If Your Life is Hard to Bear Right Now

Physical suffering

Family crisis

Financial insecurity

Disappointment, Grief, Anxiety

Marriage problems

If, for whatever reason, your life is difficult and you have to gear up just to face each new day, remember the tremendous amount of hope you might be giving others.  Those who know you well, and even those who barely know you, can be encouraged by your example.

If you lack general comfort but you are relying on the Comforter (Romans 8:26,27).

If you lost someone dear but you are leaning on the Giver of Life (John 5:24).

If your tasks are overwhelming but you trust in the promise of rest (Matt. 11:28-30).

If your struggles keep multiplying but your faith is unwavering (1 Peter 1:7).

If your body is weak but you know a better one awaits (Phil. 3:20,21).

If your nights are long but you go on because it is only temporary (Rev. 21:22-25).

Then even though you might feel like you can barely tackle one day at a time, rejoice in the fact that you are strengthening others.  A conversation with you fills others with courage for whatever they might face and lets them see that all things are indeed possible with God (Matt. 19:26).  What good you are doing in the kingdom!  Thank you for your invaluable commitment and faithfulness.  May God uphold you as you continue to encourage others.

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for faithful saints who trust in Your promises.

 

This post can also be found at http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2014/02/wise-woman-linkup_25.html.

Meet Alicia Bookout! (a Christian woman interview & recipe)

She’s young, beautiful, warm, and fun-loving.  Pour a cup of coffee and enjoy this interview with Alicia Bookout, a sweet preacher’s wife and mother.

Kathy:  Hi, Alicia!  Please tell us a little about yourself.

Alicia:  “Garrett and I met for the first time on January 28, 2006 at a get-together for the freshman at the Bear Valley Institute of Denver. He had just moved from TX. He asked some people about me, but was told I was younger than I actually was, so didn’t pursue.  He later learned my real age (whew!) and a year later we fell hard for each other. We just celebrated 6 years of happy marriage!

Right after marriage we were given the excellent opportunity for Garrett to work as the Intern for Bear Valley church of Christ for two years. Our “mentors” (as we like to call them) were some people named Neal and Kathy Pollard. 😉 Since 2010 we have lived in Clovis, NM where Garrett is the pulpit Minister for the 16th and Pile church of Christ.

I’m blessed to get to stay at home with our two wonderful, fun and energetic kids, Emma (4 yrs) and Wesley (2 yrs).” 

Kathy:  You write for KatharosNOW.  What’s that all about?

Alicia:  “It is a blog aimed to encourage teenage girls to remain pure and clean (katharos) in this world. My sister-in-law started it a couple of years ago. Several different Christian women and young ladies from around the country write for it. I think it is a great resource for young ladies today.”

Kathy:  Sounds wonderful!  I know many will enjoy checking out http://katharosnow.com/

You fill many roles. Many young mothers struggle with feeling like they don’t have enough time to accomplish everything. What advice would you give them?

Alicia:  “Pray and drink lots of coffee! I still struggle with this problem myself. One thing that has really helped is making daily lists. Especially on days that I feel overwhelmed. I will list at the top things that I absolutely have to get done that day and then add extras. If I get to the extra part of the list, that is great, if not, I really try to not lie in bed and stress about it. So many young moms (myself included) can run themselves ragged trying to make everything perfect. Some days it will just not be that way and that is ok. As long as you are taking care of your biggest jobs God has given you (hubby and children) then you are doing good. I would suggest though to NEVER allow your alone/quiet time with God to go on the “extras” part of your list. That has to be a priority daily or it will lead to more stressed and unaccomplished feelings (learned from experience).” 

Kathy:  What’s your favorite company meal?

Alicia:  “Crockpot Shredded Italian Beef Sandwiches! It’s easy, can feed an army and something I grew up with so it always reminds me of home. I usually prepare Velveeta cheese dip to go along side so that you can smother your sandwich with it if you want. Needless to say, this is not a dish for those counting calories.”

Italian Beef Sandwiches

  • 1 sirloin tip roast, rump roast, etc. (pork works good, too…cheaper!)
  • 1 pkg. dry Italian Dressing (about 1 per 1 1/2 lbs of meat)
  • one can of Beef Broth

Put in Crockpot on low for 8ish hours (depends on how many pounds of meat you use). Shred and put on rolls!

Kathy:  Would you mind sharing another favorite recipe with us? 

Alicia:  “I have too many favorite recipes so this question was one of the hardest to answer. Chocolate Éclair Cake kept coming to mind though. So easy to make and I could eat the entire pan if I’m not careful.

  • 1 Box Graham Crackers
  • 1 big box Instant Vanilla Pudding
  • 1 8 oz. container Cool Whip
  • 1 tub Chocolate Frosting 

Make Pudding according to directions and mix the cool whip into the pudding. In a 9×13 dish layer graham crackers and top with pudding mixture. Make 3 layers ending with graham crackers as the top. Heat up your chocolate frosting and pour over the top of the graham crackers. Refrigerate for a couple hours and then gobble up!”

 Kathy:  As a busy mom of young children, how do you keep the spark alive in your marriage? 

Alicia:  “As newlyweds we were told a number of times “enjoy the romance before kids come along!”. Garrett and I were determined to not let our romance fizzle out once I got pregnant with our first. It definitely takes more work, but I truly believe that having kids has made us more in love and a stronger couple. 

 I would suggest DO NOT give up on your quiet time and dates! We love our kids to pieces but need our time together. We do this by making sure our kids have a strict bed time (8 pm in this house) so that we have nightly alone time. If you don’t have a babysitter for a date out on the town, one of our favorite things is in-home dates! After kids are in bed cook together, watch a movie, play a game, just get creative! Home dates can be cheaper, cozier, more fun and romantic than a night out.

Also, make sure even though most of your time is spent caring for the children, that you still let your hubby know that you think of him daily. Take time in your hectic day to flirt with him. Text messages, Facebook and phone calls are great ways for that. Get dressed up just for him occasionally. My sweet husband says my “mom outfits” (sweats, t-shirt with kid food and marker and pony tail) are cute, but I also know he doesn’t complain if I fix myself up.  Little things that show him you care are always a good thing.”

Kathy:  What is something about you that people might be surprised to know? 

Alicia:  “I was born in Okinawa, Japan and have lived in 9 different states. I was an “air force brat” growing up and loved the experience of seeing all sorts of new places and people!”

Kathy:  When I think of you, I think of someone who’s joyful, warm, and real. I’m sure you deal with your fair share of stress and problems, so what’s your secret to maintaining these admirable traits?

Alicia:  “I appreciate you saying that. I can definitely say I have not dealt with stress like I should at times and have to work on it a lot. My new favorite thing to do when I am feeling especially stressed, upset or anxious is to do a word search in scriptures. I use my bible program online (concordance works great too) and look up words like “comfort”, “worry” and “joy”. I will read most of the scriptures that pop up. Some of my favorites I end up reading a couple times throughout the day and even writing them out on sticky notes and putting them on my walls as reminders. It is amazing how much better I feel and how my attitude changes after I do this.” 

Kathy:  Thank you, Alicia!  It’s been a real pleasure ‘chatting’ with you, and I appreciate your beautiful insight and wisdom.  May God bless you and your sweet family as you shine for Him!

Alicia & her husband Garrett

 

From the Mouths of Teen Girls

The following comments were made by Christian teen girls at an out-of-state retreat.  They were asked some questions in a very casual setting.  I was just an observing visitor, but I was struck by their determination and sincerity so I started writing down their answers.

Sometimes we let teen girls down, assuming they need the same lessons on modesty, purity, and peer pressure.  While those lessons need to be taught, I think Christian teen girls crave deeper Bible study.  They want to be pushed to their spiritual potential.  Their hearts are thinking about ways to make a difference in their sphere of influence.  I was challenged and convicted by what they had to say and I think you will be, too.  Here are the questions and their answers:

*What is the Lord’s greatest rival in your life?

  •  “School is more of a priority than spiritual growth.”
  • “Selfishness–doing things on my terms, not His terms.”
  • “Cramming so much into my schedule, but God isn’t one of them.”
  • “Questioning God during situations instead of believing Him.”
  • “More time on entertainment instead of Bible study.”
  • “My friends–wanting to be like them instead of realizing God always trumps my friends.”
  • “My priorities–God can’t just be another priority, but the center of all my activities.”

*What are some ways you fight temptation in your life?

  •  “Just say no.”
  • “Walk past trouble.”
  • “Stay far away from negative influences.”
  • “Letting go of friends who make bad choices.”
  • “Pray constantly and surround myself with godly influences; change the atmosphere.”
  • “Have a person that will help you make right decisions.”

*What can your parents do to help you get closer to Christ?

  •  “Stop letting me make everything else a priority.”
  • “Tell me NO when I need to hear it.”
  • “Push me, remind me that my faith is what’s most important.”
  • “Simply ask me, ‘How’s your relationship with Christ?’  Checking in…”
  • “Use Scripture to help me apply things personally in my life.”
  • “We don’t go to any church activities outside of worship.  I wish they would push harder.”
  • “Sit down and study with me.  Set the example.”
  • “More Bible studies as a family.”
  • “If I’m too tired to go to devotionals, push me.”
  • (With tears) “I feel like just by making it more of a priority in my dad’s life would make it easier for all of us.  Skipping church makes it look like an option instead of a priority.”

*If you had one day left to live, what would you change?

  •  “I’d fix things that ruin my influence.”
  • “Say sorry for the things I’ve done.  Reach out to people.”
  • “Be more outgoing with my faith.  Set everything right with God.”
  • “Tell others why I love them.  Find some way to serve on my last day.”
  • “Tell everyone about the Lord.  Apologize to my family.”
  • “I’d realize nothing else matters but sharing the gospel.  I wouldn’t wait for the ‘right time.'”
  • “I’d tell everyone I’m saved, where I’m going, and that I want them there, too.”
  • “I would ask everyone, ‘Do you know if you’re going to Heaven?'”

Let no one despise your youth,

but be an example to the believers

in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.

(1 Timothy 4:12)

Prayer for Today:  Thank you, Lord, for the teen girls in our lives.  Help us to treasure them, encourage them, and learn from them.

This post can also be found at http://proverbs14verse1.blogspot.com/2014/02/wise-woman-linkup_18.html

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Higher Ground snapshot (Not the young ladies whose answers I shared)

Why Good People Suffer (a Bible-marking topic)

Pain and suffering exist.  Does that mean God doesn’t?  Wouldn’t an all-powerful, benevolent God eliminate suffering?  These questions are so important to address.  Nonbelievers claim that the existence of pain and suffering prove there is no God.  They have a hard time reconciling the idea of a loving, compassionate God with the reality of cancer, untimely deaths, horrific crimes, war, and natural disasters.  Sometimes Christians may struggle with doubt as well when faced with tragedy or persecution.

What does the Bible have to say about why good people suffer?  At Higher Ground, we have Bible-marking classes each day.  During the final class, the girls have an opportunity to come up with their own Bible-marking topics.  A couple of years ago, one of the groups chose “Why Good People Suffer,” and below are the verses they shared and their suggestions of what to mark.  This is an excellent topic to have marked in your Bible so you will be prepared to help anyone who wrestles with this question.

(If you are new to this blog or unfamiliar with Bible-marking, please check out previous how-to posts.  You can click on Bible-marking in the tag cloud.)

Why Good People Suffer– James 1:17

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and comes down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow of turning.

Box in the words “good” and “Father” and connect them with a line.  Write in the margin, “So where do bad things come from?”  At the end of the verse, write Job 1:6-12.

For the sake of space, the text will not be included here.  Circle the word “Satan” every time it occurs in these verses.  At the end of verse 12, write James 1:2-4.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.  But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

Underline “joy” and “your faith produces patience” (some versions read “endurance”).  At the end of the verse, write 1 Peter 1:6,7.

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.

Circle “various trials” and underline “genuineness of your faith” (some versions read “proof of your faith”).  At the end of the verse, write Rom. 8:18.

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that shall be revealed in us.

Circle “sufferings of this present time” and underline “not worthy.”  Then circle “glory” and underline “shall be revealed in us.”  At the end of the verse, write Rev. 21:4.

And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying.  There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.

In the margin write, “If we didn’t suffer here on earth, we wouldn’t want to go to Heaven.”

How does our loving and compassionate God feel about pain and suffering?  He wants to wipe it all away, and He will.  That’s His promise.  We may endure trials for a little while here, but we have a promised eternity of pain-free bliss ahead of us.  As Timothy Keller wrote, ““Resurrection is not just consolation — it is restoration. We get it all back — the love, the loved ones, the goods, the beauties of this life — but in new, unimaginable degrees of glory and joy and strength.”

If you’d like to add more verses to this topic, here are some additional ones that help us understand why good people suffer:

  • Rom. 5:3-5- It produces endurance, character, and hope.
  • 1 Pet. 5:10- Any suffering is brief; God’s grace is eternal.
  • 1 Pet. 4:12-19- It allows us to share in the sufferings of Christ.  Suffering as a Christian allows us to glorify God.
  • John 16:33- The world is full of tribulation.
  • 2 Tim. 3:12- All who desire to live godly lives will suffer/ be persecuted.
  • Psa. 119:67- It can cause us to return to the Lord.
  • 2 Cor. 4:16-18- It prepares us for glory.
  • 2 Thess. 1:1-12- It makes us worthy of the kingdom of God.
  • James 5:10,11- It helps us build endurance.
  • 2 Cor. 1:3-7- It allows us to share in the comforts of Christ.
  • 1 Pet. 2:19-21- If we endure suffering for doing good, it is a gracious thing in God’s sight.
  • Matt. 5:10-12- Some suffering is because we wear the name of Christ.
  • 2 Cor. 12:7-10- It causes us to rely on Christ’s grace and strength.

Prayer for Today:  In a world of suffering, may we help others see Your love and goodness.