Tempted to Compare My Holidays

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

This time of year always brings to my mind fun memories of childhood Christmases. The pattern in our house rarely changed from year to year, and I loved it. I would anticipate every second, from munching on Chex party mix while visiting my dad on Christmas Eve to playing in the backyard at my aunt and uncle’s house Christmas afternoon.

I always knew what to expect, and I thrived on the predictability of it all.

I don’t know how my parents managed to pull it off, with the challenges divorce can bring. But somehow, they did. I felt safe in knowing and anticipating what our holiday had in store.

As a wife, mom, stepmom, and step-Mimi, holidays can be a bit more unexpected now.

For years I longed to create a Christmas season our family could not only count on, but look forward to each year. But outside factors and challenges always seemed to interrupt my best laid plans.

Frustration has a way of knocking at our heart’s door at times like that, when expectations lost cause us to feel like what we do for our holiday isn’t good enough. With a simple scroll through social media, I can easily become overwhelmed with post after post of recipes, decorations, and family outings that put my spur-of-the-moment schedule to shame.

When we compare our holidays to others’, we risk losing the mountain of blessings that God has given to us. Our expectations become disappointment, and what we long for becomes the enemy of what we already have. But God offers a better way.

Expectations can push contentment into the shadows, but God renews our contentment with the light of each new day.

So I’ve learned to be content with my circumstances. Even when they take an abrupt turn, like they have recently. In fact, our current circumstances have already affected my ability to plan, go, and do as much as I’d like through this year’s holiday season. But when disappointment tries to creep in, I will remind myself of God’s promise to me. His presence is always here, filling me with joy and peace through the holidays.

My holidays may not be perfect, but they are wonderful because God is in it.

You may be thinking, “But my holidays can’t be wonderful. Not this year. Too much has happened.”

I am right there with you, friend. We can let a diagnosis, grief, or hurt cast a pall over this season, or we can allow them to draw us into the throne room of grace, where mercy, hope, and healing reside.

So this year, join me in deciding to celebrate our wonderful, imperfect, unexpected, sometimes painful but always grace-filled, holidays.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.” Philippians 4:12 NIV

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Tempted to Compare My Holidays – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable ways. Her lessons highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Check out Kristine’s weekly devotions and other resources at kristinebrown.net.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with comparing your holiday experiences with others’?

 

Giving up Control

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

“They will not fear bad news. Their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.” Psalm 112:7

I watched him climb the 3-foot retaining wall at the park, his legs pushing his stocky frame upward. As he stood on the makeshift balance beam, arms stretched out wide, my mom instincts kicked into high gear. I rushed to hold my five-year-old’s hand, helping him walk safely to the end of the wall.

I remember hearing my husband chuckle, watching me rush to offer support that wasn’t even needed. “The wall’s only 3-feet high,” he said. “What’s the worst that could happen?” He knew this wasn’t the only time I had unnecessarily run to my son’s rescue.

I adored my God-given calling to be a mom: loving him, caring for him, protecting him. It was my greatest joy. But in my zeal to keep him safe, was I controlling too much? My husband knew something I had yet to learn. If I didn’t let him try on his own, he wouldn’t know how to pick himself up after a fall. I needed to let go.

Parenting isn’t the only place I crave control. Whether it’s controlling my circumstances, plans, or other people, it’s easy for me to excuse away my controlling habits. I’m tempted to say, “That’s just who I am. A go-getter. An organizer. Someone who takes charge.” But there was much more behind my inability to let go.

Control is first revealed in Scripture in Genesis chapter 3, when Eve and Adam faced consequences for eating the forbidden fruit. God spoke to Eve and said, “And you will desire to control your husband…” (Gen. 3:16 NIV).

Could it be that the struggle with our need to control began when sin entered the world? One thing is certain. When I remove the mask of control, I reveal insecurities I’d rather not see. Things like fear, worry, and the desire to feel needed come to mind, and these things are not of God.

I’m guilty of trying to prevent bad news from happening. I’d rather formulate a grand escape plan than watch my son fall to the ground and get a scraped knee. Only when nothing else works do I turn to God instead of making Him my first choice.

Things won’t always be easy, but we can walk through anything with assurance that God is with us, even when we fall. The verse above gives us hope today. We do not have to let fear or worry drive us to try and control any situation. We can turn our hearts toward God and trust the outcome to Him.

I may have prevented a scraped knee or twisted ankle all those years ago, but now that my child’s a young adult, the walls of life are higher. But the risks are greater. With every decision he makes, thoughts of that day at the wall come flooding back. But instead of rushing to hold his hand this time, I see God sitting there a safe distance away, just watching. My job is to stand back and pray this simple prayer.

Lord, as I face the day’s challenges, you will be my first choice instead of my last resort. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

If you’re struggling to release control today, allow this life-changing prayer to help change your perspective. Let’s pray these words every time we desire to take control.

Remembering to give our problems to Him first will remove fear, worry, and insecurity from our hearts and replace them with trust, peace, and rest. May we keep steadfast hearts focused on our Heavenly Father today. He is our first and best choice.

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Giving up Control – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable ways. Her lessons highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Check out Kristine’s weekly devotions and other resources at kristinebrown.net.

Join the conversation: Do you struggle with wanting to control a given situation? Share your story!

Freedom from Overload

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

“Then David continued, ‘Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly.’” 1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT

My writing space, also known as my office, doubles as a guest bedroom.

Or maybe I should say, our guest bedroom doubles as my office.

So, as I sit at my makeshift desk, peeking out the window at raindrops bouncing off piles of leaves in the yard, something out of the corner of my eye begs for my attention. I’m trying not to look, but I give in to the pressure. It’s the overstuffed closet I’ve been meaning to clean out for months.

I immediately turn from my writing task and scan my monthly planner. Maybe I can squeeze it in between work and dinner one day this week? Or better yet, let me work on revamping my entire schedule. Something has to give, so I can fit everything in and finally enjoy a clean closet! Planning helps me feel more in control, so I resolve to make a new plan. Again.

Organizing, analyzing, prioritizing, scheduling: I’m a planner by nature. I love the idea of becoming more organized. But even though organizing the schedule can be fun for a detail-oriented girl like me, all that planning doesn’t leave me feeling any more at peace.

I know deep down the best thing to do is just clean the closet.

When David passed along the assignment of building the temple to Solomon, he began by encouraging his son with this advice, “For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought.” A task like that came with a lot of detailed directions, too! Maybe David knew Solomon would feel overloaded and need words of wisdom to help him get it done:

Then David continued, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Don’t be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work related to the Temple of the Lord is finished correctly” (1 Chronicles 28:20 NLT).

David gave Solomon sound advice in his instruction for building the temple. After encouraging Solomon to be strong and courageous, he then added these three simple words.

“Do the work.”

We can learn an important lesson from this statement. Sometimes we try to find solutions for our overload, but it just adds more to the to-do list than what’s already there. When instead, we should stop trying to give our schedule an overhaul and just tackle the tasks – one at a time.

I don’t know about you, but I can make things so complicated. That’s why I love it when God keeps it simple, as He does here in this message to Solomon. After his instructions, David goes on to share the best news of all. “He will not fail you or forsake you. He will see to it that all the work…is finished correctly.”

When I do my small part, God will make sure the work is finished correctly. What freedom!

So, the next time a seemingly overwhelming job taunts you, remember today’s verse. Let it guide you through the temptation to spend an hour rearranging your schedule or creating a new to-do list. Instead, spend an hour tackling that task. Just doing the work will free us from the pile of jobs that overload us.

Now if you’ll excuse me for an hour or so, I have a closet to clean.

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Freedom from Overload – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable  ways. Her lessons  highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. Check out Kristine’s weekly devotions and other resources at kristinebrown.net.

Do you ever question whether you measure up? Kristine’s book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan,  learn the solution to a battle all women face. Through practical Bible teaching, find contentment in your God-given uniqueness and take simple steps to claim victory over comparison. Learn how to say “I’m over it” and mean it!

Join the conversation: What work do you need to accomplish today?

How to Trust God with My Biggest Battles

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

What do you do in that moment when you realize a battle is eminent? Your enemy has waged war against you, and the news punches you right in the stomach. Do you feel fear? Shock? Uncertainty of where to go, or what to do next?

For me, when a report of bad news comes, and I realize an attack is on its way, I immediately switch to defense mode. I pray, ask God for help, and even boldly claim my trust in God with my words. But sometimes my actions tell a different story. I try to convince myself that my situation is just a bad dream and waking up will make everything OK. And in a desperate effort to wake up from that dream, I start fighting the battle in my own strength.

We’ve all been there, on the front lines of impending battle. In that frightening place, it’s easy to see the magnitude of what we are facing and forget one important detail. There’s a huge difference between the way we see the battle and how God sees it.

King Jehoshaphat knew this. When Jehoram, King of Israel, asked Jehoshaphat, King of Judah, to join him and go to battle against Moab, Jehoshaphat agreed. The king of Edom also joined with them. But after marching seven days with no water for their men or animals, Jehoram lost faith.

“Then the king of Israel said, ‘Alas! The Lord has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.’” 2 Kings 3:10 ESV

But Jehoshaphat wasn’t ready to give up so easily. He called for a prophet, so they could see what God had to say about it. God’s words to these three kings revealed a powerful truth that still applies to our battles today.

“And this is a simple matter in the sight of the Lord; He will also deliver the Moabites into your hand.” 2 Kings 3:18 NKJV

What we see as our most difficult struggles are the simplest matters to God.

God spoke through the prophet Elisha, telling them He planned to fill every dry stream bed with water, so they would have plenty to drink. That was His first promise. Then He also added another minor detail. God would do one more thing; He would deliver the enemy into their hands. Amazing.

You see, God had a plan all along. King Jehoram couldn’t see it. All he could see was three armies of exhausted, worn out, thirsty men without water to drink. How would they ever be able to fight?

I hear you, Jehoram. I’ve been in that place of doubt. We all have. We look around at our circumstances, and our human minds can’t possibly foresee a good outcome. We’re exhausted, worn out, and thirsty. Yet it’s in those moments God calls us into a deeper level of trust.

“And when they rose early the next morning and the sun shone on the water, the Moabites saw the water opposite them as red as blood.” (2 Kings 3:22)

The enemy thought the kings had turned on each other, so they went after the spoil. But when they came to the camp, the Israelites rose up and took them down. God used the water to confuse the Moabites and win the victory even before the battle began.

Just like Jehoshaphat, when we trust God with our biggest struggles, He will bring us to a place of victory in the most remarkable ways.

Are you facing a battle that seems insurmountable? Are you ambushed by feelings of fear, shock, or uncertainty? Instead of taking matters into our own hands, let’s take our trust to a new level today. Our biggest battles are God’s simplest matters.

Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?                                                                                                                                                   Jeremiah 32:27 NASB

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How to Trust God with My Biggest Battles – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable  ways. Her life experiences serve as a backdrop for her lessons that highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Read Kristine’s weekly devotions at kristinebrown.net or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you ever question whether you measure up? Kristine’s book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan,  learn the solution to a battle all women face. Through practical Bible teaching, find contentment in your God-given uniqueness and take simple steps to claim victory over comparison. Learn how to say “I’m over it” and mean it!

Join the conversation: What have you entrusted to God lately?

 

Promises That Overpower Rejection

by Kristine Brown @KristineBrown43

“Number 17, number 9, number 4…,” the master called out, as the group of aspiring ballerinas stood there in our best black leotards and pink tights. Hearing my number would mean just one thing: I would be a snowflake in the Nutcracker ballet! I held my breath in anticipation, but my number wasn’t called.

The new snowflakes skipped out of the room where proud mommas waited. I lined up in the corner with the remaining ballerinas. The next group called would join the cast as party clowns. Not as glamorous as a snowflake, but still included. One by one we cartwheeled across the floor. The girls with the best cartwheels heard their numbers. Unfortunately, my cartwheel didn’t show much promise.

My last chance… the final few returned to the corner again. Our audition neared its end, but the director still needed to cast the final group – the mice! Not as fun as a party clown, but at least I would get to participate. He sang the directions in cadence, “Run out into the center and act like a mouse.”

 How does a mouse act, anyway? I thought.

Without a clue what to do, I followed the other mice candidates. I scurried, scratched my nose, and wiggled my tail with as much mice-like conviction as I could muster. It just wasn’t enough. With the final numbers still lingering in the air, my Nutcracker dreams died.

“It is the Lord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Deuteronomy 31:8 ESV

Rejection doesn’t end when we grow up. Those same feelings that caused such pain when we were young can affect us as women, too. Even when I feel like I’ve moved beyond the need for acceptance, one simple event can take me back to that memory – the day my number wasn’t called.

It could be an email stating my writing isn’t what they’re looking for, a call saying they’ve given the job to another applicant, or that thought wondering why I wasn’t invited to lunch with the other ladies.

Any of these scenes can send me back to those moments on the dance floor, holding my breath once again, feeling that heavy heart-drop when I’m not included. But when those feelings of rejection surface, we have four strong promises from the verse above to hold close.

God goes before me.

God will be with me.

God will never leave me.

God will not forsake me.

The truth is, we never have to feel abandoned when we have God. Rejection is a lie created to make us think we are less than who God says we are. Deuteronomy 31:8 speaks straight to that lie and offers hope. Let’s read these words right out loud today, and let God’s words give us the courage to stand firm against rejection. God goes before me. He will be with me. He will never leave me. He will not forsake me.

Proclaiming these promises restores our sense of identity as daughters of the King. So even if we aren’t destined to be a snowflake, a party clown, or a mouse, God’s plan is more fabulous than we can imagine. And His love for us will overpower rejection. Every. Single. Time.

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Promises That Overpower Rejection – insight from @KristineBrown43 on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing insight with her readers in relatable  ways. Her life experiences serve as a backdrop for her lessons that highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Read Kristine’s weekly devotions at kristinebrown.net or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Do you ever question whether you measure up? Kristine’s book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan,  learn the solution to a battle all women face. Through practical Bible teaching, find contentment in your God-given uniqueness and take simple steps to claim victory over comparison. Learn how to say “I’m over it” and mean it!

Join the conversation: When is the last time you felt rejected?

 

My Imperfections and God’s Power

by Kristine Brown @kristinebrown43

How could a task-oriented, detail-driven girl like me be so careless? I thought.

Mistakes happen. I knew this in my heart, but it was not just one mistake. It was two, and the errors caused problems for my entire team. I can usually maintain a lighthearted attitude about making mistakes, but not that day. Instead of laughing at myself, I questioned my abilities. Frustration grew as my thoughts centered around my flaws.

Making mistakes can make me feel inadequate. Defeated. Unable to get the job done.

The truth is, sometimes I get caught up in my own expertise, and I run ahead full speed. Tackling one task with ease gives me the confidence to take on another, then another, then another. Before I know it, I’ve run into a wall because I didn’t slow down long enough to place my confidence where it belongs.

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong,” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10 NIV).

In verse 9, Paul explains to the church at Corinth how God responded to him when he asked God to take away a “thorn in his flesh.” Paul knew the purpose of that thorn, or weakness. Verse 7 says, “… in order to keep me from becoming conceited.”

God allowed Paul to carry the weakness to keep his dependence in the right place. Paul accepted his weakness with gladness, knowing full well that he needed it. I’m inspired by how Paul acknowledged his own vulnerability. He wanted to remain humble, keeping the focus of his life and ministry on Christ.

God provided grace for Paul, and He does the same for us. Even when our mistakes reveal our weaknesses. Messing up shouldn’t cause us to question our abilities. It simply provides a pause for us to check our dependence. Have we become reliant on ourselves rather than our Savior? Do we put pressure on ourselves to never make a mistake? God cares enough about us to expose our weaknesses, so He can shine through our lives and teach us how to place our trust in Him.

Mistakes happen, because we are imperfect. But through those imperfections, God’s power is revealed. Like Paul, let’s embrace our weaknesses, knowing we can rely on God’s strength instead of our own.

For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.  Hebrews 4:15 ESV

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kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing biblical insight with readers and audiences in a relatable way. Her life experiences blend together to create an eclectic backdrop for her lessons that highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Read Kristine’s weekly devotions and Bible study resources at kristinebrown.net or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: What are the weaknesses in you that have moved you back into a deeper dependence on God?

 

When Comparison Causes Me to Doubt My Worth

by Kristine Brown

I shouldn’t have come, I thought. I scanned the crowded room, searching for a familiar face. I took an awkward side-step out of the way as a group of giggling girlfriends came toward me. A quick glance at the door told me I might be able to exit without anyone noticing. But before I could make a getaway, the host intercepted and led me to an empty table.

Enthusiasm filled the air, but to me it felt as distant as the ladies laughing and joking with each other. In the midst of all the hugs, selfies, and squeals of new friendships forming, I couldn’t help but feel something missing. Like they all had something I didn’t – companionship, belonging. And with every pang of longing, I felt the voice of comparison growing louder and louder. Before I realized it, my compulsion to compare had me questioning my worth.

A woman in Scripture named Leah knew a thing or two about comparison. From the first moment we meet her, we get a glimpse of her countenance through the look in her eyes.

“There was no sparkle in Leah’s eyes, but Rachel had a beautiful figure and a lovely face,” (Genesis 29:17 NLT).

Leah led a sparkle-free life. Her special qualities were concealed inside. She was just an ordinary girl who didn’t see anything super special about herself.

From where she stood, her sister Rachel seemed to have it all – beauty, her father’s affection, her husband Jacob’s love. When the two sisters were together, heads always turned toward Rachel. Leah had grown used to that, so it didn’t surprise her when Jacob favored her younger sister. And focusing on Rachel only magnified her emptiness.

When we compare, we turn our focus away from God. We let negative self-talk determine our worth. By seeing all she was missing, Leah allowed comparison to steal her shine. But God saw something more. He saw her as the woman He created – real, wonderful, magnificent.

“How magnificent are Your works, Lord, how profound your thoughts” (Psalm 92:5 HCSB).

Leah may have gotten caught up in competition with Rachel, but when she turned her eyes toward God, she discovered her true worth. From Leah’s story, we can learn an important truth.

When we look at ourselves and see mediocre, God looks at us and sees magnificent.

Leah’s story brings hope today. It shows us we’re not alone in the comparison battle. If we will let Him, God will fill the missing pieces in our hearts in the most beautiful ways, just like he did for me that night.

God used a new friend at a simple gathering of women to reach out to this lonely girl. Just as I’d resolved to go hide in the bathroom, a brave young lady joined me at the table. We chatted, we connected, and best of all we found comfort in encouraging one another instead of comparing.

Just like Leah, we too can focus our gaze on God and discover our worth in our Heavenly Father. So let’s silence the voice of comparison today and see ourselves as God sees us. We are valuable. We are loved. We are His magnificent creation.

“How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered!” (Psalm 139:17 NLT).

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart who teaches about God’s powerful, relatable Word. She is the author of Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. You’ll find Kristine’s weekly devotions and Bible study resources at kristinebrown.net. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: What determines how you see yourself? Does it match up with how God sees you?

Photo by Alice Moore on Unsplash

Hope for When We Need to Refocus

by Kristine Brown

 I wrote it in my new 2018 day-planner, the one with all the space for goals, plans, and action steps. I jotted it down on my desk calendar at work.  I even scribbled it next to a little circle on my to-do list notepad. Yet I still forgot to bring the ‘thank you’ card to work for my co-worker this week.

Actually, that’s not entirely accurate. Friday evening as I set my belongings on the kitchen table, I found it tucked in the side of my bag. The card did make it to work, I just never took it out of my bag to give it to her. The task didn’t get done. How could I be so forgetful? So much for the satisfaction of checking off that item on my to-do list!

We’ve been in a busier-than-usual season at our house. The list of things that must get finished keeps growing, and I find myself putting off everything until the weekend. There’s just one problem with waiting until Saturday to complete it all. The weekend arrives, and I’m too tired to tackle the list.

So another week passes, and next Saturday’s list is even longer, and so on, and so on. As a result, frustration comes in like an overpowering wave.

In those times, I feel like chaos has taken over. My mind struggles to focus on just one thing, much less a never-ending list of things that have to be done right now. It’s hard to refocus when our schedules get overwhelming, but 1 Chronicles 28:9 reassures us that God knows our hearts, plans, and thoughts.

“And Solomon, my son, learn to know the God of your ancestors intimately. Worship and serve him with your whole heart and a willing mind. For the Lord sees every heart and knows every plan and thought.” 1 Chronicles 28:9 NLT

King David desired to build a temple to hold the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant. When the Lord chose Solomon to complete the project, David shared these words of encouragement with his son as he commissioned him to begin the work God called him to do.

As God’s children, we are commissioned and called to worship and serve Him. In this verse, we discover a valuable truth concerning these things. We are called to serve him “with our whole heart and a willing mind.” When we keep a whole heart and a willing mind set on God, the chaos of life will not distract us.

After my hectic week at work, I noticed something. In all the rushing around to get things done, I’d put off my time with God. I forged my own plans. I let my to-do list turn my heart away from Him. But David’s inspiring speech to Solomon gives us hope today. Putting God first in our hearts and minds will help us refocus on things that matter.

Speaking of focus, will you excuse me for a moment? I have a thank you card to drop in the mail.

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 NASB

kristine brownMeet the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing biblical insight with readers and audiences in a relatable way. Her life experiences blend together to create an eclectic backdrop for her lessons that highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. Read Kristine’s weekly devotions and Bible study resources at kristinebrown.net or connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: Are you struggling with an over-the-top to-do list? What is most helpful to you in keeping your life in order?

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

Again, Again!

by Kristine Brown

“The entire family got up early the next morning and went to worship the Lord once more. Then they returned home to Ramah,” (1 Samuel 1:19a NLT).

I watched from the park bench as the toddler lifted his feet once more – mom in one hand, dad in the other. He knew if he held on tight, they would swing him forward to his delight.

“Again, again!” he shouted. The boy’s squeals sent me back to the early years with my own son, a time when a simple swing brought such joy. He used to say those same words when he wanted more. More playtime. More laughter. More mom and dad.

Now at 16-years-old, those moments of unbridled freedom have been replaced with the seriousness and responsibilities of pre-adulthood. Driving tests, job searches, and college planning fill the daily schedule. And in the midst of the madness, I find myself longing for those days when his mom and dad were the center of his universe.

I wonder if God feels this way about me, too. I’m working so hard to be a good grown-up, a responsible parent, and a trustworthy employee. Time with God can be one more thing to check off my never-ending list. Yet God’s desire is for me to view time with Him as far more important than another task to complete.

In today’s verse, a woman named Hannah and her family made their annual journey to the temple to worship God. They’d walked the same path year after year, but this time God had a special message for Hannah. While praying, Hannah received a miraculous promise from the Lord through Eli the priest. God assured Hannah she would soon have the child she’d yearned to have for so long.

Hannah had every reason to pack up their supplies and race back to Ramah. After all, she needed to prepare for the arrival of her promise! Yet she and her family decided the next morning to go back to the temple and worship God again. Instead of rushing off, Hannah returned to God’s presence once more.

One more chance to thank Him for answered prayer.

One more moment in the comfort of His presence.

One more time to praise Him, just because.

Hannah knew the importance of worshiping God again and again. When I read her story, I couldn’t help but question: have I let the weight of life’s demands distract me from spending time with God? Maybe in all my striving I’m forgetting about what that unbridled freedom feels like. Maybe in all my striving I’m forgetting about what unbridled freedom feels like: putting my hands into His strong ones, trusting Him to lift me up. If you’ve been in that place too – a place where your worship has faded with the growing responsibilities of life – let’s learn from Hannah’s example today.

Let’s lift our feet with adventurous abandon, knowing God’s grip won’t let go. Let’s swing forward, laughing along the way. And when our tip-toes touch the ground, let’s call out to our heavenly Father, “Again, again!” God is ready to raise us up, and his muscles never grow tired of holding us.

Yet those who wait on the Lord will gain new strength; they will mount up with wings like eagles. They will run and not get tired, they will walk and not become weary.                                                                                                                                                    Isaiah 40:31 NASB

kristine brownAbout the author: Kristine Brown is a communicator at heart, sharing biblical insight with her readers and audiences in relatable ways. Her hodgepodge of life experiences blend together to create a backdrop for her lessons that highlight God’s powerful Word and redemptive grace. She is the author of the book, Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan, and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. You’ll find Kristine’s weekly devotions and Bible study resources at kristinebrown.net.

Join the conversation: What specifically do you do when you spend time with the Lord?

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Chasing Peace

by Kristine Brown

Chasing fireflies was one of my favorite things to do as a child. Only we didn’t call them fireflies here in the South. We called them lightning bugs. On warm summer evenings, my sister and I would see the sporadic flickers and run to the backyard, ready for the chase. Those crazy lightning bugs were elusive. Every once in a while I’d catch one, but mostly I just chased them around.

Peace is like that sometimes.

I know what peace is. I read verses about it. But for some reason, I can’t seem to find it. I’m always looking, hoping it will just pop up in front of me where I can grasp it with cupped hands. I may get a hold of peace for a moment, but then I let go. I start seeking again and again. In the meantime, worry and stress make their home in my heart.

I’m sorry to say I’ve continued in this pattern, my never-ending quest for peace. Until recently when I read a verse I’ve poured over many times before. This time, God spoke a sobering truth to my spirit. I realized peace is not something to look for. It’s not a hidden treasure to find, or a goal to attain. We already have it.

“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you,” (John 14:27a NIV).

When Jesus neared the end of His time on earth, He prepared his disciples. The words He shared with them weren’t just for the twelve, but for all believers. He left an incredible gift to us as well. Jesus gave us His peace.

The same peace Jesus had when he found out his friend Lazarus died.
The same peace Jesus had when the religious leaders accused him and tried to trap him.
The same peace Jesus had when the very people he set free yelled, “Crucify him!”
The same peace Jesus had when he hung on the cross.

I have that peace with me right now, guarding my heart, my mind, and my spirit. What an amazing gift! And if that peace could bring calm to the treacherous situations Jesus faced, imagine what it can do in my life right now.

When we walk through our darkest times, when we’re in the midst of our hardest struggles, we can hold onto this promise. The same peace that carried Jesus through the cross will carry us today.

Maybe you are a little like me, chasing peace around like an elusive firefly. Know this truth, my friend: we can stop chasing. We only need to acknowledge the gift that’s already with us, ready to guard our hearts and minds from the turmoil that drives us into an unending quest for relief. Let’s stop searching, take a deep breath, and rest in His peace.

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NLT

 kristine brownAbout the author: A communicator at heart, Kristine Brown teaches about God’s powerful, relatable Word. She is the author of Over It. Conquering Comparison to Live Out God’s Plan and founder of the non-profit organization, More Than Yourself, Inc. You’ll find Kristine’s weekly devotions and Bible study resources at kristinebrown.net. You can also connect with her on Facebook and Twitter.

Join the conversation: What disturbs your peace?