By Robin Halvorson
When our eldest daughter was diagnosed with Spinal Muscular Atrophy, and we were told she would never walk I became militant in prayer and believing. There was no way the God I knew could possibly allow this to happen to my baby. Surely, this was just an opportunity for Him to show off in a miraculous way. I was determined to not accept this diagnosis, God would find another way.
A few months passed, and we gave birth to our second daughter. When she was diagnosed with the same diagnosis as her sister at three months of age, my world crashed in. I could no longer hold my own banner of believing any more. I became acquainted, for the first time in my life, with my need for my Savior to come lift my hands and help me find my song. If I’m honest, I don’t think I knew what it meant to surrender until that moment. Much of my life I accomplished achievements and overcame obstacles in my own strength with a little bit of Jesus sprinkled in. But, when sorrow and grief took their blow to my heart, I realized I couldn’t fix this on my own. I needed Him to fight this battle for me. I needed Jesus to infuse every area of my life with His strength as I had none of my own left.
Nearly two years later, I have found that my strength and faith has gradually begun to restore. However, I have also discovered my heart needs to lean completely on my Savior to survive. I find the moment I try to take matters into my own hands or rely on my human strength alone, my heart can easily take another nose dive into despair. My husband and I live in a tension of waiting for a miracle for our girls. Early in the diagnoses, the Lord spoke to us both saying we would experience many miracles along the way. In the past two years, God has provided not just thousands but millions of dollars in medical interventions for our girls! We have seen God’s provision and favor go before our family over and over again! We are so grateful for His covering. However, we continue to stand in the gap for our girls everyday praying for their ultimate miracle of complete healing to be fulfilled.
The question I often ask the Lord is, “Why can’t you heal them right now, today?” And, the answer of course is, “He can!” However, as the days pass and their moment of healing still remains uncertain, I am learning several things about living in the tension of waiting:
1. There is no doubt God wants to heal disease! Isaiah 53:5 says, “He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities, and by His stripes we are healed.” The sacrifice of the cross, every excruciating moment Jesus endured, is our assurance that HE WANTS TO HEAL! I don’t have the answers yet or understand why some people are healed while others continue to wait. However, my assurance lies in knowing the character or God – He is a good father that has never let me down before and He won’t let me down now!
2. Eternity brings a different perspective. When I begin to look at my babies through a lens of eternity, my perspective changes. Are they happy? Are they loved? Do they know the love of the Father? Even though our “normal” looks different from other families, their lives are rich and beautiful. In the waiting, we are learning to be grateful for the present moments and see beyond the minutia of everyday life. The “big picture” is so much greater than what I even imagine.
3.TRUST! When I was in college, the Lord gave me a clear vision illustrating Philippians 3:14, “I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” In the vision, I was struggling to walk up a large hill on campus, sweat was pouring, I was breathing hard. And, as I got too exhausted to continue I heard Philippians 3:14, “I press…”. As I heard this, I saw myself falling backward off this incline and being caught by the giant hand of God. He said, “Pressing into me doesn’t mean you have to work. You press into me the moment you let go and allow me to raise you above the fight.” This is a picture of trust I’ve held for years now. Trust looks like surrender. Trust looks like weakness. Trust looks like rest.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-
4.My greatest sacrifice of worship is given in the moments when I don’t understand, but I choose to trust in the character of God. I choose to lay my heart out before my Lord who sacrificed everything for me and my family because He is worthy of my praise and adoration. To worship is my greatest privilege here on Earth, especially while we are waiting for our miracle because it is the only time I will get to choose Him while I still don’t have the answers. Worship in the tension of waiting is faith-filled worship! I worship, surrendered, trusting the Lord to fulfill His promises to my family.
“Shout for joy to the Lord, all the earth. Worship the Lord with gladness; come before Him with joyful songs. KNOW that the Lord is God. It is He who made us, and we are His; we are His people, the sheep of His pasture. Enter His gates with thanksgiving and His courts with praise; give thanks to Him and praise His name. For the Lord is GOOD and His love endures forever, His faithfulness continues through all generations.” -Psalm 100:1-5-
I believe living in the tension of unanswered prayers and maintaining a soft heart before the Lord is one of the greatest challenges we face as believers. However, I also believe it is a great blessing! It is a blessing because we get the opportunity to dig into the questions of our heart and discover revelations about God that will stay with us for eternity. We get to surrender, even when we don’t feel like surrendering, simply to find He is gentle, kind, and worthy of every sacrifice.
My prayer for those of you living in the tension of waiting, is that you will not despise this season of your life, but rather embrace the unknown territory with God. He is not afraid of your questions, so ask them! He is not afraid of your anger towards Him, so let Him see! He is not afraid of your sorrow, so let Him bear it with you! I pray as you learn to let go with God, that He will begin to show you His heart and that He has loved you with an everlasting love from the beginning of time! You are His BELOVED!
About the author // Robin Halvorson lives in Roanoke, TX along with her husband, Jordan, two girls, Shiloh & Gabrielle, and her newborn son, Judah. She is a member of New Life Worship and leads worship for Tuesday Night Prayer. Although she is currently a stay at home mom, she was a public speaker for nearly 10 years speaking to students across Texas and the surrounding region about abstinence and bullying. With a degree in Communication and Worship Leadership from Oral Roberts University, she hopes to continue speaking and sharing her life experiences with others for years to come.
By Kathryn Wenth
"Blast, I’m struggling again in my ability to think kindly of this person that keeps getting on my nerves. If only they wouldn’t behave like they do, then I could be patient and kind with them. Why is it that they always put me in such a bad mood?" This is a real life struggle for me and many of us. Relationships are what His kingdom is advanced through. They are the model of showing His love for us to the world. My struggle in them begs the questions: Whose kingdom am I advancing, His or mine? Does Kathryn’s kingdom grow faster in my life than His - one of patience and kindness, the Kingdom of unconditional love?
What cripples us from building God’s kingdom is us being at the center of our universe rather than Jesus. This addiction to be in control and self protect is most often fueled by fears that have defined our belief system that counter who He says we are. And the truth is that although we often didn’t choose the situations in our life that have so dented our vehicle and fragmented our identity, we can choose to be restored and transformed through the cross. What it requires is that we choose to appropriate what He has done through His death and resurrection to our lives - past, present, and future. This reminds me of a truth that Jesus spoke to me recently, “Don’t let the wounds of the past fester so that the pain of those wounds become more powerful than the pain I suffered on the cross so that those wounds would be healed!”
What does it look like to build for Him? In order to answer this question, let us revisit woman’s initial choice to advance her own agenda. If we read Genesis 3, we witness Adam and Eve choosing their own judgment over walking and talking with God - the purest relationship. Eve, tempted by Satan to eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, chose to listen to these four words, “Did God really say?” At that point she used her own judgment and chose to be seduced by her desire to call the shots. She in turn introduced this “look we can be like God and know it all” to Adam who used his own judgment and chose to eat the fruit. When I say, they used their own judgment; they chose their personal desire, their own judgment, over God’s warning, putting themselves first before their intimate relationship with God. They chose to be right in their own eyes, which made their perspective a better choice. By following this plan they basically said to God, “I’m right and you’re wrong.”
Adam and Eve’s choice was followed by guilt - I’ve done something bad. Then it moved to shame - I am bad, which produced the response to hide from His presence. Their fear chose punishment and separation from the love of God. When there is tension in our relationship to the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit because of our using our own judgment, we typically choose to step away from or withhold unconditional love from ourselves and others.
This same pattern plays out in our life today when we or others make bad choices - Did God really say that if I come to Him and ask forgiveness, He will forgive me? Did He really say not to judge myself and others? Did He really say that He came to set me free? We choose not to forgive, resulting in us judging ourselves and others, experiencing guilt then shame, followed by separation. Our heart becomes disconnected from Unconditional Love, because we’re afraid that our bad choice is bigger than the power of His death and resurrection, and that we and others deserve to be punished rather than forgiven.
What are some of the symptoms that expose that we’re building our own kingdom?
So how do we get back on track, giving our body, soul, and spirit to building the Kingdom of Heaven?
Blessings on each of you as you choose to advance His kingdom today!
About the author // Kathryn Wenth is an associate pastor at New Life Family Church. Her favorite thing to do is to encourage others in the journey to grow in Jesus’ incomparable, unconditional love!
by Mary Price
With social media usage at an all-time high in today’s culture, it’s typical to check out your newsfeed on Facebook and see that yet another couple has gotten engaged, gotten married, announced they’re expecting a baby, accepted a new job offer and are moving across the country together, etc. It’s very easy to focus on what other people have and get caught up in what you don’t have. I know that I have personally looked at what seems to be a perfect couple’s life on Facebook and thought: If I had a man to share my life with, everything would be so much better.
Paul writes in Philippians 4:11-13, “…for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” We must remember that the secret of contentment in life, whatever your circumstance, is through Jesus Christ. It can’t be found in a man, or a job, or a hobby; only through Jesus. As a single girl in her twenties in 2018, I can honestly say that it’s not easy. To quote a country song, it sometimes seems like “Everybody’s got somebody but me.” During this period of my life, I have learned three valuable lessons: 1) He’s in the waiting; 2) His timing is perfect; and 3) He is forever faithful.
He’s in the waiting… No matter what you’re waiting on—whether it is a new job, a long-awaited relationship, a financial blessing, a prodigal to return to the Father, or a transition in life—it is easy to be overcome with impatience and eagerness. These emotions often leave us feeling disappointed, until we reach the point where we start losing faith in whatever we are waiting on. Giving up completely may seem easier than continuing to press on. It is at that moment when our trust in God must override the fear and anxiety.
I once read that “Joseph waited 13 years, Abraham waited 25 years, the Israelites waited 40 years, Jesus waited 30 years. If you are waiting for something, God has put you in good company.” Psalms 46:10 instructs us to “Be still and know that I am God…” There is no reason to grow impatient. The Bible reassures us in numerous scriptures that the Lord will never leave us, and that we are never alone. He is walking with us every step of the way, and we can go to Him for comfort and guidance at any time. He’s in the waiting…
His timing is perfect… Have you ever waited for what seems like forever for something to take place? You pray and pray and pray some more, and then, when you’re least expecting it, it finally happens! I’m sure that Abraham and Sarah felt like they had been waiting forever for God’s promises to come to fruition too. In Genesis 18, we read about the time when the Lord promised them a son, even though they were far past the age of having children. Sarah even laughed when the promise was made. “Then the Lord said to Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh? Why did she say, “Can an old woman like me have a baby?” Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return about this time next year, and Sarah will have a son’” (Genesis 18:13-14, NLT). Sure enough, in God’s perfect timing, Sarah and Abraham were given a son, Isaac.
Sometimes, we as humans feel like we have our lives figured out. We develop a life plan, but when something does not go exactly as planned, we panic. We must remember that God’s timing is perfect. His ways are greater, His thoughts are higher, and His word says that His plans for us are good. Instead of trying to tell God what needs to happen when, let’s try being still and trusting in the Lord in all aspects of our life. His timing is perfect…
He is forever faithful… Sometimes in our day-to-day lives, it is good to be reminded that God is still God. He is still on the throne. He hasn’t forgotten about us and the trials we are going through. Psalms 117:2 (NLT) states: “For his unfailing love for us is powerful; the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever. Praise the Lord!” So let us praise the Lord, whether we are on the mountain top or in the valley. Whatever our circumstance, we can rest assured in knowing that God is righteous, He is sovereign, He is omnipresent, and He is forever faithful.
Paul writes, “So let’s not get tired of doing what is good. At just the right time we will reap a harvest of blessing if we don’t give up” (Galatians 6:9, NLT). May we be strong women of God and remember that He’s in the waiting, His timing is perfect, and He is forever faithful. May we never forget to praise the Lord for His goodness, grace, and mercy—no matter what our marital status. May we choose to be content in whatever the circumstance. May we lead people to Christ not only at church, but through the way we live our lives for Him.
About the author // Mary is an Ohio native who moved to Texas after college. Her heart is in missions work and reaching people with Christ’s love.
By Brittney Mortensen
I have it, you might have it, and most women at some point have struggled with it. Insecurity. There’s nothing pretty about it. As women we want to be strong and always have our game faces on for the people that depend on us in our lives. Sometimes our insecurities can become an internal prison cell we have created on our own. We constantly compare our reality with everyone else’s posed snapshot online. If we are honest to ourselves, we know they didn’t wake up like this even if their hashtag says so.
Insecurity is defined as "subject to fears, doubts, etc.; not self-confident or assured." At first the word can make you cringe and feel taboo. But we have to get past that if we don’t want it to control our lives. In my own experience with insecurity, here are some things that helped me overcome it.
Everyone has faced it. Whatever you are insecure about, you need to know you are not alone. Eve walked side by side talking with God, butt naked, and still fell for the lie that she was lacking. She was actually perfect! If we are born into sin and fallen short of that glory, why is it surprising this is a problem plaguing women today? When you talk to the women you most admire, you will find that they too at some point struggled with insecurity. The things we fear and doubt may be different. Our insecurity could be in our looks, the way we communicate, our parenting and leadership skills, or social acceptance by peers. The list could go on. I love me, but there are things that I want to change about myself too. My waistline is not where I want it to be, but the whole me is not determined by my waist line. I’m working on it. We are all works in progress. Its apart of life. I might not be confident in my shape, but that does not determine my value as a person and a child of the Most High.
Insecurity has a telltale. Look, when people really struggle with insecurities, it shows. I mentioned earlier we like to have a game face on. People who care about you can see right through it. You become defensive, you can’t handle constructive criticism, and you can become super controlling. Insecure woman can become hyper sensitive to offense. Have you ever met someone that can’t ever take a genuine compliment? Do you foster a victim mindset through complaints and pointing our flaws in others? Do you isolate yourself just because you feel different than those around you? The things we fear and worry about sometimes rear their ugly head in the middle of a season where God is pulling us out of our comfort zone and preparing us for what He really wants us to walk in. When we see it show up in our lives, it doesn’t always look like fear or doubt. When it shows up, we can trust in God to help us change the behavior and our mindset.
Hiding insecurity negates authenticity. When we allow our insecurity to control us, we put up walls. We project what we think others want from us rather than truth in our relationships. We can’t be transparent and that makes it hard for others to trust us. As women who are called to share the gospel. People will not receive what we have to say if they feel like we are fake! Every time I am talking to one of my girlfriends and share an insecurity I might be dealing with, they are encouraged! They have someone to overcome it with as they struggle too! It brings us closer together. There is power in authenticity. We are able to really connect with one another when we are honest about our insecurities.
The real you is always more interesting than the fakes someone else. We are our own worst critics. I am always surprised when someone shares how they see me. The things that I feel make me weird are usually the things that draw others to me. When others find out that I too have the same quirks or insecurities as them, I become more approachable. We used to play this game in kids church called “What’s In My Burrito.” On the outside it looked and smelled like a burrito, but when the contestants actually took a bite, they found out the inside was really nasty. When people find out what we project on the outside is way different than the inside, they don’t want another bite!
Don't doubt God’s design. You are the gift God gave the Kingdom to reach others and build community. Sometimes we beat ourselves up over things that are really just lies from the devil trying to destroy our purpose and our contribution to the community around us. We can’t be great at everything. God is made strong in our weakness. Our friends can be empowered in our weakness. They can be strong for us. We are not meant to be the best at everything! Why else would God have created each and every one of us so incredibly unique? When God created mankind, He knew it was not good for us to be alone. When there are things we are not confident in, it requires us to reach out of our own bubble and connect with someone who is. You are loved by your Heavenly father just the way you are.
I hope these things help you view insecurity in a different light. When you face insecurity, face it with confidence that you are still a powerful woman of God. Use it as a tool to make your faith sharper. Use it as an opportunity to become stronger. Use it as a time to transform who you perceive yourself to be, into what God says you are. Be you. You are the only one that is best at it.
About the author // Brittney is currently loving every moment serving New Life Family Church as the Children's Pastor. You might find her listing to jazz, looking for her keys, or getting her preach on when she can. She is a avid support of local Thai and Mexican restaurants. She loves Jesus like a lot and desires to see the lost and broken experience the deep love of a savior.
By Josie Carignan
"You crown the year with your bounty,
and your carts overflow with abundance."
It’s New Year's Eve. One of my favorite days of the year. I am looking back over the past year and dreaming about the future. Prayerfully prioritizing the things that matter most to make sure they fit in to the new year, and let go of the things that are draining time and energy but not really important.
Life is ever changing, and each year brings a new season. Our responsibilities, job, kids, family and living situation and even our values may change, and with it the goals we reach evolve. The New Year is a great opportunity to re-evaluate what is important to us and define the win for our lives in the year ahead.
As I look ahead at 2018 I consider the potential it holds. What do I want to accomplish? What does God have for me? We are all given the same amount of time. That is maybe the only way in which our lives are all the same. We all have 24 hours in each day and 365 days in a year. It is our choice how we spend them. What we will do with the time we have been given.
I reflect on family, priorities, work, me, Bible reading plans, attitudes… I know there is nothing magical about January 1st. It is a day like all the others. But in the world we live in it is a day that marks the beginning of something new, which makes it the perfect time to learn from the past and intentionally set ourselves up for the most successful year possible, filled with the things that matter most to us in our current season.
I love the word intentional! Nothing happens on accident. We have to be intentional about creating the life, space, atmosphere and community that we want. And the older I get the more I realize that ever year counts. They all build on each other and I want to intentionally be building the life I want to live, as well as what I want to leave for my children one day. It matters! Our choices matter. Every day.
Here are seven areas to look at that will help you define what you want out of the New Year so that you can intentionally live this out through the choices you make:
1. Pray and ask God what He wants for the year that lies ahead. Have an open heart. What word He is speaking over your life for the New year? The Bible teaches us that “His ways are not our ways” Isa 55:8 and that “We can make our plans, but the LORD determines our steps.” Prov 16:9 It is important to listen to God and be sensitive to his leading. Otherwise in all our zeal and planning, we might miss what He has in store for us.
2. Re-define your priorities. Sometimes we have priorities in our heart that our lives don't reflect on a daily basis. It's time to re-prioritize your time! What matters most to you? Make a list of people, areas of interest, work, events, character traits, or even a certain atmosphere you want in your home. What do you love? What do you want to invest time in? Who is important to you? Some examples would be: time with family, a peaceful home, a clean home, building my company, reading the Bible, spending time with friends, having people over, feeding the hungry, travel…. Make sure you intentionally include these things in your life.
3. Look back over the past year and list the 5 best things that happened and 3 of the worst. Your fondest memories and greatest successes as well as the biggest failure and sad stuff. If the best moment were centered around trips or family time, make sure to include more of that this year. If your worst times were due to bad choices, make sure you get wisdom and accountability in those areas so they don’t repeat.
4. Look at relationships. The ones closest to you. Your husband, kids, family and friends. What do you want to work on? And when you look at your circle of friends, are there some friendships you need to shed, and others you need to be intentional about investing in? Maybe you need a new circle of friends. It is said that you are the average of the 5 closest people in your life. Who are you spending time with?
5. Look at yourself. What would be something you want to change about YOU? You will probably have a laundry list of things right away and usually this is the only category people set goals in. But be realistic and intentional. Prioritize. You can’t change everything over night, but you can definitely change several things in the span of a year. Is there a character trait you want to develop? A bad habit you want to break? Or a healthy habit you want to build?
6. Dream your wildest dream. What do you want out of life? If you were to dream big – where would you be 10 years from now? What would you be doing? Now list one (or a few) things you can do next year to move in the direction of your big dream. Your ultimate life goal.
7. Learn something new? It has been said that when you stop learning you stop living. I think that is true. Every year we have the opportunity to learn something new or become an expert at something. Maybe a new sport or an instrument. A language. Memorize scripture. Learn about another culture. Pick something you want to learn and expand your horizons. It will enrich not only your year but your life.
Now look over all that you have written down. What you have gathered makes up the skeleton for setting your priorities and goals for the coming year. Take a few minutes to organize your thoughts and write out your goals in a way that inspires you. I've made a little cheat sheet that you can download and use.
You have a clean slate. A chance to start fresh. This is your life – live it intentionally, don’t just go along for the ride. Your daily choices determine where you will be a year from now, ten and even twenty years from now.
Let's do this!! We're coming at ya 2018!
Happy New Year all.
A year from now you will wish you had started today!