Jesus—in the middle of it all

My dear friends @Hopewriters had a weeklong instagram writing challenge. I had great intentions and shared my writing on my blog and on Instagram four of the days, which is pretty good. So I decided to go back to the word prompts I missed, because word prompts help me think and help me focus.

Another thing that helps me in my writing is my middle of the month pause to reflect and pay attention to my #frontdoorview. (#frontwindowview) I snap a picture when it catches my eye, or when I realized it’s the middle of the month and I forgot. I take special notice of sunrises or sunsets, storms rolling in or bright blue, cloudless days. And in the month of May, I wish there was a way to better capture the few lilac bushes that hedge the yard. And I wish I could share the burst of lilac scent that catches me when I leave my house. And always I’m reminded of the goodness and faithfulness of my God.

We’ve been smack dab in the middle of a little bit of chaos. Life has thrown a few curve balls in the last year or so. There has been a lot of loss, some changes, heart work, relationship struggles, ups and downs in parenting, doubts, questions, pruning. And in the middle of it all, when I’m tempted to claim a crisis of faith, I can’t. I am constantly reminded that Jesus has the words of life and I go back to my favorite Psalms and remember how David prayed honest prayers and refocused and realigned his heart with the truth of God’s Word.

David’s relationships were a mess, his parenting was less than ideal, he made lots of mistakes as king. But always he turned to God. He confessed his sin, he focused on the goodness of God, he reminded himself that God was in control, he continually asked God for direction and next steps in his life.

“Make me to know your ways, O Lord; teach me your paths. Lead me in your truth and teach me, for you are the God of my salvation; for you I wait all the day long.”

Psalm‬ ‭25:4-5‬

So when I’m feeling overwhelmed in the middle of my week, the middle of parenting teenagers, the middle of the chaos of life, I ask God to lead me in truth, I pray for wisdom and for Him to direct my path. And I praise the God of my salvation.

#HopeWriterLife #amwriting #writeyourheartout #writingchallenge #faithwriters #juliesmonthlyspot #onceamonthspot #ministryofpayingattention #middle

My Purpose is to Praise Him

“I will praise thee with my whole heart: Before the gods will I sing praise unto thee.  ...  The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: Thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: Forsake not the works of thine own hands.”  ‭Psalm‬ ‭138:1, 8‬

Some days all I can do is praise Jesus. When all I want to do is complain. When I can’t find the words to say. When life doesn’t go according to my plan. When the sun shines strong and everything is going right. When the doctor calls with not-good-news. When you meet a friend for coffee (I miss this). When your teenager makes you laugh. When your teenager makes you cry. When you see evidence of Jesus working in a situation. When you worship with the body of Christ (even with a mask on). When you remember that God is in control and He is not limited by time and space.

I praise God because of WHO HE IS. Creator. Redeemer. Savior. Father. The Way. Psalm 138 is a short chapter… just 8 verses. We praise God because He is love. He is truth. He is our strength. Great is His glory. He respects the humble. He rescues those in trouble. His love never runs out. And He will complete His purpose in my life and in your life.

He hears me when I cry out to Him. He will not forsake the work He has started in my life (and in the lives of my kids). And when I read His word, I’m reminded of His goodness, His purpose in my life, and that He has made me for good works to glorify Him. So when I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, I can’t help but praise Him when I refocus my purpose to align with His. Daily—every moment I need to realign my will with His will.

God’s purpose will prevail. May I continually pray, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done.”

#HopeWriterLife #amwriting #writeyourheartout #writingchallenge #faithwriters #HeavenComeDown #GodWithUs #ThyKingdomCome #chasingoutthedark #purpose

In the middle of the messy story

The story is this… I thought I wanted to be a writer. I think I may still want to be a writer. But some days I can’t figure out what my story is, I can’t figure out why I want to share it, how, where, and when I want to share it. I can’t even figure out who needs to hear it.

When we tell our stories—humbly, authentically, with the intent to glorify God—it can encourage others. I always want my story to have a happy ending, I like it when it wraps up neatly with a bow. But tonight, I’m smack dab in the middle of messiness. And that’s not usually the best time to share. But here is what I do know.

Always, I want my story to remind myself, my kids, my circle of influence, that God is good, God is love, and God is in control . I know that when I have a breakdown, I can respond like David and go to the loving arms of my Father. Sometimes I ask Him, “How long, O Lord, will you forget me forever?”  Or “why do the heathen prosper?” Or “why is my soul cast down?”

And I ask these questions until He reminds me, that … “He leads me beside still waters, he restores my soul” and I can experience peace because “You LORD, make me dwell in safety” and “He rescued me because He delights in me.”

“But I have trusted in your steadfast love; my heart shall rejoice in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, because he has dealt bountifully with me.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭13:5-6‬ ‭‬‬

“You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” ‭‭Psalm‬ ‭16:11‬ ‭‬‬

What story are you telling? How do you combat the questions and doubts with truth? What encouraging truth in your story can you share with us today?

#HopeWriterLife #amwriting #writeyourheartout #writersofinstagram #writingchallenge #faithwriters #Psalms #JesusOnlyJesus

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

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

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