Category Archives: Faith & Inspiration

I Am Healed!

Matthew 9: 20-22 “Just then a woman, who had been subject to bleeding for twelve years came up behind him and touched the edge of his cloak. She said to herself, “If I only touch his cloak, I will be healed.” Jesus turned and saw her, “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.” And the woman was healed at that moment.

Being healed from sickness – miraculously, no less – is a big claim. But I am living proof, Jesus still performs miracles today!

On January 13, 2021, I was diagnosed with poorly differentiated metastatic adenocarcinoma. At the time of my diagnosis, they were unsure of the source of my cancer. Through further testing, it was determined to be Stage 4 ovarian cancer. Thus began the fight for my life.

And a fight it was. A battle for my health, my mind, and my body. This vision of being taken captive against your will and thrown in a dark, desolate prison pretty much summed up the state I was in.

I was embarking on a journey into the unknown, into a land which I did not understand, nor care to be a part of.

And I was alone.

No…not in the physical sense. I had a plethora of family and friends and supporters near and far that were with me, waging war with prayers and encouragement, but here I was dumped straight in the middle of an island surrounded by sharks with not a clue how to survive.

Prison. Darkness. Sharks. Isolation. Certainly, not a vision of hope. But more of depression, isolation, fear and death.

Death. Wow. Never saw that coming. How had my life, suddenly, without warning, turned into a saga of spiraling death?

But in the midst of this disaster, this disease, came hope. Came help.

Psalm 121:1-2 “I lift up my eyes to the mountains – where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.”

Jesus, my Deliverer, my hope and refuge was there. As he has always been, just more so ever present in my time of need.

In Him, I found my life as I began to lose it. I found life abundantly through surrender, giving up, letting go of control of all I had imagined or dreamed or planned.

Phil 1:21 “For to me, to live is Christ, to die is gain.

But did I come to this realization in an instant or even overnight?

Not at all. The Lord has led me on a journey of surrender. Was there this instantaneous feeling of laying down my life? Yes. I was sitting in my living room in the chair that now has become my holy, sacred place where Jesus and I meet every day. I was staring at our fireplace and I realized that everything I had wanted to become, everything I had wanted to do in my life…..was for naught. Jesus had other plans. I either had to surrender to His will in my life, or go on struggling.

I gave it up. I surrendered.

It was the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life. To be willing to release all my desires to the Lord and venture into the unknown. That took 2 weeks of hell to be able to do. I was losing control quickly as I ventured to doctor’s visit after doctor’s visit and was forced to endure more physical pain and mental and emotional suffering than I could have ever dreamed.

Here I was. Ready to surrender my life to the One who held it in his loving arms. But please don’t misunderstand this an an easy laying down of my life. It has been a season of tears and struggle. Joys and triumphs.

And here I am today. Alive. Healed of my cancer!! My PET scan on June 16, 2021 showed NO CANCER in my body!

A miraculous healing…brought together by God. Romans 8:28 says God works all things together for His good.

Please know, that my PET scan in January showed extensive lymph node involvement throughout my body with a CA125 level of >2700 (normal <35). This was an unsurmountable hill to climb from my own weak perspective 5 months ago.

But through my faith, an integrative approach to cancer and traditional chemo, I am healed. And if me saying my healing isn’t miraculous enough, hear the words of my oncologist. After seeing my PET scan report last week, he repetitively referred to my “case” as unique. I asked him further what he meant by this and his response, “Alissa, when I saw your scans and your numbers (CA125), I would never have predicted your cancer would have gone away. My best hope for you was that your cancer would stay the same or improve slightly.” That , I boldly informed my doctor, is the power of Jesus!

My journey began in Psalm 30:1 “I will exalt you, Lord, for you lifted me out of the depths and did not let my enemies gloat over me. Lord my God, I called to you for help, and you healed me. You, Lord, brought me up from the realm of the dead; you spared me from going down to the pit…To you Lord, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy: “What is gained if I am silenced, if I go down to the pit? Will the dust praise you? Will it proclaim your faithfulness? Hear, Lord and be merciful to me; Lord, be my help. You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. Lord my God, I will praise you forever.”

I claimed from the beginning that God would heal me and there was no benefit to my death! How could I praise Him from the grave!? No Lord, let me tell of all your wondrous works, let me Praise your name to the end of the earth! I promised God, with His healing, I would be His. His vessel to share the good news of the kingdom of God! To tell of Jesus’ miracle and His saving power. To be His voice in a world so far away from His truth.

And here I am.

Psalm 107 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Let the redeemed of the Lord tell their story – those he redeemed from the hand of the foe….Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He sent out his word and healed them, he rescued them from the grave. Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind. Let then sacrifice thank offerings and tell of his works with songs of joy.”`

Here I am! Alive! Healed! Telling of His works with shouts of joy!!

On the night before my biopsy, the Lord gave me Matt 9 to cling to. That if I just reached out to Jesus and touched his cloak, my faith would heal me. Three other women had that same verse given to them about me during that initial week of my diagnosis.

On the morning after my good news of the clear PET scan, I was sitting in my holy place (my comfy, oversized chair) saying good-bye to my husband as he left for work. I opened the bible without looking down, and as he left, I closed my eyes and prayed (as I do most mornings) and asked the Lord what HE wanted me to read in his word that day. As I opened my eyes and stared down, my bible was opened to Matt 9.

“Jesus turned and saw her, “Take heart, daughter,” he said, “your faith has healed you.”

Tears, praises, joy above all joys!

Jesus has seen me and this pain! This suffering has been for Him! Later on that day, I was overwhelmed with the humbling thought of why Jesus had chosen me to suffer for him? Who was I? Why was I chosen to be healed?

And then, I was overwhelmed with the desire to go! To tell of all his wondrous works. To be his vessel of love and compassion and healing to a depraved generation!

In Luke, after this same story of the bleeding woman healed of her disease, Jesus sends out his disciples. He CALLS them and He gave them power, and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.

Their response….”So they set out and went from village to village, proclaiming the good news and healing people everywhere.”

What is my response to a miraculous healing?

I will set out…proclaiming the good news and helping people to be healed everywhere! There is so much healing to be done in our world…emotionally, physically.

Gal 2:20 “I have been crucified with Christ, and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”

I have a new mission in life. To do the will of God, wherever that may lead me. But I am not afraid. I have been given new life, a second chance, a transformed heart and mind that will lead me to the Savior. Paul’s words echo my own expectation and hope…That through my life, may your faith in Jesus abound on account of me! Amen!

Phil 1: 20 “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. …Convinced of this, I know that I will remain, and I will continue with all of you for your progress and joy in the faith, so that through my being with you again, your boasting in Christ Jesus will abound on account of me.”

Seek First His Kingdom

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.”

I have been under attack this week. No…not a physical attack. A spiritual one, an attack on my thoughts and mind.

But sadly, I didn’t recognize it as such. It started off small…very subtle. Thoughts that slowly spiraled into being overwhelming and filled me with sadness, fear and frustration, anger and disappointment. And then…guilt.

I felt guilty for feeling sad, for being angry. For not having a handle on this disease. Not being completely surrendered to the Lord. Guilty for struggling with my diagnosis, and then guilty for being tired, for raising my voice to my children, for not counting my days as valuable, and feeling irritated with myself for spending my days focused on myself. Then, for wasting a day in self pity. Ugh.

Do you see the spiral effect of negative thoughts?

How did I get here? What went wrong? I was doing so well. I immediately started blaming myself for how I got here. What did I do wrong? How can I correct this? Prevent this? How could I let one person’s unintentional words bring me so much grief?

Three days before this downward spiral, I was filled with peace and told my husband that I’ve had the best 2 weeks! I literally felt like I had forgotten I had cancer! That I didn’t think about it at all! I was filled with joy and just living my life like normal.

Was it a subconscious invitation to the devil…who was prowling around waiting for a weak point? Like Job, I felt he was asking me….do you praise God now? Now that I have reminded you of your lot in life? Of your weakness? Of your cancer? Of the trial that is before you? Of your death?

I have been struggling this week. And yet, as strong as my faith is….like Job….I am not immune. It took most of the week to truly recognize this for what it is. It’s a spiritual attack. My self pity, fear, sorrow and anger….may be real, but Satan is using them to pull me away from the Lord, to begin to doubt my Savior, to cause me to turn my strength away from God and be reminded of my immense weakness.

Satan has even begun to attack my family. Two of my children have been having nightmares this week!

It was then that my husband recognized it and began to pray over them. And now….the Lord has opened my eyes to the truth! I am not a victim! I am victorious in Christ! He is my strength, my peace! He alone is my hope and I have professed my trust in Him!

Oh friends, none of us is immune! We all can fall to the lies Satan pours out in our minds. I read a book recently that reminded me that the truth of God is in our hearts as believers, we know it! We trust it and we believe it, yet it is with our minds that Satan begins to weave doubt. We must be transformed by the renewing of our minds.

God tells us not to be afraid, not to doubt, but he also tells us to be courageous and to not conform to this world where thieves break in and steal. He tells us not to worry but to seek his kingdom. Why would he tell us these things? Because he knows we are weak! He knows Satan. He knows how he attacks. Our faith is to uphold us and to strengthen us when we are weak. When we are weak, He is strong! It is in this real fear that he calls us to be courageous! To trust in our faith!

Praises be to God who is mighty and who took away the sins of this world on the cross! It is for his glory that I am alive! It is for Him that I draw a breathe each day. My life is not my own, it is for him. I must surrender my life, all my emotions, my fears and my weaknesses, so that he alone is magnified. He is the great healer, the miracle worker, the promise keeper. He alone is God. Who am I? But his servant, his disciple. I am to learn, to surrender, to serve, to love and to trust….even in the midst of this trial. There is nothing my God can’t do.

When I take my eyes off of him and onto my circumstances, Satan has me. He lures me with thoughts that are contrary to God’s kingdom.

And so he steals our lives, our moments. I have been down and just depressed at moments. I have allowed Satan to steal my joy and steal the moments with the people that are the most important. I have not prayed, not been my best self. I have withdrawn and have doubted the one person who has been faithful to me throughout my life, and especially this journey.

Today, I will choose faith. To trust again my Lord who saves and who hears my prayers. Who loves me unconditionally and who strengthens me when I am weak. I will pursue Him and his word and praise him with my words and my life. I will bow before him in thanksgiving for the life he has given me TODAY.

He has reminded me that prayer is our greatest weapon. I will have negative thoughts again. I am human, but today I will counter those attacks with prayer! With praise to the God who sees me, who knows me and who loves me.

Friends, be reminded of this truth today. When you hear those thoughts in your head, don’t try to “be more positive”, but rather surrender yourself to God in prayer! Stop, drop to your knees, speak truth! Read the Word of God! You are loved, you are heard. He sees you and is with you. Our God will not forsake you .

Psalm 18 says, “I love you lord…the cords of death entangled me…in my distress I called to the Lord, I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice …With my God I can scale a wall. It is God who arms me with strength.”

Seek God this moment, this day, and recognize His power in the midst of your weakness, your circumstance. It is through him that we regain our lives and are strengthened with the hope of his glory.

Today…PRAY!

Being Thankful

Psalm 107:1 “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever.”

“A thankful heart is a happy heart.”

These words come from my mouth repetitively to our children. Having gratitude really does change our hearts, our minds, our actions and our lives in whole. Christians and non-Christians alike will agree that being thankful is a good way to live.

But as a follower of Jesus, it isn’t about just being a good thing to do, it’s the way of joy as a believer. It’s how we commune with Jesus. It’s how we show the world the hope of the gospel. It’s an outward sign of a transformed heart. Yet…why is being thankful so difficult?

Well, we are self focused by nature. Our sinful hearts focus on “me”. When we live a me-centered life, we naturally learn to expect things to happen to us, for us, for our benefit, so we will be happy. We develop this attitude of believing all things work together to benefit us and when they don’t – well, watch out. We become aggravated, frustrated, disappointed and angry because life didn’t turn out the way WE wanted it to.

  • …we didn’t get the job we wanted.
  • …our children’s rooms are a disaster.
  • …the weather is terrible
  • …our food was delayed at the restaurant
  • …we aren’t as pretty, strong, fit or smart as someone else.
  • …someone else has something we wanted.
  • …we get cancer.

Unfortunately, sometimes, it’s a lot easier to be angry and disappointed-even jealous- over something than to be grateful for it.

I find myself tottering on that pendulum of expectation and aggravation. If you haven’t jumped on that swing, then you are fooling yourself. We naturally have unspoken and spoken expectations – things we expect to happen in an unpredictable world. Our futures, our entire lives are unpredictable. We aren’t able to control our lives like we think we can, so our souls strive to gain control we will never have. We sacrifice so much to control our happiness and our immediate lives. We want control. We want comfort and order. And when life, as it typically does, throws us a wrench, an unforeseen event or situation, rather than responding with grace and gratitude, we strike with fear and frustration – believing that somehow , this will bring all things back into the order which we so desperately desire.

And yet… have you ever noticed how this cycle is repetitive? Do you ever find yourself desiring gratitude and surrender, just wanting to be the type of person who receives things in stride, who isn’t reacting and frustrated over all things and situations? I do. I want to be more thankful, to trust when things are out of control and to rest in knowing God is in charge. But my sin nature is alive within me.

As Paul states in Romans 7:15 “I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

Why do I keep doing the things I don’t want to do? Why do I react instead of respond? Paul answers that question a few verses later when he confesses that sin wages war against the law of his mind. Our thought life is a prime target of Satan. He knows that our thoughts direct our actions. So he goes to the jugular. He focuses first on our thoughts because he knows that our actions, our very lives will be redirected.

But Jesus tells us over and over again to be thankful.

What is it about gratitude that is so important? Is it maybe that somehow, a thankful heart really does lead to joy? Because if we focus our thoughts on gratitude…our actions, our lives will be redirected? A resounding YES!!! God, our Savior and Hope knows this because He created us! He knows that we will be transformed by the renewing of our minds! (Romans 12:2)

Yet, if it’s so important, why is it so difficult to maintain? And how do I truly foster an attitude of gratitude myself and in my children? Is there a key to this? Is it possible to have a changed heart?

I believe Jesus has the answers to these and so many more questions. His Word teaches us truths to live by, truths that will transform us, truths that will live through us.

Colossians 2:6-7 “So then just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

Colossians 4:2 “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.”

1 Thes 5:18 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.”

Phil 4:6 “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 heart and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

Ok, so there are MANY more verses on being thankful. You get the idea. We are to be overflowing with thankfulness, be aware of things to be thankful for, be thankful for every single thing and situation on our lives, and be thankful before our Lord in prayer. He wants to hear that we are grateful.

As a parent, we love to do nice things for our children, yet, don’t we also want our children to be grateful for our kindness, our mercy? So, doesn’t our heavenly father desire the same for us?

Do I feel better when my kids are thankful? Well, ok, yes. Absolutely. I’m human. But God doesn’t need an ego boost. He desires us to be thankful because he knows it will benefit us! He knows what is best for us. He knows that gratitude changes something inside us. It does NOT change the circumstance, but it does produce in us a contentment, a joy, which is ultimately God ‘s desire for us – to be a saved people filled with gratitude and joy and hope. We are to be witnesses to the gospel for the world to see.

Our attitudes of gratitude produce an outward expression of joy that is visible for the world to wonder at the hope of our salvation!

Romans 12:2 says to be renewed by the transforming of our mind. Being thankful in all circumstances changes our thoughts, which in turn changes our actions, which in turn changes our lives and the world around us!

So then, how can I become more thankful? Well, its a habit, a practice, a wrestling. It’s being intentional, being aware of our circumstances and desiring change. It is about surrendering, being content in everything. It will not be perfect, nor will it be easy. It’s not challenging to be thankful when life is good. But how can we be thankful when circumstances aren’t so easy? When life isn’t good? When we don’t get what we want? When we can’t find anything to be thankful for?

  • …I’m thankful I didn’t get the job I wanted…maybe there is something better coming along.
  • …I’m thankful I have children even if their rooms are a disaster.
  • …I’m thankful for this rain that makes everything green and allows us to snuggle indoors.
  • …I’m thankful for our waitress, she is trying her best.
  • …I’m thankful for who God made me to be, even with my faults.
  • …I’m thankful for what I have. I am so blessed.
  • …I am thankful for cancer. It has shown me how much I am loved. It has forced me to live a surrendered life. It has strengthened my faith. It has deepened my relationships.

Let me suggest a few practices I am learning as I embark on a journey I didn’t ask for.

  1. Practice gratitude out loud. (Practice means doing it over and over until you get it right!)
  2. Keep a journal with you to record what you are thankful for all day long. (There are MANY things to be thankful for that we overlook!)
  3. When you find yourself frustrated and aggravated, let that be a trigger that you aren’t having a grateful heart at that moment and change it. (Replace your negativity with grateful thoughts!)
  4. Pray and ask the Lord to give you a grateful heart! (Prayer changes our focus from ourselves to God!)
  5. And when you fall short….try, try again. Never stop desiring a heart of thankfulness. (This isn’t about being perfect…it’s about letting go of our old lives and living more for Christ!)

Do you ever feel stuck? Like you’ll never change? Don’t believe it! The enemy wants nothing more than for you to feel defeated. But it is in Christ, that we have been set free! We are more than conquerors in Christ! We have everything we need to live a transformed life. To live differently. And it begins with a thankful mind!

I challenge you this day….Be thankful. Be different.

Living Differently: Transforming Our Thoughts

“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?

How long will you hide your face from me?

How long must I wrestle with my thoughts

and day after day have sorrow in my heart?

How long will my enemy triumph over me?” Psalm 13: 1-2

How often do YOUR thoughts control you? I have always been a thinker…well, more of an OVER-thinker. I analyze things till I’m exhausted and overwhelmed with possibilities, and then fear sets in as I worry about what may never come. Psalm 13 speaks to this when David laments before God about how he wrestles with his thoughts. This growing and becoming and surrendering is a “wrestling” between God and me. To wrestle is to struggle, to oppose until one releases their will. It is about me wrestling against the One True God to release my will, to surrender my plans for His.

Who would really struggle against God? We do. I do. Repetatively, foolishly, believing that somehow, MY will should reign over His. That My desires are more important, better than what He has planned for me. Wow. Sounds crazy, right? Our will is strong…but God’s love is still greater. His mercy and patience is longsuffering as he continues to teach me His ways are higher than mine. I still have a long way to go, but, through my trial with ovarian cancer, God is redeeming my thought life. As I sit in his Word, He is reminding me to trust him, to let go of my worries and fears and to release my thoughts, my very life…. to him.

He tells us in Romans 12:2 “Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”

And a different life begins with a transformed thought life.

As you can tell, my life motto has become…LIVE DIFFERENTLY. And indeed, being given a diagnosis of cancer will do just that, force you to live differently. Living differently means SO MANY things….it can be overwhelming as I make this transition from before cancer to after cancer. But lately, God is reminding me that my first transformation MUST be my thought life…the transforming of my mind.

I admit I am still stuck in my old way of thinking. Desiring to live as before. I recently went back to our homeschool community where I was the director BEFORE cancer, but now after releasing that, I showed up as a mom. And it was different. Although, I’ve prayed to be “Different” for so long I never really understood or comprehended that different is difficult. Being different …going against the grain, not conforming to the world is going to be one of the most difficult roads I’ve ever been on.

Different means doing what I haven’t done before. It means releasing all my desires and accepting the Lord’s will for my life. Different means not being our homeschool director any longer. Releasing that which I loved…to someone else.

Different also means eating differently. Ugh. This one is harder than I thought. Since I’ve been quarantining at home for so long, I’ve developed a pattern. I’ve been able to change my diet at home, but as I begin to eat outside of my bubble….I am reminded how difficult it really is to eat healthy consistently. I went out to eat with some friends recently, and was reminded of the sacrifice of being different. I love sushi. But no longer is this an option for me. Rice is not a keto option. So, instead, I ordered a stir fry of shrimp and veggies. It was good and healthy. I was grateful they custom made my food, but y’all….it was hard. I had some tears that night. Tears over not having sushi? Really?

It really wasn’t about the sushi. I had this gross realization that my life will forever be… different. That I am being forced to change so much, so fast. Not just because I’m trying to be healthy, but I’m trying to survive. To live to raise my kids. To live to spend time with them and my family. To live for Christ to make a difference in the world. But ….I will have to begin to embrace different.

Didn’t Jesus live a different life? Paul tells us in Galatians that he died to his own life and now lives by faith….

Living differently is living a life of faith, guided by the Holy Spirit, pleasing Jesus, surrendering my own will. Living differently is EXACTLY what the Lord is calling us to live like.

But it is hard. How much did Paul encourage the new believers! He knew a life of faith would be filling with difficulties. But living a life of faith is worth it.

My goal in this journey isn’t just to live but to live well. To live to glorify the Lord in all I say and do. Therefore, it is imperative to change my thoughts, my mind. To think differently. To focus my attention on Jesus, and His will for my life. To fill my thoughts not with fear and worry but joy and thankfulness and praises to my GOD!

So how do we change our thoughts? We immerse ourselves in the Word of God. I want my thoughts to be HIs thoughts. His words. And if I am immersed enough in the good words of Jesus , then eventually my thoughts become His thoughts. My words become His words. My actions become his actions. My life becomes His life.

And in all this…that is my goal. That should be all of our goals. To live as Christ. He gave himself up for me ..for you..so that we would have a new…different… life.

2 Cor 5:17 “Therefore if anyone is in christ, the new creation has come. The old has gone and the new is here!”

So, although living differently is new, difficult, unfamiliar, a sacrifice. It is and will be worth it in so many ways. Please follow along as I continue to embrace what a different life really means.

“And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25

Being Real

“Lord, I don’t want this for my life.”

These fearful and saddened thoughts had been consuming me over last week. I have been walking this cancer journey now for two months. The first few weeks were overwhelming, and I was in a pit of despair. However, the Lord is slowly revealing his truth and plans for me and I have found peace and even joy. But last week, Satan began to nag at me through my thought life; little, subtle, quiet fears and doubts making me question my future and doubt God’s faithfulness. Have you had similar doubts?

“What if my CA125 levels jump back up?” (They have dropped from almost 2700 to 144)

“You will die from this, Alissa. You will miss seeing your children grow up.”

“What if my lymph nodes swell up again? Will my chemo stop working?”

Ugh. So many sad and defeating thoughts.

I am in God’s word every morning and intentionally trying to acknowledge Him throughout my day. But….life is busy and I am easily distracted and pretty soon I am consumed with my own thoughts instead of taking every thought captive to Christ. And I end up with tears and defeat.

I begin to feel alone and my hope of healing fades.

I know you have defeating thoughts as well, different from mine, but still thoughts of doubt and fear. We worry and fret over tomorrow and live in regret for yesterday, which in turns ruins our joy and peace for TODAY! Psalm 118 tells us that “this is the day the Lord has made…he tells us to rejoice and be glad in it”. But how can we find that joy when our minds wander from yesterday to tomorrow. Satan’s schemes are to keep us in bondage to these, because if we get stuck somewhere else, we can’t focus on today. We are unable to find the peace Jesus promises to us every day. He is deceptive and sneaky….a liar and a cheat, trying and many days succeeding at keeping us in chains. But it was for freedom that Christ set us free!

Jesus teaches us about worry so often. In Matthew 6: 25 He tells us NOT to worry about our lives…that we are instead to seek first His kingdom and his righteousness. He is the same forever…yesterday, today and tomorrow! Why fear when God is for us!

So, what do we do when we are consumed with these negative thoughts? We open god’s word and we wrestle with him until we hear from him, until we finally build our trust once again and we seek after him with our whole hearts.

Nothing…I repeat, nothing is worth more than our relationship with Jesus! And he already knows our thoughts and weaknesses and our doubts. He is waiting for you to bring them to his feet, to sit with him and let Him fill us with his hope and peace. He is worthy of our praise and he deserves our attention and ultimately our surrender.

Surrender isn’t just a one time occurrence. I was talking with my 8 year old son yesterday and he said, “I thought surrendering my life to the Lord would feel more special. But I don’t feel different.” Well, he surrendered his life 1 1/2 years ago and has had ups and downs in his faith, as do we all. But I gently reminded him that his initial surrender to the Lord was not the end of his faith…it was just the beginning. Jesus is still there, waiting on him to return to him daily and to seek after him. That his faith in christ is a relationship that he needs to build…every single day through bible reading, prayer and being watchful for the Lord working in his life.

And this is what I am learning as well. The bible is true! God’s word is alive and active. Jesus is with me. God is sovereign. What else can I desire then this? To know God and make him known…this is Classical Conversations, our homeschool community’s mission statement. I love it! It reminds me that God can be known. And we are to seek him and share His good news with the world!

As I have been in His word, he is showing me who He is. He is real and he struggled as we all do. He was human and God all at the same time. We worship a God who had emotions just like us, who was tempted in every way, just as we are, who he needed strengthening and he needed encouragement. He chose his friends wisely and yet even he was abandoned and felt human disappointment. But he models for us humility, and graciousness and how he himself was refreshed. He spent time…so much time…in prayer! Especially by himself. He prostrated himself before the Lord. He depended on His Father at all times, especially as he was approaching the Cross. He suffered so much for us, and was willing to do so, yet in the garden, he still asked God to take it away from him. He was real.

As I read in Luke 22 verses 39-46, God showed me Jesus’ human side. That he knows and understands my emotions and he speaks life into me as I begin to understand more and more who he is and how my life rests in Christ. I am reminded of his disciples humanity as well through their own struggles as well and how much Jesus loved them and poured into them.

And I am realizing that my thoughts, my feelings, Satan’s lies, are not truth. They are not my reality. But I am learning….they are real. And it’s ok to be real. It’s ok to vulnerable, but it’s not ok to believe the lies in my mind. It’s not ok to get stuck in my emotions, it’s not ok to let my emotions lead my life. But unfortunately, they are a reality this side of heaven. Satan wants to make feel guilty for my sorrowful moments, for feeling sad and overwhelmed. He wants me to feel defeated in the tough moments of life. But Jesus has a different way.

Jesus’ struggle in the garden of Gethsemane speaks truth to us! Luke 25:45 says, “When he rose from prayer and went back to the disciples, he found them (his disciples) asleep, exhausted from sorrow.”

Did you see that? I have never noticed that before. His disciples were exhausted from their own grief and sadness. They knew Jesus was struggling and needed to pray. They didn’t fully understand what was about to happen but they too, were sorrowful. And sorrow is exhausting. When you are filled with emotions…sadness, grief, etc, it is physically exhausting.

But then I reread the verses just before this.

These verses describe Jesus’ struggle in the garden before the Lord. in verse 42 Jesus asks God, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done.” Jesus knew the path before him, he knew it was going to be difficult. And even he asked God to make it different, as I have prayed so much these past few months. I don’t want this cancer journey for my life. Please God, I have pleaded, take it away. And yet, this is the cup he has for me. And I am learning to accept it and say, not my will but yours Lord. As much as I don’t want to have cancer, I do want God’s will in my life more.

But the next verses spoke most clearly to me. Verse 43 says “An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him.” Even Jesus needed strength from outside himself. He needed God’s strengthening! I needed to hear this!! I cannot do this on my own! Nor did God intend for me to! I need the Lord’s strengthening. He doesn’t expect me to walk this journey alone. He is with me always! He is my source of strength and peace. He will never leave me or forsake me!

And verse 44 says this, ” And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground.” Jesus was in anguish, y’all! He was struggling! And what did he do? He prayed more seriously! He physically was experiencing what grief and despair brings to our physical bodies. And that is exactly what you and I need to do! When we feel despair, sadness or are struggling with worry and fear, we need to get on our knees , open the Word of God and surrender our thoughts to God, surrender our will to our heavenly father who loves us and knows us and is our source of strength!

The greek word for anguish is agonia, and I love what the Blue Letter Bible App says this means…

Agonia=a struggle for victory!

Jesus was struggling! Agonizing! But it wasn’t for defeat…. no! It was for victory! Victory is defined as overcoming an enemy!!!! He knew Satan was there trying to defeat his thoughts. And he was praying for victory in his anguish. Jesus didn’t struggle for naught. He struggled for our victory…his death on the cross is our victory! He conquered death and sadness and despair! And he models for us exactly what we need to do in our despair. We are to pray more earnestly and we are to struggle for victory! Our anguish is not a ticket for defeat, it is for our victory in Christ.

And I am beginning to see that in all of this, God is working out things together for my good and for my victory, but he is also using my real emotions, my weakness for your victory. 2 Corinthians says His power is made perfect in my weakness! Hallelujah ! My struggle is not for naught! My emotions are real and when laid at His cross, Jesus is using them to strengthen me so I can shine his life and light into those areas of darkness in your lives. He is using my weakness to strengthen you!!

So I am learning to be real.

Jesus was real and he wants us to be real, to show our emotions, but to take them to the Lord and let him redeem them and use them for our good and for the good of those around us. God’s ways are not our own.

How are you struggling right now? What emotions are gripping you and pulling you into defeat and fear and doubt?

Be real!

Pour out your emotions to the Lord and let him strengthen you! Let your anguish be a struggle for victory! Surrender to God’s will, even if you don’t want what he has for you right now! The more we surrender, the more we dive into God’s word, the more we begin to align our lives with His plans and His will, the more we will find peace and joy in the midst of our pain. James tells us to “consider it pure joy whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”

Be real my friends and submit to Jesus and know that He is doing a work in you and through you to make you complete.

Hebrews 5:7 tells us “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with fervent cries and tears to the one who could save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverent submission. Son though he was, he learned obedience from what he suffered.”

Suffering is for our victory….our victory in Christ!

Do as Jesus did with his struggles…

  1. Pray earnestly
  2. Submit to God’s will
  3. Read God’s word for truth
  4. Trust in God’s plan for your life.
  5. Obey His commands

Please share any struggles you may be having so I can be praying with you.

Waiting on the Lord

“I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry.  He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure.  He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God.  Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord.” Psalm 40:1-3

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Waiting is never easy.

Have you ever looked up the definition of “wait”?  So often when we think of waiting, we just think of this negative space where nothing happens.  But to wait for something is so much more than that.  It really means to remain stationary in readiness or expectation, to look forward expectantly, and to be ready and available.  

Expectant.  Available.  Ready.

How many of us, rather, feel stagnant, frustrated, idle and hopeless in the waiting rooms of life?

What if we changed our perspective?  What if we allowed God to change our perspective?  That the waiting in our life instead…was an opportunity for us to pause and get ready?!?

To instead anticipate, be optimistic, prepared and hopeful?

What are you waiting for?

What do you need to begin preparing for and anticipating?

Me?….Well, I was waiting for my diagnosis, surgeries, answers, hope.  Now…I’m waiting for the Lord to heal my body from the cancer that has ravaged my lymph nodes.  I’m waiting for my hair to fall out, for my chemo to be over, for my life to start again.

But as I have been waiting…the Lord is opening my eyes to His perspective on waiting.  It may seem like there are giant pauses in our lives….but our God is working!  He never sleeps. He never fails.  And He is showing me that this waiting time…is for me to seek Him.

Lamentations 3:22-26 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  “The Lord is my portion, ” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.”  The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him.  It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.”

Waiting is my time to prepare, to anticipate Him and His workings in my life, to get ready and be hopeful.  To be hopeful for what Christ is working together for my good.  So…how do we get ready and prepared for Christ in our lives?

Lamentations says it perfectly.  It says the Lord is good to those who wait for him….who prepare and are hopeful for him.  That He is good to those who wait and seek Him.  Do you see that?

While we wait, we SEEK HIM!! We don’t just stop our lives and pause in fear and worry and hopelessness.  We dive in to the Word of God and we seek His face!  We close our eyes in prayer and get our our knees and we cry out to the Lord.  We let go of our anxious Martha ways and we sit in His presence, like Mary, at the feet of Jesus, our Savior and we rest in knowing He is enough for us during this season of waiting.

Are you sitting at the feet of Jesus where you are right now,  making ready your heart for what God is preparing for you or are you anxiously worrying over what may or may not come?

Stop waiting and start seeking.  You will find Him.

Deut 4:29 “But from there you will seek the Lord your God and you will find him, if you search after him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Enjoy this beautiful song I discovered today as you seek more of Jesus.  Kari Jobe – The More I Seek You w/lyrics – YouTube

For more encouragement on waiting and an update on my cancer journey, watch my youTube Channel- Alissa Perez: Live Differently.  https://youtu.be/kkqVjgbfq_o

Live Differently: The Beginning of My Journey with Cancer

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Proverbs 3: 5-6 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.  In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”

Trust.

We all know this word.  We think we understand what it means, but do we ever really stop to think about the depth of this word?  In our world today, unfortunately we have lost our trust, giving us a sense of frustration, or even hopelessness.  But trust…real trust…although it can seem like a lost trait…is very real in the person of Jesus.  Our culture has turned it’s trust to people and things, where it was never meant to be in the first place.  We have taken our eyes off God and onto man-made creations and fallible human beings.

Trust is a verb that means to rely on the truthfulness of, to place our confidence in, to hope or expect confidently.  Truth, in this day and age, is sadly becoming elusive and unreachable because it has become something people have to decide for themselves.

But…there is hope.  Truth is a person!  Truth is real, attainable, knowable.  Truth is Jesus Christ.  And there must be truth to have trust.  To have hope.  To have confidence.  And we don’t have to trust in people or things!  The Bible tells us to Trust in the Lord!  He is our confidence, our truth, our hope!

In December, I was praying for the Lord to give me a word for the upcoming year…a practice I have been doing for the last several years.  An overarching theme for the year to come to guide my thoughts and actions, alongside a verse for the year.  In the past, the Lord has given me Intentionality, Giving, Community.  But as I was praying this last part of 2020, the clear direction He was giving me was to TRUST Him.  And subsequently Proverbs 3 was laid on my heart.

Trust.

I always thought I trusted God.  I said it.  I believed it.  But….had I actually lived it? I am not ignorant to the struggles others face…believers and unbelievers alike.  I have seen and heard and walked alongside others enduring their own battles and trials.  I have walked the road of infertility myself…that longing for a child.  My own mother is journeying the cancer road herself.  But…the Lord knew I would need TRUST as we rounded into 2021.  He knew that more than ever before…I would need Him.  To rely on Him solely and to lean into his understanding when I had none myself.  He knew the road I was about to be on was going to be one of the most difficult I would ever find myself on.

The reality of my journey with cancer began on January 13th, when I was diagnosed with poorly undifferentiated metastatic adenocarcinoma, which means they didn’t know where it was coming from but that I had cancer and it was spreading throughout my lymph nodes.

Cancer.

Wow.  I never saw it coming.

But the Lord did.  The night before my biopsy, our church had a prayer service.  At this point, being a medical professional, I knew the differential diagnosis.  I knew I could have cancer.  I just didn’t want to believe I had cancer.  So I begged God for an easily treatable diagnosis.  An easy diagnosis.  A different diagnosis than my fears were waging with me.

And the Lord answered me.  He reminded me as I knelt before the alter crying out to Him that the journey I would soon begin was to be between me and Him.  And that I would have to trust Him.

Trust.

Having confidence in someone when you don’t understand.  Believing that that someone  loves me and is working all things together for my good.  Relying on that someone for my strength and to make my path straight when I can’t even see the path before me.

This my friends… is Trust.

This is Jesus.

I can’t begin to share all the Lord is working in and through me so far on this journey.  All I know is that He is working all things together for my good. (Romans 8:28).

My diagnosis has changed over the last few weeks as we’ve sought for answers, undergone several tests, spoke with different physicians and started chemotherapy.  My final diagnosis is Stage 4 fallopian tube cancer (more rare)…which is lumped in with Ovarian Cancer (more common).

I have Ovarian Cancer.

It’s still so weird to even say or type or to sit in the Oncology office.

I have cancer.

Do you ever have those dreams where you wake up and are so thankful it’s a dream?  Me, too.  Except this time….it’s not a dream.  But…what started out as a nightmare, the Lord is redeeming.  He is strengthening me and bringing me to the end of myself.  He is changing my life.  He is calling me out of the darkness into His glorious light!  He is becoming my peace.

And more than anything else….I am looking forward to sharing how the Lord is working in my life as I begin to walk out this new life of mine….differently.

The Lord gave me that mantra many years ago.  I began this blog many years ago with that in mind…knowing and believing that the Lord has called me to live differently.  Yet…it has taken 8 years for him to bring me to the end of myself and to show me what this will really mean as I travel along this path with Him.

Let me encourage you today!!  This is my journey, yet YOU are walking beside me.  The Lord is at hand! (Phil 4:5) He is leading, guiding and transforming YOU as you come alongside.  Be alert and know that he is weaving us all together for a greater purpose than you or I will ever comprehend.

Let us, therefore, seek His face together, for ..”no eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” 1 Cor 2:9

Let the journey begin!!

 

 

Why I Want to Live Minimally

“Fill your life with stories to tell, not stuff to show.”–Joshua Becker

Isn’t that beautiful?

I love this.  Memories are so much more important than things.  Our family will remember fun times and special moments far more than any thing we will ever receive.

I sort of stumbled upon the idea of minimalism.  I’ve always felt called to lead a simpler life, yet the process of getting there has always seemed a distant wish rather than a current reality.

But as I began to read about minimalism and what it entails and the life it embraces, I’m all in.

This is what my soul has been seeking.

A life free of clutter, free of stuff, a life lived with purpose, freedom and focused on what is truly important.

Who wouldn’t want this for their lives?

So what exactly is minimalism?  Let me quote you Joshua Becker from BecomingMinimalist.com:

“It is marked by clarity, purpose, and intentionality. At its core, minimalism is the intentional promotion of the things we most value and the removal of everything that distracts us from it. It is a life that forces intentionality. And as a result, it forces improvements in almost all aspects of your life.”

Minimalism is freedom.

A friend of mine said this to me several years ago, “Everything you bring into your home, you become a slave to.”

So profound.  It’s one of those statements that we say “YES!” to.  Yet, living this out is far more challenging.

The same holds true for living a life of minimalism.  It’s easy and exciting to read about it, to agree with and desire.  But, it’s a whole other animal to live it.

It isn’t just about having a garage sale to get rid of some things.  Living a minimalist lifestyle will first of all look different for everyone.  But for me, it’s about changing my heart and what’s on the inside while changing my external world.  Because just getting rid of stuff will not satisfy.  It’s a heart issue.  A heart transformation issue to be exact.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matt 6:21)

Our treasure is either in Jesus or in this world.  It cannot be both.

So for the last several months I have been on this journey, initially just to get rid of things. But as I listen to God speak to my heart, it’s more about transforming my life so my soul can breathe.

It’s not as much about removing stuff as it is about living life-to the fullest.

Why I Want To Live Minimally

1. Freedom.  I want to be free.  To be a slave is to be entirely dominated by some influence.  For me, I’m a slave to my stuff.  Freedom is defined as ‘not taken up by scheduled activities, unconstrained’.  Freedom for me is loosening my schedule.

Freedom is choosing to play a game with my children without feeling shackled to my to-do list.  And as a mom, my to-do list is never ending.  I am not foolish enough to believe that minimalism is the answer to everything.  To-do lists will always be necessary to keep track of those things that need to get done.  But “need” being the key word.  What if I lived with less, so I had less to manage, and ultimately more time?  What if I had the freedom choose?

2. Makes room for what’s most important.  Too much stuff crowds out relationships.  It crowds out time to invest in my children, my husband, friendships and family.  I am constantly trying to find balance between my to-do list and people.  I realize that life demands us moms to manage our home and wear many hats throughout our days.  But how much of this balancing act is because of the management of things in my home that don’t really matter?

3. Diminishes clutter: from my counters and my mind.  Clutter sucks the life out of me.  I spend more time moving things around than investing in those things that really matter.  I look around and see the piles of things that need to be put away.  I am consumed with finding the best way to organize it all.  And yet, when I go to get rid of things I justify why I might need it someday.  Ugh.  I read this once–“Quit organizing and just get rid of things.”  Live with less.

4. Allows me to do God’s will.  What if I had enough time and a free schedule and a less burdened mind to actually hear from God?  What if I had the freedom to reach out to a neighbor in need, to invest in friendships, to do those things that God is nudging me to do?  What if I had more time to serve at church, or the women at the shelter in my town?  What if I could spend my days being the hands and feet of Jesus instead of a slave to the things in my home?  What if I had the freedom to love God, love people and serve His kingdom?  Imagine the difference my life could make.

5. Saves time-my most valuable resource.  I need margin in my life.  Do I have room in my schedule to do what’s most important?  I constantly feel as though I never have enough time.  I blame my messy house, my chronic tardiness, and my forgetfulness ALL on my “lack of time”.  Excuses.  All of them.  Excuses for my lack of planning, and my lack of treating my time as a priceless commodity.  Dave Ramsey is the king of budgeting our money.  God is the King of managing our time.  He knows everything we need to accomplish in our days.  And so much of what consumes my time…is unnecessary.

I have always felt drawn to the pioneer and the Amish lifestyles.  My husband tells me I couldn’t possibly live either one of those lifestyles.  Maybe this is what my soul has longed for-minimalism.  Pioneer and Amish might not be a reality.  But, this is achievable.  This can be true in my life today.  Living minimally.

Seeking God:  Lord, show me what minimalism looks like for me.  Give me eyes to see the unnecessary in my life and to be free from the grips of materialism.  Give me freedom to choose what’s most important today and be Lord over my time.  Help me to truly live as Psalm 73:25 declares, “Whom have I in heaven but you?  And earth has nothing I desire besides you.”  Amen.

Stay tuned as I continue to post about My Journey to Minimalism.

 

 

 

I am A Shield

I Am A Shield

Ephesians 6:14-18

“Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one.  And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, being watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints.”

Shield defined:  As a noun, it’s a protective covering.  As a verb, it means to hold back a thought or feeling about something.

God has been persistently reminding me to be quiet, to use less words.  He has given me this verse to meditate on that last few days.


Proverbs 17:27

“A truly wise person uses few words; a person with understanding is even-tempered.”


Paraphrased–A truly wise woman uses few words; a woman with understanding is even-tempered.

Women use a lot of words throughout their day.  I would admit that if there were a range, I would probably be at the upper end of the curve.  In kindergarten my report card said, “Alissa likes to talk”.

Ha!  How perceptive of that teacher!  I guess I’ve always felt if one word was good, then more words must be better.  It’s only been recently that I am finally listening to the Lord’s wisdom in regards to my words.

2 Things God Is Teaching Me About My Words:

1. I must choose my words carefully.  James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry.”  Wisdom says ‘use less words’, speak slowly, be intentional.

2. I must not live in reaction to the words of others.  This is where learning self control is imperative.  Self control is such a broad, important fruit of the spirit.  It means we are concerned with managing our own heart, not interested in controlling others.  Because truthfully, that is impossible.  But it IS possible to control ourselves.  Self control gives us the ability to respond to situations as opposed to reacting to them.

I am a shield.

I am beginning to think of the shield of faith in Eph 6.  A shield is a protective covering and the shield of faith protects us against the flaming arrows of the evil one.

We may or may not realize Satan attacks us daily.  We read about it, we may even believe it, but as I read Ephesians this weekend, a new image came to mind.

Imagine walking about your day, in your home, at work, playing with your children, all the while being shot at with fiery darts.  Most of us don’t even realize the destructive potential these arrows have upon our lives.  Satan is freely shooting at us.  And we have forgotten we have the greatest protection in our faith.  It is our shield.  Our faith in Jesus Christ helps us to stand firm, to resist and protect ourselves from the Enemy’s attacks.

But we fail to use it.

Instead, we give in to his lies.

Flaming arrows or fiery darts can be anything Satan uses to hurt us: anger, discouragement, jealousy, discontentment, unforgiveness, bitternessfear or any type of reaction in our sinful nature.

In relation to our words, the Lord showed me that Satan can use the words of others as flaming arrows to hurt me and my relationships.  Especially in my closest relationships.  Satan has NO interest in building my life, my marriage or my family.  His goal is to destroy anything good, anything having to do with Jesus Christ.

He will do everything to make the truth of the gospel void in my life.

Words may leave my husband’s mouth with kindness and good intention.  But somewhere between his mouth and my ears, something happens–they are set on fire by Satan himself, so by the time they reach me they are in fact flaming arrows intended by Satan to stir up strife.  Instead, I perceive his words to be accusatory, hurtful or spiteful.

But no, Satan isn’t done yet.  He set the flaming arrow into my heart, which in turn causes me to react.  We react in many ways, our body language, eye rolling, walking away, but primarily, we react with our words.

Our words then, in turn, become flaming arrows shot in the direction from which they came.  This isn’t just in our marriages, it’s with our children, our parents, our friends and neighbors.  Thus, He has succeeded.  A war has begun and we didn’t even realize it.

Satan is in the business of destroying.  If we don’t use our words wisely, he will use them for his gain.

Ouch.

I, then, have a choice.

I am a shield.

I can put up my shield of faith to block these flaming arrows and choose not to react, not to let them hit me deep in my heart and soul.  With my shield of faith, they will bounce off of me, leaving me unscathed, uninjured.  Because once I’m hurt or injured, it’s so much easier then to hurt others.

My faith in Jesus Christ protects me.  His covering over my life keeps me pure and righteous, and holy.  Not because of anything I have done, but because of who He is.  It’s a trust and complete resting in knowing that He is our shield.  We need to do nothing but trust in Him.

I love how shield is defined as a verb:  to hold back a thought or feeling about something.  

I am a shield means to NOT react, to hold back.

So the next time you have this sudden urge to shoot a fiery dart at someone else’s words, remember…I AM A SHIELD.

Let the Enemy’s intentions to hurt you bounce off.  Be self controlled through the Spirit of God and choose not to react.

Words can be powerful.  But nothing matches the Power of Jesus Christ.

How would truly living this way, God’s way, transform your relationships?

I would love to hear from you.  Let’s encourage one another!

 

 

2 Powerful Ways To Change Your Life

2 Powerful Ways To Change Your Life

A recurring theme in my life: I talk about doing things more than I actually do them.

Currently, I do this with prayer.  It’s this ‘I need to pray more’ statement that keeps circling my thoughts but never seems to land.  I know God is nudging me to focus on this spiritual discipline.  But, I find myself distracted and challenged to invest the time.

And the more I think about needing to pray, the more I feel like I’ve actually prayed!  It’s crazy!  But, isn’t this true of so many things?  How about exercise? We tell ourselves that we need to exercise so much that we convince our subconscious we’ve already done it. This is deception at it’s finest!

 James 1:22 tells us, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says.”

Ok, I get it. Quit talking about it. Just do it. Follow through. Be intentional. Plan. Live on purpose.

Every new year, we all begin with grandiose ambitions about what we want to accomplish, what we hope will happen throughout the year and how we wish to change.  But more often than not, we quit halfway through.

 Why is this?

Why is it that our greatest intentions become our biggest struggles or disappointments?

Here’s where I fall short.  I try to “do it” in my own power. Whatever the “it” is; praying, eating healthy, serve more, speak kindly, love better, stop yelling at my kids.

But do you want to hear some AMAZING news? God never intended us to live a life of obedience in our own strength and power!  Yay, God!  He knew we’d fail.  He knew we’d fall short-way short sometimes.  He looked upon us with compassion and love and when he said he’ll never leave us or forsake us, he meant it!  He knows I have great intentions, and a pitiful ‘follow through-er’.  So, he knows I want to pray, he also knows I can’t do it in my own strength for very long.  But at the end of me, is where His strength begins.

In Acts 1, the disciples were listening to Jesus after his resurrection.  They had to be wondering, “Ok, what now?” They asked Jesus, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”(v. 6)

Acts 1:8 says, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

 Then he left them.

Acts 2 tells us that when Pentacost came they were all together in one place. With wind and fire…”All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them.”

As the Spirit enabled them.

Receive power.

 All we want to do or attempt to accomplish, as in the words of Solomon, are “meaningless” without God’s power.

I certainly am not saying that making plans and striving to achieve them is meaningless. Creating goals and plans is imperative for a well-lived life.  However, much of my planning, doing, and striving are devoted to my own desires and wishes, not giving much effort into searching God’s will and plans for my life.

My verse for this year is Matt 6:33, “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness and all these things shall be given to you.”

I tend to do the planning and thinking, before I do the seeking and praying.

Do you want to stop feeling powerless to change your life and see lasting transformation?   Do you want peace and a rest from your striving?

God is showing me I am lacking in two of the most important spiritual disciplines: prayer and meditation.

 2 Powerful Ways To Change Your Life

  1. Prayer. Prayer is nothing more than communication with God.   It was meant to be an ongoing conversation.  However, much of the time, I’m the only one talking.  I tend to use way to many words.  The Bible instructs us to ‘pray without ceasing’.  I see this as a daily humble dependence on God’s grace.

 What is God telling me?  Stop talking. Use less words.  Less of everything-really.  Strip away all that is unnecessary.  Listen for the whisper of God’s voice. Away from all the distractions.  Talking to God is important, but so is being quiet.

 In Ephesians 6:18  “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.”

  1. Meditation.  To think intently and at length on God’s word.  I read the Bible. Probably more inconsistently than I’d like.  I know it’s important to memorize scripture.  But I’ve never put forth much effort into it.  For me, it’s always…  “somewhere in Ephesians I think it says something like this.”  Not exactly what God had in mind.

In Old Testament times they didn’t have the written word.  It was ALL memorized!  So what’s the difference today?  My mind is too full, too cluttered. So, how can I give my mind a rest?  Fill it with the words and messages of God.

Isa 26:3 “You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!”

What is God telling me?  If you want change, peace and a mental rest, meditate on my word.  Pick a verse a week to memorize and believe.  Stop reading everything else right now and read the Bible only.  Oh…I’ve been battling this one.

I love to read but I need to love to read God’s word more. I’m not telling YOU to stop reading.  And I sure hope God isn’t telling me to stop reading books.  But for now, it’s about emptying my mind of all the unnecessary clutter and filling it with His truth and peace.

 Through prayer and meditation we unleash the power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  I don’t know about you, but I’m ready for it!

Joshua 1:8 (NLT) “Study this Book of Instruction continually.  Meditate on it day and  night so you will be sure to obey everything written inn it.  Only then will you prosper and succeed in all you do.  This is my command-be strong and courageous!  Do not be afraid or discouraged.  For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”