Jayne Michener has been married for over twenty years to a "son of thunder" and is mother to two adolescent daughters, one delightfully immersed in nature and another humorous, artistic girl who is devoted to cats.The better days are spent developing Christian culture and character with the educational principles of Charlotte Mason in mind.The worse days are spent with lightly held sanity, tightly gripped coffee, and semi-vocalized prayer.She is on a journey depending on the Holy Spirit to guide her into all truth, whether unseen spiritual realms or earthly ventures, such as education, healing arts, nutrition, neuroscience, and art.Oh, and her children would be horrified if she did not mention that they live with two cats, Blacksmith and Beauty.
I can’t control my mouth. I’m a cynic. I’m an addict. I’m a victim. I’m fearful. I can’t change.
These statements may echo our experiences, but if we allow our experiences and brokenness to define us, then we shut out the possibility that we can be restored to the glorious image of our Creator.
The First Step of Answering “Who Am I?”
“Who am I?” is the question that haunts us. This question will tease our minds until we first answer the question that Jesus asked Peter: “Who do you say that I am?” Only when we answer with Peter, “You are the Messiah,” meaning our savior and deliverer, will we be able to hear the Lord’s answer to our question, “Who am I?”
Our identity is like clay, molded by experiences, relationships, and our responses to them. This clay is vulnerable, especially in the impressionable young. Sometimes, unguarded clay can be malformed or disfigured when touched by the gnarled hands of traumatic experiences, abusive relationships, and inappropriate responses to them both.
Laura Perry’s Transgender Lifestyle
For example, First Stone Ministries recently published the compelling testimony of Laura Perry, who lived a transgender lifestyle for eight years. Laura grew up in the shadow of her hyper-stressed, “super-Christian” mother. Her mom communicated the message that Laura was a nuisance, while she doted on Laura’s more quiet, compliant brother. The intense jealously this bred, combined with being molested at age eight, and female problems in her teens, was enough that Laura threw her female identity into a deep cistern.
Laura began fantasizing about being a boy due to her intense hatred of her own gender. She began to seek out sexual experiences, became addicted to pornography, and pursued sexual encounters with strangers. A local transgender group then encouraged her to pursue her new identity, so she received heavy doses of hormonal therapy, a double mastectomy, and surgical remove of all female organs to fully become “Jake.” Laura’s name and body were changed, but her deep depression and dissatisfaction stayed the same. She recalled, “The outward cosmetic change had done nothing to ease my identity crisis.”
Transformations & Finding Their Identity
As Laura was transforming, her mother was undergoing a transformation of her own. Laura’s mom surrendered her self-righteousness for an enticing faith in Jesus. The two of them began to talk daily about a Bible study her mom was leading. Then Laura heard a radio broadcast discussing the rising transgender issue. She wished the host would return to more mundane topics, but instead the words spun her identity around like clay on the potter’s wheel. She was reeling.
Two questions came to her in a vision from Jesus:
“If you stood before me tonight, what name would I call?” and “Do you trust me?”
Taking Part in the Death & Resurrection
Laura affirmed her trust in Jesus by letting Jake die, a death that she mourned with deep, anguished sorrow. In the dark night of her soul, she wept with painful grief for three days. One can imagine Jesus with her in the tomb, waiting to guide the resurrection that was soon to come.
Leaving Jake’s clothes in the grave, Laura attended a women’s Bible study and encountered a love beyond anything she had experienced through a sexual partner. Life and freedom were her resurrection inheritance, and in the light of love, her true identity was revealed.
Finding Our True Identity
Instead of gender reassignment surgery, do we let the Word perform identity reassignment surgery? Do we have courage, like Laura, that allows the Lord to transform every aspect of who we think we are at the deepest level?
All too often, we identity with our sin and brokenness more than we identify with the image of God. We must look to YHWH, the great “I AM,” to confidently answer the question, “Who am I?”
Our true assignment is to reflect the image of God in Christ. Love calls us to identity with Him.
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.
I was reading words from a tired, frustrated mom and I wanted to think of some encouraging words for her. One thing that popped into my mind was a phrase I have heard so many times in recent years. It’s a phrase I have also said myself: “You’ve got this!”
At that moment, it occurred to me that we aren’t actually supposed to “have this.” Not really, anyway. When we say that, we tend to forget something very important. The only one who actually CAN have this and DOES have this in the palm of His hands is God. Yes, I know God gives us abilities and he gives us special tasks, but if we forget that He is the ONE we must always turn to when we feel out of control, we will never, ever “have this.”
Even the well-known passage of Philippians 4:13, which says, “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength,” tells us that it is His strength which allows us to do all things. Sometimes when this verse is used, the emphasis is put on the wrong part. We focus on the part where I can do everything instead of who gives us the strength to do everything. I am glad for these type of reminders that pop up from time to time. I know it always helps me to adjust my perspective on things.
This reminder is not meant to put us in our place, but to remind us that whether we feel like we “have this” or not, we can know that God is the Almighty God. He always has all things in the palm of His hands, and he is there to help us through all seasons of life, whether that is parenting young children or finding a new purpose in our lives when one door closes.
I love these verses written by Paul in 2 Corinthians 12: 9-10:
But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong.
Let this be a reminder that we do not have to be perfect and have everything under control. We just need to have Christ and His power in our lives to make us stronger and able to do His will. So the next time you want to encourage a friend to hang on, tell them, “God’s got this! He has you in the palm of His hands, and He will help you through this.”
Dear Heavenly Father,
We thank you that you sent your son, Jesus, into our lives to be a model for our lives. Thank you for always keeping us in the palm of your hands. Help us to remember that your plan is greater than anything we can ever imagine. In times when we do not have the strength to do everything, knowing your strength is there to help us continue gives us comfort. We love you and we thank you for that power. Let us never forget that, and may we always cling to your strength. It’s in Jesus’ name I pray,
Have you ever used this phrase? In what other ways can you remember and encourage others that God has all things in His hands?
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
Several years ago, I decided to pick a “word” for the year.
At the time, life seemed a little bit on the chaotic side. Who am I kidding – that’s all the time! I had a 9-month-old waking up several times every night and a 4 year old son who was testing all kinds of boundaries, and I was still trying to figure out this normal in our growing family. Finding a way to make all the demands fit together was a bit more than I could handle. I’m sure none of you can relate to a chaotic life, right? Right when you feel like you get a grasp on anything, it begins to change and slip through your hands again.
Well, when all of the crazy seemed to be enveloping me, I decided to pray about a WORD for my year. Now ya’ll, this kind of prayer can be scary. You start to realize that the Lord is about to speak to you. Yikes! You better hold on!
After a couple days of thinking and praying, there was one word that seemed to float to the top of all of my thoughts… TRUST. Yep, the big scary TRUST word. Now, the Lord knows this about me but I will let you all in on a little secret about myself….I have a hard time with trust. Not trust issues that stem from people hurting me but more of a controlling kind of trust. Like I can do it better kind of trust. I know the right way to do something kind of trust. Ew, just typing that out makes me feel ridiculous. (Thank you, Lord, so much for my amazing, patient husband. See ya’ll, the Lord knows what we need!)
So there it was, my word for the year – TRUST. I kept thinking, I need to put on my big girl panties and buckle up!
Now when I consider how trust fits in with the rest of my life, I see it as the result of a couple other things that are also hard:
Trust is an acceptance of things that the Lord sends my way, whether I like it or not. And in my mind this has everything to do with faith.
Faith is trusting that the Lord has my back and is taking care of me. The Lord knows what I need before I ask or even when I don’t ask. How great is that? SO GREAT!! (also a little unnerving for me) and when I can really begin to grasp the link of trust and faith, it brings me a great deal of peace.
Peace can often feel like a deep heavy sigh. Whew! But let me tell you, the fear and anxiety leading up to that peace is really hard to fight through. I actually have this tattooed on my wrist. It reminds me that remembering to be at peace with the Lord’s plan and trusting in the faith that I believe – even when that seems most impossible – is completely necessary. It’s worth the internal battle!
In this verse that I illustrated, I am so drawn to the word “understanding.” I am often reminded in life that trusting the Lord, despite not understanding, is faith. Belief in that faith that the Lord has got me, offers a huge dose of peace. WHEW! Often times things happen that are not a part of my plan, but I can rest assured that they happen according to His plan!
What word has God been helping you to better understand?
Unanswered prayers. Those two words are heavy, amen? I look back at some of the things I prayed for but never received and thank God for saving me from myself. Then I look forward to the things I have now and remember how long I prayed desperately for them, never knowing if they would come to fruition, and I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. It leaves me with a confidence that I can look forward to whatever answers are in store for prayers that seem to be in limbo, because the granting or denial from God is a blessing either way.
But I have to admit, there are deep longings that I have prayed for, that while I submit them to God, my practical side just thinks them too good to be true. So the irony is, as much as I would like to see them come to pass, I don’t spend much time praying for them because they can be painful to think about. But they creep up from time to time, and I believe it is God’s way of nudging me as if to say, “It’s okay to ask, keep trusting me for this.”
So this weekend was this introvert’s dream. Odd segue, I know, but stay with me. It was full of favorites: quiet time, finished a book, started a new one (if you like to read you get this), baking, and now I’m listening to wind chimes and trees rustling in the wind. Such a perfect end to this blissful weekend. So what is this twinge of sadness that has been intruding on my happiness all day? It finally hits me–the dream I had last night that reminded me of an unanswered prayer! Le sigh, and things were going so well.
“It’s okay to ask. Keep trusting me for this.”
The nudge–it’s not a yes, but clearly I’m not supposed to stop praying into it. It should come as no surprise that today’s sermon was about unanswered prayer, God is clever like that. Feature verse?
“I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.”
Aaaand of course this song ended the service, “Everlasting God.” It’s so so good.
As soon as I woke up this morning I did not allow myself to indulge in the “woe is me” feeling that followed that dream. Instead I revisited last week’s sermon online, spent time praying, and worked through a daily devotion book. Which by the way–if you don’t have a copy of My Utmost For His Highest, here you go, no need to thank me. http://utmost.org/
That seemed to be the antidote to making sure I didn’t fall into a funk. I’ll be honest, I was pretty proud of myself. Then at church Mr. Preacher Man starts preaching and talking about unanswered prayers. Doesn’t he know I just shook that off?! Can we please just move on? Well, it turns out that God was not as impressed with my ability to shut down my feelings as I was. Instead of dealing with my hurt and turning to God, I stuffed my emotions and decided not to allow myself to feel. I then passed it off as a good thing, convincing myself that anything else was just self-pity. Lame. So I allowed myself to hope again during this sermon about waiting.
The question now is, what does it look like to wait in a healthy way? The sermon taught on many reasons that could lead to unanswered prayer according to scripture. These were action items to dive in and take stock of my heart andseek an answer from God instead of the lazy approach of throwing my hands up and saying, “Well God, I guess it’ll happen if you want it to.” I found myself disinterested in doing the work, not because it was work, but because it means I’ll be actively waiting again. This active waiting usually has hurt and sadness in tow. It’s not a pain-free thing, and I don’t love it.
But it’s clear after today that God is telling me to deal with it and allow myself to feel. There is obviously a lot of growing God plans to do in me through this. It is not, however, a guarantee that there is a “yes” on the other side of this prayer in waiting. It is a guarantee that I will see the goodness of the Lord. That is more than enough reason for me.
Let me impart this “nudge” to you via my desktop inspirational Dayspring calendar:
“God doesn’t plant desires within our hearts to let them wither and die. Yes, they may be dormant for a season. And yes, when they finally push through the ground they may look nothing like what we anticipated–but they’re still possible.” –Holly Gerth
What is your prayer in waiting?
Are you willing to trust God with the pain that comes along with the uncertainty by actively waiting on Him?
I am a girl who loves to sit with a cup of coffee and daydream. I am most passionate about Jesus, my family, and family ministry. My husband and I live in Oklahoma with our two precious daughters. I spend my days with my girls, discovering and growing alongside them! You can usually find us either in our sunroom, the park, or taking long walks through Target. :)
The Easter Story is one of the grandest stories ever told.
Jesus hung on a cross to die an agonizing death which he did not deserve. Three days after his burial the ground shook and his grave was left empty. Jesus Christ had risen from the dead! He came to his disciples over the course of forty days to speak about the kingdom of God, and he lavished them with grace and promises to give them hope for the future. I love the glimpse Paul gives us in John 21:25:
Jesus did many other things as well. If every one of them were written down, I suppose that even the whole world would not have room for the books that would be written.
It’s like a really good series that you never want to end. Maybe if the internet had been around in those days Paul would have found some people to start writing about those “many other things” Jesus did during that time. Surely with the internet, we’d have room!!
Eventually the disciples ran out of time with Jesus on earth, and they watched their friend, teacher, and Lord rise into the clouds.
They clung to hope that Christ would return (as he promised he would) and they devoted the rest of their lives to building His church.
It is a story of hope.
Hope is a wonderful thing, but it’s also a very hard thing. The people who were closest to Jesus had just experienced a whirlwind of emotions. They mourned his death, rejoiced in his rising, and then had to bid him farewell again. It could not have been easy to leave company yet again with this man they loved so much. But they had hope. Hope in his return. This hope filled them with joy. Joy that glorified God and gave birth to generations upon generations of believers.
Each year I pick a word to focus on. Last year, I had a difficult time choosing a word because I kept hearing God whisper “hope” but I didn’t want that word! I didn’t want to find myself in a situation needing hope. (Which is silly because we all need hope!) Reluctantly, I gave in and declared “hope” to be my word for 2016. Lo and behold, a couple of days later I found myself in a situation requiring hope. God is ever so merciful! He has showed me so much about hope in just a short few weeks.
So what does that mean and how does that relate to the resurrection story?
When troubling times come our way we can place our hope in many things. Mostly, I think it’s natural to put our hopes in our desired outcomes. We pray for these things in the hopes that God will give them to us. There is nothing wrong with those prayers either! Philippians 4:6 declares,
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
But is your hope in your desired outcome or in God?
Two lines from two favorite worship songs come to mind:
What does it really mean to have our hope solely in Jesus?
When the disciples faced hardships while spreading the gospel, I’m sure they desired relief but their hope remained in Christ and his second coming. They knew there was a bigger picture than what they were going through.
As I face my current struggle, I’ve been able to stay pretty peaceful (not that I’m always glad about my circumstance, because I’m not) but I know that there is a bigger picture than what me and my family are going through.
This picture is the life of Christ! The Easter story!!
God won when sin wanted to overcome and God invited ME to claim his victory. My hope in that promise is what gets me through my trials. It doesn’t matter if it’s a small problem or something completely life changing, I know that I take part in God’s victory and that ultimately I will see Christ one day.
No matter what struggles I come upon in this life, I’ve already overcome the bigger and more important picture!! Are you with me? Do you understand this truth tucked inside the writings of the gospel?
He said to them, “Go unto all the world and preach the good news to all creation. Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, whoever does not believe will be condemned.
Oh man, seventh grade strikes again. It was torture enough the first time around and this go-round with my soon-to-be thirteen-year-old is no more enjoyable. However, he has a couple of things going for him that I didn’t at this painfully awkward age–good looks and confidence. And he has such a huge heart! Seriously folks, I could gush about him forever, but I digress. Grades. The struggle is real. I know there are plenty of parents who feel me on this.
Parenting isn’t for the Faint of Heart
September 29, 2015, was a day that I could not have felt more inept at the game of parenting. During the short drive to school my son again informed me he didn’t know what he needed to follow up on with his teachers. At this point I’d done everything in my power to help him be successful (or so I thought). I’d bought all the necessary tools, sat with him for hours to help with homework, and made lists for him. You name it, I addressed it to no avail. He hadn’t changed a single approach to any of his classes or assignments.
I lost it. I yelled, he cried, it was ugly. He got out of the car and just like that I’d ruined any hope he had at a successful day. He likely wouldn’t operate well under that kind of stress. I was at a total and complete loss and in that moment begged God to step in, saying, “I’ve got nothing left here, please help us! I can’t watch him fail and I don’t know what else to do!” I’m not sure I prayed too much about it before this point. Yet somehow I thought I’d already done everything I could do. The very second I finished praying I got a text message from a friend I hadn’t spoken to in some time. It read:
“Good morning, friend. Prayed for the Lord’s help in the decisions that you have to make. I saw you open-handed toward God, as though saying ‘I have nothing, I need your help.’ He sees you, and loves both you and Andrew so much.”
Overwhelmed by God’s Response
Commence the uncontrollable sob fest that lasted the whole way to work, a good thirty minutes. I’m not talking sad cries–I really don’t know the appropriate descriptor for it–but I was overwhelmed by God’s amazing response to my plea. She had no idea what was going on at that particular moment! I hadn’t spoken to her about this struggle, and we hadn’t even kept in touch like we used to. So for her to reach out with that timing and those words was the perfect way for God make 100% clear that He heard, He cared, and He was already in it. But I could not quite make sense of the part of her text that mentioned decisions I needed to make.
Since that day his grades have improved. Great news, right? Kinda, but not really. I’m coming to learn that this is only half the battle. Maybe more like a quarter of the battle. The problem is that his habits have not changed, and neither have mine. I’ve become a drill sergeant and I’ve tried taking control by micromanaging the status of all his assignments and scores in each class. Thanks to technology and online gradebooks, this is possible.
Learning to Let Go of My Control Issues
Maaaybe not such a good thing. I’ve effectively conditioned my son to take direction from me rather than take initiative for himself. It is like I’m taking seventh grade all over again and there is this nagging voice in my head asking, “Shouldn’t your approach have changed after God’s message back in September?”
Enter the part about the decisions I have to make. More than one person has suggested I let him fail, because “maybe it’s the best way for him to learn.” I sit there and nod my head in agreement but cringe on the inside. What kind of parent would I look like if he had bad grades? I’m a single mom and he comes from a broken home. I loathe these stereotypes and what people expect from these circumstances.
So I’m fighting it to the death and it is my selfish pride that is interfering with the very work I’m pleading with God to do in my son! Will I get out of the way and give control over to God? Or do I care too much about what people will think of me to allow God to teach my son how to succeed in his own timing without me interfering? Without me forcing results?
I wish I could say that I’ve mastered the “let go and let God” part, but I’m a work in progress. We’ll be taking this one day at a time, the kid, God and I. The part of my friend’s prayer that made the least sense to me at the time is now the focal point of my dilemma. God help me in the decisions I have to make!
He Cares for You
Several months ago God gave me this verse for a struggle I was not going to overcome without His help.
Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.
1 Peter 5:7
(It seems I’m a slow learner.)
While we should be obedient and trust God, this verse reminds us that He doesn’t ask us to give our struggles to him because he has control issues. It is a love-driven invitation to watch God do beautiful works in and around us. What reason is there not to accept?
Is God asking you to release control over something you are trying to manage on your own? If the answer is yes, then like me you have a decision to make.
How have you seen God show up in your life when you stop trying to take control? Encourage us with your story in the comments below!