Join Me on Armida Miranda’s Deeper Connection With God Podcast

Hello, friends!

A while back, a podcast host contacted me, asking me to share some of my journey with Christ and how He’s led me to experience a deeper connection with Him. And, well, I love talking about the freedom I’ve experienced through God’s grace, so I was thrilled to except the invite. I’m also giving away two Bible studies (eversions).

I do want to mention, Armida interviewed numerous guests, and I don’t know their theology or perspective so encourage you to always filter everything you hear, not just when listening to podcasts but in all of life as well, through God’s truth preserved for us in Scripture.

Here’s more information:

She is a small business owner and as a single mom, raised two young men with God by her side. She relied on the Grace and Mercy of God many times throughout her family’s journey. Needing inspiration on a daily basis she sought out friendships and connections that would encourage her relationship with God.
Her dream is to allow Christ to touch individuals by bringing spirituality instead of worldly answers for those going through personal life challenges. She has gathered these speakers, all experts in their fields, to share their personal journeys with you and how they found answers by going to our heavenly Father.
It’s no secret that we all go through trying times. Getting reminders about how He empowers us to live with purpose and walk fearlessly in faith ties this summit together.
You can count on these things to be covered in this FREE online series launching May 11th and continuing for three weeks:
  • How to connect deeper with God every minute of every day
  • How to be calm when stressful times arrive
  • How to respond, not react
  • How God restores broken lives
  • How abundant life is to the Believer
  • Examples of how people have overcome physical, emotional & mental diversity through Him
  • FREE gift from every expert
Join me by clicking on the ACCESS button below; then fill in your information and click YES, I’m in!
Updates will appear in your inbox in the next few days.
I know Armida would appreciate it if you shared this FREE series with friends, family, and co-workers.

Conquering Our Fear of Weakness

quote on overcoming fear of weakness with blue background

I don’t like to appear weak or needy. In fact, I will go to great lengths to avoid this and to portray an image of strength, even in the face of weakness. I suspect some of this comes from my slightly stubborn and determined personality. But honestly, most of my insecurities stem from fear and pride. I’m afraid my weaknesses might somehow disqualify me from some future opportunity and might cause others to lose their respect for me.

I didn’t realize I had a fear of weakness until I became physically weak. Some of you know my story—how I grew sick in 2011. And while I’m so much better than I was, I’m still far from the athlete I once considered myself to be. Sometimes, oftentimes, actually, I’m afraid to admit why: I have fibromyalgia, though I hide my symptoms well. I’ve learned to smile through the pain and shake off the fatigue—until I come home. There, nestled in the security of my husband’s love, my true and often hurting self emerges.

Like I indicated, my insecurities stem from a fear of missing out. Of being labeled by my weaknesses rather than my strengths. Of being discounted before I even try. Of having to fight not just my inherent limitations, but other people’s false perceptions as well. In short, my fears stem from a failure to rest in God’s sovereignty and grace.

One hot, summer afternoon, I sensed God’s nudge to share how He’d met me in my struggle—how He became my strength during a time of weakness. But out of fear and shame, I remained quiet. As I explained to God why—all I feared might happen should I step out from behind my carefully erected veneer, He reminded me of a faith-bolstering truth.

He’d called me. Long before I took my first breath, committed my first sin, ran my first triathlon, or acquired my first illness. Ephesians 2:10 says, “For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (NIV). This means God has a plan for me and my life, a wonderful, eternally significant plan. That plan absolutely must include my current condition, because He set His plan into motion before my diagnosis. What’s more, Psalm 139:16 tells me that every day of my life was recorded in God’s book before a single one came to pass.

But the original Hebrew goes deeper. It says, in essence, “All the days fashioned, or molded into form, for me …” Combined with Ephesians 2:10, this creates an image of a patient, loving, intentional craftsman molding a pliable, not yet perfected lump of clay into His masterpiece. The pushing, squeezing, and molding hurts, absolutely. But never without purpose. Never without hope.

My condition cannot limit the call God’s placed on my life. It may, in fact, reveal that call more clearly. Though I don’t believe He gave me fibromyalgia, He can and will use it to reveal the gospel. As I lean on Him, the only One able to bringQuote from post strength from my weakness, I proclaim a God bigger than everything hard, broken, tarnished, and incomplete in this world. And as I long for restoration and health, He lifts my heart to thoughts of eternity where He’ll one day make all things right. Where there will be no more pain, no more sickness, no weakness or sin. Nothing but light and life and love as we, God’s children, stand in the presence of the One who is light and love.

So in the meantime, I serve, honestly, faithfully, and authentically, focusing not on how others perceive me but rather how I reveal my God.

Fear of weakness, at its root, is an idolatry problem. It stems from a failure to lose myself completely in my Lord, the One who gave Himself completely for me. I conquer this fear not through fighting for strength but rather choosing surrender. Choosing to lose myself in a battle greater than me.

Let’s talk about this! When has your weakness caused you to rely on God and therefore turned to a strength? When has your strength resulted in self-reliance and therefore turned to a weakness?

Connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, join her private Faith Over Fear Facebook Group, Logo image for Faith Over Fearlisten to the first two episodes of her Faith Over Fear podcast HERE and find her free Bible reading plan HERE.

Additional resources:

Moving Past Self-Sufficiency, video presentation from Wholly Loved’s Becoming His Princess Bible study.

Don’t Fear Weakness by Bear Grylls

Weakness is an Invitation From God by Sarah Walton

Refreshing Our Prayer Life Through Remembering

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Have you ever paused to consider where you might be now if not for God’s intervention? I need to do this regularly, otherwise I become complacent, prideful, and entitled. I begin to focus on minor inconveniences—a traffic jam that makes me late for a meeting, or an unexpected bill that eats my coffee fund—rather than Christ and eternity.

Worse, I forget to listen and I resist surrender. I deceive myself into thinking I have all the answers, that I alone hold the outcome of my future. And with every forgetful step, my pride rises up, urging me to follow the god of self.

I know that god well, and I know precisely where she leads. Her progression from selfishness to isolation and broken relationships. Uncontrolled finances. Unresolved hurts and unchecked faulty perceptions. Lord, help me remember those dark, confused places and every battle You won on my behalf.

Perhaps that’s why Scripture often encourages us to remember and warns us not to forget.

In Deuteronomy 6:12 the Israelites were told to “take care lest you forget the Lord, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.” In Psalm 78, we learn the people rebelled because “They forgot what [God] had done, the wonders He had shown them” (NIV). But perhaps most powerfully are Christ’s words, spoken the night before He died, when taking the bread and the wine: “Do this in remembrance of Me” Luke 22:19 (NIV).

Because in the remembering:

I find courage to relinquish my grip, knowing I’ll always land firmly in my Savior’s hands. He’s proven Himself faithful again and again. He’s demonstrated, through my blunders and moments of surrender that His knowledge greatly exceeds mine and His ways truly are best.

I find strength to keep moving, regardless of how steep the climb. Why? Because God’s helped me conquer similar, perhaps even rockier, terrain before, and the strenuous hike always pales compared to the beauty experienced upon the mountain’s peak.

I gain peace as I contemplate God’s steadfast presence and all the years and days and hours that He faithfully walked beside me. I couldn’t always hear Him, and there were times I couldn’t feel Him, and yet, He was there. Always, just as He promised. And also, just as He promised, He will be with me now, today, and tomorrow, and forever more.

Through remembering, praise and strength fill my heart and soul, and the joy of Christ floods my being.

And so I wonder, why don’t I practice this discipline more?

Sometimes my prayers turn perfunctory. I go through my list and often repeat the same requests day after day. While there’s nothing wrong with asking for God’s help—in fact, He bids us to lay all our concerns before Him– I long for more.

Throughout my daughter’s life, she’s asked for many things, and rightly so. We fed her, clothed her, purchased gifts and paid for experiences with us and her friends. When she’s concerned, hurting, or frightened, I hope her father and I are the first people she comes to. I hope she knows we’ll always draw her close and will never turn her away.

But when she simply comes, to connect and spend time with me—those moments are priceless.

The other day, my daughter sent me a message that said simply, “You’re a good mom.” I took a screen shot of her words image of message from daughterand saved them, and I suspect I’ll read them again and again. Not because I feel insecure or even need her validation. Rather, I cherish her and the relationship we’ve cultivated. That was what she expressed in her message—our relationship.

But more than that, I cherish her heart. Her grateful, kind, loving heart.

Is that perhaps how God feels, when we offer Him similar praise? When we pause to reflect, to remember, who He is and what He’s done. When we really take time to sit in those memories, to let them bolster our hearts and our souls.

What are some ways you pause to remember? How do you make those moments times of intimacy between you and your Savior? What are some ways you keep your prayer life fresh and vibrant? Share your thoughts and ideas with us in the comments below. And make sure to connect with Jennifer Slattery on Facebook and Instagram.

Additional resources:

What Does the Bible Say About Remembering on Open Bible

Remembering Then But Now on Bible.org

A Holy Reminder by Jana Kelley

Remembering God’s Blessings by Dr. Charles Stanley

 

Help Me Celebrate Release Day!


We really should throw a party with lots of chocolate and coffee, of course. And maybe some goofy social media pictures. How about we all meet in our Walmart aisle for some impromptu story fun?

I know, you live too far away for that. But I’d love to see your fun Hometown Healing sightings anyway! Catch a glimpse of my next release on a store shelf, take a photo of it, and send the pic my way. That would totally make my day! In the meantime, here’s more about the story:

She’s home again, but not for long…Unless this cowboy recaptures her heart

Returning home with a baby in tow, Paige Cordell’s determined her stay is only temporary. But to earn enough money to leave, she needs a job—and her only option is working at her first love’s dinner theater. With attraction once again unfurling between her and Jed Gilbertson, can the man who once broke her heart convince her to stay for good?

You can grab a copy HERE.

When Set Backs Hit

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For some, dreams come easy. Most of us want to feel significant, to know we’re called to something miraculous and eternal.

But others have long since lost that childlike expectancy and have traded thoughts of what could be to settle for what is. Maybe an opportunity came that felt so right, so us, our hearts leapt with joy. And we immediately began envisioning where God might take us and that thing. But then opposition hit, and though we persevered for a while, eventually our passion and strength waned until both felt nonexistent.

So we quit.

We stopped trying. Stopped hoping, stopped longing for more or better.

Maybe after years of rejections and setbacks, we came to believe God could never use that gift in that way. Or maybe not at all. Perhaps after years of marital silence and what felt like unanswered prayers, we relinquished our hopes of happily ever after and slowly, quietly, our hearts hardened. We ceased praying for that family member, quit believing that wayward child would return. Quit trusting God would one day give us victory over that sin.

And so, over time, we joined the disillusioned and discouraged, convinced Christ’s promise of abundant life was nothing more than hyperbole.

But at each moment, God gives us a precious gift: the chance to begin again. To send one more letter, offer one more prayer, make one more phone call, or type one more line. Because He’s fully engaged in our journeys, not just our beginnings and ends. As the saying goes, the God who calls us to it, whatever it may be, is the same God who will bring us through it.

All He asks is that we lean on Him and keep stepping. We tend to see difficulties as text pulled from post with background image of mountains and a valley between them.dead ends and detours, but in Scripture, again and again, we see those things that appear to be obstacles are simply opportunities for God’s power and grace to shine.

Imagine being part of the rebuilding crew King Cyrus sent back to Jerusalem. If you’ve been following this blog series, you’ll remember, after a long period of captivity, God stirred the hearts of His people’s captors to send them home—with abundance. He was calling them to rebuild their Temple, the place where He said He’d dwell. I imagine, in this, they would also be rebuilding their faith after having spent decades in a foreign, pagan land where all their desperate pleas for aid appeared to go unanswered for so long.

But then, just when all seemed hopeless, God came through and sent them off with absolutely everything they’d need to fulfill the task He’d assigned. Can you imagine the celebration they felt, upon leaving Babylon? The images and memories that filled their heads as they traveled closer and closer to their homeland?

You can sense their excitement in Psalm 126, written to celebrate their return:

“When the Lord brought back His exiles to Jerusalem, it was like a dream! We were filled with laughter, and we sang for joy. And the other nations said, ‘What amazing things the Lord has done for them.’ Yes, the Lords has done amazing things for us! What joy!” (vs. 1-2, NLT).

Scripture tells us the people joined together “with a unified purpose” (Ez. 3:1) and, though frightened of the locals, began building with courage (Ez. 3:3, NLT). Everyone, including the priests and Levites, who’d returned from exile, worked together. Then, once they laid the foundation, they praised God with trumpets, cymbals, and songs of thanks.

Oh, what a glorious beginning! What joy to be called and commissioned by the King. But then came the opposition. The locals first tried to deceive them, then frightened and discouraged them until, eventually, the building stopped.

They shifted their focus off of the things of God and onto themselves, off of the glorious and miraculous and onto the mundane. They settled for “what was”—a life of ordinary houses occupied by ordinary lives—instead of what could be.

At least for a time—until God once again revived their hearts. Just as He does with us, when we begin to feel tired and discouraged. If that’s where you’re at now, hear this truth: God’s with you. He has a plan for you, and He is, at this moment, walking beside you. He will turn every struggle and setback you encounter to good. Trust Him in this, lean on Him, and keep stepping.

Let’s talk about this! Share your thoughts and stories in the comments below, and join Wholly Loved’s discussion in our Facebook group!

Our online community is a safe place where women can share their struggles, insights, and celebrations. This is a “closed” group where only members can see posts shared and where confidentiality is practiced. We share prayer requests, hurts and insecurities, and ways God is meeting us in our struggles each day. And you’re invited to heal and grow and learn with us!

And make sure to check out our daily devotions on Crosswalk. You can find them HERE.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

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Love For Those Who Don’t Understand It

 

Sad woman sitting on the groundHow do you explain God’s love to someone with no concept of it? Someone who’s only known manipulation, conditional and temporary relationships, or partial acceptance coated with the threat of rejection?

I asked that question to a church friend maybe ten years back, and she quickly responded, “You tell them about the cross.”

And I thought, ‘She doesn’t get it.’

She didn’t understand what it felt like to be betrayed and abandoned by the ones who were supposed to protect you and hold you close. She didn’t know the sting of trusting someone, believing they truly loved you, or at least hoping they did, only to have them leave or discard you, without a backwards glance. Or worse.

Our world is filled with those who’ve experienced deep hurts by those who were supposed to love them most, and they carry the scars and distrust, which often presents as anger and skepticism, today.

It’s filled with men and women going through life with deep wounds only Christ can heal and aching holes only He can fill but who, because of past hurts and scars, can’t see Him.

Though He reaches out day after day in a thousand different ways, their hurt-tainted perceptions distort His hand. We keep proclaiming Jesus, but our words seem to have little effect, and we wonder why.

So again I ask, how do you explain the cross to someone who has no concept of true, sacrificial love? How do you help them understand that Christ died not for a cause or movement or to make a statement but for them, so that they could live?

The longer we’ve been followers of Christ, the more removed we can become from this question. We can begin to take His death and resurrection for granted, and in our familiarity with the Good Friday story, we can forget it’s depth. Though I suspect we’ve all wrestled with its implications, at least, if we truly grasped what Christ did and have owned His radical deed for ourselves.

Did you see the Passion movie? I did, and walking in, I felt certain I understood Christ’s sacrifice, what it cost, and the gift I received through it. I knew I was a cherished, redeemed, child of God destined for heaven. But I hadn’t a clue just how loved–unfathomably, deeply and radically–I was.

Then I saw His flesh tear as the metal tipped whip scourged his back. I saw the agony on His face as His executioners hammered nails into His hands and feet. And I saw Him hang, exposed, abandoned and rejected, until, with a final word, “It is finished,” He relinquished His life.

For me.

That was all I could think, as I sat in that dark, quiet yet crowded theater. He did that for me.

Jesus died so that I might live.

Me. Sinful, selfish, and prideful Jennifer Slattery.

Suddenly, what I knew to be true became all the more real. And my only response was, “I’m sorry. Forgive me, Lord, I’m so sorry.”

There was nothing else to say. No promises or declarations or pious acts could compensate for what He’d done.

Jesus showed me, through that film, what true love looks like. A love that gives of oneself completely, until one has nothing left. A love that chooses to die so that others, like me and you, might live.

So again I ask, how do we explain the cross to someone with no concept of love? Someone who’s only known the manipulative, conditional, temporary love often displayed in our culture?

Sure, we could take them to the movie, and we could tell them how Jesus died for them. We could even flesh the story out, doing our best to make it vivid and real.

But first, we must do as our Savior did for us.

We need to show them. We need to demonstrate a love that reaches, perseveres, endures, and sacrifices. A love that remains even when mocked, rejected, and pushed away.

That’s the kind of love our world needs to see. A kind of love that, quite likely, may not make any sense to those receiving it. It may confuse long before it illuminates. But with every kind word and gentle smile, it helps pave the way for a love even more radical and unfathomable than any we can display.

This isn’t the quick, easy answer my friend gave. Nor is it easy to display, but it’s more effective than any gospel tract.

Let’s talk about this. What are some ways you are actively demonstrating the love of Christ? What can you do this lenten season to be God’s ambassador and image bearer–someone who reveals who God is at His core and His heart for mankind? Share your thoughts and examples with us in the comments below, because we can all encourage and challenge one another!

Courageous Impact

Joshua 1:9 with rainy background

Throughout Scripture, and often before miraculous events, God issued the command: Do not be afraid. Each day, He calls us to live on mission and empowers us to do so, but we tend to be a fearful bunch, and sometimes we can feel as if we’re caught in the middle of a tumultuous river with little more than a canoe and some paddles.

If that’s how you tend to feel, when called to step out in faith, I hope Leeann Betts’s post brings you encouragement today!

Small Boats and Big Waves

By Leeann Betts

Small boats—and the thought of drowning, terrify me. This fear paralyzed me and caused me to miss out on numerous things—until God helped me see the bigger picture.

As a result, I don’t do small boats.

I don’t do small boats.

I won’t enter anything smaller than a cruise ship.

And this from a girl who grew up on an island in the Atlantic.

When I was a kid, my grandfather built a small, flat-bottomed boat. No motors for him—oars only. He’d kit us out in our life vests and fishing poles and take us on a small lake near his summer cottage. I’d sit in the middle seat, and my white knuckles on the edge of the boat could have lighted our way home in the dark.

A couple of times he pried my fingers loose to hand me my fishing pole, but my fear paralyzed me to do anything but hold it. All I could see was the dark water mere inches away. All I could think about was that the water was over my head, that the lilies and weeds would probably entangle me, and who knew what was in the water? All sorts of monsters dwelt there.

Fast forward about fifty years, and I’m heading to Peru on a mission trip with my church. In fact, I’m going to the jungle. I already know I’d have to take a boat from the port to the camp, but that’s okay. I focused on “port” and “camp”, not “boat”.

We arrive at a collection of tiny structures in the middle of nowhere, providing food and supplies for weary travelers. We slip, slide, and scramble down a muddy bank to the water’s edge where our sailing craft awaits. I look upstream. Nothing but a couple of canoes. I look downstream. A metal boat about ten feet long, its canvas covering long rotted—a tiny outboard putt-putting to life under the tentative ministrations of a teenage boy.

My hubby helps me clamber in, and I sit in the middle of the middle seat, clinging to the edges of the warped board. The rest of the team is chatting, laughing, leaning against the side, ignoring me, for which I’m thankful. I think, “Okay, God, I can do this. I just have to do this one more time, on Sunday, when we leave.”

I ask about crocodiles, and they laugh and say there aren’t any. Phew! “But keep your hands out of the water,” somebody says. “There are piranha.”

Oh, nice.

When we reach the camp, everyone decides to go to the zoo the next day (another round trip in the boat), and to church on Sunday (another round trip) before we leave (the only trip I made a deal with God about).

Seriously?

But the Lord showed me the riverbanks, which in some places looked like sculpted sand. He reminded me that the river didn’t carve these banks, because although we’re at the headwaters of the Amazon, the water is slow-moving.

God pointed out the wake of the boat nudging up against the riverbank, and told me that the hundreds of boats that ply these waters daily made the contours in the riverbank.

“You are like the waves,” He said. “A little touch here. A nudge there. Your presence changes the waves with quote pulled from the postlives of people, just like the wake changes the shoreline.”

Suddenly, the reason for the trip became clear. It wasn’t about what I did—like painting walls, or teaching English, or cooking—it was about being there. Touching the lives of the children. Of the people who were so appreciative that strangers from the US would come to their country because we love them.

My fear of small boats and deep water didn’t vanish, but at least now I had a reason to tell them to stay quiet. I made those extra trips gladly, knowing that it wasn’t about the trip but about the time I spent with the boys. Nice tie in.

And I discovered in the process that I left my heart in that jungle, at the camp alongside the river, where the only way to get there is in a small boat. I’m looking forward to going back—hopefully soon.

I may sail in a small boat, and there may be big waves, but the good news is I serve a huge God Who can overcome this island girl’s fears and help her see the bigger picture.

***

Let’s talk about this! How does that imagery Leeann presented–the analogy of our influence being like the waves that gently tug at and transform a seashore? How might viewing our lives that way give us the courage and inspiration to step out and reach out?

It doesn’t take much to make a lasting, life-changing impact. Sometimes the best thing we can do is leave our air conditioned home, cross the street, and engage with a neighbor. Yesterday, an article I wrote for Crosswalk on loneliness went live, and the response blew my mind, telling me this is something many women struggle with. You can read the article HERE.

So many of us are living disconnected, but this is NOT God’s desire for us. He wants us to engage! If you’re one of the many who’ve allowed fear of rejection hold you back and hinder your relationships, I encourage you to come to one of our Bold and Brave conferences–we have one in Lincoln on July 21st, another one in Lincoln on Aug. 25th, and another one in Elkhorne on October 6th. Find out more HERE and connect with us on Facebook HERE.

Want us to come to your next women’s event? Contact me HERE.

And before you go, make sure you sign up for my free quarterly newsletter to receive great, inspirational, and entertaining content sent directly to your inbox. The next edition releases at the end of this month. You can subscribe HERE.

Get to know Leeann Betts!

Leeann Betts' author photoLeeann Betts writes contemporary suspense, while her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, pens historical suspense. She has released seven titles in her cozy mystery series, By the Numbers, with number 8, A Deadly Dissolution, releasing in June. In addition, Leeann has written a devotional for accountants, bookkeepers, and financial folk, Counting the Days, and with her real-life persona, Donna Schlachter, has published two books on writing, Nuggets of Writing Gold and More Nuggets of Writing Gold, a compilation of essays, articles, and exercises on the craft. She publishes a free quarterly newsletter that includes a book review and articles on writing and books of interest to readers and writers. You can subscribe at LeeannBetts.com or follow Leeann at AllBettsAreOff. All books are available on Amazon.com in digital and print, and at Smashwords.com in digital format.

Visit her website and receive a free ebook just for signing up for our quarterly newsletter. Read her writing on her blog, connect with her on Facebook or Twitter, and check out her books on Amazon.

cover image for a Deadly DissolutionCheck out her book, A Deadly Dissolution:

The total lunar eclipse of October 2004 leaves more than Bear Cove, Maine, in the dark. The town’s newly-elected mayor, Walter Akerman, hires Carly to audit the town’s books but is then caught in a compromising situation with his secretary Evie Mack. A journalist in town to cover the eclipse turns up dead. Tom and Sarah’s adopted son Bradley comes to stay overnight to see the eclipse, then goes missing on a walk in town. When Mike’s car is in a serious wreck which the police say is an accident, Carly thinks somebody is trying to send her a message to stay away. How can she solve all these mysteries while not completely wearing herself to a frazzle?