How Prayer Quiet and Calms Us

Purple flowers with yellow background and text from post

If God is sovereign, why pray? If He already knows precisely how everything in all the world, my life included, will play out, what’s the purpose in laying my requests before Him? Why not simply bow my head, say, “Thy will be done,” and move on to more productive matters like serving in soup kitchens, orphanages, and nurseries?

I suspect we’ve all wrestled with these questions. I have. I’ve even brought them to God in prayer, as ironic as that may sound. And as I sat in His presence, He met me and showered me with His love and grace. My requests became conversations, my fears and anxieties pathways to certainty, and my unmet earthly desires avenues to becoming filled with something more sustaining and satisfying than anything I might acquire apart from Him.

Yellow background with text pulled from post.Through prayer, God redirects, instructs, and fills my heart while purging it of everything that gets in His way. He reveals hidden motives, undetected sins, and bits of deception that, if not dealt with, hinder my faith, my journey, and my relationship with Him. Often, I begin with a frustration or concern, but as His love reigns over me, it overpowers every angst filled thought with truth.

When I fear financial difficulties, He reminds me He’s my provider and that all the world, a thousand banks included, sit under His command.

When illness steals the health of those I love, He assures me He holds all of eternity, their life included, in His grasp.

When I’m watching someone I care deeply for flounder and fight their way to maturity, He gently directs me to Philippians 1:6, which tells me He is working, at this moment, to grow them in Him. He won’t let go, leave them as orphans, nor will He let up until His will, in their life and mine, has come to pass.

There’s such peace in knowing that. In recognizing that God has a good, loving, and hope-filled plan for each of His children and is fully capable of bringing it to pass. When I pause to reflect on that truth, promised numerous times throughout Scripture, my soul quiets itself like a weaned child resting in the arms of its mother.

You may be familiar with that reference of a content and satiated toddler, and of the story behind the man who wrote it. It’s found in Psalm 131, written by David, Israel’s second king. Anointed as a youth, he endured years of persecution and betrayal before seeing God’s plans unfold. In the waiting, he fled his homeland in fear for his life, hid in the wilderness, caves, and acted like a madman. But though sorrow and fears assaulted him, they never remained. God never allowed them to take root. Instead, as David sat in the presence of the Almighty, loved from the hairs on his head to the tips of his toes, God led him on a gentle but empowering journey to faith.

Psalm 59 is one of my favorite examples, written after David, afraid for his life, flees a murderous king by climbing out his window. His prayer begins with desperate pleas but ends with courage, confidence and peace.

“Rescue me from my enemies, O God. Protect me from those who have come to destroy me. Rescue me from these criminals; save me from these murderers. … I have done nothing wrong, yet they prepare to attack me. Wake up! See what is happening and help me!” (Ps. 59:1-2, 4b).

Can you sense his desperation? It’s as if he’s saying, “Don’t You see? Why have You allowed this?”

But then, in the middle of his turmoil, God draws him deeper into His embrace, and David’s heart overflows with praise. “You are my strength,” he says “O Lord our shield” (vs. 9a, 11b). “My enemies come out at night, snarling like vicious dogs as they prowl the streets” (v. 14). In other words, they’re real and terrifying, but David knew God was greater. “As for me, I will sing about Your power. Each morning I will Psalm 59:17bsing with joy about Your unfailing love. For You” not castle strongholds, weapons of warfare, or armed soldiers “have been my refuge, a place of safety when I am in distress” (v. 16).

I love that last line and the promise it provides. God is our refuge and safety, and we can always rest in His love. As we come to Him with our heartfelt concerns, He quiets the angst within and replaces it with unshakable confidence and peace.

Though He may indeed answer our prayers as we hope, He anchors us in something infinitely deeper, more solid, and more enduring—Himself and His unfailing love.

I don’t know your requests or how God will answer. But I can promise this:

He sees you. (Psalm 34:15)

He hears you. (Psalm 34:6)

He loves you unfailingly. (Psalm 57:3)

He will fulfill His purposes for you. (Psalm 57:2)

He surrounds and defends you. (Psalm 34:7)

When your heart breaks, He holds you close. (Psalm 34:18)

He is faithful, strong, attentive and true. (Deut. 7:9, Ps. 28:7, John 3:33)

Let’s talk about this! Do you have any favorite Psalms, most specifically, those written by ancient Israel’s King David? If so, which ones and why do you treasure that passage? Have you ever used one of David’s prayers as a guide or springboard for your own? Share your thoughts, stories, examples, and questions with us in the comments below, because we can all encourage, challenge, and inspire one another!

Logo image for Wholly Loved's Bible reading appBefore you leave, I have fun news! Wholly Loved Ministries’ Bible will soon have a 30-day Bible reading plan available on YouVersion! I’ll share the link when I have it. In the meantime, I encourage you to join our closed Facebook group. It’s a safe place where women can share their struggles, fears, doubts, and celebrations. to join, click the button below.

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When God Opens Your Eyes and Touches Your Heart — Guest Post

The longer we’ve been a Christian, the more apt we are to forget just how desperately we need grace. We can lose sight of the moment we first received salvation and who we were prior. When this happens, it’s easy for an inner Pharisee to rise up. But as Delia Latham, my guest today shares, when we stand in God’s presence, He redirects our thinking, purifies our heart, and fills us with His love for others.

He Touched Me…Again

Delia Latham

I recently found myself delivering a subtle dig here and a not-so-gentle poke there, aimed with little real love at my brothers and sisters in Christ. I couldn’t overlook the fact that God’s people aren’t always the best examples of godliness, and noticed every fault and failure. The lack of Christlikeness in faithful church-goers appalled me.

I prayed for these so-called Christians, as any real Christian would. Yes, indeed! I wrapped myself in my judge’s robes and took those faulty folks to God’s throne.

But I quickly sensed my Father’s displeasure, almost heard His still, soft whisper: “Daughter, daughter! You see the people around you like trees, walking around. You don’t know their stories, child. I do. Here…let me wash the soap from your eyes. Now, look at Me. Just Me.”

He shifted my vision off of everyone else and fixed it onto Him. I wept, shamed by my lack of perfection and fully aware of how I’d come to this sad, judgmental place.

I’d gotten soap in my eyes. It’s a risk one takes with over-indulgent, spiritual bubble baths. Maybe you’ve been there—immersed in what we assume brings a squeaky-clean spirituality. Such futility! Only the blood of Christ can attain that type of cleansing.

Much conjecture has surrounded the story in Mark 8:22-25, which tells of when Jesus healed a blind man. At first, the man’s restored vision was blurry. He said he saw men like trees walking around, so Jesus touched him again, and the man’s vision cleared.

Why, He had to try twice! When did Jesus ever fail to heal upon the first touch?

I don’t know why the blind man needed that second touch. But his experience became, for me, a lesson in God-sight…an eye exam that resulted in spiritual contact lenses.

Until this rather shameful revelation I’d never wondered why the blind man was looking at the people around him. “I see men…” he said. Jesus gave him his sight. Why wouldn’t his gaze be fixed in adoration and wonder on the One who’d miraculously healed him?

Is it possible that, when he opened his eyes the second time, he looked straight into the face of the Master Physician? Could that be why he saw everything clearly?

That’s where my heart lies, friends. I believe Jesus did it right the first time. I’m convinced the blind man needed that second touch because when he first opened his eyes, he focused on the people around him…not on the Son of God

And me? Same story, same mistake. Had my eyes been on Christ, free of soap scum, I would have seen my brothers and sisters through the lens of God’s love and understanding. Not “like trees, walking.”

What a blessing that Jesus is always willing to touch us one more time!

***

Let’s talk about this! Judgement comes when we forget the gospel and our desperate need for Jesus. What are some ways you keep God’s grace and your dependence on Him on the forefront of your mind? How does doing so enable you to offer grace to others? Share your thoughts and tips in the comments below.

We would love for you to join Wholly Loved’s book discussion next month! We’ll be reading and talking about one of my favorite books, the Ragamuffin Gospel! Contact me HERE for more information!

Get to know Delia!

Delia Latham lives in East Texas with her husband and a spoiled Pomeranian named Kona. She writes inspirational romance and devotions. You’ll always find a touch of the divine in this author’s tales of sweet romance.
A former newspaper Staff Writer, Delia is now blessed to have twenty-seven published novels/novellas, as well as short pieces in a number of devotional anthologies. She designs cover art and marketing materials; and offers freelance editing/proofreading services. Contact her about speaking at your upcoming event. Connect with Delia: Website, Amazon Author page, Facebook Author Page, or Twitter.

Check out her Christmas in July collection!

 

Smoky Mountain Christmas

Claude Buchanan is turning 80. Ida Buchanan wants her husband to have an 80th birthday he’ll never forget. His one request is for all their children and grandchildren to be there for the party. They have four sons, and each one has a daughter—the heroines in each of the novellas. The cousins all share the last name of Buchanan.

All four young women left Gatlinburg, Tennessee in the last few years—for reasons specific to each—and moved to another area or state. For that reason, they don’t want to return for the party. But because they love their grandparents, they do. Returning home forces each young woman to deal with what caused her to leave in the first place, and in each case, opens the door to true love.

The birthday party takes place in Granddaddy and Granny Buchanan’s barn on Christmas Eve, and each of the four novellas end that same day, just prior to the party, which is featured in the epilogue accompanying the last book in the series.

Purchase link

Delia’s book in the collection:

Do You See What I See?

Laramie Buchanan’s fiancé betrayed her on what should have been their wedding day. Evan Lassiter is still trying to recover from being jilted at the altar three years ago. Now, with Laramie’s beloved Granddaddy celebrating his eightieth birthday on Christmas Eve, Lari is forced to return home to Gatlinburg, Tennessee. But even the memory of that awful day rips her heart to shreds. How can she survive a face-to-face meeting with the man she still loves? Yesterday’s heartbreak blinds them both to a surprising truth that could heal their hurting hearts. Will they see it in time to save their love?

Christmas in July Blog Tour Stops Remaining:

July 12 – The World Can Wait (Delia Latham)

July 18 – The World Can Wait (Tiffany Amber Stockton)

July 22 – All Betts Are Off (Jeanie Smith Cash)

July 31 – Pam’s Wild Rose Blog (joint post with Jeanie Smith Cash & Rose Allen McCauley)

Having trouble grasping God’s grace? I’ve learned most about God’s love and mercy through my husband, as I share in this video.

Want to connect with other women actively pursuing Jesus and spiritual growth? Then join the Wholly Loved Facebook group!

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Reaching Out When Rejection is Certain

Image of flowers with the text for John 13:34
Have you ever sensed God asking to reach out to someone, to initiate reconciliation, knowing with near certainty they’d reject your attempts?
About a week ago, this happen to my husband, and watching, I felt as if my heart were shredding.
I had just finished reading about the sharp disagreement between Paul and Barnabas, revealed in Acts 15:36-41. It’s easy to miss the significance of this, to sort of skim over, or perhaps not even really consider, the pain this conflict must’ve caused. Their relationship had to have been incredibly deep. It was Barnabas who sought Paul out and, basically, drew him into ministry. Together, they traveled across the Mediterranean planting churches. (If you’ve ever experienced the bonds that occur on short term mission trips, you can understand how close this must’ve made them.) Together, they’d endured intense persecution and had risked their lives on numerous occasions.
They were beyond tight. But then, they had a sharp disagreement over John Mark, and split ways. Yet remained in the same faith community. This conflict must have stung every time they heard one another’s names spoken among their evangelical circles and whenever they heard of the other’s ministry endeavors and successes.
Relational conflict hurts! And it happens all the time. But our reconciliation efforts can be a powerful purple flowers against a wooden fence with words pulled from post.display of the gospel.
As I said, about a week ago, God called my husband to humbly contact people we knew wouldn’t be receptive. My daughter, having seen how deeply these individuals had hurt him in the past, and wanting to protect her daddy from further pain, got upset and cried. “They’re just going to hurt him again,” she said. Though I knew she was right and wanted to echo her warnings, I told her that is precisely how we (mankind) treat Jesus. He reaches out to us again and again, and yet, we continue to reject Him. But still He pursues us. And sometimes, as His followers, He calls us to do the same, even though we know we’ll likely be rejected, in order to demonstrate a love that is completely different than what we see in the world.
So that’s what my husband did. And yes, he experienced rejection, and I know that hurt him deeply. But I also believe he was obedient, and we can both find joy in that. More than that, I know he demonstrated the initiating, self-sacrificing, humble love of Christ.
When has God asked you to do the same, or maybe when has He revealed His love to you through someone else? Share your thoughts and examples with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.
Before you go, I have fun news! Wholly Loved Ministries’ 90-day devotional has released!
Drawing Near: a 90-Day Devotional:
Each day, God beckons us to Himself, calling us to rest in His love and grace. As we do, He heals our hurts, overpowers our fears with love, and restores us to the women He created us to be. This 90-day devotional, written by women who are learning themselves to live anchored in God’s grace, will help you deepen your faith and grow your relationship with Christ.
Grab your copy HERE.

When Life Hits Hard, Remembering the Journey and the Mission

About ten years ago, a major upheaval initially leveled me, but then God used it to bring about incredible healing and growth. Ultimately, He shifted my focus off of myself and onto others and His redemptive mission. He showed me He wanted to use me, right then and there, in the middle of our difficult and uncertain circumstances.

This was shortly after Katrina and Rita, which hit the south back to back. We were living in

Picture of a hurricane

Image by Sadiq Nafee on Unsplash

Louisiana at the time, and though we weren’t directly impacted by the storm, a good proportion of those we encountered were.

During this time, we went through a period of unemployment. My husband later received contract work just outside of New Braunfels, TX. To stay out of debt, we sold our home within a week, packed our minivan with everything we thought we’d need, and crammed everything else in storage. Then we moved to TX and into a 500 sq foot, rent by the month apartment, not knowing how long we’d be there, how long my husband’s contract work would last, or where we’d go once it ended.

This was a hard time for me, in part because of things I’d experienced previously.

But God used this period to bring such freedom, to show me His love and constancy, and to heal some pretty deep wounds. He also created a sense of anticipation. I felt certain we were in that place at that time (wherever He moved us and for however long we stayed) for a specific purpose. So each day I began with an expectant, “What do you have for me today, God? Why am I here at this moment?”

He answered that prayer each day and often used our exact struggle to help me encourage others. I was able to love on them with a compassion I wouldn’t have otherwise.

I thought back to this experience as I was reading through Ezra and how the previously exiled Israelites celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles or Shelters almost immediately upon their return to Jerusalem. (Ezra 3:1-6).

This feast was instituted by God when the people were at Mt. Sinai. He’d rescued them from Egypt and brought them to Himself. This was a time of liberation but also of loss. They’d given up everything to follow God (and Moses) into the unknown, into a literal desert but likely also a spiritual dessert. They lived in tents, as foreigners and travelers, and had no idea what lay ahead. All they knew was, when the cloud of God’s presence rose each morning, they followed. When it stopped they stopped. That was the extent of their knowledge.

God brought them to a place of complete dependence. They couldn’t run to the Nile River to catch fish or sneak to an Egyptian farm to snag a fig. God alone provided their food and water in the desert. As they traveled, in essence homeless, among the foreign nations, they were also to remember their mission. They were God’s chosen people, selected to reveal to every nation they encountered, who God was and how mankind was to relate to and interact with Him.

So, when they celebrated the Feast of Tabernacles or Feast of Booths, generations later, they remembered their ancestors’ journey, their dependence, and God’s presence.

This festival contained two important elements: light and water. Light reminded them of God’s presence–the pillar of fire that led the people each night as they fled their slavery and journeyed to the Promised Land. Light also played an important part in God’s temple. The people were to keep a candle burning continually, also to signify God’s constant presence.

Water reminded them of God’s protection and provision, of how He’d parted the Red Sea–the seemingly insurmountable barrier between them and safety and the land God had promised. It also reminded them of when God provided water through a rock in the desert, and 1 Cor. 10:1-5 tells us that Rock was Christ.

In all of this, they reminded themselves they weren’t alone or abandoned, and that God still had a plan for them.

For those of us in the middle of hard circumstances, I wonder how many have received the call to missions right where we are, in the middle of our hard. How many of us, like the Israelites, are being, not cast off, as we may be inclined to think, but chosen to reveal the power and presence and love of Christ in the middle of difficult situations. To reveal a faith that extends beyond Sunday mornings and sunshine weekends. Because you are precious in His sight, His chosen and redeemed, His daughters, a royal priesthood, called to proclaim the One who brought you out of darkness and into His marvelous light.

Let’s talk about this! When has God called you to serve Him in the middle of a painful or uncertain period, and what was the result? In what ways is He calling you to live on mission for Him today?

Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

And if you haven’t done so, join Wholly Loved’s Facebook group, a safe, grace-filled place where you can connect with other women seeking to grow in Christ, ask questions and share struggles and celebrations.

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Everyone and Every Role Has Eternal Significance

Three women sitting together outside.

There are no inconsequential roles or people. We all have the capacity to create a lasting, Christ-centered legacy. To be used by God to change lives and communities.

When our daughter was young, I often felt insignificant. I stayed home, spent most of my time changing diapers, wiping snotty noses, cleaning spilled and splattered food off the tile, and tossing the same toys back in the toy box.

Granted, there were countless precious moments I wouldn’t change for anything. But there were times, like when I overheard my husband telling one of his employees to do important things or watched one of the neighbor women pull into their garage dressed all professional and important, that I felt frumpy and … ordinary.

But then one day, I lifted my eyes off of all my insecurities and onto my Savior and diligently sought His will in the middle of the crazy. As I did, a few beautiful things occurred. First, He showed me, every dish washed, tantrum endured, and room tidied could be an act of worship. Second, He helped me see Him–His plans and heart–in my every day and the eternal value of building into a precious young life. Third, He invited me to step outside of my home and to look around and notice others who were feeling insignificant and discouraged. To speak life and joy into other people’s lives.

This perspective shift led to some of the most amazing, eternal conversations, often with strangers; interactions I believe, in faith, God built upon, maybe for generations to come.

I thought of this, and of the capacity for impact we all hold, as I was reading through Acts 16.

In this chapter, we learn about a woman named Lydia whom Paul, an early church planter, encountered and shared the gospel with. Soon after, she welcomed him into her home, and thus, the first Christian church in Europe began.

Here’s what struck me.

First, she was female, during a time when women weren’t often included in religious discussions. Yet Lydia was not only included, but invited to serve alongside one of the most influential men in Christendom.

Second, she lived in a pagan, primarily Roman and Greek city. Residents worshiped many gods, including the emperor who claimed to be “lord and savior.”

Philippi, where Lydia lived, had a nearly nonexistent Jewish population. It was also on a major trade route, and therefore would’ve received a lot of foot traffic in its market.

Of Lydia, Luke says she was a “worshiper of God.” The original word used here was sebomenē, which referred to Gentile Jewish converts.

My question was, how did this Gentile living in a pagan land learn about Yahweh, the One true God?

Most likely not from one of the few Jews in her area. I suspect she learned about God while selling in the market.

Scripture says she sold purple cloth, which, in ancient times, was purchased by the wealthy. I highly doubt the wealthy did their own shopping.

I suspect Lydia learned about Yahweh from a slave who was simply doing his job. Serving his master, receiving no credit or respect. In fact, others likely looked down upon this slave and treated him rather poorly. He may even have assumed his life didn’t matter. I mean, he was just a servant, buying things for his master with his master’s money.

But this slave, whomever he or she was, became the catalyst to the first church in Europe, as did Lydia, a woman who spent most of her time selling cloth.

All that to say, you’re life matters, whatever you’re doing, wherever you’re at, God has background color splash with words pulled from post.aplan for you. He has someone for you to show love to. Someone for you to encourage. Someone who needs hope and the light of Christ to pierce through their darkness.

No one, and no role, is inconsequential because we belong to an intentional, miracle worker, grace-revealing, life-transforming God

Who might God be calling you to love on today?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

And if you haven’t done so, join Wholly Loved’s Facebook group, a safe, grace-filled place where you can connect with other women seeking to grow in Christ, ask questions and share struggles and celebrations.

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Balance and Our Sure Route to Peace — Guest Blog

sunset on a lake with text on surrendering our schedules to God

We weren’t meant to live stressed out, depleted lives. We all must manage difficult and demanding responsibilities on occasion, but our seasons of busyness should be precisely that–seasons. If we’re constantly rushing about, always checking and rearranging our to-do lists to squeeze one more task or one more minute in our days, and especially if this has become a lifestyle, we’ve likely taken on assignments God never intended. Not only will this hinder us from pursuing what He has, but, as my guest today reminds us, it’ll also rob us of peace and joy.

And make sure to read to the end, because she’s doing a crazy fun giveaway to celebrate her debut release!

The Elusiveness of Balance

By Jennifer Hallmark

Tired again. I trudged through the house with another load of laundry on one hip and a grand-young ‘un on the other. I didn’t feel as if I could make the effort to finish my day, take a shower, and fall in the bed. But I had to. A deadline approached and I had much to do the next morning.

How did I fall back into this trap of twirling a hundred plates? Again?

I needed balance, something I’ve pursued in the past. I’ve sought it in my relationships, schedule, and work. Without it, I burn out over and over. Yet somehow I found myself there again.

My last year has been unbelievably stressful but things are working out. My mental and emotional stability isn’t perfect but it’s beyond what I believed it could or should have been.

Through it all, I’m learning what balance is and isn’t.

It’s not:

  1. Me figuring out how to organize my work, play, and duty so I have time for it all.
  2. Meals, bedtime, and worktime at planned intervals every day.
  3. Everything going smoothly and without crisis.

I sought those things for years. Order. My introverted, melancholy, perfectionist world to run as I desired. Then I’d experience joy, happiness, and rest.

But I’ve experienced joy in difficult and stressful situations and have felt depressed when I should’ve been happy. Order is nice but provides no long-term, life-changing effects. I find satisfaction checking things off my to-do list satisfies but not to the degree I need.

True balance can only come from God—as we align our lives with Him and His will.

He is…

  1. Omnipotent: all powerful.
  2. Omnipresent: always present.
  3. Omniscient: all knowing.

These facets of God enable me to find true balance. Schedules, lists, and order are helpful but can be, in themselves, unsteady. I’ve studied the Bible, prayed, and gone to Surrender is acknowledging God is God and we are not--imagechurch. This helps gain wisdom but since I’m not any of the “omnis” above, my interpretation and control is limited.

The solution: I hand my plans to God. I draw closer to Him and remain in relationship with Him. I talk, listen, then talk and listen some more. Then I take a step, listen, and take another step. I stop merely “going through the motions” and surrender my control, which I have very little of anyway.

When I feel anxious, instead of attempting to solve whatever I’m facing in my wisdom and strength, Scripture encourages me to turn to God. Philippians 4:6-7 says:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (ESV).

In other words, when life feels stressful and demanding, we draw close to the Father, tell Him about our day, good and bad, love Him, and present our requests. We praise Him for all He’s done and provided. Then we sit and await His reply. When we sense His guidance, we move forward in faith. We believe He’ll give us enough light to follow.

Living this way leads to emotional and mental steadiness. God knows my energy level and the time I have. He’ll help me spend each wisely. He’ll help me manage all I must get done, whether that’s finishing the laundry or typing another article. Me taking time to breathe, pray, and listen, not checking off lists, makes all the difference.

Balance—and peace—rests in our relationship with God, one where we daily seek out our Father’s voice. Surrender can feel scary but it leads to deeper intimacy with God—and the peace and stability we all long for.

The old expression rings true.

Let go and let God.

He longs to take our hand and lead the way.

Will we let Him?

***

Let’s talk about this! What area is most difficult for you to surrender? How might remembering all God’s “omni” qualities help you to relinquish that area to your Savior? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below!

I also invite you to join me, in person or virtually, at Christ Community Church this evening to learn how to shift from orphan mentality (“Life, or this area, is all up to me; I must retain control”) to living deeply and wholly loved (“God’s got this and me; because He is fully trustworthy, I have no reason to fear and every reason to surrender”). Those who are local can register HERE. The rest of you can pop into Wholly Loved’s Facebook group to watch a live video then engage in discussion after. You can do that HERE. Please note, you’ll need to join our closed FB group first.)

Get to know Jennifer Hallmark!

Jennifer Hallmark's author headshotJennifer Hallmark writes Southern fiction and has published 200+ internet articles and interviews, short stories in several magazines, and has co-authored three book compilations. Her debut novel, Jessie’s Hope, released on June 17th, 2019.

When she isn’t babysitting or gardening, you can find her at her desk writing fiction or working on her two blogs. She also loves reading detective fiction from the Golden Age and viewing movies like LOTR or Star Wars. Sometimes you can even catch her watching American Ninja Warrior.

Visit her online at:

www.jenniferhallmark.com

www.inspiredprompt.com 

Jennifer Hallmark, Facebook

Twitter

Pinterest

Instagram

Check out her debut novel, Jessie’s Hope!

Cover image for Jessie's HopeYears ago, an accident robbed Jessie Smith’s mobility. It also stole her mom and alienated her from her father. When Jessie’s high school sweetheart Matt Jansen proposes, her parents’ absence intensifies her worry that she cannot hold on to those she loves.

With a wedding fast approaching, Jessie’s grandfather Homer Smith, has a goal to find the perfect dress for “his Jessie,” one that would allow her to forget, even if for a moment, the boundaries of her wheelchair. But financial setbacks and unexpected sabotage hinder his plans.

Determined to heal from her past, Jessie initiates a search for her father. Can a sliver of hope lead to everlasting love when additional obstacles–including a spurned woman and unpredictable weather–highjack Jessie’s dream wedding?

Buy it on:

Make sure to get in on her fun giveaways!

June Blog Tour Giveaway Extravaganza

June 10th-June 30th

Prizes include:

  • $25 Amazon Gift Card
  • $10 Starbucks Gift Card
  • Print copy of Jessie’s Hope
  • 2 Kindle copies of Jessie’s Hope

Giveaway details: Go to her Rafflecopter Page (HERE) to enter the drawings for five prizes to be drawn by Rafflecopter from all the entries. Winners will be revealed on the author’s blog on July 1st.

Link to Rafflecopter found by visiting my June blog tour from June 10th until June 30th. Blog tour includes:

June 13thJennifer Slattery Lives Out Loud/Jennifer Slattery

June 14thFavorite Friday Fiction/Me

June 15thInspired Prompt/Betty Thomason Owens

June 17thAuthor Trish Perry/Trish Perry

June 17thSouthern Writers Magazine

June 18thAuthor Liz Tolsma/Liz Tolsma

June 19thInspired Prompt/Betty Thomason Owens

June 21stSnark & Sensibility/Linda Rondeau

June 24thFear Warrior/Jerusha Agen

June 24thJune Foster/June Foster

June 25thTrumpet Tuesdays/Julie Arduini

June 26thSeriously Write/Sandra Ardoin

June 28thHeartfelt, Homespun fiction/Cynthia Herron

June 29thThe Write Conversation/Edie Melson

The Kingdom of Me and the Joy of Christ

Quote from post with mint and coral background.

Often, it’s the good things, the “God things” that most keep me from Him. It’s sad how easily my heart becomes swayed. One would think I’d learned by now, that I’ve become adept at putting effective guardrails in place and being extra diligent to guard my heart. But so often, busyness and pride and selfishness seeps in and my service that began with such pure intensions becomes ugly and self-elevating.

I’m all too proficient at building my kingdom, when my efforts should be centered on the things of God. Last week, we talked about chasing God ordained dreams. This week, let’s consider the dangers that come with doing so as we intentionally remind ourselves Woman sitting with text from postwhere every God-given dream leads—to Himself.

The more I surrender to Him, the more I yield to His Spirit within and align my heart with His plans and purposes, the more joy and freedom I feel. The more I slip, bit by bit, from this, the more miserable I become.

At every moment, I’m worshipping someone—God or myself.

The god of self is a vicious, defeating, deceiving contender, one I’ve found quite difficult to kill. She rises up when I least expect her to, whispering lies in my ear, making promises—to give me joy and fulfillment—which she has no power to fulfill.

As C. S. Lewis put it, “It would seem that Our Lord finds our desires not too strong, but too weak. We are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased.”

Every promise made by my Savior is certain and true, and here’s what He tells me: joy, peace, and deep, soul-enriching fulfillment is found only in Him. He is my prize, and He alone can fill me to overflowing, in abundance, with the very life I crave.

This is the promise He’s made to all mankind. This invitation to love and live loved, made by our Creator Himself, resonates so deeply, upon hearing it, our souls leap for joy. Until we encounter something flashier or louder or momentarily more alluring. And we begin amassing our wealth, our toys, our successes, and our homes, until the voice of God, the call of God, fades.

Unfortunately, building the kingdom of “me” comes much too easily.

This was certainly true for the ancient Israelites, returning home after captivity. Their journey had been long and arduous. Their sorrow deep, when they arrived in their beloved city to find the Temple of God—the place where He Himself communed with His people—reduced to a pile of rubble.

And yet, they began to rebuild, for a time, until opposition hit. Then, they started building the kingdom of me. “‘My house lies in ruins,” says the Lord of Heavens Armies, ‘while all of you are busy building your own houses’” (Hag. 1:9, NLT).

And note, God was speaking about so much more than a building, as glorious as this manmade structure once was. His Temple housed His presence.

God was inviting His people into relationship. To leave all their false gods behind, once and for all, and to connect deeply and intimately, with Him. And like we read last week, they responded enthusiastically for a while, craving the very thing God promised.

But then they stopped and shifted their focus.

I get it. I’ve been there. And unfortunately, I’ll likely land there again. But when I do, God offers me the same invitation He did His people, so long ago. “Return to Me,” He says, “and I will return to you” (Zech. 1:3, NLT). He is only a prayer or repentance away, and He offers much more than the kingdom of Me ever can. He gives Himself without Woman staring out at horizon with text pulled from postmeasure, inviting us to meet with Him, to be held by Him. To be loved deeply and completely, and in this, to be filled with joy and peace.

“I will fill this place,” God says, speaking of His Temple (Haggai 2:7), which, thanks to the blood of Jesus, is us. He alone can fill our deepest, darkest, most hidden placed with Himself.

And in that moment, when the power and glory of our Creator fills us completely, we’re reminded yet again, He is our prize, and He is enough.

More than enough.

Let’s talk about this! Can you relate to my ongoing struggle? When does the god of self most threaten to rise up within you? How to beat her back?

Share your thoughts in the comments below!

Speaking of idolatry, you may also enjoy my latest article on Bible Study Tools. You can read it HERE.

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