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

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