Is prayer your first reaction, or your last resort?

Is prayer your first reaction or your last resort?

The day our daughter had her cardiac MRI I was sitting in the hospital lobby waiting, when halfway through the exam her doctor comes out with two nurses.

They took me to a small private room where the doctor began to explain what they had found and what needed to be done.

Her condition was not something that could be easily corrected, it needed surgery.

I sat there as he explained to me the anatomy, the risks, the procedure etc.

It was a LOT to process, and the only thing I could say to him was “I’m processing all of this that you are saying. We are people of faith, would you mind if I just took a moment right now to pray?”

They graciously agreed and I prayed at that moment. Right there in that small conference room with the doctor and the two nurses.

And I can say there was a supernatural peace that allowed me to hold it together.

And continues to do so to this day.

Prayer should be our FIRST response. Sincere, genuine prayer can do amazing things in our lives.

We have a very real and loving Heavenly Father and prayer is our daily connection to him.

It is as crucial to us as the food we eat to nourish our bodies.

Do not let anything keep you from your conversations with God. They can be open, and real. You can cry it out and tell him exactly how you are feeling.

Angry, scared, terrified, ashamed….whatever it is.

Do not believe the lie that you are unworthy of speaking to a most loving and forgiving Father.

He is there waiting, ready to listen to every word you say. He knows even words left unsaid.

How good is our God ❤️

-P. Jenn

#nationalprayerday #prayer #firstresponse #faith #believe #power #strength

Why Is Honor Important In Your Family?

3, 2, 1…….. Have you ever said these words when your child disobeyed you? Through repetition, you’ve taught them that if you get to the dreaded zero in your countdown, then there will be some type of punishment. This had been my form of control and teaching my children how to be obedient. Because for me, obedience is very important. Who doesn’t want their children to obey their every command? But I really didn’t enjoy those times that I counted down to zero. As I counted, I’d have this internal conversation in my head. All I would be thinking was “come on kid, I don’t want to do this but I will.” Have you ever been there? Maybe you’ve had a similar experience in the disciplining of your child. Let me tell you about something that changed the way I disciplined my children.

It’s one word, HONOR! I know, I know. How can one word be so effective that it would cause me to leave my other discipline strategies? I was also skeptical, when I first heard it. Pastor Andy Stanley brought this idea that he experienced and is currently living out with his family. After teaching and studying the idea, and after practicing it myself, I realized how effective it was. So, let me break it down. In Ephesians 6:2 the bible teaches us that, children should honor their father and mother. Yes, as a parent you have the bible on your side but it goes beyond that. It’s possible that, you simply telling your child, “well the bible says you have to honor me” may not work. It requires more work on our side as parents. Honor in the new testament can mean that something is of value to you or it’s something you deem to have a price; but it also comes about through time. Who wouldn’t want their children to value, respect, and admire them? Before we get there, we have to Honor our children first.

The bible teaches us that, we love because God first loved us. He modeled that to us by revealing himself to us. In the same way how can our kids honor us if we don’t model it to them. Your children imitate you. They speak like you, and even act like you because they are learning from you. If we are constantly lying to our children, then we are not honoring them. If you say yes, I’ll take you to get ice cream tomorrow, and tomorrow comes and you don’t keep your promise, then you’re not honoring them. Instead, you’re teaching them that it’s ok to not follow through on what is said. Then they begin to lie to you, but remember where they learned it from first. As a parent we have the privilege and responsibility to teach, guide, coach, and love our children. Don’t take it lightly. If you do, someone else will teach them, and it may not be what’s best for them. I believe we now understand the importance we play on our children’s life, so let’s begin to teach honor.

We talked about how we must show honor to our children. Fathers, you can achieve this in the way that you interact with your wife. Do you value her in front of your children? Do you lie to her? Do you lift her up? Can your children see a healthy relationship between you and your wife? Fathers if you have boys, the way you treat your wife is the example you set for how they will interact with women when they are older. If you have daughters, the way you treat your wife will set an example of how they should expect to be treated as they are looking for their future husband. Mothers, the same go for you with your children. The way you treat your husband can bring him value, respect, and authority in your home. Our kids study everything, and the relationship between the spouses is a vital one. It’s the one they see throughout their life, and molds most of their future relationships. So, with that being said, parents honor your spouses. Not only does that benefit your children but it greatly benefits your marriage.

So, what do I do if my child dishonors (disrespects, lies, hurts, disobeys) me? Well here is the thing with honor. When you teach your children honor it leads to relationship. So, if you punish your children by taking away their cell phone, video games, YouTube, etc. all you’ve done is take something they like for some time. They might even resent you for it. It doesn’t feed or lead you to a closer relationship, but instead it serves to pull you apart. Now I know some of you are thinking “come on now” but hear me out. I come from a background where whooping is very common, and being familiar with a belt while growing up, but I think I turned out alright. However as a parent, I now know that it isn’t the most effective way. So, you might be asking “well then, what do I do?” Let me give you an example. Not too long ago my eldest dishonored her mom. When she got home, I asked her to go to her room and told her I would be in shortly to talk to her. When I got there, I asked her what happen. She told me a very non-detailed account of what happen. I told her what her mother told me and pointed out how she dishonored her. I reminded her how in our family we honor each other. I reminded her how dishonoring breaks the relationship we are building. Once she acknowledged what she had done, I then asked how she planned to fix it. I asked how can she now show honor after dishonoring. So, she threw out some ideas like making mommy a card, giving her strawberries with whip cream, and apologizing. I agreed and told her “so this is what you are going to do, PERFECT.”

When you lead your children to honor it always leads to building and protecting your relationship. If I take away YouTube, sure its effective for a while. But we never address the offense, the hurt that was done. By having them do something for the person they dishonored it leads to a reconciling and a building of the relationship.

Now teaching your children honor is not a one-night thing or a magical thing that works all the time. It’s something you must dedicate, focus, and prioritize on, if you want it to be a part of your family. Like we said earlier, honor is developed over time, so don’t rush it, just be consistent. When your children are trying to honor after a dishonor you might need to guide them through, on how to mend that relationship. At times, you might even need to strongly guide them in a direction you think is right; and as you do, be creative with it. The more creative, the stronger impact it will make, and they will remember it.

Now, teaching and upholding honor will take some work. It is far easier to take things away as a form of discipline but consider this, let’s stop taking away and start giving our kids practical ways to honor and treat people, and how to mend relationships. The end result should lead you to having children that even when they become adults, they are excited to spend time with you, because they honor you and cherish the relationship, they have with you. That destination sounds like a beautiful place to arrive at, as a parent. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work!

Let me encourage you with this prayer. Father God, I thank you for this teaching that has and is impacting my life. I am thankful for the honor and privilege you have given me, to be a parent. I pray for all those who reading this. Lord, may you encourage them and build them up as they are doing their best with what they have. Father strengthen them physically, mentally, and spiritually. Let them love what you have given them, the same way you love us all. Amen!

Written by Pastor Danny

Learn more about us @ Love Always Faithful

 

Rest for your soul

img_0753As a mother of three I have learned the value of rest….and how difficult it can be at times to attain it. All day long little voices call my attention for assistance in every task imaginable. When one little one is rescued the other soon cries out for what in their mind is a grave emergency. Thankfully through time I am seeing my children grow and become more independent in certain tasks. Hallelujah! However there are other things that still demand my energy and attention; bills, groceries, appointments, laundry, cooking….plus all the responsibilities that come from living a pastoral life. It can become a lot if I don’t know where and when to find rest. Not just physical rest, but rest for my soul.

Maybe your schedule doesn’t look like mine. Maybe you have a 9-5 or you work retail and have ever changing hours. Maybe you work on the road or are on call for long periods of time. Or maybe you are on the other side of the world working on research that requires your thinking at all hours of the day. Whatever you are doing in life, whatever your profession, whatever your status, you are human. And you, me, and every other being on this earth needs rest.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Jesus is calling out to you. All of you reading this that are feeling exhausted, drained and running on low. Tired of surviving the day by just barely meeting the demands of life around you. Yes you, this is not the life God has planned for you.

There is more to this life, there is a greater purpose that you were meant to be a part of. And the enemy knows, if he can get you tired and lose your peace of mind, if he can make you feel the weight vs the blessing you are more likely to walk away and give up. But the hope of God , the refreshing of our spirit that we can find in him, overcomes all of this. That is why Jesus makes it an emphasis to call out to those specifically feeling this way.

He then says “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me.” A yoke is a wooden beam often used to connect large animals in agriculture when they need to work together. It allows them to go in the same direction and remain focused. Now Jesus is not calling you an animal, he is saying “come to me, connect yourself to me and I will teach you, I will guide you.” How refreshing it is when you are struggling and encounter someone who is experienced and knows just what to do.  God has given us a manual (his Word) and a counselor (the Holy Spirit) for this thing called life! We don’t have to figure it all out, all we need to do is answer to his invitation. He will reveal, teach and guide you to a refreshing river of life that will lift your soul. He promised! And what he promises WILL come to pass.

I encourage you, if you are reading this in desperate longing of rest for your soul, turn to Jesus. Everything you will ever need can be found in him. Peace, rest, love, joy, acceptance, strength, forgiveness, another chance….. the list goes on. He is everything you will ever need. Take a moment today and really connect with him. Tell him everything you are feeling and all that’s on your mind. Unload all of that heavy weight you have been carrying on your shoulders, it is not yours to carry any longer. Talk to him. He is listening with open arms, ready to refresh your soul.

He will not fail you.

To the grieving mom

National Pregnancy and Infant loss Remembrance Day was last month. But sometimes it’s the words of encouragement when you don’t expect it that leave the biggest imprint on your heart. Especially since this month we are focusing on being thankful, I’m going to take the time and boldly say that I am thankful. Thankful for the experiences that caused deep pain, because they brought me closer to my Savior. They allowed me to know him in a way I never had before.

Yes, I’m thankful for the pain, because it broke me down and tore my pride. It made me realize that my strength is not my own but His. And in His supernatural embrace I found peace, joy and rest.

So to the hurting mom who is still mourning her loss, I offer these words of comfort and pray they lift you up. You are not alone….

Though the empty feeling is one you are constantly fighting, there’s one that’s fighting for you. You are not alone.

He’s there to embrace you when the sadness comes. When thoughts of what could have been start to plague you, He reminds you the best is yet to come.

Don’t let the pain build a wall but rather let it break you down, so you can receive all He has to offer. He will not fail you.

This life is temporary. The pain is temporary. And one day there will be no more of that.

We will be in God’s presence, fully secure that nothing will keep us away. There will be no more sorrow, no more pain, no more crying. No more aching heart. Only God in his infinite love.

But while we are all here on earth, He is with us. He promised not to leave us, and He always keeps his promises.

Let him fill your life in abundance with joy, laughter, and the desire to keep going.

Don’t give up, he’s there.

Don’t give up, you are not alone.

Though you may feel misunderstood, he’s seen every last detail and he understands.

You’re not crazy, there’s nothing wrong with you. You are just facing the process, and you will get through it.

You’re not alone, God is there. He is love and his love is enough.

It NEVER fails.

You can’t escape the process.

Our God is a god of time. He has been teaching me that things well done take time, therefore, if there is a process that he needs to take me through it’s not going to happen overnight. Being a naturally impatient person I’ve had to learn I can’t fast forward the  process…..and if he needs me to go through it, then I sure can’t skip it.

I experienced this lesson heavily recently, as I walked the process of yet another miscarriage. This one far more painful and traumatic than ones in the past. As soon as we discovered that something was wrong I knew what path awaited. So in a defensive state I wanted to be done with the situation before it even really began, wanting it all to be behind me overnight. Through raw broken tears I quickly brushed it off and said “If I went through it once, I can do it again.” But this process was very different than the others.  The band-aid that I wanted to be quickly ripped off turned into weeks of testing, bloodwork, and more appointments. The pain that I so desperately wanted to be done with was being dragged out, and I had nowhere to run. I prayed, “Just let me move on, let’s just get this over with.”  In my spirit I knew there was purpose, but I battled my flesh aggressively each day that passed.

You see, there are no shortcuts to growth. God is a detailed maker and what he’s doing in you he’s going to do it well done. So it WILL take time. A process has steps and each is necessary to move on to the next. In life our growth is often messy. Perhaps the ugliest thing we’ll ever see, but the end result will be beautiful…if we are willing to go through it.

Grieving is such a process. No one wants to go through it, there’s nothing beautiful about it. You might try to push through emotions to continue moving on with your life and think that you are being “strong”. But you’re not, you’re avoiding the process. Being strong means enduring that process. Allowing yourself to feel, cry, yell, to bleed. And the strength surely doesn’t come from you, it comes from God through his grace. He’s not asking you to hold it together, he’s taking care of that for you.

God knows what you’re feeling, you’re not alone in this. Through the process he will show you things, reveal things that will change your life. He will share the depths of his Word and promises, and his love for you.

Through my pain I experienced God closer than ever before. Though there were days I felt him silent, I knew he was there. Though there were days I had no words to say and no tears left to cry, I knew not a moment escaped him. I learned when difficult moments come, to just brace myself and trust in him. Even when the wave hits he will not let you drown.

So take a deep breath and allow yourself to go through the process. It’s not meant to harm you, it’s meant for your good and the good of those around you. It will bring you closer to him and bring glory to his name.

A most beautiful promise in Romans 8:28 reads like this, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”

Don’t try to escape the process, embrace it. He will not fail you.

A God of love

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I have searched for many things in my life. And I have found some pretty significant answers. One being a solution to this world’s growing problems. That answer is love. Not just any “love” but a true, genuine, sacrificial love. Love conquers all. It says in the book of Corinthians that love never fails! What an amazing promise, and I believe it! Love looks for the best in people. It seeks the well being of others and takes our thoughts away from our own selfish ambitions. If driven by it one can achieve unimaginable things. But the only way to achieve this love is going to the source where that love comes from. To the one where it all began, to He who orchestrated the most eventful, historic times driven by love…our Creator….God. He is love. His Word says in 1 John 4:7 “for love comes from God.” You will not find a more life giving, purifying, powerful love than the love of God. There can be many emotions that “seem” like it, but nothing can measure up. It is authentic, it is real, and there is only one true source.

In verse 16 it reads, “God is love. Whoever lives in love, lives in God and God in him.” Meaning if we live in love, walk daily in love, let our actions be led by love then we live in God and God in us! But to walk daily in love is not an easy thing to do. It means looking past the faults of people around us. Whether they have hurt us, annoyed us, betrayed us, whether we think they are deserving or not of our love. God calls us to love even our enemies. ouch. And because the Word says he is love, if He indeed lives in us then everything we do should reflect him. However, that’s not always the case, is it?

I’ll admit my actions do not always reflect this love. When I lose my patience with my children, or am angered by what someone has done or said I am put in a place where I need to consciously make the decision to love. To act in love, to speak in love, to react in love. I am as imperfect as the next person and need of His guidance daily. But my prayer is that my family will see me love like He does. Then the days in my household will become uplifting, filled with growth and progress. Love lifts, heals, protects, perseveres in times of hardship, strengthens and takes you farther than you ever thought possible. It keeps you holding on! Love brings people together, dissipates anger, and brings forth forgiveness. Love is kind, not hurtful. It is selfless and merciful. It makes those who have it stronger, not weaker.

Love heals broken hearts, sustains marriages, and mends broken relationships between parents and their children. It fuels the desire to live!

If this world ran on God’s love it would be quite different. But love is not something we can force onto people, or force them to have. It comes from within, from the deepest part of a person’s being when they have encountered our loving Father. When His love is allowed to run through it brings freedom, joy and peace.

Our God is a God of peace and order. And we sure could use that on this earth right?  There is a solution to the pain and heartache of this world. You and I have the opportunity to encounter it, live it and share it!

Love truly is the answer to our problems. God’s love changes who we are for the better. It leaves no trace of ugliness behind. It cleanses, purifies, and believes.

God I pray that the world may know this love. That those who poses it will stop at nothing to share it, and will open their mouths to speak life. That we would all love each other as you loved us. Amen.

Keys to a marriage that thrives

Today marks eight years we have been married. And our marriage has been a book of good and rough moments, sometimes scary or funny. Other times heartbreaking and hopeful. But through it all we have found one thing to be consistently true; that when you have God as number one in your life as an individual, your life together becomes an adventure.

We realize having a thriving marriage seems something foreign or far off for many couples. But it doesn’t have to be. God wants everyone to live a fulfilling and thriving marriage. Not one that gets by just “making it”.

We’ve taken time to discuss and share as a couple some key points that have proven to be crucial in the strengthening of our marriage. These are meant for reflection, and it doesn’t mean our marriage is perfect. But we can honestly say that we walk each day feeling blessed. So here goes:

• Your individual relationship with God must be a priority in your life. He is the solid foundation your marriage will grow on.

• Turn to God about your frustrations. Not friends and family who can be biased and “feed” your negative feelings.

• Learn to love unconditionally. We are far from worthy of God’s love, yet he gives it to us. Don’t live with the mentality that your spouse needs to be “deserving” of your love.

• Seek to live out 1 Corinthians 13 in your life. Make a conscious decision to do so. The flesh wants what is easy, but a strong and thriving marriage is a result of intentional effort.

• Plan life together. You are no longer two but one. Meaning your goals and aspirations should always keep the well being of your spouse and marriage in mind.

• There’s no happily ever after without commitment.

• Never compare your marriage to another. Focus on reaching the best that you and your spouse can be, not who you can “be like”.

•You contribute to the state of your marriage. Meaning what you get out of it is determined by what you pour into it and your mentality about it.

We encourage you to take time in prayer and seek God in the areas your marriage needs improvement. Don’t hesitate to seek help from qualified individuals such as your pastors or counselors. They are in your life as a valuable resource from God to help guide, counsel, and teach. When your relationship with God is strengthened, so is your marriage, and as result so is your family.

A prayer for my children

Our oldest is starting kindergarten this year, and as we run around trying to get everything she needs to prepare for this new stage in her life I couldn't help but take a moment to sit back and reflect on what is the most important "preparing" we can do for her. That spiritual "prep". How can she be prepared to deal with what's ahead? Not just this year, but the rest of her life? I've come to realize there is no greater weapon against the currents of this world than prayer. The prayer of mother or father can move and shake mountains. Which is why I wanted to share this very personal prayer I wrote for all my children, and hopefully inspire you to pray daily for yours. Whether they are in diapers or graduating college, they will always need your covering in prayer.

A prayer for my children:

"God I pray that ALL my children will know you. That they not only encounter you but that their lives may be devoted to you. That your love may shine through them and minister to whoever comes their way. That they may spread your love and joy wherever they go.

That they dare to love deeply and unconditionally, just as you do. That when they speak they lift others and exalt your name. That their lives may reach the potential of what you have created them to be. That they may look to YOU to find themselves, their Creator.

That they not be deceived by the "glamour" in this world or what it claims to offer. But that they walk in wisdom guided by your hand. That they may never change or alter who they are in you because of a lie. But that they stand strong in the face of opposition and be victorious.

God I pray you make me the mother they need to care for them and send them the right direction. Let my guidance always be love filled with a word of life inspired by you. That my words build them up, not tear them down.

That my daughters may be God filled powerful women, devoted to you, their husbands, and their families. That my sons will be courageous men filled with your power and anointing, fighting for souls and for their families. That they care for their wives and children as you care for us.

Teach us how to be the parents they need. Inspiring and comforting, not judgmental or harsh, leading them to you in all we say and do.

Teach us Lord, we are imperfect but willing. We look to you for guidance and strength against all troubles we may face. We trust in you, you are our rock. Our solid foundation, never changing. God almighty forever and ever Amen."

Helper

    img_3008You may have heard  a common phrase that says “A woman’s heart should be so into God that a man has to seek Him to find her.” This is a helpful concept especially in the beginning stages of a relationship. However once a woman has opened up and has followed the path that now makes her a wife or “suitable helper” (Gen 2:18) things make a slight shift.

Mankind was created with an instinct to lead. This is reflected in Genesis 1:26 “…let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.” This authority was given in a general sense to mankind. However when you continue reading you encounter a reflection of God’s thought process when he created Adam and Eve. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen 2:15) Meaning he was now to govern the earth responsibly under God’s authority. But with every living being God had created “no suitable helper was found” (Gen 2:19). So God created Eve.

Eve was created to unite with Adam and “help” him, not “lead” him. God gave Adam specific instructions and then provided the help he needed through Eve. Husbands have a responsibility to take care of “the land”. What would now be their homes, wife, and children. Wives have a responsibility to “help” their husbands. However nowadays the subject of a woman’s place is a controversial (and touchy) one. Nonetheless God’s original intent still remains. The privileges that a woman carries now in the secular world like that of career, position, leadership are often times confused with her role in her home when she stands alongside her husband. Both positions as husband and wife have a great weight and will both be held accountable before God. They were designed to compliment and balance each other out. That is why when a couple has God as the center and glue of their marriage they will as a result draw closer together. It will unite them in a way nothing else can and become fulfilling not only to both of them, but to the family as a whole.

A “helper” has immense value. They  relieve burden, work together, team up, follow, encourage, lift up….and the list goes on. They have influence as well, are heard and have a voice. A wife is not left behind but rather walks alongside her husband. She supports him and in return receives what she yearns from him and the family; appreciation, value, admiration, and love. That doesn’t mean if she is not currently receiving these things she should diminish her devotion, but continue on because not a detail of her life is overlooked by the Creator. She will be rewarded in due time, as will the husband who takes on with diligence the responsibility that was given to him.

A marriage is a team, and when one role is lacking the marriage as a whole is affected. It trickles down to the children or anything else they lead as a couple. Whether it’s their home, a ministry or a business. Women if you can embrace God’s intent for your role as a wife, you will become a breath of life to your husband and children. Encouraging in everything you speak  and helping your husband in the guidance of your family. Sometimes it’s a difficult task in itself figuring out how to be that, I’m still figuring it out myself. But with God’s help and his Holy Spirit inside of you he will guide you and teach you every day. Embrace your role and its journey, it will not be in vain!

He is good, even when he gives bad.

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When there are no words that comfort, no strength to hold us, no embrace that brings us peace, He is there and He is good. In that moment when our heart is in tears and we struggle to be strong because that is what we are “supposed to do”, He is there and He is good. When deep breaths and suppressing emotions feel like the only way to make it through the day, and when we “know” He will never leave us yet feel so isolated and misunderstood. In these moments in life that bring us pain we are not meant to handle, He is GOOD.

We need pain. It is what breaks us down and points us in the direction we need to go. Right into God’s loving arms. The earth is screaming in pain. Pain that you and I may not see but can experience through what God allows into our lives. We never want it, we run from it, and we sure don’t understand it. But through it all He is GOOD. And in His goodness He takes us through the process to perfect what He is doing in us.

No one likes to talk about the process. The ugliness of it, the questioning, the tears, the desperate longing to reach the end. Yet in the midst of our suffering God continues being God. No amount of pain can take away from who He is. And He is a GOOD God. His word says “Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (Psalms 105:4). In Him we WILL find the strength.

I currently walk through my own process as I deal with the pain of suffering a third miscarriage. My heart aches still as I watch my children play and long for the three who “should have been”. Yet after struggling and questioning there was nothing left to do but surrender. Surrender to the process that He wanted to take me through and allow me to discover more of who He is. And I saw more than ever that His goodness is eternal.

If you are going through a painful process, know that he is holding you, even when you have stopped holding on. Let his work be perfected in you and see the beauty in the process. He is infinitely good, even when he says yes to the pain that comes. His word assures us that his love surpasses all understanding. And love is fueling his every stroke in our lives. Believe in His goodness, even when He brings you pain.