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When You Feel Helpless
Courtnaye Richard

About Courtney Stanford

Courtney Stanford is a passionate follower of Jesus and the writer of her blog, Let Every Heart.  She is the wife of a worship pastor and the mommy of three little men. Courtney is an elementary school teacher on hiatus, while she is currently a stay-at-home Mommy and the keeper of a joyful (yet slightly noisy) home that she lovingly refers to as her "frat house."  Whether she is leading a Bible study for women, teaching her adult Sunday School class, or writing for her blog, Courtney is an enthusiastic encourager of Christ followers, especially women and children. You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!  
 

Courtney Stanford

Courtney Stanford
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Courtney Stanford is a passionate follower of Jesus and the writer of her blog, Let Every Heart.  She is the wife of a worship pastor and the mommy of three little men. Courtney is an elementary school teacher on hiatus, while she is currently a stay-at-home Mommy and the keeper of a joyful (yet slightly noisy) home that she lovingly refers to as her "frat house."  Whether she is leading a Bible study for women, teaching her adult Sunday School class, or writing for her blog, Courtney is an enthusiastic encourager of Christ followers, especially women and children. You can connect with her on Facebook or Twitter!  
 

When We Are Not Meant to Save Them

#friendship #community #Christian suffering

She finds a seat at the big, white table in my kitchen and I share my warmest blanket with her, a recent gift from a precious friend, because I read recently that heavy blankets calm anxieties.  We both hold our cups of coffee, letting them warm our cold hands as if they could heal our hurting hearts.   We’re both recovering from major life-wounds and someone she loves called with more desperate cries earlier in the morning.  

If only her loved one would take her advice, she knows the difference the words might make.  Not everyone hears wisdom when it’s lovingly given.  The wisdom givers can feel helpless as they watch someone self-destruct.  The truth?  We can’t change everyone. We cannot make good choices for those who can’t find their way.  We can only be present.  We can pray.  It never feels like it’s enough.  Friends, it’s enough.

We may have all the advice and experience and wisdom and empathy that one person can muster…and that may not make a lick of difference to a life as it destructs.  We may feel helpless, but our helpless, desperate prayers may be all God ever asked us to give.  

Loved ones with the best intentions and the biggest hearts cannot heal every hurt.  Because Jesus is the healer.

Good advice and plans written down with twelve wise steps?  They may not save a life.  Because Jesus is the Savior.

And God didn’t ask us to solve every problem.  He never asked us to heal every hurt.  He didn’t promise we’d change this whole fallen world.  He gave Himself as the only One that would save this world.  

And He’s already won the battle.

He has already conquered death.  He has already risen victoriously over the destruction of evil.  

Jesus is on His throne and my job is to surrender to Him.

When all we can do is bow our head and pray over a hurting heart, then that is enough.  Surrendering our hurt to the true Savior?  That’s the wisest move yet.  

When we are not meant to save them, prayer is more than enough because we give the burden to Jesus.  And Jesus is more than enough because He is the Savior.

Jesus is the Savior.

  

We find a song on YouTube and we send the link in a text message with words that say we are praying and joining her in her breaking heart.  The message we are sending is to Just Be Held.”  We are believing that God will meet her where she is.  We are trusting His will and His timing for her.  We are carrying her burden with us, knowing that there is One who loves her far bigger and deeper than any earthly relationship could ever love.

And we point her to Jesus.  Point them to Jesus.

From my heart to yours,      ~Courtney


Brave and Free

#courage #bravery

You know her.  She is strong and resilient.  She loves so big and fully, with her eyes on the finish line of eternity.  She speaks up about her struggle first so that others won’t be afraid to speak up about their own.  She doesn’t hold back.  She gives every bit of her heart to the things that break the heart of her Heavenly Father.  She loves the least, the marginalized, the weary, and the forgotten.  They are precious to her because they are precious to Jesus.  

She  opens her hand to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy.” ~Proverbs 31:20

She loves those who may not love back, because Jesus loved her first.  She forgives without fear of being hurt again, because He first loved us.  She is brave with her life so that others can be brave with theirs.  I know her too.  She is the woman I long to be.

 

She is the definition of real beauty because she has hidden His word in her heart.  There is a light within her that shines more radiantly than the sleekest hair, best nail color, or trending fashions. Her Savior’s love is her true beauty.  The words of the Lord direct and redirect her again and again.  The truth of scripture drives her to live beautifully free like it is her divine superpower, because Jesus is her true strength.  

Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  ~Psalm 119:105

She can get her hands dirty, as she jumps into the broken pieces of someone else’s life because she knows the heart of the mighty Rescuer.  She doesn’t run from pain.  She leans into the broken place.  She calls it what it is.  She knows of the schemes of the enemy.  She whispers the name of her Redeemer again and again, knowing the enemy will flee at the sound of Jesus’ name.   Jesus.  He is the King of her heart.  She embraces the refining fire of sanctification knowing that Jesus brings joy in the morning.  Sometimes the pain is changing her, stripping her of the old bondage.  She belongs to the only One who turns a mess of ashes into true beauty.  She hears His voice and believes His truth in the midst of tribulation.  She seeks Him in the darkness.

And He who was seated on the throne said, “Behold, I am making all things new.”  Also He said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.” ~Revelation 21:5

All things new.  Trustworthy words.

She is courageous because of His perfect peace.  She isn’t afraid of the unknown future because her hope rests in the hands of a Sovereign God.  She is free.  She is free to dance.  She is free to smile or to cry.  She isn’t bound by perfectionism, worry, or fear because Jesus has broken every chain.  She has been set free from all bondage by His amazing grace.  Neither death nor guilt weigh her heart for too long.  She knows the pain of this life is temporary and fleeting, for nothing can separate her from the love of Christ.  She is free to laugh with hope.  Brave and free; all because of her Savior.

She is clothed with strength and dignity; she can laugh at the days to come.” ~Proverbs 31:25

 Laughter.  May we be women of brave laughter, peaceful hearts, courageous faith, and bold freedom.  May we know the power in the name of Jesus.  Jesus has set us free.  May our lives tell this story again and again.  We are no longer slaves to sin and death, rather we are the daughters of Christ.  May our lives be living testimonies to the merciful grace of God.  We are His creations.  He is making us new.  His loving kindness draws us again and again to redemption, reconciliation, and perfect love.  May we walk boldly in the way of freedom with exuberant joy in our hearts!

It is for freedom that Christ has set us free. Stand firm, then, and do not let yourselves be burdened again by a yoke of slavery.” ~Galatians 5:1

May we trust our lives in the hands of our perfectly faithful God.  May we embrace each day with hope because He is the creative author of our life stories.  May His incomparable grace and unconditional love flow from His truth to our hearts and into the hearts and lives of those around us.  

Because of Jesus?  Sweet sisters, we can be brave and free.

From my heart to yours,                                       ~Courtney


How Can I Become a Follower of Jesus?

#faith #eternity #Christian

 

  
Hello again, sweet reader friends!  The day before yesterday, I shared May I Introduce You to Jesus?, a post I wrote to simply tell the basics of who Jesus is.   That post must have met people in many different stages of life.  Maybe it spoke right to your heart.  Perhaps it didn’t.  It could be that it was old news to you.  Yet, the story of Jesus is the greatest news and is so worthy of being repeated.  Amen?  

The Gospel is such good news.  As a follower of Jesus, I often paint a different picture of the Gospel by accident, of course.  Really, it is undoubtedly the very best news ever.  That isn’t even an exaggeration! {Usually, if I tell my husband that I have the very best news ever, he expects me to say that one of our children is improving his letter recognition.) This time, I am so serious.  Best, best news!  Ever, ever!

In that post about Jesus, I promised to write the next day {which should have been yesterday} on how to become a follower of Christ.  By now you know…that didn’t pan out.  Life happened and I wasn’t able to write yesterday.  (I’m truly sorry if you were waiting on me.)  Here we go!  Today is the day!!!

May I tell you how you can become a follower of Jesus?  {I’m going to have to assume that you are either nodding your head, cheering me on, or closing out of the page for today.  All of that is quite alright.  We’ll move forward!} I am praying for each of you before I write this.  …by “each of you,” I mean that I am praying for the hearts of every reader.  Sometimes technology is so weird, but we’ll do the best we can.

You can become a follower of Jesus.  His arms are wide open and nothing can keep you from His love.  Run to Him!  No matter where you are, what you think of yourself, or what you have done: Jesus loves YOU and knows your heart.  Do you feel the Holy Spirit welcoming you to Him?  You can be free from the bondage of sin in Jesus.  

What saves us?  Ephesians 2:8 tell us: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”  Sweet friends, it isn’t our own doing or good works that saves us.  We are saved by the grace of Jesus when we put our faith in Him.  

By grace: Jesus paid the penalty for our sins.  We all sin.  All sin is worthy of death.  Yet, we don’t have to have an eternal death, separated from God in Hell.  We can have eternal life!!!!  The price for our sins was paid by Jesus when He died on a cross.  We can live eternally with Jesus in Heaven.    His grace has offered us a way out of eternal death. We don’t have to suffer for our sins.  He suffered for a debt He didn’t owe, for you and for me.  This saves us.  This is grace.  

Through faith: You can trust Him.  You can surrender your life to His will.  You can accept Him as the Lord of your life, meaning that we hand over the reigns to Him.  This is faith. 

Then, how do we accept this gift that Ephesians 2:8 speaks of?  The grace part has happened.  How do I put faith in Jesus?  Friends, it is so simple and free to each of us.  It is what God wants for us.

Admit that you are a sinner.  “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” ~Romans 3:23  We are all sinners, but you may believe that you’ve behaved well enough and perhaps you have done wonderful things for others, but I promise you: you sin.  I sin.  We have to own up to that realization first.

Repent of your sin. “Repent, then, and turn to God so that your sins may be wiped out, and times of refreshing may come from the Lord.” ~Acts 3:19   To repent means to literally turn away from sin.  Sure, you will still sin but repentance means that we won’t be complacent with a life of sin.  We will be quick to repent (sort of like a sincere and meaningful apology to God.) It means that we will feel remorse for sin and will truly strive to discontinue in the destructive sins we are stuck in.  Living in complacency of sin is the opposite of repentance.  

Believe in your heart that Jesus is the Son of God and that He was raised from the dead. “If you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” ~Romans 10:9  Maybe you don’t have it all figured out.  Neither do I.  It isn’t my place to “figure out” everything about the Creator of the Universe, but I have a deep and real faith in Him.  I believe His word with all of my heart.  I know that Jesus sent His son and my faith is reinforced by verses such as John 3:16.  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life.” 

Confess your faith in Jesus as Your personal Savior (one who saved you by His grace) and Lord (in control of your life from here forward) forever! See Romans 10:9 again, precious friends.  This simply means that you have decided to follow Jesus and you are telling others!  Tell your family or your friends.  If you are attending a church, tell them!  Baptism is a way that you can show others that you have decided to follow Jesus.  If you don’t have another Christian to share the excitement with, I will be happy to chat with you and to cheer you on!  Everyone needs someone to celebrate their salvation!  

My prayer is that you will come to know the perfect love of Jesus.  I pray that you will experience the fullness of His grace and His mercy for you.  May your life be made new as you begin a relationship with Jesus and start a new life fully surrendered to Him.  Life will still get messy.  Hard and tragic things will still happen in this imperfect world, but with Jesus, you will never be alone ever again.  One day, we will see His perfection face to face.  One day, we will join our Savior for eternity.  My deepest desire is for all people to know Him.  I have prayed for you today, sweet reader.  Jesus is waiting.

From the depths of my heart to yours, ~Courtney