Beloved, All Things Work Together For Good…

Friday Reflections

“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to his purpose.” Romans 8:28

Can sickness, death, homelessness, financial hardship, lost friendships, and traumatic experiences lead to anything good?

As I’m entering into my 5th day of juice fasting Romans 8:28 has come alive for me in a way I had not considered before.

Back in October after some troubling health news, I began to incorporate daily fresh vegetable juices into my diet at a whopping 80 to 100 ounces a day and 5 days ago I decided to consume only vegetable juice for as long as my body can tolerate it. I’m fasting mainly for health reasons but I am also using the time to pray more and hear from the Lord.

During my fast, I’ve had moments of wanting to give up, especially in the first three days. Having to cook meals for everyone including sweet treats has been hard. Working and dealing with the kid’s schooling has also been hard as I am low on energy. All in all, it has been quite the struggle but I know that what I’m enduring right now will only have a good impact on my overall health in the near future.

The idea of suffering in a small way during my fast made me realize that in God’s kingdom our spiritual lives are a bit like my fasting journey.

At times we face what seems like an unbeatable odd, a mountain too high to climb, a problem too big to fix and yet the Lord God Almighty whispers, “All things, yes all things work together for good.”

It is for his Glory that we are often thrown into the furnace so that in our obedience his name may be glorified. God desires that all of his children would learn to trust him even when it doesn’t make sense, even when it is hard and even when we see no end in sight. Because he is the master planner. He sees beyond the pain and frustration and when we seek his kingdom first, all things work together for good.

Although we cannot see through the stormy clouds we are enduring, although the sound of thunder seems threatening and never-ending, the Lord our God is seated above the clouds and he knows when the sun will shine again and when quiet streams will flow near barren valleys.

So let us take courage, for God has not given us a Spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind. 2 Timothy 1:7

Mariana

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Mama, Are You Struggling To Keep It All Together? Grab Some Coffee And Read This

Friday Reflections

For the mamas out there who are struggling to juggle all that life has so graciously placed on your lap, don’t lose your focus on Christ.

I can recall a time where my heart and mind were so overwhelmed I wished I was no longer alive. It was a dark and difficult time. As I’ve thought back to that experience I realized that during those months I had completely lost my focus on Christ, on what was most important.

My inability to handle my load of working full time, homeschooling full time, taking care of children and a sick husband while dealing with serious health issues myself, left me feeling defeated and depressed. I had so much to do and felt that if I could not accomplish all of it, I was a failure and wasn’t living up to Gods expectation of who I should be.

The enemy could not have crafted a better lie to keep me spiritually defeated and depressed.

Although my circumstances haven’t changed, if anything they have gotten harder, I can say that I’ve learned to see Christ as my anchor for all things, especially for those things that are burdensome and hard to carry.

I’ve learned and am still learning to trust who God is and believe that he will never leave me or forsake me.

I’ve learned not to pay too much attention to secular standards about how I should be living, homeschooling, dressing, keeping up my home and raising our children.

I’ve learned that I must renew my mind each and every day religiously, by prayer and by the reading of God’s word. Doing so allows me to filter out the junk and keep only what brings God glory.

I’ve learned and am still learning that even the slightest everyday worry puts me in a position of fear instead of a position of trust towards God.

I’ve learned that if we wholeheartedly seek first his kingdom, all the things we need to accomplish our everyday journey will be added unto us.

No matter where you are in your journey as a mom, whether its changing diapers or preparing your kids for college, know this:

The Lord God Almighty has ordained all of your steps according to his plan for your life.

All of the difficult moments and seemingly unbearable trials are simply preparing you to become more like his son Jesus Christ. All of the failures and struggles are part of the journey so embrace them. He is molding you into something beautiful.

One day you’ll be next to someone who is truly broken and suffering and you’ll know exactly how to minister to them and make room for the Holy Spirit to comfort and bind up their wounds.

One day your children will grow up and encounter suffering and you’ll know exactly how to guide them through and encourage them. You’ll be able to share the comfort and joy of the Lord in a tangible way.

Beloved the best thing you can do is to drop all of the things of the world that are burdening your heart and your mind. Drop them at the foot of the cross. Exchange them for Gods holiness, for a new mind, for strength, for direction, and for peace.

All that the world has to offer is just a counterfeit for what God offers us in his word. There is nothing that can satiate our craving for fulfillment and joy. Nothing but Jesus.

Trust Him, obey Him, seek him all throughout the day and you’ll begin to see a shift in what you think is important vs what God says is important.

Let him guide you through the mire and the muck, let him carry you for his yoke is easy and his burden is light.

For more encouragement on this topic check out this post.

Mariana

A Prayer for Weakness – Upon the Waters -& Amidst the Desert

Today I wanted to share a prayer I wrote for when I cannot see nor know what God is doing in my life. May you be blessed and your spirit made strong.

You called me out upon the waters…..to the great unknown.
You called me apart to the desert…….to experience the arid climate of the human soul.

You called me to set my feet firm on sinking grounds.
To look up to you,
to keep my eyes fixed on you
regardless of the ground beneath me.

My heart yearns for you so
and is so heavy that I cannot sing my worship to you
only pray silently, that your spirit would govern over all the unrest,
weakness, fear, and uncertainty that has woven webs around your servant.

Hear your servant oh Lord, Let your glory shine down from heaven.
That this broken vessel would be filled with your power and made whole in your sight.

“And he said unto me, my grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly, therefore, will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

You called me out upon the waters…..to the great unknown
Yes, you called me to wander in the desert,
to witness your great hand at work.

And although the heat may wither a thousand flowers
and there may be no water to drink
I know that I am safe
under the shadow of your wings.

Although I cannot sing, your praises are in my heart
although I cannot see what you are doing
I know your spirit goes before me

Hear your servant oh Lord,
let your glory shine down from heaven.

Amen
(©)

I Am Who I Am

He whispers this to us, time and time again.
His gentle spirit reminding us of who he is and who we are.

“I Am Who I Am”, says the lord of the universe because he is confident in his plans for us, for a broken humanity.

He is confident of his plans for the woman who cannot bear her burden after years of bleeding and no remedy. (Mark 5)
He is confident of his plans for the woman who with a bowed head approaches the well to hear all that she ever was or did. (John 4)
He is confident of his plans for his humble servants who endure trial after trial and are broken into pieces like a loaf of bread.

“I Am Who I Am” he says to us because he is absolutely sure of who he is and who we are in his sight.
In our sinful humanity we are feeble, weak, dirty and blemished.
In his holiness he is pure, just, loving and merciful.

We need to encounter him,
to be cleansed by him,
to be made strong in his presence so that we may endure the many trials that confront us daily.

I may never be able to rest in my daily circumstances or find peace in them but I can certainly rest in “I Am That I Am”.
Although a thousand may fall at my side, (Psalm 91)
although rumors of war may fill the air. (Matthew 24)
although financial crisis may strike,
although laughter may turn to mourning;

I can find solace and peace in “I Am That I Am”.

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Friends, let us rejoice in our present trials as the apostle Paul reminds us. Let us find comfort in knowing that those who walk through the valley of the shadow of death are not alone and once they leave the valley they are made stronger.
I believe that God uses greatly those who have been thrown into a fiery furnace and have endured countless tests and trials.
No gold is made pure without fire. Let us then be persistent and keep holding on to the Word of God and to our salvation with fear and trembling.

To him be the glory, honor and praise now and forevermore.
Mariana
“In spite of sorrow, loss, and pain, Our course be onward still”
Adoniram Judson

Because you have made the Lord your safe place Psalm 91:9

A reminder during difficult times:

I am a pilgrim in the world, but at home in my God. In the earth I wander, but in God I dwell in a quiet habitation.  C. H. Spurgeon

When all hell breaks loose and everything around me seems like it is going wrong,
I need to remind myself that the Lord is my safe place.
My job may stress me, my friends may abandon me, my health may fail me
but in spite of it all I can dwell quietly in his perfect peace.
I don’t have it all figured out and I have no clue what tomorrow is going to bring
but I know that my redeemer holds tomorrow in his hands.
So during stressful and difficult times like these I must remember that although my strength may fail me his strength carries me.
Although my energy is lacking his spirit is ever present.
Although tomorrow may cause me to doubt I can trust that His word is true.

I must remember that nothing is impossible for God and although I don’t understand my circumstances I can renew my strength each morning and night when I pray.
I must remember that he goes before me in my battles and leads me to quite waters when my soul is weary.
I must remember that although I am imperfect, his ways are perfect and I can trust them.

Mariana

I know about God’s Design for Marriage but I Hate my Spouse

God designed marriage as a reflection of Christ’s relationship with His church but sometimes all we want to reflect is anger, disappointment, and frustration!

Maybe it is when our husband ignores our needs and walks off in the middle of an important question or conversation. Maybe he ignores our needs because he believes that his work in more important.
Maybe we see an unjust or inappropriate reaction with our children and we want to discuss it with him.
And before we can finish or even ask a question an argument starts and he walks away.

Seeing him walk away when we were about to express something that is troubling us can be devastating. It leaves us feeling unloved, unwanted and opens a Pandora’s Box for all kinds of trouble.
Our reaction?
Most women tend to clam up, and up goes the wall.
We grab the bible or a magazine and while he walks around doing his thing as if he could care less about the conversation he just walked away from, we sit there,
our eyes peering over the pages we read,
pretending to be fine, and pretending that our heart is not hurt.
But boy are we hurting and in some cases furious.

If he knew just how much his actions affected his beloved, he would never even dare treat her that way. She is left confused and if she has not guarded her heart and made her faith in Christ her rock; she may begin to entertain herself with those who treat her right and listen to her.
And, before you know it an adulterous relationship may arise and hatred towards her husband may begin to choke her heart.

A few days go by and there we are again, still thinking about the conversation, the injury to our heart, the resentment we feel inside.
Other things may happen in that course of time that push us even farther away from our beloved.
And there we stay, letting old injuries fester.
Like crying children, we refuse to go to the doctor to get our injuries looked at and healed.

Maybe it’s the wife who constantly nags her husband into a mental coma. She knows how, where and when he should live his life. I mean really, this man left his momma’s house to marry a woman just like his momma.
If it isn’t done her way, he isn’t getting dinner with a smile or kisses in bed.
She disrespects him, belittles him and criticizes everything he does. His anger and sadness break him down and unlike the wall created by the hurt wife, this man becomes a home with a faulty foundation and broken down walls. He is not trying to build walls to keep her out, instead, he lets his guard down and the corrosion and filth of the world slowly rip away the paint and begin to destroy the walls of his heart leaving him vulnerable to adultery and other sins.

Are you nodding your head right now? Maybe a tear streaming down your face because you know what I just expressed has happened to you?
If this is you right now or if you still are carrying old hurts that have seriously damaged the bond between the oneness of your marriage please don’t delay going to the great physician.
Reading this and doing nothing about it won’t help you.
Thinking about how much you resent your husband or wife for things that happened years ago or yesterday won’t help you.

So what will help?
Getting down on hands and knees and crying out to God with a broken heart. Repenting for having an attitude guided by anger and unforgiveness.
Asking Him to complete the emptiness and remove the anger that difficult situations have created. Asking him to teach you to forgive as he forgave you.
Asking him to help you become a better communicator so you can discuss these issues with your spouse in love and with respect.

You see our spouses were never created to fill in all of our empty spaces. They were not meant to substitute our relationship with the savior of the universe.
They can never be the loving and compassionate being that Christ is. They can only try to model it, but unfortunately, they will never be perfect.
Nothing but Jesus can clean away the spider webs we have allowed to grow around our hearts.
Jesus and his infinite and everlasting love is the only answer to our brokenness and frustration.

People are never going to be perfect and if we constantly focus on their imperfections we will live an utterly miserable life and by doing so never fulfill the plan God has for us on this earth.

Don’t be fooled my dear one. Marriage is no walk in the park. It is not a diamond ring or a nice honeymoon. It is not sexy lingerie or having children.
Nope.
Although the world has made it into this appealing romance fairytale it is not.

Marriage for the follower and disciple of Christ has only one meaning:
” To be a reflection of Christ’s relationship with His church”
This is what the bible tells us.
In modeling Christ’s relationship with his church, we model the perfect love.
A love that comes from above and is made perfect in us only because of the greatest act of love ever displayed for humanity. The cross.

The husband who claims to love and follow Christ is supposed to love, cherish and care for his wife as Christ does the church.
He is supposed to protect her from harm and build her up spiritually. With love and care, he teaches her about Christ’s love through the way he treats her and honors her.
He does not belittle or ignore his wife’s needs. He does not yell at her or intimidate her by his actions and words.
He does not force her to do things against her will or aggressively impose his will on her.
Christ never acted that way with his apostles or with the people he encountered.
Men you got to own up. You are meant to follow Christ’s model of love towards his church. Your love to your wife should be how Christ loves His bride.

The wife who claims to love and follow Christ is called to respect and support her husband, to be his right-hand gal and help him through the rough patches. She is an encourager, a lover, a supporter. I believe that when in Genesis 2:18 the Lord mentions creating a helper for Adam, people have taken that verse and interpreted it in meant different ways some of which are completely wrong.
The word Helper in the original Hebrew is Ezer which originates from the word Azar, which means to: aid, protect, support, offer non-material encouragement, give aid in the form of military assistance in battle.
That changes things completely from the ignorant thought that men are to take on all of the responsibility and handle all the stress of the world on their shoulders while their loving wives stay home and say: “Oh well, he is the provider, if he screws up it is his problem, I am called to raise my kids and get my hair done.”
No way Jose, we are called to be one and in that oneness let the light, love, and longsuffering of Christ prevail.

Without the cross, there is no hope for true love,
there is no redemption for the lost and hurting soul.
Without the cross, there is only selfishness and despair.
Without the cross, our marriages will surely fail.

But with the cross there is hope. It won’t be easy but there is restoration. It may take time to get past the hurt and pain but I believe that with God’s help all things are possible.

Lots of Love,
Mariana

Hebrew 4:16 Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

John 15:7 If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.

Ephesians 4:2-3 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace.

1 Corinthians 13:4-8 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

Colossians 3:12-17 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.  And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

Note: I wrote this post to express some of the frustration that all married couples face. However, this post is not directed to those people who are in an abusive marriage where physical and emotional abuse is occurring.
No man or woman should EVER have to stay in a relationship where they are being physically, mentally or emotionally abused.
If you are in an abusive marriage please seek help from your local church and local law enforcement agency.