Greater Purpose

The Three Words

I woke up with 3 specific words on my heart. I usually grab a pen and write things down, but I was too tired and it was early. I quietly recited them aloud in hopes I’d remember them and fell back asleep. Hours later, I awoke again with the three same words and this time, grabbed my phone and typed them into my notes.

Sin unexposed grows.

That’s the message I have been given. As I processed them, of course I agreed. And as an author, I could appreciate how the words flowed like a catchy phrase.

When God places specific words on my heart, I take note.

My personal Bible study this morning took me to the book of Lamentations. Again, the same theme. This book was written by Jeremiah who was known as the weeping prophet. His tears were due to his broken heart. God’s city, Jerusalem, was in sin and he wept due to their rejection of God. He knew their sinfulness would bring great suffering.

My heart has been heavy for our nation, as I am sure many of you are also experiencing.

The Bible tells us that sin is like yeast. It grows. And it grows when it remains in the dark places.

I can’t help to apply these words to the Jeffrey Epstein case. The sin that took place on his private island went unexposed; therefore, it grew and multiplied. Now that it’s being exposed, the sin is stopped in its tracks. Light is hitting darkness.

I don’t want to write a long post today. I want to make this simple and straightforward.

  • God hates sin.
  • Sin will be punished.
  • We were designed for daily confession.

He provided a way for you and me to be made clean and washed from our sin, through His son Jesus Christ.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 1 John 1:9 

Just let these three words sink in today.

Sin unexposed grows.

This was a word for all of us.

Please comment and let’s talk.

Blessings,

Greater Motherhood

Holding On To Faith

Motherhood is a short-term assignment. It’s 6,570 days long. I’ve often heard “the days can be long, but the years are short.” Time has a way of flying.

This year, my sister and I had high school seniors. Jennifer was cheering her last baby bird from the nest and joining the rank of empty nester. I was launching my first baby bird, Faith. Two distinct scenarios with a common thread – release. Would we be ready by August to release our teens from our secure nest? Mixed emotions stirred as we considered the wonder that would fill the busy months ahead.

Jennifer shared a book written by Karen Kingsbury. Tears streamed as I read, Let Me Hold You Longer. The author pointed out a truth – there is an end to each beautiful moment with our kids. She wrote, “Would I have held on longer if I’d known they were your last?”

The book stirred memories of my daughter’s milestones and caused me to ponder the big one ahead. Yes, I wanted to hold her longer. I wanted more time with my graduating senior. With Faith’s busy schedule, however, she was like the superhero Flash. She was here one second, and somewhere else the next. My sister and I hugged and promised to pray for each other and vowed to enjoy the last precious months our children would be home. We needed God’s help to make the most of each beautiful moment.

Cousins and 2020 graduates – Faith & Logan
SHATTERED EXPECTATIONS

Then the unimaginable occurred. Words flew across the airwaves—quarantine, COVID, social distancing. My dreams for a memorable school year and making beautiful moments with Faith fluttered to the ground.

My high school senior amazed me with the way she handled being inducted into the “COVID Class.” I knew what she was missing, and anger brewed within my heart. I’d cheered her on for 13 years of schooling, and I could feel her finale slipping from my helpless grip.

Every Thursday, we received the dreaded COVID-19 email. They dropped one event after another from her senior year. Each week, I opened my online calendar and clicked delete to another significant event.

I deleted spring break plans, senior breakfast, the parent-decorated locker surprise, mission and senior trips, prom, and baccalaureate. The list continued growing. Her school promised to keep graduation, but I wasn’t sure I trusted that promise. I knew others were facing significant life-changing situations. People dedicated their lives to walk others through the tumultuous season. I heard the news, but I wanted to hold on to my dreams for my daughter.

Students were missing milestones. Social distancing isolated seniors in a year designed for connection, relationships, and closure. I prayed for the virus to halt. I wanted schools to reopen and for normalcy to return.

HOLDING ON A LITTLE LONGER

The day Faith heard there would be no more school was the hardest. Grief hit like a train. Just like that, students had to switch gears and adopt homebound digital learning and Zoom meetings as the new normal.

Moms know life is hard and filled with disappointments. But this one seemed bigger than normal. It felt cruel. We grieved the loss of the dream of her senior year and accepted what it would be.

With our calendar emptied, our habit of busyness stopped. We adjusted to the endless time we now had, and my sister and I realized a great truth. Entangled within the confusion and unknowns, God had answered our prayer for holding on a little longer.

Our family started The Chosen series together. Every night we watched another episode. We started hiking and walking together. We had time for family dinners, board games, and extra hugs. I even dusted off a Christmas gift and learned to use my Instant Pot! The unimaginable had made a way for us to hold on to our Faith a little longer.

THE PROMISE

Romans 8:28 says, “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” (NIV). What the enemy meant for evil, God, in His perfect sovereignty, used for good. He brought good through the trials and confusion of COVID-19. God is a promise keeper. He always brings good. He brings good even when we don’t imagine a way. Even through a virus!

I watched God work for good as my Moms In Prayer group moved to online zoom calls. I purposefully selected the attributes we desperately needed. We confidently prayed God is our peace, God is our confidence, God guards, and God is wise. Our group chose to be laser-focused on who He was instead of the fears that hit us from every direction.

I love how Moms In Prayer teaches us to personalize the scriptures. As I inserted Faith and Logan’s names into the very promises of God, I trusted that even though their senior year ending wasn’t picture perfect, their God was! And His Word stands even when our plans crumble.

When we pray our children’s names into God’s promises, we can be confident that we are praying God’s will.  Join me in putting your child’s name into these verses:

Guide Faith in the way of wisdom and lead Faith along straight paths. From Proverbs 4:11

The Lord bless Logan and keep him; the Lord make his face shine on Logan and be gracious to him; the Lord turn his face toward Logan and give him peace. From Numbers 6:24-26

Lord, enable _______ to be strong and courageous. Help him/her to not be afraid and to not be discouraged, for the Lord our God will be with him/her wherever he/she goes.  From Joshua 1:9

Help ______ live a clean, innocent life as a child of God in a dark world full of people who are crooked and stubborn.  Help him/her shine out among them like a beacon light, holding out to them the Word of Life.  From Philippians 2:15-16 

TO ALL THE MOMS WHO EXPERIENCED THE ROLLER COASTER OF THE 2020 SCHOOL YEAR, I LEAVE YOU WITH THIS PRAYER.

Heavenly Father, I praise You for Your goodness. You are a God who is not only good, but who can bring good in the middle of trials. As You promise in Psalm 91, You are our protector. As we faced the unknowns, You sent Your angels to protect and guard us. We found refuge under Your sheltering wing, just as a mother hen protects her chicks.

God, You are in control. When the world faces storms, You remain an anchor. Where there is confusion, You are truth. When we feel loss, You remind us of our gain through Your Son Jesus Christ. Lord, the trials we face develop perseverance and faith. When our hearts yearn for more time, more closeness, You give us a beautiful gift of holding our loved ones a little longer. Oh, how we love You and thank You! In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen!

Click here to listen to the book Let Me Hold You Longer read aloud by Julie.

The post Holding On To Faith appeared first on Moms In Prayer International on July 1, 2020.

Greater Purpose

The Sheltering Wing of God: 6 Ways to Respond {in Faith} to the Coronavirus

Check out this picture I took over the weekend.  To me, it meant something very personal.  I’ve been studying Psalm 91 so when I witnessed these birds with outstretched wings at Animal Kingdom’s Safari, it was the perfect reminder that He is our refuge.  Let me explain.

disney birds
Birds spotted on Disney’s Animal Kingdom Safari

Did you know that when danger strikes a hen, chicken protocol looks like this:  the mama hen spreads her wings while clucking, and the babies run for cover under her protective shield.  We, just like those chicks, need to know where to go when danger strikes.   Listen, we have a role to play. God has his wings spread and ready to protect.  What do we do as we face this virus pandemic? We must run to the father resting under his sheltering wing. This act of obedience shows trust.

Mother hen3
A mother hen protecting her chicks during a storm

God’s promises stand.  He is our protector. Period.

Psalm 46:1 reminds us of that truth, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.

The birds at Disney may not have had little chicks under their wings but they were standing with great authority.  They reminded me that we can stand on God’s promise in Psalm 91:4 that states “…under his wings YOU WILL find refuge.”

Psalm 91:3-4

For it is He who delivers you from the snare of the trapper
And from the deadly pestilence (fatal or infectious disease)

He will cover you with his feathers,
and under his wings you will find refuge;
his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.

Mother Hen
A hen gathers her chicks under her sheltering wing

Let’s focus on 6 things Christians must do:

  1. Stop worrying. One of our family’s go-to scriptures is Phil 4:6-7 which we paraphrase as, “Don’t worry about anything, instead pray about everything.”  This virus has traction, but our God is our protector.  Do you grasp what that truly means? When fear strikes, head to Psalm 91. It’s my favorite all-covering protection psalm, a perfect reminder of His ability to protect.  What can you do today? Speak his promises to build your faith.  It’s not a magical psalm, it’s a faith-building psalm.  The more you read, the more you trust.  Scroll down to see Psalm 91 with blanks to add names to personalize the prayer.
  2. Get into the Word. Open your Bible. You will find the assurance you need when you read verses reminding you God protects. He can protect you better than any mask, any quarantine, or vitamin.  The word of God is alive and active.  Speak the word over yourself, your family, and our nation. Here are some verses to absorb: 2 Samuel 22:1-3, Psalm 84:11, Proverbs 2:7-8, Matthew 6:25-27, Psalm 118:6
  3. Recognize the author.  This virus is a direct attack from the enemy. John 10:10 warns that the enemy “comes only to steal and kill and destroy…”  Viruses are being used by a defined enemy for purposes of destruction.  However, Christians are in place, ready to rebuke and speak against the power and assignment of this virus.  Our prayer and faithful response will shorten its duration and affect.  In the name of Jesus, we boldly rebuke this virus, holding our shield of faith as we put out the fiery arrows sent straight from the devil himself (Ephesians 6:16).
  4. Wake up and hit your knees. First thing in the morning, ask for God to direct and lead your day. Ask him for wisdom and discernment (James 1:5). God is not surprised or shocked by the spread of this virus. Don’t panic.  He is in control. Are you going to trust Him for protection or freak out?  Ask God to specifically replace your fears with faith.  Read 2 Timothy 1:7 to remind you that God DID NOT give you the spirit of fear.  He gave you power, love, and a sound mind.
  5. Educate yourself. Filter what you hear through God’s faith lens, not the media’s fear-driven lens. Read articles with statistics not opinions.
  6. Prepare your home for the possibility of being quarantined.  Store enough supplies and food for your family and enough to share too. Let me know if you need help with a supply list.

faith over fear

Let’s remember our DNA is one of faith.  We have everything we need to stand against the enemy. We are equipped and ready to fight this battle using the word of God.  The last thing we need are scaredy-cat Christians joining the fear force. Remember we have nothing to fear. God is our protector. He is our refuge. We are armed with His power.  Let’s claim the peace offered amidst the chaos. Rest in this verse,  John 16:33:  “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.”

We’re in this together!

Julie

 

Psalm 91_

Greater Motherhood

God, Loosen My Grip: A Mother’s Daily Prayer of Surrender

Moms are problem-solvers.  It’s in our DNA to nurture, to correct, and to guide our children.  However, sometimes we overstep and try to control or manipulate the outcome, whether it be their behavior or their actions. 

I’m not proud of the times I’ve stepped on God’s toes as He’s teaching my girls through natural consequences.  I swoop in to fix the problem, often robbing them of the struggle.

Intervening, in order to control, can hinder the move of God in our children’s lives.

I want control.

But I’m not in control.

And you know what?

That is best.

I find comfort in remembering that God’s thoughts and ways are higher.  I love this reminder in Isaiah 55:8-9

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord.“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

So if I really trust His ways and thoughts are higher than mine, then how do I begin to surrender my control?

When I came across this prayer written by Jonathan & Wynter Pitts for the ministry For Girls Like You, I just had to share. This prayer is an answer to the daily burden I carry. 

I read this prayer aloud before bed each night in an act of intentional surrender to a God who will grow my kids into who He is calling them to be.


Dear God,

I release my daughter into Your care.

I surrender my desire to control her.
I surrender my desire to manipulate her future.
I surrender my tendency to overprotect, shelter, and suffocate her.
I surrender my desire to be her best friend, first.
I surrender my own dreams for her.
I surrender my need to be her source.

SHE IS YOURS.

I’m totally open to You, dependent upon You, and desperate for You to be in control as I let go. I’m relying on the fact that You are God and that You have created my daughter for Your purpose and for this time.

I pray that You will draw her to Yourself.
I pray that she will delight in You.
I pray that You will be patient with her.
I pray that You will provide for her.
I pray that You will bless her.
I pray that You will use her to be a blessing to others.
I pray that You will mature her.
And ultimately, I pray that she will show Jesus in her very being.

I trust in Your sovereignty. I wait in expectation for Your providence.
Lord, she is Yours, and I trust You with her. 


 

loosen grip

Lord, help me loosen my grip.  You are trustworthy.    

We’re in this together!

Julie

 

 

This prayer by Jonathan Pitts can be found here.

 

Greater Motherhood

Call a Timeout!

“Mom, what if I fall off the beam in front of everyone?”

“Mom, I need you at my first out-of-state gymnastics meet!”

“Mom, if you don’t go, who’ll make my hair bun? Dad can’t.”

MOTHERHOOD

The gymnastics meet was seven hours away. I did the math. It was impossible. Two kids, each with paramount events, and I couldn’t swing her gymnastics meet and her sister’s volleyball tournament and pageant. I didn’t want to disappoint our gymnast, but I was also needed by our high school freshman.

I often feel like I’m the one on a balance beam. I wobble while trying to remember to look forward, keeping my eyes focused on Jesus. My children need me to stay calm through the unsteady moments. Sometimes it’s fear that threatens my balance, other times it’s an overcommitted calendar. Simultaneously, I’m supposed to help build their faith, answer questions, discipline behavior, and navigate hormones.

Can I just call a timeout?

The answer is yes, I can. You can, too.

PRAYER

I needed a timeout. I needed to ask God how to make this upcoming, stressful weekend successful. He met me right where I was, turning His ear to me. Prayer isn’t complicated. I didn’t have to do back handsprings to find the perfect, quiet place. I just needed a moment.

I love David’s prayer in Psalm 17. There is a simple truth tucked within the verse – when we call on God, He answers.

I call on You, my God, for You will answer me; turn Your ear to me and hear my prayer. (Psalm 17:6, NIV)

You see, our praying habit kicks in as we choose to lean on Scripture and claim the promises that our feelings can’t always conjure up. Prayer is the key. As moms, we cannot and should not, face this motherhood calling without daily, fervent prayer.

MOMS IN PRAYER

Every Tuesday morning, I lead a Moms in Prayer group. Like warriors stepping onto a battlefield, we fight for our children. I imagine the enemy’s face defeated as we begin to praise and walk in obedience to the Lord’s command to pray. Satan’s plans are thwarted with each word of life we speak according to our authority in the Lord.

Tuesday, I awoke knowing I would have one-on-one intercessory prayer time with another mom. To win the battles we face as moms, we must be on the battlefield and armed with prayer. Using the four steps, we prayed scriptures over our children. Confidently, we inserted their names into the very promises of God. I spoke the burdens of my heart for my daughter’s upcoming meet.

The what-ifs, possibilities of falling, point deductions, and weak ankle were all fear’s way of rocking my girl’s confidence and robbing her of peaceful sleep. Working as a pair, this mom and I prayed the truth that proclaimed my girl did not need to fear. Inserting my daughter’s name into Isaiah 41:10 (NASB), we prayed aloud,

“Do not fear [my daughter], for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.

donotfearMIPblog

 

Join me at momsinprayer.org to read the rest of my guest post. Click here