The Journey

Jeremiah 29:11 NIV “For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the Lord, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

God has a plan for your life. Have you heard the song, “God has a Plan for my Life?” It’s a song from Psalty who was a character from a kids Billy Graham crusade from, I want to say the 80s but the copyright on the song says the 90s. I still know this song. In fact when I wrote the sentence God has a plan for my life I began singing it in my head. I think we might have had a cassette tape with this song on it.

But no matter the impact of Psalty, the song is true, God has a plan for my life and for your life too. The second verse of this song is actually pretty brilliant, “It won’t all be easy, but God will understand. Through all the hard times he’ll be there to hold my hand. He knows just how special I’ll turn out to be, ’cause God has a plan for little ol’ me.”

This is so true for life. No matter how hard the journey is God has plans to give you hope and future. Sometimes the journey is downright awful. Right? I have friends who have been to way too many funerals in 2018 and there are still 5 months to go. But when I mentioned this they simply said, “knowing a lot of grief means you knew a lot of love.” I was absolutely speechless, because it’s true. Even though they lost a fair number of people and grieved their loss they also knew a lot of love.

They probably aren’t singing Psalty since they are younger than me, but they believe that God has a plan for their life and the pain of grief, although present is not the end goal. The end goal is hope and a future.

Does the journey ever stop you from seeing the hope and future ahead? Do you ever get stuck in your circumstances, believing there is no hope? God is your hope. You cannot see the future but guess what, God can. His plans are not for harm but for good, for hope and a future.

Do not be discouraged no matter where you are, because God loves you, he will see you through. He will hold your hand through the hard times and see you through because he knows just how special you will turn out to be.

I pray that if you are in the journey and cannot see the hope and future that you would know that God is there, waiting to take your hand and see you through because he knows that there is something special waiting for you.

journey(Photo by Tammy Waggoner)

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God Cares About You

“For in him we live and move and exist. As some of your own poets have said, ‘We are his offspring.'” Acts 17:28 NLT

Sometimes life is pretty exhausting. We get up, we exercise, we get dressed, we go to work, we work, we come home and then have no energy to do anything else. This is how I felt today. It was a pain filled day. I haven’t being feeling well, I think I’m getting the dreaded summer cold. Plus I’m pretty sure I’m having a Fibromyalgia flare and my muscles and nerves are spasming like crazy. And when I got home from my exhausting day, I didn’t want to write a devotional, I wanted to sleep.

I was less than an inch away from giving up for the day and not writing this, but then I thought, “What does God want you to do?” Well, God gave me the idea, so he pretty much wants me to get off my exhausted rear and write.

Do you have days that start exhausting and don’t stop being exhausting? What’s the thing that motivates you to keep going?

 

God is definitely the thing that keeps me going. I have Fibromyalgia, Rheumatoid Arthritis, High Cholesterol, Venous Insufficiency, Kidney stones, etc and the only thing that keeps me getting out of bed every morning is God.

For in him we live and move and exist. I don’t know how people make it through their day-to-day without God. He is my rock, he is my strength, he is my strong tower.

We are his offspring.  He made us, we are his. I’m not a mom but I am an aunt to 5 fantastic kids and I love them with every fiber of my being. So I cannot imagine how much more God loves us. He created us from the beginning and cares for us much more than we care for our loved ones, more than you love your kids or your dogs or your nieces and nephews. His loves is indescribable.

He is our everything and we are his.

Has God ever comforted you? Have you ever felt his love pour right into you? If not I encourage you to pray for God’s comfort, peace and love when you need it.

Lord, thank you for spending time with us again today. We are so very lucky to be called your children. We thank you for that honor. Lord you know what tasks get in the way of doing what you would have us do. We ask that you would remove our exhaustion and any other stumbling blocks that are in our way. We thank you that you give us the strength and perseverance to face each day and to keep moving in your will. We thank you for your love for us, for the gifts that you freely give us like the gift of comfort and the gift of peace. We pray that those who need to feel your love, your grace, your peace, your comfort, your healing would feel it now. That they would know without a doubt that their existence comes straight from you and that their life comes from you. We thank you for all that you do in and through us on a day-to-day basis and ask that each day would be a blessing in your sight. We ask for all these things in your precious, loving, life-giving, comforting name, Lord, Jesus Christ, Amen.

trust in the lord

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Sometimes we cannot pray for God to bring our own comfort and we need a little help from outside sources like my friend Laura. Laura has helped me many times to hear and see what God was trying to say to me and as a Spiritual Director, she can help you too.

 

The Lord Hears You

“The Lord hears his people when they call to him for help. He rescues them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”  Psalm 34:17-18 NLT

Another suicide has hit the media. I don’t know about you, but when I hear that someone has died of suicide my heart weeps. A childhood friend’s dad, died of suicide when I was teenager. A high school friend’s husband died of suicide. My sister’s friend’s husband died of suicide last year. And people I don’t know or hear about are dying of suicide every day.

My heart is weeping for all those left behind. My heart is weeping for all of those who took their lives, seeing no other way out. My heart is weeping for all of those who are effected by thoughts of suicide, even this very moment. If that’s you, please get help. There are lots of organizations available to help you, these are just a few.

Crisis Text Line

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

To Write Love on Her Arms

Please get help. If you had a broken arm you wouldn’t walk around without getting a cast or surgery or medication, please treat your mental illness the same.

Prayer works absolutely but God made the profession of therapist knowing we would need extra help. He made the profession of scientist to discover and develop medications knowing that sometimes we need more than just to talk it out. God gave people the idea to start support groups, understanding that, knowing other people going through the same thing as you helps. God made and gave us all the tools we need to deal with depression and the struggles in this life. Please get help. Please.

Lord, please be with every sad and depressed person who is reading this. Fill them with your love Lord. Give them your peace and push them to seek out help. Lord, please be with everyone who is reading this, that knows someone who is depressed. Help them to be an open heart, an open mind, an open friend that someone who is sad can talk to. Help them to see when talking isn’t enough. Help them to help those that they love. Lord, please be with all those that won’t read this, help them to get help, to seek out a friend, a family member, a therapist, a doctor and you Lord. Help us all, to help each other just a little bit better. Lord, please be with us all, as well grieve and deal with the loss of someone who died of suicide. Lord give us your strength, your wisdom, your peace, your comfort, your knowledge and your guidance as we do our best to be there for each other. We thank you Lord for spending time with us. We ask that you be with us in the coming weeks, months and years as we stand by someone who thought of suicide, who was left alone because of suicide and those that survive suicide. Please be will all of us. We ask all these things in your loving and sweet name, Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

loved

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Fruit of the Spirit

“So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses. When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God. But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things! Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.” Galatians 5:16-26 NLT

I had a professor at Fuller Theological Seminary who said, “pay attention! It says Fruit not Fruits.” How often do you hear people say, “The Fruits of the Spirit?” These are not separate “fruits” to strive for but one big fruit, which is probably why I like this print so much. It’s one fruit with all the parts listed in it.

So that means that the goal is not to simply master one of these but to master them all, so that your fruit can harvest. Let’s take a look at the list again: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. What in the list do you find easy? What do you find hard?

For me love is easy when the person is easily loved. I read a newspaper article earlier today where a man with Developmental Disabilities who was supposed to be in a safe place but was used, abused and eventually murdered. It’s hard to love the people who did that. So I guess I have to work on love some more.

Joy, comes from the anguish, heartache and grief of difficult situations. So getting to joy is not fun but joy in itself is good. I still think some days I need to work on letting more joy into my life.

Peace, this feels pretty easy until I start worrying about something. Most of the time I am peaceful but when I’m not, it’s easy to pray to God and ask for peace.

Patience…oh boy. I really need to work on patience. I feel my sinful nature coming up when I’m impatient. I don’t have patience with myself, I don’t have patience with drivers on the road, I don’t have patience…. Let’s just say I need to work on this one.

Kindness, I feel pretty confident with kindness. Unless you’re that person on I-70 that cuts me off, then my patience is gone and all you are getting is my anger. Again, another moment when my sinful nature comes up. So kindness is easy when life is easy.

Goodness, again I feel like I have goodness down, until something happens that makes things not so good, then my sinful nature shows up.

But faithfulness, I’m definitely good on this one. I don’t like to brag, but I will for this purpose. My faith in God is strong, it always has been. When I was a child, I had a fight with a friend and was worried that we would never be friends again. I was tossing and turning while not sleeping in my bed and God tapped on my shoulder and I just knew that a) it was him and b) everything was going to be ok. And then I fell into a deep peaceful sleep.

Gentleness, hmm I could probably work on this one too. What can I say I’m a work in progress?

Self-control….I think I’ve explained that I need to work on this, just see above.

Ok, so I need to work on all the aspects of my fruit. What about you? Are you where you think you should be? What do you feel you need to work on?

Lord, we thank you for spending time with us tonight and for showing us what we need to work on and where we are letting our sinful natures rule. We ask that you walk alongside each of us as we work to have better love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. We know that we are a work in progress, please help us to remember this as we work on the fruit of the spirit. We know that you give us these things from the Spirit and as we strive to do better at each of them we ask for your love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control, for we learn best by your example. Lord thank you for all of your gifts and please be with us in the days, weeks, and months ahead. We ask all these things in your precious and holy name, Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Fruits

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Harvest of Blessing

“Dear Brothers and sisters, if another believer is overcome by some sin, you who are godly should gently and humbly help that person back onto the right path. And be careful not to fall into the same temptation yourself. Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important. Pay careful attention to your own work, for then you will get the satisfaction of a job well done, and you won’t need to compare yourself to anyone else. For we are each responsible for our own conduct. Those who are taught the word of God should provide for their teachers, sharing all good things with them. Don’t be misled–you cannot mock the justice of God. You will always harvest what you plant. Those who live only to satisfy their own sinful nature will harvest decay and death from that sinful nature. But those who live to please the Spirit will harvest everlasting life from the Spirit. So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up. Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone–especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians 6:1-10 NLT

When you read this passage what sticks out to you? Is it that we are all to help each other back on to God’s path when we are sinning? And while helping that we are not to fall into temptation as well? Is it that we share in each other’s burdens? Is it that none of us is too important to help another human being? Is it that focusing on helping others will keep us from trying to be better than anyone else? Is it that we will always harvest what we plant? Is it that we should not get tired of doing what is good? Is that by doing good we will reap the harvest of blessing?

What’s great about this passage is that it speaks to all of us. We are, each one, responsible for our own actions and for helping those around us and with an air of humility, knowing that we are not too important to help. Wouldn’t it be great if we went to one another asking for help when we get too close to our sin? Alcoholics do this when they get too close to having another drink. But I can’t think of any other group that is self-aware enough to say, “hey, I feel like sinning.” But wouldn’t it be wonderful if they did or if we could see when someone is about to sin.

Like, “ooh I see Jenny is thinking impure thoughts I better go see if she needs my help.” But that’s not exactly something you can see. You might be able to see, “oh wait a minute, Micheal looks like he is going to gossip, I better go stop him.” But really how much of our sins are visible? I don’t know about you, but I try to hide my sins. I mean it’s not like I walk around waiving the red flag that signals that I will be sinning soon. But wouldn’t it be nice if there was something like that, that would help us prevent sin.

It’s only when our sin becomes visible that we seek help. And sometimes our sin is so great that reaching the end of our rope or rock bottom is the only thing that makes us reach out to others. This is of course the perfect time to help others but wouldn’t it be great if we could prevent sin? I think this actually might be possible because when we help others, in the moment when they need us most, we open the door for them to need us again. We open the door to us needing them as well. Starting a relationship by helping each other is how we prevent sin in the future. The starting of the relationship is the planting. We are planting seeds of love, of compassion, of forgiveness, of trust, and like the author says, whatever we plant will grow to harvest.

Lord, please help us to be more aware. Help us to stop and look and listen to those around us and help our focus to be on each other and not just “getting the work done.” Lord, help us to be better Christians and better friends and better sisters and better brothers and better moms and better dads and better wives and better husbands and better cousins and better aunts and better uncles and better grandparents and better kids to all those around us, those we know and those who are unknown. Lord, help us to reap the harvest of blessing. We thank you Lord for spending time with us and we ask all these things in your loving name Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.
Cross

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Finding Safety in God

“Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and will protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection.” Psalm 91: 1-4 NLT

Where do you find your rest? Rest doesn’t mean sleep. It means, where do you go to feel at peace? Where do you go when hard times hit? Do you go to God? I absolutely do. Some one tells me something is going on with them and I say, “I’ll pray for you.” Then I follow that up with actually praying for them. When something is going on with me, I go to God. He is my rest. Worrying about the problem won’t do me any good but bringing it to God and laying it at his feet will. And when I lay my problem at God’s feet I find my rest in the shadow of the Almighty. He alone is my refuge, my place of safety.

He is my God and I trust him. Do you trust God? Do you trust God to be there? Do you trust God to keep you going, to give you strength? Do you trust God to give you love? Do you trust God to get you through the hard times just like he helps you through the easy ones?

He will rescue you from every trap and will protect you from every deadly disease. What do we take from that? I think it’s about putting your faith in God. Believing that he will rescue you from no matter what ails you. But it’s hard to talk about protection from disease or deadly disease because some people get sick, even good and faithful Christians get diseases and die. But what I choose to take from it, is that God won’t leave you in your disease. He will give you peace and comfort and the strength to face it.

He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection. Beautiful imagery yet again. We will soar on the wings of eagles and God will cover us with his feathers and shelter us in his wings. When I think of this I see a beautiful embrace or hug. God will wrap his loving arms around you and provide protection, shelter and love. His promises to never leave are your protection and armor in your life.

Can you think of an area in your life where you need to fully trust God? Can you think of one thing that you could lay down at God’s feet and leave there, trusting that God will take care of you? Want to give it a try now? Close your eyes and picture a cross or Jesus standing in a room. Now picture your worry or your fear or your trouble, name it. Now walk that worry or fear or trouble over to the cross or Jesus’s feet and leave your trouble there. Ask God to keep your trouble and to not let you pick it up. Trust God to take care of your trouble and to take care of you.

Lord, we thank you for spending time with us today. Lord help us to lay our troubles and worries at your feet and to not pick them up again. Help us to trust you Lord. Give us your peace and your comfort so that we can feel your protection. Thank you for not giving up on us Lord and for helping us to trust you more. Thank you Lord for meeting us where we are and coming along on our journey. Lord be with us each day going forward and help us to put all our trust in you. Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Trust

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Overflow with Hope

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13 NIV

 

Think about a time in your life where you felt like all hope was gone. It could a be a horrible diagnosis, a bad grade that you never thought you could get past, it could be a marriage that is over or a relationship that has ended, it could be that you lost a parent or a sibling or a husband or a child or a grandparent or a friend, it could be any number of things. It’s a time where grief has grabbed a hold of you, where you are so focused on the things that are gone that you can’t see the good things in front of you. These are the times when we have to trust God the most. I know it’s hard. When I heard I had Rheumatoid Arthritis I thought my life had ended, I knew the carefree life I was living was gone and that was hard to deal with. Did I grieve the loss? Of course I did.

But once you grieve what once was you have to move on to what is. I’m in lots of Facebook groups where people often talk about having no hope, of not knowing how they will go on. My heart hurts for these people and I wish they knew my parents, my sisters, my brother-in-laws, my aunts, my uncles, my cousins, my friends and my God.

Honestly, on a day-to-day basis God is my strength to keep me going when laying in bed would be so much easier. “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.” Isn’t this the first part of grief. It’s turning towards God and saying, “Ok God, this is my new reality help me get through it.” And as you trust in him, your grief lessens, notice I didn’t say it goes away, it lessens. There are still some days when I grieve what used to be but those days are few and far between the days where I laugh my head off or enjoy time with friends. When I have a hard or painful day I pray to God asking him to make the pain less that day. I trust him to take care of me and he has. I can laugh at something truly funny because God has given me peace, because I trust in him.

“So that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” I have always had great faith and I have always felt the Holy Spirit. It’s a powerful force. Imagine the biggest rush of wind you can and imagine that flowing through you as the Holy Spirit. That’s the hope that lives in all of us. And on days when I meet someone at their darkest hour it helps me overflow with hope to give to them.

Do you have something you are grieving that you need to let God into, to give you hope, joy and peace? Can you think of a time when this was true in your own life, have you thanked God for your hope?

Dear Lord, we ask that you fill us with your joy and peace as we go through rough and difficult circumstances. We ask that you fill us with your hope so that we can fill others. We thank you for your joy, peace, love, comfort and hope in the times that we need it most. Lord we thank you so much for loving us. It is in your name we pray, Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

hope

 

The Fullness of God’s Love

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV

Today has been a painful day. Chronic illness sounds about as much fun as it is…..or isn’t actually. My official chronic illness is Fibromyalgia and unofficially because doctors are dumb, Rheumatoid Arthritis and today was painful. My fingers hurt, my shoulders hurt, my back hurts, my hips hurt and my neck hurts. Today my neck hurts the most, more than any of the other hurts.

On my drive home from work, checking for blind spots was not fun, as in “IT HURTS” in all caps because I was yelling every time I had to do it. And I knew when I got home I wanted to find something else to focus on. Something other than the pain. So I finished some projects and when it came time to work out, I decided I would first search for a verse that would give me something else to focus on and avoid working out.

So I turned to Google in my search and found Ephesians 3:16-19 and my heart was filled. I pretty much love this whole passage. Christ dwells in our hearts, and by doing so we are rooted in love and together with the people of faith have power to grasp how wide, deep, long and high God’s love is for us and that this love surpasses all knowledge we have so that we are filled with the fullness of God.

Can we just think about that for a second? God’s love is so huge it is beyond knowledge, beyond comprehension. I think about the love I have for my mom, my dad, my sisters  and brother-in-laws, and then I go a step further and think about the love I have for my nieces and nephews. I love them all lots, so much so I miss them when they are not around. But the love of God surpasses that. God’s love is so huge there is no way I could ever leave it. Think about that for a minute. God’s love is so huge you can never leave it. Even when you turn your back on God, his love never leaves you. Isn’t that amazingly awesome?

So no matter what has gone on in your day today, God loves you. No matter what you have done in your past, God loves you. No matter what you will do tomorrow, God will still love you.

Lord, we thank you so much for your unconditional love. We thank you that it is so huge we cannot understand it. We thank you, that you never give up on us. That you never leave us, that your love is steadfast. We thank you for your love that surpasses our knowledge and we thank you for spending time with us, Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

Night

This song has been playing in my head, “How deep the father’s love for us. How vast beyond all measure. That he should give His only Son. To make a wretch his treasure.”

Trust in the Lord with all your Heart

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him and he will make your paths straight.” Proverbs 3:5-6 New International Version (NIV)

There are lots of ways that people use this verse. In the book God’s Promises For Your Every Need it’s used in both the “Singles” chapter and “Confused” chapter and probably in loads of more places, but those were the two places I saw it was this evening.

I’ve been reading devotionals for the last couple of weeks from restministries.com and although they are good I thought, “I think I can do that.” And began looking at what it would take to submit a devotional and even though they have a formula, the newest submission is from 2016. So, I haven’t blogged on here forever and figured I would start here, get the lay of the land and once I think I understand my own formula begin posting them on my Fracturedwholenessministries.com blog.

A few weeks ago I was sitting in my church, where my dad happens to be the pastor, and listening to his sermon about listening to God. Then a week or so later, again in church the sermon was about spending more time with God. After hearing these sermons I realized I was longing to spend more time with God. I listen to Klove and Air1 throughout my day, have a morning devotional (#morningdevo) and pray on my way to work but my evening was missing something. So that’s when I started to read the daily devotions.

I picked restministries.com because they had thought provoking devotions and they were about chronic illnesses of which I have a few. Being chronically ill and not feeling well can really get to you. I was explaining to my dad this weekend that I’m exhausted. But I’m exhausted all the time and most of the time I just push myself to keep going but I know not everyone can do that and there are definitely times I just want to given into the exhaustion and sleep lots.

We were talking about my exhaustion because I want, with my whole heart, to be doing ministry for God. I went to seminary and have all the student loans to prove it, but I want to prove it in other ways. Hence, writing daily devotions.

So, I’m living this verse. I’m forgetting the exhaustion and all the stuff that tells me not to do this, and trusting God, leaning into him when it may not make sense, trusting he will take care of me and make my winding path straight.

What in your life is God leading you to? Are you listening?

Dear Lord, please help us to put away our excuses and the things that are holding us back and help us to follow you, leaning in and trusting with our whole hearts. Thank you for bringing us to this point of taking our leap of faith because we hear your whisper. Be with us along the way and make our paths straight. It is in your loving name we pray, Lord Jesus Christ Amen.

Faith Hope Love

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