A New Song

God has been doing something new in me.

For the past few weeks, I’ve been reading Scripture as I listen and then, I listen again. Really listen. I wait for the Holy Spirit to lead me in writing and then it comes in waves, flooding and saturating me.

I’ve been sharing these posts on social media sites (Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter) and on my other website.

Some mornings are amazing.

Other mornings have been painful as I write from a place of pain. Let me explain.

I’ve been struggling physically with jaw pain. It seems when I fell in the shower years ago that I did a real number on my face. Anyway, it hurts to chew and…it hurts to talk.

This is no easy task for me, not talking, since I talk all the time. All. The. Time.

I realized at church on Sunday that I also can’t lift my voice to the Lord like I want. Singing was excruciating. I did it anyway (the best I could) and cried when I couldn’t.

Fast forward into Monday, and I found myself in the middle of a spiritual battle. I mean from every angle. It was one of the darkest days of my life. Pain and discouragement felt like a dark dungeon to me.

That morning I didn’t know how I could possibly write anything. I needed help. I NEEDED prayer.

I was bawling on the floor in our living room, the pain in my jaw excruciating and matching the pain in my lower back – I’d hurt myself the week before while lifting our mattress.

So, I wrote a post for others about needing others. But I knew God was using it to speak to me too. I quickly sent a few texts and made a call and asked others to pray for me.

And I felt every prayer lighten the load, the physical pain, and the darkness of discouragement. Every single prayer helped.

And later that night when I got in the shower, I knew I couldn’t sing because of the pain in my jaw, but I realized I could still hum.

I hummed “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” while I was in the shower. The warm water soothed my back and jaw, but it was that song coming from within me that soothed my aching spirit.

And today I’m moving forward with that song tucked in my heart. Yes, I have to be quiet today. But I can hear that song – I can listen to it. All. Day. Long.

If you’re struggling, my friend, cry out to God while you’re lying there on the floor. Don’t hesitate for a minute to ask others to pray for you. The enemy may be ruthless, but because of the blood of Jesus Christ…

You are victorious!

Let God fill your heart with a new song as you sing from a place of victory.

“Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things; let this be known to all the world.”

Isaiah 12:5 NIV.

“But I will trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing to the Lord, for he has been good to me.”

Psalm 13:5-6 NIV.

“He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.”

Psalm 40:3 NIV.

When You Hit a Brick Wall

It’s throwback Thursday, friends! If you feel like things aren’t happening the way you’d planned, I pray this gives you a new perspective.

Training for Eternity

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I was reminded of a Scripture after falling apart at my computer, crying and carrying on like a spoiled brat not getting her way. The words came to me like a whisper:

“If you falter in times of trouble, how small is your strength!” (Proverbs 24:10 NIV.)

Ouch.

Let me explain: I’ve been writing since I was a little girl. It’s tucked so tenderly within my heart, and I know God put it there. It’s something I believe He’s called me to do, so I will keep writing as He keeps leading.

And yet, He’s put other things in my heart that I don’t want to waste: I love talking (big shocker there for anyone who’s spent five minutes with me!) and encouraging others, and I love to create graphic art; taking photographs at the lake with my hubby and hurrying home to upload the pic so I can add…

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When You Don’t Fit In

Maybe you’re feeling out of sorts like you don’t fit in, like a penguin on a hot sandy beach looking for cooler waters. Or maybe you feel like you’re the only one doing what you’re doing, and you wonder if the world is looking at you like you’re nuts.

You are not alone, my friend! Check out the rest of my blog post here.

Take Care of Yourself

When your body suffers, so does your ministry.

Oh my. I’m sitting in my basement office in my pj’s and when I prayed and asked God for guidance for this post, those words came to me. I suppose God wants me to write about the elephant here in my room.

I’ve been struggling with a physical issue for a few weeks, and I haven’t been able to write a blog post because it felt draining to me. Just being honest. Writing a blog post like this, well, it’s been hard because I open up here in the hopes of helping someone out there.

Being honest about what we’re going through can be hard. Letting others see us without our game faces (or makeup!) can be so revealing, so cringe-worthy. We want to appear to be strong and sleek and on top of things. Not weak, pudgy, and falling asleep on the couch before it gets dark.

And yet when we’re not feeling our best or we’re battling something attacking our bodies, we are not able to perform at our best.

I remember when I used to run a long time ago when my knees would allow it. If I ate a bowl of mint chocolate chip ice cream the night before, my morning run suffered.

Now if I don’t exercise, I struggle with brain fog and my entire body suffers. (I suppose I’ve been in denial thinking I can eat the way I used to when I was in my twenties and NOT exercise and nothing is going to change. Hello, reality!)

So it seems, if we don’t take care of ourselves, our ministry, our service to God and others suffer.

Your ministry might be spending time with your child and showing them God’s love through nature walks, volunteering at a food pantry, working long hours to put food on the table for your family, encouraging a friend, visiting someone who can’t venture out, writing stories of faith and hope, singing of God’s glory..the list can go on and on.

So, taking care of ourselves would not be a selfish act, but a way to honor God and to love others. And to be ready.

Be ready?

That’s right. When God calls us to expand our ministry or begin a new one, we’ll be excited and full of overall tingling anticipation—not drained at the very thought of doing ONE MORE THING.

You know what I’m talking about, don’t you?

Today, I’m taking the plunge into better health so my ministry won’t suffer and I can be ready. I’ve been here before and wandered off to My Own Way Lane where chocolate chips, potato chips, and bowls of frosting abound. But God is drawing me back. (Thank You, Lord!)

So what does this involve for me? Eating better (cue my grumpy toddler face), exercising (face contorted in pain), and a doctor’s visit (using wisdom here).

What about you? Are you willing to take care of yourself so your ministry can flourish and you can be ready when God calls?

“Do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? You are not your own; you were bought at a price. Therefore honor God with your body.”

(1 Corinthians 6:19-20 NIV.)

“Be prepared in season and out of season.”

(2 Timothy 4:2b NIV.)

Reading, “Meeting Jesus Face to Face”

Another video and another short story, my friends! I hope this short Easter story touches your heart as it did mine. May we all grow closer to God as we come to His Son, Jesus Christ.

Thanks for watching, and God bless you!

On the Verge of Discouragement

I think we’ve all been on the verge of tears before—that moment when you sense the tears are on their way, but they haven’t formed just yet.

But what about being on the verge of discouragement, when you sense that it’s close?

Let me explain what I’m learning:

I woke up feeling “off” today. My mind wandered to the things that upset me yesterday. And I started remembering the past and the times I’d been manipulated by others. Then some of the toxic relationships God has removed from my life came to mind. Throw in a lot of waiting, and BAM! I was on the verge of discouragement.

It’s like teetering. Which way will I go? Fall over into the muck of discouragement, or lean into God who is waiting to catch me?

The choice is mine. No one can make it for me.

I’ve fallen into discouragement before, and I can tell you it’s no fun. It can take days or even weeks to get “unstuck.” Thankfully, God picked me up and wiped the mud from my face every time.

But God doesn’t leave me (or you!) to deal with this teetering all on our own. His Holy Spirit nudges us to focus on Him. A friend may call to encourage us. We may “stumble” on a video about trusting God. We may even get a message from a co-worker about something good coming our way.

Here’s what I think: Satan roams through the earth, looking for someone to devour. One way he can devour is by filling our minds with consuming, discouraging thoughts, rendering us useless for God’s calling in our lives.

The enemy reminds us of our failures and past hurts, and he lies to us by telling us it’s going to happen again. So we build walls around our hearts to keep people out AND to stop ourselves from stepping out and making more mistakes.

These walls bring isolation. Now we’re dealing with discouragement and loneliness. It’s a double whammy.

Satan wants us to “roam” through our minds, SEARCHING for all the trash, so we’ll pick it up. When it’s right there in our hands, we’ll focus on it.

God, on the other hand, tells us in His Word to think about what’s lovely, pure, noble etc. (see Scripture below). He wants us to think about what’s praiseworthy. All of those things point to God! God wants our focus to be on Him and what He’s doing.

A cherished, intimate memory we have with God can keep us from falling into discouragement by keeping our minds fixed on Him.

So when we’re on the verge of discouragement and our minds are swaying, we have a choice to make:

We can either focus on Satan’s trash, all the littering in our minds, and call it a day. Later, crying ourselves to sleep.

Or…

We can cry out to God and say, “Yes, Lord. Pull me in closer to You! Help me to focus on You and all the good You’re doing in my life.”

Which will you choose, my friend?

Me?

No more teetering in the middle of this teeter-totter with one foot down and one foot up. I’m getting off of this thing.

I’m leaning into God, grabbing onto His hand, and giggling with anticipation for whatever He has in store for this day.

And I’m expecting JOY. Lots and lots of joy in His presence.

“The Lord said to Satan, ‘Where have you come from?’ Satan answered the Lord, ‘From roaming through the earth and going back and forth in it.’”

Job 1:7 NIV.

“Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

1 Peter 5:8 NIV.

“Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”

Philippians 4:8 NIV.

“Great is the Lord and most worthy of praise; his greatness no one can fathom.”

Psalm 145:3 NIV.

Distractions – Stepping Off Your Path

God has a specific calling, a path for each of us to walk. But what happens when you step off of that path for just a minute?

Let me give you an example:

My path is writing, and I recently had an opportunity to write a short story for publication. So I prayed. (I’m FINALLY learning this is the first and most important step!) I had such wonderful peace and clarity. The words for the beginning of the story started even before I finished praying. I couldn’t wait to get to the keyboard.

And so I began typing, the story unfolding in crisp, detailed images. And I was enjoying the fellowship with the Holy Spirit as I was, once again, in awe of the delicate way He vividly paints pictures in my mind.

But then a tiny thought like a dandelion seed blew into my mind: I need to send a quick email.

Instead of staying on track and staying close to God in the moment, I stepped off the path just to send a quick email.

When I returned to the story, I tried to pick up where I left off. But text messages started coming in. Then someone stopped by. Then another visitor. The distractions became a whirlwind of dandelion seeds so thick I couldn’t focus on God’s voice or the painting He’d used the tips of my fingers to brush.

It all began when I let my mind wander. Just a quick email.

It was my own fault. If I would have stayed on track, I believe the story would have been finished before the first text came. God knew what my day was going to be like. (And I wouldn’t have been so grumpy with everyone the rest of the day!)

God narrows our path for His perfect reasons. We have divine moments of opportunity, blessings from Him. The timing becomes very specific. He knows the pitfalls to the left and the distractions to the right.

God wants us to keep moving forward with Him. He wants us to stay on track. Stay focused on the very touch of His hand in ours, the gentle guidance of His Holy Spirit, and our path of purpose. We don’t need to know the outcome. We just need to walk it.

Life is FULL of distractions, my friend. Don’t let your mind turn so quickly to see what all the noise is about. Don’t let the tickle of a dandelion seed pull you out of God’s presence.

Stay focused on God and the ever-narrowing path He’s leading you on. It only leads you closer to Him.

“Let your eyes look straight ahead, fix your gaze directly before you.” (Proverbs 4:25 NIV.)

“Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith.” (Hebrews 12:2a NIV.)

Pruning

Oh, how I needed this today! Funny how God can bring something back, something I wrote last year, and it is exactly what I need today! If God is pruning things/people from your life, I pray you surrender the process to Him. He has good plans for your life!

Training for Eternity

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When God prunes something or even someone from our lives, it hurts. We may wonder where we went wrong or why He’s doing it. We may try to ignore it and keep pushing forward with our own agendas or what others have told us. We may think we’re misunderstanding what’s happening, that God would never prune that so there must be something else going on.

I’ve been struggling lately with a lot of things He’s been pruning, wondering if there is going to be anything left of me when He’s done. I’ve cried out to the Holy Spirit for wisdom and discernment, knowing He is the only One who can really help me to understand what’s happening.

I’m learning through my own experiences the two reasons why God prunes things from my life:

Growth.

Protection.

Maybe this seems obvious to you, but I’m a little slow and sometimes I need…

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Upstream

It’s #TBT time again! If you’re discouraged or feeling alone in your journey, I pray this encourages you. ♥️

Training for Eternity

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Going through a hard time is like walking upstream in water that is chest level. Sometimes I lose my footing and I slip and go all the way under, the cold water a slap to my face.  It would be so much easier to turn around and walk downstream, where the water will carry me along and I won’t have to work so hard.  I can see from here that it widens downstream and there are many there.

But this is where God called me. Upstream.

I’m learning it’s not always going to be easy going this way. It would be much easier to go with the crowd, to follow everyone else.  It would be so much easier to splash around in the shallow water, to stretch out in all that space and do whatever I wanted, to get out when I’m tired or uncomfortable.  But again, God didn’t call…

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Reading, “Flowers in February”

If you’re struggling with loss or discouragement during this cold and dark season, I pray my short story, “Flowers in February” reminds you of the unending hope you have in the Lord. ♥️

Be blessed, and thank you for watching!

(If you’d rather read the story instead of watching this video, click here.