You Brought Me Here Why? {Anchored Souls Series}

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Today we welcome my sweet friend Bethany McIlrath to the blog. Bethany’s heart to seek the Lord in the midst of life’s struggles shines through her writing. She encourages me to look for his hand at work even when his plans are different from mine, and to keep trusting in the middle of chaos and heartache. Please give her a warm welcome today as she shares a story I know will inspire your heart.

You Brought Me Here Why?

I remember the excitement when the phone call came. “We just have to finalize it, but you can schedule that moving truck,” the Midwestern man’s voice exclaimed. Expectantly, we did.

We waited.

But the paperwork never arrived. Weeks later, the same voice apologized on the phone. Unforeseen circumstances arose. The position was cancelled. We’re weren’t moving to Iowa. We were moving though… we had to.

We waited.

Living out of suitcases at my in-laws’ house, we sought work.

We waited.

My husband showed me a job listing. It wasn’t what was expected. We knew one person in the whole region. But the Lord said yes with perfect clarity and abundant confirmation. One Skype interview and a phone offer later, we were scheduling another moving truck. This one was bound for the unknown of Minnesota.

With just two weeks to prepare and little in the bank, we signed a lease online with high hopes.

We’d waited.

The Lord had made the way. We believed it.

Then we pulled up to the apartment complex.

Singing paperwork, we discovered they changed the lease from what we original signed. Shrugging, the woman said “well, yes, it’s more expensive than you agreed to. But you just moved across the country. What can you do?” The deceit stung.

Our lease was cancelled. Tired of waiting, my prayer was “Lord, you brought us here. Why??”

In a new state, 24 hours distant from home, we drove to a storage unit. My in-laws helped us move all our stuff into a 6 foot cement hole. On that October day, the first snowfall drifted down. We stayed with a friend for a whole homeless week, searching frantically.

We waited.

The Lord provided a place to live within a chaotic week. But not a good job for me. We waited through church challenges, friendlessness, and open opposition at my part time job.

My prayer?

“Lord you brought us here. Why?”

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I wasn’t ungrateful. I’ve lived much worse.

But never had the Lord so clearly made a way where there was no way, only to bring me to something I couldn’t make sense of.

Exodus became more personal to me. We’d just left a harder chapter of life. We’d just faced promise after promise of newness, waiting until the Lord said “go.” He parted some unbelievable waters for us and led us through on dry land.

When we arrived, the land stayed metaphorically dry and literally frozen. Life felt parched and biting.

I spent much of my time grumbling like the Israelites in the desert: “now you have brought us into this wilderness to starve us all to death” (Exodus 16:3.)

God, in fact, had different purposes.

Since our Minnesota wilderness waiting season, the Lord has reminded me of the “whys” I was too discontent to notice then.

It was in our waiting we learned firsthand about how God gives peace when our circumstances are intimidating. We’ll never forget how He parted the way and the assurance we had, even as I grumbled, that He was with us and leading us.

We learned an awful lot about prayer. Our marriage grew immensely while knowing no one but each other. We met amazing people.

While in Minnesota, we were blessed by the Lord’s provision through miraculous financing, too-coincidental of timing, unexpected gifts, and even the car we are driving today. My husband and I had time with his best friend we never would have if we didn’t live close.

I also learned about the blessing of loneliness. I learned what it is to wake up to mundane circumstances and immediately turn to the Lord. It was in Minnesota God taught me to write my first manuscript and challenged me to read His whole Word for the first time.

It was there I began to make memories with the Lord. It was there I learned the sound of His voice.

I still pray that prayer though- just a little revised.

“Lord, you brought us here. You know why.”

I pray it even when our circumstances seem settled.

Because I know while we’re waiting on God, He’s always both bringing us out and drawing us in.


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A grateful recipient of salvation and hope in Christ, Bethany McIlrath can’t keep from writing His praise. She loves joining with others ii testifying about the Lord. Her reflections on God’s Word and character can be found at First and Second Blog and on Twitter or Facebook.

Sit at the Feet of Jesus {Anchored Souls Series}

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If I used one word to describe my dear friend Leigh Ellen Eade’s writing, it would be “authentic.” She lays out her her soul for the world to see, and it is both beautiful and refreshing. I’m am thrilled that I get to introduce her to you on the blog today. Please give her a warm welcome as she shares a touching story about becoming a mom.

Sit at the Feet of Jesus

When the news came that we were expecting our first child I jumped into planning mode immediately. Within days, I was designing the nursery, collecting reading material and filling the freezer with meals for our first months as a family of three.

Every plan was carefully crafted to ease our transition into parenthood. When it was time for baby to arrive, I road to the hospital expectantly and walked blissfully into the delivery unit. What happened seven days later took me by surprise.

Caring for our son one morning I was hit suddenly with the realization of how dependent he was upon me to live. For years I had been responsible for only myself. I enjoyed coming and going as I wanted. Now, I was responsible for myself and the life I stood holding. Suddenly, my life no longer felt like my own, and the journey was only beginning.

For the next fourteen months I sat awake in the nursery holding our son every night as he slept. I relished the opportunity to hold him close, but longed for sleep at the same time. Each morning I’d watch my husband leave for work, and question if I had the ability to care for our son alone.

With growing exhaustion and fading strength, I knew I needed to turn somewhere.

Have you been there? Has change ever left you scurrying for help? Are you there now?

As I began to walk in my new role as a mom there was much I needed to learn. My friends and family were wonderful resources, but some of the greatest lessons I learned were on the pages of God’s Word.

In Mark 1:40-42 we are introduced to a man who had a problem he couldn’t fix. In fact, his problem was such that society labeled him “unclean.” His only hope was Jesus.

A man with leprosy came and knelt in front of Jesus, begging to be healed.

“If you are willing, you can heal me and make me clean,” he said.

Moved with compassion, Jesus reached out and touched him.

“I am willing,” he said. “Be healed!”

Instantly the leprosy disappeared, and the man was healed.

Leprosy was a terrible disease. It often left its victims cast out from society, unable to work or see their family. I imagine it never held a place on this man’s to-do list, yet in his story, we find an answer for our troubles today.

when-you-cant-standsit-at-the-feet-of-jesusWhen you can’t stand, sit at the feet of Jesus.

Life has a way of throwing twists and turns onto our path. Sometimes these twists are good; other times they can leave us grappling for help, scared or even at rock bottom.

As an expectant momma I didn’t foresee sleepless nights and feelings of helplessness when I was planning for our son’s birth.

Maybe you are in the middle of a circumstance that’s left you staring at the unknown and wondering what to do.

When you can’t stand, sit at the feet of Jesus.

The man with leprosy was bound by a disease thought to be incurable. Life was limited for him and his future looked bleak until he came to the feet of Jesus.

While others may have avoided him; Jesus moved toward him. Jesus didn’t see his disease as too big; too “untouchable” or incurable. Rather, Jesus was moved by his faith and He reached out to touch the man and say, “be healed.”

We may not be able to physically see Jesus like the man with leprosy did, but we can still sit at His feet by:

  • studying his Word
  • praying to Him
  • praising Him
  • worshiping Him
  • giving thanks to Him

While our circumstance might not change (or it might), we can expect ourselves to change. For at the feet of Jesus we receive hope, peace, and ultimately, a fresh perspective.

Is there something you need to surrender to Him today?

You don’t have to spend another moment burdened, find your place at His feet and trade your trouble for His triumph.


leigh-ellens-headshotLeigh Ellen Eades is a writer on a mission to tell Jesus’ story. She’s passionate about her family, treasures coffee with friends and relishes quiet moments reading a book. You can connect with Leigh Ellen on Facebook, Twitter or her blog, www.raisinganarrow.org

When You Need to Give Thanks for God’s Love {Anchored Souls Series}

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To kick off our series, I’m thrilled to welcome my dear friend Betsy de Cruz back to the blog. Betsy has a gift for explaining God’s word in a practical, easy-to-understand way. Her words have prompted me to dig into scripture with fresh eyes and apply new techniques when studying it. I know you will be encouraged by her words about gratitude today.

When You Need to Give Thanks for God’s Love

Do you ever wonder what on earth God is up to? Life brings constant change, doesn’t it? Just when you think you have things figured out, God surprises you again. The unexpected hits you, and you wonder what to expect.

Last summer my family and I returned home to the Middle East after nine months of living stateside in an unfamiliar city. We could hardly wait to get back to “normal” life. We looked forward to the best tomatoes ever, summer peaches, olive trees, hot glasses of tea, hugging and kissing our friends on the cheek, and laughing for the pure joy of it all.

What we didn’t count on was culture shock all over again, a family member’s struggle with depression, political violence, and a national state of emergency.

When life throws you for a loop, it’s hard to give thanks in the transitions you didn’t plan.

You lose your job, or watch your child lose a friend to an auto accident. Deep inside, you wonder what God is doing and if He cares. And you ask all over again, “Are you there, God? Do you really love me?”

Sometimes it’s hard to believe, let alone give thanks.

If you’re struggling during this Season of Thanks, how about returning to the simple truth?

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“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16

We know this verse forwards, backwards, and upside down. We’ve heard it so many times that it goes inside one ear and out the other. I can hardly read it without remembering Sunday school in Fort Hancock, Texas. Miss Malloy said it was the Bible in a nutshell, so we painted “John 3:16” on pecans. Only I wasn’t that artistic, so I ran out of room after “John 3,” and the flower I tried to paint on my pecan got all smudged.

Today I read John 3:16 for the 967th time, but God impressed the words on my heart.

For God so loved the world that He gave…

God is love. It’s his nature to love. He loves you and me desperately. He loved us so much that He gave. He poured out love for us at the cross. When life shakes us, we can hold on because we have a love to hope in. In the fiercest storms, we can rest because we have a love to remain in.

We can give thanks no matter what because He’s already given His Son.

Here’s a Bible journaling exercise:

Write John 3:16 down, substituting your name for “the world” and “whoever.”

Read it a few times. Believe and receive it. Rest in it. Give thanks for it.

Lord, thank you for loving me. Help me to feel your love resting on me just as tangibly as I can feel a sweater on my shoulders. Your love covers me. It protects me and keeps me warm. I receive it right now. Help me remember today I’m dearly loved. Help me to love others well.


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Betsy de Cruz enjoys God, life with teenagers, and dark roast coffee. Betsy’s passion is to encourage women to get God’s Word in, so their faith can spill out, even during life’s bumpy moments. She and her family live in the Middle East. Most days she feels privileged to live overseas; other days she wants to pull her hair out and catch the next plane home. You can find Betsy at her blog, faithspillingover.com , on Facebook, Pinterest, and Twitter.

 

Where Do We Find Our Anchor During Life’s Changes? {Anchored Souls Series}

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I am a girl who thrives of consistency. When something happens to throw me out of my routine, I feel frazzled, like a dear in headlights.

But life has a way of tossing chaos our way, doesn’t it? Even when we’re not prepared. Even when we would rather stay inside the safe, comfy borders we’ve created for ourselves, change happens.

Sometimes it comes in the form of a move away from the town where we spent our entire lives growing up. Sometimes it’s a loss, a death or tragedy. Even when life’s turns should be joyful and full of hope, they often leave us feeling defeated, like we lost our anchor somehow.

So what do we do? Where can we find a secure place for our souls when nothing in life is consistent? Where do we place our trust when nothing we count on seems to last?

Over the next few weeks, we will be discussing these questions and having conversations right here on this blog about what to do when life overwhelms us with chaos and change. I will be welcoming some of my favorite writers and friends, and I would love for you to meet them and welcome them.

The question is not whether or not change will come. It will, whether we are prepared or not. Whether we welcome life’s shifts in seasons with open arms or bury our heads, they are inevitable.

So the question is whether we will thrive and grow or simply survive. Will we seek God and ask what he’s trying to teach us, or distance ourselves from Him?

Here are some of the beautiful writers who will be joining us over the next month. I hope you will visit their websites, show them some love, and enjoy their writing as much as I have.

November 22nd- Betsy de Cruz of Faith Spilling Over

November 29th- Leigh Ellen Eades of Raising an Arrow

December 1st- Bethany McIlrath of First and Second Blog

December 6th- Kristi Woods of KristiWoods.Net

December 8th- Tiffany Parry of Simply for One

December 13th- Katie Reid of KatieMReid.com

December 15th- Christy Mobley of Joying in the Journey

Looking forward to seeing you next week! I hope you will be encouraged and refreshed as we dig deep, have real conversations and talk about the challenges we all face.

Together, we can face life’s changes and upsets with renewed faith. But we have to be honest and authentic. Sharing the struggle is where it all begins.

 

What Does Casting Our Cares Even Mean?

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Kids hear everything.

A few days ago I received a reminder of this. Even when we think they’re not listening or won’t be interested in the conversation, they hear. They pay attention. And yes, they take interest.

In the process of running my mouth to my husband on a phone call I thought was private, I transferred worry. My eight-year-old son who should be thinking about Santa Claus or how he’s going to finagle his next piece of candy was worrying about his baby sister instead.

Because I was worrying about his baby sister.

Our fears have a way of spreading, don’t they? Like they’re contagious. We think we’re carrying these burdens by ourselves, as though the weight of them may crush us. And then out of nowhere we see the weight is also being carried by others. Other loved ones. Other friends and members of the church body.

The crazy part though? It isn’t being carried in a way that lightens our load. We don’t feel any release. They’re anxious because we’re anxious. Instead of releasing the burden, we hold onto it, unaware of its virus-like effect.

Will you continue reading with me? I’m sharing over at Purposeful Faith today about what “casting our cares” means in real life. You can read the rest of my post here.

The Most Important Ministry of All

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Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. James 4:14 (NIV)

I knew what God was asking me to do, but I didn’t like it.

Slow down. Take a breath. Focus on your family.

For months, I’d been saying “yes” to every ministry opportunity that came my way. I knew I was overextending myself, but saying “no” felt like torture. I didn’t want to disappoint anyone, so I ended up saying “no” to the people who mattered most of all: my family. Complaints were few, but I knew my priorities were skewed.

I believe most times God uses that still, small voice to speak to us, but when we ignore it, the still becomes more like a two-by-four to the head. With one swift turn of the earth on its axis, I entered a season of “no.” But I wasn’t the one saying it. Doors that were open became closed, and again I knew what God was asking me to do.

Slow down. Take a breath. Focus on your family.

Will you continue reading with me? Today I’m honored to be sharing over at Remade Ministries. You can read the rest of my post here.

 

GIVEAWAY:

Congratulations Mandy Hughes! You are the winner of a copy of The Broken Way. I am so excited to share this book with you. Thanks for reading.

Why the Broken Way is the Only Way to Redemption {Plus a Giveaway You Don’t Want to Miss}

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Nothing makes you realize how broken you are like trying to care for another living, breathing soul.

I remember the days after my first son was born. The sheer weight of knowing I was responsible for his life brought me to my knees.

I tried to take care of myself too, but some days I would look at the clock and wonder why I was so hungry. Then I’d realize I’d forgotten to eat.

We were in a new town thousands of miles away from my family and the culture was vastly different from what I knew. We found a church with conservative views that taught the Bible and I tried to connect with God in the messages I heard each week, but I always felt like something was missing. I couldn’t pinpoint what it was, but there was a hunger in my soul I couldn’t fill with all the singing, the studying, the striving to measure up.

Some days I looked at my newborn and wondered how I would teach him about a God I wasn’t even sure I knew. I could quote scripture and knew the Word, but where was peace? I could pretend to walk the walk and sing worship songs, but where was joy?

When I broke down crying at my OBGYN’s office after he asked the loaded question, “Do you work?” He prescribed an antidepressant.

I spent the next several days barely eating or sleeping. I questioned the value of my life before deciding to do what I feared the most: call a psychologist.

Today I look back on this period of my life and wonder what took me so long. What is it we fear about admitting our own brokenness, our lack and need for someone to pick up the fragmented pieces of our lives?

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Do we think our Savior will look down at the shards and say, “No, this one isn’t worth saving?”

That when he hung on the cross during his final moments and breathed his last words, “It is finished,” somehow it didn’t pertain to us?

I think in a deep place we don’t often talk about, we have this fear.

And as I sat on that sofa in the counselor’s office seven years ago, I faced this fear with trembling hands and lips. The more I talked and the more she listened, I realized there were layers upon layers of fears, lies and pain I was holding onto.

I was afraid if I let them go there would be nothing left but me. And that wouldn’t be enough.

Can I tell you something I eventually learned?

Admitting our brokenness is the only way to truly find Jesus.

Whatever our hurt, our secret sin or fear is, we have to let him in. We have to invite him to that place if we ever want to find healing.

In Ann Voskamps beautiful new book, The Broken Way, she gives a message of hope. But it’s also a message of pain and struggle. Her lyrical writing and heartfelt stories reveal how struggle, pain and brokenness are intricately intertwined in a relationship with Jesus. But through our need and our suffering, we also find joy. We find a relationship more intimate than anything this world has to offer. We find meaning and purpose.

Through Ann’s words, I’m remembering how far God has brought me from my experience as a new mom several years ago. But also seeing how I’m the same. I’m the same needy, broken girl in need of a Savior to scoop me up out of the pit and set me on a solid rock to stand. And that is ok.

In Ann’s words, “Our brokenness can be a container for God’s glory.”

And that, my friends, is a beautiful thing.

If you’re in a place where you’re wondering if God can use the messy, broken pieces of your life or you simply need a message of hope in a world that is often heart wrenching and confusing, I highly recommend Ann’s book. She will encourage you and challenge you to bring the mess to the feet of Jesus, where you will find wholeness and truth.

All of us are broken in our own unique way. All of us need a Savior. Sometimes we just need another scarred soul to show us the way home.

 

Note: The Broken Way Study Guide with DVD will be available in November. Be on the lookout for another giveaway!

GIVEAWAY:

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As a member of BlogAbout, a blogging review network and extension of The Blythe Daniel Agency, I received two advanced copies of The Broken Way. I would love to give away a copy to one of my readers. To enter the drawing, leave a comment below. You can be entered multiple times by sharing on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest. Make sure to let me know you shared the post in your comment. I will announce the winner on Monday, November 7th.

 

 

 

 

Linking up with these communities: #HeartEncouragement, #ThoughtProvokingThursday