Real Hope for Real Hurt, pt.1: Where Is Your Faith?

Real Hope for Real Hurt, pt.1: Where Is Your Faith?

“My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.” // Psalm 73:26

Hey guys! I hope you’ve been having a great start to 2020! It’s been a minute since I’ve released a blog, but I’m going to try and be back with new blogs every week again!

If you read any of the blogs I put out towards the end of last year, especially this one and this one, you know that I experienced a lot of hurt and disappointment in 2019. I didn’t realize this at the time, but the hurt and reality of all my disappointments had really taken it’s toll on me. I started to question God, and I just plain didn’t understand why nothing that I wanted or had been praying for was happening. I could feel my heart starting to harden, and I knew I was in trouble.

I saw all that to say this: out of my own experience, and the experiences of others around me, I know that hurt and pain and suffering is real. So many people wrestling with God–let alone His goodness–when times of trials come. But here’s the thing–sometimes the advice we get or the comfort others give (that is well intentioned, no doubt) isn’t what we need in those moments. What we need is REAL HOPE for REAL HURT. That’s what I want to talk about the next couple weeks.

We’re not talking about Romans 8:28–though that’s a great verse, and is certainly true.

We’re not talking about– “Everything happens for a reason”, though I believe that’s also true.

We’re not talking about– “It’ll happen, just have to wait”.

We’re talking about:

Who is God when my world falls apart and what can I hang my hope on to get through this? Because it doesn’t feel like anything is going to help me right now.

Who is God when my world falls apart and what can I hang my hope on to get through this? Because it doesn’t feel like anything is going to help me right now.

That’s where I was, and that is where so many of you are right now. So we’ll start here.

Recently I was reading Luke 8 in my Bible, and was reading the story of when the disciples were in a boat with Jesus and a really bad storm kicked up. These guys were in danger. The Bible goes so far as to say they were in “great danger”. Panicked, they rushed to Jesus, scared for their lives (literally), and they say, ““Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” (vs. 24).

So Jesus gets up and literally commands the winds and the waves to calm. And they do. When the storm subsided and all was calm, Jesus turned to His panicked disciples and says this: “Where is your faith?”

This hit me so hard when I read this. As almost Jesus Himself was saying these words directly to me. “Where is your faith?”

This got me thinking about where my faith actually was. I could say it was in God. But was it?

I think that’s where so many of us are right now. The winds are roaring and the waves are swamping our lives and we are drowning–just like the disciples. They knew where to turn, but I don’t know if they fully grasped Who they were turning to. If they had, would their reaction have been the same? Would panic have overtaken them? Or would they have remained calmly confident?

Honestly, I’m not sure. Fear is a human emotion, and if we were in a boat about to go under, I would surely be panicked. But in the midst of that panic, I have to wonder if there would there be an underlying peace because we knew Who is in our boat.

So I want to leave us with that question today. “Where is your faith?” Could it be that your faith is actually in yourself? Have you been putting everything all on your shoulders? Or maybe your faith is in someone else. Or something else. Honestly take a look at what you’re putting your faith in.

Next week, we’re going to talk about the components of the One we put our faith in. What makes Him trustworthy? Why can I choose to put my faith in Him? If you can’t wait for next week, you can always find me on social (IG and Twitter). Let’s talk about it. I want you to experience the real hope of Jesus. Because that’s where healing and real hope comes from.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie

@stephjayewriter

When Winter Comes

When Winter Comes

“When my spirit grows faint within me, it is You who watch over my way.” // Psalm 142:3

This weekend, in the midst of last minute shopping, holiday get-togethers, and baking cookies, we welcomed in the First Day of Winter. The day, also known as the winter solstice, is the shortest day of the year in North America. For some, the First Day of Winter is welcome–it brings with it snow, cold, and the holiday season. For others, the First Day of Winter is equivalent to the season of the shortest days, the darkest nights, and the coldest temperatures.

What’s interesting is we often equate winter to seasons in our own life that consist of darkness, pain, and suffering. Seasons where we find ourselves alone, surrounded by pain, and where there is no relief from suffering in sight.

If you look back on your life, do you remember a day that ushered in a season of winter? Is there something you would’ve done to change that “First Day of your Winter”. If you’d only known to avoid that person, steer clear of that place, hold on to that loved one a little tighter, maybe winter wouldn’t have come. Or at least wouldn’t last this long.

As we wind down 2019, I want to encourage you, whether you find yourselves in the middle of winter, the start of winter, of are just longing to avoid winter: God sees you. He has a plan. And He knows exactly what He’s doing. When your world starts freezing over, the snow starts falling, and you haven’t seen the sun in days, here are 3 things you can do to not only survive, but thrive in winter, based on Micah 7:7, which says, “But as for me, I watch in hope for the LORD, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.”

  1. Watch in Hope. I’ve learned through the past year and a half that HOPE is a powerful thing. The Bible talks a lot about hope, and I think it’s because without it, we have nothing to keep us going. When you’re in winter, ask God to give you hope. Set a goal, try to make a new dream, and serve others–being a source of hope to them. Making small changes in the winter season to be a source of hope and give yourself hope can change a lot of things and make this season a better one.
  2. Wait for God. This is easier said than done, but I’ve also learned that it is vital to wait for God–in every season of your life, but especially in the dry, desert seasons. We so often want to jump ahead, get out of our current season, but God wants to do something in your life in this season. Wait for Him to move and reveal to you what is next, and wait on Him to heal your heart and move you forward.
  3. Pray–God will hear you. This is one of the very most important things you can do if you find yourself in the cold, harsh winter. Prayer connects you with God. It keeps your heart warm in the fire of His presence. It reminds your heart that He is still present, that He still cares, that He still loves. He will hear you. Not only may prayer change the situation, but it will most definitely change you.

The winter season is a tough one–real winter and the seasons of life we consider winter. But it can also be one of the most beautiful ones. Seeing snowcaped mountains, Christmas lights lining small towns, seeing a glorious sunrise or sunset ahead of a field of snow. Though it’s cold, though it’s difficult, God creates beauty, even in the winter. And not only does He create beauty in winter, but when it’s time, spring comes.

The same will be true in your life. Winter can be tough, but if you let God have His way, He’ll use it for something beautiful.

And soon enough, spring will come.

I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas as you celebrate the Savior’s birth–our ultimate hope–this Christmas season. To read some Christmas blogs, check out some of the ones I’ve written here.

Until Next Time,

Stephanie

@stephjayewriter

P.S. Check out this song from Hillsong, It’s off their Christmas album, but it fits perfectly with today’s topic (& Christmas! Win-win!).

The Effects of Being Fatherless

The Effects of Being Fatherless

“A  father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.” // Psalm 68:5

Happy Sunday! I hope you all are enjoying the Christmas season as we draw nearer to Christmas Day! This year has absolutely flown by, and before we know it, 2020 will be here.

If you’ve been reading my blogs or following my social media updates these past couple months, you’ll know that I’ve been on the struggle bus. In the aftermath of an unfolding of events, it seems like I have been wading in waters so deep, and they just keep getting deeper. It didn’t dawn on me what my problem was until last night, and that’s what I want to share with you today.

If you don’t know, I’ve never had a father in my life. My dad lives with his family in South Carolina (I’m in Wisco), and I was raised by my mom, with the help of my grandma from time to time. This never bothered me. Ever. I loved being raised by my mom — I didn’t even know what I’d do if I had a dad in my life. The concept was so foreign to me that the older I got, the thought of having a dad was basically eradicated from my mind. You mean to tell me that people live with a mom … and a dad?

I’ve often said that I would’ve had my upbringing any other way. That my father not being in my life was God’s way of protecting me (and in a lot of ways, due to the circumstance, it was). God has always been enough for me — the only Father I needed.

Until the raging waters of the ocean seemed to all sweep in against me recently.

Do you know the statistics of children who are raised without fathers? Children in fatherless homes are twice as likely to drop out of high school, more are likely to commit a crime, go to prison, face childhood obesity, and use drugs and alcohol. And in teen girls raised in fatherless homes, they are 7 times more likely to get pregnant than those who do have fathers in the home.

Think about that. If these are the statistics, it makes me think that God has ordained fathers to play a particular role in a child’s life. One of a protector, of a provider, and to give their children a sense of approval, worth and direction.

I don’t know what your childhood looked like or what your relationship with your father is, but something tells me if your relationship with your father is fractured, broken, or absent, there is something deep in your heart — if you know it or not — that’s empty.

I didn’t know that I was missing male affection until I recently received it from someone. It wasn’t overly done, and it wasn’t inappropriate, but it was enough to make me realize that I was missing a male figure in my life to comfort me, to hold me when I cry, to tell me I look beautiful, and to make me feel safe. Accepted. Okay.

And I think this is the very reason that those in fatherless homes find themselves at a higher rate of damaging behavior. We’re all looking for something. We all feel a void left by our fathers. Something that God made the human heart to need. Because of the broken world we live in, our relationships with our fathers are broken, too. Know, if you find yourself here today, it’s not supposed to be this way.

But here’s the good news — God is described in Scripture over and over and over again as our Father. As what? Our Father. Isn’t it interesting that of all the things God could be described as, He is described so frequently as this? Jesus referred to God as His Father time and time again. So if Jesus’ relationship with God was like one with a Father, and if Israel’s relationship with God was like a Father, and if we are called sons and daughters of God, then maybe God is trying to make a point here. Maybe He’s trying to get our attention and say: I am your ultimate Father. Your Heavenly Father.

God created us in the womb before we even knew Him (Psalm 139:13-14). He knit us together perfectly to reflect His image — to carry His Name. Just like we look like our earthly father and carry his name. He gathers up every tear we shed and stores them in a bottle (Psalm 56:8). He is present when we need a shoulder to cry on. His arms are open wide when we’re lost and running home (Luke 15:11-31). Psalm 68:5 tells us He’s the Father to the Fatherless. He’s the defender of those who don’t have one (Psalm 10:14). He’s the provider when our earthly provider falls short (Matthew 6:26). He tells us that we’re precious, and that we are enough in Him (Isaiah 43:4, Deuteronomy 7:6, 1 Peter 2:9).

No matter where you find yourself today–if you have the best relationship with your dad, or if you’re feeling the void today, know that you have an unbroken, perfect relationship with your Heavenly Father through Jesus Christ. “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” (1 John 3:1).

Let your confidence come from your relationship with God, your Father, today. Seek Him, and you’ll be found by Him (Jeremiah 29:13). Run to Him, and be held in His arms. He is a good, good Father. And He’s waiting you to come home today.

Lord, thank You for being my heavenly Father. Thank You when this world leaves me broken and empty, You are there, and You are enough. Heal the void in my heart caused by the lack of an earthly Father. Fill it up so that it overflows with You and Your perfect love. In Jesus’ Name, amen.

Until next time,

Stephanie Jaye ❤

@stephjayewriter

P.S. — If you want more on this topic, check out Louie Giglio’s book Not Forsaken. He also has a sermon serious on Youtube by the same title.

Statistics provided are from https://www.fatherhood.org/fatherhood-data-statistics

The Promise of Christmas

The Promise of Christmas

“The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God. Even Elizabeth your relative is going to have a child in her old age, and she who was said to be unable to conceive is in her sixth month. For no word from God will ever fail.'” // Luke 1:35-37

Hey all! We’re almost halfway through the month of December and we’re already knee deep into the Christmas season. I’ve noticed the lines at the stores are getting longer, Christmas parades are underway, and before you know it, it’ll be Christmas Day.

Today, I want to continue our series on Christmas. I want to talk about the promise of Christmas. Out of the many things I love about Christmas, this is toward the top of my list. When we talk about Christmas, we’re talking about Jesus being born as a baby in a manger to save the world from their sin. The thing about the baby in the manger is that … this is no ordinary baby born on a whim one night. Instead, this is a miracle child … born of a virgin … in a town his parents didn’t even live in. Everything surrounding the birth of Jesus fulfilled all the prophesies given about Him. And God didn’t overlook one detail in this miracle story. Here are just a few:

  1. Jesus was to be born of the line of David. Jesus’ earthly father (though not conceived by him) was from the line of David. (2 Samuel 7:12-13, Matthew 1:1, Luke 1:32-33)
  2. Jesus was to be born of a virgin. Mary was a virgin, therefore Jesus was conceived without sin and by the Holy Spirit. (Isaiah 7:14, Luke 1:31-25)
  3. Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem. While Joseph and Mary actually lived in Nazareth, they ended up having to travel to Joseph’s hometown of Bethlehem due to a census being called … just in time for them to arrive in Bethlehem where Mary would give birth to Jesus, just as the prophecy foretold. (Micah 5:2, Luke 2:1-7)

The night Jesus was born, every promise God made … He kept.

What all this means is this: God made promise after promise after promise to His people. A promise that’d He would send a Savior to save His people. And He told them the signs to look for, how He was going to fulfill this promise. And the night Jesus was born, every promise God made … He kept.

A couple weeks ago we talked about how there was a 400 year silent period from God before Jesus came onto the scene. There were 400 years without a prophecy, without a word from God. It might’ve been tempting to think God forgot about His promise of a Savior. But He didn’t. In fact, the whole time He was setting the scene so at the right time Jesus would be born and the world would have a Savior at the best possible time.

What Christmas tells us today is that God doesn’t forget. That not only does He make promises, but that He keeps them. This is great news for us today! Not only did He promise to provide a Savior, He did. Not only did He promise to save us, but through this Savior, He made a way for us to do just that. And it’s through this same Savior that we have many, many more promises that are alive and well today. The promise that God is with us (Isaiah 41:10, Matthew 1:23) is alive and well today. The promise of peace in abundance is ours today (Isaiah 26:3, John 14:27). The promise that God is quick to forgive when we repent is ours today (1 John 1:9). The promise that He will reward our faithfulness is alive and well today (Galatians 6:7-9). The promise that He’ll provide for us is ours today (Matthew 6:25-34). The promise that one day Jesus will come back is our hope today (Revelation 1:7).

Take heart today, friends. God sees you, just like He saw His people over 400 years of silence. God is not slow in keeping His promises, even though that’s what it may look like (2 Peter 3:9). It just means that He’s setting the stage for the most amazing thing ever. Be it a baby born in Bethlehem or the very thing He knows you need. If you have a need, God has a promise for you this Christmas. He gave and delivered the best promise that very first Christmas. And because of that, we know that every single promise He’s made to us in His word will be kept, too.

The promise of Christmas means that not only do we have a Promise Maker, but we have a Promise Keeper.

The promise of Christmas means that not only do we have a Promise Maker, but we have a Promise Keeper. And because of that, someday we might just change the world. ❤

Until next time,

Image (5) - Edited (3)

@stephanie_jacqu

P.S.! I’m going to a Christmas concert tonight with some great Christians artists (maybe I’ll post some pictures in a couple days if you guys are interested). What fun things are you doing or have done this year to celebrate the season? Tweet me or leave a comment below letting me know!

P.P.S.!! I will be a posting a special mid-week post on TUESDAY (Dec. 11). Make sure you check back for that or sign up for email notifications here on my site to get that delivered right to your inbox so you don’t miss it! Also, keep an eye on my Twitter for the announcement it’s posted also!

Good News and Great Joy

Good News and Great Joy

“An angel of the LORD appeared to them, and the glory of the LORD shone around them, and they were terrified. But the angel said to them, ‘Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the LORD.'” – Luke 2:9-11

Many people are familiar with this passage taken out of the Christmas story in Luke 2. As I was thinking about Christmas and heard this passage, two things stuck out to me this year. Good news and Great joy. This angel was sent from God in heaven to announce the birth of the Savior to a group of Shepherds in the field at night, and when the angel arrived, they announced that there was no need to be terrified at its appearing, but in fact the angel was bringing an announcement. This announcement was good news that would cause great joy. And that this announcement was good news that would cause great joy for all people.

Just like today, the people in Israel 2000 years ago could use some good news that would cause great joy. The people of God had been long awaiting a Savior to rescue them from their oppression of their time. In fact, at the time Jesus had been born, the people had gone 400 years since a word from God. But all the while, they trusted and waited that God would send a Savior to them. And that the Savior had been born was the greatest announcement ever made, and the Shepherds tending their sheep in the field—a people group who was considered too unclean to even worship in the temple at the time no less— received this announcement. The announcement proceeded with this: “Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; He is the Messiah, the LORD” (vs. 11). The long-awaited, long-promised Savior had been born. The one who would free them from their bondage had come! God hadn’t forgotten about them! God hadn’t forgotten His promise! God hadn’t forgotten His people! This indeed was good news that would cause great joy, not only to the Shepherds and the people of Israel of that day, but to us as well. We are included in this good news that causes great joy today just as much as the Shepherds were that night when the angel appeared. Jesus wasn’t just born for HIs people, though He was born for them too, but He was born for us. He was born for you.

But there’s more to the story then just an angel appearing at night to a group of Shepherds. I mean, nothing ordinary was happening surrounding the birth of  Jesus. A young women yet to be married and who was a virgin was pregnant and called favored by God while society would see her much differently? The angels announced the birth of Christ three separate times? A star indicated where the Savior had been born? The Shepherds were the first people group to know the Savior had been born?

Let me say this: the birth of Jesus just isn’t some event that took place 2000 years ago by chance. Every detail about His birth was carried about by the exact plan and will of God. It was 2000 years in the making. Every event in history leading up to that point happened so that this event could take place at this exact moment. The roads built years before Jesus came so that this message could be spread to people around the world. The census that was called right before Jesus was born. And the list of God preparing the stage goes on. And why did it take place? That you and me might be saved and forgiven by that same baby and have an eternity in the unending presence of God Almighty. That He might show us His love and power in an unimaginable way. And that we might have a relationship with Him once again.

That’s what Christmas is all about.

Its about a God who keeps every promise to a T every single time. Proving that He does what He says He’ll do. That His love for us is more than we can fathom. And that He deserves the highest of praise. Every detail of the Christmas story was set in place at the perfect time. That a perfect Savior might be born. And God’s perfect plan would unfold. It was a plan set in motion from the beginning of time. From when God knew Adam and Eve would sin in the garden. He knew it before He created Adam and Eve with a free will. He knew it before He spoke the world into motion. The same world He would send His Son into at that precise moment in history to undo all the wrong humanity had done. And He did all of it knowing that the greatest and most costly price would be paid at the end of this baby’s life. But He did it because He’s a God of His promise. Because He is a God who loves us that much. Because He’s a God who went to the ultimate length to buy us back to Himself. And this is the good news that causes great joy for us today and forever. So when you think about the birth of Jesus this year, remember the reason He came. The love that was given. The price He came to pay. And the victory He came to win. This is the good news. This is the thing that causes great joy. And it’s the thing that will last into eternity.

So, yes, Christmas is a time to celebrate. This is the single event in human history that allows us to be free from every sin that held us captive, and be engulfed forever in a love that is unimaginable. Indeed, we who are forgiven have received good news that will cause great joy. May this good news and great joy consume your heart this Christmas season and in the year ahead.

Merry Christmas!

❤ Stephanie

And for fun, here are my top picks of Christmas songs this year:

When I Think Upon Christmas- Hillsong Worship

Little Drummer Boy (Live) – For King and Country

Baby Boy (Live) – For King and Country

White as Snow – NewSong

Noel – Lauren Daigle

I Celebrate the Day – Relient K

His Favorite Christmas Story – Capital Lights