A Refuge of Hope for the Struggling Soul

A Refuge of Hope for the Struggling Soul

Melissa W

Melissa W

Melissa is an Okie with a Texas heart. She is a wife and a mother of three - two boys and a girl (the girl being squished right in the middle). After having taught in the classroom for 8 years, she now happily finds herself as a stay-at-home homeschool mom living life on her little 1 1/2 acre homestead raising chickens, two goats and a small garden. In any spare time, she enjoys leisure reading and also enjoys writing on her blog (chroniclesofakeeper.com). Out of all the little adventures of life - her greatest joy is found in her relationship with God. Walking in His grace, living in His peace and resting in His redemption is something she is very passionate about sharing with others.
Melissa W

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To understand Him is to understand hope. To understand His gift of mercy is to understand His gift of grace. To understand our continued state of rescue is to understand our place of refuge. 

Abide.

Lately, nothing soothes my heart and mind more than the moments where I find myself sitting still and abiding with my Lord. There, I draw comfort and strength. I focus on Him and who He is as Father, Son, and Spirit. In the place of full abiding is where I can breathe Him in, refreshing and perfectly good.

Abide in His refuge.

Who He is completely captures me. Though I should want to recoil in shame, I am nonetheless drawn into His presence fully aware of the grace and mercy covering me. The very essence of my continued rescue is found in those moments when I rest in Him, and the exceptional standard of hope that is found in Him is given during these moments. Words from the Psalmist come to mind as I recall the image of refuge, a refuge found in those moments of abiding.

God is our refuge and strength,
    an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
    and the mountains quake with their surging.

Psalm 46:1-3

Abide in His Dwelling Place

The Throne Room of Heaven, the Holy of Holies. It is a place to where I move beyond seeking escape. It is a place where I can come to Him and it is intimate, beautiful, and holy. Holding fast to Jesus, I can enter His presence with reverence and with rest. This combination of feelings produces an attitude which depicts the place of His dwelling. Here grace envelops me all the more, so wherever sin has tempted and tried…sin finds full defeat.

Abide in the Rescuer

Through the God-Son, there is no manner of sin that was not defeated through His perfection, through His death, and through His resurrection. So, in all the ways fleshly desires hound us and in all the way sin’s aroma seeks to draw us in, we can hold fast to the knowledge of a Rescuer who felt the same temptations and conquered them.  His accomplishments over–not just the very nature of sin, but as well as its enticing, tempting ways–are a victory we can claim. This continued state of rescue is what heals, strengthens, humbles, and produces an immense sense of awe.

“Therefore, since we have such a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to what we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who was tempted in every way that we are, yet was without sin. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:14-16

 

Abide in Jesus

Maybe, like me, you sometimes feel the heaviness of struggle. Perhaps you empathize with Paul when he said, “For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate.” There is hope. For the believer, hold firmly to Him. Approach the throne of grace with the confidence you have as one who has been redeemed by, and through, Jesus Christ. He is our help and our refuge in time of need, in time of temptation and struggle. His grace binds us to Him completely. Hold on to that and find rest in Him. While on this side of heaven we are not free from temptation, but we are free from its chains–through Christ alone. Abide in Him, for in Christ our holiness is found.

 Teach my song to rise to YouWhen temptation comes my wayAnd when I cannot stand I'll fall on YouJesus, You're my hope and stay.Lord I Need You (Matt Maher)
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A Refuge of Hope pinterest
Feeding the Flame: Is Your Faith a Blaze or a Flicker?

Feeding the Flame: Is Your Faith a Blaze or a Flicker?

Kristin J

Kristin J

I am a happy wife and mother to my amazing husband and beautiful little girl and we are living the good life just outside of Oklahoma City. I was born and raised in Houston, Texas where both of my parents serve as ministers. With God’s great guidance, I ended up earning a degree in children’s ministry from Oklahoma Christian University! I am an extrovert and love to make friends and have deep conversations. My days are filled with the duties of motherhood and homemaking but when I find a moment to myself I enjoy reading cookbooks, blogs, and Karen Kingsbury’s books. I have a slight addiction to facebook and pinterest. Holidays are my favorite days. I love to cook meals that make people happy. I have a passion for family ministry and bible class teaching. Most importantly, my greatest desire to is to know my heavenly Father more each day.
Kristin J

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“Can you come pick me up? I had to take the truck to the shop.”

I did not want to hear those words right as I was putting my daughter down for her nap! Apparently, my poor husband had been taking care of car troubles all morning. I thought it was a normal day, with my husband at work, I hadn’t been looking at my phone.

Feeding the Flame of Doubt

Driving to pick him up, I felt my mood on the decrease as I thought about what these truck problems might cost. We’ve got enough, but money is still tight right now. The last thing we needed was to spend our financial cushion. I felt like crying. Later that day I did.

My insecurities set in.

“You are such a loser…if you had taken a real job after college you wouldn’t be in this mess.”

“You aren’t smart enough to have a real job. You don’t have enough talent.”

Naturally, like any good wife, I texted my wallowings to my husband. To which he replied, “It’ll be okay…we have God.”

Hmmm…I know, I know. We have God. Why don’t I feel okay though? Why isn’t that enough for me right now?

God had an answer for me.

 

Feeding the Flame of the Lord’s Altar

While my daughter was napping, I opened up my Leviticus study and the highlighted verse for the day was Leviticus 6:12:

“The fire on the altar must burn continually; it must not be allowed to go out. The priests are to feed wood to the fire every morning…”

feeding the flame

The altar was holy. It was a direct path to the presence of God and communication with him. The aromas burnt on this altar were for God and pleasing to him. I find it so fascinating that God instructed the fire to burn continually. God was the one who started the fire to begin with. Leviticus 9:4 says,

“Fire blazed forth from the Lord’s presence and consumed the burnt offering and the fat on the altar. When the people saw this, they shouted with joy and fell face down on the ground.”

God’s instructions were that the fire on the altar be only the fire from God. The altar offerings were important–they were a means to salvation–and they could only be made with God’s help. This fire on the altar was a symbol of God’s power and presence in the lives of the Israelites and a reminder of their constant need for Him.

This fire didn’t stay burning on its own though. The priests had to feed it each morning with wood so that it would not go out.

 

Feeding the Flame of Faith

That morning when everything seemed to be going wrong for me I had not fed my fire. That whole week, actually, I had not fed my fire. I don’t mean the literal fire on the altar mentioned in Leviticus, but you know what fire I’m talking about. The Spirit and the passion that lives inside of us when we accept Christ. The Spirit of Christ which cleanses us and makes us holy. Yes, that fire. Perhaps that fire needs to be fed often too. Perhaps that is a flame that should not burn out.

When I feed my flame, I’m reminded of God’s power and of his loving grace. I remember that “I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13) Then, when troubles come my way I don’t have to listen to the devil whisper insecurities in my ear. I won’t be overcome with worry and frustration. Because I have God. 

If you’ve accepted Christ as your Savior then you have God, too. Having God means that we see the big picture. We see that we’ve overcome all obstacles already through the blood of Christ. Christ has prepared a way for us to eternal life with God, and that, my sweet friend, is what matters most in this life.

Once I fed my fire that day and was reminded of God’s power and grace, my attitude changed. I began to see all the ways God had provided for us. I was grateful we had the money to pay the car shop and our bills! We had good cars to drive, and all of our needs were met. Things were going to be just fine. (And they were!)

Feeding the Flame

A Flickering Flame or a Roaring Fire?

When we forget to feed our flame, we’ll hold only a small flicker and we’ll forget the power we have in Christ. We must feed our fire daily, every morning, so that it will not run out! 

When you wake up each morning, acknowledge our God! Make time to study His word so that you can learn more about Him. Feed your flame! Let God set your heart on fire and may it burn brighter and brighter over time.

Feeding the flame pinterest
What My Son Taught Me About Faith

What My Son Taught Me About Faith

Kristi F

I am an Oklahoman by birth, a Texan by current living situation, but claim the world as my playground.I love to travel and hope to someday soon take our family on adventures to far off lands, where we can share God with others and experience all the wonders He has created.

I am a mother of 4 crazy, homeschooling children ages 9 & under, wife to an amazing man, and daughter of the King of the Universe!I enjoy reading, making my kids laugh, cooking, all things natural, learning to play guitar and dusting off my piano skills.One day I hope to run again, but until then I’m learning patience.

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A year before we stood in the same spot but the conversation was oh, so different. This time instead of me trying to calm his fears and encourage him to follow through, he taught  me a lesson about faith.

It happened so quickly, I couldn’t help but be thankful that this nugget of faith and truth had lodge itself in his heart. He immediately tested his faith by putting it into action and then tested mine as well, without even knowing it.

It all began the year before when my son said that he wanted to jump off the diving board, but he wanted me to come with him. Ok, no problem.  We walked over to the low diving board together.  He grabbed the rails, took a step up and froze.  As he looked over the long board, I realized what was about to happen.  So I started to encourage him with all the motherly, logical wisdom I can give him:

  • There is no need to be afraid.
  • Your wearing floaties so you will just pop back up like a cork in the water.
  • It’s just like jumping off the side of the pool and you’ve done that a thousand times.
  • You know….all the things we normally say to get our kids to propel themselves into a large body of water when they are scared out of their wits.

Needless to say, he climbed back down, looked at me with defeated eyes and took several steps back.  We talked for a few more minutes.  And then I did the only other thing I knew to do, I showed him that he would be perfectly fine by jumping off the board myself.

For me it wasn’t a faith walk, but one of experience. Wait…but in a way our faith is one of experience, right?  It’s either based on our own experiences or the experiences we’ve heard others recount to us, either by mouth or through biblical text.

Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word about Christ.
Romans 10:17

After I jumped, courage started to build in his little heart, but he still wasn’t ready to jump by himself.  Pool rules dictated it wasn’t an option for us to jump together but I could be in the pool and he could jump to me. So that’s what we did.  I once again jumped off the diving board and then he very slowly made his way out to the edge of the board and jumped near to my arms.

He needed to see my experience play out in real life in front of him.  No amount of words would convince him he would be ok until he saw me do it and he knew I would be by his side when he tried.

Don’t we get the same way with God?  Trepidation overcomes us and we cower back. Others try to convince us that God has us in the palm of His hand. If He calls us to something, He will walk us through it. But it’s not until we’ve witness God walking with us or with someone else that we start to believe it.

romans-10-17

Having Faith & Testing It

My son no longer wears floaties and as soon as we arrived at the pool he said he wanted to jump off the diving board.  I walk over to cheer him on.  This time without hesitation, he grabs the rails of the low dive, walks the length of the board and jumps!

He climbs out of the pool and with the quickest speed walk that’s allowed at a pool, he whisks by me, heading toward the high dive and says,

“Now, I’m going to do to the high dive.  I would be scared but I know how to swim!”

His second jump off a diving board ever without a floatie and he decides to jump off the high dive!  Needless to say, I thought we would have a repeat of what happened the year before on the low dive.  But I was wrong!

i-know-how-to-swim-pinterest-1

The Faith of a Child

And there it is!  My son’s faith in action.  He didn’t even let fear take root because he knew he had the ability to swim.

Do we trust God’s ability the same way?

Mentally we might say, “Yes!” But have we let that truth sink into our hearts?  There is a difference.  This difference I witnessed in my son climbing up the high dive and then jumping off because he knew how to swim! His second time ever to jump off a diving board without a floatie and he did it!  Then he did it again, and again, and again for the next hour.

When we trust God and show our faith by jumping into what he has planned for us, it then becomes easier and easier to follow Him.  Why?  Because we know God will provide a way for us to swim. We’ve witnessed it. We jumped in and experienced God taking care of us.

Has your faith made it all the way to your heart or are you holding on to the rails, calculating the risks of stepping onto the board? Or maybe your like me, by request I climbed the high dive stairs only to have my heart start thumping out of my chest.  But then I thought, my son just did this because he knew how to swim!  Her we go son. To have the faith of the child! 

Are you ready to jump?  Do you know you can swim? Are you trusting God today?

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God Did Not Create Me For This…

God Did Not Create Me For This…

Laura P

Laura P

Hello. I grew up traveling the world as a military brat. I ultimately felt God's pull to Oklahoma Christian University where I met my husband. We now have 3 beautiful children and have settled in Mustang, Oklahoma.I am a homeschooling mom and with 3 kiddos it is a full time job! I am daily encouraged by God's great patience and grace in my life. In my free time I enjoy reading and crafting.
Laura P

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What did God create you for?

Have you ever stopped to think about all the things that God did not intend for us in this life?  I feel like some days I am constantly reminded of these things.  Many evenings I will sit down and reflect back over my day.  What were my general feelings today?  What went right, and what didn’t?  Did I get things done?  And what did I put off or forget to do?  What habits do I need to start to make me feel more successful?  And on and on and on…

God gives us a full range of emotions to experience life to its very fullest.  In my mind I can be the most fulfilled if I’m feeling generally more positive than negative.  That’s my personal preference.  Some people are like a piece of metal.  When the heat is on they just bend and change to fit the temperature.  Some people are more like a piece of paper and they just burn up.  I’d like to think that I’m somewhere in the middle.  As a result of my military upbringing, I am a pretty flexible person, regardless of my personality.  However, having children and running my own household presents pressures and challenges that at times threaten to burn me up and leave behind a little pile of ashes.

Perseverance, not Exhaustion and Defeat

James 1:4 says, “Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  Sometimes it seems as though perseverance for the sake of perseverance alone is the only thing I’ve got left.  But God does not want us to feel downtrodden and hopeless.  It is not His will for us to be exhausted and defeated by the day.
Isaiah 55-8-11New International Version
I love this whole chapter of Isaiah.  The Lord is really encouraging His people and giving them comfort.  God knows that our journey here on earth will not be easy.  There are going to be bad days and tantrums.  There is going to be spilled milk on the carpet and sand in their hair, dirty dishes and floors and toilets.  I often dwell on and worry about these things and that was never God’s intent. God created me for more than my to-do list!

Letting Go and Letting God

I’m going to make a list for myself of what I am intentionally going to try and let go. Perhaps, this list will be helpful to you as well.

This week I will work to let go of the following:

  • Distress over my housekeeping imperfections
  • Incessant worrying about my children’s (insert your worry here)
  • Frustration at other people because of (for me it’s their driving!)
  • Jealousy over someone else’s blessings, calling, or opportunities
  • Fixation with my idea of how everything should be

Considering I’m going to work on these for the next week, it’s a pretty long list; however, these are the things that God has revealed to me recently.  Some of these things are issues I grapple with frequently while others are rather infrequent.  I feel that each of these are relevant to God’s will for my life, and that these things are holding me back from other things God has for me in my life.

I pledge this week to work towards laying these concerns at the feet of Jesus and clothing myself in things that are pure, holy, and right.

Here are my really great reasons to work on this list. I’d like to make more room for these things!

my reasons

Will you take this pledge with me?  

If you’d like to, please share your list with us so we can be praying along with you about what God can take from you to make more room for Him!

Splinters: Allowing God to Heal and Restore

Splinters: Allowing God to Heal and Restore

Elizabeth P

Elizabeth P

I am a recovering Army brat who loves to travel and start new adventures. My handsome husband and I met at Oklahoma Christian University and he whisked me away to Kansas. So, I bought some ruby red high heels and made Topeka my home. I have a rough and rowdy Princess 4-year-old girl, amazing twin boys (almost 3) and a newborn baby girl who all make every day an adventure. We are grateful to be part of an amazing church in Topeka who regularly challenges and encourages our whole family. I have been both a full-time working mom and a stay-at-home-mom and/or both at the same time at one point or another. I am constantly seeking God’s wisdom on “balancing it all” and following His plan for my life, not mine.
Elizabeth P

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Last week my nearly three year old son had a splinter in the bottom of his foot. I told him to wear shoes outside on our wooden playset, but he chose to disobey and took them off before climbing the ladder. Lo and behold, he got a huge splinter. And it hurt him a lot.

My husband was working late that evening so it was just me versus the splinter. BIG SIGH.

I tried a few different tactics with my little boy trying to gain access to the bottom of his foot with my needle-nose tweezers, but he screamed and wiggled before I even touched him. I found myself contemplating sitting on him to keep him still. Seriously.

Finally, I grabbed him up in my arms and held him tight. I told him I needed him to relax and calm down and focus on the movie I turned on so I could help his foot feel so much better. He looked at me with tear-filled eyes and cried, “But mommy, no! I love the splinter.”

Suddenly, it struck me how similarly we act when we have a “splinter”–something harmful we hold on to when God is trying to make us new. But we can’t seem to let it go.

Whether it’s a particular sin we are struggling with, something we aren’t trusting the Lord with in our lives, a pain we are holding on to, or lack of obedience in our lives–how many times have you held on to your “splinter” and said you loved it instead of letting Christ heal your heart?

whether-its-aparticular-sin-we-are-struggling-with-something-we-arent-trusting-the-lord-with-in-our-lives-a-pain-we-are-holding-on-to-or-lack-of-obedience-in-our-lives

Psalm 31:19 says:

How abundant are the good things
    that you have stored up for those who fear you,
that you bestow in the sight of all,
    on those who take refuge in you.

It also reminded me of C.S. Lewis’ The Great Divorce when he describes the man with the Red Lizard.  I found a partial transcript in Christianity Today if you want to read a longer segment, but pick up the whole book if you haven’t already. In this story, a man has a lizard on his shoulder which represents sin in his life. It’s a startling allegory about what separates us from God.

A mighty angel approached the man and asked, “Would you like me to make the lizard quiet?”

“Of course I would,” said the Ghost.

“Then I will kill him,” said the Angel, taking a step forward.

“Oh—ah—look out! You’re burning me. Keep away!” said the Ghost, retreating.

“Don’t you want him killed?”

“You didn’t say anything about killing him at first. I hardly meant to bother you with anything so drastic as that.”

“It’s the only way,” said the Angel…. “Shall I kill it?”

“Look! It’s gone to sleep of its own accord. I’m sure it’ll be all right now. Thanks ever so much.”

After much discussion and indecision, the man finally allows the Angel to kill the lizard. As the lizard dies, it transforms into a dazzling white stallion.

The man, now free from his torment, climbed upon the stallion that had been his sin and rode into the glowing sunrise toward the Savior.

That is available to all of us. We can be free from our torment. Free from the sin in our lives.

galatians-5-1-pinterest

Galatians 5:1 assures us, “It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” {sin}

Walking around life with “splinters” in our feet is slavery. What pain, what agony, what self-inflicted misery we can wallow in if we don’t seek the forgiveness, restoration, and loving healing of Jesus Christ.

Why is our old nature so hard to let go of sometimes? We think it will hurt, and it might a little…but life will be so much better afterward.

Do you have a “splinter” in your life that you need to surrender to God? Have you experienced the forgiveness and healing of Christ? Did you know that even though it seems incredibly hard to be refined by God through repentance and obedience and trust in the Lord, that He loves you and wants to see you restored, healed, and following Him?

“Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death.  For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

Romans 8:1-4

 

How Satan Uses Anxiety to Distract Me from my Faith

How Satan Uses Anxiety to Distract Me from my Faith

Lori S

Lori S

I'm Lori! My husband and I have been married since 2008. We adopted our son in July and live in Memphis, TN. One of the things I love about Creating a Great Day is that it is focused on inspiring women to the woman that God wants them to be. Every woman is different, and we all have talents to honor God and walk alongside each other in this spiritual journey called life. Have a blessed day!
Lori S

Anxiety has affected my physical, emotional, and spiritual health. It has negatively impacted relationships and interfered with my connection with God. For the longest time, I thought it was all my fault. Then the blame game started.

With some of the “well-intended” advice I’ve heard, it’s not hard to start blaming yourself. Statements like these always haunt me:

  • “Relax, don’t worry so much.”
  • “You can’t have a good relationship with God if you are anxious.”
  • “You should just trust God more.”

Misguided Efforts to Reduce Our Anxiety

In attempts to reduce anxiety, we actually combine our anxiety with guilt and shame. Anxious questions turn into doubt. Doubt turns into fear of the unknown or unexpected. This fear allows negative, emotional statements to develop that we then internalize. This twisted sense of reality can create a treacherous mindset about ourselves and the world around us.

Over the past three years, multiple changes happened in my life. Job changes, adopting our son, becoming a mother….all of these changes are blessings, but they can also invite anxiety. I’ll admit, I’m tired of fighting this battle within my mind and heart. So, I started to reflect on why anxiety is so interwoven in my life, no matter how hard I try to “get rid of it.” I realized that my anxiety, at any time, distracts me from being the woman of God that I need to be. It keeps me from pursuing the fruits of the Spirit to engage with God, my family, and my community.

Satan is Behind Anxiety

What is the best way to get to women? Get them to doubt (or question) their role. Get them to shame themselves and lose sight of who and what is really important. Here is the key reflection. Who truly benefits from my disconnection from God? Satan.

One of my faith mentors reminded me that Satan is among us, trying to intervene in our family’s walk with the Lord. Ladies, let’s stop trying to fight the internal battle of shame, anxiety, and doubt. Let’s call anxiety out for what it is: one of the best ways for Satan to distract us in our faith. I want to be clear. There are things that I know I should do to work on my anxious behaviors. I should reflect on our lives, identifying ways in which I can deflect the Enemy. For far too long, I (and other women) have owned our anxiety a little bit too much. We have made it so much about ourselves that Satan is rejoicing in our negative emotions and distractions from God.

Do you recognize these verses?

All of these verses focus on worry, anxiety, and/or trusting God. For someone who has struggled with anxiety for years, these verses always shamed me. I felt like I was living a good Christian life, then these verses hit me like a sack of bricks. They knocked me down right to the starting line again. Anyone else feel this way? No matter how much you try to connect with God, these verses shackle you in shame?

A New Way of Thinking

Let me invite you into a new way of thinking. Don’t be shackled. Be set free. Remove your current lens on your anxiety and replace it with the lens that sees anxiety in its proper focus. It’s just another way for Satan to win a battle. It’s another way for him to get you thinking more about your bills, your relationship, your children, etc. more than your relationship with God. Anxiety is another way for him to interfere with the life journey you are on with the One who gives you peace.

During our first adoptionRomans 15:13 encouraged us so much. It says,

“May the God of hope fill you with 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

Let’s be women who overflow with hope and be filled with joy and peace. Be set free. Connect with other sisters in Christ. Lean on them for support. Go to counseling, as your anxiety may be stemming from other unresolved adverse events and/or trauma. Talk with your significant other, as dealing with someone with anxiety is extremely challenging. And most important of all, pray for God to fill you with peace as both of you work to prevent Satan from infiltrating your life.

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