15Jul

When Life Feels Like a Struggle {With a Free Printable Verse}

When Life is a Struggle

Sometimes, life just feels like a struggle.

Some struggles are bigger than others, but the ones we are in the midst of can feel overwhelming to us, regardless of what they look like to other people.

Maybe you feel like you’re bending under the weight of financial struggles. Or maybe it’s some sort of addiction. Or problems in your marriage.

Maybe you are like me and struggling with food addiction, weight problems, depression and anxiety.

Maybe you’re like my friend and suffering through a broken marriage. Or my other friend who just lost her dad.  Maybe cancer is your battle.

Whatever the battle…sometimes it just feels too big.

There are literally hundreds, thousands of positive, encouraging, and empowering verses full of life and promise in God’s word. A couple of weeks ago, a reader shared this one with me and it really spoke to me.

Therefore, I will look to the Lord.
I will look to the God of my salvation.
My God will hear me.

Do not rejoice over me, my enemy.
When I fall, I will rise.
When I sit in darkness, the Lord will be a light to me.
-Micah 7:7-8

These verses are so powerful!

You see, while these verses are talking about a different enemy, you and I have an enemy as well. He seeks to steal, kill, and destroy. He is prowling around like a lion, seeking whom he may devour. He is ruthless.

And he rejoices over us when he sees us in that pit of despair. When he sees us looking around at our circumstances and feeling downtrodden, he knows in that moment, he is winning. He may not have our soul, but he is robbing us of the abundant life Christ has to offer us.

These verses have become a bit of a battle cry for me.

I told you I’ve been doing the 30 Day Shred video, and one of the cardio exercises on level 1 (yes, I’m still on level 1) is punches. I have this passage up on the wall, and it’s a reminder to me. It’s my mantra as I’m pushing myself through the workout.

Punch.

Do not rejoice over me, Satan.

Punch.

You won’t win this battle.

Punch.

When I fall, I will arise. Not by my strength but because of the Lord almighty whom I serve.

Punch.

When I sit in darkness…When you think you’ve won because despair threatens to overtake me…Don’t you celebrate too early. Because the Lord will be a light to me even then.

Punch.

He will not win.

No matter what your situation is today, I pray that you can grasp on to these words of power, truth, and hope. Look to the Lord and He will hear you. When you fall, he will raise you back up. And when you sit in darkness, He will be a light to you.

This has been such an encouragement to me as I have memorized this passage, that I created this printable for you as well. This will print as an 8 x 10 picture.

Click here to download your Free Printable

Micah 7 250px

 

22Jun

What is your foundation?

This post contains affiliate links.

What is your foundation?  This article leads us to look toward Him, even in times of trial.

My husband and I have started a new tradition lately. A couple nights a week, after the boys are in bed and everything else is taken care of, we watch an episode of Little House on the Prairie. We’re still on season 1 and a few nights ago watched an episode called “The Lord is My Shepherd.

In the first half of the 2-part episode, Charles and Caroline lose their newborn baby boy. It is a heart wrenching scene. Once they both realize their precious baby boy is in the arms of Jesus, Charles crosses the room to his distraught wife, puts his arms around her and pulls from the only comfort he can. He starts to quote, “The lord is my shepherd. I shall not want…”

1. The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
2 He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.
4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.
5 Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.
6 Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

-Psalm 23

And as the episode drew to a close, there they stood, crying in one another’s arms, quoting these words of life and comfort, in the midst of death and trial. I sat there with tears streaming down my cheeks. Not entirely surprising since I tend to be weepy at on-screen tragedies. But this time it was different. It was self-evaluation that brought on my tears.

Do I have that kind of faith and foundation?

Most of us will automatically say “yes, of course I do.” But I wanted to dig deeper. Do I have the kind of faith that turns to Jesus first in times of tragedy and discord in my life? I’m afraid if I’m being completely honest, I don’t know what my answer would be.

Jesus speaks of the house built on a strong foundation, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.” (Matthew 7:25).

This world is a storm. There is an enemy lurking, and this life is just one big storm that will beat you down. The rain will come. The streams will rise. And the winds will blow and beat against you. Is your foundation strong enough to stand it?

The truth is there is only one foundation strong enough in these times–God. Our foundation has to be Him.

How do I get that kind of foundation?

My friend Jennifer Kennedy Dean wrote a book called “The Power of Small: Think Small to Live Large” In that book, she says this: “Once praise and thanksgiving have become your norm, then when life’s big hurdles and hurts come along, you will respond to them from a whole different place….When the big events seem to come out of nowhere and throw your whole life off balance, you will have been trained by all the small events when you learned to keep your eyes on the provision instead of the problem.”

The foundation in Jesus’ parable wasn’t built when the storm came. It was already there. 

So, how do we do it? How do we get the kind of foundation that leads us to Him in all circumstances?

We start small. We start now.

Read the word. His word is alive. And it is life to a Christian. Read it. Memorize it. Hide it away in your heart so that when you are crushed by this world, that is what comes out. It will be a comfort to you and an inspiration to those around you.

Praise Him. God is good and He deserves your praise in good times and in bad. In good times, praise him. In bad times, praise him. In lean times, praise him. In blessed times, praise Him….just keep praising and giving Him thanks. And if we do that, then as Jennifer says, that will be our habit.

It will be what comes most naturally if we foster it.

A friend shared this quote on facebook:

Big waves against the rocks

The words of Charles Spurgeon are filled with so much wisdom. I want that kind of faith. God’s word tells us that we should rejoice in our trials. I want that kind of faith and trust–always, no matter what.

And the way to get it starts now. By trusting Him with the small things, and filling my heart and mind up with things of Him and His word instead of the world.

02May

Free Christian Books (lots of them!)

Great free eBooks from great publishers and authors | Serving Joyfully

Photo Credit

I’ve been listing free books periodically over on my facebook page, but there are so many great ones right now that I decided they needed their own special post! I will try to keep this page updated, so please let me know if you see something that is not free.

Disclosure: I have not read all these books, but they come from reputable, Christian publishers. Also, many free promotions are limited time, so please double check prices before checking out. However, many of them have been free for months and I will try to keep this page updated as well as I can. This post does contain my affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase my family may receive a small portion at no additional cost to you.

Note: You do not have to own a kindle to get these free books! You can use the FREE kindle app from Amazon, or even read right in your browser. However, if you are in the market for a kindle, Amazon is having a special deal right now and you can get one for just $49.

Fiction

Click each cover to go to that particular book and get it FREE for your kindle! Regardless of when these are added, I double check them to make sure ALL on the list are still free. I am just sorting the newer ones first for those who have already seen the list.

Newly Added 8/22/14

Free Book First Dawn Free Book The Preachers Daughter Free Book The Pursuit of Lucy Banning

Newly Added 6/29/14

Free Book Appalachian Serenade free book Chasing Sunsets free book flabbergasted  Free Book Heart's Awakening Free Book Michal  Free Book Scent of Lilacs

Still Free

free book waiting for summer's return Free Book Treasures of the North Free Book Paradise Valley Free Book Out of Control Free book Love by the Letter  Free Book No Place for a Lady Free Book Once upon a Summer Free Book In the Company of Secrets Free Book Daughter's Inheritance free book daughter of twin oaks Free Book Daughter of Joy Free Book Candle in the Darkness Free Book Angels watcing over me  Free Book A Heros Promise Free Book An Untamed Land  Free Book Fairchilds Lady Free Book Miss Meriweathers Marriage Free Book Passion Most Pure Free Book The Captain of Her Heart Free Book The Edge of Light Free Book The Gentleman of Her Dreams Free Book The Heart of Thornton Creek Free Book The Meeting Place  Free Book Too Close to Home Free Book The Choice  Free Book Secrets Free Book Picture Perfect  Free Book Christmas at Pebble Creek Free Book Courting Kate Free Book Home to Pebble Creek Free Book Inescapable Free Book A Home in the West Free Book Distant Dreams

18Apr

When Darkness Reigned {Good Friday}

finished

Earlier today, a friend shared the following video, Sunday’s coming…

This video was very moving to me. The day when darkness reigned, both literally and figuratively. As a kid I used to think we’d gotten it wrong. The day when evil triumphed shouldn’t be called Good Friday.

But the truth is, evil didn’t take the life of Jesus, that could never have happened. He gave Himself up willingly for you and me. Evil never had the upper hand. Not even for a second. God was always on the throne.

The promise of Sunday was always there. 

And sometimes when I read, I wonder about the disciples.  They walked with him daily. He taught them, held their hands in prayer, patted their backs through tough times, and washed their feet. And he told them everything. He’d prepared them for what was to come. He wasn’t shy about His purpose.

Yet they still got lost in the pain and despair. They scattered and denied him.

But then came Sunday.  Death was defeated. Sin was defeated. Jesus rose triumphantly, just like he’d said.

And I think about the needless worry and despair that his followers went through. They already knew the outcome, if only they’d found the strength to trust in it. To have faith and see the bigger picture. Paul tells us to set our minds on things above and not on earthly things.

Every time I turn on the news, I’m reminded that we live in dark days. As I struggle with depression, there are days where the darkness threatens to swallow me up. I see the pain, the evil, and the darkness in this world, and sometimes it seems like too much.

But then I am reminded.

It’s no surprise to Him. And it shouldn’t surprise us either.

In this world you will have trouble.  But take heart! I have overcome the world. -John 16:33

I love this little snippet. So much promise in just a few short words. In this small verse, we can learn 2 very important things:

Trials are to be expected in this world. We live in a fallen world and we will have problems. At the same time, we know that it is no surprise to Him. He holds us in His hands through it all. God knows the trials that will come to us and He has promised to never leave us nor forsake us.

He has overcome the world. Just reading, saying, or typing that phrase makes me want to SHOUT! Yes, unthinkable tragedy, hardships, darkness and pain may surround you in this life. In this world there is so much evil. But Jesus has overcome it. The final triumph is His, and ours as heirs with Him.

My pastor spoke about hope a few Sundays ago. We use the word a lot when we’re talking about things that are uncertain. We say things like “I hope my team wins the game.” But the hope Jesus promises us is not uncertain. It is an assurance.

Just like Paul, who spoke of joy and peace in his darkest days, we can have that assurance. We can set our minds on things above and know that we’ll have the final victory. We can know that “our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18). We can know that when we reach Heaven there will be no more tears and no more suffering. We can know that He will work everything to our good if we love Him and are called according to His purpose. We can know these things.

If you are going through a time of pain or darkness, just remember…Sunday is coming!!! We know how this story ends and the final victory belongs to Jesus.

Cling to that promise.

03Mar

Quiet Time Part 2: Get the Most of Your Quiet Time

Quiet Time: 5 Ways to Make the Most of it | Serving Joyfully

Yesterday, I talked about some of the reasons daily Bible reading should be non-negotiable. Today, I want to talk about some practical tips for making that happen.

1. Make it a Priority. You will likely never have an “extra” 30 minutes to spare in your day. It just isn’t going to happen. If you let it, other things will always fill that space. The key is to be intentional with our time.

“In truth, people can generally make time for what they choose to do; it is not really the time but the will that is lacking.“ – Sir John Lubbock

If you have a favorite TV show, more than likely you make time to watch it. Or maybe for you it’s books, or twitter, or facebook. More than likely there are things that you enjoy which you make time to do. We must make time to read God’s word and spend time with Him. If you recognize the importance and make it a priority, you will find a way to make time.

2. Set a regular time. Build it into your routine. A lot of people prefer early mornings before the rest of the family is up. Maybe that’s the only way you could possibly be able to concentrate. If so, set your clock a little earlier each morning–make it a priority. Maybe that won’t work for you.

Maybe you’re in a season of life where you just can’t imagine getting 1 minute less of sleep than you already do (I’ve been there, sister!). If that’s you, work it out another way. Let your kiddos watch an educational t.v. show. I’m not a huge fan of TV, but this is just that important. Make some busy bags or quiet time boxes for them to work on while you have your quiet time. Or, maybe at night after the little ones are in bed would work better for you. Whatever the time, make sure you are spending time daily in His word. Make it a habit.

3. Quiet your mind. As moms, we are multi-taskers. We have approximately 1,657,984 things going through our minds at any given moment. It can be hard to turn that off, and spend quality time with the Lord for our quiet time. Ways that I have found to drown out the distractions:

  • Pray for God to help you. He wants you to spend this time with Him. I sometimes start out my quiet time with an honest confession, “Lord, you know that I have a lot on my mind right now. But I want to spend this time with you. Please help me to quiet my mind and heart and focus on what you would have me to learn about you in this time.”
  • Sing praise and worship songs. Nothing helps me focus on God and God alone like singing praises and worshiping Him
  • Praise & Thanksgiving. In Psalm 100:4, we are told to enter His gates with Thanksgiving and his courts with praise. If you can’t focus right away, begin with a prayer of praise and thanks–simply thanking God for who He is and His many blessings. Oftentimes, this helps me to settle the rest of my mind and focus more clearly on Him and what I will be reading in my quiet time.

4. Use an app. I’ll be honest that I am way behind on the whole technology thing. So when a rep for Thomas Nelson invited me to try out their new Devotionals Daily app, I was somewhat skeptical. However, it is a very convenient way to add devotionals to your day. The app itself is free and offers some nice features such as a prayer journal and 5 day samples of many great devotionals. The paid devotionals include  bestsellers like Jesus Calling, Live Loved, Jesus Today, Grace for the Moment Morning, and Grace for the Moment Evening. The devotionals also include the fully written out scripture.

I think it’s important for us to make Bible time a priority. This devotional app is such a nice way to help you make the most of those extra minutes throughout the day–nursing an infant, waiting at a doctor’s appointment, exercising, etc. This app helps you make the most of those moments. It is very convenient to use.

5. Reflect & Apply. James 1:23-25 reminds us of the importance of being changed by God’s word. In the midst of making time for reading the Bible, we must also be sure that we are actually reflecting on what we read for clarity and understanding, and that we are applying it to our lives.

What are your Quiet Time tips?

 

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