How did we get into April? I am loving the lilacs, lawn mower sounds, and general themes of new life and beginnings. If nothing else happens in April, I was giddy to be over March. That was a tough month full of adversity and challenges.
What made things extra hard was that they were not my challenges. Both our kids were facing things that left them hurting and asking God why. I’ve faced prayer times that I thought were difficult, but seeing their pain nearly broke me.
One night we grieved and prayed together. We asked God tough questions and requested wisdom, discernment, and direction.
Not everything has changed, but here are three things God whispered to my heart to prepare for and to apply to the challenges.
- Close the current door with grace. We had an opportunity that we knew wasn’t working. It was time to leave, but feelings were raw and the true defeated one was trying to leave us in a quake of anxiety and depression. It would be easy and tempting to walk away angry and bitter. God’s whisper was to close the door with grace. More than that, the same manner we close one door is the exact way we open the next. We definitely wanted to act wisely.
- Use your voice. It doesn’t seem like a big deal, but “praying in your head” doesn’t have the power that praying out loud does. I don’t think God is looking for us to stand in the middle of a park and start talking in King James Bible translation, but when we use our voice and pray, heaven moves and hell quakes. I’ve seen it. As I prayed with the kids, that phrase kept coming back. They needed to push back fears and bring down heaven’s promises to earth with declaration. That takes a voice, and in their hard times, I believe God is developing a powerful voice to speak on His behalf.
- Hands off. They are toddler rules, but I need to hear them. It is my personality to run way ahead of God, turn around, and ask Him how I’m doing. I call it living, “Sarah, Plan B,” and it is not a lifestyle you want to emulate. Sarah ended up with an “Ishmael” of a problem. I hate seeing the kids hurt, but I’ve been around long enough in faith to know that what’s happening is a refining fire. He’s taking everything that isn’t going to work in serving Him and melting it away through affliction. What’s left is pure Him. In their hard times I’m seeing a new level of faith from them. They are pressing in, going to Him and not giving up. I can’t orchestrate that or manipulate it. I’m not going to lie, being an observer of the process was one of the hardest things I’ve come up against as a parent.
I believe with this season and God’s whispers, the kids will look back and credit the time as a spiritual marker—a time they mark as when God changed everything.
Have you gone through a searing time of adversity where God whispered to you?
FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER-A 30 Day Devotional features the characters and issues from ENTRUSTED, ENTANGLED, and ENGAGED to encourage you as you let go of fear, loss, change, regret and dreams. I also share my own stories where I was broken and in need of surrender. If you’ve read my contemporary romance series, you’ll be familiar with the characters and inspired. If you’re new to my writing, the devotionals will introduce you to characters and situations you can relate to. Purchase HERE.
I’ve been doing this a few years, post-birthday, sharing where I am, how far I’ve come, and where I hope to go.
I have to say, 47 is weird. It’s a stone’s throw to 50, and wow, that’s an age I never gave a lot of thought to as a college student. That seems like yesterday.
My SON is the college student, not me.
In fact, I just got notice my college reunion, #25, is this year.
It’s a year where two of our children, Tom’s first two that I met when they were 12 and 10, are expecting sons this summer. We’re going to be grandparents. Yet, we have a middle schooler. And honestly? I relate more to teens than senior citizens. I’m eligible to be in the senior group in less than 10 years. And I just can’t see myself jumping all in for that. But the youth conferences I’m invited to attend as part of the adults helping out? I love it. Love it.
I have to color my sassy red hair monthly, but if I felt it were safe and I had that kind of money, it could be every other week. Red is hard to maintain, but what it covers is white. Snow white. And I am NOT going there just yet.
But 46 was a stumble, if not all-out free-fall in confidence. Menopause has been part of my life for years, thanks to surgery. Something about 2016 was a marker for everything to flip on me. Waking every hour. Volcanic temperatures. Voracious hunger. Mood swings I had not had in years. Depression. Anxiety. Weight gain.
So entering 47 is with a bit of trepidation. Thankfully, an endocrinologist helped get my health straightened out and I feel a lot better. But a tiny part wonders if it is short-term. There are times emotionally I feel completely fragile, and I hate it. People need me. And I don’t like spiraling out with no reason except hormones.
Yet, in those tears and exhaustion, so much happened that was GOOD. Our oldest son of the four kids got married to a wonderful woman. Our son graduated from high school and started pursuing education at Kent State. I started my own writing and speaking business/ministry. In three months I released two books in both print and eBook form. Now my hormones rebelling makes more sense…
It’s in writing I feel I’m on more stable ground. When I questioned God if I was doing the right thing, it was at 3:23 in the morning I woke and knew I was supposed to open my Bible to Colossians 3:23.
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Colossians 3:23
I feel free from numbers. Where my books rank. How much money they generate. I want to see readers living free in Christ. This 47th year I am on track to finish my first contemporary romance series with ENGAGED and start the first of six book in my new series about surrendering what others think. I’m not scared. I’m excited.
I take into 47 an amazing piece of wisdom my pastor shared when I doubted I could survive the stress and changes. He told me to picture an arch, and imagine Jesus on the other side. As long as I stayed on one side and Him on the other, a million tons of stuff could be on that arch and it would not break. That held true through all the things I mentioned, plus much more I have not.
It is true as I’ve watched the kids grow in Him through their personal valleys I know all too well: rejection. Loneliness. Depression. Anxiety. Doing the right thing and feeling completely alone. Their pain has been the most devastating thing to observe and feel so helpless. Yet, we’ve had the deepest most intimate prayer times we’ve ever had. In those times, God revealed so many awesome things. Messages of hope. Encouragement. That they are not alone. They are deeply cared for.
I’m 47 and full of hope for the world and people around me. Not because of the election results or new administration, but because there are so many promises I’ve prayed and prayed and believe breakthrough is close at hand. For our family. Friends who are hurting. Ministries that are 1000% ready to give all God asks of them, and have 1% provision as far as the world sees. I don’t know how or when, but I know it’s close.
And I guess to sum it up, it’s the same two words I’d use for turning 47.
It was one of those God taps that I wanted to ignore. Late last year I felt I was supposed to write a devotional using the surrender themes explored in my contemporary romance series, Surrendering Time. Not only that, but write it from the characters point of view. I’d never heard of such a thing, and by obeying, I knew I was delaying book 3, ENGAGED, even more.
But obey I did. It took longer than I thought with unexpected travel and child sickness, but it’s done.
FINDING FREEDOM THROUGH SURRENDER-A 30 Day Devotional, features short readings on surrendering fear, loss, change, regret, and the future. If you’ve read ENTRUSTED or ENTANGLED, you will visit with beloved characters like Ben, Jenna, Carla, Will, Sara, and more. If the series is new to you, no worries. The devotional will introduce you to the characters without spoilers. Then, once ENGAGED is released this spring, you will be ready to jump in.
It’s in eBook format, so download the free Kindle app and you can read on your phone, tablet, desktop, laptop, and of course, Kindle. It’s only available on Amazon.
I’d love for you to spread the word. Early feedback showed that many of the readings were exactly what readers were struggling with at that time. That’s God, and I’m grateful He allows me to write for Him.
Take a look!