The Power of With {One Week After Easter}

The power of with

This wasn’t the post I intended to write the week after Easter. Things, however, have been topsy-turvy at the Baker house. Last week, I was diagnosed with pneumonia. The tiredness is a reality that feels more like a nightmare. And while there’s never a good time to be sick, there’s certainly a bad time⎯like now. I wasn’t able to attend our Easter service or hunt eggs with the kids. And then there’s my little book that’s set to launch on Tuesday, May 2nd, that requires more of me than I have to give right now.

But amidst all this — the disappointment of missing out on a special holiday with my family, the feelings of inadequacy, and the concern of flat-out failing to launch the book properly, one word has held me together: WITH.

The weight of this word with is heavy and sweet like the scent of tea olives in Spring. It brings rest to the soul. Mark 16:20 frames the word in all its glory:

Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.  [Emphasis mine]

After the crucifixion and before the resurrection the disciples were confused and afraid. John 20:19 says, “On the evening of that first day of the week, when the disciples were together, with the doors locked for fear of the Jews…”.

But then they discovered the power of the empty tomb. Jesus was not there. He had risen! In that moment they went from being without Jesus to being with Him, and Him with them. Jesus wasn’t only with them following His resurrection⎯He worked with them. And the same Jesus works with you and with me this very day to accomplish your goals for His glory.

Recently, I had a slight but powerful shift in my relationship with Christ, my prayer life, and my calling when I began walking in the reality of God’s “with-ness”. I’ve experienced the reality of His presence within me since becoming a Christ-follower at the age of 27. But only in recent months have I harnessed the power of His being with me.

With me when I don’t have the physical energy to complete necessary tasks.
With me when I can’t understand the timing of getting sick.
With me when I’m feeling alone in an overwhelming process.
With me when I can’t be all that I want to be for my family and for myself.

His with-ness provides the grace, mercy, and rest required to move forward when everything else around me feels backward. His sovereignty trumps it all. And knowing that He is with me⎯and not indifferent toward me or against me⎯changes everything.

Have you considered how grasping the reality of God being with you might shift your perspective in your ministry, as well as life in general?

Arrow

The Power of With:
  • You wonder if what you’re doing is making an eternal difference or if you’re just spinning temporal wheels. Jesus is with you, prompting others to encourage you at just the right moment. No — that email, text, or call was not “out of the blue”. He is with you and knows exactly what you need to keep moving forward in your calling.
  • In the grocery line, you feel prompted to share the joy of the empty tomb with the woman ahead of you. Your pulse pumps with fear — but Jesus is there — right there, standing with you, ready to give you the bravery to speak.
  • Your work weighs you down emotionally, physically, and spiritually. Jesus is with you. He longs for you to ask for His wisdom and discernment instead of relying on your own. Your work matters to Him.
  • You’re a single mom or a widow. You’re exhausted and loaded down with questions of “what if?”. Jesus is with you, upholding you, giving you manna-strength for the day.
  • You’ve received a dreaded diagnosis. Jesus is fighting for you and He is with you.

Easter is my favorite day of the year. Without the resurrection, there would be no hope. No hope of God being in a relationship with us, no hope of forgiveness, no hope of an eternity with Him. No hope of seeing our loved ones again — and the list goes on. But because the tomb was empty that Easter morn, with-ness with God is a reality.

As the song says, “May we never lose our wonder.”

“This is an invitation to spend your lives pursuing what you most enjoy doing⎯together with God. Raising a family. Investing in your passion. Chasing your dreams. In all of it, God’s primary goal isn’t to teach you lessons. He’s a Father who teaches, not a Teacher who fathers. And a Father’s deepest desire is to invite his sons and daughters into more intimate relationship with Him. Which means God didn’t primarily create us so we would do things for Him. Or even to learn lessons about Him. His primary reason for creating us is so we can be with Him.” — Allen Arnold, The Story of With: A Better Way to Live, Love & Create

How does it make you feel to know that the God of the universe created you to be with Him?

 

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul

ON SALE MAY 2ND

 

 

 

 

 

Book Cover Reveal + The Story Behind It

Pauses for the Vacationing Soul represents three years of questions, doubt, fleece-throwing, putting-it-off-till-perfect kind of excuses. And yet, this book also reflects those times I leaned hard into God’s goodness, invited His “with-ness” into the process, and listened well with imperfect but willing ears.

And so the story begins…

Once upon a time, the idea of creating a devotion guide for beach vacations sparked while sitting beneath an umbrella in Garden City, SC. I spent the remainder of the vacation struggling in my spirit to believe God had given me such an idea. Surely there were more qualified, with-it kind of writers to bring this idea to fruition. So I went home and tucked the idea away for safe keeping. The following summer, the same idea surfaced but this time with more details. In a split second, past bible studies I’d led using sensory items, like beach sand, scurried across my mind.

And then I returned home.

Within a few days after arriving home from the beach, my path crossed a friend who’d attended one of the studies (over ten years ago). As we were saying our goodbyes she mentioned she still had her small bag of sand I’d handed out during the study. She shared how she keeps it on her bedside table to serve as a constant reminder of God’s love. That was the confirmation I needed. So one might think I’d simply sit down, write it out, and upload it to Amazon, right? Wrong.

Life happened.

Two unexpected surgeries in one year, selling a home, buying a “new” one, and all the in-between. But this January, while mumbling to myself before God about my writing goals, or lack thereof, He hushed my words with His wisdom.

“You treat writing like a hobby, not a calling.”

Wait, what? I continue to process the words I heard in my spirit that morning but that moment held a turning point that has yet to loosen its grip.

I immediately hopped up and began writing down disciplines required for me to get back on track. You can read more about those in this post. Almost four months later, the idea that emerged on a sandy beach comes to fruition on an Amazon virtual shelf on Tuesday, May 2nd. God is good.

I’ll share more about Pauses for the Vacationing Soul release later this month but in the meantime, your prayers are appreciated. If you would like to consider being on the launch team, please click the email icon in the sidebar and let me know. I’d love to have you on the God-lovin’ Beach-going Book Launch Team!

Can I count on your prayers? I welcome the opportunity to pray for you as well. Please leave any request you might have in the comment section or feel free to email me.

 

A Prayer For Those Desiring a Teachable Spirit

A Teachable Spirit

I remember the days when my spirit was anything but teachable. I wasn’t under the tutelage of the Spirit at the time but perhaps a person can’t fully embrace the beauty of a teachable spirit until they have been broken by dirt poor wisdom.

Today’s post is for those who long to have a teachable, pliable, open heart to God. For those who want to wake up brimming with expectancy, fully confident that the same God who spoke life into existence long ago is even more excited to speak life into your soul this very day.

Psalm 25

Psalm 25:1-5

 

Show me your WAYS, O LORD

In Your
I-can’t-see-it-but-I-still-believe-it // unexpected // behind-the-scenes // life-awakening // justified // higher-than-mine // sovereign // heart-seeking // turn-the-other-cheek // love-those-who-pounce-on-you // Fatherly ways

TEACH me your paths;

Through
life-giving words that awaken the deadest of hearts // answered prayer // prayers yet to be answered // nature // words from babes // the deepest and darkest moments // abundant-life chasers // staying in step with the Spirit // humility

Guide me in the TRUTH

The truth that sets me free from
perfection // deception // grip of sin // disastrous decisions // legalism // mistaken identity // wasted time // the lie that says I must be doing in order for God to love me, accept me // the prison of my own conscience

for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.

 

Desiring a Teachable Spirit

Father,

With outstretched hands, I adore You, here and now.
Your ways soar above my own.
Your timing. It is precise, perfect. It is never one second too soon or too late.
Your presence. It is sweet and strong. It surrounds me, comforts and encourages me.
Sovereignty reigns in You alone. Nothing escapes Your attention, or care.
Even Your instruction⎯Your discipline⎯is a display of Your deep love for me. In this, I am confident for You are a good Father.

Obedience is Your love language.

Without You, I am nothing, Pappa.
Before You, I lay bare every lie I’ve ever believed that I could do anything meaningful without You.
I confess my pride — the idea that I have all of You that I need.
Though these words never leave my lips, this lie latches onto my actions. You see it when I refuse to ask questions for fear of seeming less-than. And when I choose not to listen well to wise counsel, or invest time in reading, studying, and taking notes to become more like Jesus.
I say I need You but I don’t seek You like a parched woman thirsting for water.
Please forgive me.

Father, this is my heart cry today, and every day:
Create within me a teachable spirit.
One that longs for You, thirsts for You, and finds everything I need in You.
For You alone are worthy.
Cloak me in discernment and wisdom to guard against sin and its disastrous effects,
for sin never leaves its slimy imprint on just one person’s life.
Pry open each finger of resistance to display an open hand and heart
desiring only You, Your ways, Your timing.

Amen.

 

// Your Turn //

 

Is there a word or phrase from the above prayer that you desire to make your own before the Lord? Or, what is one specific way you pray for a teachable spirit? Please share.

 

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4 Books on My I-Can’t-Wait-To-Read Radar

4 Books on my Radar

I have a heightened sense of appreciation for brave souls who traipse through the what-if, who-me, and can-I-do-this type questions for the sole purpose of helping another through their story. Like, helping wives who desire to fully embrace their God-given role or mother of brides-to-be who long to cling to God while their daughters are preparing to cling to another. Or, perhaps those in uneasy in-between places who need to re-embrace God’s faithfulness or writers desiring to become super-productive.

Two of the four I-can’t-wait-to-read books are recent releases. And two are now available for pre-order. There’s something for those who enjoy the anticipation of a good read as well as those who prefer immediate gratification.

 

Four Books on My I-Can’t-Wait-To-Read Radar

 

Kaitlyn E. Bouchillon // Even if Not: Living, Loving, and Learning in the In Between

Even if NotI’ve recently had the pleasure of getting to know Kaitlyn as a fellow Hope Writer. She is a young woman brimming with sage advice.

Why I can’t wait to read this book: Kaitlyn is the real deal and frankly, the book description hooked me from the get-go: “In Even If Not, Kaitlyn Bouchillon invites you to let go of trying to figure out the ending of your story and instead lean into the faithfulness of God. With honest and vulnerable storytelling from her own in-betweens, Kaitlyn encourages you to say – no matter what page of the story you find yourself on – that although you believe God could come through how you’re asking, you’ll trust Him… even if not.”

 

C. S. Lakin // Crank it Out! The Surefire Way to Become a Super-Productive Writer

Crank it outCrank it Out! finds itself on my list for both noble and selfish reasons. {Don’t judge} Noble, because I’ve read her work in Writer’s Digest as well as a poetry forum and love it. Selfish, because after working on my e-book {more info coming soon!} Brian said we would need to hire a housekeeper if I wrote another one. Turns out, I actually plan to write several more so it’s a must that I become more super productive. #bringonthehousekeeper

Why I can’t wait to read this book: I savor C. S. Lakin’s voice. It’s unique, succinct, and I’ve yet to read anything she’s written without learning something valuable for my own writing journey. And, I obviously need to crank out future books in a more timely and orderly way. Oh, and did I mention it’s only $.99 on Kindle?

 

Leigh Ann Thomas // Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace…Inspiration for Mothers-of-the-Bride

Ribbons, Lace, and Moments of GraceRibbons, Lace, and Moments of Grace will release on March 28th but you can pre-order now.

Why I can’t wait to read this book: I had the pleasure of getting to know Leigh Ann a little better last year at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference. She is lovely and oh so gracious. As a fellow contributor to Almost an Author, I can attest to the fact that she’s quite the cheerleader as well. I’m not Leigh Ann’s target reader for this book as I was a mother-of-the-groom⎯twice. But her Barnabas-like way of encouraging others makes this book a must-read for all mother-of-the-brides.

 

Jen Weaver // A Wife’s Secret to Happiness: Receiving, Honoring, and Celebrating
God’s Role for You in Your Marriage

A Wife's Secret of HappinessOnce again, the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers Conference played matchmaker. Dee Dee Parker and I had the pleasure of meeting Jen back when she was expecting her sweet boy. We had no doubt that God had major plans for her writing.

Why I can’t wait to read this book: Jen is spunky, engaging, and approachable⎯as is her writing. And regardless of how many anniversaries I’ve celebrated with Brian {27 this October!} I want my role as his wife to be one that brings God glory.

Here’s a quick blurb on Jen’s book by Latan Murphy.

 

Do you have a favorite book your reading radar? Or is their one above that sparks your interest? Please take a moment to share in the comment section. I always enjoy hearing from you!

 

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Stop Waiting for Hope at Life’s Drive-Thru Window

Hi, Cathy here.

Today, it’s my honor to introduce you to Karen “Girl” Friday. We met last year at the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writer’s Conference and it has been a delight watching God grow her ministry ever since. Karen’s bold declarations of love for the Lord is downright inspiring. I know you’ll enjoy her guest post.

Join me in offering Karen a warm welcome!

Drive Thru

The drive-thru window of life remains understocked with real hope.

Less than a mile from my neighborhood, in opposite directions, the same fast-food restaurant provides drive-thru service. At the end of our road, we must make a decision. Do we turn right or left? To the right stands a newer version of the long-lasting business established in the 1940’s.

But the same problem exists with both locations. My son arrives home and discovers his order is wrong. Like the time he placed his order for lunch, paid and waited. Yet, found his bag filled with breakfast items.

To our dismay, it also happens to me and my husband. Now, to make certain, I check everything. I open each bag, wrapper or container. It assures I leave with what I expected…what I wanted.

The Quest for Authentic Hope

Where do we turn when the unexpected happens? When we come to the end of our road, which way do we go?

As a pastor’s wife, people come to me looking for hope. Real people in tough places. Hearts broken by tragedy or disappointment. Dreams with no pillow to lay their heads.

And I’ve been parked at life’s crossroads. ­­­­­­­­­Not sure whether to go right or left. Tired of waiting. Not certain I’ll leave with what I expected…all the items I went there to get.

So, I went in search of long-lasting hope. It needed to be rooted in something other than this world.

A Certain Hope

Hoping things turn out as we want comes natural to us. Google defines hope as, “A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.”

Still, here’s the problem. Life is uncertain and continues to let us down. The only choices on the menu offer false promises. High hopes placed in people, programs, possessions, money, goals, careers, and religion.

Even if we examine and double-check each item.

We’ll always leave life’s drive-thru window without real hope.

But God’s Word offers a hope established before the world existed.

“For whatever was written in the former days was written for our instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” Romans 15:4 ESV.

“But they who wait for 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 ESV.

The New International Version translates wait as hope. “…but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength.”

Windows of HopeThe Windows of Heaven

God’s story fulfills the promise of hope in a person and a place.

The Messiah, Jesus Christ, came to give us what the world could not offer. His shed blood and broken body on Calvary’s cross triumphed over evil and religion. The empty tomb trumped the enemy’s intention to destroy hope forever. Because Jesus rose from the dead.

So, we wait for real hope from a Holy King. We lay our expectation and desire in His able and sovereign hands.

Prayer ushers in hope from the windows of heaven.

Trusting God with the impossible and unexplainable parts of life.

Set your hope fully on the hope-giver. One day you’ll see.

Hope was always coming and God knew.

 

Karen Friday

Karen Friday is a pastor’s wife and women’s ministry leader. She’s an award-winning writer and avid speaker who loves words and God’s Word. For over a decade, Karen has balanced the busy life of church ministry with working from her home office in marketing and business development roles. Karen earned a communications degree and has experience in a broad spectrum of business services where she is frequently referred to as Girl Friday.

A blogger, Karen “Girl” Friday engages a community every week. Hope is Among Us is an award-winning blog that expresses scriptural truths as life happens. Karen is a regular contributor for the national site, Inspire a Fire, which draws 30,000 monthly visitors. Karen has published a number of articles and devotions in both print and online media. She is currently working on her first book project. An inspirational speaker, she addresses a wide variety of audiences. Karen is passionate about mentoring and discipleship that helps followers of Christ live with authentic faith in real life. Karen and her husband Mike Friday reside in East Tennessee and have two grown children and a grandson. The entire family is fond of the expression, “TGIF: Thank God it’s Friday.” They owe Monday an apology. www.KarenGirlFriday.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/FridayKaren
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/karen.clarkstonfriday
Facebook Writer Page: https://www.facebook.com/karengirlfriday/

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