God Desires Good For You!

I’m going to be honest. I had a difficult time writing the title of this post, because I struggle to believe it myself. However, I write in order to encourage and to spread God’s truth. Regardless of whether I always feel it or not, God desires good for me. He desires good for you.

Let me ask you this: how far does your faith go? This isn’t to guilt you. We have to look at ourselves in order to grow closer to God—in order to know Him more.

“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways.”
‭‭Psalm‬ ‭139:1-3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God knows you, and He knows the extent of your faith. He’s not shocked if you doubt his goodness. He knows your every thought. Maybe you know you’re saved. You know Jesus lived the perfect life, died, and rose again so that you could be made righteous in the eyes of a Holy God. Yet, inside you know you aren’t living out this faith. There is a yearning for more. If this is the case you aren’t alone. I believe many Christians wrestle with these thoughts and feelings.

This is partially because we are foreigners of this land.

“All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:13‬ ‭NIV

We were created for heaven and that longing inside of us is for home. It’s easy to forget what our faith is pointing us to, so we try to fulfill ourselves with what cannot be found.

God delights in those who seek Him. Our faith helps us to believe in the unseen, satisfying that thirst we can’t quench elsewhere. We find that when we seek the Lord, there is direction. We aren’t wandering aimlessly and hopelessly throughout this life until we get to the next.

“And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.”
‭‭Hebrews‬ ‭11:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Do you believe that God wants to reward you just because you seek after His face? Or do you kinda just shoot off prayers into the dark with your fingers crossed, hoping that maybe he will hear you? God desires to be known by us. He wants a relationship. Like a good Father, He wants to love you.

“If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭7:11‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If we as sinful humans can show others goodness, why wouldn’t the Lord of all creation want to demonstrate the same towards us? Start believing that God desires good for you today!

Hope For All

I’m writing this post from my bubble bath, because yesterday’s topic was on self care and, I figured I should probably practice what I preach. Fingers crossed I don’t drop my phone.

Today I want to talk about hope. Hope fuels us so that we can overcome adversity. But where do you find hope? We live in a world of quick solutions. If you have the money, you can fix the problem…supposedly. But what happens when illness strikes? Natural disaster? Death? Relationships fail? Where do you turn? You can seek support, medicine, education, insurance, etc. but when those things just aren’t enough—then what?

I’ve heard it said once, “If it’s meant to be, it’s up to me.” That’s an encouraging and empowering statement. The only problem with it, is that I’m human and I fail.

I like this a lot better:

“But he said, “What is impossible with man is possible with God.”
‭‭Luke‬ ‭18:27‬ ‭ESV

Here’s the thing, I don’t want it to be “up to me.” That’s a lot of pressure. However, God plus me? Yes. I’ve faced a lot of heartache in my 27 years of life. I’ve tried solving my problems on my own. Mind you, I’m a determined and resourceful individual. I don’t lack ambition, and I’m not lazy. But life is exhausting. I’ve learned the hard way to hope in something beyond myself.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭15:13‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Several things happen when you put your Hope in God versus in yourself:

  1. You experience joy. Joy is not dependent on circumstances.
  2. Your weights are lifted. The pressure is removed from you to fix your problems alone.
  3. You lower your expectations of others.
  4. You learn to trust God, thus deepening your relationship with Him.
  5. You experience peace.
  6. You gain the ability to refocus on the what matters most.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,”
‭‭1 Peter‬ ‭1:3‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This hope we have is alive! Do not leave it behind and go through life thinking you have to do it alone. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead is alive and at work in you.

Much love!

Ashley

Take Care of Yourself

Do you regularly practice “self care?” I don’t mean like…showering. That’s basic. What do you do that recharges you, so you can be your best self? I’d be very interested to know.

Self care isn’t just important, it’s vital. It’s the difference between forming constructive versus destructive habits. Self care is especially important on those days when you don’t feel like making the effort. If we don’t take care of ourselves, we aren’t effective humans. We can’t give if we haven’t first received.

What kind of self care you choose depends a lot on your personality. There’s no right or wrong, it’s about what is best for you. I’m an introvert. I recharge by myself. It doesn’t mean I don’t like people, but when I’m down and out, my “go to” just isn’t hanging out with a friend. I know the best thing for myself is to read my Bible, pray, take a hot bubble bath, get physically active, listen to uplifting music, and things of that nature. Self care takes effort, but in the long run I’m happier, healthier, and more productive.

Unfortunately I’d often rather lay in bed. Ignore my family. Lash out on the people around me. Think negative thoughts. Those behaviors are easy, but they are not self care. They hurt me and they hurt others.

Self care isn’t selfish. It’s even biblical.

“Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” So they went away by themselves in a boat to a solitary place.”
‭‭Mark‬ ‭6:31-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Even Jesus just needed to get away. He needed peace. He needed breaks. He needed to eat. He needed recharging. The Son of God! He was human.

How do you practice self care? Do you? What about those days when you’re struggling and you’d rather just not get out of bed? That’s when self care matters most. Life is tough, take care of yourself.

Focus Forward

It’s too easy to look at one wrong thing and let it turn into a laundry list of negativity. Before we know it, we’re being sucked into darkness grasping for anything and everything to make ourselves feel better. After reaching for whatever that was, we find it didn’t satisfy. In our sober thinking, we realize those things we were upset over that led us to act out in self destructive ways, weren’t worth it.

There’s an enemy. I often forget the devil exists, and even though he has already lost the war, he still wants to inflict pain during the battle.

“Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.” 1 Peter 5:8

In order to move forward, we first have to acknowledge the devil and his desire to break us. He wants us to stay focused on what is wrong. When we are fixated on what isn’t going our way, we can’t be satisfied in Jesus.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:6‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This verse is a game changer. It absolutely works. Instead of trying to fix our problems with tools that are often broken, let’s take them all straight to the God who is known for his restoration powers. We don’t have to be anxious. We don’t have to drown ourselves in worry and fear. There may not be immediate resolution to what is bothering us, but there is peace to be had.

“And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
‭‭Philippians‬ ‭4:7‬ ‭NIV‬‬

In this peace we find ourselves able to move forward. Our thoughts are no longer consumed by the defective. Negativity fades away, the cross comes into focus, and we can resume life forward with new confidence.

Quit beating yourself up. Seriously.

I’m my own worst critic. The thing is, I’m critical over details that don’t matter. They don’t move me forward in life. I obsess and criticize myself to the point I end up stuck, or send myself backwards. I have an inability to let my mistakes and imperfections go. Darn me for being human. I’m working on it though, and awareness is key. Unfortunately, I’m a hard learner. I also have a feeling I’m not the only one out there.

I’ve even taken this mentality into my faith. I understand grace. However, I’ve had thoughts that I could please God more or less based on my behavior. As if grace applied to everyone except for me. It’s a lie, but a tough one to get out of once you’re stuck in it. If you’re like me and wrestle with that kind of thinking, you quickly find yourself on a grading scale. You try your best every single day, but when you don’t measure up in the way you hoped, you find yourself let down—and worse you feel somehow separated from God.

I’ve done a fair amount of 12 step work in order to recover from my eating disorders. 12 step was the only thing that helped me along my recovery journey. I feel though, that practicing my 10th step a little too harshly contributed a bit to my inner critic. I say, contributed, not caused. In the 10th step you do a brief daily inventory. How did you conduct yourself within the past 24 hours? Did any character defects surface? Do you need to make any amends? What did you do right?

That last part I failed to write more about. You’re supposed to keep your inventory balanced so you don’t walk away injured. I became too good at picking out all of my “defects”, that I grew blind to the ways I was growing.

I share this hoping that some of you can relate. It’s pretty hard to untangle the lies in our minds we weave, but that’s why we have the Word.

“Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:34 NIV

Who condemns? No one. Just as we shouldn’t condemn others, we shouldn’t condemn ourselves. Jesus was condemned for us on the cross over 2000 years ago. We don’t have the right to sit around and beat ourselves up. Can we strive to bear fruit and ask the Holy Spirit to change us? Yes. We don’t ruminate in our mistakes though, we live in grace.

“What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭8:31-32‬ ‭NIV‬‬

God is for us. He gave His Son up for us before we were born. He isn’t all of a sudden going to let us go now. Respond with gratitude instead of effort. There may be things in your life you need to improve. Nobody is perfect. Ask God for His help. Through Jesus we have power that we don’t possess ourselves. Stop. Beating. Yourself. Up. Seriously.

Rest. Really. It’s okay.

Resting is not easy. We live in a super fast paced world. There’s always something that needs to be done. When we do decide to give ourselves a break, we end up feeling lazy instead of recognizing that rest is essential to health. Rest is often looked upon as negative whether people want to admit it or not. The thing to do is, press on, drink the caffeine, work harder, achieve more, get your “gains.” Resting doesn’t typically fit into that plan.

I can say all of this because I’ve been there. I still struggle with this mentality. I used to run…a lot. I ran to the point it became my identity. I ran to the point it hurt my body, my family, my mental, emotional, and spiritual health. I was perpetually late places because I had to “log in that extra mile.” I had to run faster and harder, in order beat the clock. I was constantly in a race against myself. The first thing I thought about when I woke up was, “When can I fit my run in today?” If plans with a friend interfered with my running, I would blow them off. I lost friendships. I chose miles over spending time with children. In addition to my running addiction, I had relapsed in a battle with eating disorders. It was a match made in hell. To me, discipline and ridgity were everything. Rest? Rest was unthinkable.

But it was lack of rest that led to my breakdown. Lack of rest that led me to recognize I needed recovery, which thankfully I’ve been in for over two years now. I’m learning when my body tells me I need rest because I still have the tendency to overdo it. Striking a balance when it comes to exercise and overall day to day tasks is tough. I’ve come to realize in painful ways that when you don’t rest, you suffer. Your loved ones suffer.

Some signs you might need more rest:

  1. You aren’t sleeping right. You’re tossing and turning. You’re waking up at the same times every night. You can’t shut your mind off. You’ve become a regular insomniac several days in a row.
  2. You’re sore. You’re fatigued. When you work out or perform in other areas of your life, you just feel “off.”
  3. You’re moody. You’re snapping at everyone. You just want to be alone.
  4. Your appetite changes. You might find yourself extra hungry.
  5. You feel physically sick. Headaches. Nausea. You might have a cold.

Our bodies need recovery. We are only human. If we want to be able to function, we need to be able to give them what they need, i.e. rest. It’s not weakness, it’s wellness.

Jesus says: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”
‭‭Matthew‬ ‭11:28‬ ‭NIV‬‬

We aren’t supposed to live life burdened, exhausted, and perpetually drained. Give yourself permission to rest today. Really, it’s okay.

One Step At A Time

When I think of perseverance I think of: charging ahead, courage, strength, “mind-over-matter-defeat-all-the-odds”, kind of mentality. But what if perseverance was just taking the next small step forward? Sometimes you don’t have the strength to charge ahead. There are days you don’t have the capacity to face tomorrow. But, get through the next hour? Sure, that’s doable.

According to the “New Oxford American Dictionary”, Perseverance is defined as: steadfastness in doing something despite difficulty or delay in achieving success.

No matter how little you think you are achieving, if you are making the initiative to keep moving forward, you’re persevering.

“Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭5:3-4‬ ‭NIV‬‬

If we aren’t challenged, we don’t grow. Suffering is painful but it teaches us perseverance. There are boundless opportunities within the difficult circumstances we face to become more mature in our faith. We can always choose to learn. In the midst of such painful learning endeavors, we have eternal hope. His name is Jesus.

What are you persevering? Are you exhausted because you feel like your good just isn’t good enough? Give yourself permission to stop looking at life from a big picture perspective. Leave that part up to God.

“praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance…”
‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭6:18‬ ‭ESV‬‬

What we don’t have immediate control over, we pray over. Stop agonizing over the details and hand them over to God. You don’t have to have everything figured out. Your only job is to keep moving forward, one step at a time.


Attitude Of Gratitude

My posts are meant to encourage, but they are also meant to challenge. I called this blog  “Living Faith”, because I desire for your faith to be alive. I desire for my faith to be alive. It’s not easy though. To live out our faith often requires a “retrain of our brain.” Luckily we don’t have to do it alone. We have the power of the Holy Spirit, and fellow believers to help us stay connected to what is right and true.

Attitude of gratitude. Ugh. But it’s not even Thanksgiving! Doesn’t matter. Grateful hearts keep our faith alive. Once we lose sight of what Jesus did for us, and all the blessings in our lives, we get stuck in stinking thinking. We won’t bare any fruit.

“For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.”
‭‭John‬ ‭1:16 ESV

We first receive fullness from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is nothing else that will satisfy you. I promise. I’ve tried, and sometimes I’m still guilty of thinking I can find things that will fulfill me other than Jesus. I’m always proven wrong. Fullness in Christ comes first. Then out of that fullness comes “grace upon grace.” We overlook these graces. I’m a “nit picker”, a perfectionist, a “if it isn’t done right, then it isn’t worth doing” kind of person. Let me tell you, it’s a seriously disappointing way to live.

However, in gratitude there’s life. It changes your whole outlook. It takes intentional effort to be grateful. Our society doesn’t recognize gratitude but one time out of the year. All of a sudden, Thanksgiving rolls around and we are making lists, doing 30 day challenges, and opening our wallets.

“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
‭‭Romans‬ ‭12:2‬ ‭ESV‬‬

Don’t get me wrong, you may be going through some tough circumstances. It may be really hard to see the good. It’s much easier to see the negative and fixate on it. I understand completely. But, what if we both committed to the renewal of our minds and started living in gratitude? I’m willing to bet it would change our day instantly.

Listen To My Voice

I’m just going to start right off and say: this is hard. If any of you have a solid grasp on hearing the voice of God loud and clear, feel free to share your experience. I’d love your insight.

I feel like there are so many competing voices for my attention every day. As a Christian I’m supposed to listen to the Spirit and trust His leading in my life. But how do you hear Him? 

“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 often ask God to help guide me through my day. Many times I need Him to show me how to make very basic decisions. I drive myself crazy over details that in the end don’t matter. Details that don’t improve the quality of my life or anyone else’s. Yet, despite my prayers, I insist on listening to the critical voice inside my head that drowns out the Spirit.

It’s those moments that convince me Christianity is a fight.

“Come near to God and he will come near to you. Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.” James 4:8

God will never let me go. Ever. No matter how far off my thinking gets. However, a relationship requires two people. I have to draw near to God If I want to hear His voice. When I’m stuck in obsessive thinking, shame, worried about somebody else’s opinion of me, terrified of my future, and my thoughts are spinning out of control—I can turn to another voice. I need to fight against being “double minded”.

“I will multiply your offspring as the stars of heaven and will give to your offspring all these lands. And in your offspring all the nations of the earth shall be blessed, because Abraham obeyed my voice and kept my charge, my commandments, my statutes, and my laws.”
‭‭Genesis‬ ‭26:4-5‬ ‭ESV‬‬

I believe that with willingness comes wisdom. God blesses us with greater clarity and discernment when we choose His voice over the many others in our lives. When we obey His voice, we will never be disappointed. There is always peace. Never chaos. Fullness. Blessing. Joy.

Ask God to help you hear His voice today.

What Will They Think?

Stop and think for a moment. Really think. How much do you allow your life to be controlled by what others think of you? Think about the choices you’ve made today. Did you make them because they were best for you? Or because you were afraid of what someone else would think of you if didn’t make those choices?

Did you not do something because you were fearful of what someone else would think of you, even though deep down you knew what you ought to have done?

Did you obsessively check your phone for likes and comments on Facebook in order to get that approval you so desperately desire?

Did you compromise your values in some way in order to hear words you’ve always wanted to hear?

There are so many examples. I could go on forever. I’ve experienced all of the above and then some…and then some…

It’s a pretty miserable way to live, and in todays world it’s as if it’s the only way to live. We are so desperate for approval, attention, affirmation, and love. The problem is we are all guilty of seeking it in the wrong places.

Where have you tried to find your affirmation?

Maybe a diet. If I could just lose enough weight then people would notice me. 

A job. If I could just get that promotion my family would finally look at me as a success. 

A relationship. If this person would love me, then I would feel whole. 

A hobby. Once people see how good I am at this, then they will see my worth. 

Again, I could go on and on. Been there, done it all.

This thinking is flawed. Once we get that affirmation, approval, and acceptance, we still aren’t satisfied. The cycle continues. There is a never ending hunger to people please in exchange for their love. A love that can never fully satisfy.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.”
‭‭Proverbs‬ ‭29:25‬ ‭NIV‬‬

This verse gives me rest. It helps me realize that putting my faith in mankind is a trap. However, when I put my trust in God I have peace. I already am fully accepted, affirmed, approved of, and unconditionally loved because Jesus died for me.

The great news is, he didn’t just die for me, he died for you too.

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.”
‭‭Galatians‬ ‭1:10‬ ‭NIV‬‬

Who are you aiming to please? Who are you living for? 💜💜💜