Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Grace for the Fighters

By Haley Waters

YOU, who are fighting.
YOU, who are weary.
YOU, who are being tested...there is grace for you.

YOU, who are carrying the burdens of another.
YOU, who are making important life decisions.
YOU, who are straining to hear God's voice...there is grace for you.

Often we think of grace as something that follows mistakes, something that comes alongside failure to dig us out and dust us off. God's grace is a mystery that none of us can fathom, but it is a free gift to all who believe and accept it. His grace comes in many forms, and today I want to tell you: there is grace for the fighters.

Jeremiah 31:2 "This is what the Lord says: The people who survive the sword will find favor in the wilderness; I will come to give rest to Israel."

In grace, you find rest. 

YOU, who are fighting.

YOU, who are weary.
YOU, who are tested...there is rest for you.

YOU, who carry others' burdens.
YOU, who have counted the cost.
YOU, who are following Christ...there is rest for you.

Although you may feel like you're in the wilderness, there is grace and rest for you there. Although you may feel like the uphill climb is long, there is grace and rest for you there.

For whatever you're facing, whatever season of life you are walking in, you need to know two things:

1. You are NOT alone.

We have the ultimate Help in times of trouble. God promises to walk with us through EVERYTHING. Even when you feel the furthest from Him, know that He is there, longing to comfort you and strengthen you. And know that a tough season does not mean God is far from you or that He has forgotten you. 

Psalm 18:33 says "He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to stand on the heights." 

Even in times of trouble, of suffering, of great responsibility, God allows us to make progress and gives us the power to continue through all of it. 

2. You are NOT called to an easy life.

I know that's a tough blow; it was for me too. I thought Christianity was supposed to be like Candy-Land: getting stuck in a pit of cotton candy and living in a house made of gum-drops. (Ok, maybe not that extreme but you get the mental picture) And while accepting Christ and choosing to follow Him does release you from the bondage of sin and allows you to live a life far greater than one without Christ, it does not guarantee a life without problems or trials.

And we know this because the Word tells us we don't fight against flesh and blood! Our fight is against "the rulers, the authorities, against the powers of this dark world, and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." (Ephesians 6:12)

It's more like the game of Sorry: your goal is the finish line, but sometimes you get knocked out of your current position and it's your job to get back on the right path toward the finish line.

What Sorry is missing, however, is Someone who is in charge of the whole game and who knows the outcome. Lucky for us, God does. He sees you and He knows you. 

Genesis 16:13

He sees you fighting and He offers you grace.

He sees you weary and He offers you rest.

So take Him up on His offer. If you're in a season of fighting, He is there. If you're in a season of resting, He is there. And know that as long as you are keeping your game piece on the track toward the finish line (eternal life), and are being obedient to his rules (found in His Manual--The Bible, duh), you are exactly where you need to be.

Fight on Fighters. *insert fist bump/karate kick here*

Monday, August 10, 2015

Give Me a Minute

By Vanessa Shepherd 

My youth pastor would always say that "delayed obedience is still disobedience" and while I agreed that it was true, I never truly grasped just how much procrastinating could harm us until now.

We have come to the age of bargaining with our youngest son. Honestly we have been here awhile now, but in the past few weeks it has escalated quite a bit. Let me just start off by saying… I am not a fan.

His comeback of choice of course is… “just one minute”. (Said of course in the cutest voice and his hand bobbing up and down as it motions the number one.)

“Just one minute”

It’s adorable.

(Objects in mirror may be exactly as white as they appear to be.)

Unless it’s nap time, bed time, put-your-clothes-on-now time, lets-go time, or any other time that doesn’t allow for said “one” minute. Because it’s not. It’s not ONE minute. It’s ONE hour (give or take thirty minutes) and after that time is done it’s another “just one minute” from the small white one.

It’s exhausting. Child you need sleep NOW, not later. You need clothes NOW, not later. You need to eat NOW, not later. So please, for the love, stop putting up that little finger and giving me that cute face because it’s just prolonging the necessary.

Sometimes I want to tie the person who taught him that phrase up by their shoelaces just to teach them a lesson, but you see I can’t. Because it would be a feet of strength to get myself to a tall enough place to tie my OWN shoes there. Because it’s me. I taught him that. Only I didn’t know I was teaching him.

“Mom, come look at my drawing”
“In a minute, Jake”

“Mom, let’s play this game”
“In a minute”

“Mom, I want a sandwich”
“I’m working right now; GIVE ME A MINUTE!”

It was me all along who taught him what “one minute” looked like when I kept putting off things that I only thought were optional when to him they were necessary. It was me. And I am not alone.

If you are familiar with Moses and the captivity of the Israelites then you will remember how Moses petitioned for their release from Pharaoh and when he wouldn’t let them go God released plagues on their land. The first plague God turned their water into blood. You might think God was serious after this one, but Pharaoh was unmoved. But then came the second plague, the plague of frogs, and after he saw them pour out of the river like swimmers after a shark warning,  Pharaoh called to Moses saying he would let them go if he would tell the Lord to stop. But when Moses inquired to when this would happen, Pharaoh said “tomorrow” (Exodus 7:10).


How many times do we say in ourselves that we will do something… tomorrow. Why was Pharaoh so willing to sleep with the frogs one more night if he had intended to release them the next day? Wouldn’t he want to have them gone right away? Wouldn’t he want to sleep in a bed that wasn’t swarming with croaking disgusting frogs? Why one more night?

What it boils down to is that Pharaoh had no intention to let the Israelites go... he merely wanted some relief so he asked Moses to tell God that he would. In fact, eight more plagues had to sweep the land, the last one ending his son’s life, before Pharaoh would relent and “Let [His] people go”.

Maybe, just maybe, Pharaoh thought their release was only optional, when God said that it was necessary.

And it may sound crazy and you think how ridiculous Pharaoh is for waiting but are we not doing the same thing with our own lives? Are we not asking God for “one more minute” with our unforgiveness, “one more night” with our offenses? Are we not asking Him the same thing Pharaoh had asked for? Relief from the plague of feeling depressed and dirty without relenting any of our sinful ways or bitterness to Him?

Because it isn’t optional, sweet girls. It’s necessary.

Not for others who may or may not benefit from our letting go, but for ourselves. For our own happiness and our own purpose. So if you can't do it for anyone else, do it for yourself.

The time to let go of our anger is now, not in one minute.

The time to stop gossiping and tearing each other down is now, not in one minute.

The time to replace faith for our doubts is now, not in one minute.

The time to live according to the Word is now, not in one minute.

The longer we wait, the more we procrastinate, the more our stories become ones of destruction and of pain. Pharaoh lost his son and his army because he couldn’t let go. He wouldn't let go. He still wanted a minute, no matter what torment that minute would bring.

That isn’t the story God wants to write for you. I can assure you with every fiber of my being that it isn’t God’s will for you to be lonely, or depressed, or angry, or afraid and yet these feelings can feel like our constant companions. All day long they whisper “tomorrow”. “You can be rid of us tomorrow.” They are liars and thieves. They cannot be trusted. 

The time is now, girls, you don’t know what lurks in the darkness of that “one” minute.

Ephesians 4:25-32 (MSG)
"What this adds up to, then, is this: no more lies, no more pretense. Tell your neighbor the truth. In Christ’s body we’re all connected to each other, after all. When you lie to others, you end up lying to yourself. Go ahead and be angry. You do well to be angry—but don’t use your anger as fuel for revenge. And don’t stay angry. Don’t go to bed angry. Don’t give the Devil that kind of foothold in your life. Did you use to make ends meet by stealing? Well, no more! Get an honest job so that you can help others who can’t work. Watch the way you talk. Let nothing foul or dirty come out of your mouth. Say only what helps, each word a gift. Don’t grieve God. Don’t break his heart. His Holy Spirit, moving and breathing in you, is the most intimate part of your life, making you fit for himself. Don’t take such a gift for granted. Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you."

Monday, August 3, 2015

Rest in Him

By Alison Vidal

For a great majority of my life I have struggled with anxiety. If you've ever experienced it or struggled with it yourself, you know how crippling it can be. Panic attacks grip you physically and emotionally and are all consuming. 

Anxiety looks different for everyone but for me, I picture it as this tsunami like force that is rushing around inside of me. When I'm  riding the wave of anxiety it becomes hard to breathe, to stand, and its almost impossible to form words sometimes. For years my anxiety made me feel weak, and I was ashamed of it. I hated the fact that I had no control over it and that nothing I did could make it better. I didn't talk about it to anyone, and I tried to ignore panic attacks to make them go away. 

Picture me on the bathroom floor in the midst of a panic attack, struggling to breathe, and in my head denying the fact that I was suffering at all. My avoidance never helped my anxiety at all, in fact most times it made it worse. Trying to fix it myself never helped either, it only manifested itself into long fought struggles with depression, self harm, experimenting with drinking and drugs. If you're following along you can see the very clear theme here. 

On my own I cannot win a fight against the things that are attacking me. 

When I try to win these fights by myself it's like those dreams where you are trying so desperately to move your arms and you think you are but they just stay there, hanging at your side. 

There's a common saying I hear a lot that I really don't agree with. When you're going through a hard time people say "Well, God won't give you more than you can take!" That sounds good in theory, but what about when you're trying to fight off everything life is throwing at you by yourself? You keep falling down, and losing and failing and then you start to think God made a mistake and you question Him or lose faith. The reality is, life will ALWAYS give you more than you can take... on your own. 

Life is throwing hard punches at you, and you won't be able to take them UNLESS God is the one fighting for you. For years I wrestled with my anxiety, my depression, with everything that came along with it, and time after time I failed. I got so mad at life and with God and I questioned Him. "Why are you making me fight this battle God?" "I can't take this anymore." It took me YEARS to realize that I'm not supposed to

Exodus 14:14 says "The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still." 

Matthew 11:28-30 says "Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me , for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." 

God is telling you, let Me fight for you! Let Me carry this for you. Come to Me and REST. I will take care of you, you're My child and I love you. 

When I stop trying to fight my own battles, when I just sit and let the waves of chaos run their course and I trust that God will take care of me and I praise Him and thank Him for the love and grace He shows me, when I rejoice in the never ending gift I find in Jesus, that's when I can triumph over what tries to hurt me. When I realize that yes, I am struggling right now, but God is so much stronger, I will never lose. 2 Corinthians 4:8-10 says "We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies." I love that. 

Yes the world is going to put us through it, and we can expect that, but Jesus will GET us through it. God is never going to abandon us, and because of that we get to be a living testimony of HIS power. Our lives can show that through weakness and hardship and pain, God still makes a way for healing and He brings people joy. So the next time that the tsunami of hardships, anxiety, pain, or whatever it may be, starts rushing towards you let God fight and rest in Him. Even when its hard, and you don't know how you'll make it through take heart in the fact that GOD DOES. And in the midst of your greatest weakness, give thanks, and praise Him still.

2 Corinthians 12:9-10
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong."

Psalms 34:1 
"I will praise the Lord at all time, I will constantly speak his praises." 

Deuteronomy 31:6 
"So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

A Call To Anguish

By Haley Waters

That sure is a fun title, isn't it?

Anguish isn't really a popular word today; it denotes pain, sorrow, and a bunch of other negative adjectives. But recently, I was reminded of a sermon by Dave Wilkerson on this very subject, a sermon that was so powerful the first time I heard it, it brought me to my knees, and caused me to take not just one look at myself and at the condition of my heart, but several looks, to evaluate where I was, what I was doing, what cause, if any, I was fighting for. 

I believe the words of this sermon are still as relevant today as they were many years ago when first preached. Our culture, society, generation today, whatever you want to call it has become such a fast-paced/fast-food/instant-access/social media-driven/hunchback (yeah, check your posture next time you're staring down at your phone ;)/incapable of face-to-face communication generation and I fear we are forgetting what it truly means to be followers of Christ. But I'm not just saying this to you, I'm saying this to me; this is my generation too.

I've realized something about myself in the last few weeks: I like to be lazy. One of my favorite things to do is just sit on the couch and watch my favorite shows. I do like to get out and do fun things outside too, so I'm not a complete potato, but sometimes I actually look forward to when I can go home and I daydream about my bed and my pillows and blankets. I will often make plans to do something productive, and end up putting it off just so I can lay in my bed longer. 

If someone calls me while I'm at home, chances are the conversation goes like this...

"Hey what are you doing?" 

"Laying in bed" 

"Doing what?" 

"Just laying here" 


Sometimes I really enjoy just being lazy.

But the thing I realized is not just that I have a lazy problem, but I have a discipline problem.

I realized that I had grown lazy in spiritual matters. I had been undisciplined (although I really wish I could eat pie and cookies and cake and ice cream and sit on the couch but still get the same results as if I didn't eat as much of those things and actually exercised, it doesn't work that way). At one point I even found myself asking God, "Why can't I just have a normal life?!" (that line probably came from one too many made-for-TV movies I watched as a child). He then led me to the subject of anguish. And I realized: I had wanted an easy life...a convenient Christianity.

But we were never called to live a life of ease or convenience! And I say this not to scare you or condemn you but to hopefully wake you up the same way I was woken up.

Don't desire comfort, or convenience...desire Christ, and from there everything will fall into place. If you find yourself becoming lazy or apathetic, get on your knees and pray!

If you aren't in anguish over your city, your family, your friends, your church then who will be? 

Don't let the devil take your fight, YOU can make a difference, YOU are called to a life far better than you can ask or imagine and YOU are called to anguish.

I know this is sort of a heavy topic, but I believe it is necessary to not just discuss, but to act on. What will you do with your anguish?

Take a few minutes and click on this link, I promise that it will change you--or at least your perspective on anguish:  "A Call to Anguish"

Ephesians 4:1
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you
to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. "

Monday, July 6, 2015

Confessions from the Waiting Room

By Vanessa Shepherd

Doctor’s offices… I hate them… also any office that requires you to sit in a stuffy, overly crowded waiting room for an appointment that you made weeks before and yet every time you show up you have to sit for an hour (or two) to even be called back. The waiting room, it’s the pits.

I have pushed off seeing a doctor for a few years now for some weird things that have been going on and I finally made the decision that four years was long enough without answers. And you know what that decision got me? More waiting rooms. Like a plethora of them. Blood tests and follow ups and x-rays and follow ups and MRI’s and follow ups. Seriously, why can’t we just make one long day of it and call it good instead of dragging it out for weeks? I have spent more time in the waiting room than actually face to face with any doctor and while patience may be a virtue, it is not one I currently possess enough of.

Have you heard of the five stages of grief? 
Well I have found that they are pretty similar to the- four stages of waiting:

Stage 1… Anticipation

Everyone is filled with anticipation upon first arriving to any appointment and taking their seat in the waiting room. It is in this stage that we find ourselves daydreaming about the white picket fence and the tall dark and handsome who will give our children half of their genes. It is the most exciting out of all of the stages. Full of hope and trust in God because we know our Bibles and Psalm 37:4 promises us that if we “delight [ourselves] also in the Lord” that “He will give [us] the desires and secret petitions of [our] hearts.” Doesn’t that sound incredible?

This is the stage where rainbows and butterflies exist and your name is going to be the one they call next. The one where dreams are possible, answers are guaranteed, and waiting won’t last forever. This stage, I have a love hate relationship with this stage. It’s hopeful and beautiful and more times than not, a giant bowl full of crap. Have you heard the verse about “hope deferred [making] the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12), well I am pretty sure it was written for just such a stage as this. Once anticipation wears off we get hit like a ton of bricks by stage number two.

Stage 2… Anxiety

The questions start coming in like a flood. Did you miss your name being called? Are you in the right office, on the right day? What if you don’t get the answers you were hoping for? The questions have a way of taking over; they have the ability to silence absolutely everything else in your life and paralyze you from the head down. They are all consuming and all controlling. And as beautiful as the sentiment is to “be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God” (Philippians 4:6), it is way easier said than done. 

Anxious thoughts have a way of being put down and then picked back up time and time again.

Can we truly pray about such things and be free instantly from our anxiety? Or is it best understood as a continual prayer to keep our hearts focused on the right things? Whatever the case, anxiety soon leads to something I have a feeling all of us have experienced at least once not just in our lifetime, but sometimes daily.

Stage 3… Anger

Your once harmless thoughts have now turned to something far greater. You start to look around and get angered at how many are being called in before you. How many have received their answers, seen the doctors, who have barely just arrived. Hello? You were totally here well before them? Why can’t they go in order? Is it something you did or didn’t do? You shoot glares across the room to the patients, to the nurses, to anyone who is not making what you came in for a priority. 

It’s not personal but it feels personal. Anger has a way of creeping in every time we decide to compare our lives with the lives of others. Our timelines with theirs. But who are we truly mad at? Them for coming to the doctor office, or the doctor for seeing them first? I have a sneaking suspicion that many of us have some misplaced anger with God that we are taking out on people, because He is doing for them what we have been asking Him to do for us. 

Just a few short verses after reading how God would give us the desires of our heart, David instructs us to “rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him; Do not fret because of him who prospers in his way… cease from anger, and forsake wrath; do not fret—it only causes harm.” (Psalm 37:7-8) It wasn’t unintentional for David to link the two- our waiting for answers and getting angry with others who have- because it happens, every time. But when we allow ourselves to go through each of these stages keeping God’s word in mind, it always leaves us with this last thing.

Stage 4… Acceptance

It is only in this stage that we find ourselves committed to the waiting; understanding that it is necessary, and that our being there is completely unrelated to everything and everyone else. We start obsessing about the answers and start to look around. We examine the posters on the walls, the childish choice of movies playing, and the people that we were once infuriated by become more human. It was in this stage that God spoke to my heart so clearly just a few weeks ago; something that He could have only said when I was both still, committed and at peace.

I had been in this one waiting room for almost an hour, the place had emptied itself twice and my name had yet to be called. At first there was anticipation, then anxiety, then anger, but I had finally made my way into acceptance. I found myself watching “Brave” on the small TV tucked in the corner across the room when there was some small commotion behind me. I turned around to find a woman who had dropped something and a man- a stranger to her- jumping in to help her pick it up. She smiled, thanked him and took her seat. Honestly, it was beautiful.

And then there was the woman there with her mother. I watched as they laughed and talked with such passion for life. They were unfazed by how long they had been there or how many had gone before them because they were there together, and being together was enough. Enough to silence the unanswered questions or the problems they were facing. Their love for each other was evident and their waiting full of joy. It too was beautiful.

But my attention was quickly stolen by the sound of a mother trying to sooth her crying baby. She paced, she talked, she sang, she tried everything without any relief from that little girl’s shrieks of discontentment. I have been there before. Most days I am still there with Jacob and he is now well over three. It’s miserable and embarrassing and I couldn’t help but feel pity for her.

And just as soon as I had realized all that was going on around me my name was called and I heard it loudly. Not my name, although it had been called and caused me to rise from my chair and move toward the nurse motioning to take me back, but I heard Him speak so softly to my heart, “don’t waste the wait”.

I knew what He meant. I knew exactly what He was telling me.

I had spent over an hour so focused on myself and my problems and my questions that I forgot to lift my eyes to see the world around me. Not the newest update on politics or where our world is headed, not the opinions shouted loudly in the most inappropriate of places, but the people I had been placed with in the waiting room. 

I could have found peace instead of anticipation
if I had allowed myself to see the beauty of human kindness.

I could have found patience instead of anxiety
if I had brought someone to share in my wait.

I could have found purpose instead of anger
if I had recognized and offered to help those hurting around me.

I could have, but I didn’t. I wasted it.

I was so caught up in me that I forgot about everyone else. I was selfish. And instead of condemnation, I felt the conviction of God rise up on the inside of me. Not a hateful “YOU WASTED THE WAIT” but a challenge for the many waiting rooms I would continue to find myself in- “don’t waste the wait” He said.

So, dear friends I challenge you with the same thought. Whether you are in a physical room or a spiritual one, don’t waste it. God will call your name when the time is right and give you the answers you so desperately desire. He is faithful and has you in the place you are in for a purpose- so commit to being in it.

Psalm 27:14 
"Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, 
and He shall strengthen your heart; wait, I say, on the Lord!"

Monday, June 8, 2015

The Victory is Worth the Fight

By Haley Waters

I don't know about you, but I love a good fight scene. Not the "bullies taking lunch money" scene or the "troubled kids beating each other up" scene or the ridiculous parking lot fights people film and put on Youtube, I'm talking about... a battle scene.

One of my favorite sagas is The Lord of The Rings, and I LOVE the fight scenes in each movie. They are the definition of epic, my favorite being the Battle of Helmsdeep in The Two Towers (accepting my nerd crown, thank you). Not only are there light-hearted, funny moments, 

but there also always comes a moment where the characters decide they are ALL IN. Win or lose, they're going to give it all they've got. And because it's a movie, usually the heroes win, and I love to see that moment of rejoicing, when everyone gets together, nearly dead, painted with their own blood and that of those they've defeated (they were just orcs, don't worry), celebrating their victory. 

Chronicles of Narnia is another saga with great scenes of war. (I'm sensing a pattern of genre here). Even if I've seen these movies numerous times, every time the fight scenes come on, I'm on the edge of my seat, biting my nails, pulling for the good guys, and when that moment of decision comes, to give it one last shot, usually followed by a W, I'm cheering and celebrating along with these fictional characters.

I have the same commitment when it comes to sports scenes: it's the big game, they need to win to make playoffs, or it's the championship game and it's Bobby's last year to play and he needs a scholarship so he can make it big and buy his mom a house, etc. (Remember the Titans and Friday Night Lights being a few of my favorites--another pattern) I just love to root for the home team! To see battles won, victories achieved, and odds beaten!

Part of the reason I love these scenes is because of the resolution: the victory at the end of the battle, the win at the end of the game. But imagine if these scenes lasted forever...I would fall asleep and wake up hours later wondering how Legolas hasn't run out of arrows. Most of what we remember about movies is how they end. But if they never ended, we would lose interest and forget the battle altogether.

I would love to say the battles we face in our own lives are the same as the ones we watch on screen: the music comes in at just the right moment, we find our father's ancient sword at our feet just as the enemy is approaching, or the winning pass gets tossed right into our waiting hands as we near the end zone, but our victories look a little different, and most often have nothing to do with our own ability but with God's grace and love. But sometimes our battles are much like those eternal snooze-fests I spoke of earlier. 

2 Chronicles 16:9 in the Message translation says, "God is always on the alert, constantly on the lookout for people who are totally committed to Him. You were foolish to go for human help when you could have had God's help. Now you're in trouble--one round of war after another."
Doesn't that sound awful? A never-ending war. Yet that's the situation many of us find ourselves in when we don't rely on God. 

Without His help and our total surrender to Him, 
we can't win the battles in our life, and without victory, 
the war will never cease.

I've seen quite a few battles; ones in which I was wearing the armor and ones my friends and family have fought through. Every battle that gets a win, every fight that ends in victory for the good guys has been won when the outcome is relinquished to God. Now I do believe He equips us with [His] strength, and gives us boldness and courage to fight alongside Him, but as long as we are leading the army while He is an extra in our scene, war will continue with no conclusion. We CAN'T win without Him. 

Of course, we don't mean to take control, we don't intend to fight without God's help, but then we find ourselves barely-standing, on a battlefield of good intentions and hopelessness, wondering when this war will end. "God why won't you help me?!" "God, I'm tired, I can't fight anymore!" And all He wants is to fight for you, if you will only let Him. 

What battles are you trying to fight today? I certainly hope you're aren't trying to fight tomorrow's battles as well, because "...tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of it's own." (Matthew 6:34) 

If you feel like you're in a war that won't end, if you feel defeated and yet somehow remain in battle, evaluate the areas you're keeping from Him, the fights you're keeping Him out of, and let Him take care of today

Elisabeth Elliott said, "Today is mine. Tomorrow is none of my business."

Now, don't think you're going to give God the battle and you get to run off to lounge by the pool and wait it out. You will still have to fight through whatever comes against you, but the BEST news is, you will not fight alone, and you can have peace, and be certain that He has already won.

2 Chronicles 20:15 
"Do not fear or be dismayed because of this great multitude, 
for the battle is not yours but God's."

Proverbs 21:31
 "...victory belongs to the Lord."

Monday, June 1, 2015

You Can't See Me

By Vanessa Shepherd

Those words, those four words, make up my son’s favorite sentence. And if you are unfamiliar with the phrase, just know it comes from a guy named John Cena who is in fact... a wrestler. Now, I’m not talking the real stuff. I’m talking WWE, and yes, I am praying for him also, but there is no swaying him. Believe me, I have tried! 

I am not sure what is most appealing to a six year old; the grown men in spandex, the crazy costumes they parade themselves in, or the pretend fighting that looks like a bad high school war scene reenactment. Whatever it is, it has enraptured him and there is no going back now. This is my life. A boy running around the house waving his hand in front of his face smiling as he taunts his brother- “you can’t see me”. 

Just the mention of those words and Michael feels on top of the world. Like he can conquer anything. Like he is a superhero. And he is right. He has found the one thing that we have all at one time or another stumbled upon, our super power (so to speak) and it is to just simply be… invisible. 

To be in a crowded room and feel like you are utterly alone. 

To be in conversation and feel completely unheard. 

You can’t see me. 


How is it that we can be around the same people for years and still feel unknown? Unwanted? Or unneeded? I don’t like this super hero business. I don’t like this super power. I’m a girl; I just want to paint my nails and play with makeup. Can’t we leave the play acting to the boys? If only, sweet girls, if only. 

I have been the last picked for teams and the first picked to be picked on. I have been asked my name by the same people countless times. I have been the one to be left out of the parties and the one forgotten about when my birthday has come around. I get it. I feel it too. 

So to the invisible girl, the one screaming “you can’t see me”, listen up… you are not alone! Even David has felt like this before, just read what he says in Psalm 31:12- “I am forgotten like a dead man, and out of mind; like a broken vessel am I.” We have all gone through seasons of loneliness but know this- you are visible to a loving God, and you are more important than you’ll ever know. Don’t give up when you think no one is watching because chances are someone is. 

If I could give you two things to remember in such a time as this it would be that... 

1. Distance always causes distortion 

The further we get from others the more the truth becomes blurred. We tend to exaggerate things that have really happened when we choose to be out of contact with people. It is just human nature; to make others into villains and ourselves into victims. But the answer to any problem is not more distance. There is no conversation, no confronting, no healing to be found in more distance. So don’t retreat. Fight the instinct to flight. Now is the time to be more involved, more connected with others. It’s painful at first, yes, but so is stitching up a wound. But if you are looking for healing you must take the first step. So close the gap. 

James 5:16 

Confess to one another therefore your faults (your slips, your false steps, your offenses
your sins) and pray [also] for one another, that you may be healed and restored.”

And when you choose to stick it out and be around the same people who have made you feel so alone, remind yourself of this… 

2. Feelings are always one-sided 

Your feelings are valid, they are reactions. There is no way to conjure up a feeling of any kind albeit love or hate without a cause. So do not feel judged for how you feel. But in the midst of those very real feelings, don’t forget that they are also not telling the full story. They are only telling your side of it. When we feel forgotten we tend to push blame on to others for not noticing us. I mean, we are awesome so how dare they right? But what if, just what if, they are going through their own battles and it isn’t that they don’t think of you but that they are so consumed with their own troubles and struggles to go out of their way to notice if you are feeling welcome or comfortable. Sometimes our feelings can be screaming so loudly “you can’t see me” that we don’t hear the quiet responses of, “yes we can”. So take the time to stop and listen.

Psalm 73:15-17
“Had I spoken thus [and given expression to my feelings], I would have been untrue and have dealt treacherously against the generation of Your children. But when I considered how to understand this, it was too great an effort for me and too painful. Until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I understood [for I considered] their end."

From one girl longing to stifle her super power from time to time, to another- 
Be strong, my friend. 

You may feel invisible but you are not alone. 

I can see you.