Baby Steps

So, you may or may not know I have two toddlers that I get the privilege of spending my days with (see sweet photo below), and not one day goes by that they do not teach me something significant about my relationship with God.

Lessons from Littles

My two and a half year old is constantly running (well both of them really!) and because of that, he is constantly falling– mostly tripping over his own feet as he sprints towards his destination. This happens so frequently that when we walk outside, I usually go ahead take his hand when he starts to run because as his mom, I know that chances are he is going to slip and I will be able to stable him as he falls, catching him before he bites the dust.

Friends, do we realize that this is exactly what God does for us every day? We run through our days, eyes only on our next destination or distraction rather than paying attention to what is right at our feet that might trip us up on the way. But the Bible tells us that God in his goodness is right there, holding our hand so that when we do fall (because we all mess up), He can swoop in right before we land flat on our face and do some serious damage to ourselves.

Psalms 37:23-24 says this: “The Lord makes firm the steps of the one who delights in him; though he may stumble, he will not fall, for the Lord upholds him with his hand.”

I encourage you to take some time and pray that God would show you where to slow down in your days and take note of where He is swooping in to catch you.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this in the comments, as it is really in opposition to the culture we are living in and the things that are naturally taught to us simply by proximity. Grace and peace to you this week friends! Keep your eyes on Jesus.

Psalm 37:23-24

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An Encouragement to Pray AGAIN

An Encouragement to Pray AGAIN

Let’s talk PRAYER. It has changed my life. I also know that I have TONS to learn and grow in regarding this spiritual disciple, this way of communing with God and drawing nearer to Jesus and inviting the Holy Spirit to move in my life. I know without a doubt that prayer is most under-utilized resource for believers across the board. I also know that when we talk about prayer, it brings up a lot of very real, honest emotions.

Like when we feel like our prayers are not answered the way we were hoping. Or maybe, we feel like they have not been answered at all.

Maybe it feels stale. Or maybe just the word “prayer” creates tension in the atmosphere, bitterness and frustration for things you have petitioned for, seemingly unanswered that left you or a loved one wounded.

Then there are those that just haven’t done it in so long that it feels foreign. Even awkward. Maybe once you felt really close to God but the years have gone by and life has happened and you just quit somewhere along the way.

Or there was something you brought to God over and over and over. And then one day stopped your petition because it didn’t feel fruitful.

And lastly, there are those that have knee prints by their bed. In the living room floor. They are on the well-worn path that countless saints gone on before them, interceding on the behalf of their loved ones and their world. They have transformed the four walls of their rooms into sacred meeting places, throne rooms as they have entered the presence of God. They have said some of the same prayers for years. And tomorrow, before the sun comes up, they will say them again.

Whether you have said a billion prayers or only two, I want to encourage you to make the time to share your heart with God today. Tell Him what you are thankful for. Ask Him for what your heart really needs. Let light shine in all the dark places and ask Him to make you new. And then, let Him share His heart with you.

Give prayer another chance. Give God something to answer. Make room for Him to move in your life by making time for Him on your calendar.

In James 5:17-18 we see a powerful portrait of a man of God making pivotal requests before God, one prayer at a time.

Elijah was a man with a nature like ours, and he prayed fervently that it might not rain, and for three years and six months it did not rain on the earth. 18 Then he prayed again, and heaven gave rain, and the earth bore its fruit.” (James 5:17-18, ESV)

Then he prayed again. And there was fruit.

Friends, I know every set of eyes reading this represents a soul with a different story, difference circumstances, and a different background. But with complete regard and respect to whatever situations you are carrying today and all the tender pasts, I want to encourage you to PRAY. AGAIN.

Who knows if this could be the petition that opens the floodgates of heaven’s favor?

It’s our job to be faithful and KEEP praying. It is God’s responsibility to make it fruitful and send the rain at just the right time.

I want to leave you with some reflection questions (that will hopefully encourage an applicable response in your own life). If you’re willing, I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.  We are here to encourage one another in this race, so please feel free to share your heart and your experiences: What is your current standing with prayer? Has it been a while? Are you wanting to grow in that area, or even just begin again? Do you pray everyday? If so, what would be your encouragement to those of us looking to grow in this area? Is there something you have been praying about for a long time? Do you find it easy or difficult to keep praying? 

 

#FINDTHEBEAUTY Challenge: A Fourteen Day Bible Study and Photo Experience

#FINDTHEBEAUTY Challenge: A Fourteen Day Bible Study and Photo Experience

Friends, I am SO thrilled to invite you to a 14 day Bible Study and Photo challenge experience beginning tomorrow, June 20th! A friend and I did this together as sort of an experiment a few weeks ago when God stirred my heart about being intentional every day to find traces of where He had been and it was INCREDIBLE. Moments that touched my heart, encouraged me, refined me, or just took my breath away. What I found was that seeking the beautiful things in the everyday pointed me to Jesus over and over again. Traces of the Gospel and God’s love for me is so present in countless moments throughout the day, and I just felt God prompt me to commit to looking for the evidence of His goodness in the everyday.

I asked my friend Amy to do this with me and she said YES so willingly and guys–I cannot tell you how much it blessed me every day to hear what God was showing her. He used her to refine me and several times what she sent (out of what God showed her) was just what I needed to hear. The accountability we had was instrumental in this experience. There were some days that were really, really hard. And at the end of the day, we had to CHOOSE to find the beauty, because we knew we had committed that to one another. And we knew the other person was waiting for it from us every day! And without this challenge, I guarantee you that I would have went to bed with my heart in the wrong place–sin unchecked because I would not have been in the Word every night like I was when I was committed to this challenge. I am generally consistent about spending time in the morning praying and studying, but there was something so pivotal about this additional time each evening as I reflected about my day. It forced me to lay my heart bare before the Lord, and let the Cross do its work in me through His Word. And a lot of times, it was painful. But it was also FRUITFUL. Every. single. time. Find your tribe and invite them to do this WITH you. It will be much easier to stay accountable with people you actually know and see in person. You won’t regret it!

HERE’S HOW I DID IT: This experience cultivated an awareness throughout my day to keep my eyes open for the goodness of God, and when my heart was stirred I would take a photo of something that symbolized the moment. Sometimes I would take multiple photos throughout my day, and then at night after my kids would go to bed I would choose one to pray though and find the verse that I felt like best represented my experience/feelings/reflections. Sometimes I would google “verses about _______” and go from there. Sometimes I would look up a word in the concordance in the back of my Bible (the YouVersion app has this feature too! So helpful). And sometimes a moment would immediately remind me of a verse that I had written on my heart, or God would bring a certain Scripture to memory.

He uses EVERYTHING to let us know He is here, friends. It’s so evident, yet sometimes we neglect to even notice the miracles He does right in front of us. This has been such a game changer. If you commit to this challenge wholeheartedly, you will not be the same, in the best way. You will: 

–Experience the Word coming ALIVE in your life.

–See God moving MORE in your life, because you are actively LOOKING for His hand.

–Cultivate a lifestyle of INTEGRATING God’s truth into your everyday life.

Reflecting on my first 14 days, this is what I felt like I experienced in my own life:

“18 Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. 19 Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. ” (Deuteronomy 11:18-19, NIV) 

That passage has always sounded a little intimidating to me, even overwhelming at times. But friends, it wasn’t. I was literally doing this every day, God’s word was running in the background of my mind ALL day and it wasn’t draining at all. It wasn’t hard. It wasn’t daunting. It was LIFE-GIVING. I want so badly for everyone to give this a shot, because it is SO worth it.

Are you ready to step up your personal Bible study and spiritual growth this summer?! 

Here is the challenge: For 14 days…

  1. Find the beauty in the everyday. Keep your eyes open for God’s goodness, and document it. Take a picture. 
  2. Think about why that was beautiful to you, the meaning behind the evidence. What does this say to you? Why did it get your attention, stir your heart? What does this say about God? Find/share a Bible verse that reflects what you felt/learned/etc. from that moment. 
  3. Upload it to Instagram or Facebook.  BE SURE TO include #FINDTHEBEAUTY at the end of your post and tag me (@rachelsweatt) so I can see what God is teaching you! (There’s a ton of our hashtag already out there, so tagging me helps me not miss your post!)

**Here are some examples from our 14 Day trial! example3Find the Beautyexample 4Find the Beauty

Here are some extras to take this to the next level: 

*Dig deeper into God’s word. In one example below, Amy wanted to dig into different verses that used the word “vast”, because she was inspired by the vast sky one evening and how big God felt to her in that moment. What she learned was so powerful. Take time to ask God to show you NEW things about Him and His Word, and be willing to go the extra mile to find it.

*Take the Scripture you are correlating with your picture, and pray it back to God. Pray it over your circumstances, your relationships, your friends, even your enemies. Praying Scripture is POWERFUL and His word does not return void!

Every person that does this for the entire 14 days will be entered into a drawing for a great giveaway! This is really just a way for me to say thank you for doing this with me. It is so encouraging to me and I do not take your partnership in this ministry for granted!

After our first 14 days, I want to invite you to KEEP your eyes open for the beautiful things of God. Share pictures that represent His goodness in your life. Every month,  I am going to try to do a “BEAUTY ROUNDUP” and share all the photos that people post and tag me for everyone to see and be encouraged by.

Are you ready to invite God to do His thing in your life through His Word?

Let’s do this! If you are IN, let me know in the comments so I can be looking for your pictures!

If you are weary, this is for YOU.

If you are weary, this is for YOU.

Have you ever been so weary you just couldn’t take another step? I know I have. And if you’re like me, those moments that feel so utterly defeating are often the catalyst for exposing an ugly truth: I have been been relying on something to sustain me that wasn’t the only One who could sustain me.

I was praying through this the other day and realizing it is not enough to pray that God would establish our steps. We need to ask Him to sustain our every step, after He shows us where to go. Are we following His lead, only to depend on something else to get us where He wants to take us?

This could play out in a billion different ways for each of us, and I know for me the temptation to do this has looked different in every season. At the end of the day, if we are looking to anything or anyone but God to sustain us, we will not make it.

We weren’t built to endure this brokenness without the only One who can repair it. We don’t have the capacity to do this life on our own and nothing of this world is strong enough to endure the things that happen on its soil. Nothing temporary can endure what was only meant to be sustained by something eternal.

Our friends cannot sustain us. Our pastors are not here to sustain us. Our spouse is not created to sustain us. The keto/paleo/whole30 diet, job promotion, (insert your own thing here) will never withstand the heat of whatever the enemy intended for evil that God will use to refine us.

If it’s been a while since you trusted God to be everything you needed, take some time to do that. Say this, (out LOUD if possible): God, today I trust YOU to sustain me today. Forgive me for trying to make it without you. Teach me how to trust you to carry me. Show me where you already have. From this day forward, make it undeniable that YOU are my helper.

And if you’ve been faithful to do so but it’s still been hard, be encouraged: God is the one who sustains you. You aren’t done yet. You’re going to make it because the Lord is your helper. He’s got you.

If you are looking for HOPE today…

If you are reading this and you know that you could use a little more HOPE in your heart these days, THIS is for you. If there is so much weighing you down that you can hardly catch your breath, THIS is for you. If you are looking for an encouraging word of truth today, no matter where you are or what your life looks like right now…THIS is for you.

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13

Friend, I have GOOD news for anyone looking some good news today. The God of HOPE lends us the Spirit, who freely gives us HOPE so that our own hope many ABOUND, limitless. Because of His Spirit, who dwells in us, our very own hope abounds from an endless resource, a well of hope that would never run dry.

I just love that word ABOUND. It feels like a breath of fresh air to my soul, almost like a deep sigh of relief. Anyone out there looking for some ABOUNDING in their life? (raises hand.)

We were created more than just to make it through the day, we were made to ABOUND. Abound in joy, in thankfulness, in love, and in HOPE. I know this because we were made in the image of a God who ABOUNDS, this is part of His character. And because of Jesus, it is part of our DNA. We literally have hope running through our veins. 

Can you feel it?

If you had forgotten for a second, doesn’t it feel good to remember? Oh how the enemy wants us to forget. To forget about our eternal lifeline to hope. How cleverly darkness invites us to live in despair. Don’t be fooled, friends.

The God of hope sends the Spirit who gives hope, so that our own hope may ABOUND. Our hope springs eternal because of the God who gives it.

Looking For Hope

SPRING 2018 Playlist

SPRING 2018 Playlist

One of my favorite things about Spring is the hope for new things that come with it. It’s new life after everything has been dead for so long. Fresh hope. Renewed strength. Plants and trees and people, all coming back to life after a long winter, often figuratively and literally. In fact, one of my favorite verses in the Bible is from Isaiah 43:19, where God reveals that doing new things is part of who He is and what He does.

“Behold, I am doing a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” 

One thing that I have always loved throughout the year is finding songs that echo the seasons. So, I thought I would share what I have compiled so far for this spring! I’m always adding to this list so leave me any song suggestions you have! Happy listening and happy SPRING!

Pep Talk for Life

Pep Talk for Life

I was moved almost to tears by this verse in Psalms the other morning and have wanted to share it here ever since:

“Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness.”

Pslam 37:3

It caught me completely off guard, in a beautiful, captivating way. I don’t know why, other than maybe it felt like a tender yet strong call to action from God Himself. Kind of a “Keep on keepin on” pep talk from Jesus. Almost feels like he was reminding my soul what to do, setting the eyes of my heart on my task at hand. If you needed a “keep on keeping on” nudge today, here it is. Keep on, friends. TRUST HIM. Do good. Dwell well. Stand firm in your faith. 💛