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The year is 1995. Being a self-employed counselor is a real challenge. From time to time I say to my God, “Is this really what you want me to do?” Deep inside from around the region of my heart, I hear the answer, “Hang on.”

Sometimes God is a person of few words.#faith #perseverance Click To Tweet

Sometimes God is a person of a few words. I keep questioning, “Should I be doing something else?” Sometimes I feel like a failure and now I am overwhelmed with shame at having to ask for help. I stare at the phone in my hand. You can do this Evelyn, do not give up, do not back down, do not lose faith. Do not worry about what people think?

It’s been a hard winter. My business has dwindled to almost nothing, partly because of the weather and partly because I don’t feel equal to the trauma and pain I see in front of me. Money is tight. My fear is that homelessness is imminent.

My friend in Oklahoma City tells me about an organization that is coming to the clinic where she works to do some free trauma training that can help untold numbers of hurting people. But it’s just for Oklahoma counselors. I live in South Dakota.

“Can I come?” I ask. She says “no” on three different phone calls,

“Just ask them,” I say. “Please just ask?”

Finally, she says with a deep sigh, “I will give you the number and you can ask.”

I’ve wanted this training for a couple of years. I have heard of the extraordinary healing it produces—but the cost is beyond my reach. I’ve been praying for guidance for months, hanging on, believing God when He says, “Do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear”. (Luke 12:22.) Waking up stressed and fearful in the middle of the night, I repeat this verse over and over, desperately trying to drown out the negative messages rattling around my brain. The messages telling me: “Give up, send your clients to someone who can really help them. Stop humiliating yourself by being persistent. Go find a job. Why would anyone want to help you anyway?”

Now it’s 8:00 am on a cloudy Monday morning. Sitting with the phone in my hand, I have prayed all night for a “yes” answer or the faith to endure a “no.” Taking a deep breath, I dial the number; it rings five times before the man on the other end says “Good morning. Bright Counseling, Joe speaking.”

My heart is in my throat. “This is Evelyn Leite. I am a friend of Barbara’s—I understand that the EMDR corporation is doing a free counselor training in Oklahoma City, because of the bombing of the Federal building. I hear my breathless voice coming out fast and force myself to slow down.

“Joe, I am a counselor in South Dakota. Do you think it might be possible for me to attend the training coming up at your clinic next week?” A long moment of silence follows (I’m holding my breath) then he says “I don’t see any reason why you can’t.” Geared up for a “no”, my “thank you” comes out in an emotional squeak. Joe takes my name and phone number and promises to see me there. I’m in!

Overwhelmed with gratitude, I say prayers of praise and swing into action. Using frequent flyer miles and with ten dollars in my pocket, my amazed friend will meet me at the airport and I will stay with her. I will be only the second counselor in SD to have this training-my business booms and people are helped. God is Good!

 

 

Evelyn M. Leite MHR, LPC  

Evelyn Leite has been in the addiction and mental health profession for 35 years and has a private practice called Living With Solutions.  She also founded a non-profit corporation called A Center For Training And Restoration.  She is the author of 14 books and she holds workshops nationwide that are devoted to teaching individuals and families about mental health and addiction. Evelyn does a lot of trauma-related work with men and women who have been abused.  Because her work as a humanitarian has been widely recognized, she was installed in the SD Hall of Fame in 2008.  Her work has included founding a youth center in Ft Pierre, SD, helping establish a women’s shelter in Pierre, SD, and helping to establish the Hope Center, a day shelter for the homeless in Rapid City, SD.  Most of her work for the last 15 years has taken place on Indian Reservations.  She released a new book in December 2019, A Fix For The Family Rift Caused By Addiction. Evelyn Leite has been in the addiction and mental health profession for 35 years and has a private practice called Living With Solutions.

https://evelynleite.com/

 

P.S. Hello, friends. I’m so glad you stopped by today. Evelyn and other counselors who do the hard and important work of helping people heal from their trauma wounds are such a blessing. Evelyn and I have never met personally and she is unaware of my background, but EMDR was one of the tools God used to bring hope and healing into my own life as a survivor of child abuse. If you have any questions about EMDR or other aspects of healing from trauma (i.e. C-PTSD, domestic violence, sexual assault, etc.), please know you aren’t alone. Reach out to one of us or another safe person in your life. God is in the business of “restoring the years the locusts have eaten”.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

I sometimes link-up with these wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network

 

I like my life drama-free. My first marriage had enough turmoil to last me a lifetime. I’m very comfortable with our quiet, boring routine.

Our home and schedule change drastically when my daughter and granddaughters visit. Those are the changes we love. The rooms seem to get smaller as we bring out the toys and baby furniture. The walls get dirty, stickers appear in random places, dust bunnies collect, and the dog gets bigger from snacks sneaked and food dropped.

Yes, our seemingly mundane life turns chaotic when the family comes to visit, but we really don’t mind at all.

Seven years ago our daughter and granddaughters spent five weeks with us while they got their paperwork in order to live in my son-in-law’s home town in England. At that time Fiona was four years old and Eleanor was eight months old. They had previously lived in Hungary and their annual visits were precious. Those weeks were sublime!

As usual, I hated the quiet after they left and immediately started the post-visit routine. I put away the toys and furniture so I wouldn’t get depressed. I washed walls, scrubbed floors, and regained control of my environment. I cried around the house on and off for days, longing for them to video chat with me. However, I knew they were busy settling into their new home in the UK.

Again, my heart was broken. “This doesn’t get easier,” I told a friend. Then something happened that helped put it in perspective.

A friend from church lost a baby grandson. We know he is in the arms of Jesus, but that doesn’t take the pain away.

My heart may be broken when my family goes back home, but I know I’ll see them again on our next visit. We’ll video chat with them regularly. I’ll hold them again here on earth. My friend cannot.

How do others see God working in your everyday life and mine? Click To Tweet

It put my woes in proper perspective as I watched my friend’s family exude God’s peace while He heals their hearts. God used the faith shown by the grieving family to minister to those around them. We see God working in their everyday lives.

Philippians 4:4-9 says, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

Now, several years later, I learn that my family can’t visit this spring. I’ve come to expect them in April and, once again, my heart is broken. Once again, I have to concentrate on “whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable” – those things that are praiseworthy and excellent. Sadly, as always, it’s easier said than done. I feel it’s time to get busy helping others and put my woes in the proper perspective.

Pour out onto those around us like water through a broken vase.#loveothers #pourout Click To Tweet

When we remain teachable and keep our eyes on Christ, He will help us see those hurting around us. If we reach out to others in their need, we won’t be caught up in our own hurts, concerns, and problems. It helps. It really does. Keeping our minds on what is pure and lovely will help us realize that God’s peace is with us. I pray we keep our hearts open to learn from God and to put what we’ve learned into practice, allowing His love to pour out onto those around us like water through a broken vase.

To those who have lost a child, I pray God's love overwhelms you...He is near. Click To Tweet

To those who have lost a child, I pray God’s love overwhelms you and fills you with His perfect peace each day as you learn to carry on. He will show you. He will guide you. He is near.

 

Kelly J. Stigliano enjoys life in Orange Park, FL with her husband, Jerry. A blended family, they have five grown children, a son-in-law, and two granddaughters – spread across the globe! She has contributed to thirteen anthologies, written hundreds of articles, and recently released her memoir, Praying for Murder, Receiving Mercy. Documenting eight years of her life, it is written in two parts with photographs in the middle. Kelly travels as a speaker, making people laugh and cry as she shares her heart. To learn more about Kelly’s ministry, her speaking topics, and books, please visit http://www.kellystigliano.com.

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

I sometimes link-up with these wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network

Pleading for Us

The hard edges of time haven’t yet lined his face, but the young man knows suffering. He’s grown accustomed to fear biting at his heels; chasing him from one day to the next. Calling on God, he prays and fasts-beseeching the Lord for breakthrough. Relief from the brokenness. Healing for a hurting heart that refuses to release the tears bottled there for too long.

And his mother approaches the throne of grace; a modern-day Hannah with earnest words whispered and desperate on behalf of the man who is her son. Capturing a glimpse of the child behind his sad smile, she lifts her face to heaven.

Oh, God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
If you’ll take a good, hard look at (his) pain,
If you’ll quit neglecting (him) and go into action for (him)…
I’ll give him completely, unreservedly to you.
I’ll set him apart for a life of holy discipline. (1 Samuel 1:11 MSG)

Like the grieving woman whose arms longed to feel the weight of a newborn, I make a holy vow of my own.  No holding back. No standing in the way. No talking him out of what the mighty God has planned. But, Lord, free him up to live and live abundantly-not this numb-to-the-pain and numb-to-the-joy existence. Allow beauty to move him to such depths that joy erupts from his spirit and spills wet as liquid down dampened cheeks. Let sadness wring his soul with enough strength that the melancholy pours from within; unleashing the ache and inviting the flow of God’s healing touch. Move into the empty spaces and clear out those the imposter has planted a “no vacancy” sign.

You, too, may be a modern-day Hannah with a loved one whose heart needs healing. Some days, it feels as though the prayers will never be answered and I grow impatient. I want Him to answer now. Doesn’t He see the need? The pain? The ache?

I would be the rescuer. The savior. But, my titles are all lowercase.#perseverance#faith Click To Tweet

Honestly, if I could exchange the burden with my precious one I would. I would be the rescuer. The savior. But, my titles are all lowercase and I’m ill-equipped to do anything but persevere in my faith. If I give up, the enemy will celebrate a victory. I refuse to yield my child’s life so easily.

What about you? Are you battling right now? Are you, too, pounding on heaven’s gates on behalf of a loved one? Maybe your on bended knee as a result of a dear one’s anxiety, depression, or addiction. It could be your precious one is consumed by self-contempt, brokenness, or fear.

Perhaps, you are the one in need of prayer.

Dear modern-day Hannah, remain steadfast. Jesus intercedes on your behalf.#holyprayers#remembered Click To Tweet

Dear modern-day Hannah, remain steadfast. Raise your eyes heavenward. Your heavenly priest, Jesus, intercedes on your behalf. Persevere as this woman of scripture once did and there will be a day of rejoicing. Just as the Lord remembered Hannah, He will remember you.

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

 

I sometimes link-up with these wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Networ

 

 

 

Pray

Worn journals, stacked in a basket near my bedside table, reveal promises kept. I’ll pray for you. When the words rolled off my tongue, I’d meant them. Some are difficult to read as if an unexpected bit of water rained down from above. Anguished prayers wrought from the soul for the friend who hurt so deeply or the loved one with wounds that descended as deep as the devil’s domain. 

All are a reminder to continue.

Glancing at the left margin of each page, I notice the name of each person listed. The year and the date are recorded along with the plea I raised heavenward. Next to some names, I’d placed a simple checkmark a page or two later. The petition had been heard and answered.

Many other names remain unmarked. They are the dear ones living without margin; the ones seeking answers Elsewhere. They live for smaller gods searching for fulfillment in something, anything, or anyone that will give them joy. Purpose. Meaning.

They live for smaller gods searching for fulfillment.#purpose #meaning #God Click To Tweet

A few of their names boast a triumphant checkmark near the left margin while others continue from one journal until the next; year after year. Why do I continue praying? Because God loves a tearstained journal filled with the names of people ushered into the kingdom.

Why Persevere in Prayer?

The prayers I’ve journaled or spoken aloud are nothing special of their own accord. They can neither impress God with their beauty nor cause Him to turn away because they lack in some way. God is interested in my heart and yours. From the beginning, the Father invited His children to commune with Him. To walk with Him. To know and be known by Him.

Through prayer, our spirits engage in communion with the Creator.#prayer #whypray Click To Tweet

Through prayer, our spirits engage in communion with the Creator.

Scripture affirms that prayer is:

  • powerful-“Make this your common practice: Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you can live together whole and healed. The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with.” (2 Peter 3:9 MSG)

and,

God is:

  • patient-“Don’t overlook the obvious here, friends. With God, one day is as good as a thousand years, a thousand years as a day. God isn’t late with his promise as some measure lateness. He is restraining himself on account of you, holding back the End because he doesn’t want anyone lost. He’s giving everyone space and time to change.” (2 Peter 3:9 MSG).

We cannot tire a limitless God nor burden the omnipotent Master.#prayer#reconciled Click To Tweet

We cannot tire a limitless God nor burden the omnipotent Master. Instead, He invites us to participate in the work of reconciling the world to its rightful place and position under His care through our poorly uttered prayers and petitions in the quiet places of our homes, in the cozy nooks of coffee shops, or the full pew on a mid-week service.

Even Jesus said:

  • persevere-“Then Jesus told them a parable about their need to pray always and not to lose heart.” (Luke 18:1 NRSV)

 

The Names in the Margin

When the names in the margin remain year after year, the ink sometimes blurs. Skepticism steps inside eternity’s doorway and pushes hope aside. But, the names in the margin need us more than ever.

God is patient. Prayer is powerful. And, living in the margin diminishes day by day.

Persevering in prayer is a call to live a life of love.

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link-up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Networ

 

 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who[a] have been called according to his purpose.

There were signs, but my husband and I didn’t recognize them. One by one the pieces melded together, shifting and moving until they were still enough for us to realize our son had been living with a nightmarish truth. The depression. The fear. The midnight phone call and a sterile hospital room. It all made sense.

Now, I grapple with the unknown. The anger. The grief. The loss.

How can a loving mother forgive someone for changing the course of her child’s life? For stealing his joy? For loading him with crippling soul-pain that can only be healed by God’s mercy over time?

The problem of forgiveness was much easier to manage when I faced my own demons.#metoo #csa #parenting Click To Tweet

The problem of forgiveness was much easier to manage when I faced my own demons. But, now?

A dear one I love is hurting and there are no simple steps toward healing. I don’t want to forgive.

Confronting the bitterness in my heart, I’m reminded that God understands. He knows the grief of watching his child suffer. He realizes there are times when even a heavenly Father must allow his precious Child to struggle.

The command to forgive doesn't include a clause releasing mothers from its charge.#forgive#mercy#faith. Click To Tweet

But understanding doesn’t equate to acquiescence; the command to forgive doesn’t include a clause releasing angry, protective mothers from its charge. Instead, the words of scripture pierce my conscience in the same way my boy’s heartache cuts to the core of my soul.

Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NIV)

How many of these acceptable sins am I tucking behind an agreeable “I’m fine” while I play tug-of-war with Jesus? Lord, I give this to you. Wait. I don’t like how you’re handling this. I’m taking it back.

Now I hear God whispering, “If you love me, you will obey. I know the beginning from the end. I know how to bring hope and healing. I know these things. Do you?”

My bleeding heart bends its will to the Father as I step onto the path of perseverance-the intentional, purposeful pursuit of faith through the power of the Holy Spirit.

You, too, may be persevering on life’s rocky road. For some, the path is strewn with broken marriage relationships or estrangement from beloved children. Others know the pain of losing a loved one to suicide. Many are walking the journey of cancer while others are recovering from years of abuse.

Continuing on will lead us to our final destinantion-the one who is the Way.#persevere#faithfulness#intentional. Click To Tweet

No matter the debris littered along the way, continuing on will lead us to our final destination–the one who is the Way.

It won’t be easy.

We’ll be called to put down the burdens we’re bearing and release them into His care.

When we reach the end of the road, our true beginning, perhaps we’ll survey the old path with new eyes. We’ll notice bits and fragments scattered here and there. Were those fractured pieces the burdens we once bore? Now they seem so small. 

For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, is working for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory… 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NKJV)

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link-up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Networ

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Perseverance has become a focal point in my life. For nearly two weeks I prayed over, tussled with, and returned again and again to the throne room.  Are you sure that’s the word you have for me this year, Lord? 

It is. 

Regardless of the call, the Lord equips His people.#hoperestored #pursuingpeace #perseverance Click To Tweet

But, I know the Father has only good things in store for His children. I know His promises are true. Regardless of the call, the Lord equips His people.

The Lord filled praying Hannah’s empty womb, delivered grumbling Israel from the evils of slavery, provided a kinsman-redeemer for a young-widow and her embittered mother-in-law, raised an obscure orphan girl to a position of rank in order to save His people, and embraced the weakness of flesh only to die and overcome death within three days as a means to reach the lost ones of a world in need.

If a loving God will do all of that and more, then my heart responds, “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word.” (Luke 1:38 NKJ)

I realize perseverance conjures up images of trials, temptations, and hardships, but doesn’t the world place them directly at our feet? Christ once told His disciples, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” (John 16:33 NIV) Jesus wasn’t a misguided prophet who believed everything in the world was good, right, and true. 

He offered something much better. Jesus offered Himself-the way to peace with God.

In the same way, perseverance is the way to something better. It is the way to maturity for the Christian. But, often, we’ve gone amiss in seeking after perseverance. We’ve attempted to secure it in our own strength.

But perseverance is not a checklist. It’s not a convenient downloadable or a Holy Spirit app we can tap on the i-phone when trials or anxiety overwhelms us. It’s not a self-help book or something we put on with a determined smile like a tube of shiny red lipstick or an I’ve-got-this-Sunday-best-facade.

Perseverance can only be dressed up for a short time in the flesh before everything falls apart and the cracks begin to show. Christian, we aren’t meant to do this alone. We’ve gotten mixed up in the mess of be-all-you-can-be when we need to fall on our faces before God asking Him to show us the way. 

I believe the living, breathing word of God points us in the right direction to being a testimony for Him in the strange mix of beauty and adversity, joy and sorrow.

Colossians 1:10-12 reads, We (Paul and Timothy) continually ask God to fill you (believers) with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,  and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 

Did you notice in whom the power of perseverance resides? God does the filling. God does the strengthening. We cannot persevere in our own strength, Friend. We must seek His knowledge, power, and will. We must seek Him more each day and give thanks to the one who has given us life. What freedom we have knowing perseverance doesn’t depend upon our own weakness, but it comes from the immeasurable, immutable power of God.

Persevering in the day to day moments is the place we begin with Him. Trusting Him to lead and guide us because when the hard-edged times of fear or uncertainty press in on all sides, we’ll know where to turn. We’ll be practiced in the disciplines of faith to which Paul refers.

Prayer. Pressing in. Praising.

These are simple places to begin seeking Him as He grows us in perseverance toward mature believers.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link-up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup,best-of-the-weekend Fresh Market Fridays

 

 

 

 

Perseverance

Perseverance.

Men and women trek across desolate terrain; their bodies indiscernible beneath layers of boots and coats while muscles scream in rebellion at the lack of oxygen. Fingers grow numb with cold and fatigue pulls on every limb, but the peak’s lofty silhouette propels each climber forward-one aching step at a time.

Perseverance.

A cousin, friend, or sister wakens before the sun. Even her pores pulse with the pain of the illness; as though her body weeps silently in understanding. She whispers her one-word prayer again and again. Jesus. Jesus. Jesus.

Perseverance.

No longer a young mother, she’s weathered more than her share. Loss, grief, and shattered dreams pile up like old, forgotten toys in a second-hand store. She, too, feels like a throw-away-bit-of-rubbish, but her family needs her. Certain of the one who is always with her, she invites God to lead her through the rest of the day.

Perseverance.

It’s a challenging word; a word which means “continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition” (Merriam-Webster).

I'd hoped God would reveal something lovely like peace, faith, or love. Those words were beautiful. Inviting. Soothing.Instead, the Lord gave me perseverance.If I'm honest, I don't like the idea of… Click To Tweet

When I began praying about my new word for 2020, I’d hoped God would reveal something lovely like peace, faith, or love. Those words are beautiful. Inviting. Soothing.

Instead, the Lord gave me perseverance. Slow to accept the word, He presented it through faith-related articles and books. Finally, while beginning a personal study on the book of James, I read this passage:

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. (James 1:2-4 NIV)

If I'm honest, I don't like the idea of perseverance.I''d like things to be easier than they have been.I don't enjoy trials, but I must grow up.#onbeingchildish#growingup#choosingjoy. Click To Tweet

If I’m honest, I don’t like the idea of perseverance. I’d like things to be easier than they have been. I want to run up mountain trails-not trudge. I long for my body to dance and spin with sprightly ease-not ache muscle deep. I want to recapture youthful dreams and watch them blossom into reality-not drift away with time.

Perhaps you do, too.

On Being Childish, Growing Up, and Choosing Joy

I don’t enjoy trials and the Father knows that in some ways I prefer to remain childish, but I long for more of Him every day. His personhood. His gifts. His blessings. I want to become more like Jesus; shedding the old, tattered bits of me and putting on the newness of Christ. I must grow up.

Perseverance.

I am choosing joy because perseverance isn't something I must acquire in my own strength. Instead, I can rely upon God.#equipped#endurance#patience. Click To Tweet

The last decade was one rife with trials and I almost dread being called to a year of perseverance. But, because the Father exhorts me to consider it pure joy I am choosing joy because perseverance isn’t something I must acquire in my own strength.

  • Instead, I can rely upon God. He is the one who equips each of us to persevere. Scripture reminds us:

We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience…         (Colossians 1:9-11 NIV)

Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us,  set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come. (2 Corinthians 1:21-22 NIV)

  • We can trust that God notices our trials.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 NIV)

I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day—and not only to me but also to all who have longed for his appearing. (2 Timothy 4:7-8)

  • We can look to our Lord and Savior, “the firstborn among many brothers and sisters” (Romans 8:29) as our example.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer, and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. (Hebrews 12:1-3)

Christ persevered even to the point of death on the cross. Surely, I can persevere one year to give Him glory.Three hundred sixty-five days to share His love with others.#oneword#NewYearsresolutions#@tammykennington. Click To Tweet

Christ persevered even to the point of death on the cross. Surely, I can persevere one year to give Him glory. Three hundred sixty-five days to share His love with others. Twelve unused calendar pages to offer the Father a sacrifice of perseverance “through my continued effort to do or achieve something for His glory despite difficulties, failure, or opposition by the power of the Holy Spirit in accordance with His will” (adapted definition).

I’m praying you will choose joy as you persevere in the faith this year, friend.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link-up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup,best-of-the-weekend Fresh Market Fridays

My stress for His best.My worries for freedom.My concerns for surrender.My delusions of control for comfort in His holy goodness. (1).png

The pitch and volume of voices seem more pronounced. I shush my son, and my husband’s brows knit together.

“He wasn’t being loud,” Dave says.

I mumble an apology, the fluttering in my chest like a butterfly trapped in a net waiting for release. This intrepid anxiety seems to have coincided neatly with the arrival of the Christmas season and I begin thinking of the ways Christ would have me release my burdens and exchange them.

My stress for His best.

My worries for freedom.

My concerns for surrender.

Do you long for more of Christ in the midst of the rush?. Click To Tweet

My delusions of control for comfort in His holy goodness.

Are you, too, someone who struggles with anxious thoughts during what has become the busiest of seasons? Do you long for more of Christ in the midst of the rush?

Keep reading to discover two simple ways to discover peace in His presence.

 Avoid Excuses

While dining with a group of Pharisees, one man said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.” A storyteller, Jesus responded by sharing the Parable of the Great Feast in which several people were invited to a great banquet. (Luke 14:15-25)

During that time, feasts were announced far in advance. It was dishonorable not to attend. But, when the time came for the grand party one guest after the other offered a frail excuse. There was no time in his schedule to include the master.

In response, the wealthy man charged his servant with the task of inviting the crippled, blind, and the lame to his table. Still, there was more room in the fine hall. Once again, the servant went to the far edges of the country to gather even more people—those who were outcasts. Perhaps even those who had never heard of the master’s name.

A handful of social outcasts stood in the fields guarding their sheep.. Click To Tweet

Thirty-three years before Jesus dined at the table of the Pharisee, a handful of social outcasts stood in the fields guarding their sheep. It was a night that seemed like any other until they were encased in light; shuddering in fear as one of God’s angels delivered the long-awaited message that the Messiah had been born.

They didn't offer an excuse; instead, they sought the Savior.. Click To Tweet

How fitting that the heavenly announcement was given to shepherds—men who could understand the heart of the Great Shepherd. They didn’t offer an excuse; instead, they sought the Savior—the first to believe.

Accept the Invitation

After receiving heaven’s holy birth announcement, a vast choir filled the sky, “Glory to God in the highest heaven, and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.” (Luke 14:14)

The angels seemed to disappear as quickly as they’d arrived, the shepherds stared at one another briefly. Then, craggy faces breaking into grins, one spoke, “We must hurry.” Dousing the meager fire that had been keeping them warm, the men almost ran to Bethlehem. In a small town, it wasn’t difficult to find a child.

Like the shepherds, we’re invited into Christ’s presence. We are the people of whom the master spoke when he said: “invite those from the far edges of the country”.

Why do I wait when I know that if I accept the invitation into His presence I'll receive the peace in promised?. Click To Tweet

Often, I RSVP too late. Waiting until the last moment to respond to a party invitation because I feel pressured to “do just one more thing”. But, how I long for more of Christ. Why do I wait when I know that if I accept the invitation into His presence I’ll receive the peace He promised in John 14:27? “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.”

He's waiting for us to join the banquet. Click To Tweet

Let’s accept the invitation today, friend. He’s waiting for us to join the banquet.

 

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link-up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and MicheleKingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup,best-of-the-weekend Fresh Market Fridays

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Bookshelf

Come and Behold Him.jpeg

Come and Behold Him, a lovely Christmas devotional by Julie Lavender and Michelle Cox, was the perfect read to direct my thoughts heavenward as we enter the season.

It’s sweet, worshipful approach toward Christmas helps eliminate stress and reminds the reader of the One in whom the meaning of the celebration resides. While each devotion was meaningful as part of a personal study, young mother’s or grandmother’s with littles might enjoy reading each devotion and adapting each follow-up activity with their cherubs.

Come and Behold Him is certainly one book I’ll plan to read with my teens next year as part of family devotions as we prepare our hearts for Christmas.

I highly recommend it as for family, friends, and personal use. Thank you, Julie and Michelle, for penning this beautiful little book!

 

UnexplainableJesus.jpg

While I’ve read the gospel of Luke many times, Bible teacher Erica Wiggenhorn led me deep into the culture during her 8-Week study, Unexplainable Jesus-Rediscovering the God You Thought You Knew. Several times, I was surprised, taken aback, or amazed by a new realization or fresh understanding of an illustration or experience Luke wrote about.

This was my favorite Bible study of the year and I can’t wait to start the next one. The difficulty lies in making a choice.

 

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_Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you, he will never let the righteous be shaken._

We gathered beneath the morning sun, its shimmering light deceptive in the early autumn chill. Huddling beneath a makeshift shelter, November nipped at fingers as each woman considered the small rock nestled in her hands.

Determined, I scrawled the words across the face of my rock. A particular burden I knew He was calling me to surrender. Give to Him. How many times must I release this to you, Lord, before I leave it at your feet?

Moving to the place where sand and sea meet, I dipped my head in prayer. I believe, Father. Help my unbelief.

Moving to the place where sand and sea meet, I dipped my head in prayer. I believe, Father. Help my unbelief. Then, drawing my arm back, I released the burden–etched in stone–into the depths of the ocean.

I allowed thee solemnity of the moment to penetrate deep. It was impossible to gather that deeply held burden to myself. I couldn’t recapture it. It was lost to me in the depths of an ocean vast and mysterious. Beyond comprehension. Powerful and peaceful.

the one who bore the cross longs for us heave our peace-stealing, joy-depleting cares at His feet.

Joy fluttered in my chest like a bird rising in the air. Hope released fresh in my spirit as I considered what He has done and what is yet to come.

Returning to the gathering place, I noticed other women dotting the shoreline. Some knelt along the ocean’s edge, seafoam lapping at their knees. Others raised arms toward heaven as if celebrating newfound freedom or delighting in a promise shared between Father and daughter.

Eventually, we all met beneath the flapping wings of the beach tent–our church building this beautiful Sunday. Some faces wore expressions of relief. Others joy, anticipation, or triumph.

Stepping forward, one woman spoke.

“I threw my rock into the water, but I didn’t think it went deep enough. I ran out and picked my burden up again. Isn’t that exactly what we do? We give Jesus our burdens and then take them back.”

I imagined my rock. The words I’d written.  How many times must I surrender this to you, Lord, before I leave it at your feet?

Oh, yes. How often have I released this care to Christ only to gather it close to my heart again? Do you, too, scoop up your burdens once you’ve entrusted them to Jesus? Are we releasing our fears, worries, and concerns…but only a certain distance. Then, if He lets us down, doesn’t come through, or fails to arrange circumstances to our liking we can charge ahead and pluck the precious care from His grasp.

Psalm 55:22 reads, “Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you, he will never let the righteous be shaken.”

The one who bore the cross longs for us heave our peace-stealing, joy-depleting cares at His feet.

Cast means to “throw forcefully”. Scripture exhorts us to forcefully throw off those burdens that weigh us down. They are too great for us to bear and because of His great love, the one who bore the cross longs for us heave our peace-stealing, joy-depleting cares at His feet.

There is such comfort in the words…” he will sustain you.” We can only fret, worry, or pray over our cares. Sometimes, we can take steps to help manage them, but ultimately we are not in control.

But, God.

God is our support. He alone is capable of meeting our needs and answering the cries of the heart. He alone left heaven to deliver hope and suffered satan’s sting to provide redemption. This is the same God who promises to sustain us regardless of life’s concerns.

Pick up your rock, friend. Write your burden down. Now, throw.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

Mondays   InstaEncouragementsAnita Ojeda, Mandy and Michele, Kingdom Bloggers,

Tuesdays RaRa Linkup /GraceFull Tuesday / Tell His Story/Anchored Abode,

Wednesdays   Worth Beyond RubiesRecharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/Porch Stories

Thursdays Heart Encouragement  /  Tune In Thursday  /Salt and Light /  Five Minute Friday

Friday Counting My Blessings, Faith on Fire, Blogger Voices Network, Grace and Truth Linkup,best-of-the-weekend

FriendshipFriday, 

 

 

 

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