Changing Perception with Gratitude

Perception: the ability to see, hear, or become aware of something through the senses. Use your senses to be aware of your surroundings, your feelings, your community. God gave us senses to help us live this life to the fullest. They help us prepare for our next right thing. They remind us of moments, days, experiences.

When we take time to use our senses, it gives perspective to the situation around us. It gives us insight and understanding as we process where we are coming from and where we want to go. As we pay attention to our life, to the Holy Spirit’s guidance, our perception is what directs our next steps.

If I perceive I am not good enough to be a published author, I may be unwilling to put in the work to write daily and clarify my voice. However, if I hear to the words of encouragement from others, if I view comments and messages from readers, if I pay attention to the feelings I experience when I’ve completed my writing for the night, when I taste the satisfaction of a well-crafted sentence, this motivates me to keep going, to pick up the pen and work through another essay.

What is your perception of the life God has given you? Do you find joy and contentment in your job, your family, your church community? Do you perceive struggles as punishment or a gift from God to refine you to be more like Him? Gratitude fuels joy and contentment.

There are days that I feel very unthankful, my perception of the world around me is self-focused and negative. I’m running and rushing, and irritated when there is a wrinkle in MY plan. But when I take a deep breath and look up and out, then my perception of my circumstances change. In the chaos of Tuesdays when I run from work to dance and home and to dance again, and I eat dinner in the car (not every Tuesday… sometimes #myhusbandrocks and he does a taxi-run), I pause and see the gifts around me.

The magic of being a mom and finding missing items in random places. The beauty of street lights, deer in snow covered fields, drive thru pick up of prescriptions, the taste of soup for dinner in a travel mug, good conversations with the teenagers, the smell of fresh coffee (in yet another travel mug), a few minutes to type out some words, and to read a chapter of a book, the gift of groceries.

And always I return to the glory of giving thanks in all things. Changing my focus and perception of this gift of life I have been given and remembering that the world doesn’t revolve around me.

#Write28Days #1000gifts #gratitude #HopeWriterLife #writeyourheartout #amwriting #writingchallenge

What does the Kingdom of God Resemble?

Our Father who art in heaven,
Hallowed by Thy Name
Thy Kingdom come
Thy Will be done on earth, as it is in heaven
Give us this day our daily bread
And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil
For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory forever, AMEN.

What does the Kingdom of God resemble? What would it look like for His Kingdom to come, His will be done here on earth? Are you praying for this?

I am beginning to see that my idea of God’s kingdom was narrow. It was easy for me to live in my little bubble, my tiny world, and my way of worship. But lately, I have begun to see the beauty of the whole kingdom of God, the variety of the body of Christ, full of different cultures and nationalities, worship styles and music, voices carrying a wealth of experiences.

The kingdom of God resembles a mustard seed, the tiniest of seeds which grows into a great tree. The kingdom of God resembles leaven, it only takes a tiny amount and some time to do the work and the bread grows. (Luke 13) The kingdom of God grows through the fervent prayer of the righteous. The kingdom of God grows through the willing participation of His people. The kingdom of God grows through the supernatural work of the Holy Spirit in the lives of those who trust in the completed work of Jesus Christ.

#Write28days #ThyKingdomCome

Recuperate with a Miracle

“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul.”‭‭
Psalm‬ ‭23:1-3‬

We are in a sermon series in the book of Mark at church right now. Our pastor preached today on the feeding of the 5,000 and he said some things that got me thinking about rest and recuperation. So often we think that we recuperate when we are all alone in a desert place—a quiet place. But perhaps we recuperate in the middle of trusting God, even in the overwhelming crowd.

In Mark 6:31, Jesus calls His disciples away to a quiet place to get some rest. It was after John the Baptist’s death, it was after they had been sent two by two to do the work of the ministry. They were grieving, they were tired, and the city was filled with many people for the coming Passover. When Jesus told them to come to the desert place, He knew full well that the people would follow them there. His plan to recuperate included the crowds.

The crowds were overwhelming and they wouldn’t go home. The disciples were just as hungry as the people were. When the situation is overwhelming, when we think we don’t have enough, when we are facing an unbelievable mess, we just want to fix things. “Send them away.” We play the martyr: “Should I give up my money, my time, my things?” Sometimes God brings us to the end of ourselves so that we can fully trust Him for provision and rest. We just want to fix things, instead of participating in God’s miracle.

We just want to fix things, instead of participating in God’s miracle.

As in Psalm 23, so in Mark 6:39 He commanded them to sit in groups in the green grass. (And right now, I would love to see some green grass). And there in the green pastures, Jesus performed a miracle. The disciples and the people needed the miracle more than they needed the rest. After the miracle all were satisfied. 

When you think all you need is to get away and alone to recuperate, look for the ways you can participate in the miracles of God. Trusting that God is sufficient and that He will meet your needs will leave you filled and satisfied just like the 5,000.

look for the ways you can participate in the miracles of God.

#Write28Days #HopeWriterLife #Recuperate #JesusOnlyJesus #amwriting #soulsurrender #writeyourheartout

Live Peaceably with all

When you are a parent of four teenagers, the days of living peaceably can be few and far between. When you have actually co-workers that you have to interact with, it can be hard to be peaceable. Discussions on church, bible, government, politics, community, sports, money, etc. can make it near impossible to respond peaceably. Friends, acquaintances, extended family, church members are all human just like you—prone to opinion and sin, prone to conflict. Because we live daily with other people, living in peace takes intention. But God’s Word instructs us to be peaceable.

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”‭‭
Romans‬ ‭12:18‬

Are you a peacekeeper or a peacemaker? Does your presence in a room, at an event, during a crisis bring peace or chaos? Are you doing all you can to be living peaceably with those around you? Are you at peace in your own heart? Where does one find the ability to live peaceably? Is it even possible to live peaceably with some people?

“But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy.

James 3:17

‬‬James gives us direction in God’s Word. The wisdom from above is what allows us to live peaceably with all. I know that when I am short with those around me, when I react instead of respond, when I’m feeling anxious, it is usually a sign that I have not been “observant” of the commandments of God’s Word. That I have been focused on worldly wisdom instead of the wisdom of God’s Word. I’m thankful for warning signs and for the accessibility we have to wisdom from above… if any one lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives to all men, liberally.

Perhaps the wisdom in the book of James is a good place to start. Obviously, we know the book of Proverbs is filled with wisdom from above. Paul gives much wisdom and instruction in his letters to the churches he visited. Even Romans 12, which tells us to live peaceably gives us many practical ways to live this out.

Your spiritual gifts are for the benefit of the body of Christ—Use them accordingly 
Love sincerely
Abhor evil
Cling to what is good
Be kind and caring
Put others first
Don’t be lazy
Serve the Lord
Be patient in trials
Pray always
Meet the needs of others
Be a blessing, be hospitable
Celebrate …and mourn with others
Work toward the same goal—God’s glory
Be humble
Be honest
Overcome evil with good

Where do you go when you are seeking wisdom? In what relationship or situation do you need wisdom? How has God’s Word given you wisdom in the past? How can you encourage others with wisdom from above?

#Write28Days #HopeWriterLife #Peace #SoulStruggle #SoulSurrender

Be Observant of your Life

We observe holidays and celebrations. We observe our emotions and warning signs. We observe sporting events and concerts. We observe nature. We observe lent.

But how observant are we? What do you notice in the experience of these things? And what do you do with the knowledge you gain? Emily P. Freeman on The Next Right Thing Podcast reminded me that the goal is to pay attention to your life. How does paying attention to your life help you? To be honest, I’m great at asking all the questions, but my new Next Right Thing journal is blank.

Do you notice what makes you laugh and what makes you cry? Do you journal as a way to remember? Do you realize when you are at the end of your rope and you need a break, a change of scenery, a nap? Do you stay focused in the moment of celebrations or willing sit with the grief that has you overwhelmed? Do you pay attention to the heaviness of remembering the sacrifice of Jesus’ blood and the victory it brings to you? Do you observe God’s commandments?

“My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.”

Proverbs‬ ‭23:26‬ ‭KJV‬‬

When you count your blessings, you are being observant of the ways that God is fully involved in your life and personally cares for you as His child. When you observe dates on the calendar it grounds you, helps you refocus, and reminds you of the importance of schedule. God’s creation is on a schedule, we are created for seasons. There is time for feasting and there is time for feasting. Sometimes, we are in full bloom and once in awhile, we need to get away and hibernate for a season, to let the old die off to make room for new growth.

What does rest look like in your life? Are you observing sabbath, lent, the seasons? How can you pay attention today in a way that will allow you to live abundantly tomorrow?

Praying blessings over your day and your weekend! Jesus loves you.

Join the other great writers at Five Minute Friday for more thoughts on Observant

#FiveMinuteFriday #Write28Days #HopeWriterLife #1000gifts #Gratitude #JesusOnlyJesus #SoulSurrender #Lent

Making a Profession out of Giving Thanks

I am a writer.

I’m also a project assistant, a wife, a mom, a child of God, a daughter, a sister, a friend, a reader. A pizza chef, dark chocolate lover, volunteer, taxi driver for my kids. Some of those things are considered a profession, others a stage/status in life. When I get overwhelmed I wonder how many titles a person can carry well. Am I doing my best in callings I have on my life? Is there anything I need to let go of for this season?

I’d like to make a profession out of being grateful. Somedays it’s easy to sit down and write a long list of all the things I’m thankful for. But in the moments of my everyday life, when things don’t go my way, when my teenagers act out against me, when the job gets a little chaotic, when the weather doesn’t cooperate with my plans, when I get interrupted… It is so easy to NOT be thankful.

So tonight, I work to train my brain and flip the switch and give praise for hard eucharisteo.

Rough bumpy ice on the driveway
Computer technicians
Lunch breaks
Ebooks on loan
Chiropractic adjustments 
Sunshine on the back porch
Working through mis-communications
Learning opportunities
Hugs through tears
Loud music in the car
When the best husband cleans the kitchen
Lent playlists on Spotify
Cherry jelly hearts (“for the children”)
Bagel crisps
Healthy dinner
Reading Joshua with SheReadsTruth
Slippers and fuzzy blankets

May I remember these things, in the moment, and respond with grace and contentment in all things.

Can we make a profession out of giving thanks? Showing Gratitude to the One who gives all good gifts? Being thankful and content with what we have? Remembering that He will never leave us or forsake us? Perhaps that will help me (and you, and maybe even my kids) remember the that world doesn’t revolve around me! It’s Jesus, Only Jesus!

#Write28Days #HopeWriterLife #1000gifts #Gratitude #JesusOnlyJesus #SoulSurrender

Thankful for Serendipity – God’s Gifts

Sometimes serendipity is an icy long driveway that makes you decide to take a personal day and read and write and rest.

Some call it serendipity, some call it good karma or fate, but I know that every good gift comes from above, from the Father. Not there there is anything beneficial or by chance about an ice storm, whether minor or major. But good gifts come from all things.

As the fog settled heavy over our house and obscured my front window view, I was reminded again that through it all God is with us. God came down as Jesus and dwelt with man, and God as Holy Spirit indwells us and gives us everything we need for abundant life.

God is with me when I have a very hard time making decisions. God is with me when my teenager hates the decisions I make. God is with me when the driveway is ice and God is with me when the roads are clear. God is with you when your family member gets COVID. And when your kids’ school is virtual again. When your iced in without power. When you have opportunity to serve Him and others with housing projects and missions trips. When your flight gets canceled. When your job is overwhelming and exhausting, or when you lose your job. God meets all our needs. And God gives us all different journeys to walk and different trials to go through. But the one thing that is the same is that God is with us and God wants us to find our joy and sufficiency in Him.

Perhaps serendipity is the undeserved blessings He lavishes on me. He saved me from eternal separation from Him (my creator) and that is enough. Everything else He gives is an abundant overflow of His unconditional, ever-faithful love for us.

So I thank God for… an endless supply of good books to read. Chocolate and valentine candy. Updates on my son’s missions trip. A husband that cares for my safety. Washing machines and dryers. Coffee. Podcasts, bible reading, Spotify playlists. Crazy teenagers. Comfy stay-at-home clothes.

I am also thankful for eternal life, the body of Christ, church community. God’s Grace. God’s power and knowledge and ever presence. Physical and emotional healing. I’m thankful for His Kingdom Come.

What are you thankful for today?

#write28days #1000gifts #gratitude #HopeWriterLife #givethanks

Habits: They can make or break you

Habits, good and bad, we’ve all got them. A repeated behavior that is often subconscious. We don’t even realize we’re doing it. We get settled in our ways, stuck in a rut and don’t even realize it. It’s the subconsciousness of a habit that gets to me. Why is it so much easier to settle into a bad habit over a good, helpful habit?

Reminding yourself of the truth of God’s Word is always a good habit. #write28days #spiritualdisciplines #habit #HopeWriterLife

Here are a few of my habits… drinking coffee every morning. Scrolling twitter and instagram way too much. Laundry on Saturdays, Pizza on Sundays (when the oven isn’t broken). Taking the same route to work every single day (weather permitting). Worrying too much, snapping at the teenagers over bedtime. Kissing my husband when I leave the house. Taking notes during church. Starting bible reading plans (and starting again). And recently, I made a habit of writing days on Saturday.

What are your habits? For better or worse?

Habits come and go, and change with seasons. When I wasn’t working every day, my bible reading, my healthy eating, my exercise routines were all in a much better pattern. When my kids were younger I had habits of bedtime routines. My writing habit has ebbed and flowed. What are some habits you used to have?

Spiritual disciplines are the best habits. I’ve been reminded lately of the importance of silence and solitude, which takes real intentionality when you live in a house of teenagers. I’m reminded of the importance of meditation on God’s Word. Some days are better than others, and some days my meditation comes in the simple act processing of my thoughts and meditating on the truth of God’s Word. That He is faithful, even when I am not. That I can live holy, because He is Holy. That meditating on God’s Word will result in success (God’s definition of success). That He uses all things for my good and His glory. That I can come boldly before the throne of God, and He hears my cries. That my salvation is a gift of grace and I can do nothing to earn it. Christ lives in me. Reminding yourself of the truth of God’s Word is always a good habit. 

What Scripture are you meditating on this week? This month? This year?

“This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success.”

Joshua 1:8

#HopeWriterLife #Write28Days #Habit #amwriting #soulwrestle 

Finding Creativity in the Winter Blues

Today, my creativity is all dried up. I’m seeing the world in dusty grays and faded whites, and the dreary weather matches my mood. I have good intentions in my writing challenge, in writing to find my voice. And then I procrastinate and scroll social media, I go do more laundry, I read the same paragraph three times in a book I want to read, I snack because I’m bored.

And none of it helps my creativity, none of it inspires me to write. So I stop and look out my front door view and take my monthly picture. A moment in time to pause and remember and reflect. And I stare at what looks like a black and white photo because the sky is so gray and I can’t find the sun—in my days or in my heart.

I know the season is just that—a season, and the sun WILL shine again, the clouds will give way to blue skies, and some of the trees will grow leaves again. The snow will melt, the grass will be lush and green, and the birds will perch in the branches of the tall pine tree. But part of the routine of taking a monthly photo is to be present in the moment, to appreciate the ups and downs, to find the creativity even in gray, even in the sadness.

Sometimes art is quiet and subtle. Sometimes beauty is barren tree silhouettes against a gloomy winter sky. We give thanks for the snow as we watch from our warm windows. We remember that even gray winter skies can be pretty. Creativity is the landscape of sloping hills, rocks, and trees.

When you don’t feel creative, it’s okay to read a lighthearted fiction when you can’t get through the philosophical non-fiction, or watch a movie with your kids. Creativity is remembering that God is with me when I can’t shake the blues, and every day is not wrapped up in a pretty bow. His mercies are new every morning, and sometimes the mornings feel as dark as the nights. But still He is holding me. 

Sometimes beauty is barren tree silhouettes against a gloomy winter sky. #write28days #creativity

#Write28Days #Creativity #FrontDoorView #onceamonthspot #juliesmonthlyspot #ministryofpayingattention #ministryofordinaryplaces #JesusOnlyJesus #winterblues #soulstruggle

Be awestruck by God

“Do not be awe struck by other people and try to copy them. Nobody can be you as efficiently as you can.”

Norman Vincent Peale

You were made for a reason. You are unique and you have something to offer the world that no one else can provide. God created you and placed you in this timeline surrounded by the people that need you most. Don’t try to live someone else’s life. 

It’s easy to be enamored by famous people, those who seem to have a fairy tale life, who have it all put together and have perceived success. We put athletes, actors, pastors, writers, other moms up on a pedestal, but it is important to remember that God created you for YOUR purpose and for your life.

Don’t be awestruck by people, be awestruck by a God who loves you unconditionally, who created you in His image, and gave you all the feelings and skills and even limitations to live a life to bring Him glory. Yes, He created you with what you need and gave you everything you need for life and godliness in His Word. He wants you to live an abundant life with the power of Holy Spirit living in you, not in your own strength but Christ in you.

Be awestruck by a God who never changes, and showers us with an abundance of beauty in creation, in nature, in the people that we live daily life with. Be awestruck by a God who heals, who sees, who is just and holy. And be awestruck by the gifts and talents He has given to you and use the opportunities He gives you to love others.

#Write28Days #HopeWriterLife #Awestruck #writeyourheartout #soulwrestle #JesusOnlyJesus