Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Trusting God: Wanting Him More Than Anything

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

With my little baby bundled up in the back seat, we started the drive to the allergy clinic downtown. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect. Our little one hadn’t been doing so well, and we’d been working with a GI doctor and her pediatrician to figure out what it was her body didn’t like. I was scared and uncomfortable with the process. Uncomfortable with what we might find out. Uncomfortable with what we wouldn’t find out. And frustrated. So, so frustrated that my baby girl was having to go through this.

I was trying to pray, but I wasn’t sure what to pray for. I’d been praying so much for our sweet girl and her troubles. What could I possibly say right now, as we were nearing this critical appointment? About as soon as I had these thoughts I heard this song playing on the radio:

“And I know any second You could take my pain away, but even if you don’t, I pray

Help me want the healer more than the healing.

Help me want the Savior more than the saving.

Help me want the giver more than the giving.

Oh, help me want you Jesus more than anything.”

I burst into tears as I felt God’s arms around me in that moment.

The song went on to talk about the weakness we face on our own and the feeling of overwhelm we can feel from our burdens. It helped me realize that God has already done everything that we need, no matter the circumstance we face.

He sent Jesus. 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

John 3:16 

Isn’t that all that really matters? Of course, in our humanness we forget. We become consumed by our circumstances and it’s not enough. This is nothing new for our generation.

God’s Presence is Enough

I’ve been spending quite a bit of time in the first few books of the Bible lately. Oh, the Israelites–how easy it is for us to judge them! This group of Hebrew slaves has been known through the ages for their complaints. God delivered them, but again and again their struggles consumed them and they started to question God. Their struggles were very real, by the way. Can you even imagine being in their place? Wandering about for years, facing the harsh realities of the desert, and going through foreign lands? Their complaints and questioning frustrated God. God wanted them to understand that his presence with them was enough. He would sustain their needs. He wanted them to trust him.

Why is this so hard? Why do we act like God is never enough? 

Trusting God is Enough

Thankfully, our God is a God of grace and mercy. He knows our weakness. In our faith, we can cast our burden on him (Psalm 55). He hears us and cares for us. We must remember, though, that our true battle is already won. Our hope is not in answered prayers, but in God. So through our struggles, may we want to be drawn closer and closer to the Lord. May we remember the love he has bestowed on us and find peace.

That day, I met my fears head on as I faced the situation I’d been dreading: peanut allergy, among other things. Our family entered a new reality that day, one I still don’t like. I pray boldly, asking God to take this burden away from us, to protect and heal our daughter. While I pray, though, I understand that even more than this, I want God to stay close with us. I want to remember what He’s already done for me. I want to praise Him still, knowing that come what may, He is God, the blood of Christ saved me, and victory is mine. 

Remember God is With You

Whatever struggles you are facing, I encourage you to take hold of the big picture. Draw near to him and he will draw near to you. (James 4:8) I will end this post with Natalie Grant’s song “More Than Anything.” I hope this beautiful song comforts you and reminds you of God’s presence and redeeming love.

 

 

The Gift of Immanuel

The Gift of Immanuel

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

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“But I tell you the truth, it is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you.”

John 16:7

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Isn’t it crazy to fathom that Jesus himself said it is better for him to go away than to stay? How is that even possible? Isn’t Jesus on this earth the best thing that has ever happened? The answer is found in the word Immanuel – God with us! Yes, while Jesus walked this earth, people saw God and began to understand him better. He was with them! But we did not live then. We have the Bible stories and because we believe these biblical truths, our faith is credited to us. However, that is not all we have. We have the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Helper, the Counselor, with whom Jesus seals all his followers. Because Jesus is gone and has given us His Spirit, we can still to this day proclaim God is with us!

The Holy Spirit goes to God on our behalf. He is there, pleading our case with groans, when we pray and don’t know what to ask for. When we are confused and don’t know what to do, the Holy Spirit can guide us. When we don’t understand what we read in God’s word, the Holy Spirit can help make it clearer. We have this marvelous gift. Let us accept it freely. Let us not be scared of this gift or ignore it. Instead, take hold of Jesus’ truth: “It is to your advantage that I go away.” Let us trust wholeheartedly that God is with us every moment through the Holy Spirit!

Prayer Over Our Hearts

Lord, you are the ultimate gift giver! You surprise us with gifts we can’t even fathom. Thank you for allowing your Spirit to dwell in us and counsel us. May we forever proclaim Immanuel! In the One who decided to dwell in us in order to always be with us – Amen!

To Do: A Sacred Home

To Do: A Sacred Home

McKenzie R

McKenzie R

Hello all!I am an Oklahoma girl, through and through!I was born here and after 5 years in Texas for college, I missed Oklahoma too much and just had to come back home with my Oklahoma husband to raise our Oklahoma babies! I met my husband in high school and fell we in love in college.We have 2 beautiful kids that are full of life and make me such a proud momma.I love to craft, journal, paint furniture, and decorate our Edmond home!See some of my creations at The Lettered Light www.etsy.com/shop/theletteredlight and IG:theletteredlight
McKenzie R

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I have recently finished Jen Hatmaker’s book, For the Love.  Ladies, I am a changed woman!  I am so thankful I was able to start and finish this entire book, because I rarely see the last chapter of books of my choice these days.  It is funny and honest and authentic and AMAZING.

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I can really see that the Lord is going to do some big things in the people who read Jen’s words.  Please move it to the top of your reading list.  You won’t regret it!

While reading through it recently, one tiny little phrase left a longing mark on my heart.  She casually mentions “a Sacred Home.”  She doesn’t even go into any detail on what that means to her. The context was a just a brief mention of the phrase.  But when I read those words, my heart leaped!  I took the words from their context and put them right into the context of my life. And I believe that my home will be forever changed.  What a perfect goal, right?  To have a Sacred Home!

@theLetteredLight (1)

I did a little bible journaling on my Sacred Home discovery!

I began to write down all the things that came to my mind when I pictured a Sacred Home. Immediately, I thought of dear friends of mine who have that aura, that beautiful spirit when I am in their home.

What does it look like, feel like?  My list began to look something like this: peaceful, calm, forgiving, love, gentle, God…  As I stared at my list a lightbulb went off in my head almost immediately–THE FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT! A Sacred Home is a home where I, my family, and any guests can see and feel the fruit!

Can it be that simple, Lord?  “Yes, simple–but not easy” was His answer!  Of course, I already try and make my house these things but until now I never made the connection to the fruit.  So of course it isn’t easy. If it were easy then everyone would love and never want to leave their peaceful home!

By definition the word sacred means “devoted or dedicated to a deity or to some religious purpose; consecrated; pertaining to or connected with religion.”  I love this.  Literally, having a sacred home means living in a place that is dedicated to our purpose as Christians!  Oh my stars…what a dream, right!

My dear friend Jillian says this about her home:

It is so important for me to have scripture–whether quickly jotted down on an index card or a beautiful piece of art–everywhere.  They are constant reminders to me to get my attitude in check.  Since sitting down and reading scripture is so difficult to do sometimes, I make it to where I can meditate on it while doing dishes, washing my hands, folding laundry, walking in and out of the house, etc.

My prayer for us, dear reader, is that we can find the fruit in our day.  The Lord has given us all the fruit of the spirit.  We ALREADY HAVE love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control inside us. But we must remember to access it.  We don’t need to pray for patience, we already possess it.  We don’t need to pray for gentleness, it’s already running through our veins.  I usually forget that, right?  So on days when it seems like you don’t have any goodness left, remember that the Lord has already supplied you with enough.

So, a Sacred Home…a home dedicated to my amazing Lord in Heaven, where living out the Fruit makes my days a little lighter, and a little deeper, and a whole lot more like Christ.

As a gift, I created a bit of scripture art for your home to get you going!  Enjoy!

Galations 5 Bible Art

If you have any ideas that help you center your home around Christ, please share them with us!

 

Operation Christmas Child

Operation Christmas Child

Elizabeth P

Elizabeth P

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Elizabeth P

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The Power of a Gift

Operation Christmas Child (OCC) is one of my favorite ministries. If you’ve never heard of it, I hope this becomes one you choose to support! They say it’s the “power of a simple gift” which opens the door to transforming lives, communities, and eventually nations. The third week of November is National Collection Week and most likely there is a drop off location near you. 

The folks at Operation Christmas Child make it so easy to be a part of overseas missions. Plus, it is a fun thing to do with your kids during the holiday season. In each box goes a few small gifts or needed items, but what comes out is eternal. Think of every box as a soul, a child with whom the gospel will be shared.  Even better, OCC provides discipleship through local churches for follow up. OCC supports these churches in a variety of ways so that they can best lead and impact their communities.

Building a box is easy. Please do one this year…or five. You can even build a box online, or track it so you know where it gets delivered!

Need some ideas for what to put in the box? Consider these items:

  • Toothbrush, hair brush, comb, or mirror compact
  • Soccer ball with pump
  • Stuffed animal
  • Small doll or action figure
  • Coloring book and crayons
  • Stickers
  • Play dough
  • Clothing
  • School supplies
  • Yo-yo or Frisbee

Please take a minute to watch this video or click on the picture below to learn more about this exciting ministry.

Operation Christmas Child

Have you packed a shoe box before? What did you enjoy about it? 

Jesus is Needy

Jesus is Needy

Julie W

Julie W

I am a certified fitness instructor and have been teaching group fitness classes for over 22 years. I am also a board certified holistic health counselor with a degree from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition in New York City. I am 48 years old with a 25 year old daughter and a 23 year old son. My husband Chris and I have been married for 28 years. I have been a member of the Church of Christ my entire life as well as my mother, father and both sets of grandparents. I am the owner of a local food service based business and currently teach conditioning classes here in the Edmond area. I have been a strict vegetarian for many years but I will walk 10 miles barefoot in the snow for a good piece of chocolate! ;)
Julie W

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What Would Our Reaction Be?

Many of us attend congregations where members’ various needs are brought publicly before the church. At times there are prayer requests. Other times, families in crisis bring their financial burdens before the church, having nowhere else to turn for assistance.

I often feel the tug of the Holy Spirit during those moments and an ache in the pit of my stomach. These are human beings, God’s precious creation, and my need to help is compelling.

What would our reaction be if Jesus himself walked down the aisle, stood in front of His people, and proclaimed His own neediness?

Would we even know it was Him?

If we did recognize Him, would we all wonder what possibly the Son of God might need from us?

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Are We Benevolent or Judgmental?

The topic of benevolence in the church is one thing, but benevolence to strangers seems to be a real hot-button issue with Christians today.

  • We are inundated with homeless people at every street light and corner.
  • We come face to face with some sort of cardboard sign at least once a week. If you live in a big enough city, a stranger with a need might even approach you directly.
  • What to do in that split second, what to do with that uncomfortable opportunity, what to say or not to say…sometimes you only have the length of a red light to make your judgment call.

How often do we find ourselves passing judgment on someone? Have we ever said these words to ourselves?

  • If that man can stand out there all day in the scorching heat, surely he can get a job.
  • This is just one of those scams, all these corner people working together to swindle honest people out of their hard-earned money.
  • If I give them money, they are just going to turn around and buy alcohol or drugs.
  • She is wearing nice clothes and those shoes don’t look like a poor person’s shoes, so I am going to pass.

As the Bible clearly tells us, God chose individual, unique spiritual gifts to give each of us. Benevolence happens to be one of mine, and He also chose this specific gift for my father.

Learning Benevolence from my Father

I could never tell all of the many things I have seen my father do to help total strangers. However, I can tell you that his complete lack of judgment in each situation leaves me in awe and constantly striving toward that same goal. 

Breakfast at Denny’s

Once, our family was eating breakfast at a local Denny’s.  After we paid and were heading to the car we realized my dad was no longer behind us. We found him sitting on the curb next to a very fragrant homeless man with a bicycle. My dad talked with the man, then patted him on the back and started walking toward us. He asked us to find something to do for a few minutes because he was still a little hungry and wanted another breakfast. He then took the man inside, ordered him a huge meal, and sat with him while he ate.

Playing Santa

Another time, near Christmas, my dad came home and asked my sister and me to gather some of our very best toys. He said that someone else could really use them. We bought a Christmas tree at a nearby tree lot, tied it to the roof of our car, and headed to a stranger’s home.

When we arrived, a young girl and a grade-school-aged boy answered the door and invited us in. The small house had nothing that looked like Christmas to my sister and me. My dad brought in the tree and some much-needed decorations as the kids’ mother came around the corner. My sister and I were startled to see that the mother’s arm was amputated just below the shoulder, but my dad hugged her and acted as if he never noticed. We put up the tree, left some of our toys, and my dad gave the mother some “secret” money to buy some things for her kids for Christmas.

Over the years, my dad helped many people. 

The people and their needs were never the same–but my dad’s attitude and enthusiasm always remained constant.

I think of the very few times that my earthly father has been in need and I can promise you that on those few occasions I have moved heaven and earth to help him! Why? Because for me he is the giver, he is the need-meeter, he is the symbol of hope and love to the people he helps so when it is his turn to be in need, I run to his aid.

Helping Others as if it were Jesus

Now, let’s go back to our church service with our Lord standing front and center proclaiming His neediness. 

We may think of it in hypothetical terms but according to Jesus himself it is NOT. Matthew 25 starting in verse 45 (NlV) clearly states:

And he will answer, “I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.”

I know what some of you are thinking and it’s an OLD argument. When Jesus states “brothers and sisters” we take that as only Christians and Christ-followers.

Scripture Speaks to Us All

As convenient as that might be and more comfortable for us, it simply is not true. Let’s ask Jesus what He means and HE will clear things up. Verse 44 says:

“Then they will reply, Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?”

This scripture is all encompassing and speaks to all mankind.

Just like my father did, next time you come face to face with a cardboard sign or a dirty, smelly person you would rather not help, try to see them through the goodness of Christ.

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See Christ Himself in need.

Run to His aid as fast as you can!

Why?

  • He stopped in a crowd and touched a sister and healed her.
  • He noticed when others were hungry and fed them.
  • He wiped a tear from a sister’s eye and His own when His best friend lay in a grave.
  • He touched ten diseased men with healing, knowing only one would be grateful.
  • He looked a humiliated, desperate, sinful sister in the eye and defended her without condemnation.
  • And then He opened His arms and gave us His life.

How could we not run to meet His every need?

Putting Words into Action

I am very passionate about helping others, but it’s also a subject I work on. Keeping my heart and mind right while meeting the needs of strangers is anything but simple!

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A few weeks ago I was heading to work. I noticed a woman standing at the on-ramp with a sign. I was going the opposite direction so I said to myself, “When I go home, if she is still there, I will stop and see what she needs.” Of course, my meeting ran long and she was gone. The next day I saw her again. This time a man in a suit was talking with her and handing her a card of some type.

I thought maybe that was a good sign and she might be getting some assistance. I hoped he was able to help her because I didn’t want her to have to stand out in the 100-degree heat all day.

Determining to Help

At the end of the day, my heart melted when I saw that she was still at the on-ramp. Quickly, I drove home and told my husband that I wanted us to head back over there with some food and see what we could do.

I pulled up to an old gas station and walked to where she was standing. I told her that I brought a bag of groceries in case that might help in any way.

She practically jumped into my arms, wrapping both of her arms tightly around my neck. She said that they had broken down and were just trying to get enough gas money to get back home to Colorado. I asked her where her car was and she said it was in the gas station parking lot. I told her to walk back with me and we would fill her car up.

The Ground Shifted

As we walked behind the station, the scariest van I have ever seen came into view with two equally scary-looking men inside.

We had brought our puppy with us. Worried that the puppy would overheat, I grabbed her out of the car. That’s when the ground shifted under my feet.

She turned and saw the puppy and said, “Oh! Would you please let my kids pet your puppy?” KIDS??? I said “sure” as we walked toward the van. Two boys and a little girl, heads sopping wet with sweat, squealed delightedly as the puppy licked their faces.

One of the men even started talking in a cute voice and got a couple of licks. As they were finishing up on the gas I walked back and put the puppy in the car. The lady followed me with an old, cover-less book in her hand. After giving me a third huge hug, she said the book was one of her favorite things. She had read it cover to cover many times but begged me to take it. That she was willing to part with such a treasured possession almost broke my heart!

Lesson learned for me!

It looked like just another dirty, sweaty person with a sign but underneath was a desperate mother with three children baking in an old, filthy van for three days just needing someone to see past her and see the real her, the JESUS her!

Have you ever been in a position where you had to set aside your judgments to help someone?

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

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Sin Is Not a Game, But This Is

Sin Is Not a Game, But This Is

Meredith P

Meredith P

Hello, there!  I grew up as a military kid who loved adventure, so I fell in love with and married a military man right after college graduation.  The two of us had adventures together as we traveled for a while, but we finally settled in cozy Southern Indiana.  However the excitement is still alive, because God has given us four kiddos that I homeschool.  I love nerding out on anything from school curriculum to thrift store bargain hunting, from rockin' recipes to theological debates, and pretty much any lively discussion in between.  Thanks for reading!
Meredith P

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Sin Is Not a GameHave you ever played the “hand slap” game?

In this game, one person’s hands are held palms up. The other person holds their hands hovering above with palms down. The person with their hands below tries to slap the top of the hands of the other person by either being fast enough or by being tricky. My kids love this game!

Once, when we were playing it, I had a thought from which an impromptu lesson flowed.

It was my turn to be “the slapper.” My hands were on the bottom and I was trying to slap the tops of my son’s hands. His two brothers watched in excitement to see who would be the victor. I was bringing my hands up every few seconds, not letting much time lapse in between strikes. My son sat on the edge of his seat in full alert mode, laser-focused, soberly watching for my next move.

I was missing his hands quite a bit!

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Then I changed my strategy.

I just let my hands be still. I didn’t strike. Instead, I let time pass while I calmly lay in wait. I waited until my son started to relax. He began to nervously giggle and even exclaim, “Mommy! What are you doing?”

I just smiled at him, kicking back my feet. Then I started to jerk my hands a bit, but no movements that alarmed him enough to be overly concerned. It didn’t take long for him to become used to even those jerks and so comfortable with it all that he let down his alert and relaxed his guard almost completely. When I saw that happen, with a maniacal laugh, I swooped up and SLAP!

I caught him off guard!

Laughter all around!

Sin Is Not a Game-2

The Trickery of Sin

Once we settled down–and I did my victory dance–I told them the game was like the trickery of sin.

I pointed out how I frequently missed his hands when he was on high alert, watching me like a hawk and pulling his hands back often. This is like a person who practices this verse:

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, looking for someone to devour.”

 

1 Peter 5:8

This person is watchful, looking out for the deception of sin. He pulls back from it when he sees it coming. This person also reads the Word of God so that he can discern what sin is, right from wrong, according to the Word and flee from it.

But when I changed my strategy to staying still, I pointed out that he became relaxed and let down his guard. Even when I jerked a little every so often, he got used to that movement also and let his guard continue to fall until SLAP!

This is like a person who becomes numb to the sin in their life. They let down their guard enough to let in “little sins.” Sins that they might consider unharmful. At first, the “little jerks” of the Holy Spirit stir their conscience, but eventually they become used to that stirring. They relax even further, letting in more and more sin until SLAP!

Bad things start happening and they wonder how they got to where they are. The bad things can be obvious, like going to jail or falling into different life-controlling addictions. Or perhaps the bad things are more subtle, like a dead prayer life, a lost desire to know God and read His Word, or an inability to even recognize sin anymore through justification of actions.

How Little Sins Lead to Bigger Sins

I now open up, saying that at different times in my life, I have been both of these types of people. Already fully knowing their mother is a seasoned sinner, they look unsurprised (Ha!). A good discussion followed on how little sins might cause numbing in our hearts. We talk about how little sins can lead to bigger sins, followed by a hard SLAP–either in this life or in eternity.

On a personal note, I know I need to read God’s Word more diligently. By doing so, I will be able to discern right from wrong and know Him more. I know I should memorize more scripture so that I can use it against the enemy’s lies about sin.

Since the beginning of this school year, I have started praying this verse over my children, myself, and my husband. Now I pray it over you who are reading this right now.

And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ–to the glory and praise of God.

 

Philippians 1:9-11

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To what sins have you become numb?

Do you consistently do anything contrary to God’s Word?

Do you know His Word well enough to know if you are acting contrary to His Word?

Feel free to share in the comments and we will pray with you.

Be encouraged by these posts as well!

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