Tag Archives: Living By Faith

CHOOSING FAITH OVER FEAR

DO NOT FEAR, FOR I AM WITH YOU

Fear is one of the most paralyzing obstacles we deal with in life. If we’re being completely honest with each other, we all battle with fearful thoughts at times.

Fear can taunt us, but it cannot have any power over us when we are grounded in Christ. I was greatly encouraged in my quest to conquer fear after I had a powerful dream in my sleep last year.

In my dream, I was alone and trying to find my way home late at night after leaving an event. Unintentionally, I took a road that led to the top of a really high mountain. In the midst of the darkness, I could barely see my surroundings, but I kept on driving anyway. Suddenly, I began to get fearful as I realized I had taken the wrong road and I was on the side of a mountain. As I was turning the vehicle around, I could see I had reached the top without even being aware of it. With amazement, I thanked God for helping me make it safely to the top of a huge mountain in the dark. Then I was awakened from my sleep.

In the moments shortly after my dream, I sensed there was a message Christ wanted me to receive. It was as though He was saying: You have no reason to fear the darkness. I am with you. I will help you.

Fear has taunted me at times throughout my life and it has attempted to get me off course, but thankfully it has not succeeded in stopping me from living courageously.

I am determined not to let fear stop me from going after my callings. When I stand face to face with Christ, I want to hear Him say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.” I don’t want Him to wonder why I let fear stop me from doing His will for my life.

Are you battling fears or feeling anxious about the future? Do you have moments when fear paralyzes you or prevents you from doing what you are called to do?

If we continually look to Christ and choose faith over fear, we will be totally free from fear’s grip.

As long as we’re on this earth, we’ll be tempted by fear, but it does not have to control our lives. There are a few strategies that help me overcome fear when it tempts me to give into it.

Praying passionately stops fear dead in its tracks. When I am tempted to give into fearful thoughts, I drop to my knees and pray wholeheartedly until Christ floods my soul with peace.

Meditating on Scripture is a powerful way to conquer anxious thoughts. The Scriptures, especially the Psalms, have helped me mightily through the years. Meditating on the Psalms melts away anxiety and fear. If we are keeping our hearts fixed upon Christ and His Word, fearful thoughts cannot penetrate our minds.

Living a life of repentance breaks the chains of anxiety in our lives. Whenever I am feeling fearful, I ask Jesus if there is something in my life that is allowing unrest in my soul. Christ is always faithful to show me an unrealized sin that needs to be stripped out of my heart. Letting Christ sanctify us is a key factor in getting free from our fears. It’s amazing how peace floods into my soul instantaneously as I repent.

Worshiping in Spirit and in truth opens the door to peace. As we remain in an attitude of worship throughout each day, Christ’s indescribable peace remains within us. Worshiping by singing and listening to anointed songs is a powerful way to conquer fear.

Christ is calling us to go deeper in our relationship with Him so that we can crush fear under our feet and never be affected by it again. The deeper we go with Christ, the more of His glory will be released in our lives. No dark force can stand up against the glory and power of Jesus Christ. With Christ guiding and strengthening us, we have nothing to fear.

‘Do not fear, for I am with you; do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you. Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.’

Isaiah 41:10

May you live fearlessly and step boldly into the destiny Christ has for your life.

As a side note, please forgive me for neglecting to write for my blog lately. Recently, I have been working hard on another writing project. I am pressing forward in my callings and helping build Christ’s kingdom on the earth. I would be so honored if you would subscribe to receive my posts electronically by entering your e-mail address into the box on the right sidebar. Thanks so much to those who have already subscribed.

XOXO,

Amy

LIVING A LIFE OF PRAYER

nothing-is-impossible-prayers

Two decades ago, my prayers seemed to be last resort petitions and my relationship with Christ had become complacent due mostly to an over-committed lifestyle. I was a thirty-one-year-old mom when I plummeted to the lowest point of my life.

While trying to be some sort of superwoman, I stayed up all hours of the night making homemade tiaras and princess wands for my daughter’s seventh birthday party. With my people-pleasing skills, it appeared that I had it all together. In reality, I was terrified and carrying the weight of many problems on my shoulders.

Shortly after my daughter’s extravagant birthday party, my self-sufficient strength imploded. Hopeless words in my journal from that dark season revealed my depressed state.

I vividly remember the night when I sat at my dining room table and began sobbing. In a puddle of tears, I thought about my broken marriage, our financial struggles, and how all the stress was affecting my daughter, Christa. With another child soon to be born, it all seemed like more than I could handle.

In my desperation, I requested prayer from a counselor at church and turned to my loved ones for encouragement. My mother and grandmother prayed for me and encouraged me to stand firm in my faith. With their encouragement, I took baby steps toward a consistent prayer life and I eventually began praying and meditating on Scriptures persistently.

With a renewed confidence in Christ, I realized that my need to forgive some offenses was hindering my closeness with Him. I was reminded that the Bible says, “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions “(Mark 11:25, New American Standard Bible).

After choosing forgiveness, my hopeless feelings didn’t linger very long. I gave birth to a baby boy, and by the time my son, Thomas, was five months old, I was feeling like a new person.

As the darkness dissipated, I realized the prayers of my mother and grandmother had carried me through my immature years. I truly believe I wouldn’t have made it through such a tumultuous season without their prayers.

The dark season I experienced during my thirties was a catalyst for me to renew my spirit and turn to Christ wholeheartedly. Through prayer, I began to see the unfailing love and never-ending faithfulness of God.

With a rekindled prayer life, I prayed and waited for Jesus to restore the broken pieces of my heart. He began restoring my life step by step, and filled my soul with peace and joy. He healed my hurting marriage and restored our finances by leading my husband to a stable career.

During the hardships, I learned to pray passionately for my children in the same way my mother and grandmother prayed for me. As I released Christa and Thomas to Christ through prayer, I watched them grow into thriving adults.

A life without prayer is like a sailboat without sails. Without prayer, we get disconnected from Christ’s guiding voice, and without His guidance, we end up in desperate places. Desperation drives us to our knees more than anything else.

It’s interesting how, as humans, we need adversity to push us toward God and prayer. When things are going well, we sometimes think we don’t need to pray. Perhaps we need to pray the most during our best days.

Living a life of prayer connects us to God so that we can hear His still, small voice and live peacefully in the midst of life’s challenges.

Are you in a dark season? Don’t lose heart. Trust that Christ’s love for you is deeper than you can imagine (Ephesians 3: 17-18). Knowing Christ’s love for you is necessary to pray with faith. Simple, faith-filled prayers will move God’s heart to do what seems impossible.

Jesus teaches us to never give up praying (Luke 18: 1-8). If we persistently pray with pure motives and forgiving hearts, we will not only see Christ’s power working in the most amazing ways, but most importantly, we will continue growing closer to His heart. As we fix our eyes on Christ, prayer becomes as natural as breathing and we become transformed into God’s image in the process of waiting for His good plans to be established in our lives.

If you would like more encouragement for living a life of prayer download a FREE copy of the Prayers of a Mother’s Heart eBook through Monday, October 3rd.

LESSONS I LEARNED DURING FINANCIAL HARDSHIPS: PART TWO

Store Your Treasures in Heaven

We had just sat down for dinner when my preteen son noticed the bottle of salad dressing was not his favorite kind. Like a typical American kid, Thomas said, “Yuck. I’m not eating a salad tonight if this is the only salad dressing we have.”

At the time, our grocery budget was very small because of our less-than-average income. We ate rice and beans very often and didn’t buy many well-known brands. I had bought a salad dressing for about half the price of the popular brand.

I decided to refrain from lecturing my son during dinner. With patience, I picked up his salad bowl and placed it in the refrigerator while saying, “I’m sure someone else will be happy to eat your salad later on.”

As we sat at the table enjoying our meal together, Thomas got out of his chair and walked to the refrigerator a few minutes later. With a puzzled tone I asked, “What are you doing?”

In a subdued way, Thomas said something like this: I know there are children in the world who don’t have enough to eat. They would be happy to have a salad and wouldn’t be complaining. So I’m happy to eat my salad.

Immediately, tears came to my eyes and a warm feeling washed over me as I realized that my son had grasped a concept I’d been trying to teach him throughout his young life. I rejoiced greatly that he’d learned something around the age of eleven that many people four times his age couldn’t grasp. It was evident Thomas understood gratitude that day. Amazingly, I have never heard him complain about anything he lacked since then. In a society where it’s more common to be ungrateful, my children learned the gift of gratitude during our hard times.

From the day my children were able to talk, I would not allow them to complain. Especially during the times when our income fell very low, I would remind them of our blessings by saying, “We will not ever feel sorry for ourselves. We are so blessed to have a roof over our heads, food to eat, and clothes to wear.” It was important to emphasize the point that we had absolutely nothing to complain about, ever.

Last month, I shared about our journey that led to our financial challenges in “Part One: Lessons I Learned During Financial Struggles.” As we’re in the midst of the Christmas season, it’s a good time to think about what really matters most in life.

Are you discouraged because you can’t buy your family expensive gifts for Christmas? Let me encourage you with some of the great lessons I learned when we were scraping by on a small income.

A grateful heart makes it possible to be joyful in all circumstances.

Gratitude takes the focus off of what we don’t have and places the focus on what we do have to be thankful for. A thankful heart is a joyful heart. I learned to be content in all circumstances when I lived with a single mom as a teen girl. My son and daughter learned to be content as a result of their simple upbringing. At eighteen and twenty-five years old, they are both grateful for everything they have. As a family, we learned that we are very blessed even when we have less than others.

Children thrive in a loving environment even when finances are lacking.

Now that my two children are grown, I can see clearly that raising them without an excessive amount of finances was actually a very good thing. When the environment is filled with unconditional love and joy, children are content with simple gifts. During the years we struggled financially, my children were learning to think of others more than themselves. Instead of having an entitled attitude, my children grew into contented, generous, and compassionate people. I believe growing up with less than their friends helped mold them into people who want to serve others. They give sacrificially by volunteering at non-profit organizations and helping the homeless and other people with unmet needs.

There are many creative ways to live frugally.

It’s not the amount of money we have; it’s how we manage what we have. We learned how to buy things for a fraction of the cost. Making handmade gifts, shopping at thrift stores, finding deals at consignment stores, and buying used items on eBay are some of the ways we found affordable gifts for our children through the years. One year, my husband bought a used XBOX game system for $40.00 along with about five games for our son’s Christmas gift. Thomas was ecstatic with joy about receiving his first game system. During one Christmas season, I found our daughter a “like new” bicycle at our favorite thrift store. Christa was elated about her beautiful, pink bike. She could have never imagined that it was purchased for only $15.00. With my childlike faith, I believe God placed that bike at Bargain City Thrift Store especially for my daughter.

Contentment does not come from material things.

No matter how much a person tries to believe that happiness comes from having stuff, it’s simply not the truth. The human soul has a God-sized place that can only be filled up with God’s love. Nothing can satisfy the soul’s need except for our Creator. Unhappy people try to fill their souls up with things money can buy. That’s why they are not truly content.

Are you feeling the contentment that comes from knowing Christ? I pray you will draw near to God and that His presence in your life will be your greatest treasure. The things of this earth are slowly wasting away. Love, joy, peace, kindness, and generosity are things that will last forever.

May you find your joy in the eternal treasures this Christmas season.

“Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.”

— Matthew 6:20

LESSONS I LEARNED DURING FINANCIAL HARDSHIPS: PART ONE

Seek the Kingdom of God

As a young married couple, my husband and I were sailing through life enjoying the comforts of a really good income. Michael was super ambitious and working for Burroughs Corporation in his twenties. I was ambitious, too, and braved three interviews to get hired by Procter and Gamble.

During my first pregnancy, we were in excellent shape financially. We assumed we would be raising our family with a great income. To our surprise though, Michael was laid off due to the merger between Burroughs and Sperry. The two corporations became a new one: Unisys. This resulted in job losses for a number of employees. Michael’s job was cut during a third lay off period, three months before our first child was born.

In the midst of the shocking news, we saw God’s hand working. Christa was born only one day before our medical insurance was dropped. We were grateful for such perfect timing.

After the lay off, we were wondering: What should we do now? The main thing Michael and I agreed upon strongly is that we did not want to place Christa in daycare. My boss understood my situation, and she worked it out for me to drastically cut my work schedule, so I could focus on parenting.

Michael dreamed of being an entrepreneur, so he was elated when his boss retired from Burroughs and asked him to be his partner in starting a computer business. Michael worked from home, making a fraction of his previous income and stayed with our daughter while I worked very part-time hours.

Several years later, Procter and Gamble was transitioning into using computers for processing orders. The training would have required more hours of work for me. With mixed emotions, I took a leap of faith and quit my job, desiring to pour myself into motherhood more than any other job.

It wasn’t long after leaving my job that I learned the old adage is true: “When one door closes, God opens a window.” After leaving the corporate world, God opened new doors for me to earn money. Working as a nanny for other children kept me from having to leave my daughter in the care of someone else.

After my son was born, I was more determined than ever to savor motherhood. More doors opened for flexible part-time jobs, enabling me to be a home-schooling mom.

As my husband and I lived by faith, we chose to reject the popular definition of the AMERICAN DREAM. Our dream transitioned into living more purposefully. We intentionally chose the less popular path of a really simple life.

Our choice was not easily done, but taking the road of faith is never easy. Following Christ is the most fulfilling journey, but it’s not the easiest path.

With determination to stay true to our convictions, we passed through some really tough seasons. God carried us through the loss of Michael’s computer business, several more job losses and home business losses.

At one point, Michael had to deliver pizzas for several years. He worked nights at the YMCA in addition to his day job for a season. And while my daughter and husband attended college during the same time period, it was necessary for me to work weekends and late nights to make ends meet.

Our faith in Christ sustained us through every challenge and led us to new opportunities. In 2010, after two decades of riding a financial roller-coaster, we were elated when Michael earned a Biomedical Engineering degree. In his late forties, Michael began a new career in the medical diagnostics field.

I cannot say I miss the twists and turns of our past, but I would definitely relive all of the challenges over again for the great treasures I gained along the way.

Now that my children are grown—one in college and one college graduate who’s working for a non-profit corporation—I’m grateful I chose the kinds of work that gave me the flexibility I needed as a mother. Looking back, I know I made the right choice for my family. There’s nothing that could replace the value of the time spent raising my children.

I’m happy to share the priceless lessons I learned through experiencing financial hardships. I hope you’ll find encouragement from these truths.

God is the ultimate provider.

Seek the kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need. — Matthew 6:33 (NLT)

Confidently knowing that Christ is trustworthy is the greatest lesson I learned during our financial struggles. My family received miracles in ways we could not have experienced otherwise. Our lack of finances at times forced us into an infant-like dependency upon Christ. Through our hardships, we got to experience the extraordinary power and provision of God, our Father.

Giving to others is better than receiving blessings ourselves.

We must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.” — Acts 20:35 (ESV)

The greatest need as human beings is our need to give. Early in our marriage, Michael and I chose to give in various ways, including sponsoring missionaries with monthly support. After several job losses, our ability to sponsor missionaries was hindered temporarily. However, I learned that generosity doesn’t have to be limited by the amount of money we have. We can give generously by giving our time, our talents, and our love, regardless of our income level.

The greatest joy comes after seasons of waiting.

The Lord longs to be gracious to you; therefore he will rise up to show you compassion. For the Lord is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him! — Isaiah 30:18 (NIV)

Instant gratification is not a good thing; I believe it actually limits our ability to appreciate and enjoy things. I learned that waiting is a gift. Having to wait on something actually heightens the experience, simply because the delay makes the fulfilled desire extra sweet. One of my best memories is when we visited Disney World in 2012 after many years of waiting to go together as a family. The joy was multiplied and intensified greatly as a result of the delay.

Christ carried our family through the challenges and then graciously restored our finances above and beyond what we had hoped for.

Christ provides. He restores. He directs our paths.

Be encouraged if you are facing a financial challenge. I am confident that God will do for you what He did for my family if you trust and seek Him wholeheartedly. With Christ, it’s possible to live abundantly in all seasons of life.

PART TWO of this article will be posted next week.

RESTING IN GOD’S PROMISES

God Keeps His Promises

I was thinking, “Who’s calling late on a Saturday night?” Michael answered the call and he knew something was wrong when he heard our son’s voice. Thomas called from college five days ago in physical pain, asking for prayer and advice.

Michael encouraged our son, assuring him that he would seek the best medical care for him the next day. The phone call was short because Thomas had friends from Georgia visiting him for the weekend.

As soon as Michael laid the phone down, we discussed the fact that we were going to pray and trust Christ to work in this situation. I thought about the illnesses Thomas had suffered during the past two years. He went to the E.R. and spent a night in the hospital during his junior year of high school and he repeated the same scenario (with a different type of illness) during his senior year. During both stays at the hospital we saw God’s faithfulness powerfully. However, we did not want to repeat the former hospital adventures with Thomas in Oklahoma, eight-hundred miles from home.

Faith filled our hearts, as we prayed for Thomas. “Lord, we know it is Your desire to heal and protect Thomas. I trust You and believe that You want him to be well. Please heal him and take away his pain completely…”

Our prayers continued pouring out of us with fierceness, passion, and an unrelenting strength. We’ve become quite the prayer team. Two people praying together are better than one (See Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).

Peace filled our hearts as we finished praying. Then Michael sent a prayer request in a text message to Seth, a young man who’s involved in a prayer ministry for the city of Tulsa. We met him by a divine appointment while visiting Tulsa in April. Seth sent a message, saying he’d be praying and offered to pray with Thomas at his dorm. Since Thomas had out-of-town guests, it wasn’t necessary for Seth to visit him. Although, knowing Thomas was with his close friends and that Seth would be willing to go pray with him brought us comfort.

With certainty that God had Thomas in the palm of His hand, Michael and I went to sleep. We both were awakened in the early morning hours and prayed more for Thomas. Shortly after I got out of bed, I noticed Michael was already awake and in the other room.

He walked in and enthusiastically said, “I received a text message from Thomas. His pain
and the main symptoms are both gone.” I sighed with relief.

While praising the Lord for answering our prayers, I thought about the beautiful rainbow we had seen the morning before. It couldn’t be a coincidence that on the same day Thomas called us with the news of his pain, we saw the most magnificent rainbow at daybreak.

I was sitting there thinking about my reaction to seeing the rainbow in its entirety at the
dawn of the day. I had reacted with the giddiness of a child, and shouted, “How can anyone not believe in God?” The rainbow took my breath away as it reminded me of the way God keeps His promises.

Twenty-four hours after I was rejoicing over the rainbow, I was thanking God for what He had done for my son. Suddenly the thought occurred to me that the rainbow came as a symbol, reminding me of how the darkest hour is right before dawn. Then daybreak comes, and if we keep our eyes focused on Christ, a miracle comes, too.

Years ago, I heard a pastor say that spiritual warfare intensifies shortly before God is about to birth something new in our lives. I’ve seen a pattern of this spiritual law in my life and in the lives of those closest to me.

Last year, Thomas was lying in a hospital bed a few days before he received an opportunity of a lifetime. While in the E.R. I said to Thomas, “Something good must be about to happen. I think it has to do with football—a door opening for you.”

When I said those words, I could have never imagined that three and a half days later my son would get an offer to play college football at the division-one level.

Now that Thomas is living out his dream of being on a college football team and taking steps toward his God-given destiny, there’s a dark force trying to stop him. But with Christ, all things are possible, and all resistance is being met with a fierce kind of faith.

After Thomas had several doctor’s appointments this week, he was released to return to his usual schedule of football practices. Michael and I rejoiced over our specific prayers being answered, especially that there was no need for an E.R. visit. We are confident that God will protect Thomas and continue carrying him on the divine path laid out for him. I believe this medical challenge was part of the spiritual battle and just more evidence that Thomas is on the right path with more great things in store for him in the near future.

With childlike faith, I trust Christ wholeheartedly; I know He gave me a rainbow as a sign to assure me of His faithfulness to keep His promises.

Do you believe in the promises of God?

He promises that whosoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life (John 3:16).

He promises whatever we ask will be done for us if we abide in Him and His words abide in us (John 15:7).

He promises He will never leave or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5).

He promises to give us rest for our souls (Matthew 11: 29).

He promises to heal the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18).

He promises to sustain us and restore us to good health (Psalm 41: 3).

He promises to watch over and protect us as we dwell in the shadow of His wings (Psalm 91: 1).

His promises are limitless. We can choose to believe they are true or we can choose disbelief and live a defeated life. What are you choosing?

I choose joy and faith. When things get hard, let’s keep focused on Christ, looking heavenward and resting in the the promises of God.

PHOTO CREDIT: Michael captured the photo of the actual rainbow that God sent on Saturday morning, October 31, 2015. I’ll remember it forever.

WALKING BY FAITH TO SEE GOD’S POWER

Walk by Faith

As my car was sputtering down the road, barely moving at the speed of twenty-something miles per hour, I felt unsafe driving. My car was an old Honda, nearly twenty years old. It had been acting strangely for weeks. I must have looked crazy as my car jerked down the street while I passionately proclaimed to God my hopes for Him to rescue me. With an assurance in my voice I loudly said, “Jesus, You stated in Your Scriptures that all things work together for good for those who love You and are called according to Your purposes. Well, I need a car. So I am expecting You to work this out for my good and provide another car for me.” As those words rolled off my lips, peace fell all over me and I knew everything would be okay.

Just weeks before my car had started giving me trouble, I’d written a prayer to the Lord professing that I didn’t want to ever doubt Him again. I know that sounds courageous. But I’m not really all that brave. I was simply ready to walk in faith moment-by-moment and see God’s power working in my life in a greater way. For a number of years I’d been following Christ at all costs. During that season, the Lord was taking me to the place of knowing that every good thing in life would be provided by God if I followed Him wholeheartedly and would really, really trust Him.

At the time my car was breaking, my husband Michael was working hard to finish college while I worked several different part-time jobs including very late nights on the weekends for a catering business. Even with the catering job, my cleaning jobs, teaching dance on the side, and cutting all our spending to only necessities, we still barely had enough money to keep food on the table, much less money for car repairs.

After that day I’d found the courage to tell Jesus I needed for Him to provide me a better car, my old Honda continued to sporadically act up. I never knew if I would make it to my job safely or not. But I just kept praying for the Lord to keep my car running and waiting on Him to provide a new one. I truly knew He would. Just a few weeks later, I received a call from my mother with some sweet news.

In her kind voice, she said, “Amy, I want you to know that the Lord put it on my heart to give you our car since we’re purchasing another one.” The timing was impeccable. My mom had no idea that our car was seriously malfunctioning. I had decided not to share those details with her so she wouldn’t be tempted to worry. There wasn’t a reason to tell her because I knew God would handle it. His Holy Spirit whispered in my mother’s ear and shared our need with her at precisely the moment we needed to see God’s hand working in our midst.

God’s timing is perfect. He never fails us when we place our trust in Him alone.

It’s been years since Jesus provided that car for me when I desperately needed it. He has continued to open doors and has blessed my family with everything we’ve needed through the years. Even after undeniably seeing miracles in my life, I can be tempted to doubt Christ at times. Life is challenging. When things aren’t going as I had hoped they would, doubtful thoughts tempt me. But now, after watching God’s faithfulness in my life over and over and over again, I continually choose to push out the negative thoughts by focusing on what the Scriptures say. I continually rejoice over the way Jesus comes through for me every single time I need for Him to work on my behalf.

Doubt and self-pity open the door for disappointments. Faith opens the door for the impossible to be unleashed in our lives. In Mark 11:22-24, Jesus said, “Have faith in God. I assure you that whoever tells this hill to get up and throw itself in the sea and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will happen, it will be done for him…When you pray and ask for something, believe that you have received it, and you will be given whatever you ask for.”

Are you in need of a miracle? Being in need is the perfect position to see God’s power. It’s not until we let go of things, surrender everything to Christ, and release it all into His hands, that we see His power working abundantly.

Walking by faith is not easy. It takes practice. But I have learned that the only way any of us will truly see God’s power in our lives is by leaving doubt behind forever and choosing to walk by faith and not by sight.

“For we walk by faith, not by sight.” 2 Corinthians 5:7 (English Standard Version)