It Is Well With My Soul – Mixed Emotions

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We have reached the end of another powerful series—a series about emotional health. Being a full-fledged senior citizen does not prevent me from recognizing that emotional well-being is of great importance, both inside and outside the walls of the local church.

I rejoice that CedarCreek Church presents topics that are instrumental to growing spiritual maturity. It is a sad day when Jesus-followers never advance past wearing spiritual diapers! Some may find that statement outrageous. If so, it could be you have not encountered Jesus-followers who have refused to grow up emotionally.

Take me, for instance. One would think someone my age would never be so petty as to whine and complain about someone or something for more than a few minutes. The truth is, it wasn’t that long ago that I could whine and complain with the best of them, and whether the topic was any of my business didn’t play into it at all. (Please note: There is no bragging going on here, simply brutal honesty.)

Frankly, this subject of Mixed Emotions is not for sissies! It takes courage and fortitude to purposefully step into a thorough self-examination of one’s emotions, or lack thereof. In the rear-view mirror of my mind’s eye, I clearly recall recognizing God was going about the business of restoring my soul in late 1986. Without realizing it, he was gently and lovingly restoring my soul and leading me. The magnitude of Psalm 23:3 (NKJV) registered deep within me that day.

Psalm 23:3 NKJV
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness
For His name’s sake.

That Bible verse put to memory years earlier had come full circle, putting itself on display. Were it not for abused or damaged souls, there would be no need for God to restore them. Spoiler alert—we must choose to participate in the restorative process—there is no magic wand! Were God to offer instant restoration, the learning of important life lessons would not happen.

Spiritual growth and emotional awareness continue as I allow him near this broken soul. Not seeking professional counsel for my “soul holes” has drug this process on longer than necessary. Clearly, CedarCreek is on a mission to offer the tools and understanding to face the very things often inhibiting spiritual growth! The mission of a healthy church includes making known there are struggles in life that are best managed with professional counsel and proper spiritual application of Biblical truths.

Truths such as Romans 8:38-39 offer reminders of how outrageously great his love is for us. God is the only perfect parent. He alone has the power to recycle everything into good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28)!

Romans 8:38-39
38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow—not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below—indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Questions:
Which of your emotions catch you by surprise? Have you identified the cause/event associated with those emotions? Have you sought Biblical counsel in understanding how to best resolve/settle emotions that occasionally run amok? Have you taken steps to ensure there is no medical condition contributing to the emotional upheavals you experience?

Next Steps:
Learn to better identify your emotions by referencing the Feelings Wheel. Refer to this tool whenever naming your emotional response is difficult. It’s helpful to name the problem associated with the strong emotion(s). Choose to feel the feeling. (To attempt to deny the feeling is foolish.) Invite a trusted friend into the conversation to help process and heal from the event.

Prayer:
Father, your acceptance of me in my brokenness is beyond comprehension. Empower me to identify the cause(s) of emotional upheavals within me. Give me grace and mercy for those struggling with emotional brokenness. Help me be patient with others and myself as I untangle hurtful events/memories. Remind me regularly, hurting people hurt people. Set me free from being easily offended. Give me courage to speak up when offenses need addressing. Empower me to forgive quickly, allowing no root of resentment and bitterness to take hold. May the light of Jesus shine through me—in word and deed. Thank you for your never-ending generosity.  In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Karen Peck. Karen retired in March 2018 from Lucas County Information Services. She has been married to her husband, E. Michael, for over forty years. Karen is extremely grateful retirement has afforded her several soul-fulfilling opportunities to engage in deeper, meaningful relationship with Him and others.


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Give the Worry Up – Mixed Emotions

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Anxiety is something that many of us deal with on a daily basis. Some of us handle it better than others. And some of us struggle so terribly with anxiety that the stress is enough to cause a mental breakdown.

I’ve been there more times than I can count. Craig Groeschel writes, “The things we worry about the most are the hints we trust God with the least.”

That rings true on so many levels in my life. I worry about almost everything, but through prayer, I can often keep my anxiety in check and help the worry start to fade.

In the moment, our anxiety can cripple us to the point where we can’t breathe, think straight, or even function the way we normally do. But God is bigger than our biggest anxiety. God knows how to comfort us—after all, he’s known us since before we were even a twinkle in our parents’ eyes. If he can handle our cries of anger when we’re upset and still love us unconditionally, I’m pretty sure he can handle any anxieties we cast upon him and guide us through our worries.

Romans 8:31-32
31 What shall we say about such wonderful things as these? If God is for us, who can ever be against us? 32 Since he did not spare even his own Son but gave him up for us all, won’t he also give us everything else?

Over the years I have learned that to calm my anxiety, I need to take my mind off what’s making me worry and, instead, turn toward God.  Anxiety attacks aren’t fun, and I tend to have a “microwave mentality” about them—I want the anxiety to pass quickly. For me, the combination of deep breathing and praying my fears over to God helps it pass sooner.

Philippians 4:6
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.

No matter how dark the anxiety and worry become, a light shines at the end of the tunnel. Sometimes we don’t see it right away, but it’s there—and that light is Jesus. So don’t let the darkness of your worries and troubles deceive you. Look for comfort in the light. God wants us to give our worries over to him so that we can live our best life.

As you grow in your faith and learn to seek God’s comfort, he wants you to be of service to others—become that light for others who need to see.

Isaiah 40:1
“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.

Questions:
What is your biggest worry? Have you given it to God, who tells us not to worry? Do you pray when you become anxious about something?

Next Steps:
Read what the Bible says about worry and anxiety. Share your anxieties with trusted friends, or seek a professional’s advice. A confidante might offer tips to help manage your anxiety.

Prayer:
God, help me to worry less and come to you more. Help me to cast my worries and troubles onto you and aid others who are lost find your light at the end of the tunnel. Help me avoid getting lost in the ways of this world so that I may always follow you and your ways. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Casey Stengel, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut.


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Look Up! – Mixed Emotions

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When my mom and I run, we tend to look at the ground. The sidewalk we take is uneven in several places, and we have tripped more times than I can count. So, to prevent more scrapes and bruises, we keep our eyes down on the path before us.

While this strategy is helpful, it often means that we miss the first rays of sunshine creeping over the trees or the view of the river covered in ice or the perfect flower beds along the way. When we do lift our heads—if only for a moment—we are sometimes rewarded by a dazzlingly unexpected sight.

We do the same thing with our worries. We often focus on the never-ending amount of work, take extra precautions to avoid disaster, and refuse to do anything adventurous. And, as a result, we miss the little blessings all around us.

Matthew 6:31-32
31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’ 32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs.”

We are afraid to look up, even for a second, because what if we trip? How will we get up? Will we be able to keep going?

We turn down incredible opportunities because they are too risky.

We push aside rest because we are too busy.

We ignore the people we love because love comes with too much heartache.

Instead, we only watch the road before us, missing the gifts God has planted along the way.

What would happen if we looked up, just once? Yes, we might trip, but what then? God will pick us up. What if we don’t fall? What if the path we’re so worried about tripping on turns out to be even and level? What might we see along the way?

Isaiah 26:7
But for those who are righteous, the way is not steep and rough. You are a God who does what is right, and you smooth out the path ahead of them.

God provides every time. Every single time. It may not go the way we hope, but he still makes a way. It is your choice: Will you keep your eyes fixed to the ground? Or will you find the courage to look up?

Isaiah 26:3
You keep him in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Questions:
Are you refusing to look up and enjoy what is around you? What are you afraid of? What might you be missing? How can you remember that God will provide?

Next Steps:
Look up. Choose to be in the moment, whether that means saying “yes” to an adventure, turning down more work, going out with your spouse, or having a dance party with your kids. Find something to delight you—even something as small as the sun on your face or a conversation with a friend.

Prayer:
Father, you provide each and every time. I tell myself over and over that things won’t work out, but you always come through. I want to stop worrying, and the only way to do that is to look up. Guide my eyes to where you are, and fix them there. I don’t want to ever look away! Amen.


This post was written by Lydia Snyder. Lydia has been a story-lover for as long as she can remember, often found reading books or writing. She is thrilled to be making a difference by inspiring others to take part in the best story ever – God’s story. Lydia lives with her three wonderful siblings and two amazing parents.


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“What if” to “God, if” – Mixed Emotions

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My social anxiety probably started when my mom moved us from Dayton to Findlay. I was only four, but I remember how shocking it was to see white everywhere and start preschool and kindergarten, realizing I was different because no one else looked like me. That was when I started the game of what ifs.

It’s easy to think a little kid shouldn’t have such worries, but the move to Findlay was the conclusion of the buildup of multiple, anxiety-producing events. If adults find it so easy to latch onto the spirals of anxiety, imagine what it’s like for children.

So, it began.

What if the other kids don’t like me?

What if my parents stay apart?

What if everyone notices I’m different too?

When you doubt yourself and those around you long enough, you begin to live in what ifs, and your mind doesn’t know what to think about many things, including God. Last weekend, our guest speaker, Barb Roose, explained three what if categories that create anxiety in us:

  • Uncertainty: What if I’m not OK?
  • Security: What if I’m all alone? What if I don’t matter at all?
  • Responsibility: What if I fail?

We’ve all been there, whether it was in high school, at college, a job, in our marriage, etc. The problem is we tend to make the what ifs bigger while making God smaller. That’s what happens when anxiety feeds on our emotions. Jesus also experienced anxiety, but he didn’t allow it to become bigger than God, not even when he faced the cross.

Anxiety swarmed around Jesus’ mind while praying in the Garden of Gethsemane. However, Jesus did what many of us never do. Instead of asking, “What if?” Jesus said, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39). In Barb’s book, Winning the Worry Battle, she said, “Switching from ‘What if’ to ‘God, if’ flips you from fear to faith.” You learn to trust God’s outcome rather than what you can never control.

Matthew 6:25-27
25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are? 27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

That’s worth repeating—will your worries add a single moment to your life?

What if we, instead, let go and let God?

Questions:
How does anxiety take up space in your life? When has living in fear ever made a positive difference for you?

Next Steps:
Pick up your Bible, find an accountability partner, attend a weekend service, and find a Group to lean on to curb anxiety before it starts. Start a prayer journal and highlight when “God, if” becomes more rewarding than “What if.”

Prayer:
Father, God, my fears outweigh my faith more than I realize. I pray that I continue to find comfort in your promises when doubt creeps in. Thank you for healing me when my lack of faith attempts to break my spirit. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


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Making Sense of Anxiety – Mixed Emotions

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This week, author and speaker Barb Roose taught us that God knows and cares about our deepest anxieties. He is with us during each one of our trials, no matter how scary they may seem. Anxiety has been prevalent throughout human history. As we learned, over 300 verses in the Bible speak on anxiety, and today, 20% of Americans suffer from clinical anxiety.

God wired our brains intricately to experience a wide range of emotions, including anxiety. Anxiety is our automatic physical response to fear and threats. It is helpful when we face imminent danger that threatens our survival, but it can become a problem when it overtakes our lives and gains control of us.

Uncontrolled anxiety has the potential to affect us physically, mentally, and spiritually. It activates our autonomic threat-detection system, causing physical symptoms, and clouds our thinking and decision-making skills. Furthermore, anxiety can affect our relationship with God.

Modern Christian culture can lead us to believe that our struggles with anxiety occur because we do not “trust God enough” or “believe God enough,” as Barb explained. It can lead us to question God and doubt that he truly is with us in our battles and cares about our worldly worries. However, that could not be farther from the truth: God understands our anxiety. The Bible verses on anxiety are there because God understands us; he doesn’t want to condemn us.

On the night before his crucifixion, Jesus experienced immense anxiety while he was in the Garden of Gethsemane—likely more than most of us will experience in our lifetime. When faced with a horrific death, Jesus asked the Father for a way out of the situation.

Matthew 26:39
He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine.”

We can take comfort knowing that God himself has experienced pain and anxiety and knows what we’re going through. Although he didn’t want to suffer, Jesus completely surrendered to God and trusted his will. We can follow Jesus’ example by relinquishing our control to God and not allowing worry to consume our lives.

Barb explained that your response to anxiety depends on how you center God in the story. God does not intend for us to live in fear; however, we live in a fallen world where we will experience anxiety. But we do not have to live there—we do not have to let our anxiety rule our lives. We can give it to God, knowing that his will is better than ours, even when it’s not immediately obvious.

Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Questions:
In which areas of your life are you most anxious? What are the consequences of not surrendering your anxieties to God?

Next Steps:
This week, write down your daily anxieties on a sheet of paper. At the end of the week, pray over the list and surrender it to God. Join a Group this semester where you can share your anxieties with a lifegiving group of Jesus followers who will support you on your journey of surrendering to God.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for allowing me to come to you with all of my anxieties. You understand and empathize with my fears, but you are much bigger than any anxiety that I will ever face. Help me to remember that everything is in your control and help me to pray that your will be done, not mine. Thank you for walking through life with me and guiding me through my anxieties. In Jesus’ name, amen


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer. Isabelle is a regular attender of CedarCreek and serves in the children’s ministry. She is passionate about writing and loves spending time with her family and friends. Her goal is to show people the love of Jesus Christ.


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Learn Through Your Regrets – Mixed Emotions

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As a perfectionist, I’d say disappointment and regret come as naturally to me as breathing. I’ll bet some of you can relate. There’s always something that could’ve been or made it better.

Some disappointments are little—forgetting something at home, spilling coffee on my shirt—nuisances I’ll forget in a day or two. Others are bigger regrets that may stay with me the rest of my life.

Over the last few days, we’ve talked about different ways to learn through our disappointments. Once we’ve avoided the “-er”s and acknowledged our own part in what happened, it’s time to do something to move forward. Taking a step to try something new or fun is a great place to start.

In my experience, trying something fun helps in two ways.

First: When done in a healthy way, it can be a good distraction—a way to remind us that no matter what’s behind us, God still has a rich, satisfying life ahead of us.

I don’t think it’s healthy to ignore your emotions or mistakes, but once you’ve processed them and figured out what you can learn from them, eventually you have to move forward. You have to let go and step into what’s ahead. This isn’t necessarily a one-and-done decision—I often catch myself looking back at past regrets and disappointments, still hurting over what’s been done to me and blaming myself for things I wish I’d done differently. But I’ve learned as many lessons as I can from what happened, and God’s plan for me does not exist in the past. It’s time to live, enjoy the present, and look to the future.

Second: Trying something new and fun can help me apply what I’ve learned, by finding a better way. Sometimes we experience regret because we’re trying to live in a way we weren’t intended to—in a way that doesn’t align with who God designed us to be or how he calls us to live. But when we try something fun that combines what brings us joy and the way we’re wired in a way that helps us connect with others, we find ourselves living in God’s purpose for us. And when we live in God’s purpose, we don’t stop experiencing disappointment and regret, but trust me when I say, we experience those things less.

John 10:10
The thief’s purpose is to steal and kill and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.

At the end of the day, one of the ways God has helped me move past disappointments and regrets is through the gift of the amazing, life-giving friends I’ve journeyed with. They help me to avoid getting caught up in what could’ve been better; to see the truth of what happened so that I can acknowledge my own part in it, while affirming that no matter what, I matter; and they remind me to enjoy life, move forward, and look to the future.

To the authentic, life-giving people in my life who’ve helped me move past my disappointments and regrets: Thank you. I don’t know where I’d be without you.

Proverbs 27:17
As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend.

Questions:
Do you feel ready to let go of and move past your regrets?
What’s something new and fun you can try this week—that combines the way you’re wired with what brings you joy and helps you connect with others?
Who in your life helps you learn through your regrets? Who can you help learn through their regrets?

Next Steps:
If you haven’t joined a Group yet, now is the time. We are not meant to do life alone. Go to CedarCreek.tv/groups to find the right fit for you.
Try something new and fun today, this weekend, or this coming week!

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, you know the disappointments and regrets we each carry. Thank you for always giving us a way to learn through these emotions and eventually move forward. Help us to forgive those who have disappointed us, and to forgive ourselves for the things we regret. Teach us to move forward, stepping into the rich, satisfying life you intended for us, and into authentic, life-giving relationships with those around us. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.


This post was written by Payton Lechner. Payton is currently the apprentice copywriter at CedarCreek. In her spare time, she freelances as a writer and editor. Besides the English language, Payton loves swimming, cats, and a good cup of tea.


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Live Through It – Mixed Emotions

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If you’re anything like me, you get a case of the what ifs when faced with something disappointing or when you get let down. What if I would have been there when …? What if I would have answered that phone call from …? What if I had never started …?

I know there are a million what ifs. Yet, when I pray and think about it, there is only one answer and that answer isn’t mine to give—it’s God’s. He gave us free will to choose our own actions, but when we ask ourselves, “What if?” there’s no possible way to explain what the outcome would have or could have been.

On September 29, 1999, I lost a family member whom I was really close to in a car accident. The night before, I had gotten into some trouble with my mom and wasn’t allowed to go out with my cousin and friends. I don’t remember what I did, but that is definitely one of my what ifs.

What if I hadn’t gotten into trouble and was with my cousin on his last night on earth?

Would we have done the same thing we always did—drive around listening to music and just being teenagers? Probably. Would things have worked out differently? I don’t know. No one does—except God. But it was the regret of not seeing him one last time that really hurt.

It took me a while to work through my grief. I was upset with God that I didn’t have the opportunity to see my cousin that last night he was on earth. When we are disappointed with ourselves, it’s easier to project our feelings on someone else—often God. He can handle it, though, and when we take our problems to him, he will help us do the necessary work in ourselves to get through it.

Romans 12:3
Because of the privilege and authority God has given me, I give each of you this warning: Don’t think you are better than you really are. Be honest in your evaluation of yourselves, measuring yourselves by the faith God has given us.

Over time, God helped me realize I was actually upset with myself and felt guilty for not being there on account of my own actions. God helped me understand that I was disappointed because it was me who had prevented myself from saying goodbye one more time. Once I was able to work through that, my healing began through God’s grace.

Mark 9:23
“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

Rather than avoiding or suppressing disappointing situations, we can take our problems to the Father and grow in our faith.

Questions:
Do you work through disappointment or avoid it like the plague? Do you ever get a case of the what ifs?

Next Steps:
Keep reading the daily LivingItOut and encourage others to work through disappointment rather than staying down. Don’t say “I’m fine” when you aren’t. Pick up the phone and talk to someone in your Group, and if you’re not in one, consider joining one.

Prayer:
God, thank you for this series. Through it, I’m learning so much about myself. You never steer me wrong. You have not failed, and I know you won’t. Please allow the words you give me to influence others so they may put their trust in you when they feel discouraged and disappointed. Thank you for being there when I am in my darkest moments of disappointment and pointing me toward Jesus, the light. Amen.


This post was written by Casey Stengel, a regular contributor to the LivingItOut.


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Rethink a Thing or Two – Mixed Emotions

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How much time have you wasted wanting a better life and thinking about what could quench that thirst? We’ve all been there, and living in that space rarely leaves us satisfied.

We wanted a better and warmer living environment at the beginning of our marriage. California was great, but we were disappointed with our first housing choice. Getting closer to the ocean was one way to improve our circumstances.

While the weather made up for some things, the absence of family still left us lonely. We continued to believe “ER” words suited us well, but we were never completely content, or things didn’t work out as planned. Staying in a city longer, trying to be stronger without any help, and thinking a wealthier bank account would deliver all of our needs only brought us more disappointment.

Much of our pursuits were more about keeping up with the Joneses than focusing on our relationships with God and each other.

Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

The weekend message taught us we have to navigate out of disappointments by avoiding the lies of “ER.” Gaining power, being cooler, or getting richer will never internally satisfy you. Believing in those lies won’t quench your thirst, and the taste will eventually turn bitter as you continue chasing after shiny things.

We all need to learn how to be content. That doesn’t mean we can’t strive for greatness, but we must separate ourselves from the worldview of greatness to find satisfaction in God’s will.

NFL quarterback Tom Brady continues to play for rings, but many already considered him the greatest QB of all time—a long time ago. NBA legend Michael Jordan is regarded as the greatest athlete but feels cursed and continues to pursue other accomplishments, knowing they won’t satisfy him. Do their unsatisfied natures elevate their achievements?

In contrast, JD Salinger published one novel that has stood the test of time, but he continued writing without publishing another. Lauryn Hill recorded one solo album, then stayed away from the industry when unrealistic expectations threatened her artistry. As Lauryn explained, “I challenged the norm and introduced a new standard… I believe The Miseducation did that, and I believe I still do this. [Myself and my album] defy convention when the convention is questionable.” It seems JD and Lauryn found freedom instead of living in disappointment. They managed to be content.

1 Timothy 6:6
Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.

Questions:
What do you find disappointing about your life? What areas are you content with?

Next Steps:
Continue making God a part of your daily life by reading the Bible, attending a weekend service, and joining a Group. Pray about the things that leave you unsatisfied and share those concerns with people you trust.

Prayer:
Lord, help me find peace when my mind is racing and pushing me toward the things of the world that have me competing against myself and others. Help me turn toward you and my family more consistently. May your words become mine more often throughout my daily conversations. Amen.


This post was written by Jaron Camp. Jaron is a storyteller and a professional ghostwriter who enjoys using his gifts to write for the LivingItOut. When he’s not developing fictional worlds, researching, and writing, Jaron enjoys watching sports, participating in family game night, and spending time with his wife and four kids.


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Hope Within the Hurting – Mixed Emotions

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In May, I graduated from the University of Toledo. I had been looking forward to this for four years and was thrilled when I finally earned my degree. I had the perfect vision of what my life would look like after college—I was so excited to find a full-time job that I loved and to finally live on my own!

However, I soon discovered that navigating life after college is not as easy as it seems. I was discouraged when I found that life is full of twists and turns. While there are times of prosperity and hope, there are also times of despair and disappointment. This summer, I was faced with personal battles that prevented my plans from coming to fruition. Because of this, I felt terribly defeated.

Many tears have been shed, and there have been sleepless nights filled with anxiety, but God planted hope in me and gave me the strength to endure these disappointments. Even when I pushed God away, I could still feel him nearby, working for my good. Sure, it would have been great to have gotten everything I personally desired after I graduated. But I was chasing my own dream instead of following the unique path God had planned for me.

While I was disheartened, these trials encouraged me to reconnect with God. I grew in patience and persistence by listening to God and not letting the enemy deceive me into believing that disappointments were the end of the journey. In fact, they were just the beginning: they matured me in wisdom and faith.

Rather than working full-time, I am going back to school for something completely unrelated to my degree. I plan on working part-time, and I won’t be moving out on my own just yet. If I had known last spring what I know now, I would have been distraught. I would have thought that all my hard work was for nothing and my trust in God would have been shaken. But, as the Scriptures teach, God refined my heart through these disappointments. He humbled me and taught me that life is not meant to be done alone; our human plans are not always going to succeed.

In life, we will inevitably face disappointment. Thankfully, God does promise that there will be joy ahead if we trust in him.

1 Peter 1:6-7
6 So be truly glad. There is wonderful joy ahead, even though you must endure many trials for a little while. 7 These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

Questions:
What are some recent disappointments that you have faced? How did you react? Did they impact your relationship with God?

Next Steps:
Practice gratitude: Write down three things that you are grateful for each day and thank God for these gifts.

Join a Group of Jesus-followers who will support you on your journey with Christ. Surround yourself with those who will support you and remind you of God’s promises of hope.

Prayer:
Heavenly Father, thank you for supporting us through life’s disappointments. Remind us that you are there through every trial and that you can use our disappointments for a greater purpose. Please renew our hope that, even though we may face disappointment, there is indescribable joy ahead for those who put their trust in you. In Jesus’ name, amen.


This post was written by Isabelle Billnitzer. Isabelle is a regular attender of CedarCreek and serves in the children’s ministry. She is passionate about writing and loves spending time with her family and friends. Her goal is to show people the love of Jesus Christ.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

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Get Off the Couch – Mixed Emotions

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In Week 3 of our series, Mixed Emotions, we focus on turning disappointment into delight. Unfortunately, life is full of disappointments. They often make us bitter, angry, and hopeless—which can lead to our not doing the things that delight us. In essence, we stop living, defer our hope, and get in a rut.

But we have a choice on how we handle disappointment. We can respond like the world or we can let God transform us.

Romans 12:2
Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.

Recently, life’s disappointments were really building up. I was in a serious rut and suffering from burnout. I was up extra early to get to work, and by the time I got home, I was exhausted. After dinner, I would plant myself on the couch and stay there until bedtime. I started eating Fritos or Cheetos and cookies every night.

Even though I spend time with God daily—praying, reading the Bible, and praising him—I still felt hopeless. I realized I had stopped doing fun things, things that fill my tank.

Proverbs 13:12
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a dream fulfilled is a tree of life.

I needed to make some changes. I cut out the junk food and started eating better. I also began to exercise (swimming) for a half-hour every day after dinner, then relax in the hot tub with my husband. Before this, my husband would frequently ask me to go swimming, but I would reply that I was too tired.

Changing this one hour each night made a huge difference in my life, and I never regretted it. I was happier and more energized, and I was sleeping better. So, I made a decision to do other things that filled me up. I got in contact with friends who I hadn’t seen in a while. We went for walks, drank chai tea, and laughed together.

I feel like a new person. Not only have I been much more hopeful and thankful to God, but I’m also finding that I am able to handle disappointments better. My life is rich and satisfying.

One of my favorite verses is John 10:10: “The thief’s purpose is to steal, and kill, and destroy. My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.” Jesus wants us to have a rich and satisfying life. He wants us to be filled with his joy and delight. We have to make time to do fun things that revive and replenish us.

Yes, we will go through hard times, but he is always with us. He is our hope!

Questions:
What do you do when you feel hopeless? How do you handle disappointments? How are you letting God transform you? What fills your tank?

Next Steps:
Join or lead a Group. Get off the couch, and do something every day that fills your tank.

Prayer:
Jesus, thank you for conquering death so that we can have a rich and satisfying life. Help me turn to you when I am disappointed and overwhelmed. Transform me, Lord. Give me the desire to do things daily that fill me with your hope and joy. Help me to focus on your blessings and not the disappointments. I am so grateful you are always present in my life. I love and adore you. Amen.


This post was written by Marsha Raymond. Marsha has been happily married to her husband, Jeff, for 30 years. They have two grown sassy and fearless daughters. She loves spending time with God, her family and friends, reading, riding bicycles, yoga and walking.


Check out the Latest LivingItOut Podcast

The LivingItOut Podcast is released every Wednesday morning. It discusses key takeaways and principles from the weekend message. Listen to the weekly podcast in your car, during your lunch break, or any other time that works for you. You can find the latest podcast here.


Leave a Comment?

We would love to hear how the LivingItOut is making a difference in your life. Let us know how today’s post inspired, challenged, or encouraged you by leaving a comment here.


Want to be a part of the LivingItOut team?

We are always looking for people who are passionate about writing and proofing to serve on the LivingItOut team. If you are interested, email LIO@cedarcreek.tv today!


Printable version of this week’s LIO study:

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More Resources

Series Theme Verses
LivingItOut Podcast
RightNow Media
John Reading Plan