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I just keep saying I’m fine, but I’m not. This is a ‘will get worse’ as time goes by.

 Her heart spilled across the page, its pieces shattered in bits—bleeding hopelessness against the white of the paper.

When suffering settles in, an unwanted companion, and makes itself at home in the tender places of our hearts, how can hope stay alive? Is it even possible?

For the woman whose husband has both Parkinson’s and dementia…for the person struggling day after day with the hidden pain of depression…for the mother wondering if anyone understands what it is to lose the child she once held safe in her arms—He thought of you when He offered the invitation.

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“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30).

Christ reminds us to come to Him when our burden is beyond bearing; when we fear collapse beneath the weight of painful circumstances and overwhelming emotion. But, He doesn’t call us to a list of do’s and don’ts or a religious experience—He invites us into relationship.

When we take on Christ’s yoke and follow His gentle lead—despite our suffering and regardless of our hurt—we walk step-by-step through the dark valley with Jesus. And, the all-powerful God bears the heaviness. When tears blur our vision and we stumble, He guides us. When anger fills our heart and we refuse to move forward, He gently pulls us close. When hope threatens our faith, He whispers, “Come to me.”

Feelings are real, but can lead us away from the One in whom we can find true relief, hope and rest. If we trust Him enough to believe He is our salvation, we can trust Him to be with us in the difficult.

 

Action Steps to Take When You Feel Hopeless

  1. Memorize scriptures that remind you of the truth when feelings twist the reality of your eternal hope. (Matthew 11:28-30, Isaiah 42:3-4, Joel 2:25)
  2. Find a support group, counselor, or trusted friends who will listen when you say, “I’m not fine.”
  3. Read books to inspire, encourage, or educate you about your area of struggle.
  4. Volunteer or get involved with a cause related to your struggle.

 

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The traveler strode across the desert sands; the heat of the sun burning through the thin fabric draped around his body. Ignoring the grit of dirt in his mouth, the Rabbi considered His divine assignment.

Ah, yes. The woman.

While Samaria was the most direct route to Galilee, many Jews avoided the area by heading into the Jordan Valley. After all, the land was polluted with the unclean. People of a mixed ethnic group. People who worshipped differently. People devoid of the Law. People like the woman.

Determined, Jesus continued into the heart of the unclean land. Perhaps he paused briefly to pray. Or, Christ’s pace might have quickened as he anticipated a life-altering conversation. Settling wearily on the rim of Jacob’s ancient well, Jesus licked parched lips. A Samaritan woman, approaching the well, shifted her gaze when she noticed the man.

“Will you give me a drink?” he asked, indicating the clay jar in her arms.

“You are a Jew and I am a Samaritan woman.”

Clinging to the safety and comfort of societal norms, the woman nearly dismissed Jesus. Didn’t he realize Jews didn’t addressed people like her? Tainted blood. Lowly gender. A girl with a past.

Still, the man persisted—his words washing over her with a promise to fill the empty spaces of her soul. A soul as dry as the insides of the clay jar she carried.

“If you knew the gift of God…whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.” (John 4:9-13)

Oh, the beauty of Christ who loves us as we are. We may consider ourselves unlovable. Stained by our sins. Unworthy of God’s offer to be washed…filled…restored to a spirit life overflowing with his presence.

But, Jesus sees us and compassionately says, “Ah, that woman.”

He invites us, dear one, to drink deeply of his abundance.

Ever loved. Ever accepted. Ever changed.

Go ahead, Friend. Take the cup from his hand; it’s spilling over with the promise of a life lived in Him.

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Having a God-sized dream isn_t about me living big. It_s about God living big in me

 

I wish I knew my God-sized dreams. I have no idea what they would be and it’s not because I am already living them. I feel useless for God and His kingdom and like I don’t have an impact on other lives.

My heart dropped as I read her words. How many of us have wondered about our purpose? Struggled to discover meaning in our lives? Asked God to give us a God-sized dream and felt disappointed when our prayers seemed to disappear on the wind?

Years ago, when my children were small, I felt much the same way. I allowed ill-conceived thoughts to embed themselves in my spirit. You aren’t accomplishing anything. You should be doing something bigger…something more for God.

 I began entertaining lies as truth and discovered discontentment grew where joy used to live.

Like this dear one, I misunderstood. Having a God-sized dream isn’t about me living big. It’s about God living big in me—whatever that looks like at the time. Each of us was designed intentionally with unique gifts, talents, and abilities that we might participate in God’s mission—that those who are lost might be found. (Luke 19:10).

That’s the beauty of the Church. Each one who follows Christ has opportunity to participate in fulfilling God’s mission for others by living and loving right where we are—regardless of age, stage, or occupation.

In loving others, we live for Him. In loving others, we make a difference. In loving others, we discover our God-sized dreams.

Blessings,

Tammy

Questions to Guide You Discovering Your God-sized Dream

  • In what area(s) has God given you a passion?
  • Do your friends and family consistently take note of your abilities in certain areas?
  • If doubt and fear weren’t issues, what would you pursue?

 

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Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn. -Romans 12:15

 

We must be willing to feel the heart beat of other's in our chest. This is what love does. (1)

 

One wedding and two suicides. From celebration to lamentation. From dancing in the sunset to mourning alongside two of my dearest childhood friends as they grieve the senseless loss of their young men living—and then dying—on the edge of manhood.

I long to ease the ache in the hearts of these dear ones; to smooth the hard edges of the emptiness that once was filled by the laughter of young men. Soul soothing words fail to trip off my tongue and I stumble in my awkward attempts to offer comfort and hope.

While I’ve experienced the pain of death separating me from another, I haven’t lost a child to the nightmarish reality of suicide. This grief? It’s consuming—like a fire threatening to devour everyone in its path.

And in our pull-yourself-up from the bootstraps culture where grief is an inconvenience and lament is looked on with suspicion, I’m suggesting something radical.

Let’s step into lament. Let’s join those we know who are hurting. Let’s choose to walk willingly into the fiery furnace just as Christ did when three of his children were tossed like kindling into a human-sized oven.

People are lamenting everywhere around us. The woman just up the street whose husband has left her with three children and a cancer diagnosis. The forty-seven-year old mother of teenagers fearing the worst as her husband struggles to survive the aftermath of a stroke. The young couple aching to hold a baby in empty arms after yet another miscarriage.

Grief is uncomfortable. Stepping into another’s pain is painful. Yet, if we are to love like Jesus we must be willing to feel the heartbeat of others in our chest. We are meant to join others as they walk through the fire. That’s what love does.

Who are you going to love today?

 

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If you’ve ever found yourself doubting God’s goodness or wondering if your faith can withstand the hard of your circumstances, then I hope you’ll find some encouragement today.

I understand, Friend. Just a few years ago, I grappled with my faith. Fought and wrestled with God about the overwhelming, painful reality of all that was beyond difficult. Mine was a faith at risk of being abandoned.

For close to three years, I alternated between fighting for and against my faith. The beliefs I’d held since girlhood stood withered and emaciated beneath the scorching heat of personal trial and all that came with it. Anger. Grief. Disillusionment. Doubt.

You may be in that place now. Your soul may feel as though it’s bleeding and if that’s the case, dear Friend, let me encourage you to do battle to remain in Truth. It may take times of wrestling in the dirt before you rise up–your faith strengthened and doubts replaced with hope.

I hope the following video brings encouragement as you walk through the hard of your journey.

 

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My heart is pounding in my chest. It’s a thrumming, I guess. The rhythm that tells me something is wrong. Something (or someone) is anxious. The thin film of moisture coats the sides of my eyes, but I blink and blink, not letting it loose.

I don’t wanna. A two year old lives inside me, and she does not want to do the next thing. The next thing is hard and painful. She’d rather grab her favorite toy and play in the closet among her mom’s shoes, hiding from the world.

I try to talk the two year old down. You can do this. It’s only this one time. Or It will be over before you know it. Or even, you can have a treat when it’s all done!

See? Two. I told you.

But those pep talks don’t always work. Sometimes, on the lighter things, they do. But when it’s heavy and hard and nothing like what I expected, I’d much rather just…not. I wonder if I can tell God politely that I’d rather not do this next thing. And maybe if my voice is extra sweet and my demeanor uber-gracious, he’ll grant me this wish like a fairy godmother waving her wand. Only God’s staff is so much more powerful and wonderful than that.

I had a college professor who often talked about the phrase, “I prefer not”. He would tell us it was okay to use this phrase in life, and I want to cash it in right now. I prefer not. I change the words a little, thinking God’s ear will lean in my direction.

But there’s still no relief. The prefer nots and I don’t wannas and rather nots aren’t working. God is silent. Or perhaps no answer is the real answer. Because I already know what to do. What he wants me to do. I’m just avoiding it.

There’s no out. The next thing is the next thing I need to do. I’ll tell you a secret that I doubt will surprise you: I still don’t wanna.

But I hafta. And then I finally think to ask God. God, can you quiet this upset within my spirit? This fear and trepidation over the next thing? Help me to want to. Or at least give me grace while I don’t want to and I do it anyway. Because you’re asking. And I’m yours. Which means you are mine too. All of your goodness and your grace and your patience and your power—they’re here to equip me to do the next thing.

And then I remember that I won’t do the next thing alone. I always do that—jump ahead and imagine it without God in it. But then I remember he’s here now and he’ll be there then. That looming feeling of being alone and tired and just unable to do it is a lie. Because he’s there with me in that future of the next thing. And he has power and strength that I can’t even comprehend. And comfort. I’ll take some of that too.

Okay, God, let’s do the next thing together.

Jill-Lynn-Headshot-e1435757045485

Jill Lynn Buteyn is a co-author of Just Show Upwith Kara Tippetts, and the author of the inspirational romance novel, Falling for Texas (as Jill Lynn). A recipient of the ACFW Genesis award for her fiction work, she has a bachelor’s degree in communications from Bethel University. Jill lives near the beautiful Rocky Mountains with her husband and two children. Connect with her on social media or at Jill-Lynn.com.
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Jill Lynn Buteyn
I wrote a book about cancer and friendship with Kara Tippetts. I also write small-town happily ever afters.
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Jill Lynn Buteyn. Author of Falling for Texas and Just Show Up with Kara Tippetts. Organizationally challenged. Thrifty mama. Bookworm.
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Like an old-fashioned nesting doll, my identity seemed buried somewhere within—a series of selves so well compartmentalized that I was unsure of who I’d become. Even as a young child, I was adept at acknowledging only those feelings and thoughts that I considered good and, before I realized the cost, I’d grown into a woman unsure of who she’d become.Untitled design

Just a few years ago, I peered at my reflection in the mirror. How had I gotten along as far as I had in life without a better understanding of me? I was bewildered. Perplexed. Unsure of how I might overcome this lack of personal insight.

Have you, dear Friend, ever experienced the loss of you within the pages of your life? Perhaps your identity crises began when your marriage—once a relationship of youthful hopes and dreams—ended unexpectedly. Maybe you lost sight of self in the chaotic call of mothering children. It could be you awakened one day as an empty nester with nobody at home and suddenly unsure of the woman within.

I don’t know your circumstances, but I know that you do have a heavenly identity as the Daughter of Christ. You are God’s one-of-a-kind-beauty. And, in Him? You are adored…cherished…loved abundantly.

He knows you intimately—even if you do not. Give yourself permission to become acquainted with the woman He made you to be.

Blessings,

Tammy

 

Today’s Prayer

 Dear Father,

 You love me and know me intimately. You knit me together in my mother’s womb and created me to be a beautiful reflection of your image. Guide me into a deeper understanding of who You designed me to be—my temperament, my talents, my gifts, my purpose—that I might serve You more fully.

 

Thank you for loving me, Father, as I am now and as the woman who will one day be made complete in Christ.

 Amen

 

Linking up today at:

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Action Steps

 

  1. Take an online spiritual gifts test and/or a Myers Brigg personality test
  2. Read A Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
  3. Reintroduce a hobby you used to enjoy back into your life

 

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