Baking with the past

By Snow

Well, another Christmas has come and gone. My siblings, nieces, and extended family members spent a few hours together at my brother’s house on Christmas Day – as socially distanced as possible in this year of COVID-19.

I am usually the last one to arrive, but I knew someone else was still missing. I kept looking around, trying to figure out who it was, waiting for that last family member to show up.

Then, I realized who was missing.

Mom.

This was the second Christmas since she passed away. While I was blessed to feel her very briefly a couple of times during the event, Christmas and other family gatherings are not the same without Mom’s physical presence.

Everything seems off. The amount of drinking has gone way up, for instance. This would not have happened in front of Mom. She almost never drank alcohol. Following her example, I don’t drink at all. I never have, and I don’t like being around it.

At the same time, I realize alcohol is how some people deal with pain. Some of my family members still seem to be in a lot of pain when it comes to losing Mom. While I certainly miss her – especially on Christmas, her favorite holiday – I know where she is. I also know she is free now, free of the earthly body that held her back in the last decades of her life.

I am blessed to have Jesus. I am blessed to have the Holy Spirit. I am blessed to have a personal relationship with God. Yes, life can be painful at times, but they help me through it by bringing me peace, filling me with joy, and blessing me with love. Yes, I experience perfect love through Jesus, and I experience true love through my beloved JC. I am so grateful.

Yes, I know where Mom is. She is with Jesus now. I have not really lost her. Rather, she is simply ahead of me on our eternal journey and interacting with me in different ways than before.

When Mom passed away, I was blessed to inherit a number of her personal items. The ones that mean the most to me are her Bible, her recipes, and her 45 RPM vinyl records.

Throughout the lives of me and my siblings, Mom baked special cookies at Christmas. Mom’s cookies were an indelible part of Christmas for us. Since I have her recipes, I have picked up the mantle of baking her cookies over the last two Christmases to continue her legacy.

Her 45s date back to the 1950s. She played and danced to them so much over the years that they can’t really be played anymore. Instead, I made an iTunes playlist of the same songs. I play her songs whenever I bake her cookies.

My apartment has memories of Mom everywhere, especially my kitchen – which includes elements of her kitchens past. In that kitchen, surrounded by memories of Mom, playing her music, using her cookie recipe, I baked seven sheets of Mom’s cookies on Christmas Eve. I say, “I” baked them, but really, I truly believe I was just being Mom’s hands through much of the process. I could feel her with me, almost the entire time.

It is hard to describe, but I feel her most often as small bursts of joy – about where she used to rub or scratch my upper back when I was a youngster. I can also “hear” her in my head at times – though usually more like a thought or a feeling than a direct voice. For instance, I knew she wanted me to give some of her cookies to JC’s mom this year. That is exactly what she would have done were she still physically here.

Mom loved Christmas and would decorate all over the house, including the bathroom. That is how I know if someone is truly dedicated to decorating for Christmas, if the bathroom is included. In the living room, Mom used to put out large, plastic figurines of an elf riding Rudolph, mice playing on a Christmas present, and a Santa Claus sleigh. There was also a Santa doll and a Santa mug. There were many other decorations over the years as well, but those are the ones I remember most from my childhood.

Credit: JC

Last month, I was thrilled to find a Santa mug at Hobby Lobby that was reminiscent of the one Mom used to display. Larger than the one Mom had, I realized these mugs would make the perfect containers to give my siblings Mom’s cookies this year. To better accommodate the mug, I made a few of the sheets of cookies in “bite size” portions – half of the size that Mom normally made.

When I pulled the mugs out on Christmas Day, my siblings immediately connected them with Mom’s mug. They also voiced hope they contained Mom’s cookies.

The cookies ended up being hits in their new bite-sized configurations. I was told they tasted like Mom made them.

That’s because she did make them.

Thanks to Jesus, Mom lives forever, and so will I. The Son of God suffered on the cross to save us from eternal death in Hell.

2020 has been . . . a year. None of us could have predicated how swiftly the entire world would change. My advice continues to be, look for the blessings and keep your eyes on Jesus.

Thank you for reading our little blog. Know that JC and I are praying for you.

May Jesus bless you with a wonderful, active, and healthy New Year!


“Adam, the first man, was made from the dust of the earth, while Christ, the second man, came from heaven. Earthly people are like the earthly man, and heavenly people are like the heavenly man. Just as we are now like the earthly man, we will someday be like the heavenly man. What I am saying, dear brothers and sisters, is that our physical bodies cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. These dying bodies cannot inherit what will last forever. But let me reveal to you a wonderful secret. We will not all die, but we will all be transformed! It will happen in a moment, in the blink of an eye, when the last trumpet is blown. For when the trumpet sounds, those who have died will be raised to live forever. And we who are living will also be transformed. For our dying bodies must be transformed into bodies that will never die; our mortal bodies must be transformed into immortal bodies.”
1 Corinthians 15:47-53

What should your loved ones know?

Credit: JC

By Snow

Though I don’t plan to die anytime soon, I also acknowledge that is ultimately up to the Lord. Therefore, I recently assembled a document of information my loved ones need to know. Loosely based on a printed workbook JC gave me a couple of years ago (yes, I procrastinate), I had to type mine in Microsoft Word because I enjoy constantly reanalyzing and changing things, which a handwritten version would not really accommodate very well.

I am not sure what I expected it to be like, but it turned into a very emotional process at times for me. This type of document essentially represents your last communications, in this world anyway, to your family and friends. Many cold but necessary things are captured. Bank accounts, life insurance policies, and the like.

I sprinkled other things throughout mine, though. Little notes here and there. Some to whoever happened to be reading, others to specific people. I also added some of my favorite Bible verses. Much prayer went into my document.

Near the end of the exercise, I decided to add some concluding thoughts. I considered as I wrote, what if I really did die today? The emotions flooded me as I realized what a blessed life I have led. I found Jesus (or, rather, He found me). I experienced true love. And so many other wonderful aspects.

I also know where I am going when I die, thanks to Jesus. The fear of the unknown future after death or, as William Shakespeare so eloquently called it, “the undiscovered country” (Hamlet, Act 3, Scene 1), no longer has a grip on me. I am going to the Perfect Place, Heaven, to be with my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Whether I go in five minutes or fifty years, He has a place for me.

On a more practical side, I discovered a number of things while gathering the material. First, it took me far longer than I expected to pull together the information. Which, to me, completely justifies the exercise. If it took me 30 hours to find all of this stuff while knowing, in general, where to look and how to access it, I imagine it would take loved ones at least ten times that long if I did not provide them this kind of assistance. And some things they would never find or even know to seek.

I also learned that I had failed properly to fill out paperwork when updating one of my old retirement plans, so beneficiaries I thought I named earlier this year were actually not present. I also found I had failed to name beneficiaries at all on my life insurance policy through my new job. On that one, I thought for sure I did – but apparently my mind wrongly checked off this task as “done” when I named beneficiaries on my new retirement plan. I still get a headache now thinking about it. Fortunately, this exercise helped uncover these discrepancies, as it is much easier to resolve such things while living – or so I am told.

If you do not already have a document like this in place, I highly recommend you do so. Be sure to store your document in a secure location and let at least a couple of trusted people in your life know how to access it.

You can find various forms online (I enjoy creating my own documents, one of my quirks), but here are the kinds of information you might want to include (some may not apply):

  • Your Personal Information (legal name, aliases, date of birth, place of birth, social security number [if applicable], home address, phone numbers, email addresses, marital status, citizenship, and organ donor status)
  • Family & Friends to Contact (name, relationship, contact info, comments)
  • Other Entities to Contact (e.g., employer, bank, insurance company)
  • Memorial Instructions
  • Bank Accounts (bank, type, account #, name on the account, automatic deposits, automatic withdrawals)
  • Debt (entity, rate, type, balance, minimum monthly payment, data as of, payment method)
  • Other Monthly Bills (entity, approximate payment, payment method)
  • Charitable Concerns (listing of churches and other charities/ministries you support)
  • Other Credit Cards (zero balances/not in use)
  • Life Insurance Policies (insurer, policy #, address, phone, type, death benefit amount, primary beneficiary, contingent beneficiary)
  • Instructions About Life Insurance Proceeds (e.g., tithe)
  • Vehicle(s) [description, title holder, amount owed (if any)]
  • Location of Important Papers
  • Medical (doctors, dentist, known diseases/medical history, etc.)
  • Retirement/Investment Accounts (entity, type, from, balance, data as of, beneficiary, contingent)
  • Business Interests
  • Real Estate Owned
  • Individual Stocks
  • Annuities
  • Distribution of Personal Items (item, current location, for)
  • Notes About Borrowed Items You Have
  • Notes About Items or Money You Have Loaned
  • User Names & Passwords (or how to find them)
  • Final Comments
  • Signature

While a will is more appropriate for substantial items, the “Distribution of Personal Items” section is useful for articles of more sentimental than financial value. I made sure to add at least one little note per recipient in this section. Once completing this exercise, you may want to consider even writing full letters to each of your loved ones and including them in the same location.

Completing the above for the first time is surely the hardest part. Be sure to brush it off every six months or so, though, so that it doesn’t slowly become uselessly outdated.

Think of this document as a gift to your loved ones. They will be grieving you. Make the administrative aspects of your death as easy on them as possible so that they can concentrate on the emotional aspects and healing.

Thank you for reading. May Jesus bless you.


“Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me. There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am. And you know the way to where I am going.”
John 14:1-4

You are never alone

Credit: JC

By JC

Right now, there is a lot going on in my life. I am not talking about the virus. A tragedy occurred in my life a few weeks ago, and I am once again working to adjust to my new normal. I have learned during difficult times that we should not focus on “Why God?” He is more than okay with us asking that, though, and wrestling with Him, for we see every emotion in Scriptures. And, lets face it, He already knows how we feel – so just be honest, He can handle it. The key is not to dwell on the “Why?” Pray to have strength to move to the “What do you want me to learn?” and “How do you need me to grow and shine Your light in this situation?”

Moving from “Why” to “How” is not an easy process. I am learning to praise Him when I feel the “Why” creeping into my thoughts. I put on praise music or pray or read the Bible. I must take every thought captive (2 Corinthians 10:5). But why? Why are we told to take every thought captive? The enemy wants us to take our eyes off of Jesus. Whether it is the virus, job loss, betrayal by a loved one, death, paralysis, etc. The moment we take our eyes off of Jesus, the enemy owns us. He has our thoughts focused on him and away from Jesus.

One of the ways the enemy gets me is to make me feel all alone. I cling to verses that clearly demonstrate God’s love.

“Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?”
Romans 8:32

That one is a good verse to let seep in. I have a son and trying to process giving him up is beyond my comprehension. But God loved me and you so much, He gave us His son. So, of course God loves us. He sacrificed His son for us. He is not going to leave us. That is nonsensical, and, of course, there are plenty of verses that support Him being with us to the end of the age. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit. He is always with us. Even though I grieve Him with stupid thoughts and actions, He is with me. I am never truly alone.

The other way the enemy tries to get me is to attack my prayer life. Either I get distracted or shorten the prayer time or sometimes I do not feel like praying. I have an accountability partner, Snow. He kicks me in the backside when I need it. He prays for me when I cannot pray. And again, the Holy Spirit prays for me, too. And you know who else prays for you and me constantly? Jesus.

“But because Jesus lives forever, his priesthood lasts forever. Therefore he is able, once and forever, to save those who come to God through him. He lives forever to intercede with God on their behalf.”
Hebrews 7:24–25

Jesus lives forever to intercede with God on our behalf. Wow! I cannot process that. My Savior and my King lives forever to intercede on my behalf.

You are never alone. I know as a human, it is hard to go without other loving, human interaction. Sometimes, I just want to hear a loving voice praying for me or receive a prayer in text or email.

If you need or want someone to pray with you, contact me and Snow. We are happy to pray with you!

If you would like to make a public prayer request, so that other readers can also pray for you, then enter your request in the comments. Otherwise, click here to go to our new Prayer Requests page – also accessible via “Prayer Requests” in the main menu. There, you can send us a private prayer request.

You are enveloped in the loving arms of the Holy Spirit, you are interceded for by the King of all kings and embraced by the Father because of Jesus. And you have at least one brother and one sister praying for you daily.


Father in Heaven,

We lift up those who feel alone. Please remind them who they are in Christ:

In the blessed name of Jesus we pray.

Amen

Why did God let me down?

Please see JC’s “The Cycle of Trust” for background on today’s post.

By JC

So many prayers for healing. She was so young. Maybe I did not pray enough. Maybe I did not pray the right way.

I have heard non-believers say, “How can a loving God allow that?”

When you are crushed and cannot breathe, yet the hits keep coming, believers ask that, too. I do.

I begged Jesus through sobs of pain. Crying out, “Please help, Jesus. Please.”

Nothing.

Silence.

I watched her take her last breaths while in pain.

I prayed for her to be healed, but I also know that we are to pray for His will above all else. So, I dutifully prayed, “Father, please heal her. If that is not Your will, then please allow her to pass peacefully in her sleep.”

That is not how it happened. It was not peaceful or painless.

If another believer were to ask me, “How can a loving God allow that?” I would quote Isaiah 55:9: “For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”

I would also say that He loves us more than we can understand, so there must have been worse things ahead. Worse pain, things unbearable to see. So, He called her home before things reached that point.

Haven’t we been through enough? So much death and pain in such a short time, so many loved ones gone despite prayers and fasting. Why God, why do we now have to go through this, too? We are still recovering from the last tragedy. The last wounds are still raw.

“Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”
2 Corinthians 12:9

I believe Scriptures. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God. I believe He died for my sins. So, I read this verse and know it to be true. But God, how weak do I need to be?

The pain is more than I can bear, Lord.

“The LORD is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”
Psalm 34:18

I seek You. Why am I seeking, though? I have the Holy Spirit. You are already right here with me. Help me to feel You. I need You, Lord. I need to remember that I am not like King Saul.

“Now the Spirit of the LORD had left Saul, and the LORD sent a tormenting spirit that filled him with depression and fear.”
1 Samuel 16:14

You will not remove Your Holy Spirit from me.

“God himself has prepared us for this, and as a guarantee he has given us his Holy Spirit.”
2 Corinthians 5:5

I do not have to fear like King David, when he saw the Spirit removed from Saul and penned Psalm 51.

“Do not banish me from your presence, and don’t take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and make me willing to obey you.”
Psalm 51:11-12

While this pain is unbearable, I cannot let my heart doubt You or Your love.

“Guard your heart above all else, for it determines the course of your life.”
Proverb 4:23

My own heart works against me.

“The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?”
Jeremiah 17:9

So, where do I go from here? I am to guard my heart, which is desperately wicked, but I cannot guard it properly.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
Philippians 4:6-7

But because I believe Jesus is the Son of God, I have His peace that is beyond understanding. I have peace when I should not. I have peace when the world says, “How can a loving God allow this?”

The answer is, I do not know. I may never know this side of Heaven. But I know God is love (1 John 4:16).

I also know I am not to focus on such thoughts, nor allow my heart to ruminate on such things.

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
Philippians 4:8

It is not easy. Pain crushes. Feeling like God let you down crushes.

I do not believe that time heals all wounds. Instead, I believe that you find your new normal. Through Jesus, you find the way to move forward with the hole in your heart and determine your new normal.

Why did God let me down? I don’t know that He did. I know my heart is telling me that, but my heart can be wicked.

No, I cannot guard my heart. I need Jesus for that. We must stay anchored to Him for peace and joy that is beyond understanding.


“Good people pass away; the godly often die before their time. But no one seems to care or wonder why. No one seems to understand that God is protecting them from the evil to come.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭57:1‬

Credit: JC

Spiritual abuse

By JC

The term “spiritual abuse” is not something I looked up on the Internet. I do not even know if such a phrase already exists. Here is how I am defining it: When someone you are under the authority of, per the Bible, fails to fulfill their Biblical responsibilities and instead creates an environment of disobedience to God.

I am the first person to say that nobody is perfect. This is not about a failure along the way or an error. This is about a spiritual authority that has a consistent pattern of being disobedient to the word of God, yet claiming they know Jesus. If you have been reading this blog for any period of time, you know a little about my story.

God has recently laid it on my heart to go deeper with you and reveal more. My intent is to help just one person. Perhaps that one person is you. If so, I have been praying for you.

I have been married for 23 years; neither of us were saved when we got married. Eleven years ago, I was saved, and then two years after that, my husband was baptized. There are many responsibilities in the Bible that are given to governments, people in authority, and to husbands and wives. Ever since I was saved, God put on my heart the burden to give up my old life and be on the mission field full time. What an honor to serve Him full time.

My husband did not have the same call on his heart. We talked to the Senior Pastor, who told me, “God is not a God of confusion.” The problem with the pastor’s advice is that he never said to my husband, “Have you prayed about the burden on your wife’s heart? She is adamant this is what she has heard from the Lord.”

My husband does not pray, does not read the Bible, and never speaks the name “Jesus.” But, as a “good,” submissive wife, I thought that the pastor and my husband were right. God is not a God of confusion. For over a decade, then, I buried that burden deep within my heart. I went on mission trips each year. I prayed that God would reveal the same burden to my husband, but He did not or my husband never revealed He did. That burden is with me every day to this very day. But I replay what the pastor said, “God is not a God of confusion.”

Daily, I beg God for my husband to draw closer to Jesus. I beg for God to provide me with a husband who will read the Bible with me or pray with me or provide some example to our three kids of what a Christian husband and father might look like.

Morning after morning and night after night during my prayer time with God, I sob. I cry out to God. I have become an expert at stifling my sobs, as I do not want the kids to hear me. I have also become an expert at “cleaning up” my face should one of the kids enter the area where I am praying. I wipe the tears extremely quickly and slap a smile on my face. I even learned that a certain eye cream helps when I have cried too hard and my eyes get puffy.

I have become an expert at hiding my pain. I have become an expert at burying what I know God put on my heart: Full time missionary work. I tell myself that if God wanted me to be a full time missionary, He would burden my husband. So, maybe the timing is not just right yet. Keep stifling those sobs, keep using that eye cream, keep being submissive.

Credit: JC

In March of this year, my best friend in the world passed away extremely unexpectedly. He was 46-years-old.

I was crushed.

I could not breathe.

The police were waiting for me to arrive. And there my best friend was, gone, laying on the floor, gone at age 46. I had to make decisions about cremation, funeral services, his finances, etc. I am his executor. I agreed to do this, yes, but not now. I thought when we were 90, maybe.

You left me. I felt alone and so hurt. Jesus quickly swooped in and reminded me that you were a child of God. You are now with Him and completely healed. Jesus reminded me that I will see you again. I still cling to that knowledge to help me get through the pain day-by-day. Praise Jesus for His promises.

The death of my best friend awoke in me a journey that I needed to go on. As I planned his funeral and cleaned out his home, I kept feeling him with me spiritually. I believe that when someone has crossed over, they are still with you, just in a different way. As the months passed, I felt my best friend sharing with me that he had no idea how much I cried and hid my tears and buried what I was created to be and denied what I heard from God.

I began to research about Christian divorce and talked to a few close, Christian friends. I heard it over and over: “God hates divorce.”

I continued to cry out to God and continued to stifle my sobbing and hide my tears and deny who I was in Him.

A few months ago, God showed me examples in the Bible of people under ungodly authorities. In Exodus 1:15-16, Pharaoh tells the Hebrew midwives to kill the baby boys. Verse 17 notes, “But because the midwives feared God, they refused to obey the king’s orders.” In verses 20 and 21, it says, “So God was good to the midwives […]. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.” It appears from these Scriptures that God rewarded the midwives for their disobedience to the king and obedience to God.

In Daniel 3, Nebuchadnezzar requires all people to bow down and give worship to a statue. Three Jewish men refuse to obey the king. In verse 15, Nebuchadnezzar says, “I will give you one more chance to bow down and worship the statue.” In verse 18, the men reply, “We want to make it clear to you, Your Majesty, that we will never serve your gods or worship the gold statue you have set up.” The king throws the men into a blazing furnace and God saves them. Then in verse 28, “They defied the king’s command and were willing to die rather than serve or worship any god except their own God.” The three men were then promoted to even higher positions than before. It appears from these Scriptures that God rewarded the three men for their disobedience to the king and obedience to God.

I am currently in a Bible study by a popular American preacher. He says that when the wife fulfills Biblical responsibilities that belong to the husband, everything gets turned upside-down and the family unit is exposed to the enemy. I believe that, but what does a wife do? Stand by and allow her kids not to be led at all because it is the husband’s role?

Years ago, I made a conscious decision to lead my children and, yes, I assumed Biblical responsibilities that my Christian husband refused to do. I never stopped praying for my husband to be the spiritual leader that God created him to be and for me to be the wife that he needed to fulfill that role. No progress. More sobbing. More hiding the pain.

I have been fasting and praying for years about how to reconcile the command to be submissive to my husband versus the call that I know God has placed on my life as well as me leading the children versus my husband. I am choosing to divorce my husband. There are many reasons why I made this choice: verbal abuse, mental abuse, financial abuse, and, most of all, spiritual abuse.

I am not saying this path is for everyone. You must pray and listen to God. I have peace with the path I am now on. I have bathed it in prayer and asked for forgiveness from my husband and from God. I will continue to cry out daily for my husband, even when he is no longer my husband. The most important thing in this world is Jesus. Luke 12:31 says to “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.”

All I need is Jesus. I want to give Him my life, my every breath. I have denied for a decade what He created me to do. I will be judged by other believers for the path I am taking. But this is not about them. This is about many years of daily conversations with God and me obeying the commands He has placed on the lives of every believer.

As I was praying about my marriage, my husband, and the path I am going down, I felt led to read Genesis. Laban deceives Jacob into marrying Leah, when Jacob just wanted to marry Rachel. In Genesis 31:1-16, conflict arises between Jacob and Laban. In verse 3, it says, “Then the Lord said to Jacob, ‘Return to the land of your father and grandfather and to your relatives there and I will be with you.'”

There will be occasions in our lives that God will use conflict to get us on a new path and, more importantly, He will use conflict to sever relationships that are not guiding us to God. If there is a relationship in your life that is causing you to move away from God, pray about severing it. Our command is to obey God, above all other authorities we are under: “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5).

What I realized is that in choosing to submit to my husband, I was allowing myself and my kids to be led away from God. When I began to move toward God, conflicts arose. I realized that the marriage I am in is a mockery of God. There is nothing Biblical about this marriage other than two people in it who claim to know Jesus as Lord. I choose to no longer submit to a husband who refuses to pray, read the Bible, or speak the name above all names, Jesus.

Yes, I will be judged by people for filing for a divorce. But I have peace in knowing that I am not confused, and I will no longer be spiritually abused or abused in any other way.

I am a child of God, and He loves me.

The Cycle of Trust

By JC

I am going through a tremendous time of change in my life. While I met Jesus 11 years ago, I have not been fully surrendered to Him. What does that mean, “fully surrendered”?

The meaning I am applying here is that every corner of my life, every person in my life, every relationship in my life, AND my life itself belongs to Jesus. Saved people believe that, and we know it. How often do we live it, though?

I am sure there are times that we surrender situations to Jesus, ones that we know we cannot at all control – medical situations or other people’s behavior. But I am talking about even the corners of our lives that we believe we can control, such as where I want to work or where I want to go today.

For several months now, Snow and I have been working on fully surrendering our lives to Jesus and praying, “Bend me, break me to Your Will.” Within the past five months, we have both lost our jobs in the corporate world, we each lost someone incredibly dear to us to death (Praise God they both knew Jesus) and at least one marriage is ending.

For us, we daily give our worries to God, but we pick them right back up – sometimes within minutes. Daily questions we ask include:

  • “What is the plan, God?”
  • “What do You want me to do?”
  • “What is Your desired outcome so I can get there?”

I love clarity, and so there are times where I pray God would just tell me what to do: Where is the goal line? I will obey and move the ball down the field, but just tell me where You want me to wind up.

This is not how God works. I was studying Abram this week (before he became Abraham), and this man literally left all he knew for some place that God said He would show him at some point. WHAT??

“The Lord had said to Abram, ‘Leave your native country, your relatives, and your father’s family, and go to the land that I will show you.'”
Genesis 12:1

Notice that word “will.” Leave all that you know and are comfortable with for this completely unknown path that I am not ready yet to reveal to you.

As I studied this verse and Abram’s reaction, I thought to myself, could I do that? I say that I want to fully surrender all to Jesus, and I do believe that, but could I really do that? Leave all that I know and all that is comfortable for some unknown path? That is fully trusting God – wow.

Credit: JC

Since Snow and I have been praying the “Bend me, break me” prayers for months, God has been removing toxic things from our lives. The work environments were extremely toxic. Certain relationships were and are extremely toxic. Both Snow and I were saved later in life, so we made stupid decisions before we were saved that are now being cleaned up, and God is at work in those corners of our lives, too.

All of that is an amazing blessing, but here is the issue: My heart.

Do I fully trust God with what He is doing in my life? Can I be like Abram and just obey without knowing the plan or the outcome?

The still, small voice reminds me of the following:

“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”
Romans 8:28

As I think about this verse, I definitely love God. I do not always act like it because I am a sinner, but I do love Him. And I do believe that He has a plan for my life because of two specific verses, though there are others.

“‘For I know the plans I have for you,’ says the Lord. ‘They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.'”
Jeremiah 29:11

“You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.”
Psalm 139:16

I believe in the Bible 100%, every word of it. So, based solely on these two example verses above, He has a plan, and the plan is for my ultimate good.

So why do I struggle with trusting Him? Has He ever let me down?

Yes, in my opinion, He did. Allow me to explain.

Two years ago, there was this sweet, amazing young girl that out of the blue got an aggressive cancer that began to ravage her body. The medical treatments were done, the surgeries occurred, etc. I believed in the power of prayer, and there were thousands of us praying for this sweet girl to be healed physically and remain in this world.

God chose to heal her a different way and ushered her into eternity. As a believer, I know that God knows best, and He loves her more than we can process, and I know He chose to call her Home, and it was the perfect response for her.

What about those of us who trusted God to heal her, though? There are several verses that talk about ask anything in My name and I will do it – so what happened here?

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning anything you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.”
Matthew 18:19

“Yes, ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it!”
John 14:14

Jesus and Snow are going to help me heal and dive into these verses more. There will be a future post on this topic, so I will end that trail here for now.

For the purposes of today’s post, I must trust God. Things do not always make sense to me.

Can I be like Abram and just obey without knowing the end game? Oh, but I do know – Romans 8:28. Maybe this hurts, and it is messed up in my opinion, but He is at work, and I must trust Him. I will trust Him for a short time period, then start worrying again: How will this work? What about that?

It is a cycle of trust for me. I see it as a spiritual battle. The enemy does NOT want me to trust God and fully surrender to Him.

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit. So letting your sinful nature control your mind leads to death. But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace. For the sinful nature is always hostile to God. It never did obey God’s laws, and it never will. That’s why those who are still under the control of their sinful nature can never please God.”
Romans 8:5-8

Note those words God uses, “always hostile to God,” “never” obeys, and “can never please God.”

“Always” and “never” are words that leave no room for lack of clarity. So, if I am listening to the enemy, dominated by the fear, the worry, I will never please God in that state of mind.

I am working on replacing worry with worship, for the enemy hates when we give glory to God (that is the whole reason Satan rebelled, to get glory).

I would like to say I have conquered this battle, but the cycle of trust continues: I trust Him, I worry, He reminds me of His love and promises, I trust Him, I worry.

The two things that I am focused on are:

  1. Asking God to show me areas that I am not yet fully surrendered in and then listening to His response
  2. Working hard to apply 2 Corinthians 10:5: “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

I cannot control every thought that enters my mind, but I can control what I do with each thought once it is there. I compare it to Scripture and assess whether it is light and love. If it is, I engage God about it. If the thought is not edifying, pure, or anchored in the Truth, do I dwell on it and allow it to seep into my soul?

“For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.”
Isaiah 55:9

I see in the above verse, “Trust me.”

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do and he will show you which path to take.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

I see in these verses God saying, “I got it, regardless of what you think based on what you see around you. I got it.”

There is a battle going on, brothers and sisters. Fully surrendering and unconditionally trusting in God is the way to disarm the enemy.

For Mom

By Snow

“Honor her for all that her hands have done, and let her works bring her praise at the city gate.”
Proverb 31:31

Today marks the first Mother’s Day since I lost my mom, who passed away earlier this month after a long illness.

Mom was very private. She did not often discuss her faith. I am blessed, then, over the last ten months to have spent much time reading the Bible and praying to Jesus with her. I learned during that cherished time about Mom’s belief in Jesus as our Savior. I learned that she turned to Jesus for help when I nearly died in the earliest days of my life. I learned that she knew where she would go when she died. I learned that she had no regrets.

If things were different, I would be at her place right now, as I was most Sunday afternoons. We would probably be eating fried chicken and watching one of her favorite movies. We would later play Fish, and I would let her win. If she was feeling up to it, we might even color in our coloring books together. I would read at least one chapter of the Bible to her, and then I would pray out loud for her as I held her hand. Sometimes, on the most special of days, she would then grip my hand and pray for me, too.

I love and miss Mom so much, but I know she is in a better place now. The Perfect Place that we call Heaven. A place without pain, without tears (Revelation 21:4). A place where she can be her ideal self, free of disease and hurt. Free of the chains of this world.

Mom is with Jesus now, but she is still with me. I have felt her a number of times since her death. She sends me unique bursts of joy to say hello. She sent me one such burst when my family and I found what we soon decided would be the final resting place of the earthly body she left behind. She also sent me one near the end of my eulogy celebrating her life.

I am blessed, so blessed that she was my mom, and that she knew and walked with Jesus. I am blessed to know where she is. I am blessed that she is not really gone. I am blessed that I will see her again, for I, too, know where I will go when I leave this world behind – thanks to the sacrifice of Jesus so that our sins are forgiven and our lives made eternal.

Credit: JC

I have so many wonderful memories of Mom. As I was growing up, she was both my number one fan and number one protector. My love of reading comes from her. Going to the public library for books was as much a part of our routine as going to the grocery store for food. She taught me to scrawl my name well enough at the age of two or three in order to get a library card of my own.

That love of reading has made all the difference in my life, Mom. For it has opened all the doors to all of the knowledge I have ever needed – including His Word. Thank you, Mom.

Mom also encouraged me to write. She always thought I would be an author. In 6th grade, I spent three months using an antique typewriter to write a ten-page “book” about the space shuttle Challenger tragedy. As I did not yet actually know how to type, it was riddled with typos and misspellings. When I turned it in to a teacher collecting entries for a young authors contest, she apparently thought it was a rough draft and returned it marked up in red ink. Not a page was spared.

My heart sank. With the deadline looming and my original pages ruined, I knew I did not have another three months to retype my entry in order to make the corrections. Honestly, I probably did not even have enough paper to retype it even if I had the time. When Mom found out what happened, she soon had the teacher on the phone. By the time Mom was done with her, the teacher had agreed to retype all of the pages for me. Mom clarified that the teacher was to include every single one of my typos and misspellings. Thus, I was still able to enter the contest, winning second prize. Typos (including a few new ones) and all.

Mom, thank you for always believing in me. For protecting me. While I did not write a book in time for you to hold it, I still have that dream, and I know you will be with me when I do hold that first book in my hands.

Mom’s passions in life were her children and grandchildren. She had unlimited, unconditional love for them. I have not yet been blessed with children of my own, but I do know what it is like to love someone with such passion. Mom did not get to meet my true love on this side of Heaven, but I was able to talk with Mom about her on Easter Sunday. She was so happy that I had found someone that brings me such joy. Christmas was Mom’s favorite time of year, and she wanted to meet her then. Maybe it is Christmas every day in Heaven for Mom. My love and I know in our hearts they have now met. Nothing is impossible for Jesus.

Mom, I love you. I am blessed the first love of my life has now met the last love of my life. The one who prayed to Jesus that I may live has now met the one who led me to Jesus so that I will live forever. My first protector has now met my last protector. Thank you, Mom. I will always remember. Always.

Thank you for reading. May God bless you.

“So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy.”
John 16:22