New Things Starting Here May 1!

Have you ever stood on the edge of something that was like the best combination of excitement and scared out of your mind?

God is calling me to step out in faith and move like I’m actually believing Him on this whole thing. Starting May 1st, new things are happening for Women Who Believe

This whole thing started one day when I was eating Mexican food with a friend (by the way all stories should start this way). My amazing friend, Lisa Williams, has a super impressive/famous resume (former morning show host at K-LOVE), but I think she’s incredible for so many other reasons. One, she loves Mexican food. Two, she adores my children. And three, she is one of the most passionate people I know, and (seriously) just ask her about Jesus and she might just talk and cry and laugh for an hour straight.

The more we ate the more we dreamed. And as lunch and chips and Dr. Pepper progressed, our dreams got bigger and our ideas got bolder. Our conversation was filled with lots of “what if” questions, “what if we really stepped out in faith”, and “what if God were to truly ask us to do brave things for Him”. As we wrapped up lunch, we knew all these thoughts were way beyond what we could do alone and we had no choice but to absolutely seek His face and ask for enormous buckets of wisdom.

And so, after months of praying, and questioning, and wondering, Here.We.Go…

ONE! Beginning May 1st, Lisa is launching a new radio show called “Life with Lisa Williams”.  This show will be 20-30 minutes every single day, packed with great guests, compelling stories and ideas, and whatever else might be current or funny or creative. If you know Lisa, or if you’ve listened to her, you know it’s going to be EPIC. She’s amazingly talented and ridiculously gifted, and God is going to use her show in mighty ways to reach people for Jesus Christ. 

TWO! (here’s where the excitement and freak collide) Women Who Believe is partnering with “Life with Lisa Williams” to become a resource for those who want to know more about Jesus and take in His Word in a deeper, more personal way. We’ll be creating podcasts, Bible studies, resources and a place for community, a space for women to really soak in and believe God for all that He is in their lives.

Many of you have been with me from the very beginning when we started four years ago. I originally started this blogsite for the amazing women of my home church who were asking for a summer Bible study. Because summer’s crazy for everybody, and nobody could honestly commit to teach every week, I decided to write an online study and we our launched into our first Summer Series and took on the book of Psalm.

Since June of 2011, God has given us such incredible opportunities, and Women Who Believe now reaches beyond my own amazing church and includes beautiful women from Texas, Illinois, Brazil and South Africa. 

So, as I step out in faith, as I think about my dreams for this whole thing, I think I want just two things:

COMMUNITY. I want to be a part of a community of women who desperately want to believe God for all that He is. Women hungry for Jesus Christ. Women who are real, and honest, and want to love their families with all they’ve got. Women like you and me, seeking to know God right in the middle of all our beautiful and messy everydays.

RESOURCES. I want to know God’s Word, and I want to do that with this incredible community. So we’re going to offer resources, studies, podcasts (and maybe even events?!), that will encourage and challenge us to soak in the Truth of God’s Word and make room for Him to change us from the inside out.

I SO WANT YOU TO JOIN ME.

Lisa has launched a Kickstarter Campaign for this whole crazy thing, (caution, her enthusiasm is contagious so only watch when you’re ready).

And I’m working on getting this all up and running by May 1.

So much. So thankful. So excited.

I’m so very grateful to be doing all this with you. Whoosh.

Stay tuned. Like us on Facebook. Who knows how God might use a little lunch with salsa.

If there are words for Him then I don’t have them ~ A Spoken Word

As we awaken,

as our hearts awaken to Easter this day… 

this.

Listen or read, a spoken word by Isaac Wimberley, woven into Kari Jobe’s “Forever”. 

THE WORD

If there are words for Him then I don’t have them

You see my brain has not yet reached a point
Where it could form a thought
That could adequately describe the greatness of my God

And my lungs have not yet developed the ability
To release a breath with enough agility
To breathe out the greatness of His love

And my voice, my voice is so inhibited
Restrained by human limits
That it’s hard to even send a praise up

If there are words for Him then I don’t have them

My God

His grace is remarkable
Mercies are innumerable
Strength is impenetrable

He is honorable, accountable, and favorable
Unsearchable yet knowable
Indefinable yet approachable
Indescribable yet personal

He is beyond comprehension
Further than imagination
Constant through generations
King of every nation

But
If there are words for Him then I don’t have them

You see my words are few
And to try and capture the one TRUE God
Using my vocabulary will never do

But I use my words as an expression
An expression of worship to a Savior
A Savior who is both worthy and deserving of my praise

So I use words

My heart extols the Lord
Blesses His name forever
He has won my heart, captured my mind
And has bound them both together

He has defeated me in my rebellion
Conquered me in my sin
He has welcomed me into His presence
Completely invited me in

He has made Himself the object of my sight
Flooding me with mercies in the morning
Drowning me with grace in the night

But
If there are words for Him then I don’t have them

But what I do have…Is Good News
For my God knew that man-made words would never do
For words are just tools that we use
To point to the Truth
So He sent his son Jesus Christ as THE WORD
Living proof

He is the image of the invisible God
The firstborn of all creation
For by Him all things were created
Giving nothingness formation

And by His word He sustains, in the power of His name
For He is before all things and over all things He reigns
HOLY IS HIS NAME!!

Praise Him for His life
The way He persevered in strife
The humble Son of God becoming the perfect sacrifice

Praise Him for His death
That He willingly stood in our place
That He lovingly endured the grave
That He battled our enemy
And on the third day rose in victory

Praise Him because He rose!!
Hallelujah He rose!!
He is everything that was promised

Praise Him as the risen King
Lift your voice and sing
For one day He will return for us and we will finally be
United with our Savior for eternity

So it’s not just words that I proclaim
For my words point to the WORD
And the WORD has a name
Hope has a name
Joy as a name
Peace has a name
Love has a name
And that name is Jesus Christ
Praise His name FOREVER!

by Isaac Wimberley

Critics, Cynics and Childlike Faith | Opening up Your Heart to all that is Easter Weekend

Today was one of those days I wish I could have hit the record button so I could play it all back again.

Today was field trip day to the aquarium with my 6 year old and his first grade class. So I put everything on hold to spend the day at this overpriced amazing aquapalooza with hundreds of school-aged little ones my son. Teachers, parents, and kids, all organized into groups and let loose to take in and absorb all that is fish.

I found my group and my fellow parent, and we set out with our little pool of four kids. We stepped into what looked and smelled like a rain forest, full of trees and tanks and kids bouncing from one side to the next, as we tried to keep track. My co-leader and I chatted, covering the basics from number of kids to number of years at the school. It was pleasant and sweet and mostly inconsequential, until both of us noticed something almost simultaneously: the amount of joy that was busting out of our kids.

EVERY.THING.WAS.AMAZING!

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My son’s eyes were completely bright, filled with wonder at all he was taking in. Every new fish, new creature, new exhibit, it was all just awesome. He felt everything so deeply and with so much passion that it made us both take notice.

As I stopped long enough to really see his joy, all I could think about was…this is childlike faith.

This is what Jesus talked about in Matthew 18 when He put children and faith into the same sentence and challenged all the grownups in the place to really sit up and take a look. He challenged them to see their innocence, the openness and trust in their eyes, their passion, unjaded by the cares of the world.  Or expectations.  Or opinions of others. Little ones, simply recognizing the wonders of His Love.  With childlike faith.

My son showed me so much today:

1. Childlike faith is awesome. We should have more of it. But often we’re culturally encouraged to keep our faith-enthusiasm to a controlled and dull roar. Don’t speak too much, don’t feel too much, JUST STAY COOL. Stay between the lines, because not only are they our friends, they need to be the standard.

Ugh. I might be over that.

My boy felt every single feeling possible, from excitement to awe to pain (rocked his head). If he saw something awesome he’d call his buddies over or beg me to take a picture of it. It wasn’t contained, it was big and real and all his.

2. Childlike faith is contagious. Because when you’re around someone with that much passion you can’t even help yourself. At one point during the tour there were about 20 adults with just as many kids standing in this tunnel looking up at the water over us, fish, turtles and manta rays everywhere. Here’s what I noticed – every adult in that space was emulating their child’s enthusiasm, almost giddy at how cool everything was. 

When I’m around people who are passionate about who God is in their lives, I want what they have. People who believe God to the depths of their soul, who keep their eyes locked on Him through their good and beautiful and painful moments bolster my faith. 

Unfortunately, we live in a culture that’s filled with cynics of passion. Too much emotion and you might be labeled high maintenance or just a little bit over the top.

Standing in that tunnel I tried to picture the moment without kids, just 20 adults looking up at a bunch of fish. I think it would have been a completely different scene. It certainly would have been quieter, less wow! and cool! remarks, less obvious emotion and enthusiasm. 

Not nearly as much fun for any of us.

So what does any of this have to do with Easter?

As we enter into the most meaningful weekend of our faith, here’s where this all lands in me…

I want you and I to walk into this weekend with childlike faith.

I want us to be present in every single moment.

To feel every drop of our Good Friday services. Open our eyes and hearts to recognize the emotions, the heaviness of what the cross of Jesus Christ means.

I want us to take time in God’s Word, opening up the gospels’ accounts of what Jesus endured on our behalf. 

Then on Sunday, girlfriends, let’s worship Him. Listen to the words that are read and sing from your soul. Let’s worship Him because of this one incredible, life changing truth…He is alive.

Let this Easter weekend serve as a reconnection to that passion that began in us the moment we trusted Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of our lives. The One who loves us just as we are, who invites us into a real relationship with Him.

Let us be women who stand and worship Him this Sunday, with all that we are.

Standing with childlike faith.

Prayer IS the Greater Work

This quote from Oswald Chambers has been messing with me lately:

Prayer does not equip us for greater works— prayer is the greater work.

Woman-praying

Prayer is the greater work.  

Not talking about it more with my girlfriends.  

Not analyzing it to death. 

Not trying harder, or working smarter, or staying ahead of all the options.

Prayer isn’t that thing I check off my to-do list before I go accomplish the great stuff. The great stuff happens when I am praying.  

Jesus set this example over and over again. He prayed with His disciples. He prayed in front of massive crowds. He withdrew to quiet places and prayed. Moments before His betrayal and arrest, He was entrenched in one of the most desperate prayers of His earthly life.

Jesus wanted to pray because He desperately wanted to talk with His Dad. His prayers were not some pompous example of speaking really lofting things…this was His Father. And He knew to the very core of His being this one thing: His Father was listening.

I want to pray more.  

I want to pray more because my Father, who loves me as His daughter, is listening to me. He has extended an open invitation to approach Him, to come to Him, to pour out my heart to Him. And by accepting that invitation, I have a holy conversation…with God. THAT is where the great stuff happens. Not in my accomplishments, or my check lists, or my five-year plan. 

The great stuff happens when I’m on my knees praying my heart out for my daughter, instead of worrying about her future. The great stuff happens when I’m in the middle of a tough conversation with a hurting friend and I beg God to give me supernatural wisdom. The great stuff happens when I tell Him my worries and fears and He replaces them with truth and peace.

I need to remember that. God help me remember that. Help me remember that you.are.right.there. Always.

But I forget. I forget that He wants to give me truth and wisdom. So I take matters into my own hands and try to work it out and prove that I can handle it. If I could just do it “right enough” then I would be “good enough”. That ugly lie needs to die.

Prayer. It strips away the lie, bringing me back to Truth Himself. The Truth that assures me that He loves me, just as I am. The Truth that says “come to Me, and you will find rest for your soul”. The Truth that sets me free.

My amazing friend, Lisa Williams, recently told me God gave her three very specific words regarding prayer:  

Imperative. Important. And Paramount.

Prayer is imperative, important and paramount. Prayer is the greater work.

What if we really believed that?  What if today, instead of taking it all on yourself, you prayed?

What if instead of just trying harder, you believed to the depths of your being this one thing: your Father is listening. He is listening, and He sees you right there, in this moment, doing your amazing, beautiful and ridiculously challenging life. He knows you have a to-do list, He knows you have a five-year plan. He knows what makes you laugh, and what brings you joy. He sees your hurting and shattered heart. He sees you.

For God so loved…

Yes. I know, it’s all just crazy. Without a doubt, there is so much going on. SO much that does not make a drop of sense. I find myself saying the phrase “I don’t understand that” a lot. But instead of trying to untangle all those unknown knots, I have GOT to bring it to Him. I desperately want my internal reaction to change from “I gotta figure it out” to “Oh, Lord, we have got to talk about this”.

Prayer is the greater work.

Always.

Oh, Lord, help me remember that today.

“Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your soul.'” Matthew 11:28-29

Maybe Sit Here for a Moment, Before the New Year

His brown eyes sparkled as he told me every last detail.

My son’s eyes slay me.  And with so many stories to tell during these holiday-days, I am often completely taken with the joy in his eyes. 

I use to sit in wonder of those moms who seemed to actually enjoy school breaks with their kids.  I was not that mom.  I was mostly afraid of this huge space of time and would have mini-panic attacks as to how I would keep my four always moving little ones occupied and entertained.  

But this break has brought about a different reaction.  I want to sit and soak in every moment.  Soak in the stories.  The laughter.  The mess.  Sit still . .  yes, sit still . . . and look on with remembrance at all that God has done in my children’s lives in the past year.  Remember His workings, in my own life.  How He’s called me to live in the present.  To stop comparing.  To slow down to see the joy in their eyes.

We are so quick to move on, aren’t we?

relogio do tempo

We want the next thing, the next challenge, the next answer.  The next year.  We want to move on.  So much that’s been hard, difficult, painful.  Yes, so much.

But what has been good?  What has been good from these holiday-days, from this season . . . from this year?

What if we took some time, before we cross into January 1st once again, to pause and look back?  Instead of marching forward with resolutions and resolve, what if we first stopped to remember?

When we stop to remember, we say yes to how God has worked in our lives.  

But so often we forget and move on.  We just keep looking forward.  So much to do, calendars to fill, goals to be accomplished.  And although not intentionally, we can quickly become self-sufficient, trusting our to-do lists…tuning out His voice.  We move so fast that we forget.

I need space to remember.

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I am learning that while I must have plans, and hopes, and dreams, my soul needs that quiet place to rest.  To reflect.  To take note of how great is my God and how mightily He has moved in my life.

It’s difficult to find the time, isn’t it?  In our fast moving world, it’s nearly impossible to slow down.  However, we hear stories so often of friends or family, those who’ve lost sight of God’s goodness.  Stories of lives who have forgotten the great wonders He has shown them, the miracles He has done.  We read those very same stories in scripture, places like Psalm 78:11-12 and Nehemiah 9:16-17.  And if we’re honest, we are all prone to see only what’s right in front of us, quickly forgetting the stories of just how far He’s taken us.

I want to remember.

What if we took some time to do that, as we soak in these last few moments of 2014?

What are your stories from this year?  Stories, filled with wonder and joy…challenge and questions…loss and deep pain.  How would you recap your year?  

Maybe set aside some time and remember…

  • What are your best experiences from 2014?
    • Why did they make the list?
    • What would you take from those times into 2015? (relationships, laughter, love, forgiveness, experience)
  • How have you seen your own walk with the Lord deepen this year?
    • What brought about this strengthening?  Daily time with Him?  A specific study or event?
    • How has this  impacted your every day?  Your relationships?
  • What Bible passages or specific verses have meant the most to you this year?
    • Why?  How have these Words impacted your life?
    • How have you been strengthened as a result?  Changed?  
  • What has been difficult or painful this year?
    • How has this hurt shaped you and drawn you to the Lord?  
    • How does this bring you joy, knowing that your struggle has brought a greater dependence, wonder and love for Him?

Is there one word that would wrap up His goodness in your life this year?  If so, write it down as your Ebenezer, or your stone of remembrance.    

Then look up.  And remember that your Father has been there through every drop of your story.  

He has seen your path this year, He has walked with you.  

He has been completely taken with the joy in your eyes, for He Himself was slain, to bring about your very own story of redemption.  

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him, endured the cross . . . Hebrews 12:2

 

A Thanksgiving Story of Fleas, Nazi Germany and JOY

‘”Fleas!’ I cried. ‘Betsie, the place is swarming with them!’

“We scrambled across the intervening platforms, heads low to avoid another bump, dropped down to the aisle and hedged our way to a patch of light.

“‘Here! And here another one!’ I wailed. ‘Betsie, how can we live in such a place!’

“‘Show us. Show us how.’ It was said so matter of factly it took me a second to realize she was praying. More and more the distinction between prayer and the rest of life seemed to be vanishing for Betsie.

“‘Corrie!’ she said excitedly. ‘He’s given us the answer! Before we asked, as He always does! In the Bible this morning. Where was it? Read that part again!’

“I glanced down the long dim aisle to make sure no guard was in sight, then drew the Bible from its pouch. ‘It was in First Thessalonians,’ I said. We were on our third complete reading of the New Testament since leaving Scheveningen.

“In the feeble light I turned the pages. ‘Here it is:  “Comfort the frightened, help the weak, be patient with everyone.  See that none of you repays evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to all…’” It seemed written expressly to Ravensbruck.

“‘Go on,’ said Betsie. ‘That wasn’t all.’

“‘Oh yes:’… ‘”Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.’”

“‘That’s it, Corrie! That’s His answer. “Give thanks in all circumstances!” That’s what we can do. We can start right now to thank God for every single thing about this new barracks!’ I stared at her; then around me at the dark, foul-aired room.

“‘Such as?’ I said.

“‘Such as being assigned here together.’

“I bit my lip. ‘Oh yes, Lord Jesus!’

“‘Such as what you’re holding in your hands.’ I looked down at the Bible.

“‘Yes! Thank You, dear Lord, that there was no inspection when we entered here! Thank You for all these women, here in this room, who will meet You in these pages.’

“‘Yes,’ said Betsie, ‘Thank You for the very crowding here. Since we’re packed so close, that many more will hear!’ She looked at me expectantly. ‘Corrie!’ she prodded.

“‘Oh, all right. Thank You for the jammed, crammed, stuffed, packed suffocating crowds.’

“‘Thank You,’ Betsie went on serenely, ‘for the fleas and for–‘

“The fleas! This was too much. ‘Betsie, there’s no way even God can make me grateful for a flea.’

“‘Give thanks in all circumstances,’ she quoted. It doesn’t say, ‘in pleasant circumstances.’ Fleas are part of this place where God has put us.

“And so we stood between tiers of bunks and gave thanks for fleas. But this time I was sure Betsie was wrong.”

The Hiding Place, by Corrie Ten Boom

images-2Corrie Ten Boom was a Dutch woman from Holland who suffered and survived the atrocities of a Nazi concentration camp.  Her story is one of amazing faith, and if you haven’t read The Hiding Place, I highly recommend it.

From this excerpt, Corrie tells of the wretched living conditions of the barracks, and her sister’s insistence that they give thanks in all circumstances.  I can’t imagine a more unfair, more horrific situation than what the Ten Boom sisters endured.

Yet her sister Betsie gave thanks for the fleas.

Who does that??

Ravensbruck was a Nazi concentration camp for women, a place where the inmates suffered greatly, many were gassed, shot or worked to death.  Here, Corrie and Betsie spent their nights in cram-packed barrack and their days working painfully miserable tasks at a nearby factory.  

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Despite their desperate circumstances, they secretly and timidly began to hold evening meetings where they would read from their smuggled Bible.  Night after night they would meet, and women would press in to be there.  So many would come that they had to have a second meeting.  

Corrie and Betsie continued these meetings because for some reason, they had little to no supervision in their area of the barracks, known as the dormitory.  Guards and police were everywhere but they rarely, if ever, came back to the dormitory.  They could not understand why.   

Until one afternoon.  There was a request for a guard to come back to the dormitory to settle some confusion.  The guard refused.  He said he wouldn’t go back there because “that place is crawling with fleas!”  

Corrie remembered.  

“My mind rushed back to our first hour in this place. I remembered Betsie’s bowed head, remembered her thanks to God for creatures I could see no use for.” 

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus.’”

Stories of women like Corrie and Betsie, their incredible faith and love for the Lord, encourage and challenge me to my core.  My life is no where near the intensity of theirs, yet they found strength in the truth of God’s Word, clinging to His instructions to give thanks in everything.

The Ten Boom sisters learned the joy of giving thanks.  

I read a quote recently that completely grabbed my attention:

“It’s not happy people who are thankful.  It’s thankful people who are happy.”

Is that true?  Does being thankful really impact a life like that?  What if I tried that?  What if I became (so much more) intentional about being thankful in every single thing?

Thankful.  In the beautiful and messy of it all.

Thankful, for the mound of laundry, and the clothes I have and the water available for use.

Thankful, for the appointments and the schedule, and every opportunity at each one.

Thankful, for the toys around my house, and the children that play with them.

Thankful, for the smudges on the windows and the people whose hands put them there.

Thankful, for the dishes to be put away, and the food that made them dirty.

Thankful, for the “fleas” in my life, those areas that seem to have nothing good in them, knowing that God will use every last one of them for His good and His glory.

Because giving thanks ushers in His JOY.   

Giving thanks changes us from the inside out.

Giving thanks realigns everything.

THANKSGIVING ushers in His JOY.  

“Giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…the Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in Him, and I am helped.  My heart leaps for joy and I will give thanks to Him in song…O Lord my God, I will give you thanks forever.”  Ephesians 5:20, Psalm 28:7, Psalm 30:12

Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.  1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

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For additional encouragement and community throughout the week, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/womenwhobelieve.

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Aware of His Presence…What If We Lived Here?

This summer I read a book that has easily become one of my top five.

Soul Keeping, by John Ortberg, has stirred up stuff in me like few books ever have.  Its premise is that I’ve been given only one soul, Jesus said it’s worth more than the whole world and I MUST watch over and care for it with great intentionality.

I’ve underlined almost the entire book, but there’s one quote that’s really stuck with me:

“How many moments of my life today can I fill with conscious awareness of and surrender to God’s presence?”

How many times in my day am I aware of His presence?

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Because truthfully, God’s invitation is everywhere.  He invites us to be with Him.  He urges us to abide with Him.  To walk in the light and stay near Him, right beside Him, covered and surrounded by His presence.  

Because He knows that when we are with Him, we experience a really simple and beautiful outcome: JOY.

“In Your presence there is fullness of joy.”  Psalm 16:11

Who doesn’t want more joy?  

So often, though, we give our joy away.  We give it away when our world spins.  When to-do lists get bigger.  When everyone wants something.  When circumstances flip upside down.

We give away our joy and we hang on to what our eyes can see and respond in a way our hearts have come to know – responses of fear and impatience and anger, because they just seem to feel better in the moment.  Fear, impatience and anger become our soothing blankets as we stay stuck in the awful (yet known) problems of life.  

Because if we’re honest, known problems are easier than trying to reclaim joy.  

It’s easier to keep complaining about it all than to seek His face.  It’s easier to just keep reacting the same way, responding the same way, to stay stuck in the cycle of screwup, shame and repentance, than to open up a heart and allow God to truly change it from the inside out.

But what if we decided that known and same aren’t working anymore?

What if we decided we want to do this whole thing differently?

What if we took Jesus up on His relentless invitation to be with Him, be in His presence, and actually experienced His joy?

Oh, that sounds so great in theory.  How in the world do I make that a reality?

Because habits are hard to break, aren’t they?  The way we respond so often becomes a pattern, and when that pattern is negative, full of worry or frustration, that becomes our habit.

I hate that.  

Attitudes will take hold or words will pour out of me, exposing that I’m not at all aware of His presence in that moment.  

Today, however, what if I lived differently?

What if I lived aware of His presence?

Today, as your day builds…or circumstances move…or you’re tempted to fear, or complain…

…what if today you decided to stand up to some of those known and same responses and instead, whispered some of these…then said them louder:

God, YOU are with me.

Holy Spirit, I completely trust that You are working in this.

Lord, I set my eyes directly on You.

Holy Spirit, you are welcome here.

God, in Your presence there is fullness of joy.

In Your presence is fullness of JOY.  

Above all else, God wants you with Him.  So much good comes right in that place of being with Him in the middle of the beautiful mess of your every day life.  God relentlessly pursues you, offering you an invitation to return to Him and be with Him.  

Take Him up on it.  

Let us become more aware of Your Presence, let us experience the glory of Your goodness…

Extra time?  Here’s that amazing song “Holy Spirit”, by Kari Jobe 

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For additional encouragement and community throughout the week, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/womenwhobelieve.

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Why We Must Remember and How It Impacts our JOY

Last summer our family took an amazing vacation to the Pacific Northwest.  

I’d never spent a significant amount of time up there, I’d been through Seattle’s airport but never north of there – OH MY WORD.  It’s like everything amazing all rolled into one place ~ ocean, farms, towns, mountains, lakes.  And I think everybody up there just tells us it rains all the time because they don’t want everyone to move there, because it was beautiful every single day.  No rain, just amazingness.  I never wanted to leave.

The other morning I asked my kids what they remembered most about our trip, and they went crazy with stories, everyone talking over one another, about all they’d remembered.  

One of my favorite memories was an evening we had in a small town on the Puget Sound.  It was right as the sun was going down and we’d ran (literally) down to a pier so we could take in a front row seat to watch the sunset.  We sat on the dock of this bay, and just took it in.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERASeriously, so pretty.  Such a happy spot.

What do you think about when you remember some of your vacations or great adventures? If we were to sit across from one another at a coffee shop, what would you tell me about?  What life events have brought you immense joy?  Wedding days, births, adventures…what would you tell me?  Chances are your face would light up as you would recount the details, the beauty, the laughter and the deep emotion you felt inside by just being in that moment.

We are in the middle of our November JOY Series, and God has been stirring so much in me this month, and He brought home an incredible truth for me this past weekend.

Our family is in the middle of a huge transition, as my husband gets ready to be the Campus Pastor at one of our church’s new sites.  As the Women’s Director, I spend a lot of time thinking about how this new endeavor will impact our ladies, but Friday night I was in full mama-mode, and the mama bear in me began to come out and have a meltdown.  Why?  Because I love my church.  I love the pastors, I love the children’s ministry, I love the student ministry and what in the world are we thinking pulling our kids up out of that steady environment and dropping them into an arena that’s unknown, unsure and actually not the most ideal spot to do church.  What if nobody comes, or nobody cares, or what if my kids don’t like it or even worse, what if my kids don’t care?

What if it all doesn’t go right?!

I went to sleep that night and woke up the next morning, filled with questions and worry.  I opened my eyes and saw my Bible next to my bed, and I reached for it almost like a life preserver and asked Jesus, “what do you have to say about all of this?”.

Oh, Jesus took me to church.  He brought me to Mark 8.  In Mark 8, we see the story of Jesus as He feeds the 4,000.  He has so much compassion on the masses that He performs a miracle of multiplication, over and over again, with the few available bread and fish.  Everybody – every single person – was fed until they were full, with baskets of leftovers.  Later that day Jesus and His disciples go out on a boat, and it says a discussion arose about some of them getting hungry but nobody had remembered to bring any bread, and what were they going to do.  Here’s the story, starting in verse 16:

They began to discuss with one another the fact that they had no bread. And Jesus, aware of this, said to them, “Why do you discuss the fact that you have no bread? Do you not yet see or understand? Do you have a hardened heart? Having eyesdo you not seeand having earsdo you not hear? And do you not remember, when I broke the five loaves for the five thousand, how many baskets full of broken pieces you picked up?” They said to Him, “Twelve.”  “When I broke the seven for the four thousand, how many large baskets full of broken pieces did you pick up?” And they said* to Him, “Seven.”  And He was saying to them, “Do you not yet understand?”

Picture the scene.  The disciples in the boat, with Jesus standing right there, talking about being hungry.  I imagine Jesus letting the conversation go on for a little bit until He just had to step in and bring some divine clarity to it all.  And then He starts asking questions.  Really great questions, like why are you even discussing this?  Do you not see what’s happening here?  DO YOU NOT REMEMBER WHAT I JUST DID?  

Then He gives them a rhetorical quiz, asking them to recount how many baskets of food they’d picked up from both of the massive miracles He’d performed.  And finally, He bottom lines it for them all, “Do you not yet understand?”

As I sat there in the quietness of the early morning, I felt as if Jesus was asking me some really great questions.  Not with condemnation.  Not at all.  But with very direct intentionality.

“My girl, do you not yet understand? I am the One who multiplies.  I will bring and save and redeem those that need to be at this church.  I see you.  I see your children.  Do I not know the people and the friends your children will need as they enter into this next season of their lives?  Do you not trust that I will bring them exactly who and what they need to be the men and women of God I’ve created them to be?  Do you not remember all I have done in the past for you and your family?  And will I not be with you, even now?  Do you not yet understand?”

As I closed my Bible, and as I began to think through all these questions, all my humbled heart could say was, “oh, Lord, I remember.”

I remember when You brought me that new life.

I remember when You brought me through that loss.

I remember when You established us in a new city.

I remember when You brought salvation to my family.

I remember when You poured out your amazing love and forgiveness.

I remember when You provided for that need.  And that one.  And that one.

As I sat there, I was flooded with all the times in my life when the Lord has shown Himself to me, and loved me, and provided for me, time and time again.

Over and over again, I remembered.  And my heart was filled with incredible joy.

When we look back on His goodness, and we remember His workings in our lives, we cannot help but be filled with JOY.

What do you remember?

So often, we forget, don’t we?  We forget what God has done and we become short-sighted.  We grow disillusioned.  We become cynical.  We wonder if He’s there at all.

When we remember, however, we see how the Lord has been there and provided.  Again and again.  Our whole countenance changes as we recount the details, the beauty, the laughter and the deep emotion we felt inside by just being in that moment. 

Remembering ushers in JOY.

Take some time today to remember.  Remember how the Lord has been there for you, for your family.  Remember how He has performed miracles.  How He has been there in the loud crazy moments of your past, and in the quiet times of solitude.

Remembering ushers in His JOY.

I recall all you have done, O Lord;
    I remember your wonderful deeds of long ago.
They are constantly in my thoughts.
    I cannot stop thinking about your mighty works.  Psalm 77:11-12

_______________________

For additional encouragement and community throughout the week, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/womenwhobelieve.

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Do I Trust Him Beyond What My Eyes Can See?

I know you all aren’t here for a weather report, but in case you were wondering, it’s snowing like crazy in Colorado.  

fall-3

We are in the middle of what the Weather Channel is calling an “Arctic Outbreak” and our final fall colors are all but gone and replaced with bitter cold and low gray skies.  Booo.  I recently heard from a beautiful sister who has joined us for our November Joy Series who lives in South Africa.  

It’s probably not snowing in South Africa. 

I so need that reminder that the world is always bigger than what I can see right outside my window.

That my God is so much bigger than what I can see right outside my window.

God moves in ways that I cannot see.  Isn’t that hard to grasp?  God does things that are out of my control, which is even harder to wrap my brain around.  And daily I am faced with His question to me, “Do you trust Me beyond what you can see?”

Earlier this fall when I felt (completely) compelled to re-visit our November Joy Series, I was truly entangled.  My heart was gray, filled up with a lot of worry and fear, and I was mostly irritated by my inability to just make life work and get everyone else on board.  I knew I needed a reboot, a real shift in my thoughts.  I desperately wanted back my joy.

But I knew it had to be bigger than just a fresh catchphrase like “I choose joy”.  Because I can say “I choose joy” until springtime, but unless I deal with the fact that my thoughts are fully overshadowing God’s authority and power in my life, real joy has nowhere to land.

Do I trust Him beyond what I can see?

Last time we were here we looked at Psalm 28:7, “The LORD is my strength and my shield, I trust Him with all my heart.  He helps me and my heart is filled with joy.  I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.”

I’ve been sitting in that phrase… “I trust Him with all my heart”.

Because here’s what I’m seeing in my own life: when my focus is so intent on being able to see and understand and manipulate the future, I am not trusting Him.

When I stay focused on my doubts and fears, I am not trusting Him.

When I’m so easily irritated by another person’s actions, I am not trusting Him.

And when my trust in Him goes missing, so does my joy.

Trust and joy.  They are inseparable.

Our joy in God is bound up with our trust in God. The two cannot be separated — not ever. Trust is the backbone of joy. And joy is the outflow of trust in one who is fully Trustworthy…Disillusionment and disappointment will always strike where genuine trust in God grows thin. And that’s why when trust is missing, joy will also go missing. There can be no joy in God where there is no firm trust in God, and no confidence in his all-sufficiency. And this is why we all feel the inner battle for joy, because we face a daily battle for faith. Our hearts are prone to trust in self, in money, in occupations, in a spouse, or in any other worldly security or circumstance. And when our faith wanes and we no longer trust God, we are set up for a disastrous fall into spiritual dehydration.Tony Reinke, Pastor

Trust is the backbone of joy.

When I begin to recognize my thoughts patterns, I have to be honest and ask myself a few questions ~

  • Do I trust Him on that one?
  • Is He wiser?
  • Can He see beyond what my eyes cannot see?
  • Is my future really dependent on that event, or that person, or that circumstance, or is my future dependent on God?

How I answer those questions will bottom line my faith real quick.

How do you answer those questions?  Today, whatever the weather looks like outside your window, with all the thoughts and worries stirring around inside your heart, take a moment to (honestly) ask yourself this question:

“God, do I trust You beyond what I can see?”

_______________________

For additional encouragement and community throughout the week, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/womenwhobelieve.

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Lies, Truth and Holding Onto our JOY

The other morning one of my boys was completely gripped with fear.  

He was convinced of certain bugs and large living things in our basement.  I tried the super compassionate response of “Seriously, son?”, but messing with him wasn’t going to help.  We talked for a while, trying to figure out the why’s of it all, but it really came down to one thing:  choosing to believe a lie over the truth.  

I do that.  

My thoughts might not be about bugs, but they might be about future fears.  I might not be worried about what’s in my basement, but I can be consumed by the “what if’s”.  The lies, they work themselves in, and they begin to appear as truth, don’t they?  And the longer I sit in them, the more real they become.  I believe them.  I believe them over the truth and the lies slowly steal away my joy.

Earlier this week, I challenged us to examine our thought patterns, to really think about what we think about.  What spills out when we’re shaken?  What are you finding?  

  • Do you go negative quickly?
  • Are you overwhelmed with fear?
  • Does uncertainty cover you like a blanket?
  • Do frustrations easily arise?
  • Do you complain a lot?

Wouldn’t JOY be so much better?

What if we really believed God?  What would happen if we replaced the lies with the Truth of His Word?  

path-way-leaves-girl-back

This month for our November Joy Series, I want to take in verses on JOY.  I’m grabbing notecards and writing them out.  There’s something about writing out a verse that absorbs it into my soul.  I want God’s Word to transform me from the inside out.

Read this verse from Psalm 28.  Read it slowly, with intentionality.  Soak in it for a minute.

The LORD is my strength and shield.  I trust Him with all my heart.  He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy.  I burst out in songs of thanksgiving.  Psalm 28:7

Then re-read those seven words right in the middle: I trust Him with all my heart.  Those words bottom line everything.  I trust Him.  The rest of the verse spills over with the results…help, joy, song, thanksgiving…when I trust Him.

Lord, when I trust You, my fears settle.  

When I trust You, my uncertainties begin to ease. 

When I trust You, my heart becomes thankful.

When I trust You, the lies are replaced with Truth.

When I trust You, my heart is filled with joy.

JOY.

O Lord, let me live there.

_______________________

For additional encouragement and community throughout the week, find us on Facebook at facebook.com/womenwhobelieve.

Subscribe and receive new posts automatically.  Invite your friends to join us, from across the street or across the world.  Who doesn’t need more joy??