{re}fresh

Month: September, 2018

A Child of Joy

by Mindy Kiker

I was depressed. Trapped by hopelessness and despair, I could see no way out. My guilt intensified because a baby was growing within my body, a tiny person trapped inside, feeling my every emotion, floating in a noxious bath of misery.

Why did you send this baby to me, God, only for me to taint before he is even born?

I still talked to the Lord, but my mind rejected genuine prayer. I scorned the Word. My heart despised the church. My mouth refused to sing. Once beloved spiritual practices had vanished. What was I to do?

Startled by the phone, I answered in my false cheerful voice, surprised to find my mom’s good friend who has prayed for me since I was a little girl. She rarely phones me, but when she does, I know it is important.

Read the rest of this entry »

Hollyhock Gracelettes

by Wendy

Hollyhocks by Rakel Leah Mogg
Flickr.com_5927759987_d1279c9d8d CC BY-ND 2.0

She stopped by unannounced, unexpectedly showing up on my back porch. Who does that when you live in the middle of nowhere, off the beaten path?  Hikers frequenting the nearby mountain, perhaps, but no one else. Yet here she was, a friend I hadn’t seen in ages, one who lived far enough away to make the trip unlikely.

My heart leaped for joy to see my friend, but my brain groused that I had five hours of work to finish in the short time before our dinner on the porch.  My husband’s unexpected disability meant the outdoor tasks wouldn’t happen. Dead leaves and blossoms littered the deck alongside the deserted robin’s nest and sticky spider webs. Flowers drooped in the muggy, blistering heat. The daisy waited patiently for a new pot, but the hollyhocks…   I sighed, seeing the wilted, dying blooms in plastic tubs. Four weeks was three weeks too long for those plants.  Their new garden bed wasn’t going to happen either.

“I love digging in the ground,” my friend offered reassuringly.  Wait, what?  You’d plant the hollyhocks for me?  My grousing stopped as the Spirit nudged me to remember. Was it this morning I shook my head and prayed cynically, “Lord, what I really want is someone to walk in off the street and say, ‘Hi, I’m here to plant those hollyhocks.’” What I really thought was “Right, that’s not going to happen.” Read the rest of this entry »

From Anxiety to Hope

by Robin Puchala

Image by Lauren Rushing
Flickr.7004688988_c937403027_CC BY-ND 2.0

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4: 6, 7

I know we don’t mean to worry, but honestly, don’t we all have moments when we do? There was a time when I did. I’d rehearse old hurts, replay incidents in my mind, allow all the old feelings of discouragement to come flooding back, keep the past alive so that God would have trouble breaking through to recreate me.

I lived in a place of defensiveness, until God spoke to my heart and said, “Why are you wasting your time on this? I have saved you and delivered you. Come away, my Beloved!” Which sounds very much like Isaiah 55:2, a verse the Lord uses often to keep me focused:

Why spend your money on what is not bread and your labor on what does not satisfy? Listen to me and eat what is good. Read the rest of this entry »

Changing up the daily grind

by Dawn Aldrich

Image Coffee -7
Flickr.79787320_de0c43dc5e_CC BY-ND 2.0

I like coffee. More so in the cooler months of fall and winter than through the warmer spring and summer months. But one thing I’ve noticed of late, I like to change up my daily grind to coincide with the changing season.

For instance, in the warmer seasons, I prefer the light, fruity flavor and scent of blueberry coffee. I don’t know, maybe it’s good marketing or good aroma therapy, but it reminds me of summer as a kid, eating fists full of wild blueberries from my grandfather’s farm.

In the fall, of course I’ve fallen for the ever-popular pumpkin spice or salted caramel flavors. Who doesn’t want to be reminded of sitting in a pumpkin patch or biting into a caramel apple at the local fair minus all those sugary calories?

And winter? Well, there’s the holiday blends that brew up memories of cinnamon sticks and Christmas sugar cookies that seem to carry you straight through the worst blizzards and comfort your soul.

Well, you get the idea. I like change…beyond changing seasons or my coffee flavors. I welcome change in my faith walk. I confess, I’m a human being that, while I find comfort in the sameness of a season, I can also easily grow complacent if I’m not challenged to think outside my present “faith box” if you will.  Sometimes a change in the daily grind of my faith walk reminds me that I hold Kingdom purpose and I need to refocus.

Sometimes change is voluntary and sometimes its forced upon me by life’s challenges, emergencies, or tragedies. I’ve experienced spiritual change and growth in both instances.

Voluntary change is best. It’s when we voluntarily refocus our attention on Jesus; seeking Him with all our hearts, and desiring the Holy Spirit to move us forward and further into our God-led desires. God delights in His people, especially when they seek Him with all of their hearts. It’s in this precious relationship, this give and take, soul-honest conversation and worship that God speaks intimately and we hear effectively. It’s here we’re able to move forward with joy and fullness of life.

Involuntary change comes through life’s challenges, emergencies or tragedies. Not a fun time of refocus. (And, please, don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying God causes these situations to draw us nearer to Him. God does not cause tragedy. A broken world, poor choices by ourselves or others, and our Enemy cause tragedies). But, through these messed up times, when life is out of our control, that God has used these experiences to grow my faith, to open up new opportunities, or to make relational connections to further His kingdom purposes down the road. It’s through life’s unwelcome surprises where we must trust God to guide us through every moment of every day until we realize there’s a new normal and we’re experiencing a new flavor of life.

Whatever causes the change, scripture reassures us “…that in all things God works for the good of those who love him and have been called according to his purpose. Romans 8:28 NIV

Whether you find yourself ready to voluntarily change up the daily grind of your faith walk, or you find yourself in the midst of an unwelcome life surprise, trust God to work for your good. Seek Him with all your heart, mind, strength and body. And if you need to borrow some strength, call upon someone you can trust to come alongside you and bear your burdens.

 

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