You’re not defined by a number

I got on the scale this week and didn’t like the number screaming at me in red. Flashbacks to all the peanut butter buckeyes and sugar cookies I’d eaten in the month of December and other delicious treats haunted me. I couldn’t help those yummy plates arriving straight to my door! I’d worked so hard months before then and loved the number I was at. But now? I kind of detest it.

But you know what? The truth is, I’m not defined by that number. Not one bit. Even when I think I am.

I’m not defined by how many followers, likes, loves, friends, Fitbit stats, the numbers in my bank account, the times I’ve messed up, the number of times a project’s been rejected, or the one million numbers someone else has, either.

It’s all so futile. Because you and I- our security and self-worth has nothing to do with a number.

They have everything to do with a cross.

The cross is where we go to find our acceptance, identity, and approval. The cross is where we turn for the forgiveness and healing we desperately need. The cross reminds us of our great, precious worth and the sacrifice it cost Jesus to go there.

The cross turns our gaze upward- not inward.

While it’s so tempting to chase after approval, applaud, and value from others and even within our own expectations of what number we should be, we’ll never be fully satisfied in these numbers- even if we achieve them in all our crazy striving. Sure, we can be excited, want to tell others, and even help others get to where we’re at. But those numbers can’t fulfill us in and of themselves.

Why? Because our value cannot be attached to physical, temporal things in this world. It must be found in a person- the person of Christ. The one who is eternal. The one who gives infinite joy and satisfaction. The one who our souls are longing for, above all else. The one who loves you more than anyone you know. The one who we’ll meet one day face-to-face in eternity.

You can trust in him to find the value you’ve been longing for in this life and more.

This is who he says you are:

  • a child of God – John 1:12
  • a friend of Jesus – John 15:15
  • crucified with Christ & no longer a slave to sin – Romans 6:6
  • a temple of the Holy Spirit – 1 Cor 6:19
  • redeemed and forgiven – Ephesians 1:7
  • a new creation – 2 Corinthians 5:17
  • the one who supplies all my needs – Phillipians 4:19
  • set free – Galatians 5:1
  • chosen – Ephesians 1:4
  • brought near to God by the blood of Christ – Ephesians 2:13
  • God’s workmanship – Ephesians 2:10
  • complete in Christ – Collosians 2:10
  • raised up with Christ – Collosians 3:1
  • loved – 1 Thesallonians 1:4

You’re not defined by a number. Now, go, and live like you are loved. Because that’s exactly what you are.

When I wondered if I was seen as a mom

A few days ago, my kids and I made our way to the local golf course to catch the hills for sledding. After several runs up and down the hills, I told the kids I was going to venture down the hill and take a walk in nature for a few minutes alone. They followed me down (mom radar!) and to our surprise we stumbled across a sparrow struggling in the deep white snow- all by herself.

My eight-year-old daughter Rebekah was the first to arrive on the scene and noticed the bird couldn’t fly even when it flapped its wings. She reached out her gloves and scooped up the bird even though I cautioned her not to mess with it.

“I’m fine mom. I have gloves on,” she said. I didn’t argue with her.

The kids and I continued to watch the bird and Rebekah kept following it and picking it up. It was sad to see the struggle especially for my ten-year-old son.

In motherhood, there are times I feel like that little sparrow just making her way through the trenches- yet deeply struggling to survive. The challenges involved in raising children can be overwhelming. It’s hard work that often goes unnoticed and is rarely praised. You don’t exactly get promotions and bonuses or affirmation from your boss.

Half the time, I’m just hoping I’m doing it right and praying, “God help me not to ruin my kids.” And then I pray that the love I bestow on them far outweighs my sin and failures.

Inward struggles exist as well – battling a stubborn sinful nature, impatience, anger, pride, worry, comparisons, depression, and anxiety to name a few.

That afternoon on the golf course reminded me of how Jesus sees and watches over the sparrow. How much more does he watch over me?

“Look at the birds of the air: They do not sow or reap or gather into barns–and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?” (Matthew 6:26)

He knows me as his daughter- his child- who understands sorrow and struggle that took him to a rugged cross. He says I’m valuable. Will I live like I believe it?

He cares and is fully aware of the hardships I face- even the ones that might seem so minimal like regulating the constant fighting and battle of wills between my kids that can drive me to the edge. And the nights of lost sleep when I act like monster mom the next morning.

Truth is- I’m seen as a mom. You’re seen as a mom. We’re not alone – even in the times it feels like we’re barely making it through the snowstorm. Truth is- we all have struggles from one degree to another. And we need each other.

We need to tell each other, “You’re seen, and I think you’re doing a great job.”

We need each other to remind us that God sees- even when no one else seems to see or even care, quite frankly.

And those worries and anxieties we lug on a daily basis as moms?

He knows those too and He’s here to help us deal with them. We just need to throw them over to him like we’d willingly drop any heavy luggage weighing us down and keeping us from effectively moving forward.

 “Cast all your anxiety on Him for he cares for you.” (1 Peter 5:7)

That day, the sparrow continued trying to fly but its wings were damaged, but that didn’t make her any less valuable.

Rebekah eventually carried her over to the brush – out of the deep snow that looked like it would swallow it whole. Rebekah understood we had to leave the bird and go home to warm up. She gently set the bird down and we walked up the hill to our car.

I knew that even though we were gone, that sparrow wasn’t truly alone. And I won’t forget the lessons it taught me that winter day.

** This article was first posted on TODAY Parents

 

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. You can connect with her on Instagram and Facebook.

 

 

 

 

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Dear Child: Why You Can Always Depend on God’s Love

Before bedtime a few weeks ago, my 7-year-old daughter Rebekah looked me in the eyes and asked,

“Mom, but… who created God?”

Nighttime is always the perfect opportunity for theological questions and vulnerability from our kids.

“That’s a good question.” I said. “No one created Him. He has always been. He was here before everything.”

“You mean, he always existed?” her eyes grew wide.

“You got it. It’s amazing isn’t it?”

She paused for a minute.

“And, do you know how much he loves you?” I asked.

“Yeah … I think…” she looked up at the ceiling.

“He loves you so, so much- way beyond the moon,” I said.

“Can we read Princess Snowbelle now?” she flips open the first page.

I realize how “I think I know how much God loves me” is an honest answer. It’s difficult to understand. Not only is it unfathomable to think about God always being here before the foundations of the earth, but his love has too.

When I look at the canvas print on her wall showcasing the moment when she and her sister chopped their hair secretively in the kitchen one slow summer afternoon. God knew every strand cut then. He knows every lock that’s grown out. I observe her physical changes and how her face has matured since that photo. I think about how God knit and fashioned her in my womb and knew her before she was born.

Even though time is slipping away as I watch her permanent teeth grow in, her favorite sparkly leggings shrink, and her maturity developing at a rapid speed, God’s love remains steadfast and unchanging for her even in the midst of my imperfect motherly love.

There are many things I want to teach my daughter that it can be overwhelming. But perhaps I’ve made it more complicated than it should. There’s really only one thing that matters most in her life and it comes from Ephesians 3:17-19:

“… And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 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, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.”  

My daughter, I want you to know this about God’s love:

“Be rooted and established in love …” (vs. 17)

May you know this love intimately from your Creator and heavenly Father. Be rooted in love, like a tree planted by streams of living water that never grows thirsty or dry but is constantly a source of life, growth, and blessing. I pray your life will be grounded on God’s overflowing love because everything you do springs forth from that.

“Grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ…” (vs. 18)

You can trust in God’s love because he proved it by sending Jesus to save you from every sin, bad word, wrong behavior, offensive action, or thought. In Christ, you have the power to grasp this love and to believe it personally. His death on the cross and resurrection proved this love and that he is indeed King forever and in fact King and rescuer of your heart.

“Know this love that surpasses knowledge…” (vs. 19)

You can depend on him to love you like no other earthly daddy, mommy, or man ever could because love is who he is. His love isn’t broken, half-hearted, or lukewarm. His love for you is perfect, complete, and a consuming fire. No person can even compare to him.

Even though human relationships will inevitably let you down and cause you pain at times, Jesus won’t. His love surpasses human knowledge or wisdom because it is from above – it’s not of this world. It goes beyond the mind and into the heart. You don’t have to be on a chase to find an earthly love to satisfy what only God can.

“That you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God …” (vs. 19)

There’s so much the world wants to pour into your heart from a young age: the desire to be beautiful, popular, accepted, noticed, followed, liked, and treasured. I pray you’ll experience the fullness of God being near to your heart. He is the source of your joy, satisfaction, and happiness. Live for him and not the short-lived approval of your peers. Grab hold of how good and wonderful He is. He will show himself to you.

Because of his deep love for you, love Jesus in return by worshipping him with every ounce of your being. You were made to glorify him and enjoy him forever.

May our daughters grasp this love and believe it their whole life. May God’s kindness draw them in as it did for us (Romans 2:4). As mothers, may we tangibly display this love in their life with God’s continual help and guidance.

Rebekah’s eyes are glazed over after reading about princess friendship in Frostovia. I close the book, say prayers, and kiss her goodnight. She peeks out her window and sees the light shining in from the moon.

“God is watching over me. Goodnight, Mommy.”

 

Samantha Krieger is a pastor’s wife and mom to 4. Through personal stories and scripture, she is passionate about helping women live out their faith in real life. She is the author of  Quiet Time: A 30-day Devotional Retreat for Moms in the Trenches. 

 

 

 

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5 Things I Learned in January

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I’ve always been someone who needs to reflect and process the world around me. Sometimes I feel like I have lost the moment if I don’t think and write about what just occurred. Perhaps that’s why I have 15 journals since middle school. So when I recently saw how author Emily Freeman regularly practices the art of “looking back” on her blog, I thought it would be a great discipline for me to implement once in a while in my own writing space.

Here are five simple things I learned in January:

1. I would rather be faithful to Jesus than successful in the world’s eyes.

Do you ever feel that deep drive for success – to be known, good at what you do, and appreciated by others? I think that’s a natural feeling most of us have inside us. But Jesus views success in a much different light than the world – not by numbers, praise, accomplishment, getting even, climbing to the top and more. He got down on his knees and washed – probably scrubbed in that day – the dirty, smelly feet of his disciples. He came to serve and not to be served – to give his life as a ransom for many. At the end of my life, I don’t want others to say I was successful, but that I was faithful in what God gave me to do.

2. I’m often quick to tell God what should happen, instead of allowing him to lead.

When my son John was five he came to an understanding that Jesus died for his sins and that he needed a Savior. I had always wondered when he’d be ready to be baptized, but I felt he needed to wait until he was older and truly understood it. I feared that we would make a mistake in the timing as parents. He is now seven and my husband has been working with him on understanding the meaning and why we do it.

Last week, Jeremiah said that John was ready to show our community of faith that he has trusted in his Savior. We’re so excited that John will be baptized at the end of this month among others in our church who want to publicly declare Jesus as their Savior. We’re confident in the timing and God is teaching me to trust his plans and that He knows best, even in the midst of my fears and concerns.

3. I need to get back up.

Just because I wrote down my one-word resolution “Clean” for the year doesn’t mean it will happen perfectly each day. I have already failed at my aim for clean eating when I ate my child’s preservative filled Welch’s pack of gummies yesterday. They were good! I’ve failed to have clean lips at times. I’ve failed to build up my husband and children with my words.

When I sin, the important thing is that I get back up and dust the dirt off my feet. Instead of wallowing in shame or in my sin, I need to do the next thing that’s required of me and seek reconciliation. When I hurt those closest to me, I need to ask forgiveness and own my part in the conflict. Living in this truth every day is life changing knowing that His grace allows me to start fresh again.

4. Life is too serious not to laugh.

I can be a pretty serious and sensitive person. In our ten years of marriage, my husband has helped me find the humor in things that I simply cannot find on my own. In my Tuesday morning Bible study, we usually don’t get through the serious stuff in our book without a good laugh or at least a good laugh at ourselves.

Life is already heavy, isn’t it? It is hard. The burdens we carry are sometimes so unbearable. Proverbs says that a cheerful heart is good medicine for the soul. I love what my friend wrote in a text recently, Just give yourself grace. It reminded me that I take myself too seriously sometimes.

 5. Contentment is great gain.

When it’s winter, we long for the flowers to bloom. When it’s summer, we wish for the leaves to fall. When our babies are young, we want them grown up. When they’re older, we wish they were young again. After moving to Colorado, we left behind a stunning master bath Jeremiah had remodeled. It was my place of retreat at the end of the day and the gorgeous tub was my “push present” after delivering my son Will.

I miss that jacuzzi tub with the inline heater so much. But I know I can’t dwell on the past but I can be thankful for all the many blessings God has given us in our new home and town. The Lord is teaching me to be content in all circumstances and to be present in the now.

There are many other things I learned in January, but those stick out the most. I think that when I reflect on my life years from now I’ll be thankful I took the time to practice the art of looking back.

What did you learn in January? Is there anything that comes to mind that you don’t want to forget?

One Fact in Motherhood: Some Days Everything Falls Apart

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my baby boy (2 mos)

{written last night}

Today was a circus.

The 5 year old, almost 3 year old, 1 year old, and baby were all cranky from the moment their toes hit the floor. Okay so not the baby’s toes exactly. But anyway, constant noise, screams, and whines echoed through the walls all day long. The 5 year old lied three times and threw some verbal punches at his sister. Careless words I’d never heard before. Pinching, hitting, crying, and the like. No one napped on schedule like they usually do.

We converted the almost 3 year old’s crib into her big girl bed and what was supposed to be a joyous occasion was quite interesting. Jeremiah had spent most of the day getting a new mattress and box spring up north and putting it all together when he got home. Our precious little girl seemed thankful and excited for a short time but ended up throwing fits and calling Daddy and Mommy names.

While all that was happening, the 5 year old was out playing wonderfully with the 1 year old and then he decides to push her in the one spot of the yard with mud. Her face and arms are caked with mud. More discipline came after that and then I scrubbed her off in the tub. Meanwhile, the 2 month old baby is fussy and needing all my attention and dinner needs to be served next, but the chicken chili is too hot and the older kids are complaining they don’t like it. (They liked it a few months ago.)

My head is spinning and I feel like I’m going to pass out from being up 3 times the night before. It’s all I can do to focus on the next task.

And then Daddy and Mommy have about had it with all the noise and fuss and start getting on each other and World War III (like the Sara Groves song) is about to erupt in the kitchen. Oh wait, it sort of already did amongst the dishes and debris. All little eyes are staring us down.

So Mommy runs upstairs to escape the chaos and have a good cry because let’s be honest, if that didn’t happen, all you know what would have broke out because when Mama’s not happy, nobody is. I didn’t want to hear the word “mommy” one more time.

Yes, this is reality some days. Thank goodness days like today aren’t this bad. I wish it was prettier. I wish I could say I got through the day because I thought about how I would miss this when they’re teenagers or that I got through the day because of the blessings and joys of being a mom regardless of the challenges. Or that it goes by so fast and I need to enjoy it.

But it wasn’t like that today.

Nope.

It was survival mode from the minute my feet hit the floor. I barely had time for a shower. No time for makeup. My husband and I have barely looked each other in the eyes today and it was his day off.

And right now, I’m so glad they’re all in bed and I can breathe and hear my fingers hit the keyboard as I write this.

“This is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, Jeremiah,” I said to my husband a few minutes ago.

He gets it because he’s right with me through it all. The emotions, physical exhaustion, the spiritual battles, the sleep deprivation, the demands… There is so much that goes into loving and raising our children that we had no clue about before kids.

And I think to myself, is this what we signed up for? Holy cow. Four kids all still so young. God, you really think I can handle this?

After bellies are full, thing simmer down, and I’m able to think I ask my husband for forgiveness and we reconcile. I ask my older kids for forgiveness and we hug and talk about the conflict.

And that’s when the only thing that comes to mind is grace and God’s goodness. That’s all I’m left with at the end of the day. When all the happenings in my home are squeezing the life out of me and it’s all I can do to hold back tears from being so overwhelmed, God’s still voice says:

Anyone in these circumstances would struggle, Samantha.

It’s not going to be easy.

This is your sanctification.

But, I’ve got you.

Motherhood is your mission.

There is purpose in this.

I’m with you.

I’ll help you hold on.

Everyone’s going to survive.

I will use this for good.

I love you.

Even in times of brokenness, chaos, feelings of failure, shame and absolute exhaustion, His arms are open wide to carry the burden for me.

And I am so thankful for that tonight.

He is who I will cling to when my head hits the pillow. It is He who I will ask to help me better love my children the next day. It is He who I will trust to bring new mercies and change me in the beautiful, messy, joyful, necessary, difficult, rewarding, purposeful work of motherhood.

New Article: 8 Non-Negotiables for Dads with Daughters- KirkCameron.com

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kirkcameron.com

Lately, I’ve been inspired by the importance of the daddy-daughter relationship and I wrote about it recently on KirkCameron.com. After all, I’m a Daddy’s girl myself!

This was my first article geared primarily for dads and I’ve been so humbled by the response it’s getting and have really appreciated hearing from readers. It makes me realize this is truly a need in our culture today. Feel free to share your thoughts over there and thanks for reading!

8 Non-Negotiables for Dads with Daughters

A couple months ago, my kids were playing upstairs when my two-year-old daughter Rebekah starts screaming at the top of her lungs. I ran upstairs to find that she’d cut her eyebrow from jumping off the bed onto her brother’s train table.

Since it looked bad, I called my neighbor for help so I could take Rebekah to the Urgent Care clinic. After waiting and being seen, the doctor explained that she’d need three stitches. The nurses and I held Rebekah down while the doctor threaded her skin. Her eyes filled with tears as she shouted, “D-a-d-d-y … D-a-d-d-y!”

Read the rest over on KirkCameron.com

When A Big Fear Made Me Brave

990129_96584657Yesterday, I headed to my women’s Bible study at church. It was raining so I quickly shuffled all my kids out of the van. I checked them into childcare and grabbed a chai tea and scone for my second breakfast.

Our study focused on Romans 16 and how the apostle Paul poured his life and ministry into people and relationships. We were challenged to intimately know the women in our lives and be known, to help protect them from potential danger, and to work hard at loving one another well. I left challenged and encouraged to apply what I learned.

I picked up my kids and we ran to the van since it was now thundering and lightening and pouring down rain. By the time I got their little bodies into car seats and packed the stroller in the trunk, I was soaking wet. And so was my seat. I said a prayer as I pulled out and about a minute into driving, my steering wheel suddenly locked up. I couldn’t turn it to the left or the right.

Oh goodness. You gotta be kidding me. Oh no, I thought.

Prayer for Help

“John! Start praying for the van right now!” My four year old is pretty accustomed to begin praying immediately when Mommy needs help.

I had to pull over immediately and to my left was a turn lane so I stopped there. Thankfully the lane barely had any traffic and we weren’t on a busy road. I called my friend Jen who I was just at Bible study with. I didn’t have to say much until she said she was on her way to help.

I turned off the engine and restarted it and the problem remained. I figured my husband Jeremiah was busy working with patients so I called my dad and told him the problem to see if I could fix the issue. I also wondered if I was the problem but I was pretty confident it was serious. We agreed that calling AAA would be best. I decided to go ahead and try Jeremiah at work and I was able to reach him immediately.

Meanwhile my 9 month old, Hannah, is screaming in her carseat with a runny nose I couldn’t tend to. And my 2 and 4 year old were wondering what was going on as the thunder rolled and the rain poured and we were going nowhere.

I was on the verge of crying when I explained the situation to Jeremiah. I wasn’t sure what to do with the kids and the car seats and everything. Thankfully his boss let him off work to come help and it would take him 45 minutes to get to us. After I talked to him, AAA was easy to reach and on their way within the hour to tow the van.

Facing Fear

Jen arrived with her kids and had the brilliant idea of getting us lunch so the kids wouldn’t be starving and could be entertained. She left to get the food and Hannah settled down as I held her. She began cooing and bouncing on my legs, happy as a clam.

And for some reason my typically fiesty, strong-willed 2 1/2 year old, Rebekah, is sitting peacefully in her carseat and chatting up a storm like nothing was out of the ordinary. I had to take it all in because being stranded on the road in a big city with a 4 year old, 2 year old, and 9 month old (not to mention a pregnant belly) all by myself was one of my biggest fears. What would I do? Who would be able to help? How would I keep everyone from having meltdowns? 

My jeans were wet. We were hungry. The van was absorbing the cold air from outside. But I was so grateful. The rain and thunder had died down. God was providing for us. I soaked in the moment (no pun intended) where I knew it was going to be okay. That moment where God was saying:

It’s alright, Samantha. I’ve got this. I’m taking care of you. You don’t need to worry. I am right here with you in your fears. You can face them head on because I’ve got you.

One of my biggest fears was happening and it wasn’t so bad after all. Thankfully I hadn’t got on the interstate yet. No one was hurt. And my van hadn’t blown up. Yet.

Abundant Provision

Within 20 minutes, Jen arrived with a smile and a bag full of burritos, tacos, quesadillas, chips, salsa and cheese. Talk about giving us above and beyond what we needed. She also waited in her SUV behind us until Jeremiah arrived. 20 minutes later, he came ready to help with the kids and take out the carseats and put them in his truck. Then about 15 minutes later, the AAA guy had come at last.

Jeremiah and I got the kids in his truck and we drove home. It felt so good to feel heat again. The kids were calm.

I couldn’t believe how God was providing through my husband. I was reminded how God has created our husbands to be the protector and provider in practical circumstances like these. He joyfully carried the burden for me.

God used Jen to be the kind of woman we’d talked about in our Bible study. She knew me well and that I freak out in stressful situations, thrive on having a plan and being in control, and struggle with anxiety. It didn’t matter that she had her own 2 kids and a newborn either. She was there to encourage me and provide food for our bellies in our time of need. She brought a sense of calming to my spirit.

Living by Faith

The reality is that fear and anxiety have left me crippled and frozen at times. I worry so much about the “what if’s” and allow them to overtake my thoughts as if I know how something is going to work out. While this fear wasn’t categorized as one of the greater fears like death or cancer, it has been on my mind regularly when driving.

I also know that fear has held me back from living the abundant life in Christ. It has kept me from trusting in God’s provision. Mainly, from trusting in him alone. God knew that and used that experience to test me and grow my faith.

There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear. – 1 John 4:18

As followers of Christ, I think our lives would be radically changed if we lived by faith in God’s love for us. If we lived knowing He is our provider and in control. If we lived knowing that even if we have to go through the storm, He is still with us and it will be okay. He is God. We know the end of the story. What do we really have to fear anyway?

If we allowed that truth to settle in our hearts, would we make different decisions? Would we be more bold? Would we experience God’s love with a new kind of depth and meaning?

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. – Rom. 8:38-39

Well we eventually found out the problem to the van. A belt broke and was fixed within a few hours. Other minor repairs will be completed on Monday. After all the running around, we tucked our kids in bed, crashed on our beds, laughed about the day, and I felt a little more brave than I did the day before.

On Man’s Sinfulness & God’s Goodness

Since hearing the tragic news about the shooting in Aurora, Colorado, I have wanted to write out my thoughts because everything in my heart seems so jumbled.

Many bloggers, authors, journalists, newscasters, reporters and more have an opinion and a voice they want to bring to the table in light of such a tragedy. I think in some way, we all want to voice our feelings. But at the end of the day, more than anything, we want to know why? 

More specifically, why God?

I was flipping through Twitter on Friday morning and saw a tweet about praying for two people who had been shot in Colorado. I wasn’t sure what it was all about so I went to Fox News and that’s where I saw the story. My heart grieved and my mind instantly went back to my high school days when the Columbine shooting hit the news.

I can vividly remember my fears as a junior in high school. I remember the bomb threats our school had and being let out of school early because of those threats. Of course, the being let-out-of school part wasn’t so bad.

But here it was again in a different town. Darkness, evil, and sin exposed like no other. This time not in broad daylight but at midnight. In a movie theater of all places where people go to kick back and relax and have a good time. My heart raced as I read more details and it broke for the victims and the shooter.

As a follower of Christ who loves Jesus and strives to live by faith, I have struggled and wanted answers. I have wondered if God is still good in the midst of such horrific evil. I have questioned:

What in the world will God do in all of this? Is He concerned? In control? What about the victims who didn’t know Christ? Why do innocent people have to die? Will justice be done?

Then a few days ago I read a post that went viral by a woman named Marie who made it out of the theater with her two teenagers. Marie’s post didn’t answer all my questions, of course. Only God has most of those answers. But these words did strike a chord with me:

God is always good.

Man is not.

Don’t get the two confused.

I thought about the historical event in the Garden of Eden when God gave man a choice to obey or disobey his commands. He didn’t force Adam and Eve to follow His ways but out of love, He gave them a choice. They could choose to eat from the forbidden fruit or abstain.

Tragically, they ate from it, choosing sin over God. And their sin ushered in death, brokenness, and pain for all mankind. For you and for me. No one would be exempt from such a consequence.

The bottom line is that left to himself, without God, man is not good. And does not choose good on his own.

But thankfully, God already had a plan in place to restore what had been lost. He had a plan to heal all brokenness and to help man choose good again, instead of evil. He sent his Son Jesus, in place of you and I, to die a horrific death on the cross to save us from ourselves.

Jesus’ death allows us to live. To know Him and live life to its fullest. But we have to accept His gift of grace into our life. We have to acknowledge that we are broken sinners and cannot make it in this life without Him. We have to allow Him to change us from the inside out.

This is the gospel story that you and I have heard countless times but we can’t allow it to get old. We must embed it in our hearts and remember God’s story isn’t over.

Thank goodness.

In the midst of trying to make sense out of such evil, God continues to welcome our questions, doubts, anger, and frustrations. And even though we may not receive the answers we want in our timing and even though some questions remain unanswered, that’s okay because God is still working and God is always good.

And that is enough to trust Him in our lives today.

When God Interrupts Your Story

image: DevotionalDiva.com

God interrupted my story the summer after I graduated from college.

I interned at a Christian publishing company in Nashville. I loved my work and what music city had to offer. I wanted to plant roots there but two weeks before my internship ended, I felt God leading me to pursue seminary.

The funny thing is that seminary was never in my thoughts…

Today, I’m excited to be guest posting for author and speaker Renee Johnson on DevotionalDiva.com.

Read the rest here and join the conversation.

Why Your Broken Prayers Are Enough

This article (originally a blog post) was published in my column “Faith in Real Life” for Dallas Seminary’s Student Journal- Spring 2012 Issue 2. You can view the PDF here on pg. 5. 

It’s interesting how the word “prayer” conjures up many emotions and feelings for people. You might view your prayer life as a delight, a duty, or both. Maybe it just depends on what kind of day you’re having.

The demands of seminary, working, raising children, serving in ministry, and making our marriage a priority often leaves my husband and me with no choice but to fall on our knees before God. Our prayer lives have been forced to grow as our responsibilities have increased over the years, and I admit that much of my strength has come from confessing my absolute brokenness.

The Sweet Word Abba

When I was single, I had a more designated time for prayer, but now my prayers are more unscheduled, short, and spontaneous. And lately the prayer I offer most to God is help! I’ve also had times when the only words I could offer were tears. And of course the most pivotal prayer of all was when I asked Jesus to save me.

But most of the time I still feel this pressure to offer drawn-out, formal prayers to God, and if I don’t do that, I’m not spiritual. But it’s interesting to note that in Romans, Paul says that in our spirit we cry out, “Abba, Father” in our adoption as His children. And that’s a short prayer if I’ve seen one.

Being Natural with God

I’ve been reading the 30-day devotional book called Prayer by Charles Spurgeon, and in it he says, “I think this sweet word Abba was chosen to show us that we are to be very natural with God, not stilted and formal.” Spurgeon goes on to say that sometimes our prayers to God are more like groans and longings, and that when we cry Abba, “The cry in our hearts is not only childlike, but the tone and manner of utterance are equally so.”

I can just picture the tone and manner of the word “D-a-d-d-y” when a child is in great danger or in need of help, and how when we cry “A-b-b-a” to our Heavenly Father, it is the same.

Embracing a Child-like Faith

Spurgeon’s words have reminded me that it’s okay to offer such a short, broken prayer when that’s all I can do. They’ve also reminded me that lots of things keep me from being natural and real with God, among them pride, stubbornness, fear, my inability to trust Him with everything, and my failure to believe that He loves me.

But when I come to God as my Abba, tell him all that He already knows, and be real with Him, I’m amazed at how He shows Himself and works in my heart. My heart is overwhelmed with joy because I learn more about His grace and patience toward me. It’s as if He’s saying, “I love being your Abba.”

My true desire is to be more open with God and to not hide so much. In child-like faith, I want to crawl up in His lap and be in His presence. And in the coming days where I’m sure I’ll have to offer up one-worded prayers again, I can be honest and trust that He is listening—because I am His child and He is my Abba.

The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father.” – Romans 8:15

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