The Story of Your Life

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Last night, my sweet girl graduated from the eighth grade. As you can imagine, it was filled with many emotions and moments of reflection. It seems like just yesterday that I was pushing her on the swings and having princess tea parties. But things are changing. She is changing. In fact, her story is just beginning.

Like with every good book, the first few chapters are dedicated to setting up the storyline. These chapters are more foundational in nature. But now, as she enters high school in the fall, a new chapter begins – one where I take a step back, and where she takes a big step forward in independence. This step will be filled with many decisions and choices that will impact how the rest of her story goes.

So what advice can I tell her? What guidance can I give to all the young women out there who are starting a new chapter in their lives? What advice can I offer to women who are in the middle or nearing the end of their story? Truthfully, it’s all the same.

First, and foremost, you need to decide who is going to author your story. Are you going to make decisions based off your emotions? Or, are you going to use the Word of God and the counsel of the Holy Spirit to set out your path? This is a big decision – one that will set out the course of your life. Following your emotions will only lead to failure and frustration. But, allowing God to author your story will guarantee a life of peace and fulfillment. I’m not suggesting it will be all rosy, but God will be with you every step of the way.

The LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. – Deuteronomy 31:6

With that said, we can all agree that a good story is filled with all sorts of subplots: adventure, romance, friendship, betrayal, trial, success, and failure. We need to recognize that the ups and downs are a part of a successful Godly life. God is knitting together all the pieces, good and bad, to set you up for your destiny. Don’t run from the difficult times – grow from them.

Moreover, be true to yourself, and don't let culture be the standard that you measure your worth. There is no size, beauty or education requirement that makes you more valuable to God. Our identity is based in Him. So, make decisions that honor Him. The decisions you make today in this chapter of your life will catch up with you tomorrow.

“Someday your past will meet your present. Make sure she doesn't embarrass you.” – All Mascara Is Not Created Equal

We often hear phrases like, “You only live once, buy the shoes, eat the cake.” I would challenge you with something deeper because you do only have one story to live out. Make it count. Take the leap of faith. Make the most of the talent God gave you. Don't let fear or the opinions of others stop you from living out God’s story in you.

Ladies, what do you want the story of your life to look like? Do you want it filled with conformity and worldliness? Or, do you want your story to be one of a kind, written by the greatest author ever. The choice is obviously yours. And that decision starts today. 

Aging Gracefully

BY SHILA ANDERSON

I never really understood the term “aging gracefully” until the other day. Interestingly, you can find all kinds of tips and tricks on the Internet on how to age gracefully. There are creams and toners, Spanx, hair dyes and waxes, and even surgery and injections to help us to age gracefully. But, they have it all wrong. I believe the true key to aging gracefully is having grace with ourselves as we age.

I was just chatting with a good friend, and she told me she recently had Botox injections. She also had Cool Sculpting done to help freeze away stubborn fat. That made me sad. I would never think that she would need that done.

As I get older, I see an increase in wrinkles, cellulite, varicose veins and smile lines. But saying that, I know that comes with getting older, and I want to embrace my age. I will do my part to take care of myself, but I can’t make my looks be all that I focus on. I’m not a teenager anymore and shouldn’t expect to have the body like one. I want to love myself, with each passing year, just the way I am. 

So, why do we think we need to alter the way we look? Where are we getting these negative views of ourselves? Are we listening to negative comments, either from others or from ourselves? Is it the magazines or the shows with all the famous, skinny, beautiful women? News Flash Ladies – they get paid to look like that! They have makeup artists fixing them up. We need to remember that it’s their job to look good! Are we comparing ourselves to others? I know I personally will never be as fit as the running moms, that’s just not me. So, I can’t compare myself to them, especially if I’m not willing to do what they do in order to be that physically fit.

“But they are only comparing themselves with each other, using themselves as the standard of measurement. How ignorant!” – 2 Corinthians 10:12

Let’s look at ourselves through God’s eyes. How does He see us? He is the King of Kings, and we are His daughter. That makes us a Princess! He says we are “fearfully and wonderfully made.” We have been knit together in our mother’s womb. We are loved . . . just the way we are. 

I want to be the kind of woman that is happy swimming in public with my kids, instead of being concerned about how I look in a bathing suit. I want to be the woman that doesn’t stress over which picture to post on Facebook based on how good I look in it. I want to be the woman with smile lines because you know what, I like to smile. I want to be real. I want to be me. I am blessed, I am happy, and I am beautiful.  

I hope that you too will have the grace to love yourself, just the way you are. No matter how old you are, let’s make a pact that together we can give ourselves grace to age. Come on ladies, age gracefully along with me!

“Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be.” – Robert Browning

 

Get Out of Your Own Way

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Untitled design-2.png

I don’t know about you, but at the end of the day, I simply want to use every bit of talent God trusted me with and use it for His glory. This seems simple enough. But if I am truly honest with you, I admit that I often get in my own way. You see, the female mind is an interesting place. On one hand, it is full of dreams, vision, and hope, but on the other, it can also be filled with negative thinking, fear of rejection, and a desire to control. We are often the ones who are holding ourselves back from our calling. Let me explain.

First of all, we are our hardest critics. We tend to focus on all the negative attributes in our lives, rather than God’s power at work within us. We allow feelings of inadequacy, shame, and insecurity hold us back from fully realizing our potential in Christ. The biggest problem is that we think that we have to have it all together to be used by God. That is a lie. It is the Holy Spirit power alive in us that enables us to do anything.

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us. - Ephesians 3:20, NIV

Second, as women, the fear of rejection is especially real. From those early days in gym class where teams were being chosen, right through womanhood, we have dealt with acceptance issues. What happens if we put ourselves out there and people reject us? What if we volunteer in ministry and we are told no? What if we apply for that job and we get turned down? What then? We allow this fear of rejection to cripple us, and consequently, we never take that step of faith.

And lastly, we often try to make things happen in our own strength. We think that in order to get to point A, we must travel a certain route, one that makes sense in our own mind. This is wrong thinking.

“My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts," says the LORD. "And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine.” – Isaiah 55:8, NLT

God’s ways are higher than ours, and much better. We need to lay down our ideas and preconceived notions, and allow God to do His work. By putting our hands in it, in an effort to control, we simply make a mess. We need to completely submit to God’s ways.

It is time to get out of your own way and walk in the calling God set before you. Will you be courageous enough to trust the Lord and His plans for your life despite your insecurities? Will you lay down your fear of rejection and hold on to the promises of God? Will you relinquish control and embrace the unknown? If your answer is yes, get ready for the Holy Spirit to take you on an adventure beyond your wildest imagination.

Ladies, your destiny is waiting . . .

Waiting on a Promise

BY WENDY ARROYO

I am currently sipping coffee out of my "I'm engaged, duh" coffee mug looking down at my beautiful engagement ring, teary-eyed, thinking about what a whirl wind it has been the past few years. 

Everyone around me has been celebrating my soon to be husband and I as we plan and enjoy this season. It's been full of joy, lots of planning, and new things that have stretched us, but through the change, it has been beautiful. 

What they do not know is that just under two years ago at 28 years old, I was living with my parents, wondering what was going wrong in my life. I had left a director position and was working a couple of part-time jobs trying to figure out my next move. I had devoted my life to the Lord faithfully and was committed to building the Kingdom. I worked alongside my parents for several church plants, traveled the world telling people about Jesus, but there I was 28 years old fighting fear of the future and anxiety of the unknown. I was also fighting being upset with God, and if I'm honest, blaming Him.

I don't think I realized it at the time, but in my heart, I couldn't understand why God was blessing everyone else with this gift of marriage, but not me. On New Years that year, I was in flight to visit my hometown and found myself in a puddle of tears at midnight as I re-surrendered my future to Jesus. Alone. In the air. 

My now fiancé, JC, walked into my young adults group one night that year and at the time, I didn't give him a second thought. Ten months later, he came back into my life and our story began.

I will save our full love story for another day, but this is the biggest lesson I learned – sometimes the only reason you are where you are in life is simply because it is just not time yet to be anywhere else. That's it! It's not because you sinned or made a bad decision that changed the course of your life. Sometimes, it's just simply that you are still waiting for the promise to come to  pass in His perfect timing. Everything else is just not for you. It's just a season of FAITH 

Unfortunately, I had to learn the hard way that you cannot force your days to unfold in the timing you want. All you can do is trust in the one who always keeps His promises. And, it's hard. 

But, oh how He keeps His promises! All of them! 

I still get teary-eyed when I look down at my ring because it is evidence of faith meeting sight. It is evidence of God hearing every word, every time, and loving me through all those moments of fighting for the promise, all the while never knowing God had more than just a spouse for me. He had a place for me in this season. He has truly directed my steps.

Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!  Luke 1:45

I won't lie and pretend the road ahead looks easy or hasn't been laced with some trials, but it is Him that set me on this road, and it is Him that will walk me through this journey of being a good wife. 

I don't know what promise you are holding on to, but I do know that God's promises are worth fighting for. Keep moving forward because I know that one day you too, will reach that moment when faith meets sight. 

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.  Hebrews 10:23

Getting Real With My Mom

BY JESSICA LANDMON (AND LOUISE ANDERSON)

With Mother’s Day just behind us, I really started to think about how truly blessed I am to have my mother as my mom. She has trained me in the things of God and been an example of what living a life devoted to Him really looks like. I also realize that not everyone is so fortunate. So, I decided to share some of her wisdom with all of you. Join me as we “Get Real” with Louise Anderson – my mother, my friend.

In what moment did you know that Jesus was real?

I was brought up a Catholic, attended church regularly, and lived in a home where God was revered. I accepted the Lord in my early 20’s without any pastor, televangelist, or person witnessing to me. It was me alone and the Holy Spirit convicting me, and I knew I needed a savior – a personal relationship.

But, it wasn’t until I had a serious heart illness a few years later and given months to live that I knew HE was real – I mean really real. I was in a coronary care unit in the hospital when HE appeared to me quietly; no words were spoken, and we just gazed at each other. Immediately after that my condition improved, and I knew that the Lord was personal. He totally healed me. I never, ever want to miss an opportunity to share that.

You've served the Lord for many years, what wisdom can you pass along to younger women or newer believers that you wish you knew back then?

I would not necessarily do anything differently, but definitely pray more. Pray, Pray, Pray and Pray specifically. The reason I say pray specifically is because I did not realize how under attack from the spirit of darkness our children are. The drugs, porn, bullying, insecurities, and sexual permissiveness are rampant.

My husband and I prayed together every morning in agreement for their safety. We anointed them with oil every day before they left for school. Even if he was in Europe on business, he would call me and we would pray for them over the phone. Now my children do the same thing. They pray the promises of Psalm 91 every day and so do I. I encourage you to read it and claim HIS promise for you and your family.

Where has your faith been challenged the most? How did you overcome?

Waiting for God to answer prayers and seeing that sometimes the answer is no. It is God’s way, and that is PERFECT.

What do you think is the secret to living a life devoted to Christ?

The more time you spend in prayer and in quiet time seeking Him, the more you will be able to hear HIS voice, and HE will direct your paths. Read the Bible. Read other Christian books, and go to Bible-centered small groups. You learn so much in an informal way. Plus, watch some Christian TV. What you feed your spirit will grow. Ask the Lord to give you strength to stand for the things of God. HE will. Your children will notice and do the same!

As a mother to two and now grandmother to four all serving the Lord, what parenting advice would you like to offer our moms?

It was tough then, but nothing like what moms are facing now!  But before I address the moms, I have some advice for the Grandmas – please don’t just pray for your grandchildren, but pray for their parents too. We never had to deal with what our children and grandchildren are dealing with.

Moms, ask your children lots of questions, not in an interrogative way, but in a way that shows you are interested in what is going on in their lives. Don’t over react when they tell you things. Otherwise, they will stop communicating. Don’t turn everything into an opera.

Be a nosey mom. I will NOT apologize for this. Find out about the kids they are hanging around with. Nowadays, you can check out their Facebook pages and other social media accounts. Look at their history on their computer too.

Volunteer at their schools. Talk to other parents, and get to know them. Go to their games, recitals, and activities. Show your kids that you support them. Have their friends at your house. Not all parents hold the same standard of TV watching, activities, or even their safety as you might. Lots of parents are “cool with activities.” They may have adapted a more nonchalant attitude. This is not what the Word of God holds us to do.

Have dinner together at a table as much as possible. We always talked and discussed things at great length during dinner. We also laughed and played a lot of games. We even had an occasional food fight. Praise God for washable wallpaper in the 80's!

Remember what it was like to be young. I had pool parties, sleepovers, and yes, cake fights. You are their parents, but you can still be fun. Be creative with their birthday parties. I know my daughter and daughter-in-law plan the best parties with themes and activities.

Take them on your vacations. I know all the books say that you need your time, and of course that is true, but please take them away. There is nothing more exciting than watching your children’s face as they are on vacation. Bring them in on the planning too. You just can’t buy those memories!

Make the holidays memorable – not just big presents, but develop traditions – your traditions. Don’t be a scrooge at Christmas and complain how busy you are. Celebrate it with gladness. Remember, it is our Savior's birthday.

Take your kids out to dinner – not just fast food. Get dressed up and have fun. It does not have to be expensive. They will learn at a young age how to behave. Plus, you can laugh when you tell them that the escargot that they ordered (and now love) is snails!

Be generous. My mom always said that if you don’t bless your children, don’t expect others to. Be generous with your time as well. Remember, you never get these days back.

Speak blessings into their lives. That is what the prophets of old did. Be an encourager. Don’t poo poo their ideas. Each child is different. You are different from your siblings. And, their dreams may not be your dreams.

Pray specifically that God would fulfill their destinies. Pray that the Lord would open doors that they should go through and close doors that they should not.

Pray for their spouses now. God has ordained the perfect spouse for your children. Pray for strong marriages. Pray that they would be Godly parents, good providers, and they would serve the Lord.

God heard my prayers and gave us the most extraordinary in-laws in the world. Like the scripture says He will do exceedingly, abundantly more than you ever hoped or dreamed. Some people do not know who are the in-laws and who are my children. I just LOVE that! Forgive me, but I prayed that they would be smart too. I did not want dumb grandchildren.

Don’t be too proud to say you are sorry and you are wrong.  Sometimes you are.

Don’t be the parent that is legalistic. I have seen that in the Church too often. Too many rules can cause kids to rebel once they get on their own in college. Let them go to dances and movies. Just monitor it. I told my daughter you can dance like a lady or a “tomato,” but I will find out. I told my son to always act like a gentlemen.

Talk to your kids honestly and frankly. Don’t let them hear things from the world.

Take them to church and get them in Sunday School and Youth Group. They need to hear the Word of God. Plus, they will develop Christian friends with the same like-minded faith and learn that they are not alone.

Teach them to tithe! In Malachi 3, it tells us to give a tithe (10% of our income – gross) to the Lord. The best promise of the tithe is that HE will rebuke the devourer for your sake. Come on MOM, don’t we want that for our children. HE will open the windows of heaven and pour you out blessings that there is not room enough to contain. 

I taught that to my children at a very young age. When they got allowances, they always tithed. As a result, God was and still is always faithful. When my children graduated college, lots of kids did not have jobs right away. But Praise God, they both had good jobs with good salaries and signing bonuses. And Mom, if you are not tithing, I suggest you start. We all need those promises of God.

Love their DAD . . . show him respect. God called him to be the head of the house. Watch your tongue. If you have an argument and the children hear it, it is okay. Parents can argue and still love each. Children learn what they live.

Lastly, the most important thing is to not let a day pass without telling your children how much you love them and how proud you are of them.

Train up a child in the way he should go, And when he is old he will not depart from it.  - Proverbs 22:6, NKJV

 

Don't Miss the Boat

BY JESSICA LANDMON

I want to share with you a funny story that I read on social media. I’m sure many of you have heard this in one form or another:

A fellow was stuck on his rooftop in a flood. He was praying to God for help. Soon a man in a rowboat came by and the fellow shouted to the man on the roof, "Jump in, I can save you." The stranded fellow shouted back, "No, it's OK, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me." So the rowboat went on. Then a motorboat came by. "The fellow in the motorboat shouted, "Jump in, I can save you." To this the stranded man said, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith." So the motorboat went on. Then a helicopter came by and the pilot shouted down, "Grab this rope and I will lift you to safety." To this the stranded man again replied, "No thanks, I'm praying to God and he is going to save me. I have faith." So the helicopter reluctantly flew away. Soon the water rose above the rooftop and the man drowned. He went to Heaven. He finally got his chance to discuss this whole situation with God, at which point he exclaimed, "I had faith in you but you didn't save me, you let me drown. I don't understand why!" To this God replied, "I sent you a rowboat and a motorboat and a helicopter, what more did you expect?"

We all can agree that this is a humorous story. I’ve chuckled every time that I have heard it until about a year ago when I realized that I was acting just like the foolish man is this story. Let me explain.

Shortly after pregnancy, I noticed that my hearing wasn’t as sharp as it used to be. I went to my ear, nose and throat doctor only to confirm that my hearing was starting to go. As time went on, it continued to progressively deteriorate. Now to a normal person, this could be alarming, but I’m a FAITH GIRL. Confident that God could and would heal me, I really didn’t worry too much about it. I read all the healing scriptures, claimed each and every one over my ears, and trusted God.

But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on him, and by his wounds we are healed. – Isaiah 53:5

Time went on, and my healing didn’t arrive. I pressed in with even more tenacity. I attended healing services and continued to believe that God would heal me (in His timing). After a particularly dedicated time in prayer, my doctor referred me to a specialist who determined that I had an unusual condition that could be corrected with surgery. As with every surgery, there are risks. So, I refused and continued to wait on the Lord.

A couple of years passed, and my hearing was down to about 65% in each ear. That doesn’t seem too bad, but trust me, hearing was a challenge. I caught only parts of conversations and became an avid lip reader. Embarrassed to tell most people I had hearing loss at such a young age, I just suffered through and smiled like I heard them.

Then one day, God brought this story to my remembrance, and I realized just how foolish I was being. I was expecting God to act a certain way, and consequently, was completely missing the answer to my prayer. I was anticipating a “divine” moment, but somehow missed God.

Can anyone relate? This can apply to any area you are waiting on the Lord. Perhaps you are looking for financial freedom, but haven’t been willing to change jobs. Or, you are waiting for a miraculous touch in your marriage, but refuse to go to counseling, the very means in which God intends to heal and restore it.

Well, I am excited to report that after this revelation, I opted to have the surgery done in one ear this past fall. And because my God was in it, I didn’t just receive an improvement in my hearing, but 100% restoration. I recently had the second ear done and know that I can expect the same results. Remember, I am a FAITH GIRL.

Ladies, we need to remember that God doesn’t use a one-size fits all approach to answering prayer. Make no mistake – God still heals supernaturally! I have been the recipient of this type of healing many times. However, if we expect Him to respond only a certain way, we may miss the answer altogether. We need to be sensitive to God’s plans and open to the many ways in which He can provide an answer. If we refuse to listen, we may miss the boat!

There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.  Proverbs 14:12

Too Much of A Good Thing

BY RACHEL AXTMANN

I started out this year desiring for it to be better than the previous. So much of this becoming a reality hinges on the decisions that I will make. In the past three months alone, I’ve faced several decisions – some, more impactful than others, but all requiring my time and consideration. I’ve found that many of the decisions placed before me have been really good things. Let me explain.

I presently work part-time in ministry and recently was given the opportunity to take on more responsibility and hours by planning this year’s mission’s trips. It’s been so awesome to be part of the planning process, preparing teams to share Christ’s love around the world. A good thing! Additionally, I’ve been part of some really interesting meetings at my son’s school in regards to homework, and the research has been fascinating. Another good thing! 

Some other decisions I’ve faced recently revolved around which sports my boys should play this spring? Did you know they can run track, play baseball, lacrosse, tennis, or soccer? Yup! And if I choose, they can participate in more than one. Imagine that? And if that isn’t enough, we’ve got play dates to plan and attend, after school activities and birthday parties to go to.  All good things too!

On top of the small group my husband and I lead each week in our home, I’ve joined an additional women’s group, meeting weekly. I just love it! Good again, right? Hobbies, ministry, sports, parent meetings, play dates. I like all of these things. Of course there’s the in between decisions as well, what I like to think of as the fillers of our days. How much time will I spend on emails, texts, phone calls, shopping, cleaning, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, blogs, cooking, browsing our favorite websites, or watching an online feed of a pregnant Giraffe named April, to name a few.

By now, you might be thinking, "I get it. Your life is busy. Get over it, SO is mine!" Oh, perfect! I was so hoping you could relate. Of course your decisions may be different from mine in some ways, but the truth is, I tend to think we all have a lot on our plates with the never-ending option of adding MORE!

For the sake of taking on what appears to be good, we can often lose our peace and focus. The good things blend together and can leave us feeling tired and overwhelmed. Too much of a good thing just isn't good anymore. We tend to tune out, ignore things and people right in front of us, react sharply, and forget to do things. We just don’t feel like ourselves.

So what’s one to do? We can follow the cultural trend that would tell us to just go with it – busyness is a part of life! Or perhaps, we can take a stand. We can live our lives set apart. There is a little saying that often comes to mind as I try to navigate the numerous decisions I face.

“Don’t let the good things in life rob you of what’s best.” 

The best plan for our lives can be found when we align our perspectives with the truth found in God’s Word. The truth leads us to a balanced life of peace. When I follow the opinions and ways of others, when I seek to please, when I try to just go with the flow of culture, it’s only so long until the “good” things I’ve built my life upon begin to crumble underneath me. Yes, even the good things.  

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path. – Psalm 119:105

God wants to show us the way. He desires to lead us on the pathway of a peaceful, sustainable life. He wants something so much better for us than just running after every opportunity. But, we have to be willing to do two things. First, read the Word. Then, make decisions that reflect the wisdom learned. The way we live and the decisions we make reflect what is within. Are we honoring God or honoring our pride?

Better is one handful with tranquility than two handfuls with toil and chasing after the wind. Ecclesiastes 4:6

It is far BETTER for us to have MORE of what matters in life and LESS of what doesn’t.

It is better to have one hand free to pursue time with your Heavenly Father, unrushed moments with your children, or quality time with your husband. When you have one hand free, you have time to use the free hand to give someone a hug, make a meal for someone in need, write a note or text of encouragement, or jot down your thoughts in a journal. Keeping a hand free allows God the opportunity to bring blessings into your life that you would otherwise have been too busy to acknowledge.

In order to live this out, there are things you are currently doing that you need to let go of, things you might just need to get rid of, and times when you just need to turn it off.  

Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us. – Hebrews 12:1

Time goes by so quickly. We can get caught up in a rut of continuing to do the same things over an over again, even when they aren't working. I want to live a life marked by excellence. I want to pursue the better way. I want to give up things I love, for things I love EVEN more!  Will you join me in living a better life, with one hand full instead of two? Let’s take the bold step today to leave behind those things that hinder us from experiencing God’s best.

Far Beyond Our Ability to Endure

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Untitled design-2.png

I know there are many of you out there that are at the end of your rope. You feel like this season of despair is far beyond your ability to endure. Your peace is robbed, and you feel completely helpless and consumed by this trial or circumstance. You are not alone. The Apostle Paul also felt this type of deep anguish.

We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself. – 2 Corinthians 1:4, NIV

I don’t know about you, but reading Paul’s words gives me great comfort. I am not rejoicing that Paul felt this way, I am just comforted knowing that I am not alone. There have definitely been seasons in my life where I felt unable to stand and endure. And, I am sure that Paul and I aren’t the only ones who have felt this way.

We all go through periods like this – a heartbreaking diagnosis, the loss of a loved one, marital strain, miscarriage, betrayal, unemployment or financial burden. Like Paul, we may feel like there is no relief in sight. It may seem that all hope is gone. We may even feel that we are on the verge of death. But, I am here to encourage you to hold on.

If we cry out to the Lord in the midst of our weakness, He will strengthen us to continue. Paul is correct. Certain circumstances do surpass our ability to endure. In these moments, we must lean on Jesus so that His strength becomes ours. This is when God’s power is demonstrated most.

“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. – 2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT

We also need to recognize that this type of despair is not in vain. It forces us to learn how to become completely dependent on the Lord. In these moments of absolute weakness, we MUST turn to Him. With a heart of desperation, we raise our hands up to Jesus in an act of true surrender, and ask for His strength to endure. 

Ladies, it may seem like there is no end to the pain you are feeling. In fact, you may feel that you have no strength left inside you. But, I encourage you to invite Jesus into your situation. I promise you that there is always hope with Him on your side.

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandonded; struck down, but not destroyed.        – 2 Corinthians 4:8, NIV

A Call For Holiness

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Years ago, you truly couldn’t distinguish between who was a follower of Christ and who wasn’t solely based on conduct. Morality was expected from everyone, and there was shame in not living a life full of integrity. Unfortunately today, you still often cannot distinguish between the two. But nowadays, it is because Christians are abusing God’s grace and are using it as an excuse to live like those who don’t know Him.

For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths. – 2 Timothy 4:3-4, NLT

It is very easy to get caught up in the world’s ideas about living. But once we accept Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, a transformation in our hearts and minds should begin. We should turn away from anything that is sinful, for this grieves the Lord. I recognize that we will all fall into traps that entangle us, and forgiveness is extended. But, I am witnessing an unsettling trend.

In the past, there was a legalistic movement in the Church that led to a list of things you couldn’t do. You couldn’t dance, you couldn’t go to the movies, you couldn’t drink a glass of wine. Women couldn’t wear pants or make-up. The list went on and on filled with rules and regulations, many of which weren’t even sinful. If that weren’t bad enough, the major problem with this thinking was that people believed that if you obeyed this list, you earned your salvation, regardless of your heart. And, we all know that is nonsense.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.  Ephesians 2:8-9, NIV

Unfortunately, the pendulum has now swung in the opposite direction. In an effort to escape this dangerous legalistic thinking, people have gravitated to an “anything goes” philosophy of Christianity where they believe that any behavior is covered by grace. This is also nonsense. We are called to live a holy life.

As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance. But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do; for it is written: “Be holy, because I am holy.” – 1 Peter 1:14-16, NIV

Ladies, we need to ask ourselves some tough questions. Are we living a holy life? Does sin sadden us? Do we know what the Word of God commands, and does our life reflect it?

In an effort not to be vague, let’s get specific in some areas. Are you using language that is crude or foul? Do you lie to suit your purposes? Is anger ruling in your heart? Are you having sex outside of marriage? Do you get drunk on the weekends? Are you gossiping about your boss or your pastor? Are you entertaining yourself with media that is contrary to a Godly life?

When you truly love Jesus with all your heart, you should want to live a life that is pleasing to Him. Remember, His commands are not suggestions, they are requirements. And, the best part is that you don’t need to do it in your own strength. In fact, you couldn’t. We have the Holy Spirit available to us to empower us to live the life we’ve been called to live.

We need to get on our knees, repent, and turn away from any sinful behavior in our lives. God is calling us to be holy. Will you answer the call?

Finding Joy In the Rain

BY SHILA ANDERSON

I was having one of those days. I woke up to the rain, and rain always gets me down. I finished our tax return and found out we owed more than we thought we did. I left my lunch in the refrigerator at home, so I was starving at work. And when my daughter got home from school, I had to deal with ten-year-old girl drama – not fun. All of these “things” put me in a bad mood. I spent the whole day with a bad attitude and a scowl on my face. When my husband got home and asked me if I could please just smile, I wanted to scream.

I don’t know about you, but I tend to think my joy is based on my circumstances. I would be happy if only I got enough sleep the night before, if I didn’t get stuck in traffic, if my house was clean, or even if the sun was shining! I have the mentality that people or things can steal my joy.  Newsflash – no one and no thing can steal my joy. I am the one choosing to give it up.  Joy is a fruit of the Spirit, and when we are filled with the Holy Spirit, joy is always available to us. 

But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control.               Galatians 5:22-23

If we ever feel like we aren’t portraying these “fruits,” honestly, it’s our own fault. Sometimes, we just need to pray and ask God for help. Since we, as Christians, are supposed to be living by the Spirit, we need to let the Spirit lead us in every part of our lives. Sometimes we might need to force that smile, instead of barking out our laundry list of reasons why we aren’t happy.  Just because we are Christians, doesn’t mean that we are always going to get what we want. The test is how we act when things don’t go our way. Are we going to be filled with joy because we are filled with the Spirit, or are we going to be filled with anger, bitterness, and unhappiness because we are filled with the world?

I will be filled with joy because of you. I will sing praises to your name, O Most High. -  Psalm 9:2

I decided after my husband told me to smile (and I wanted to scream) to actually smile. It was not easy at first. I had to pray and give my nasty attitude to God. Then, I tried to fix my mind on happy thoughts and on good memories. I actually went and looked at pictures of when the kids were little to change my focus. They were just so cute. I couldn’t help but smile.   I have been so blessed. I felt foolish for being crabby after all God has done for me.

Satan would love nothing more than for us to walk around miserable. How about we make him mad and walk around happy? When you get up each day (even the days with rain), say to yourself, “This is the day that the Lord has made.  I will rejoice and be glad in it.”  And as you are standing at your closet, trying to figure out what to wear, don’t forget to put on your smile!

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice. - Philippians 4:4

The Gift of Presence

By Jessica Landmon

Most people who know me typically say I'm hard to buy a gift for. They would argue that I have very specific tastes or that I am too practical. So, when a holiday or birthday rolls around, the interrogation begins.

Between you and me, I think I am quite easy to buy for, and I do love gifts just as much as the next person. But, what I really have discovered is that the gift of presence is the best gift you could give me. I love to spend time with my family, so gifting me an activity or an opportunity to spend more time with them is my most treasured of gifts.

With two teenagers in the house, we are definitely in a season of busy. In fact, I feel that I spend more time driving my kids to and from activities than anything else. I know most moms can relate. Sure, we make every effort to spend time with each other, but most often, it happens in the car, squeezed in between activities, or during our late night dinners. And, it certainly isn’t the unhurried time that I so desire.

Thinking about all this got me reflecting on my relationship with my Heavenly Father and what He so desires from me. He longs to spend time with me, just as I long to spend time with my children. Squeezing in some prayer time in the car or in between a hectic day isn’t exactly the “quality” time He wants of me.

Am I giving the Lord my best? Have I given Him the gift of my presence – my undivided attention, setting my focus on Him, and Him alone? Do I set apart time to spend with Jesus when I'm not looking at my phone, mentally creating a to-do list, or otherwise consumed with another activity. Do I come unplugged before Him each and every day?

Unfortunately, my answer saddened me – not always. Days get crazy. Demands are high. And in fact, they are often filled with tasks that I'm doing for Him. But, what I have learned is that I will never achieve the level of intimacy with the Lord that my spirit craves until I gift Him this – the gift of my presence.

The funny thing is that I recognize how important this time with the Lord is to me. Yet some days, I simply fail to fit it in. These unhurried moments before the Lord provide me peace like no thing or no person can. It calms my heart and refreshes my spirit. It also gives me an opportunity to pour out praise to my awesome God, thanking Him for all He is and for all He has done.

Here, in this unhurried time with the Lord, He and I can dream and plan together. He provides understanding and comfort to situations my mind can’t comprehend in the natural. He heals my hurts, convicts me of bad choices, and helps me align myself with His will. In His presence, His majestic power, grace, and abundant love are revealed. Ultimately, I walk away stronger and empowered to do what I have been called to do.

Ladies, I encourage you to check yourselves in this area too. Have you given Jesus the gift of your presence – the uninterrupted, unhurried moments of your day where you spend solely with Him? If not, it's time to rethink your schedules and reprioritize. I can assure you that you will never regret any time spent in His presence.

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me. – Revelations 3:20

Fighting For Your Destiny

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Did you ever just wake up in the morning with an overwhelming sense that you were called to do something greater? You capture glimpses of your destiny, your very purpose of existing, and excitement starts to rise within. Then, that all too familiar voice invades your mind, telling you that you're just a dreamer and that you don’t have what it takes to make your dreams, the very dreams that God instilled in your heart, a reality. If this is you, you are not alone.

The enemy is real, and he will do anything to hinder you from walking into your destiny. His best strategy is to keep you a prisoner to his lies and deception. He wants you to believe that you are not good enough, that you don’t have enough resources, or that you are prideful to think that God would want to use you.

He also uses fear tactics – fear of failure, fear of people’s opinions, fear of the unknown – to cripple you from moving forward. The devil is smart and wants to stop you from realizing your purpose because, once you walk in it, he knows that you will be an unstoppable force for the Kingdom of God!

"The enemy does not attack you according to your history. He attacks you according to your destiny." - Lisa Bevere

The enemy has been attacking women for too long, and I, for one, have had enough. It's time we become wise to the enemy’s strategies and soar like we were destined to do. I am not suggesting we are all called to full-time ministry, but each of us has a purpose on this earth that is greater than ourselves. God wants to use us all for His purposes, but we need to tell the devil enough!

So, Lord Jesus, I break off every lie attacking my sisters today, discouraging them from pursing their destinies. I pray faith will arise. I speak goodness and success into their future. I don’t care what their pasts look like because Jesus, you can restore all brokenness and hurt, replacing it with hope overflowing. I command all fear to dissipate and for freedom to arise.

Lord, embolden all of us to take a step of faith today, trusting that you are right there alongside us. We will not worry about failing or what others may think. We will chase you with tenacity and will fight to become the women you’ve destined us to be.

Authors, Politicians, Teachers, Singers, Doctors, Pastors, Mothers, Business Owners. Raise us up, Lord God. Let us dream again. Let us not dismiss that nudging deep in our soul. We are not too old. We are not too weak. We are not too broken. We invite the Holy Spirit to equip us now as we boldly step into our destinies.

In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.     Matthew 19:26

The Great Compromise

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Compromise, in most instances, is usually a good thing. It is a way of finding common ground or a means to settling a dispute. Compromise is the key to healthy marriages and most relationships. It is necessary in politics and the business world. However, there is one place where compromise becomes destructive. It comes disguised as good intentions and packaged up beautifully under the label of love. 

The Holy Spirit has been tugging at my heart for quite some time now, and I feel I need to share about a great deception occurring right before our very eyes. In an effort to reach all people, in an attempt to tear down the boundaries that keep the “unchurched” out of church, in a means to reach more souls for Jesus, a great compromise of truth is happening.

The Christian Church, yes the Christian Church, is sacrificing the very foundations of our faith to become more relevant and culturally acceptable in an attempt to lead people to Christ. Church has become more about creating a great experience for people, rather than allowing them to experience the true presence of God at work within us all. We have become so fearful that we will offend people, that we have ultimately offended and grieved the Holy Spirit.

You will watch a generation of Christians – OF CHRISTIANS – set the Bible aside in an attempt to become more like Jesus. And stunningly it will sound completely plausible. This will be perhaps the cleverest of all the devil’s schemes in your generation. Sacrifice TRUTH for LOVE’s sake. And you will rise or fall based upon whether you will sacrifice one for the other. Will you have the courage to live in the tension of both TRUTH & LOVE?” – Beth Moore

We don’t want to make people feel uncomfortable, so we present feel good messages that resemble that of a life coach, and less like the words of Christ. We water down the Word of God and avoid the controversial and challenging parts. Ladies, I have news for you – the Word of God is offensive. In fact, that’s its very purpose.

 For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edge sword, it pierces even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow. It is able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart. Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight; everything is uncovered and exposed before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account. – Hebrews 4:12-13

God’s Word has power. It exposes our sinful nature, and it helps us realize that we need a savior. His Word, along with the power of the Holy Spirit, is what brings us to Jesus. We are doing people a disservice by withholding the whole Gospel from them.

Yes, we are called to love. That is the greatest commandment. But, at what cost? Jesus never sacrificed truth for love. He was able to offer both, and He is the greatest evangelist of all times. 

We need to check our hearts. We need to check our motivation. We cannot fear rejection from some because the truth is uncomfortable. Let’s love people so much that we present the whole Gospel to them. We will be accountable for the message we carry. Do you have the courage to take a stand in this generation and be a voice of both love and truth? 

Be on your guard; stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong. Do everything in love. – 1 Corinthians 16:13-14

 

 

 

Getting Through the Drought

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Life is marked by many seasons. One of the most unsettling seasons for a Christian can be one of drought, or spiritual dryness – a time when you no longer “experience” God’s presence like you used to. You once felt God in almost everything you did, and now it appears that He has moved away from you. Your prayer time seems mundane, your Bible reading is uneventful, and even your worship time doesn’t evoke the same emotions it used to.

What do you do? How do you respond to this? Well, one way to respond is to accept this as the new normal and become complacent in your walk. Obviously, this is dangerous territory. If you aren’t moving closer to God, than you are falling away. This is exactly what the enemy would love you to do because it provides a prime opportunity for him to move in on you.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. – 1 Peter 5:8

The other response, and the right one, is to chase after God with a new ferocity. Put everything else on hold, and seek Him like never before. Don’t stop until you push past the dryness.

Instead of viewing this season as a setback, view it as an invitation from the Lord to go deeper with Him. Going deeper shows Him that you are all in and that your desires aren’t as important as His. Going deeper brings you to a place where God can share His heart with you. Going deeper means He can trust you with Kingdom purposes. 

Unfortunately, a lot of us seek God until we feel Him a little, and then stop, never going further. This is so sad. This depth of relationship may sustain us for a while, but ultimately, it will never be enough to continually nourish our spirits. We need to go deeper.  

Going deeper with the Lord may require a great deal from us. We need to be disciplined and press in. We need to let go of some worldly habits and strongholds. But in the end, if we strive for this type of intimacy with God, we will always have enough to sustain us through each and every season of our life.

Come near to God and he will come near to you. – James 4:8

I don’t know about you, but I want to go deeper in 2017. I want to get to a place with the Lord where I won’t ever go dry. This isn’t just about going to church more often or reading the Bible again and again. I want to have an intimate relationship with Him. I want to go deep so that He may reveal revelation knowledge to me. I want to invite Him into every area of my life. I want to align my heart with His, so that His purposes become mine.

Ladies, it is time to push past the drought. I believe a rainstorm is coming! 

Getting Real About 2016: The Good, The Bad & The Ugly

BY JESSICA LANDMON

I’m not going to lie. I couldn’t wait for 2016 to end. Although the year was marked with more tangible and spiritual blessings than ever before, it was also a year filled with a lot of hurt and uncertainty. As a result, 2016 has been affectionately nicknamed in my house as the “year of change.”

I will admit that at several points during the year, I seriously considered selling everything and moving to the mountains with my husband, kids and extended family. I wanted to shut out all contact with people, and just serve God and sing “Kumbaya My Lord” by the campfire. You’re laughing, but I’m not joking.

The good news is that even though some of the things that transpired during 2016 took me by surprise, none of them surprised my God. He had a plan. There was purpose. And, it is unfolding right before my eyes.

Interestingly, now that I have made it past the roughest parts, I can only express a heart of gratitude to the Lord for bringing me through this journey. He taught me spiritual lessons that only trials like this afford. It helped me appreciate my family and the love and support that they continually offer to me. New friendships have been forged, and people have entered my life that I never would have met had it not been for this rocky season.

You may be wondering what exactly happened and why I am leaving out the details – simple, because the details are unimportant. Seasons of difficulty come and go. But as Christians, we need to wrap our heads around this truth – God never wastes anything!

A mighty woman of God poured some strong Godly wisdom into my heart during a particularly challenging day. She said:

“Don’t see any of this [trial] as a set back, but see it as a set up. God is setting things up. Your hurt and pain won’t be wasted. He will use it for His glory.”

Wow! These words spoke directly to me, and I wanted to share them with you because I know I am not alone. Many of you are also dealing with your own form of hurt. Dreams you were chasing may have been extinguished, people you trusted may have let you down, and relationships may have been broken. God knows your heartache and saw every tear you shed. I promise you, He will use this all for His glory, if you let Him.

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

So, where do we go from here? How do we move forward? We need to let go. We need to leave the past behind us, and embrace what God has in store for us in the future.  

As we enter 2017, let go of the hurt. Release its hold over you. Focus on the good. Forget all the bad. And, forgive the ugly. Once you do, you are well positioned for God to use you. Your destiny is calling. Are you ready?

Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus. – Philippians 3:13-14

‘Tis the Season

BY JESSICA LANDMON

‘Tis the season to be jolly, or so the saying goes. During the Christmas season, we, of course, should be filled with joy and exuberance. What’s not to love? Christmas decorations adorn our homes, Hallmark movies are in marathon mode, and cookies and treats are everywhere.

Although I admittedly am a “Christmas-aholic”, I recognize that this time of year is not that “jolly” for many of you. Some of you are dealing with hurtful memories of Christmases gone bad. Others are coping with the loss of a loved one that makes this particular time of year very painful. And, still, others are feeling anxious about all the things that need to be accomplished.

In any instance, I want to encourage you with some truths.

1 – Jesus wants to bring you peace this Christmas.

The holidays can be one of the most painful times of year, either reliving disappointments from prior years or missing that loved one who is no longer with you. Jesus can bring you peace and healing. You just need to come undone before Him.

Invite Him into all those areas that you try to hide from the world, and allow Jesus to minister to you soul. Let Him replace sorrow with hope, depression with joy, and anger with love. Stop looking to other means to fill that void. Jesus, and Jesus alone, is the answer.

2 – Christmas isn’t about you. 

That’s right. It’s about the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Your shopping list may still be untouched, and your Christmas cards may not even make it out this year, but that’s not what it’s about. Who cares if you put on a Pinterest-worthy party? (Although, I’d like to be invited if you do.)

Christmas should be a time where we reflect on the single most significant gift we have ever received – Jesus. His birth, and ultimately His death, reconciles our sinful lives to God so that we may spend eternity with Him. If we reflect on this marvelous truth, all the pressure that we put on ourselves this season begins to seem silly. Let His presence overflow in your heart.

3 – Stop sacrificing your Christmas joy in pursuit of the “perfect” Christmas. 

Yes, I love to decorate every room of my house. And, yes, I have an Excel spreadsheet that tallies all my gift purchasing. But, I will not allow the stress of the season to ruin my Christmas.

I used to think that I needed to have Christmas cards in the mailbox by December 1st, Christmas shopping done by Thanksgiving, and all presents wrapped and under the tree no later than the first week of December. Crazy, right? I thought that if I could get all this done early, I could really spend the season focusing on the important things. I guess that is true, but as what cost?

Instead of quickly checking things off my list, I decided to enjoy each and every thing I need to do no matter when it gets done. Of course, I still feel pressure at times, but I have learned to view these tasks as blessings, rather than burdens.

4 – You don’t have to act like Buddy from Elf to let the joy of the season fill you. 

I know I may be offending some of my high-spirited readers, but we don’t need to decorate our cars with antlers, wear a Santa hat to the office, and play Christmas music around the clock to experience the joy of the season. If you enjoy this, please, by no means stop, but understand joy is something experienced in the heart, not necessarily put on display for everyone to see.

Joy isn’t a feeling – it is confidence in knowing where your hope lies. Joy comes from receiving our King, Jesus. And, it shouldn’t stop on December 25th. You can experience this joy year round.

Joy to the World! The Lord is come! Let earth receive her King. Let every heart prepare Him room, and Heaven and nature sing.

When Love Is Absent

BY JESSICA LANDMON

When love is absent, bitterness overflows. When love is absent, selfishness exists. When love is absent, pride manifests. Bitter, selfish, and proud – these three adjectives accurately describe the condition of Jonah’s heart.

The book of Jonah is only four short chapters. And, yet, his life has really stirred my heart – so much that I have now devoted two back-to-back blogs about it.

God asked Jonah to share a message of repentance to the people of Ninevah. But, Jonah did not want to go. He was afraid that the people would hear this message, turn from their wickedness, and that God would show them love rather than the judgment that Jonah felt they deserved.

Wanting people to receive punishment for their wrongdoing is a normal human reaction, but it is not Godly. I can totally understand how Jonah would want the people of Ninevah to get what was coming to them. They were evil and inflicted cruelty on the Israelites. But, that’s not God’s heart. And, Jonah knew that.

I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. – Jonah 4:2

If you really study the scriptures, you will see that God uses punishment as a last resort. God is a God of love. He wants all people to turn from their evil ways. His hope is to restore all people. He wants to welcome everyone into a relationship with Him. And, He will give people numerous opportunities to do so.

When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. – Jonah 3:10

Ladies, I am deeply troubled by the current state of our nation. Love is diminishing, while hate is growing. But, we need to remember that God is deeply in love with all of us, no matter what we have done. His hope is that we all receive His free offer of repentance and turn to Him.

Let’s make sure we remember this the next time we see people who have rejected God or are struggling in sin. It’s easy to see ungodly behavior and get all smug. But, aren’t we all just “a burning stick snatched from the fire”? (Zechariah 3:5) We need to extend the same grace to others that God has extended to us. If we lack love, how are we supposed to bring them to Jesus?

Loving people like Jesus is our choice. Love brings understanding. Love brings compassion. Love brings unity.

When love is absent, evil wins.

The Belly of a Fish

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Has God ever asked you to do something that you just plain didn’t want to do? Maybe it was outside your comfort zone. Or, perhaps, you knew that there could be backlash that followed. Maybe you just weren’t comfortable with God’s strategy. In any instance, you convinced yourself that it just wasn’t something you were going to do, and the matter was settled.

You are not alone. Jonah was given such a task and initially responded the same way. God asked Jonah to go preach a message of repentance to the people of Ninevah. These weren’t just any people – they were evil – and they were Israel’s biggest enemy. Jonah wanted them to get what was coming to them, certainly not offer them a way out.

So Jonah said no. Actually, he said no and tried to get as far away from God as possible. He set sail for Tarshish, which was the opposite direction of Ninevah. Well, most of you who attended a Sunday school class or two know what happened next. Jonah ended up in the belly of a fish. And, the Lord rescued him from the depths of the ocean and graciously put Jonah back on his path so that he could fulfill his mission.

“Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights.” – Jonah 1:17

Ladies, you can’t hide from God. He will find you. In fact, He never lost you. His eyes are always on you. God has specific assignments that you – and only you – can accomplish. He wants you to walk in your calling, and He will take drastic measures to make that happen.

Make no mistake, God will sometimes ask us to do things we don’t want to do, but we need to trust that it’s the right thing even if we can’t understand it at the time. There is much Kingdom work to be done, and God is asking us to do our part. Listen, I’m not Jonah, and neither are you, but God still wants to use us to accomplish His purposes here on earth.

Whether or not you obey God’s request is entirely up to you. But, remember, God will not let you run from Him. He will pursue you with fervency. He has a perfect plan and path for your life, and He wants you to walk in it. It’s time to stop avoiding it. If you do, you might just end up in the belly of a fish!

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” – Ephesians 2:10

Just Breathe

BY JESSICA LANDMON

Life is busy. Time is short. And, our priorities are often out of order. Our days are spent completing an endless list of things that "need" to get done. And, in the middle of this craziness, we squeeze in some prayer time and Bible reading, and hope that we make it to the finish line each night. If this is you, I can tell you with certainty that you are doing it wrong. Yes, you are doing life wrong. Jesus came to give us life and life more abundantly, not this hectic life we have come to accept. In the middle of our busyness and good intentions, we have sacrificed peace, joy, and the abundant life God has planned for us.

The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly. – John 10:10 (NKJV)

People hear the word abundant and immediately assume that the scriptures are referring only to material blessings. This is why many are chasing the wrong things and burning themselves out in the process. The abundant life referred to here has so much more to offer than just things and status. It is a life filled with God’s presence and counsel. It is a life filled with purpose and fulfillment. It is a life filled with laughter, gladness, and hope.

So what's the solution? How do we step away from the rat race that we all have come to accept as normal? Well, the first thing you need to do is just breathe. Actually, take a long, deep breath with me right now. Don't think about all the things you need to get done. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale. Meditate on God's goodness and His immeasurable love for you.

Now, ask God to reveal His heart to you and show you where you should direct you time and energy. Focus on these areas. When you partner with God and are in alignment with His vision, our tasks begin to have purpose. These tasks won't feel like burdens anymore, but rather opportunities to collaborate with the Kings of Kings.

Please understand that this isn't an excuse to shirk our responsibilities. There are things that we just need to do each and every day. But, if we were truly honest with ourselves, we would see that many of the things we stress about are things we were never meant to do. That's why we end up feeling overwhelmed and short on time.

Ladies, God doesn’t want you stressed and overwhelmed. He wants you to partner with Him so that you can accomplish your purpose. Let go of the old way of thinking, and start chasing after what God has in store for you. I promise, you won’t be disappointed. Now breathe.

untitled-design
untitled-design

----------------------------------------------------------------------

We hope that you will be able to join us for the “The Power Within” Conference on Saturday, October 29th from 9:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. at The Cornerstone Church in Cheshire, CT. We are expecting a refreshing time with the Lord.

For tickets, go to:

https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-power-within-womens-conference-tickets-25701743607

All Wrapped Up

BY JESSICA LANDMON

I bought the present weeks ago. It was a nice present, and I put a lot of thought into purchasing it. However, the day of the party arrived quickly, and minutes before we had to leave, I remembered that it was yet to be wrapped. Life had been just a little bit crazy the last few weeks. Now that summer was over, the running around and juggling act soon became a reality again. Unfortunately, picking up some wrapping paper from the store was not top on my list.

In a panic, I decided to make do with what I had. I grabbed a recycled gift bag from the closet and placed the present inside. Although the gift was obviously too big for this bag, I had no other options and felt pretty confident that tissue paper could fix this. Then, I realized that I had none.

Remembering that an item I ordered recently online was wrapped in gold tissue paper, I quickly ran to the recycle bin and fished it out. A conveniently placed piece of ribbon that my daughter didn’t put away from the day before sat lying on the counter and finished the look. Voila! The gift was ready to go.

When I took a step back, I admired my ingenuity, but recognized that the gift looked pathetic. It was a wrinkled, mismatched mess. And the worst part was that there was no time to do anything about it! Off to the party we went.

Things were going well until present time arrived. Of course, my interior designer sister-in-law’s present was up first. As you would expect, her presents are always wrapped in Pinterest worthy fashion. So when my present came up, I began to squirm in my seat, completely ashamed of the presentation of my gift. However, what happened next made all the embarrassment quickly fade away.

My father-in-law looked at the gift, unaffected by the exterior, and pulled the present right out of the bag. The expression of gratitude on his face made the gift-wrapping disaster fall to the wayside. He was truly excited and touched by the gift we purchased.

As the saying goes, it’s what’s on the inside that counts. I know this, but I sometimes allow my perfectionism to get the best of me. And sometimes, this transfers to other areas of my life. Can anyone relate?

All too often, we, as women, focus on superficial nonsense. We worry about the way we dress, our weight, our hair and make-up, the car we drive, and other worldly measures that don’t mean a thing. We tend to equate our exterior presentation with our worth. That’s ridiculous!

God is not interested in how we present, but very much interested in the condition of our hearts. We spend too much time on shallow pursuits, and not enough time working on our interior.

Ladies, it’s time to stop getting all wrapped up on the exterior, and remember that it’s what’s on the inside that counts!

For the Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart. – 1 Samuel 16:7, NKJV

sale-2
sale-2

----------------------------------------------------------------------

We hope that you will be able to join us for the “The Power Within” Conference on Saturday, October 29th, from 9:00 a.m. – 2:oo p.m. at the The Cornerstone Church in Cheshire, Connecticut. We are expecting a refreshing time with the Lord. Early bird pricing is available through 9/30/16.

For tickets, go to: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/the-power-within-womens-conference-tickets-25701743607