Running to His arms

Are you hurt today, friend? Have the words someone has spoken to you hurt you? Are you tired? Worn out, exhausted? Had enough? Has life gotten overwhelming? Are you afraid the multitude of plates you’ve been spinning are going to come crashing down on you?

Oh, I’m there with you, friend. Too many sharp words, too little sleep, and an over-filled schedule squeezes the heart and mind. The temptation to bury the barbs of hurtful words is hard to ignore. The commitments of daily life overwhelm, and our patience with others runs thin. My schedule, though filled with all good things, chafes the definition and boundaries of this season of my life. Are you with me?

The burden, whatever it may be, isn’t meant to be “pushed through.” It isn’t meant to be carried alone. As we face the cares and concerns of this life, feeling the weight of heavy things, let’s not fail to do this: run to the right person with the hurt. That right person? It’s Jesus. Run to God. Run to Him with the pain, the burdens, the stuff of life.

 

He is enough. My heart will sing.

Blessings,

Angie signature

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All things

Cleaning out my desk the other day, I came across an old clothes-shopping list for my kids. Quite frankly, it jolted me with a fresh wave of grief. My heart twinged as I stared at the list.

Matt

matt and jonathan reading2
Matt reading to his youngest brother.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Seeing my son’s name in writing sort of threw me, you see. There are so many things we take for granted: like writing our child’s name. How frequently we write their names…until they are gone.

More and more, I grieve for my other children. Siblings are often the “forgotten grievers.” I ache for their loss. I weep for the times they will never have with their big brother, the memories they will never make with him. I cherish the moments I witness of Matt’s siblings interacting with one another, for I know we are not promised tomorrow, and these seasons are short-lived. But these moments bring a pang of bitter-sweetness to my heart, for I long for Matt to be here among them, to hear his quiet, sarcastic voice intermingle with theirs.

Yet I seek solace and comfort from another small item. Not a list, but a bracelet. A bracelet that declares “With God all things are possible.”

Gold Silver Matt bracelet (3)

Many parents say, “I couldn’t live without my child.” Some of us, however, don’t get a choice. We do live without our child. Every day. I’ve now lived six years without my son. My children have lived six years without their big brother. Matt’s siblings carry a loss daily, but they, too, carry this truth:

All things. All things, even living with child loss, are possible.

All things, even living with sibling loss, are possible.

While many bereaved siblings are the “forgotten grievers” by our society at large, they are not forgotten by God, nor us, the bereaved parents. We remember. We see you. We acknowledge you. Gentle hugs today to all bereaved siblings.

Blessings,

Angie signature

What to do

Oh, satan. You sure are having a heyday, aren’t you? I’m sure you’re all full of glee as you watch and see this country divide. You’re quite good at that, we know. Division, disunity, disagreement. They’re what you specialize in. That, and lies, of course. It’s quite easy for you, actually. Social media pretty much does it all for you, doesn’t it? I’m sure it’s been quite fun watching relationships implode via Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more.

Well guess what? God sees all. After all, His name is El Roi; the God who sees. But there’s something you forgot. You forget that unity, prayer, and the love of Jesus Christ transcends your agenda. You forget that God specializes in reconciliation. You forget that the only power you have is granted to you by El Elyon, God Most High. We see through you, satan. We, the children of God, see through your schemes. We refuse to exalt arguments above the authenticity of Christ. We stand with Jesus against the forces of evil because He stood up for us, the ones who recognized their need of a Savior. You were cast down. He was lifted up. You are the father of lies. He is the Truth, the way, and the life. You lead astray. He leads the Way. You glorify the created. He glorifies the Creator.

Satan masterminds division. His method of operation is distraction through faction. How successful his M.O. appears to be! But make no mistake: God is on the throne. He sits above the heavens, no one can fathom His understanding or greatness. (Isaiah 40:28, Psalm 145:3) What if we used social media, not to engage in arguments or the pointing of fingers, but to point to God? What if the answer to discourse was to bow the knee to Jesus, to obey Him and love others as Christ loved us? Friends, let’s not make such an easy target for satan. Let’s stand firm, then, on the finished work of Jesus Christ. May we cause satan to flee and God to be glorified.

Psalm 19

 

Blessings,

Angie signature

Listen up, Women!

You will never “do it all.” You will never be “enough.” You weren’t meant to be Super Woman. You aren’t even independent. Those feelings of inadequacy are there for a reason. Those feelings of pride and self-sufficiency? They aren’t your road to freedom: they are the chains that bind.

You need Jesus.

You need God and His strength. Your victory comes through Christ. It is only through Jesus Christ that you “can do all things.” It is only through God’s eyes that you are enough. It is only by His strength that you have strength. In depending on Him, you secure independence in Him.

You are woman, hear your LORD roar.

I don’t know about you, Girlfriend, but I can’t do it all. I am not strong. I am not enough. But He is. He is what allows me to accomplish what I do. He is my strength. He is my adequacy. He is my pride. I need God. And needing Him doesn’t make me weak. Instead, it effects the very opposite: it causes me to soar as on the wings of eagles!

You need Him.

Today, will you admit you need Him? Will you put down the idol of “self” and look to Him? You are not “less than” for being a woman. You are cherished, loved beyond measure. You are chosen and made in His image. Can you grasp “how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…” for you? (Eph.3:18b)

I pray you will be blown away, overwhelmed, by His love for you today, Friend!

Blessings,

Angie signature

Say it again

Philippians 4 starts out with a plea from Paul for two women within the church to get along. (Doesn’t sound familiar at all, does it?!) Paul goes on, then, to say, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Rejoice

Conflict resolution is tough stuff. Disagreement has a way of leaving a bad taste in the mouth, but Paul reminds us that our focus shouldn’t be on the conflict. It should be on standing firm in the Lord, on remembering that we are united in Christ, that our goal is the gospel. Conflict weakens the spirit and fosters discouragement. But unity is possible if we remember that Jesus Christ is in the midst. (verse 5) “The Lord is near.”

We can be pulled away from unity when we allow conflict to block our view of Jesus. And when we don’t see Jesus, we don’t find joy. Paul isn’t ignoring the problem, but urges the solution can be found in this: Rejoice in the Lord. Rejoice, not because everything is running smoothly, but in the Lord. Whatever conflict or relational issues there are, there is a call to rejoice in the Lord. Why? Because when we take these troubles to God, we preserve perspective. We gain peace and renew our minds when we rejoice in Him.

Rejoicing in the Lord allows us to tackle the hard work of conflict resolution with the right attitude and right motives. It keeps us mindful of God’s purpose; the purpose of unity. We can approach tough issues with gentleness and calm. Anxiety won’t run dress rehearsals in your mind when you rejoice in the Lord.

Does Paul say this is easy? No. But he says it’s worth it. Peace is the pay-off. Friends, let’s rejoice in the Lord. Whatever struggle you’re experiencing, you can rest in knowing that the joy isn’t in the circumstance, but in God. Rejoice that God is who He says He is. Rejoice that nothing is too difficult for Him. Rejoice that He will do what He says He will do. Rejoice that He is faithful. Rejoice that His love for you is deeper, wider, and stronger than any sorrow, circumstance, or hardship.

Rejoicing in Him,

Angie signature

Breathe. Just breathe.

Breathe. Just breathe. This has been my mantra the last several weeks. I don’t know about you, friends, but this change of season from summer to fall hasn’t been a relaxing ride. It’s felt more like a push and a shove, a sort of “thrown under the bus” transition. Whew. Are you feeling the same? Am I the only one?

In this time of rapid changes, I have clung to my morning devotions and launched more “arrow” prayers than ever before. I also have my Pandora station (Instrumental praise) playing non-stop. To battle these feelings of overwhelm, I also set up a prayer board in my kitchen. I found a bulletin board of sorts that I had lying around and put note cards with the names of people and loved ones to pray for on it. It has helped tremendously in taking the focus off of myself and my concerns and to, instead, lift others up in prayer.

The month of August felt like a truckload of boulders dumped atop of me. I was nowhere near done with home school planning for the school year, my eight year old broke his arm (while I was away at a conference! #momguilt), a friend died on the 31st (funeral was yesterday), and we welcomed our third foreign exchange student (also yesterday) into our home for the school year. Meanwhile, grave concern for a loved one battling drug and alcohol addiction remains.

As some of you know, I often say, “How do you eat an elephant?” (Answer: One bite at a time!) But this phrase isn’t working for me right now. In fact, I think I’m choking on elephant. I needed something different, a word of encouragement, something that didn’t make me feel like I was choking as I looked at the elephant that needed to be eaten. Elisabeth Elliot’s phrase “Do the next thing” seems a bit more palatable to me. I can’t look at how much elephant needs to be eaten. Instead, I need to stay focused on today, on right now. My throat constricts when I stare at the to-do list and the appointments on the calendar for the week.

Do the next thing. Just do the next thing. Don’t look at tomorrow, stay focused on today.

It’s all too easy for me to panic when I look at my calendar. This week alone, there are three doctor appointments with three different kids on three different days, three different music lessons with three different kids, and two meetings for various church and community commitments. And then there’s home school (plus public school). Throw in household responsibilities, grocery shopping, laundry, two teenagers vying for driving permit hours, etc., and you have a perfect recipe that requires more than a dash of “Breathe. Just breathe.” (Because, you know, it’s kinda hard to home school when you leave the house five times in one day!?!)

Do the next thing. Just do the next thing. Don’t look at tomorrow, stay focused on today.

I don’t know how I’m going to do it all, honestly. But I do know this: I’m going to trust God for His strength. I’m going to gulp grace that overwhelms, and plunge into a peace that surpasses understanding. I will remember that every breathe I take is because of Him.

I will breathe. Just breathe. And do the next thing.

Blessings,

Angie signature

 

 

 

 

 

When hope is lost

 

God of Hope

Hope? What hope? There is no hope. At least, that’s what some of us are thinking, right? Hope, for some people, doesn’t exist. They’ve lost all hope. They’ve lost all sense of direction, all purpose, and all expectation. Like the solar eclipse our country experienced yesterday, the circumstances and trials in their lives have blackened their view of hope.

How do you hope for what you can’t see and don’t believe is there? When hope is non-existent and you’re emptied of caring, what then?

Oh, my friend, be glad of this: The God of hope exists. The God of hope can and will fill you. There is hope because there is a God of hope.

Will you trust Him again? Will you trade your misery, your anger, your pain, and your disappointment for joy and peace? The hope you lack? He’s got it. He’s waiting and longing for you to bring your empty hands, palms up, to Him. If you trust Him in this, He will pour out hope until it overflows. Overflows.

When was the last time you felt overflowing hope, my friend?

You don’t have to be strong. You don’t have to be brave. You don’t have to be determined. God’s not asking you to come up with the strength, or the power, or even the desire. He’s already got that taken care of. This hope? It’s going to be poured out, overflowing, through the power of the Holy Spirit.

You? Your part, my friend? You have to trust Him. Trust Him because He, and He alone, is trustworthy. Today, right now, at this very moment, “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”

Blessings,

Angie signature