We Still Hope

Lord, I thank you for the gift of today. I choose to focus on what’s right and not dwell on what’s wrong.

God, I know that you are bigger than anything that I’m facing and that you have me in the palm of your hand.

I believe that every chain trying to hold me down is being broken right now in the name of Jesus. Every stronghold trying to stop me is being loosened in the name of Jesus.against all odds, we still hope, against all logic, hope, trishakeehn.com

Lord, You said what was meant for my harm, You turn and use for my advantage. So I shake off the burdens and declare that I have victory in Jesus. I put my shoulders back and hold my head up high.

I thank you Lord for all you’ve done in the past and I boldly confess that my greatest victories are still out in front of me. I let go of the old and take the limits off of You, Jesus.

I live from a place of peace and rest knowing You, my God, are for me… who can be against me?

This is my declaration, Jesus. I speak of your strength and joy rising up from the inside as I place my trust and confidence in You, Almighty God.

So breathe in my direction, Jesus. Comfort me in the disappointments and loss. Give me beauty for ashes. Restore my health. Rebuild my relationships and make me brand new. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Make this your declaration if you too need to let the devil hear it loud and very clear: Against all odds… Against all logic… we still have H O P E!

The Hope In Your Hardship

God is here, God is closer than your bones, a new song will be on your lips, it is a new day, His light has surely comeEven with tears streaming down your cheeks, lift up your eyes and see that Heaven is closer than you know. Beloved, open your ears to a new song. His love can’t be undone. And though this won’t take away the wreckage you’re sorting through. The pain will still sting. There may be consequences you have yet to face. But you’re not stuck here.

Let these words wipe away a few tears; He’s closer right now than your skin and bones. He’s breathing deep into the broken parts and resurrecting a new life. Know that He will never leave you and His love won’t let you go. He is here.

Open your mouth and let your voice carry a new song. It is a new day. His light has surely come.

Slowing Down Saves Time

What I’m learning is how to live for longer stretches in the sweet seasons. Some hard choices have cleared a path for this space, like the bittersweet disconnect with a temptation to get twisted up in the minute by minute updates.

quiet place, rest, solitude, nevadaIt’s easy for me to get busy with my desires, someone else’s needs and the rest of the world’s suggestions. The fallout of that is a stressed out mind and a painfully stretched heart. My relationships work better when there’s carved out space to listen and laugh unbridled for hours.

We can save everyone some time by slowing down. When we live out of this sanctuary in our soul, we are more careful with conversations. We pause in places that a hurried life rushes past. We yield when there are question marks.

Mostly though, it’s the inner dialogue that consumes me the most. The endless chatter of my own thoughts. Which is why I must pump the brakes from time to time.

You can’t lead the world around you if you can’t harness your own soul. The core of your life incorporates your mind, your capacity to think, your emotions, your capacity to feel and even your capacity to choose. This is what makes our life so unique. The soul is the distinctness God gave us.

We work hard to take care of the framework on our house; the parts people can see. What are we doing for the gears that keep the lights on?

And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul? (Matthew 16:26)

Often we equate slowing down as missing out. But truthfully, when we merge into a slower lane, there is margin to savor the simple moments, like the sun throwing back the clouds at dawn and the crackle of a good campfire. This is grace. Grace with ourselves and grace with all those around us.

Comfortable Keeps You From God

prayer changes things, prayer heals, prayer is an invitation, prayer is powerful, www.trishakeehn.comMark: You prayed and believed your whole life. Never done anything wrong. And here you are. You’re the nicest person I know. I am the meanest. You have dementia. My life is perfect. Explain that to me!

Mina’s Mother: Sometimes the devil allows people to live a life free of trouble because he doesn’t want them turning to God. Their sin is like a jail cell, except it is all nice and comfy and there doesn’t seem to be any reason to leave. The door’s wide open. Till one day, time runs out, and the cell door slams shut, and suddenly it’s too late.

(Movie Quote from “God’s Not Dead”)

More than a quote though, that’s the honest truth. Whatever you’re facing, draw even closer to God. This wasn’t meant for you to brave alone. It’s an invitation to lean on something more powerful than you and watch a story of His glory be told. Sometimes what brings Him the greatest glory won’t be in healing you, but it may come from drawing in just one more witness to the hand of God being leaned on and lifted up.

Braving Trust

Understanding trust gives us words to say, ‘here’s my struggle and why I can’t rely on you’. Trust is a huge word with tons of weight around it.

There are common, quiet thoughts in our mind about trust that often go unspoken because we’re not really sure on how to sort through the vowels and verbs to make any sense of it. Researcher Brene Brown has a gift with dissecting and then organizing human connection. (Her bestsellers are worth buying; you’ll want to highlight, dog ear and pull these pages from the shelf to share.) Recently, she spliced open the anatomy of trust. Here are a few notes I’ve taken on the way we trust.

trust, brene brown, anatomy of trust, trishakeehn.comTrust is built in small, seemingly insignificant moments. It’s built when we ask for help and someone is there to lend a hand. Anytime we’re scared, there’s an opportunity for someone to build trust with us.

These same moments available for trust building are also available for betrayal. When we choose *not* to connect when the opportunity is there, this silent trust turns into betrayal.

Dr. Brown says that trust is really ‘braving’ connection with people.

B.R.A.V.I.N.G.

Here’s how she breaks down the acronym.

Boundaries: Trust is built when you are clear about your boundaries and you hold to them. I must also be clear about my own and expect you to respect them.

Reliability: Trust is built when you do what you say you are going to do. And not just once. We need to do what we say we are going to do over and over and over again. That’s what builds trust.

We also have to be clear on our limitations so we don’t take on so much that we come up short and can’t deliver on our commitments. Acceptance of these limitations from you and me is vital to trust.

Accountability: Trust is built when you make a mistake and are able to own it, apologize for it and make amends. When I make a mistake, trust is built when I am able to own it, apologize for it and make amends for it.

Vault: Trust is built when what I share with you, you hold in confidence. And what you share with me, I hold in confidence. We both need to see that confidentiality with others is acknowledged in our conversations with each other.Brene Brown, anatomy of trust, braving connection, trust, trishakeehn.com

You cannot share things that are not yours to share as a way to hot-wire connection with a friend. Your closeness cannot be built on talking bad about other people. Common enemy intimacy is built on hating the same people. That’s counterfeit trust. That’s not real.

Integrity: Act from a place of integrity and encourage me to do the same thing. This builds trust. Choosing courage over comfort. What’s right over what’s fun, fast or easy. Practicing your values, and not just professing them.

Non-judgment: Trust is built when I can fall apart and struggle and ask for help without being judged by you. And conversely, you can fall apart and struggle and ask for help without being judged by me.

We are generally better at helping people than asking for help. Yet, if you can’t ask for help and I cannot ask, then this is not a trusting relationship. There’s a temptation to assign value to your help. You may determine your worth based on how you’re helping someone. Or perhaps you think less of yourself if you need the help. However, if you think less of yourself for needing help, then when you offer to help someone else, you will think less of them too. We cannot get value from being a helper in a relationship. This is not your worth.

Generosity: It’s only a trusting relationship if you can assume the most generous positive thoughts about what my intentions and behaviors are doing and what my words are saying, and then check in with me. So if I screw up and say something or forget something, you will make a generous, positive assumption. As opposed to guarding your heart from me or ignoring my calls or efforts.

Here’s the catch to trust. We cannot trust others if we don’t first trust ourselves.

brave, trust, dictionary bravery, trishakeehn.com, self-trustOne of the biggest casualties with heartbreak, disappointment and failure is is not the loss of trust with other people but the loss of self-trust.

In my own life (Trisha speaking here), Brown’s definitions have breathed new life into my ‘brave’. Past breakups and frustrations have kept my decisions locked in a cage of self reflection and doubt that I could trust myself anymore to make better choices.

If braving relationships with other people is braving connection, then braving self-trust is braving self-love and self-respect.

If you can’t count on yourself, you can’t ask other people to give you what you don’t have. You have to start with self-trust.

Maya Angelou puts it this way, ‘I do not trust people who don’t love themselves and yet tell me ‘I love you’. There’s an African proverb that says, ‘Be careful when a naked person offers you a shirt’.

If you struggle with trust, examine first your own self-trust and how you treat yourself. You can’t ask people to give to you what you don’t believe you’re worthy of receiving. You will know you are worthy of receiving trust when you trust yourself above everyone else.

The Gift You Long For

Everything seems urgent at this time of year and expectations tell us all the going and doing is very important.

The calendar controls our time but we’re so overwhelmed to even realize this pressure is the pulse driving whether we keep up or stay ahead. ‘Rush’ repurposes peace into a chaotic Christmas story we tell around the tree through short tempers and careless thinking.

It’s a time to celebrate, but walking into a worship service even reminds me of work; people I haven’t had a breath to get back to. It’s been so long since our schedules have seen some blank spaces that plotting out this dreamy word peace feels like a burden.

We’re being robbed, my friend. The onslought of life’s pressures have started to dominate and define us.

Some of it isn’t even bad. We might be wrapped up in so many seemingly good things, like our jobs, the church, charities yet at the end of the day we still don’t have our peace and quiet.

It feels like we’re slaves here.

Enter Exodus. The second book in the bible. The Israelites were bossed around by taskmasters all day and night. They were slaves to the demands and saying ‘no’ wasn’t an option.

It’s as if this ancient, living Word just ripped a page out of my daily planner and planted the story near the beginning of the book because the Author knew someone who needed this kind of message didn’t have much time to dig any deeper… should even an hour in the day open up to get this far.

Back to the book, even though God sends Moses to free these people from the physical demands, their minds were stuck in a slave mentality. The Israelites didn’t know what it looked like to stop or pause from work.

slaves to schedules, slaves aren't in charge, slaves have no control, the clock controls slaves, work controls slaves, trishakeehn.comGod has sent a way to relieve us from the tension. We’re just not choosing it. If there’s a cancellation on our calendar, it becomes open season.

The thought of deliberately choosing rest around this time of year feels almost unthinkable – family is flying in or you’re flying out, kids have written out their wish lists, parties are being planned and friends are expecting you to be there – because it all lands on people who still think the way a slave thinks.

The enemy will tell you that sketching out even a half inch margin around this to-do list is impossible. When you decide to permanently mark peace into your plans, the enemy will use friends and family to jab at your choice, compare their life with yours and say that you’re selfish with your time.

Since when did other people determine your worth? Busyness has never been declared a badge of honor in the realms of what matters most. Working more will never earn you favor in the eyes of what’s really important.

So why is it so difficult to press pause on the pressure? Mostly because you’ve been bullied into thinking it’s up to you to protect your reputation. You’ve become motivated by the fear of failure so insecurity has you pushing harder to achieve ‘big’ things and impress other people.

You could be intimidated by the quiet places because it feels less important there, so you pick up the torch of self-reliance to accomplish something. May I suggest it could have something to do with your kids and being obedient to their beck and call?

Slaves don’t control the clock; the work controls them.freedom, standing firm, yoke of slavery, Galatians 5:1, slavery, trishakeehn.com

If your devoted time with God has been replaced over a period of time, you’ve diminished power in the present because you lost your allegiance to the one thing that’s most important.

Our culture continues to spin this merry-go-round of achievement, production, and results faster and faster, but the answer isn’t to keep up. No, the solution is to step off.

It is for freedom that Christ set us free; therefore keep standing firm and do not be subject again to a yoke of slavery. (Galatians 5:1)

The fear of what others will say or think about your ‘no’ is straight up from the enemy.

If you aren’t claiming your time, someone else will. There is a serious battle for your contentment, your peace, your rest, your health, even your ability to worship attentively. The enemy will use whatever leverage he can get a grasp on take away your freedom and satisfaction in Christ, your trust in God and your availability to move at the invitation of our Author’s perfectly timed will.

We are not here to be slaves to schedules. You don’t need to keep hustling. You’ve already received approval from the only One whose approval really matters. His value IS your value.

your values, who you are, God wants good things for you, trishakeehn.comGod doesn’t want something from you. He wants something for you. Your value is not in what you do but in who you are.

You deserve to live at your best in every area of life so start with focusing prayers on getting free from the pressure.

God will send the Spirit’s power to help you gain control of your day by creating quiet corners that anchor the intersection of chaos and God’s best.

Declare some boundaries based on your devotion to this place of peace and know that everything else will ultimately benefit by your clearer focus.

Surrendering your schedule to rest cultivates a calm spirit so that your words spring from a well filled with joy and love. Your walk will be guided by patience with people, instead strain and stress. Your body will wake up renewed and ready to start again tomorrow.

In your effort to practice more peace this year, you may not have presents for everyone under the tree. More mail may come in than cards going out. Friends might have to wait until January to see you again.

Sometimes it’s not what you carry in your hands that will have impact with people. It might be what’s in your heart that leaves an impression.

As I type out these final thoughts, the hair stylist is wrapping my hair up in foils because these are the very few silent moments I have left to write. I’ve struggled with being stretched during this season. My faithfulness to rest has been less than honorable.

My hope is to find this place of peace so that I may be fully present with loved ones in the following days. My prayer is to leave the season feeling more satisfied than any pretty paper or package could ever offer.

Making Friends With Fear

Do you live as afraid as I do?

Fearful of this memo pad with a mountain of to do’s and the daily snowfall of demands for my time. I’m terrified of telling friends I can’t meet for coffee or commit to dinner or even a phone call. The guilt and judgment that comes with letting people down scares the heck out of me. Staring at the mess of my past, I’m even frightened for the mate who is stuck with this backpack of struggles I carry around.

There’s remnants of a people-pleasing problem laced in the pain of my anxieties. Even as I write this, there’s a stream of sadness warping the sheets of paper because I want to be free from all of it. The fear of what others think. The shame that comes when I can’t keep up with the crowd. And here’s an underlying truth: it is hard to love people well if you do not show love to yourself.

For the last couple of months, I’ve experimented with different methods. There’s a mound of library books about anxiety toppling over the corner of my desk. Self-help podcasts sit on my desktop waiting to be played. I’ve tossed out thoughts with a therapist and swallowed vitamin supplements to relax. None of these are lasting solutions.

One of the great paradoxes of living life as a believer is gaining control over our thoughts while also surrendering them to Jesus?pain, struggle, pray it down, prayer

In Scripture (Philippians 4:7), Jesus tells us that when we’ve given our anxiety and our prayers to the Lord, we will receive the gift of peace: “and the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus.”

We receive the Lord’s peace when we pray. Literally, God’s peace descends upon us and takes action! It guards our hearts and our minds. Live in prayer and you will live in peace! There will be quietness and confidence in our lives because instead of getting “worked up” over life’s problems we are choosing to “pray them down.”
Prayer not only gives us peace but it arms us with a conquering spirit, an overcoming spirit. We begin to believe again. We believe to trust the promises of God again. We begin to stand in the strength that is our God when we pray.

We’re never more anxious to receive from God than He is willing to provide. Once we accept the sting of death is real and can happen, we drop this daily fear of living bravely. This is when we really leap into a life worth living.

William Shakespheare, purpose, gift, serve, what is your gift, gift of writingWe are all busy people doing important stuff. There’s a lot to do and not enough time. Life isn’t waiting on our schedule to catch up. In all of this strategizing and planning to be effective with what we have, let us not neglect the one thing that brings clarity to everything else: regular time with our heavenly Father.

Fear doesn’t have to be an enemy if we learn to put it to work. Healthy fear forces you to tune-in and pay close attention to what’s standing between you and living a free life.

Fear alerts you when to be cautious and when you to be bold with your choices. When you learn to master fearful emotions they become the most powerful wisdom teachers directing your decisions.

When you give fear the irrational power to paralyze you, it will stifle your progress. Fear is an opportunity to drive change in your life. For this reason, always remind yourself everything you want stands on the other side of fear.

Let go of the fear holding your mind hostage and start making friends with it.

Don’t Open The Door

The Dream

Under the covers, there I was sleeping peacefully when a knock came at the door. One knock turned into incessant knocking. With pillows now smooshing my face into the sheets, it was evident I had been turning over in an attempt to sleep off the obnoxious noise.

But now the neighborly knocks shifted into disturbing shouts. A husky voice behind the door hollered, “Open up this door. Let me in, now”.

Half asleep, my mind was drawing a half circle conclusion that the urgency behind this voice wasn’t because someone was in need of help.

My mind was at rest. Reaching for the phone on my nightstand, the only plan I had was to type out a text to a friend about how annoying this was.

The fist behind fast knocking flipped into aggressive pounding.

This doesn’t seem right, I thought. If there’s so much strength trying to scare me from behind that door, then why don’t they just break a window or shoot the lock open and enter the place? Weird.

The pounding now echoing through stillness of my house, I sat up. There was no panic in my mind; only peace. And yet, I felt it would be wise to climb into the closet and call someone. So I moseyed out of bed and dialed 9-1-1.

The Door (in the dream)

It’s been months since that morning I woke up with that image of a door and the devil in my dream.

don't open the door, the devil is knocking,Why not just break a window, I thought.

The Lord said, he can’t come inside unless you open that door.

The devil can’t break into your ‘house’, your temple, your mind, unless you invite him in. With all the tools in his toolbox, and every huff and puff of terror building up on the outside, the devil can’t pry open the door.

It is impossible.

Sure, he may stir up some fear, but the enemy can’t crack even the weakest walls when it’s built with a strong foundation.

“The Lord your God who goes before you will himself fight for you.” (Deuteronomy 1:30) That’s His promise to you. Let the Lord do your heavy lifting. How? By calling out to Jesus. I find that I need to physically get into a position of surrender on my knees to tap into the power of peace.

When you open the door and let peace out, you let confusion in.

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” (John 10:10).doors, the devil comes knocking, the Lord comes knocking, door of opportunity

Satan is standing outside your door, and he’s knocking to come in.

The doors are different for each of us. What does yours look like?

Mine is anxiety… dwelling on concerns, worries and self-imposed deadlines. Yours might be depression. It could be distractions. Maybe the door is an ‘opportunity’ you shouldn’t draw near to.

The enemy is a prince of persuasion. In his hand are some empty promises, wrapped up as a few of your weaknesses; alcohol, romantic relationships, money, your own influence with people.

The devil’s knock may be under the disguise of helping you when you’re down. He needs you to open the door and let him into your life in order to destroy you.

“These are the words of him who is holy and true, who holds the key of David. What he opens no one can shut, and what he shuts no one can open.” (Revelation 3:7)

God is Peace. God is your Peace.

Peace is evidence of the presence of God and it’s for your benefit to pursue peace in all areas of your life, even when the noise at your door gets louder.

Revelation 3:7, what he shuts no one can open, what he opens no one can shut, the who holds the key of DavidPeace is not determined by your circumstances. Peace is the presence of God. It is present to guard your heart and mind.

And I want you to know, when the enemy comes in the night to stir up your peace, grace is laced in the blood of Christ dripping from your doorpost as the angel of death grips the knob.

One last note. If you haven’t asked Jesus to be the Peace in your life, it may be His voice calling out to you on the other side of that door.

In Revelation, Jesus says, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”

So how do you know the difference? Pray. When you call out to Him in prayer, in Jesus’ name, He comes like a mighty rushing wind into your heart. He may be the one at the door asking you to open up to Him.

Let Peace inside and it will never leave you.

The Seasoning of Life

There is peace here.

The birds haven’t spread their wings yet, and the squirrels are still tucked into tiny tree beds. My shoes do an early morning shuffle through the leaves, soaking up this damp air that lays heavy on my face. I swing a notebook in my hand, as I wait on the Lord for something, anything that will stir my spirit.

I snap this picture.

There’s a scattering of yellow and orange still holding onto life, staring at the fate of friends who have since let go. Perhaps those still breathing actually turn away, to face the sky in praise toward the Maker of the heavens and the universe.

Let everything that has breath praise the LORD! (Psalm 150:6)

praise the Lord, seasons fertilize the next, Though these leaves, these lives undoubtedly see death happening all around, they don’t let go. I bet the view is spectacular up there.

And then one slips.

The heaviness in the air was too much to bear, I suppose. I watch the crinkled maple sway left, and see-saw right. I smile. Even a leaf can enjoy the ride on the way down. And now this leaf lays to rest in a bed where all the others have gone.

And soon the turn of the season will freeze this foliage that fertilizes new life in the Spring.

Look up. Whatever is raining on your parade, clouding your focus or heaven forbid, biting at your cheeks with the bitterness of a very long winter, turn away from the view of death in your situation.

Praise the heavens. This too shall pass. And there will be purpose here. One season is fertilizer for the next.

Worry is a Waste of Imagination

worry, imaginationNever be ashamed to admit that you can’t do it all.

Wisdom is recognizing what season you’re in and living according to that.

Change is the essence of life; be willing to surrender where you’re at for where you could go.

My advice is to keep God first, and His strength will give you what you need to make the rest of your decisions.

We all have different responsibilities, demands and distractions. When you choose to walk in the fear of the Lord, then it’s His job to find and provide the tools you need to get His work done.