{re}fresh

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 »

Advertisements

Live Carefree

by Mindy Kiker

Image by Jeremy
28363682838_d00ba1bef5
CC BY-ND 2.0

I was exhausted, depleted of joy and hope. I needed a break, to find rest in the midst of around-the-clock demands. Guilt and regret plagued my conscience. I said “yes” to a call from the Lord, but now it was a burden.

What was wrong with me?

Because God desires to help us look more like Jesus, He orchestrates circumstances in our lives to expose selfishness. When I became a mother, it was a journey designed to crucify my flesh. For you, it may be any number of pressures in life, such as caring for a parent, dealing with a chronic illness, coping with a disability, navigating a mental health issue, or any challenge that threatens joy.

Read the rest of this entry »

Carefree Days of Summer {Hurricanes}

by Mindy Kiker

Image by Nicholas_Gent
flickr.com_9270516978_59bbcaeebd_CC BY-ND 2.0

Summer vacation! Sounds like a relaxing change of pace, and yet the balmy days of summer also create the perfect conditions for hurricanes off the coast of Florida.

I recall last year, preparing for the arrival of Hurricane Irma who had already wrecked her devastation on our neighbors in the Caribbean and was pressing in on Florida. As I worked, I listened to The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. What a perfect backdrop to my thoughts swirling with the threat of disaster.

Here was a woman who experienced one of the most heinous epochs of human history, lost most of her family to despicable Nazi evil, and yet still believed in the goodness of God. Her story put into perspective my anxious hurricane preparations: we have a loving Father who has good plans for us, although our paths at times lead into dark and threatening places.

Read the rest of this entry »

The Dark Day Before Resurrection

by Mindy Kiker

I call it “Somber Saturday” — one of my favorite days of the year nestled between Good Friday and Resurrection Sunday.  I relish the reflections that this day invites. In anguish, I imagine the confusion and sorrow that must have wrapped itself around Mary, the disciples and all those who loved the Rabbi from Nazareth.

Many believed He was the Son of God, come to save the Hebrew nation from the scourge of Roman rule. Little did they realize that this lofty hope was too small a calling, too small a mission for the one true Messiah.

Jesus’ followers did not yet comprehend the magnitude of what God planned to accomplish — the Lamb had come to earth, Jehovah made flesh, to rescue ALL people for ALL time from the scourge of sin, death, sickness, and every kind of evil.

Read the rest of this entry »

Divine Foolish Wisdom

by Mindy Kiker

I am searching for balance, simplicity, and peace. Along the way, I discover that God’s ways are counter intuitive to mine. Surprise!

In my human wisdom, I assumed that God would lead me to find peace by taking on fewer responsibilities and paring down my to-do list. But our God is unpredictable.

When my eldest son entered the local high school, I joined the PTSA in order to sow into the lives of those who are sowing into ours.  A deluge of volunteer opportunities rushed in via e-mail, all of which I systematically deleted from my in-box because I am trying to say “no” to the good and save my “yes” for the best.

Read the rest of this entry »

Strength through weakness

by Mindy Kiker

Eggshell by Johnathan Cohen
flickr.comphotosjonathancohen3989435608_CC BY-ND 2.0

Who wants to be a weakling? Most people I know want to be strong. So this shocking revelation from Paul is perplexing:

I will boast all the more gladly in my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest on me. That is why, for the sake of Christ, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

I looked through the door cracked open to see an upside-down kingdom of God that functions on opposite principles to the world. The counter-intuitive advice found in Paul’s bold statement of humility challenges my orientation of self-sufficiency, self-confidence, self-promotion . . . self-everything! Paul was not trying to cultivate his own personal powers. Instead, he willingly divested himself of strength.

Read the rest of this entry »

Joy Ignited

by Mindy Kiker

Image by Jone Vasatis_Flickr.com_7962560356_374f90ea74__CC BY-ND 2.0

“My spirit rejoices in God my savior.” Luke 1:47

As we prepare our hearts for Christmas, we rejoice in God made flesh, our Savior Jesus Christ. An unusual “Christmas” verse comes to mind as I ponder rejoicing in my savior — a verse that takes us forward to the culmination of the Christmas story where we read of Jesus’ commitment to rescue us by choosing not only to be born of a woman but also to die on a cross:

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Hebrews 12:2)

How does Jesus find joy in a brutal and painful death? He keeps His eyes on the prize. He kicks Satan in the teeth and purchases our freedom once and for all. For that great prize, he is willing to sacrifice His own life and call it a joy. Praise be to God!

Mary too, is asked to endure a type of sacrifice. Everyone knew from the Scriptural prophesies that the Messiah would be born to a virgin, but think about what it would mean to be “that virgin” — the one with child before the wedding vows are spoken. Mary, a betrothed but not-yet-married young lady, has no business being pregnant. Read the rest of this entry »

Repentance: Feel the Love

by Mindy Kiker

Image by Jason Watson Flicker.com_deviantmonk_8khVEE-4P7_CC BY-ND 2.0

Image by Jason Watson
Flicker.com_deviantmonk_8khVEE-4P7_CC BY-ND 2.0

Love your enemies, do good to them….Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful. Luke 6:35-36

Love is tough. It’s gritty and glorious. I struggle to love people when I’m disappointed in them, or in myself, or with life in general. Sometimes I come across less like a lover and more like an accuser. You don’t want to know me when I get into striving mode with a long to-do list and a tight time schedule with little margin. I inevitably start to feel the strain, but instead of dealing with my own heart before The Lord, I like to start first by blaming others:

It’s the kids’ problem–they’re so disobedient. Why did I have so many children?

It’s my husband’s problem–he’s not at all helpful. Why didn’t I stay single?

It’s my many obligations–why didn’t I say “No!”? What was I thinking?

Read the rest of this entry »

Love Demonstrated

by Mindy Kiker

Forgiven, Loved_Ben Husman
Flickr.com_2803463263_45751eacab_CC BY-ND 2.0

“But I don’t want to forgive him!” In coaching my children about forgiveness, the resistance I meet is familiar. Even I resist letting my offender off the hook with those three magic words, “I forgive you.” The reality is, unforgiveness feels powerful while forgiveness feels weak.

Experts agree that, while seeking healing for our broken hearts, what most commonly blocks our healing is unforgiveness. Saying it another way: the way to mend a broken heart is to forgive.

Do you recall the words of Christ on the cross? “Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.’” (Luke 23:24)

Read the rest of this entry »

A stronghold in times of trouble

by Mindy Kiker

Hiding Place by Kai Schreiber flickr.com_photosgenista_75511494__aa4aed1e74_CC BY-ND 2.0

The LORD also will be a stronghold for the oppressed, A stronghold in times of trouble. Psalm 9:9

When I face trouble, conflict, or chaos I look around for a safe place to hide, an escape. God is always there as a refuge or place of retreat, but unfortunately I’ve made a few hiding places of my own. These dwellings certainly are “strongholds” but only in the worst sense of the word.

One of my favorite strongholds is blame-shifting. This response to conflict helps me make trouble someone else’s fault. I frame all interactions into a win-lose paradigm and life becomes adversarial.

I can hear the voice of the accuser and it sounds an awful lot like . . . me! Read the rest of this entry »

%d bloggers like this: