For me, being a writer means that I’m a feeler. Sometimes, my feelings can become so big that they push out truth from my mind. Right now, it’s easy for me to slip into anxious patterns, to spend my day worried about my family, my students, and the future. In these moments, when my emotions feel like a tidal wave about to break, I go to the Psalms.
I love when David speaks to his soul like in Psalm 42:5—
“Why, my soul, are you so downcast?
Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God
for I will yet praise Him,
my Savior and my God.”
I love that David is brave enough to stare down his big feelings. He is downcast. He is disturbed. But he doesn’t allow himself to stay there. He puts faith in the character of God, over his feelings. David reminds his soul of who God is. It’s a practice that I do in my writing.
I want to share with you what I’m telling my soul in this season. I also want to challenge you to sit down and write encouragement to your own soul. Our feelings are real, but the faithfulness of God is more real.
Soul, in this season
of quiet rooms and streets,
let’s not be quiet.
When my heart fails and worries overtake me,
God is the strength of my heart
and my portion forever.
When TV spews its litany
of bad news and unknowns,
I will see the goodness of the Lord
in the land of the living.
When it’s easier to groan
about unfulfilled dreams and unmet plans,
Soul, let’s sing,
“He makes a way in the wilderness,
brings us to streams of living water.”
When I’m afraid and sad
and miss my friends so much I ache,
“Surely you are with me
until the very end of this age.”
Soul, decide. Choose.
Put a new hymn of praise
on your lips.
God is still good.
Have you ever noticed that the word “Emmanuel” is only mentioned around Christmas time? But it means “God with us.” Why shouldn’t it be used all year long? Let’s bring it back.
There’s no better time than right now to remind ourselves that He is with us. With the changing scene around us, I’ve been thinking about how hard it is to hold it all together. We’re juggling new vibes in our home lives and work roles have shifted, or potentially disappeared. Everything seems so out of our reach and control and we wonder if it will all come crashing down around us at any moment. Can we trust that He is Emmanuel still? Even when circumstances around us seem to say otherwise? I say, yes! He’s the same yesterday, today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
With all of these uncertainties in front of us, what should we actually DO when things get overwhelming – Or worse, when things are persistently mundane? I have two ideas: First, turn your eyes upon Jesus. Remember when you first believed? Go to that place and remember His great power and love. It’s the same now as it was then! If you’re reading this and not sure if you’ve said yes to His invitation yet, then why not do that right now? Check out John 3:16. He loves you very much! He’s as close as your next word. Here’s the other way we can look to Him. It’s very practical: look to His Word! Let’s do that now:
In John Chapter 20 (paraphrased), the scriptures tell us that Mary Magdelene was at the tomb early in the morning on the third day. It says she went while it was still dark. She was weeping and mourning the loss of her Lord and the scriptures record in verse 14, that she turned around and saw Jesus. But she didn’t realize it was Him! She thought he was the GARDENER! He asked her why she was crying and who she was looking for, and she asked him where he had put Jesus’ body. In verse 16, Jesus said to her “Mary.” And she turned toward Him and cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni!” He said her name. She then immediately knew He was with her.
Is He with us during this global pandemic? Yes. How can we tell? Stop and listen. Mary’s perspective was skewed by the darkness in the early morning and her foggy eyes from tears that had been understandably wept. Right now, our vision may be skewed by the uncertainties and confusion around us. But He has not changed! I encourage you to pause and listen for your name; He’s whispering it to you, today. He is still Emmanuel, God with us and you are loved by Him!
Ladies, I have to say, this past month has felt like I am stuck playing an awkward game of twister. My mental flexibility has been challenged and stretched daily, and in some form or fashion all of us have had to adapt to a new normal. Right when I feel like I actually understand the game-all of a sudden the rules changed on me!
There has been a daily learning curve, trying to figure out the best way to parent, teach, lead a team, cook, clean, be a good wife, work out, drink enough water- AND. STAY. SANE. But it never fails, the Lord in his sweet voice reminds me that there is grace for whatever situation or challenge I am facing that day. The joy for me has been found in the consistency, which allows me to remain strong in the storm.
Here are a few things that can help bring perspective to the day and us remain consistent, in this inconsistent world.
1) Set an intention for the day.
What are the top 3 things that you want to accomplish? Write it down that morning, or even the night before . When we write it down, it is more likely to happen! Grab a journal and use your favorite markers to make it fun.
Some days we may have larger things we want to tackle, and some days the goal for the day is to just keep everyone alive, that is fine!
2) Tell someone else your plan.
You should not hold other people accountable for your intentions. That places the burden on them to uphold your action, which doesn’t work. Instead, you want to hold yourself accountable to someone you choose to report your progress to. For example, I told my husband that I want to make sure I make time to read my Bible and pray in the morning, but it’s up to me to do the work and make it happen.
3) Figure out your “good enough” for the day.
Decide what your minimum level is for whatever you’re being consistent with. Spiritually, physically and mentally. Remember to Release yourself from perfectionism by simply showing up each day, finding your “good enough” and keep at it.
4) Be flexible.
Doing something consistently doesn’t mean you do the exact same thing every time, being flexible makes consistency possible.
Consistent living ultimately produces perseverance and a maturity that will help us grow spiritually and physically when handled properly.
I love the verse in Philippians 1:27 that says,
Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel.
I am praying for God to give each of us a clear perspective each in every day when we choose to seek him.
What do you do when you feel like you are under attack?
What’s your first reaction?
Three enemy nations came ready to attack and threatened the lives of all of God’s chosen people! 2 Chronicles 20 tells us of a King named Jehoshaphat and he’s leading God’s chosen people, the Israelites. Long story short, trouble came to Jehoshaphat in the form of the Moabites, Ammonites and Menunites. I’m not a math genius, but three armies against one does not seem like good odds in my book!
The story continues and tells us that “Jehoshaphat was afraid and set his face to seek the Lord, and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah.”
He set his face to seek the Lord. Oh, that my first reaction in this life would be to set my face to seek the Lord.
Hang on, cause this story gets even better!
Early in the morning all of Judah-ALL OF JUDAH, went out to the wilderness of Tekoa and there they praised the Lord together saying, “Give thanks to the Lord, for his steadfast love endures forever.”
Take note of this my friends!
“And when they began to sing and praise, the Lord set an ambush against the men of Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah, so that they were routed.” AKA a fancy word for pure DEFEAT sisters! Yes, and amen!
What can we learn from this?
Jehoshaphat was afraid…and that was okay.
God is not scared by all of our feelings. In fact, he tells us throughout scripture to come to him with our burdens – “Cast your burden on the Lord and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” Psalm 55:22
Praise went before the VICTORY.
Pure, genuine, and loving praise poured out for Our Creator. Here’s the thing, I’ve been learning about praise; praise recognizes God’s sovereignty and my own humanity. True praise deals deeply with our character. It’s not that I need to flatter God with how great He is. No, it has everything to do with my own posture and humility before God – ultimately it has everything to do with the state of my heart.
So, what is your first reaction when challenges come?
If this story stirs you at all, it’s the Holy Spirit and that is a very good thing. I encourage you to find a quiet spot, even if you have to lock yourself in the bathroom for a hot second – Take a breath and pour out your heart to God. But first…praise Him!
“For we live by believing and not by seeing.” 2 Corinthians 5:7
It was like these words had new meaning. I quickly typed out the note on my phone as I watched Pastor Rick teach. I couldn’t help but think about how many new and often alarming things I had seen in the last few weeks.
I had seen chaos.
I had seen panic and hysteria.
I had seen worst case scenarios predicted and frightening headlines.
I had seen greed and fear.
I had seen long lines, limitations, empty shelves, and “out of stock” signs.
I had seen cancellations.
I had seen the stock market crashing.
I had seen numbers rising and the virus spreading.
I had seen instability and lack of control.
Too many days and nights I have found myself living by what I’ve seen – living in fear, in anxiety, and in doubt. You, too?
Friends, this is not how we have been called to live. The Holy Spirit reminded me that our present circumstances should not determine how we live. Instead, we are called to live according to what we believe and know to be true about who God is and what He says about who we are in Him…even in the midst of our circumstances.
So, who is this God, what does He say, and what should we believe?
I have not given you a spirit of fear. (2 Timothy 1:7)
I will never leave you or forsake you. (Deuteronomy 31:6)
I have overcome the world. (John 16:33)
In Me, you will have peace. (John 16:33)
I am a refuge in times of trouble. (Nahum 1:7)
I will be with you wherever you go. (Joshua 1:9)
Sisters, these feelings are natural – we are living in unknown days and being asked to do things we have never done before (and there is grace upon grace as we figure it out). But when those doubts and fears arise and begin to determine the course of our days, let’s hold on to what we believe and steer our hearts to live, not by what we see, but what we believe about the Way, the Truth, and the Life.
Personal Challenge: Choose one verse to memorize this week. Write it on your mirror, save it as your lock screen, or stick it to your fridge. Remind yourself what you believe regardless of what you see.