Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Peace in the Midst of the Storm

Tomorrow, our sons turn 10 years old.

My memories of the 50 days they spent in the NICU still bring tears to my eyes – but you already know that story!

There’s one other story I haven’t shared much, but it prepared us for the birth of our triplets and the days that followed…

It was the night before their birth – December 9th, 2007.

We had rushed to the hospital in the morning, knowing the time was nearing. I was hooked on to monitors and IV fluids.

The nurses would visit every hour to check the triplets’ heartbeats… and every time they did, they’d say they couldn’t find one of their heartbeats!

The doctors were hoping they could put off surgery for at least a few more days. However, late in the evening, my doctor popped in to say hello and casually remarked that I would be having surgery the following morning at 7AM.

My husband texted our pastors and a few friends, while my mother contacted everyone she knew who could support us in prayer.

Between the nurses’ constant prodding, my mother’s tensed countenance and the never ending sounds of the labor ward, all I wanted was peace. But it was difficult to even think clearly with all the pain and the constant turmoil around me.

Would all my babies survive?

Would we be able to afford the NICU charges?

Would I survive?

When I realized my thoughts were getting out of hand, I asked my husband to sit by my side and read from the Bible.

He read from Psalm 91:

2I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust…
11For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways…
12They shall bear thee up in their hands…
14Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him…
15He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.

…and from Isaiah 54:

10For the mountains shall depart, and the hills be removed; but my kindness shall not depart from thee, neither shall the covenant of my peace be removed, saith the LORD that hath mercy on thee.
13And all thy children shall be taught of the LORD; and great shall be the peace of thy children.

… and from Isaiah 41:

10Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
13For I the LORD thy God will hold thy right hand, saying unto thee, Fear not; I will help thee.
14Fear not… I will help thee, saith the LORD…

These were passages that had ministered to us during my pregnancy. And they kept us both calm that night in the hospital room.

While there was turmoil all around us and we were physically exhausted, my husband and I felt a deep peace in our hearts. We knew the unusual calm we experienced was the presence of our Prince of Peace.

The night was stormy.

The nurses were constantly in and out of the room, and my surgery prep started way too early in the morning. I was in pain and none of us got any sleep.

We didn’t know how many babies would make it out alive the following day. We had do clue how we’d raise triplets.

But we knew, beyond any doubt, that God was in control! The peace we felt in the midst of the storm that night was incredible.

I realize this blog post may be 10 years late, but it had to be written.

Perhaps you are going through a storm in your own life that’s making you weary and exhausted. You feel torn and ravaged, while everyone else seems to be going on with their lives.

Jesus can be the Prince of Peace in your life too.

Let His words calm you mind and wash over your soul.

I have personally experienced the power of scripture when spoken aloud or written down. Maybe you can do the same?

Pick up a few verses from the Bible that speak peace into your situation.

Believe God’s words to you.

Proclaim it out loud.

Write it down in your journal.

God’s Word is powerful and effective.

I believe it will restore your faith, heal your soul and bring you peace.

The same Jesus who calmed the wind and the waves with His words can calm the storm in your heart. Lean into Him and trust Him to carry you through.

Photo Credit: John Towner on Unsplash


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Don’t Sell Your Birthright!

Don’t Sell Your Birthright!

“…like Esau, who sold his own birthright for a single meal.” – Hebrews 12:16b

I’ve always been confused with the story of Esau selling his birthright to Jacob.

I mean, this guy was famished…

A humane person would have fed him without expecting anything in return… but Jacob didn’t!

Jacob demanded Esau’s birthright in exchange for a bowl of lentil stew.

That was just such a mean thing to do!

But why was Esau giving up his birthright such a big deal?

And how does it apply to us in the 21st century?

Google tells me the definition of the word “birthright” is, “a particular right of possession or privilege a person has from birth, especially as an eldest son.”

Well, given the customs of ancient Israel, I can understand that the eldest son had special privileges (even if he was born mere seconds before his twin brother).

Did Esau understand the enormity of what he was giving up, just to satiate his momentary pangs of hunger?

(He gave up his inheritance for a measly bowl of sambar?)

Do I understand what I’m giving up, when I choose to give in to negative feelings and temporary pleasures that might displease God?

I admit…

I’ve given up peace of mind by harboring bitterness.

I’ve trod on healthy relationships because of the need to win an argument.

I’ve sold my happiness by giving in to anger.

I’ve jeopardized friendships by the need to have my own way.

I’ve trampled on my identity as a daughter of Christ by giving in to willful sins.

I’m guilty of giving up long-lasting rewards for temporary gratification.

As children of God, born again into His eternal kingdom, we have quite a few birthrights too…

  • Abundant Life – “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (‭‭John‬ ‭10:10‬)
  • Eternal Peace – “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.” – John‬ ‭14:27‬
  • Everlasting Joy – “…And do not be grieved, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.” – Nehemiah‬ ‭8:10‬

Are we consciously holding on to our birthright? Or are we giving it up for things that might satisfy us for the time being?

Let’s not sell our birthright to enjoy a single meal… or give up eternal promise for temporary pleasure.

It’s easier to give into the moment, but it’s more rewarding when we hold on to the promises of God and await our inheritance from Him.

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you…” (1 Peter 1:3-4)

 


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Not By Might

Not by Might - Zechariah 4:6

2017 didn’t start out all that great for our family.

One of our sons had staples on his head (he’d injured his head on Christmas Day)…

All three boys were recovering from respiratory infection and a dose of antibiotics…

One of our car tires burst on the highway, while we were returning from church on New Year’s Day…

My husband was leaving back to Zurich in a week… and I wasn’t exactly looking forward to spending the rest of the year alone with the boys.

I hoped and prayed that 2017 would be a better year for our family.

It was challenging at first, but God reinforced my faith and taught me to remain in Him.

Eventually, things did turn around for us.

The kids and I were permitted to join my husband in Zurich.

His work assignment ended sooner than expected.

We got to take our first real vacation as a family.

Now that we’re back home in India, I look back at the past year and wonder how we made it through. Each of us went through bitter struggles, as our family was separated by distance and time.

I certainly missed my husband. The kids felt the absence of their father. And my husband couldn’t completely savor his overseas assignment without his family beside him.

I could say we made it through by sheer will power, determination, our own strength and abilities… but that would be a lie.

It was the Lord who helped us every single day.

It wasn’t my planing…
I tried to plan our days efficiently, but when you have 3 young sons, things never go according to plan!

It wasn’t my strength…
Many evenings I’ve stood at the kitchen counter with barely enough strength to get dinner on the table.

It wasn’t my will power…
I can be a very determined person, but it all crumbled when we went through continuous seasons of sickness.

It was the Lord who planned our days (though I personally didn’t always like what He allowed).

It was the Lord who strengthened our bodies to endure the strain of everyday life.

It was the Lord who nourished the soul and spirit, so we didn’t buckle under pressure.

It was not by my might, nor by power, but by the Lord’s Spirit that we made it through.

It’s the Lord who bolstered our faith and kept us firm through sifting sands.

It’s the Lord who reunited our family and made the bond between us stronger than before.

It’s the Lord who taught us countless lessons through suffering that we might have never learnt otherwise.

And to Him, we give all the glory…

Thank you, Jesus!

“Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the LORD.” – Zechariah 4:6


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2017: The Year to Remain

2017: The Year to Remain

We’re 2 months and 10 days into the “new” year. The novelty of a fresh beginning has worn off, and so have many plans, goals and resolutions.

The one thing I wanted for 2017… was that it wouldn’t be a repeat of 2016. (Strange, I know!)

Last year was a roller-coaster ride that I didn’t quite enjoy at all. My husband was deputed overseas, the kids faced numerous health issues, and I honestly struggled on a daily basis.

For months I wrestled with God as desperate prayers remained unanswered. I’m ashamed to admit, at times I felt God was determined to make my life miserable.

But something beautiful did come out of all that brokenness and pain…

I drew closer to God than ever before.

When nobody else could help me, I realized it was God I truly needed.

The words, “Lord, I need you… Help me. I can’t do this without you…” became my constant refrain. Life did not magically become easier. But I did become more aware of God’s presence on a day to day basis, and my prayers transformed into a never ending conversation with Him.

Late last year, when I asked God what He wanted from me in 2017, He gave me the word “Remain”.

I had been busy striving hard, using every physical, emotional and spiritual muscle I possessed… but all God needed from me was to simply remain.

Remain in His presence…

Remain in His will for our family…

Remain in constant communion with Him…

Remain in His Word…

Remain steadfast in faith…

Remain His daughter…

Remain in His unending love for me.

My husband is still away at work, the boys are still a handful, and I still struggle to do it all.

But through it all, God’s been faithful.

His grace is always enough. His love is all we need.

I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. – John 15:5


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35 Things I Love About You

I’ve come out of blog hibernation (a rather extended, unintended blog break) today, to pen down my annual post celebrating my husband on his birthday.

I know it probably sounds cheesy to many, but this is one way I get to tell my husband how much I love him. Also, people get to know what a great guy he is! 😉

Truth is, when I write thousands of words on a weekly basis for others as part of my job, I could certainly make time to write 500 words about the guy I love and admire at least once a year.

I thought it would be difficult to write a new post from scratch in less than an hour. But what do you know… once I got started, I couldn’t really stop!

So, here we go…

35 Things I Love About You

  1. That you plan to have fun, even though you’re not a planner by nature.
  2. When you use endearing terms on me that are usually reserved for luxury cars and bikes you admire 😉 .
  3. That you take time to play carrom with the kids.
  4. For buying me cake, flowers and a card for my birthday, which I didn’t quite want to celebrate.
  5. That you practically try to make life easier for our parents.
  6. Your insane workout sessions.
  7. That you are eager to learn new skills…
  8. …and improve existing ones.
  9. The way you’re cautious not to let your talents waste away.
  10. For being my mouse-terminator.
  11. For braving the Chennai floods…
  12. …and driving through high waters.
  13. For planning all the fun things we were supposed to do in Chennai.
  14. The way you made it up to the kids when we had to cut our Chennai trip short.
  15. The way you keep hounding me to get a dog.
  16. The times you taught the sons their Math lessons.
  17. For the Computer practical session you conducted for the boys.
  18. The way you get the kids to be reasonable in their requests.
  19. That you took the effort to handpick a birthday card for me.
  20. The way you invest in your own well-being.
  21. For getting me to think logically when i forget 😛 .
  22. The alarms you set on your phone that remind you to leave office on time.
  23. That the alarm reads “Time with Kids”.
  24. How you prioritize spending time with the kids over homework or chores.
  25. That you’ll sit up late with the kids and watch a superhero movie…
  26. …even if you have wake up early the next day to drive hundreds of kilometers.
  27. For the many selfies you’ve taken of us – with and without the kids.
  28. The way you were cautious to get a military cover for your phone before it could crack further.
  29. That you think my chappathis are better than others’. LOL!
  30. The way you genuinely believed the paneer I cooked was the best you’d ever tasted.
  31. The Rottikallu trip – our first real vacation in like, forever.
  32. The way you got your dad to play the keyboard after ages.
  33. That you support me when I tell you something God said.
  34. That you hired a part-time cook for me.
  35. That you actually taught the kids how to moonwalk today.

Love that I get to be your wife!

To all the married women out there…
Go ahead, write a note, a text, an email.
Let your husband know all that you love about him.
You’ll be glad you did!


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10 Fun Things We Did This Summer

10 Fun Things We Did This Summer

It’s been 5 weeks since school reopened for our boys.

We’re back to waking up early, tighter schedules, packed lunches, homework, and early bed times.

Saying it’s a whirlwind, is putting it mildly… 😀

Although we prepared for the transition from summer to school, it has hit us pretty hard and we’re only now getting used to the new routines.

The summer feels long-gone already. But before I push the events of this summer back into the recesses of my mind, I wanted to jot them down here, and relive those memories once again.

We intentionally took time off from the daily monotony this summer, and truly enjoyed ourselves as a family. And we didn’t even have to leave the city to do it!

So, here are the 10 fun things we did this summer… in no particular order.

1. A Week of Worship, Word & Prayer

We started the summer off with a week of fasting and prayer at church. We had some amazing speakers throughout the week. It was refreshing to spend everyday worshiping and learning together in the presence of the Lord.

2. Bob Fitts Concert

We also had Bob Fitts leading worship throughout the same week. Apart from the regular worship sessions, we also had a special concert the evening before Easter. I was personally inspired by the way Kathi Fitts stood alongside her husband, supporting and serving him as He served God.

The boys with Bob and Kathi Fitts

At the end of the concert we got to meet the couple in person and get our CDs autographed! 🙂

3. Vacation Bible School

No summer is complete without VBS at church. This was the second year our kids got to attend, and they loved every minute of it! The theme this year was putting God’s love into action which was emphasized through music, dance, stories, skits and crafts.

4. The Avengers Movie

We’re all superhero fans in the family, so once we knew the second Avengers movie was out, we had to go see it. I did a background check on the movie to ensure my 7 year olds could watch it. Captain America disparaged any foul language in the movie and the Indian censor board did a good job of bleeping them out too!

Kids posing with a abike

After having their fill of popcorn at the movie, the kids browsed around the mall for a little while. They couldn’t resist going in to see a cruiser that was displayed at a TGIF outlet.

5. Bowling

May Day was fun as we all got a day off work. We met friends at the bowling alley and had a good time. This is only the second time I’ve been bowling in my entire life, and I’m absolutely no good at it! 😀

The kids had a lane for themselves, and they had a blast too. They followed it up with a quick detour to play a few video games, and then we all headed out for a nice meaty lunch.

6. Metro Ride

We’ve never been on the metro in our city, although it’s been operational for a couple of years. We decided a metro ride would be the perfect way to end the day out. The kids loved every minute of the ride, and surprisingly, so did I.

7. Auto Show

With a husband and sons who are crazy about bikes and cars, they’ll find every excuse to drag me to interesting events across the city. In this year’s auto show, we got to see a bunch of vintage cars and other fancy automobiles.

Posing in orange!

The highlight of the evening was a bike stunt riding team that kept our adrenaline high for almost an hour.

8. Football Camp

My husband is a huge football fan who never misses a chance to better his game. Since the kids’ school had a football camp this summer, we enrolled all three of them for just two weeks.

Jason, Jon and Judah learnt the basics of how to kick, tackle and pass the football. There were quite a few falls and bruises, but they are learning to take it in their stride.

9. Couple’s Night Out

For the first time since our wedding 8 years back, my husband and I left the kids at home and spent 24 hours by ourselves. My mother was visiting, so we knew the kids were in good hands.

We checked into a nearby hotel and spent quality time together. We did find it a bit weird at first – not having kids around to correct, convince or comfort… But we soon got used to it and enjoyed our 24 hour getaway.

10. A Day at the Pool

Since we did take a day off as husband and wife, we didn’t want the kids to feel left out. The very next week, we headed back to the same hotel, kids in tow.

The family at the pool

We spent the majority of the day at the pool, taking a break only to have a nice buffet lunch. The kids loved the water, and even put up with my feeble attempts to teach them swimming.

It was a lovely summer, probably the best we’ve ever had. A big chunk of our fun time was spent in church, which made it all the more special.

One important thing we realized was that, unless we considered something important, we’d never make time for it. Things were just not going to happen on their own. We had to be intentional and make them happen!

Surprisingly, my husband’s impromptu nature and my detailed planning skills both played a part in how this summer turned out!


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3 Reasons Why I Like Being a Work at Home Mom

3 Reasons Why I Like Being a Work at Home Mom

The Back Story

Once upon a time (when I was 14, to be exact) I decided I wanted to become a computer programmer. The following years were spent preparing for a future in the IT industry.

I chose the Computer Science track for my final years of school, and completed my Masters in Software Engineering too. During my last year in college, I even got placed in a good IT company.

I thought I had it all.

But then my dream crumbled, and I realized corporate life did not give me the satisfaction I craved. I loved being employed though, and grumbled a lot when I had to give up my job to become a full-time mother of triplets.

Eventually, God helped me embrace my role as a wife, mother and homemaker. But 2 years ago, He also unexpectedly gave me the opportunity to work part time from home.

I now have the best of both worlds. I get to work, AND be there for my kids.

While there are challenges in trying to balance a work at home career, there are three specific reasons I prefer working from home.

3 Reasons Why I Like Being a Work at Home Mom

1. I get to use my talents

I remember creating my first website in college. We had to type in raw HTML code into a notepad and open it in a browser. My, how times have changed!

Setting up a simple blog takes less than an hour these days. Although I don’t deal with a lot of code now, I still get to fiddle around with HTML and CSS once in a while. I get to use the logic-oriented side of my brain to lay out web pages based on the instructions given to me.

I also rediscovered my love for writing when I started blogging, which has branched out into content writing for client websites. Writing code and content online – that is pretty much my sweet spot right there!

2. I get to stay home

Hiring a full-time cook/nanny/housekeeper is expensive, as is daycare for 3 children. We bypass these expenses because I’m always at home.

I usually work when the kids are at school, but my work hours are flexible to accommodate real life. This comes in handy when the kids fall sick, unexpected guests drop in, or even if we have to travel to visit my parents or in-laws in another state.

I can work from anywhere, provided I have my laptop and an internet connection. I’ve had to work extra hours to meet deadlines, but that is not the norm. I’m usually able to finish my work in time, so it doesn’t affect my other duties at home.

I salute those mothers who are up at the break of dawn to take care of their family’s needs before heading out to work. I wish I had that kind of stamina, but I know my limits. I’m well aware that working a whole day outside the house would leave me exhausted with nothing left to give for my family.

3. I get to be of help

Yes, I do get paid a reasonable sum. But that is not my incentive to work. I know that the work I do is personally benefiting someone else, and that’s what keeps me going. This is one essential factor that was sorely lacking at my corporate job.

Right now, I work solely for Sunu Philip – founder of Clothed In Scarlet and Get Found Online. I’m proud to say, she is both my employer and friend. Over the past couple of years we’ve developed an easy camaraderie as sisters in Christ, and I’m glad I can use my strengths to assist her with her business.

I don’t know how mothers who work full time outside the house do it all. Hats off to you! On the other hand, a huge applause to stay at home moms who’ve given up dreams and careers so they can savor the growth of their children first hand. Being a stay at home mom is a full time job in itself!

No doubt, the choice you’ve made is the best possible one for your family. Each of our circumstances are different, and we’ve each chosen to stay at home, work at home, or work outside the home based on what’s best for our family.

God has uniquely qualified and equipped you to do your best in all the roles you’ve undertaken. He will give you the grace to not just survive, but thrive!


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Free to Live

Free to Live

For the past couple of years, I’ve gotten into the habit of picking a word for each year.

My word for last year was Peace.

And the year before that, it was Persevere.

This year, I chose (or rather, God showed me) the word ‘Free’.

And the verse to guide me was:

For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. – Galatians 5:1

I was supposed to blog about this way back in January, but life happened and I let blogging slide :).

What I didn’t expect was the fight I had to put up in order to live free this year!

I always knew that Jesus had set me free. I was no longer bound by the chains that used to hold me. But I realized that I had allowed myself to come under the yoke again.

I was bound by stress, anxiety, fear, other people’s opinions, and so much more…

I spent the past three months, overcoming struggles I thought I had already overcome. I was fighting the same battles all over again.

You see, Jesus had already won the victory for me. Freedom was mine. But I was not walking in the freedom that Christ purchased for me on the cross.

I had to put to death some old habits, and put on some new ones.

I even wrote down some power words in my journal to remind myself of the freedom I had.

I’m sharing some of those words with you here, praying they empower you as well.

You are:

Free from sin.

Free from shame.

Free from guilt.

Free from anger.

Free from other’s opinions.

Free to live.

Free to give.

Free to worship.

Free to serve.

Free to be you.

Along with the freedom, comes responsibility. Christ set us free, so we may live lives that glorify Him. If we aren’t, our freedom serves no purpose.

When we don’t actively live for Christ, we allow old chains to bind us up again.

That isn’t a pleasant feeling, is it?

I hope you’ll join me in living free for God’s glory!


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2014: Year in Review

2014: Year in Review
The last couple of months in 2014 included a whirlwind of activities as is always the case. The kids’ exams, Christmas choir practices and a couple of weddings kept us on our toes. Now that the new year is upon us, I finally have time to reflect on the past year, and pray about what God wants from me in 2015.

If you’d like to review the past year as well, here are some questions to guide you.

1. What made you happy in 2014?

For me, it was seeing a picture of my husband leading the choir at a major conference. I was also simultaneously humbled and proud when one of our sons walked up on stage to collect his award for academic excellence. {I blogged about it here: Imperfect Parents; Perfect God}

2. What made you sad?

I didn’t like how my kids kept falling sick every month for the past 6 months. I also neglected the goals I set for myself and achieved only about 10% of them. {Pretty sad, eh?!}

3. What are you proud to have accomplished in 2014?

I’m glad I finally took the plunge and launched my own website in April. I’ve also made quite a bit of headway in reading through the Bible again.

2014, in review was a mixed bag. There were some important areas I neglected, some unexpected blessings and new ministry opportunities that have kept me clinging on to God with all my strength.

I chose “Peace” as my word for 2014, and boy did I need it! I didn’t always feel at peace when storms rocked my boat… but God kept reminding me that He was there with me, and He was going to carry me through.

As I tuck 2014 back into the recesses of my mind, I am grateful for the Prince of Peace who led our family safely through yet another year on this earth.

Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on thee:
because he trusteth in thee.

(Isaiah 26:3)

How was your 2014?

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Let. It. Go.

Let it go

I started this week with a heavy heart.

3 children I knew (one of them, my own) were going through 3 different struggles – physical, emotional and spiritual. My heart was burdened for them, and I did the only thing I possibly could – I prayed.

I went to sleep Sunday night very disturbed about what each of these little ones had to go through. And I woke up Monday morning with an even heavier heart.

The fact that I couldn’t do anything to help them only compounded my anxiety. I continued to pray, but my heart did not become any lighter.

As the day wore on, I was so consumed with thoughts of these children that it became exhausting. And then I heard it…

Let. It. Go.

I don’t always hear something very specifically from God, but there are times when He speaks so firmly into your spirit that you can’t deny it was Him.

This was one of those times.

That afternoon as I was pacing the footpath, waiting for the school bus to bring my boys back home, these 3 words took on a different meaning.

This wasn’t Elsa’s mantra, or a careless attitude. God seriously wanted me to let the kids go.

But why?

God reminded me that I was already praying for them; He held those precious children close to His bosom. He loved them more than I possibly could. He cared for them, and He could do for them what I personally could not.

Yes, I would continue to pray for them until my prayers are answered. But I would no longer worry about them.

I would offer to support them in any way I could, but I would not break my head over what I cannot do.

This whole episode taught me such a valuable lesson!

So often, we pray about situations that bother us but then continue to worry about them as well. Isn’t it sufficient that we’ve already placed our burden in the hands of an Almighty God? Why then do we constantly try to ease His load by holding on to the weight with our petite hands?

If we have truly surrendered our problems into His able hands, we should be able to rest and allow Him to do the impossible.

So, does that mean we do nothing?

Absolutely not!

We continue to pray…

We continue to do what God has asked us to do…

We continue to trust Him to work things out…

But we DO quit worrying!

Is there something burdening your heart today? Leave it in God’s hands, and then take your hands off!

Take a backseat, and let God steer you in the way He wants you to go!

“Do not be anxious about anything,
but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving
let your requests be made known to God.”
(Philippians 4:6)

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