"Even in laughter the heart may ache, and rejoicing may end in grief." -Proverbs 14:13
I want to introduce you to Brittni Laughlin. I have asked Brittni to consider guest posting for us on occasion to bring you beautiful words that have been impressed on her heart from the Lord. I ask you to welcome her into our little family here and show her the love across the internet by sharing what her words have meant to you and by sharing on social media for others who need to hear Jesus loves us and helps us heal the hurts this life brings! - Sheila
Grief is a funny thing that sneaks up on you when you least expect it. There is no respect for time and place. Mourning may overtake you at work or in the middle of the grocery store. It keeps you up all night or invades your dreams. Sorrow has many faces. It's loneliness in a crowded room, unwarranted anger, a roller coaster of emotion, or apathy. Everyone is different, and everyone laments in their own way. Some find an inner drive to reinvent themselves while others drown in hopelessness and succumb to defeat.
"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear." -C.S. Lewis In research for this blog, I ran across an article about a female chimpanzee whose baby died. That mama chimp carried her dead baby around for three days. One Sunday morning as I was getting ready for church, I saw a vision of myself so clearly, I began to weep. In my grief, I have also been carrying around dead babies. Have you?
"She smiles, but her heart weeps." Think about this. Stillborn is defined as "ineffectual from the beginning; abortive; fruitless. While I did in recent months have a natural miscarriage that I have truly mourned, the dead babies I saw were disappointments, broken relationships, dreams that did not become reality, miracles that did not take place, and so on. Many were Ishmaels, things of my own doing to create happiness or fulfill my own desires. These were fruitless and ineffectual from the beginning because they were my plans, not God's plan.
In 2 Samuel 12, David fasted and prayed for days on behalf of his son who became ill because David had sinned against the Lord. On the seventh day the baby died as was told to him by the prophet Nathan. The bible says upon hearing the news, he got up from the sackcloth, washed, changed his clothes, and went to the house of the Lord to worship.
I believe as it says in Proverbs that there is a time to mourn. The problem is we can get stuck in our grief. I urge you to today, if you are carrying around past hurts, past failures, or past disappointments, perhaps it is now time to get up from your sackcloth of mourning, wash yourself in the water of the Word, and worship! Thank him for not allowing your attempts to become reality. As we know, anything we build ourselves is never going to compare to what "God has prepared for those who love Him!" Pray earnestly for Him to fill every void and to heal every broken place. He is faithful to do that for you. How do I know? Because He's doing it for me!
Habakkuk 3:17-18 "Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails, and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the Lord, I will be joyful in God my Savior."
BRITTNI LAUGHLIN I am so thankful to be the wife of a wonderful man and the mother of two lovely daughters. My husband, Steven, and I have been married for two years and he loves my girls as his own. My daughters, Carlisle, age 11, and Reese, age 10, are the light of my life! Writing is a passion I sort of fell into during the time I was a single mother of two kids in diapers. Out of adversity, this blog was born. Since that time, the Lord has restored to me everything that the cankerworm had stolen. The Lord always gives back better! To God be the glory! You can find more on her blog: 'The Journey' https://brittni-thejourney.blogspot.com/
I am almost afraid to start writing, not knowing what will come.
I sit here reading over my prayer journal of the past 3 weeks. The emotions that are still so raw today. This has been a long three weeks.
NEW YEAR usually brings excitement of leaving the unwanted behind and forging ahead with a new vision, a new plan and a new motivation. Until God steps in and says “Nope. We are not done with this season yet.”
Not what I wanted to hear Him say, but I had to praise Him for stopping me from running out on my own!
I’m just going to put it out there…. the past 4 months have been HARD! Hard physically, emotionally and spiritually. Have there been amazing & divine moments woven in? Absolutely. But still just plain hard!
I injured myself which resulted in way too many doctors, medicines, tears and sleepless nights. Herniated disk in the lower back is a common issue, but a pain that is indescribable until you have it. During treatment for this, old man winter comes again. This means flares are much more easily to come with my fibromyalgia pain and chronic fatigue….and they come with a vengeance. And then, I get hit with the flu. Here I am on Day 6 of the flu. I feel like I have been in the boxing ring without any protective gear. Physically and mentally, that is what I feel. Spiritually, during this time has been good, awful, amazing & terrible. Yep, all of that.
But I want to share some Hope with you today. Some of that good and amazing stuff He has been doing in the middle of this mess.
Lessons I’ve learned in this hard season (so far):
Jesus is here. Always right beside us. He doesn’t leave because I am angry or complaining, but stays right here.
Jesus knows I am needy & whiny, but He WANTS me bringing it to Him instead of trying to deal with more than I was created to handle!
Jesus is ALWAYS GOOD! His plan is always best! Even when my mind tells me otherwise!
Jesus listens and knows my true heart. He doesn’t listen just to respond back or to reprimand. He listens so my heart can be poured out and refilled with His love instead.
Jesus knows when my emotions are getting the best of me. He knows when I am physically weak, my mind loses strength too. (He is working BIG TIME on this!)
Jesus knows that I need to be reminded that I am strong, but I also need to be reminded that I am weak in areas also.
Jesus NEVER shines His Light on my weak areas to bring shame or condemnation! (that would be the enemy!)
If I am a follower of Jesus, I cannot stay the same. I will be in a constant state of change. Some change will be nice and easy, some will be hard and hurtful at the time, but all for good.
Jesus only brings changes in us for us to become more like Him. To see Him, hear Him, and experience Him in ways we never could before.
Jesus shines the light on our dark areas that need change ONLY to overcome them & bring a freedom we could never imagine!
I will never be at peace outside of His will. PERIOD! No matter what I think, if HE IS ASKING, my job is to just be obedient. (He is always right 😊 )
And from this morning’s prayer time….If you continue to seek Him, asking Him to help you understand what is going on when you feel like you may be losing your mind, no matter how long it takes……the SWEETEST, BRIGHTEST RAY of Light will burst forth in the most unexpected way to show you a revelation of what He wanted you to see!
So, take this with you today. If you feel you are walking a path all alone, you are not! If you feel forgotten, you aren’t! Keep going to Him and hand it over to Him. Over & Over until the bright ray comes. It is coming! JESUS ALWAYS COMES!
Generation Z? Who is Gen Z and what do we need to know about them?
So, last week began a Series called "Not-So-Popular Truth of GENERATION Z" and the response was overwhelming! If you didn't get a chance to listen or read, you will definitely want to start with that one. READ PART ONE HERE! Seriously, you really want to get all the stats & details in that 1st post! Go toINTRODUCTION HERE.
Last week's post includes the introduction & explanation of this series as well as the first of the guest posts by Tanner Starr.
I invited them to share with us how they would answer this question: and Jesus asked," Who do YOU Say that I Am?" I am so excited to share this series with you!! I have no doubt God will use these young ladies in great ways for the Kingdom! He already is!
These young ladies have blown me away with the wisdom in these posts! It is so exciting to see them blossom in so many ways! How great it is to see there are young people with a heart so in touch with Jesus, but to then realize that I KNOW these girls! Wow. I am so blessed!
I see God raising up this generation right in front of our eyes! My heart swell to see them hungry. Asking the hard questions to know Jesus for themselves!
I am going to let Katelynn Bryan take it from here and I will tell you some exciting news about this young lady in a few minutes!
Have you ever awakened to a feeling of complete overwhelm? Almost as if you are being swept over by the huge waves over & over again and about to drown?
There are days like that for all of us. At times, those days turn into weeks or months before we feel we can catch our breath again.
BUT GOD...He sees. He knows. He is working even in these times, when we feel like He has abandoned us.
THAT IS NOT HOW GOD WORKS! He never leaves us. He is always there, even if we can't see it or feel it. He promises this to us all throughout the scriptures.
Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”- Deuteronomy 31:8
My friend, Laurie, is allowing me to share a personal story on this very matter. Laurie is a gifted writer and her heart is so set on Him that it pours out through her life and her writings. The more I get to know her, the more I love her and I think you will too!
Laurie writes: This morning I woke up without the best outlook on life. I try to write down what's in my heart before I spend time with God. I do this because it is unreal how he will often speak to the details. That's the process of hearing from God. I used to think it was so complicated but it's totally not.
Journaling is saying to God, I believe you're going to talk to me. I believe it enough to get out my pen.
It seems the more faithful I've been to do this, the more I "hear" from Him....
This morning my words to God were... "I feel a little bit like I'm drowning today"...and I proceeded to whine. I can do that with Him. 😉He gets me. (I'm sure somebody can relate to the drowning bit, right??!-sw)
I almost left it at that. I got up to start laundry and pour another cup of coffee and I thought, I can't leave it like this. I decided to "check my gauges" (the word, the Holy Spirit, Godly friends) and see what God had to say about where I was today. So I opened my devotion for today and began to read.
Before I could even finish reading the devotion, I had to write,"well God, you've done it again"...
The scripture reading with the devotional included.... As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”” - Luke 8:23-25 NIV
Needless to say, my perspective shifted and I am filled with faith and hope. And I'm reminded "It is well 🎶...the waves and wind still know His name".
Check with God. He's in the smallest details of our life. Always ask him what he has to say about it. And when you ask, be ready to listen. Get your pen out! - Laurie Helton
I know Laurie's story encouraged you too! I told her how great you all are :) Give her a shout out today and let her know how much you loved it!
"Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said "Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you""- Hebrews 13:5
Being a number geek, I actually kind of enjoy creating budgets and seeing how little tweaks can amount to big change.
Budgeting and frugality were never really choices for me, but more of just the norm. I learned from the best...my parents. My parents worked very hard and always lived within their limits. Money was hard earned & not wasted.
I understood early on what it was to earn and manage money. I didn't appreciate the responsibility and accountability back then. I wouldn't have admitted it, but being proud of working hard and a job well done was a gift in itself.
When I was started paying my own bills is when I realized what great life skills I had gained. There is just something about being able to control your money (and yourself) so that you can pay your own bills without depending on others. That sense of accomplishment, at times comes with sacrifice, but is worth weight in gold..(punny). God cares about how we manage our money! Jesus taught about money a lot! We are to be good stewards of ALL God blesses us with. That includes our money. But money can easily become a distraction to what God has for us to do with our life. GOD wants to be what we depend on instead of our money. He promises to provide for us if we trust him. At times, spending just gets out of hand without us realizing it until bills start rolling in. Sometimes we know & just want to ignore the problem. Neither work out well.
Money is not bad. God wants us to use our money wisely to meet our needs and to bless others too.
So with that, here are 4 simple steps to get you started. *4 SIMPLE STEPS TO BEGIN TO TAKE CONTROL OF YOUR FINANCES*
#1- GATHER & PILE ALL your bills together= ALL the bills...yea...I know :( This is usually not a fun chore, but a must. Just look at it as calling out the ugly right from the beginning. Don't forget to include your automatic drafts too. ADD MONTHLY amount due (use minimum pmt amount) & WRITE DOWN.
#2- WRITE DOWN ALL OF YOUR NON-REGULAR bills too. Find the 'monthly' amount needed to pay and ADD together & WRITE DOWN. These would include annual bills like tags for cars, property tax, home insurance...things you are not billed for monthly but need to include. Take the annual amount & divide by 12.
#3- GATHER ALL OF YOUR INCOME- this is a little easier. ADD together & WRITE DOWN. Use your last pay stub as your reference. If you work varied hours or have self-employed income, you will have to dig a little deeper and gather a few months of pay together and get an 'average' income to work with.
#4- PUT IT DOWN IN BLACK & WHITE! I am a visual. I love a list, so I prefer to write it and see it. Just me. :) INCOME...NET Income or Bring Home Pay $______________________ Income Per month (#3 figure) $______________________Bills Per Month (add #1 & #2 figures together) $______________________Total over/-under Per Month (#1 - #2 )
THIS is your starting point. This will feel like a pat on the back or a kick in the behind depending on what that number looks like. CONGRATS if you have #3 with money left! You can continue to see where you can make changes to make that number grow or see how you can put it towards saving for future needs. If the Total is a $-number, you are spending more per month than you make. This only digs a deeper hole each month. This is where it gets hard. Easiest change to correct is to cut expenses. We usually all have some expenses that are truly wants instead of needs. May be time to put those on hold for a bit. Either way, this is a positive start because now you know where you stand! Even if you hate where you stand, it is better than being in the dark and staying there!
BE PROUD of yourself today! No matter what that figure is, you have taken the first, hard steps to gaining power over your finances! The more you know, the more you can do!
For now, my best advice is to look deep within yourself and find what you really want to carry out with your finances. That is different for every person, to own a home, to build a retirement income, to start a college fund, to give more. THINK on this. When you find what it is you want from your finances, you have a motive. When you have a clear reason & plan, it is much easier to change old habits. A prayer for you today: Father, please show us deep within our hearts what it is that we are to do with our finances! I ask you to calm the ones who feel buried too deep to dig out. Assure those who think this situation is to dire and can never change. God, I ask you now to change our hearts to see as you see. Change our desires to help our financial situations. Show us ways to help ourselves. Thank you Lord! Amen