Struggle Well

What makes relationships work

Being in a relationship is about finding someone you can struggle well with. If you can’t struggle well, it’s easy to walk away. That’s what I’ve learned watching my Ma and Pa work out 36 years of problems presenting themselves. I witnessed when pain and pride interrupted love with it’s tension, there was always a choice to press in or pull back.

relationships, love, love well, struggle wellAs iron sharpens iron, the collision of two distinctly different mindsets can spark some major fireworks. If done right, the refining process can be a beautiful thing. When both are committed to communicate and learn, the clashes can make a marriage stronger, build character, and deepen faith. It’s a necessary part of life.

To desire a comfortable, stress-free living leaves relationships at the surface. And our faith too. How we live with others is a mirror of our marriage with the Bridegroom above. To avoid the difficult parts only holds back what can be developed on the inside; spiritual maturity. There’s no promise for protection from problems. Only the potential to grow or run away.

Life will never stop handing us struggles. It is a daily reality of our faith. Holding back won’t heal the the pain. My folks taught me that communicating the struggles is what seasons life; marriage can flavor with a mouthful of salt and sweet at the same time.

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. 2 Corinthians 4:17

In the tension, trials and soul-felt tears, there must be an accompaniment of understanding, patience, love, openness, and the willingness to remain vulnerable. Otherwise, struggling can turn into an emotional response and in this moment of weakness, personal attacks and criticism come crawling out of the grave.

A thief comes in the darkest of hours to steal our joy. Just because two people stay married doesn’t mean they act married. They might be wed and wear rings for the world to notice but apathy can’t change the heart. In these moments, difficult marriages either grow or surrender.

A good marriage is not something you find; it’s something you work for. And coasting through can’t do this. Only struggles that crucify selfishness, confront pain and confess truths can create relationships of beauty and trust by instilling faithfulness and perseverance to grow.

“The more the flesh is wasted by affliction, so much the more is the spirit strengthened by inward grace.” Thomas a Kempis

When you find someone you can struggle well with, there’s an aroma of grace penetrating these dark places. There’s protruding joy, even in the deep pain. There’s understanding, a ‘leaning in’, a hug waiting when hurt and frustration find their way to the surface. These struggles draw us nearer to God.

When you struggle well, you can live with the questions.

Relationships that don’t struggle well are the ones that end.

Thank you for allowing us to witness what 36 years of struggling well looks like, Mom and Dad. Thank you for pressing in when the pain begged you to pull back. The beauty in your love and growth in your character has shaped my future forever. Happy Anniversary, Ma and Pa.

Surrender Brings Clarity

Zephaniah, quiet heart, quiet mind, God is with you, EmmanuelPerhaps this moment is unclear, let it be. Lay it at the feet of Jesus with the rest of life’s unanswered prayers. Your burden is His gift.

When you let go of the questions that consume your mind, God receives the gift of your attention and trust. When concerns crop up and beg for your consideration, let wisdom lead you to fold your hands, surrender your heart and drop to your knees in the presence of what matters most.

Often, the mind stays stuck overthinking, in hopes the answer will reveal itself. As if all this strain in our head will squeeze out serenity once we know exactly what to do. Sadly, the solutions we search for come with their own complexities when we have to actually carry them out.

Peace is available today at the altar where you surrender the pain and strain of the unknown.

Where you spend your time determines what you treasure most. Instead of toiling, take those thoughts to the throne. When we live with this attitude of prayer, we find that God is present everywhere.

Living God’s Purpose

Begins in His Presence

When we want God to do something in our lives, the first step is to get closer to His presence. When we bring our brokenness, we don’t have to beg God for a blessing or for an answer to our prayers. He wants to do good things for his children.

The people of Judah were already in a state of distress when their king had died. (Isaiah 6:1) God had warned this nation of severe judgment for their wicked ways. With an enemy threatening an attack on the land, the people of Judah had questions and doubts concerning their future. Everything was so up in the air. With surmounting fear and hesitancy, Isaiah, desperate for answers, got in the presence of the Lord.desperation, gods purpose, gods presence

Here on his knees, Isaiah received a revelation from God. The holiness of the Lord shined a light on the sin and darkness in Isaiah. “Woe is me! For I am lost and a man of unclean lips.” (Isaiah 6:5) This was a work of humility in Isaiah. This place of brokenness and surrender allowed Isaiah to be used by God.

We are not strangers to God. We don’t have to convince Him for salvation. We have full access to his favor and healing. We don’t have to beg for access to His goodness, His grace, His provision and mercy. We have access to His sufficiency through Jesus. You just need to accept it.

When we operate in our own ability and power, we only glorify ourselves. And when we use our solutions to address a situation, we have the potential to do more damage than good. A believer’s aim is not to be spiritual know-it-all’s. Our goal is for the Holy Spirit to be the reigning voice inside us. When we walk in His presence, we operate out of His power.

There are times God allows a desperation in our soul, spiritually, to draw us back into His presence.

In desperate places, the temptation is to take matters into our own hands. We might create a list of things we need to change. We might want to fix our own failures. In the end, we learn that trying to make ourselves good enough for God is futile.

There’s no spiritual work happening in our hearts when we take matters into our own hands. When we operate out of our own strength, we try to do what only Jesus can do for the soul. When the Holy Spirit brings conviction to your heart, it’s not because He thinks you can clean up the mess in your strength.

Our Restorer will repurpose sin to draw us into His presence.

Sometimes our circumstances corner Jesus with bitterness. We hold grudges against God because our situation isn’t good. It hurts. So we spend less time in His presence. We might even rebel against everything God wants from us. That’s what Judah did. The devil will devise every distortion of the truth to draw us away from God’s purpose, which is being in the Healer’s presence.

When a tragedy has us asking ‘why,’ the answer begins with bending our will to His.

Isaiah 6, God's Purpose, God's PresenceIf it’s not a place of pain that’s driving us away from God’s presence, it can be the competition of our own priorities. The volume of our to-do’s and want-to’s can drown out the whisper of a should-do in the stillness with Jesus. Often we wait until our plans hit a roadblock, or until things aren’t working out the way we rigged them before we seek favor from the Father.

When we release the weight of control in our grip and reach this position of surrender, God can go to work in His power and His grace.

Your problems are meant to point you to His strength. This is His grace.

It’s our brokenness and submission that opens our spiritual ears to hear from God. Once Isaiah humbled himself (Isaiah 6:5), God delivered a word.

In God’s presence, with God’s word, Isaiah was able to walk out His purpose.

God has a purpose and a plan for you.

Living out the purposes of God begins with being in the presence of God.

 

Key Change

A minor change on a major scale

A key change doesn’t require a large shift on the scale or grandiose measures. Did you know that a half step can make all the difference? A small change can create some beautiful music.

To appreciate a key change, you don’t need to know music theory. A listener can hear the transition in tone.

Every now and then life calls for a key change. Without it there is little music produced, for a piece puts out true beauty not from the fixed notes it embraces but rather from the subtle modulation we experience.

Life is packed with opportunities for you to take the stage on some major and minor scales, but you won’t get far in a performance if you’re not willing to embrace a key change.

The key change is your perspective. A slight shift in how you view life’s circumstances will make all the difference. When someone uses words you didn’t expect or reacts contrary to the culture’s perception, that’s a result of changing perspective.

If you want to stand out in the crowd and survive with your dignity among life’s situations, it’s going to require a key change in perspective.

Your circumstance, that cross you’ve been called to carry, looks different than mine.

You could be performing mundane tasks in a job, when you may be suited for much greater work.

Perhaps you’ve been cultivating the same field, nurturing a dream year after year, even though it yields no harvest.

Or, you may be called to walk through this world with a smile while your heart secretly breaks inside.

change, perspective, spiritual growthThere are so many crosses we carry and every one of them is painful.

Outwardly this cross may appear destructive, but inwardly its spiritual work is planting the richness of a blessing deep into the soil of your soul. Many of the blessings you inherit are the fruit of sorrow or pain.

Jesus on the cross, redemption itself, is the world’s greatest blessing and was produced through the greatest pain.

The Apostle Paul made a key change. He learned how to be content whatever the circumstances. (Philippians 4:11)

The attitude we live with is what determines our growth in God. This isn’t about being fake. The key change in our perspective is trusting God when other people are getting what we want.

Growth doesn’t happen when you remain with the same heart in the same place. A harmonious arrangement in life calls for a key change in perspective.

Where is that place that presses up against your threshold of yesterday? Where do you need to die to your own will, pride and sin and surrender at the feet of Jesus the very things that keep you proud and strong?

The charm of a broken spirit leaves us with an imprint of the cross. There’s a fragrant aroma of brokenness and humility that rises after it’s been touched by fire. Make the key change to transform the song of your sorrows into a beautiful melody of redemption.

Do you trust God so much that you absolutely do not want anything that He doesn’t want you to have? That’s perspective. That’s the key change in your mind that will take an ordinary song and dance and create a signature that’s all of you glorifying all of Him.

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Key Change: A Minor Change on a Major Scale by Trisha Keehn first appeared on LiftUpYourDay on September 23, 2016.

Courage in the Quiet

Sometimes A Brave Heart Waits

I waited patiently for the Lord… (Psalm 40:1)

Waiting can be much more difficult than walking. It requires patience. Not a very natural fruit of the spirit we’re born with. As babies, we cried until we were content. As children, we ignored the stop signs. In our adolescence, we found ways around the rules. And as a teen, we flat out rebelled against ‘no’. And now, here we are as adults. Now, we can buy our way through the delay.

Did you know that God has a purpose in ALL His delays? And the ‘stops’ too.

When we don’t rush the race, this steady walk provides a renewal of strength. We are empowered by our self-control in the stops. Edges are chiseled as we wait. The wait is growing endurance and perseverance below the surface. It is refining the steps in front of us. But so often we see standing still as failure and being forced into inaction – required to watch the tides of life as we stand on the shore.

It takes a fierce faith to submit to the will of God and give up opportunities for work and leave honors to others. To be quiet. Confident. And even rejoicing while the busyness rushes past you.

In a cloud of isolated quick thinking, our fleeting feelings are apt to react with coward logic when life isn’t moving. Poor decisions are made. Life-staking choices. We exchange God’s best for an offer of immediate gratification. Almost always, we regret it.

The winner’s circle is a quiet waiting. Stay still. Surrender your schedule. When the pressure in life hits your tender places and the reflex is to react, remember it requires more courage to stand still, wait and still not lose heart or hope.

Instead of running for relief, relax. Rest. Push through the crowded thoughts that are limiting time and self-defeating in light of your submission. Your words carry weight and create reality. Your words in your own mind, about yourself, circulate the truth. What truth are you telling yourself?

In the heat of pressure and resistance, reach into the vault of God’s Truth and align your thinking with the path of faith and perseverance.

Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable–if anything is excellent or praiseworthy–think about such things. (Philippians 4:8)

You are His masterpiece. (Ephesians 2:10)

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—His good, pleasing, and perfect will. (Romans 12:2)

Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.(1 Corinthians 9:25)

No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:11)

…we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. (Romans 5:3-5)

Be still. And know that I am God. (Psalm 46:10)

Visualize yourself in the winner’s circle. You have the power of Jesus to create life or death with what you think about. Speak the right words into your situation. Push your thoughts around. Pray the burdens down. Get your faith and focus set on His strength. Nothing is impossible for Him (Matthew 19:26). He holds this world securely in His grip. His supernatural love surrounds us and can break through the heartache of letting go.

“There are seasons when being still is the hardest, most obedient thing we can do. God doesn’t require you to do everything. He does ask for your obedience.” — Christina Patterson, Daughters of Fire

Be still. Watch Him work. Waiting and keeping yourself steady, faithful in His leading is the secret of strength. Anything that does not align with obedience to His will is a waste of time and energy.

Sometimes the most effective thing we can do is to let go of the reins and trust Him. Do you trust God enough to just be still? It’s tempting to fill the stillness to distract us from the discomfort of feeling alone. Yet in the stillness is where we realize God is enough.

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Courage in the Quiet by Trisha Keehn first appeared on LiftUpYourDay.com on August 26, 2016.

The Richness of Your Life

richness in your story, difficulties produce character, trishakeehn.comHow often are you thankful for even the hardship in your life? It’s difficult to emulate a spirit of thanksgiving when the storm is raging through your situation but here’s the truth about the wind and the waves wreaking havoc in your life: they all had to pass through the palm of our loving Father before they could touch even a hair on your head. No matter what kind of chaos is swirling about, every ounce of hardship went through God before it was allowed in your life.

A broken relationship. Sickness. Loss of a job. Financial woes. No place to call home. Rebellious children. Loneliness.

Don’t give the devil any credit for even the pain. That pain is tempering a soul, breaking a hardened heart and softening all the edges to lean in to others facing the battle, to lean in to the Almighty for a miracle you cannot fathom, to lean in to even the questions you often run from in your own mind. I’m sorry that it hurts so much at times. If you let it, this pain will produce such rich character and flavoring that seasons your story. This is what makes you set apart and unique in a land of 7 billion people. We need your story and your pain. Praise the Father still. Give thanks always and for everything.

15 Ways to Find Peace

When the struggle is still strong

Finding peace is simply making it a priority. It’s a choice in the midst of our circumstances that we have to consciously make. When we set our minds on peace, everything else will organize around it.

Colossians 3:15 reminds us to ‘let the peace of Christ rule our hearts’. Peace is to lead our lives and be the director of the performance, not become the

Rest can come at any hour at even the smallest price. Though, it will always require sacrifice. We must give up one thing to spend time on something else.

If we’re not careful, we will forfeit our own peace of mind in an effort to help someone else unravel their problems. Other times, we get caught up in what practicing what peace needs to look like, that it prevents us from experiencing even a fraction of it at all. Here’s some guidance to cultivate the calm in your soul.finding peace, calm,

  1. Reframe what kind of time solitude requires. Often our own vision of what something should look like, or what we want something to look like prevents us from experiencing anything at all.
  2. Try 15 minutes sitting down to just breathe. Soak in the stillness of a moment. Oxygen clears the head. Much like breathing correctly during exercise is important for proper form and a deep stretch, so it is for your thinking. A shallow inhale doesn’t get deep enough to create an oxygen flow in the blood. Stretch your body.
  3. Grab a journal. Drive to the edge of town. Go anywhere you can sit in the early one morning hours to begin with peace. Focus on what you appreciate about the people in your life instead of wishing they would change. Catch critical, blaming, or self-victimizing thoughts. Instead of ruminating on what someone else did wrong, express yourself and ask yourself what you can do to create the change you’re seeking.
  4. Close your eyes and listen. I find a rock when I’m hiking to sit and take it all in. If you’re not near nature, try the ‘Calm’ app or light music to drown out the noise in your mind. These thoughts will clear the head space and unwind tangled up anxiety. Turn your thoughts onto the freedom that rain has when it calls. As it washes away and strips away the burdens.
  5. Schedule a date with yourself—a time when you don’t need to meet anyone else’s requests—and do something that feeds your mind and spirit. Go to a museum or take yourself to your favorite restaurant and simply enjoy your own company.
  6. Declutter your surroundings, like a corner in your home or table space in your office that you spend most of your time staring at.
  7. Take a prayer walk in the morning to meditate on scripture, God’s promises and positive affirmations that help you feel present and empowered.
  8. Write down everything that is draining you mentally. It’s a form of getting it out and letting it go. Instead of holding in your feelings and developing resentment, write them down.
  9. Tap into your childlike senses and get creative with art. Doodle. Play music. Dance. The creative adult is the child who survived. Have fun with someone you love. Forget about everything that feels like a problem and do something silly.
  10. Muster compassion for someone who hurt you instead of wallowing in bitterness, which will make it easier to forgive them and set yourself free.
  11. Set aside some time to actively enjoy the good things about the present. Recognize the purpose in every place the Lord has called you to; your work, your church, your neighborhood.
  12. Create a list of things you love about yourself instead of dwelling on how you wish you were different.
  13. Start reading that book you bought about dealing with the challenge you’ve been facing.
  14. Tell the truth in your relationships. When we hold in our true feelings, we create stress for ourselves. Be kind but honest and share what you really feel.
  15. Do something kind for someone else. Volunteer your time to help a charity you’re passionate about. Put all your energy into helping someone else and you will inadvertently help yourself.

These are just a few ideas to help you get started. When we have peace leading the way, problems won’t weigh down the decisions we need to make for the day. What do you do to cultivate the peace in your life?

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This post, 15 Ways to Find Peace, by Trisha Keehn, appeared first on LiftUpYourDay.com

The Power of Honesty

friendship, trust, vulnerability, joy, laughter, trishakeehn.comThese seasons are shorter looking back from the other side. Don’t let these moments slip away.

Stretch out the sentences with your honesty; it’s a treasure that loses power the longer we wait. Even the tears unlock a vault of vulnerability that acts more like gravity between two hearts.

Unbridle the laughter when life brings you immense joy.

This place of surrender and trust is the shortest path between two people. This is how we love.

Hope Gives Way To Strength

Sometimes crazy gets the breakthrough.

When you’ve been waiting and believing and trusting for a miracle, some days can just drain you. You might wake up thinking, ‘This is going to be the day’! The evening comes and you return with nothing more than the weight of requests unanswered and an exhausted spirit.hope, strength, trishakeehn.com

I want you to know that it’s okay to still get loud about these miracles. Your worship can turn the tide of the battle in your favor.

This kind of praise confuses the enemy because you haven’t received your miracle yet but here you are praising and shouting and lifting up the name of the only one who can turn your situation around.

The enemy wants to mute your praise because the currency of the miraculous is in your mouth. How loud would you get if your miracle was on the other side of your praises?

Get desperate about your requests when doubt creeps in. When you are so low that you feel you can’t get any lower and there’s no reason for you to believe that God is going to do anything about it…

Lift your voice. Hope will rise on the inside.

Hope when it doesn’t make sense. Hope in the midst of fear. Hope when the situation gets worse because hope gives way to strength. The Lord didn’t bring you this far to leave you. There’s a miracle with your name on it.

It’s time to get loud for your ‘all of a sudden…’ Your miracle is right behind you.