… a full life …

photo-1422207134147-65fb81f59e38The morning started out with piles of laundry, dishes, and text messages about children’s church. After 3 loads of laundry, putting away dishes, making breakfast (twice), responding and sending text messages regarding church, friends in tough places, etc, etc, and looming thoughts about the message I was scheduled to speak that night. I finally settled into a comfy chair. I opened my journal and my Bible, and suddenly felt overwhelming thankful.

“Thank you God for a full life. Thank you for clothes to wash, dirty and clean dishes that are evidence of a countless meals and a full stomach. Thank you for a husband, and even the extra laundry that brings. Thank you that I feel good enough to get these things done. Thank you for the opportunity to speak at church tonight. Thank you for sweet baby girls growing in this belly…” I began to write in my journal as I glanced at the laundry drying on our patio.

There is always two ways (at least) to see the moment you are in. Life ebbs and flows with the busy and the slow seasons. I spent a good bit of my summer on the couch, either too tired or two nauseous to do much more. Some days I felt like I had so much less capacity. Multiple times the Lord corrected me.

He would tell me “you are growing human lives in you, and that is a capacity you have never experienced before.” I’d have to correct myself when I criticized my capacity, and realize that my capacity didn’t shrink, it was just different and hidden in that season.

I was reminded of this verse, “If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people’s sins,

If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,

Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.

I will always show you where to go.  I’ll give you a full life in the emptiest of places firm muscles, strong bones.

You’ll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry.

You’ll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past.

You’ll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again” (Isaiah 58:9-12 The Message).

There’s so much gold in this passage, but the part about “full life in the emptiest of places” really stands out to me. Here’s the bottom line, you can miss all that IS in this season, by dwelling on all that it isn’t. Somewhere in the midst of the piles, to-do lists, and demands of today is the fulfillment of yesterday’s dreams. Yes those dreams fulfilled require responsibility. They require time and TLC. And maybe that’s what the end of the passage is about, don’t we want to be these people who can fix anything and make our communities livable again?

What are you thankful for in this moment/season?

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3 ways to overcome FEAR

photo-1428954376791-d9ae785dfb2d“even the darkness will not be dark to you;
    the night will shine like the day,
    for darkness is as light to you.”

Psalm 139:12

Romans talks about how the earth groans in anticipation of us stepping into our place as sons and daughters of God. It seems in recent days, we have seen first hand quite a shaking. Horrific events with ISIS, the earthquake in Nepal, and the shooting in Charleston to name a few. I am not going to try to explain (or understand!) the theology of all the why’s, but what I do feel is very important is that we learn how to not give way to fear in these trying times.

Fear is the enemies only weapon, and he is working overtime to try to get sons and daughters to cave in to his lies these days. But you don’t have to! There is a way out, and it is oh so worth it to live a life free of fear. This doesn’t mean he will never try to get you to fear, it means that you are going to overcome his attempts through truth.

3 ways to overcome FEAR-

1. Trust. It’s really that simple. We have no guarantees of what will or will not happen, but we do know that we have a good Father. We do know that whatever comes our way, HE will work it together for our good. He is a God who loves to use the unlikely. He loves to win battles in the most unconventional ways AND at often at the last minute. You cannot know everything, but you can know Him.

You will keep in perfect peace
those whose minds are steadfast,
because they trust in you.

Isaiah 26:3

2. Meditate on His word. When my mind is tempted to go down the pathways of fear, one of the quickest way to nip it in the bud is to get in the Word. If we are spending more time googling our problems than in the Word of God, we cannot expect to have peace. Personally, I love to emerge myself in the Psalms. I submerge myself in the Bible until it’s words have more weight that my worries.

Fear not, nor be afraid;
    have I not told you from of old and declared it?
    And you are my witnesses!
Is there a God besides me?
    There is no Rock; I know not any.”

Isaiah 44:8

3. Share your fears with your spouse of a close friend and ask them to pray for you. There is something about bringing the enemies schemes into the light that brings so much freedom. Allow them to pray for you and speak truth over you. Be wise that you share with someone you know is going to help you get away from fear and not add to you fears.

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”

Ecclesiastes 4:9

May you be filled with the peace that passes all understanding today!!

Love,

Anna

Simple, Homemade, and Healthy Chicken Pad Thai (gluten and dairy free)

mrs anna maher

@mrsannamaher’s Chicken Pad Thai

Processed with VSCOcam with c1 presetIf you aren’t interested in my story time, just scroll straight on down to the recipe. 🙂 It easy and makes a typical take out dinner achievable at home. It’s a bit healthier that what you buy in the restaurants, and will save you some cash. #winning

After Christmas, Chuck and I flew into San Francisco and rented a car to drive home.  It was a strange flight from Dallas to SFO, because we diverted to Phoenix, due to a medical emergency. In all our travels, that was the first time we were on a plane that took a detour.

Once we got off the plane and walked past the food court I saw a man eating Asian food and thought that looks so good.  We got our rental car and pulled off on University Blvd. in Berkley.  Soon after we saw a sign for “Bangkok…

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Embracing Mystery & What If’s

Embracing Mystery &Have you ever battled a bad case of the “what if’s”?

Have you ever caught yourself in the middle of the night drifting down a path that leads you to meditate on the worst case scenarios?

For me, that’s usually when it happens. When I am so tired that it takes me longer than normal to realize where my thoughts are drifting to a dark, hopeless place. The other night while I lay in a half awake state, I felt the Lord challenge me. He said, “what if you began to imagine that situation turning out better than you expected?”

We know that worry is wrong. We know we aren’t supposed to fear. But we if there is something we can do on the offense when it comes to our thoughts about the future. Did you know that this is actually biblical hope?

Hebrews 11:1 says,

Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. (ESV)

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see. (NLT)

Do you see that? The author of Hebrews is giving you permission to put your faith in an unseen realm. Here’s the reality – you are already investing in the unseen realm. Your mind is already making decisions about your future. Your mind whether conscience or subconsciously is making assumptions about how things will go.

worry expectancy

Here’s the thing – God gave you your imagination! He meant for it to help you in life. And today, if you aren’t already, you can begin to lead your imagination with the truth of who God is.

Let’s look at Romans 8:24-25 in the NASB –

“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.”

Hope dwells in the unseen realm. That’s exactly where we need hope! We need faith to lead us into hope for all the areas that we cannot see. I like to call it embracing mystery.

When it says “we wait eagerly for it” in Romans 8:25, it’s the Greek word apekdechomai. The translation is “to expect, look for, to wait for.” God is giving you permission to have expectancy to see His goodness invade the very area that the enemy wants to stir up the “what if’s!” God is not just staying, “stop worrying!” He is saying look at that unseen realm and imagine my goodness invading it. With every unseen area in our life we don’t have to be a victim to fear and worst case scenarios. We can begin to partner with the Holy Spirit and faith to conquer those fears!

What would it look like if God “worked all things together for your good?” It’s okay to think about that. It may not happen exactly how you think it will, but it will help you to learn how to operate in faith rather than fear. Does dwelling in the “what if’s” help you deal with bad things that happen? In my opinion, NO. However, if my belief system is that no matter what God is working all things together for my good, that brings tremendous freedom no matter what circumstances I face!

Today I pray that your imagination will be transformed to a faith building mechanism that looks for the goodness of God to invade your life!

Love,

Anna

If you’d like more on Embracing Mystery, click on this link to find my 21 day devotional on hope.

What to say when you don’t know what to say –

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Recently, I felt the Lord challenging me to read Job. So somewhat reluctantly, I settled in with my Bible and began reading. I LOVE the end of Job, but it had been a while since I spent time sorting through the sometimes confusing dialogues that fill the pages of the book.

God began to show me as I read about a very personal situation I walked through a few months back, and how someone so dear to me had been much like Job’s friends. This friend loves me so very much. The pain that I was walking through was more than they could bear. There was dancing around the idea, and then plop it came out. They basically said that if I was in God’s will, I wouldn’t be in the pain that I was in.

Job’s friends essentially said the same thing. They told Job that if he were really a good man he wouldn’t be suffering. They poked and prodded. They did their best to dig up a reason “why” he was in such misery, and ultimately they judged him. Rather than being okay with the mystery of the trial, they had to find a reason for his pain.

They meant the best and ultimately wanted to help him find a way out, but when their attempts to help slipped into judgement, their efforts were no longer fruitful. They inflicted wounds rather than helping Job heal.

At the end of Job, the Lord rebukes Job’s friends. Then, he tells them that their mercy lies in the prayer of Job. He tells them to have Job pray for them so that they do not receive the judgement they deserve. Look what happens next-

“When Job prayed for his friends, the LORD restored his fortunes. In fact, the LORD gave him twice as much as before (Job 42:10)!”

It’s hard to pray for someone you haven’t forgiven. I think that something was released when Job forgave them and blessed them. God restored all that Job had two-fold! God didn’t rebuke Job for “sin” in his life. God rebuked Job for not believing in His goodness and greatness to deliver Him from all of His troubles.

No matter what side of the trial we are on, I believe it’s more important that we focus on the goodness of God more than our own behaviors.

Often we are tempted to say nothing, but really it’s best to say something. So whether you are feeling like Job or a friend of Job these days, here are a few suggestions for what to say/do when you don’t know what to say.

1. Remember that God’s kindness is what leads people to repentance. Even if you do think that their trial is a result of sin, be kind. They need your compassion and kindness more than a cold rebuke. This is usually not a time for a harsh words or judgement. (Romans 2:4)

2. Tell them you don’t understand all the whys but that you are willing to walk with them. “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze (Isaiah 43:12).”

3. Sometimes when you are in pain, you just need to hear someone say, “this is not going to last forever, and you WILL get through this.”  Rather than looking for reasons, encourage them that they will get through this, that victory is possible, that God is working all things together for their good, that they are more than a conqueror, and that greater is He that is in them than he who is in the world. Send them an encouraging verse and shy away from focusing more on the current problem than the goodness and bigness of God. There are so many scriptures about God redeeming His people from undesirable situations.

Hopefully this post will help the next time you aren’t sure what to say. We weren’t meant to walk through trials alone, and words of encouragement can be a lifeline in the sticky moments. You have the ability to release hope into the lives of those around you. It’s not your job to understand or to solve every problem, but you can remind your loved ones that God is good and that He can redeem any situation.

Love,

Anna

3 ways to love the season you are in (even in the tough times)!

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Seasons, life is made up of them, and it’s hard to escape them. I love to talk about hope and the goodness of God, and sometimes we can all struggle with what to do with that during the tough seasons. I believe that even in the hard seasons there is goodness to be found. I believe there are gifts even in the toughest of times, and there is an aspect of the kindness and tenderness of God that we can access to during those times.

Here are a few ways to help you love your life no matter what your current season looks like!

1. Recognize that you are growing!

“Enlarge the place of your tent,
    stretch your tent curtains wide,
    do not hold back;
lengthen your cords,
    strengthen your stakes.
For you will spread out to the right and to the left;
    your descendants will dispossess nations
    and settle in their desolate cities.

Isaiah 54:2-3

I think of this verse in times where I feel stretched. I am growing! If I go to the gym and never challenge my muscles, I won’t see the results I desire. Growth requires stretching. When things get tough, remind yourself that you are expanding and growing. When you emerge from a challenging season, your capacity is larger, things that used to be challenging will be easier. You will emerge from the current trials you are facing stronger.

2. Trust God about your current season

God is after your trust! When you come into a new season, there are new things that demand a greater level of trusting Him.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.
 In God, whose word I praise—
in God I trust and am not afraid.
    What can mere mortals do to me?

Psalm 56:3-4

We are so often tempted to compare our current season with those around us. This is never fruitful.  I challenge you to believe the words of Psalm 16:5-6-

Lord, you alone are my portion and my cup; you make my lot secure. The boundary lines have fallen for me in pleasant places; surely I have a delightful inheritance. I will praise the Lord, who counsels me;

He has good things for you in this season and looking around only distracts you from those things. The enemy loves to try and convince us of what we are missing by pointing out others’ lives. This is a dangerous trap to slip into you. There is so much freedom in believing that His boundary lines have fallen in pleasant places for you!

3. A thankful heart

It’s very hard to stay discontent with a thankful heart! There is something about thankfulness that shifts our perspective from what we don’t have to what we do have. What’s beautiful about your current season? What relationships are you thankful for? What gifts do you have in this season?

The quickest way to love your current season is to focus on what you do have rather than getting caught up on what you don’t. Plus, it’s God’s will for your life.

give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.

1 Thessalonians 5:18

Praying that today you find the joy in your current season! I know there are good gifts for you today. May your heart be filled with trust and thankfulness as you grow and learn in this season!

Love,

Anna