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I cry to you, O Lord- I say, “You are my refuge, my portion in the land of the living.

We’d attended the quaint, family-oriented church for years. I’d joined Bible study groups, attended morning meetings for young mamas, and participated in Sunday school. Still, loneliness gnawed at my insides. Somehow, I just didn’t fit. One day after the traditional morning greeting, I once again watched as the women flitted from one pew to the other laughing and hugging each other while I stood awkwardly waving and smiling. I felt like the gangly little girl I’d once been-the last one to be chosen to play on the kickball or softball teams.


That afternoon, I spoke with my husband about looking for a different church. It’s terrible to feel invisible when you’re surrounded by people.


King David also experienced isolation. Having been handpicked by God, he’d slain a giant, married royalty, and had a meteoric rise to fame. Unfortunately, Saul was bent on murder. In an effort to escape, David found refuge in the cave of Abdullum along with 400 desperate men who followed him there. (1 Samuel 22)

Still, David felt alone. Unseen. Unnoticed. Was he? Was I? Are you?

The Secrets of the Cave

I’d been living in a cave. Unlike David, my cave was imperceptible. It’s walls weren’t made of limestone or located in a barren desert, but they were real. My cave was called Anxiety and Depression.

My cave was called Anxiety and Depression. Click To Tweet


Some of you may have a cave, as well. Perhaps yours is named Trial, Difficulty, Sorrow, or Illness. It could be Divorce, Trauma, or Loss. We all find ourselves stumbling into desert caves at some point. While residing in the cave often feels uncomfortable, there are some secrets we can learn from David and his time in the cave of Adullam.

While residing in the cave often feels uncomfortable, there are some secrets we can learn from David.. Click To Tweet


• Caves Make Us Better Prayer Warriors
A musician and poet, David penned Psalm 142 as well as other poems and prayers during his time in the cave. He learned to “pour out”, or spill, his heart before God and set an example for future believers. While God already knows our needs, anxieties, and troubles, he longs to communicate intimately with us.


• Caves Help Us Realize Our Condition
David was surrounded by the enemy with Saul on one side and the Philistines on the other. He saw no way of escape. But God provided a route of victory. Even when we’re confused or uncertain of our future, God clearly sees the way. He is never unsure of His plans for us.

Caves remind us that God is constant. Click To Tweet

• Caves Remind Us That God is Constant
While David felt as though nobody cared for Him, the maker of heaven and earth heard his prayers. Isn’t that incredible? God hears every cry that spills from our hearts. Oh, what blessing to be known and loved that intimately.

Caves aren't our home. Click To Tweet


• Caves Aren’t Our Home
Something comes after the cave. When God brought David out of the cave, he’d prepared him for battles, victory, and then kingship. Perhaps you, too, are being prepared for a battle. Or, perhaps your cave is the battle and afterward, you’ll experience victory. Whatever the case, the Lord will bring you out the cave with purpose, fully prepared that “[you] might give thanks to [His] name”.


Peace and grace,
Tammy

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays InstaEncouragements/ Anita Ojeda, Mandy and Michele, Kingdom Bloggers,

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

Wednesdays Worth Beyond Rubies, Recharge Wednesday / Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee

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

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Psalm 46:1

Before color kissed the sky, I awakened-already weary from a series of imagined twilight horrors. Matching the tempo of my husband’s rhythmic breathing, releasing the fear trapped inside. His arm, heavy with sleep, draped across my waist like a rope strung between a boat and its mooring.

This has become my Holy Spirit hour; a time of communing, listening, interceding, rejoicing, and weeping. Five weeks of pre-dawn wakefulness coupled with a knowing within-this is part of my calling, my equipping, my serving.

The terror of the night seeks to invade from within but loses its battle when whispered words of truth penetrate the inky space. Click To Tweet

The terror of the night seeks to invade from within but loses its battle when whispered words of truth penetrate the inky space between physical and spiritual. The enemy is shrewd, his bloodlust an open cavity for the unprepared. Palms open and eyes closed, I release the anxieties that lead my thoughts directly toward fear and utter, “Lord, help my unbelief.”

I meditate on Psalm 46, the familiar words of the Psalmist reminding me of my position. “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.”

God is my refuge. 

He is my refuge from inner turmoil. He is a refuge from the haunting memories of childhood. He is my refuge from the silent illness crafted by my own body.

He is your refuge, too. 

Only six letters, the word seems simple. Benign. And maybe I’ve just read or heard the words too often to allow them to penetrate deep. Refuge.

To the Psalmist, a refuge would have been a watchtower, a pillar of stones positioned on a hill above the fields of a town or in the mids of ripening vineyards. From his vantage point, the watchman guarded the livelihood of his people from marauders and animals scavenging for food. Gathering family to live within the safety of the fortress; the sentry stood watch-his dear ones far from threats of impending danger.

God is our refuge.

An unshakeable pillar, God who is our strength is the one to whom we can flee. In Him, we are raised to a position of strength and encircled by safety.

The refuge stands, unmoving and Almighty. Click To Tweet

The enemy may rattle his saber and destruction may batter the stronghold, but their roar is useless. The refuge stands, unmoving and Almighty. Neither the abuses of men nor the sword that pierced His side defeated the Rock and we, cradled in heaven’s watchtower, discover the love and security of our rescuer.

God is your refuge. 

Are you distressed? Brimming with worry as Death travels where it will? Has isolation brought you to the end of hope? Do you long for relief from the world’s trials? Seek Him, Friend. Move into the security of your Salvation and rest. He’ll watch over you, nourish you with His strength, and shelter you until time fades into eternity.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

P.S. I’d love to have you join me tonight as we meet to discuss and consider how to be set free from fear. I hope to see you online!

Refresh

 

 

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers-

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

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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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

 

 

 

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2-corinthians-3-18

Moonbeams give way to the bolder light of morning; shades of fuschia, mauve, and coral brightening the shadowy landscape with the promise of a new day. Change is inevitable.

Sometimes, we can see it peeking over the horizon and remain unsurprised. At other times, there is an unexpected unraveling of the known and in its stead, the doctor shares an unfavorable test result.

Last week, my family physician confirmed that I have an autoimmune disease. A chronic illness. In typical fashion, I dove into research papers, studies, and statistics. My nuclei are spattered like a modern work of art when they shouldn’t be.Some of you face similar challenges.

Perhaps your marriage relationship is teetering on the brink of divorce. A prodigal seems beyond your reach. A family member or friend has betrayed your trust…again. Maybe you’ve received a diagnosis of your own. Cancer. Multiple sclerosis. Lupus.

Growth leads to a final, determined struggle...a new creation.#hope#beauty#newness Click To Tweet

While a caterpillar is encased within its chrysalis, its growth leads to an incredible transformation until one glorious day it emerges with a final, determined struggle…a new creation.

Our bodies may malfunction, our relationships struggle, our hearts ache. But in the midst of the worst, we can choose to look to the One whose own suffering led to ultimate healing. The Redeemer of all shattered dreams, dashed hopes, and lost years is not unaware of the struggle nor is he immune to your pain. Press into Him, dear one. Allow Him to wrap you in arms of comfort and grace as His word does an eternal work in heart and mind. Pray. Trust. Believe.

One day, you and I will be gloriously and completely transformed–shaped by our response to both the good and bad circumstances in our lives.

Peace and grace,

Tammy

Today’s Verse for Reflection-And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like him as we are changed into his glorious image. (2 Corinthians 3:18)

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 LinkupFresh Market Fridays

 

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I don't know, but He does. I can't fix it, but He can. I can't rescue anyone, but He already has.

I can’t sleep. Anxiety wakes me before dawn and I feel it’s vice-like grip wrapping around my stomach, pressing hard on my chest.  Thoughts roil and spin as my pulse quickens. Bile rises in the back of my throat as one silent message after another ticks across the screen of my mind like the captions of a silent movie.

Help me, Lord!I don't utter the words aloud, but they pour from my soul thick with worry and fear.#overcomingfear#anxiety#worry Click To Tweet

Help me, Lord! I don’t utter the words aloud, but they pour from my soul thick with worry and fear.

I know I’m meant to pray and I resort to intercession for the dear ones on my heart. I can’t imagine a good outcome. How could anything worthy or beautiful come from an ugly, sin-ridden situation like this one? How can God possibly bring something beautiful from the rubble?

So I continue whispering my prayers and sending them to the heart of the Father. I’m still restless throughout the day, even preoccupied at times. But the sensation of a weight sitting on my chest is gone. In it’s place? I’m reminded again and again of His faithfulness to His children.

When Naomi lost hope, God gave her Ruth.

When Mary heard of Christ’s impending birth, God sent her to Elizabeth.

When David faced the sword of the king, He offered protection through Jonathan.

When Shadrack, Meshack, and Abendego walked through the fire, the Lord stood with them.

When the waves washed over Peter, Jesus pulled him from the depths.

When the enemy laughed because He’d thought he’d overcome, Christ rose from the grave.

I am not the only one to experience both joy and sorrow, celebration and grief, or delight and despair. Because we live in a world designed by God but polluted by the enemy, time will oscillate between glimpses of heaven and encounters with hell.

For. A. Time.

Then Christ will scoop each of His children up in the arms of eternity. The sorrow? Destroyed. The grief? Overcome. The despair? Decimated. Instead, we will only know and remember the love, mercy, and grace of the God who brought us through it all.

I long for the timelessness of all that is good and beautiful, don’t you? In the meantime, our wrestling with worry, anxiety and fear can take a back seat to the faithfulness of God.

If He extended grace before the cross, what will He do for you now? You are safe beneath His wings.#loved#treasured#saved. Click To Tweet

If He extended grace before the cross, what will He do for you now? Oh, Friend, you are safe beneath His wings.

Perhaps you’re struggling this week in the same way I have. Why not recite these words of hope as a proclamation of God’s love for you. Complete the __________ with your name as a reminder that you are beloved by Him.

When _______________ lost hope, God gave her Jesus.

When ________________ knew of impending trials or accusations, God sent her Jesus.

When ________________ faced the sword of the king, He offered protection through Jesus.

When ________________ walked through the fire, the Lord stood with her.

When the waves washed over _________________, Jesus pulled her from the depths.

When the enemy laughed because He’d thought he’d overcome __________________ , Christ rose from the grave.

Then, print off this list of verses to pray over and recite when the enemy comes at you with fear and anxiety. You can print them here.

10 Bible Verses to Help You When You Fear the Future (1)

Peace and grace,

Tammy

I often link up with the following wonderful bloggers:

Mondays  Sunday Thoughts / InstaEncouragements/ Anita Ojeda Mandy and Michele

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

Wednesdays   Recharge Wednesday Welcome Wednesday /LetsHave Coffee/ Porch Stories

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

Fridays Dance With Jesus / Faith N Friends / Fresh Market Friday / Grace and Truth / Faith on Fire / Blogger Voices Network/

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Choose to believe He is faithful.

Delicately crafted cards line the aisles of every Hallmark store and images of women smiling wide as their children present them with breakfast flash across the grey screens in living room corners. There is joy in the celebration of mothering and don’t we all yearn to be loved so beautifully?

But for some, Mother’s Day is like the scratching of a tree branch across an aging windowpane: a needle-tipped reminder of the celebrations you once knew or the celebrations you longed to experience. A perceptible poking and pricking at heart-wounds old or new.

This may be the first season of your life without your own mother and you long to hear her laugh or ask her about living life well. How did you do it? I miss you. 

Perhaps this is the holiday that pains you because you never felt enough, became enough, proved enough.  And your mother? The woman you emulated? She handed those messages to you wrapped in critical words and disdainful glances.

Or, like the others before it, this holiday sits like a broken promise–dreams turned to dust before your eyes. The mother you needed was unavailable. Inaccessible. Unaware. Still, you carry the child you were in your heart and hope that one day someone will fill that empty longing in the way you wish your mother had done.

For some, Mother’s Day is a lonely salute to infertility, a memorial to the dreams you had for your prodigal or the child who took his own life. One more year of unfair circumstances. Unanswered prayers. Unsolvable situations.

If you are one of the hurting ones, can I tell you how sorry I am? I am sorry for the pain. The loss. The grief. I’m sorry you feel alone, unnoticed, or unloved.

Sweet friend, whether this Mother’s Day is one of resignation or celebration, distress or delight–would you allow me to encourage you?

Your heavenly Father is more than able to fill the empty spaces. He longs to embrace you in unmatched, unimaginable love. To invite you deeper into His mercy. His beauty. His abundance. And there? You’ll discover overflowing blessings that quench the needs of your soul.

For now, each of us must choose.

Choose gratitude for the mother whose life was spent loving her children.

Choose forgiveness for the mother who failed to love well.

Choose to trust Him when arms are empty and the pleasure of mothering has been stolen.

Choose to believe He is faithful. And as we move from earth’s shadow into heaven’s light, we’ll discover the fullness of being loved (and loving others) beautifully.

Blessings,

Tammy

   

              

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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It’s that vacuous, indefinable place between here and there when—like Dante—you awaken near the edge of a dark valley. The valley yawns wide…deep…threatening and you squint your eyes searching for even the dimmest light beckoning in a direction—any direction.

But, fear prohibits the slightest movement. What lies ahead? Maybe it’s safer to remain on the precipice of the Unknown rather to wander aimlessly.

Googleimages.com

cliff

 

 

My limbo? It became reality five years ago when my husband deployed to the dusty, foreign lands of Afghanistan. One morning, we were laughing together over coffee and the next Dave was gone. For ten months, his place at the table remained empty and my heart was filled with fear…grief…anxiety.

For some, this prolonged state of uncertainty might come on the heels of a divorce. It may have been realized when the doctor uttered the word, “Cancer” or the day you finally admitted your child struggles with depression. There are hundreds of entry points into Nowhere—financial struggles, abuse, job changes, death of a loved one.

But limbo?   It’s a counterfeit imitation of hell meant to interrupt joy, dispel hope, and distract away from the beauty of living. I’m not saying limbo is always avoidable.  We may need to experience it for a time. I’m not denying we’ll all deal with the difficult and feel lost sometimes.

I am suggesting we seize that evasive, empty place and fill it with whatever is true before limbo is the habit and living disappears.

Instead of dwelling in the dissatisfaction of Nothingness, we can choose Something.

How?

We remain in the present—in the moment. Worry robs us of the time we might enjoy today because our focus has shifted to the what-ifs of tomorrow. Mindfulness opens us up to hope and possibility.

Matthew 6:34 exhorts, “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”

I encourage you, dear friend, to take a step…move ahead. Your refuge is in the Rock—not on the edge of one.

 

 

 

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