The Struggle is Real

If God is for us, who can be against us?  For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.  Romans 8:31, 38-39

When my phone rang, I answered it quickly because I knew the caller was scheduled to be in a meeting & unavailable for hours.  The voice I heard on the other end of the line was shaky & gave me the news that someone very dear in my family’s life had died unexpectedly that morning.  My loved one was gone without warning.

This life is so fleeting and there are so many struggles on a daily, constant basis that if I don’t focus on Jesus and His reality, I will be crushed beneath the weight of the world.

While my struggle with the news of a death in the family & others we face constantly are very real, when we keep our eyes on the Rock of our souls, He becomes more real than our circumstances & He shows us what the real struggle is. 

There are so many things in life that push us down.   Death, divorce, job loss, sickness, broken relationships, just dealing with the stress of a whining child all day can be the last straw to break us.  But the real struggle of it all is when we begin to let the weight of our situation be bigger than our Father. 

There is a saying used in the fitness community:  “You can’t fire a cannon from a canoe.”  When thinking of a healthy body, this would point out the importance of a strong core for stability in every other movement of the body.  But think about this in the realm of the stability of our soul.  We cannot handle life when our spiritual core is not strong in Christ.  If we are not strong in the depth of what we believe about our Father & about who we are in Him, then we will be unstable when the hard things of life come.  

We will not be able to trust in God’s good plan for our life if we don’t believe that He is bigger than what we struggle with.  How can we even take the first step to run to Him for shelter when we think He is allowing things in our life that are un-loving?

Through seeking His perfect love instead of a perfect life God will give us comfort in our trying times.  We cannot seek Him only for how He can fix all of our problems.  When we look to Him for who He is in our lives not just what He can do in our lives, then His power & grace begin to flow freely to us.  When we Praise Him for who He is & when we are grateful for who He is, then

His grace fills in the gaping hole of pain. 

Our struggles are a tool that can put His glory on display.  Being a believer, doesn’t give us immunity from struggles in life; being a believer gives us access to the power that can defeat our struggle.    

Here are 3 things that help me when I am burdened by a struggle:

·      Put on the whole armor of God ~  When I think clearly about what God offers me to stand against the attacks of the enemy I remember that He has made me strong through the power he has given me in Jesus {Ephesians 6:10-14}

·      Walk in the character of Jesus ~ Jesus was never afraid because He knew who He was & who His Father was.  When I remember my identity as a child of God, I have no need to fear {Matthew 3:17}

·      Praise God for His blessings ~ When I start to focus on God’s blessings in my life, my tunnel vision of struggle diminishes.  It is impossible to be overwhelmed by the world when I am overwhelmed by God’s goodness in my life {Philippians 4:4-7}

There is a battle waging against us on all sides, but when we trust in our God & His unfailing love for us, we will not be shaken in the struggle. 

The struggle is real but the power of God can defeat our real struggle.   

Can you rest in the fact that God is big enough to handle your struggle?  Do you believe He still loves you even when things are difficult?  What is your next step in trusting the LORD with your current struggle?

Love, Cara

7 Scriptures to Pray for Your College Student

I am in the season of life where sending a child to college is reality.  If this is your season too, I hope this will bless you ~ if you are not in this season, please share this with someone who is.  When college students are away, we as parents are not as involved in their every day life as we once were, which can make it a bit more challenging to have specifics to pray for.  I decided to come up with a list of 7 prayers to pray every day, so that when I don’t know the specifics of my college student’s life, the Father will cover them because the "Spirit makes intercession for us when we are weak & do not know what to pray" {Romans 8:26} .  

The value of praying for our children runs deep.   When God entrusts our children to us, we are given spiritual authority in their lives.  This means when we approach the throne of God for our kids, great things happen. 

God’s Word is the greatest weapon we have against the enemy.  It is “living & powerful, and sharper than a two-edged sword” {Hebrews 4:12} so using it as our weapon of warfare will help us to see mighty things happen in our child’s life & weaken the plans the enemy has to deter his or her future.  My hope is that the scriptures below will just be a starting point for you & that the Lord will give you other scriptures specific to your college student.  May He makes us so strong in His power that we will block the enemy from our children. 

{Fill in the blank with your student’s name}

Ø  I pray _______ will find a loyal friend as Jonathan & David were to each other & that they will “love each other more than their own soul” {1 Samuel 20:17}

Ø  I pray that You will bring people into _______ life who will speak words of wisdom & life over him/her & assure _______ of Your faithfulness {Deuteronomy 31:7-8}

Ø  I pray that you will keep _______ safe.  Give your angels charge over him/her & may he/she say “the LORD is my refuge & my fortress” {Psalm 91}

Ø  I pray that _______will trust in You with all of his/her heart, mind & soul & that he/she will seek Your truth above all else {Proverbs 3:5-6}

Ø  I pray that even when _______doesn’t feel like it & circumstances don’t show it, _______ will hear Your voice telling him/her that he/she is a valiant warrior for You {Judges 6:12}

Ø  I pray that _______ will have a desire & a joy for learning from the teachers You bring into his/her life {Proverbs 23:12}

Ø  I pray that _______ will walk as Your light to the community he/she lives in & that his/her light will be so bright it cannot be hidden {Matthew 5:14-16 & Ephesians 5:8}

Be diligent in prayer.  God is doing great things!

Love, Cara

Amazing Grace

And we know that all things work together for good, to those who love God & to those who are called according to HIS purpose.    Romans 8:28

I was alone in the ICU room with my dad.  A heart surgery gone wrong, had caused him to have to be put in a medically induced coma for 14 days.  It was unusual for me to be alone in that room because routinely our whole family went back during the designated “visiting hours”.   Though he was in a medical coma, his eyes would open on occasion, but the medical staff assured us, he was in no pain nor did he have any idea what was really going on around him.  As I watched him lay there, I was moved to sing Amazing Grace and as I sang his eyes opened & a tear slipped from his eye & ran toward his ear.  I could only get through the first verse & chorus because my throat closed as my own tears poured out.  He closed his eyes and that was the last time I saw them open.  My daddy went to heaven 3 days later.

From that point on I couldn’t stand the song Amazing Grace.  It brought back too many painful memories of watching my dad lay in a helpless state and the agonizing prayers for healing our family had prayed.  I would become physically ill when I would think too long on those days he spent in the hospital.  It was truly one of the darkest times in my life & I couldn’t understand why God would take away such a good man from his family & friends who loved him so much.

I asked God why He would let this happen. Answers never came. 

Sixteen years after my dad’s death, I was at an event completely unrelated to him, when I heard a still small voice in my soul, “I will never tell you why I took your dad from earth but I will show you how I have worked that event for good in your life”.  It was so random it took me by surprise but I knew beyond a doubt it was the voice of God.

Don’t misunderstand:  losing my dad wasn’t good, but the things God did surrounding the event were.  For 3 years after the revelation came, God gently & lovingly showed me areas in my life where He had worked that painful part of my life for the betterment of what He was creating in me. 

The culmination of the redemptive plotline in my story came 19 years after that day I sang Amazing Grace to my dad.  I was in my kitchen preparing dinner & my daughter was in the next room practicing piano.  Her teacher, Kathy Gray, had given her an old hymn to practice.  I’m sure you can guess what it was…Amazing Grace.  It echoed through my house & the Lord came & put His arms around me and said, “Listen to the sound of your precious child playing the song that once brought grief and let it bring joy in your life”

He redeemed my story of loss.  That’s what He is so good at.  Redemption.  Whether in the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, a broken marriage or a dream that has lost hope of reality.  No matter what your loss is, if you will give it all to Him. He will redeem it for your good.

What do you need to turn over to Jesus that needs redemption today?

Love, Cara