A Legacy of Fear or Faith?

Since the beginning of 2016, our church has been journeying through the Bible with the F260 reading plan. We recently landed in Numbers Chapter 13 and 14—the account of the 12 Israelite spies sent to scout the land promised them by Almighty God; the same God who had delivered them from the bondage and slavery of Egypt and faithfully provided their every need for their every step in the harsh wilderness.

 

I was familiar with the story. These 12 men found exactly what God had promised they would find. Milk. Honey. Lush pastures. Healthy livestock. Grapes so large it took a group effort to carry a single cluster. But 10 saw something more.

 

With vision clouded by their fear and doubt, forgetting the strength of the God leading them, they saw the obstacles. There were giants in the land.

 

So they brought to the people of Israel a bad report of the land that they had spied out, saying, “The land, through which we have gone to spy it out, is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people that we saw in it are of great height. And there we saw the Nephilim (the sons of Anak, who come from the Nephilim), and we seemed to ourselves like grasshoppers, and so we seemed to them.” Numbers 13:32-33

 

Only two men–Caleb and Joshua–the overwhelming minority, chose faith:

 

But Caleb quieted the people before Moses and said, “Let us go up at once and occupy it, for we are well able to overcome it.” Numbers 13:30

 

“The land, which we passed through to spy it out, is an exceedingly good land. If the Lord delights in us, he will bring us into this land and give it to us, a land that flows with milk and honey. Only do not rebel against the Lord. And do not fear the people of the land, for they are bread for us. Their protection is removed from them, and the Lord is with us; do not fear them.” Numbers 14:8-9

 

While this passage has been familiar to me in the past–with it’s messages of how we must trust God to fight our battles, how we must walk by faith and not sight—the beauty of God’s Word is that is alive and active, fresh for every season. As I read it this year, as a mom, the application that most resonated with me is LEGACY.

 

I noticed that in their fear and mob mentality, one of Israel’s greatest reservations for trusting God was the well-being of their families. Look at their response to the negative reports:

 

And all the people of Israel grumbled against Moses and Aaron. The whole congregation said to them, “Would that we had died in the land of Egypt! Or would that we had died in this wilderness! Why is the Lord bringing us into this land, to fall by the sword? Our wives and our little ones will become a prey. Would it not be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to one another, “Let us choose a leader and go back to Egypt.”  Numbers 14:2-4

 

They are basically shouting, “This plan that God has executed is not the best option for my children! God’s leadership is going to cost them something I am not willing to pay. My plan to stay in Egypt is healthier and more fruitful for their future. My fear will save them from the sword.”

 

It sounds extreme, but don’t we have tendency to do the same thing? If we are not careful, we can naturally gravitate towards a legacy of fear.

 

“I don’t want to obey God if it means moving my family. This isn’t the plan I had for my child. These spiritual battles we are facing are too hard. They are hurting my child. Maybe serving God isn’t worth it. My plans are better than God’s plans. My plan, my protection—my fear–will save them from harm.”

 

But what is our refusal to follow God, our inability to trust Him, our legacy of fear costing our children?

 

I can tell you from this same passage. We know that this whole generation of Israel was prohibited by God to enter into the land because of their fear. We do know that their children were eventually able to enter–but without their parents and not without added decades of hard wilderness wandering. Even so, our gracious God was faithful to bring them in:

 

But your little ones, who you said would become a prey, I will bring in, and they shall know the land that you have rejected.” Numbers 14:31

 

But furthermore, we see that God richly rewards a legacy of FAITH by looking at Caleb, and God’s response to His courage:

 

But my servant Caleb, because he has a different spirit and has followed me fully, I will bring into the land into which he went, and his descendants shall possess it.” Numbers 14:24

 

I love the way author and speaker Lisa Brevere says it, “You can choose your fears for your children or you can choose God’s promises.” There is no room for both.

 

Dad, Mom–God has strategically entrusted your children to you. Your calling is also their calling and the perfect preparation for their spiritual work as adults. He may be calling you to hard places. He may be asking you to fight battles that are only won in the supernatural realm. He may be asking you to look past those giants to those giant grapes and your giant God.

 

Only you can make the choice:

 

FEAR or FAITH.

 

 

The Keys

Yesterday, Norah grabbed my keys while I was in the store wrapping up some errands. I let her hold them for a bit but after buckling her into the car seat, I obviously had to take them back so we could drive home. However, she clinched tightly to the keys and yelled, “mine, mine, mine, mine.” She was bawling as I began to pry them from her fingers.

As I got behind the wheel, I sighed and turned to my toddler to say, “Honey, I know you like to hold the keys…but mommy needs them to get us to our destination.”

In that moment I felt the Holy Spirit say in my heart, “sound familiar?” Gut check.

We hold so tightly to things: our dreams, our plans, our comfortable, our control and yell “mine, mine, mine”–and all the while, God is asking us to hand it over so HE can take us to our intended destination.

Today, let’s have open hands and trust that the Father is so good behind the wheel–and our next stop is worth handing over the keys.

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A Quiet Start

I’ve just been reflecting on how God asked me to lay down quite a few things at the beginning of this year–some good things, some fun things, some ministry things. It really wasn’t easy. I had to tell people I love “no” or “not now.”

But, as these first couple of weeks have rolled by– I now realize that He wanted me to focus on the best things. Like, spending more time with Him, resting, praying, taking care of my body, and spending more time with Norah and Cory. It’s been so long since I’ve come up for air and that’s my fault. I know He will eventually add things I’m passionate about back into my schedule–but for now, it’s good to be still.

I want to encourage you busy mamas–if you are finding it hard to find joy, if you are experiencing burnout, if you haven’t heard God speak in a long, long time–it may be time for you to sit still too. “No” can be hard, but it can also be the “yes” you’ve been needing for awhile now.

 

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Baby girl snuggling during our last 7 snow days

 

Thailand or Bust!

Dear Family and Friends,

 

In the last few years—as many of you know—Cory and I have been burdened by human trafficking in our city and around the world.

 

Through Cory’s job at Long Hollow, we’ve been honored to be a part of weekly outreaches, facilitate training, and raise awareness. We were also able to see our local partner, Rescue 1, open the first safe home for minors in the state of TN. Through Rescue1 and the power and grace of God- 32 girls were rescued from trafficking in our city last year.

 

So here’s the big news! December 9th-18th, I will be traveling to Bangkok, Thailand to finally meet our international partners at “Home of New Beginnings.”

 

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There are an estimated 10,000 to 15,000 women and girls working in the red light districts in Bangkok. There are another estimated 20,000 prostituted women and children working in Pattaya, a beach town two hours south of Bangkok that we will also visit on the trip.

 

According to the Coalition Against Trafficking Women (CATW), “4.6 million Thai men regularly, and 500,000 foreign tourists annually, buy women in prostitution.” CATW – Asia Pacific, “Trafficking in Women and Prostitution in the Asia Pacific”’

 

As you can read on their website: “The Home of New Beginnings provides women who desire to start new lives with the physical, emotional, spiritual, and educational support to break out of sexual slavery.”

 

During my trip, our team will be supporting the Home of New Beginnings by helping with their annual Christmas party—so that girls working in the brothels and actively trapped in this lifestyle can have a night “off” to be pampered, presented the gospel in the Thai language, given gifts, and a copy of the Bible. They will also be given resources and build relationships that could help them escape from a life of sex slavery.

 

I’m writing to see if you could “join” me on the trip in three important ways:

 

1) The first is in PRAYER. If you are interested in praying for me during the trip, would you please comment with your mailing address? I would like to send you a hard copy of our team’s prayer requests for the trip so that you can hang them on your fridge, keep them by your bed, ect. We will face fierce spiritual and emotional battles while there. Please know that praying is the most important work you can do and the greatest gift you could give me and my family while I’m gone.

 

2) Secondly, I’m still in need of FINANCES for the trip. If you’d like to support my trip financially, Long Hollow has setup an online link that allows for you to give tax-deductible donations. If you would rather send a check, I can make sure you receive a giving statement as well. Thank you so much for prayerfully considering this. It means more to me than you’ll ever know.
CLICK HERE TO GIVE

 

3) Third, if you know anyone who has a passion for anti-trafficking and is looking for an area to serve, would you please PASS this letter along? I want to “take” as many people with me in prayer as possible.

 

THANK YOU SO MUCH!

Audra Haney

Grateful Hearts

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This weekend, I was DROWNING in laundry. I literally do not know how our family of three (two and 1/2, really) fills up a laundry basket to (wayyy) past overflowing in such a short amount of time. And, we were in crisis mode. When the laundry basket is *that* full–the underwear drawer is *that* empty–if you know what I mean. It seemed that every spare minute not spent on Easter festivities was spent doing laundry this weekend. With every fold, every fiber of my being wanted to shout, “I HATE LAUNDRY!”

 

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But this morning, as Monday rolled in with a pile of neatly folded clothes sitting on my couch (still waiting to be put up! HA)…I thought, I hate that laundry…but I LOVE the reason it is here.  I thought about the years I spent praying for a husband and the days after my miscarriage I spent begging God for a child. Proverbs 14:4 has been resonating with this OCD, clean freak mama lately. “Where there are no oxen, the manger is clean, but abundant crops come by the strength of the ox.” Sure–my house would be a lot cleaner if I didn’t have those two blessings in my life. There is less to work on, work out, and work through–but my heart wouldn’t be complete. In fact, if I woke up tomorrow with no tiny feetie-pajamas to fold or manly socks to put away…I’d be crushed. There’d be no mess, but there would be grief.

The more I thought about my “burdens” today–and the more I put them in under the light of gratefulness–the more those burdens began to look like blessings. Join me today as we ask God to give us grateful hearts in each and every situation we are facing and each and every load we are under

(even if the load is laundry….)

“Dear Heavenly Father,

You are SO good to us. You are so patient with us. THANK YOU for the countless blessings in our lives. Thank you that your good thoughts towards us outnumber the grains of sands on the beach. (Psalm 139:18) That you know the number of hairs on our head. (Luke 12:7) That you have GOOD plans for us, plans not to harm us, but to give us a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Thank you that every good and perfect gift comes from you. (James 1:17)

 

We THANK you today and CHOOSE to have grateful hearts for all that you have done. You have not even spared your own son, that we may be called children of God. (John 31:1) Thank you for the cross so that we can come boldly to the throne of grace and receive mercy and find grace in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:16)

 

Thank you that we can come to you and bring everything that makes us anxious and trade it in for a thankful heart and that you will give us a peace that passes all understanding. You can guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. (Phil. 4:6)  YOU can help us see the blessing in the burdens. We pray that today–that in every situation–you would shed light on SOMETHING we can be thankful for. We thank you for this supernatural ability given to us by the resurrection power of Jesus Christ.

 

In Jesus Name, Amen.”

 

Your Pastor’s Wife

Pastor's WifeDid you know that March was “Pastor Wife Appreciation Month”? Even if you have let the last 31 days slip by without this knowledge–it’s never too late to bless, reach out to, and especially PRAY for your pastor’s wife. In fact, being in ministry myself and having a husband in ministry, I can say with authority that your pastor and all of his family need your prayers EVERY month and as often as possible.

My dear sweet (and funny) friend Raquel Dunn was gracious enough to take time away from her 4 small children to write a guest post for me on this topic. Her husband Earl is the pastor of Forest Grove Free Will Baptist Church in Knoxville, TN.

 

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While every pastor’s wife may not struggle with the exact same issues, I think she helps us all realize that pastor’s wives are human too and need our love and support–just like any other friend. I hope you enjoy her hilarious transparency and delivery, and her words get you to thinking about how you can support YOUR pastor’s wife.

Blessings, Audra

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THE PASTORS WIFE by Raquel Dunn

When you stood at the altar and said I do, I bet sharing your husband with hundreds or maybe even thousands was not ever part of the plan. It certainly wasn’t for me, however, that’s exactly the life I live today…a pastor’s wife. I hope I can give you a little insight as to exactly what that looks like. Hopefully this month (and every month hereafter) you will shower her (and her misbehaved children) with gratitude for all she does and gives. My prayer is that this article is seasoned with grace, yet real and honest. Here are 5 things every pastor’s wife wants you to know but will never tell you.

 

  1. We are not selfless.

Sometimes we get jealous of the time our husbands give to their congregants. It’s not easy to make family plans and then have them interrupted by your life’s crisis, however big or small that is (and I promise sometimes they are very small, yet to you it’s a crisis). So pray for us, we do love you but sometimes we just don’t like you….well, really we just don’t like having to share our husbands 24/7.

 

  1. Money is always tight.

If you ever think a pastor is doing it for the money, then you’ve lost your mind. We have to budget and work to live within our means. We make sacrifices for the wants we have all the time. However, if we get something nice and new, it doesn’t mean you’re paying us too much. It means we saved and sacrificed in other ways to have that occasional treat. So bless us with a little extra sometimes…and that doesn’t always imply money. It could come in the form of free child care so we can get a rare date night (as long as your crisis doesn’t change that) or a weekend reprieve where you don’t complain that the pastor didn’t speak (here’s a nugget… we are so thrilled you LOVE him, but he needs to hear the WORD to keep doing the WORD. See Romans 10:17 for clarification.)

 

  1. Your words hurt.

That old adage, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” yeah, not so much. Whether it’s advice on how big our family should or shouldn’t be to how we should or shouldn’t dress…it hurts. Sure we develop tougher skin than most, but your voiced opinions cut and leave scars making us a little more guarded each time. We really do love you, but sometimes your “helpful hints” sting. Check out Proverbs 17:28 or Ecclesiastes 3:7 for help on that one.

 

  1. Our life is far from perfect.

We don’t have the ideal husband. Even though he may look all put together on Sunday or one of his sermons on marriage may make you drool and think, “Why can’t my husband be like that?” Trust me! Where do you think he gets his material from to suggest the improvements your husband should be making? 🙂 Our kids are not robots. They backtalk, disobey and even lie from time to time (gasp). They’re a work in progress, just like yours. As for us, we’re a lot more similar than you might think. We’re insecure, yell, cry, worry our kids won’t turn out well, afraid our house isn’t clean enough, think we’re too fat/skinny/short/tall…you name it and we deal with it just like you. The only difference is our life seems to be on a stage where everyone expects you to never fail.

 

  1. We really do love you.

It’s plain and simple. The love of Christ lives in us and we want the best for you, even if you think we shouldn’t have colored our hair that color or that we don’t discipline our kids nearly enough, whatever judgmental thought you have toward us, we still love you…why else would we be crazy enough to share our husbands with you?!?!  🙂

 

A word about THREE words

Earlier this month, I had the awesome privilege of speaking to a group of women at the Old Hickory Community Bible Study. I shared the three words God placed on my heart this year as I became a mother.

 

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I wish everyday would have felt as serene as the picture above (haha!) but it’s been a wobbly transition–loads of beautiful, lots of ugly, and a whole heap of messy. These words have kept me focused on Him. I pray these few minutes of audio encourage your heart today, no matter what season of life you are in.

(P.S. a little back story on the “hair” comment–a torrential rain hit about 5 minutes before I walked in the door–super cute look for speaking, I hear. haha)

 

 

 

 

Unity

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Happy Monday! Well, you guys, this word “unity” has been floating around in my head and heart for several weeks. It’s SO easy to live in division these days. It’s easy to wage war with my spouse, with moms who do things differently, my co-workers, with others in ministry (and, let’s get really-real….even against the Holy Spirit and what He is guiding me to do and say).

Lucky for me and my wayward heart, I’ve been under some incredible teaching alongside a group of women studying “Lead Like Jesus.” The topic this last week hit the nail on the head—PRIDE and FEAR—and how it leads to comparison, separation, distortion, and disunity.

I don’t know about you guys, but I’d rather trade that junk in for the joy of the Lord. It’s not easy, but Jesus is able to cleanse us when we confess and ask for a fresh start (1 John 1:9). Join me today as we pray for beautiful unity:

“Lord,

 We call out for unity—unity in our families, our marriage, our friendships, and our nation. We also plead and believe for unity in our churches and among believers around the world. The toxic sin of pride and fear make us guilty of drawing so many unnecessary battle lines Lord. Help us to see that these specific weapons of the enemy only serve to breed comparison, separation, and strife.

 We pray instead to be unified in vision, sympathetic to one another, to have tender hearts, and humility in our thinking. (1Peter 3:8) Instead of strife, may this world see the supernatural love of Jesus Christ in the way that we relate to one another (John 13:35)

 Teach us how to resolve conflict in a wise godly way. (Matt. 18:15) Help us to encourage the gifts and callings of others without competition. (Eph. 4:11-13) Heal us so that we do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but consider others more significant than ourselves. (Phil. 2:1-3) Above all, help us to put on LOVE which binds everything together in harmony. (Col. 3:14)

 Father, we are part of ONE body. If one member suffers, we all suffer. If one member rejoices, we all rejoice. (1 Corin. 12:26) Show us the GREAT joy of living in unity Jesus.

 In Jesus Name we pray, Amen.”