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My son’s pint-sized body huddled beneath the bed covers as if the thin cotton cover could shield him from any enemy. Since his father had deployed to Afghanistan, Seth’s fear had transformed into something destructive. An ever-growing-never-contained-despair rooted in the darkest anxiety.

The merest whisper of sound in the deep of the night trigged a near-panic response. Every stranger striding across the neighborhood’s suburban sidewalk? A possible adversary. My sweet boy was immersed in a world of imagined threats: kidnappings, fire, never-ending darkness.

Oh. My. Heart.

Despite his past experiences and regardless of my reassurances, Seth was convinced. Surely unknown, unseen enemies lurked beneath the child-sized bed along with half-assembled Lego sets and miniature race cars.

My words seemed not to penetrate. To reach the core of my child’s fear.

Trust me. I’ll take care of you. Don’t be afraid.

The Israelites carried that same inconsolable, impenetrable fear through the desert thousands of years ago. Having been plucked from slavery and delivered safely through standing walls of water, an entire people stood overlooking the bounty and beauty of a land God had promised them.

At the Father’s instruction, twelve leading men were commissioned to explore the uncharted land of Canaan–to survey its cities,  peruse its people and weigh its wealth.

This land belonged to Israel in the same way that Israel belonged to the Father. It was gift-wrapped; held  in the open palm of the Father’s hand like a cluster of grapes hanging heavy in expectation of the harvest.

Trust me. I’ll take care of you. Don’t be afraid.

Ignoring the certainty of their circumstances, God’s children allowed fear to dictate their decisions.

Huddling behind logic, the Israelites discounted Yahweh’s words, “Canaan [is] the land I am giving to the Israelites.” Numbers 13:2

He must not understand the presence. The power. The prowess of these people.

Hiding behind half-truths, the Chosen focus on fear until it rises a behemoth–ever greater, sending tentacles of untruth snaking through every tribe and leaving His men and women in mass hysteria.

Begging to return to bondage. Bad-mouthing their rescuers. Blind to their belief.

I see my face in the crowd. I’ve been that woman. The one for whom the imagined giants of Crisis and Complication ascend larger than any of His promises. Despite the Father’s faithfulness, I allow fear to command my choices and master my mind.

But, I long to be the Caleb in the crowd. Don’t you?

In opposition to a near-rebellion, Caleb admonishes, “Let’s go and take up the land–now. We can do it.” (Numbers 13:30 MSG)

Caleb doesn’t hesitate. There is no quavering in his voice nor quaking of the knees. Caleb knows his God and, grabbing hold of holy confidence, girds himself to join God on the journey.

I want to be the woman exhorting and encouraging, “Trust Him. He’ll take care of us. Don’t be afraid.”

Friend, fear only maintains power when we give it permission. But, when we grab hold of holy confidence and rely on Him for strength, our giants are reduced to rubble and we can move forward into the land of promise. Click To Tweet

In His grace and peace,                                                      Tammy

Action Step: Step out of fear and into the promises God has for you today. Download and complete this printable and use it to prompt you to remember His faithfulness when your spiritual knees are knocking. Click to access this resource. Fearnot

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I know that you can do all things- no purpose of yours can be thwarted.

It’s been a year of quiet and I’m reminded of the calm that hovers over the earth after the winds of a mid-summer hurricane. I heave a deep spirit-sigh, breathing out stored up soul poison; releasing fear and bitterness. God-directed anger and doubt. I inhale God’s truth scribed by man, but formed by the mind of I Am.

I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.

My heart responds in rhythmic worship. Thank you, Lord. I believe.

Yet, a few years ago the howling winds sent me reeling. Loosing me in dark storms of despair, hopelessness, and helplessness. I questioned the Maker. Why, how, and when cluttered my heart and left little room for praise.

One evening, overwhelmed by the struggle, I knelt in prayer and begged God for the slightest hope of restoration. In that moment, His presence grew thick around me like a blanket just pulled from the warmth of a dryer. Comforted, my weeping slowed and then stopped.

I will restore the years the locusts have eaten.

The words weren’t audible, but my spirit understood. He saw me.

In that moment, my faith was forever altered. I surrendered the pain. Surrendered the broken bits of my heart. Surrendered those I most loved into His care. Surrendered the woman I’d been for the one He was re-shaping to more clearly reflect His redemption, restoration, and reformation.

Opening arms wide to receive the fullness of grace, I cried out for more and waited expectantly. There were no sudden changes in the converging of difficult circumstances, great revelations of knowledge, or immediate answers to pray. But, God was working in the midst all along.

Through the challenge of it all, I thought often of Job–a man whose suffering is renowned. Everything Job ever esteemed or cared about was ripped from his life. Beloved children. Prosperity. Health. Until finally, Job sits in a pile of ashes, scraping boils from his flesh with sharp-edged pottery as his wife mocks his faith.

Job’s circumstances aren’t mine, but I do understand what it is to lose hope. To live with heartache and sadness. To question Him.

Why? When? How?

In the midst of those recent, painful years, I looked to Job for encouragement. While my faith danced on the edge of a thread, the man called ‘blameless’ turned from his overwhelming reality to humble submission and his relationship with the Father stretched larger than Job’s restored fortune.

Then Job replied to the LORD: I know that you can do all things; no purpose of yours can be thwarted. (Job 42:1)

You, too, may be living Job moments. If so, I’m truly sorry for your hurt and struggle, Friend. My own experience has taught me that God is in the business of restoration.

Won’t you surrender your brokenness to Him today?

You may not know why. 

When may seem too long.

How may be unexpected.

But, our Who is greater than all of it and He is faithful to His children, true to His promises, and with you from beginning to end.

 

Spiritual Strategy to Help Navigate Through Job Moments

  1. Stop asking ‘why’, ‘when’, and ‘how’. You and I will likely never know the answers this side of heaven. This fallen world lends itself to heartache, but God is actively restoring now and will one day restore all.
  2. Turn to God when the enemy slings his fiery arrows your direction. Our emotions, doubts, and pain have a way of narrowing our perception and threatening that which we know to be true. Copy favorite Bible verses on notecards and hang them around your house where you’ll see them frequently (i.e. bathroom mirrors, refrigerator, etc.)
  3. Pray with expectation. Keep a journal of prayer requests and mark off those God has answered. This practice will remind us of His faithfulness.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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He has empowered us to release that which binds us.One thing. That was all that stood between the young man and his goal–eternal life. He sensed it. He knew there was more than earth and sky, heart and flesh, sorrow and pleasure. From childhood, he’d recited the Law and held to the traditions of his people.

But, rote prayers and methodical religiosity left him as empty as a cistern in a time of drought and the man wondered if he’d ever discover a life-giving well that might sate his spiritual thirst for something more than dry tradition and impossible standards. He’d worked earnestly since childhood—striving to be good enough. No lying. No cheating. No murder.

 Still…the ache for a taste of forever. For unmarred perfection. For heart satisfaction.

And something, or perhaps Someone, pricked at his soul. Ask. Seek. Knock.

The world, though, had been a place of solace despite the elusive inner ache and the man reminded himself of his good fortune. Didn’t he own fine homes? Possess old money? Demand the sort of respect and deference afforded a man of power and influence?

How disappointing to hear the Rabbi’s words, “One thing you lack.”

Glancing from Jesus to his disciples, the young man’s mouth might have been shaped in an “o” of surprise. How can I lack for anything? I hold devoutly to the commands of the Torah . Servants bend their will to mine and I have enough riches for the rest of my days.

Why must the Teacher make such a request?  “Give all your wealth to the poor and follow me.

But, the man “was holding on tight to many things and wasn’t about to let go”. Crestfallen, he turned away from Jesus, unwilling to give the one thing Jesus wanted. Himself. His heart, mind, and soul. Not just pennies in the offering plate or a few self-righteously lived moments marked off on a mental score board. Not a token sacrifice of time spent reading scripture or a prayer recited in a desperate moment.

Jesus asked the man to loosen his grip on that which kept them from knowing one another, devotion to something else. Devotion to wealth. Position. Comfort. Earthly security.

Though it grieved the young ruler, he held fast and chose the comfort of now in favor of the promise of a beautiful, forever-love. The man was unwillingly to exchange the vanishing riches of earth for the unmatchable mercy and grace of One who would momentarily die for his sins.

How many of us are like the rich young ruler—clutching that one thing? Holding it fast as if our life depends upon it?

We may have even professed our faith, but might be missing out on fully living in relationship with Christ as we grip that one thing to our hearts. Loving it. Elevating it to a place of prominence. Not willing to entrust it to Him.

Perhaps some us struggle with attachment to possessions, but there are hundreds of little gods that might thrust themselves into our relationship with Christ…a woman-made relationship barrier.

Bitterness. Unforgiveness. Discontentment.

Worry. Fear. A difficult past.

Is that one thing in your life or mine leaving our hearts parched? Needing to be washed afresh with Living Water?

Oh, dear one, may He gently reveal any lack in our lives and empower us to release whatever binds us to the earthly that we might turn our hearts fully toward heaven’s  Promise.

Blessings,       

Tammy

 

Scripture for Reflection

And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 18 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.’” 20 And he said to him, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” 21 And Jesus, looking at him, loved him, and said to him, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.”  (Mark 10:17-31 ESV)

 

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If you’ve ever found yourself doubting God’s goodness or wondering if your faith can withstand the hard of your circumstances, then I hope you’ll find some encouragement today.

I understand, Friend. Just a few years ago, I grappled with my faith. Fought and wrestled with God about the overwhelming, painful reality of all that was beyond difficult. Mine was a faith at risk of being abandoned.

For close to three years, I alternated between fighting for and against my faith. The beliefs I’d held since girlhood stood withered and emaciated beneath the scorching heat of personal trial and all that came with it. Anger. Grief. Disillusionment. Doubt.

You may be in that place now. Your soul may feel as though it’s bleeding and if that’s the case, dear Friend, let me encourage you to do battle to remain in Truth. It may take times of wrestling in the dirt before you rise up–your faith strengthened and doubts replaced with hope.

I hope the following video brings encouragement as you walk through the hard of your journey.

 

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Never be afraid to trust an unknown future to a known God.

The four men encouraged their friend, “We’ve heard of his miracles—healing you will be a simple task.”  Resolute, they hoisted their companion and his bedroll onto their shoulders.  Navigating the crowded streets of Judea without dropping the bundle became increasingly difficult as they neared the house.  Men, women, and children; rich and poor; religious leaders and rebels pushed and prodded to gain access to the one called Rabbi.  There was no more room and no way to get any nearer.

Unless….well, it was a long-shot.  Without hesitation, the men gathered the mat and its contents, maneuvered up the stairs to the roof, and with bare hands ripped each tile from its place.  Finally, they glimpsed him below—there, in the midst of the crowd, preaching.  Would he resent their boldness?  Grow angry at the desperate need of their friend?  Glancing nervously at one another, they slowly lowered the bedroll and the man lying upon it at Jesus’ feet.

Undisturbed by the interruption, Jesus glanced upward and then at the weeping, paralyzed man. “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.”

Like the paralyzed man and his friends, Jesus calls us to live a life of faith.  We can go boldly before Him, lay our “mat” at his feet, and rest in the knowledge that He will meet our needs.

May we have the faith to come before Him today–expecting to walk away changed.

Scripture for Reflection-“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home. He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all.”   Mark 2:11-12

Action Step-Make a list of three concerns or struggles you are managing today.  Pray about them and give them to God–all day long. Consider including the following Bible verse as part of your prayers, but inserting your name in place of the pronouns my and your instead.

And my ( ____________’s) God will meet all your ( _______________’s) needs according to the riches of his glory in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:19 (NIV)

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This is a Christian–one who dares to act as if God tells the truth.”  –Pastor Mark Bates

Faith means being sure of the things we hope for and knowing that something is real even if we do not see it.

His life reads like a Hollywood movie–the culmination of an out-of-wedlock pregnancy, forced to seek refuge in a distant land, and then offering his life in place of the soldiers who pierced his hands and feet…suffering for the sins of those who pressed a crown of thorns on his head…pronouncing words of forgiveness to a discarded, frightened man bearing the shame of Golgotha.

But, this is not a child’s fairy tale or a superstitious myth dreamed up to explain the unexplainable.  This is Biblical truth; the great love story of God rescuing His people from that great enemy, Sin. The beautiful giving of His life for those willing to risk belief.

Yet the world threatens to overcome…to overwhelm…to overpower belief.

A young man just beginning to live takes his own life–desperate for relief from consuming depression, a child’s small bones ache from arthritis, a next-door neighbor submits to another round of chemo and hopes she’ll have enough energy to play with her children tomorrow.

But there is a story much bigger than our smaller stories–these lives of struggle and prayer, tears and hope.  It is His story–one recorded for us–that tells of the Lion and the Lamb…the Beginning and the End….the Resurrection and the Life.

And while the world threatens, He promises to give abundant life (John 10:10)

…to provide freedom (John 8:36)

…and to love us with an everlasting love (Jer. 31:3).

I dare to believe–to act as if what God says is true. Won’t you? Let us encourage one another to hold to our faith, dear Friend, even when we doubt.

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Summer Giveaway! (1)https://tammykennington.wordpress.com/

My God-sized dream is to meet with you here and to make a small difference in your life and the lives of others through simple, authentic words splashed across a screen. When I write? I pray for you. I want to lessen your heavy load and celebrate your special moments.

I want to dive deep into the places of our lives and hearts that most call out for mercy and mending, encouragement and hope. Into those quiet corners tucked behind the everything-is-great-all-of-the-time church smile. Below the easy response of I’m fine to the truth of each woman’s life–the joys, the struggles and everything in between.

As I map out the next few months, I’d like to ask for your input. What topic would you like to explore? How can I come alongside you?

Would you respond in the comment section and let me know if any of the following areas strike a chord? If not, what other heart journey should venture into together?

To be entered in a GIVEAWAY for this beautiful dragonfly necklace just do these two things.

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1) vote for your favorite topic or series in the comment section below

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2) share this post with a friend who might want to be part of the giveaway. You’ll get an additional entry for each friend who joins us for the GIVEAWAY. 

Topics I’m thinking about might include:

  • Steps of Obedience
  • 16 Days–Who Does God Say that I Am?
  • Walking In Forgiveness
  • God Can
  • Trusting God

Thank you for sharing the deep place that  resonates with your heart.

Warm Regards,

Tammy

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Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.The words slipped from her lips–tender and free of accusation.  “In a group this size, I’m sure there are women who have experienced the pain of abortion. Lord, let those women know you love them.”

Sobbing erupted near the front of the auditorium and I scanned the rows of chairs until my eyes lit upon a woman with long, dark hair in the first row. Her shoulders shaking, she beckoned to the speaker. Grabbing hold of the microphone, the weeping woman stunned us with her confession. “When I was a young girl, my dad did things to me and I got pregnant.” Her body wracked by sobs, she continued. “I’ve never told anyone, but he aborted the baby.”

Burying her face in her hands, the weeping woman’s anguish spilled from her raw and vulnerable–shoulders shaking as violently as the ground during an earthquake.

Within seconds, men and women poured from the corners of the auditorium to comfort this dear one whose life had been spent silently bearing the weight of a secret too burdensome for one woman to carry alone.

Surrounding God’s daughter and with heads bent in prayer, we cried and mourned for this brave woman. And, we cared for her the way Christians are meant to do–sharing mercy…offering hope…living out Jesus’ love.

Images of the weeping woman continue to intrude in my thoughts and I wonder how many of us are holding to hurts that grow heavier day by day…year by year. My albatross? Your millstone? They may not be as burdensome as that of the weeping woman, but whatever we’re carrying it’s time to release those joy-stealers to the God who can heal all of the aching places in our hearts.

Give that wound…that memory…that hurt to Truth, friend. Jesus is the healing balm for all heartache and He promises to set us free. (John 8:32)

Leave a comment or message me on Facebook at Tammy L Kennington if you’d like someone to join you in your journey to freedom.

Blessings, Tammy

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“Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it.”.png

One of the most painful seasons of my life was ushered in the day my husband boarded the flight to a training school on the east coast. A military wife, I’d expected challenges. I’d managed years of work-ups, cross-country moves, and deployments. But this time, it seemed as if the one person I’d relied on for strength and direction was stripped from my life when I most needed him.

 Our two young teens were in full-out rebellion and another little child suffered for months as doctors and other experts struggled to determine a diagnosis. Parenting alone through unknown territory, I desperately needed assurance.

Have you been there–in the middle of hurt, heartache, or hopelessness?

While your circumstances are probably different, my guess is that you carry personal scars from your own story. Perhaps some remain open wounds–festering and seeping at the slightest provocation.

I don’t want to suggest there are simple spiritual answers. Some wounds take years to heal–but, He is able. Like the men who inhabited the land God gave the Israelites, your wound may be a giant–large enough to cast a shadow over your faith. Sometimes you might even doubt God is willing–or able–to move you from a place of pain to one of joy. From feelings of desert wandering to the relief of righteous restoration. From self-conceived-condemnation to the comfort of Abba’s eternal approval.

Those doubts? I used to entertain them.

I believed the Word. But, just in case He didn’t come through…on the off-chance His promises weren’t meant for me? I prepared for disappointment.  I lived my faith as if God were only god and the giant loomed larger than the One by whose stripes I had already been healed.

Despite my trust-you-today-but-maybe-not-tomorrow attitude, our merciful Father did the amazing. He slew my giants.

He was able.

The behemoths in my life? They are no larger than those in yours and I am convinced the Healer wants you to cross the Jordan into the land where your Goliath lives. Let’s move ahead in faith, Friends, trusting Him to conquer those places where we’ve been spirit-bruised-and-battered.

He is able.

This is our time to move through the water toward to the shore. Grab my hand–I’m coming with you.

Scripture for Reflection

“We went to the land where you sent us. It really is a land flowing with milk and honey. Here’s some of its fruit. 28 But the people who live there are strong, and the cities have walls and are very large. We even saw the descendants of Anak there. 29 The Amalekites live in the Negev. The Hittites, Jebusites, and Amorites live in the mountain region. And the Canaanites live along the coast of the Mediterranean Sea and all along the Jordan River.”

30 Caleb told the people to be quiet and listen to Moses. Caleb said, “Let’s go now and take possession of the land. We should be more than able to conquer it.”

31 But the men who had gone with him said, “We can’t attack those people! They’re too strong for us!” 32 So they began to spread lies among the Israelites about the land they had explored. They said, “The land we explored is one that devours those who live there. All the people we saw there are very tall. 33 We saw Nephilim there. (The descendants of Anak are Nephilim.) We felt as small as grasshoppers, and that’s how we must have looked to them.” Numbers 13:27-33

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One moment the car was moving smoothly along the highway and the next it was spinning like a top—uncontrolled and careening toward a snow encrusted ditch. Time slowing perceptibly; the momentum of the vehicle carried me along with it. None of my efforts to correct the out-of-control movement or soften the impact proved helpful.

Just fourteen with nothing more than a driver’s permit; I sat motionless in the vehicle—my hands tightly gripping the steering wheel. I felt as frozen as the ice that set the car into a skid.

He can turn our

The thought of continuing toward that morning’s destination caused fear to swell large and unbidden in my chest. I was stuck…stymied…trapped by my own apprehension and unwilling to resume my short trip—even if it led me closer to home.

Not long ago, I felt God calling me to press deeper into my faith. To follow Him where I’d rather not go. To invite Him into the places of my heart that most needed His tender care.

Still, I held back—almost unwilling to place those carefully guarded heart pieces at the feet of the One who could repair them. Like the teenaged girl from years ago, I clung to the steering wheel—going nowhere fast and feeling irrevocably out of control.

Could it be God is gently calling your name? Is He asking you to trust Him? To release a burden you’ve borne for too long? Does He want you to give up the bitterness over a past wound or the guilt you’ve lugged along with you year after year?

Release that burden to Him, dear friend. Don’t allow it to hamper your living any longer. Let’s choose to believe the promises we profess to know. Today—let’s live unburdened lives.

“Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” Matthew 11:28-30

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