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.

5 ways to Gracefully Quarantine

On a scale of loving your mandated home-time, to get me the heck out of here, how are you my friend? Not gonna lie, we’ve had ups and downs. Music parties and meltdowns. Banana bread smiles and bedtime tantrums. But surprisingly, more often than not, we’re faring well with our solitary life. As I ponder how to support you and your family, I thought I’d share some rhythms that are keeping us sane.

Hello Jesus! We need you!

I start each day with 30 minutes of alone time with my Bible or prayer. I don’t share this because I’m awesome, but because He is my only shot at sanity. With God on my heart and mind, I feel more peaceful, powerful, and in control because I’ve been reminded that HE’S in control. Parenting and stressful moments don’t feel as overwhelming, this virus doesn’t seem as scary, and life feels joyful as I begin my day reading things like Psalm 23.

Make a daily schedule

I am not type A, not at all, but I realized if we don’t have a schedule, we soon have chaos. Ours is very simple:

Wake up by 8am, breakfast and PBS while mom does devotional, school time (family read aloud, math, writing/spelling), daily walk/downstairs playtime,  Lunch (kids help clean up time), chore time, Science experiment (today we made a tornado in a pop bottle, we’ve also done volcanoes, and food coloring experiments basically as a throwback to my childhood ha!) here’s a good website for ideas… http://www.sciencekids.co.nz/experiments.html  Then we do one hour of quiet time and wing it the rest of the day with games/baking etc.

My kids are actually thriving and have started to memorize the schedule. They’ll tell me what time it is and what’s next. Now hear me well, I stink at schedules! So if you’re just holding it together with movies and cookies, I get it. But I’ve tried total freedom and this schedule, and it is hands down working better for us to have a rhythm to each day. Praying you find yours!

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Be still

Halfway through your day find a space away from your family to practice solitude. May sound weird to practice solitude in a quarantine, BUT you’re around your family all day and you need a break from them so you can regroup with God and continue to serve them well.

ONE HOUR once a day, I send each kid to a different space with at least 3 activities to do (books, water colors, toy animals, ANYTHING) and I go to my space WITH NO PHONE. I read, write, nap, garden, or any other thing that brings me peace and joy. If it’s a hard day I read my Bible again or pray.

Try one new thing each day

I think this is important because it breaks up the monotony of seclusion. I’ve been baking A LOT. I’m sure I’ll regret it come swimsuit season, but who cares. I’ve been reading new recipes and getting excited about trying them. Try my new fav banana bread.

I’ve planted new seeds in little pots (if you don’t have any, use an old peanutbutter jar or any plastic/glass jar, dig up some dirt, save and dry a seed or two from a veggie you eat like a pepper, plant and water it, and see it grow!)

Who knows what I’ll do tomorrow LOL. I have a whole tub of yarn begging to become a scarf.

Creatively Reach OUT

It’s easy to think you can’t help others if you’re homebound, but it’s quite the opposite. I was reminded while reading through the book of Acts just how often the Apostle Paul was imprisoned or arrested and still had great impact. Some ideas for you and me?

*Write one letter a day or each week to people you love to make them smile. #ilovemail

*Write big notes of scripture or hope on a big paper each week and tape it to your window so passersby can read your message.

*Video chat your family once a week to check on them.

*Send $ to your local food banks and have your kids write an encouraging note along with it.

I mean, possibilities are endless and you will feel better as you reach out to help others.

I’d love to hear how you and your family are weathering social distancing. What recipes are you baking? What Bible verses are you clinging to? What websites are you using? Help a sister out!

Share with me your tips below or on Facebook, or Instagram PLEASE! 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.

 

 

Why Your Jesus Friend Keeps Inviting You To Church

He kept inviting me to church and it got annoying. Yes, I was curious, always trying to better myself, but church was for rule-followers and old people. Right? I never did attend his church, perhaps out of fear. But as I watched the way he lived, the way he loved harder, gave more freely, forgave richly, and genuinely cared for people, I was hooked. I wanted to know more about this way of life that seemed to flow so naturally from my friend. So I church shopped. 

Some were full of old people and I didn’t feel I belonged. Others were too big, some too small. I felt like Goldilocks until I found one that preached the gospel of Jesus boldly. The message was simple and loving, yet convicting. The people were kind. It was a soft landing, a home, a family, I never knew I needed. 

Then I understood. Turns out church wasn’t about church. It was about meeting with Jesus! 

I realized my friend invited me multiple times in the past, not to get me in a pew, but because he wanted to share the treasure he’d found in God with me.

He had seen first hand the forgiveness, love, grace, acceptance, healing, restoration that comes with relationship with Jesus. He sweetly thought I was important enough to share that goldmine. Now? I’m so thankful for his quiet, patient invitations that led me to seek God for myself. 

We read the intensity of Jesus’s disciples, their hunger to share the good news of Salvation with all people, their willingness to be persecuted to give away the best gift they could share. Why? It brought the joy to bring others into God’s family. 

“… that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our[a] joy may be complete.” 1 John 1:3-4ESV

Do you hear that? They have a coveted fellowship, an intimate community, with the Heavenly Father because of Jesus. Jesus gave His Father’s love to this ragtag community, and as they experience just how good their spirits feel wrapped up in His love, they can’t hold it in. Their joy is complete only as they give that same love away, inviting others into God’s family. 

Maybe your church-loving friend is annoying. OR it’s very possible that they keep asking you to church because they too are welled up with the Father’s love. They can’t help but invite you into the family that has changed their life. You are important to them and they want you to experience a love that surpasses anything in this world. They want to see you walking in freedom that you’ve never imagined.

Or if you’ve never been invited, consider this your invitation. Come and see for yourself that Jesus is good. I’m telling you are welcome in God’s family no matter what. God is good and He meets each of us where we are and loves us forward.

And if you are that annoying friend. Keep loving. Keep inviting. Keep serving even when you don’t see traction. God is working invisibly in people’s hearts because of your humble kindness. Love God, love others, leave the rest to Him.

Q:What keeps you from going to church? Or what do you love about your church? How can we be a people that radically open our arms to those who feel excluded like the disciples did for the gentiles? Comment below, on Facebook, or Instagram.

Featured Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

**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.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals with WL on YouVersion Bible App and Crosswalk. Soon to come from Andrea! Video Devotionals on Our Daily Bread!

Fleeting Or Forever

Wedding season occupied my 20s. Divorces shake my 30s. It’s rocking homes in my neighborhood, friends, people I love. I bet you’ve witnessed the falling of relationships you were sure of, too. If we must endure the hurt of the fleeting, what can we learn from it? Where is the forever we long for?

Truth? We have the hope of forever, but we often put our faith in fleeting things and people.

My confession? I do this all the time and it continues to backfire. And I’m tired of it.

The only sure thing in life is…Facebook. Um, wait, no. Maybe Insta? Nope. I put my hope in them daily for approval, but they are like rabid raccoons someone let loose in my house. Putting my hope in my platform to make dreams come true left me totally deflated and hopeless. Some days everyone likes you, they think you’re witty and wise, and the next day–crickets! Fans and dreams cannot be my hope.

How about my family? My husband and kids? They can be my hope. Wrong again! When I put the weight of my identity and all my needs on them, their faults become unbearable, they can’t meet my every need and vice versa, and our relationships suffer. They cannot be the source of my hope. The best we can do for each other is build one another up on the true rock.

I could list 10 other things I’ve put my trust in…my ability to control, my body, my work ethic…but they only disappoint and distract from the only One worthy of my faith.

In Jesus, our hope is secure. He is forever everything good, unchangeable love, enduring relationship, abundantly for me and you.

Read Psalm 121. It’s short and so important. It was ringing in my head this morning as I thought of you and wondered what God wanted me to say. Where does my help come from? Jesus. Where does my everything come from? Jesus. He is our hope and He alone can handle our need. He never slumbers. He is constant in a world of chaos.

I don’t want to give my precious hope to the cheap attractions of the world anymore, or heap my need for a Savior on people who were not meant to be Jesus. Let’s stop making sandcastles, and build on solid rock. He is the forever we crave and He is enough to fill every part of our deepest need when people and things cannot.

How is God asking you to raise your eyes to Him instead of the world? What do you need to let go of in order to do so? Trade in the fleeting and let Jesus be your eternal hope. He’s up to the task.

Find your voice in the conversation on Facebook. P.S. Jesus is so incredible! I’m so excited for you as you get to know the One who wants to be your EVERYTHING!

**Here’s how to GET MORE free encouragement from me right to your inbox! Join the Glory-Be sisterhood, you matter to me, and I’m so grateful you let me serve 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.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals with WL on YouVersion Bible App and Crosswalk

 

Holiday Devo Cover Front

IT’S HERE! Intentional Holidays is the perfect devotional to keep you focused on Jesus this holiday season. It was so fun to write for this devo with such a talented and grace-filled group of women. We hope this brings you rest and rejoicing through the often chaotic seasons of Thanksgiving and Christmas. Order yours on Amazon asap!

 

 

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We made this for YOU! Grab your copy of our newly released 90-day devotional HERE. It’s full of life changing truth that points to the One who sees you, knows you, and loves you.

Glory Be

This world is both not enough and too much. The hardships are crushing. And the chasing can’t satisfy the real desires of my heart. To be known, loved, and completely secure. We want the impossible: wholeness in a broken world. But Glory Be to Jesus who offers the impossible. Glory Be to the One who covers our past, strengthens our present, and holds our future secure. Glory Be that we can find everything we need in Him. Glory Be that He is our hope and our freedom.

I used to think the purpose of faith was to make me into a better version of myself. I was super wrong. Really, faith is about knowing and being known by a God whose love outlasts and overpowers every darkness. I mean, can you comprehend it?!

Psalm 57 outlines just that, a broken man praising the God whose love is bigger than his problems.

“I will give thanks to you, O Lord, among the peoples; I will sing praises to you among the nations. For your steadfast love is great to the heavens, your faithfulness to the clouds. Be exalted, O God, above the heavens! Let your glory be over all the earth!” Psalm 57:9-11 ESV

When nothing else makes sense, when walking through the unknown, when up against giants, we are Easter people who get to say Glory Be.

We get to proclaim that our God is victorious and therefore so are we. The more we truly believe that, the more power we find and proclaim God’s glory over the earth. Because of Him, we are more than conquerors living in a place that wants to break us.

 

The only qualification to share in the victory is faith in the Faithful One.

Glory Be.

I wonder where you’ve seen Jesus show up in your valleys of real pain and frustration that almost broke you. Where you’ve seen His love shine brighter than the darkness. Each one of you reading this has a story, one entangled with joy and pain, brokenness and restoration. Each one of us has a choice: we can glorify or condemn our circumstances that shift with time, or we can point to Jesus, the great I Am, the One who will never leave and never lose, and say Glory Be. Thank you for sticking this life out with me!

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Shifting our perspective changes everything. When we tuck all our moments in Jesus, we trade our uncertainty for His sovereignty, fear for trust, shame for grace, and brokenness for wholeness.

It’s not magic. It’s not wishful thinking. It’s hard-fought faith in the One True God who never changes and always keeps His promises.

So that’s why I’m changing the name of this blog to glory-be.org. This is our new banner to wave. Glory Be is both a faith statement that God’s love is trustworthy no matter what. And it’s a battle cry for His glory, goodness, and light to be spread like wildfire wherever we go.

It means, Glory be that Jesus is in control when we’re not. That He is enough when we’re spent. That He was perfect since we’re often train wrecks. He’s completely stable in our mood swings. Our Father is a good dad when we need help; He’s the perfect listener when we’re sad. Glory be that He cares about every little thing we’re worried about when no one else does. He is our sanity, salvation, and everything we don’t even know we need.

Let’s throw off pretense that we’ve got it all figured out and give glory to the One who really does. It’s liberating. Our Glory Be shout is all we really have to give back to a God who loves us without abandon. Are you with me?!

Praise to the Father whose love has no bounds, and whose grace is overflowing. Jesus, may Your Glory Be made known to the ends of the earth through people humble enough to raise a Glory Be!

 

**Here’s how to GET MORE free truth bombs right to your inbox and join the Glory Be movement. You matter to me! Find your voice in the conversation on Facebook. P.S. Jesus is so fun! I’m so excited for you as you get to know the One who wants to be your EVERYTHING!

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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.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals with WL on YouVersion Bible App and Crosswalk

 

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We made this for YOU! Grab your copy of our newly released 90-day devotional HERE. It’s full of life changing truth that points to the One who sees you, knows you, and loves you.

 

 

 

Is Your Joy Safe?

I have my joy back! It feels like cool water after a long drought. See, I thought I lost it awhile back. It felt stolen. But now my joy is safe, and I want you to lock yours up too.

One of the fruit we receive from God’s Holy Spirit is JOY (Galatians 5:22). I wanted joy, but it seemed foreign. I had gone through seasons of infertility, miscarriages, traumatic loss, and life changes on my own and I was so stinkin’ tired. (I see you. I know you’ve been there too.) I wasn’t a very loving mom or wife. And I was probably a fun sucker of a friend.

Truth is, My joy had been tucked into my hopes, dreams, plans, people, family, my life…all the temporary and fickle things of this world. The things that can be taken. So when some of them WERE taken, my joy left for good with them.

Is that ringing a bell with you? I wonder where you’ve placed the majority of your joy– a husband, a child, a job, a plan — and then poof, it’s gone. And you’re left empty and lost. That’s where I was.

Then Jesus came for me.

I felt urgency to lean on Him. To get to know Him through the Bible and talk to Him in prayer. I learned of His constant love, grace, and PRESENCE in the hard through His Holy Spirit. I started believing in my heart  the truth I’d known in my head for so long. That in Him I am not alone, I’m loved, completely forgiven, and empowered. I have what I need for any situation because I have God’s Spirit within me and His Spirit is complete.

I have what I need for any situation because I have God’s Spirit within me.

We read proof of the power of God’s joy when apostle Paul, chained up for his faith, wrote “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say rejoice.” Philippians 4:4 ESV

What we lose in our English translation, though, is that the word “rejoice” is directly tied to the Greek word for “grace”. Rejoice literally means to experience, delight, or be conscious of God’s grace. It’s mind-blowing and completely counter-cultural. It means, we can only truly rejoice if we are conscious and delighting in all the ways God is pouring out undeserved, unrelenting grace.

Joy is all about knowing God’s grace!

That’s why Paul could sing praises in a jail cell. Because no amount of bars could keep God’s grace and love away from him! Do you feel that?? Do you believe the same is true for you and I? No amount of problems, failures, addictions, bad days, — nothing– can keep God’s grace from you. I woke up today and praised God for loving me and forgiving me — for being my dad who will never leave no matter how much I stink at life. God will never leave us, so neither will our joy! That’s why we can rejoice everyday, even in the hard. Because no matter the crap storm we’re in, WE’VE GOT an IMMOVABLE GOD.

God will never leave us, so neither will our joy!

Where we hide our joy determines how easily it can be taken. People and situations threaten to steal our heart’s joy, but God keeps it forever safe. Take some quiet moments today to reflect on God’s grace towards you. That’s where your joy has been waiting for you.

 

**Join the afruitfulwoman.com community this year and receive free devotionals and messages from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.  And Find your voice in the conversation on FaceBook.

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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.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

Why We Avoid Jesus

I didn’t think I needed Jesus. So it took me 26 years to truly believe in Him. Every day since a battle has warred in my mind. Will I entrust my past, present and future to Jesus? Or try to make it on my own? We’ve all avoided God, perhaps because of one major faith question. If I surrender my life to Christ, what will He do with it? Is He for my good or against my desires?

I had a plan for my life. Finish school. Get married. Have babies. Have fun. I made most of what I wanted happen until I couldn’t. Our first baby almost died in childbirth–he’s a straight up miracle–but it left me traumatized and depressed. I climbed partially out of that pit only to slide back in from multiple miscarriages.

My plan was NOT working out. My ideas about life were shattered. I didn’t know how to deal with emotional pain. So I tried to patch up the holes myself. Shopping? Wine? Work? Ovulation kits? But nothing brought back joy. Nothing healed my hurts. Only numbed and distracted.

…nothing brought back joy. Nothing healed my hurts. Only numbed and distracted.

I read stories in the Bible about people coming to Jesus. Those who were exhausted, hurt, sick, mourning. I read how He took them in, validated their humanity and spoke tenderly into their pain. He healed the whole person, inside and out. I needed that. Maybe you do, too. (see Matthew 8-9)

I believe those are the questions we must ask ourselves. Do we need Jesus? Do we need forgiveness for our wrongs? Validation of our hurts? And wise counsel for today? Is life with Jesus better than life alone in this world?

The Bible passage below answers that question.

Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-20 ESV)

Some of my dreams and treasures on earth have been stolen, trampled on, or thwarted. Perhaps yours too. When nothing else could fill my void, bring me back to life, listen to my needs at midnight, understand my hurt, Jesus became my best friend. I needed Him and He showed up and became a lasting treasure to me. One that will never leave or disappoint me.

So the answer to my biggest faith question? Life has proven to be better than I ever imagined as I journey with Jesus.

Things, dreams, people, careers, houses, nor earthly desires, are guaranteed or imperishable.  Jesus is the only treasure that doesn’t wear out. He holds our comfort, healing, forgiveness, rest, joy, peace, love, and eternity secure for us as we do life leaning in close to Him through prayer and trusting His leadership.

Jesus is the only treasure that doesn’t wear out.

His devotion will not fade. His friendship will not get boring. His forgiveness will not run out. A life with Jesus is not about giving up, it’s about getting a new love and purpose. Becoming part of something bigger than yourself. Becoming a new you that you can’t even dream up.

Unfortunately there are also stories in the Bible of people turning away from Jesus out of fear–worried about their schedule, their money, their status. They didn’t think they needed Jesus. So they walked away unhappy. (see Matthew 19:16-22)

Take a moment and inventory what keeps you from coming near to Jesus. Can it offer you the same security, love, grace, acceptance, and joy that knowing Christ can? How would it change your life to let go of what’s keeping you weighted down? I pray you and I have the courage to let go of the temporary things of this world we think are important and grab ahold of God’s powerful love and friendship.

 

**Join the afruitfulwoman.com community this year and receive free devotionals and messages from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.  And Find your voice in the conversation on FaceBook.

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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.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

How to Change for Good

What is it that you really want this New Year? Social media will be lit up with all sorts of changes to be a new you. How you can have a rockin’ body or 4 steps to a more successful you. Looking back, there’s only one decision that transformed my life. And it’s the one we tend to avoid. Get to know Jesus.

Look. I know it sounds more logical that if we alter our bodies or eating habits we will feel better about life. But I’ve tried all sorts of diets and none can repair the things that really matter…my marriage, my family, my sinful heart. Only Jesus.

I’ve tried all sorts of diets and none can repair the things that really matter…my marriage, my family, my sinful heart. Only Jesus.

Of course, take care of yourself. Make healthy choices and enjoy the life He gave you. But let’s be honest, a beautiful body doesn’t mean as much if the soul is still unhealthy. So if you’re like me, wrestling with wanting to live bigger and better, wanting to see extraordinary things happen in your ordinary life, there’s only one way. You have to tap into God’s supernatural power, and it’s easier than you think.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 11:28-30 ESV emphasis mine).

If you’ve been laboring for a better version of you, stop. Come to Jesus and take a break.

That’s what I’m going to do this New Year. I’m trusting Him to transform me from the inside out as I spend time with Him in prayer, learning by reading bits of my Bible each day, and following where He leads my days and life. It’s not an overnight fix, it’s a new way to live that gives energy instead of taking.

It’s not an overnight fix, it’s a new way to live that gives energy instead of taking.

Jesus doesn’t require anything but you. You don’t have to be awesome. You don’t have to try to be anything, because you are already His. You are loved and valued by the Savior of the world and that is enough. He has a purpose for you if you put down your striving and dare to follow.

So yes, I will probably do some yoga this year and eat more veggies, but that’s not what will change me. Be bold with me this New Year as this group of believers decides to take Jesus at His word. That when we come to Him we will find rest for our burdens and that He truly wants us to learn His ways because His ways fight for real transformation.

So the question is, do you want more from Jesus? He’s ready when you are.

 

 

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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.

Find Andrea also at WhollyLoved Ministries and her devotionals on crosswalk.com

 

 

 

Jesus Works in the Waiting

It’s impossible. At least it feels that way. That thing that you can’t budge or change sits like a 10 ton boulder in your way. We tend to try to move it anyway, pushing with all our strength, not moving an inch. When we’re tired, Jesus gently gives us another option.

Wait patiently.

Let’s be honest, that’s hard and it’s also not what we like to do. We like to DO, GO, Get ‘er done! in the Midwest. So waiting often seems lazy instead of the right choice.

Here’s what we find in Scripture. God’s people are faced with some real enemies, they are scared, and probably feeling a bit lost, but Habakkuk prays…

“I heard and my heart pounded, my lips quivered at the sound; decay crept into my bones, and my legs trembled. Yet I will wait patiently... Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LordI will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign Lord is my strength...” (Habakkuk 3: 16-19 NIV) emphasis mine.

 

I have friends who are up against some hard things right now. Friends who are in the waiting period of lots of things.  I also am trying to navigate the future by faith. What if we declared the same as Habakkuk over our insecurities, health problems, lost dreams, immovable problems? Today let’s do that together, praying truth over our uncertainties…

Jesus, Even when I’m scared. I will wait patiently because I know You are working behind the scene. Though I don’t see any evidence of what I want happening, I will trust that You are doing something about the situation when it’s out of my control. In the meantime, I am going to keep my joy and be thankful that my God is working it out for me — You, Lord are my only strength. I’ve got faith You can move this mountain and Your plan for me is good.

Though I don’t see any evidence of what I want happening, I will trust that You are doing something about the situation when it’s out of my control.

Trust that waiting may be what God is asking of you. That He may want to make something beautiful in the time you spend trusting in His power instead of your own.

 

**Get more free encouraging messages and devotionals from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.

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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.

 

 

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™

Hope in the Deepest Pit

I always thought the story of Jonah was about a fish, but it’s really about a pit. Life is full of pits, ones we dig for ourselves, some that others shove us into– the question is how do we get out when the walls are slippery and we simply can’t. Jonah found the answer.

“To the roots of the mountains I sank down; the earth beneath barred me in forever. But You brought my life up from the pit, O Lord my God. When my life was ebbing away, I remembered you, Lord, and my prayer rose to you, to your holy temple” (Jonah 2:6-7 NIV).

Do you ever feel like you are hopelessly sinking? Going down into debt? Anger? Addiction? Negativity? We all sink down into something at some point and it’s why we need a God who is stronger than our situation.

When Jonah was being swallowed up by the sea, there was NOTHING he could do to save himself…except… remember the Lord. That was his action. He didn’t remember a skill he had or muster the strength to overcome by himself. Jonah REMEMBERED the Lord and prayed for help. And the Lord delivered Jonah from the biggest problem of his life for Jonah’s good and so he could be used for God’s glory in the town of Nineveh.

When Jonah was being swallowed up by the sea, there was NOTHING he could do to save himself…except… remember the Lord.

So some things the story of Jonah is more than a big fish swallowing a dude, although that is rather interesting. This true Scripture is about a man in need of help and direction being saved by The Living God from a situation he couldn’t save himself from.

You and I are Jonah. Every time we throw our hands up and say, “God I can’t! But I know you can! Show up here in this mess because I can’t clean it up myself.” And our God is still the same God from Jonah’s time. He is still willing and able to pull us out of our deepest pit if we call on His name and follow Him out.

In this season of hope, let’s remember who is our hope. Jesus. And let’s ask Him to show up big where we need Him knowing He hears and cares for His people.

 

**Get more free encouraging messages and devotionals from Andrea when you sign up for her Email Friends list.

AndreaWeb47

 

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.

 

 

Scripture quotations marked (NIV) are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com The “NIV” and “New International Version” are trademarks registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by Biblica, Inc.™