When I don’t trust God

A few years, as a homeschool mom, I convinced myself I should teach not one but two history curriculums in one year. I was afraid if we only used one there would be gaps in my kids’ education. As I was puzzling over my options, a wiser, more experienced homeschool mom assured me that one history curriculum was more than enough for a year.

Fast forward to their junior year in high school. We enrolled both kids in our local high school where they took all their classes at the local college and graduated top of their class.  The other night as my husband and I were boxing up the books to sell, we agreed if we had it to do all over again we would relax more and laugh more. Everything worked out just fine.

But, as I sit here in the new season of our lives, I find a new set of things to be anxious about. Which colleges are the best? What degree should they get? Are their choices leading to the best life possible? Because that’s what a good Mama does, right?

I bustle around as if my child’s success is dependent on my choices, actions, and endless worrying. Why? If I’m honest, it’s because I don’t trust them or God to handle things. Ouch. The green pride oozing out of that last sentence burns.

If I’m honest, it’s because I don’t trust them or God to handle things

 

God —their Creator loves them more than I. He knows their thoughts and hearts, while I only know what they share with me. God, is not defined by time, knowing all their yesterdays and all their tomorrows. And yet I sit afraid to trust because everything might not work out “right.” According to Nancy.

Surrender

I’ve fought surrender for many years. The fear of not being in control felt like a prison sentence. But I wonder, is surrender the greatest gift we are given? You might say salvation is the greatest gift, and I agree. But, aren’t we talking about the same thing? God who draws us to himself at salvation is willing to guide and direct us through life.

Surrender is letting God lead by not needing controlling the outcome. It comes from a place of love and trust, not fear.  I recently heard that rest is a form of worship because while we sleep we are trusting God to handle life.

I am humbled and awed that God, the one who made the universe, is working all things for good. Why do I fight that? Why do I work hard for God’s or man’s approval instead of resting in God’s purposes and plans?

 


God, I see now that my desire to make everything work out perfectly comes from a place of fear –fear of disappointing others or you. I need your drawing and enabling power to increase and abound my love. I recognize I am powerless to do this and I believe you can. Would you work in me what is pleasing in your sight? Thank you that I am your child and that you put a desire in me to trust and live from a place of love, not fear. To God be all glory forever. Amen.


How about you? Do you have a hard time trusting others? God? Is there an area of your life you need to stop trying to control the outcome?

5 affirmations that changed my day

Recently, my husband accidentally stumbled across some affirmations I had written in my journal months before we left for our family vacation. He shared his surprise that I had begun to mentally prepare for the trip long before we left.

We were planning to spend 12 days visiting his family in Germany and then taking a mini 8 day trip to Italy and Greece with our children. That trip was rigorous visiting a total of four cities and a new Airbnb every couple of nights.

I had read that we tend to remember events based on the emotions we attach to them.  When you come home from a vacation all you have left is memories, right?  Knowing I am not a born traveler and tend toward safe comfortable places where both my feet are on the ground, my journal affirmations came from a place of knowing the trip would challenge and stretch me.

Affirmations

I first read about affirmations in Hal Elrod’s book, The Miracle Morning.  My initial reaction was one of feeling like they were silly. I felt like it was the philosophy that everyone is a winner – everyone gets a trophy for trying – you know, positive thinking mumbo-jumbo.

But when I began to pay attention to my thoughts I began to realize how much negative chatter went on in my head.   I realized I would never talk to another person the way I talked to myself. (You are so stupid, I can’t believe you said that. Or, you know this plane is going to crash, right?)

An affirmation is a statement that declares something to be true.

Ephesians 2:22-24 encourages us to replace stinky thoughts with truth. One of the definitions of the name Satan is accuser.  (Rev. 12:10-11). He is also called the Father of lies (John 8:44). We don’t have to believe the worry, anxiety and fear that loops through our heads. Jesus came to set us free from the power of the enemy.   Freedom is found by replacing the lies of accusation, shame, and insecurity with words of truth, light and hope.

While reading the book of 1 John I noticed that in the middle the book, John summarizes the purpose of the letter he was writing. He also specifically mentions each age group, clarifying that no one was exempt from the truths. As I looked at the verses I realized they were affirmations.  John is assuring us of the truths that we need to tell ourselves.

5 Affirmations from 1 John

  1. Your sins are forgiven through Jesus
  2. You know God who has been from the beginning
  3. You are strong
  4. The Word of God lives in you
  5. You have overcome the evil one

These are some strong statements. Statements that I want my soul to believe. I wrote these on my mirror in the bathroom so I can remember who I am. I’m finding that focusing my mind on truth isn’t a one time experience. Left to its default my mind is soon swimming in a pool of what-ifs and if-onlys.  Especially when I am in a HALT moment (hungry, angry, lonely, tired).   It’s a daily, sometimes hourly, sometimes moment-by-moment choice to think on what is true.  (Phil. 4:6-8)

As for the family trip? It was fun and it was stressful.  There were long lines, lots of people and tight spaces.  We loved well, laughed often and cried together (or maybe it was just me who cried. What happens in Rome stays in Rome.  Just sayin’. )  We made great memories. And, I found new freedom by doing the hard and uncomfortable thing and standing up to my fears and coming out the other side alive.


 

How about you? Have you tried affirmations? Have you found them helpful?

1 John 2:12-14

I am writing to you, dear children,
because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
13 I am writing to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I am writing to you, young men,
because you have overcome the evil one.
14 I write to you, dear children,
because you know the Father.
I write to you, fathers,
because you know him who is from the beginning.
I write to you, young men,
because you are strong,
and the word of God lives in you,
and you have overcome the evil one.


Father in heaven,
I thank you that you are the same unchanging God from the beginning of time to now. I thank you for your loving kindness and limitless love. I thank you that Jesus stands in my place, that I am forgiven for my sins. I am strong. I choose to replace negative thoughts with the truth of your Word. I thank you for giving me truth and life and bring defeat to the accusations and lies the enemy tried to defeat me with. Amen.

Garment of Praise

Light snowflakes swirl and tumble tangling above and below each other. Every now and again one blows right into the window as if to say hello and then twirls away again…around and around, up and down. The sun peers slightly out of the cloud covered sky. One lonely snowflake sprints across my field of view trying in vain to catch his friends who have all but vanished.

The branches on the leafless tree sway. What looks barren and lost will soon bloom with life. How do I know? Not by what my eyes can see. For all I see is death. But what is bearing no fruit – what looks dead on the outside is bursting with life on the inside. I am powerless to form one bud on the tree. My construction paper bud taped on the branch is indeed no life at all. It’s a lie, an illusion.

How am I so certain life will come again? Because I’ve seen the process year after year sitting in the same black recliner looking out the same window. The autumn leaves display a show of grand colors before they shrivel and float to the ground, the snow lays heavy on the branches until tiny buds burst into life. I know it because I have seen it to be true in the past. I trust because I have no reason not to believe it will happen again.

Today,  sound is muffled by the blanket of snow on the ground, I still my soul. For in the stillness I see God. I know the sun will shine again, the birds will chirp again, the warm winds will blow again.

Today, I don’t ask why the seasons change. I acknowledge One’s power greater than mine. I don’t wish and long for spring for I know that life with only pleasure brings no joy at all. Without the hard moments, there would be no easy ones. Without the hurt, we can not appreciate the depths of pleasure. Spring without winter would just be normal, mundane, boring.

I trust the One who sees all, who knows all and is working this moment for good. Winter brings life. Without the cold, the insect population would explode bringing destruction to the tree. In cold, the tree holds energy in reserve for building new life. The excess must be pruned from the tree so its structure will be strong and healthy. Pruning in the dormant time stimulates new growth while trimming in the active time stresses the tree.

And when the winter seems endless, I still praise Him. For who am I but an imitator of the True One with my construction paper fruit and duck tape? With palms open, I utter not my will but Thine. I sit in the dead of winter and I waste not the still moments by wishing for spring.

“to provide for those who grieve in Zion– to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.” Isaiah 61:3


*The above ramblings come from processing some of what we have been learning in church about praise. I am learning praise is more than a moment of worship music or positive words.  Praise is a place I set my mind by acknowledging God is bigger than my understanding, and he is working all things for good. I choose praise when I shift my eyes from my circumstances to God, releasing my expectations of a life without problems.  Instead of searching endlessly for the why praise sets my heart on God’s faithfulness and love.  

 

Does pain have a purpose?

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  James 1:2-4

I don’t like pain.  If I have a headache, I run for the aspirin. When physical pain arrives my goal is to stop the pain. That’s what the TV commercials tell us, right?

Getting you back to normal – Tylenol
All Day Strong. All Day Long. – Aleve
Advil. Stronger than Pain
Plop, Plop, Fizz, Fizz, Oh what a relief it is – Alka Seltzer

These verses in James challenge me to shift my thinking. Bumping up against difficult people, circumstances beyond our control, physical pain or other hard things isn’t necessarily bad.   I used to pray my children would have an easy life. But, I realize now that won’t do them any favors.

 Faith develops in trials.

Joy comes not because I like what’s happening, but because the trial is developing character in me.  I trust that God is who He says He is – and He will do what He says He will do.

Instead of me needing to control all that is around me,  I can rest my hand in my Father’s loving hand, realizing He is God, my Creator, and Maker. He loves me, and He is all I need no matter what is happening to me on this earth.

I’m not sure we can grow without pain. So, what at first glance looks like an inconvenience, disruption, or worse, is shaping us into the best version of ourselves – if we let it.

I’m thankful for Tylenol and all for enjoying life to its fullest. But, when I run up against the things I can’t or shouldn’t fix I know it’s time to grab my big girl panties. Just because something doesn’t feel like it’s for my best doesn’t mean it isn’t.

The goal isn’t to stop the pain
The goal is to be mature and complete.

Trials develop endurance.  Endurance is the staying power that no matter how hard something is, I won’t give up. Quitting is not an option. Why? Because God is good and will use this for good. Because it will be all worth it one day.


Thank you, Jesus, for the peace in knowing you don’t waste my pain.  Thank you for giving me joy in knowing the things though things seem bad you can use them for good.  I want to be mature and complete, not lacking anything. Thank you for being faithful and loving. I come with open palms knowing you are a good, good Father.


Challenge: One thing that helps me is to write out a verse on a 3×5 card and put it in my pocket.  Reading it throughout the day encourages me and helps me keep a true perspective on my circumstances.  Choose a verse from below or pick your own. Write it on a 3×5 card or use a dry erase marker and write it on the mirror in your bathroom.

“When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them?” Psalm 8:3-4

“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Psalms 136:1

Why do we pray in Jesus name?

In Jesus name.

My eyes look over the words I’ve so carelessly prayed so for so many years. As a child, we are trained to pray in Jesus name as if it’s a magic formula. If you don’t beat the eggs before you add them to the pancakes, the pancakes will be flat. If you don’t pray in Jesus name, God won’t hear you.

Baloney. God isn’t sitting in heaven drumming his fingers and saying, “I got you! I’m not going to help you because you didn’t pray right!” When we pray in Jesus name – it’s like the king’s wax seal on the envelope.  The seal signifies power and authority.

There is power in Jesus name. If I come to God in my own name – I have nothing to stand on. I am a sinner who can’t do enough to make up for all the wrong I’ve done. It’s through the blood of Jesus I am clean. I am not only permitted but encouraged to approach the throne of grace so I can find help in my time of need.

If I come to God in my own name – I have nothing to stand on. I can’t do enough to make amends for all the wrong I’ve done. It’s through the blood of Jesus I am made clean. God not only permits us but encourages us to approach the throne of grace so we can find help in our time of need.

When I pray in Jesus name, I am acknowledging my position and show dependence on Jesus. God sees me through the blood of Jesus. I am clean; I am forgiven, I am a child of God. The resurrection power is alive in me. In Jesus Name.