Praise God in Soggy Circumstances

Summertime brings some of this Florida girl’s favorite things: from beach volleyball to stunning sunsets to outdoor adventures.

Along with its golden glory, the season also presents undesirable side effects like thunderstorms that rain out weeknight runs with friends and weekend water plans.

Anyone who’s lived in this state long knows what I mean. While I would choose sunshine over rain any day, the rain has its place. Yes, it keeps the grass green, but it also speaks a needed reminder to my heart.

Rain reminds me to thank God even when I’d prefer sunshine.

Life’s that way, isn’t it? Perhaps you had your heart set on one plan, and God shifts you somewhere else. Maybe that proverbial door just won’t open, or one chapter you’d like to close won’t stay shut.

How do we say thanks in the rain?

  1. Be honest with God. You can tell Him you’re disappointed. He listens and cares (I Peter 5:7).
  2. Commit your soggy circumstances to Him (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  3. Thank Him for being faithful through them (Lamentations 3:22-23).

Though we might be tempted to eye those billowing clouds with contempt, we can learn to thank God for them. Disruptions, delays, and detours are part of life’s journey. If we can recognize God’s design in them, we can praise Him in both sunshine and rain.

His Word makes clear that from dawn to dusk, come what may, we are to thank him.

From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the Lord‘s name is to be praised (Psalm 113:3 KJV).

No one likes soppy socks (or a soppy spirit). Peel them off, and praise Him where He’s placed you.

~ Kristen

 

Tweetable

Praise God in Soggy Circumstances – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

The Pixelated Lens of Fear

Fear isn’t just something that plagues children. Although we might laugh about monsters in the closet now, the truth is that we all struggle or have struggled with fear at some point. Only, our fears morph into more subtle villains, masked with titles like rejection, self-doubt, and failure.

Or, they may even be seemingly laughable “little” things that tempt us not to trust God … like my somewhat irrational fear of needles. (I say “somewhat” because trypanophobia is a word in the dictionary, which makes me guess I’m not alone.)

Today, I’m honored to be a guest on author Jerusha Agen’s The Fear Warrior Blog. There, I’m sharing a challenge about fear. When fear blurs our vision, how can we shift our focus back to where it needs to be?

Click here to read the post. I’d love to hear your comments!

~ Kristen

The Places Graduates Go: Deserts and Gardens

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”
“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.
“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.
“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

Do you recognize this conversation from Alice in Wonderland? If you’re graduating, maybe you feel a little bit like Alice. You’d like very much to stop and ask for directions.

Along the way, though, life is going to take you places you might not expect. Last week, we saw the first two, and today, we’re going to look at two more.

THE DESERT

Missionary explorer David Livingston trekked across Africa from west to east and braved many hazards, including the Kalahari Desert. If you’re looking for an inspirational biography, I challenge you to read his.

He had this perspective on where life took him:

I’d rather be in the heart of Africa in the will of God, than on the throne of England, out of the will of God.

Although you may never cross a literal desert, you will face times of spiritual dryness or times when God just doesn’t seem to hear your prayers.

That’s when waiting on Him becomes so important. Trust me, I’ve been there. The “waiting room,” as I’ve come to call it, is not a fun place to be. When is a door going to open? When is God going to make a way where there seems to be no way?

Ironically, the barrenness of the desert can produce some of the richest fruit in our lives, because it forces us to depend day by day on our heavenly Father.

But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint. (Isaiah 40:31 NKJV)

Learn to face deserts with anticipation, because you never know how God will lead you through and what will be waiting on the other side.

THE GARDEN

By garden, I mean quiet and still places with cool grass beneath your feet and gentle streams.

He makes me to lie down in green pastures;
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake. (Psalm 23:2-3 NKJV)

The garden is a place of rest, refreshment and refocus. When you find yourself with breathing room, don’t chide that the action and drama of life have slowed. Take the opportunity to spend more time in God’s Word and enjoy the people and opportunities at your fingertips.

While planning ahead is great, counting your blessings in the here and now is also important.

Thank God for what you have, and trust Him for tomorrow.

COMMENCEMENT

Graduate, I’m excited for all the places you’ll go! God has good plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). Don’t waste the precious life entrusted to you, but pursue the passions God’s laid on your heart. Give God permission to redirect as He sees best, and get ready for the next step on your journey.

~ Kristen

Tweetable: The Places Graduates Go: Deserts and Gardens – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

Ordinary People, Abundant Power

super-power-1Have you noticed a common thread among superheroes? They have lowly origins, rise to unlikely greatness, and often have Achilles’-heel-like weaknesses.

Think about it. Spiderman was a whimpy teenager until a spider bit him. Captain America couldn’t even meet the enlistment requirements. Superman was superhuman unless kryptonite came into the picture.

Does anyone remember I-Man? My brothers liked this movie from the 80s, so I watched it many times in my childhood. I-Man breathed extraterrestrial space dust that made him virtually unstoppable. But if he were left in the dark, his cells would die, and well, so would he.

He also had a penchant for stealing all the cream for his coffee. I may be guilty of this habit myself.

We cheer for these big-screen heroes because many started like us: ordinary people. However, we don’t have to inhale space dust to have super power.

Today, we’re going to hear more from Ashley, Hannah, and Victoria on how we can tap into our Source of strength and find some supersized encouragement for our daily lives.

Tap into God’s Power

Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think of anything as being from ourselves, but our sufficiency is from God (2 Corinthians 3:5 NKJV).

Hannah: God does not want to make it hard for us to receive Him and the “power” He offers freely to us. We can easily tap into this “power”; we must start by trusting in God, believing that His Son, Jesus, died and rose again, and have faith in our God. Once you become a Christian, God will offer His everlasting help to you. God’s power will become more evident to you if you give an effort to grow closer to Him by prayer and time in His Word; if we truly want to know God’s power, we will want to get to know Him first.

Ashley: We should get our power from God. We simply need to admit that we need God to help us, and He’ll be there for us.

For reflection: What fears or foes are you facing? Have you asked God for His help? 

Don’t Go Solo 

Victoria: No matter where I am at with the Lord, I can never achieve perfection. I need to constantly be growing in my faith with Him.

Hannah: God has the ability to strengthen me when I feel weak. If I have true fear for God, then that’s all that really matters. My relationship with God is ten times more beautiful than I am, and that’s exactly how I want my life to be, because a relationship with God is the most stunning thing about a person; at least, it should be.

For reflection: Do you try to “fix” your problems alone? Don’t. Seek the Lord, and surround yourself with friends and family who can walk this journey with you. 

Be Encouraged Today 

I asked these young ladies what they would tell someone who’s struggling to believe God is powerful enough to handle any difficulty. Here’s what they had to say.

Ashley: I would tell them that God is bigger. God is bigger than anything and everything he could be going through. I know it may be hard to trust God because we can’t physically see Him, but He will get us through all our struggles (I Peter 5:7).

Victoria: I would share with him the fact that the God who made everything thought that the world needed one of him too. We must always remember that God provides and the fact that one door closes so another can open.

Hannah: I have come to the realization that God doesn’t explain exactly how or why He does what He does or lets things happen how they happen. He lets difficulties occur to test our belief in Him and His power to work things out. God wants us to trust Him completely, and we can’t do that unless we learn how to. So when you feel as though God doesn’t have enough power to heal your broken heart, fix your sadness, or change your doubt to belief, just remember that God has enough power to raise people from the dead, make the blind see, the lame walk, the sinners believe, and He holds you in the same hands that He created the world with. God’s power is impossible to totally comprehend, but that does not make it impossible.

Parting Thought

Thank you, young ladies, for your example of faith and words of encouragement!

I love that last part Hannah shared: God’s power is impossible to totally comprehend, but that does not make it impossible.

We may all be rather ordinary, but God’s power knows no limits. Nothing is impossible with Him (Luke 1:37).

That’s pretty super. Don’t you agree?

~ Kristen

 

Tweetable

Ordinary People, Abundant Power – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

 

 

If You Could Be a Superhero

superheroesIf you could be a superhero(ine), what would your super power be? 

A while back, our youth pastor challenged the teens in youth group to design their own biblical superhero, complete with name, super power, theme song, icon, etc.

Our high school girls created a superheroine they called Proverbs 31derwoman. I was so impressed with their idea, organized in such a short amount of time, that I asked some of them if they would be willing to tell us more about it here.

I’m excited that they said yes! For the next two weeks, you’re going to hear from Ashley, Hannah, and Victoria as they share what their heroine can teach us. This week, we’ll look at Proverbs 31derwoman’s profile, and next week, we’ll learn how to apply some of her qualities to our daily lives.

Profile: Proverbs 31derwoman

Her DNA: Scripture

Hannah: I view Proverbs 31 as a huge encouragement to all women. Whether young or old, this awesome passage of scripture impacts ladies and their decisions to fear God above all else, so why not make a super chapter into a super hero, right?

Victoria: Favor is deceitful and beauty is vain. She acts as a source to help fight against the temptation to participate in wrong doing. We wanted someone to help guide others in or to faith.

For reflection: Is God’s Word part of our DNA? Do we daily spend time with Him?

Her Role: Model Virtue

Ashley: Well, Proverbs 31 is the chapter about the virtuous woman; she is a fantastic example of a hardworking, faithful woman we should all strive to be like.

Hannah: Proverbs 31derwoman fears God above all else. She does not focus on how others see her … she simply lives for God and knows that is more than enough for her. That is why Proverbs 31derwoman makes such an awesome role model, because she knows what is important in life: fearing (standing in complete awe of) our God.

For reflection: This gal has her priorities right! I love what Hannah says: she knows what is important in life. Is this true of us, or do other distractions steal our focus?

Her Super Powers

Hannah: Proverbs 31derwoman swoops in when someone has doubt about his importance … Proverbs 31derwoman comes in and helps the individual realize that he is so incredibly important that someone even knows how many hairs he has on his head (Luke 12:7).

Victoria: She has the unlimited ability of trust and faith without sight. It would be awesome to have these, because I might have a better understanding of my faith. I always want to see it to believe it.

Ashley: She fought impurity. She was able to defeat the villain Impurimaximus. This would be useful because sometimes as teens, fighting this can be difficult.

For reflection: What villain are you fighting today? Is it a struggle for purity? For honesty? Combat your villain with the truth of God’s Word (just as Jesus did in Matthew 4).

Until next time

Special thanks to these three young ladies for sharing their faith creatively! I look forward to posting more of their challenge next time.

So I ask you again: If you could be a superhero(ine), what would your super power be? Please share your ideas in the comments below!

~ Kristen

 

Tweetables

A Biblical Superheroine: Proverbs 31derwoman -@kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)

If You Could Be a Superhero – @kjhogrefe (Click to Tweet)