Posted in Crafts, Devotion

Flying with God

Sometimes life feels completely awesome, and that’s my life right now. I’m recently engaged to an amazing man, it’s summer break after a fun year, and everything I need I have. None of that even comes close to the relationship I have with God. My life is blessed, and I don’t think I’ve done anything to deserve it. That’s just how awesome God is.

I’m soaring!

There have been seasons in my life when things have felt impossible: those times when I thought finding a teaching job wouldn’t happen, the many lonely days of being single with no prospects, and the moments when I’ve let myself begin to worry about my financial future. I didn’t feel like I was soaring when I was worrying and trying to make my life myself.

I’m able to soar when I trust in God.

Isaiah 40: 31 says, “but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.” That’s what I’ve learned to do. In order to fly, I have to trust God and his perfect plan. I have to wait for the moment in which he moves.

Right now I’m waiting on some other prayers for people in my life, and rather than worry and fret, I know I just need to wait for God. He’s got this.

By the way, those earrings I am wearing in the above pictures were custom-made by my good friend, Clare. She sells in-person locally and on Etsy. If you’re interested in her leatherwork or some of her other styles, check out her Etsy shop or her Instagram.

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Posted in Devotion

God’s Faithfulness

In the book of Joshua, over and over God reminds the people not to fear, and then he completely obliterates their enemies.

God is powerful, and he’s faithful to his promises.

God has promised modern Christians that he’s with them and coming again (Matthew 28:20; John 14:3). He says he works all things for his good (Romans 8:28). He also says he can do far more than we could ever imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

There are situations I continually pray about: a friend who needs healing, family members who need to return to a relationship with God, students who are too angry to see God’s love, my future and relationship, and the list goes on.

Sometimes it feels as if God doesn’t hear or remains silent because I see nothing happening, but I have to remember his promises and his faithfulness. God is still working just like he did in the book of Joshua.

Posted in Devotion

I’m Going To Sing

It’s allergy season in Kentucky, which means I find myself clearing my throat and waking up with a stopped-up nose. As much as I hate to admit it, I probably am an allergy sufferer. Just a few weeks ago, I had a bout that kept me congested and coughing for a week or so. This was right around the time of Easter, a time when I especially enjoy singing worship songs to God. You know how hard it is to sing when you can’t breathe? I don’t say all of this to gripe or complain. Even though singing praises to God was difficult and I probably sounded like a whale, I opened my mouth and let it out.

I sang because I have a reason to sing.

When I was younger, I sang unabashedly and considered myself to have a decent voice. Then I hit high school, and while my voice might have changed a little, my perception of myself suffered more. I convinced myself that my voice was nothing special and sometimes even unpleasant to hear. I didn’t want a career in the music world, but I also stopped singing with my whole heart.

God tells us to praise him. There’s an entire book of the Bible dedicated to songs about God and his greatness. If his human creations don’t praise him, the rocks will begin to sing praises to God (Luke 19:40). I’ve never heard a rock sing, but I sure hope that my singing voice is better than a rock’s voice. This is my reason to sing: God’s very being demands our praise, and he alone is worthy of that ability to demand praise. He’s worthy of our praise because he created all of us and this earth and the universe. He put everything in order. We humans messed up, so He gave us his son so that we could even communicate with him.

God deserves my unashamed singing voice whether it’s flat, sharp, clear, stuffy, low, or high.

Now I realize that praise doesn’t only come in the form of singing songs, and I practice other forms of praise and worship in my life. There’s just something powerful about raising my voice in song. I’m not one to yell much, so singing is a way to get loud about something that matters. Next time you hear a worship song on the radio, in church, or in your head, open you mouth and let it out loud and unashamed. As David said, we can become “yet more contemptible” in the world’s eyes than singing at the top of our lungs (2 Samuel 6:22 ESV). God deserves our loud and proud praise.

Posted in Devotion

Comparing Our Struggles.

***Re-posting from a year ago***

Maybe it’s that time of year (school year that is), but lately many of the conversations I have had with people start with a complaint, either from me or them. We’re tired, stressed out, overworked, physically hurting, emotionally spent, and ready for summer break. We don’t mean to be negative, but the fall in Genesis created a world where situations are hard and our bodies grow weary. Our sinful hearts want attention, and, for one reason or another, groaning and complaining garner attention faster than rejoicing.

I do not believe there is a problem with sharing our struggles with one another, but I think there are limits and ways to do it in God’s light. Galatians 6:2 reminds us to “carry each other’s burdens,” so we are meant to be open and honest with each other. This chapter goes on to say, though, that we should be careful and test ourselves lest we take pride in ourselves alone. It seems that at times our “sharing” of burdens becomes a form of pride in how hard our individual lives are. Galatians reminds us that while we are carrying each other’s burdens, we are still responsible for carrying our own load. We are meant to bolster each other up when we have burdens of sins and sorrows, but we are still meant to do the heavy lifting of our loads.

Sometimes we just complain to hear ourselves complain. God makes it pretty clear that he does not like a grumbling heart. Besides plainly speaking it in the New Testament several times, he also provides an account of how he dealt with the grumbling Israelites in the book of Numbers chapter 11. They complained that they didn’t have good food to eat, so God sent down fire. Then they repented, so God stopped the fire. It wasn’t long, though, before the complaints began again. God gave them meat, but he caused it to burn up and become a plague before they could consume it. That’s righteous anger and strong evidence that God does not tolerate whining and complaining. Before I speak my complaints, I want to test them to ensure that I’m sharing them for the right reasons. Ultimately I want to developing the rejoicing heart that Paul talks about in Philippians 4. When I meet trials, I want to be able to rejoice in the Lord rather than complain in the flesh.

This observation of my own conversation as well as the conversation around me also has made me realize just how easy it is to fall into the trap of one-upping one another with our problems rather than listening. Usually what happens when someone shares a burden or just complains for sake of complaining, the listener will share their own similar burden in an effort to relate, but it diminishes the other person’s burden. Just today while walking between classes, another teacher shared that she was suffering from a physical pain; rather than expressing sympathy or pointing her toward the blessings of God, I responded with my own physical pain. How does that kind of response help her at all except make her feel that her pain is less important? I don’t know her motive for sharing this burden with me, but my response should always be one that reflects Christ.

My response should be one that is cheerful and encouraging. Proverbs 17:22 says that a joyful heart is good medicine, but a crushed heart dries up the bones. This doesn’t mean I diminish the person’s complaint by smiling and telling a joke. It means that in a loving way, I remind them of the goodness of God. This also means that when my flesh starts complaining to myself and hosting its own little pity party, I find a kind and loving way to remind myself of the goodness of God.

I am making two points here I believe. Firstly, we should test our own words before they come out. Before we speak a complaint, we should look into our heart and decide if we are sharing to allow someone to help or sharing because we want attention. If it’s a complaint, we should turn that complaint into a praise to God. Secondly, when someone shares a burden with us, we should respond with Christ’s love rather than one-upping or dismissing their statement. Don’t allow them to continue too long in a pity party, but be sympathetic and loving.

Posted in Devotion, Holidays

Forgive like a cat

My cat was angry at me tonight. First I took away his food this morning, so we could travel. Then I made him ride in his crate in the car. Finally once we got home I wouldn’t let him eat the TV cords or scratch the couch. To top it all off I clipped his toenails.

He wouldn’t even look at me. If I tried to touch him, he’d nip at me. He was angry.

Two hours later and a little catnip, he was back to snuggling. I think when Jesus talked about forgiving others, he could have used a cat as an example.

Posted in Devotion

The White Witch

“You have a traitor there, Aslan,” said the witch. Of course everyone present knew that she meant Edmund. But Edmund had got past thinking about himself after all he’d been through and after the talk he’d had that morning. He just went on looking at Aslan. It didn’t seem to matter what the witch said.”

In The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Edmund leaves his brothers and sisters to chase after the White Witch because what she offers to him seems more enticing. He soon learns that everything she told him was lies, and he is treated very poorly in her presence. After being rescued by Aslan’s army and talked to by Aslan, he seems completely changed. This quote describing the White Witch’s accusations against Edmund and his reaction remind me perfectly of Satan’s accusations against us.

Jesus has made me completely clean in God’s eyes and rescued me from my own White Witch, Satan. Even still Satan tries to come back and tell me that I’m a traitor and that I don’t deserve to be part of God’s family. He does this by attacking my service to God, convincing me that I’m not doing enough or that my heart is impure. My reaction sometimes is to give in to the lies and try to work harder when in reality God loves me no matter what I do. When accused by the White Witch Edmund looked at Aslan. Even when Satan tries to accuse me, I can simply look at Jesus and know that nothing Satan says matters.

Posted in Devotion

Weak

A few days ago I was helping move a staff member into her house. There was quite a bit of heavy furniture. While we had several adult and teenage males to help, I wanted to pull my weight because I hate feeling weak. Pride began to swell as I watched them carry the heavy stuff, and I was told I couldn’t carry that. I’d just get started carrying something when one of the boys would say, “Ms. Hughes let me get that.” At one point, I and one of the dorm boys were carrying the headboard. It wasn’t so much heavy as it was top-heavy. I knew a co-worker was right behind me, but by-golly I was going to carry this one thing all the way into the house. I was struggling with the height and weight combined, and eventually I had to admit I couldn’t carry it and hand it over to him. I had to admit I was weak.

Similarly, I often try to be strong with emotional and spiritual matters. Pride kicks in and I don’t want to let others see me cry or struggle. Sometimes I forget to even let God know I’m struggling. I put on my smile and persevere. It’ll go away eventually right?

If there’s one thing that stresses me out and makes me feel weak more than anything else, it’s car troubles. This is a problem that I can’t just smile through because it will only exacerbate if I don’t address the issue. For example, I came out one Sunday to an almost flat tire. Tears flowed, and the stress hit immediately because I live a mile from the maintenance building on campus and it was Sunday when no one would just be down there to help air my tire. Plus, I knew that there was probably something more wrong because tires shouldn’t just go flat. I felt weak. Thankfully I was thinking about God that morning, and he reminded me that I had a bike pump. It gave me quite a workout, and it caused me to be late for church, but I got it pumped up to a decent level and made it to church before the sermon. God provided because I didn’t pretend I was stronger than I was. (No worries, I got it plugged at the auto shop in town.)

The day after the moving incident, the song leader in chapel decided to read verses about love in between singing Jesus Loves Me. He was focused on the love of God, but my heart panged at the phrase, “when I am weak, you are strong”. How true is that? God is strong for me when I feel the most weak. Whether it’s physical weakness, emotional weakness, knowledge or situational weakness, or spiritual weakness, God is there to prop me up. He’s there to be strong for me.