her family, especially her children. I pray for a peace that passes all understanding to keep and guard and protect and watch over their hearts and lives right this very minute and in the coming days and weeks. Thank you, Father, for watching over us. For protecting us. For shielding us from sickness and from disease. Thank you for putting food on our tables. Thank you for putting basic necessities in our cabinets. Father, there’s growing fear and panic all around us. Thank you for helping us to stay calm and safe. Thank you for strengthening us when we are weary and for healing us when we are sick. I pray that this virus is contained. That those exposed are kept far away from us. That those sick are given the proper treatment and that they are healed. Thank you Father for keeping the medical professionals and the first responders and all those serving our communities safe. Thank you for sparing the lives of those around the world who have come into contact with this virus unaware. I pray that your protection and healing cover us and those that we love. And in the quiet and the dark, I sit here and pray that this passes quickly and that the mamas in our community can hold on to a peace that can only come from You. Father, I claim that perfect peace and perfect health that You so desire for us. In the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.
Mamas, let’s lift one another up in prayer today. Let’s encourage one another and help each other retain that peace.
If you or your family are sick, of course - seek medical counsel and help. If you’re running low on food or supplies, of course - stock your fridge and cabinets. We do our part and God does His.
💙 I love you and am praying for you unceasingly.
But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully.
II Corinthians 9:6
In the past year, we moved from Colorado to an airbnb in Georgia (for a month) to a tiny apartment in North Carolina (eight months) back to an airbnb in Colorado (two and a half months) and, finally, this weekend we're moving into a rental house here in Loveland, Colorado. I can't wait to get our things out of storage, unpack, get settled, and hang pictures on the walls.
We didn't haul a lot of furniture around the country with us, so I've been keeping my eye out for some items. In North Carolina, a kind woman sold us two custom-made armchairs for $100 - then handed me the receipt from the furniture store which showed that the chairs cost her $1,700 to have made. When things like that happen, I thank God for His abundance and provision for our family. And I thank my parents for teaching me God's Word about giving and receiving.
God talks a lot in the scriptures about sowing and reaping, planting and harvesting, giving and receiving; in some places in the Bible this is talking about spiritual matters, and in other places this is talking about physical matters. They both have great value.
II Corinthians 9:6 says "But this I say, He which soweth sparingly shall reap also sparingly; and he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."
Galatians 6:7-9 says "Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting. And let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not."
And Matthew 10:8 says "...freely ye have received, freely give."
My whole life, I've been taught that it's good to give. And when giving, to give freely, without any strings attached. My dad always says "a gift is a gift to do with what you want" and he also adds that you can keep it, sell it, give it, basically do anything you want with his gift. He doesn't qualify it with "if you don't want this down the road, check with me before you give it to someone else." He gives without any strings or expectations.
In the book of Acts, the first century church worked together to make sure everyone's needs were met. Acts 2:44-45 in the Amplified Bible says "And all those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior] were together and had all things in common [considering their possessions to belong to the group as a whole]. And they began selling their property and possessions and were sharing the proceeds with all [the other believers], as anyone had need."
As anyone had need. Those that had more than they needed worked to meet the needs of those who had lack. This was within the group of "those who had believed [in Jesus as Savior]" which reminds me of the scripture in Galatians 6:10 which says "So then, while we [as individual believers] have the opportunity, let us do good to all people [not only being helpful, but also doing that which promotes their spiritual well-being], and especially [be a blessing] to those of the household of faith (born-again believers)." We're to do good to all, but especially those born-again believers, the household of faith.
I also love The Passion Translation of I John 3:17-18:
"But whoever has the world’s goods (adequate resources), and sees his brother in need, but has no compassion for him, how does the love of God live in him? Little children (believers, dear ones), let us not love [merely in theory] with word or with tongue [giving lip service to compassion], but in action and in truth [in practice and in sincerity, because practical acts of love are more than words]."
Practical acts of love. This can be giving financially. This can be giving by praying for one another. This can be giving of our skills and expertise and time. There are many ways to give.
Luke 6:38 says "Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again."
Remember those armchairs we got in North Carolina? Well, those made it back to Colorado with us. And I found a couch in the same color fabric for sale on FB Marketplace when we first got back to Colorado, and spoke briefly with the woman selling - eventually deciding that we didn't have anywhere to store it until moving into our house. So, I left it bookmarked and moved on.
Yesterday, she reached out to me to see if we were still interested (2 1/2 months later!) Grayson and I went to see it, and while we were there she told us that we could have the couch for free if we wanted it. God is good!
My family and I have been doing a lot of giving lately, especially in this community of mamas. God sees our giving. He knows when we're giving according to II Corinthians 9:7 which says "Let each one give [thoughtfully and with purpose] just as he has decided in his heart, not grudgingly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver [and delights in the one whose heart is in his gift]." Then, He honors His Word and "...he which soweth bountifully shall reap also bountifully."
Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.
II Corinthians 3:5
Do you remember this Forrest Gump quote? “My mom always said life was like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.” Well, that’s what bedtime is like around our house. Some nights, Grayson falls asleep within minutes of sitting in the rocking chair with a bottle. And other nights, we struggle for hours (hours!) to get him to settle and fall asleep.
A couple nights ago, it was midnight when he finally drifted off into a restless sleep. We were on that same path the next night when my husband stepped in to take him outside for a late-night walk in the ring sling - one of the only methods we’ve found to help him settle down when he’s buzzing around way past bedtime.
I sat there in the dark, rocking and praying, and feeling so thankful for my husband who was willing to go out in the dark and the cold to help our son settle and rest.
I’m not always so thankful, though. Sometimes, I find myself feeling angry - at the situation, at my husband, at why being a mama is so darned hard sometimes. And when I let my thoughts drift towards frustration and anger, I oh-so-easily fall into the trap of expecting my husband to fix everything and then being angry with him when he can’t.
I’m sharing this because I’m thinking about how we sometimes expect other people (our husbands, especially) to be responsible for our happiness. Our contentment. Our joy.
Similarly, we sometimes expect ourselves to be fully responsible for others. To save them. To fix every hurt. To meet every need. To be their sufficiency.
However, God is clear about this - He, and He alone, is our sufficiency.
II Corinthians 3:5 says “Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God.”
When we first started “giving and receiving” posts in the Mamas Move Mountains group, I felt responsible to try and meet every need that was expressed. And when I couldn’t, I felt bad - to the point of wondering if it was even beneficial to try if there were needs left unmet. I couldn’t stand seeing mamas post a need that I didn’t have the finances or the resources to meet.
When I shared these concerns, a few mamas jumped in and encouraged me. One wrote “Even if only one need is met, doesn’t that one make it worth the effort?” Another said “...even if only one need is met directly by you, I believe God is working out SO many different things through this post, and every other post in here.”
And they were so, so right. First, that I wasn’t responsible to meet every need. And more importantly, that God is our sufficiency and that He is working to meet needs - whether that’s working the heart of another mama to give, or meeting the need in another way in another place at another time. What a relief to take that responsibility off my shoulders and let God handle it! (Remember, we’re to cast all our cares upon Him, for He cares for us.)
In II Corinthians 9:8 we read “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” The context of this scripture is all about giving, and The Passion Translation is really beautiful.
“Let giving flow from your heart, not from a sense of religious duty. Let it spring up freely from the joy of giving—all because God loves hilarious generosity! Yes, God is more than ready to overwhelm you with every form of grace, so that you will have more than enough of everything — every moment and in every way. He will make you overflow with abundance in every good thing you do. Just as the Scriptures say about the one who trusts in him: Because he has sown extravagantly and given to the poor, his kindness and generous deeds will never be forgotten.” II Corinthians 9:7-9
What a wonderful reminder that other people are not responsible to be our sufficiency (or our source of happiness or contentment or joy). And we are not responsible to be the sufficiency of other people. It’s our Heavenly Father, who has limitless resources and unlimited love, who is our sufficiency.
As we continue to look for ways to give to other mamas, let’s also remember that we’re not ultimately responsible. We can just enjoy when we’re able to give, and let God have the full responsibility of taking care of His children.
If you, imperfect as you are, know how to lovingly take care of your children and give them what's best, how much more ready is your heavenly Father to give wonderful gifts to those who ask him?
Let me tell you about the day that my mama heart stopped. My little boy was a crawling, curious just-turned-one-year-old. We were in the process of moving from Colorado back east, trying to see if living at a lower elevation would help bubba sleep. We rented an Airbnb in the mountains of Georgia for a month, and were enjoying the peace and quiet of the rain, the woods, and the secluded cabin.
One day I just finished sweeping all the wood floors and went in to use the bathroom. I left the door open so I could keep an eye on Grayson as he crawled down the hall towards me. Suddenly, he stopped crawling and picked up something rather large and dark off the (just swept!) floor and put it in his mouth. I lunged off the toilet (yep, that’s mom life for ya...) and snatched him up as he spit out a scorpion - a crispy, crunchy, dead scorpion - with this terrible expression on his face. I was horrified.
My husband was outside on a phone interview for a job in North Carolina, and I rushed out there with a startled little boy in my arms, trying to hold it together long enough for Ian to finish his call. I prayed and prayed and looked at my little boy over and over again, trying to make sure he was ok. When Ian finally wrapped up his call, watching me pace circles around him looking frantic the whole time, I said "I think Grayson just put a scorpion in his mouth..." and Ian said "Really? No... I doubt it was a scorpion."
Well, definitely it was. And Grayson was fine. And it took me about a week to stop shaking every time I thought about it.
This verse in Matthew 7 compares how we (as imperfect parents) lovingly care for our children - and how God (our perfect Father) lovingly cares for us. The context adds even more insight.
Matthew 7:9&10 says "Do you know of any parent who would give his hungry child, who asked for food, a plate of rocks instead? Or when asked for a piece of fish, what parent would offer his child a snake [serpent] instead?"
These questions prompt an easy "No!" response, don't they? We'd never give our hungry child a plate of rocks instead of food. We'd never give our child a snake or a serpent instead of a piece of fish to eat. In fact, we'll do anything and everything we can to protect our child from going hungry, from being in danger, from experiencing pain or hurt or harm. We can't even fathom choosing to give our children something bad when they are in need of something good.
And our God, our loving Father, is the same - and even bigger and more loving and more compassionate towards us than we are towards our children. (I sometimes wonder how that's possible, seeing how much I love my son. But if God says it is, then it is...)
Going back even further in this chapter, Matthew 7:7&8 say "Ask, and the gift is yours. Seek, and you’ll discover. Knock, and the door will be opened for you. For every persistent one will get what he asks for. Every persistent seeker will discover what he longs for. And everyone who knocks persistently will one day find an open door."
We're instructed to ask. To seek. To knock. And when we do, we'll receive the answer to our asking, our seeking, our knocking. Why? Because our Father would never give us a plate of rocks when we ask for food. He'll never give us a serpent when we're in need of a piece of fish. Instead, He longs to give us everything we need and even more.
Just like I would never, ever, EVER willingly give my son a scorpion instead of his bottle or his favorite snack. You'd never, ever, ever willingly give your child something that could harm them instead of something that they need. Our God will never, ever, ever (willingly OR unwillingly!!) give us less than the best. He's our loving Father who longs for us to ask, seek, and knock so He can answer and open and give to us.
I still don’t like thinking about my little boy with that scorpion in his mouth, but gosh does that memory bring these verses in Matthew to life in a way I’d never understood them before. (Cool how God can work the most awful situation for good, right?)
What do you need today? Go boldly to your Father and ask it of Him. He loves you and longs to give you His very best.
Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice.
I was standing across the restaurant, taking an order for scrambled eggs and crispy bacon, when I heard a commotion erupt from behind the breakfast bar. When I headed that way, I found a circle of my co-workers gathered around our hostess (a sweet older woman) who was lying on the damp tile floor. She slipped and fell coming out of the kitchen and couldn't get up.
The restaurant was a busy, busy place, so while someone called for an ambulance and our manager stooped next to her to give her comfort, others drifted away to keep the tables cleaned and the orders coming out hot. I crouched down, put my arm around her and said "I'm going to pray for you." And I did, out loud, with the restaurant buzzing in the background and concerned co-workers stopping by to check on her.
Psalm 55:17 says "Evening, and morning, and at noon, will I pray, and cry aloud: and he shall hear my voice."
This verse doesn't say that He might hear our voice. That He sometimes hears our voice. That He could hear our voice. It says shall. When we pray, it's an absolute fact that God hears us. He longs to hear from us throughout the day. He longs to have a relationship with us. He longs to hear what's on our hearts, to know that we look to Him, to know that we trust in Him.
Psalm 65:2 starts with "O thou that hearest prayer..." Psalm 66:19-20 says "But verily God hath heard me; he hath attended to the voice of my prayer. Blessed be God, which hath not turned away my prayer, nor his mercy from me." Psalm 88:2 starts with "Let my prayer come before thee..."
We could go on, and on, and on. There are so many scriptures that talk about prayer - that God hears our prayers, that we need Him to hear our prayers. And we do. We absolutely do. Our God, the all-knowing, all-powerful, everywhere-present creator of the heavens and the earth is a BIG and strong and mighty God. He's also our Father, who tenderly loves us and watches over us and cares for us. He's a personal God, intimately aware of our every breath. Our every thought. Our every sin. Our every need. Our every desire. Our every weakness. Our every everything.
And He longs to not only hear our prayers, but to answer our prayers. Matthew 21:22 says "And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive."
I Samuel 1 tells the story of Hannah, a woman unable to conceive for many years, full of sorrow, longing for a child. I Samuel 1:10 says "And she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed unto the Lord, and wept sore." Verse 12 goes on to say "And it came to pass, as she continued praying before the Lord..." Eli the priest saw Hannah praying and pouring out her soul before the Lord and spoke with her.
I Samuel 1:17 says "Then Eli answered and said, Go in peace: and the God of Israel grant thee thy petition that thou hast asked of him." The next scripture says that her countenance was no longer sad - she believed and trusted Eli's message that God heard and would answer her prayers. Verse 19 ends with "...and the Lord remembered her." Then verse 20 rejoices "Wherefore it came to pass, when the time was come about after Hannah had conceived, that she bare a son, and called his name Samuel, saying, Because I have asked him of the Lord."
Because I have asked him of the Lord.
Because she asked.
As I prayed quietly but boldly for our hostess that day, I felt a strong hand resting on my left shoulder. When I finished praying, I opened my eyes and turned around - and nobody was there. I asked my manager, my co-workers, everyone I could think of... were you standing behind me as I prayed? Did you have your hand on my shoulder? They all said no, I have no idea what you're talking about. The weight of that hand planted firmly on my shoulder is something I'll never forget. My manager helped our hostess to her feet, and she gingerly walked across the room to gather her things and go home. She was sore, but fine. Nothing broken, nothing injured.
Our Father hears and answers our prayers.
Because we ask.
Lord, I'm fading away. I'm discouraged and lying in the dust; revive me by your word, just like you promised you would.
It's 3am and I've been up and down with my son a half dozen times already (or maybe more... it's all a blur and I lose track). It feels like I've barely moved us back to the bed and fallen once again into a deep sleep that he's awake and crying again. Every inch of my body aches, and I can't seem to get my eyes to focus. I'm so very, very tired.
This was me last night. And the night before. And the night before that. And most nights over the past 22 months. I'm usually able to endure through until morning without crying out in despair, but a couple nights ago a feeling of deep discouragement overwhelmed me. My thoughts started to spiral - God, why? Why can't my son rest? Why has this gone on for so long? Why? Why? Why?
I remember one particular night, months ago, when the same thing happened. I remember sitting in that rocking chair, little boy dozing lightly in my lap, tears pouring down my face and sobs building in my chest, and calling out silently in despair "God, where are You? I need You. I know You're here, closer than my very breath, but I don't feel You. WHERE ARE YOU?"
So a couple nights ago, feeling discouraged beyond anything I can express in words - but keeping my emotions in better control - I started reading through the book of Proverbs. (After getting my eyes to focus, finally!) I read about how we're to trust in the Lord with all our hearts. That He will direct our paths. That when we lie down, we're not to be afraid, and our sleep will be sweet. That a merry heart makes a cheerful countenance but "by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken." And that "heaviness in the heart of man maketh it stoop; but a good word maketh it glad."
Then I shared a few of these scriptures with y'all, along with the brief comment that I was feeling discouraged. One sweet mama (thank you, Lisa) replied with words that were a balm to my discouraged heart. They filled me with God's peace and love and rest. I asked her if I could share them here and she agreed, so here's what she wrote:
“Oh dear momma ♥️ I'm so sorry you're discouraged. Our enemy hates when we faithfully mother our children for the Lord. He hates when we pray. He hates when we encourage other believers. He hates when we pursue the Lord. So he does whatever he can to make us feel like failures, like what we're doing isn't worth it, like the darkness is winning. You are doing what the Lord has called you to do, and you are doing it well in His strength. You have a beautiful ministry and a beautiful heart. Seasons change, but His Word will stand forever. Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. So do not grow weary in doing good. You are making an eternal difference and God is faithful and good whether you are or not. Put on your armor, momma; your battle is not against flesh and blood. And you are not left alone or forsaken. We're here for you, but more importantly, God is here for you. ♥️ Praying so hard for sweet rest and fellowship today!”
These beautiful words brought tears to my eyes and rest to my weary soul. Today, as I study what the scriptures say about discouragement, I came across this incredible section of scripture in Psalm 119:25-28.
“Lord, I’m fading away. I’m discouraged and lying in the dust; revive me by your word, just like you promised you would. I’ve poured out my life before you, and you’ve always been there for me. So now I ask: teach me more of your holy decrees. Open up my understanding to the ways of your wisdom and I will meditate deeply on your splendor and your wonders. My life’s strength melts away with grief and sadness; come strengthen me and encourage me with your words.”
This is exactly what reading the scripture and receiving the ministering words from Lisa did for me the other night.
Lord, I was fading away. I was discouraged and lying in the dust. Then, You revived me by Your Word, just like you promise You will do. I'm pouring out my life before You, and You're always there for me... My life's strength was melting away with grief and sadness (and exhaustion!); continue to strengthen me and encourage me with Your words - all the days of my life.
Are you feeling discouraged today? If you are, go to God and let Him revive you by His Word.
Farther than from a sunrise to a sunset - that's how far you've removed our guilt from us.
Forgiveness. I feel like I ask for this all day long - from my son, from my husband, from my God. From myself.
When I was in high school my friends called me a perfectionist. I was the girl who re-took a semester of freshman biology as a high school senior so I could wipe that B off my record and graduate with the perfect 4.0.
When I started CrossFit a few years later, and they issued a challenge to row 100,000 meters in a month, I was the girl who rowed 200,000.
When I was pregnant and working on my gift registry, I was the girl who wanted all-natural and organic everything. I researched and researched to find the perfect items for my child.
But you know what? Life isn't perfect, and neither am I. And I've become very ok with that over time. I make mistakes - a lot of them - and thank goodness for forgiveness!
Romans 3:23 says "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God." We all sin. We all fall short. We all are in need of forgiveness.
Sometimes, forgiveness comes easier than others. I shared the other day about how amazing it is that my son runs to my arms for comfort just seconds after I'm the one who caused his discomfort. His forgiveness is quick and pure and limitless.
My husband is also a very forgiving man. When I fall short with him, sometimes for the same exact thing over and over again, his response of forgiveness reminds me of the record in Matthew (and Luke) where Peter asks Jesus Christ how often he should forgive his brother who sins against him - seven times? No, the Lord answers, but seventy times seven.
And as amazing as my son's forgiveness is, my husband's forgiveness is - our God's forgiveness is even more amazing. Because when we confess our sins, I John 1:9 says "He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
This word "forgive" is the verb "aphiēmi" which means to disregard, to let go of, to keep no longer. The word "cleanse" in this scripture is "katharizō" which means to make clean, to free, to purify. Our father disregards and lets go of our sins. He keeps them no longer. He makes us clean, frees us, purifies us.
Then, this beautiful verse in Psalm 103 declares that He removes our guilt from us farther than from a sunrise to a sunset. King James says "As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us." What a vivid mind picture this is - as far as the east from the west. Father than from a sunrise to a sunset. God's forgiveness is complete and everlasting.
Just as God forgives so freely, we must also forgive ourselves freely. There's no need to live in a state of condemnation, self-judgment, guilt. Why? Because God doesn't want us living that way - He wants us to live an abundant life full of confidence and peace and rest. When we fall short, as we all do, let's remember that there's no such thing as perfection and our God forgives and forgets.
You will answer me, God; I know you always will, like you always do as you listen with love to my every prayer.
"Mama, mama..." my son calls out in the middle of the night, and instantly I'm awake. I place my hand on his back, say "mama's here sweet boy" and pray with all my might that he drifts off again.
I'm in the kitchen running the vacuum, and I hear a loud cry from the other room. "Mama, mama" he calls out, and I hear something urgent in the tone of his voice. I rush in to the other room to find him balanced precariously on the dining room chair, unable to get down.
How many times do our little ones cry out for us? Hundreds? No, thousands I'm sure. Newborn cries for milk, warmth, a dry diaper, to be held. Toddler cries to be comforted after a tumble or rescued from a sticky situation. Big kid cries to be encouraged after a hard day at school or soothed after a bad dream. Those cries pierce right to the mama heart, don't they?
Our Heavenly Father hears our cries louder and longer than we hear our children cry out to us. He even knows that we're going to call out for Him before we do. This verse in Psalm 17 confidently says "You will answer me, God; I know you always will, like you always do..." Another version says "Every time I call to you, God, you answer me."
He promises in His Word that He will never ever leave us or forsake us. This word forsake is really powerful. The dictionary defines forsake as "to quit or leave entirely; abandon; desert; to give up or renounce." Our God promises to never leave us - temporarily or permanently. He'll never forsake us, never quit on us, never abandon us, never desert us, never give up on us, never renounce us.
Instead, He anticipates and answers our every call. Our every cry. Our every prayer. We don't always receive the answers as quickly as we'd like, and we don't always receive the answer we're looking for - but He does answer, every time. We can stake our very lives upon that promise.
The last part of this verse in Psalm 17 says "...as you listen with love to my every prayer." He doesn't listen reluctantly, or hesitatingly, or grudgingly. He listens with love. Another version declares "So listen to me now, and hear what I say." How bold is that? And it's absolutely ok to be that bold with our God. We can call out in the middle of the night "Father, Father." We can call out as we're balanced percariously on unstable ground "Father, Father." We can say to Him "Listen to me now, and hear what I say." And it's His joy as our Father to receive those cries, hear those prayers, incline His ear to our troubled hearts.
Just like we as moms respond with love and intense attention every single time our child cries out for us, our Father responds with love and intense attention every single time we call out to Him. Trust Him enough to call out when you're in need. He hears and answers our prayers.
Who could ever separate us from the endless love of God's Anointed One? Absolutely no one! For nothing in the universe has the power to diminish his love toward us. Troubles, pressures, and problems are unable to come between us and heaven's love.
The first time I accidentally nicked my son's little finger when I was trying to cut his fingernails, I bawled my eyes out. I couldn't believe I made this tiny little baby bleed when it was my job to take care of him.
The first time I had to firmly tell my son "no" when he was doing something unsafe, I bawled again. I know this might sound silly, but he didn't (and still doesn't) like to hear the word no - so when he got upset, I got upset.
But one of the things that I've been most amazed by as a mama is how my son's love towards me doesn't waver, even if I accidentally nick his finger when cutting his nails or correct him and tell him no when he's doing something I won't let him do.
Even when I'm the cause of his tears, his frustration, his pain, he immediately runs right back into my arms to be comforted. How amazing is that? I still can't quite wrap my head around how that's possible, but oh my goodness I'm thankful that it is.
Just as my son loves me unwaveringly and unconditionally, God loves us the same and even bigger. There isn't anything that can separate us from God's love. This scripture in Romans 8 says that nothing - absolutely nothing - has the power to diminish His love for us.
Nothing we think. Nothing we say. Nothing we do.
There's a scripture in Isaiah 49 verse 15 that comes to mind too. "Can a woman forget her sucking child, that she should not have compassion on the son of her womb? yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee."
I can't imagine forgetting a nursing child and not having compassion towards him or her, but I know it happens sometimes. God even says that it does in this verse. However, He also says that even if this happens, He will not forget us. One translation says "I could never, no never, forget you."
I'm still in awe every time my little boy runs into my arms for comfort just seconds after I'm the one who caused his discomfort in the first place. This love fills my heart so full that I could burst.
Our Father loves us even bigger than this. His love for us is deep and wide. Strong and mighty. Tender and compassionate. Nothing and no one can separate us from His love. He could never, no never, forget us.
God, you're such a safe and powerful place to find refuge! You're a proven help in time of trouble - more than enough and always available whenever I need you.
We moved around a lot when I was little, but by the time I got to high school my family settled down in the small coastal town of Satellite Beach, Florida. We lived on a barrier island - a long, skinny strip of land with the ocean on one side and the intercoastal waterway - a river - on the other. One of my high school electives was swim class where we learned how to be ocean lifeguards, and our surf team was much better than our football team. Being safe in and around the water was a way of life for us.
During my first year of college, three major hurricanes hit the east coast of Florida just weeks apart. I was living in the dorms and as one of the storms approached the state, our dorm closed down. They didn't feel like the student housing would be safe enough to weather the storm. By the time I completed an exam for one of my college classes, the causeways - the bridges to the barrier island and my only route home - were shut down. My family stayed on the island to weather the storm there, and I wasn't able to get back over the bridge to them. I had to find another place to stay as the storm slowly made its way across Florida.
This verse in Psalm 46 talks about how God is a safe and powerful place to find refuge. King James says "God is our refuge and strength..." This word refuge is "machaceh" which is translated as refuge, shelter from danger (literally or figuratively), and hope.
The scripture goes on to say that God is a PROVEN help in times of trouble. That He's more than enough. That He's always available any time we need Him. This is one of the things I love most about reading the records in the Old Testament. We read over and over and over again stories - true stories - about God's protection over His people. About His provision. About His rescuing, forgiving, protecting, sheltering. About His refuge.
The same God who rescued Noah and his family and all the animals from the flood will rescue you from the floods of life. The same God who rescued Esther and all of God's people from certain destruction will rescue you from people who come against you. The same God who rescued Moses from a basket in the river and who helped him lead God's people out of slavery into the promised land will rescue you from burdens, guilt, fear, condemnation.
There is nothing new under the sun. The same God who created the heavens and the earth created you. The same God who spoke light into being speaks light into your life. The same God who so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son so loves and cherishes and wants a close, personal relationship with you.
That "summer of storms" brought a lot of destruction to my hometown, but my family and I were safe in the refuge of homes built to withstand major hurricanes. We can't always stop the storms of life from heading our way. We can't always get out of the way when hard things hit our lives. But what we can do is seek the refuge of God's mighty arms as we weather the storm. We can trust Him to be our shelter and our hope. We can believe that He is a place of proven help, more than enough, always available any time we need Him. Almighty God is ready, willing, and able to be our refuge from any storm we face.
Pour out all your worries and stress upon him and leave them there, for he always tenderly cares for you.
I Peter 5:7
A couple nights ago, my husband and I were struggling to communicate with one another. Actually, no, that's not quite right. I was struggling to communicate my needs to him. He got home after a long work day, changed out of his dirty work clothes, and jumped right in to spend time with our son (as he always does). On his way past me to sit at the dining room table, he said over his shoulder "Ok, I've got the bubba, you go ahead and do whatever you want to do."
Well, what I wanted to do (drink a cup of tea, eat some chocolate, and soak in the bathtub) and what I needed to do (the laundry, the dishes, the food prep for the next day) were very different. I was running on fumes after a few nights of very little sleep, and my wants were really more like needs at that point - I needed a little break before going into another long night. But rather than communicate that to Ian and ask him for help with the chores, I started in on them with a miserable attitude that only got worse as the minutes ticked by.
As mamas, we sometimes feel like we have to do it all, all the time. Take care of our homes. Go to work. Feed our families. The list could go on and on, couldn't it? But there are times when the lists are so much longer than what we're capable of handling on our own.
And this isn't just in the physical realm. Spiritually, emotionally, mentally the lists can pile up too. Doubts can turn into worries. Worries can turn into fears. Stress and anxiety can pile up heavier than any physical to-do list we have.
God must have known that this would be the case. (Of course He did!) And in I Peter He says to pour out ALL our worries and stress upon Him. And not just pour them out, but leave them there. Why? Because He tenderly cares for us. One version of this scripture says to "cast" or "throw" or "place" our cares upon Him. Another says it like this: "Load upon him your every anxiety, for he is always watching over you with tender care."
ALL your worries and stress. Your EVERY anxiety. Not just one thing, or two things, but all the things.
Then, after casting, pouring out, placing upon, loading up - we're to LEAVE them there. God doesn't say "I'll take this on for a few minutes so you can get a little reprieve." He doesn't say "Load me up just long enough for you to catch your breath." He doesn't take our stress and our anxiety and our doubts and worries and fears temporarily. He asks us to give them to Him, turn around, walk away, and never come back for them.
So the other night, when I didn't ask for help from my husband? It was the worst. I worked myself up to being so stressed out, so angry, so upset. I spent the time I could have been relaxing in the bathtub crying at my husband about how he wasn't anticipating my needs. And then all the sudden, I missed my window to even take a shower and made both of us miserable. Ian finally said to me "Look, I didn't know this is how you were feeling when I got home. I just need you to tell me what you need."
So the next evening, when he got home, I said "Honey, I really need a little break. Can you handle doing the dishes while I take a bath?" And guess what - he immediately agreed and sent me off to take a bath. He was happy because I communicated my needs, and I was happy because my needs were met.
That's how simple it should be with our Heavenly Father. We need to say "Father, I can't handle the load I'm carrying. I need you to take it on, so here you go." And then it's our responsibility to not go back and pick that heavy load back up again. Leave it with Him. Rest in Him. He tenderly cares for you.
Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis.
Eight months ago, my family and I gave away most of our furniture, packed a trailer, and moved from Colorado to North Carolina to see if our son would sleep better at a lower elevation. (Spoiler alert... he didn't.)
When we got to North Carolina, I couldn't believe how GREEN everything was. Lush, green shade trees absolutely everywhere. After living in the "high desert" of Colorado, this beautiful new place felt like an oasis. We enjoyed trips to the playground in the high heat of summer, protected by the many shade trees surrounding the parks. Then, when fall came around, the colors exploded into reds, oranges, and yellows. It was so beautiful.
This scripture in Matthew 11 talks about coming into a refreshing oasis after carrying a heavy burden. The King James version, probably more familiar to most, says "I will give you rest."
This word "rest" is the Greek word anapauō which means "to cause or permit one to cease from any movement or labour in order to recover and collect his strength." To recover and collect strength. After a hard season of life, we all need that time to recover and collect our strength so we can get up and keep moving forward again.
When we're carrying a heavy load, enduring a hard season, feeling weary beyond measure, we can go to our Heavenly Father and He will refresh us. He will give us rest. He will be our oasis. As we put our trust in Him to see us through, He promises to never leave or forsake us. In I Corinthians 10:13, we read that God is faithful and will never allow us to be tempted or challenged beyond what we're able to bear. He will always, always give us a way out.
We're back in Colorado now, missing the green shade trees, but so very thankful for the spiritual "oasis" here as we're surrounded by a strong community of family and friends. Today, let's remember this: "Are you weary, carrying a heavy burden? Then come to me. I will refresh your life, for I am your oasis."
Let the sunrise of your love end our dark night. Break through our clouded dawn again! Only you can satisfy our hearts, filling us with songs of joy to the end of our days.
Sometimes when I'm rocking my son back to sleep in the middle of the night, I wonder how many other moms are doing the same - feeding, singing, comforting, rocking, pacing, soothing, praying, loving. When my son was waking up a dozen or more times a night, I remember longing for that first glimpse of dawn peeking through the blinds. The dark nights were endless, and I felt so alone. The relief that coursed through my body when the sun came up was overwhelming.
The King James version of this scripture says "O satisfy us early with thy mercy" - in this case, "mercy" is the Hebrew word "checed" which can be defined here as goodness, kindness, and faithfulness. And "satisfy" is the Hebrew verb "saba`" which is to be satisfied or be fulfilled.
It is God's goodness, His kindness, His faithfulness which satisfies and fulfills us. It's His love that breaks through the darkness we face and brings the light of the dawn of a new day into our lives.
Only our heavenly Father can fill us full of joy. Nothing the world has to offer can do the same. So what does this mean practically? It means that in order to push out the darkness and welcome in the light, we have to look to the Father, to build a relationship with Him, to love Him and let Him love us. The best way I know to build that relationship is by reading His Word (the Bible), by talking to Him and pouring out our hearts to Him in prayer, by surrounding ourselves with others who love Him and show His love to us.
As mamas, we face hard things... sometimes impossible things. The mountains you're climbing probably look different from the ones I'm climbing, but they're mountains nonetheless. Facing the hard, climbing through the dark, enduring until dawn - as we trust in Him to guide us along the way, He promises to fill us with songs of joy to the end of our days.