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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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
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!

The God Greater than Our Hearts

The God Greater than Our Hearts

Tracy Watts

Tracy Watts

Wife, mom, daughter, teacher, blogger, crafter, organizer - but most and best of all, I am a Christian. I am passionate about my family and my God. I am married to my best friend and am blessed with a one year old son who keeps me busy all the time staying at home with him. And I am glad to be in the service of our incredible and awesome God.
Tracy Watts

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When you’re in a dark place and it’s hard to find your way out, what do you do? You feel lost and alone, unnoticed and under the radar. You are shuffled and jostled about, people walking past you, even talking to you, but not really seeing you. Not really knowing you.

Are you there? Are you in that dark place?

Your best friend may not see your inner heart. Your preacher may not. Even your mom or your husband or your kids may not. You might be drowning and no one sends out the lifeboat.

But there is Someone who does.

He sees the struggles and the tears. He sees the heartache and the loneliness. You can’t fool him–he knows exactly how wonderful you are and how awful you can be too.

are-you-there-are-you-in-that-dark-place

But those voices whisper in your heart.

Why would He care about me?

He can’t really love me that much. After all, he knows exactly what I have done!

Why bother? I know I can’t do it.

Friend, let me whisper to your heart as well.

Psalm 9:10 says,

And those who know your name put their trust in you,
for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.

Consider Romans 8:32, which says,

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?

When you’re feeling low and in that dark place, read these verses from 1 John 3:

By this we shall know that we are of the truth and reassure our heart before him; for whenever our heart condemns us, God is greater than our heart, and he knows everything.

It’s true. We don’t deserve God’s love and forgiveness. That’s the true meaning of grace: we get what we don’t deserve. He give us forgiveness and not punishment. We get a second chance and not death. We get salvation and not condemnation.

But God is amazing like that. He is greater than us, loves us more than we could possibly imagine, and gave up his son–before I even committed to serving Him.

That thought should humble me, motivate me, and comfort me, all at the same time. It is the lifeline you can cling to when you’re in that dark place. And it can be what helps pull you back into the light.

psalm-9-10

 

the-god-greater-than-our-hearts-pinterest

 

 

 

 

 

 

8 Reasons Not to Stress Over Dirty Dishes

8 Reasons Not to Stress Over Dirty Dishes

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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There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heavenEcclesiastes 3_127

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven…”  Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

I know very few people who enjoy chores. It’s not often I hear someone say, “Cleaning toilets relaxes me,” or “I spend my ‘me time’ mopping the floors”! Every now and then I meet people who actually enjoy chores, and I admit for a short season in my life I didn’t mind them, but that season is long over! I’ve tried making chore charts time and time again. I try to hold myself accountable but I stick with them for about a week and then fall behind!

I constantly felt guilty about this until one day I realized that what kept me from my chores was usually more important than a spic-and-span home! Scripture tells us that there is a time and season for every activity under heaven. For me, the time for a clean home does not come as often as the times for other things!

So this is for all the women, wives and mommas out there who are feeling guilty for their less-than-spotless home! It’s OK!!! I give you permission to forgive yourself and be at peace.

 

8 REASONS NOT TO STRESS OVER DIRTY DISHES
1. You are having quiet time with the Lord.

Be it thoughtful meditation, time in your prayer journal, reading inspirational articles, or a full on bible story–this is more important. 

 

2. You are playing with your children.

Oh, the time to play with our kids is short. Don’t feel guilty about one single chore undone when you are playing with your kids. This is more important. 

 

3. You are serving others. 

Have you ever had someone drop everything they were doing to come and help you? It a beautiful way to show Christ’s love. Who cares if the breakfast skillet has to wait until the next day? This is more important.

 

4. You are going to church or a church activity. 

Hmm…chores or worshiping God?? If you need help with this one I encourage you to look up the story of Mary and Martha. Church gatherings are a wonderful blessing. This is more important. 

 

5. You are earning money for your family. 

I grew up with a hard-working mom and I know how difficult it can be to juggle work among all the other aspects of life. You are providing for your family–don’t feel guilty if the laundry is piling up. This is more important. 

 

6. You are staying home to take care of or homeschool your kids. 

This sort of goes with #2. Some might think that because you stay home all day it would be easy to keep a clean home. They are very wrong. Cleaning your home with kids in the house is like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos. It just doesn’t happen very easily. Not to worry though, you are doing important work. This is more important. 

 

7. You are having time with family or friends. 

When I’m ninety years old, I want my mind to be full of memories spent with the people I love. I honestly don’t think I’ll care if my house was kept perfectly. So chores can wait–go and make happy memories! This is more important. 

 

8. You are having personal time. 

Everyone needs time to decompress. If mopping the floor and doing the dishes relaxes you then go for it! But for the rest of us: don’t feel guilty for taking a moment to read, check Facebook, exercise, or hop in a long bubble bath. You will feel happier doing your chores if you are also making time for yourself. Now, I know it’s easier to relax in a clean house. So try to keep one area clear of clutter where you go to escape and the other chores can wait. This is more important! 

I constantly felt guilty until one day I realized that what kept me from my chores was usually more important than a spick and span home!

I know this isn’t for everyone, however, if you feel yourself stressed over chores I hope you will go over this list and find room for grace. I’ve found that it helps me to prioritize the chores that are most important to me. Focus on those and save the other stuff until it’s noticeably needed or company is coming. I spend my days caring for my toddler, finding time with Jesus, having fun with my husband, and serving my church family. I don’t mind if there are crumbs on my floor or if the dishes have piled up because I am living a happy and full life. There is a time for everything, my friends!

What are your favorite ways to spend your time? 

8 Reasons to Not Stress Over Dirty Dishes

 

 

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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