Dealing with Our Weary Hearts in the Midst of Unmet Expectations

The picture you see before you looks radically different from the image that was hung in your mental museum.  This wasn’t how it was supposed to turn out.  What you see barely resembles the beautiful canvas you meticulously planned out. The prayers and pleas begin. Please God. Change the scenery…the person…the situation…my heart.  Hope fades as the bridge connecting the gap from where you are to where you long to be grows wider and longer and steeper. Regroup. Reframe.  Remember. He  is able. Even, when you are not.

Nonetheless, sorrow, disappointment, and perhaps, even despair quietly creep in to the innermost cavities of your heart.  These emotions bring exhaustion and weariness along with them.  The burden grows heavier.  You’ve been here before and were not planning on returning to this place.  Yet, somehow the path brought you back here.  The unmet expectations once again form a weight you never thought you’d have to carry again.

Your spouse isn’t who you  thought they were.

Raising kids no longer brings joy or satisfaction to your life.

The path you dreamed and desired so deeply is so different from the path you are on.

The mundane tasks of life crowd away the hope that things will ever change.

This unwanted stone is your reality.  But, oh how I know you long for something else.  Our hearts feels the weight of it all. Our mind replays, recreates, reimagines. Our body begins to drag.  No one wants this heaviness. What will you do with the weight that accompanies this place? Do you hear the voices that rise up from the pack that you are carrying?  The deceptive one lures you to protect your heart, to shield it from feeling any of this?  It promises relief by rejecting what you feel. It warns that these emotions will cripple you and cause your soul to crumble? This voice speaks a message that provokes fear or shame or guilt to swirl within you as you wrestle with how to deal with your reality and the uncomfortable emotions that continue to rise. The more you engage with this dialogue the more you begin to believe that Christians, those who really trust in the Lord, aren’t supposed to be sad and weary.  The voice will keep sounding until you continue to suppress the emotions and form a smile on the outside.  Your heart will begin to hide and sink and disappear.  A dissonance slowly occurs. The outside no longer reflects the agony on the inside.  A war is being waged.  If you continue to give in to this voice, more of you will slip away as you frantically place your energy in protecting the inside and painting the outside.

Amidst the noise that accompanies all this construction, a gentle whisper persistently beckons you to a land where the heart can freely feel and the mind can be renewed.  You want to believe that this hopeful place exists.  Could it be as real as the place you are in?  You try to imagine this but fear strikes you and reminds you that more desire can mean more death. The invitation to this place of authenticity relentlessly surrounds you.  Could this be from God, the lover of your soul?  He continues to invite you to sit and wish and wail on one side of the gap while He sits with you with His eyes able to see the other side.  In the midst of the deepest disappointment, our Great God dares us to lean on Him, to trust Him, to rest in Him.  He offers His promises to us as we lay down our expectations, our fears, our facades and fix our eyes solely on Him. The walls inside begin to crumble in this resting place and our captive heart is set free.  Here we can glimpse the Father’s heart for us.  As we remain here, we are gently coaxed to courageously expect more, dream more, desire more…from Him alone. His promises are enough. He is able.

Living with expectations, with hopes and dreams and desires for our lives can be so difficult at times.  Over and over again, we confront the todays that we could not possibly foresee yesterday. What will you do with the pain that resounds in your heart?  Where will your emotions propel you?  A place of striving, of concocting, of building facades?  Or a place of rest and renewal where your heart is known and loved and set free?

May all that you feel propel you to His feet, to experience His gift of grace, of rest, of renewed hope. In this place alone,you will surely experience rest for your soul.

Come to Me, all of you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Matthew 11:28

By: Jackie Perry | MS, LPCS, NCC

www.jackieperry.net

Ways the WORLD is Robbing You of Who You Are!

Where are you tempted to find your worth?

Our girls are facing identity crises every day whether in the halls of school, with their friends, the books they read or the latest social media blasts. Kids today are not just trying to figure out who they are; they are being challenged to figure out what they are. The cultural trends are continuing to aimlessly grasp for ways to find value and worth outside the only place we can truly find it…in Jesus Christ.

Unfortunately moms, even mature Christian moms, are also struggling to be grounded and secure in who they are. Traps are strategically set for us to so easily slip into. Traps that rob us slowly until before we know it, we find ourselves floundering in our beliefs and our identity misplaced.   We can’t convince our daughters who they are if we are struggling to believe it ourselves.

We are all prone to wander and the temptations are many, so let’s look at some ways the WORLD leads us astray robbing us of our identity:

laundry-413688_1920Works – We cannot find our value in what we do. Jesus saved us by grace, not works, and while what we do is valuable, it cannot be where we find our worth. When we do,striving becomes our means to greater purpose and we forfeit grace.

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Others – If you are a people pleaser, this one will lead you to heartache every time. Others come and go in our lives and no matter how awesome others are they fail us. When we put our identity in what others think of us we will find ourselves seeking to please those who don’t love us, not those who do.

family-521551_1920Roles – We as moms have some pretty influential roles in our lives, don’t we? We are wives, moms, friends, daughters and co-workers. We can too often find our identity in the roles we play and when those roles change or are no longer, we lose who we are and feel lost. If you are finding your identity in being a mom, for example, when your children rebel, leave for college, or get married you tend to feel worth less or lost.

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Looks – As much as we know in our minds that our identity is not in our looks, we often times only feel as good as we look. When we put on a little weight or see a few wrinkles, we find ourselves wavering in confidence. Scripture tells us beauty is fleeting, yet we so easily rest our identity in it.

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Decisions – We are not identified by the worst or best decisions we’ve made or haven’t made. Don’t allow past decisions to define you, holding you back from living a full life in Christ. There is no decision you have made that the grace of Jesus will not cover. If you have put your faith in Him, you are accepted and precious in His sight. Don’t let those decisions define you, Jesus already has.

Notice that all the world offers for us to find our worth and value in is ever changing. There is not one thing this world will throw at us that will remain. Yet, Jesus, the only One who truly determines who we are never changes. When we put our faith in Jesus and His finished work on the cross we can know and remember who we are. We are:

  • Chosen
  • Redeemed
  • Forgiven
  • Loved
  • Secure
  • Righteous
  • Victorious

Ybright-1866986_1920ou are the apple of His eye and He delights over you. He has given you every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realms, and that is more than we could ever imagine.   Nothing will ever separate you from the love found in Christ Jesus or change who you are in His eyes. Ground yourself in who Jesus says you are so that the world will no longer rob you of your secure position in Him.

Let your daughter see a mom who is grounded, radiant and assured of her identity in Christ and prayerfully become more assured of who she is as well.

 

By: Kelly Vance

www.kellyvance.net

A Woman Who Rejoices

Since it was God breathed through King Solomon thousands of years ago, Proverbs 31 has been the utmost desire of God fearing women. It is most definitely one of the chapters in the Bible that most anyone has heard, even non-Christians. Though it has seen frequent usage, do we really ever digest what these verses mean? Do we apply them to our own lives? Do we know how to truly be a Proverbs 31 woman in 2017?

In order to truly understand what these verses mean, we must go to the original source. For this study in the weeks ahead there will be reference mainly to the direct interlinear translation of these verses, for the Interlinear Version of the Bible is the literal translation from the original Hebrew of the text. In addition the verses will be thought out into what it means to be this woman in today’s world.

“Who can find an able woman? For her value is far above jewels. The heart of her husband trusts in her, so that he has no lack of gain. She deals good with him, and not evil, all of the days of her life.” (Interlinear translation verses 10-11).

Let’s dive in and soak up all we can as sponges of this Word! The text begins asking where to find such a woman as what is about to be described. What kind of woman is able to be this woman? The beauty of it is all women are capable of this. This is not saying that every woman will always hit this mark perfectly, but the beauty of the Gospel is Christ makes up for our lacking. 1 John 1:7 says, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” The blood that Christ shed for us on the Cross makes up for where we lack. The beauty of the pain that was the cross is the love poured out for us that in our lacking, our sin, and our shortcomings, He is enough. In Christ every woman is able, for Christ enables us, “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” (Philippians 4:13).

This woman is worth far more than jewels. Let’s chew on that for a moment too, this woman is worth more than the biggest rock Tiffany’s sells. She is worth more than all the money that can be used for those jewels. In a world that operates on money and greed and wealth and status, the character of this woman is far exceeding all of that. It is beautiful that right after it dives into the man that married her, for this is exactly the mindset a man should have regarding his wife. He should value God first and foremost and then his wife-far more than status or money.

zurich-1207287_1920Her husband trusts her. He has this unwavering faith in her, knowing full well that she is indeed a flawed human, but trusting in the content of her character. This isn’t dependent upon her marital status, but dependent on her own heart and soul. Single or married, the heart and character of a woman is based upon her own desires, aspirations, and spirit. It is not dependent on the box she checks of married or single. The verse continues that her husband, or really anyone around her, does not lack faith in her. She is a force to be reckoned with. She stands firm in beliefs and resolve. This is applicable in 2017 of the words chosen in speech. Speaking only to uplift or bring someone closer to God and the best version of themselves. This can be testing at times, but abstaining from perverse or condemning language funnels into the knowledge that if anyone spoke a false or disparaging word against this woman, no one would even believe it.

This woman brings good all the days of her life. She walks in grace with firm courage that the Creator of the Universe saves her and her life is in His hands. One of the lesser-known women of the Bible is Elizabeth. Elizabeth was the mother of John the Baptist, and one fireball for God. Her cousin was Mary, mother of Jesus. Elizabeth and her husband desperately desired a child, but into their later years remained childless. One day when her husband was praying, an angel stood before him and told him they would soon be expecting a son.

Elizabeth was a solid woman of faith; she believed God would do just as He promised-albeit her age. When it came to pass, her reaction is priceless, “Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!” (NIV Luke 1:45). The interlinear shares, “and blessed is she believing, because there will be a completion to the things spoken to her from the Lord.” (Interlinear Luke 1:45). Elizabeth rejoiced for she trusted God at His word, simply because of Who He is and His faithfulness. In her lifetime, she saw this miracle come to pass and His promise kept. But what is evident through her response after it happened was that she believed prior to it happening. Her gait was in in peace in His faithfulness. Her faith in God enabled her to be a blessing to her husband, her family, her cousin Mary, to everyone.

 

So where does this leave the woman of 2017? Simply put: faith. Fully acknowledging that indeed we are flawed human women born after the Fall, but also fully saved by Christ Himself. Knowing that faith in Christ will make us:

  1. Able
  2. Worthy (even more than Tiffany rings, girls!)
  3. Good in character and grace when following Him
  4. A blessing to all we know

 

So let us be like Elizabeth and rejoice! Rejoice in Christ and rejoice that with each day and with His help we are becoming this woman.

By: Cally Logan

https://callylogan.tumblr.com

Farmhouse Dreams

I gazed out the window of our mini van and tried to follow the rows of corn passing quickly by and out of sight. It was beautiful. I very often played this game when we would go on road trips. The row chasing game. I loved road trips because we usually had to drive through what I called “the middle of no-where” where the land almost looked untouched. As a young girl, I remember day-dreaming of building a house in the middle of a field and imagining I lived in it, with a screen door off the porch and lots of trees to shade the house in the summer.

I also longed to be a wife and a mom. I would tell people when they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up that I wanted to be a mommy.

While the dream of having a house in the middle of a field faded, the dream of being a wife and mom never left, becoming an obsession in my high school and college years. But God didn’t seem to be lining up this dream in any way, shape, or form. I was single for 23 years and it just didn’t make sense to me. I kept placing my hope in different young men I thought would make a good boyfriend/someday maybe husband and kept getting my heart broken when it didn’t work out.

Then, the fall after I graduated college and moved to Utah, I finally gave it up. I released my tight grip on what I wanted and thought I needed, and told God that I was going to actually trust Him with this dream. Wholeheartedly. A friend reminded me that God loves to give His children good gifts, what Father would give his child a stone when he asks for bread? (Matt. 7:9) So I finally set my hope on Him and started to rest and pray for His timing.

Then it happened. One of my new friends in Utah said she and her husband wanted to set me up with Marc. A farmer in Kansas. I laughed it off because, well, he was in Kansas and I was in Utah… long distance sounded distasteful to me and I wasn’t so sure about moving to Kansas either. It was never going to work.

But to spare you the details, we met later that year and after a little bit of a rocky start, (I was very sassy about being set up) we hit it off and couldn’t stop talking.

The long distance that I was so dreading was such a blessing. God really used it to force us to dig deep and be vulnerable with each other. Marc and I even started a weekly Facetime date where we would study the Bible together. I prayed every day for Marc since the day we met, and I found out later he was doing the same.

It was only after Marc and I got engaged that I started thinking about the details of what it would mean for me to move out to Kansas so he could continue to farm and ranch. The prospects of moving to the middle of no-where thrilled me, and the dreams of my childhood suddenly flooded back.

This is what I had always wanted but never thought to ask for because I didn’t think it was possible.

A farmer’s wife, living in Kansas, after dating long-distance? God certainly had a plan for my love story and it was better than I ever could have planned myself. The seamless way He wove childhood dreams with longstanding adult dreams still baffles my mind! Isn’t it funny how God works? He listens to our desires and wants and (if they’re healthy for us) gives us more than we could ever ask or imagine (Eph. 3:20)! What a good, good Father we have!

So that is how a little girl with crazy dreams, became a crazy lady whose dreams came true.

Whatever your dreams are, tell them to our Daddy. He longs to hear from you! Don’t make the same mistake I did and think something is too big or too out-of-the-ordinary to happen. God can do anything! While you ask for the things you desire, I would also encourage that you dig into your Bibles and spend time listening for God to speak as well. The more we delight ourselves in the Lord and seek Him, the more our desires become more in-line with His plan.

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Since this is my first time writing for Polished (yay!), I figured I’d leave a small introduction at the end. My name is Brianna Molitor but most everyone calls me Bri. I am a freelance photographer and designer (I design Polished’s Refined magazine!) and I work part-time at First Christian Church as their designer/publications specialist. I live in a lovely little home I call the “Farmhouse” on a farm in Southwest Kansas. I’m married to a wonderful, hardworking, and handsome farmer and rancher, and we have the cuddliest 100 lb Lab, Husky mix. We like to eat breakfast for dinner, go on run-walks (I’m NOT athletic), and adventure to new places.

I’m so excited to join Polished’s writing team and can’t wait to share more of my heart and lessons I’m learning living on a farm!

By: Brianna Molitor

http://www.brinicole-photography.com

What’s that Smell?

What’s that Smell?
The sense of smell can be a beautiful thing. With it we experience the pleasure of tasty food..
The smell of lavender envelopes me with peace, and honeysuckle floods my heart with joy. What are your favorite smells? How does a “favorite aroma” make you feel? What are some of the ways you make your living environment pleasant to the senses?
Can you imagine our lives without the sense of smell? Or maybe you don’t imagine; perhaps it is your reality.
Some smells create a memory. My husband said that honeysuckle “transports him back to his youth when school was out and summer was just beginning.”
But some smells can be a bad thing. Perfume, for example, is a pleasing scent for many, but for my friend, Jan, she becomes “massively sick” to the fragrance of perfume, soap, candles, and other synthetic smells, including household cleaners.
The stench of something rotten in a garbage can also be nauseating.
What smells make you want to run the other way?
Whether we use our sense of smell or not, we all emit an odor.
2 Cor. 2:14 tells us, “Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place. For we are the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.”
We are a fragrance—a pleasing aroma to God. The more we become like Christ, we become the fragrance of new life.
The gospel message is like incense diffused everywhere. Those who live for Christ share the gospel and radiate His love. This lovely fragrance rises up to God. Those who reject Christ, reject the fragrance and the result is death. But these who receive the gospel become the fragrance of life.
What needs to “die” in our life so that we will “live” a life-giving aroma to those around us?
When people get a whiff, is the “scent” we exude nauseating or uplifting?
Today, let’s ask God to help us be a sweet smelling aroma to others.

******************************************************************************

Debbie is a published author, national speaker and workshop presenter, and a partner with the Polished Conference Ministries L.L.C. She facilitates an online Bible study page on Facebook, teaches Bible study in her church, and blogs at Shining Together! Debbie has written Shine! Radiating the Love of God, a Bible study designed exclusively for young women ages 13-18. Additionally, she has articles in the Divine Moments series, and is a monthly contributor to Refined Magazine. All books are available at grace-publishing.com. She would love to speak at your next women’s event, teen event, or at the college where she brings an inspirational message to teachers in training called, “A Christian Perspective for an Inspirational Classroom.” Debbie is married and has three adult children. She travels from Asheville, NC. Visit her website at www.debbiepresnell.com, email her at: debpres@yahoo.com, or visit her page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ShineEveryDayNC.

 

What Every Parent Longs to Hear

I read an article recently by a mommy blogger who invited moms of older kids to share what they would tell their younger mom self. Their responses didn’t really surprise me too much. Compacted into a few sentences, their advice boiled down to these three tips:

Enjoy the journey. They will be leaving home in the blink of an eye. 

Slow down. Busyness will keep you from seeing the beautiful gifts that surrounds you.

Take time for yourself.  A balanced parent is a better parent.

I really don’t want to be a negative Nellie or bash the author’s good intentions. But, I have to say when my kids were young, I heard or received advice like this frequently. And, while I agree that all of these statements are true, they didn’t offer me the encouragement I often craved. Instead, phrases like those often pushed buttons deep within my soul labeled “strive more” and “not good enough”.

mom cooking

I was already trying so hard to enjoy each season of development.  In fact, I remember taking mental snapshots on both simple and extraordinary days and saying “Remember this” quietly in my head. Even so, in the midst of uphill battles, there were so many times when I secretly wished we could just get to the end of all of this. The journey was anything but enjoyable. I also secretly dreamed about what life would look like if we could just slow the pace down. But, a full plate seemed tightly tethered to being a committed wife, a mom of three, a house manager, an active member at my church and a part time therapist. There were long seasons where very little could be removed from my daily or weekly schedule. I did take time for myself when I could but often that came in the form of itty bitty chunks. It was all I had and it was better than nothing.

These frequently offered words of wisdom have led me to wonder what I would choose to share.  Since I can’t narrow it down to just one statement and because this is my article, I’ve decided to share two words of encouragement I think my younger mom-self desperately needed to hear. The first is this:

Today, you are most likely doing the very best you can with the resources you have been given.  Trust God to fill in the gap between what you have to offer and what is really needed.

In all my years working with families, I haven’t met a mom who isn’t already giving all that she can give to her family, her friends and her job on any given day. Moms don’t start the day deciding to hold back emotionally, physically or spiritually. Instead, like the little boy who shared his lunch with Jesus to feed the crowd, we tend to give our kids and our families all that we have. Even though there will always be a gap between what we have and what may be needed from us, we can trust that God will miraculously supply exactly what is required as we lean into Him. Instead of looking back at the day or the week or the year and wondering what you could have done differently, remember that there is a strong possibility that in the moment, on that day, or during that particular season of life, you did the very best you could with what you had in you and around you.  So, grace to you, devoted mom. Let God satisfy the difference.

Following these words, I would then tell myself this:

There isn’t a thing that you are experiencing today that didn’t first pass through the hands of the Father. He is sovereign, so try to find rest in His perfect plan.

God isn’t surprised by anything you are facing today. In fact, because He loves you so very much, whatever comes your way is His very best for you. He is too good to offer you anything less. Although it is hard to comprehend on this side of heaven, He has allowed the pain and the ongoing difficulty for your benefit and for His glory. On days when the unexpected occurs and you don’t know how you’ll move forward, get in the habit of whispering upward, “I will choose to believe that this is your best for me.” So, very weary mama, don’t forget that He’s got this. He knows what He is doing and what you really need.

The truth is, the advice I would offer my younger self are really phrases I still need to hear today. Even though two of mine are grown and the last one looks and acts like he’s all grown up as well, I’m still a parent who wonders if I could’ve done something different.  At the end of it all, I will choose to hold on to the fact that each day I did what I could and He lovingly allowed me to encounter just what I deeply needed. Grace and goodness. They are at the center of the gospel and they always go hand in hand. They are rather inseparable, if you think about it.

To the mom who is trying to enjoy, attempting to slow down and who really wants to create a balanced life, I pray that you will hold on to the grace and goodness that God bestows upon you as you trust Him with every aspect of this blessed journey called parenthood.

By: Jackie Perry MS, LPCS, NCC

www.jackieperry.net

13 Reasons Why… to Choose Life

If you have not heard of the latest hit Netflix show “Thirteen Reasons Why,” it is a series that addresses suicide in teens. This is a very heavy topic, and although this show is trying to raise awareness, the problem comes when people viewing internalize suicide as a beneficial option for escaping life hardships and problems.

Mental health and depression are legitimate problems and the events this character undergoes are authentic struggles for teenagers today. Just this past week in my own community, two people have committed suicide. I have decided to take this opportunity to share thirteen reasons why you should choose life. I am going to present the 13 Reasons why this character killed herself and connect Biblical ways of handling these situations. Our pain is real and should not be buried under fake facades, so this is my encouragement to you today when life throws pain your way.

  1. Problem – Gossip – Hannah has her first kiss and people start rumors that she did more.
    • Choose Life – Character: It is painful, but if you continue to be who you are, your actions will prove the truth of your character. Chances are someone else is hating on you because he or she has insecurities. It is important to remember that God works on your behalf.
      • Romans 12:18-19, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay,” says the Lord.”
  2.  Problem – Comparison A pot-stirring boy puts Hannah and a classmate against each other for having the best butt in class.
  3. Problem – Violence The girl hits Hannah and leaves a mark on her head.
    • Choose Life – Confident Love: It is easy to fight fire with fire, but what if we fight the flames of hate with Living Water of love?
      • John 7:38, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture has said, rivers of Living Water will flow from within them.” 
  4. Problem – Cyber Bullying A stalker takes pictures of Hannah kissing a girl while intoxicated. He asks her out and she turns him down so he shares the kissing photos with the entire school as payback.
    • Choose Life – Gaining Wisdom: When someone cyber bullies you, it has to be one of the worst moments of you life. flower-1949240_1920The feeling of being embarrassed in a single moment is painful enough. The internet allows people relive teir humiliations continuously as more and more viewers laugh at another’s expense. This is hard advice, but if you can block people, report them, tell your parents or pastor what is going on, the situation will get better. It is embarrassing and yes, you may get in trouble for something that you did or even made fun of for going to a higher source, but there is SAFETY in wise counsel from adults.
    • Proverbs 11:14, “Where there is no guidance, a people falls, but in an abundance of counselors there is safety.”
  5. Problem – Inappropriate Rumors A phony girl starts a rumor that Hannah has sex toys in her room.
    • Choose Life – New Perspective: I would tell someone going through this that is ok to confront the lies. I think it is completely healthy to look into the face of the one who is bullying you and kindly ask why she would spread something like that and see if you did anything that made her feel the need to personally attack you. It is VITAL to remember she must have insecurities to feel the need to pick on someone else in order to elevate herself. As hard as it is from then on, I encourage you to start praying for her It will not be easy or in your power, but only through God can we pray for someone who is so evil to us. The prayers may never change her attitude, but it will change your heart in the situation and free you to see her as a broken person who needs Jesus.
      • Luke 6:27-28, “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you.”
  6. Problem – Sexually Assaulted: A boy tries to feel up Hannah in a restaurant booth on Valentine’s Day.
    • Choose Life – Clean: We can feel like such victims in sexually inappropriate scenarios, but it SO important stand up for your rights and speak up. The shock can set in, but try not to let someone get away with that in the moment, and if something uncomfortable happens, report it, tell an adult. It is hard, but your safety matters, your body is yours, and you are worth more than to be treated in this way. God deals with injustice and does not condone this behavior. Always remember it is not the victims fault. You are not dirty just because a filthy person assaults you. You are innocent and clean.
      • Deuteronomy 22:25-27, “But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no offense punishable by death. For this case is like that of a man attacking and murdering his neighbor, because he met her in the open country, and though the betrothed young woman cried for help there was no one to rescue her.

  7. Problem – Stolen Encouragement
    An offended classmate steals notes of positivity to Hannah

    • Choose Life – Forever Encouraged: These are the moments it is important to do a serious identity check. Ask questions like, young-woman-2194038_1920“Do I really believe what God says about me?” “What does the Bible say about who I am?” Look to scripture verses that remind you how truly unique, beautiful, and wonderful you have been made. People cannot define us, we have to look to our meaning in Christ. He defines us and has unlimited letters of encouragement for each of us in the Bible.

      • Palm 139:14, “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.”
  8. Problem – Backstabbing: A boy befriends Hannah and turns around to expose her personal poetry.
    • Choose Life – Overcomer: We will have pain in this world, but we have to take heart and remember who holds us and carries us through these moments of being blindsided. We pray for discernment, but sometimes people are really good at manipulation and trickery. We may not avoid the pain, but we can use the opportunity to learn and cling to Christ.
      • John 16:33, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”
  9. Problem – The Good GuyA guy named clay receives the 9th tape affirming that he was kind to her.
    • Choose Life – Thankfulness: Look at the blessings in your life. Thankfulness diminishes fear. I believe that fear is an emotion that can contribute to a person’s path to suicide. If we can be grateful and look at all the Lord has given us, it opens our eyes to the goodness in our lives.
      • Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
  10. Problem – Experiencing Abuse: Hannah witnesses a rape of an unconscious drunk girl.
    • Choose Life – Becoming a Voice: First off, (is possible) I would encourage action in the moment. Secondly, comfort the victim and find help. Call the police, contact a parent or pastor. These moments cannot go unnoticed and if they do, share about them. Please release any guilt you may feel as a witness.
      • Proverbs 31:8, “Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves; ensure justice for those being crushed.”
  11. Problem – Witnessing Unlawful Actions: Hannah rides with a girl after a party who hits a stop sign and does not report it. There ends up being a deadly car crash at the same location later.girl-2193272_1920
    • Choose Life – Truth Sets us Free: Honesty is important in life. It is freeing to tell the truth. When we make mistakes and feel guilty, it is necessary to deal with the guilt by reminding ourselves that we are not perfect and that is why we needed Jesus. He takes every burden and gives us His perfect grace. Give the weight to the Lord.
      • John 1:16-17, For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.”
  12. Problem – Rape: Hannah was raped.
    • Choose Life – Respected: If this ever happened or happens to you, please get help. There is power in sharing the truth. It will probably be embarrassing or shameful, but you need to at least tell one person: family member, pastor, counselor, etc. This will not be an easy journey, but there are many powerful and inspiring people who have been rape victims. Try to believe that something good can come out of something terrible. You may even be propelled to be a voice for the voiceless.
      • Psalm 34:18, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”
  13. Problem – Ignored: The final incident to push the character over the edge is that her guidance counselor does not listen to her and does not take her seriously in her cry for help.
    • Choose Life – Seen: Bottom line – YOU ARE LOVED. You were created by the God who gives you breath in your lungs and holds all your days. He has plans to give you hope and a future, not necessarily through happy circumstances, but through the strength found in our souls through new life in Jesus. YOU MATTER TO GOD! If no one loves or cares about you in this world and you feel like taking your life, think about this: The God of the universe LOVES YOU! He has not and will never give up on you. Don’t keep living for others or for yourself, live of God. He desires to cultivate your gifts, grow your heart and use you for a greater purpose than yourself.
      • Romans 8:37-39 “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

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If you or someone you know is contemplating suicide or value in life, I encourage you to reach out and get help. There are more than 13 reasons why you should choose life! If you do need to know someone cares about you and loves you, then take this as my personal note, letting you know that I believe you are valuable and your life matters. Do not give up. People will let us down, but God never will. He loves all of us in the midst of our scars, bruises and broken hearts. May we all one day (when the Lord takes us home) be able to say, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith.” (2 Timothy 4:7) Keep fighting evil with good! Choose Life!

By: Emma Danzey

www.emmadanzey.com

www.polishedconference.com 

Don’t Let Regret Flood your Heart – God’s Timing is Perfect

I couldn’t help but notice tears falling steadily down the beautiful face of the woman sitting next to me. Here we are in a room full of hundreds of moms attentively taking in every word of a Christ loving speaker teaching us all the practical life transforming ways she trains up her children in the Lord.

We learned the importance of seizing every opportunity to bring God into daily conversations and challenges. We were encouraged to pray for our children in every stage of life, from salvation to future spouses. It was gripping, it was encouraging and it was true. So many ways to train up our children in the way they should go. By seizing the moments to pray for and teach our children we are leaving them a Christian legacy that continues long after we’re gone. Praying for and teaching our children about Jesus is good, right and true.

My eyes and heart went out to her as she sat listening, pondering, thinking. After the teaching was over I looked, our eyes met, and I asked her if she was okay. She looked at me with wells of tears and shared how deeply she wished she had the time back so she could teach and pray over her children like we learned. She didn’t do those things and now her kids are grown. With tears running down her face, she felt it was too late. My heart sank and my eyes filled with tears as I saw shame and regret seek to take residency in her precious heart.

No! This was not the word this mom who loves her children would leave with today. I looked at her, and I told her what I want to tell you too. It is not too late! Even if our children are no longer living in our homes and we can’t physically pray over them as they lay tucked in their bed, we can pull out a picture and lay our hands on it and pray. We can begin today to pray for our children and seize the moment to shine the truth of who God is in the messy circumstances of teenagers and young adults. Know this sister, our faithful God will delight to move mountains to answer!

The enemy loves to pile on mom guilt. Don’t you let him! As our kids get older and our roles as moms begin to change, we find ourselves in a messy transition accompanied with a new sense of reality that while days seem long, years are short and they go by so quick. Our insecurities partner with the father of lies to whisper in our hearts all the things we could of done, would have done or should have done. It’s painful, it’s cruel and it’s not true. God is faithful. He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust. (Psalm 103:14) Where we’ve fallen short, we ask for forgiveness and receive cleansing with fresh hope. Where we’ve done the best we could with what we know, we can rest assured, God’s grace is more than sufficient to fill every gap.

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God honors our prayers and because He’s not limited to time and space, He is even aware of the prayers we wish we would have prayed had we known. So we pray today, we encourage today, we live in today. God will redeem the time. He hears our prayers and He’s not finished, so don’t be discouraged. Your child’s journey with God is not solely your responsibility.   While we are influential, we are not that powerful. Where we are weak, Christ is strong. Hold up your shield of faith against the fiery arrows of shame, regret and guilt. Mercy is new every day and our God is faithful. Ask Him now how to pray for and reveal His truth to your children. It’s never too late.

By: Kelly Vance

www.kellyvance.net