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A door of hope

elaini-house-21We walk through life and experience so many ups and downs and twists and turns.  Sometimes we seem stuck in one place and the variance seems small.  I don’t know about you but I’ve definitely experienced different seasons of discouragement and challenge.  There have been times when I’ve felt stuck in a valley with no hope for any view from the mountaintops.

I was telling someone recently that over the years there have been times when I felt like every door was locked or shut in my face and I was stuck in a room with so many doors but no way to get out.

So recently as I was reading my Bible I came across a passage that stood out to me because it talked about a door and a valley.  The next day I saw a similar passage which surprised me since I wasn’t looking for it.  I knew that the Lord was speaking to me.

“And there I will give her her vineyards and make the Valley of Achor a door of hope.  And there she shall answer as in the days of her youth, as at the time when she came out of the land of Egypt.” (Hosea 2:15, ESV emphasis added)

“Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks, and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down, for my people who have sought me.” (Isaiah 65:10, ESV emphasis added)

My eyes glanced down to the footnote.  The word Achor in the Bible means trouble.  Yes, the valley of trouble.  Have you been in a valley of trouble lately?  We’ve all been there at some point or will be in the future but that’s not what surprised me.  What is so beautiful is the next picture the verse in Hosea gives us.  The Lord will turn the Valley of Trouble into A Door Of Hope.  The Lord always gives us a door out of the valley of trouble with a door of hope.

The other passage says that the Valley of Achor will become a place for herds to lie down in.  It reminds me of the famous passage in Psalm 23.  “The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.  He makes me lie down in green pastures.  He leads me beside still waters.  He restores my soul.  He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.” (Psalm 23:1-3 ESV)  The Shepherd brings the sheep into a place of rest.

In our trouble we need to find rest and the best place to find it is in the Lord.  We need to find a door of hope and when we pause we realize that Jesus is our door of hope because he’s the ultimate reason for hope.  When we put our hope in him and what he’s done he will never let us down.

Those who seek the Lord shall find him.  If you’re in the valley of trouble today remember there is always a door of Hope in Jesus.  May you walk in and through him.

P.S.  Need more encouragement in your life?  I’ve started a Dear Wednesday encouragement crew and if you’d like to be a part of it (and not miss out on the Wednesday post!) make sure to leave your email below or sign up here!  I’m excited to send you mail on Wednesday!

{Photo of me by: Christa Taylor}

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Posted on September 19, 2016 by | Comments { 4 }

Running away

Running away | Misselainious blogYou know how you can read something over and over and enjoy it but then you read it later and something sticks out like blaring neon lights?  Well that happened to me last week when I was reading in Jonah.  It may only be four chapters but there’s a lot there.

God tells Jonah to go to Nineveh. Jonah instead gets on a boat going the other direction.  It’s rather comical if you think about it because while we try to run, God is everywhere so we can’t really ever get away from Him.  Jonah is essentially saying, “I’d rather go anywhere but there even if it means I run as fast and hard from your presence as I can.”

I have to admit I’m a lot like Jonah.  God tells me things and sometimes it sounds unpleasant or I’m just being stubborn and I don’t want to do it.  I run but when we disobey God we are the ones that loose.  We miss out on the presence of the God of the universe and the very One who is love Himself.

Jonah tries to change the outcome of the story God is writing but thankfully he can’t.  You see God wants to make His love known to people that are running as fast as they can from Him.  He’s a God of mercy and grace.  He has a plan to rescue 120,000 people in Nineveh.  Yet Jonah runs.

Here’s what struck me this time.  Not only does Jonah end up going to Nineveh and rescuing thousands of people (because he gets swallowed by a huge fish and repents) but the people on the boat Jonah is fleeing in see the awesome power of God.  “So they picked up Jonah and hurled him into the sea, and the sea ceased from its raging.  Then the men feared the LORD exceedingly, and they offered a sacrifice to the LORD and made vows.” (Jonah 1:15-16 ESV)

God saw those men on the boat and he cared about them.  If Jonah had obeyed they wouldn’t have seen God show up like He did.  They wouldn’t have had an encounter with the living God.

Here’s what I think we need to hear.  We need to hear that our mistakes, running, and yes, even sin, is being worked for good if we’re in Christ.  “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28 ESV)  Did you read that?  ALL things.  Not just some things but all things work together for good for those that love Christ Jesus.

Jonah straight up sins and runs from God (and he should and does repent), even so we get a glimpse of something amazing.  Jonah was in the belly of a huge fish for three days and nights.  He got buried but God brought him back to accomplish the work he had for Jonah.  He rescued Jonah from running so that a whole city could find mercy.  Hundreds of years later Jesus would choose not to run.  He stayed so that we could stop racing away from God’s presence.  You see Jesus was buried in a tomb for three days so that we don’t have to run from God anymore.  Jesus was in the belly of the earth for three days so that all things will work together for our good in Christ Jesus.

You haven’t gone too deep or run too far for God’s love and grace to reach you.  God displays his glory and mercy even through our mistakes.

P.S.  Hey friend, want more encouragement in your life?  I’ve started a Dear Wednesday encouragement crew and if you’d like to be a part of it (and not miss out on the Wednesday post!) make sure to leave your email below or sign up here!  I’m excited to send you mail on Wednesday!

{Photo by: Paige Whiting}

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Posted on August 15, 2016 by | Comments { 2 }

What is in your hands?

What do you have in your hands? | Misselainious blogSometimes it can feel like we have no resources. Sometimes it can feel like we don’t have enough to do this, that, or the other thing. Sometimes we don’t know what’s in our hand. Do you ever feel this way? Do you ever just wish someone would lend you a hand? Well I have some good news for you today my friend!

This past month I’ve been reading in Exodus and I’ve discovered some things that have made me stop and wonder. No, not the plagues. I’m talking about the part where God calls Moses. This time as I read through a few things came to light that have really encouraged and challenged me.

Moses is out tending some sheep. He’s just minding his own business when God calls him to do something pretty crazy. God wants Moses to lead His people out of slavery. If that isn’t a job upgrade I don’t know what is. Moses is terrified and I can’t say I blame him. He didn’t yet recognize who God is and how God enables people.

So how does God enable us? “Then Moses answered, ‘But behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice for they will say, ‘The Lord did not appear to you.’ The Lord said to him, ‘What is that in your hand?’ He said, ‘A staff.’ And he said, ‘Throw it on the ground, and it became a serpent, and Moses ran from it.’” (Exodus 4:1-3)

I am learning that God often enables us with the thing we already have in our hands. A lot of times we miss it because it looks so ordinary. It looks like a shepherd’s staff, just a stick. It looks like our current job, family, relationships, hobbies…even limitations. The everyday things are what we hold in our hands. Maybe we’ve gotten stuck in moving forward because all we see is that we’re holding an ordinary stick. It is an ordinary stick but here’s where we begin to recognize who God is.

God takes what is in our hands and he does something amazing with it when we are willing to listen to him and surrender it before him. Moses had to throw it down before the Lord. It changed into something he wasn’t expecting, a snake. And Moses ran from it. Are you scared of what the Lord might show you? God then tells Moses to pick it back up and the snake returns to a staff.

See the thing is, God enabled the staff to change. God is always at work to enable us to use the ordinary things for His glory. He wants us to partner with him in the big things he’s doing just by being faithful with what we have.

“What has God given you? Moses had a stick, David had a slingshot, and Paul had a pen. Mother Teresa possessed a love for the poor; Billy Graham, a gift for preaching; and Joni Eareckson Tada, a disability. What did they have in common? A willingness to let God use whatever they had, even when it didn’t seem very useful. If you will assess what you have to offer in terms of your time, your treasure, and your talents, you will have a better understanding of how you might uniquely serve.” ~ Richard Stearns

My friends it gets better though. You see before we get to the verses in chapter four about Moses’ hand we learn about God’s hand. “But I know that the king of Egypt will not let you go unless compelled by a mighty hand.” (Exodus 3:19) God is telling us His hand will do the work. His hand will bring us freedom. His hand will accomplish great things. Many years later He’d show us again what was in His hand with His Son Jesus.

You know what Jesus had in his hands? Jesus had nails in his hands. He had nails so that we don’t have to be afraid. He had nails so that we can be healed. He had nails so that we can have resources. He had nails so that we can have help and hope. He had nails in his hands so that I can raise my hands in surrender and worship and live free. Because of what he took in his hands we can offer back to him what is in ours so that he might use it in incredible ways. What is in your hands today friends? If God can use an ordinary stick or some nails he can use what you have too.

“Oh sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done marvelous things! His right hand and his holy arm have worked salvation for him. The LORD has made known his salvation; he has revealed his righteousness in the sight of the nations.” (Psalm 98:1-2)

P.S.  Hey friend, want more encouragement in your life?  I’ve started a Dear Wednesday encouragement crew and if you’d like to be a part of it (and not miss out on the Wednesday post!) make sure to leave your email below or sign up here!  I’m excited to send you mail on Wednesday!

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Posted on August 1, 2016 by | Comments { 4 }

She loved

Handmade Valentine's Day cards 2016 misselainious“For she loved much.”  I want to be a woman who loves much.  So often though I’m tripped up by looking at myself.  I flounder about wondering if small acts of love matter and then I realize I’m doing most of them for all the wrong reasons.  I was flipping through my Bible when I came across this story and it turned my heart over in wonder again at who we are and more importantly who Jesus is.

“Then turning toward the woman he said to Simon, ‘Do you see this woman? I entered your house; you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair.  You gave me no kiss, but from the time I came in she has not ceased to kiss my feet.  You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with ointment.  Therefore I tell you, her sins, which are many, are forgiven—for she loved much. But he who is forgiven little, loves little.’  And he said to her, ‘Your sins are forgiven.'”  Luke 7:44-48

We clearly know from the story that this woman was a sinner.  She was messy.  So am I.  She sees Jesus though and her soul weeps out everything in it.  She doesn’t say a word but her actions scream love.  She wasn’t worried about what other people thought of her because she instinctively knew who Jesus was.  She wasn’t afraid of him and all she wanted to do was be near him and honor him in the best way she knew how, by giving herself.

And Jesus welcomes her just as she is.  He lets her touch him, he lets her kiss him.  How beautiful and mind boggling is that picture?  Here’s this woman who is unwelcome in that house but she comes anyway.  Here is Jesus disregarding the cultural norms and seeing who this woman truly is and turning to her with compassion.

Then he tells her what we all need and long to hear.  Her sins are forgiven.  Our sins are forgiven friends by the only one that can, Jesus.  What freedom that should bring to our hearts.  And because we’ve been forgiven much we can love much.  What a profound reality that Christ wants us to love much.  It makes me think of the verse in 1 Peter 4:8 “Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

      “Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’”    (Matthew 25:37-40)

When you think that the small things you’re doing in love don’t matter think again.  The small acts of love and embracing of others has great value.  May we never overlook the “least of these” because Jesus didn’t.  He didn’t overlook us and that should cause our hearts to rejoice and pour out everything we have for him and those he puts in our path.

Posted on June 22, 2016 by | Comments { 0 }

Scripture memory cards

pretty scripture memory cards | Misselainious blogLast week I was reading through a book with one of the young ladies I get the pleasure of mentoring each week.  The chapter in our book ended up being really challenging for me personally because it had to do with scripture memory.  Bam!  Yep, that topic.  You either love it or cringe every time you hear about it.  Before you ignore this post I have a surprise for you at the end!

As a child my sweet mom had me learn lots of bible verses.  I’m so thankful she did! As I got older though (and went through being really sick for four years) my memory went downhill fast.  I stopped memorizing scripture because I had one big excuse:  “I can’t remember things well.”

Here’s the thing though.  If I really believe that the bible is the Word of God and that it’s living and active (I do) then shouldn’t I care about storing it up in my heart?  While I read my bible faithfully it’s still not the same as being able to recall portions of it to mind at any time.

What is so beautiful is when I’m talking with someone or going through something and a verse I learned years ago (but might not even remember learning…) will pop into my head and be perfect for that moment.  “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout,  giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.” (Isa. 55:10-11, emphasis added)

So friends, this isn’t to make us feel bad about not memorizing (if you’re like me and you haven’t been) but more of an encouragement for you to join me in at least trying.  I read a while ago that if we were given a thousand dollars for every verse we learned in 30 days we would certainly be motivated!  Yet learning scripture and the very words of God for the sake of knowing His heart is infinitely more valuable.

Will you join me in trying?  I’ve made a few FREE gorgeous scripture memory cards for you to print out HERE!  Place them inside your bible, on your fridge, or on your mirror.  You could even slip them in a card to encourage a friend.  Let’s do this! 🙂

Do you have a hard time memorizing things?  Is scripture memory a challenge for you?  What tips help you memorize?  Let me know in the comments below!

Posted on May 18, 2016 by | Comments { 6 }

What truly matters?

What truly matters? | Misselainious blogHave you ever wondered what things in life truly matter?  What are the ones that “count”?  Do you find it’s easy to loose sight of why we are here?  Do you wonder why we are here in the first place?

I’m pretty sure it’d be hard to find a person who didn’t want to be loved and usually to love in return.  I don’t think that’s a coincidence.  Do you believe you are made for love?

Here’s the thing though.  While we live in a beautiful world we still see that it is broken.  Earthquakes, floods, disease, corruption are a fact of life.  We know that peace and love and joy are ultimate, but reality shows we still struggle to make this happen.  Where did this brokenness come from?  It comes from inside of each of us.  I know it’s pretty easy to think we are mostly good people.  But if it is our good works that will make us “win” who will receive the victors crown?  I mean sure, you probably haven’t murdered someone but you’re also not a Mother Teresa so where’s the line?  Does it matter?

Perfection is the line.  Yep, wow that’s not good news is it.  No one is perfect.  Yet, there was ONE person who was, Jesus.  And that one person who deserved all the praise because he was not just fully human but fully God knew we could never measure up.  Since he’s perfect he also values justice and so what a mess we are left with.  Thankfully Jesus entered our mess.  He came and died in our place to satisfy the justice of God.  That my friend, is good news.

What truly matters?  What matters is that we are loved by the God of the universe.  Let that sink in for a moment.  That same God died for you.  He didn’t stay dead though because the grave could not hold him.  Love won out and he arose!  Now the barrier of sin is removed because of Christ’s sacrifice.  Justice has been paid and we get the rewards.  This will either send a thrill of joy through your heart or a shiver of disdain down your spine but you can’t be neutral to that reality.

What really matters is that we can have a relationship with Jesus, the God who created soft pink blossoms and who also knows every atom of every star in the heavens.  Do you want that?  All it takes is putting your hope in what He has done for you.  Have you ever stood somewhere in creation and been awed?  For me one of those moments was at the Grand Canyon.  People literally drive out into the middle of nowhere to see something that will make them catch their breath.  We want to see beauty.  We want to be awed.  I’ll even go so far as to say that we want to feel small in the presence of grander.  hat’s why we marvel at a sunset flaming with color.  That’s why we look at the stars in wonder.

All those feelings are supposed to point us to something greater.  All those feelings of desiring love are reminders that we were created for something more.  We’re here to know and love and worship a God who is entirely good and perfect and lovely.

Since this broken world shows so many stunning moments of glory that take our breath away just think what being with the One who created it all will be like?!  We all worship something.  We crave things, people, situations.  Will you worship those things, people, or situations that are broken pieces or will you worship and love the One who will never let you go?  Will you worship the One who let his heart be broken so that he could mend yours?

I believe that’s why we’re here, to glorify God and to ENJOY him forever as the shorter catechism states.  You do have a purpose.  It’s to enjoy true beauty and love Himself for forever.

Want to talk about this?  Feel free to leave a comment below or if you have questions and want to email me you can at misselaini {@} gmail.com (remove brackets and spaces)  I don’t have all the answers but I’d love to chat with you about Jesus if you’ve never heard of him or wonder what his story means for you. 🙂

Posted on March 23, 2016 by | Comments { 0 }

Why abide?

Abiding |  Misselainious blogLately I’ve been thinking a lot about the word abide. I’ve read it many times in my Bible in different passages but I’d never been captivated as I have been lately by the idea of it in John 15. Let’s read the passage, understand better what this word implies, and then consider how it applies to our lives.

The passage
In John 15 the Greek root for the word abide(s), meno, shows up ten times in just a short number of verses from 4-11. When one word is used that frequently it means it’s important!

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.  I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.  If anyone does not abide in me he is thrown away like a branch and withers; and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.  By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.  As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Abide in my love.  If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.  These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.” (John 15:4-11 ESV)

Understanding the word
What does abide really mean? The idea is that we remain or act in accordance with something. It’s the staying or continuing in something. In this case the something is someone, the Lord.

How we can apply this
In light of better understanding the word abide how does that apply to our lives? Jesus tells us to abide. Stay in His love, enjoy His love. Only when we abide are we receiving the life giving sap of the vine that produces fruit. It is a waiting process. It is allowing Christ to flow through us. It’s not resisting.

The imagery in this passage of a vine and branches is so beautiful because branches aren’t supporting the vine but the vine supports the branches. Since Christ supports us it isn’t by our own strength that we abide. “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (1Thess. 5:24 ESV)

Recently I read this passage by Catherine Marshall from her book on prayer: “Our human hang-up is thinking that spirituality is something we do. ‘Not so,’ says Jesus. ‘Rather it is My life in you.’ The branch does not have to stretch and strain to grow and produce fruit. The branch’s part is simply to remain connected to the Vine, to abide there so that the life-giving sap can flow. Then only do we ‘bear much fruit.’”

You know what the most beautiful fruit is that we get? We get more of Jesus and his joy and love. Listen again to that last part of verse 11, “These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”

Our fullest ability to understand and experience joy is found in Christ. If you want joy and gladness then be continually connecting to the Lord. Jonathan Edwards put it so eloquently when he wrote, “The happiness of the creature consists in rejoicing in God, by which also God is magnified and exalted.”

When we are happy in Jesus that brings him glory. The result of abiding in Christ is JOY! It’s this incredible dance happening. Isn’t it awesome and mind blowing that he designed it that way?

To quote John Piper in his book God’s Passion for His glory, “Sometimes people ask: should we pursue obedience to God or joy in God? Edwards would answer: The question involves a category confusion. It’s like asking: should I pursue fruit or apples? Obedience is doing what we are told. And we are told to delight ourselves in the Lord. Therefore pursuing joy in God is obedience.”

John 15 is such a beautiful passage and what it teaches us about abiding is crucial to our understanding of joy in Christ. If you want to bear much fruit and joy then abide in Christ’s love. May you abide, rest, remain, and stay connected to Jesus who is the source of true life.

Have you studied this passage before? What have you personally learned about abiding? Let’s chat in the comments below!

Posted on February 22, 2016 by | Comments { 2 }

A better way

Abetterwaypost1-6-16It’s that time of the year when people make goals and plans like it’s the only time of the year they can (just so we’re clear you can set goals and make plans anytime).  Whether you love setting goals or you’re over it I think the important thing to consider is God’s plan.  We rush about trying to figure it all out on our own when there already is a grand plan.  So before you rush off to make grand plans for this year here are some things to consider.

1.  “The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of his heart to all generations.” (Psalm 33:11 ESV)

God is working and accomplishing his plan and sometimes it takes time.  Don’t be discouraged if something you’ve been working towards or praying about isn’t happening right away.  Many times God’s timing is different than ours.

2.  “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps.” (Proverbs 16:9 ESV)

Make a plan but then turn it over to the Lord.  There is also freedom in knowing that God is the one who makes our path sure when we rely on him.  God is going to get you where you need to be.  You’re not going to somehow miss it as you rely on him.

3.  “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” (Proverbs 21:5 ESV)

Having a plan is important to the Lord. If you’re always thinking about where you want to be but never taking action steps all you really have is a fantasy and not a true dream.  A dream requires you get your rear into gear and be proactive.  Most likely someone isn’t going to make you accomplish anything.  You get to do that.

4.  “O Lord, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name, for you have done wonderful things, plans formed of old, faithful and sure.” (Isaiah 25:1 ESV)

Praise God for what he is already done and the new desires he’s placed in your heart.  Praise him just for who he is.  Ultimately God’s plan is to show his glory by making his name known in all the earth as the Light for the nations and peace for our hearts.  When you’re considering your plans take time to schedule in time to enjoy the Lord more.  Being with him is the most worthwhile thing you can do.  Out of that you’ll have everything you need to accomplish the tasks and dreams ahead of you.

So when you’re considering whether or not to make exercise a goal, how to eat nutritiously, what clothes to purge, or how to be more patient consider why you’re making the changes you’re making and know that it is important but ultimately we can rest knowing that God works through us and he will accomplish what is best.  How exciting that we get to partner with him!

Posted on January 6, 2016 by | Comments { 10 }