Hope Dancing in the Darkness

Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. -James 1:17

Ever feel like you aren’t sure when you’ll see the light of day-those times when the trials come but don’t let up-when darkness surrounds and you wonder if it will ever end-and you need that reminder of Hope?

God reminded me in a big way, recently, that He is still here, no matter what I am going through. Just when I needed a little light, BOOM! He was at work lighting up the night sky, putting on a full dancing display before dawn-while I was still fast asleep. I had no idea what I was about to witness for the first time.

Then two weeks ago, as I was dropping deeper into the slimy pit of depression and had just asked for prayer from both my husband and a friend, He did it again. My husband came running in from walking our dogs before bed and yelled that the Aurora Borealis was bobbing in the sky. These two sightings were indeed blessings, because in the year and a half that we have been in Alaska, we have waited anxiously to see the Northern Lights-something so breathtaking, that it’s written on many a bucket list. These were signs of hope from our Creator.

Jostled awake a few weeks ago, I arose to shouting voices and a panicked rush out the door. “It’s the Aurora Borealis. Hurry.” So, I stumbled to the mud room to pull on my snow boots, still not fully aware of what was going on, and I hobbled out the front door in the dark following my family. There it was. To my amazement, we finally saw it. Just when I needed it most, He blessed us with His magnificent light show. Just when I couldn’t see any further, because I was so caught up in my trials, His blessing was around the corner-but I didn’t know that. And, I had no idea He would shine His light so spectacularly a few days later.

And He likely has blessings just around the corner for us all. So, when it’s difficult to see the light, let’s remember that He is our light-waiting to shower us with His blessings. Let us not forget that he makes each day anew. So when the days are long and we don’t know when that trial we are going through will end, we can anticipate His blessings-blessings of hope that he sprinkles all around us. Let us not forget to keep our eyes open to all He has for us, because we never know when He will surprise us and shine a light on our darkness!

The night is almost gone, and the day is near. Therefore let us lay aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. -Romans 13:12
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. -Isaiah 60:1

Know

Last night, I was awake until the wee hours of the morning. It wasn’t until just after 4am that I finally fell asleep. So, tonight I was looking forward to a full night’s slumber. My daughter’s breathing took a turn for the worse, however, and she started having an asthma attack just before bed. With her oxygen level dropping, I knew it was going to be a long night of me monitoring her every fifteen minutes.

And a long night, I can handle. Heck, having handled many long nights, I’m a pro. But, with the continual challenges we’ve been pounded with over the last several years, I am truly exhausted. As I prepared our girls’ schoolwork for tomorrow, I got lost in thought about the state of this world, the suffering so many are experiencing right now, and the weariness I’m feeling lately. I began spacing out. When my eyes came to focus, it happened to be on a copywork/handwriting worksheet I had pulled from a folder. A few minutes earlier when I had grabbed it, I hadn’t even noticed the verse that was on it, but it definitely caught my eye this time: Be still and know that I am God. The Bible verse, Psalm 46:10, is a well-known one. God spoke to me in that moment and somehow it hit me differently this time. When He told me to know-that I can rest assuredly in Him, I felt it. It was like a breath of fresh air. I could breathe and know.

And so can you! We can be still and confident-unmoved when all about us the turbulence of life attempts to throw us around, because He said to be still and know that He Is God. He has it all under control, even when the world rages and life feels out of control. And, for those struggles that pile up and start weighing us down? Let’s not forget to hand over the weight of what we cannot control, to Him.

Faith…No Matter What

Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. -Isaiah 41:10

How do you answer these questions from your own child? “Does God not care about me? Then why am I always sick?” Those were the questions our 11 year old asked me last night. And they were tough ones. Having dealt with my own chronic health issues since I was 13 years old, I ran from doctor to doctor for almost thirty years. With few answers, and left completely demoralized, I, too, have wondered this at times-days when I couldn’t bear the agony any longer.

Those many, many days when I felt as though I was on my deathbed, truly wondering if I would see another week, I wrestled with God about being chronically ill. “Why, God?” “Why?” And while I still have my good days and bad days, with my baseline far from perfect, God gives me the strength I need each day to get through. This isn’t just about me though.

To see my own child suffering through something very similar, is heartbreaking. Multiple mysterious symptoms. Several doctors. Numerous specialists. No concrete answers. And then, the questions that I can’t answer. “Mommy, when will I feel better?”

I wonder, how do I fill others with hope when I don’t see an end to their situation-especially my own child’s? This is where faith comes in. It is believing, even when we cannot see. It is grabbing onto Him and trusting, no matter what. When my daughter asked me if God cared about her, I had to remind her that of course He did, and that God is good no matter what.

The questions she asked did rattle me a bit however, I have to be honest, because I saw her in me. I don’t want what I’ve gone through for my daughter, yet these past few years, she’s been living it. Our family has been through a lot, and yet we persevere with God by our sides. So, if she takes away anything from me, I hope she sees that in my weakness, that I’m learning to depend on Him wholeheartedly, and that God is her hope and strength. And while I will do whatever I can to get her better, through it all, God is still good, because He is. We can’t let our faith be shaken in these instances. God is still who He says He is, even in times of testing, and I’m thankful for this.

“For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” -2 Corinthians 4:17-18

“I will trust Him. Whatever, wherever I am, I can never be thrown away. If I am in sickness, my sickness may serve Him; in perplexity, my perplexity may serve Him; if I am in sorrow, my sorrow may serve Him. My sickness, or perplexity, or sorrow may be necessary causes of some great end, which is quite beyond us. He does nothing in vain.” -John Henry Newman

**I would love to hear how you would answer the questions above if you were asked. Leave a comment below! And for anyone willing to lift our daughter up in prayer-prayer for good health and full healing, I would be extremely grateful.

Where I Get to Know Him Better

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. -2 Corinthians 4:17

The wilderness-that’s where I get to know him better. It’s like the song, Wilderness, by Anna Byrd. Have you heard it? It’s in the trenches, in those dark, hurting places-that’s where I start to really know Jesus. That’s where He pulls me in closer and I hang on with all my might. That’s where I see that He is my true anchor-when the boat I’m on is rocking and the storms are raging all around me. That’s where I grow deeper in my relationship with Him and can feel the love Jesus really has for me. And that’s where I find peace.

Are you in a season where God is trying to draw you closer? I know I sure am. And it hasn’t been easy. To be honest, I started questioning this life. I was reminded though, in Byrd’s song, Wilderness, that there is a bigger purpose. A purpose for my pain.

She sings, “I could pray for deliverance
I could beg You for greener pastures
I could question why I’m still here
Shake my fist and demand an answer. But right here, right now is where I start to know You better”

She ends the song with,

“Even in the wasteland
Through the darkest valley, there is hope
‘Cause even in the wilderness
Even in the wilderness
You won’t let go
You won’t let go”

This past week has been a ride. Amidst ER visits and unknown illnesses, that’s where I’m getting to know him better, because it’s Jesus who is always there. He is the one I can reach for no matter my circumstances. He is the One who never changes-the One I can grab hold of and never let go of.

We may not understand the pain or trials we are facing. But, there is one thing that is for certain, Jesus is always right there with us in those trenches, and He won’t let go. He won’t let go. So let’s remember that even in the wilderness, He has a purpose. The suffering and heartache we may be going through right now, let’s use it to grow in our relationship with Christ. Dive in, grab hold of that Anchor, and get to know Him better.

The Lord your God in your midst, The Mighty One, will save; He will rejoice over you with gladness, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” -Zephaniah 3:17

Endure…and Dance a Little

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him. -James 1:12

Have you ever experienced one of those stormy seasons where you get slammed again and again, not knowing what will hit you next? You know the saying-when it rains it pours. Well, we’ve been caught in a torrential downpour. It has literally been one thing after the next. I’ll give you the shortened version…Over the past couple of months, our car engine blew in our nearly new and only vehicle due the fault of an auto body shop that didn’t replace our oil plug properly. While trying to figure out how this was going to be fixed, our rental car was suddenly pulled. The owner of the auto body shop decided he was no longer at fault and so refused to further pay for the rental. We were left to tow our car 300 miles away to be fixed, footing the bill for this and the new rental car, which cost thousands of dollars out of pocket. At the time we were dealing with our car, we ran into problems with our septic system. That same week, we experienced a 5.9 earthquake. Shortly afterwards, our daughter was diagnosed with asthma. In addition, we ended up making two trips to the ER that were totally unrelated. Our youngest, also began having heart issues and was recently fitted with a Holter monitor. Furthermore, last week, I slipped on the ice, tweaking my back and knee. It didn’t stop there though. This past weekend, we noticed our tire in our rental car had a slow leak. Then, last night, I severely blistered my hand cooking dinner. And through it all, God has been speaking.

ENDURE-That’s the word that has appeared in my Bible reading numerous times over the past two months. According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, endure means “to remain firm under suffering or misfortune without yielding though it is difficult” and “to undergo especially without giving in.” Remain firm. These are the words that penetrated my soul. So how do we do that when we are getting drenched? We persist, remaining steadfast in Jesus. He is unwavering, the One that is steady. He is our Rock. In 1 Corinthians 15:58, Paul says, “Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor is not in vain.” Therefore, we don’t give up. We don’t give in. Rather, we continue to persevere, putting one foot in front of the other, walking in faith, with our hope grounded in Him and our focus on the eternal, doing everything for the glory of God. And…let us not forget to dance in the rain, remembering to be joyful because despite the challenges and hardships we may face, this is the day that the Lord has made!

So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you have to endure many trials for a little while. -1 Peter 1:6

Endure in His Strength

He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. -Isaiah 40:29

There have been many days that I wasn’t sure I would get through. Living with chronic illnesses can be unpredictable, never knowing what each day will bring. I’m learning that we don’t need to do more than God asks of us. He will give us what we need-even strength to get through moment by moment when we are walking through fiery trials. On those days when I’m at my weakest, is when his strength pulls through for me. It’s those days, when I feel Him strongly at work in me-it’s those days, that he is teaching me to be fully dependent on Him-because, frankly, it’s the only way to be. I’ve tried my way. It doesn’t work. He, however, gives me the strength and rest needed each day to persevere.

So let us not walk in the flesh, but rather cry out to Him for the strength to endure, the strength to carry on when those boulders in front of us block the way and are too big to move ourselves, when all feels impossible. God can move mountains. For with Him and in Him, anything is possible.

As soon as I pray, you answer me; you encourage me by giving me strength. -Psalm 138:3

Mountain Breath

It’s Majestic Marvel Monday! Since Mondays can often be one of the tougher days of the week and for many, it means back to the daily grind, what better way to put a smile on your face than to marvel at His majestic wonders! I absolutely love photography! It is both a creative outlet and passion that brings me joy. So, each Monday, I will post at least one photo of God’s majestic marvels I’ve captured. See and be in awe of His creations and beauty!

When I gaze at this image I recently snapped of a peaceful Alaskan mountain landscape enveloped in mist, I picture the ridge letting off some steam with a big breath in and a giant exhale out, thus, the name Mountain Breath. Mountain ranges, I’m sure, have much unpredictability when it comes to weather and storms. And like the storms of life that come and go in our lives, we can take a big breath in, and exhale out, knowing that whatever storms we face, will eventually pass. Even more importantly though—God will stand strong with us, like this immovable mountain. Here, rests this range, knowing all is well. We, too, can do the same, no matter the circumstances.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth. -Psalms 121:1-2

“Hear this, O Job; stop and consider the wondrous works of God. -Job 37:14

“God writes the gospel not in the Bible alone, but on trees and flowers and clouds and stars.” -Martin Luther

Copyright © 2021 Aimee Phillippi

Freedom to be Broken

Do you ever feel like you are wearing a mask? With all the social media apps out there, it’s easy to hide behind what appears to be “perfect”. “Perfect” isn’t reality though. It’s these masks that we put on to appear “ok”. And when we don’t live up to that standard of at least “ok” or “more than ok”, it can induce guilt, which in turn erodes us from the inside out. But with Jesus, there is freedom. There is freedom to be real and authentic because He wants us to come as we are. He gives us the freedom to be broken and take off our masks. And He gives us the freedom to be who He made us-who we really are. We don’t have to hide behind some facade with Him. We can be brutally honest about who we are because He already knows and loves us unconditionally anyway.

And not only can we share every piece of ourselves with Him, if there are pieces that need putting back together, He’s the guy for the job. When we’re broken and we reach for Jesus, depending on Him more fully-when we rely on Him, that’s where He places the pieces perfectly, creating a beautiful mosaic of our lives. He gives us the strength and ability to shine and fully express who we really are with the world. It’s in Him where we find freedom because being broken is being real. If we are being truthful, we’re all a little bit broken. And showing that brokenness to Jesus and others is honesty and authenticity. It’s where others can relate and His hope radiates.

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

My “Fear Not” Playlist

Do you ever struggle with fear and anxiety? I know I do! It’s so important to connect with God during these times. One way I do this, is through music. It helps me to focus on Him so I can really feel His presence. Here is my go-to playlist when I’m caught in a cycle of anxiety:

  1. Sparrows-Cory Asbury
  2. Not Today-Hillsong United
  3. Holding Me Still-Elle Limebear
  4. Cast My Cares-Finding Favour
  5. The One I’m Running To (Acoustic)-7eventh Time Down
  6. We Won’t Be Shaken-Building 429
  7. Control-For King and Country
  8. Tremble-Mosaic
  9. When I’m with You-Citizen Way
  10. Peace Be Still-Hope Darst
  11. Shepherd of My Soul-Rivers and Robots
  12. Broken Prayers-Riley Clemons
  13. Breathe-Johnny Diaz
  14. Never Gonna Let Me Go-Tauren Wells
  15. Breathing-Elle Limebear

And, here’s my new favorite verse I’ve been meditating on when the waves of fear roll in:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. -Psalm 56:3

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.