Thankful for It All

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I’ve always considered myself a thankful person. Thankful for my husband and children. Thankful for my family and friends. Thankful for my home and possessions, my education, upbringing, and heritage of faith.

But I’m learning that’s not what true thankfulness is really about. It’s a no-brainer to be thankful for the good things in my life.

True thankfulness is being thankful for ALL of life.

The good. The bad. The ugly. The annoying. The frustrating. The unexplained. The unanswerable. The heartache. The loss.

If this past year of life has taught me anything it’s that time is precious. It’s put my priorities back in their proper place and reminded me to be thankful for every day I’m given. Unexpectedly losing my daddy combined with the sudden possibility of losing my husband was like a bucket of ice water dumped over my soul. It jolted my mind with the stark reality that this earthly life does in fact come to an end.

Sure, we all “know” death is inevitable, but how many of us live like it? Won’t we always have another day? Another chance? Another holiday to get together? Another time to sort problems out?

We envision life going according to The Plan.

Our parents will grow old together, and with beautiful silver hair, rock on the porch as the sun sets on them. They will live a long life, see their grand babies and great grands. And though we will miss them, their passing will be timely; a result of the circle of life. Acceptable.

Our own life will look much the same. We expect to grow old with our husbands, retire together and travel. We put in the work to raise our kids right. They become competent, decent adults, out on their own, so we can finally get back to just the two of us. We have a lifetime together to pursue happiness.

We hear of unexpected tragedies, but we never expect they will happen to us.

So how are we to be thankful when they do? When The Plan doesn’t go accordingly? When life as we’ve known it collapses and just doesn’t make sense anymore?

“Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you who belong to Christ Jesus.”- 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 TLB

Honestly, from where I’ve stood over the past 12 months, I read verses like this and I feel beat up by them. This is what I should be doing– I should be joyful and thankful during the most tragic season of my life. These words don’t feel comforting while you’re suffering. At times, they feel downright impossible. How can you ask me to be thankful for this, Lord? Why?

If not for The Lord, my family and my faithful friends, I would be in a straight jacket by this point. I have no idea how non-believers survive tragedy because even walking hand in hand with Jesus, this is the hardest storm I’ve ever had to navigate. Panic attacks at 3am. Heart wrenching questions from my kids. Financial woes and worries. It’s a lot for a person to take.

But then I come to passages like this one, and though I don’t have a solid answer to my How or Why, somehow it makes sense in my soul.

“In all this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that the proven genuineness of your faith—of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire—may result in praise, glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:6-7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

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I can no longer read these words without tears.

And without being thankful.

I am thankful for this season, though it seem so crushingly evil. I’m thankful to be made more aware of His presence. I’m thankful I no longer overlook His peace. I’m thankful I don’t just count my blessings but seek to relish in them. I’m thankful Eternity is now a real destination.

When we set the table this Thanksgiving, Daddy will be missed. When we carve the turkey, he will be remembered. When we give thanks to the Lord, he will be honored. For Jesus has carried us through this first year without him. And I expect he will carry us through the next.

That’s The Plan.

And for that my heart is thankful.

❤️ Jessie

You have turned my mourning into joyful dancing. You have taken away my clothes of mourning and clothed me with joy, that I might sing praises to you and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give you thanks forever!”
‭‭Psalms‬ ‭30:11-12‬ ‭NLT‬‬

I Didn’t Vote for Trump…

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I didn’t vote for Trump.

I voted for The Lord.

See what happens when His people pray and seek His face? When we humble ourselves and turn from our wicked ways? He. Hears. Us.

Yes, last night we “deplorables” told Corruption and Deceit, “No”. We told Progressivism to take a hike. We took up the armor of God, withstood the evil day and remained firm. But as Ephesians 6 teaches, now is not the time to relax.

“Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one; and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints,”
~‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:14-18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Yes, we can take a deep collective victory breath, but prayer and praise and evangelism must be our exhale. This battle for our land isn’t over.

This entire election–like everything else–has been a spiritual battle. Not a race between mere flesh and blood, but a fight to the finish between principalities and rulers of evil in the spiritual realm.

Satan and his deplorables have been blindsided and make no mistake; he is reeling, conspiring, conniving a new plan to thwart God’s. He is The Deceiver, but his deception didn’t work this time. His next move? He transitions to the role of Accuser.

You can bet Trump’s former life and sins will be smeared even thicker across our screens. They will seek to discredit him in an attempt to make us second guess ourselves, our future and our good God.

But just as we didn’t fall for The Deceiver’s campaign, we must not fall for his jeers. Let him make all the jabs he wants; God is on the move.

Regardless your personal beliefs, We The People made a turn back toward God last night. We chose the man, though not our first choice, who represents God’s ways. We voted for those who represent His standards for how our laws should be decided and our lives governed. We made the choice for life and blessings and all of heaven and earth witnessed it. (Deut. 30:19-21)

No, I do not expect the next 4 years to be a road lined with sunshine and roses, but I am hopeful it is the road to Healing. For if we continue turning from our sins, if we continue uniting ourselves in prayer, if we continue making straight a path for The Lord, He will show up real quick and in a hurry.

He is ready to heal our land.

❤️Jessie

Praying Instead

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The closer we get to Election Day, the more I want to crawl in a hole! I can’t stomach the news anymore and the debates literally nauseate me. My inclination is to get all riled up and spout my opinions or rant about what angers me, but my mind and emotions just don’t have the energy. Instead, God keeps impressing on me to pray.

Pray for our nation, our people, and His church. Ask forgiveness for my many personal sins and our collective ones. Humbly seek Him in His Word and look for His direction. Turn off the radio or tv and sit quietly in His presence. Wait for His answer and then obey whatever He directs.

One of the most effective methods of prayer is to get in God’s Word and pray it back to Him. Today He led me to Psalm 25. Wow– such a bold prayer! The second time I read through it I couldn’t help but read it in plural tense and pray it back to Him. We desperately need all that’s asked of God here.

Will you pray this chapter of His Word with me today?

Psalm 25 (TLB)

“To You, O Lord, [we] pray. Don’t fail [us], Lord, for [we are] trusting You. Don’t let [our] enemies succeed. Don’t give them victory over [us]. None of those who have faith in God will ever be disgraced for trusting Him. But all who harm the innocent shall be defeated.

Show [us] the path where [we] should go, O Lord; point out the right road for [us] to walk. Lead [us]; teach [us]; for You are the God who gives [us] salvation. [We] have no hope except in You. Overlook [our] youthful sins, O Lord! Look at [us] instead through eyes of mercy and forgiveness, through eyes of everlasting love and kindness.

The Lord is good and glad to teach the proper path to all who go astray; He will teach the ways that are right and best to those who humbly turn to Him. And when we obey Him, every path He guides us on is fragrant with His loving-kindness and His truth.

But Lord, [our] sins! How many they are. Oh, pardon them for the honor of Your Name.

Where is the man who fears the Lord? God will teach him how to choose the best. He shall live within God’s circle of blessing, and his children shall inherit the earth.

Friendship with God is reserved for those who reverence Him. With them alone He shares the secrets of His promises.

[Our] eyes are ever looking to the Lord for help, for He alone can rescue [us]. Come, Lord, and show [us] Your mercy, for [we] are helpless, overwhelmed, in deep distress; [our] problems go from bad to worse. Oh, save [us] from them all! See [our] sorrows; feel [our] pain; forgive [our] sins. See how many enemies [we] have and how viciously they hate [us]! Save [us] from them! Deliver [our lives] from their power! Oh, let it never be said that [we] trusted You in vain!

Assign [us] Godliness and Integrity as [our] bodyguards, for [we] expect You to protect [us] and to ransom [America] from all her troubles.”

Thank you for praying with me! May God hear our cries, forgive our sins and heal our land!!🇺🇸

❤️ Jessie

Trump: An Unlikely Savior

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True or False?

God is sovereign.
God always provides a path to redemption.
God longs to rescue and restore His people.
God is for us, not against us.

If you answered True to each of these statements, this post is for you.

First off, I am a sinful human and I know it. I am not always right and my opinion does not matter more than any other. Those qualities belong to God alone. So before you decide this is another random soapbox, please hear me out.

If you agreed with that list of statements, then you probably agree with my belief that God is righteous and His Word is inerrant. He always provides a way of escape, a path to redemption, a chance for correction. His Son is living proof and His Word is packed with evidence that He longs to rescue His people and restore their hearts.

What if we apply these truths to the presidential election?

God is faithful to offer His children His best, but He is also fair to offer us the freedom to choose. (In that way, God is pro-choice!) Sometimes, though, our choices are not optimal. Like choosing between chemo or death, occasionally we do indeed have to choose the lesser of two evils. As my family is currently learning, sometimes you don’t like ANY of your options but you must choose one if you want to move forward.

I promised myself I wouldn’t post anything political because honestly, my heart and mind can barely navigate a usual day right now much less the mess that is our current election. But today I felt such a strong urge of The Spirit that we — God’s people — have a choice set before us and if we aren’t careful, we risk being the same stiff-necked, rebellious people we’ve always been.

I’ve read countless posts and articles and listened to endless rants from Christians who cannot stomach the thought of having “no choice” but to vote for Trump. And I get it. He’s not our first choice nor does he embody the morals we wish to see represented in the White House. But what if, perhaps, he is the better choice God is offering us?

What if Donald Trump, worts and all, is the vehicle by which God will lead us out of captivity?

I was prompted to read Isaiah 48…

“’Listen to me, O family of Jacob, you who are called by the name of Israel and born into the family of Judah. Listen, you who take oaths in the name of the LORD and call on the God of Israel. You don’t keep your promises, even though you call yourself the holy city and talk about depending on the God of Israel, whose name is the LORD of Heaven’s Armies…

‘Listen to me, O family of Jacob, Israel my chosen one! I alone am God, the First and the Last. It was my hand that laid the foundations of the earth, my right hand that spread out the heavens above. When I call out the stars, they all appear in order.’

“Have any of your idols ever told you this? Come, all of you, and listen: The LORD has chosen Cyrus as his ally. He will use him to put an end to the empire of Babylon and to destroy the Babylonian armies. ‘I have said it: I am calling Cyrus! I will send him on this errand and will help him succeed. Come closer, and listen to this. From the beginning I have told you plainly what would happen.’

“And now the Sovereign LORD and his Spirit have sent me with this message. This is what the LORD says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: ‘I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is good for you and leads you along the paths you should follow. Oh, that you had listened to my commands! Then you would have had peace flowing like a gentle river and righteousness rolling over you like waves in the sea. Your descendants would have been like the sands along the seashore— too many to count! There would have been no need for your destruction, or for cutting off your family name.’

“Yet even now, be free from your captivity! Leave Babylon and the Babylonians. Sing out this message! Shout it to the ends of the earth! The LORD has redeemed his servants, the people of Israel.”
‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭48:1-2, 12-20‬ ‭NLT‬‬

God made it clear– He chose Cyrus to do His work and restore His people’s freedom. Okay… So who was Cyrus?

Cyrus II The Great founded the Persian empire, the kingdom that would become modern-day Iran. Yet he was the very man God would use to end the Israelite’s bondage in Babylon and restore them to their rightful land. God even prompted him to rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 36:22-23; Ezra 1:1-3).

Sounds interesting, right? The more I read of Cyrus, the more I’m reminded of Trump. Paul D. Gardner’s commentary on Cyrus sounds oddly similar to our current situation. Check it.

Gardener writes, “The Lord even says of Cyrus: ‘He is my shepherd and will accomplish all that I please (Is. 44:28). In Isaiah 45 He calls Cyrus His ‘anointed’ whom God will use to rebuild the city and Temple.”

“I have raised up Cyrus to fulfill my righteous purpose, and I will direct all his paths. He shall restore my city and free my captive people–and not for a reward!” Isaiah 45:13 

Perhaps a modern Cyrus might have the slogan “Make [Jerusalem] Great Again”? And perhaps he would accept no “rewards” from lobbyists?

Gardner further writes, “It is not clear how Cyrus knew that he had heard from Yahweh. However, many have suggested that he may have heard the word from Daniel or someone like him: a person who held a high position in the empire and therefore had the ear of the king.”

Cyrus surrounded himself with God’s people. Enter Mike Pence.

Further commentary says, “The details of how Cyrus oversaw the start of the Israelite return to Jerusalem and initiated work on the Temple is recounted in Ezra. Even more remarkable is that Cyrus encouraged the work by ordering gifts to be given to the returning people of Israel and by returning to them the Temple treasures that had been taken from Jerusalem when the city was conquered.”

Sounds a bit like returning jobs and restoring wealth that had been shipped elsewhere, doesn’t it?

Lastly, it is clear that even though Cyrus was used by God, he himself was not a man of God. Gardener writes, “There is little indication that Cyrus actually became a follower of Yahweh. Probably his enlightened policy of administration of such a huge empire meant that he showed respect for the religious beliefs of many different peoples. However, his rise to power at that particular moment in history was subject to God’s authority and such a political policy was conceived within God’s purposes for the sake of the protection and resettlement of His own people.”

Believers, what if Donald Trump is God’s choice for our particular moment in history? What if he is the man God will use to restore our freedom and economy? Trump has clearly been gifted with “an enlightened policy of administration” or else the man could not have built the “empire” he has today. He is not without fault, but he is also not without skill.

If we agreed with the list at the beginning of this post then we have to believe God is offering us a path to redemption in this election. And if Trump is the choice we have, then we as Christians must stop complaining about him. We must stop whining about how grotesque his comments are, how he is not godly enough or Christlike, or how he doesn’t represent the morals we desire. No, he’s not a godly man but he may be God’s chosen man.

It’s hard to accept, I know, but what if he is the one to pave our nation’s path to restoration? Will we complain about our way of redemption? (Isaiah 45:9-13)

Before we vote, I believe we must ask ourselves these questions again. Do I, a follower of Jesus Christ, truly believe:

God is sovereign?
God always provides a path to redemption?
God longs to rescue His people?
God is for us, not against us?

If I do, then perhaps I can trust God to use Donald Trump.

Jessie❤️

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
‭‭Jeremiah‬ ‭29:11‬ ‭NLT‬‬

Safety or Sanctity

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“Heavenly Father, thank you for this day. It was a good day… And thank you, God, for healing my daddy. In your name I pray. Amen.”

Cole prayed this prayer at the supper table Monday night.

As soon as his prayer ended, he burst into tears. With chubby little hands, he covered his eyes and sobbed. We rushed to him and held him, assuring him that indeed God did HEAL his daddy! That Daddy is healthy now and how it is something to be happy about! That he was right to thank and praise God!!

He understood but said it still makes him sad to think about.

Me too.

(My healthy, 39 year old husband, Stevie-P, suffered a major heart attack on May 1, 2016. If you’re a Facebook friend, you’re well aware of our journey. But if you only follow my blog, this is brand new information. I’ll tell more of the story one day…)

The next day as we drove to get Abbie from school, he asked me, “How did the doctors know Daddy had a heart attack?” and if they had to cut his heart open to fix it.

I explained how they ran tests and took pictures of Daddy’s heart to see it was, indeed, a heart attack. Then, they used one of his veins like a tunnel to get to his heart where they put a tiny “straw” inside for the blood to flow through. He seemed to understand but I could still see the wheels turning.

When I asked why he’s thinking about Daddy’s heart so much lately, he again told me he didn’t want to talk about it anymore because it makes him sad.

Again, me too.

I have no idea where his thoughts are stemming from or what is running through that cute little head of his, but I know my heart breaks every time he asks such things. He’s just 4 years old.

Watching My Love have a heart attack, racing him to the hospital with our babies in tow, was one of the scariest moments of my life– and probably theirs. I wish I could forget about it, too.

I desperately want my children to be protected from such grown-up issues and worries, from stress and fear, especially when they’re off my watch. But this morning as I prayed for Cole’s heart to be cleansed of these fears and his mind renewed of these thoughts, the Lord whispered this…

You spend more time praying for your people’s protection than you do their perfection. Pray, instead, for them to become more like Me.

Sigh…

I do pray 24-7 for my people’s protection from just about everything. From harm, injury, fear, danger, rejection, temptation, sin. It’s what Momma’s do. I so want my people to have safe, happy lives, but if they’re always safe and happy, how will they learn to trust God? How will they become more like Him? How will they learn to seek Him when it’s hard? How will they know He is able to overcome all things; that nothing is beyond Him?

I hate Satan and sin, and I hate the sickness and evil this world is infested with. But my people live here in the thick of it. Despite my attempts, they will be faced with all the things I want to keep from them.

If I’ve learned anything from this season, it’s that I can change Nothing. I cannot change the fact that my children witnessed their daddy’s heart attack. I cannot change the fact their Grandpa moved to Heaven without saying goodbye. I cannot change what their futures hold, but I can guide them to trust The One who holds their future.

I can share the glorious hope we have because of Jesus. I can tell them how He overcame sin and death and rose from the grave, and how one day we will, too. I can show them how to live anchored to that hope, no matter what storm rages around them.

I can’t stop the situations they will face, but I can pray for those situations to draw them closer to Christ. To help them love and trust Him more. To make them look more like Him.

Yes, I can still ask God for their safety, but like Jesus prayed, I must also ask for their sanctity.

❤️Jessie

“I have given them Your word. And the world hates them because they do not belong to the world, just as I do not belong to the world. I’m not asking You to take them out of the world, but to keep them safe from the evil one. They do not belong to this world any more than I do. Make them holy by Your truth; teach them Your word, which is truth.” ~Jesus
John‬ ‭17‬:‭14-17‬ (NLT)

“This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭6:19‬ ‭(NLT‬‬)

Slacker-Moms, Unite!

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I’m such a slacker-mom.

Every year about two weeks before school starts, I murmur things about getting back in our “school night routine” and bedtime. How it will help us all function better when school starts. Make our mornings run smoother. Make the madness easier. But have I ever actually done said murmurings? No I have not. And why?

Because I enjoy freedom.

As much as I know going to bed earlier and getting up at ungodly hours FOR NO REAL REASON will lessen the hellaciousness of the first week back, I just can’t bring myself to believe it enough to give up my current luxuries. BOTH of my children have spent the entire summer sleeping well past 9am. Do you know how that translates?

QUIET. PEACE. HOT COFFEE. UNINTERRUPTED READING. LOUNGING IN MY PJS UNTIL THE DAY REALLY BEGINS.

Why on earth would I willingly throw away the last two weeks of such bliss?

School starts Monday and yes, I’m sure I will loathe myself when my alarm rings at 5:30am. But this final weekend of summer will be enjoyed. It’s rainy and dreary and perfect sleeping-in weather. My kids deserve to enjoy these final days of lazy unstructured freedom and fellow slacker-moms, so do we. So. Do. We.

Happy last weekend of Summer! 🏖🌦🛌

A Chance for Glory

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“…The evil prince of this world approaches. He has no power over me, but I will freely do what The Father requires of me so the world will know that I love The Father. Come, let’s be going.”
~John 14:30-31

Sometimes the hard places of suffering feel like an evil doing of the enemy. However, I’m learning on this journey that God’s sovereignty covers even the darkest moments.

Jesus’ words in John 14:30-31 give me hope today. He said this to his disciples in the upper room during their last supper together, just hours before Roman soldiers would lead him away to be tried and crucified.

He was preparing their hearts for what they would soon endure, for the sudden loss they were about to suffer. He knew they would be shocked and feel attacked. Like something had been stolen from them. Like they had been wronged. Like God had somehow messed up.

Look at what he chose to say to them about their eminent situation.

“…the evil prince of this world approaches…”

Yes, guys. Satan is real and he’s here, seeking to steal and kill all I’ve done in you. And he wants to destroy all I desire to do through you. But I do not fear him and neither should you.

“He has no power over me…”

Satan has no authority over what is about to go down. He’s not calling the shots of what happens to me or how I will respond. Remember that.

“…but I will freely do what The Father requires of me…”

This suffering, this hard place I’m about to walk through is God’s plan, not Satan’s. It’s His task for me. I will choose to see it as such and complete it with His power.

“…so the world will know that I love The Father.”

I’m choosing to face this unbearably agonizing thing because it will bring glory to The Father. It will prove Who I am in Him and the love He has for the world.

“Come, let’s be going.”

I want you to go through this hard place with me. Even though it’s looming, we’re not backing down in fear. Let’s go to it, face it head-on. Watch how I handle it and follow my lead.

At first, the disciples didn’t do a hot job heeding His words. They hid. Doubted Him. Denied Him. But slowly, as the haze of shock lifted, they came around. They began to remember all He had taught them and the pieces came together. They recognized the tools He left them and began using them to stand firm and spread The Gospel. And aren’t we thankful?!

I needed this reminder today. I needed to remember I do not have to fear the enemy or anything that comes my way because The Father is bigger. He’s The Man with The Plan and He wants to accomplish things through me, too.

Jesus’ words also echo a truth I’ve tucked away…

“You have not handed me over to the enemy, but have given me open ground in which to maneuver.”
~Psalm 31:8

Suffering, trials, impossible situations are not a sign that God has let me go. They are a chance for glory. Opportunities He gives me to respond.

To look Fear in the eye and tell him, you’ve got no power here!

To see this hard place for what it is, a gift from The Father where I have the freedom to choose my actions.

To offer my suffering as an instrument for His glory, a living testimony of God’s power and love.

To stand firm and face it head-on in the strength of The Holy Spirit.

I’m so thankful for God’s Word! To read words so powerful, they transform my perspective even though they were spoken 2,000+ years ago.

I pray His words reach your dark place, too. Whatever mess you’re facing today, choose to see it for what it truly is.

~Jessie