Hide and Seek

Have you ever played hide and seek with a toddler? Hide and seek is to a two year old what peek-a-boo is to an infant: a game full of inexpressible joy and surprise. As an adult, the game is rewarding simply because playing with a small child generates loads of grins and giggles.

It’s not exactly a game of strategy when playing hide and seek with a little one. Honestly, the first dilemma is that a toddler has not yet learned the art of being quiet. They often give themselves away with scuffling, sniffles, giggles, or whispers. Sometimes they even announce their location, squealing “Here I am!” The game is often a simple one because toddlers tend to pick the same hiding spot over and over again. If it worked the first time, then surely it will work again, right? No, for small children, the game is not about logic or strategy: it’s an enjoyable game where they can be found by a caregiver who loves them!

“Come find me, Mommy! Here I am!”

From a parent’s perspective, there is a little more strategy involved. When playing with a toddler, an important tactic is to hide in a painfully obvious place. It is important to make just a little noise or leave a part of your body partially exposed to make it easier for the child to find you. After all, the point is not to be standing in plain sight, nor is it to be completely hidden. The object of the game is to be found! It’s the moment of being discovered that brings shouts of joy, hugs, and contagious giggles.

Have you ever wondered if maybe God interacts with us in a similar way? I once heard my college pastor preach a sermon about this very idea. Granted, many years have elapsed, and I don’t remember his exact words. Still, the concept has remained in my mind over the years. God delights in hiding and letting us seek Him. He never hides in inaccessible places, because He promises to never leave us. He delights to leave a toe sticking out under a door, so to speak, so that we can more easily find Him.

For instance, have you ever gone through a season where you felt you met the Lord in a very real and tangible way? Maybe His Word came alive to you. Maybe He gave you comfort at a time you needed it. Maybe He fulfilled a promise or provided for you in an unexpected and aptly-timed manner. Maybe you felt an intimacy with your Savior that you had been missing previously. Aren’t those moments priceless? If only we could sustain those spiritual mountaintop experiences!

Just like a child who has discovered his father hiding behind the couch, we are delighted and astounded to find our Father hiding in plain sight! Because we are very often like toddlers ourselves, we may look in the same place over and over again. If we found Him there once, we might find Him there again! Both thankfully, and frustratingly, our God is not that predictable. I believe He enjoys surprising us, and our experiences with Him cannot be duplicated. He longs for us to seek Him and promises that if we earnestly seek Him that we will find Him (Jeremiah 29:13). He may choose a new hiding place, but we will be just as delighted each time we discover a new aspect of His character. In this way, we continue to be enchanted and delighted by our ever-loving and ever-mysterious Heavenly Father.

You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.

Jeremiah 29:13 NIV

Pause: Find a quiet and comfortable place to read Psalm 105. In what ways did the Lord “show” Himself to the Israelites? If you have the time, make a list.

Renew: How has the Lord revealed Himself to you? Can you make a list from your own life, just as David could list the ways that the Lord showed up for the Israelites in Psalm 105?

Next: I just love Lauren Daigle’s song, Salt and Light. There’s a line in the song that says, “Let my eyes see your Kingdom shine all around.” In the same way, keep your eyes open to see where the Lord and His Kingdom are at work around you this week.

May you seek the Lord and discover new aspects of His majesty.

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Steps of a New Believer: An Interview with Liz Bergstrom

How did your journey of faith begin? In this episode my guest, Liz Bergstrom, shares about her own road to a relationship with Jesus. She shares honestly about the struggles and hangups she faced as a new believer.

It was a joy to interview Liz. She has a lot of wisdom to offer!

“I think as a new believer you underestimate the situations you put yourself in. I think you underestimate that you’re always going to choose sin. The situations you put yourself in can make that easier or harder to do.”

In this episode, Liz offers words of encouragement for those who are mentoring new believers, as well as for those who are young in the faith themselves. She shares that vulnerability, accountability, grace, and patience were key elements to her own early faith journey.

Scripture mentioned in today’s podcast: Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 NIV

Two are better than one,
    because they have a good return for their labor:
 If either of them falls down,
    one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls
    and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm.
    But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered,
    two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.

If there was something you heard on this podcast that was encouraging, inspiring, or helpful, please share in the comment section below. You can also join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus!

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Tall Within: The Story of Sojourner Truth

Sojourner Truth was a woman set on fire by a sense of faith, strength, and passion. Her life had an impact on a world full of injustice. Sojourner Truth was a woman who’s story from over a century ago still has an impact on our lives today. It is my pleasure to share her faith story on this podcast.

In such a short podcast, it was impossible to do Sojourner Truth’s story justice. There is so much more to know about her life and legacy. Many fabulous resources tell her story, the most famous of which is her own book, Narrative of Sojourner Truth. Here is a list of resources I used in researching this podcast:

  • Truth, Sojourner. Narrative of Sojourner Truth. Penguin: New York, 1998. First published 1850.
  • DeRusha, Michelle. 50 Women Every Christian Should Know. Baker Books: Grand Rapids, MI, 2014.
  • McDonough, Yona Zeldis. Who Was Sojourner Truth? Penguin Workshop, New York, New York, 2015.

How does Sojourner Truth’s faith story affect you? If it encourages, challenges, or inspires you in some way, please share below in the comment section. You can also join the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

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Healing is Not Linear

Last summer, I attended a training seminar that included a yoga breakout session. The yoga instructor asked each member of the audience to choose a phrase or “intention” to meditate on as we participated in the yoga exercises. One of the example intentions she offered was “healing is not linear.”

Often the path of healing has many twists, turns, hills, and obtacles

I’m sure this was not an original phrase, but it was new to me. Immediately, I latched onto the phrase, mulling it about in my mind – “healing is not linear.” In other words, healing does not follow a straight path. It is not accomplished in a series of pre-assigned steps. It is not a 45 degree climb straight from injury to health or from trauma to recovery. Healing is often much more complicated than that. In fact, it more predictably looks like a game of Mother May I – two steps forward, one step back, one giant leap forward, three baby steps back, one bunny hop forward…. you get the idea.

In the book, How to Help Your Teenager Beat an Eating Disorder, authors Locke and Le Grange liken the recovery process to hiking up a sand dune. They advocate working hard, not stopping or counting the victory until reaching the top of the hill. This is a word picture that I find myself often using with clients who are in the midst of a healing journey. When walking up a sand dune, it is not wise to set up camp partway up the hill. Soon, you will find yourself sliding back down, losing traction against gravity. No, it is a long, hard, zig zag pattern of a journey, over many ridges, to reach the pinnacle of recovery.

Healing may even include different supporters along the journey. Maybe you started out with one group of supporters, but along the way, you picked up new cheerleaders. Maybe you found a mentor, an encourager, someone who just “got you,” that helped you over ridges along your path to healing. Just like physical therapy is a painful, but necessary part of a post-surgery recovery, so is a loyal friend who is willing to encourage accountability on a path of healing in our lives.

Perhaps your own healing has not come in the way or in the timing that you had hoped. Possibly, you expected that your healing path (physical, mental, emotional or spiritual) would come more easily. Maybe you’ve found yourself discouraged at the amount of time it’s taken, the prognosis given, or your own inability to “move forward.” Healing is not a destination. It doesn’t happen in a particular time frame. It’s a journey that requires grace and forgiveness, even of ourselves.

Pause: Take a deep breath and exhale. Read II Corinthians 4:16-18. What does this passage speak to you about healing? What are the promises presented in this passage? How does that change your perspective on affliction and healing?

Renew: Think about a time that you have been on a healing journey. What was that path like for you? How long did it take, and what were the elements that helped you along the way?

Next: Do you know someone who is currently healing either physically or emotionally? Think and pray about ways that you can encourage and show them support this week.

May we give ourselves grace as we allow ourselves and the others around us to heal.

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Renewed and Transformed: My Story of Recovery

Full Disclosure: If I am going to be asking other women to share their faith stories on this podcast, then I thought I should be vulnerable enough to share my own story. Everyone who has walked with Jesus has a story of His grace to share, and this is one of mine.

In this podcast you’ll hear a story of sadness, fear, the devastation of an eating disorder, a life-changing experience, and the grace God used to rescue me from a path of self-destruction.

“I don’t remember a time that I didn’t know Jesus, but I think there’s a difference between knowing about Him, and reading about Him, and experiencing Him.  So, when I fell off a ledge, He caught me, and that’s how I experienced Him.”

Two passages of Scripture are mentioned in today’s podcast and both were important to my journey of faith and my recovery: Psalm 91 & Romans 12:2

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2 NKJV

I hope this story is an encouragement to your own faith. If something you heard in today’s episode resonated with you, please share in the comment section below or join in the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

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Cultivating Contentment: An Interview with Christina Morgan

In today’s podcast episode, you’ll hear from Christina Morgan, who has a story to tell about God’s faithfulness and provision in her life. Throughout her story, she encourages us to have confidence that God will provide the means to go where He has called us.

Sharing a laugh before recording the podcast

In today’s podcast, Christina quotes I Timothy 6:6 as being a verse she finds herself going back to frequently for perspective and encouragement:

I am so grateful to Christina for sharing her story. I was really blessed by it personally, and I hope you were too. God is called Jehovah Jireh (“The Lord Will Provide”) in the Old Testament, and we all need to be reminded of His promise of provision in our lives.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus!

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Hold Tight and Be Held

Let me make a confession: I have chosen the same word of the year, every January, for multiple years in a row. Granted, I did briefly consider finding a new word for this year, but I realized that, more than anything, I need to continue to lean in to the word I have chosen in years past. My word of the year is: Abide.

A little reminder I made for my wall

It’s cute; it’s sweet; it’s to the point. Or is it? What does abide actually mean? It’s not a word that tends to show up in everyday conversation. The apostle John likes to use it frequently, and you can find it sprinkled throughout the gospel of John and I John. John uses it to refer to union with Christ. Abide comes from the Greek word meno. You didn’t know you’d be learning Greek today, did you?

The Greek word meno can have many meanings, including:

  • to remain
  • to be held, kept, continually
  • to survive, live
  • to wait for; await one

I am choosing the word abide because in this season, I am continuing to fight with joint pain that feels unfair at my age, but am trying to boast in my weaknesses, as Paul does in II Corinthians 12. This season I am raising four boys, who are wide open, full of curiosity, noise, chaos, and valor, and praying they grow up to advance the Kingdom of God. This season, I am privileged to work part-time counseling others who are experiencing hardship, anxiety, or disappointment. This season I am in faith jumping headfirst into this new ministry of PRN, to encourage women in their faith. My list goes on and on. All the while, in all of the arenas, I’m trying to remember it’s not all about me. I want to picture walking behind Jesus, as His disciple, learning His ways and learning His voice. I want and need to abide.

Jesus says in John 15 that He is the vine, and we are the branches. If we abide in Him and He in us, then we will bear much fruit. He declares that without him, we will not bear fruit.

John 15:9 ESV

Yet, often I find myself doing things in my own effort. Trying a little too hard to make things happen on my own time table, in my own way. Still, He graciously and lovingly reminds me that without Him I can do nothing. It’s not all about me.

So, as the definitions of meno remind me, I so want to remain. I want to survive and live. I find myself waiting and awaiting so many things. However, it’s the second definition of meno that really gets me down deep in my soul: to be held, kept, continually. Yes, I am to hold onto Jesus for all I’m worth, but the paradox is that He’s doing the holding. He’s keeping me. Continually. What a beautiful and heavenly promise. What a complete and total relief.

Pause: Find a quiet moment and read through John 15: 1-17. If you want to, read it through more than once. There is plenty to mull over in this chapter. What stands out to you in this passage?

Renew: Take time to think/journal/pray about what areas of your life you find it easy to abide, and what areas seem more difficult. How can you become more purposeful in relying on Jesus more in those difficult areas?

Next: In verse 12 of John 15, Jesus commands: “Love each other as I have loved you.” Today, choose one action of love that you can give to someone who is not expecting it.

May we abide in Him and He in us, and may we bear much fruit!

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Strength Through Anxiety: An Interview with Missy Stone

Anyone who has had anxiety can attest to the struggles and battles that it can bring into daily life.  In today’s episode, Missy shares her own struggles with anxiety and how God has met her and sustained her through her fears.

Missy shares in today’s episode how God’s faithfulness has encouraged her over the past couple of years as she has experienced intense bouts of anxiety.  She also talks about how God has used people (her husband and others) to support her along the way, as well as how Scripture helps her combat some of her anxious thoughts.

Missy also shares in today’s episode about how she reached out to JJ Heller and was encouraged with a book recommendation that has been very helpful to her:

From Panic to Power by Lucinda Bassett

One of my favorite JJ Heller albums

Missy also shared in this episode that two of her favorite Scriptures are Psalm 121 and Psalm 91.  They bring her comfort during times of anxiety.

If something you heard in today’s episode resonated with you, please share in the comment section below, or join in the conversation on PRN’s Facebook page.

May you be encouraged on your journey with Jesus.

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