Let His Strength Shine Through

Multi-tasking every day or trying to be all things to all people, leaves us diminished not fulfilled. Sometimes I wonder why we push ourselves so hard. What do we hope to gain? Who are we trying to impress? You know, you don’t have to prove anything to anyone, especially not to God.

We all have times of weakness and times that we need Jesus and a safe harbor to rest and restore our minds and bodies. Take the time you need for yourself each day or at least each week. Rest in His love. Then let His strength carry you and sustain you in the days ahead.

“Lord, your power knows no limits. When I think of how boundless your strength, how endless your ability, I stand in awe. Considering how easily I tire, how quickly I become overwhelmed, it is clear I am not calling on your power enough. With your help, exhaustion will not win. Spring up a well of energy in me. Allow me to finish strong so I can shout of your provision to all who hear.” Prayers & Promises for Women

God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Psalm 46:1-3 (NIV)

Supernatural Help

One thing people typically focus on at the start of a new year is better health. This could mean eating better, exercising, taking supplements, using more natural products on yourself and in your home or something else entirely that’s personal to you and your situation. It could even refer to your spiritual health or the strengthening of your spiritual life.

Love this word of the year and acrostic that my sister, Angela Loomis, posted regarding that very thing:

Although I consider myself to be a spiritual-minded person sometimes I let secular activities crowd out my spiritual activities. I want to focus more on spiritual things, so this year I am going to put more effort into keeping my spiritual routine. My word for this year is SPIRITUAL:

Seek God’s Kingdom first
Pray more specifically
Imitate Jesus’ example
Read God’s word daily
Imitate God’s faithful servants of old
Take time to meditate on God’s Word
Understand the Bible better
Allow God’s word to mold me
Let others know what I am learning

Those are great intentions!

A friend and fellow encourager shared the following words at the start of the year.

Praying that you will receive supernatural help in identifying and achieving your goals and dreams this year, and that God will bless you abundantly.

Pray big. Worry small. Trust God.

Bloom Anyway

Recently, we have had an insane number of grasshoppers in our backyard. Green ones, brown ones, yellow ones. I’ve never seen so many.

As you walk through the grass, dozens of them spring up and out of the way. Every day, I have to knock them off of my potted plants where they are chewing up the leaves at an alarming rate. Luckily, my dog, Taco, thinks it is great fun to chase and catch them.

Despite the grasshoppers’ daily feasting on my sunflowers, those plants just keep growing taller and the bright yellow flowers keep doing what they were made to do – growing, opening up a few petals at a time, blooming, and giving me something pretty to enjoy when I sit out on my back porch. They don’t let the grasshoppers keep them down.

There are seasons that we go through in life where trouble seems to swoop down like a swarm of locusts. Wreaking havoc and destroying everything in its path. But even a single grasshopper can do a lot of damage to a plant; just as one problem can keep wearing away at you and your strength and stamina. Sometimes, you get to where you think you can’t handle it … where it feels almost like it is too much for you to bear. Those darn grasshoppers just … won’t … stop! Bloom anyway.

I recently read something (don’t know the author) that made a good point. “The enemy wouldn’t be attacking you if something very valuable wasn’t inside of you. Thieves don’t break into empty houses.” You are special. You have worth. And you are stronger than you think you are.

Life’s challenges may bug you and they may change you, but don’t let them defeat you. Keep getting up. Keep showing up. Keep looking up. Keep growing. So your petals may be a little off balance; so what. Focus on progress not perfection. Your life will continue to unfold and you will grow into an even more unique and beautiful version of you.

And even better news … God will be with you through it all.

“Those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.” Isaiah 40:31

“So do not fear, for I am with you; … I will strengthen you and help you.” Isaiah 41:10

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned.” Isaiah 43:2


Bloom Anyway

Nothing Is Certain

Sometimes we have to just let go … and let God!

Worrying, over-thinking, stressing over the outcome of things that are beyond our control; struggling to stop the waves from crashing over us in one of life’s storms; attempting to slow down or speed up the ticking hands of time to savor or skip through our circumstances to avoid pain … all of these things are useless, frustrating, or impossible.

We can’t stop or control the various things that life throws at us. We can’t foresee what’s to come or how to best get through our current trials. But we can trust the One who knows, who understands, and who loves us. We can place our burdens at His feet, breathe deeply, and take advantage of the restorative gift of rest.

While nothing in this life is certain … God is. Rest in Him.

Answered Prayers

Like a lot of people, I have often asked others for prayers for a particular situation, but I can’t say that I have been very good about following up and letting people know that their prayers, or my own, have been answered. I privately thank God for what He has done, and I am truly grateful, but I don’t always publicly acknowledge or praise God for answered prayers. So, I wanted to take a minute to do that today.

On March 31st, I published a post “Seeking Prayers Today” as I had been stressing quite a bit over a work project. It was not something I felt equipped to do (even with years of editorial experience), as the client had very unrealistic expectations and requirements. While I recognized that situations like this can create an opportunity for God to shine through and pull off a miracle, it didn’t feel like this was one of those cases, as the actual work would still have to be done through me. I told God that I trusted Him no matter which way the situation went, but if he wanted to know my heart, I preferred that the project would simply go away. Within the next month, there were several delays, and then we were told that we would start at the beginning of May but the project would run through October (where originally they wanted everything done in a couple of months). I felt better about the additional time, but prayed that somehow it would still end up being cancelled (which is not very common once contracts have been signed) as it continued to feel very overwhelming and almost impossible to me.

At this point, I am pretty sure that several other vendors had already walked away from the project, but I knew that the company I am working for did not want to walk away from their commitment. They have a very strong work ethic and moral code, and I understood where they were coming from in remaining ready to press on. About a week before we were to begin, we heard from the client that they no longer had the resources necessary and were going to be unable to complete the whole project. At first, they wanted us to write one small portion of the project, which we would have been happy to do, but within a couple more weeks, the entire job was cancelled. Now, obviously, I can’t say all this happened because of me as I don’t have any pull or control in a situation like this … but God does … and he cares about the things that matter to us.

Granted, the downside of this was that we lost a large contract and the money that would have come in from it eventually. However, I feel it was a major plus in that the company I work for was able to save face and not walk out like other vendors had; the editors (me especially) felt a great sense of relief as this “monster job” was slain; and the time we would have spent on this crazy project was opened up for us to be able to take on better jobs with more realistic expectations and time frames. [Since then, I have added a prayer to my prayer board (more on that later) to deal with the aftermath, and new projects are beginning to come in.]
Composure prayer

So, thank you God particularly for this answered prayer! And thank you for the other prayers you have answered recently as well – like Bart’s new job, which he is really enjoying and we feel will offer him success as well as an opportunity to make a difference for others [he sold his first house today!]; and my sister’s health, which is finally better [at least for now … it’s always something with her 😉 ]; and so many other things you have come through for us on.

Book

Read this!

I have so much more to share with you, my readers, on prayer, including the new prayer board I made, but if I try to write about it all now, I will never get this post published. So, I’m going to end with some words from The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, and promise to share more with you later.

“God is infinitely bigger than your biggest problem or biggest dream. … There is nothing God cannot do. Yet many of us pray as if our problems are bigger than God.”

“100% of the prayers [we] don’t pray won’t get answered.”

“Our most powerful prayers are hyperlinked to the promises of God [in Scripture].”

“Scripture is God’s way of initiating a conversation; prayer is our response.”

“The Bible is a promise book and a prayer book. … Reading is the way you get through the Bible; prayer is the way you get the Bible through you.”

If you have not yet read this book – I highly recommend it. In fact, I borrowed it from my sister-in-law and took tons of notes, but I plan to get my own copy sometime. If you want to change/strengthen your prayer life, you really should check it out.

Meanwhile, pray BIG, worry small, and TRUST GOD.

My Conversation with God

Today, I want to share with you a partial guest post by my husband, Bart. Having experienced various times in our lives when money has been tight, we have struggled with the concept of tithing (regularly, generously, and biblically). We have often been so concerned with meeting our own needs that we have clung too tightly to what was in our hands rather than trusting God and releasing what we had in order to open up our hands to receive greater blessings.

In fact, I remember having a conversation with my aunt once about what I thought of giving 10% to the church. I told her I felt like the money I donated or gave to various places or causes added up to 10% and it didn’t matter if it went specifically to a church. Giving was giving, right?

Our church has recently been sharing “generosity talks” at each service through members of the church. These personal stories have been very encouraging and motivating. Giving is up and so are personal accounts of blessings received. Following is Bart’s story, which he emailed to Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Plano, last month after sharing it with me:

My Conversation with God

I just had a conversation with God. Well, let me back up and give you some background.
Over the last couple of months, when I have woken up early in the morning, before the sun, I have begun praying. Now, I know praying is a good thing. But one of the things I got from reading the Left Behind series (for the third time) is that praying should also be about listening.
This morning, before I woke up, I was dreaming about taking a test in school or somewhere. Someone walked into the room and called my name. I woke up instantly. I was wide awake. I started my usual prayers, thanking God for my beautiful wife and then just stopped. Hey, why don’t I try listening this morning and see if God talks to me.
In church this past Sunday, there was “another presentation” about giving to the church.  What stood out to me about that presentation was the phrase: “90% of God’s math will go further than 100% of mine.”
Church Note
Being that I can’t just clear my head and think of nothing, I was smiling to myself, feeling pretty proud that my wife and I had recently been having conversations about giving to God. We had decided that we would give 10% of our earnings, but rather than tithing it all to the church, we wanted to have some control over where our money went. We felt like we would give more joyfully if we got to choose who we were giving to. So, we thought we’d give some to the church but the majority of our tithe would go to other missions of our choice like E3 and to people we knew personally who have been called to missions. I smiled as I thought about the different people we had been helping over the years go on missions throughout the world. And then I felt and literally heard, “How many of those has your tithe funded completely? Ask Jack [pastor of Prestonwood] how many my church has funded completely.” He was standing in my bedroom looking at me. My smile was gone. Our tithe is nowhere near enough to fund anything completely. “Give my church the 10% and I will bless you so that you will be able to continue giving to the other missions.”
I hear you God. I hear you.
I was so excited, I rolled over to wake my wife and share with her my conversation with God. She was sleeping peacefully though, so I thought that might not actually be the best way to start the morning. So, I decided that I should type up my conversation and share it with you, Jack (especially since God called you by name). God used your sermon, and the recent focus of the church on giving, to reach out and shake me out of my need to control my tithing. I will be obedient to God … joyfully.
God Bless,
Bart Fuller

Chris Kouba, the pastor of our church, wrote back about 15 minutes later:

Bart,
This is such a great email. Thank you for sharing. We continue to hear similar feedback from people who have been challenged by the generosity talks and hearing about their personal journey of obedience and blessing as a result of giving. I pray God shows you so much more of himself as you take this step of obedience and release control over your tithe. In my personal experience, I have found that God always supplies what I intended to give and supplies even more to give above and beyond what I originally intended. The key is being willing to trust him for everything instead of trying to do only enough. Thanks for sharing and if I can help you in anyway in the days ahead, please let me know. 

Chris Kouba, Lead Pastor North Campus

In the past, I am sad to say, we have often given out of what was left rather than from our “first fruits.” Since Bart and I talked about his conversation with God, we have decided that we will be giving 10% of our checks as soon as they arrive, before we even pay a single bill. It has not even been a month since Bart’s encounter and our change of heart accompanied by a change in action, yet we are already experiencing blessings and a hope for a more fulfilling future.

I pray the same blessing on all of you.


“…return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord … You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. … Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” Malachi 3:7, 8, 10 (New Living Translation)

Evening Sky