Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Good From the Bad

“Sometimes bad things have to happen before good things can.”

~ Becca Fitzpatrick

There are many sayings about finding the good in the bad or taking the good with the bad. It is true that we can not live this life without both good and bad circumstances. Life wouldn’t truly be lived if everything good happened and nothing bad ever happened. You could ask,  if nothing bad happened to you then did you really live?
      Life is full of ups and downs, peaks and valleys, highs and lows. Most people, both Christians and non Christians alike, have a false belief that once you are a Christian nothing bad will happen to you. This is wrong, and after you’ve lived a while as a Christian you realize this, or you believe that you are not a Christian because something bad has happened to you. For those of you who believe the latter, let me dispel this false belief for you now. The truth of this matter is found in John 16:33, “I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world!” When you find that you are walking or crawling through a difficult time, remember to look to Jesus. It is hard to keep your eyes on him, but He is your HOPE. You will find stories throughout the Bible where God took a bad situation and turned it into something good.
      Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers and his dad mourned the loss of his son, because he was told that a wild animal killed him. His father was hurt deeply by the loss of Joseph but Joseph himself went through some trying and difficult times before the good came from the bad. God turned his suffering to blessing by making him second in command to Pharaoh in a foreign land far from his father. This position allowed Joseph to save his family during a famine and there in Egypt became a numerous people. Joseph remained faithful to God during the trying time in his life and God blessed him for it. There are many more stories of God being faithful to his people in the Old Testament, but let's look at the New Testament to see if this remains the same.
      If I were to single out one person in the New Testament who went through bad times and something good came from it, I would pick Paul. He is introduced to us as Saul the persecutor of Christians, but an encounter with Jesus changes his life and he becomes on fire for Jesus. His entire life he shares the Gospel and saves souls. He lived through persecution, trials, prison, ship wreck, hurricane before dying. He also built churches, preached the Gospel, saved souls, and went to the furthest places of his world to reach those who were lost. In the end his life pointed others to God, though he may not have lived a life of luxury he glorified God daily.
      No suffering can compare to the suffering of our Lord and savior Jesus Christ. His death is the ultimate case of something good coming from something bad. He suffered a cruel and vicious death so that those who have sin could live with God forever. During Jesus’ lifetime he was rejected, put on trial for something he did not do, spit at, mocked, and beat all for nothing. Nothing of his doing, for He did nothing, He was sin free, He was perfect, yet He suffered the beating of the Roman soldiers, which typically caused one to die from shock, and died on the cross. The followers of Christ, his disciples, did not see the good from this, they were filled with despair and sorrow. The good would not be evident right away, it took three days before the darkness ended and light came back to their lives. Jesus rose on the third day and hope was restored for those who believed in Him.
      You may be walking through a very difficult time in your life right now and I pray you will keep your eyes on Jesus. There is nothing that can take away the hurt you are going through, but joy does eventually return. Your suffering in this moment will lead to something good. You may not see the benefit of it tomorrow, or this year, but you will look back on this moment and see the good. There is one common thread to all of the stories that deal with struggling in the Bible and that is being faithful. Even in your struggles remain faithful to God and he will bless you. “Therefore, through him let us continually offer up to God a sacrifice of praise, that is, the fruit of lips that confess his name.” Hebrews 13:15 Good can come from the bad, but you have to be willing to seek God through the bad to get to the good. Stand firm! Stay faithful! Seek Him!
Until next time remember, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Reach Out

       Time for some honesty. The kind of honesty I really don't like to share. Why? It allows people to judge me even more than they already do, but God has shown me time and time again that others benefit when we are open with our lives. So, here goes nothing.
       I have been struggling these past four months, like really struggling. Depression seems to be lurking and waiting to pull me in to the depths of darkness that one can hardly get out of. The past four months have been great, yet difficult for me. I have missed church more in the last four months than I have in the last four years, if not it's really close. I can't stand to miss church and start to worry about what others think of me because I have missed. I have missed because of my ankle, my daughter being sick, then I was sick. It has been constant, and nothing seems to be letting up. I have good days and bad days just like everyone else, but often times my bad days turn to worse days. My thoughts get darker and darker and the urge to crawl into bed and stay there becomes stronger and stronger. So what do I do when this happens?
     I do not allow myself to go to bed until it's truly bedtime. I force myself to stay out of my room so the temptation is not there. I force myself to interact with my family and call my best friend. Then I add a new routine or two to my life or start doing them again. The first thing I started doing again was starting my day off with scripture. I started a daily Bible reading plan on my phone, that way I start the day with the Lord and it keeps my mind on Him. The second thing I started doing again was taking some time on my conference to read a short devotional and pray. This allows me to reconnect with the Lord and keeps my thoughts from roaming into the darkness. These two things help me to stay focused on God. I am better than I used to be about detecting the darkness creeping in, so now I will call out to Jesus and speak truth. Some days I catch it right when it starts other days I get stuck in the trap of self loathing and it takes some serious praying. If I get to the point that I can't pull myself out I ask friends to pray for me. I will send a short text saying that I need prayer, and within minutes I have people praying for me. At some point during the day I notice my mood has shifted and my thoughts are back to where they should be.
       My life, like yours, is extremely busy right now. The fall has always been a busy time for my family and as my kids get older it seems to be busier. I'm not a busy schedule type of person, I can only handle so much before I need to go into hiding...people...too many, too much interaction and my happy go lucky self fades. I need time to myself, time to rejuvenate, and when I don't make it to church on Wednesday and on Sunday it becomes harder to keep running the course God has set before me.
       Why share this? Why take a few minutes of my time to share this now when I'm honestly still fighting to get out of the grasp of depression? My hope is that this will help someone out there who is struggling with the same thing to not give in, to reach out and to put God into your routine so you can get out of the grasp of darkness. I realize it's not always as easy as I just made it sound, trust me I've been there and I don't want to go back. No one who has depression wants to go back, but if you keep it a secret the darkness will devour you, it has something over you. Share your struggle with a few trusted friends, ask them to pray for you, make yourself sit down and read the Bible and pray for others. My greatest joy is helping and praying for others, let it be yours too.
       The holidays aren't always merry and bright for everyone around you. Remember that, and pray for those who don't seem excited about the holiday season. If this doesn't pertain to you, I hope it will show you how to help someone who struggles with depression. Reach out,not in, God will take your hand and place someone else in your life to take the other to help you fight the battle against darkness. If you have not read Sheila Walsh's new book, In the Middle of the Mess, I encourage you to read it; especially if you struggle with depression.Thanks for reading...have a blessed Thanksgiving!

Saturday, August 26, 2017

Out of My Comfort Zone

     I went on my third mission trip this summer and I was still nervous leading up to the trip. Before I go on these trips I spend time praying and part of my prayer is for God to reveal to me what my purpose is for going on this trip, besides loving on others. If you allow God he will work on you as he's working through you to help others and that is what I wanted to know. What was God going to do with me? 
     He was trying to tell me what he was going to do long before I accepted it. God kept using two words, either someone else would speak them or I would say it and finally it sunk in. God wanted me to get out of my comfort zone. You see, last summer my life changed drastically after my first mission trip to Honduras, but as time went by I allowed him to change me and then I stopped allowing that change because I was comfortable with where I was at. I didn't do this intentionally but let's be honest, we only like to change so much before we crave the past, the safety of knowing what that life was like. When you change you have no safety because it is unknown. This is false thinking, our safety and our hope comes from God. I can say that now, but I couldn't last month when I was preparing for my mission trip. It's not that I didn't believe it, but I didn't want to accept that I would be okay if I stepped out of my comfort zone even more. 
     As I loaded a van to go to Houston earlier this month I was stepping out of my comfort zone and subconsciously accepting that God would take care of me. I was nervous about this trip, because I spent no time outside of church with the other people going. I allowed my thoughts to consume me, I was one of the youngest on the trip so what would they think of me, what would I have to say to them, what do I have in common with them; are just a few of the questions that ran through my mind. As the week went on I found out I had more in common with some of them than I thought. One of the ladies in the group even grew up in a neighboring town to where I grew up. I still didn't talk much, but I did speak. I was able to talk to Genesis, the pastor's wife, most of the time without an interpreter. We managed  to communicate with her knowing just enough English and me knowing just enough Spanish to get our points across. After a while, I was comfortable enough I initiated conversations with our host missionaries, Max and Jennifer Kennedy. 
     The entire time in Costa Rica I kept asking God what do you want me to do to get out of my comfort zone while on this trip and it hit me as we sat at the airport ready to head home. I was out of my comfort zone the entire trip, from the day I loaded the van, because I went with a group of people who I did not know, I worked side by side with them to do good for others, but more importantly it made me pray to and rely on God not only daily but every minute of the day. He opened my eyes in the airport and revealed to me that when you trust Him you can survive outside of your comfort zone. I can't wait to see what else He does to grow me as I trust Him when I'm out of my comfort zone. Until next time remember, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Younger Me

Dear Younger Me…..

In Jennie Allen’s book, Nothing To Prove, she asks, “What is one thing you would tell your younger self?” As I sit here, looking out at the sea, enjoying the eclectic sounds of the cruise, I’m pondering what is the ONE thing I would tell my younger self. What is the one thing that would help me back then and still produce fruit today and well into the future? What is something that would impact my family, friends and those that I come into contact with daily?
    The ONE thing I would tell my younger, independent, ain’t nobody gonna hurt me self is to find a Bible and start reading and applying it to your life daily. There I would find the comfort I was needing for my hurt. There I would find the encouragement I needed when there seemed to be no one to brighten my day. There I would find the love of a Father, something I desperately needed when I was younger. There I would find acceptance, not from my family, friends or strangers but from the ONE who died for me. There I would find that no one is perfect, not even the famous men and women of the Bible;except Jesus of course, and I could stop trying so hard to be perfect. There I would find my identity, the daughter of The King.
    Ah yes, the trouble and heartache would still be there but if I knew then what I know now about my Jesus my outlook on life would have been much brighter, more cheerful one of hope instead of one of hurt, bitterness, anger and gloom. I pray that if I don’t teach my kids anything else they learn to read the Bible and apply it to their lives. They will see, at a younger age, as I do now that all your life’s occasions will be affected by this one thing and there you will have promises that will never be broken.
    Mercy Me’s song, Dear Younger Me, spoke so deeply to my heart when it first came out and when I hear it today it has the same impact. It’s a great reminder of my true identity. Click on the link and listen.
  So, what would you tell your younger self? Cut yourself some slack, let go of the past and move forward. Dig deeper into the Bible and live it out daily...Until next time remember, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

Monday, March 13, 2017

Am I Enough?

     Last Wednesday at prayer meeting my Pastor started his sermon with saying we should start our services how A.A. meetings start. He proceeded with, "Hi, my name is Kim Beckham and I'm addicted to...". My apologies, I can't remember what he said, but I remember the picture it painted for me very vividly. Several of my brothers and sisters in Christ stood and stated their name and what their "addiction" was, and what they struggle with; in that moment they were no longer wearing a mask and they became real to me. We get so caught up in saying, "I'm fine", that often times people don't realize that everyone around them is struggling too.
     Sadly, I didn't stand and confess my addiction, not because I didn't want to but I was scared to and couldn't think of what to say in a precise manner quick enough. After the meeting, I knew what I would say if given the opportunity. So, here on a different platform, in front of a different audience, I stand before you, if you will play along, "Hi, my name is Kim Hardy and my addiction is acceptance." I fear I'm not enough. I'm not good enough... as a wife, mom, daughter, friend, teacher or coach. Often times I'm frozen by the fear of what others think. I usually believe they think I'm not doing a good enough job. Those thoughts are of course mine, not theirs, because I can't possibly know what someone else is thinking. My thoughts need to change and focus on things that are pure and from God. The reality is, I'm not good enough, for the Bible says we all fall short. Now, to not cause you to worry, I know where my strength comes from, it's the Lord. Keep reading, I promise this isn't a poor pitiful me party.
     I just finished reading the first chapter of Jennie Allen's new book, Nothing To Prove, and it spoke to my heart, so much so it broke my writer's block. Jennie spoke of her feeling as if she's not enough and it surprised me because in my eyes she is a successful woman. I want to share her last few paragraphs and hopefully those of you who share this addiction will feel how I felt after reading it.

"My dream is that you would embrace your worst fears head on and find that our God is enough for them. My prayer is for you to start enjoying the freedom that comes when we quit trying to prove ourselves, when we surrender what is out of control to the One who is in control. 
We strive to be seen, to be known, to matter. We're desperate to believe we are doing a good job at whatever has been entrusted to us.
But we are not enough. We are not God. We don't have all the answers, all the wisdom, all the strength, all the energy. We are finite, sinful beings. And that is okay."

     As I struggle with my addiction of being accepted and knowing that it's tied to being enough, it is freeing to remember that my God is enough. All I have to do is rely on Him and though I know that I won't be accepted by everyone, nor should I be, and the same goes for being enough, I have freedom and peace that my God loves me. He has accepted me as his child and the blood of Jesus washes me clean so that I am enough. This life is hard, and just when you think you've figured it out, you realize  just how clueless you truly are. 
     Hi, my name is Kim Hardy and I struggle with being accepted and being enough. Jennie Allen is right, "Enough is a mirage that cannot be caught." I needed this reminder today, and I pray it helps you too. Until next time remember, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

2017: Intentionally BOLD

I spent the last few days of 2016 on a mission trip to Mexico and there is no better way to help you refocus on God than serving others. It was a trip that had me completely out of my comfort zone for several reasons but the main one was I only knew one person on this trip. I find it ironic and totally like God to give me two words for the new year that links to how I spent the last days of 2016.
    While on the trip I began to ask God to reveal what he wanted me to focus on this year. Two words kept coming to mind, never at the same time, but was revealed to me equally. My focus this year is to be intentionally bold. This makes my heart race, but God has been equipping me since my Honduras trip so that I can be intentionally bold. Being the word nerd I am, I looked up what both words mean; not because I didn’t know, but because I wanted what God was calling me to do to completely sink in. To be intentional means to be done on purpose, calculated. To be bold means showing an ability to take risks, confident and courageous. STOP Reread those last two lines. God wants me to be confident and courageous on purpose all while taking risks. I’m so use to going with the flow and not really rocking the boat so this in itself will be risky.
    These two words means I will have to get out of my comfort zone way more than I would like if I’m going to live out what God has planned for me in 2017. Since he is calling me to be bold please allow me to share a couple of things on my heart with you. The first thing many of you already know, but I feel like I should say it is I know without a doubt God has called me to write and speak. God affirmed this on my mission trip to Mexico. How this will play out this year and tie into being intentionally bold; only God knows, but I know I’m ready to do what He calls me to do. The other thing I want to share is something very few people know. I kept it a secret for fear of what others would think of me, but now that I know I do not have to fear I am comfortable with sharing. Since 2014 I have been taking one or two college classes as we can afford it to earn an associate degree in Biblical Studies. I honestly do not know the purpose behind it other than I’m simply doing what God has called me to do. I have a long way to go before the degree is complete, but I am determined to complete it. Now that you know, please pray for me as I take these classes.

    As we take on 2017 remember to focus on God and his purpose for your life. Be different, be about others so they will know Him and you will make a difference. Until next time remember, “For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment.”  (2 Timothy 1:7)

Monday, January 2, 2017

2016: Looking Back

2016 was much better than 2015, it was a year full of changes, experiences and blessings from God. I’m not sure I want to admit this but I honestly couldn’t remember what my word or phrase was for 2016 and I was afraid that I had not lived up to what God had put on my heart. Once I went make and discovered what my phrase was, I knew that I hadn’t forgotten but I had simply made it my lifestyle, one that will carry into 2017 and go with me until God calls me home. My phrase was, “Be different, make a difference”. God allowed me to make a difference and be a blessing to others. The biggest impact for the first half of my year was my mission trip to Honduras. I was expecting to make a difference on this trip and I did, but I was not expecting the difference it would make in my life. This trip alone changed my life, it changed my heart and my personality. I allowed God to work on and through me on this trip and I came back even more prepared to be different so that I could make a difference. The difference started in my home with my family and friends. So what was the difference, I was no longer afraid to be ME, the me that God created me to be. I felt the chains fall and the acceptance given, which started on the trip and carried over to the people around me. This different me carried over to the workplace and now I’m a different teacher/coach than I used to be and it’s allowing me to make a difference. The second half of my year ended with a BANG! I went back to coaching, which I love, God answered my long forgotten prayer of wanting a best friend, and I finished my year on a mission trip. God allowed me to make a difference in my best friend’s life and together we finished our year making a difference. There is nothing much better than making a difference with your best friend on a mission trip. I could list all the ways I made a difference this year, but instead I want to publicly thank God for changing me so I could be different and make a difference. Thank you God for trusting me with what you have given me. I know 2017 will have more opportunities to be different and make a difference. I pray that God will bless each and everyone of you throughout this new year. May you rely on Him for your every need and trust him with every detail of your life. He’s with you, always...even in the darkest times, he’s there. Until next time remember : “The works of His hands are truth and justice; all His instructions are trustworthy.” (Psalm 111:7)