Tag Archives: BigSisterKnows

The Goodness of the Lord

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Don’t you love it when God shows up and does something totally unexpected? What a great reminder that He is alive, and He loves us!

This week’s blog, The Goodness of the Lord, is posted on Lift Up Your Day. The following is an excerpt.

Excerpt

Now, I see that God was setting us up—not as a test but as a reminder of His goodness and provision. What a reminder that God really does loves us, and He is willing and able to take care of our needs! (See Luke 12:28-31.) …

Not every circumstance will be resolved the way you want, or how you plan it. But if you are obedient and make God your first priority, and if you wait upon the Lord, you will see His goodness in your daily life.

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage; yes, wait for the LORD.” (Psalm 27:13-14 NAS)


To read the full blog, click here.

When It’s Not About You

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Sometimes, we find ourselves in situations that are…well…they’re just not about us. Perhaps God has His eyes on someone in far greater need; or maybe your role is just to bring others together, to plant a seed, or to make a way for someone else.

This month, I found myself in a very frustrating “it’s not about me” situation. Here’s an excerpt from the blog I wrote, which is now posted at Lift Up Your Day. I hope it encourages you!

Excerpt:

I felt so convicted! While my heart had been turned inward, God’s heart was focused on Lynn and what she needs. I know God loves me as much as He loves Lynn and, yes, this will work out for the good for all of us. (See Romans 8:28.) But this issue is about Lynn and making sure she’s safe in her own home.

In other words, this isn’t about me….

We all love it when God moves in our lives, when we’re the focus of His blessings. But as we grow in the faith, we learn that “it is more blessed to give than to receive” (Acts 20:35 NAS). We should want God to trust us to be His messengers, comforters, teachers, and servants. It should be our heart’s desire to be God’s hands and feet in this world.


To read the full blog, click here.

Girls with Gusto: A Spirit of Joy

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Photo by Ashley Jones 2016.

It’s human nature to want what we want, to be happy when we get it, and to be unhappy when we don’t. Only a crazy person would be happy when everything is going wrong…right?

 

A Spirit of Joy

A few weeks ago, I wrote a blog entitled A Clean Heart, which was about the first of eight major steps in our Christian journey. These steps, and how to navigate them, are the topic of the book I’m writing for young women: Girls with Gusto.

Step Two in our journey is A Spirit of Joy. As I researched this topic, the first thing I learned is that there is a difference between worldly happiness and godly happiness. Worldly happiness is a fickle thing, with its highs and lows determined by our current circumstances.

Godly happiness, or what I call joy, is tied to our relationship with God (see Psalm 43:4). I learned that if we will only anchor ourselves to Him, we can experience the kind of joy that never waivers, regardless of our situation.

 

An Excerpt on Joy

Here’s an excerpt from Girls with Gusto: 

If God is to be the source of our joy, we need to be sure that His direction is as true and straight as the North Star. Otherwise, our joy would be as unpredictable as if it were based on the shifting circumstances of the world. 

Thankfully, the Bible gives us assurance: “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1:17 NAS). The KJV version states there is “no variableness, neither shadow of turning.” 

I love that! There is no variation. No variables. There’s not even a shadow of turning. Not a hint. God doesn’t wake up grumpy or go to bed angry. He doesn’t tell us one thing today and another thing tomorrow. He is more constant than the rising and setting of the sun (see Isaiah 60:19-20).

This surety and steadfastness are extremely important qualities of God. If we are to have a solid foundation we can rely on, it must be immovable.

 

The Crutch of Circumstance

When I went through a rough patch in my early twenties, I realized that the world couldn’t offer me real joy. That’s when I began to truly seek God in my life.

Ten years later, as I was writing about joy, the Lord began to convict me once again. Life has been really good and, while I’ve been thankful to God for my blessings, I haven’t looked to Him as the source of my joy. Instead, I’ve limped around on the crutch of circumstance, accepting the mediocre happiness of the world. The fact that my circumstances were good doesn’t make my reliance on them (instead of God) any less of a sin.

So what did God do? Did He punish me? No, but He sure taught me a lesson! Here’s a short list of things I went through over the course of a few months:

  • Robby began to travel a lot. For a while, we had more days apart than together. I didn’t realize how much I relied on him for emotional support as well as all the work he does around the house.
  • Our sweet kitty, Sue, passed away. She was our fur-baby for over four years, so this was a huge loss for us. [Click here to read more about Sue.]
  • My parents sold the house we moved into when I was 13. I like their new house more, but letting go of the past can be difficult.
  • My grandfather had emergency surgery and, for a while, we weren’t sure if he was going to be all right. Thank God, he did heal completely, but it was a stressful time for all of us.
  • I picked up every bacterium or bug came my way and stayed sick for days on end. These illnesses were putting a strain on my nerves, work, writing, and home life.

It was like everything in life that gave me comfort was being withheld, and every stressor had the volume turned up. Through it all, I felt God tugging me toward Himself, forcing me to look to Him as the source of my joy and comfort. It was a painful process, but I’m glad to be moving ever forward in my spiritual journey.

 

Your Joy

When things don’t go your way, do you feel anxious and depressed? Are you too stressed to seek the Lord?

When life is good, do you grow slack in reading your Bible? Do you get caught up in the day’s activities and forget to pray?

Remember that God is your spiritual food and water (see 1 Corinthians 10:1-5). Whatever the day brings, you have to eat and drink, right? In the same way, you need to seek God’s presence and read His Word. If you can make this a daily habit, regardless of the situation, you can have the joy that comes from God—a true Spirit of Joy.

Thriving the Storm

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Thanks to Hurricane Hermine, we’ve been without power for nearly 72 hours, and it could still be another day before it’s back on. But we’re not complaining! With running water, a small generator for the fridge, a gas stove to cook on, and no structural damage, we’re the fortunate ones. For many others—without food, water, and adequate shelter—the storm has not yet passed.

In the midst of this, I have come up with a new personal motto: Prepare well to fare well.

In other words, those who prepare for the storm will probably get through it better than those who don’t. Of course, none of us knows what tomorrow will bring, and there’s only so much we can plan for. Ultimately, it is God who provides for us and protects us. (See Genesis 22:14 and Psalm 41:1-2.)

As I sit here on my front porch, writing by the light of a hurricane lamp, I ponder what this has to do with the storms in our spiritual lives.

We’ve all survived spiritual storms. Some, like tornadoes, come unannounced, bringing turbulent winds of destruction and change. Others are like hurricanes, causing us to shrink with anxiety for weeks as we watch them grow in strength and power. Even the regular summer showers can uproot our everyday comfort and flood us with despair.

We know we will encounter these spiritual storms again, sooner or later. Instead of just surviving these storms, what can we do to start thriving in the midst of them?

 

Prayer

In the natural world, we seek out needed information before, during, and after the storm. We watch the weather channel, looking for colorful radar maps and pretending to understand spaghetti models. We surf social media, on the lookout for emergency alerts and bulletins. This information is our life line during a crisis.

In the spiritual sense, we need to tune into God regularly. (See 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.) He will often give us warnings of coming danger, will direct our steps during the storm, and will give us the strength to regroup and move forward. (See Psalm 5:8.) Talk to God throughout each day, and listen to the guidance He has for you.

 

Perspiration

Before the storm, you have to drive to the store, stand in line, and stock up on supplies. When you get home, you have to put the batteries in the flashlights and radios, bring in the lawn furniture, pack a bag in case you need to evacuate …. Then, if there is a storm, you have to file the insurance claim, cut down the tree, cook on the camp stove, sit in the hot house …. It’s exhausting!

If we’re to survive spiritual storms, we need to be as prepared as we would be for a hurricane. We have to stock up on resources before the storm so they’re available to us after it hits. Remember, our spiritual food and supplies are God Himself. Allow the living water of God’s Spirit to dwell within you, and you will never thirst. Store the bread of God’s Word in your heart, and you will never hunger. (See John 4:10 and John 6:35.) After a storm, you will be amply prepared.

 

People

Regardless of our preparation, all of us are vulnerable to accidents during and after a storm. Whether we like it or not, we rely on others to help us: firemen to quell the flames, policemen to keep the peace, and hospitals to tend the wounded. However, it’s often family, friends, neighbors, and even strangers, who save us in our time of need.

Sometimes, we’re the ones with the answers and the resources; that’s when we need to share a word of wisdom, a warm hug, or a helping hand. Other times, we’re the ones in need, and we have to humble ourselves to listen to counsel or to take the help that is being offered. You cannot get through life—even your spiritual life—on your own. (See Luke 10:25-37.) Look at your spiritual resources and that of others around you, and share what you have.

If we can incorporate these three areas—Prayer, Perspiration, and People—into our everyday lives, we can prepare for future spiritual storms. Instead of just surviving these storms, we will be able to thrive in the midst of them!

 

But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord (Romans 8:37-39 NAS).

Why Our Chickens Crossed the Road

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Our girls, Lu Ellen and Lula Bell (asleep).

It’s often hard to believe, but God has our best interest at heart, even on the darkest of days. Earlier this year, God let us know that He loved us and was caring for us–by way of two chickens crossing the road. Here’s an excerpt from the blog, which is now posted at Lift Up Your Day.

 

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Lula Bell in the dandelions.

 

We didn’t know when Sue would leave this world, but God did. We didn’t know what joy the chickens would bring us, but He did. He orchestrated the whole thing and brought us encouragement by way of the Smiths and two plucky hens, Lula Bell and Lu Ellen. 

When the night seems the darkest, we should remember that God is not blind. He is not surprised when our circumstances change, and He is not hindered by our grief. All things work for the good to those of us who love God and are called according to His purpose (see Romans 8:28).

 


To read the full blog, click here.