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{Sunday Mornings} Accepting God’s Grace

Written By: Hilary Cobb

This morning, as I was driving to work, I saw a sign that said: “Your life is based on the choices you make, always has been, always will.”

Now, as a counselor, I do believe this at some level. Often, there are consequences of the choices we make. Even in difficult situations that weren’t the result of your choices (for example, childhood abuse), how you perceive that situation will often have a significant impact on your life.

However, our pastor has also been speaking about God’s grace as we come up to Christmas. How God takes us in our shattered, sinful state and creates a beautiful new creation. I’m always inspired by 2 Corinthians 5:17: “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” It is a powerful reminder that I am a new creation, not because I’m super awesome or I pray a ton, but because of God’s goodness and grace.

I started to think, what should my life be if it weren’t for God’s grace?

If it wasn’t for God’s grace, I would have had way more legal issues than I do based on bad decisions I made as a teenager.

If it wasn’t for God’s grace, I would be crippled by my mental health.

If it wasn’t for God’s grace, I wouldn’t have a spouse who loves me in spite of my negativity and criticism.

If it wasn’t for God’s grace, I wouldn’t have a group of people who love me in spite of my moodiness and selfishness.

If it wasn’t for God’s grace, my life would be completely and utterly different.

Because the truth is that while some of my choices have been good, many of them haven’t been. I’ve been cruel, sinful, gossipy, angry and impulsive.

And yet, God has blessed me with a life beyond my wildest dreams. Sure, I have difficulties (I’ve documented my struggles with mental health on my blog), but overall, my life is full of beauty. Full of people who love me unconditionally. Full of a beautiful family. Full of a job I love, a church I love, and a support network that rocks. I am not a slave to my sin and poor choices because Paul writes that: “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14 NIV).

God’s grace means that in spite of my bad decisions and my sinful heart, I am truly a beautiful creation, in spite of being me.

For those of you struggling today, try filling in the blank after the statement: if it wasn’t for God’s grace, ________________________. Sometimes we become so focused on the day-to-day difficulties that we forget the big picture of God’s grace and blessings. So be honest with yourself. If it wasn’t for God’s grace, where would your life be?

~ Hilary

photosite

 

Hilary Cobb is a born-and-raised California-girl who now lives in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She lives with her amazing husband of 12 years and their two beautiful (but crazy-makin’) children. Hilary received her master’s degree in social work in 2008 and works as a therapist part-time, doing counseling with children, adults and couples. She is also the Family Ministries Director for her church, speaks at events and schools, and writes for her blog:www.blessedbyhislove.com. When she has some downtime, she loves coffee, running and crochet! Her life verse is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” and she is grateful that God has allowed her to serve Him throughout her life.

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{Sunday Mornings} Why Is It So Hard to Ask for Prayer?

Written By: Hilary Cobb

Recently, a good friend of mine was going through something difficult. He is one of those Christians that is always just praying, loving and helping others. Yet, as he asked for prayer on Facebook, he prefaced his request with, “I hate asking for prayer, but…”

Of course, our friends were more than happy to pray for him and encourage him! He has done so much for others, so many people viewed it as a wonderful way to support him and give back.

It struck me though. How often do we feel that way? We are often eager to pray for others, but when it’s our turn, it can be so uncomfortable asking for prayer.

I am blessed to be part of a vibrant, praying church. We have prayer groups that meet throughout the week and an awesome prayer chain through email. When my dad had health issues several years ago, it was lovely to ask for prayer from those in my church and know that they were praying.

But when I had anxiety issues several years ago, I had asked for prayer from a few people. Somehow, an email got sent out to our prayer chain asking for prayer for me. And I was completely mortified. Of course, people were encouraging and prayed for me, but it still felt so much more awkward asking for myself than when I asking people to pray for my dad!

So why is it so difficult for ask for prayer? I believe there are several reasons.

  1. It’s difficult to be vulnerable. I’ve been so blessed to be part of a church that values authenticity. One of our core values is, “It’s okay to not be okay, it’s just not okay to stay that way.” It promotes being open and honest about our struggles, then seeking support to move forward and strengthen our walk with the Lord.

 

And yet, even though I’ve heard that value stated many times, it is still so difficult to admit when I am struggling. There’s a fear for many Christians that if they are struggling to the point of needing prayer, they will be perceived as not “holy enough.” And sadly, I’ve had experiences in the past at other churches where prayer requests were met not with support and love, but with comments about, “you wouldn’t have this problem if you just prayed harder or were a better Christian.”

Even though I’m now in an amazing supportive church, there is still that part of me that worries occasionally that a prayer request will cause people to judge me instead of love me.

  1. We feel selfish. There are so many terrible things in this world. On a global level, we know there are children starving in Africa, people being murdered in Syria, and Christians being killed for their faith worldwide. On a local level, there is homelessness, child abuse and all of us know someone impacted by cancer. It can feel “selfish” to ask for patience for our children or help with finding a job.

And yet, the Bible tells us, “Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere” (Eph. 6:18, NLT). The Bible doesn’t say, “Pray only for people who are really struggling.” It doesn’t tell us to only “pray for believers with illness and persecution.” It tells us to pray for all believers everywhere on every occasion.

So, while it is crucial to pray fervently for those who are sick, persecuted and broken, I think it’s also okay to pray fervently for your neighbor who’s wrestling with loneliness, or the new mother who is lonely and overwhelmed. And if we are called to pray for all believers everywhere, do not feel selfish asking for prayer from those who love you.

  1. We don’t want to be a burden. We know that this we are a culture drowning in busyness. I know that at any given point, most of my friends are busy working, chasing children, cleaning, helping with church, serving their community or decompressing from all of those things. It can sometimes feel like asking them for prayer will be yet another task for them to do that day.

We have to get away from that mindset. The Bible tells us to pray all throughout the Scriptures. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tell us to “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” I love that prayer is sandwiched right between rejoicing and gratitude. A prayer request from someone should never be viewed as a to-do list task right between folding laundry and cleaning the cat box. It should be viewed as just another joyful part of our lives as we follow Christ, not as a burden.

The next time you are struggling and you ask for prayer, please don’t beat yourself up with that feeling that others will view you poorly, that you are being selfish or that you are being a burden. Prayer is one of the most amazing “tools” we have as Christians. Let us pray for others and allow them to pray for us. It will only strengthen our relationships with God and with each other!

~ Hilary

 

photositeHilary Cobb is a born-and-raised California-girl who now lives in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She lives with her amazing husband of 12 years and their two beautiful (but crazy-makin’) children. Hilary received her master’s degree in social work in 2008 and works as a therapist part-time, doing counseling with children, adults and couples. She is also the Family Ministries Director for her church, speaks at events and schools, and writes for her blog:www.blessedbyhislove.com. When she has some downtime, she loves coffee, running and crochet! Her life verse is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” and she is grateful that God has allowed her to serve Him throughout her life.

 

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{Sunday Mornings} The Captivity of Activity

Written By: Hilary Cobb

I am currently in a Bible study called, “Breaking Free” by Beth Moore. It has been a powerful study and I’ve learned a lot. However, one of Beth’s phrases that impacted me the most was “the captivity of activity.” I read an article a few months ago that said that people today report the lowest rates of boredom in history and the highest levels of creativity. I remember thinking that was so neat. Smartphones, TV, access to Pinterest mean we have so many outlets that show us how to do more: more crafts, more recipes, more learning, more opportunities.

And yet, although many of my friends (including myself) are doing more – more homeschooling, more side jobs (like photograph, selling jewelry, etc.), more craft bazaars – there is an abundance of articles online showing how worn out and stressed we are as moms and as a culture. I recently presented on anxiety and stress for teens, and research shows that although teens are extremely busy with school, extracurricular activities and social media, they are also exhibiting the highest levels of stress and a rapidly increasing rate of anxiety disorders.

So even though we are doing more, the trade-off is we are exhausted and anxious. We are on a hamster wheel that is never ending and wears us out. There are nights when I lay in bed, after a long day of work, and instead of praying or reading God’s Word, I’m jotting down ideas about articles to write or people to talk to in my day planner. I fall asleep, then wake up exhausted and ready to start all over again.

Can any of you relate? Do you find yourself running around, doing more, but feeling anxious or exhausted at the end of each day instead of satisfied?

I feel like this endless cycle of do more, make more, and be more is a dangerous trap. I was at a conference and the speaker said that the word busy can be short for: Burdened Under Satan’s Yoke. At first, I was a little taken aback. The prideful part of me thought, busyness is good! It often makes me feel productive, like I can do it all. I can work, cook, craft, clean and be a good mom/spouse/Christian.

But recently, especially with the holidays coming up, I find myself wondering if I can do it all. Because honestly, falling into bed at the end of a long day, unable to spend time with my spouse or God leaves me feeling drained and empty. That temporary feeling of productivity and invincibility fades, and I just feel…empty.

The Bible mentions multiple incidents where Jesus took a break to rest and pray (Mark 1:35, Mark 6:31, Luke 5:16). At one point, the disciples were busy teaching and putting the body of John the Baptist in a tomb (how draining that must have been emotionally!). They came back to Jesus and “told him all that they had done and taught” (Mark 6:30, ESV). I love that Jesus didn’t simply say, “Good job! Let’s preach more to more people!” like an overly enthusiastic coach. Instead, Mark 6:31 tells us, “Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he [Jesus] said to them, ‘Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.’”

Jesus encouraged the disciples to rest before starting the next task. As we go through the craziness of the holidays in the next few weeks, please rest. And by resting, I don’t mean laying on the couch, playing on your phone and jotting down your to-do list. I mean, actually rest in Him.

Jesus tells us, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls” (Matthew 11:28-29, ESV). Retreat into a quiet part of your house, or if that doesn’t exist, find a quiet coffee shop or sit in your car. Focus on God, his peace and rest in Him. Not in your to-do lists, Pinterest or social media. Read His Word, pour out your heart, and find peace.

I hope that you all enjoyed Thanksgiving and time with your family. But as we go through the holidays, please remember to rest. Do not let activity and busyness take you captive and prevent you from enjoying your everyday life. I promise I will set aside my to-do lists and hope you will too!

~ Hilary

 

photositeHilary Cobb is a born-and-raised California-girl who now lives in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She lives with her amazing husband of 12 years and their two beautiful (but crazy-makin’) children. Hilary received her master’s degree in social work in 2008 and works as a therapist part-time, doing counseling with children, adults and couples. She is also the Family Ministries Director for her church, speaks at events and schools, and writes for her blog:www.blessedbyhislove.com. When she has some downtime, she loves coffee, running and crochet! Her life verse is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” and she is grateful that God has allowed her to serve Him throughout her life.

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{Sunday Mornings} Finding Victory in Christ

Written By:  Hilary Cobb

Monday morning of this week. My kids started bickering the moment they woke up, my son announced he was completely out of pants (and it’s 40 degrees in the morning here), and I couldn’t find the dress pants I needed for work. I felt edgy, irritable and resentful. I was driving my kids to school, and I realized I was already completely and utterly overwhelmed. And it was only 7:50am.

I dropped off my children and drove to work. As I pulled up to my job, I could barely muster up the motivation to get out of my warm car and venture into the cold. I felt defeated before I even opened the door.

Just as I was getting out of the car, a song came on the radio. “My Victory” by Crowder. As I listened to the lyrics, the last line of the chorus just about knocked me over:

A cross meant to kill is my victory

I was immediately convicted. Was I acting victorious? Was I living each day remembering that Jesus gave his life so that we would have victory over everything? Or was I acting beaten down by my daily struggles?

Sure, it’s easy to know intellectually that God has given us victory over death and sin, but in the day-to-day moments, when I struggle with anger, fear and bitterness, it is so easy to forget that God has given us victory. I am not a weak, pathetic person, controlled by my own negative thoughts and circumstances. I am a victor!

There are so many wonderful verses about victory in Him. Deuteronomy 20:4 says, “For the LORD your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.”

1 Corinthians 15:57-58 reminds us: “But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my dear brothers, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.”

These verses remind me that I am not meant to stay overwhelmed and defeated by my children, my life, or my finances. God has given us the ultimate weapon in the form of victory over everything, even death.

For those of you who are feeling overwhelmed, defeated, or crushed by the day-to-day stresses – a bounced check, sick children, the check engine light pops on yet again – remember that you are a victor over all of it. A champion because of God’s incredible power and love for us. Jesus said “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).

You don’t need fancy weapons, perfect children or the nicest house to feel victorious. John tells us, “for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith. Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God” (1 John 5:4-5).

All we need is Him to defeat those dangerous enemies of fear, anger and insecurity. That powerful realization sustained me as I opened my car door and stepped out to face my day. Not as an anxious, frazzled mess, but as a victorious daughter of the King.

~ Hilary

photositeHilary Cobb is a born-and-raised California-girl who now lives in beautiful Boise, Idaho. She lives with her amazing husband of 12 years and their two beautiful (but crazy-makin’) children. Hilary received her master’s degree in social work in 2008 and works as a therapist part-time, doing counseling with children, adults and couples. She is also the Family Ministries Director for her church, speaks at events and schools, and writes for her blog: www.blessedbyhislove.com. When she has some downtime, she loves coffee, running and crochet! Her life verse is Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up,” and she is grateful that God has allowed her to serve Him throughout her life.

A blog about God, life and love from a social worker mom!