4 actions to renew thankfulness when you just don’t feel it

My house decor is a good gauge of how I’m feeling lately. The thanksgiving fake pumpkins from Hobby Lobby are being overthrown by red and gold curtains and throw blankets. Why am I fast-tracking through thanksgiving? Why do I already have lights on my house and a tree with 5 colored twinkle strands? Because I need Jesus, not a turkey. Are you feeling me??

I wonder if you’re like me and thankfulness seems more like an inner battle rather than a celebration this year. I wish I could sit with you and look you in the eyes as you tell me the things that didn’t go to plan this year. The people who are gone that should be passing the gravy. The dream job that turned into job loss. Or all the little losses along the way that’ve left you a bit jaded and unexpectant.

Friend. Sigh. Friend. Let me tell you something important. You do not need to feel thankful to be thankful. You can celebrate thanksgiving this year and really mean it. You and I can bust out the turkey platter with sincerity if we want to. Here’s how I’m doing it…

Be honest with yourself about what you’re NOT thankful for. I like exactly NOTHING about fake people. I don’t like to act fake. I don’t want to be fake with my feelings, and I don’t think God wants us to either. In scripture He commands us to come to him when we’re weary. (Matthew 11:28) To give Him our burdens and rest in Him. He wants us to be real with Him about our burdened hearts so He can relieve them.

Battle bitterness in prayer. Pray. Talk to God honestly about disappointments, set backs, losses, and failures of this crazy year. For me it means grieving my grandpa who died of Covid. And all the little things that just went wonky. We have to let go of bitterness before we can accept a posture of thankfulness.

We have to let go of bitterness before we can accept a posture of thankfulness.

Andrea Chatelain

MAKE A LIST of all the ways God has provided, cared for, loved, sheltered, given you joy, helped, comforted, etc in the past. So often in scripture, grumbling and bad attitudes are a reflection of how God’s people have forgotten their Father. They’ve shifted their focus from His love and mercy –past, present, and future– and are only seeing the bad of right now. Sound familiar? I need this heart check right now. Even as I type I’m flooded with ways He’s been faithful. I challenge you to make a list and remember your God is good.

Serve someone as an act of thanksgiving to the Lord. Thankfulness can be elusive. We think if we don’t feel it, it’s not within us. But we aren’t to feel thankful. No where in Scripture does God command us to feel thankful. He tells us to BE thankful. (Colossians 4:2, Hebrews 12:28)What does thankful look like when we commit to being thankful in our core? It looks more like a battle than a tablescape. It looks like doing rather than feeling. And the funny thing is, sometimes when we start doing things as an act of thankful worship or obedience, our feelings can follow.

We are a people of an immoveable God. Though the world may bring chaos. We will be thankful. Though our lives may have hardship. We will fight back with thankfulness. Because no matter what comes, our God is King, and He is good. And His love endures forever.

Come on! Now I’m ready for turkey. And I pray blessings of renewed thankfulness to all of you this season! Happy Thanksgiving friends!

His Steadfast Love Endures Forever

A Psalm for giving thanks.

“Make a joyful noise to the Lord, all the earth! Serve the Lord with gladness! Come into his presence with singing! Know that the Lord, he is God! It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.” psalm 100 ESV

Hi Friend!! Connect with me below!

If you read this far that means we’re two peas in a pod. Jot your email down so I can connect with you more! We’re in this together!

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Grow in faith with Andrea’s video Devotionals on Our Daily BreadOr follow her on Facebook/Instagram.

He Holds All Things and He’s already decided

I don’t know how you’re feeling about the election, but I know how Jesus feels. He’s completely calm and not freaking out. Know why? Because the outcome is already decided…by Him.

Now some of us may not want to hear that if our candidate loses. I’ve been in that spot before, thinking, “God you got this one wrong!” (Lord forgive me for thinking I know more than you about how the universe should be run. yikes) But when that happens, when our emotions are leading our minds, there are a few key truths from Scripture to help us.

The first thing I remember is Christ is the King, not in a cute Instragram post way, but in a REAL way. And what the King declares will be done. I may not like His choices, but reminding myself that He is King helps me remember I am not. And that He has a grander purpose for earthly leaders that I may not understand until heaven.

He has a grander purpose for earthly leaders that I may not understand until heaven.

Let your heart be open to this truth…

“For by Him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.” Colossians 1:16-17 ESV

The Lord created both President Trump and Mr. Joe Biden. The Lord has a plan for each of their lives. He goes before them and our nation and has a purpose for whoever He chooses to be our leader. Jesus is leading this process, not anyone else. And all things hold together in Christ, not our president.

So if I truly believe that Christ is King, that He has chosen my leader, my heart will be in a place of surrender not stress.

So what’s the problem?? Why are we all so freaked out on all fronts? I think because we are leaning on our own understanding, not the Lord’s.

We memorize this verse, but it’s so hard to put it into practice.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:5-6

You guys, this was my confirmation verse and I still get tripped up. How do I trust in the Lord with all my heart when chaos is swirling and I want to control things I can’t control?! I think that’s exactly why God wants our trust. He doesn’t want His people freaking out. Instead we get to experience crazy peace as God holds us tighter in those moments– if we turn our thoughts to trusting Him.

God invites you and me to think on a higher level. Not in the realm of what we think is right and wrong, but in the arena of trusting Him.

Andrea Chatelain

Notice that it says, “Do not lean on your own understanding”. That means we have our own understanding of this election and everything else in life. You can choose to think of it how you want. But God invites you and me to think of it on a higher level. Not in the realm of what we think is right and wrong, but in the arena of trusting Him.

Here’s my prayer for you and me and the whole church today…

Lord Jesus, YOU are King of all. You created us and our leaders. You know who you’ve chosen to be our president. Help us surrender the outcome to you. And as we do, help us to let go of what we thought you should’ve done and trust you completely that you have your reasons and we can trust you. You are good. And you hold all things together. Hold the church together as we turn our thoughts away from bickering and toward Your Kingdom. Help us agree on you if we cannot agree on anything else. That You love us and therefore it is your COMMAND that we love our brothers and sisters so we can be a beacon of light to the world. Your will be done. Amen.

If you read this far that means we’re two peas in a pod. Jot your email down so I can connect with you more! We’re in this together!

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Grow in faith with Andrea’s video Devotionals on Our Daily BreadOr follow her on Facebook/Instagram.

To the Christian Skeptic During Election… Jesus is different.

What you’re seeing online is not Jesus. It’s not even people following Jesus. It’s fearful, prideful people serving their egos, not Christ. And I’m really sorry you have to endure this every four years. I’m sorry for people in the Church who are really good people who honor others with their words and actions, but they’re being drowned out by loud haters right now. And I’m sorry for you if you don’t know Jesus and see His church people acting like fools online throwing words like they don’t matter. Jesus is so different than what you’re seeing.

So let me tell you about the Jesus I know.

When I read the Bible I notice important characteristics, like He saw people.

He saw people not politics, because people are what matter to Him. And He is all powerful, and all knowing, so nothing threw Him for a power trip. He knew His throne was secure, so He approached opposition with dignity and truth, not defensiveness. He also addressed things that really mattered, things that could restore people. He spoke for goodness, and was abundantly patient with people who didn’t get it but couldn’t stand people who oppressed others.

So look for the Christian who isn’t freaking out about this election. The one who can calmly talk about ideas, or stay silent, who knows their God has the ultimate vote. Who show that people are more important than being right. That’s what faith in Christ looks like–calm in chaos. Knowing that relationships are more important than politics.

Jesus taught us to give up our lives for one another like He did for us.

To look after the poor, the widow, visit those in prison, those who are sick. He stopped at wells to chat with the lowly, the different, the outcast. He stopped in crowds to call the rich and poor, the faithful and the skeptics. He knew each person had a story that led them to Him, that each story was important. He validated each person’s hurts sending them away healed, loved, and forgiven. He reaches out, He doesn’t push away.

Look for the Christian who is doing so. The republican or democrat Christian who validates every person as important to God and made by God. Who searches for the hurting and reaches out continuing God’s work in their everyday life. Who show their loving faith in action as well as words. I’m so proud of my brothers and sisters who live sacrificial lives like Jesus. Look for them. They are living examples of the Lord’s heart.

Jesus taught us that we speak and act knowing our place.

Even Jesus was obedient to His Father, only giving away what He’d received from the Father. People following Christ are humble. They aren’t the loud, pot stirrers because they know that they have sinned and need Jesus so they make room for others to need Jesus.

They know pure wisdom comes from God, not themselves, so they spend their time praying, not stirring. They know God can change hearts and minds, so they don’t worry about being the loudest. They give away what they’ve been given–love, compassion, kindness. Look for the quiet and patient. They are following Jesus.

Jesus taught us to repent–to turn from things that harm us and others and walk in grace.

Look for people who don’t blast others in public. And look for people who accept correction. Who can hear how their ways have hurt others and sit in that uncomfortable place of “I’m so sorry.” without defending. People following Jesus actively apologize and learn and grow. We desire that, to be made more like Jesus, we don’t fear it.

As for me…

Oh friends, I haven’t done a perfect job. I want to do better. I love my sisters in Christ, but I’ve struggled reading some posts that so clearly divide instead of unify. I want to chime in and let anger dictate my words instead of love. It would be so easy, but it would detract from the story of God’s grace. Let’s not.

All I can say is I believe God already has His hand on our future. I may or may not like the outcome, but I will trust that God has a plan. When we remind ourselves of that, our opinions take the low position they should, and we remember that people are what matter to Jesus, not politics.

How has this political season tested you? How have you chosen faith over fear? How is it hard to be silent trusting God instead of stirring the pot? How have you chosen to love and unify rather than divide and shame?

(This blog inspired by Proverbs 14 and 15)

If you read this far that means we’re two peas in a pod. Jot your email down so I can connect with you more! We’re in this together!

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Grow in faith with Andrea’s video Devotionals on Our Daily BreadOr follow her on Facebook/Instagram.

You will be Joyful Again

I have to remind us of this today because joy seems far off. I’ve read posts about choosing joy and thankfulness, scripture that says to count suffering as joy. If I think of joy as a feeling, those things are impossible. Because you know what? This pandemic doesn’t make me feel joyful. I’m not happy to be isolated, are you? I’m not happy that my loved one died from the virus, are you? We are grieving right now and grief doesn’t feel like joy. But here’s Jesus’s promise to his disciples and you and I…

“Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy,” (John 16:21 ESV).

The disciples couldn’t fathom that Jesus, their most important person, would die. And even more so, they had no concept of him coming back to life. Jesus was preparing their hearts that they would be crushed, but to keep hope because God will not let us stay crushed. Death will never be the end of the story when Jesus is involved.

Death will never be the end of the story when Jesus is involved.

Andrea Chatelain

I’m looking at you. What is it in your life that feels dead, that looks dead, that perhaps is dead. Your marriage? Your dreams? Your joy? Or even a loved one. Hold onto the promise of Jesus. The hope of Jesus. He can resurrect anything and anyone who is surrendered to Him. He can and will turn our grief to joy, real joy as he restores our hardest days. We may have to wait til heaven to experience it, but on that day grief will die and joy will live.

“So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you,” (John 16:22)

When you can’t face the day, keep saying Jesus’s words, his promise. You will have sorrow now. But you will see Jesus and your heart will rejoice. And no one will take away his joy from you. That is the hope that we have when we face pandemics, unexpected losses, and hurts. Ultimately joy is ours because Jesus is ours. And no one can take Him away from you. So grieve with confidence, my friend.

If you read this far that means we’re two peas in a pod. Jot your email down so I can connect with you more! We’re in this together!

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Grow in faith with Andrea’s video Devotionals on Our Daily BreadOr follow her on Facebook/Instagram.

What Faith Looks Like on Bad Days

I fought my way through yesterday. You know, those days where you’re trying to control and make things better and it all just keeps unraveling? One kid was coughing and can’t go to school until we have clearance from the doctor. (insert fear, worry and stress) My kindergartener came home crying because he and his friends were punched, kicked, and had rocks thrown at them at recess. (More fear, worry, and stress). I kept thinking I’ve got Jesus so I shouldn’t be stressed right? I should just believe that it’s all going to work out and keep a smile on my face, right? But that’s not real life.

Real faith is telling God how messed up things are in prayer. Believing that no matter how bad the day gets, you’re not alone in it. And then believing that good will eventually come. It will come in the form of refinement of our souls, the breakdown of idols like control and comfort, and the revealing of our God’s glory.

Real faith is telling God how messed up things are in prayer. And believing that no matter how bad the day gets, you’re not alone in it.

-andrea Chatelain

Prayer. Surrender. God restores hope. Prayer. Surrender. God restores hope. That’s the rhythm of faith.

In the quiet of the evening, as I reflected on my crappy day, I remembered that God has allowed whatever happens to me or my kids. He knew about and allowed sickness. He saw the stinkers who hurt my son. The world will continue to be broken, but He invites us to come to Him and tell Him about our day. To ask for advice, help, and comfort the same way my kids ask that of me.

And ultimately, these things will pass and I will be stronger for walking through them with Jesus. I will learn how to let go of control when things are out of my control. I’ll learn how to trust the Lord because I had no where else to trust. I will have SEEN His power when I was powerless. Friends, let’s start seeing crappy days as faith days. If we can get past our emotions we might find that Jesus has something big for us on days we feel small.

Here’s Psalm 21. A testimony that God listens, is present, and as we keep close to His steadfast love we will not be moved. Pray. Surrender. Hope. We can do it.

O Lord, in your strength the king rejoices,
    and in your salvation how greatly he exults!
You have given him his heart’s desire
    and have not withheld the request of his lips. Selah
For you meet him with rich blessings;
    you set a crown of fine gold upon his head.
He asked life of you; you gave it to him,
    length of days forever and ever.
His glory is great through your salvation;
    splendor and majesty you bestow on him.
For you make him most blessed forever;[a]
    you make him glad with the joy of your presence.
For the king trusts in the Lord,
    and through the steadfast love of the Most High he shall not be moved. (Psalm 21:1-7)

If you read this far that means we’re two peas in a pod. Jot your email down so I can connect with you more! We’re in this together!

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Grow in faith with Andrea’s video Devotionals on Our Daily Bread! Or follow her on Facebook/Instagram.

Launch Your Kids Confidently Back to School with Psalm 139

Depending on the day, I’m either confident or crying about sending my kids back to school during a pandemic. Pretending like there’s nothing wrong isn’t an option for me. I needed something to cling to, I needed fresh eyes and an open heart for an old familiar passage. What if we weren’t tired of Psalm 139. What if we took it’s divine truth and accepted it for our kids this fall? Let me show you what happens when we do.

God you know my kids. And you will know everything about their day when I can’t see them. And that’s comforting because I can’t even walk in their building this year to drop them off because of the pandemic. You’ll see them and be with them when they sit at their desk. You’ll understand their thoughts and needs even when the teacher can’t. (Inspired by vs 1-4)

Not only that, but You’re all around them. You’ll go before them each morning, you cover them at recess, and on the bus ride home. There’s NOWHERE my kids can go away from Your presence. If they make good choices or end up in the principal’s office, You’re with them. And that thought holds me together. But as their mom I pray and ask you to guide them well, help them listen to your voice. (vs.5-10)

There’s NOWHERE your kids can go away from God’s presence.

Some subjects in school will be a challenge. They’ll feel frustrated and even compare themselves to others. They’ll think others are better and smarter. Remind them, Lord, that that is NOT TRUE. Thunder in their hearts that they were designed by You to be exactly who they are. That they are wonderful, beautiful, smart, creative, funny, caring, and special. Help them know that fully when I’m not there to remind them. (vs 13-14)

My kids are important to You, Father. So much that every day of their life is written in your book. And no one, and no virus, can erase a single stroke of your pen. (vs 16)

Every day of your kid’s life is written in God’s book. And no one, and no virus, can erase a single stroke of His pen.

andrea chatelain

There’s still some anxiety lurking in my heart about this school year. So many outcomes I can’t predict. Even so, search me and lead me out of worry and doubt–into Your good ways. (vs 23-24)

As I read through Psalm 139, I’m reminded that the world we live in will never be a soft cushy place. It will always have trouble and worries. But God will always be with us. Read and reread this scripture before and during the first day back. (I’m looking at you too, Homeschool moms! You have just as many worries.) Pray back this Psalm to the Lord when your feelings are overwhelmed by anxiety. And accept these words as true.

If you read this far that means we’re two peas in a pod. Jot your email down so I can connect with you more! We’re in this together!

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Grow in faith with Andrea’s video Devotionals on Our Daily Bread! Or follow her on Facebook/Instagram.

Busy women need big faith this fall

The blessing and hardship of womanhood is that we don’t live for ourselves. Literally while I write this I have been interrupted by kids needing water, a cowboy outfit, and a hug for a stubbed toe. Gah! Our bodies were created to care for new life. Our hearts to love others first. Our minds to think of their needs. But without a strong faith, caring for our families turns into stress and anxiety. I’ve felt that weight of trying to be enough for everyone around me only to waking up depleted and defeated. That’s why I need to gear up for this fall. Do you?

Work, school, activities, church, meals, nursing sick kids. We need divine help. And we need to take care of ourselves and our needs so we can best serve our people.

SO! I thought I’d challenge myself to do one thing each month to grow in faith. One thing for me to take a breath with Jesus, to get back on track when so many other things pull me off sanity’s rails. And since I’m doing it, I thought I’d invite you along with me. Because chances are, you need this toScreenshot (2)o.

I found the PERFECT book for us to read (or listen to if you’re not a reader). It’s called Rhythms of Renewal: trading stress and anxiety for a life of peace and purpose by Rebekah Lyons.

 

So here’s the plan:

  1. Get your copy at the link above (IT’s on SALE).
  2. JOIN the group I created for us on Facebook by August 25 to *discuss at your own pace, *belong to community of faithful and encouraging women, and *grow personally with the Lord through prayer prompts and devotionals and life challenges. (@glorybeblog on Facebook, click more, groups, and join monthly faith Screenshot (1)challenge)

 

 

 

 

 

I always have grand hopes of leading or attending in-person Bible studies, but the truth is I can’t commit to leaving my family one night a week. IT’S SO HARD to find time to squeeze in community.

So if you are feeling anxious about the world and want a deeper faith… but are super busy, or shy, or don’t want to chance bringing germs home to your family this fall… THIS IS MADE FOR YOU.  

This isn’t going to be flashy. I don’t promise to be a perfect leader. But I’ll show up and care for you as you show up for yourself. It’s going to be honest conversation for women who need refreshing.  

As I’m inviting you, invite a friend who needs a fresh start this fall to read this book with us and dive deep into faith.

In Him,

Andrea Chatelain

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Grow in faith with Andrea’s video Devotionals on Our Daily Bread! And more with WhollyLoved Ministries on YouVersion Bible App and Crosswalk.

 

 

Moving from Solo to Solidarity in Rona Time

Just call me Mrs.Turtle. I tend to go into my shell when stressed. Other times busyness claims my focus and I forget about others. Anybody else? Without realizing it, I disconnect from people, stop reaching out, and can vanish into my little bubble of me and my family. But in doing so, I don’t receive tangible loving encouragement from others and I don’t have opportunity to give that love away either. So what do we do? How do we consciously move from solo living to solidarity in Rona times?

I asked God that very question. Lord how can I do better and serve my people well right now? And the easiest plan came to mind.

I need to CHALLENGE myself and others to simply check in.

So let me ask you, dear reader, how are you? What are you worried about? How have you been dealing with this stressful season? Are you totally turtle-tucked in? Or do you feel like people have been checking in on you?

I have up and down days. Anxiety on Monday, peace on Tuesday, who knows on Wednesday. Depends on what’s going on and how well I’m trusting Jesus with it all. Have I read my Bible that day, have I prayed, have I talked to someone who cares, have I exercised, did I eat well? It all plays a part in my emotional well-being.

I wonder who in your life, your community, needs YOU to reach out of your bubble and check in on THEM?

As I read through the book of Job recently I noticed how alone he was in his suffering and how dark that hole became. Literally to the point of wishing the day he was born would be stricken from the calendar.

Let’s not let our friends get to that point of isolation. Let’s push in with a text, a message, a hug, a dropped off coffee. Loving others doesn’t have to look extravagant, but it does require intentional thought on others instead of self.

Loving others doesn’t have to look extravagant, but it does require intentional thought on others instead of self.

I’m guilty of thinking waaaaaaaaay to much of myself lately. So I would like to propose a challenge for anyone who wants to make a little splash of love next week.

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Each day we’ll check in on one person we know. Might be a long lost friend. Might be someone we know suffers from depression/anxiety. Might be a neighbor. I promise you’ll end up feeling better as a result and your heart will grow as your bubble opens up.

*I’ll give IDEAS AND ACCOUNTABILITY Monday through Friday July 6-10.

*SCRIPTURE and DEVOTIONALS to encourage you on your adventure of reconnecting and renewing relationships.

*And PRAYER prompts for your week.

But ultimately this is between you and Jesus. Whoever He puts on your mind is your mission. Together we can be the instruments of love to a lonely and isolated world. AND we’ll also invite others into our bubbles to combat our own loneliness and isolation! It’s a win-win!

Sound good?

If you haven’t yet, follow my facebook OR instagram @glorybeblog for instructions for next week. Excited to see how this challenge moves God’s people to intentionally connect and strengthen each other! 

💗Andrea

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Grow in faith with Andrea’s video Devotionals on Our Daily Bread! And more with WhollyLoved Ministries on YouVersion Bible App and Crosswalk.

Accepting God’s Good plans When Life Doesn’t Go Our Way

Anyone else feel like all plans are in the trash and instead uncertainty looms all around? I can so relate with my guest blogger today, Barbara Shippy from Simquily Magazine. She’s gone through hard seasons of discouragement and came out the other side to share her wisdom with us. I thank her for writing to us in vulnerability, courage, and faith.

 

Accepting God’s Good plans When Life Doesn’t Go Our Way

By Barbara Shippy

I am an only child with a love and deep appreciation of big families (my mom is one of seven, and my dad is one of six), and my husband is one of four children. So when we were engaged and would dream about what our future family would look like, it didn’t come as a surprise to either of us that we both said we would love to have a big family of our own—like six kids kind of big.

We got married, and three years went by. Then four. All the while, we had moved four different times, and our last move landed us in a tiny one bedroom apartment seven hours away from our families for a job that had my husband on the road for eight months out of the year. Life was not exactly going according to plan. . . . Well, my plans at least.

It wasn’t long before holidays like Mother’s Day and Father’s Day, which were ever only about celebrating my wonderful parents, had suddenly become painful reminders of the fact that we were not parents. Infant baptisms and the weekly invitation for children to join pastor up front for children’s message made my eyes pool with tears. Seeing parents in the store raise their voices at and yank on their rowdy children made me indignant. Happy announcements from friends and cousins who were expecting caused the awful green monster of jealousy to rise up like a beast that threatened to consume the joy I truly had for them.

And then there was that question we like to ask in our culture: So when are you two going to have kids? It got to the point where I would have to walk away and let my husband answer—not because I was frustrated at the person asking, but because our go-to answer of “Whenever the good Lord gives us one” was becoming increasingly difficult to say. After four years, my heart was starting doubt what my head knew to be true: that the good Lord truly is good and that His plan for my life, for my marriage, is truly the best plan there is.

I knew the Scripture verses particularly applicable to our situation:

“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:8–9

But this is what hit me like a ton of bricks:

“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3

Had children become an idol in my life? How could something so biblical, a command even from God to be fruitful and multiply on the earth, be an idol?

The truth of the matter, though, was that children had become an idol in my life. And it was a sobering realization that slowly (very slowly) began to change the way I looked at our situation.

By God’s grace, I began to realize the value of surrender. Of surrendering what I wanted our life to look like to God’s plan for our life. Of surrendering my fears of what the future might not hold in store for us to God’s good and amazing gifts He had bestowed on us already. Of surrendering my fear of the unknown to God’s all-knowing ways, and surrendering my design for the future to God’s greater plan.

The tears didn’t necessarily go away—and neither did all the doubt that God truly knew better than I did. But what we didn’t have became less and less consuming, which made room for what was most important: faith in Jesus Christ and His Word, which has eternal significance. The constant struggle, however, is that in this world, it is so easy to lose sight of the eternal as we relentlessly pursue the temporal.

Surrender is simple in theory, but it’s certainly not easy. It was, and continues to be, a journey that requires God’s mercy and help to let go of control.

For me, surrender happens through honest conversations with God (He can take it!), fellow Christians who will walk the journey with me, pastoral counsel, and most of all a Bible that is read often—because “faith comes through hearing, and hearing through the Word of Christ” (Romans 10:17).

A few years later, God, in His timing, blessed us with a miracle—a beautiful baby who is now an incredibly busy and fearless toddler. Among many things, I’ve learned that the journey I began years ago, of learning to surrender my will to God’s, was just the beginning. Now, as a mother, my fears and doubts have not gone away, they’ve just changed. And they still have the potential of becoming idols. So while my journey to motherhood was full of valleys and peaks, it was one that taught me great lessons about God’s patience, His love, His timing, the goodness of His plans, and the importance of surrendering my will to His.

“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.’” Matthew 6:9–10

Barbara Shippy is a wife, mother, and the editor of Simquily.com. An online magazine for the simple and quiet life, Simquily aims to encourage readers to approach daily life with a renewed sense of determination and joy. Formerly a book editor at a Christian publishing house, Barbara enjoys the opportunity Simquily offers to remain the world of words while navigating life as a stay-at-home mom.

 

Did this piece spark a thought? Share below or on Facebook, or Instagram. Until next time, sending you and yours love, blessings, and prayers for health and peace.

**Here’s how to GET MORE free encouragement from me right to your inbox! Join the Glory-Be sisterhood. You matter to me! I’m so glad to walk in faith with you.

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Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Grow in faith with Andrea’s video Devotionals on Our Daily Bread! And more with WhollyLoved Ministries on YouVersion Bible App and Crosswalk.

When we forget to abide

I promise in the end this will be hopeful. But the beginning isn’t. I share because I wonder how many of us started off strong and then bad days became hard weeks. And hard weeks rolled into ‘when is this going to end.’ So here’s the truth about why it was getting so hard. I stopped abiding in God. And He told me so.

I wake up and I know exactly how the day will go. I know when the power struggle will start with the kids. I think about it before it even happens. I know that math will set my daughter off. That the internet won’t work on my son’s computer. I know that the littlest will play with his animals while I don’t have time to read him a story because school, laundry, endless dishes, deadlines.

I know I’ll feel trapped and unseen all day. And I know I will at some point want to get away from it all as my bad attitude gets the best of me.

So. That’s what forgetting to abide in Christ looks like in my life. And I’m so thankful to wake up joyful again today. Here’s how.

Last night I got a message from a loved one. She encouraged me to read Psalm 91. But before I did I angrily asked God why it’s been so hard. Lovingly, but truthfully He revealed that in all the social distancing, I’d decided to distance myself from Him. Not on purpose. But in disbelief that He is the One true powerful God.

Lovingly, but truthfully He revealed that in all the social distancing, I’d decided to distance myself from Him. 

I stopped reading my Bible and started sleeping in.

I stopped praying and starting running my mouth when frustrated.

I stopped trusting and started depending on my limited wisdom and power.

Yep. That’s who you’re following here! The girl who just stopped! But I think it’s important for you to know. That when you follow a person you’re following someone flawed. And all that person can do is point you to the flawless Jesus. Amen?

So as I read my Bible God was able to speak to my soul and comfort me. I soaked in the fact that I’m not alone. That my faith is real. That God has a proven track record of saving His people. And that when we distance ourselves from God, life is a lot harder internally than when we spend time with Him. You want God’s help? Make time for Him. Pray. Read. Be still and quiet before the Lord. Get up early. Stay up late. Do what you have to do because it’s what you need.

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Reading this morning in Psalm 13 and the Psalmist might as well be me. Starts off asking…

“How long, O Lord? Will you forget me forever?
    How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I take counsel in my soul
    and have sorrow in my heart all the day?
How long shall my enemy be exalted over me?” (Psalm 13:1-2 ESV)

Truth is our God never forgets us. But it can feel that way when we stop abiding. When we choose to distance ourselves from Him. But the end it like waking up remembering the truth that God doesn’t move away from us. He is steadfast even when we waver.

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love;
    my heart shall rejoice in your salvation.
I will sing to the Lord,
    because he has dealt bountifully with me.” (Psalm 13:5-6 ESV)

Trust in His steadfast love again today. RE-joice. RE-new your faith. You get a RE-do as you come near to your Jesus. Today gets to be today and yesterday is in the past. And because of that you and I and all who call on the name of the Lord get to sing. Today let’s replace sadness with singing, bravely CHOOSING to rejoice in the Lord even when our circumstances may be the same.

-Andrea

How are you doing? Comment below or on Facebook, or Instagram. Until next time, sending you and yours love, blessings, and prayers for health and peace.

**Here’s how to GET MORE free encouragement from me right to your inbox! Join the Glory-Be sisterhood. You matter to me! I’m so glad to walk in faith with you.

cropped-andreaweb24

 

Andrea Chatelain’s mission is to meet women in their struggles and love them forward with God’s truth. She’s a Midwest mom of three, faith and family writer, and college English instructor to immigrants and refugees. She believes Jesus transforms lives when His people boldly seek Him. Her writing reflects her love for Jesus and heart for fellow believers.

Grow in faith with Andrea’s video Devotionals on Our Daily Bread! And more with WhollyLoved Ministries on YouVersion Bible App and Crosswalk.

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