For What It Could Be

Written by: Christianne Williams

This past week I went to have coffee at a friend’s house.  As I was standing in her kitchen my eyes were drawn to piece of furniture in the corner.  It was a cabinet, old, but beautifully refinished.  It was made of real wood, not the pressed together kind so much is built from today, and it had been painted white, still keeping its antique charm.  I commented on how lovely it was.  She began to share with me how she found it.

It had been in an old shed on her father’s farm, a building that was to be torn down.  This beautiful shelf had been covered in dirt and oil, and the droppings from small creatures  that lived in the abandoned building, and it was scheduled to be burned.  She looked at it and saw not what it was at the time, but what it could be with some work.  She rescued it, and then she went to work.  It was no small job and it took many hours to give it a facelift and reveal what beauty laid beneath the surface.  Looking at it that day I would never have guessed how she had found it.

She shared with me how it reminded her how God sees us, He sees what He wants us to become, the potential we have, the person He created us to be.

My husband also visited and had coffee with someone, a new believer, re-entering his walk with God. He shared about his life, where he had been, and the struggles he had faced, and the bad choices he made along the way. He also shared of how when he was reading in the Book of Romans, the Lord was speaking to him about different things in his life that needed to change. He saw that we are all born as sinners, but that because of the righteousness of Christ, and what Jesus has done for us, it spoke to him that if God would do that for us, we must have some measure of value to Him.

Too many times we look at ourselves, and others, as being too messed up, too dirty, too old, to be beautiful or useful.  We see the mess, the enormity of the clean up job, and we become convinced that there’s no way we, or they, can be redeemed.  It would so much easier to just forget it, throw it all away. But the eyes that know us best see the beauty that lies beneath the surface.  He can clean up the worst situation.  He lovingly sands off the dirt and oil, revealing solid wood that can be refinished anyway He chooses, and no matter what he chooses it will be stunning.

Just like my friend didn’t just paint over the dirt and stains, she removed them carefully so that there would be a new finish, God doesn’t just cover over our sin, he removes it as far as the east is from the west (Ps 103:12).  He’s in the process of restoring us, creating a masterpiece of God (Ephesians 2:10), displaying His glory! God loves us more than we know. Like a craftsman, a painter, a sculptor; God is in the business of taking wood, old canvases, and even what others consider “junk”, and creating beautiful masterpieces! And the work He began, He will complete (Phil 1:6) so His glory will be revealed in us! (Romans 8:18)

WE NEVER WALK ALONE

Written by: Christianne Williams

I’ve been spending time in the Psalms lately.  Usually when I park there it’s because something is going adrift in my life and I feel some understanding pouring from those pages.  Life can be tough, it can beat you up a bit and knowing that people have faced troubled waters since the beginning of time can bring a measure of comfort.  Reading words penned thousands of years before our existence and being able to relate to them tells us that we don’t face anything new when it comes to the trouble life throws at us.

Being a Christian, an heir to Christ, doesn’t grant us immunity from difficulties, disappointments, or sickness.  What it does do is give us is the ability to deal with it differently.  We have a place to go when they do happen, and so, we never walk alone.  God will give us wisdom in situations to handle them with grace, He gives us comfort in the disappointments so they don’t turn into discouragement or offence, and He offers healing in our sickness.  We never walk alone; He’s the friend that sticks closer than a brother.

When things in life throw us off our game we can very easily take on a mindset of negativity and defeat.  We can turn our focus to how things never seem to work out the way we need them to, other people have better ‘luck’ than we do, we never seem to have a ‘happy ending’.  This creates an atmosphere where the enemy can turn everything into a negative experience and point the finger at how God is letting you down.  Have you ever found yourself there?  God must be unhappy with me if this is happening.  I must’ve done something to offend Him.  I must not have enough faith.

I’ve been there.  In fact, when our daughter was born with a congenital heart defect I had someone tell me it must be because I didn’t have enough faith, and I’ve heard that same thought repeated frequently in all aspects of healing.  One thing I know for sure: that one statement did a lot of damage because for a long time, it left me feeling responsible.  Holding on to that responsibility made me feel guilty. How could I have done that to my daughter?  And it left me feeling like God was punishing me.

God’s grace has brought me out of that mindset and has left me aware of how our thought patterns take us into His presence or cause us to run further from Him.  When I feel like I’m in a situation, for example, where people are spreading false accusations against me or someone I love, I ask God to show me how He can use this situation for growth.  He gives me wisdom in it and what I’ve found to be consistent in these times of trial is how my faith in His love for me grows.  I can choose to believe He’s against me or I can choose to believe that there’s a purpose in it, deeper than my natural understanding can see.

Psalm 5:3 says, “In the morning, O Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait in expectation.”

God hears your voice, He hears your requests, and knows your struggles. He hears you ask for freedom, for comfort, for provision, for supernatural undertaking, for peace, and the list goes on.  Now, wait in expectation, wait and expect, tell yourself how good and faithful He is and believe that He hears your cry and will provide all that you need.

CAST ALL YOUR ANXIETY ON HIM!

Written by: Christianne Williams

It hit me all of a sudden, it gripped me, and I couldn’t understand why.  My heart started to race, my breathing picked up, and I got a pain in the pit of my stomach.  I felt like something bad was going to happen, like I was about to have my life thrown into a tailspin, and yet, there I was, sitting in a chair in my living room as safe as one could be.  I looked around and no one seemed to notice that I was being hit with the fist of anxiety. It is after all, a relatively silent thing.  You can become pretty good at hiding it all behind a smile because you don’t want anyone to think you don’t actually have it all together.  You don’t want to feel like you’re the only one on the block who sometimes feels this way, let alone the only Christian on the planet who has these moments hit them like a Mack truck at an intersection.

I refused to tell anyone how badly I was feeling at times because any time I did I was always met with the platitude of, “Christians don’t have anxiety, they have God.”  or “God’s got it all under control so you shouldn’t be worrying.”  Or my very favorite, “It shows a real lack of faith to have anxiety.”  Now, I’m not talking about worrying occasionally about something, I’m talking about the panic that hits you in the stomach and no amount of talking yourself out of it helps.  I know that God is good, that He doesn’t want us to suffer, and that He can deliver us from all anxiety and fear.  I know it’s not His plan for us to live in this prison.  But I also know that it can be really hard, from the inside looking out, to get this feeling to just go away by talking yourself out of it.

Anxiety and fear are a tool used by the enemy to cripple the children of God so they believe that they are powerless and thus, stay where they are, not brave enough to step out and try the things God is calling them to do.  Anxiety calls to mind the ‘what ifs?’, it tells us that bad things are in store if we proceed any further.  It’s the voice that tells us that God really isn’t for us, that He’s there waiting for us to mess up so He can punish us.  It’s the voice of a liar.   Fear of man, fear of failure, fear of a new direction, the list goes on, these are all things that will steal the joy from our journey and the fulfillment of our destiny.  Doing things for God will mean confronting these lies head on, even when we feel like running away, we must put one foot in front of the other.

1 Peter 5:7 “Cast all your anxiety on Him for He cares for you”

Lately I’ve been choosing to be more real about the anxiety I feel from time to time.  I believe that the struggles we face, we go through for a season and a reason.  One of those reasons is to help others who are facing the same thing.  I remember hearing the speaker at a conference one time say that if we go through a valley, even if it takes the stuffing out of us, we can choose to let it kill our testimony or we can use it as a platform to help others find refuge in God.  I really want to step past the fear and allow God to use my struggle to support others who feel that they can’t go on.  Another reason is because I find that if I can talk to someone about the thoughts in my head, it actually doesn’t seem so bad.    Memorizing scripture, truth, that you can repeat over and over again will help to redirect your thoughts, bringing peace to your spirit.

2 Timothy says, “For God did not give us a spirit of fear, but the spirit of power, of love and of a sound mind.”  Another of my favorites says, “In peace I will lie down and sleep, for you alone, Lord, make me dwell in safety.”  In my life I want to accomplish all God has for me, and I want that to be the cry of all our hearts, even those who are right now crippled by fear.  Let us allow God to have complete control of all of those anxieties, being completely open with Him and giving Him permission to deal with whatever hurts or events that brought us to this place.  Having complete freedom in Him is possible if we’re willing to lay aside our feelings and begin to make a concentrated effort to fill our minds with His words of truth.

HIS POWER IS MADE PERFECT IN OUR WEAKNESS

Written by: Christianne Williams

I was always a shy kid.  I loved spending time by myself, I never liked to be in the spotlight, I would turn red if someone looked at me.   I can remember singing in the Christmas concert at church, backwards so I couldn’t see all the people in the audience.

One day in junior high we were asked the question of what we wanted to do with our lives after we graduated.  I took a leap of faith and raised my hand very excited to share what I had been dreaming about.  It was a big thing for me to share my vision of my future.  The reaction I got was, “You’ll never be able to achieve that.”  That response came from a high school teacher, someone who should have cheered me on toward my aspirations. Instead, that  interaction was one of many that fed my feelings of inadequacy; the idea I had about myself that I wasn’t good enough, and would never be good enough.

It’s no real surprise that our negative feelings about ourselves will be fed at certain times in our lives, especially if we possess a negative self image.  Our enemy is a liar, a deceiver, one who wants to cripple us and keep us from our destiny. And if he can do that by convincing us that we will never amount to anything, then he will pull out all the stops.  If he can get us to focus on what we perceive as shortcomings and inadequacies, then we will begin to believe that whatever God has placed in our hearts is beyond our reach.

We are not the only people who have struggled with inadequacies. For example, Moses had a bag of excuses such as telling God that he was slow of speech and therefore could not lead the Israelites in their journey from bondage to freedom.  Gideon came from, by his own admission, the least of the tribes of Israel, and saw himself as the least of that tribe; yet God used him to defeat the Midianites with a skeleton army.  The disciples were a bunch of misfits! For example, Peter needed anger management, Matthew was a tax collector- the equivalent of a national traitor and thief, and James and John Jesus called the “sons of thunder”, perhaps for their fiery judgmental dispositions! The truth is, each had their own issues, their inadequacies.  But despite their flaws, God called them, commissioned them, and empowered them to be His representatives.  Saul of Tarsus was a murderer, trying to eliminate all of the Christians around, but a powerful encounter with Jesus changed the course of his life, and sent him on missionary journeys to win the lost.  There are so many more examples of people who had things that could have held them back and hang them up, but God chose them, despite their weaknesses, and in response, they chose to trust God and obey Him!  God used them because of their willingness to let Him change them and be seen in them, and great things were accomplished because of it.

What if we decided that, although we feel ill equipped, unprepared, and maybe even unworthy,  God knows what He’s doing when He calls us to a certain assignment?  He sees the deepest parts of our hearts, knitted us together in our mother’s womb, knows our innermost being, He knows who He’s calling better than we know ourselves.  He sees what we can only imagine and He wants to shine through us.

2 Corinthians 12:9&10 say, “But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness.’  Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.  That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties.  For when I am weak, then I am, strong.”

We have the promise that when we are called to do something that doesn’t fall into the category of our strong suits that God will be made strong in us and that our victory will shine with His glory.

WIRED FOR RELATIONSHIPS

Written by: Christianne Williams

I’m a communicator.  That’s my love language.  I ask my husband and my kids hundreds of questions to try to spark conversation and I usually end up with one-word answers.  You wouldn’t think it if you met my husband because he really can talk, but he has a quiet side and that’s usually what shows up at home.  Now, if you met my two oldest boys you’d quickly see that what I say is true.  They’re great kids, and can have really intelligent dialogue when they’re in the right mood, but most days they aren’t and all I can squeeze out are answers like ‘fine’ and ‘good’ to ‘how was your day?’  This also extends to texting.  I send long, detailed texts, explaining the finer details of everything, leaving nothing out only to receive something like ‘nice’ in return.

My two youngest, now they’re a different story.  They chatter all day long.  From the time their eyes open in the morning to the time they go to bed at night, and sometimes the occasional sleep talking session occurs.  It’s nice that half the family takes after me and half after their Dad.  Don’t get me wrong, we have healthy relationships with each other, we just aren’t all talkers.  I have found that the quiet tribe in our household listen well, they hear what’s being said, they are involved in life, just not commenting on everything as I am.

What I noticed while having a coffee break at a local restaurant the other day has got me thinking though.  How ‘present’ are we in every day conversations with people we come in contact with?  I was sitting there, on my phone checking emails, when I noticed a young family not too far away.  There were three young children with their Mom and Dad, and they were waiting for their food.  As the children were chatting and asking questions, it was apparent that the parents were caught up in the world through the window of their phones and were not hearing what the kids were saying to them.

That night when I got home I sat down in my chair to relax, with my phone, and started browsing Facebook, looked for bunkbeds on Kijiji, checked in with Instagram to see what was going on with friends, and pinned a few things on Pintrest that I would likely never again look at.  And then I looked up.  And it hit me.  We were all in the living room together, but that’s where it ended.  Each of us was giving full attention to the technology in our hands and no awareness of the moments were missing with each other.

I look and see how quickly my children are growing, how they’re changing and how their view of life is being formed.  I don’t want to lose my influence with them.  We were “wired” for relationships, first with our Heavenly Father, but then with the family we have been given.  What’s replacing that though is the constant access we have to everything else, things that distract us from what really important and moments that make a difference.  I started thinking, ‘Am I really training up these children in the way they should go?’  or am I lost in my own cyber world leaving them to find their own way?

I know that all the advancements in technology has not made life worse, but I do believe we need to be aware of the moments we may be missing if we get our priorities mixed up.  I made a decision:  I will make sure my relationship with God is first and then I will make sure I’m not just asking questions to create meaningless conversation, but I will allow God to show me what questions to ask to bring us closer into relationship with Him and with each other.

 

It’s Too Hard

Written by: Christianne Williams

There was screaming, crying, and tears.  Lots and lots of tears.  There were adamant declarations of “I will not do this!  I will never do this!”  And then the questions, “Why are you making me do this?  Why do I need to do this?”  And then the pleading, “Please don’t make me do this!  I just can’t do this!”  And I’ve not heard these things once – no, I’ve heard them many times over the years.  You may be asking what situation I’m speaking of that could evoke such drama, such strong feelings of dread.  Or maybe you’re wondering who these pleas came from.  Any homeschooling family can probably tell you that these are the scenes that occur everyday, or at least every second day, while you have preschoolers who you are encouraging to learn new things.

The greatest battle I fought in this arena was the one with my eldest son on the journey to independent reading.  He bucked me at every turn, even pulling the, “Mom you’re such a good reader, why should I learn when you do it so well!”  and trying to convince his brother, two  years his junior, that it would be great if could just be the early reader of the family.  Every day began with Battle Royale over Sing Spell Read and Write, so much so that I almost considered giving in to his pleas and letting him be illiterate for a while longer.

Imagine my delight when my second loved reading, however, it quickly faded when I discovered we would endure the same battle, only with math.  And then our next son was so active every subject was like gym class, and finally here I am again in the middle of teaching our final child the importance of the English language.  This time I’m worrying less about it because I realize that  eventually my boys actually did learn to read.  And add.  And subtract.  And dissect a sentence.  And they learned many other things that they flat out refused to attempt in the early days of homeschooling.

One thing that was consistent in all of them was the unique ways each of them learned.  They didn’t all fit in the same box.  They didn’t all learn at the same rate, or enjoy the same things. The education game has been different with each child and each passing day.  I quickly learned that forcing them all into the same box wasn’t going to work and would leave us feeling frustrated, and what’s worse, leaving them feeling like they couldn’t do it.  Expecting the same from all of them was not realistic.  How could my seven year old be expected to understand things the same way my 16 year old does?  She hasn’t the experience in life that he does.  In the same way, I can’t expect him to be able to make life decisions the way I can, I have much more life experience than he does.

Life is a journey, we’re all learning, we’re all in different stages of the process.  Like children learning new things in school, we all learn at different rates, through different circumstances, and God knows which ones will help each of grow.  He understands our unique learning styles and knows how to nurture us each in the ways that will shape us into mature believers.  I’ve found myself feeling discouraged because people around me seem to be more spiritual, they seem to understand more or have more insight.  Feeling disqualified because they seem to have it all together and I don’t feel like I ever will.  That’s not how God sees any of us though, He sees us as beautiful works of art.  He adds to the picture as we walk along, as we grow the picture changes.

Just as my kids learned what they needed to at appropriate times in their lives, we will as well as long we submit to His leading.  He’s a good and patient Father, one who loves us and desires to see us move on to maturity.  I know how exciting it is when a child gets a new concept, and I can just know that Father God is excited when we learn something new.  He’s cheering us on, encouraging us to try one more time, to ask for His help, to submit to His will.  So many times I find myself with same attitude my children had – it’s too hard, I’ll never be able to do that, please don’t make me go that way- and each time I hear Him say, “You can do it!”  “I’m right here with you!”  “I’m pleased with you!”

The True Heart of the Father is Exposed

Written by: Christianne Williams

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

“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength” Philippians 4:13

For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life” John 3:16

Very simple verses that anyone who ever went to Sunday school has heard.  If you grew up in church then these were likely the some of the first ones you even put to memory.  In fact, they may have been rehearsed so many times that the message they convey may have been lost.  The meaning in these simple truths is very deep.   The map for peace and joy are found here, the true heart of the Father is exposed here.  The words are simple, the requirements are simple, and yet very difficult sometimes.

God loves us!  He created us, and since He knows the end from the beginning, He knew how things would go in the garden.  While it must’ve broken His heart that even in the early days of life there was a lack of trust in what He had spoken, He showed them the plan of restoration.  That’s love.  To come up with a way that people, who knew they were disobeying Him, could not only be reconciled but restored shows a love that’s so great —it’s amazing!  Just think about the depth of that love, there is a way for anyone who believes in Him to make their way to the cross for restoration, a new life, and a new perspective.

When we come to Him and put our trust in Him He lavishes that love upon us. He wants us to have a revelation of how much we are loved so we can show that love to others.  Freely we have received, freely we give.  It cost Jesus His life, but was given to us with only the cost of loving Him and following His leading.  I’ve often felt that the only way I can truly walk in the calling He’s placed on me is if I perform well enough, if I have it all figured out, if I don’t ‘mess up’.  The problem with this way of thinking is that I can never be good enough.

My job is to focus on what He’s already done, to love Him back, and then to be amazed at how he shows me how to live in a way that pleases Him.  This life is a journey, none of us have full revelation of everything that the kingdom of God is, we just have to wake up each morning ready for a new adventure.  Trust in Him with all of your heart, lean not on your own understanding.  If it doesn’t make sense to you – that’s ok, but trust His heart for you.  Trust in the truth that if you give up your understanding and say, ‘I don’t understand but I believe you’ve promised good things for my life’; He will not let you down.

I’ve lived through some experiences that make absolutely no sense and while I was focusing only on what I could see with my physical eyes.  God faithfully brought along people who would speak into my life and bring encouragement without ever knowing my situation.  Those encounters spoke to my spirit about how concerned He is for me, that He wants me to know His nearness and compassion.  My prayer recently changed to “Lord let me be the encouragement to someone who needs to know they’re loved by You and You’ve got this for them”.

He promises strength, and He will deliver.  He promises direction, and He will deliver.  He promises eternal life, and He will deliver.  Whatever promise He gives is sure to be fulfilled.  Trust in His heart and not in your own ways and He will not disappoint.

Be Still

Written by: Christianne Williams

Be still.  That can be tough.  When I think about being still, my children as toddlers always comes to my mind.  They would run about here and there from the time they got up in the morning until they laid their heads down at night.  One of my children in particular didn’t even really stop through the night.  There were constant trips to bathroom and pleas for water, hugs, and rescuing blankies that had suddenly vanished.  Taking them to places where being still was appreciated always made me anxious, because without fail they call upon some hidden energy store and need to be busier than normal.

I remember one time in particular one of my boys was being really loud and fidgety while a missionary was giving a presentation.  I got so tired of ‘shhhh’ing and trying to keep him still that I decided to take him to the nursery.  On our way he out, he asked very loudly, “Are you going to spank me?”  In this instance my son’s struggling got him where he wanted to be, in a place he could be free, not bound to sitting and coloring.  In life, though, struggling never helps us to achieve what God has for us, it simply wears us down.

One thing I’ve been thinking a lot about is getting closer to God and resting in His plan, asking Him for wisdom, and believing He’s going to work things for my good even if I don’t see evidence of it with my natural eyes.  It means being aware of how you’re viewing the situation around you, how you’re dealing with it, the action you’re taking.  Sometimes we feel like reacting instead of praying for wisdom and waiting until we get revelation on how to proceed.  Sometimes we try so hard in our own strength to change the way things are, the situation we find ourselves in, when what really brings peace is to say, “Ok God, what are you going to do here?”

I’ve had days when it really feels like everything is set up against me, like there’s no way good can happen, and I have to find a way to still my mind before the Lord and ask Him to bring me peace while He works things out.  Getting alone with Him and asking for a new perspective, for revelation about what you’re facing, that’s where we find perfect peace.  It doesn’t mean that the storm will pass right away, it may rage for awhile, but it brings an awareness of His nearness and the truth that He goes along beside us.

The more time you make to be still before Him, the easier it will become to trust Him to work things out for your good, regardless of the process He takes you through.  I’ve been in situations that make no sense, and quite honestly struggling through, trying to come up with a solution or a plan of some sort, has never worked.  What did work is realizing that my Father is good.  No matter how many people here turn against you, He never will.  No matter how many times we mess up with our reactions, He will always be faithful to help us back up.

I read something on social media the other day that I really like, and it sums up a new mindset I’ve tried to adopt.  “Instead of saying ‘Lord I don’t know how I am going to do this’, say ‘Lord, I can’t wait to see how You do this’”.  Be still. No struggling. Allow excitement to fill your heart over how He will work this out!

Where Is Your Focus?

Written by: Christianne Williams

I always believed I was a person who lacked the ability to focus.  My mind would wander from one thing to another, I would seldom finish things that I started and this left me feeling overwhelmed.  My husband is my opposite, they do say it happens that way.  He is driven.  If he starts something, he will most certainly finish it and do it well.  Sometimes this has caused conflict because he comes behind me, seeing the dishwasher half emptied or the dustpan still containing dirt, and he takes it upon himself to help me out and finish the job.  This in turn makes me feel as though he’s shining a light on my undone tasks and I get irritated.  At any rate, I’ve recently discovered that its not my inability to focus that’s the problem, but in fact, my ability to focus entirely on the wrong things.

In the example of my husband finishing up my chores, I don’t look at the heart behind the help, I concentrate on the message that I am not doing enough, I’m dropping the ball.  That’s just an example of how when we focus on the wrong things, we lose sight of what it truly important.  I’ve seen it many times at our kitchen table as well.  Siblings sitting together, all working on different lessons but all working toward the goal of getting things done for the day so they can have free time.  One will lose focus and start making noises, soon to be followed by their neighbor and before you know it, I’m telling them to ‘focus on what you’re supposed to be doing!’  I don’t feel qualified to tell them that but I’m the parent/teacher so what can I do?

When we were in the hospital during each of our daughter’s three open heart surgeries, we had struggles with where our focus would lie.  In the midst of all of the beeping monitors, medication pumps, and the story the numbers would tell the doctors, it became hard at times to focus on the One who calms our storms.  Fear would creep in, and in being honest, I would become focused on what could possibly go wrong instead of what God could do in the middle of that desperate situation.   And things did get desperate.  We were in need of miracles most days, I could compile a long list of times when we were told ‘there is no hope’ and how we would need to refocus on the truth that God can work things out for our good in any situation.

The truth is often silent.  We can’t confuse it with the facts.  The facts are often contrary to the truth, which is what God says.  Sometimes our circumstances say there’s no possible way that anything good can come out of this, yet God works well with impossibility.  They say that numbers don’t lie but God neither does God and He can make a way for your financial miracle, a way that you could never dream up on your own. The medical report may speak of death and hopelessness, but God is the One who gives hope, He restores sight to the blind and heals all of our infirmities.

The question is, where does our focus lie?  In the bad reports?  Or in the One who meets all of our needs?

In Numbers 13, Moses sent some men to explore the land of Canaan, the land they were supposed to inherit.  When they returned, they spoke of the goodness of the land, but they spent more time discussing the size and power of the people they would have to overthrow to take the land.  They were concerned that the greatness of the people would prevent them from receiving the Promised Land.  Joshua and Caleb, however, were certain they could do it.  The men argued with them, they gave them the reasons they felt it would be a death mission, but they remained confident that it was a battle that had already been awarded them.

They were focused on two different things.  The majority on the greatness of the enemy, and the minority on the greatness of God.  Focusing on the right thing gave Joshua and Caleb the confidence to be bold in the face of a great enemy, and in a circumstance that by our natural eyes seemed would surely go against them.

Isaiah 26:3 tells us, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in You.”

My ability to focus was not the issue, where my focus was directed was.  Keep your eyes on Jesus and trust Him in all things, even when the facts tempt you to believe otherwise.

Fresh Start

Written by: Christianne Williams

Who doesn’t love a fresh start?  A new beginning, no mistakes, no regrets, just hope for what’s ahead stretching as far as your mind and heart can see.  A new job, a new move, a new relationship, new opportunities.  That’s the reason the new year fills gyms everywhere, there’s a new starting point, the chance to write a new story on a blank page.  There is a fresh resolve to tackle that vice that the year before seemed too far gone.  Sadly, it doesn’t take long for the fresh start to be marred with a fresh donut or pizza because life happened and caught you off guard.  After that it seems pointless to continue.

I love the first snow fall of the year, it blankets the ground, sparkles in the sun, and shows no footprints or signs of being disturbed.  It’s beautiful to look at, until my kids go out to play.  There are snowmen, forts, small hills created for a stab at sledding, and dead grass peeking through.  When they were small and I had the power to keep them inside, I would, for as long as I could put up with the whining, so I could enjoy the look of our yard undisturbed.  I know, more snow falls throughout the winter but after the first, it only fills in the footprints and covers the snow creations, tries to hide the twigs and grass sticking up,  it doesn’t actually go back to the original spotless beauty.

I’ve found relationships to be this way.  You begin with great expectations and it doesn’t take long before disillusionment enters in.  Something happens or a word is spoken that stings and changes the outlook you have.  It can cause us to pull away, to react in ways that isolates us.  We build walls to protect ourselves, and in the end, keep out the very people who are to shape us and help us in our quest for godly character.  Like the case of freshly fallen snow, we can restore those relationships but sometimes the old things are just covered, the form of them are still evident.

When we woke up on January first and I said “Happy New Year!” to my seven year old, she was rather disappointed.  “It doesn’t feel any different than last year!”  And she was right. It was just the same as last year, and the year before that, and the year before that.  In fact, it was the same as the day before.  Every day is a fresh start, a new opportunity to grow, to blossom, to spread hope and encouragement.  It’s a new opportunity to repair relationships, to accomplish something you never thought you could, to begin the journey to a dream that has laid dormant waiting for the perfect moment.

It’s not a specific day that gives us fresh hope, fresh vision, or fresh resolve.  The very thing that offers us these things is not actually a thing, He’s a person.  Jesus gives us the opportunity to change every moment.  He doesn’t wait until the first of the year, the first of the month, the first of the week, or the beginning of a day.  He restores hope, relationship, vision, the truth about who we actually are, at any moment we ask Him to.  He doesn’t just blanket over things that have caused us to lose sight of our future, He heals it and we actually start with a fresh snow fall all over again.

Don’t allow the hope of great things for your life fade with any ‘mess ups’ that happened in the early days of the year.  Grab hold of the truth Jesus brings and allow Him to encourage you every minute of everyday!