9.29.2016

You can help save a marriage before it starts!

In the early days of my marriage I spent many nights with tears streaming down my face, negative thoughts racing through my mind … 

Why does marriage have to be so hard?

Why won’t he change?

Maybe I was meant to marry someone else.
 
Looking back now, I wish Art and I had known what conversations to have and questions to ask as we processed our differences. 

Maybe you can relate and want to help someone else avoid that same heartache? If so, watch this video to see how you can help save a marriage before it starts. 


(If you’re viewing this in an email, click here to watch the video.)

Learn more about how you can become a certified SYMBIS facilitator here. Be sure to use the code FAYZK2Y to receive a limited time 10% discount!

9.22.2016

Why You Don’t Have to Fear the Upcoming Election

I looked around the table at my kids I love so much, and fear gripped my heart.

What will the outcomes of this coming election make our world look like? What will it be like when they are trying to live as Christians in a culture so determined to dismantle our Biblical values? Have I taught them enough? Equipped them for the battles they’ll face? Will they withstand the pressures and policy changes and political shifts?

I’m not even sure I understand all the complicated political realities, but I do know when I watch the news or read discussions about the upcoming election, I don’t get a good feeling.

What I thought we’d have to navigate one day, seems to be a reality this day.

And it can leave this simple mom’s heart feeling afraid.

Do you ever feel this way? We crave safety and certainty and simplicity to raise our families, serve God, and live out our Christian beliefs in both private and public. But so many things feel threatening to those desires. How do we navigate both our fears and our faith?

There’s a wonderful truth I turn to time and again when I get afraid. It’s in 2 Kings chapter 6 verse 16, “‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’”

The prophet Elisha spoke this treasured truth to his servant. The servant was breathless with fear because he looked and saw a massive enemy army surrounding them. His desperation is so clearly heard in verse 15b: “‘Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?’ the servant asked.”

Their circumstances were horrible and hopeless when examined through human eyes.

But Elisha doesn’t look at circumstances with human eyes. He sees there are always two realities to everything we face: A physical reality but also a spiritual reality. Elisha clearly saw the frightening military leaders surrounding his city who thought they were in control. But he also saw an angel army sent by God who was far stronger, far greater and far more in control than any human eye could see.

I love what Elisha prays for his servant.

Elisha prays his spiritual eyes will be opened so his faith will be increased. He doesn’t pray for his servant’s fear to be eased. He doesn’t pray the enemy army turns and runs away. He doesn’t pray a new king will swoop onto the scene and change the antagonistic political climate of that day. He doesn’t pray his circumstances will change at all. He simply prays his servant can see with spiritual eyes that God is in control.

“‘Don’t be afraid,’ the prophet answered. ‘Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.’ And Elisha prayed, ‘Open his eyes, LORD, so that he may see.’ Then the LORD opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha,” (2 Kings 6:16-17, NIV). An angel army sent by God was there with a divine assignment.

His fear was then silenced as He saw the protection and provision of God.

And that’s how we can quiet our fears as well. Psalm 34:7 reminds us of this same truth, “The angel of the LORD encamps around those who fear him, and he delivers them” (NIV).

That was true for Elisha’s fearful servant and it is true for us too. The Matthew Henry commentary says, “As angels are God’s messengers, so they are his soldiers, his hosts (Genesis 32:2), his legions, or regiments, (Matthew 26:53), for the good of his people.” And probably most comforting to my mom’s heart is Matthew 18:10 which says, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven.”

Angels are not mystical or mythological, nor are they supposed to be the object of our worship. They are Biblical realities on assignment from God. They point me to recognize God’s presence and see God’s power. I need to remember this truth. That’s why I asked my artist friend Deann to paint some angels for me to hang in my home where I see them every day.


I need to remember no matter what the nightly news says about current circumstances, God’s good news is my ultimate reality. The enemy is vicious, but he is not victorious. Therefore, I can sometimes feel afraid, but I don’t have to live afraid. Like that beautiful praise song by Chris Tomlin gloriously expresses, “I know who goes before me — I know who stands behind. The God of angel armies is always by my side.”

Deann has granted me special permission to offer exact replica ready-to-hang gallery prints of the angel paintings in my home. A portion of every painting sold supports the ongoing work of Proverbs 31 Ministries and helps us continue to offer daily Biblical resources for no charge. Click here to see these gorgeous reminders of God’s angels. You can text GUARDIANANGEL to 44222 for a special 10% off coupon code.

9.8.2016

What to Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

I felt so fragile sitting in the parking lot, too sad to stop crying. And although I had a list of things that really couldn’t be put off another day, I was now entirely too tired to run errands or do much of anything. So there I sat.

Alone.

Moments earlier, a friend had called to tell me something she’d seen posted about me online.

It was harsh and hurtful.

I tried to give myself a little pep talk, “Sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can never hurt me.” Who on God’s green earth came up with that ridiculous saying? It’s not true. I cried a little more.

I pulled up the Facebook page my friend referenced, and there it was for all the world to see: Opinions about me flying through the Internet, intent on ripping me apart. As soon as I read the unkind words, daggers hit their mark deep inside my heart.

It was only a handful of people, but they debated me as if I were a product sitting on a shelf, void of a soul. A soul that feels and breathes and cares so very deeply about everything.

Instantly, I wanted it all to stop.

I looked up and saw people walking into the store and felt so very envious of them. They seemed peaceful, happy or at least neutral. I suddenly wished for a less risky life.

Why do I display my heart to all the world, typed in pixelated letters?

Words like, “calling” and “disciple” suddenly felt like burdens, not blessings.

I looked back at my phone and reread the hurtful remarks posted online. What’s a girl to do when she’s feeling desperate to fix something that can’t be immediately fixed?

Should I defend myself?

But I don’t want to sound defensive.

Should I pray for others to defend me?

But I don’t want to pull others into this.

Should I just stay quiet?

But then what if my silence just feeds their case?

Every response felt like the wrong response.

What do you do … when you don’t know what to do?

Maybe you’ve sat in a parking lot crying, too. The circumstances might have been different, but the hurt is the same … that sliced-open feeling of being judged, misunderstood and wrongly exposed for the purpose of a good debate.

I wish I had the perfect answer. I don’t. These kinds of situations are messy, complicated and unable to fit in formulaic boxes.

However, I have an imperfect solution that will get us pointed in the right direction: Do the next small thing, the right way, right away.

In other words, find some small right thing to do that negates the negativity. Do that right thing, right away, to prove to yourself what’s being said isn’t ALL true.

There might be some small tangles of truth in the hurtful thing being said. We can pray about that and do something later when the hurt isn’t so fresh.

But first things first. We have to stop the bleeding from the deepest wound.

Do the next small thing, the right way, right away.

The small thing I decided to do was see their comments coming from a place of hurt, not hate. Hurt people hurt people. Something caused hurt to stir up in their hearts. Maybe I even inadvertently added to it without meaning to. Regardless, having compassion for them eased my pain.

I called my friend who’d told me about the hurtful comments and said, “I don’t know what to do except be a picture of love in this situation. If I respond out of hurt, things will only get worse.”

1 John 4:7-8 reminds us of the importance of showing love to each other, “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

So, I must let love guide me.

Love can empower me to feel hurt without becoming a person consumed by that hurt …

I can feel offended, but I don’t have to be offended.

I can feel insecure, but I don’t have to act insecure.

I can feel angry, but I don’t have to respond in anger.

That’s the choice love makes.

And please understand I’m not all Pollyanna about this and able to walk it out perfectly. I have to give myself permission to be honest about my feelings. But I don’t have to compound the hurt by reacting out of those feelings. And I don’t want today’s reaction to become tomorrow’s regret.

I never did make it into the store that day. And there are still days I feel so very fragile and vulnerable. Maybe you do too?

Let’s allow God’s love to take us by the hand and empower us in each and every situation where we don’t know what to do.

We can feel afraid, but we don’t have to be afraid to do the next right thing, right away.

Learn how to embrace God-honoring ways to process your hurt in my new book, Uninvited. Get your copy here.

Not sure if Uninvited is for you? Click here to take a free assessment and find out if the heartbreak of your past is affecting you today more than you realize.