If you don't already know her, I am so excited to have the opportunity to introduce you to my sweet friend, Katie M. Reid.  She is someone you will want to get familiar with.  Her encouraging words and practical teachings have quickly become a favorite of mine! She has become a very dear friend and someone that I just love talking to because her heart for God and for people is just impossible to overlook! Today, in her guest post, she is sharing how we, as Christians, can have hope even in the hard days.  I know that you are going to love her and her words as much as I do! Hope for the Hard Days By: Katie M. Reid   Where do you turn in times of trouble? How do you excavate hope in the midst of sinking sand? When the earth seems to give way to fear, how do you find the strength to stand?   Besides eating copious amounts of ice cream, hiding under layers of covers, or putting our heads in the sand—how do we uncover light to pierce the darkness?   How do we adopt hope in uncertain times, when the world seems to be spinning out of control?   Through Jesus, by faith, we hope.   My hope is built on nothing less, than Jesus’ blood and righteousness. I dare not trust the sweetest frame, but wholly lean on Jesus’ name. On Christ the solid rock, I stand; all other ground is sinking sand. All other ground is sinking sand.*    Jesus.   The Son of God—fully man, fully God—came to bring hope to the hopeless, rest for the restless, and peace to the chaos by bringing salvation to the sinner.   Faith.   Faith is not a weakness, band-aid, or fluffy ideology. It’s hope with skin on—skin and bones that came to walk the planet** so that we wouldn’t be suffocated by dread or buried in darkness.   When darkness seems to hide His face, I rest on His unchanging grace. In every high and stormy gale, my anchor holds within the veil.*   Hope.   Hope is the assurance that comes from knowing that even if it gets darker, Jesus has already overcome that which threatens to take us under. We rise. We stand. We follow the lead of the One who sits on the throne.   Our faith isn’t flawed, fake, or fandangled.   It is the lifeline that is thrown when we are in quicksand. It is the anchor that holds us steady in the midst of wind and waves. It is the breath in our lungs, the song on our hearts, the comfort that upholds us.   His oath, His covenant, His blood support me in the whelming flood. When all around my soul gives way, He then is all my hope and stay.*   Where do we find hope? Upon the Rock.   Isaiah 44:6-8 The Voice (VOICE)   6 The Eternal, Commander of heavenly armies, King of Israel, who paid their ransom, has this to say:   Eternal One: I am at the beginning and will be at the end. There is no God except for Me. 7     If you know any God like Me, tell it now. Declare and demonstrate any who can compare to Me. Or if you know and have announced events before their time, told what is to come, then speak so now. 8     Don’t be afraid. Let your minds be clear of fear. Haven’t I announced events and revealed what is to come? From the earliest days, I have done so. You know it—you have seen and know. So, go ahead, My witnesses: is there a god out there other than Me? Witnesses: There is no other rock like God. I don’t know a single one.   These are not fighting words, these are cool cup of water words. These are not burning coal sentiments, they are a roaring blaze for those groping in darkness. These are not weak words, these are words to bolster and provide balm for the hurting. These are not words of judgment, they are words of life, of grace, of freedom.   The world cries out. The people mourn.   O God, may You excavate hope in the midst of sinking sand. Like you called Lazarus from the grave, may You call forth Your church to rise from the ashes and come forth, as gold. Like You were raised from the dead, may we witness the resurrection of Hope.   You don’t change. You don’t leave. You don’t abandon us. You don’t lack. You Are. You remain. You dwell within. You are enough.   Jesus, we desperately need You, every moment—good and bad. Forgive us for turning against one another. Forgive us for misplacing our hope. Forgive us for throwing stones and bypassing grace. Forgive us for being wise in our own eyes and misrepresenting you to a hurting world.   God, we need You. Set us straight with Your Word. Purify our lips with Your Truth. Deliver us from apathy, prejudice, and complacency. Return our hearts to Yours.   Restore our unity with You and one another. Heal our land. We have dirtied ourselves with blood, pride, and idol worship.   Lord, help us! We have turned our back and we feel the harsh reality that comes from distancing ourselves from You. Help us remember Who You are. You are Love. You are Peace. You are Holy. You are Just. You are Perfect. You are able to do anything!   We take a moment and bow before You Jesus.   We stop.   We turn back to You and we find hope.   It might just be a glimmer at first, but as we return, like the Prodigal, the light of Home becomes brighter as the Father’s arms open wider and we find Grace in the eyes of the One who calls us His own.   When He shall come with trumpet sound, oh may I then in Him be found. Dressed in His righteousness alone, faultless to stand before the throne.*   Now, let’s go forward…through Jesus, by faith, with hope!   *”On Christ the Solid Rock I Stand” hymn by Edward Mote.   **I heard this phrase “Jesus put skin and bones on and came to the planet” on an album of Judah Smith’s messages.  
"My faith was real but it wasn’t perfect. Because of that, I had built too many walls around my heart and life to even consider the possibility of authentic friendships. Those kinds of friendships would require me to be open, vulnerable, and to be authentically myself. That would also mean that these other Christians who would be my friends, the ones who seemed to have it all together, might realize that I wasn’t very together at all. I was pretty sure I didn’t need those kinds of friendships. I was much better at having acquaintances than having friends anyway." Click the link below to see what changed all of that for me!  I had the privilege of posting this article over at iBelieve.com and I'd love for you to give it a read and see if you can relate. http://www.ibelieve.com/relationships/just-because-you-ve-never-had-friends-doesn-t-mean-there-isn-t-still-time.html Love and blessings, Bobbie
Sometimes doing wrong isn’t deliberate. Sometimes it is simply the lack of focus on doing right. At least that is usually the case for me. I don’t know about you, but I don’t often set out to make a slew of bad choices, but occasionally (or often, depending on the week) I find myself in a place where I am standing, dumbstruck, wondering how I ended up in the situation that I am in. Does this just happen to me? I think it is safe to say that it probably doesn’t. I found the explanation for it this morning in my Bible reading in 2 Chronicles and it hit me like a ton of bricks. 2 Chronicles 12:14 ESV says, “And he did evil, for he did not set his heart to seek the Lord.” This verse is talking about Rehoboam, King of Judah, but it might as well have had my name in the text. Maybe yours could have fit there too? I think this is a truth that applies to all of us because we don’t typically end up in a mess because we plan to. We usually end up in our messes because we forgot to seek God in certain situations and followed our own way instead. We didn’t set our heart and our focus on staying on the right track so before we knew it, we were on the wrong one. Man that sounds super familiar! I can tell that I have gotten on the wrong in a few areas in my life lately. It reminds me of what I’m always saying to my boys. When they get a little out of control and are headed toward bad choices, I’m known to say, “Rein it in, boys!” They know that means to check their behavior. I can feel God telling me to “Rein it in, girl!” in a few areas in my life. 1. Being Content Way too often, I just forget to be content with what I have. Everything that I have, everything that I am, and everything that I do is a gift from God. It is evidence of his grace poured out in abundance in my life. In turn, I should be grateful for all he has given me. Instead, I’ve continued to strive for more instead of being content. I add more to my schedule. I add more to my closet. I add more into our budget. I add more into our lives and I often do it without even stopping for a second to consider God at all in those decisions. Here is a very embarrassing example. I felt like I really needed to declutter, simplify, and cut out the excess. The place I decided to start was in my closet. I love to shop. Like, I really love it. It is usually at thrift stores because I love a great bargain, but it has gotten a little out of control. My closet was prime evidence of that. I’m not even going to shame myself by admitting how much has amassed in my closet.      That isn’t good stewardship. It is excessive and wasteful and selfish. I need to reign in my desire for more and learn to be content with all that God has already blessed me with. I’ve really felt convicted this year to focus on the amazing grace that God has lavished on me in every situation and circumstance. If I’m focused on his gift of grace then being content and being thankful comes as a natural result of that. It has really helped me to see that I have all I need. 2. My Words and Attitude Here is another not so flattering truth I’m seeing about myself these days. I am not sweet and loving and kind by nature. I’m just not. I know this about myself. I tend to be a little sarcastic and snarky. I’ve always just kind of chalked that up to my personality. I’m not mean and I am usually pretty funny, so it all balances out, right? I’m not so sure. God’s grace is so evident by the amazing people that he has lovingly put in my life. I’ve been feeling very convicted for my words and attitude to match my gratitude. I want to show just how blessed I feel to have these wonderful people in my world. I’m a work in progress. We all are, but I truly desire to do a better job of building up, encouraging, and loving. I want my words and attitude to reflect a heart overflowing with thanks for these gifts of grace. 3. My Time Oh man. At the risk of sounding like a total slacker, I will share this last area that I want to rein in. I’m turning into a recluse. I could easily stay in my house, in my pajamas, on the couch, with a good book for days. I don’t do that. Much. But I could. Very easily. I really enjoy being at home and homeschooling my boys, but without a real effort on staying involved with people and with the work God has called me to, I could very easily just keep my focus on what is right in front of me in my own home. I know in my heart of hearts that isn’t what God wants for me. I firmly believe He has called me into relationships, into community, and into works that He has chosen specifically for me at this time. My time isn’t mine to hoard and use in whatever way pleases me the most. It is a resource and a tool to do the work God has called me to and I want to be a better steward of the time God has blessed me with. Getting off track in these areas wasn’t deliberate. It was simply a lack of focus on seeking God and doing the right thing. I took my eyes off of God and put them on my own ways for a while and before I knew it, I felt God saying, “Rein it in, girl!” 2 Chronicles 12:14 was like a palm to the forehead. What a call to refocus and put God back at the front and center!  What a gift of grace that He allows us to see our messes for what they are and gives us opportunities to change them! Are there any areas where you feel God asking you to rein it in and put your focus back on him? I’d love to hear from you! Love and blessings, Bobbie
It's become a bit of a tradition to choose a word for the New Year.  This word is supposed to be one specific word to focus on all year.  Honestly, I'm not big on this.  It feels a little like boxing myself in.  My mind goes one hundred miles an hour in a hundred different directions.  How on Earth do I choose just one word to represent all that I want to embody in a whole entire year?  That just seems plain impossible. Unless, of course, God writes that word on your heart countless times over the last several weeks.  It seems every time I turn around one word keeps being presented to me. GRACE Let me get a little wordy nerdy and define it for you.  According to Oxforddictionaries.com, one of the meanings of grace is "(in Christian belief) the free and unmerited favour of God, as manifested in the salvation of sinners and the bestowal of blessings."  It's synonyms are:  goodwill, generosity, kindness, benefaction, beneficence, and indulgence. That definition, that deep truth behind the meaning of grace, has lodged itself in the forefront of my thoughts for weeks.  It has taken up such real estate in my thoughts that I wake up at night pondering God's unmerited favor and his constant bestowal of blessings in my life. I've been thinking back to trials and struggles in my life and have been sifting through the evidence of God's grace through it all.  His goodwill, generosity, kindness, benefaction, and indulgence is overwhelming.  Just focusing on finding the obvious ways that His grace has been present in every situation has caused a perspective shift in my heart and mind. Looking for grace is simply seeing glimpses of His little gifts, evidence of His love and favor, in everything.  Keeping my eyes open for it makes me humble and grateful.  It keeps me attentive to God's goodness and blessings.  Hunting for grace in each moment allows me to see the hand of God at work when I might otherwise miss it entirely. My blog has always purposed to talk about honoring God in the craziness of our lives.  I truly believe that no matter how messy, how chaotic, how absolutely crazy our lives get; we can choose to honor God by the way that we live it.  That's why my little tag line has always been "Honoring Him in the Craziness of Life". I still firmly believe that, but I'm adding on to that thought in 2017.  I'm narrowing my focus, or maybe broadening my view, depending on your thinking. In 2017, I'm choosing to honor him by looking for evidence of His grace in every moment of this crazy life that I've been given. This verse has been etched in my heart.  I'm making it my focus verse in this new year.  John 1:16 ESV says, "For from his fullness we have all received grace upon grace." GRACE UPON GRACE What a beautiful truth!  I want to be more aware of His grace.  I'm going to search for evidence of His grace upon grace in every situation, in every moment, in all of the craziness of my life in 2017. If you would like to join me, my social media posts and blog will feature the hashtags #honoringhim and #graceupongrace in 2017.  When you see evidences of grace, use these hashtags and share it with me.  I'd love to see how you experience His grace upon grace this year! Love and blessings! Bobbie
  Honestly, I've never really paid much mind to the weeks of Advent.  I knew that in the liturgical calendar they celebrate the coming of Christmas, but aside from that and the recognition of The weeks of Advent at church, I haven't really given Advent much attention.  Maybe you're the same way? That's something that I'm changing this year.  It's so very easy to get caught up in the festive holiday spirit and put all of my focus into gifts, meals, parties, and family celebrations.  Those things are all wonderful things, however, if they are all that I'm focused on in the weeks leading up to Christmas, then I've missed the whole point! This year I am choosing to use the celebration of Advent as a time to focus on God's word, prayer, and a real celebration of the reason for the season - the birth of Jesus Christ.  I hope that you will join me.  Together we can really get to the heart of Christmas and truly appreciate the gift of our Lord and Savior. I had the wonderful privilege to write four Advent prayers for iBelieve.com.  There is one prayer per week with scripture reflections to dive into throughout that week.  I will be posting the prayers each week, and my hope is that you will choose to follow along with me. Let's not miss it this year.  Pray along with me.  Dig into the scripture with me.  Click the image above or copy and paste the link to your browser and let's get to the heart of Christmas together! http://www.ibelieve.com/faith/advent-prayers-week-one-the-hope-of-advent.html Love and blessings, Bobbie