What Suffering Is Doing for Me (and can do for you)

Suffering is simultaneously breaking me down and building me up. And it’s both incredibly hard and amazingly glorious.  

Suffering is simultaneously breaking me down and building me up. It's both incredibly hard and amazingly glorious. Click To Tweet

suffering increases fellowship with God

On a particularly difficult Sunday, I confessed through my tears to my pastor’s wife. “I don’t know how to raise Rachel. I can’t do this! I don’t know how to care for a child with special needs.”

I posted about another hard Sunday a while later:

Last Sunday, I was in a rather desperate state heading to church. The morning had not gone well. Things were very difficult with Rachel, and only half of us ended up going to worship. As my son drove, I sighed, “Lord I need your strength!”

Many times every week I cry out for God to help me care for this beautiful daughter of mine and to give me the strength to endure. Rachel has severe intellectual delays that affect every area of her life. At the age of 19, her actions largely portray a 2 or 3 year old.

I expected that caring for a child with such special needs would be most difficult in the younger years. That expectation was incorrect.

As Rachel enters adulthood, her independence and stubbornness is increasing. Her anxiety about going anywhere, even to familiar places, is mounting. Her poor expressive language intensifies the problem. 

While we try to figure out the cause of frequent sore throats and unexplained fear, the incredibly difficult decision of where she’ll reside in adulthood looms large in my mind and in my heart. 

And as our friends enjoy a greater measure of freedom as their children become teens and young adults, my husband and I still face demands similar to parents with toddlers. It’s affected our time together. But perhaps hardest, it’s inhibited our ability to nurture other relationships.  

Yet, increasingly, I’m seeing the blessings of our struggle. 

Blessing of Suffering

Not being able to solve my problems intellectually or physically has forced me to the cross. I am compelled to consider how Jesus handled the worst suffering in the history of the world. And in doing so, I’ve come to better understand the depth of His love for and devotion to me (and to you too). 

As I dig into the Word, I’m finding solace and strength for each day. And I’m falling deeper in love with my Savior. 

Dig into the Word: find solace and strength for each day and fall deeper in love with your Savior. Click To Tweet

At the very least, the continued hardship of caring for my daughter is drawing my mind (and in turn, my heart) to God. 

Discover Our Indescribable God

Every day we have a list of tasks to accomplish. Each day we awake with anticipation of something we’d like to do that day. Moving to accomplish it all captures our minds so completely that the Lord barely gets a nod. 

But bring us to the end of ourselves … take us to a situation we cannot solve … give us a weight too heavy to bear … place our humanity squarely in front of us—then something amazing happens! 

When we face the impossible—the uncontrollable—we discover all over again, our all-powerful, all-loving, indescribable God! 

When we face the impossible, we discover all over again, our all-powerful, all-loving, indescribable God! Click To Tweet

The Pain Is Real, but God…

I’m not downplaying the pain you may be experiencing. Tears come. Hearts ache. Sometimes we wonder how we can face one more day. 

Yet when we know from where our hope comes, we can trust God’s grace will meet us in exactly the right way at exactly the right time. 

I cannot face my daughter’s future on my own.

But for God….

But for the victory we have over death and suffering in the sacrifice and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ…

But for the hope we have for a pain-free eternity…

But for a God who is with us through it all…

We can face that next day in the midst of any hardship when we stand on the Rock!

We can face that next day in the midst of any hardship when we stand on the Rock! Click To Tweet

Suffering will come. And it can be incredibly painful.

But we have a choice. We can curse it. Or we can let it draw our minds and hearts ever closer to our God. I pray your choice is the latter. 

Let your suffering draw you into a deeper and more passionate fellowship with your Lord. 

Let your suffering draw you into a deeper and more passionate fellowship with your Lord. Click To Tweet

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you” (Isaiah 43:2 ESV).

Reflections: What suffering are you currently facing? How can we pray for you? 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Uncategorized

For Better or Worse …. Staying Committed In Marriage and In Matters of Faith

For better or worse. 

committed for better or worse

Little did my husband and I know what those words would mean when we repeated our marriage vows nearly three decades ago. Worse wasn’t just one deep valley but many strung together to become a deep trench.

Five babies lost to early pregnancy loss and caring for a child who will never grow up intellectually has tested and stretched our bond. Marriage isn’t easy in even the best of circumstances. Pregnancy loss and raising a child with disabilities definitely challenges things.

Still, we celebrated our 28th wedding anniversary October 7! And I believe a big reason we are still married is because we are committed to the promise we made before God and our friends and family members.

Yes, we love each other, but so do most couples before their marriage unwinds into divorce. This world can be unforgiving; throwing lots of things our way that test any couple.

The feeling of love is not a strong enough glue to withstand its battering. We need to be fiercely committed to standing on our promises. Not only our promise to our spouse*, but foremost, our promise to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.

The feeling of love is not a strong enough glue to withstand the world's battering. We need to be fiercely committed. Click To Tweet

At my Baptism I became a child of God. At my Confirmation, I confirmed my desire to live for Jesus Christ. Because of His work of faith in my life, I committed my life to Him.

For Better or Worse Stay Committed

Like my marriage vows, this commitment to the Lord is for better or worse … during times of great blessings and times of great strife.

Yet how often have I tried to back out of the “for worse” part? Not me, Lord! My faith is not strong enough to handle this. I only want your good stuff please. 

Jesus wasn’t vague when He told His disciples, “If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow Me” (Matthew 16:24, HCSB).

And Paul didn’t mince words when he declared, “Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12).

Because of the fallout of sin, living in this world holds many difficulties. They strain our marriage and our spiritual walk.

Yet we shouldn’t be surprised by those hardships. In fact, since we know they are coming, we should prepare for them.

Prepare for the Worst

Here are a few ways I gird myself to hold fast to the vows I made to my husband and to my God, regardless of whether I always feel like keeping them or not.

Hold fast to the vows you made, to your spouse and to God, regardless of whether you always feel like it. Click To Tweet

Seek reminders that you aren’t fighting this battle alone.

Both in your marriage and in your faith walk, the Holy Spirit is with you to guide and strengthen you for the long haul. Be intentional about talking to Him in prayer and being encouraged through the Word.

Listen to or read about people’s successes in both areas. Meet periodically with a mentor or other Christians who can relate and encourage you.

Feed regularly on the promises of God.

Remember you are not expected to do your marriage or walk with Christ on your own strength. God wants your total commitment in both your Christian walk and in your marriage.

But He doesn’t leave you to do either through your own strength. He promises to strengthen and equip you, and what He promises, He delivers.

God promises to strengthen and equip you to fulfill your vows, and what He promises, He delivers. Click To Tweet

Trust He sees what you can’t, and He knows what you don’t.

Here are a few of the Lord’s wonderful promises to hold onto (feel free to click and download):

Stand on God's promises for better or worse

Remind yourself that this life is not ultimately about you or your happiness.

It’s not what we want to hear, but this life ain’t about us! Our reason for being is to bring glory to God, to shine the light on Him, not us.

We need to get our eyes (and thoughts) off ourselves and onto our Creator and Savior.

Accept God’s grace for your failures and missteps.

Perfection can never happen for us this side of heaven, but we can make progress. When we falter in either our marriage or our spiritual life, repent and move forward in the full forgiveness of Jesus Christ. He paid dearly to give us that gift; walk in it.

Pray for Protection and Guidance

The enemy wants nothing more than to destroy our marriage and our relationship with the Lord. Ask for God’s protection from temptation and the Holy Spirit’s guidance in our thoughts and actions. 

With God, the Worst Becomes Our Best

In the end, no matter what happens during our race, if we run for Jesus, the worst always ends up being the best for those who persevere. 

Because the Lord is faithful to do as He promised, we can find the strength to walk out our commitments. A practice that in turn grows our faith as we experience His unmerited grace.

So don’t give up. Stay committed through better and through worse! 

Because the Lord is faithful to do as He promised, we can find the strength to walk out our commitments. Click To Tweet

“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every weight and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us” Hebrews 12:1

Reflections: What has helped you stay committed to your promises, even when you don’t feel like it? 

*Disclaimer: Of course I’m writing here about a typical marriage, with normal highs and lows. If you are in an abusive relationship, seek help immediately! 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Christian walk, Endurance, Faith, Marriage

Real Hope After Pregnancy Loss (book review)

When people ask how many children I have, I still sometimes hesitate. Do I only mention the four I’ve raised over the past 23 years? Or do I include the five babies I lost in early pregnancy?

Should I say four or nine?

I’m not alone in my struggle to answer this question or to mourn for babies I could never hold. Not by a long shot!

Mourn with those who mourn

Loved Baby

According to Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child After Pregnancy Loss, a new devotional by Sarah Philpott, PhD, nearly one in four American women experience pregnancy loss.

Yet, sadly, society largely shies away from addressing pregnancy loss, especially early-term miscarriage. People don’t know what to say.

Friends and family often feel uncomfortable in the face of such pain, so they sometimes shy away from even acknowledging the loss. The devastated parents are largely left to process the death of their baby alone.

When I lost my babies, there were few resources out there that offered practical help or even much in the way of encouragement for a mother whose baby never took a breath. Thankfully, that is changing.

A Compassionate Companion

The author of Loved Baby knows firsthand the deep pain of having a baby die in her womb. She wrote this devotional to be a compassionate companion for women walking the lonely road of losing an unborn child.

Inside its pages, Sarah includes personal stories from her own losses and wisdom and insight from other women who have experienced miscarriage or a stillbirth. Importantly, she refutes the shame and guilt that often accompanies pregnancy loss. 

With vulnerability and empathy, Sarah discusses the common stages of grief, explains triggers that often fuel bitterness and anger, and offers advice for navigating this difficult journey toward hope. She also provides medical facts and tips for caring for yourself in the process of healing.

Loved Baby is filled with Bible verses, including those that help answer a burning spiritual question many who suffer pregnancy loss ask: Is my baby in heaven? Based on the Holy Scriptures, Sarah assures mothers that their “babies that died in [their] wombs were born straight into the splendor of heaven.”

lean into God's grace

Practical and Honest Advice

In Loved Baby, Sarah gives practical yet honest advice: “Prayer didn’t take away my sadness, but it did give me something constructive to do with my emotions. Prayer is our weapon when we are angry.”

She gives us hope that we will laugh again … as impossible as that seems in the immediate aftermath of loss. She even urges us to not only allow laughter, but to encourage it: “When it comes to grief, laughter and crying don’t have to be mutually exclusive…. Laughter is not going to take away the pain, but it will help you get through the pain.”

Loved Baby consists of 31 devotions, each one written to help bereaved parents mourn and cherish the baby they lost far too early. Each devotion ends with some practical strategies as well as a tender prayer. The last one offers space for commemorating your baby and writing your story.

Real Grief, Real Hope After Pregnancy Loss

Whether a woman loses a baby in the first trimester or her infant is stillborn, the grief is real.

After my first baby was born into heaven, I found myself lost in a deep dark hole, with little hope to ever get out. Eventually, God helped me see a glimmer of light. That started me on the journey toward healing.

How helpful it would have been to have a comforting voice of understanding come beside me. One that would help me find the way out of that deep dark hole. How much easier my journey would have been if I would have had that kind soul whispering to me as Sarah does in Loved Baby:

“Grieve away…. But grieve in hope. Stay rooted in hope, because your little one is blooming in heaven.”

Lost a baby? I'm so sorry! 'Stay rooted in hope, because your little one is blooming in heaven.' #LOVEDbaby Click To Tweet

You Will Get Through This!

I will always miss my babies in heaven. From conception, they were my precious children … to tickle, wipe noses, read to, pray with, snuggle, and guide. I had such grand plans for each one!

Yes, I miss them, but the pain is no longer suffocating. I still carry around a memorial card with their names and the estimated dates that Jesus welcomed them into heaven. How could I ever forget them?

However, the Lord had a plan for each of their short lives, and He has a plan for my life and yours too. Yes, you absolutely must mourn the loss of your precious baby(ies). It’s the beginning of healing.

But don’t stay mired in the dark hole of grief. Look up! See that pinhole of light. Walk toward it. Lean into His grace, and trust Him as you journey toward healing.

Endured a devastating loss? Lean into God's grace; trust Him as you journey toward healing. Click To Tweet

Trust God’s grace is sufficient for even this heavy moment … this stormy season.

And let others, like Sarah, come alongside you to provide comfort and reassurance that you will make it through the grief. 

If you've experienced pregnancy loss, don't go it alone. Let others come alongside you to provide comfort... Click To Tweet

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4, ESV

Reflections: Have you experienced pregnancy loss or had a stillbirth? Has someone you know? What was the most difficult part of healing? What helped you the most? 

I’m thrilled to have a copy of Loved Baby to give away! Simply follow the Rafflecopter prompts to enter. (Click on the book title or image to purchase your own copy of this wonderful resource!)

hope in pregnancy loss

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*Disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. I received three copies of Loved Baby in exchange for my honest review of the book. 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Book review, giveaway, Miscarriage

Find the Power You Need for a Chaotic Life by Being Anchored In (& a book review)

When my daughter was little, her  “after school” future seemed far away. Not so anymore. We’re likely within a half year of that future being her present (although she “graduated” with her class last year, she is still attending classes).

That thought is never far from my mind. I wake in the morning wondering what her adult life as a person with significant intellectual disabilities will look like. I lie down at day’s end pondering various options for living and working arrangements. Running into roadblocks with each idea.

Not only am I concerned about her physical well-being, but her spiritual well-being as well.

If I’m not careful, her future needs could consume and paralyze me.

anchor in God

A Steadfast Hope

The truth is I don’t know what might happen in the next few years. I can’t predict how things might change for Rachel after her father and I can no longer look after her.

But there is one thing I do know: Rachel’s heavenly Father loves her even more than we do, and He knows all about her future!

If I want to experience peace in the waiting, I have to remain anchored in that truth … anchored in Him!

That’s why I was excited to read Micah Maddox’s brand new book, her debut release, Anchored In: Experience a Power-Full Life in a Problem-Filled World. It speaks to the need of Christians to tap into God’s power to experience peace in this chaotic world. 

Although I tend to be anxious about Rachel’s future, the Lord “knows the plans He has for her,” and they are good plans (Jeremiah 29:11). His presence and power delivers the peace I need for these difficult circumstances. 

God's presence and power delivers the peace we need for our most difficult circumstances. Click To Tweet

Maybe you are facing uncertain circumstances. Perhaps you are experiencing job loss, health issues, or relationship concerns.

Whatever it might be, join Micah as she helps us anchor ourselves in the one true Hope. To discover God’s power for our unique situation. 

anchor in God

Anchored In

In turning our circumstances over to a God who cares, Micah assures us that we can “live secure in God’s timing, God’s purpose, God’s provision, and God’s plan.” He has each of our futures in His hands.

“God’s power is the anchor of life.” We can count on His presence and His constant source of help in times of trouble.

In the pages of Anchored In, Micah assures us: “God’s power prevails no matter what the world brings our way.”

'God’s power prevails no matter what the world brings our way.' ~Micah Maddox, #AnchoredInBook Click To Tweet

In fact, “when our problems make us question Him and call on Him, it’s not a bad thing. It’s a blessed thing. Anything that causes us to call on the name of Jesus is a blessing in disguise. It’s a tangible gift of God’s love for us.”

But don’t think that when you tap into God’s power for your life, it’ll be all easy street. “Living an anchored life doesn’t mean life is easy and that God is going to fix every problem perfectly, answer every question audibly, and come through with a miracle and confetti falling from the sky, but it does mean we can learn to live in a posture of expectancy. “

It’s that power of expectancy that makes the difference between experiencing peace or anxiety. 

The concern I have for my daughter won’t go away, but when I surrender it to God, peace will reign.

The Book

If you find yourself struggling with circumstances in your life, consider picking up your own copy of Anchored In. Even as an adult, Micah struggled with the fallout of her dad’s abandonment of his family when she was a young girl. She wanted freedom. 

Anchored In delivers the nuggets of wisdom Micah discovered in her own quest to experience God’s power and peace. It reads conversationally, presenting the author’s personal struggles and the biblical truths that provided victories over them.

Each chapter offers questions to encourage you to dig deeper into the concepts. In addition, each one ends with a prayer for God’s power and Scripture to draw you into His presence.

Although the text sometimes gets bogged down with wordiness, it’s a worthy resource to add to your collection. Because no matter what storm you’re weathering, this book will encourage you and equip you to remain anchored in the power and presence of God. 

In His presence—accessing His power—is where we can find peace for our most difficult problems. 

No matter what storm you're weathering, remain anchored in the power and presence of God. Click To Tweet

“Victory doesn’t mean we will be free from failure or future problems. It means we will be found in His presence when we feel lost and alone.” —Micah Maddox

Reflections: Are there circumstances that keep you up at night? Are problems in your life keeping you from experiencing peace in your days? Have you tried surrendering them to God? 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Book review, Christian walk, Daily Living, Disability/Special Needs, Rachel, surrender

Every Christian’s Purpose (no need to keep looking)

“The purpose of life is a life of purpose.” 
― Robert Bryne

Have you ever questioned your worth? Your purpose? Why you were born into this world in the first place? 

I have. And more than once. 

What do you have in mind for me, Lord? Why bring me this far only to allow everything to fall apart? What can I possibly do that will make a difference? What do I have to contribute? 

Sound at all familiar?

purpose

Search for Purpose

The search for purpose may be as old as human existence itself. 

For unbelievers, it would seem to be a fruitless search. But for Christians, the answer has already been offered. 

Part of why Jesus came to earth was to demonstrate for us the role of God’s children: 

“Then Jesus went to all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the good news of the kingdom, and healing every disease and every sickness” (Matthew 9:35, emphasis mine). 

Healing often comes to mind when we think of Jesus’ ministry. But what did He do first in the above passage? He taught and preached the good news of the kingdom—proclaiming the Gospel! 

The Lord’s healing ministry was secondary to His calling to share words of eternal life. 

He sent the Twelve out with the same purpose:

go to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, announce this: ‘The kingdom of heaven has come near’” (Matthew 10:6-7).  

Verse 8 continues with the Jesus’ instructions to “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those with skin diseases, drive out demons,” but first and foremost came the proclamation of salvation! 

As Christ’s disciples, this remains our primary purpose as well. We are to do the same thing as Jesus did: Like the first Twelve, we are sent out to proclaim the saving grace of the Gospel!

Everything else is secondary.

As Jesus' disciples, our primary purpose is to proclaim the saving grace of the Gospel! Everything else is secondary. Click To Tweet

Certainly, serving others, being good citizens, and caring for the environment are important tasks. But we need to always keep our focus on the main reason for our existence: to share about the grace and mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Sharing the Good News is as simple as sharing the forgiveness of your sins. Telling what the Lord has done in your life.

In doing so, you’ll be pointing to Jesus and the cross and the empty tomb—the reason for your hope.

No Need To Keep Searching

If our purpose is so cut and dry, so straightforward, why do we keep searching for it? 

Because we tend to confuse our vocation with our purpose. Your vocation or niche is the area in which you’re gifted. The place or practice in which God planned for you to reach others.

It’s a launching pad for sharing about Him. It can be a means to carrying out our primary purpose. 

It’s important to pray about and look for your particular niche: that area God has gifted you. But don’t confuse it with the actual reason for your existence.

We can’t all be a surgeon or ordained minister or teacher or janitor. We can’t all be a professional athlete or a best selling author. Not everyone has those skills and gifts. 

But no matter what abilities we lack, we can all be a preacher of the Gospel, sometimes in words, but always in actions. 

No matter what abilities we lack, we can all be preachers of the Gospel, sometimes in words, but always in actions. Click To Tweet

Your why? Yeah, you already know it. 

You and I are here for such a time as this to point others to Jesus Christ, the only way to everlasting life. 

What greater purpose could there possibly be! 

There is no greater purpose than to point others to Jesus Christ, the only way to everlasting life! Click To Tweet

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19 ESV). 

Reflections: Not sure what your calling is? Struggling to find your worth or your place in life? You are here for a reason! And, my fellow Believers, here’s what it is.

Blessed to link with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday! Click here to read all the wonderful posts. 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Calling, Christian walk, Christianity, Purpose, Worth

Receive Your Beautiful Inheritance – a Free Gift

“Indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance” (Psalm 16:6b).

Not long ago, I passed a lady walking on the side of the road. Slim and toned, she seemed so put together. 

I didn’t know her, but my mind began to taunt me about how wonderful her life must be. 

Exercising at this hour, she must have all kinds of flexibility in her days (certainly not a caregiver for an adult child.). 

I bet she doesn’t have any financial worries (just look at her matching workout clothes). 

She probably has great close friendships and some supportive mentors (she looks confident and popular). 

Here I was assessing a total stranger’s life as perfect based on outward appearances. Yet I knew better. 

beautiful inheritance

Difficulties Assault Us All

Difficulties, of some sort, assault us all. Maybe hers isn’t such a wonderful marriage. Maybe her children are prodigals. Perhaps a loved one recently died or she feels alone.

Worse yet, maybe she doesn’t have the hope of Christ!

It’s easy to slip into thinking someone has it much better than we do. But we all carry some sort of burden. 

A burden that, as Christians, shouldn’t drive us to comparison, but should instead drive us to our knees. 

Our burdens shouldn't drive us to comparison, but should instead drive us to our knees. Click To Tweet

A burden that, as we lay it at the feet of Jesus, produces something beautiful in our lives and/or in the lives of others. 

A few minutes after passing the outwardly put-together walker, my wandering mind began to wonder about her hard story. She certainly had one.

Our Ugly-Beautiful Stories

What was her ugly story that God had already turned, or could turn, into something beautiful? Did it mirror mine, or had she walked through tragedy I couldn’t comprehend? 

No matter, God can redeem them all. He transforms the dark into light; the desert into an oasis. 

He redeems our ugly stories, those most difficult parts of our lives, and grows something lovely from them. 

God redeems our ugly stories, those most difficult parts of our lives, and grows something lovely from them. Click To Tweet

A Beautiful Inheritance

The Lord promises redemption, not necessarily in way of a comfortable and easy life, but ultimately in a beautiful inheritance.

God promises redemption, not necessarily in way of a comfortable life, but ultimately in a beautiful inheritance. Click To Tweet

An inheritance of invaluable treasure! Life everlasting! Forever with our Lord!  

All we need to do is receive it. It’s free. It’s for all who turn to Jesus. 

And it’s not dependent on outward appearance. It doesn’t depend on how put together we are. 

Whether your life outwardly looks the part or not, if you know Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, your inheritance is truly beautiful. 

So, we can stop comparing our lives to others, imagining their lives as far easier than ours. 

Each of our stories, if we abide with Christ, has a beautiful ending: the promised inheritance of a heavenly future. 

Each of our stories, if we abide with Christ, has a beautiful ending: the promised inheritance of a heavenly future. Click To Tweet

In faith, believe in this good and beautiful gift! 

Reflections: What’s your ugly-beautiful story? How does the promise of your beautiful inheritance bring you hope?

Linking once again with Suzie Eller’s #livefreeThursday. Click her to read more great encouragement! 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Blessings, Christian walk, Daily Living, Faith, Jesus Christ, Salvation

When You Beg God To Change Your Circumstances and He Doesn’t, Remember This

If we could only remember who’s in charge … and trust. 

How often we besiege God about something we desperately want! We beg Him to change our circumstances. We implore Him to bring something to fruition. 

Sometimes, however, God says no … or seemingly nothing at all.

God's hand is in your circumstances

In Desperation … and Foolishness

Still, we keep at it. Like Balak in the book of Numbers, we hope addressing the situation from a different vantage point will help our cause. 

In Numbers 22-24, Balak, the king of Moab, implored Balaam, a prophet of God, to curse the Israelites. Balaam, however, could only bless them as God instructed Him. 

Three times Balak took Balaam to different sites, hoping the change of scenery would change the prophet’s (or God’s) mind. 

“This is what Balak son of Zippor says: ‘Let nothing keep you from coming to me, 17 for I will greatly honor you and do whatever you ask me. So please come and put a curse on these people for me!’” (Numbers 22:16-17)

“Please come with me to another place where you can see them. You will only see the outskirts of their camp; you won’t see all of them. From there, put a curse on them for me.” (23:13)

 “Please come. I will take you to another place. Maybe it will be agreeable to God that you can put a curse on them for me there.” (23:27)

Balak seemed so … desperate and foolish! But don’t we do the same thing? 

“Look at it this way, Lord” or

“Don’t You see how happy it will make me, Lord?” or even,

“I know it will draw many more souls to You if You just bless what I want to do!” 

Begging God to Change Your Circumstances

I’m not saying we shouldn’t be persistent in prayer. I’m not saying we shouldn’t ask God more than once. 

But sometimes we resort to what amounts to manipulation. We compromise with God. We twist and turn our request, trying to present our desire to the Lord in a way that He will bless.

Basically, we try to change His mind.

Yet God sees all. He knows what’s best for us and for His kingdom.

We may think our idea is best, but if God withholds His blessing, it’s because He has a better plan. 

We may think our idea is best, but if God withholds His blessing, it's because He has a better plan. Click To Tweet

Wow, that’s a hard truth! But who are we to tell the Lord of the universe otherwise? 

Still, we beg for a change in our circumstances …

“Please, Lord, make it a different disease!” 

“Lord, someone else is far better equipped to handle this than I am.” 

“This will prevent me from sharing the Gospel, Lord, hindering me from glorifying You, preventing me from taking Your Good News to the ends of the earth, because here I am stuck!” 

Do we really think God doesn’t know what He’s doing? Do we really think we know better?

Welcome God’s Assignments

What if we would live our life in such a way that we welcome everything that comes our way as a step in God’s plan … as an assignment for us from Him? 

What if we would welcome everything that comes our way as a step in God's plan ... an assignment. #trustGod Click To Tweet

That invitation you’d rather turn down? Perhaps God wants you to encourage someone there or share the Gospel with them. 

Raising that child who is so different from others? Maybe there are or will be others who need to see God’s faithfulness in the midst of the unexpected or who need to be exposed to the blessings of the “least.” Or maybe you do. 

Your assignment may be one meant to humble you or another—or maybe to introduce you or another to a greater joy than you could have ever imagined. The circumstances you find yourself in will serve a greater purpose in the hands of our great God.  

The circumstances you find yourself in will serve a greater purpose in the hands of our great God. Click To Tweet

God’s Hand Is In It All

Whatever it is, whatever unwanted thing you face, whether big or small, remember God’s hand is in it. God’s hand is in it all! 

Whether He handed it to you or will redeem it in the end, you can trust that it will have a far better outcome than anything you can contrive. And no matter how difficult your circumstances, you can count on God’s sufficient grace to see you through! 

Whatever unwanted circumstances you face, whether big or small, remember, God's hand's in it.God's hand is in it all! Click To Tweet

 But who are you, a mere man, to talk back to God? Will what is formed say to the one who formed it, “Why did you make me like this?” 21 Or has the potter no right over the clay, to make from the same lump one piece of pottery for honor and another for dishonor? 22 And what if God, desiring to display His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience objects of wrath ready for destruction? 23 And what if He did this to make known the riches of His glory on objects of mercy that He prepared beforehand for glory— 24 on us, the ones He also called, not only from the Jews but also from the Gentiles?” (Romans 9:20-24)

Reflections: What difficult circumstances do you find yourself in? Are you frustrated because God seems to be saying no or ignoring your prayers? Have you considered that this may be His best yes for you right now, that He has a plan in and through it? Remember, He’s for you! 

Joining once again with my friend, Suzie Eller, for #livefreeThursday! Click here to read more wonderful encouragement. 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Christian walk, Faith, God's attributes, trust

Grow to Trust God Even More

God’s ways are often a mystery, but we can always trust they’re for our best. 

God's ways are often a mystery, but we can always trust they're for our best. Click To Tweet

The Lord has filled the Bible with truth and instruction, insight and encouragement. It guides, convicts, informs, directs, exposes, empowers, saves…. It endures forever. 

Each morning I spend reading these inspired words of God. But I’m often amazed at the revelation I receive while listening to a familiar passage on Bible Gateway instead of merely reading it. 

Last week while jogging, the account from Numbers 20 captured my attention. Moses and Aaron, angry at the people who continually questioned and doubted their leadership, struck a rock to bring water instead of speaking to it as the Lord had instructed. As a result, God sentenced them to die without entering the Promised Land.

Later in that same chapter, God directed Moses to take Aaron and his son, Eleazar, to the top of Mount Hor. Then Moses was to remove Aaron’s garments and place them on Eleazar. After that Aaron would be gathered to his people and die there.

The Bible says, “So Moses did as the LORD commanded, and they climbed Mount Hor in the sight of the whole community. After Moses removed Aaron’s garments and put them on his son Eleazar, Aaron died there on top of the mountain (Numbers 20:27-28).”

trust God

The Path to Complete Obedience

Aaron died.

It was a devastating loss for Moses, Eleazar, and the Israelites. Yet what stuck in my mind and my heart was how Moses took it all.

Moses absorbed all of this loss with no recorded words of protest! Did you catch that? 

No “buts,” no “have you thought of this instead, Lord?” Complete and utter obedience, no questions asked! Like Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22).

That totally amazes me! That absolutely convicts me!

Unswerving loyalty and trust in the Lord. Willing to lay it all at His feet at His request. No questions, no protests.

Unfortunately, these phrases don’t describe me … yet.

But they do raise a question that begs an answer. How does one get to such a place with their faith?

I venture that it comes through walking with God in the lesser moments. Experiencing His faithfulness in the in-between times.

My Bible tags Abraham and Moses as Heroes of Faith (Hebrews 11), but they had to grow into such a title. Unquestioning obedience didn’t come naturally.

Both patriarchs had to learn to trust God in those most difficult requests. (Read Bible passages such as Genesis 16, Genesis 20, Exodus 3 and 4 to get an idea of their stumbling.)

Learn to Trust God

As much as I desire to glorify God with my complete loyalty, I still find myself falling short of meeting the Heroes of Faith mark in certain areas. 

I’m receiving His faithfulness daily, but sometimes I fail to walk confidently in it. I’m still a work in progress, and if you’re still walking on earth, I suspect you are too. 

Moses’ and Abraham’s faith grew to “hero” proportions thanks to God’s amazing grace. Only after experiencing His mercy and faithfulness throughout their lifetime could they lay themselves totally at the Lord’s disposal.

I am learning to trust God for each breath I take and direction I step, albeit slowly. It’s His love and mercy poured out on me on a regular basis that is winning out over my fear and trepidation.

The Lord has not only proven faithful in the past … He is not only faithful to see me through now … But He will be faithful to bolster me when even sharper pain strikes. 

That’s a promise I am learning to step into with greater certainty.

You can too! When you’re tempted to question God, pause and reflect on His past faithfulness. Then step into that faith as you trust Him to secure your path once again! 

Join me, as we learn to trust God and walk confidently ahead, believing Him to be trustworthy in our future as He is in our present and has been in our past. 

Learn to walk confidently ahead, believing God to be faithful in your future as He is now and has been in your past Click To Tweet

Father, help me to grow a faith of unswerving loyalty and devotion to You—complete trust, without question, in whatever You ask of me. Something only possible in the strength and guidance of the Holy Spirit. Thank You, Lord!

“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

Reflections: In which area(s) do you struggle to trust God the most? What has grown your faith the most? 

Linking up with my friend Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday! Click to read lots of great encouragement. 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Faith, trust

The One Thing a Strong Woman Needs To Remember

The danger of being a strong woman is forgetting where our true strength lies.

The danger of being a strong woman is forgetting where our true strength lies. Click To Tweet

My hand in hers, I bent over her bed and rested my head on a pillow. I slumbered fitfully, waking often to nurses entering the room or my daughter’s whimpering as she stirred, confused and in pain. 

For 3 days I stayed by Rachel’s bedside, leaving only when someone insisted I take a break. It looked like I was muscling through my daughter’s recovery on my own strength.

Years ago that would have been the case, but no longer.

Rach and I weren’t the only two in that room during those long nights of her hospital stay. I had invited another. One who could and would carry us through.

strong woman - stronger God

The Breaking of a Strong Woman

As a young lady, I was an independently strong woman. Certain I could handle all that life threw at me.

Yet, thank God He showed me the cost of my independence—a hopeless heart—and the beauty of my surrender—persistent peace and joy. 

You see, being a strong woman isn’t all bad, but believing you can do it all on your own is.

Being a strong woman isn't all bad, but believing you can do it all on your own is. Click To Tweet

I could survive this life of raising a child with disabilities, the heartbreak of multiple miscarriages, the countless hardships that fill a sin-riddled world. I could survive … but I couldn’t live. 

To truly live, we all need a hope that’s beyond human understanding. An assurance of a strength that never wanes. A trust that’s anchored to something far more solid than what this world can offer.

To truly live, we must rest in the unshakable confidence of the Lord, not the flimsy hope of the flesh.

To truly live, we must rest in the unshakable confidence of the Lord, not the flimsy hope of the flesh. Click To Tweet

Great Loss, Greater Gain

I will always miss those five little ones that wait for me in heaven, but I’m grateful the Lord used my loss to give me great gain. He showed me what dependence on my own strength was costing me.

And as difficult as it is to raise a child with disabilities, I’m grateful God chose me. Because caring for this sweet blessing and planning for her future is an ongoing reminder of my need for One who is far stronger than I am. 

Without the continual bombardment of hard—hard in the unknown, hard in the known—I would saunter through life thinking I had all the answers.

I would miss the beautiful gift of God’s grace.

I would miss the peaceful shelter offered in the shadow of the Almighty.

I would miss the joy of knowing He has it when I fail.

Strong in the Lord

I’m still a strong woman. But even better, I’m growing into a woman strengthened by the Lord. And that’s a strength that will never fail.

In Isaiah 30:15, we are called to be still—to rest, to lie in quiet confidence as the Lord delivers us, makes a way for us, becomes our strength. Yet I still tend to run ahead too often, sure I know the way and have the strength to make it. But once again we are told: “Happy are all who wait patiently for Him”  (Isaiah 30:18d). 

Confidence is never fulfilled in our strength, because one day, in some circumstance, our strength will fail. Our confidence must be placed in the all-knowing, all-caring, ever-faithful Lord of the universe, whose power is all-sufficient and whose love is everlasting. 

Our confidence must be placed in the ever-faithful Lord, whose power is all-sufficient, whose love is everlasting Click To Tweet

Oh, Lord, help me rest in You … to be still in Your confidence … to trust in Your timing and strength. For You offer a confidence that lasts through all eternity!

“For the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, has said:
‘You will be delivered by returning and resting;
your strength will lie in quiet confidence.
But you are not willing.’” Isaiah 30:15

Reflections: Are you a strong woman? Do you invite God into those hard times or rely on your strength alone? How did you come to place your confidence in the Lord? 

I’m excited to link up with my friend, Suzie Eller, for #livefreeThursday. Click here to read lots of encouragement. 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Daily Living, Disability/Special Needs

What To Tell Yourself When You Wonder If You Are Enough

“We are all born originals—why is it so many of us die copies?”
-Edward Young

My early morning jog began as usual: cellphone on, earbuds in, audio version of Bible Gateway playing. Then I met her at the top of the hill. 

“How far have you gone?” She greeted me as she turned to circle a small, gravel parking lot. It was obvious that she enjoyed running and did it often. 

“I just started.” I answered after pulling out my earbud. I informed her I lived at the bottom of the hill and would be running the roads of the campground. 

We smiled and waved good-bye. My normal routine resumed.

However something had changed in me. I no longer felt confident or adequate as I compared myself to this running diva. 

Quite a few years older than I, she was still lean with muscular legs. Her skin glistened with sweat from what I assumed was nearly a dozen miles already run that morning. 

How did I compare? My jogging consisted of 2 miles of interspersed running and walking. Hardly up to her standards. 

A few minutes later, I passed her again as she put her little 4-legged jogging partner in a camper. Something (shame maybe) compelled me to address her again, pointing out that she was a far greater runner than I. 

Through no fault of hers, in her presence, I felt like a pretender.

Unfortunately, it’s not only in the area of exercise where I let myself feel inadequate. I excel at that exercise.

you are enough

The Lie

Feeling like I’m not enough comes all too easy. 

Not strong enough to parent a daughter who cannot tell me many of her wants and needs.

Not a wise enough mother to guide my grown children.

Not perceptive enough to make solid future decisions.

Not a skilled enough writer to get a publishing contract. 

Not dedicated enough to maintain my health. 

NOT ENOUGH!

It screams at me daily as I look at the lives of others. Increasingly, I’m able to bat the lie away; still, often I struggle to believe differently. 

Yet, my new jogging friend was gracious. As we rounded each curve of the road and crested each hill, she assured me that my exercise was enough for me, not only in the words she offered, but in her actions. 

She quietly matched her running to mine. I felt no judgement from her when I periodically slowed to a walk. No sigh of impatience. No whisper of relief when I began jogging again. 

She accepted my form of exercise as enough. Not enough for her, but enough for me. 

It Is Enough To Be Who You Are

What a wonderful show of grace; demonstrating to me that I don’t have to measure up to everyone else. I don’t have to jog as far or as fast, write as much or as well, sing as lovely. 

I don’t have to compare myself to others. Because God made us each original.

Don't compare yourself to others, because God made us each original. Click To Tweet

He placed each of us in a unique place.

He has a unique plan for each of us to carry out. 

And that’s reassuring to those of us who struggle to be enough. 

After all, we can never be enough in all areas. And what is enough anyway? 

But God will help us be enough for our individual circumstances. He has given us the perfect gifts to impact those in our sphere of influence.

He has a unique plan for each of our lives that we can embrace.  

And the rest? All we’re not doing? Those areas we fall short? 

God has it covered. Maybe He has someone else in mind to do it, or maybe He’s preparing it and you for another season of your life.

No matter, you and I are exactly enough (in the Lord’s wisdom and strength) to fulfill the assignments that are ours to do. 

We can count on it! 

Tell Yourself the Truth

I’m learning to believe it. Here are two things that have helped:

  1. Reminding myself daily of God’s sovereignty and goodness and who I am in His eyes. 
  2. Sifting out and focusing on those things God has called me to do, not those He’s delegated to someone else.

We are not our neighbor or that friend we admire. In fact, we can only effectively be us. The one and only me and you! 

So let’s work on ditching the comparison game. Instead, let’s walk out the best version of us we can. God can help. In fact, He will help. We just need to ask. 

And when those sneaky, “You’re not enough” accusations hit, send them packing by filling in the blank to this statement with the area in question. 

With God’s help, I’m exactly enough to __________________________!

Here’s my biggie: With God’s help, I’m exactly enough to parent my daughter well! 

Live confidently in your uniqueness: Fill in the blank, 'With God's help, I'm exactly enough to__________' Click To Tweet

As for my exercise routine? I’ll stick with my 2 mile walk/jog, thanks. It works for me, providing the right amount of dedicated exercise for this girl. 

“You did not choose Me, but I chose you. I appointed you that you should go out and produce fruit and that your fruit should remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He will give you..” John 15:16

Reflections: In what areas of life do you struggle to believe you’re enough? Next time you face that lie, what will you put in the blank?

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

 

Linking with Suzie Eller for livefreeThursday!

Posted in Christian walk, Daily Living, Worth

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Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's BLESSINGS to get lost in its HAPPENINGS. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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