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Archive | Trials and difficulties

5 Things to Do When You Feel Discouraged

When was the last time you felt discouraged? Maybe it’s today. Perhaps you face difficult circumstances or everything just seems to be going wrong. You don’t have to give in to discouragement.

The Apostle Paul had plenty of reason to be discouraged. Daily, he endured hardship, danger, pain, suffering, and uncertainty. More than once he looked death in the face. Yet he claimed to not only be content and at peace in any and every circumstance, Paul even rejoiced!

No matter the concern or difficult situation, Paul was at peace. Whether fed or hungry, he was content. Whether in need or in plenty, he was satisfied. In every event and every season, Paul chose to rejoice. Seems impossible, doesn’t it? What was Paul’s secret?

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. 

I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you were concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength. Philippians 4:4-13

Paul purposefully developed an active trust and confident dependence on Christ’s provision and power. Paul took every small need, big need, and in-between need to God in prayer. Peace filled Paul because he chose to trust that God would provide. He did not allow his mind to dwell on the “what ifs.”

Paul experienced contentment in every difficult circumstance or physical need by relying on the strengthening power of Christ working within him. He found total sufficiency in trusting Jesus. And Paul could rejoice because he depended on God’s gracious provision.

We can also experience peace, contentment, and joy when we follow Paul’s example. Here are a few practical tips to get us started:

  1. Take every concern and need to God in prayer.
  2. Choose to trust Him with the answer.
  3. Discipline our thoughts. Focus on God’s provision and not the “what ifs.”
  4. Ask Jesus to strengthen us in times of discontentment. Then rely on His strength.
  5. Choose joy over discouragement.

Bury these marvelous truths in your heart, then share them with others. Jesus is far greater than our need. His power mightily overshadows our discouragement.

What one thing discourages you the most today? What truth from God’s Word today speaks encouragement to you?

 

 

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How Humility In Your Time of Need Changes Everything

A big thank you to today’s guest Tricia Goyer! If you want to hear more about how Tricia walks out her faith in every day life – and how you can too! – check out her soon-to-be-released book “Walk It Out.

Walk it outThe other day I was cooking dinner when my six-year-old son rushed into the kitchen.

Beads of sweat slid down his red face. “I’m so hot. You never get me anything to drink.”

I stirred my spaghetti sauce with one hand as I turned to him. “Excuse me?”

His voice rose in a full, high-pitched whine. “You never give me anything to drink!” He waved his hands and dropped to the floor.

I took in a breath and then released it, telling myself to keep my voice steady, calm. “I’d be happy to get you a drink. I just need you to ask.”

He kicked his foot against the floor. “But I want a drink now!”

“I know you do.” I peered down at him. “And as soon as you ask the right way I’m happy to get some some ice cold water.”

And then my son stood, smiled up at me and asked so sweetly for a drink of water … NOT!

Instead, he whined and fussed more. Finally, I asked him to leave the kitchen.

You know what? He never did ask. In fact, he didn’t get anything to drink until fifteen minutes later when we were sitting down to dinner. He was so bent on complaining and whining—in feeding his discontent—he didn’t want to release his control in order to ask me for help. I would have gladly given him the drink he requested if only he asked in the right away.

Feeding Our Discontent

I wish I could say this is just a little kid issue, but I’ve been there myself. During my teen years I lived in that storm of discontent. I complained when things didn’t go my way. I worried. I fretted. I fought.

I even took matters into my own hands when I found myself facing an unplanned pregnancy at age 15. My own fears and worries led me to a choice I now regret—I had an abortion.

It wasn’t until years later, at age 17 when I was pregnant again, that things took a turn for the better. It’s then I humbled myself and turned to God. By this point I realized the whining, complaining, and acting out wasn’t getting me what I wanted or needed.

At six months along, I wrapped my arms around my growing stomach and prayed, “Lord, if you can do anything with my life, please do.”

God showed up big time. He not only gave me Himself (which is the best!), He has also led me on a journey where radical, and wonderful things, have happened. This has included marrying a wonderful Christian man, having two more kids, starting a crisis pregnancy center, mentoring teen moms, adopting seven more children, and writing over 70 books!

It Starts with Humility

God didn’t just offer me a cup of cool water when I asked. He opened the floodgates of blessing. But it took me humbling myself and seeking Jesus to meet my needs.

This reminds me of a Scripture I was reading just this morning, “I called on your name, LORD, from the depths of the pit. You heard my plea: ‘Do not close your ears to my cry for relief.’ You came near when I called you, and you said, ‘Do not fear.’ You, Lord, took up my case; you redeemed my life,” Lamentations 5:55-58.

Mumbling, complaining and griping are easy, but they rob us of having our greatest needs met. Yet when we humble ourselves and turn to God, things will change for the better.

When we call to the Lord, He hears us. When we turn to Him, He comes. When we call to Him, He reminds us that He is present and we have no reason to fear. When we place our needs in His court, Jesus redeems our life.

It took a lot to humble me as a teen—two unplanned pregnancies in fact. Yet I’m thankful that I learned back then that when I turn to God He will meet my needs. He will meet them in more wonderful ways than I ever expected.

You can read more about how God can show up radically in your life in the book Walk It Out: The Radical Result of Living God’s Word One Step at a Time (http://amzn.to/2wi1Cwi). If you pre-order Walk It Out before October 1, you’ll also receive 30 Days of Prayer as You Walk It Out FREE! Details here: http://www.triciagoyer.com/walk-it-out/

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Is God Still Good in Loss?

God is goodFor the last week, I’ve been glued to the news and “praying without ceasing.” Since we just moved to the Dallas area from Houston in June, the area and the people are near to our hearts. We have been worried about neighbors, friends, and church family. Some have suffered loss of property, while others’ homes have escaped the flood waters. Some may be thinking God is good. Others, not so much.

Where is God in all of this? Has He been good to some but withheld His help from others? We are so quick to say “God is good” when things go the way we want. When we get the job. When the sick child is healed. When the water recedes. But do we still praise Him, do we still believe God is good when the flood waters rise?

The Bible teaches us that our circumstances do not dictate or define God’s goodness. God’s character dictates His goodness. God is good all the time. No matter the circumstances. God’s goodness does not depend on a dry house. A flooded home does not mean God has not been good to us. In fact, a flooded home could be an opportunity for God to demonstrate His power and grace in your life in a dramatic way.

Truths about the Goodness of God

So what? Let’s start with a correct understanding of God’s goodness. Here are a few truths from Scripture to help us:

  • God’s will for our lives is always good (Romans 12:2). Sometimes – in fact, often – His will includes trials and difficulty that He uses for our spiritual refinement.
  • In all things, in all circumstances, our good God is working for our good. “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
  • The assurance of God’s goodness enables us to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18) and to declare in easy times and hard times, “God is good!”

God is Good Even if Our Circumstances Aren’t

Whether our physical circumstances are easy or difficult, how should these truths impact our daily lives? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Remember that God is good all the time. Not just when things are going the way we think they should.
  • Thank Him for His goodness and provision in every life situation.
  • Be sensitive to those around you who are facing difficult and painful circumstances. Don’t flaunt your “better” circumstances.
  • Declare His goodness in every circumstance, particularly in the hard times. Watch for His provision.
  • Lean on His strength and grace in the midst of overwhelming circumstances. His power working in you will testify of His greatness to others.
  • Remember that He can work in your pain and loss to bring glory to Himself.

God is indeed good all the time. He sees your every need and He cares. Lean on Him in every circumstance – good or bad. If you are able, be God’s tool to help someone else.

If your circumstances are “bad” right now, how have you seen God working in the midst of them?

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Specific Prayers for Texas Flooding

Prayers

Photo courtesy of Karen Jordan

I’m glued to the news and weather, watching as flood waters ravage parts of Texas. I’m also texting with friends in the Houston area to confirm their safety. I can’t help today in any physical ways with the Texas flooding, but I can pray. And that’s a powerful tool.

Maybe you are also watching from a distance and want to pray specifically, but you aren’t sure how. I’ve been brainstorming specific ways we can pray for the current flooding in Houston, south Texas, and beyond. These specific needs/items can be lifted to God in the wake of a wide range of natural events and disasters. And, this list is a work in progress. Please add ideas for specific prayers in the comment section. Let’s keep praying!

Download a printable PDF list of the following list.

Ways to Pray in Wake of Natural Disasters

 Pray for People in the Flooded Areas

  • Protection of all life, including family pets
  • Safe transportation to safe areas
  • Dry, comfortable lodging, safe drinking water, and nutritious food
  • Quick reunion for any separated families
  • Long-term housing for those who have lost homes
  • Ability to communicate with extended family and friends

Pray for Rescue Efforts by First Responders/Emergency Personnel

  • Reliable cell and phone service so citizens can summon help
  • Good, reliable communication between agencies
  • Safety for police officers, firemen, and emergency medical personnel
  • Strength, stamina and wisdom as they respond to the overwhelming need
  • Additional manpower from outside the area to meet the need

Pray for Ongoing Relief Efforts

  • Plenty of volunteer teams and government groups to respond to the need
  • Physical strength and stamina for the disaster relief teams
  • Coordination of all volunteer efforts so there will be no gaps and all needs will be met
  • Enough resources – money, supplies, equipment, food, and water – to meet the needs
  • Protect the resources from theft, fraud, and accident

Pray for Physical Conditions

  • Protection from additional rain and tornadoes
  • Open passages for built up/backed up water to safely drain away
  • Plenty of sources for clean drinking water
  • Clear roadways for emergency personnel
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Find Hope in the Psalms

hope in the psalmsFeeling discouraged? Need a bit of hope? There is no better place to go to find hope and encouragement than God’s Word. And the book of Psalms is a great place to begin. (Note: This post is a giveaway! Read to the end to find out how to enter!)

Recently, I received a copy of a great new Bible study from my friend Pam Farrel. Pam is one of the authors of “Discovering Hope in the Psalms.” Pam and her coauthors, Jean E. Jones and Karla Dornacher, have created a truly creative Bible study experience. The material guides the reader to not only dig deep into 10 separate psalms, but it also helps the reader artistically express what she is learning and draws her into worship.

Below, as stated in the book’s introduction, is the authors’ purpose for writing:

Our desire to share the riches of hope from Psalms with you is the inspiration behind the creation of this journey. By the end of our time together, you’ll know how to pray and hope in dark times and how to rejoice and act wisely at all times. You’ll grasp eight hopes from Psalms that will draw you closer to God and will brace you in troubling times. You’ll confidently interpret the psalms and hold on to their messages as lifelines.

Even though this book is filled with creative ways to express and apply what we’re learning, this is not a “fluffy” study. The authors obviously want us to be filled with the meaty truth of God’s Word. What a great combination – a main dish of deep spiritual truth served with creative, expressive sides!

I have started this study myself. I plan to be sharing some of what I learn -and create! – here and on social media. It’s not too late for you to join me. Order your copy today and we can work along together! Or… Pam Farrel will be leading a study through the book live on Facebook. Follow this link to find out how to sign up! I’ll be there when I can.

Why the Psalms?

The book of Psalms is a collection of praises, prayers, and songs. Hebrew poets wrote them – many by David – under God’s inspiration over the course of about 1,000 years. The intent of the psalms is that God’s people would use them to worship Him.

Here’s a bit more from the study:

The Psalms extol God’s goodness and power. They voice our gratitude and hopes, our sorrows and longings. When we sing or pray them, they teach us eternal truths and commit us to godly actions and attitudes. They draw us near to God… Although worship is our gift to God, when we worship with psalms, something happens within us: Hope soars, and we are transformed. The psalms proclaim the hopes to which we have been called, and in our attempts to bless the living God, we find ourselves blessed.

Makes you want to dig into the Psalms doesn’t it? Also wanted to share with you a glimpse of one of the beautiful creative aspects of this study. Each week of study includes a full page illustration by Karla that creatively expresses that week’s Psalm. (The pics below illustrate the truth of Psalm 1. The color is mine!)

Psalm 1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

This post is a giveaway! The authors and Harvest House Publishers have graciously made a copy available for me to send to one of you! The drawing for the winner will take place at noon central time on Wednesday, August 23rd. You can enter the drawing up to 3 times. Here’s how:

  1. Comment on this post and tell us which psalm is your favorite and why.
  2. Share this post on Facebook, then comment again here to let me know you shared.
  3. Share this post on Twitter, Pinterest, or Instagram and comment again here to let me know you shared.

In order for your name to be entered multiple times, you must make each comment separately.

 

 

 

 

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Cupcakes, Perfection, and Connection

This guest post by Christen Price includes excerpts from her new book “Invited: Live a Life of Connection, not Perfection.” Used with permission.  

I am in a cupcake war. A battle for perfection.

Standing in the kitchen, covered in confectioner’s sugar, I had been attacked by my strawberry cupcakes. I’d volunteered to bring cupcakes to a baby shower the next day, but my recipe had turned into one big blob of pink mess.  These cupcakes just would not do.

Insecure, I allowed the frustration of failure to mess with my head, causing me to spiral into doubt. All confidence vanished. I heard a soft whisper that I am like these cupcakes…not good enough.

Instead of letting good be good enough, I want to be, have, and give the best of myself to every aspect of my life. That’s why I thought I could make these cupcakes, and that’s why I’m ended up being overly critical of myself.

Do you ever allow the pressure of perfection to cause you to melt down, especially before a celebration?

Just like me, many women desperately chase perfection. Then when we don’t capture it, our emotions take over. The passion of pursuing perfection sometimes causes us to act in ways that make us later feel shame and unworthiness, like we will never quite measure up.

Is there a better way than “perfection?”

God calls us to celebrate, be in community, and believe that connection is far better than perfection. We can spend our whole lives trying to practice hospitality perfectly, but God simply wants us to accept His invitation and extend His love to the people we cherish most. God invites us to release our perfection-induced anxieties, receive others in love, and rejoice in the moment.

Invited by Christen Price

I won the cupcake war.

The next day, I woke up and called a local bakery to order two dozen strawberry cupcakes. Arriving at the baby shower with boxed cupcakes in hand, I arranged the cupcakes on a white tiered cake stand on the dining room buffet. They were delicious, beautiful, and store-bought, but it didn’t make my contribution to the party any less.

That night, instead of feeling not good enough because I couldn’t bake cupcakes as beautiful as these store-bought cupcakes, I was able to connect with friends and watch the mother-to-be open her presents without the pressure of perfection.

Let’s stop letting perfection make us feel not good enough, especially on insignificant matters like store-bought or homemade cupcakes. God is perfect so we don’t have to be. He invites us to live free from the stress of planning, preparing, and performing perfectly and to just be in Him.  Hospitality isn’t about perfection; it’s about connection.

Now, go eat a cupcake!

InvitedIn her new book, Invited: Live a Life of Connection, Not Perfection, Bible teacher Christen Price tackles a problem that plagues many women – the unrealistic striving for perfection. She shares personal stories of her own perfection battle and gives practical advice and helps for finding a beautiful balance that embraces both hospitality and community.

Christen Price is a writer for The M.O.M. Initiative and founder of Undivided Women, an online Bible study community. With the heart of a hostess, she writes devotionals, designs party printables, and creates inspirational art in her Studio that invites women to celebrate their people, place, and purpose. Christen is married to her best friend, Raleigh, and their crew of three little ones, two dogs, and four chickens call the countryside of lower Alabama home. Connect with her at christenprice.com.

 

 

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Delicious Comfort Zones and a Giveaway

Rhonda and Kaley Rhea are my guests today! Keep reading to find out more about chocolate and comfort zones, and to enter for a chance to win a copy of their new book, “Turtles in the Road.”

We both love a nice, cozy comfort zone. By “comfort zone,” about eighty percent of the time we probably mean “chocolate zone.” Did you hear about the recent study that determined that 10 out of 9 people love chocolate? It doesn’t even matter that the math doesn’t work. Know why? Chocolate.

Since people are finding more ways all the time that chocolate is good for your health, we’ve decided that we shall never at any time of our lives think of ourselves as “overweight.” We shall forever refer to it as “chocolate-enriched.”

That’s our comfort zone and we’re sticking to it.

Turtles in the RoadWe just recently somewhat stepped out of our non-chocolate-related comfort zone to write a romantic comedy about a gal who was forced outside her…well, on theme…outside her comfort zone. The book is titled, Turtles in the Road and, not to give anything away, but our deliciously funny character finds laughs, grace and all kinds of adventure in her most uncomfy places.

There are comfort zones, and then there are comfort zones. When God commissioned Joshua after the death of Moses, He gave Joshua instructions about the new land He was to possess. He said to him, “Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9, ESV).

Sometimes God calls us to step out of everything comfortable. We see it all through Scripture. God called Moses to step out before the mantle was passed to Joshua. God called Abraham to leave his home and everything familiar to him to take off to zones unknown. He called Samuel, He called Isaiah, He called so many more. Jesus called His disciples to step away from their nets, out of their comfortable lives, and to follow Him with abandon.

There aren’t a lot of things in this life we can promise will happen, but we can promise this. At some point you will be called to step out of your comfort zone. Don’t be caught off guard. Don’t think you’re being reprimanded. And even more importantly, don’t think for a second that He is not with you in that less-than-comfy place. Be strong. Be courageous. Know He is with you.

It’s good to remember that stepping out of our comfort zone is also stepping into the comfort of His Holy Spirit. It’s amazing—even in discomfort, there’s comfort! Real comfort from The Comforter. It’s comfort not in a place, not in a possession, not in a food—it’s in a Person, the Person of our mighty God of all comfort.

As you step out in faith, you’ll find there’s growth in every new place the Lord leads you. You can rest assured He will never ask you to step out of one zone and into another without His presence, without His purpose or without His empowering.

It’s a God-enriched life. And as awesome as a chocolate-enriched life is, a God-enriched one is infinitely better.

To enter for a chance to win a copy of “Turtles in the Road,” share your most comfortable comfort zone in the comments! Winner will be drawn Thursday, May 11th at 8am! 

Rhonda Rhea, Kaley RheaMother/daughter writing duo, Rhonda Rhea and Kaley Rhea, are the authors of Turtles in the Road, an inspirational humorous romance that’s just releasing. They are both TV personalities for Christian Television Network’s KNLJ in mid-Missouri. Rhonda is also a nationally-known speaker, humor columnist and author of 11 other books, including Fix-Her-Upper, a soon-releasing nonfiction project coauthored with Beth Duewel. Rhonda is married to her pastor/husband, Richie Rhea, and they have five grown children and two grandbabies. Kaley works at Missouri Baptist University and she and Rhonda both live in the St. Louis area. You can find “Turtles in the Road” at Bold Vision Books and Amazon

 

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3 Reasons for Joy in Trials

Joy

Does God’s truth ever seem just crazy to you? Like the perfect God-Man, Jesus, dying for us sinners? Well, we find more of this counter-intuitive craziness in the first chapter of James. The brother of Jesus, who was also the leader of the church in Jerusalem, wrote this to Jewish believers scattered around the world by persecution:

“Dear brothers and sisters, whenever trouble comes your way, let it be an opportunity for joy. For when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow. So let it grow, for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything.” James 1:2-4, NLT

Through the years, I’ve heard preachers, Bible teachers, and others say that Christians can experience joy in spite of trials and troubles. And while that is true, that’s not what James meant in this passage. Depending on the translation you’re using, at the beginning of verse 3 you may see “for,” “because of,” “when,” or “whenever.” But you won’t see “in spite of.”

As crazy as it sounds to us, James did indeed mean that believers should consider trials an opportunity to experience joy. He even tells us why.

  1. God’s Process – Trails build and grow our faith like weight training does for our muscles. Life’s difficulties, Christian persecution, and temptations all put our faith to test. God uses this process to burn away impurities, refining our faith. He builds and shapes our character to look more like Jesus.
  2. God’s Purpose – I love the way the NLT translation puts it. When our faith is fully developed, we will be “ready for anything!” God has a specific purpose for each of us Ephesians 2:10). He has a plan, a way He wants to use us for His Kingdom. But He must shape and prepare His tools (you and me) so we will be useful in His hands.
  3. God’s Presence – Throughout God’s Word, He promises to be with us always and through everything (Isaiah 43:1-2, Matthew 28:19-20). Trials provide an opportunity to experience God’s presence in ways we cannot in easy times. If we never have to rely on God, we would never experience His faithfulness. If we are never weak, we would never experience His strength. Through trials we move from merely intellectual knowledge of God to experiential knowledge. Shared times of trial fosters deep intimacy and dependence.

This truth seems crazy to us because we often move through life spiritually short-sighted. We are stuck in this physical world and fail to see the greater reality. God works on an eternal time-table with eternal purposes in mind. He’s working for the end game. Let’s join Him!

Which of these 3 P’s do you struggle with most to keep in mind? Why?

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When the Going Gets Tough Where Will You Go?

When the going gets toughYou know the old saying, “When the going gets tough, the tough get going?” Ever wonder just where all those tough people get going to?

Well, we know the saying doesn’t mean a place. It’s a proverbial observation of the human condition. When life becomes trying and difficult, “tough” people will find the strength within themselves to determinedly soldier on. To bravely rise to the challenge of their “tough” circumstances.

Sounds good, doesn’t it? Shouldn’t we meet the challenges of life head-on with grit and determination? Shouldn’t we refuse to run and hide or depend on the strength of someone else?

Let’s ask ourselves: When the going gets tough, where do we go? 

Or maybe rather: When the going gets tough, where should we go? 

Trials, difficulties, pain, struggle, and grief often fill our lives. Sometimes we don’t understand what God is doing. We can’t see Him working. Occasionally, we even doubt He cares.

Where will we go when the going gets tough? Will we leave God’s path for us to find an easier way?

One of my favorite passages of Scripture highlights this question. The day after Jesus miraculously fed more than 5,000 people with just two loaves of bread and five fish, the crowds sought Him out in Capernaum. Jesus used their desire for more physical provision to teach them about the far superior spiritual nourishment that only He can provide.

But the truth that Jesus is “the bread of life” was difficult to understand:

“Very truly I tell you, the one who believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your ancestors ate the manna in the wilderness, yet they died. But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which anyone may eat and not die.  I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:47-51, NIV

The teaching was just too hard. God’s truth presented a path too difficult to walk. Give my life to Jesus. “Feed” on Him alone. So many of those who had followed Him turned away to walk another path (John 6:66).

But then there was Peter!

“You do not want to leave too, do you?” Jesus asked the Twelve. Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and to know that you are the Holy One of God.” John 6:67-69, NIV

I love Peter’s declaration of trust. He chose to cling to Jesus no matter how the circumstances might look. No matter how tough life might get. After all, Jesus was the only One who had all life’s answers.

So, what about us? We can also choose to go to Jesus when the going gets tough. No matter how things look. Even if we don’t understand what God is doing. Even if we can’t see a way out. He knows. He sees. He can.

So, where will you go when the going gets tough?

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Saying Goodbye to My Childhood Home

HomeI watched as the last of my parents’ belongings were loaded on the moving truck and began the long journey from Louisiana to Tennessee. Except for a stray roll of packing tape and a few water bottles all the rooms are empty. Well, not really empty. Each space holds memories. Every corner echoes with days gone by.

I know. I sound pretty melodramatic. But I’m feeling really sentimental, so maybe you can humor me for just a few minutes?

My parents lived in that home for almost 50 years. They raised two children. Hosted countless youth and church events. Endured dozens of slumber parties and probably hundreds of sleepovers. Our home was truly open to everyone. My mother was always the life of every party. I think my friends came to see her more than they did me. My dad was the most patient and giving man I’ve known.

Some memories stand out from the others. Like the 4th of July when a firecracker ignited a gas leak by the sidewalk and the fire department closed off our entire block. And when I backed over the mailbox and wedged it under the car. And when my heart was broken and my mom hurt with me.

All these and more are part of me. The house on Dianne Street was center stage. It was home base for our family and a training ground for faith. Our parents purposefully and consistently shared Jesus and the things of God with me and my younger brother, both verbally and by example. They lived a life of faith that made me want it too.

They have also loved well. We never had to doubt their love for each other or for us. And although circumstances are very different today, they still love each other well and their affection is still obvious.

Life is difficult for my folks right now. Leaving their home was a necessity, not a choice. That makes the empty house even more bittersweet. But we will do our best to love them well. We have had fine examples.

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