To Encourage You


Sometimes we just need to calm down, sit down, and pray. I’ve been doing a lot of that lately concerning this blog.

(Bear with me while I explain something. I promise encouragement is coming your way!)

I was beginning to lose focus with this blog, knowing I needed to build a platform for my writing career and that involves having a regular schedule and followers. But…

I didn’t start blogging in 2016 to have a large number of followers. I simply wanted to be obedient to God when He opened my heart to the idea while I was walking by the lake that summer.

I believe God has called me to be an encourager. And when it came to this blog, I felt like I could encourage you by helping you to see tiny snapshots of how much God loves you and to remind you through His Word that He is always with you.

And I knew I needed to pull back the curtains of my own life, so you could take a peek and see the times I fell flat on my face or skinned my knees in all my imperfect attempts of following our perfect Jesus. That way you would know you’re not alone in your imperfections either. (Do you see someone WAY ahead of you in the “Imperfect People” line? That’s me waving at you!)

But I want to get out of line and come back and talk to you for a minute. (My first grade teacher would shake her head and probably want to send another “talks too much” note home to my mom.)

If you’re struggling with something right now, I want to come along side of you and wrap my arm around you, give you a squeeze, and remind you that you’re going to make it because your Father in Heaven never leaves you and has great plans for you. Seriously. Those aren’t just words. Those are His promises. (Hebrews 13:5, Jeremiah 29:11.)

If you’re beating yourself up because you goofed, I’m going to nod and tell you I understand. Not only have I messed up (ahem, on a daily basis I might add), but I also beat myself up for a loooong time over some of the things I’ve done in the past. But I’d like to tell you that you and I don’t have to live that way. We can tell our Heavenly Father we’re sorry, ask Him to forgive us, and He will (1 John 1:9). We can lift our eyes to Him and take His hand as He holds us up (Isaiah 41:10). Then we can collapse into His arms, take a nice, deep breath, and enjoy what THAT feels like. That, my dear friend, is perfect love and freedom.

But maybe you’re standing in this line and you’re confused and all sorts of negative thoughts keep replaying in your mind and you feel like you’re being squeezed in a really bad way.  I want to pray with you in the powerful name of Jesus Christ and rebuke the enemy who wants nothing more than to fill your head with trash and keep you running in circles. And when the squeezing stops, the heaviness is gone, and the devil has fled (James 4:7), I want to remind you to think about all the lovely things God has given us (Philippians 4:8) and that Jesus wants you to have an abundant life. (John 10:10.)

If you feel alone, lost, frightened, or overwhelmed…well I’d like to take you in my arms and just hold you for awhile, allowing you to cry. (Just so you know, I’ll probably cry with you.) And I would pray that God Himself would take you in His arms, help you to understand how He delights in you, and that you would hear Him singing over you. (Zephaniah 3:17.)

In fact, I’m going to pray that for every one of you as I return to my place in line…that you will all know how much God delights in you!

Just try not to laugh too loud when I trip and wipeout before I get there. 🙂

 “The Lord your God is with you, he is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, he will quiet you with his love, he will rejoice over you with singing.” (Zephaniah 3:17 NIV.)

 “We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. If a man’s gift is prophesying, let him use it in proportion to his faith. If it is serving, let him serve; if it is teaching, let him teach; if it is encouraging, let him encourage; if it is contributing to the needs of others, let him give generously; if it is leadership, let him govern diligently; if it is showing mercy, let him do it cheerfully.” (Romans 12:6-8 NIV.)

The Puzzle


If you think about it, your life is like a puzzle.  You gather pieces as you grow, as you move forward in life, and learn about who you are.  You begin collecting them from the first, “Why am I here?” to the last breath you take.

But you don’t know what the end picture is going to look like.  Not really.  You can dream of course, even take all the pieces you can find and try to force them to make the picture you want.

Take it from me.  That doesn’t work.

I wanted to be a nurse until microbiology came into my life.  I drove to Nashville to be a songwriter until reality smacked me in the face and asked, “Do you really want to do this?”  I decided not to accept the flight attendant position when I learned I would need to drop my life the instant I was called for a flight.  This list is enormous, so I’ll spare you the rest.

The point is I tried so many things to find out who I’m supposed to be.  I tried to force myself into places and jobs I thought I would like only to realize I wasn’t qualified or gifted and when push came to shove, I didn’t even want it.  I just wanted the label; to be someone with a purpose.

So I stopped trying to force the picture I wanted.  I knew I had this small pile of puzzle pieces waiting for me, those I had gathered since I was a little girl, but without the box, I didn’t know what the end picture was going to be.  I suppose not knowing really scared me.  What if it’s something I don’t like?  What if it’s something so boring I wind up chewing on my own foot just to pass the time to keep my sanity?  Umm, I guess if I’m chewing on my own foot my sanity would be long gone.

That’s when I started asking other people what they thought about my life; what they thought my final picture would look like.  They brought all these other puzzle pieces and dumped them on my little pile.  I asked for it.  No one did anything wrong.  No one but me.  Instead of going to the only One who really knows the big picture, that final picture of what my life is all about, I tried my own way.  And when that didn’t work, I checked around to see what everyone else thought.

Now my little pile of puzzle pieces had grown into an enormous mound of confusion.

The good news, God is not only the artist Who meticulously painted each and every piece just for me, He knows which pieces are mine and which ones are not.  And He can help me find those important corner pieces, those four pieces that hem me in and stop me from going too far in any one direction.

So let me ask you:  How big is the pile you’re working on?  Are you working on the little pile you’ve been gathering or are you grabbing those “good” pieces and trying to force them?  Or are you frustrated, sorting through the mound that others have loaded on you?

Feeling lost?  Overwhelmed?

I understand.

Let me tell you:  You really can ask God to help you.  He’s the One who sketched that beautiful, final picture of you smiling.  He’s also the One who gave you the most beautiful piece, Jesus Christ; the One who adds all the light to your picture.

Once you’ve asked Him for help, He will help you sort through the mess.  He will even point out the pieces you should pick up and those you should leave behind as you walk together.

And when the day comes and you find you’re holding the last piece, a piece that resembles a tiny droplet of water, you’ll notice the only place left for the piece to fit is on the very face of Jesus Christ.  As you take your last breath and the final piece of your puzzle slips into place, you’ll realize the water droplet is a tear belonging to Jesus.

You see, He is so pleased, so deeply moved that you believed in Him, you asked Him for help, and now you’re finally home.

What a glorious picture that will be.

“I know, O Lord, that a man’s life is not his own; it is not for man to direct his steps.”  (Jeremiah 10:23 NIV.)


Be Christmas


I’m surrounded by papers, address books, labels, and writing deadlines tugging at my pant leg and asking me why I’ve abandoned them like a glove in a pile of hats and scarves. I hear the call of Christmas cookie ingredients begging to jump into a bowl, to become something delectable so they can sit alongside their friends:  the ten dozen or so I baked yesterday that are sitting on the kitchen table in tinfoil and tins, patiently waiting to be delivered. And I hear the laundry spinning from the basement as my head spins louder…

I’ve missed something. I knew things would get crazy.  It always does.  But I thought I was ready.  I thought I knew what to expect and how to handle it all so I wouldn’t get overwhelmed and sucked into the rush of doing Christmas instead of being Christmas.  Wait a minute.  Where’d that come from and what in the world does that mean? Being Christmas??

Hmmm. “Doing” is action.  Bake, mail Christmas cards, write a Christmas story, shop etc.  (And do the laundry and cook dinner of course.)

“Being” has to do with our very existence. In other words, it cuts through the stuff of what we do to get to the heart of who we are.  Interesting.

So being Christmas would mean something like be loving and forgiving like Jesus, the One  whose birth it represents.

Anyone popping into your head that you can be more loving toward or someone you can forgive?  What a great time to do it.  The sounds of “I love you,” and “I forgive you” sound a lot better than the timer for the cookies, the buzzing of the dryer, and all the songs playing at the mall combined.

I dare you. I dare you to be Christmas this year.

And I dare me too.


The Eye of the Storm


I was talking to God about you last night.  I asked Him what He wanted to tell you, what you needed to hear.  We were about to watch a movie and during the previews a Scripture came to my mind, and I knew it was for you.

Jesus said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

Maybe you’re overwhelmed, stressed-out, burned-out, or just plain worn-out right now, and you’re wondering how long is this going to last?  Do you feel like you’re in a storm, a chaotic rush of things needing done or people demanding more of you, and you feel you have nothing more to give?  Do you feel like it’s knocking the wind right out of you and you can’t breathe?

Jesus knows.  He sees you right now.  Imagine Him offering you His hand with this sort of expression that says, “Come here and catch your breath for a minute.  Rest with me.”

Maybe you’re wondering, “How can I rest?  I have too much to do.”

Let’s keep going with what Jesus said:

“Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”    

Okay, what in the world?  A yoke?

A few years ago we went to an Amish farm and saw this massive, black ox yoked to a smaller one.  I had never seen an ox up close before nor had I ever seen one yoked to another.  When I started to pet the big guy, he turned so I could scratch his face in another area that must have itched (or maybe he wanted to get a better look at the woman who was “oohing” and “ahhing” about how beautiful he was).  Whatever the reason, when he turned, the little guy beside him did too.  Whenever the big guy stuck his mouth into the food trough, the little one had to follow along.

So I have to ask, who or what are you yoked to that is wearing you out?  What are you following?  The world?  Let’s narrow it down a bit…are you yoked to people instead of Jesus?  People may try to go easy on you but sometimes they’ll hurt you or overwhelm you.  Some may even load up the guilt if you don’t perform to their standards or do what they think you should be doing.  Not Jesus.  He’s “gentle and humble in heart.”  He’s not going to burn you out.  Why would He?  He loves you, and He doesn’t want to see you suffering with anxiety or panic attacks.  He has more for you.

But isn’t a yoke a form of bondage?

Jesus said, “For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

What?  Something that’s easy and light?  That doesn’t sound like bondage but freedom. If you yoke yourself to Jesus you’ll not only be able to breathe and the heaviness you’ve been carrying will be lifted off your shoulders, but you’ll be doing what you were created to do.  No more overload.  No more panic attacks.  Just like the eye of a storm, there will be peace like you’ve never imagined.  It’s as if God will hold back the world from burning you out like He held back the Red Sea.  No more guilt (unless you allow it), no more hives (unless you eat something you’re allergic to), and no more wondering what in the world you’re supposed to do with your life.  Jesus has it all.  All the answers and all the calm.  Yoke yourself to Him, and you’ll see and do things you never dreamed.

How do I know?  Because this wasn’t just for you…it was for me too.  And I’ve finally come to the eye of the storm.

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”  (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV.)