When You Need Strength…

Running on fumes with nothing left to give? I have definitely been there. But, we have a Source available to draw strength from daily. Let’s see what the Bible says about getting our strength from God:

1. Seek His presence continually

Seek the Lord and his strength; seek his presence continually! -1 Chronicles 16:11

Are you all out of give? Then look to the Lord and His strength. His Word says to seek His presence-not just sometimes, but always. How can we keep going if we aren’t filled up? We must be in the Bible and in His presence, filling up on His Truth, in order to have the strength to continue running this marathon called life.

2. He helps me

The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him, and he helps me. My heart leaps for joy, and with my song I praise him. -Psalm 28:7

God is our helper and our protector. When we run out of strength, we don’t stop trusting. Instead, we remain faithful-with a joyful heart, while continuing to praise Him, and being confident that He will help us.

3. God arms with strength

It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure. -2 Samuel 22:33

He is the One who supplies strength. And He is our Replenisher when we run dry. To avoid getting parched in the first place, however, let’s make sure we are intentionally connected to Him at all times, so that we are getting the proper nourishment and walking in His strength. Because like a branch cut from it’s source that withers and dies, it is in this place of disconnect, that we too, get weak and thirst for our Source.

4. God will be with you wherever you go

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” -Joshua 1:9

For we need not fear, because our strength is right here beside us, at all times. God commanded Joshua to be strong. This wasn’t a suggestion. And it’s not a suggestion for us, either. Just as God walked with Joshua leading the tribes across the Jordan river, so will He walk with us. By putting our confidence in Him, knowing that He is with us at all times, we can be strong and bravely traverse the rivers put on our path.

5. Be strong in the Lord

Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. -Ephesians 6:10

Paul doesn’t say to be strong in the flesh. We weren’t made to walk in our own strength. We were made to walk in God’s. And we do this by putting on His armor everyday before entering into battle. In this way, we can stand firm in Him and in His Truth.

6. I can do all things through Him

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. -Philippians 4:13

Even the hard things, we can do…through Him. They may not be easy, but through Him, they are possible because nothing is impossible with our God. Our God can do the unimaginable, and so can we-with His help.

7. God is the strength of my heart

My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. -Psalm 73:26

Our bodies are wasting away with each day that passes and our minds and hearts may fail us, but God never will. We can rest securely, knowing we have everything we need in Him. He is enough and always has been enough. We can put our faith and trust entirely in Him, holding onto His eternal promises. And holding onto the promise of eternity can give us that extra strength to keep going and finish the race strong.

8. A wise man is full of strength

A wise man is full of strength, and a man of knowledge enhances his might, -Proverbs 24:5

The Bible says that Fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and Proverbs 24:5 states that when we are wise, we are full of strength. Wisdom and knowledge give us power. And this knowledge and wisdom come from the Lord, as well as other other wise Christians. Part of walking in wisdom is knowing when and where to seek counsel and guidance. It is realizing we need the strength of God, and sometimes other mature Christians to help us.

9. Hoping in Him=renewed strength

But those who wait for the Lord [who expect, look for, and hope in Him] Will gain new strength and renew their power;
They will lift up their wings [and rise up close to God] like eagles [rising toward the sun]; They will run and not become weary, They will walk and not grow tired. -Isaiah 40:31 (AMP)

According to Oxford Languages, the meaning of renew is: to give fresh life or strength to; (to) revive. God will strengthen our weary bones. He will revive us and breathe fresh life into us, but we must do our part by seeking Him with our whole hearts and placing our hope and trust in Him. It is then that we will run and not grow weary.

10. When I am weak, then I am strong

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. -2 Corinthians 12:9-10

There is no shame in weakness and hardship, because it is in those places of weakness that He is glorified. In fact, we should rejoice in our weaknesses, because it is in those times of deep dependence upon Him that His power shines for all to see. When our flesh fails, when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, His power is made perfect. And as He is the One who upholds us, we realize that He is plenty.

Freedom and Hope In Jesus

Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. -2 Corinthians 3:17

Held prisoner to memories, the torment of trauma had been weighing me down for far too long. The abandonment by my father and a nasty divorce from long ago had been surfacing a lot lately, after being triggered right before Christmas. Both last night and tonight, I was right smack dab in the middle of the trauma all over again and this boulder of pain felt like it was crushing my soul. After being stuck in this hopeless cycle of bondage, God moved a mountain.

He has recently been speaking to me about letting my father go, but the truth is, I hadn’t known how to completely do this. While I have done a ton of work on my dad and there have been layers of healing and forgiveness throughout the years, I was still experiencing the effects of this old trauma, and was struggling to fully forgive him. Each time I thought I had left the past behind, another trigger would smack me in the face and the wounds would spew, taking a week or more to move on with my life.

Yesterday, after communicating with my dad and having more hurt dug up, I was hanging by a thread. The trauma and pain were fresh again. Beyond weary, I had run out of steam to keep running the race and I didn’t know if my body could carry on. Looking at all that was on my plate for the evening, I thought I’d crumble, but I made a choice. I could have used a number of distractions to try to cover up the pain, but I reached for my Heavenly Father. Opening up His Word, I asked Him to speak to me and He spoke-Sing to the Lord. Not exactly what I expected hear, but it’s what He’s been telling me this past week-worship me in the wilderness. So, I did just that. I drew myself a bath, cranked my Worship Him in the Wilderness playlist found here and belted out songs, praising Him. That simple obedient act turned my night around. I was in a very dark place that could have spiraled down quickly, but He filled me up and lit me up. Shining hope, He brought light to my darkness. He showed me that He had this-that He had me. My Heavenly Father let me know that I could let go and trust Him with this suitcase of pain I had been lugging around for thirty-two years.

Then, tonight, the thoughts of my father returned and my heart throbbed again. The hopelessness was starting to settle in. Heading down that dark path of depression, the old wounds began crippling me. Knowing my warning signs, I had to act quick. I’ll admit, for years, distraction from the pain was my go-to-whether it be with food, my phone, sleep, work or binge watching shows. Thumbing through Hulu, I knew was the wrong choice, there was no relief there, so again, I drew myself a bath, turned on worship music and abided in Him. Tears streaming down my face, I sang and poured out my heart to Jesus. A few minutes later, I got on my knees and asked Him to break these chains as I handed Him my father and the situation. What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. I heard Him say “get up and walk”. Thinking, I’m in a bathtub, what does this mean? Did a miracle just happen? Yes, it sure did. That soul-crushing pain that had been bearing down heavily on my chest was suddenly lifted and I felt freedom.

This evening, He filled me with joy and broke chains that only He could break. I was depressed and had zero motivation to write before this happened, now here I am at my computer, telling my story. I’ve learned a lot about forgiveness in the last two days. What He’s taught me is that forgiveness is making a choice to release my father, then trusting Him to take care of what I can’t. It’s depending on God to carry the pain, resentment, and offenses, so I don’t have to carry it anymore. Forgiveness is choosing to trust that He will take care of the offender in His way, on His time, however He chooses. Do you trust me enough to set you free? This is what I heard Him asking me. Tonight, I made a choice to release my father to Him and I’m choosing trust.

So if the Son sets you free, you will be free indeed. -John 8:36

**an update after writing this post, He spoke again and confirmed the broken chains. While reading another’s blog, this verse spoke right to my heart:

“Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you.” -Psalm 116:7

My Go-to Playlist When I’m Needing Hope

There are days when life is just plain hard. It’s on those days, that listening to some specially selected Christian tunes helps me feel closer to God. I have a go-to playlist I repeatedly reach for when life is looking bleak or I’m riddled with anxiety. It draws me nearer to Him, giving me the boost I need. Do you have some favorites you listen to when life’s got you down or you can’t turn the worry off? (I’d love to here them! Please post your faves in the comments!) Here are the songs I crank up when I’m struggling and need to soak in His presence:

  1. I’ll Find You-Lecrae (feat. Tori Kelly)
  2. God Only Knows-For King and Country
  3. Wilderness (Acoustic)-Anna Byrd
  4. Fight for Me-GAWVI (feat. Lecrae)
  5. God so Good-Abundant Life Creative
  6. Fight On, Fighter-For King and Country
  7. Symphony-Switch
  8. Head Above Water-Avril Lavigne
  9. Give Me Jesus-Jeremy Camp
  10. I Will Fear No More-The Afters
  11. Every Little Thing-Hillsong Young & Free
  12. Count Me In-Switch

30 Ways to Embrace 2021 and Remain Hopeful

A person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, -Ecclesiastes 2:24

This year, more than ever, we need hope. Of course, Jesus, is the one we really need to hang onto and put our hope in. We can do other activities we enjoy to help brighten our days too. Here are some ways to help us embrace 2021 and remain hopeful:

1. Drink from the well that is Jesus

2. Pray fervently

3. Count your blessings

4. Take each day as it comes

5. Try something you’ve never done before

6. Remember God’s promises (here are a few to hold onto: Isaiah 49:13, Hebrews 13:5, Nahum 1:7, Deuteronomy 7:9, Isaiah 40:31)

7. Find something to laugh at each day

8. Seek out things that put a smile on your face

9. Help a friend in need

10. Look for ways to serve others

11. Love on people even when you don’t feel like it

12. Try a new recipe or create one

13. Memorize new verses

14. Rely on God for help

15. Make new memories

16. Create something every day (creativity can take many forms!)

17. Use your talents to bless someone

18. Gather songs that bring a sense of joy and hope, then create a 2021 playlist

19. Surrender every part of your life to God

20. Focus on the present

21. Snuggle an animal for comfort

22. Shift your perspective and focus on what you can do, as opposed to what you can’t

23. Come up with a bucket list for this year

24. Utilize technology to remain close to loved ones

25. Print out some of your favorite Bible verses and quotes, then post them throughout your house

26. Learn a new craft

27. Try Bible journaling

28. Ask God to help you choose one or two words to focus on this year that will help you become more like Him

29. Do everything as though you are doing it for the Lord

30. Make a list of books you would like to read this year, then cuddle up and choose one to read

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. -Colossians 3:17

Hanging onto Hope

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. -Psalm 23:4

How do we hang onto hope when we’re struggling with hopelessness? It’s an answer I’m trying to find myself. Having battled severe bouts of depression off and on for years, there are times when my lens on life becomes blurred and my thoughts so negative, hope feels out of reach. But it’s there, because God is our hope and He never changes. We remember that He is the anchor that we ground ourselves to when being tossed about in a sea of despair.

With depression, come feelings of hopelessness and helplessness, a lack of motivation and energy, a loss of interest in things once enjoyed, unbearable fatigue or insomnia, and a mind flooded with negative thoughts. Attempting daily tasks can be a real battle. Some days are a constant treading of water to survive and keep from drowning. Some of my worst episodes of depression were best described to friends, this way-if there was a pill ten feet from me that could make me feel 100% better, it was just too hard to get out of bed and grab it. It was just too hard. Everything feels too hard-facing the day, brushing your teeth, taking a shower. Simple everyday tasks become mountain climbers. Depression sucks everything from your being. There is a deadness, an emptiness, a void inside. It’s a deep, dark abyss.

So how do we hold onto that hope-to Him, during these times? Taking captive each negative thought that comes to mind, we give them to Jesus, then we direct our thoughts towards Him and fix our eyes on the One who can give us peace. While keeping our focus on Him, we make make ourselves do one activity we once enjoyed, for fifteen minutes, setting a timer if we need to. Then, we force ourselves to find things to be grateful for each day, writing them down if we must, and we remind ourselves that every good and perfect gift that we have to be thankful for is from Jesus. And we remember that when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death, He is with us-always with us.

“Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him.” -Psalm 62:5 So, we rest in Him. And we fill ourselves with His Word. When depression makes every little thing feel like it requires so much effort and even reading the Bible is hard, we can listen by turning on an audible Bible app, such as YouVersion, and listening to the Word. Psalms 130:5-6 says “I wait for the Lord, my soul waits, and in his word I hope; my soul waits for the Lord more than those who watch for the morning, more than those who watch for the morning.” We wait. We pour out our hearts to Him. And we hope in his powerful Word. Then, reminding ourselves that this is temporary, we tell ourselves that this too, shall pass, because it will-even though it feels as though it will last forever. Having lived through too many bouts of depression to count, I am living proof. Grab that Anchor, hang on for dear life, ruminate on His Word and don’t let go. Let’s let Him be our light in the depths of our darkness.

I waited patiently for the LORD; he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; he set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear the LORD and put their trust in him. -Psalm 40:1-3

*This is not medical advice, nor is this meant to be a substitute for medical help. It is my personal experience I am sharing and what I am currently trying to do to help myself during a season of depression.

Lemonade Blessings

You are my God, and I will give thanks to you; you are my God; I will extol you. -Psalms 118:28

No matter how difficult life may be right now, there is always, ALWAYS something to be thankful for. When we are struggling to keep afloat during this pandemic, we may have to look a little harder for our blessings-but they are there.

If you are breathing, then you have life to be thankful for. There is air in your lungs, even when life knocks the wind out of you. If you can see the sun peaking through the clouds, if only for a few hours, then you have light to be thankful for. There is some sunshine brightening the dark days. If you were caught in a downpour, you have access to an element vital to the survival of the plants and animals we consume. You not only have access to water which is essential and refreshing, you’ve been given an opportunity to dance in the rain in a time of gloominess. If you can hug your child or a family member, then you have affection to be thankful for. You have some comfort, when life is uncomfortable. If you have food, then you have the energy to exist. You have a full belly, even when worry or circumstances turn your stomach upside down. If you have heat, then you have warmth. You can regulate your body temperature, even when the chills of life settle in your bones. If you have a brain and can read this post, then you can think and learn. You can change your thoughts and put a positive spin on the tornadoes that attempt to ravage you. If you have hands, then you can squeeze. You can make lemonade, when life hands you lemons. And if you have Jesus, then you have everything to be thankful for, because every good and perfect gift is from above. You have everything you need, if you have Him.

You, Lord, are all I have, and you give me all I need; my future is in your hands. How wonderful are your gifts to me; how good they are! Psalms 16:5-6

Tested to Purify

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold–though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world. -1 Peter 1:6-7

When the storms are raging all around us, and the trials are piling up in heaps, how to we hold onto our faith and how do we count it all joy? These are the questions I am asking myself right now.

If faith is believing even when we cannot see, and we are supposed to walk by faith, not by sight, maybe I’m just not seeing yet. Yet is the key word. I may be blinded right now to what’s up ahead, but that doesn’t mean it’s not there. Maybe, just maybe, He has something waiting around the bend that is far better than I can imagine. This is faith and hope and I’m going to hold onto it. Just because I can’t see, doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. He knows the plans He has for us, and He tells us that they are plans to prosper us and not harm us, plans to give us a hope and a future. We can clutch onto this piece of Truth. But, that isn’t to say that we aren’t in the fiery furnace right now or that it’s easy to hang onto our faith.

As the hurricane of life sweeps in, He tells us to continue to be faithful. How though, when it’s all so heavy and it hurts? And then when we become flooded with doubts? One way we do this is by nourishing ourselves in the Word and soaking up His teachings, so that we can keep putting one foot in front of the other in a Christlike manner. His Word is refreshment for our souls. We read and we memorize. We tuck His words deep into our hearts so we don’t forget them. His Word is a lifeline to the One who carries us, the One who is hope.

We put our hope in our Father and we realize that He is doing something bigger here-He is training us and growing our faith during these times. And if we are afraid of the unknown or we can’t see a way out of the flames, we rise above our fear and we choose to trust. We make that choice and act as if we trust, even when it appears that the dark clouds will never make way for the sun to shine again. We continue to stand firm in Him, trusting that He knows what’s best for us and that He has our best interests in mind. Because He does.

And the joy part. This is where I stumble. How do we consider these trials joy? And how do we feel some joy in the inferno?

For one, we keep our eye on the prize. We will have trouble this side of Heaven. This is a given. Yet, Heaven is our reward and we have to continue to persevere and run the race for Him. We have to sacrifice our comforts now, by accepting the pain and suffering, and knowing that we will be blessed beyond measure later. We remember that this agony we are enduring in this moment will be nothing compared to the joy we will experience when we receive the crown that He has for us. So we look up and keep our focus on what is waiting for us. We can do something else though, too.

Phillipians 4:8 tells us “…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.” We think about the things in front of us that are lovely and praiseworthy and true and right. These are things that can give us joy now.

And worshiping Him in the pain will also bring us joy and peace. We raise our hands, crank up the Christian jams and we sing and dance through the pain and frustration, rejoicing in Him. He will comfort our hearts and give us the gift of joy, despite our circumstances.

In 1 Timothy 4: 8-10, Paul writes to Timothy, “Physical training is good, but training for godliness is much better, promising benefits in this life and in the life to come.” Then he states “This is why we work hard and continue to struggle, for our HOPE is in the living God, who is the Savior of all people.” The struggles will be there. He says that, but so is He, because where He is, our hope lies. And He never wavers.

He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the Lord. -Psalms 112:7