Why Her?

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Comparison is the heartbeat of feeling like one does not measure up. It is a timeless issue.  Additionally, it is a struggle most encounter at an extremely young age. This struggle plagues women in a unique way. We compare ourselves to the woman who “has it all together” or to the media. Regardless of how hard we try we just do not measure up. At times, we allow ourselves to ask, why does she have God’s favor and I don’t?

The enemy desires to separate us from Christ and embed doubt into our minds.  Comparison is one of the battles in the war fought for a woman’s heart. This struggle is found in women in all walks of life, but today I want to focus a little on the woman battling chronic illness.

Having a “broken” or “malfunctioning” body causes one to feel inadequate. When you are drained from the pain, symptoms, emotional break downs, changes in your physical appearance, dealing with insurance, and doctors it is easy to into a comparison trap. It may be tempting at times to run away from God. One might become angry with Him question what she did to deserve this.

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We look at the healthy woman. It must be nice to get out of bed in the morning rested. It must be nice living pain free. It must be nice to have a job and be independent. It must be nice to go out on a whim without planning according to your symptoms and not be stuck in bed for a week after. It must be nice eating whatever you want when you want to. It must be nice brushing your hair without chunks falling out. It must be nice…

Perhaps, at times you have envied other women with chronic illness. The woman who has a prestige medical team, a husband who supports her, friends who check in, or has made substantial progress. Other times, maybe you envy your old healthy self.

Because of chronic illness your dreams have been shattered. You lost the woman you were before this illness plagued your body. It has altered every relationship in your life.

Why does she get to live the life you always dreamed? Why are you trapped in your own body? How do you move forward in a way that honors God?

You were made to bring honor and glory to Christ. You were created, precious friend to live an abundant life. You were crafted for thanksgiving not for comparison.

It is possible to overcome comparison one moment at a time through the strength of Christ. Being rooted in Christ is vital to survive life with a chronic illness. Drinking in His presence while resting in His arms. Allowing His Word to consume you until you overflow is essential.

Let’s leave comparison in the past and begin living in a way that honors God. I want to invite you to join in a Bible study about overcoming comparison. We will dig into God’s Word in inspiring ways as we study Rachael and Leah. Click here for additional information. Online Bible study is an essential tool if you are chronically ill.

“In her new book, Why Her?, Nicki Koziarz uncovers six truths we need to hear when trying to measure up leaves you falling behind. Because truth, like always, will set us free. And free women don’t have to measure up to anybody. Not even her.

In this 6-week study of Why Her?, we will use Nicki’s powerful message to help you:

  • Conquer what comparison can do to your self-esteem by applying six powerful truths to your everyday life.
  • Start thriving in your own skin again as you battle the ever-present “must be nice” syndrome.
  • Apply what the Bible says about comparison to your own situation as we learn from two important women in Scripture.” Proverbs 31 Ministries

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A note from Nicki:

“Yes, #WhyHerBook is a book on how to battle comparison with Truth. And we all need Truth. But there’s so much we can learn from the story of Rachel & Leah.

Maybe you’ve studied the story of Rachel & Leah before but perhaps not like this. One of the things I’m most looking forward to with the Proverbs 31 Online Bible Studies is to study Genesis 29-35 in depth through the teaching series.

You’ll meet Jacob, Laban, Rachel & Leah in a new way. You’ll learn about how Jacob wrestled with God and how that led to the resting place with God.

We’ll discover how to discern if something someone says about God in the Bible is true or not. And what to do when comparison tries to compromise the wellness of your soul.

 

I hope you’re signed up for the totally free Online Study beginning April 9th!”

 

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Renewal Road

 Beginning yet another online Bible study I am able to identify with the author who happens to be a precious friend, furthermore, I am confident that you can relate as well. On the first page of the Renewal Road The Journey of Becoming More Like Jesus, Jill waste no time, jumping in with an important message. Dying so that Christ may live. She shares an important flashback of an encounter of depression, which is where I want to park to explore for a bit.

I know this is not the most comfortable topic. However, it is important to share our times of depression, sorrow, doubt, and hopelessness with one another. Many times, as Christians, we attempt to have it all together, to appear happy at all times might I dare say perfect. We want to appear in a way that we were never meant to be. Christ calls us to live for Him not to live in perfection.

With that said many people in the Bible encountered depression seasons consumed with sorrow and hopelessness. The world can feel like a dark and hopeless place. It is a fallen and painful world. We encounter countless mistakes or painful events every week. It might take the form of final burdens, a shattered relationship, or a malfunctioning body. Due to our sins, the sins of others, and simply because we live on earth we are bound to encounter at least one season of depression. 

Questioning as many amazing people before us what is the meaning of life? At times, it all seems so utterly worthless. For countless reasons, we mutter that we are worthless, unworthy of love, unworthy of life. It seems to sneak up when we least expect it during a time we would expect to encounter joy.

I have battled some depression in a few seasons of life though I am well aware those bouts of depression could have been more severe. I can recall many times the feeling of hopelessness. The heavy sorrow that seems to compress the soul till spiritually I couldn’t breathe. 

My most recent battle began to unfold after some gossip and lack of compassion at my Church. I felt like I needed just that one thing to be okay. To provide me with stability. As much as I love my Church family they are not my anchor they are a community who should provide support. Christ alone is my anchor, my hiding place, stability, and hope. 

Transitioning from I want to die to I want to die so that You may live is a challenging journey which requires persistence.  The transition demands continual prayer, pursuing the heart of Christ, searching the Word, and reaching out to others. 

This transition is astonishing, furthermore, it is beyond comprehension. The drastic shift in perspective enabled by Christ changes our world.  We are not immune from depression or hardship. When we walk through the valley, we are more equipt to battle the depression. Surrendering all to Christ changes every moment of every day for the rest of our life. 

Jehovah Rohi (The Lord is my Shepherd), 

You are my anchor which never wavers, furthermore, my unending hope. Regardless of what occurs in my life, You remain the same. Lord Jesus, from the depths of my soul I praise Your might name. Holy, precious, and mighty is Your name now and forever.

I thank You for the lessons I have learned from the seasons of depression in my life. I ask that You would use those painful times to bring honor and glory to Your name. Enable me to pour out my heart to You. Let me be transparent in my quiet time with my emotions. Help me to praise Your name even when my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow. 

Amen 

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 “If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself the things you think you want. You must pick up your cross and follow Me. The person who wants to save his life must lose it, and she who loses her life for Me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25

Psalm 5

Today, we are going to take a more in-depth look at Psalm chapter five, furthermore, this post will build off the introduction to Psalm chapter five.There is an overwhelming amount of awe-inspiring beauty in Psalms. Cries to God of pure relatable emotion.

Bend Your ear to me and listen to my words, O Eternal One;
    hear the deep cry of my heart.
Listen to my call for help,
    my King, my True God;
    to You alone I pray.
In the morning, O Eternal One, listen for my voice;
    in the day’s first light, I will offer my prayer to You and watch expectantly for Your answer.

You’re not a God who smiles at sin;
    You cannot abide with evil.
The proud wither in Your presence;
    You hate all who pervert and destroy what is good.
You destroy those with lying lips;
    the Eternal detests those who murder and deceive.

Yet I, by Your loving grace,
    am welcomed into Your house;
I will turn my face toward Your holy place
    and fall on my knees in reverence before You.
O Eternal One, lead me in the path of Your righteousness
    amidst those who wish me harm;
    make Your way clear to me.

Their words cannot be trusted;
    they are destructive to their cores.
What comes out of their mouths is as foul as a rotting corpse;
    their words stink of flattery.
10 Find them guilty, O True God;
    let their own devices bring them ruin.
Throw them out, and let them drown in the deluge of their sin,
    for in revolt they brazenly spit in Your face.

11 But let those who run to You for safety be glad they did;
    let them break out in joyful song.
May You keep them safe—
    their love for You resounding in their hearts.
12 You, O Eternal, are the One who lays all good things in the laps of the right-hearted.
    Your blessings surround them like a shield.

The more I read this Psalm the more I fall in love with it. Prayer is not always expressed in words, but it is also “unuttered longings which abide as silent meditations. Words are not the essence but the garments of prayer.” (Biblestudytools.org) Meditation is defined as prayer accompanied with deep thoughts and fervent affections of the soul by Wesley’s Commentary.

Pouring out my heart to the Father felt natural as a young child. However, I became frustrated with pouring out my heart to God because I thought it sounded too negative. I stuck to praising Him, thanking Him, confessing sins, and praying for others. It didn’t take long for me to be convicted, as the door swung open for me to pour out my heart once more. The issue with my thinking was me. I labeled myself as a burden even to God, but that is not how God viewed me.

 

While those other things are essential being honest with God is vital. If we can’t be honest with Him than really who can we be honest with? We don’t need to pretend to be perfect or to try to look pretty for God. It is reassuring that God encourages us to ache freely. He knows the deepest cry of our heart yet He desires beyond words for us to share it with Him.

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This Psalm reminds us of the importance of beginning the day with Christ. Not only offering a prayer but to be expectant for an answer and expectant to see God at work throughout the day.

Verses four – six highlights our sinfulness. At times, it can seem like a contest who has the best redemption story or who is better at resisting sin. When we are honest we are all the same, all drenched in sin and only saved by God’s amazing grace.

Mercy is the foundation of verse seven. It is a privilege that we are able to enter into the Lords presence. Even though things were messy for David here we see him faithfully praising God.

We all encounter times of spiritual warfare.  It is vital during these times to draw close to God taking refuge in Him. Furthermore, trusting that He will direct each step according to His will. We have confidence that He is the righteous judge. He is our great defender. Lastly, God will provide all we need to thrive in spiritual warfare and every trial.

In closing, I would like to share this study guide on Psalm 5 with you. I hope it will encourage you to dig deeper into this chapter. I know the Lord is at work in Your life.

El Roi (The God Who Sees me),

I praise You for Your loving grace. From the depth of my heart, I worship You. The whole earth declares Your glory and rejoices at the sound of Your name.

You are my shepherd guiding my every step. You understand every thought. Thank you for allowing me to ache freely. I praise You that I can be transparent with You. I rejoice in You for always hearing my cry.

I delight to do Your will and to walk with You daily. Increase my desire for You. Thank you that each battle is dependent on you alone. You are my hiding place. I surrender all to You opening my heart to receive Your word.

Amen

Psalms Bible Study

    This summer I am leading a super laid-back women’s online Bible study. We are reading one Psalm a week during the summer. We would be honored if you dropped by now and then or read through this life changing book with us. This post will focus on a brief introduction to the book of Psalm. Additionally, there will be a little on chapter one.

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Introduction to The Book of Psalm

A place of comfort. A refuge of strength with a ray of hope. Words alive to be cherished and written on the heart. The book of Psalm. Regardless of how one feels or where there are in their live story or how mature they are as a Christan, there is a relatable Psalm. Truly a Psalm for everyone.

The history of Psalm is richly complex over the course of more than 800 years. The outline of what occurred historically around various Palms is interesting rhythm to check it out here. I want to point out a few of these events behind this book of the Bible. For example, David & Goliath, During the Babylonish captivity, On the rebuilding of the temple, and During the war with Absalom.

Furthermore, God used numerous individuals. A few authors include David, Moses, Asaph, Solomon, and others. In addition, there are orphan Psalms which we do not know who wrote them.

The book of Psalm is broken down into five books. The order is as follows: Book 1 (Psalms 1–41), Book 2 (42–72), Book 3 (73–89), Book 4 (90–106), and Book 5 (107–150). Needless to say, this is the longest book of the Bible.

How is a Psalm defined? It is a poem, song, act of worship, prayer, and praise. The Psalm embodies experience, expression, and emotion. Read more in depth about this outline here. The Psalms tend to fall into these genres hymn, lament, thanksgiving, confidence, Remembrance, wisdom, and kingship.

A book could be written on the purpose of this book of the Bible, in opening Matthew Henry shares the following:

To assist the exercises of natural religion, and to kindle in the souls of men those devout affections which we owe to God as our Creator, owner, ruler, and benefactor. The book of Job helps to prove our first principles of the divine perfections and providence; but this helps to improve them in prayers and praises, and professions of desire towards him, dependence on him, and an entire devotedness and resignation to him. Other parts of scripture show that God is infinitely above man, and his sovereign Lord; but this shows us that he may, notwithstanding, be conversed with by us sinful worms of the earth; and there are ways in which, if it be not our own fault, we may keep up communion with him in all the various conditions of human life.

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Now, let’s take a look at Psalm chapter one (The Voice Translation), which was written by King David:

God’s blessings follow you and await you at every turn:
when you don’t follow the advice of those who delight in wicked schemes,
When you avoid sin’s highway,
when judgment and sarcasm beckon you, but you refuse.
 For you, the Eternal’s Word is your happiness.
It is your focus—from dusk to dawn.
You are like a tree,
planted by flowing, cool streams of water that never run dry.
Your fruit ripens in its time;
your leaves never fade or curl in the summer sun.
No matter what you do, you prosper.

 For those who focus on sin, the story is different.
They are like the fallen husk of wheat, tossed by an open wind, left deserted and alone.
In the end, the wicked will fall in judgment;
the guilty will be separated from the innocent.
 Their road suddenly will end in death,
yet the journey of the righteous has been charted by the Eternal.

At times, it seems like a tragedy with a side of heartbreak is around each bend. With what seemly endless negativity acknowledging the blessings around each turn can seem impossible. The negativity makes our view blurry. Take a few minutes to acknowledge the blessings in your life. Consider the blessings that you don’t generally “count”.

While studying the Bible or being connected with God in prayer avoiding sin can sound like a piece of cake. Yet once back into the world it is evident that this is not easy. Falling into sin can be second nature. We can only avoid sins highway and walk in the way of the righteous is only possible through the strength of Jesus.

My prayer is that each person reading this will become more rooted in Christ in this season of life. That you would drink so deeply and often of the Father’s Word that you would not run dry. Soaking up His goodness. I am confident that all you do within God’s will, will prosper beyond your wildest dreams. Your journey righteous sister has been charted compassionately by the Eternal.

Main points of this Psalm

  • The blessedness of the righteous man (1-3)
  • The desperation of the wicked (4-5)
  • A final contrast between their two ways (6)

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Lord,

All honor, glory, and praise belong to Your holy name. In Your name mountains are moved and seas parted. You are on the move in Mighty ways. Nature reflects Your beauty. The earth sings Your praises. You are beyond my understanding.

I am surrounded by your blessings no matter where I turn day or night. Freely You have lavished Your love on me. I praise Your name for who You are.

I am undeserving of all Your goodness. Give me the strength to battle my flesh and avoid sins highway. Let me resist sin in the powerful name of Jesus.

Your Word provides me with strength, guidance, and joy. Allow me to remain focused from dawn to dusk on Your precious Word. May I write on my heart. May my thoughts be consumed with You. Holy Spirit move within me. Let me be firmly planted in You. Let me prosper in Your name. Allow me to serve You and bring glory to Your name.

Amen

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I want to invite you, sweet friend to continue to dig into Psalm chapter one with me. I pray that you will sincerely cherish these living and active words. I am confident that the Lord will work within you during your time in the books of Psalm. I am excited to give you free print out a which will hopefully provide guidance as you study the Word of God. Please download, print, and share.  

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Fasting

I am honored to begin this journey through the study Finding I Am, with you. I am confident that God will do an awe-inspiring work in you. He will continue to transform your heart to reflect His. Prepared to be deeply blessed!

Lysa opens the book discussing spiritual giants and fasting. There is something powerful in giving up food (or something else) in order to sit at the Lord’s feet. Worship becomes richer. The encounter with the Lord is deeper.

I grew up in church. Sometimes I was there as often as I was at home. The twenty-four-hour famine was on my bucket list for years. Finally, I reached youth group age.  I sprang into motion once the signup sheet was out at the tender age of twelve.

Our last meal was at school directly after we headed to church. The leaders pour a lot of time into crafting memorable games, worship sessions, juice breaks, and other activities.  Many details I cannot recall, but I know it was a time that I grew closer to God.

Seconds before communion, which is how we were breaking the fast, I grabbed my friend. Instructing her to get help. I wasn’t able to see. I passed out. However, that didn’t dampen my experience. Shortly after recovering, I asked when we could do the event again. That experience led me to a season of regular fasting on my own.

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Fasting provides a unique way to encounter God. Jesus taught about fasting, “and when you fast, do not look miserable as the actors and hypocrites do when they are fasting—they walk around town putting on airs about their suffering and weakness, complaining about how hungry they are. So everyone will know they are fasting, they don’t wash or anoint themselves with oil, pink their cheeks, or wear comfortable shoes. Those who show off their piety, they have already received their reward. When you fast, wash your face and beautify yourself with oil, so no one who looks at you will know about your discipline. Only your Father, who is unseen, will see your fast. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:16-18).

In this season of my life, due to my combination of chronic illnesses, I cannot fast from food. I want to encourage you if you are in a similar situation. All is not lost if you cannot fast from food. While it is an amazing experience, your current health situation is not a surprise to God. His grace extends where our bodies fail.

Fasting can be done in numerous ways. Some non-food suggestions are fasting from technology, a television series, or a hobby. The goal is to spend more time with God. Giving Him your undivided attention. To enhance your relationship with Him. Time away from something allows more time with God.

Lord,

We adore your precious name. You are worthy of all honor, glory, and praise. You reign victoriously. Awe-inspiring, faithful, and sovereign.

Thank you for the gift of fasting. We praise Your name that Your grace extends into the depths of where we lack. We praise You for providing a way where we see none. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts for the time we spend alone with You. The time we worship You, seek Your face, talk with you, and spend in Your living Word.

Allow of Your children who read this to grow closer to You and to experience You in a unique way. Burden their hearts for You. Set their soul on fire. Bless this Bible study in an awe-inspiring way. Beyond our dreams. We praise Your Holy Name.

Amen

What I’m Reading Wednesday

At any given moment, I am reading an abundance of books. Typically, I have two books for online Bible Study, a book for personal Bible study and/or Christian living book, one fiction book, and two textbooks. In addition, I read an Old Testament and New Testament book of the Bible. I have been eager to write this post for you.

Currently, for the first term of my semester, I am reading Caring for People God’s Way. Additionally, I am reading Theories of Personality.

The past several weeks, I have been reading the Armor of God by  Priscilla Shirer in my one online Bible Study. Then, in a few short days, I will begin assisting with my other online Bible Study using the book Discovering Hope: Beginning the Journey Towards Hope in Chronic Illness by Cindee Snider Re.

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Recently, I finished reading Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible: Flawed Women Loved by a Flawless God. I was amazed at how well Liz taught with humor, clips of fiction writing, personal stories, and emphasis on the Bible in a unique way. I am a zealous fan of Wendy Blight’s writing and her teaching. Liz used a similar format in her book, which captivated my attention.I would recommend this book to any women. This book examines the lives of Sari, Haggar, Rebekah, Leah, and Rachel. Be prepared to see these women as well as their stories in a new light.

Product Description From CBD.com is as follows, “Slightly Bad Girls of the Bible is the latest of Liz Curtis Higgs’ “girlfriend theology” Bible study. Combining contemporary fiction with a verse-by-verse commentary, she explores the “slightly bad” lives of a few Old Testament women. Far from evil, yet slightly bad, these women from the book of Genesis stubbed their toes along the rocky path of righteousness. Sound familiar? These ancient sisters aren’t a whole lot different from us. Laced with humor and built on solid research, this book will bring you to the realization that God loves you just the way you are. Flaws and all!”

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Fiction Book. The biggest downside to this book is in the fact that it is the final book in the Bailey Flanigan Series. This is a sweet ending to the series. I simply adore how Karen Kingsbury includes the characters struggles as well as their time with God. Even though it is fiction she has a way of not only pulling the reader into the story but also challenging and strengthening their faith as well. You feel as though you have become friends with the characters. Beautiful tear-jerking wedding was included. Without a doubt, her books are life changing fiction.

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This is my personal Bible Study book. I began it a few short days ago so I don’t have much yet to say about it. Book description from CBD.com, “The book of Philippians calls you to see beyond your present circumstances and discover the authentic joy awaiting you in Christ. Get ready to explore this uplifting book through the tried-and-tested inductive study method – with an added writing step to help you treasure each word!”

 

Hope

New Year’s sweet bells of hope ring loudly as January launches. Fervently we compose resolutions so that this year will be astonishing. However, the sweet song evaporates. Leaving us in silence by mid-January as we waltz back into the reliable beat of everyday life. Focus is no longer aimed at hope or the resolutions. Slither into daily calamities, apprehension leeches on, despair dangles overhead, and sorrow is deep.

Providing joy, strength, and adding depth to our relationship with Christ. Despite heartbreak, pain beyond comprehension, and when our world seems to be crumbling before our eyes there is always a spark of hope. It is not always instinct, but then again living the way Jesus called us to is anything but natural. As Christians, we are required to battle our flesh. In addition, we are to fight to remain firm in the hope Christ provides for us. It is a daily fight. Let me assure you, my precious friend that the reward is immeasurable.

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How would you, dear friend define this simple word hope? Appearing frequently, it is engraved on our hearts. Yet we need a reminder of the biblical definition so that we resist conforming to the world’s definition of hope. Additionally, so that we remain steadfast in Christ and transformed by Him.Bible.org defines hope this way, “Hope” in Scripture means “a strong and confident expectation.” Furthermore, there is a clear element of trust throughout Scripture when hope is examined. Moreover, I find it essential to highlight the usage of hope in the New Testament, which I found on Biblestudytools.org. “The New Testament consistently uses the verb elpizo [ejlpivzw] and the noun elpis [ejlpiv”] for hope.” Both words here are Greek.

 

Elpizo is defined as (30 times in NT)1. to hopein a religious sense, to wait for salvation with joy and full confidence2. hopefully to trust in.png

Additionally, hope molds our character, providing joy, peace, confidence, endurance, strength, courage, and comfort. Expanding beyond our dreams when we are consistently feasting on the Word of God. Furthermore, our hope cultivates as we become consumed with the Holy Spirit.Perspectives are transformed by hope as it gives new light to an existing situation. Likewise, it modifies the way we view ourselves, transforms what we value, and affects how we spend the gifts God has graciously entrusted us with such as time and talents.

Practically, how do we remain anchored in hope when our circumstances are screaming give up? When we continue to receive one piece of bad new after another. As mentioned before, we must continuously feast on God’s word. In addition, it is vital to the health of our hope to spend time simply in  Christ presence. Additionally, prayer provides a path to the renewal of hope. Various books, sermons, and worship songs can be an asset. Lastly, we can remain anchored in hope by leaning on Christian friends.

Lord,

Rekindle our weary souls with fresh hope. Fill us with Your HolySpirit. Enable us to have a deeper understanding of Your hope and of who You are. Regardless of what we face enable us to remain steadfast in hope. We praise You for the hope of salvation found in Christ Jesus. Blessed be Your Holy Name.

Amen