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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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

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!

Slowing Down the Hurried Heart

Slowing Down the Hurried Heart

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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Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. – Psalm 27:14

My son is always begging me to take him to the Science Museum. For months he has been asking if we could go to the science museum. Month after month, he pleaded his case.

The morning finally arrived. As he headed to his room to dress for the day, I casually said over my shoulder, “Oh, by the way, we are going to the science museum today.”

My announcement thrilled him. I could see the excitement and anticipation in his eyes throughout the morning and on the drive to the museum. His heart, I imagine, was racing with expectancy the whole way.

His fun-filled, delightful day at the museum was everything he hoped it would be and more. He explored and soaked in everything he possibly could.

His day of fun and goodness was largely connected to his obedience and patience.

I did not unleash him into the museum to explore everything on his own. I set parameters for him. As I gained trust in his obedience, his parameters grew. When he was ready to explore beyond his parameters, (usually after some reminders) he was patient to wait until we could move there together. He was able to see and do so much more, because he chose to trust me and my plans for him.

A heart of hurriedness and disobedience would have resulted in a much different experience for him. It might have left him leaving the museum earlier or not being able to see as many exhibits. It would have probably robbed him of the joy that was to be found in all the discoveries.  A heart bent to his own will and desires would have been disastrous and left him disappointed and wanting.

Here is where I would like to draw the parallel.

Sometimes, God opens doors for us. In his infinite goodness and wisdom, He leads us on various roads and to various places. The problem lies when our hurried, impatient hearts drift away from Him and to our own desires the moment those doors open. We begin to step out of the parameters He has set before us. Beginning to explore and make decisions on our own, we unleash ourselves from His divine plan. Somewhere along the way, we forget to trust in our good Father. We forget that He works everything for our good and His glory.

Think of the story of Saul.

His hurried heart led to his disobedience. It led to him losing his place as king. God wanted a king whose heart delighted in Him and sought His own to reign over His people. He needed a heart that was patient, a heart that would obey.

I want to experience everything God has perfectly planned for me. I have often been the one whose heart was hurried. And somewhere along the way, I stop seeking guidance from the One who lays my path. I have lived the disappointments that come when I step out of His parameters and do things on my own. My heart is prone to wander and needs rescuing every day.

O to grace how great a debtor
Daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy goodness, like a fetter,
Bind my wandering heart to Thee.

Robert Robinson (Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing)

Prayer for an Unhurried Heart

I pray for a heart of obedience. I also pray for an unhurried heart…a heart in tune with His. In every place He takes me, I want to walk there with Him. I want to enjoy the fullness of the life He has called me to, and I want to wait for Him in those moments where He asks me to wait. I pray that the worldly things which push me to hurry will not blind me to His sovereign plans.

May we all earnestly seek His direction and wait patiently for His leading. In all the places we are led to, may we always stay vigilant in keeping our heart’s desire after His. In the pursuit of kingdom work, let us not forget to seek and wait for the direction of the King.

A man must not stop listening any more than praying when he rises from his knees. No one questions the need of times of formal address to God, but few admit in any practical way the need of quiet waiting upon God, gazing into His face, feeling for His hand, listening for His voice.

 Charles H. Brent

Experiencing the Psalms: Growing Your Prayer Life

Experiencing the Psalms: Growing Your Prayer Life

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

Latest posts by Melissa W (see all)

“The more deeply we grow into the psalms and the more often we pray them as our own, the more simple and rich will our prayer become.”

― Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Sometimes there are moments when life consumes and your heart feels gagged in the ability to lift up any words in prayer. Sometimes the clouds of our life overshadow us and we can’t find the words to say to Him. At other times, we have plenty to say and are experiencing a rich and beautiful time with Him. No matter where you are in your prayer life, meditating on His word through the Psalms offers us a deep and divine place to experience Him.

His words of truth and goodness bring forth life. Here is a Psalm that has been on my heart lately. I wrote down some of the words and thoughts that came to me as I meditated on this Psalm.

i-will-exalt-you-lord-for-you-rescued-me-you-refused-to-let-my-enemies-triumph-over-me-psalm-30-1

Psalm 30

I will exalt you, LORD, for you rescued me. You refused to let my enemies triumph over me.

Psalm 30:1

 I seek to be in a posture of worship and gratitude to the One who rescued. May the fullness of that rescue be felt deep as it resonates in and through my worship.

O LORD my God, I cried to you for help, and you restored my health.

Psalm 30:2

I acknowledge that in my worst moment of depravity and soul-marring sickness, He heard my cry; He redeemed and restored.

You brought me up from the grave, O LORD. You kept me from falling into the pit of death.

Psalm 30:3

I can see the place of certain and eternal death that I was cascading fully into. I can see how He reached down and brought me up to a place of beauty and life for eternity.

Sing to the LORD, all you godly ones! Praise his holy name.

Psalm 30:4

I have placed my hope and trust in Him–may my words and thoughts echo the awe of a now-rescued soul.

For his anger lasts only a moment, but his favor lasts a lifetime! Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.

Psalm 30:5

Where His holiness demanded separation, He provided a way that those who are His find His love and mercy…forever. His covenant of grace is fully extended to me. In a fallen and broken world, where sin roams freely, a sovereign Lord binds my redeemed heart to His. My sorrow experienced here on earth is comforted by the hope I have in the eternal place of joy to come.

———————

Challenge yourself.

Choose a psalm to read and pray daily, for a week or a month. Let the words draw you closer to Him. Let the words grow your understanding and knowledge of who He is.

choose-a-psalm-to-read-and-pray-daily-for-a-week-or-a-month-let-the-words-draw-you-closer-to-him-let-the-words-grow-your-understanding-and-knowledge-of-who-he-is-1

“The delightful study of the Psalms has yielded me boundless profit and ever-growing pleasure; common gratitude constrains me to communicate to others a portion of the benefit, with the prayer that it may induce them to search further for themselves.”

― Charles Spurgeon, preface to The Treasury of David

 

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What Happened When I Deleted Facebook

What Happened When I Deleted Facebook

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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Social Media is Good…Except When It’s Not

This is not your typical talk of social media cleanse. You see, I’m on social media all the time–undoubtedly more than I should be, but nevertheless I usually feel no guilt. I enjoy keeping up with my friends and family. Those crazy articles keep me entertained with the comment section. I love reading blogs and encouraging posts from some of my favorite Christian authors. Those tasty cooking videos inspire me to cook dinner. I enjoy Facebook and other social media throughout the day and I feel no shame!

Except for when I’m on it too much. When I can’t even hear God’s voice because I’m so tuned in to the voice of everyone else. I knew I needed a break, so I planned a trip to my in laws. It was the perfect set up. They would play with my toddler and I could dive into the Bible and spend some much-needed time in prayer. The part I felt most convicted about? A break from social media. Five days!

This wasn’t coming from a negative perspective, as I really do enjoy social media. One of our awesome contributors Megan, wrote about how social media can be a tool and I love love love her perspective on that! And earlier this year I wrote about how I was trying to achieve balance with my phone time. I knew I was starting to get consumed again and I was running out of steam. I needed to go offline. No big fuss. Just a quiet break.

Deleting Facebook

To prove my commitment to myself I deleted the Facebook app from my phone! About five minutes later I started to feel the weight of what I was doing. I picked up my phone out of habit and went for Facebook, but of course, it wasn’t there. “This might be harder than I thought,” I said to myself. Suddenly I felt a little bit of freedom. This was going to be a personal retreat–a time to leave all of my distractions behind and embrace God’s presence.

I could tell that Facebook was desperate for my return–not my friends–actual Facebook. My email inbox started filling with e-mails about the notifications I had piling up and posts my friends were making. I felt tempted to log on, but I didn’t! I made it through the five days without Facebook and I was so proud of myself for sticking to it!

So other than an exercise in self-control, what did I gain from this experience?

Time to think. The first day I had some quiet moments and I wasn’t quite sure how to handle them. But I learned to spend those moments in God’s Word. I worked my way through more of the Bible in those five days than I have in a very long time. All that reading gave me more dialogue with the Lord, and God revealed so much to me. I realized that I’m probably missing out on a lot of what God wants to show me when I’m overly consumed with social media.

When my five days were up I excitedly downloaded the app again, and enjoyed updating myself on everyone’s happenings. I saw two pregnancy announcements, one engagement, and another had their baby. As excited as I was to be back in the loop, I had a new excitement–the excitement that comes from turning off social media so that I can hear the Lord.

Hosea 6:3 says,

Oh, that we might know the Lord!
    Let us press on to know him.
He will respond to us as surely as the arrival of dawn
    or the coming of rains in early spring. (NLT)

hosea-6_3

I’ve seen this to be true in my own life. When I take the time to seek God, he is always there to show me more. We can’t always get away for five days (wouldn’t that be nice!) but we can still find time to hear God. We just have to look for the spaces in our day that we are filling mindlessly. There is something to be said for putting our time with God first–I don’t want to discredit that! If you are searching for more time with him though, this might be your answer! If you can, take a personal retreat sometime, even if only for a day. Turn off your social media apps, take a little time for yourself, and a lot of time for meeting with God. He will respond! 

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Unasked Prayers: A Prayer Life Challenge

Unasked Prayers: A Prayer Life Challenge

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

Is Your Prayer Life Flourishing?

How is your prayer life? I definitely have some room to grow in mine. When I have a lot on my plate, I tend to schedule everything but God into my day. I do make attempts to read Scripture at night or pray before I go to bed, but most nights I am unsuccessful. I don’t really know why I don’t make prayer more of a priority. Sometimes, childhood teachings creep into my heart, telling me to only pray for God’s will because His will must be accomplished. Other times, my anxiety and stress level paralyze my heart and mind, causing me to stay in the here and now and not pray for the future.

A couple of years ago, I knew that my prayers (when prayed) were shallow. Even when I asked God for things, I knew that what I asked was meager and infrequent. So in order to challenge me and to stretch my concept of prayer, I selected the book The Circle Maker.  Several statements and passages resonated with me, including this quote:

“The greatest tragedy in life is the prayers that go unanswered because they go unasked.” (p. 19)

Analysis of My Prayer Life

This made me analyze my prayer life. Why do I pray? Why do I ask what I ask? Do I only ask for select things because I question God’s power or interest in my life? Is it a lack of faith, or a lack of trust? Am I putting up emotional and spiritual barriers between me and God so I won’t get hurt? If that is the case, do I not trust God to carry me through whatever trials I may experience?

The follow-up passage to the quote listed above speaks to some of these questions.

“He will answer. And His answers are not limited by your requests. We pray out of our ignorance, but God answers out of His omniscience. We pray out of our impotence, but God answers out of His omnipotence. God has the ability to answer the prayers we should have prayed but lacked the knowledge or ability to even ask.” (p.19)

what-prayers-of-yours-have-been-unanswered-because-they-have-been-unasked-4

What prayers of yours have been unanswered because they have been unasked? Where are you holding back in your prayer life? Your family, your career, maybe your involvement in a project or an organization? God may not answer your prayer exactly the way that you want him to, but He will listen and respond. Be still and know that God is with you.

 

Here are some Scriptures to meditate on…

1 John 5:14-15
“This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of Him.”

2 Chronicles 7:14
“If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”

Ephesians 6:18
“And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.”

Jeremiah 29:12
“Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you.”

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