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Tag: Lord

But first… praise!

God has a knack for blowing me away with how awesome He is!

Ok, so a couple weeks ago, I was reading the story of Jehoshaphat, which can be found in 2 Chronicles 20.

Jerusalem was surrounded by a mass of enemies – the Moabites, Ammonites and others – and the situation was looking pretty grim. It seemed like there was no way the Israelite army could win this battle. So their king, Jehoshaphat, did the most logical thing… he stood in the house of the Lord before the entire assembly of Jerusalem and declared:

“O Lord God of our fathers, are You not God in heaven, and do You not rule over all the kingdoms of the nations,
and in Your hand is there not power and might, so that no one is able to withstand You?
… If disaster comes upon us – sword, judgement, pestilence or famine – we will stand before this temple
and in Your presence… and cry out to You in our affliction and You will hear and save.” (vs. 6, 9)

Uhh, what? Even if they starve, are tortured or killed, they would still stand before their God, assured that He would save them? Why did the king say this?

“For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us;
nor do we know what to do,
but our eyes are upon You.” (vs. 12)

Ah, there it is.

King Jehoshaphat realized there was no way they could defeat the enemy on their own power. The only thing that could possibly save them in some way was their God – our God of today – who is the same yesterday, today and forever (Hebrews 13:8) and never forsakes His people or His promises (Deuteronomy 31:6).

So how did they prepare for this impossible battle?

The king’s pep talk can be found in verse 17: “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the Lord, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them for the Lord is with you.”

Wait a minute. They won’t need to fight? How can the king be certain of this?

Ohh, just you wait. It gets better 🙂

Ok, so far we know where Jehoshaphat stood and that he was completely depending on God for this victory, but how in the world was He going to carry out this amazing rescue without losing a single Israelite?

Well, the king’s next move was to bow before the Lord and worship Him, with the Levites and others standing “to praise the Lord God of Israel with voices loud and high” (vs. 19). Then he encouraged them to “believe in the Lord your God and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper” (vs. 20b)…

… and then appointed more singers to praise the Lord.

Hold on. More singing? Uhh, didn’t they have at least three massive armies outside their gates waiting to completely destroy them?

“Now when they began to sing and to praise, the Lord set ambushes against the people of Ammon,
Moab and Mount Seir, who had come against Judah; and they were defeated…
so when Judah came to a place overlooking the wilderness, they looked toward the multitude;
and there were their dead bodies, fallen on the earth. No one had escaped” (vs. 22, 24).

DSCN1805Salvation happened immediately! See? Right when they BEGAN to sing – not during, not an hour or two after, but when they first started! – God swept in and ambushed the enemy.

Yikes! I can’t even begin to imagine what it must’ve been like for the armies outside the walls. Maybe they could hear the praises and singing coming from the city and were scoffing at the people inside. Maybe they were partying and drinking, celebrating their coming victory a little early. Who knows?

All we do know is that when Judah came out of the city the next day, they saw fields filled with dead bodies, possibly the embers of multiple fires still burning and ragged tents and flags blowing in the gentle breeze.

And get this: it took them 3 days to cart away the loot from all the camps.

Three days!! Talk about abundant blessings from God 🙂

“Then they returned, every man of Judah and Jerusalem, with Jehoshaphat in front  of them,
to go back to Jerusalem with joy, for the Lord had made them rejoice over their enemies…
Then the realm of Jehoshaphat was quiet, for his God gave him rest all around” (vs. 27, 30).

Why do we fear? Seriously, if our God can take care of multitudes of soldiers whose end goal was to take out Judah completely, then why do we fear in today’s society? We already know where we’re going when we leave this earth and we have the assurance of God’s promises and faithfulness during our life here.

And did you catch that last part?

“God gave him rest all around”

That is the epitome of Matthew 11:28: “Come to me all you who labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest.”

Don’t stress about what’s coming up in life. Praise Him first. In all things, praise! And He will give you rest 🙂

(didn’t I tell you my God is pretty awesome?)

 

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On the brink of adventure!

All my life I have been dreaming of my prince charming – that dashing young man who, when our eyes meet across the room, falls madly in love with me, sweeps me off my feet and carries me off to his castle where we live happily ever after.

Crazy right?

But seriously, what girl doesn’t wonder what her future husband looks like, what he did that day, what he’s thinking about? Will he be handsome? Will his eyes be blue, brown or hazel? What will we do? How the heck will we find enough things to talk about?

And now, in just a few days, on Dec. 28, 2014, I’ll be walking down the aisle toward the man of my dreams. I still almost can’t quite believe it. He matches everything on my “Mr. Right” list and is so much more than I could ever imagine or ask for.

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Photo courtesy of Gina Meyers Photography

He’s a strong believer in Christ and is actively growing in his relationship with our heavenly Father, he is kind, caring, fun, has a sense of humor, puts my needs in front of his own, does whatever he can to make me smile, enjoys spending time with my family and friends, welcomed me into his entire life (work, friends, family – there isn’t an area in his life that I’m not privy to) and the list goes on!

You know all those Bible study books (such as “Every Young Woman’s Battle,” “Captivated” and “Lady in Waiting”) that have that chapter about waiting for Mr. Right? How we, as maturing women of God, shouldn’t have to go out and find ourselves a man, that he will come into our lives at the right time. No need to worry, right?

It took me until age 23 to figure out what that means.

At first, I thought it meant that if I lived each day in expectation that I might meet my future husband, putting a little extra work into my appearance and greeting everyone with a smile, the right guy would find me irresistible and ask me out on the spot.

Right?

Nope!

While that was all well and good, the joy wasn’t real.

Living in expectation of something that wasn’t fully guaranteed took a toll on my emotions, leaving me exhausted and grumpy. I started thinking I wasn’t pretty enough or that I wasn’t a good enough Christian to deserve “the right guy.” Thoughts were running through my head every day as I watched my friends enter into relationship, get married and start families of their own.

Why didn’t I have that special someone in my life? All I’ve ever wanted was to be married to a great Christian guy, grow in Christ and raise a family together. What’s so wrong with that and why the heck was it taking so long to find my future husband?

In reality, if we want to become all that God has planned for us to be, to live our lives as the women of God that we are, we can’t live each day wondering when and if we will ever meet our future husband. Like I said before, it gets tiring and disappointing.

To be naturally filled with the joy of the Lord each day, we have to shift our focus from us to God and actively invest in a relationship with our heavenly Father.

When you start focusing on Christ, your whole perspective changes. You start seeing people through Christ’s eyes and your heart begins to overflow with love for others. Your smile will be genuine and your life will begin to fill with joy.

Not the joy that comes from having a super cute guy glance your way, but the joy that comes from an awesome love relationship with the Lord of all!

The kind of joy that makes the little things (a cup of coffee, sunlight, the chirping of birds in the trees, a smile, a chocolate bar, etc.) seem like big things…

… that makes the fact that you’re single fade to the background…

… that makes the sun shine just a little brighter…

… because if you think about it, you’re in an amazing love relationship with the Creator of the universe! And He loves to shower you with blessings that bring a smile to your face…

… and that is more than enough to make your joy complete without too much effort or wear and tear on your emotions 🙂

Trust me – lay down your worry about never marrying and becoming a nun at the throne of grace and leave it there! Walk away from it with your head held high, a smile on your face and the joy of the Lord in your heart….

… and start running full speed toward Jesus Christ. He’ll welcome you with open arms!

And who knows? Your prince charming may be just waiting around the corner…

… mine was 😉

So, dear friends, this will be the last time that I sign off as Ms. Anna Tielmann… because the next time I post, I”ll be known as…

… Mrs. Charles Crossan!!!!!

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What Faith Can Do – Part 4

After a couple races, Emma was placed in the final five contestants. She cheered as Sophia came racing back through the entrance, with Pixie panting like a steam engine. Jumping off her horse, Sophia led her over to where Emma stood on the side and fell dramatically into her arms. “I just want this to be over.”

Emma chuckled, stood her up and gave her a hug. “You’re doing great! Especially for this being your first rodeo and all.”

“Yeah, well I’m not as good as you are.” Sophia grinned. “You’re fast!” Tobi snorted behind Emma and Sophia rubbed his nose, laughing. “Well, ok, you’re the fast one. Emma’s just good at steering you.”

Emma glanced up at the announcement board and groaned. “Why do I have to go second to last? I hate being ahead of anyone ‘cause then I have to worry my time getting beat. Plus, Abby Detwieler races after I do.” Abby was one of the toughest girls in the entire competition. Her father owned a 50-acre farm just down the road from where Emma lived and Abby could always be found practicing in her corral with her mocha brown thoroughbred, Star. “Her fastest time in the barrel race last year was 14.2 seconds.”

“What was your fastest time?”

“14.6 seconds.”

Just then, Abby walked past the sisters, leading Star. When she spotted them, she called “I hope you’re more ready than you were last year. I’m tired of winning year after year.” She give them a nasty grin, “Although, that prize money will be nice when I win it.”

Emma ground her teeth as she watched Abby lead Star toward the end of the line. “There’s no way I’m gonna be able to set a time that Abby can’t beat. I’ve lost to her every single year!” She twisted her gold cross necklace in between her fingers nervously.

Sophia squeezed her hand “Good luck,” she whispered. “I’ll be praying for you.”

Emma smiled weakly, “And I’ll be praying for you too. See you after the race… if I live through it.”

The next 20 minutes were a blur for Emma. She faintly remembered watching Sophia compete in the finals for her age group and finish with the third best time of 15 seconds. The next thing she knew, it was her turn to get out on the arena. The minutes seemed to drag by as she waited for the starting gun. She could see the crowd sitting in the bleachers and every single eye seemed to be focused on her and Tobi. Taking a deep breath, she started to pray silently, but jumped and nearly lost her seat when the crack of the pistol went off nearby. 

As they flew out of the entrance, Emma could feel the powerful muscles working in Tobi’s legs and sides as he surged toward the first barrel. Blocking everything else out of her mind, she focused all of her energy and attention on cutting as close as Tobi could to the barrels as they rounded the first corner. One down, four more turns to go.

At the second barrel, Tobi just barely bumped the rim with his rump. It wobbled back and forth and Emma had to resist the urge to look back. But, after they made the third turn and started on the home stretch, the barrel was still standing upright. Not having time to even breath a sigh of relief, she turned her focus onto the last two turns and then Tobi was galloping full speed back to the entrance to stop the clock. Slowing him down to a walk, Emma had him circle around near the opening to the arena to listen for her time: “14.3 seconds.”

Sophia waved from the side and Emma steered Tobi over to where she stood with Pixie, “Wow! That’s better than what you got last year!”

Emma smiled, “I know! That second barrel had me nervous there for a second, but stayed upright!” She slid off Tobi and patted his neck. “Now, lets just hope Star isn’t that fast.”

She felt as if her heart was lodged in her throat as Abby and Star shot out of the entrance into the arena. Her eyes were glued to the little screen that was available to the competitors in the waiting area. Star was in perfect form, cutting close around each barrel as Abby guided him with the expertise of a skilled rider. But then something happened that made Emma catch her breath in a short gasp. Star had bumped into a barrel as he passed and Abby’s hand had flashed out to steady it as they headed onto the next turn. At least that’s what Emma thought she had seen. Yet, the announcer didn’t seem to have seen it and the judges’ expressions hadn’t change. She turned to Sophia to get her opinion, but her sister was busy looking around at the other horses and stroking Pixie’s neck.

Just then, Abby came flying back in through the entrance. Star was breathing hard and his rider looked flushed, but happy. She flashed an unfriendly smile at Emma, who forced a smile in return. As her numbers were called out, Emma’s heart sunk: “14.1 seconds.” She started to walk away, but then was nearly jerked off her feet when Sophia grabbed her arm and dragged her back to where they had been standing.

“Look!”

There on the screen, the replay of Abby’s hand stretching out to steady the barrel as Star went past was playing over and over again as the announcer’s voice came over the loud speakers.

“It appears that while Abby Detwiler has entered a winning time for the barrel race, she has been disqualified for steadying the barrel with her hand as she rode by it.”

Sophia’s wide eyes looked up at Emma, who couldn’t seem to believe what she was hearing. “Does that mean…?”

Emma gulped. “I had the second fastest time…”

Then the announcer said: “So, since Ms. Detwiler was disqualified, that means that Emma and her horse Tobi are the winners of this years barrel race and the grand prize of $25,000!”

Sophia squealed and threw her arms around her sister. Suddenly her friends and the other contestants were surrounding Emma, patting her on the back and congratulating her on the win. Emma looked around and spotted Abby glaring at her from where she stood by the entrance. Shrugging and sending a smile her way, Emma swung back up on Tobi and fell in line with the winners of other events. Abby couldn’t seem to form words, and the last Emma saw of her that day was as she yanked on Star’s reins and made a beeline for the barn.

Emma rode Tobi around the arena, with a smile that just wouldn’t go away. She spotted her parents near the fence and waved at them excitedly. Her dad motioned that they would meet her back at the stall and she nodded. Arriving at the judges’ table, she shook the head judge’s hand and took the check that he handed her. She held it in her hands as if it made of glass and stared at it in unbelief. She had done it. Tobi had done it. They both had actually won!

The next few minutes were a blur of activity and people. As she made her way to the stall where Tobi’s things were, it seemed like everyone was reaching out to either shake her hand or give her a hug, congratulating her on doing such a good job in her race. She managed to get Tobi’s reins and saddle off before her parents and Sophia finally made their way through the sea of people in the barn. The next thing she knew, she was swept up in a big bear hug by her dad and he spun her around while she held onto his arms and laughed. When he set her down, her mom smiled at her and gave her a long hug, “You did a really good job, sweetie! I’m so proud of you.”

Emma grinned at her and then caught Sophia looking pointedly at her behind her mom’s back. Reaching into her pocket, Emma pulled out the check and held it out to her dad. “Here, Dad. I won this for you.”

He shook his head, “No, this is your money. You don’t have to give it to me. Keep it and save it for something for yourself. Or better yet, add it to your future college fund,” he added with a wink.

Emma kept holding it out to him. “No, take it. Sophia and I talked about it beforehand and decided that we would rather keep all of our horses and the farm more than we could want anything else right now. It’s yours.”

Her dad’s eyes misted over and he finally took the check from her hands. Their mom put her arm around Sophia and smiled at Emma. As he pocketed the check, Emma watched as her dad took out a familiar looking piece of paper. When he held it up, she could easily read the names of over half of their horses on the “to sell” list and she looked up at her dad, wondering why in the world would he bring it out now. She glanced over at Sophia and saw a confused expression on her face that mirrored her own. Then they heard the tearing sound and their eyes sparkled as they saw him tearing the list up. He smiled and held out his hands to them. Despite the dust clogging the air, riders of all ages getting their horses ready for the trip home, and the loud hum of hundreds of voices, Emma, Sophia and their parents joined hands and stood in a small circle just outside of Tobi’s stall. Bowing their heads, they listened as their dad prayed.

“Father, you know our thoughts and our dreams far better than any of us do. We acknowledge that You are the head of this world and You have a plan laid out for each and every one of us. I just want to thank You for showing us once again that we can completely trust in You for all things. Even when it seems like things aren’t going according to our plan, help us to remember that everything always goes according to Your plan. You alone are God and in You alone we put our trust.”

At that moment, a ray of sunlight shone through one of the upper windows in the barn and settled on the little family. Emma’s heart lifted when she heard her dad quote the final words from Psalm 139 at the end of his prayer:

“Search me, God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. See if there is any offensive way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Written by Anna Tielmann

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