Strange Way to Save the World – Michael Crawford

Strange Way to Save the World – Michael Crawford

I’m Lana, a native Oklahoman. Married 17 years to the first boy I ever dated. Mama to two amazing, darling girls. I’m a coffee-drinking, book-reading, home-educating night owl! An accountant in my life B.C. (Before Children), my dream job would be getting paid to read all day.And if you’re into Meyers-Briggs personality tests, I’m an ISTJ. Most important of all, I’m a follower of Christ.
Lana W

Joseph’s Reaction to Mary’s News

Don’t you wonder what Joseph thought when Mary told him she was going to have a baby? I can just imagine his shock at the news. I’ve always thought he must have been hurt and disappointed at first, maybe even angry. Matthew tells us that Joseph’s first reaction was to divorce Mary quietly. If Joseph had divorced Mary, how drastically different the story of Jesus would be! Once he accepted the news as God’s plan for a Savior, don’t you think he must have thought it was a strange way to save the world?

Fortunately for us and for the rest of the world, the Bible tells us that “while Joseph considered these things, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream” and gave him the rest of the story, so to speak. Aren’t you glad Joseph followed the angel’s instructions and married Mary despite his first doubts?

Have you ever considered that Mary might have had doubts about what the angel told her as well? Luke 1 says that Mary was greatly troubled at the angel’s greeting. And although she had questions for the messenger, she seemed to quickly accept what he told her.

Knowing our human penchant for questioning and doubting is one of the reasons I like this song so well. If I were Mary, I don’t know that I could have accepted the angel’s message as easily as she seemed to. But it seems to be part of her personality to reflect and carefully consider everything she observed concerning her son who would be the Messiah. (Luke 2:19; Luke 2:51).

May we all have a simple faith and an obedient trust like Mary did!

“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

Colossians 3:16

“Mary, Did You Know?” by Pentatonix {Music Monday}

“Mary, Did You Know?” by Pentatonix {Music Monday}

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 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & 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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“I am the servant girl of the Lord, let this happen to me.”  

This version of Luke 1:38 is from an easy-to-read version.  It is powerful on so many levels, but one in particular because it begs to ask the question:

luke-1-38

Am I willing to be a servant girl of the Lord?

We’ve shared this version of “Mary Did you Know?” by Pentatonix before.  Not only is it beautiful, but it really seems to let this idea echo off our hearts.

Did you know that God would call you for this?

Are you ready and willing to trust Him so completely that at a moment’s notice you will accept a complete life change?

Are you ready to possibly be shunned by your family, friends, and/or society because of how God will work through you?

Are you ready to be the “servant girl” of the Lord, no matter the cost?

Are you ready to love so completely and trust that God will carry your broken heart?

If you knew all these things would happen, would you still choose to follow God’s calling?

Prayer Over Our Hearts

Lord, you are awesome and holy and your ways are beyond our imagination.  You have created the world, conquered the hold death had over us, and brought about a total and complete hope into our lives!  Help us to trust you like Mary did.  Help us to readily trust and obey your calling in our lives and to trust that you will walk with us every step of the path you call us to walk.  When things get tough, help us to hold firm in our faith and not doubt your truth.  In the One who knew what it would mean to leave heaven, walk this Earth, and save us from our sins – Amen!

Hearing God through Music

Hearing God through Music

I am "Mom" to Chloe, Allie, & Emilia. I am wife to Misael Escobar. I am a child of God. I love to learn about other cultures and learn about others life experiences.I am always a "work in progress". Through many struggles I have become "me" and I am finally happy with the person God has led me to be.I am excited to see where God will lead me in this life.
Jennifer E
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I am a person who hears God loudest through music.

It always seems that no matter what is going on in my life, God always finds a way to speak to my hurting heart through the musical gift of others. This song has spoken to me so much over the last week, especially the words:

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So many times I keep myself from peace by trying to control and hold onto things God never intended for me to fix or take responsibility for. This song really helps me to see those things in my life and brings me back to a state of surrender and peace.

so-many-times-i-keep-myself-from-peace-by-trying-to-control

Below is the entire song lyrics & video:

“Just Be Held”

Hold it all together
Everybody needs you strong
But life hits you out of nowhere
And barely leaves you holding on

And when you’re tired of fighting
Chained by your control
There’s freedom in surrender
Lay it down and let it go

So when you’re on your knees and answers seem so far away
You’re not alone, stop holding on and just be held
Your worlds not falling apart, its falling into place
I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held
Just be held, just be held

If your eyes are on the storm

You’ll wonder if I love you still
But if your eyes are on the cross
You’ll know I always have and I always will

And not a tear is wasted
In time, you’ll understand
I’m painting beauty with the ashes
Your life is in My hands

Lift your hands, lift your eyes
In the storm is where you’ll find Me
And where you are, I’ll hold your heart
I’ll hold your heart
Come to Me, find your rest
In the arms of the God who wont let go.

How does God speak to your heart?

What song represents your life right now?

 

It's Not Over yet You're Not Alone Changing music Young at Heart

Getting Rid of Picture Perfect

Getting Rid of Picture Perfect

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 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & 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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Do you struggle with perfectionism?  Are you able to be transparent and share with others that your life isn’t picture perfect?

When I was in high school, I had quotes and signs all over my room.  Two signs I made said:

Nobody is perfect, but that is no excuse!

&

Practice makes improvement.

For years upon years, I lived my life trying to achieve the best. I would practice extra hours on the track.  I would redo and rewrite papers and projects as much as needed until I had my projects and papers as close to perfect as I could get.  I remember in college one of my professors commenting that I should have turned in my first draft instead of the 5th, because it would have worked too.

Part of me was doing it because I love a challenge and knew I could do better.  The other part was doing it out of fear of failure.  We need to distinguish what drives our need for perfection and take hold of it, if the root cause lies in fear and not love.

Now, I’m not saying that we should not try our best, but I’ve learned that we can waste a lot of time trying to be perfect.

What are we afraid of?

Sometimes, trying to reach perfection keeps us from taking action!  It causes us to freeze in fear of messing up. What exactly are we afraid of if we do mess up?

  • Doing it wrong?
  • Feeling like we might be ridiculed?
  • Feeling that we won’t be valuable?
  • Believing God’s grace is insufficient for us?
  • Thinking that we won’t be trusted if we can’t get it right?
  • What????

We are called to live like we are loved not like we are perfect!

If we live in fear of messing up and not being perfect then we are like the one who was given a talent and instead of doing anything with it, hid it in the ground! He made no profit, didn’t even try.  Instead, he did absolutely nothing productive.  He froze in fear.

When the master returned to find that he didn’t even try to do anything with it, he was punished.

Matthew 25:24-30

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, 25 so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here, you have what is yours.’26 But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? 27 Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. 28 So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. 29 For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. 30 And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’

We should never allow fear of imperfection keep us from working in God’s kingdom.  God has put us right where we need to be, has given us access to what we need to accomplish the goals He has set before us, and doesn’t ask us to rely on ourselves. Instead, the Lord asks us to rely on Him.  He will get us through any situation and will even use our weaknesses to bring about his glory.

Are you willing?

Are you willing to allow God to use your weakness or are you too scared to show others that you have any?

When we mask our weaknesses, we are not only being deceitful but we are hindering God from using them for his glory.  Satan then can use this to make others feel alone, like they are the only ones having to fight this battle.  Here’s the truth:  You are not going through anything that someone else has not already gone through!  You are not alone in your weakness!

But [the Lord] said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”
– The Lord to Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:9

Christ died for our imperfections.

Let’s not pretend like we don’t have any.  And let us be gracious as we see the imperfections of others.

I still believe practice makes improvement and that we are not all perfect.  But I am trying to no longer waste time in achieving absolute perfection.  Not everything needs to be 100% perfect.  Sometimes, we need to just do our best, not stress over potential failure, and trust that the Lord can use any weakness we have for his glory!

Every time I hear this song by Hawk Nelson called Live Like You’re Loved, I double check myself and see if I’m wasting time running after perfection because of fear.  Are you ready to get rid of the picture perfect life?

 

What if Blessings Come Through Raindrops?

What if Blessings Come Through Raindrops?

I grew up in Oklahoma and attended Oklahoma Christian University. Right after earning my degree in Music Education I moved to Germany to do mission work for 5 years. During those 5 years, I married my husband and we eventually became parents to our spunky daughter! We settled back in Oklahoma and added an energetic son to our family! I am now a stay-at-home mom who is still very passionate about mission work, Germany, singing, family, and most of all, my relationship with God.
April E
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In my last post I talked about how I became a Christian and dedicated my life to Christ. I mentioned that there were highs and lows along the journey. I didn’t go into detail, but I would say that one of the harder things I’ve been through came towards the beginning of my college career. Even though I had been a dedicated Christian up to that point, I feel that going through this difficulty definitely strengthened my relationship with God as well as made it more real, more mine.

I guess before that point it could easily be said that I was always taught what to believe and my family believed the same way, so in a way it was my family’s faith. I do believe I made the decision for myself, but when you are going through a tough time, your true faith tends to come out more and it becomes more real to you. It was in that low, helpless place of pain that I realized I needed God more than anything and anyone.

let-us-then-with-confidence-draw-near-to-the-throne-of-grace-that-we-may-receive-mercy-and-find-grace-to-help-in-time-of-need-hebrews-4-16

“Happily Ever After”

Starting college was an exciting time and of course full of life lessons. I began dating someone my freshman year after going on a date with him during the summer before school started. Things went well with us and I quickly fell for him.

I remember being with some other girlfriends of mine and we were discussing marriage. Two of the girls said they wanted to wait until after they graduated to get married. My other friend and I said we would get married during college if we met the right guy. When you’re young, sometimes you just can’t wait to start your “happily ever after.” The funny thing is that the two girls who said they wanted to wait ended up getting married during college while my friend and I ended up getting married later. This is just another example of how our time is not always God’s time.

Moving along with my relationship, there was quickly talk about marriage. I remember being so excited and happy at the thought that I had already met my future husband and my “happily ever after” was coming soon! By the end of the school year my life was pretty much school and my boyfriend. He took up much of my time and I began to really idolize this relationship. He proposed to me and of course I said, “Yes!” Things were happening the way I had planned.

many-are-the-plans-in-the-mind-of-man-but-it-is-the-purpose-of-the-lord-that-will-stand-proverbs-19-21

Looking back, I think a big mistake I made concerning this relationship and time of my life was feeling so in control of life and my future. I had it all planned out. I would be happily married and a music teacher, at least until we had children, and then I could stay home with the kids once they came around. We would live happily ever after. That is the dream, right? But what if that isn’t God’s dream? What if God has so much more planned for my life than I ever had imagined?

Praying for His Will, Not Mine

During that time, I kept a prayer journal. I prayed about our relationship and future plans and asked that God would bless me in all the ways I thought He should. Then, for reasons I can’t explain, my prayers started to change. Maybe I saw some signs that this was not the relationship God wanted for me. I began to pray that God’s will would be done, not mine. Even though I really still wanted all those things. Maybe the Spirit began to work on my heart to prepare me for what lay ahead. Only a couple of months after we were engaged, we broke up. I was absolutely devastated. My world felt like it was crashing down around me. I no longer had any idea what God had in front of me.

let-the-will-of-the-lord-be-done

These were the moments that all I could feel was pain, like the rain would never stop pouring on me. But in the rain, I was brought to my knees, begging God to help me. I knew I had nothing but Him. God was my first true love and He was the only one who could help me through this downpour. I remember being on my knees, even on my face, crying out to Him.

Navigating through the Storm

During this time, a good friend of mine called me to tell me what he had learned from the Psalms. He told me it was ok to tell God what I was feeling, even all the bad and painful thoughts. He shared with me some of the lament Psalms and showed me how David had cried out to God in the same way with honest feelings. I poured out my soul to God in lament. Never had I ever been drawn so close to God as I was when I was at my lowest, trying to navigate the storm.

O Lord, God of my salvation,
I cry out day and night before you.
Let my prayer come before you;
incline your ear to my cry!
For my soul is full of troubles,
and my life draws near to Sheol.
Psalm 88:1-3

Needed God More Than Anything and Anyone

I wish I could say that clinging to God in that time made all my pain go away quickly, but it didn’t. I remember struggling for months afterwards. However, during this time of rain, God blessed me and molded me into the person He wanted me to be. He was working to lead me in the direction He wanted me to go.

The Blessing in the Rain

During my sophomore year, some friends told me about a summer singing campaign to Germany that they had participated in the year before. It sounded like a really great opportunity for spreading God’s love, travelling the world to enjoy God’s creation, and of course I loved the singing aspect. I quickly committed myself to going the following summer. It was so exciting! I felt a purpose and like this was God’s providence at this time of my life.

As you may have read from my post about my passion for mission work, God used this time in my life to set me on a very specific path which led to my growth in faith and love of God. I became passionate for God’s work around the world. This led me out of the comfort of being in control of every aspect of my life and into a trust that God was in control of all things!

Eventually, I truly believe that God used this painful part of my life to prepare me for so many wonderful things, including a man of God who would later become my husband. Even though the pain was deep and difficult to go through, I’m grateful that I went through those things. It helped mold and form me into the Christian woman that I am today.

A Prayer for You

If you are going through difficult times right now, I want you to know that God is still here with you and he is using every painful moment to mold you into the person He wants you to be! Hang on and I pray that you will soon see the blessings! Please let us know if we can pray for you.

Dear Heavenly Father,

Sometimes life is so painful and hard. We don’t always understand why we go through such hard times. The one thing we know is that you are Lord and you are greater than all things! You are our comforter and healer and can take our brokenness and make it whole again, even better than we could have ever imagined! Lord, I pray that during the storms we will remember that you are with us and will hold on to our faith that you will bring the sun after the rain. Thank you for holding us in your hands.

It’s in Jesus’ precious name that we pray,

Amen

How has God used your difficult times in life to ultimately bless you?

Below is the song I got my post title from. It’s called “Blessings” by Laura Story.

Verses to hold onto when you are Suffering

Verses to hold onto when you are Suffering

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 5 crazy, homeschooling children ages 10 & 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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As Christians , we do not walk through life with “rainbow eyes,” only seeing what is good, but instead we see and feel the pain around us. Sometimes we live deep in this suffering.  We do not feel this suffering any less simply because we have decided to follow Christ, but when we go through painful times, we can hold onto the hope-filled promises God gives us.

This past year and a half has been an extremely painful year for our family – physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally. It’s been a blessing but a difficult one all at the same time. During this time, I have tried my best not to ride the roller-coaster of emotions.  The pain has been there and so has the hope, even though at times it’s hard to see.

Truths & Verses to hold onto during the painful struggles of life

Christ understands our pain and suffering.

He has experienced it all and can sympathize with us and encourage us through it.

Since he himself has gone through suffering and testing, he is able to help us when we are being tested.
Hebrews 2:18

We are never alone.

No matter how much Satan wants us to believe we are alone, God is always with us and never forsakes us.

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Romans 8:38-39

We have hope.

Especially in times of suffering, hope can be hidden.  Of course, it is always there but sometimes we have a hard time seeing it through our situation.  Hope encompasses all the promises that God has ever made and keeping those promises in front of us can help us not focus on the pain and suffering as much.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.
Romans 5:3-5

We should not mask our pain and sufferings.

If we try to numb ourselves or mask our pain, there will come a time when all those emotions will come flooding out. Plus, we will miss out on one of the great blessings God has given us through the church body. We are not called to hide what we are going through but to let our brothers and sisters in Christ help us to stand when we cannot.

Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. – Galatians 6:2

This pain will not last forever.

Although it might seem like the emotional or physical pain will never go away, God promised that he will comfort and heal us.

He heals the brokenhearted and binds up their wounds.
Psalm 174:3

God can use our pain later to encourage others.

Although we don’t think about it in the midst of our suffering, God can use what we are going through to bring others who will go through the same thing hope too.  In the process of our suffering, he can even use it to bring people to know Him who would never walk through a church building’s doors.

Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4

Focus on Christ, not your suffering.

There are times when the suffering is overwhelming and the rough waves of the situation can keep us from seeing the truth.  That truth is Christ will hold us safely.  One of the main verses I held onto with all my might during this time is:

I keep my eyes always on the Lord.  With him at my right hand, I will not be shaken.
Pslam 16:8

2-corinthians-1-3-4

Music to Encourage the Heart – Red Sea Road by Ellie Holcomb

This past weekend, while attending a Local IF:Gathering, I heard this beautiful song, Red Sea Road by Ellie Holcomb.  As I listened to the verses, my soul was literally overcome by how absolutely faithful God has been to us in the midst of our suffering.  He showed up time after time, keeping his promises, reminding us that he was walking with us, and lighting our path along the way in the midst of our darkness.  God is truly amazing and this song will encourage your heart too during the difficult and trying times of life.

Read then listen to these beautiful lyrics:

God knows we ache when He asks us to go on
How do we go on

We will sing to our souls
We won’t bury our hope
Where He leads us to go
There’s a red sea road
When we can’t see the way
He will part the waves
And we’ll never walk alone
Down the red sea road
– Red Sea Road  by Ellie Holcomb

 

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