Hope for the Hard Days

No one is immune to trouble.

Job 5:7 but man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward.

For some reason, we tend to walk around in Christian circles believing that no one else struggles with the same challenges we have. Or that no one is dealing with sin like we do. We bury our real and true selves under a façade of fake smiles and trite expressions when in reality the moment we share that we really have had a bad day, or week and the other person smiles in relief with a “me too!”

If we are to bear each other’s burdens, there is a sacrifice that must be made. And make no mistake we are to do just this, but sometimes we underestimate the weight of that burden.

Galatians 6:2 Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.

I don’t know about you but when I read the headlines of the latest news broadcast and check in on Facebook to see the latest child abduction post, political rhetoric from all sides, and just the debauchery that exists in our world, I find my mind goes to a very negative place. Add in the prayer requests and needs of those who have lost loved ones, who are fighting the vicious monster cancer, and yet others who bear unbelievable heartache and heartbreak, it’s easy to believe that life is just too much.

In these times I am reminded that while I am told to bear each other’s burden, I am not doing any of this alone. As a matter of fact, the One who has given me my purpose and job to do here on this earth has already told me His yoke is easy and his burden is light!

Matthew 11:30 For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

How can this be, when there is so much to be weighed down with that is just what’s outside of me? When I add the weight of the sin I struggle against, the unexpected bad news I hear, or the prayers I pray for my own family – I must immediately turn to the One who knows, sees and hears all.  Laying my burdens and cares at His feet is the ONLY way that I can move forward in this life and help care for others in the way that they need from me. Just a few verses before He tells us His yoke is easy, He tells us in vs. 28

Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.

The enemy is crafty –he seeks to steal our joy in a multitude of ways, including the words that others say or don’t say, the pressure he applies to those walking outside God’s protection, and the rampant sin at work in our world. All of this combine to bear much weight on the Christian and even more so the Christian in ministry – because we feel those things so keenly. My heart literally hurts physically when I know that others who I care about, or who entrust me with their cares and woes need my support and prayer. Speaking and ministering at conferences can weigh me down quite literally where I need to rest for several days after. Writing and laboring over words that others need to hear can be physically exhausting because of the spiritual battle that is also taking place. Physical rest becomes necessary because of the mental, emotional and spiritual battles taking place.

This is why I sympathize for those in any position of Christian ministry and for their families. The weight they bear is heavier than we can know. The weight of their knowledge can be unfathomable.  The hits in ministry continue without an end in sight.

If you’re not in ministry, you still know the weight. As women we bear these burdens as well. Burdens for our family, our friends, and our church.  The Christian life MUST be lived in our consistent walk in the Word. The consistent practice of filling our minds with the words of Christ, then combined with the act of submission in prayer leaving the burdens we bear at the feet of the only One able to carry them for us.  If we avoid this, or underestimate its importance, we run the risk that our minds will be filled with the difficult news, the negative attitudes and the disappointing and sorrow filled headlines that scream for our attention. And the truth is what we fill our minds with becomes what we live out in our lives.

This morning I read in Hebrews 12 and I continued thinking through this further. This is part of the race we run.  See vs. 1,2

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

And then further vs. 12-14

Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed. Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

All of this rests squarely on our understanding that He is the source. The Holy Spirit power that resides in each of us at salvation.

Our hope truly rests in Him today. Without Him we can do nothing, and as much as we think we can carry our burdens on our own, we will fail miserably.

John 15:5  I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.

If we can’t bear our own burdens in our own strength how can we even begin to think that we can bear the burdens of others as we are commanded in Scripture?

Obedience follows obedience and our comfort and peace are in Him alone. While we cannot live in a vacuum and avoid the bad news or negative spirits around us, we can and must prioritize the place of His Word and prayer and meditation in our lives above the other noise.

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Life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies

by Angela Jamison – featured columnist

Life is hard.

After a particularly difficult day not getting everything exactly how she wanted it, my daughter, age six, went into a meltdown. The stars were not aligning properly and she just knew that if she had new barbies life would be perfect. My eight year old son, clearly wise beyond his years, simply told her, “Well, life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies.”

Life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies.

Hilarious, yet pertinent and insightful commentary. It’s true – life isn’t all cupcakes and barbies. Sometimes we feel entitled to “cupcakes and barbies” because we’ve accepted Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior, but that’s not what is promised to us. Eternal salvation is promised. Earthly ease is not.

In fact, life is sometimes down right crumby.

As Christians, we have the tendency to assume our place in the family of believers as one of Christ’s children means the absence of trials, tribulations or difficulties. That’s simply not the case. Satan is hard at work here on Earth and he will continue to rear his ugly head.

Being a part of Christ’s family does not mean life will be easy, but it does mean that we will never have to travel alone. The burden of pain, heartache, or trial will be shared and there will be an unyielding hope that resonates within us.

Joshua 1:9 – Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the LORD your God will be with you wherever you go.

God is not wishy-washy, he’s commanding. He commands us to be strong and courageous, not afraid or discouraged.  He commands these things because He, the Lord your God, will be with you wherever you go. Not once does he imply that we won’t face trials that frighten us or defeats that discourage us, but rather commands our behavior and attitude for when we do.

God prepares us with his word and his promise is steadfast. Even on the hard days, we are not alone.

Life may not be all cupcakes and barbies, but it is faith, hope and love.

Where to turn when you’re overwhelmed!

It doesn’t take long to feel overwhelmed in our daily lives.  Moms especially, while the masters of juggling many things, often find ourselves past our breaking point and feeling burnt out.  I’m not sure about you, but it tends to sneak up on me when I least expect it.  I seem to be able to manage many moving parts in general but one unexpected event, or added responsibility can cause me to teeter off.


What can we do when feel that the walls are collapsing in around us?  Running away is not the answer, although in many ways it feels like a viable option. Instead we have to turn to the Source of our strength and lean in to His power when we find ourselves at the end of our ropes.


Whether we are feeling financial or emotional pressure, marriage strain or any other myriad of other things, one constant remains.  

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change 

James 1:17

Catch the rest over at w2ministries.org where I write each Friday some encouragement for wives and moms!

Beauty from Ashes

Placeholder ImageMany years ago I had fostered a small dream of one day making a living composing music  and being published.  I worked up the courage to complete a song, record it and send it in to a nationwide songwriting contest and waited for my critique to return.  I say worked up the courage because frankly sending anything out to be critiqued is a frightful prospect for me!

This particular year had been and would continue to be a very dark time for us personally.  We struggled greatly, and God was consistently answering “no” to our urgent prayers.  It was a season of darkness, and I struggled to find my footing.

The result of the contest was an honorable mention, and the offer of a contract.  Unfortunately, at the time, I viewed it as a lost cause and that music writing was not for me.  I had written some other things at this time, but felt dissatisfied because the songs were very strained and lacked hope.  I decided that I wait to continue composing until I could be on the other side of the trial we were under.

Recently, I listened to someone recount a somewhat similar story.  He had gone through a particularly dark time, and as a creative person he had told stories to his young children each night.  He made up new adventures each night, and the kids begged for more.  But during his night season, he couldn’t create anymore and harshly told his children that he didn’t have any more stories and don’t ask anymore.  He has now found himself on the other side of his trial, and looks back with some regret but with the desire to redeem those moments now with his grandchildren.

It reminded me of my moment.  I spent time contemplating this weekend, and realized that as I was working on a proposal for another project that I thought I still had the paperwork from this song.  I pulled out the critique they had sent me way back then, and read through it again for the first time in nine years.  And I cried.  I cried because the words that should have encouraged me back then hadn’t.  I read generous words of hope on those pages, that should have given me hope then, but in the midst of my circumstance I couldn’t hear them.  I don’t even remember reading them. Ever.  As I read them this weekend, it was as if it was the very first time I had heard them.

Do you have something in the past that caused you great pain?  Was there hope offered to you in a time of trial, that maybe you missed because you were hurting too badly?  Let that encourage you today friend, because you can continue encouraging someone else with the knowledge that maybe they can’t hear you today.

Keep telling them to keep their chin up.

Maybe they can’t receive hope yet, because the way seems too dim.

Keep offering hope anyway.  

One day, in retrospect, the words may be a soothing balm or a sweet honeycomb that helps to encourage them in the future.

And friend, if you are the one hurting, keep grasping to the hope offered to you from friends and family, even if you need to hear it again and again.  Eventually the words will settle in your heart and mind, when you get beyond your current suffering.

Press forward, without looking back, and keep your eye on the prize!

Busyness

Hey friends,

Today is not a long blog post, but just a quick note to my friends who visit here looking for a word or two of encouragement.

First, I apologize that I am not terribly regular at posting here yet.  I’ll get better, I promise.  I seem to manage to get something posted each day on the Facebook page, but I haven’t been consistent posting here.

Second, thanks for sticking with me anyway!  Without readers, then there would be no point to posting.  My goal with this blog is to definitely encourage you, and so many of us need to hear a word of encouragement in our day.  The world tries very hard to bring us down and discourage us about the difference we are making, but I want to be back here applauding your efforts and encouraging you forward.  Take the next step and don’t look back – you aren’t going that way.

I’m going to share a couple links so you know what I’ve been up to and if you are not a member of the Facebook page yet, definitely join up – you’ll be glad you did!

This week I finally completed my self imposed challenge to memorize the book of James.  I am so excited that I was able to accomplish this.  And it was most definitely the grace of God that allowed it because my brain was addled most days! here’s the link if you’d like to verify that I actually did it 🙂

Last week, I completed a project that I had worked on that should be published later this year.  It’s a contracted work for hire, and I was so excited to play a small role in it.

This month, I am helping with Beauty and the Beast, Jr. at our local community theater, DFT and teaching vocals – which is also keeping me very busy.

Lastly, I just worked on a new post about life lessons over on my other blog, if you’d like to see it – go here

I’m working on some ideas for posts here, so I’ll be back in the next few days – promise 🙂  In the meantime I pray you will each have a very lovely weekend with your families, and will find time to rest!

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If you find it hard to rest, then go here, and meditate on God’s word and color for a little downtime.  I love today’s passage – so meaningful AND encouraging!

 

When the Music stops

pablo-4I was recently talking on Facebook with a college friend.  She has had some very grave trials in her married life and she is just starting to take up her music again.  She is a talented singer, pianist and teacher.  It reminded me of a dark time in my life, when it seemed like that thing that I loved so much, music, and writing music, made no sense anymore.  My writing was dark, and not hopeful, and I stopped composing.  I stopped playing because it just felt fake.

I wonder have you been there?  Have you encountered a time maybe when your joy was less than full and the thing that you loved brought you more pain than happiness?  My musical journey has been more painful than anything, and yet it’s still something that I have invested a lot of time and energy in.  God has blessed in amazing ways but not always the way I wanted him to.

I was thrilled my friend, had enough distance from her trials to be able to feel the music again.  Whether you are in the middle of the pain, just starting or just ending a trial, there is hope.  God is our lamp in the darkness and while he doesn’t remove our pain or grief, He does promise to walk with us through the darkness, and to turn into eventually into light! (II Sam.22:29)

I hope you find encouragement here.  Tragedy doesn’t keep us sidelined forever.  God makes a way for us to make the music again.  My prayer is that you can find great comfort in these words!