Processing and Praising Jesus

I am a slow processor. Sometimes I overthink things, sometimes I avoid thinking on all the things, sometimes I’m just procrastinating. But one can only procrastinate for so long before the words just need to come out.

I’ve been reminded time and time again this week (and last week) that my God is a personal God, a personable God, and a Sovereign God. Salvation does not lead us to need to do more, but it is an opportunity for God to shower us with even more gifts. My relationship with God is not based on anything I do right, or wrong. It is based on His faithfulness, His righteousness, His goodness and mercy.

And while my life sure has not been perfect this week (hello, parenting teenagers… hello, selfishness… hello, over-scheduling… hello, anxiety), time and time again, Jesus shows up and shows off. It started with these random flowers in the middle of a pile of dead weeds in my yard, blooming way in advance of any of my purposefully planted daffodils, and completely different. Showing off in their tiny size and stunning, two-color display, just smiling at me. I don’t know where they came from, but they sure put a smile on my face and reminded me of my Creator, who loves me and gives me good gifts—He created all things and holds them together, even in a seemingly random way in my backyard.

When I look back on my week, I see the gifts in abundance and I am reminded of the importance of remembering and giving thanks. I’m thankful for a walk with a friend, for a view of the city, for trees in bloom in the valley, for a perfectly timed sunset, wild turkeys up close and personal, for homemade iced coffee drinks, for endless supply of books (libraries are a wonderful thing), for hugs from my kids, good conversations, hard conversations, loving correction from my other half, homemade pizza, fellowship with the body of Christ, the opportunity to pray on behalf of others’ needs, Jesus—always Jesus.

My friend encouraged me to “Stop and smell the flowers,” so I picked up a $4 bouquet at the grocery store. One of the great podcasts (#HumanHope with @loswhit) I listen to reminded me to “Lower the volume of life,” so I’ve chosen silence while driving more often these last few days.

And when I make space, and read God’s Word, and pay attention to the gifts around me, I give thanks. I give thanks for the the way God is gracious. And faithful. And holy. And just. And full of loving kindness. He gives His children many good things, we just need to keep our eyes open to see them.

So when I’m overwhelmed by my sin and by the sin of the world around me, I run to Jesus and I rest in His forgiveness. I look for the ways He shows up. I count my blessings. I repent. I accept His grace. And I shout His praises to those around me.

Turn to me and be gracious to me, as is your way with those who love your name.

Psalm 119:132

#HopeWriterLife #SoulStruggle #amwriting #writeyourheartout #justwrite #JesusOnlyJesus #1000gifts #ChasingOutTheDark #TheMinistryofPayingAttention

Write my way to Truth

When I write, I am a better me.  When I write, I take the time to process the hard stuff, to acknowledge what’s right and wrong, to remind myself of truth, and to pay attention to the good God gives. When I stop to write,  my mind does what David’s did when he talked himself out of the stinkin’ thinkin’ and talked to God in prayer.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? and why are you disquieted in me? hope in God: for I shall yet praise him”. ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭42:5‬

The weather has me down in the dumps today… it’s a lovely, dreary, gray March day. Tomorrow’s forecast doesn’t look much better. And it’s easy for my mind to focus on the negative, and when I keep it mental that is exactly what happens.

However, when I take the time to write down and name the negative stuff, I naturally shift toward taking the time to combat the negative with truth. I can’t explain it, it just happens.

So I remember that my soul is cast down, but it doesn’t need to stay there. I can hope in God. I continually use foggy days to remind myself that God came down. He came to earth to walk among us, to show us The Way, to pay the atonement for our sins. I can find the pictures on my phone of last week’s sunrise and remind myself that the sun rises every morning and God created all the seasons for our enjoyment.

I can remind myself and you that Jesus laid down His life for my sins and I don’t have to live in defeat because we already have the victory.

Sunday’s coming!

#HopeWriterLife #HolyWeek #Godwithus #HeavenComeDown #ChasingOutTheDark #writeyourheartout

The Weight & Wait of Holy Week

I’m having a hard time stringing words together these days. I’ve seen some beautiful sunrises. Winds and rains have blown through and knocked down some very dead trees (there’s a lesson in that). The birds are singing, and in the valley I’ve spotted the spring flowers blooming. But my heart is still stuck in winter, my soul is stuck in short dark days. 

I’m overwhelmed with the dailyness of life.  Parenting teenagers has me questioning all my life choices. I don’t know how to re-enter life, church, family, friendships, etc. I don’t want to write, but I’m sad when I have not written.

I say I don’t have time to write, but it’s also that I’m not making the time. I look for inspiration and I come up wanting. I’ve forgotten how to look for beauty, to pay attention to ordinary things, to find hope and joy in the blessings I am taking for granted.

I think of the weight and the wait of Holy Week, of all of lent. And I am always reminded of Hope. Hope in tiny, little flowers. Spring will come again. Friendships will evolve, change, grow. Children will make me laugh …and cry, and grow. Jesus rose from the dead. God and the truth of His Word changes lives. God is faithful, even when I am not. The sun shines. Some day I will hug my friends and family again. When I don’t understand, I just need to remember God is in control. God is directing my steps and the steps of those I love.

Sunday’s coming.

#HopeWriterLife #SoulStruggle #amwriting #writeyourheartout #justwrite #ministryofpayingattention #itssimplytuesday #TuesdayYouAintCute

Jesus Makes All Things Possible

Do you know what is possible with God? Stubborn people can be saved. Relationships can be restored. Healings happen. Blessings come in abundance. All things.

Psalm 103 reminds us that Jesus forgives my sins, heals my diseases, redeems my life from destruction, crowns me with loving kindness and tender mercies, satisfies my mouth with good things, renews my strength, executes righteousness and judgment for the oppressed.

Sometimes I just need to write that list out and personalize it for myself. Perhaps you need the reminder, too. Writing it with actual pen and paper settles it into our hearts and minds in real way. Writing out Scripture, writing out prayers is something that I’ve gotten away from in the busyness of this season. But I’ve been reminded.

Because that’s what God does. He lovingly, tenderly shelters us as a mother. He teaches us the same lesson over and over (Hello, Israelites and disciples). He shows up and shows off and shows me that He loves me personally. He created me intentionally. And He has a plan for my life (and it’s better than my plan).

This weekend was full of a variety of situations that didn’t fall under “my plan.” I didn’t respond well in most of those. I may have had a minor breakdown. If I’m being honest the whole past year has been quite the drift from my plan. But God is not surprised. And He uses all these things for His glory and for the good of those who love Him.

So as I look at this photo I snapped Sunday morning, with the intention of writing that day, I’m reminded that God brings beauty in the starkness of winter. The sun still shines. The sky is brilliant blue. The shadows and highlights display His creativity. That tall pine tree stands tall and firm. Even dead trees have an odd stark beauty about them.

I’m reminded that He gives me words when I take the time to sit still and listen and write. He gives me sunrises and sunsets. He gives me laughter with my kids and the hard conversations. He forgives my impatience and helps me seek forgiveness of others. He gave me a place of employment that talked me through my oven connections (I think I even learned something about flare union adapters and NPT threads). He gives me delicious take-out options on the days I live in my car. He provides neighbors willing to help and give me tea. Phone calls with friends, dark chocolate, coffee. Good books to read. Hot showers. Chiropractic care. Rest. And all of this is over and above the gift that is all I need.

Jesus. He makes all things possible. What do you need to ask God to show you today? What has God done for you that you need to acknowledge and give thanks for?

#HopeWriterLife #FiveMinuteFriday (on Tuesday) #fmfparty #writingprompt #writingcommunity #possible #JesusOnlyJesus #juliesmonthlyspot #onceamonthspot #frontdoorview

Take a walk and look for Jesus

I took a walk this evening. Same walk I took almost 5 months ago, when I tripped over a wrinkle in the sidewalk and bit the dust and broke my hand. It was dusk, probably not the wisest, but I put my phone away. I wore my actual sneakers. And I paid attention to the rise and fall of the sidewalk.

It’s good for me to walk again. Winter and busyness and life stress has not been kind to my eating or exercise habits. I needed to know that I can walk and it’s good for me. My hand has not returned to full strength. It still hurts when I cut too many veggies, write too many words, carry too many groceries, stir dinner soups for too long. And sometimes I’m afraid it will never be what it once was.

Sometimes, it’s the simple processing of hard moments, life-altering events, the “getting back on the bike” moments. Other times, it takes a bit more. Like when I think that exactly one year ago, I was having coffee with a friend, we talked about the virus buzz, we talked about church and Jesus, we talked about teenagers and parenting, we talked about friendship. I’m pretty sure that we did not talk about online church or wearing masks or virtual school. I miss coffee in actual coffee shops with friends.

And one year later, I think of all the things I miss, how desperate I feel to return back to life as it once was, and it’s easy to focus on the things lost, the events cancelled, the schooling struggles, the grief. But I’m thankful for the things I’ve learned and I know that God has given us much more than was taken away.

I don’t want to forget the gift of endless family dinners with teenagers, family hikes, whole weekends in pajamas, technology to keep us connected, summer outside gatherings, library curbside service, processing hard junk, being more aware of social injustice, studying Lamentations, focusing on the attributes of God, flexibility of virtual school, 4-H zoom opportunities, ordering take out, still going to work every day in a safe environment, taking the time to read more.

I’m thankful for the things I learned while my hand was broken and for seeing God’s faithfulness in the way He provides. I’m thankful for hope, because that is what this year most needs. I’m thankful for Jesus because as I lean on Him and rest in Him, I learn His goodness, His faithfulness, His sovereignty.

I stop on my walk (full stop) to take pictures of the twilight hour. I come back to the car and wait some more and write with heart full of gratitude that He is with me, He gives me words, He never leaves me or forsakes me, He is always reminding me of his everlasting love.

As you reflect on the last year, because we will all reflect in some way, look for ways to give God glory, look for all the things we can be thankful for, look for the helpers, look for the blessings. What are you thankful for as you look back on the last year? Where do you see Jesus?

HopeWriterLife #amwriting #faithwriter #writeyourheartout #writeitgirl #JesusOnlyJesus #alwaysJesus #brokenbones #takeawalk #givethanks #1000gifts #gratitude #hardeucharisteo

When the words won’t come

I wrote for 28 days straight in February. Some of those words came easy and some I really had to work for. I needed the challenge, the accountability to stick with it. I work best with specifics, guidelines, a plan. I loved the commitment to sitting down every night and plunking out a few words and thoughts about life, writing, hope, and always Jesus.

And then I ran out of words.

But God is faithful…

Life seemed overwhelming. I’ve been processing reminders of grief, pandemic anniversary emotions, teenager angst and hard conversations, regular life, and continued unknowns about the future. There were no word prompts to give me a starting point for the blank page. I struggled with the frustration that at the end of the day, at the end of the writing challenge, I am right back where I started. The things that I wanted to write about and process were not for publishing, and I haven’t quite figured out how to write just for me (journaling has never been my jam).

But better writing only comes through practice, through a devotion to the craft, even if it is just a hobby. To being okay with writing short essays and sloppy essays. To writing consistently even if it never sees the light of day. To never, never, never, never give up. To be who God created me to be.

My thoughts are all over the place. So I reign them in and remind myself that God remains faithful. Always faithful.

God has come to give us abundant life—in Him. My joy and contentment isn’t found in social media, my children’s life choices, being a published author, not even the weather(although sunny days sure do help). My abundant life is found in Jesus, only Jesus. Joy is found in living in communion with God and His Word, in living in community with the body of Christ, in giving glory and praise to the Creator of the universe, and in pointing others to Him.

When I’m reading God’s Word, those words will flow out in my writing so that I can encourage others. And the lesson here is for more than just writers. In anything you are called to do, it can only be improved by the time you spend with Jesus. So I remember His faithfulness and pay attention to the ways He continually draws me close to Him. And I read His Word. And I write. And I daily remind myself that He can be trusted with all the unknowns and He’s not finished with me yet. He’s not finished with YOU either.

#JesusonlyJesus #sunshine #Sonshine #HopeWriterLife #FindYourVoice #amwriting #writingcommunity #justwrite #writeyourheartout #writeitgirl #instawriter #faithwriter

How we Perceive the Love of God

What does it take for one to perceive the love of God? How do we truly understand the magnitude of His love for us, that He laid down his life for us? What is it about the faith of a mustard seed—so tiny, so strong? Do you live your life aware of God’s never-ending, unconditional, love? Maybe you have never seen His love or been told about His gift for you.

I grew up in church and although I heard the message regularly, it didn’t sink in until I was a teenager. Even now, I’m prone to wander, prone to forget. Some days I am more aware of it than others. My focus isn’t always on Things Above, and in my finite mind it’s easy to forget the loving kindness of the Lord. But then I am reminded once again of His sacrifice for me, for you. He laid down his life for us.

He laid down His life for us.

When I think of my tendencies toward sin, selfishness, anger, impatience, it’s hurtful. It hurts God, it hurts those around me. My sin and your sin is ugly. It’s easy for me to see what my kids are doing wrong, or the sins scattered in the news of those in the spotlight. But sometimes I need to be reminded that it was MY sin that He died for. He paid the penalty for MY sin.

And when I perceive this, am made truly aware of this and understand the unfathomable gift of His sacrifice, it should draw me to live devoted to the kingdom of God. We should be ready and willing to lay down our lives for others, to love one another, to serve one another. This can only be done as we walk in the Spirit.

“For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.” ‭‭

Galatians‬ ‭5:13-14‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. 

As I think on Christ’s sacrifice and God’s love, I understand that I must walk in step with the Spirit. How can I love my neighbor this week? How can I reach out in my community to show the love of Christ to strangers? How can I live for Jesus while at work? How can I serve my church family? How can I exemplify the fruit of the Spirit in my interactions with my children this week? How can I live in such a way that others see Jesus?

#Write28Days #Perceive #serve #loveoneanother #amwriting #writeitgirl #community #JesusOnlyJesus #HopeWriterLife #writeyourheartout #writingchallenge #soulstruggle #chasingoutthedark #Scripture

God’s Divine Power Enables Me

I had a Mondayish Friday today. And I don’t like to say that because Mondays are a day that the Lord hath made and we should rejoice in it, just like any other day. What I mean to say is that I was/am in a slump. I am dragging, craving all the junk food, having the hardest time focusing on the tasks at work, and quickly losing my cool with my kids’ sassiness and selfishness. And experiencing a low-grade headache that is just persistent enough to let me know it’s there without completely knocking me out of commission. I was being short-tempered, sassy, and selfish myself.

But I made a choice. I knew that spending the evening slumped in front of the tv was not going to help my mood. Even if it was Friday family movie night. We ate dinner together, watched an episode of Wanda Vision, and then I excused myself to refocus and readjust my attitude. And through devotional and bible reading, I was quickly reminded that the devil wants me stuck in the dark, focused on the negative, believing the lies.

But God has enabled me to be free from sin, and that includes my own temper and selfish desires. The power of the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is living inside of me and has enabled me to raise from the pit of despair I sometimes let myself wallow in. Yes, I have divine power.

“According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” ‭‭2 Peter‬ ‭1:3-4‬ ‭KJV‬‬

I don’t get it right every day, and I will probably snap at my kids again before bedtime, and I will have to apologize for being self-focused at least 3 more times this weekend. But I know that time spent in God’s Word and an intentional effort to be thankful will change my negative thought patterns.

“For all the promises of God in him are “Yes”, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.” ‭‭2 Corinthians‬ ‭1:20‬

Yes, He has promised eternal life and he has promised abundant life, and he has blessed us with all spiritual blessings. His yoke is easy and his burden is light. So I run to Jesus and ask him again for the wisdom and grace to face the refiner’s fire. And I give Him all the thanks and all the glory.

“Bless the Lord, O my soul: and all that is within me, bless his holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits: Who forgiveth all thine iniquities; who healeth all thy diseases; Who redeemeth thy life from destruction; who crowneth thee with lovingkindness and tender mercies; Who satisfieth thy mouth with good things; so that thy youth is renewed like the eagle’s.”‭‭ Psalm 103:1-5‬

This week’s Five Minute Friday prompt is Enable. Stop by and encourage a few more writers.

#Write28Days #FiveMinuteFriday #HopeWriterLife #enable #writeyourheartout #writingchallenge #soulstruggle #chasingoutthedark #Scripture #JesusOnlyJesus

Patience — Waiting without whining

Sometimes I have a hard time waiting on God. I’ve said it before and I will say it again, I need the reminder that God works outside of time. He is never late. When I look at life situations that don’t look like I think they should, or when I am asking God for answers or change or rescue or victory, I am always in a rush. I want to see progress, results, clear direction.

I keep wondering if there is something more I should be doing, something different. I struggle between the line of “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” How can it be both/and?

I struggle between the line of “stand still and see the salvation of the Lord” and “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.” How can it be both/and? (#patience)

I have seen him be faithful. I have seen the benefit of His timing. I know that He has not forgotten me (or my friends and family) and the struggles we face. I just have a hard time waiting… patiently, without anxiety.

God doesn’t want me and you to be lazy. He’s not asking me to do nothing. But He does ask us to trust Him. Patience doesn’t mean doing nothing. It is facing the wait without complaint, being steadfast despite adversity. It is trusting His guidance as to when to move forward and when to stand still. It is praying and seeking counsel on how to support others without enabling sin. It is being content where I am but also looking for future opportunities God has prepared for me. It is waiting in faith for God’s miracle in the lives of those I cannot change. How can I remain strong when it feels like things are crumbling around me?

In the New Testament, patience is often listed or linked closely with hope and love. Living out an example of patience means holding on to hope, walking in love, trusting Jesus. And the only way I know how to do that is to return to the truths of His word whenever I am tempted to think that we’ve reached the end of the line and there is no hope.

“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.”‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭27:14‬‬‬

“Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him:”‭‭ Psalm 37:7‬‬‬

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭40:1‬‬‬

“The Lord is good unto them that wait for him, to the soul that seeketh him.” ‭‭Lamentations‬ ‭3:25‬‬‬

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, Meekness, temperance: against such there is no law. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit.”‭‭ Galatians‬ ‭5:22-23, 25‬ ‬‬

“I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.”‭‭ Psalm‬ ‭40:1‬‬‬ (#patience #write28days)

#Write28Days #HopeWriterLife #Scripture #Hope #Patience #writeyourheartout #soulstruggle

Persistent in Prayer

“And, behold, a woman of Canaan came out of the same coasts, and cried unto him, saying, Have mercy on me, O Lord, thou Son of David; my daughter is grievously vexed with a devil. But he answered her not a word. And his disciples came and besought him, saying, Send her away; for she crieth after us. But he answered and said, I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel. Then came she and worshipped him, saying, Lord, help me. But he answered and said, It is not meet to take the children’s bread, and to cast it to dogs. And she said, Truth, Lord: yet the dogs eat of the crumbs which fall from their masters’ table. Then Jesus answered and said unto her, O woman, great is thy faith: be it unto thee even as thou wilt. And her daughter was made whole from that very hour.”‭ Matthew‬ ‭15:22-28

This story of the Canaanite women has often intrigued me. I question why Jesus did not answer her at first, and I’m amazed at her courage to be so persistent and loud that the disciples wanted to send her away. The Canaanite woman came to Jesus with her needs. She cried for mercy, she worshipped him, and she listened to his response.

And then she said, “Truth, LORD.”

Where can you say, “Truth, Lord.” Are you listening to the direction He is giving you? Can you see His hand at work? Do you take Him at His word?

I often panic when things are uncertain or overwhelming. I sometimes give up hope when I don’t see the good in a situation or I can’t see how God is going to use it for His glory. I want to hibernate when things aren’t going my way. I complain when God’s timing is not my timing. But this woman came boldly before Christ. She stated her need. And she responded full of faith. “Truth, Lord.” She believed in the goodness of the Lord.

Is there a situation in your life where you are asking the Lord for mercy, for direction, for rescue and it seems like he is not answering a single word? Are you persistent in prayer? Do you believe that God hears and answers prayer? Are you worshipping? Can you see the truth the Lord has for you?

Don’t give up hope. Pray in faith, believing that God is working all things together for good to them who love God, to them who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28). Remember the faith of the Canaanite woman, and may Jesus say of you, too, “Great is your faith, be it done for you as you desire.”

#Write28Days #truthLord #persistent #HopeWriterLife #writeyourheartout #prayyourheartout #prayer #amwriting #writingchallenge