A Blessing Forgetting?

I’m a list maker. But it’s not because I am an efficient, super-organized, home administrator.  It’s because I’d otherwise forget. The promised favors, various repair needs, volunteer obligations, and important recipe ingredients, would be victims of neglect if not for my writing down and posting notes.  This is also the reason I am fanatical about putting items back after their use—so I’ll be able to find them!

Were you taught to memorize Scripture passages from childhood on, or did you take on this valuable habit as an adult?  The blessings of filling our heart with His promises are abundant, especially as we learn to apply the Word to our lives.  But what if those Bible memories fade or disappear? Like many people, my forgetfulness has increased with age. Since, “all things work together for the good of those who love God” (Romans 8:28) can this be counted as good?

Thanks to the Holy Spirit’s nudging, my forgetfulness has motivated these helpful actions:

1.  In order to pay more attention to sermons and in Bible classes, I open and personalize my Bible, underlining (with colors I enjoy) and take notes.

Within your temple, O God, we meditate on your unfailing love. Psalm 48:9

2.  Instead of my old habit of skimming over familiar verses, I slow down, think, read some study Bible notes and review the context.

You study the Scriptures diligently... These are the very Scriptures that testify about me. (Jesus) John 5:39

3.  I realize the necessity of reviewing promises and proof passages before they may be needed.  If I wait for a crisis, or an unbeliever’s questions, my unprepared mind will probably go blank.

 Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. I Peter 3:15

Even as our faculties fade with time, we know our eternal heavenly Father never forgets each member of his family, redeemed by Christ.  Thank you Lord, for this secure comfort.

Remember, O LORD, your compassion and your mercy, for they are from eternity.  Psalm 25:6


The Never Ending Winter

It was the winter that never seemed to end. Seriously, it felt like the winter of ten thousand years. As the temperatures dropped, so did my spirit. As the snow piled up, so did my struggles. In those long, dark weeks of winter, we felt like we hadn’t seen the sun all winter, but honestly, I felt like I hadn’t seen the Son all winter, either. As everyone around me begged for the spring of melting snow and blooming flowers, my soul craved a spring of it’s own.

Winter had become a series of unfortunate events that had piled up and weighed on my heart heavier than if an elephant had been sitting on my chest. I remember sitting in my parked car as the snowflakes of another winter storm landed on the windshield with gentle thuds. I wish I could say that I folded my hands and said a nice little prayer and everything was better, but that would be a lie. In reality, I sobbed like a big baby. The cracks in my heart had finally given way and released all the pain they had been feeling, the exhaustion of sleepless nights, the failure of friendships that had fallen apart, the worry of my uncertain future, and the weight of the day to day struggles that just kept piling up. Did I turn to the Great Physician of body and soul? No. I just sat there and cried.

I wish I could have said that I turned to God and everything turned into sunshine and rainbows, but in those moments of vulnerability, my heart couldn’t hold onto the fact that God was writing my story and that this was only a page in it. I knew that it was true, but my days weren’t getting any brighter. Trusting him and his plan was a task harder than parallel parking in downtown Chicago in the middle of a blizzard. I kept thinking, “How can I fix this? I can’t handle these things anymore. I’m not strong enough to do this.”

Then in the depths of my winter, I felt the warm spring breeze of promise. As I thought about what I was saying, I realized that over and over I kept saying “I”.  This whole time, Satan was whispering lies into my ear that I had to be the one to fix things, that I needed to overcome it, that I needed to be strong enough. The worst part of it all... was that I believed it. In these long weeks of winter, I had been trying to shovel my snow storm of problems with a plastic spoon, when I knew someone who had a heavy duty snow plow. No wonder I had felt overwhelmed!

I remember laying in bed that night begging God to remember me as his dear daughter, the one that prayed, read her Bible, and loved everyone with a smile on her face instead of the girl with overwhelmed mind, complaining attitude, and discontent heart. I tossed and turned while my mind rambled up to heaven, I finally got up to grab my Bible. On a whim, I opened up to 1 Peter 5. It was God’s eloquent answer to my late night prayer,

“The God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, establish, strengthen, and support you after you have suffered a little while.“ (1 Peter 5:10 CVB)

Right there in his Holy Word, God told me that I was going to suffer. He told me that he was sending me a cold, snowy, miserable winter. Immediately, I thought back to painful moments that had left me feeling not good enough, worthless, rejected, and unlovable. Those dark memories flashed through my head as hazy memories that burned like the icy winter wind, but the gospel words warmed my heart like a hot spiced chai latte on a cold day. “Restore, Establish, Strengthen, and Support,” Promises straight from God that felt like a much overdue sunny day with beginning signs of spring.

As my prayers echoes from that deep and dark valley, he lifted me out, dusted me off, and set me back on my feet. I could hear my Savior’s message whispered in my ear that felt as refreshing as the first blooms of spring, “Sam, you won’t fix this, I will. You can’t handle this, I can. You’re not strong enough. I am. You do not need to have your life together, I will put it back together for you. I will restore, establish, strengthen, and support you, no matter what.”   

He never promised that there would be no winters in life, even tropical places have little cold spells every once in a while. He says right there in 1 Peter that you will have sufferings, but we can hold tight to the promise that he will restore, establish, strengthen, and support us through it all. (Even if we think we don’t need it.)

Winters will come and go. Sometimes you get a half inch of snow and it melts two days later, and sometimes you get two feet of snow and it is fifty degrees below zero. No matter what winter you find yourself in, cling to the gospel promise of spring. Let God lead you to those patches of green grass, sunny days with light breezes, and the tulips and daffodils that always seem to pop out of the ground first. In the meantime, don’t believe lies the Tempter whispers in your ear. The traps of worry, comparison, busyness, discontentment, or insecurities may always be in our lives this side of heaven, but we have a Savior who will give us strength and help us dress in a warm jacket, insulated boots, and a matching hat and mitten set to get us through our own personal winter.

Now don’t forget. Those dark days will end and spring is coming. Just like the snow will melt and the green grass will make its grand reappearance, renewal is coming for you too. Set the burdens of your overwhelmed heart in the hands that were nailed to a cross for you. Give your struggles, troubles, and worries to the one is who commands the universe, because yes, he really does want to hear about how you think orange washes you out or how you struggle to live a life that shines for Christ, and everything else in between that weighs on your mind. Let him shovel through the snow, melt through the ice, and warm you up, for he is sending that long awaited, promised spring of blessings no matter how rough the winter may have been.


On This Day I Will Rejoice

I am a millennial who was in high school when Facebook was getting big, but we still only had flip phones that took horrible photos. For this I am grateful.

Whenever Facebook reminds me of statuses I posted during high school, I cringe. Dumb, cryptic song lyrics about how I was feeling; literal, boring answers to “What are you doing?”; and lots of complaining about homework. The saving grace is that it was harder to post pictures back in 2008, when I had to plug my actual camera or memory card into my family’s home computer, save the file, and then upload the picture to my Facebook albums. I have plenty of pictures from that time period, but many of them are safe from public viewing.

Facebook has a little reminder feature that shows you what you posted On This Day of the year in past years. Sometimes I love seeing those Memories, but sometimes I hate it.

The Lord is good and gracious that I don’t have to look back on a million selfies of me and my friends with our acne, braces, and flare jeans too often. Because my high school photos were not obsessively shared, I now don’t have to be reminded of them every year. Occasionally an old picture resurfaces and we laugh about it, but there’s no need to reminisce about those awkward years where I teeter tottered between thinking I knew everything and feeling inadequate in everything.

I don’t want to imagine about what I’ll think when I’m even further removed from my high school years. I’m sure it only gets more embarrassing and humbling.

But what about the memories it does notify me to remember? The Facebook algorithm doesn’t care if it’s reminding you of a sensitive subject, an emotional season, or bad choices you’d prefer to forget.

Birthday reminders for a family member who has passed away. Auto-created friendship anniversary videos of people who are no longer in my real life. Old statuses about things I was excited for that did not end well. Things I posted that were so obviously trying to be cool or get a little approval.

Remembering can be hard because it shows us our human failures and weaknesses.

But it’s not all bad memories. Sometimes it reminds us of really good events and seasons. People starting families and then seeing posts years later of these little babies that are not so little anymore. Successes we had that meant the world to us.

I follow along with my semester abroad every January through May as it shows me pictures of what I was doing in England or Europe on this day, 4, 5, 6 years ago. Some days I smile for the fun and blessings I had. Some days I cry for what used to be mine but is no longer.

Remembering can be hard on us mentally when it makes us compare our present with our past. Whatever you did on this day five years ago my have been great. Praise the Lord for that! But it’s so easy to wish we were there now and think life would be so much better if I was doing that, was living there, or was with those people. It’s bittersweet.

Remembering is actually talked about in the Bible a lot. We plead for God to remember us in our troubles or to show mercy and remember our sins no more. God also tells us to remember both the good and the bad.

“Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you from there.” Deuteronomy 24:18

“I will remember the deeds of the Lord; yes, I will remember your miracles of long ago.” Psalm 77:11

We remember past tough seasons to see how God has carried us. Sometimes we push those painful memories aside and forget what God has done to bring us back from that pit. We start to think we got to where we are through our own strength and smarts. But we need that humbling act of remembering where we used to be to understand how far God has brought us and that it’s his name that should be praised.

It might even help to jot down or journal about those hard times of your life pointing out what God has done for you since. Record your journey during a season where you feel strong and held up by the Lord, during a time where you can clearly see what God was doing in your life. There will come another season when you need to read this back to yourself.

But maybe you’re not currently on the other side of a bad situation. You’re still sitting in the dark valley all while seeing pictures and statuses of your days in the sun.

The same remembering can lead you back to the positive path. If you have a record of God’s goodness, you know he has the power to do it again. It’s a pep talk to yourself, prepared in the good days so that you can face the bad days.

When you’re in a bad place, sometime the last thing you want is a well-meaning friend to tell you it will get better. Even hearing from someone else that God loves you can be hard when you simply don’t feel it and can’t force yourself to believe it. But we tend to place a little more stock in things we say about our own lives. Sometimes the best advice in a current struggle is a note from your past self that says you will get through this.

Write your own personal self-help book, which is really just pointing out God-help. List how God has proven who he is to you in concrete ways.

In high school I was worried about… but God…

In college I struggled with… but God…

Last week I thought this was going to be a big deal… but God…

No matter how we feel about our present compared to our On This Day memories, we rejoice that we’ve had a good God through it all. We must learn to sing of what God has done, even on the hard days. Our emotions and situations change, but God does not. Imagine if every day of the year you got these notifications:

God loved you so much that he made a plan to save you. (John 3:16)

God is always with you. (Matthew 28:20)

God has good plans for you. (Jeremiah 29:11)

Those Bible verses were true when the were written, are still true for us today, and will always be true in the future. If you don’t want to write your own journal of God’s redeeming power in your life, then read the Bible for the best examples and way to remember.

While we may look back in embarrassment or shame about our pasts, God does not because Jesus took all of that away by paying for our sins once and for all. God knows who you will yet become. He sees the end of your journey and knows that while challenging, our struggles are preparing us for something greater than this life.

“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”
2 Corinthians 4:16-18

“Therefore, in order to keep me from becoming conceited, I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me. Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  
2 Corinthians 12:7-10

“I called to the Lord in distress;
the Lord answered me
and put me in a spacious place. 
The Lord is for me; I will not be afraid.
What can a mere mortal do to me?
The Lord is my helper,

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.
Lord, save us!
Lord, please grant us success!
He who comes in the name
of the Lord is blessed.”

Psalm 118:5-7, 24-26 (CSB)

 A favorite song of mine right now is Lauren Daigle’s “I Remember.” (Click here to listen!) Sing to God no matter what this day brings or what our past digs up. He has always been faithful.


The Privilege to Cry Out

Are you lonely?  Confession: I am.  Somehow, even with 7 billion other souls on the planet, it’s remarkably easy to feel alone.  Maybe you’re away from home for the first winter, ever.  Maybe you’re a mother – surrounded by little people but somehow still an island.  Maybe you’ve entered a season of life where the house is quiet and you’re a little bit lost.  

Maybe you’re even right next to someone who cares about you, but you still feel lonely.  It’s not really about physical presence of others in these moments.  Sometimes all we want is someone to really see us, to talk to us, to recognize our burdens and triumphs.

To remember us.

There was once a man, physically close to others – the entire city could see him, in fact.  But he was alone, desperate to be remembered by just one of them.

“Then he said, ‘Jesus, remember me when you come in your kingdom.” Luke 23:42 (EHV)

We are certainly not in the kind of dire situation in which the criminal on the cross found himself – our daily struggles are not as dramatic as imminent death by crucifixion.  Our days are filled with unfolded laundry, unanswered voicemails, un-ending To Do lists, disciplining children, disciple-ing ourselves.  But certainly the Lord looks with equal love and mercy on us all, no matter what mire we’re drowning in. 

At the heart of it we’re all the same.  We feel inadequate and unworthy, judged and misunderstood.  And rightly so as flawed and fallible humans living among other humans.   But the Lord does not judge us for needing him.

And we are never alone in any of it.  The Lord has invited us, specifically, to pray to him.  To approach Him as our Father, and ask for anything we need.  Perhaps we’ve grown too formal in our prayers, or too timid, or have forgotten that no problem is “too small.”  It’s time to borrow a sentiment from the criminal’s very brief prayer life.  No overthinking.  When words fail us, and we feel like a 5-year-old alone on the side of the playground, we have the privilege of simple, profound prayer.  We, too, get to cry out in our frustration and despair, “Jesus, remember me!”

And He will. 

“I pray that you would be able to comprehend, along with all the saints, how wide and long and high and deep his love is…” Ephesians 3:18 (EHV)


Don't Take It From Me

I’ll be honest with all of you. Sometimes when I sit down to write for the blog, the only thing I can I think is, “I’m a fraud.” Over the course of the week, I’ve taken my stress and frustrations out on my family, I’ve complained about work, I’ve lost my patience, and that’s just scratching the surface. Basically, I feel like I could go day by day and just use my life as a “what not to do” guide. Of all people, why on earth should you listen to me? Well, I’m here to tell you that you shouldn’t!

Obviously, us hens want you to read and find value in what we write, so what do I mean? I’m praying that as you read these words, you look past me and see the one who inspired me to write them.

“For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.” Philippians 2:13

I usually try not to speak for others, but I believe that I can speak for all of the women who contribute to Holy Hen House when I tell you that we don’t have all the answers. In fact, I’m the last person to tell you that I have it all figured out. And if you’re anything like me, that is precisely what has stopped you from sharing God’s word with others in the past.

That feeling of inadequacy almost stopped me from sharing my faith as a regular contributor to this blog. It's had me second-guessing advice that I've given to friends. It's had me doubting myself as a mother charged with the spiritual care of two precious little souls. I’ve thought so many times about how I can be the worst billboard ad for Christianity. I don’t always practice what I preach, in fact, I manage to fail over and over again. But the great thing about sharing the need for Jesus in our lives is that you can point to God's words, not your own.

“And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God, which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers.” 1 Thessalonians 2:13

When people criticize Christians for their ungodly actions, they miss the entire point of what being a follower of Jesus means. We don’t follow Jesus because we think we are righteous people, we follow him because we know that we aren’t. Just because you read God’s word and share it with others, it doesn’t change who you are. We are all still sinful human beings with no hope of salvation on our own.

“For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9

I encourage you to not to let the fact that you're flawed stop you from sharing the message. It is precisely our imperfections that make the case for salvation through Jesus. In reality, the only thing that would make us frauds would be giving the impression that our lives are perfect.

Sharing God's word through the blog over the past few years has been eye-opening and I'm so glad that I decided to take the leap and do it. All of the posts I've written have been like a mirror showing me exactly what I need to work on in my walk with God. So be prepared to read more about my shortcomings, because as long as I'm sharing the word, I'll be be sharing just how desperately I need it as well.

Chief of sinners though I be,
Jesus shed His blood for me;
Died that I might live on high,
Lived that I might never die,
As the branch is to the vine,
I am His, and He is mine.