NEW SERIES: ANCHOR

Photo: @truphotography.co

Have you ever felt like you’ve been stuck on the seas without an achor? Tossed around by the wind and the waves of life? Me too.

The questions above sound more like the script to a suspense-driven movie, but can also resemble the way life can feel when we find ourselves in the middle of a storm. When we are exhausted from bracing for the waves that batter us, we can feel defeated – longing for the security and hope of Christ. Chances are, when our lives are tossed around, we can often be tempted to disconnect from community too.

The storms of life can leave us battered and bruised, ready to give up and give in. That’s what storms do – they pour down on us in seasons when we expect them and when we don’t.  It can often feel like we are gasping for air as one wave after another beats down on our hearts.

It’s the diagnosis you didn’t expect.

It’s your position at work that suddenly vanished.

It’s the move you didn’t know was up ahead.

It’s the empty chair at the dinner table that reminds you that someone is missing.

It’s all of these and so much more…

Now that I’ve described the water we’re all swimming in, I want us to figure out how to get back to the security of the shore; the security of having a sure hope and strong support system.

This I know for sure: Our storms don’t take God by surprise.

The storms we encounter are never encountered just by us. No, the One Who still has complete control and authority over the wind and the waves is with us. He’s present and prepared to give us hope right in the middle of what looks bleak and dark. His presence is our peace, and because He is ever-present, and because He has promised to never leave us or forsake us, we don’t have to lose hope or let go of Him. We don’t have to let the storm take hold of uso r disconnect us from those that help keep us steady.

The writer of Hebrews explains to us in chapter 6 the importance of taking hold of the hope set before us. The hope of Jesus, Who has gone before us, running ahead of us, so we could have a hope that anchors our soul in the midst of life and the storms that we face. It’s as if the writer of Hebrews knew that we would move through rough waters in our journey of faith. They knew we would be tempted to just let the wind and the waves overtake us because the storms felt too strong or the waves seemed to never end.

Yeah, it can often feel easier to give way to the storm than to grab the rope and anchor and throw it out in hopes of finding something to hold us still – something to keep us grounded.

What’s the opposite scenario? Finding ourselves disconnected from our anchor, and in many instances, finding oursleves adrift; floating further away from God and the community He’s placed us in.

In the middle of the storms, in the middle of feeling isolated and helpless, we need both Christ & Community.

Christ keeps us anchored, Community keeps us afloat.

Photo: @truphotography.co

God knew the difficulties we would face in a fallen world. He understood that we, as His children, would need something to tether us and help stand firm in the middle of it all.

God knew we would need and anchor for our soul – and He sent us His Son Jesus. He also lovingly provided others for us to traverse the storms with: crew mates and family members in Christ that are in the thick of the storm with us, reminding us of God’s goodness and His promises.

That’s why having our hope anchored in Christ is so vital – so we don’t lose connection and communion with our Father in Heaven. And part of being connected to Christ is remembering the beauty and friendship we find in sharing life with others – so we don’t lose sight of His goodness and presence in the middle of our storms or on the smooth and beautiful seas of life. 

In the middle of it all, we need hold onto Jesus and we need to reach out for others. We are made to hold onto the hope of Christ together.

When we each take turns holding the rope so we could steady our stance in the middle of the storms, we can lean on one another and brace for the battering waves. We can scream and cry and shout all we want – for we are not alone. He is in our midst and doesn’t want us to fret the worst – He wants us to hold onto hope. He wants us to rest secure.

I’m reminded of the discples on the boat with Jesus. While at sea, they were expereinceing a violent storm. In panic, one of the disciples cries out to Jesus, who was asleep. The disciple said, “Don’t you care that we are going to die?” (Mark 4:35-41 CSB)

Jesus was in the exact same boat with them, but His response to the exact same storm was “Peace”.

So often, I am more like the disciple who is shouting for Jesus’ attention in the middle of my storm than the peaceful and secure Jesus Who was very aware and yet still was at peace. God help me, God help us.

We have a choice friends, What will our response be today? Will we remember that we are not alone in the boat as the storms of life try to break us down? Will we trust in the Savior who demonstrated what it’s like to find rest in the middle of the storm because of the connection and anchor He shared?

God is with us in the middle of these storms dear friend. He is with us, and He is here to anchor us and keep us steady. And He’s kind enough to provide a crew of support around us to remind us of His presence and promise of peace.

Let’s Pray: Heavenly Father, we choose to place our complete trust in You. We choose to hold onto the hope that is found in Christ Jesus, and rest securely in the promise of Your powerful presence. Thank You for loving us, and for being the hope we can cling to in the middle of life’s storms. Thank you for the reminder that we are not alone – we are able to have peace because You are with us. Thank you Lord for surrounding us with friends and family members to journey with us and remind us of Your promises. Let our response to life’s storms be that of holding onto the hope that only You provide – together. Amen.

Go The Extra Mile:

One of my favorite worship songs is “I Will Trust” by Red Rocks Worship – this song points us back to the security we find when we place our hope and trust in Jesus. Check it out this and I hope you are able to breathe a little easier today, knowing we can completely trust in The Lord.

Comfort & Joy

Christmas brings all kinds of gifts into our lives. Not just the shimmer-wrapped gifts that are gently placed under the tree, and not even the ones that show up in the driveway with a big red bow on top (does that even happen in real life?!). I’m talking about the gifts we didn’t know we needed– gifts of comfort and joy.

We live in a world where even amidst being in pandemic, the songs heard overhead in the stores are the merry ones- the ones that have some pep and happy lyrics. Everywhere we turn in town, we see colorful reminders that this season is a cheerful one. In the daytime we see the beauty of frost and evergreen, and in the dark hours of night we see the glistening glow of Christmas lights beneath soft blankets of snow.

Inside our hearts, we can feel the excitement and the anticipation of gathering with loved ones at parties or coffee meetups. We can feel the urgency to finish all the shopping for the big meal or the letdown of realizing we forgot to grab the bag of chips for the 3rd time this week (don’t ask me how I know). We can also feel the joy of wrapping up the thoughtful gifts we’re planning on giving away to our loved ones.

We can feel a lot this season.

During my last post on the blog, we looked at the feelings we experience during the holidays when our hearts are heavy with grief. How knowing we have a Wonderful Counselor to be our source of strength and hope during the holiday season.

No matter if we are living life to the fullest and everything seems jolly, or if we just can’t seem to catch a break and the hits keep coming – we are all in need of comfort and joy this season. God knew we would need both. 

Comfort 

And 

Joy.

We, you and me friend, need the comfort of His presence to remind us how loved we are and where we belong – close to His heart. We need the joy we find in His presence- lasting joy that doesn’t fade away when life feels out of control and hard.

We need both.

I need both.

Let’s take some time today to slow down to receive those gifts from God.

Speaking of slowing down, some of the most favorite and beloved Christmas songs are the slow ones- the ones that cause us to be still and to ponder; to wait for the “good part” or wait for the beautiful ending. On this Christmas Eve, may we create space to slow down for a moment and lean in to hear the “good part” – the part where the King of Kings sent His one and only Son, Jesus, to be Emmanuel- God with us. The part where Jesus came down to meet us at the very point of our need: our need for a Savior, our need for a Healer, our need for a Good Shepherd and Faithful Friend. The gift of His presence didn’t just end when He arrived, it continues to be with us today and, He promised He would be with us to the end of the age. He is our peace dear friends, and He has also given us the gifts of His comfort & His joy.

He is The Light that came to a dark and weary world, He is the Great Comfort we so desperately need and the Giver of Joy that this world cannot take away. He’s the Giver of Good & Perfect Gifts then, now, and in all the days to come.

May we experience comfort from His presence and joy from His Holy Spirit today and always.

Peace, Comfort, & Joy Dear Friends – liz:)

Let’s Pray: Lord Jesus, thank You for knowing our needs and meeting them too. Thank you for the promise that You are Emmanuel, God with us. Thank you for coming down for all humanity – and for being Our Light. We need Your presence today Lord, and in Your presence we find both gifts of comfort and joy. Your gifts are good because You are good and this Christmas Eve, remind our hearts that we have already been given these gifts for our soul. When the world feels cold and dark, shine Lord, so we can see Your goodness in front of us. Thank You Lord for the comfort and joy we find in You alone, Amen.

Go The Extra Mile: Check out one of my favorite Chrsitams carols below as The Petersen’s share, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentelemen”! This is a beautiful version and I hope it reminds us that we are given both comfort & joy because of Jesus!

BONUS: I couldn’t leave out my all-time favorite Christmas carol…I had to include my favorite version of, “O, Holy NIght” by Celine Dion! Enjoy it today as you prep for whever you’re going!

New Post: Pain Management

Almost one month ago, I gathered with my family as we walked and are still walking through an incredibly difficult moment in our lives – the passing of our father. There aren’t words to describe the amount of loss we felt then and still feel even now. It hurts. It’s an ache I can’t even put it into words. Watching our earthly father draw his last earthly breath and enter into eternity with Jesus was painful. But there was something beautiful happening at the same time: Our dad was transitioning to a new life, completely whole and healed, dancing on the streets of heaven.

The tears burned as they poured out of our faces and we all cried aloud, lamented, and felt the absence of his presence with us. Pair that with the fact that we can’t have a Celebration of Life service for him because of the current restrictions from this pandemic, which many others are experincing right now. It’s a tough pill to swallow, but even in the misdt of this pain, I can’t help but thank God for His very real presence in that room that night. And His healing presence still meets us each morning; when we wake up feeling the loss come in waves over us, He is there. On the good days and the really really hard days (because grief comes and it hits when you don’t expect it), He is still here, right next to us. Our God is always on call.

Our Great Physician doesn’t sleep or take breaks – the psalmist says he is close to the broken hearted.:

He even promises to be with us until the very end of the age. 

Do you ever think we avoid Our Great Physician as much as we do our earthly ones? Does the pain we feel inside feel altogether too much to pour out to Him as he intakes our emotional, mental, and physical history?

I think we often try to run from the ache of the pain- from the ache of the evaluation of our ourselves, and also from the pain or suffering we might have to endure in order to feel healed and whole again. 

Don’t run friend. Don’t avoid the powerful and healing love of God that reaches the very source of our suffering. 

Sometimes the remedy is as simple as a prayer of surrender. Other times it takes some work and therapy on our part: like making that phone call, getting ourselves into therapy, or forgiving those who have wounded us in some way, even when that someone is us. These steps must be done without delay – especially in this everchanging season when so many are canceling events and postponing gatherings, those phone calls and next right steps could be incredibly healing (more on that in an upcoming post). 

Let’s call on The Lord in prayer; let’s surrender to His ways. Let’s ask Him for the wisdom to make that next right step – then, let’s make the next right step. Make the appointment (even if it has to be through video conferencing because of this current Covid-19 situation). Let’s make the phone calls we’ve have been wanting & needing to make. Let’s listen closely to that voice that cannot be replicated in text messages. If an apology is needed, let’s give it gladly and with sincere love. If forgiveness is required, let us give it graciously and abundantly. Whatever we need to do, let’s do it together because pain & suffering do not have the final say in our stories.

Friend, we don’t have to manage pain with avoidance or denial when Our Loving Father is on call 24/7. Our Great Physician has more than just our physical form in his sight. Our mental, emotional, and spiritual state matter to Him because He designed us and formed us. My prayer today is for all of us to remember that Jesus is well acquainted with pain and suffering. In fact, that’s what we are remembering today, this Good Friday of Holy week:

“He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of suffering who knew what sickness was.
He was like someone people turned away from;[b]
he was despised, and we didn’t value him. Yet he himself bore our sicknesses,
and he carried our pains;
but we in turn regarded him stricken,
struck down by God, and afflicted.
But he was pierced because of our rebellion,
crushed because of our iniquities;
punishment for our peace was on him,
and we are healed by his wounds.
We all went astray like sheep;
we all have turned to our own way;
and the Lord has punished him
for[c] the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:3-6 CSB)

Take heart friend, Jesus has already paid it all- for our forgiveness of sin and for our complete healing of mind, body, & soul. All of it has been completely covered by his plan. And no surprise bills come in the mail. 

He’s a specialist and the best in every way. What a Savior! What a Surgeon! What a Healer we have!

Let’s PrayLord, on this Good Friday, we choose to remember that You are still Good. You know exactly what pain and suffering look like and feel like. We thank You for understanding us and our circumstances even better than we do. Lord, You see the entirety of us all- our past, our present and our future. Lord, when pain rises up in front of us we pray for the strength to run into Your arms. We are done running away from the hurt and the anguish. Our desire today is to run full-force into Your embrace as we pour out our hearts to You. We are done feeling alone in this – because You have already promised to never leave us or forsake us but to be with us until the very end of the age. Help our hearts to hold onto Your truth this morning! We don’t want to walk around avoiding pain- this world is full of brokenness and experiences that wreck our hearts. Lord, we come to You, knowing that You fully understand, and knowing that we can turn to You in our pain and brokenness. Thank You for Your love that walks us through it step by step, moment by moment, so we can live lives that are healed and whole. We will remember Your sacrifice for our salvation and for our healing today. And Lord, let us not forget that You didn’t avoid the pain of the cross or the depths of the grave; You finished the painful work because of Your great love for us. We are loved by You Lord, and we love You and thank You today for embracing us in the pain and through the healing, Amen.

Go The Extra Mile: We’ve been singing this song recently and it often comes to mind these days, so give it a listen and I pray it encourages you!

This post is dedicated to our amazing Daddy, Ricardo B. Sanchez

The One and Only Rico

Queen of Hearts Wrap Up: Heart Condition

In the past few weeks we’ve covered the often misplaced emotions that can dwell inside of us, the portions of our hearts that still need the warmth and light of God’s love, and the challenge of learning how to pour out our hearts to God. Definitely not lightweight material. But remember, since we are trying to live our lives in truth and honesty  before God, these are the things that should get our attention. 

Not to violate our hearts or to make us feel shame, but so that we can begin to feel hope rise up and walk in victory. 

Our life isn’t just for us friends. As long as we are on this earth, we each have a mission to carry out. We can either do so by living this life with hearts that are broken and hurt or, we can live with hearts full of life, hope, and healing.

The choice is ours to make.

I wanted to share a portion of my daily devotion with you today. Just the notes I took from the study I am currently working through. This morning, I was reading through passages in the Bible and the repeated pattern I saw was that the people of God also had a heart condition with the following symptoms:

-Hardened hearts, hearts that didn’t fear The Lord, stubborn & rebellious hearts, and hearts that they allowed to lead them astray.

These might have been the symptoms from a people long ago, but friend, I can hold up the magnifying glass of scripture and find those attributes in myself. Can you too?

All those symptoms stem from the same place: The Heart. This heart condition also comes with a warning from The Great Physician Himself:

“Do not harden your hearts as at Meribah, as on that day at Massah in wilderness where your fathers tested me; they tried me, though they had seen what I did.” (Psalm 95:8)

Do not harden your hearts.

What’s even greater? There is a treatment and prescription for this condition:

Worship & Bow Down. Kneel Before Our Maker in Surrender.

Why?

Because there is a world in need around us, waiting for us to heal so we can bring life, healing, and hope in Jesus’ Name.

Friends, below is my prayer from this morning. Real and honest. And if you’ve stayed with me this far, I invite you to pray it with me. Let this be OUR prayer today as we wrap up this series and continue this lesson. I don’t want to be the Queen of Hearts. I want to surrender to The King of Kings.

Let’s Pray: Lord, help our hearts to be softened to You alone. We don’t want to repeat history again with hardened hearts. We don’t want to be negligent of this condition that can overtake so quickly and destroy so much. We will come to You in worship and surrender, with joy, because You are God and King Most High. We will yield to You in reverence Holy Spirit, and come to You in worship as we bow down to counter act the hardness in our hearts. Thank You Lord for helping us to understand that we can give You total control of all that is within us, because You know how to care for those who belong to You. Amen.

peace- liz

Go The Extra Mile: I hope you’ve enjoyed this series and the music selections I’ve been adding – I’ve enjoyed creating these posts for us here on the blog, and I LOVE MUSIC! This song holds a special place in my heart, and I hope it meets you right where you are today:)