I haven’t felt compelled to write like this in quite some time.
I’ve been having my daily Quiet Time (QT) with God each morning at 4am. Yup, you read that right: 4AM. Let me explain the significance here. I am a die-hard NIGHT OWL (you know – whoot whoot). So me and anything before the sun comes up is so not my thing.
However, several months ago I felt God convicting me that in order to start my day off right, a consummate night owl needed to start her day bright and early (well, dark and early, but who’s counting lol). Recently I tried to even change my weekend wake up to 5am, but it’s just not working. I usually spend, at minimum, 2 hours in QT. It’s usually closer to 3 or 4 hours. That might sound a bit much or extreme, but I don’t set a timer. I never will. I feel like I need to let the Holy Spirit lead me in how long it will take each morning. The thing is I know when it’s time to stop. It’s kind of weird to me because before this I didn’t even know how to have a QT like this. Then I was introduced to Jen Hatmaker’s book (A Modern Girl’s Guide to Bible Study) and that simply changed my life forever. I was finally shown how to do it and saw remarkable results because of it.
In the beginning, I wasn’t as consistent as I’d like to have been, but to look at the positive, it was better than what I’d been doing – which was a great big nothing before that as far as a personal QT. Don’t get me wrong. I’ve done plenty of Bible Studies throughout my life, but my QT is only led by which book in the Bible I feel God has led me to and taking questions that I now use to answer what I feel God is placing on my heart.
As a believer my growth has significantly increased from this one book alone. Keith saw very quickly how impactful me having my QT was for me and that when I wasn’t doing it how it negatively affected me. He’d be there encouraging me that I needed to get back to my QT as the changes were that obvious to others.
When we moved from Alaska to Ohio this summer, I actually still kept up with my QT each morning, although some mornings were harder than others to do it. Unfortunately, once we got to Keith’s sister’s house I ended up stopping. It took me a little over a month once we reached Ohio to get back into it again. I’m so grateful I did.
We’ve been looking for a new church to attend and, as a result, I ended up going to a ladies Bible study at each of the two churches we were considering. The first one was called Control Girl by Shannon Popkin. Oh My Goodness. Other than the Bible, there has never been a book to impact my life in the way this one book has. Just the title alone called me to this study. Then I read the back of the book:
Fights with your husband and kids. Unhappiness when things don’t match your version of perfect. Tension, anger, fear—it all begins with a heart that craves control. When your vision of how life should be replaces God’s vision, you doom your quest for security, peace, and joy before it even starts. Thankfully, here is a better way.
Join Shannon as she shares what she has discovered about her own control struggles and about God from studying Control Girls in the Bible. Learn how you too can lay down this burden and find rest in surrendering to the One who truly is in control.
By the second chapter, third lesson, I was so convicted of a hidden sin, I was in tears. They literally streamed down my face. In fact, one tear dropped on the page in the book I was on. It has a permanent tear stain mark to remember this moment for the rest of my life for its impact on me that morning. I first asked God to forgive me and then I asked Keith to as well. I wasn’t allowing my husband to lead like I thought I had been, or should have been for that matter. My deep desire for control was hidden under all the lies and deceptions of Satan, making me think that my way was the right way. That I knew best. Not letting things go. God had already shown me that my out of control frustration was a major issue and He’d been helping me to stay calm about 95% of the time. However, I still had a ways to go. This one book has been simply profound for me.
At the other church we are now in our 4th week of Priscilla Shirer’s The Armor of God Bible study. So first Jen’s book taught me how to have daily QT. Then Shannon’s book showed me my control freak self. And now Priscilla’s is showing me why God’s Armor is so powerful and how to “wear” it in my life.
So what brought me to writing today? I came to page 111 in the study. This is week 4: “The Shoes of Peace.” Peace. Isn’t that what we all want? Something everyone talks about but so many of us never truly find it. World peace will never exist. Our job or finances never bring it. Working out, yoga, and things like that never bring it. Addiction never does. Everything the world says we should do or try never truly works. I mean, we might feel a short stint of peace but we are never truly at peace because it goes away. It’s temporary.
Yet, with God and our faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, we are able to finally have everlasting peace that can stay with us forever. Yup, forever. Here is what the passage from page 111 says:
When we choose thankful prayer over wallowing in anxiety and worry, we are demonstrating an unwavering trust in God. Prayer shrouded in gratitude expresses a firm faith. Concentrating on Him instead of being absorbed by our circumstances tells the Lord that we believe He is able to override and overcome even the most difficult issues. This kind of faith catches His attention, and He responds by activating His peace within us—a peace that will not only guard but also guide us by helping us to discern the direction God is leading us to take in our lives.
Just WOW! This is beyond impactful, at least for me. Just so powerful.
It’s like it took the entire tragedy of Mari, all my years of grief—almost nine of them—to where God was able to bring me to a place where I no longer look at my daughter’s death as this great, miserable tragedy. Don’t get me wrong. Losing our daughter was a tragedy, but it didn’t define me. It doesn’t make me who I am. However, I am who I am today because of how I’ve grown through it. God was able to show me during my QT that Mari IS with Him. Yes, she is gone but it’s like she’s on a trip.
I am TRULY BLESSED. God has blessed me in innumerable ways. That’s why the book I wrote about her is called Seeing the Gift. All that has happened in my life since her death has helped to further shape me and bring me to where I am today. I am a better, stronger person in Christ and He is my hope, my strength, my peace. I am loved and accepted for who I am with Him. He works in me and transforms me into the person He knows I can be. I am not perfect—far from it—but I am His. I am a child of God and darn proud of it.
Priscilla’s paragraph above is what I’ve learned through losing Mari and gaining Athena as our daughter. Thankfulness and gratitude seem more of an understatement for what I feel when it comes to God and all He has done in my life. Thank You, Lord, for everything—the good, the bad, and the tragic. Just thank You.
Here’s what I learned to sum it all up. First we have the following sets of verses:
Philippians 4:6-7, “Do not worry about anything. But pray and ask God for everything you need. And when you pray, always give thanks. And God’s peace will keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. The peace that God gives is so great that we cannot understand it.”
Colossians 3:15, “Let the peace that Christ gives control your thinking. You were all called together in one body to have peace. Always be thankful.”
Isaiah 26:3-4, “The mind He keeps in ‘perfect peace’ is the one that’s stayed on Him, because it trusts in Him. Since the Lord God is an ‘everlasting rock,’ we can trust in God forever.”
A note from the margin in The Armor or God, “Note the progression: Trust leads to Thankfulness and Gratitude activates peace. #ArmorOfGodStudy”
I will leave it here (as this is already way too long 🙂 ). For me, I don’t know where I’d be without Jesus as my Lord and Savior, where I humbly and willingly surrender to Him, submitting to His will by giving up all control to Him who will always know more and know what is best for me. I am His.
Thank you for sharing, Kristena! A great encouragement! And so good to hear how God is guiding you and Keith in Ohio! Have been thinking about you a lot lately! Sylvia
Kristena Tunstall says
Hey there, my very sweet friend. I think about you often myself. My hope is that we will be able to reconnect in person some time soon. Thank you for taking the time to read what I wrote. I always feel so blessed. 🙂