The Missionary’s New Song: A Legacy Worth Leaving

Snuggled in my bed, surrounded by the soft comfort of an old down blanket, I stared at my phone watching the playback of a month old live-stream from Inglewood Baptist Church.

My Great Uncle Don Jones and his friend (another retired missionary), in a beautiful crescendo, gloriously sang the words:

 “No more death when we get to heaven. No more death when we get to heaven…Hallelujah, Hallelujah…no more death! No more death, but life forevermore.”

Don Jones quote (1)Earlier that day my Great Uncle stepped into that life forevermore; for him death is no more. He is in the presence of the Savior to which he dedicated his life, and for him there could be no better day. Those of us left behind feel the pain of loss; for him there is no more pain. I am so thankful for the prayers he prayed for me, and the support he gave me in the ministry I have had the privilege of being involved in. My thoughts of him that night were tainted with grief, yet sweet and hopeful for his new home. As my eyes became heavy with slumber, my last thoughts settled on, “What a well lived life.”

He was 88 and was still teaching, singing, and serving others because of the love first given to him by Jesus. Prayers swelled in my heart to my Savior, that I too would live a life with that type of legacy. Loving God and loving people, knowing God and making Him known, a legacy of Philippians 1:21, “To live is Christ, to die is gain.”

His wife Nita was likewise filled with bold gentleness, and together they were missionaries in South Korea for 36 years as they raised their two children. I still remember her hugs… for some reason that is my clearest memory of her. It wasn’t really the hug itself but the feeling of deep comfort wrapped within them. She died in 2004, but the love they shared didn’t. You still saw and felt it when he spoke of her.

Legacy Don and NitaI remember sitting with my grandmother and my mother huddled around our giant box of a TV watching the 1988 Seoul Olympics where Don and Nita were serving as translators. Every time their event would come on someone would yell, “Hit the record button!” as we tried to catch a glimpse of our family members on the sides of the diving pools of the world-wide competition. With such a small view of his life and his impact for God’s kingdom, I naively thought this was the coolest thing about my Uncle Don. I shrugged my shoulders at the work he was doing in Korea, that he held a Masters and a PhD, and that he had walked faithfully with Jesus since childhood. The Olympics, that was what impressed 6-year-old me. But what sticks with me now, and will remain until my own walk into eternity, is the race of faith he ran.

I look to them, this generation that went before and I dream for my children and their children. When we lose a family member who reaches the end having truly glorified Christ, we are compelled to ask: “How did they get there, and how can I do the same?” My Great Uncle and Aunt did it, my Grandparents did it, and I want to do it. Legacy doesn’t mean dying after a long life and being fondly remembered, but living well and making an eternal impact.

Now he sings a new song, one too beautiful for me to yet comprehend; it harmonizes with what his life sung of the grace and glory of God.

“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.”      Colossians 3:1-4


Readers, This month we will be diving into thoughts on legacy. Who has left a lasting mark on your life in a way you would like to do for others? Join the conversation and let us know in the comments.

chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue enjoys freelance writing, Biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Christianity Today: Women Leaders, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

Still Waiting: Ann Swindell Offers Hope to Weary Souls in this New book

“When we have begged and demanded from God all that we can, and when he still doesn’t change our situation, we’re left with a choice: we can choose offense with him, or we can choose obedience.”

Ann Swindell, “Still Waiting”

Happy endings awaken the hope that the dreams locked within our own souls might someday come true. However, our souls know that life doesn’t always work this way. We live in the mess of our own waiting, longing for it to end, and we wonder if the relationship, opportunity, or healing will ever come to be.

stillwaitingbrokenWe can tire of happy endings when we are waiting for our own. I have been a biblical counselor for years and have long looked for a book that could offer both hope and an ending that is not wrapped up with a pretty, little bow of answered prayers and dreams come true. While I love those stories, and marvel at the things God can do, reality reveals we don’t always see what we are waiting for this side of heaven. There is a day coming when all wrong will be set right, when sickness and death will end, and Jesus will bring relief from the anguish of living in a fallen world; but that day is not yet this day.

What then should we do, while still waiting?

In “Still Waiting” Ann Swindell offers elegant wisdom to those willing to be refined and sculpted through waiting.

“It’s a hard truth: to have Savior who doesn’t always explain what he does or make it easy to follow him. It’s hard to follow a King who won’t always decree what we want. It’s hard to obey a Lord whose ways are higher than mine, a Lord who doesn’t think like I do (see Isaiah 55:8-9)” (p.113).

Swindell walks the reader through the feelings of shame, suffering, and identity questioning that often come from waiting. She doesn’t deny that waiting costs us, “And that’s why, as we wait for God’s breakthrough in our lives, it will cost us a great deal. In fact, waiting wellwaiting rightlywill cost us all that we have. It will cost us our illusion of control. It will cost us our self-sufficiency” (p.64). But she offers hope as well, “And yet I always came back to this: God is God, and he loves me and cares for me. Why  he wouldn’t heal me, I didn’t pretend to know. But where else could I go (see John 6:68)? He is the Word of Life” (p.113).

stillwaitingwholovesusSwindell shares details of her own struggle with trichotillomania, and explores the journey of the Bleeding Woman from the Bible. Women of different times, both waiting, both looking to Jesus for sanctuary. I felt my own story wrapped in the words as well. Saw the plights of my friends. The themes reach out to any who have felt the longings that hide away, the weariness of weakness, and the risk required to step out from the places we hide. Her words thrust the reader into the comforting arms of God even when we struggle with Him. Swindell addresses pain, trial, and victory with biblical truth and offers that, “It’s hard to wrestle with a God who doesn’t bend to our desires, even our seemingly good desires….” Then reminds that, “… it’s not that God doesn’t hear. He is not deaf, nor is he powerless (see Isaiah 59:1). He is, in fact, compassionate. Unendingly compassionate. He overflows with unshakable, unbending love” (p.101).

“Still Waiting”, more than anything else, points the reader to Jesus. Swindell invites people to know THE great Hope. The hope that transcends all others. The only hope that is anchored, “There is one truth that allows us to be a people of hope, even as we wait for our own wholeness and healing: Jesus has restored us to himself, to others, and to ourselves. And when the King of kings restores us–soul, body, and life–we are given hope, not only for this life, but for all of eternity.” (211)

Readers,

You can find “Still Waiting” at most major book retailers, and if you order before April 3rd you can score over $30 of pre-order freebies. I know I offered some of her words in this post, but this was just an appetizer. This book is filled with truths that can set the waiting heart free, and I pray that it will meet you well as you journey through your own waiting.

Ann also offers writing courses and has been published at popular sites around the internet. I had the privilege of taking a course from her about writing as ministry early on in my writing career and what a breath of fresh air it was. 


chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue can often be found with her nose in a book and coffee in hand. She enjoys freelance writing, biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

2 Things I had to Face While Reading Jennie Allen’s Newest Book

I am always ready for a new Jennie Allen book. The lady can preach, teach, and lead, and has no problem bringing truth the world needs to hear. She points people at Jesus and she invites the masses to join her in the great adventure: living in the light of God. I was thrilled to be able to join the launch team for Nothing to Prove and was looking forward to diving in, but in doing so I was forced to face motivations, sin, and hurt that had been hibernating.

jennieallen-nothing-to-proveHere is the thing about hibernating sin: it is still hindering us from the freedom God offers even when it’s quiet, and this is why He is willing to shine light on it if we will come to Him humbly. When I begin a new non-fiction book I ask God three things:

  1. Please, teach me.
  2. Give me discernment. Show me how to separate biblical wisdom from worldly philosophy.
  3. Help me to be humble, willing to confront things within me that are not from you.

Well, He did all those things, and here is just a piece of what I learned.

I Love To Numb Out

When I am surfing on unseen WiFi waves, I am also often hiding. When my kids get too loud, phone up. When I don’t feel like talking to my husband about that thing I need to address or apologize for, play next episode. When the plight of our country is begging for prayer, scroll level: Master. But as Allen said, “The danger for us is not that we would enjoy the cheap wine on earth, but that we would grow addicted to it….If I didn’t believe the lie that these shallow empty pursuits would satisfy me, I guarantee you I wouldn’t keep exchanging mirages for Jesus” (90).

So yes, a good show with deep story is not bad in and of itself, but if it is a form of self-medication or becomes an addiction — If it steals rather than gives, it must be eliminated. I would rather be alive than numb, and I am willing to fight for that. Because, yes, “I want to see Jesus in my everyday life, not just when I arrive in heaven. I want to love Him more than I want to appear religious. I want to love people enough to lead them to the One who can heal them. I want to be healed myself. I want to initiate for the good of those around me rather than pad my existence with comfort and ease” (155).

I Was Trying to Prove Something

People pleasing is not typically my modus operandi, I have my own issues that hold me back, but this isn’t a predominant one. To the marrow of my bones I know that God is enough (if you question this truth, this book is for you). I have learned this because I’ve blown it big time. The dark night of the soul and I are well acquainted. But God, oh yes, but God came to my rescue.

“Guess what the person being rescued has to do? Trust the rescuer and cooperate with the process. You and I don’t need to be the hero to save the world we just get to be part of the story of the greatest hero of all time. Which is good news, because being hero is a lot of pressure and a lot of dadgum work.” (135)

nothing-to-prove-jennie-allenAs I read, asked the questions, and meditated on the scriptures Allen encourages the reader to engage with, I found within me something I was trying to prove. It stung. Two sentences, each only four words, echoed within me, “Look at me now. You couldn’t stop me.” They were not directed at the masses or even friends, but at those who have hurt me most. Those who have forsaken me, and received my weightiest forgiveness. Here directed toward individuals was a deep, hidden, and pride-filled whisper many would excuse and mark  as understandable. While most motivators in my life may be submitted to the Lord, it was clear this one was not. I checked to make sure I had truly forgiven, got down on my knees, put my face to the floor and confessed the pride with sorrow. Then I sought God for the strength to go about doing the work of crucifying this nasty, internal, self-focused, provocation. I am His, which means I don’t have to settle for anything less than freedom.

There is so much more I could tell you about this book, but seriously, why read my words about it when you could read it for yourself? It will convict you, encourage you, and be a tool for God to use so that you can be freed by the great love He has for you. Read it. Be taught and reminded that He is enough. You can cease striving. When you are His, you have nothing to prove.


Readers, One final quote, because it is just SO good. “And then I did it, the most freeing brilliantly foolish thing in my life: I led with everything I had been hiding” (102). What would you do if nothing was holding you back? Would you forgive that person and leave that situation that replays in your mind over and over in the past and be free. Would you make that phone call? Fill out that application? Volunteer for that organization? Write that book (psst…this one is mine)? What would you do? Tell us in the comments, and come back and tell us about your experience with Nothing to Prove. We would love to hear it. You can also join in with other women for the Nothing to Prove Book Club hosted by Jennie Allen.

DON’T MISS OUR NOTHING TO PROVE GIVEAWAY OVER ON INSTAGRAM! SEE POST FROM 1/31/2017 (ENDS 2/6/2017).

chara-donahue-head-shotChara Donahue can often be found with her nose in a book and coffee in hand. She enjoys freelance writing, Biblical counseling, and speaking to women when her four kids are out playing with dad. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She is a regular contributor at Portland Moms Blog and her words have appeared at (in)courage, Patheos, and The Huffington Post. She longs to be a voice that says, “Hey we are in this together, and there is room for us all.” You can find more from Chara at One Anchored Voice, on Facebook, and on Twitter.

When Peace on Earth Seems Impossible

I love reading by Christmas tree light. In the faint warmth of its incandescent illumination I feel hope. The gentle radiance enfolds me into a brief retreat during the bustle of the holiday season. The calm soothes in the midst of the distresses of our broken world, and collides with the disquiet hiding in the corners of my soul.

I find my mind tranquilly wandering into history and the pastoral suburbs of shepherds living under stars, watching woolly animals breathing in, breathing out. I mull over what those men might have been thinking as they watched the calm repose taking place on the fields in front of them. How could they have known that in the provincial life they had become so accustomed to, they would be met by the miraculous?

I long for an angel to appear in front of me proclaiming “Fear not, for behold, I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people.” Luke2:10-11. I wait for the miraculous in my own life and am sometimes discouraged by the mundane tasks I find it hiding behind. However, I see myself as no more than a shepherd longing to be met by the Savior of the world. Humbled, I am again reminded the ways of God are not (usually) my ways, and find myself dwelling deeply in mystery that is woven together by penetrating truth and profound beauty.

Even as a person sure in her faith, peace on Earth seems such an impossible ideal. I am painfully aware of the fallen nature of the world. I cannot fool myself into dreaming about this tolerant peace the Christmas specials preach as trees spring up in homes and plastic Santa faces watch through snow-flocked windows.

I know Jesus brought peace to Earth that night in the city of David, but I can’t help but wonder if He took it with Him when He ascended into heaven? His presence through the Holy Spirit provides rest for all that seek Him, and salvation for those He calls His own, and yet, peace seems elusive; rumors of wars, racial injustice, and unspeakable terror plague our daily existence. I am assured of the peace within my soul, but peace on Earth?

Jesus told us “”Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.” John 14:3. We are promised peace, in its fullness, is coming to Earth once more, and He has made room for us to join Him.

This anticipation, this wondering what it will look like, and this falling asleep begging Him to move, all point me to that baby in the manger who grew to be the savior on the cross. Seeing Him gives me the strength to engage in moving towards peace by praying for patience and holding tight to His word as carols hang in December’s crisp air.

I can have hope in the dark, for I know the light is coming. Widowed father of six and literary great Henry Wadsworth Longfellow endured in his asking for a harmonious world and goodwill towards men as He listened carefully to holy cantatas calling through the noise of the Civil War. Through sorrow He wrote “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day” from the hospital bed side of his severely injured son, a war time Lieutenant.

“…Till ringing, singing on its way,

The world revolved from night to day,

A voice, a chime,

A chant sublime

Of peace on Earth, good-will to men!

Then from each black, accursed mouth

The cannon thundered in the South,

And with the sound

The carols drowned

Of peace on Earth, good-will to men!…

…Then pealed the bells more loud and deep:

‘God is not dead, nor doth He sleep;

The Wrong shall fail,

The Right prevail,

With peace on earth, good-will to men.'”

When the heaviness of the world presses in, I can turn to the mighty promises of a Living God for strength. He cannot be shaken, so I am emboldened to move forward as a peacemaker. With great joy I offer myself as an ambassador carrying the promise of powerful reconciliation, because this hope I have—the Prince of Peace has interrupted the routine of common men with the glory of the Lord before, and He will do it again. Just because I have trouble wrapping my mind around what that will look like doesn’t keep it from being true. So, come Jesus, come. I want to believe. I am praying for peace on Earth.

~~~

Readers, Whatever Christmas looks like for you this year, remember there is no greater gift than the one that is yours through Christ Jesus. Whether your Christmas season has been filled with sorrow or joy, the hope that is yours through Jesus cannot be shaken. Christmas is the celebration of the redemption of God breaking into dark places. Fear not, He has overcome and because of that there is joy! 

e9d88-chara2bbio2bpic2bsquare2b600pxChara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

On the Twelfth Day of Christmas (My Single Mother Gave to Me)

When pine trees and baking supplies started making their way into my home as a young child, I, accompanied by my stealth-like snooping skills, made my way to my mother’s best kept hiding places. I was a peeker. A present-peeker to be precise, and Christmas mornings were filled with anticipation not because of the surprise that awaited, but because I already knew what the wrapping cloaked. I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the toys I had already previewed.

As a wise single mom, my mother would intentionally start purchasing gifts months ahead of time, so her budget could handle blessing her three children. This gave me plenty of time to seek and find. I would climb over dressers and toss sleeping bags that shouldn’t have been touched till summer all in an effort to spoil her surprise. I never once wondered “Will we get anything?” What I didn’t understand was the amount of sacrifice my mother made to ensure that we never considered questions like that.

Now as a mother of four, I marvel at all she did. Breaking up my children’s tiny-bodied, big-voiced arguments, instructing them in life skills like using a toilet, and trying to teach young hearts about maturing faith can leave me feeling exhausted, but my husband is in the thick of it with me, tagging in when I tap out. My mother held to Jesus and persevered. As her children slept, she pushed through exhaustion to correct the homework I finally did, sew the flags my sister spun, and figure out how she could afford to buy her son’s first instrument, who (unbeknownst to her) would one day play at Carnegie Hall.

She may have been a single mother, but she offered us a home that felt complete, whole. She changed my sister’s diapers and attended my brother’s games. She pulled me away from parties and lifted us up with prayers. She showed us all what it was to be at rest when the world demanded we strive, and nurtured an imperfect situation into a life that did not lack.

Sneaking through my house as a child, I wasn’t aware that our most precious things were not things at all, but memories, people, and faith. I was too distracted by the deluge of bows, desserts, and carols to see my mother draw strength from the baby depicted in the old wooden manger she put on display through out the holidays. She offered me the luxury of being so busy with childish things that I forgot to be thankful for her unwavering determination to create a home that offered sanctuary from the harshness of the world.

The memories she has given me offer riches greater than any reindeer-papered gift could ever give. I have them tucked away into the treasuries of my heart for the days when I need hope. I will always be grateful for the worn Bible that often laid open upon her bed, her constant presence, and the way she offered children who had experienced deep sorrow a place of peace.

“Her children rise up and call her blessed…” Proverbs 31:28

Readers, Are you a single mom? Thank you for all you do. I know it’s not easy, but those kids will someday be grateful. They just got to grow up a little ;).

Do you know a single mom who could use some encouragement today? How could you be the one to offer it?

Chara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

Confronting Unbelief

Free association tests are no longer exclusive to psychotherapy offices. We click on them when social networking sites claim they will reveal our personalities, and play them as party games. These enjoyable games act as simple exercises to awaken the creative parts of the brain, sometimes bogged down by the frantic call of business, duty, and daily life.

For me it usually goes something like this:

Chocolate…Yes, please

Dog…Border Collie

Journalist…My granddad.

Belief…Help, my unbelief! Always, it is always—help, my unbelief.

I feel like this is a constant prayer of mine, a mental whisper that suddenly and audibly explodes when I behold the brokenness of the world, my city, and my home. When I am forced to see the misery and am tempted to give myself over to sorrow.

There is no one I trust with my unbelief more than God. I know this seems counterintuitive, but like the Father in Mark 9 who sought healing for his boy, I listen to Jesus when he says “All things are possible for one who believes.” My response comes out as a beggars prayer, “I believe; help my unbelief!” It is also a prayer I freely let my children see me plead.

I have never held one of my babies without my belief in a gracious, just, and loving God. I cannot even imagine what that would be like. The amount of trust it demands of me to not be anxious for their lives is something that insists upon supernatural strength.

Sending them off to school for the first time, letting them begin to cross the street alone, or allowing them to attend their first sleep over  — the only thing that keeps a sense of panic from overwhelming me is the truth that God loves them more than I do, and He knows the plans for their lives.

I know their little eyes are watching me. They are observing and critiquing the life of their mother. Sometimes I wonder, which will they see and remember, my belief or my unbelief? Will they understand the beauty of how these intertwine? Do I have the guts to teach them?

I believe the only life worth living is one empowered by authentic, Jesus-centered faith. Peace that passes understanding, repentance, and perseverance are superior to  a perfectly polished façade that can’t admit it’s own inability to save.

So I let my children witness conviction that drives me to my knees, and profound hope in impossible circumstances. I let them see me cry over the broken and lost. I allow them to witness me stand up for what is right, and I go to them humbly and share the grace I experience when I fail. I refuse to dress my faith up as something shiny or pretty, but have it be something that rusts and bends when real life hits. I want my faith to be my life, and offer life—something that feeds my soul and delivers nourishment to the growing faith of my little ones.

I don’t want to pretend the faith walk is easy: I want them to see that it is an authentic hike towards glory, with peaks, valleys, and a view that makes it all worth it. That the race set before them is worth persevering in, worth sacrificing for, and worth giving their all.

I know that Jesus is the only one who can answer their vexing  questions that are bound to come, and that their salvation does not depend on me. Yet, I pray they would venture into life with  a white-knuckled grasp on the robe of Jesus,  and curious eyes that look up to God’s face of love with a seeking heart. For when the trials come and they can’t muster the strength to stare their hardships in the face dauntlessly, it is my hope that they too will pray the prayer they heard their mama utter a thousand times before, “I want to believe; Help my unbelief.”


Readers, Do you believe God can meet you in your unbelief? Where do you need to ask for His help today?

e9d88-chara2bbio2bpic2bsquare2b600pxChara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

 

An earlier version of this post originally ran at Overflow.

The Broken, Steadfast Heart

“Adult Medical Emergency! Adult Medical Emergency!” I stared incredulously at the lady calling out these words over the PA system. Before I could regain my composure, a nurse was behind me compassionately commanding that I sit in the wheelchair she had parked and locked into place behind me. Seconds later I was flanked by another nurse who I could tell was making a hundred assessments as she sped toward me with defibrillator in tow. They showered me with a deluge of questions to which I could muster a few cogent answers. I tried to reassure them, and myself, that I was just coming in at the doctor’s request, but medical professionals tend to get right jumpy when you say words like chest pain and dizziness. Especially, when the last EKG came back abnormal.

They rushed me into a triage room and scrambled around me. Helpful, but strangers. I hadn’t told my husband I was going in, because I didn’t think it was a big deal. Now I wished I had. After leaving friends to care for my four children, I had driven myself.  I had no hand to hold but my Jesus was near; He always is.

“So do not fear, for I am with you;
do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”
-Isaiah 41:10

My children, and the dreams I dream for them were on my mind. Earlier that day, I had tried to teach my four-year-old how to dial 911. It wasn’t working, so I resorted to telling him, “If you can’t wake up Mommy, you run as fast as you can to the neighbors house, bang on the door, and tell them call 911.” A sick mama is not what I had anticipated for their childhood, but God—He sees. He knows. He cares. I am confident that no matter what, He’s got this. Even if I don’t get the answers I prefer.

The nurses in the room relaxed as my blood pressure cuff hissed its release and revealed the numbers they wanted to see. I was given some water and a tissue, because the breaking of the tension also set free a steady stream of silent tears. I wasn’t afraid when I walked in, but their panic made me question if I should be. It made it all too real. I am in my thirties, and there is something serious going on. I held tight to the verses the Lord had used to comfort me since the first tests came back:

“They will have no fear of bad news;
 their hearts are steadfast, trusting in the Lord.
Their hearts are secure, they will have no fear…”
Psalm 112:7-8 (NIV)

I still don’t have definite answers. They doctors have decided there is no immediate threat, which I am grateful for, but they have only given me possible explanations and more tests. Each new diagnostic is performed, and I pray they do not call back immediately. When the doctor calls, it is not usually due to excellent customer service. Yet even then, even if, it be the doc, the specialist, or the surgeon who calls, it is still news I need not fear. For I love and serve a God who binds up broken hearts, and in the end makes all things new. My hope is not shaken by the woes of this world or the weakness of this body. What waits ahead is unknown to me, but known to Him.

I will not cower from the fear that whispers lies filled with tragic tales. The enemy of my soul attempts to use the unknown to unravel the peace that passes understanding, but I will stand firm on the promises of God. Like Joshua I will be strong and courageous; like Esther I will look for the purpose in such a time as this; and like Jesus when the next day is daunting I will find solace in seeking help from the Father.

“Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Luke 12:25 (NIV)

Being bound by worry is something I found freedom from when I began to follow Christ, but a new layer of awareness came into reality when my husband and I began to attempt to raise these little humans. The adventurer in me that swam with sharks and shared the gospel in closed countries now seeks wisdom before jumping. This does not mean I will not risk, but it does mean I listen carefully to make sure it is God who is doing the leading instead of my own predilection for adrenaline. I hold teeny hands, kiss little foreheads, and pray mighty prayers for these lives entrusted to my care, so placing myself in the path of unnecessary harm is a thing of the past. Unfortunately, we live in a fallen world and our bodies are prone to unpredictable sickness and death.

I put my life into the hands of my Savior in my twenties. I believed He knew if I would or would not marry, and I was rest assured that He knew what work I would do. With each birth of my children I sought Him out and asked Him to watch over the new life He had given. I proclaim, “I trust God with my life. I trust God with the lives of my children.” What I don’t always like to remember is that this also means I trust Him with my death, with their deaths. His goodness covers all the days. He carefully planned the first beat of our hearts, and He knows the day each will beat its last.

“’Where, O death, is your victory?

    Where, O death, is your sting?’

The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 15:55

It is abundantly clear to me that our time on this earth is limited and not decided by us, but this I know—heaven awaits. Jesus has already claimed victory over death and there will be a day with no more sickness. Though I hope for many more days, I cling to the word of God daily, so I can be reminded of who He says He is. Who He will always be. It is in those pages I meditate on my deepest hopes and present joy. When the fears for my children creep in. When I find myself holding to the things of this world. I turn my eyes to him and pray He makes me like the psalmist who proclaims, “My heart, O God, is steadfast, my heart is steadfast…” -Psalm 57:7( NIV).


Readers, Where do you need to trust God more today? How can you take a step towards doing so?

e9d88-chara2bbio2bpic2bsquare2b600pxChara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

There is Some Good

We have long been told by well-meaning people that everyone has good in them, I want to believe it, but I am keenly aware that while all may be made  in God’s image,  that doesn’t necessarily mean we reflect His goodness. The mantra has been developed in part because it is hard to face how susceptible we are to chasing our lusts, shocked by how driven we can be by impure desire, and humbled by the fact that without God, we are far from good. Understandably, we want to look at the brighter side of life and not be afraid to fall asleep in a world filled with others conquering or succumbing to the same temptations we know we face each day. However, that is not the only reason so many have come to believe the “all people are basically good”, it is also cherished because of its passivity. We appreciate things that reflect well upon us but require little brain power, which this line of thinking does quite well.

In the word of God we are told that goodness is fruit from the Spirit of God. There it is in Galatians 5 amongst a list of all the other qualities that comprise the fruit that is given to Christ’s followers. It is easy to identify when we are not being loving, kind, or patient, but there are certain attributes listed in the fruit of the spirit that seem harder to assess. To me, goodness is the most troublesome. If someone following Christ is self-controlled, faithful, and at peace, we acknowledge the fruit is present in their life. I can identify in my mind friends who excel at gentleness, or those who seem to be able to hold onto their joy even during hard times. Matthew 7:18-20 says, “A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. So then, you will know them by their fruits.” But goodness itself, what does that look like in a believer? How do we know if goodness is present?

Goodness it seems, is something active, present, and given to the larger community of a person’s life. Not much goodness spills out of an individual if they are a hermit, secluded unto themselves. A recluse can demonstrate patience, peace, and joy but goodness seems to need a receiver to be present.

When I think of a character who exhibited great goodness,I think of the adventures of the fictional Samwise Gamgee in the Lord of the Rings series. He enjoyed community, shared his life with others, and would have been perfectly fine staying in the Shire, but then came the day when his goodness led him into more. Sam, who faithfully supported his friend Frodo throughout the story, was a common man with simple desires, but with a depth of character that often made a tremendous impact, as in this scene from The Two Towers:

FRODO: I can’t do this, Sam.  SAM: I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened.  But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.  FRODO: What are we holding on to, Sam?  SAM: That there’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for.― J.R.R.Tolkien, TheTwo Towers

Can we, like Sam, refuse to turn back? Do we wake with hope for the good that we may be able to unleash into a hurting world, because the Spirit of God resides within us? We can bring beauty; we can bring truth; we can bring the hope of the deepest love ever known, into dark places that have begun to forsake the possibility that there may actually be something that is good all the time.

Let’s plan for good, because good has already been planned for us.

“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”-Ephesians 2:10

Do things for the benefit of others. This will inconvenience you, but it will be worth it. Think about how to imitate the goodness of Christ, but don’t be weighed down by an expectation that you must earn righteousness. “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 2:28 We are freed from the weight of trying to muster up goodness because we get to rest in that Christ has already made us so, and just let it flow out of us. Find out what you are good at, what makes you come alive, and then make time to do it for others to show love, to encourage hearts, and to share the gospel with those who desperately need to see the glory of God’s goodness energizing a weary world.

~~~

Readers, How can you spread goodness today?

e9d88-chara2bbio2bpic2bsquare2b600pxChara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.

The Promise of Peace

I have had to stay off social media more than normal this week. There was too much needed discussion about “rape culture” and “hook up culture”. Every time I logged on I felt a weight of concern for so many women for whom I knew the threads of awareness would be a trigger. Who am I kidding, I had to check my own emotions as well. I am not typically susceptible to triggers. The healing I have experienced reaches deep and wide, but every once in a while old experiences and memories sneak up on me.

Then a singer was slain, and the next morning Orlando. Oh Orlando, how I wished I had words that in some way, in any way might be helpful. I wanted to cry out, but for some things there are no words.

In all the stripping away, in the weeping with those who weep, in the dark night of the soul’s grief—when the brokenness of the world has become too brazen—peace is not completely lost.

In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.~ Jesus (John 16:33)

There is a God who is bigger, a story that looms larger than the horror, and a peace that meets inner turmoil with the hope that this world has been overcome. Society breaks down; people suffer (or worse, serve) terror; there is much that is troubling to the soul. Peace can still be mine. It is a promise from the Savior who knew that darkness would persistently press in.

Peace does not come from 24-hour security monitoring. It will not come because I have a gun or live in a home without one. It won’t even visit when the world accepts me just as I am, for peace is an elusive mistress when it depends on what we can give, buy, or control.

The peace that surpasses understanding comes from a deep trust in the hope that Christ offers. Hiding in His ability to overcome, and embracing the freedom of not having to rely on my own strength, keeps me from bearing the burden of self-preservation.

The Bible includes peace as a fruit of the Spirit. The peace of Christ is not an emotion human hearts can manufacture or create with circumstance. Instead, it demands a wild trust willing to risk. It boldly offers the vulnerability demanded by love as joy grows through gracewhich offers life. Peace has been left behind for us as a promise.

Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid.~ Jesus (John 14:27)

May your satisfaction in Christ be so deep that bad news on the global, local, or personal scale doesn’t touch the promise of peace gifted to you. When challenges come and triggers tempt toward anxiety, may your heart not be troubled, for you know you belong to the Prince of Peace who has overcome the world.
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Readers, When peace seems far, how do you remember that Jesus is near?

The Undomesticated Housewife

I have been a housewife/domestic engineer/stay-at-home-mom for over ten years, and I cherish and appreciate the blessing of being able to be with my kids full time. I know not everyone has the opportunity to do it, and not everyone wants to. As for me, I will always be grateful for these years spent with my children as they grew from newborns to toddlers and toddlers to school agers. But…

Let’s be real: I hate cleaning my house.

While I am at it, here are some more confessions: If my kids want to stay in their pajamas all day, I entertain the notion far too often, and sometimes even join them. I almost always have clean laundry in my room or sitting on my couch, and I use it as validation for Netflix binging—I rarely even attempt folding unless I can combine the two. One more: It is a dream of mine that once the kids are in school I will go back to work just so I can hire someone else to clean my house. I still haven’t quite convinced my husband of how fantastic an idea this is, but I am working on it.

I love to have friends in my home, but preparing to receive them is the furthest thing from my list of joys. I know the popular things these days is not to worry about the mess, and don’t apologize for it. But the truth is, I am not apologizing because I am afraid it isn’t good enough, or because I won’t meet some unknown standard. I apologize because I honestly could have done a little (or… a lot) better, but I chose to do something else instead. It might have been important, and it might mean I was reading a really good chapter in whatever book I am currently reading. Please accept my heartfelt apology for inviting you into my squalor; but hey, I’m glad you’re here.

The longer I am at home, the more I have to search for the why of homemaking. Is it important? Absolutely. Is there worth in it? Definitely. Do I love walking into other people’s beautiful homes? LOVE IT. Do I want to have the same? Sort of…well, yes, yes I do. But many of the reasons still escape me. One does not. This is how I serve my people and my God.

Scripture says:

The wisest of women builds her house, but folly with her own hands tears it down. -Proverbs 14:1 (This can be applied to attitude as well, but we should also actually care for the homes we have been given)

She looks well to the ways of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness.-Proverbs 31:27 (My paraphrase: She pays attention to the hearts and welfare of those around her, puts down her phone, and chooses not to tell Netflix she is still watching.)

Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled.- Titus 2:3-5(That one, I’m just gonna leave right there.)

I have advantageously learned to weave through loopholes and manufacture justification for why I can get away with my favorite indulgences. However, carefully crafting my own demise slowly strips away what I truly care about. I have told myself the cluttered corner means little looking through the lens of eternity, but caring for, loving well, and providing a place of rest for my family means more than I realize.

The home can be a dark and troubling place as well. What happens in a household can make bitterness take root, it can be where unspeakable abuses are inflicted, and it may act as an anxiety breeding ground when people strive after unrealistic dreams of perfection. The nightly news tells us quaint neighborhood dwellings can also become the crime scene, the drug den, or the house of hidden terrors.

By the grace of God, I will build my house, fight for justice within my walls, and model sacrificial love. So there will be prayers prayed, truths taught, and the gospel preached. If it also means bending down to wash little feet, slay allergy-inducing dust bunnies, and aggressively cleansing dried food off an infinite cascade of dishes. So be it. May the Lord arm us for whatever battle lays ahead of us this day, and may His mercies meet us in the morning. Time to go, I’ve got work to do.
~~~
Readers,
We know not everyone has this struggle, but we are sure you have your own places that scripture convicts and reminds that there is a better way to love. How will you choose to show love to those closest to you today?

Chara is a freelance writer, certified biblical counselor, and speaker. She holds a MSEd from Corban University and is passionate about seeing people set free through God’s truths. She loves to write about faith, culture,  and the deep truths that drive our fascinations with it. Chara is the founder and editor of  Anchored Voices and can be found on multiple social media platforms @CharaDonahue.