When I’m feeling discouraged, frustrated and feel like life is impossible, I flip open my bible to Ezekial 37. In it, we find God and the prophet Ezekial having a walk and talk in the middle of a valley filled with dry bones. Almost immediately God asks him, “Son of man, can these bones live?”
No spoilers here, you’ll have to dig in and read it for yourself but let me just say, that what transpires in chapter 37 never ceases to remind me of God’s promises and all that He is able to do.
Which is exactly why I turned to this chapter to begin with. Extremely long hours at work, bouts of frustration and worry, poor sleep and eating habits and very limited time for myself and my family had left me wondering if this was all my life was chalked up to be. I’d been traveling this road for more than 18 months and when I met a good friend for lunch, she took one look at me and said, “Oh my goodness Amy, you’re not just exhausted, you are bone dead tired.”
Yep! I needed me some rest in Jesus.
As I continued to read, 4 highlighted words at the bottom of chapter 36 caught my attention, “Once again, I will.”
Wait a minute, what?
Again…? You will…?
Ok Lord, I hear You.
Perfect timing, again.
Once again, I will.
A promise given. A promise kept.
Lord, you knew my heart before I knew how much I needed You.
I’m in this sticky wicket because I didn’t rely on God.
Notice I didn’t say that God didn’t show up, I said, I chose to do life without Him.
How many times have I done this? Countless.
How many times has the Lord been with me? Every. Single. Time.
God never leaves my side. He shows up in my life like no one else. Providing hope, meeting tangible needs, answering some of my prayers while thankfully foregoing others, all so that I could repeatedly experience His goodness even when I don’t deserve an ounce of it.
God is good. He is gracious. He is kind and loving and never, ever leaves my side.
Now that’s not to say, the human in me, doesn’t get frustrated because when I’m at my lowest and needing a friend, I feel like a need a human presence to walk with me. I cry out in frustration and anger because I feel lonely.
I need a friend, someone to hold my hand, lend a hug and remind me that it’ll all be alright.
God is with me, closer than any friend.
When I’ve worked myself into exhaustion or when life has kicked me down too many times I can’t get back up, I pick up my bible, grab my journal and start talking to Jesus.
He’s been waiting.
It doesn’t matter how many times we fail, fall down, or forget. God is waiting for us to look up and remember, He is with us, ready to act on our behalf.
Thank You Father.
The Psalmist in 145:8-10 reminds us that, “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love. The Lord is good to all, and His mercy is over all the He has made. All your works shall give thanks to you, O Lord, and all You saints shall bless you!”
A call to remembrance and joy.
When you look at your life, how many times can you think of God doing good? Or lending a listening ear when you needed it the most?
I’ll admit, I’m human and I forget all the Lord has done for me.
Amazing, miraculous, stunning, beautiful miracles that 99.9% of the time I take for granted.
Like the days I held each of my sons, moments after they were born.
Or when He took my father home to heaven before Parkinson’s could completely ravage his mind and body, saving my mother from future memories that would’ve haunted her forever.
A prayer answered.
And with each one, His gentle whisper reminds me, Once again, I will.
Can you look back on your life and define those moments where God’s hands were tangibly working out every detail? Are you able to look back in hindsight and then upwards in gratitude for the good God has done in your life?
I pray you will be able to see that our God is good, He is faithful and has shown you just how much He loves you.
Take time, look back, see what God has done and be thankfully mindful today for all the good in your life. And when life gets the best of us again, let these memories come flooding back, drawing you back into the arms of God who will always say to us, “Once again, I will.”
Jeremiah 23:28 – “Let these false prophets tell their dreams, but let my true messengers faithfully proclaim my every word. There is a difference between straw and grain.”
Grain and stalk. True messengers and false prophets. One is good for health and growth and the other is a by-product of little to no nutritional value.
The context of Jeremiah 23 describes how the Israelites had been led astray due to the preaching of false prophets.
I see examples of false prophets all the time. We are told in a thousand different ways that how we see ourselves, what we think, do and act is acceptable depending on how we individually chose to interpret the world. Some even go so far as to preach this false narrative to others as a way to inflate their personal beliefs while pulling unsuspecting Christians away from God, by ever-so-slightly twisting the Word to meet their agenda.
I believe God uses the analogy of the straw and grain to remind His children that what starts out from the very same seed will in fact, be divided through the act of threshing. Stalks on one side, grain on another. Stalk is used for bedding with very little nutritional value. While the grain is full of nutrients and leads to good health and the growth of all who partake. The same can be said of false prophets and true messengers.
But let’s face it, sometimes the line between the way the world and God’s calling for His children, can seem blurry and at times, invisible. So then, how can we distinguish between the two?
First off, Christians are called to seek God for wisdom and discernment so that we are not led astray.Proverbs 2:6 – “For the Lord gives wisdom, and from His mouth come knowledge and understanding.”
Friends, let us remember that wisdom and discernment don’t happen overnight. Very much like the threshing process to divide grain and straw, it takes time, effort and hard work. And… sometimes our lessons can be painful. But if we will determine to seek God is all that we do, wait to hear His voice, then through time, we will grow in His wisdom and be able to discern between those who are trying to lead us away from the Lord.
Remember, threshing is tough stuff!
Yet, it is in these challenging times where God gifts us the opportunity of a deeper relationship with Him, while growing us in His wisdom by way of us seeking Him through prayer and His word.
For those who call Him Lord, let us apply the following to our lives so that we may be considered grain and His true messengers, able to share the love of Christ to all.
Here are 4 ways to grow in wisdom and discernment
Seek God Through His Word – As we spend time in the Word, we begin to learn the character of the Lord and with the help of the Holy Spirit discern good vs. bad.James 1:5, reminds us that we can always go to the Lord on anything: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”I love this verse because not only does it encourage us to seek God and share with Him our needs but it reminds me how loving, kind and eager our God is to communicate with us, at any time.
Acknowledge – Once I’ve prayed and spent time in the Word, I need to also make room for my own shortcomings. I know I’m human and can make mistakes every single minute and that includes talking myself into my own wisdom. So I need to ask God to forgive and lead me. Remember, God calls each of His children to be “true messengers,” and in some translations, we are required to “speak His word faithfully.” Why? So we can refute false teachings and prevent others from being led astray. At the same time, we are able to share the love of Christ to all, offering love, hope, healing and compassion to desperate waiting world.
In fact, 1 John 4:9-11 – encourages us to love one another the way God first loved us, “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.”
Pray – Ask God to reveal His truth in scripture to any situation in your life. Psalm 37:30-31 teaches us, “The mouth of the righteous man utters wisdom, and his tongue speaks what is just. The law of his God is in his heart; his feet do not slip.” Often times while I’m in prayer over a challenging situation, I’ll ask God to bubble to the surface any wrongdoing, any evil or malcontented information that He believes I should know about. I find that through the Holy Spirit, and the study of His word, God will begin to speak and the truth of any situation will come to light. This in turn causes me to trust God more and to seek Him more because His ways are always just.
Act – Be careful that you truly listen to God’s calling on any given situation, sometimes, yes, we are called into action. To speak truth, to step into a situation either through prayer or by actually giving our presence to the situation. But remember, God may also call us to “stand firm.” Stand firm doesn’t mean do nothing, it means be prepared to wait for God’s command. “Philippians 1:27“Conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.”
“There is a difference between straw and grain!”
This is so true – there is difference between those who would lead others astray and those who love the Lord.
And at the end of the day, God judges our hearts, so if we, as sinners, people who make mistakes constantly, can realize our need for the Lord, ask Him forgiveness for any/all harm we have done, He is quick to forgive us.
To me that’s the most amazing thing about our God loves us. He pursues us, died for us, wants to walk every minute of every day with us and wants to talk with us.
Think about that for just a minute – if we were the “false prophet who is/was nutritionally defunct,” and trying to get others to be just as empty as we were, trust me, when I tell you that God, in His infinite love for you can change you from a stalk to a grain!
In fact, He gave His Son Jesus to pay the price for every sin ever committed. All we need to do, is to come Him with a repentant heart and invite Him into our lives so that He may change us.
If my people who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin, and will heal their land. – 2 Chronicles 7:14
Amen! The promises of the Lord are great and never-ending!
Until we meet again dear friend,
I am praying God touches your heart and changes your life!
Up until this moment, I’ve heard it a thousand times and probably never truly believed it.
Here’s how this lightning bolt of truth hit me.
This morning I read Job 19:25-27, “25 I know that my Redeemer lives, and that in the end He will stand on the earth.26 And after my skin has been destroyed, yetin my flesh I will see God;27 I myself will see Him with my own eyes—I, and not another. How my heart yearns within me!”
Did you catch it? Those precious words of promise?
…my Redeemer lives.
I felt my heart race as I read and re-read those words over until it clicked. Somewhere between my hard head and hurting heart, it clicked. I, we, are redeemable.
Let me be straight with you friend, I’ve spent my whole life feeling like the lyrics from Casting Crowns song, “Nobody,”
Why you ever chose me
Has always been a mystery
All my life I’ve been told I belong
At the end of the line
With all the other not-quites
With all the never-get-it-rights
That’s me over and over. The same way, forever. I’m not a good enough supervisor, co-worker, daughter, sister, wife, mother, daughter-in-law…you name the title, I’m sure I’ve heard a slight against whatever expectation was laid down and how I failed to live up to it.
Truth is, I’m human, I make mistakes and disappoint others. According to the world, my mistakes make me disposable.
But…we are NOT! We are redeemable!
In God’s eyes, we are perfect because of Jesus. We are forgiven, redeemable and loved. His sacrifice on the cross paved the way to walk with Him back to God’s open arms.
Is this a magic wand to wave over our lives and poof! all of the old tapes, negativity and nasty influences in our lives are gone? Oh, how I wish that was true. But it’s not. We’re going to repeat bad behavior, upset ourselves and others.
The key is remembering and accepting that God says we are redeemable.
God, as our redeemer, is quick to forgive when we ask. He’s also good about not leaving us where we are. In fact, because of Jesus, you can count on God growing us by using the good and yes, even the bad in our lives for good.
Doesn’t make sense does it? I know! Here’s something else that doesn’t make sense, Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
Key words to remember:all things. In God’s amazing love He can take everything that’s happened in our lives and turn it all for good.
Also, the latter part of the verse says, “called according to His purpose.”
Oh yeah! There’s another promise. He’s going to take my mistakes, my faults, my ups and downs, my entire life and turn it all for good because He has a plan and purpose for our lives!
That right there is some powerful stuff to drink into our souls.
So how do we get from where we are right this minute to redeemable?
Simply accept it.
Choose to listen to Truth instead of lies.
He loves us. He has a plan for you.
When you think no one else in this world loves you, God does.
When you think you are too far gone, made too many mistakes and ain’t fit for this world, think again! You are loved! You are redeemed! And God Almighty is your Redeemer!
Do you know what redeemer means?
Redeemer in Hebrew means, one charged with the duty of restoring the rights of another and avenging his wrongs.
Jesus offered His very life in order to restore us as God’s perfect children. Redeeming us from sin and making us whole.
Girl, you are precious in His eyes. You are His beloved child. Jesus died for you so that you could fulfill God’s perfect plan for your life.
Is that a little much to take in? I get it. There are days when you find yourself a little worse for the wear because of life.
But the bottom line doesn’t change.
“I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand” ~ John10:28
God’s promises still stand. We are redeemable!
Friend, I am praying for you. If you struggle to rid yourself of old habits that keep tripping you up in life. If you find yourself repeating old behaviors and listening to those who would seek the worst for you, turn around and take one step towards Jesus.
You don’t have to have all the answers, save one. Jesus. Accept Him. Invite Him into your life and I promise, it will never be the same again. He is our Redeemer who promises us that we are redeemable. Place your heart in His hands and know that He will never let you go.
Maybe it was the combination of Good Friday falling on my dad’s 4th heavenly birthday and the solemnness that emanated from the Tenebrae service I attended at church that caused my mind to wander down the road of contemplating how death impacts those left behind.
Years before dad passed, I started to prepare myself for the one-day-inevitable. I’ve worked in senior health care for much of my career and seen my fair share of road traveled with life ending diseases. And as much as I loved my dad and wished that Parkinson’s wasn’t wracking his body, I knew what lay ahead, the disease would win, strip me of my father and I’d never see him again, this side of heaven.
I’m guessing Mary Magdalene and the disciples also understood the finality of death. After all, we live in a fallen world and know that while life is beautiful and precious, it also carries with it finality.
That was before Jesus entered their lives and flipped the script of life and death.
For three solid years they followed, watched, listened, learned and were profoundly changed by His Holy presence.
But then, in one fell swoop, Christ was gone.
Can you just imagine their heartache and confusion? They knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that Jesus was The Holy Christ, Son of God, and yet, He died a human death. But why? Why would Jesus die like us?
Now for us, and even for Mary and the others, prior to the resurrection, we accept death and its finality as a part of living this life. But let’s imagine for a moment if there was a knock at the door and your beloved family member who had recently died, stood before you, fully healed, healthy and they join you for dinner.
What would you think? You might think someone was playing a cruel joke on you or maybe you’d believe they were an image created in your mind because of grief.
Look at Mary. She’s overcome with grief and as one final act of reverence she comes to prepare the body for burial. But the moment she enters the tomb her grief turns to bewilderment, fear and confusion. What has happened to her Lord? She turns to the man standing next to her, thinking he is the gardener, “Sir, where have you moved the body?”
It’s understandable to me that she doesn’t recognize who she is talking to, because the last time she laid eyes on Christ, He’d been brutally beaten beyond recognizability and let’s face it, no one comes back from death. Yet, the man before her is whole and healthy.
So can you imagine when the eyes of her heart were opened and the truth of who stood before her over road the logic in her brain? Shock, disbelief, confusion, and joy! Oh my! The unprecedented joy! Your brain tells you no! But you heart says, yes!
Jesus is alive!
I love how Mary Magdalene grabs hold of Jesus when she realizes He is standing next to her.
In fact, there’s this image floating around the internet that I think speaks to how I imagine Mary jumping into His arms when she realizes Jesus was alive!
Look at her joy! Death did not win!
In this moment is where the hope of Christ springs forth!
For three agonizing days many believed death had had its last word and won. But then, just as He promised, our precious Lord stands before us, filling us once again with hope and joy!
Holy truth! Jesus made a promise, and He kept His word!
Amen and Amen!!!
The idea of Jesus coming back from death to stand among us, to show us that even death held no power over our Lord and that He conquered the very moment that brings such grief and finality is absolutely mind boggling. But that’s exactly what Jesus did.
Oh, how they must’ve rejoiced and been confused all at the same time, don’t you think? I bet their thoughts volleyed back and forth, finally settling on one conclusion, Jesus said it, He meant it and He did it!
But what about us and our loved ones? We know death to be final and the permanence weighs heavier on our hearts than simply missing them due to time, placement and distance.
Christ again gives hope by reminding us that through Him we do not need to grieve as the world grieves. We can rejoice in the truth that death no longer carries permanency. One day just as He promised to John in the book of Revelations 3:11a, “I am coming soon.”
The definition of soon means, “without unnecessary delay and in perfect timing.”
Doesn’t that change your perspective of life and death? Yes, death happens and there is plenty of heartache. But there can also be joy! Because just as Jesus showed us that death has no power over Him, we too can embrace the fact that death has lost its sting. One day, either because we draw our last breath or Christ returns, we do not need to live in grief as one who has no hope.
Yes, I will miss my dad until I see him again face to face and knowing I will see him again because of what Christ has done, eases the sting of losing him for now.
If you have lost a loved one, I pray that the truth, love and hope of Christ comforts your hearts.
“And now, dear brothers and sisters, we want you to know what will happen to the believers who have died so you will not grieve like people who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and was raised to life again, we also believe that when Jesus returns, God will bring back with Him the believers who have died.” ~ 1 Thessalonians 4:13-14
Until we meet again, may God keep you in perfect peace.
Last night during our weekly bible study of Hebrews with Pastor Derwin Gray, he shared John 19:29-30, “A jar full of sour wine was there, so they put a sponge full of the sour wine on a hyssop branch and held it to his mouth.When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, “It is finished,” and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.”
The word wine caught my attention immediately. Which was weird because I’ve read this passage many times, but this time was different.
The Holy Spirit wanted me to sit up and pay attention.
Why? What was so important about wine in this passage?
My mind reeled with questions. The bible study quickly faded to the background as I grabbed my bible and cross referenced the word wine. Somewhere I remembered reading about beer and wine, but I couldn’t remember why or for what reason until I found Proverbs 31:6, “Give beer to those who are perishing, wine to those who are in anguish;”
Wait a minute. What?!
Oh, my goodness! My heart skipped a beat.
Look at the verse again in the context of the crucifixion. Jesus’ body was perishing, yes, so they could’ve served Him beer to help anesthetize the pain, but…here’s the kicker, someone in the crowd realized that not only was Christ’s body perishing due to the brutality of his beating, but they recognized His pain was much deeper.
He was in anguish.
Merriam Webster defines anguish as “severe mental pain or distress preceded by a tragedy or event that has profound meaning to the being in question.”
This is where I was completely shook!
So, what was the tragedy causing Christ’s anguish?
Plain and simple…us choosing sin.
I believe Christ grieved for the loss of us who choose our sin instead of His love.
Oh! The heart ache, pain, loss and grief Christ suffered knowing some of His children would choose to walk away from the gift of His love to life everlasting.
How can we not be forever changed knowing that it wasn’t just a body dying on the cross, our Lord anguished in soul-crushing grief that many would be forever lost because of sin and a refusal of Him?
No wonder He was offered wine. Can’t you just feel His pain over the loss of even one child?
Sisters, let us revisit the cross and accept the gift of love and forgiveness from our Lord. We are His daughters, beloved children of the Most High King and we are infinitely loved.
Romans 5:8-10 says, “8 But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.9 Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! 10 For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! 11 Not only is this so, but we also boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.“
More than anything I pray God would open your heart and your understanding that you might accept the profound love the Father has for you, His precious, beloved daughter.
Let’s talk about this:
Let’s say that you’re not quite sure that God loves you or maybe you feel that a previous choice somehow excludes you from the love and forgiveness of Christ, what then?
My first recommendation is to go back to the truth of God. What does the bible say about His love for you? What does God say about sin and separation and restoration?
You see, the world will tell you it’s an all or nothing, end-all-be-all situation, that if you don’t know God or you make choices that don’t align with His word, then you’re an outcast. So…not…true! God is in this for eternity. He wants to restore a relationship with you, and He provided the way through His Son, Jesus. You simply need only to confess your sins, share your need of Him and invite Him into your life. That’s it. The relationship is restored, forever. Your mistakes don’t exist and to top it off, He is waiting for you!
Sister, as I close this post I pray God’s love washes over you in such a way that will allow your heart to accept Him as your Lord and Savior. He died for you and I. We are His precious, beloved daughters and there is absolutely nothing in this world that we could do to get Him to stop loving us.
You are loved by God and I am praying for you every step of the way!
For anyone who has not seen this movie, get yourself a copy, grab a cuppa tea, sit back and enjoy a delightful 2 hours!
Honestly, this is one of the loveliest movies I have watched in a long time. It was sweet, heartfelt and engaging right until the very end.
Well done Renée Zellweger and Ewan McGregor, well done!
I stumbled upon Miss Potter through an email from PureFlix.com highlighting this week’s features. For those of you unfamiliar with Pureflix.com, think Nextflix without all the garbage; blood, guts, gore, nudity, etc. Pureflix.com is a movie membership channel that allow you to watch great clean movies, documentaries, VeggieTales and classic TV shows.
Back to Miss Potter, truth be told, I didn’t even know this movie existed, we’ll chalk it up to the fact that I don’t watch much cable!
However when the recommendation came through my email from PureFlix.com I jumped at the chance to watch it. I like both Renee and Ewan as actors so this was an easy one to say “yes” to but to honestly beyond who they are as actors I really had a very basic surface knowledge of who Beatrix Potter was and/or the children’s books she’d written. Maybe because I grew up reading Paddington Bear and Winnie the Poo, that I somehow missed Beatrix Potter’s stories, at any rate, I’m sorry I missed them in my younger years because truly Miss Potter had an excellent creative mind and artistic hand to create such lovely creatures as Peter Cottontail, Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle, Jeremy Fisher and an entire host of delightful characters sure to delight children of all ages!
What captivated me about Miss Potter, was her life’s story. Born into an upper-middle class English family, Beatrix was afforded the great luxuries of traveling to Scotland, spending much time outdoors which only added to her love of animals, the countryside and fauna. This love of the outdoors not only spurred her imagination, allowing her to create an imaginary world filled with animal friends, it gave her the ability to transpose her thoughts into storylines and art.
Beatrix’s love for nature also carried on throughout her adult life where she created quite a name for herself through the study and artwork in mycology (the study of fungi) and through land preservation. Beatrix bought and later bequeathed over 4,000 acres of land to England’s National Trust for Places of Historic Interest.
What an amazingly creative brilliant woman! This movie depicts Beatrix’s talent, her love of nature, some of her heartaches and challenges and of course love.
I’ll watch this movie again and again because she inspired me. Beatrix, a woman in midst of the constraints of the English Victorian era found her voice, her talent and her skills and used them to not only better her own life but the lives of generations coming up behind her.
Well done Beatrix!
On a particularly enjoyable note were the tiny touches of her storybook characters, like Peter Rabbit coming to life through animation. They gave just enough of a visual to make us realize how real her characters were to her. It was as if in indeed they could jump off the pages of her books, wear delightfully smart looking jumpers and hats and engage with us, the audience as if they lived and breathed. These small touches endeared me to Beatrix as an artist and allowed me to see a glimmer of her heart as a naturalist and story teller.
This movie is an absolute keeper. A timeless story that each generation would do well to watch and learn from. The idea of following the passion set in your heart to pursue a career against societal norms, family approval and even tradition, to know that what you have to say is important and engaging to others is faultless. To further take your talent to better the world around you, is impeccable.
June has started out a bit soggy, over ridden with weeds, and in need of a little elbow grease to get things back on track! So let’s see what happened in May:
Exercise 3 times a week – I started off strong but by the end of the month was too sick to exercise – Bleh!
Drink 72 ounces of water per day – My average water intake is closer to 60 ounces – still room to improve!
Lose 3 pounds – Yay! Met and beat the goal by 1 pound! (4 lbs. down!)
Home & Garden
Time to get the garden planted – tomatoes, pole beans and herbs – Nope, didn’t happen
Spring clean the house – Nope, this didn’t happen either – boo!
Time away with The Hubs (1 small getaway & 1 Rail Trail ride) Our weekend away was cancelled when 1 of our dogs was poisoned and had to be rushed to the vet. (She’s okay now thank heavens!) But we did manage a 15 mile Rail Trail ride on the Centennial Trail in Snohomish – lots of fun!
2 blog posts – 1 published & 1 drafted
1 chapter outlined for the Daniel bible study – Nope
2 Friday morning mini-bible studies Only 1 written
Edit chapters 1 & 2 in fictional book – Nope
Read 30 minutes each evening – 5 books read!
Overall, I’d call May’s goals a wash, mainly because I did have a few successes and the other were simply not achieved due to pneumonia. That’s okay. I’ll take it all as a learning lesson and start again this month. One of the big successes came in the form of number of books read or listened to on Audible, 5 in total! Below is shot of May’s completed stack and June’s TBR stack.
May’s completed books include:
Choosing Joy -Kay Warren; A Woman After God’s Own Heart (Audible) – Elizabeth George; His Dry Creek Inheritance (not shown) by Janet Tronstad; Win The Day – Mark Batterson; You’ll Think Of Me – Robin Lee Hatcher
June’s To Be Read stack includes:
You’re Gonna Love Me – Robin Lee Hatcher; Double Blessing – Mark Batterson; The Bait Of Satan – John Bevere; Dare To Bloom – Zim Flores; The Hiding Place – Corrie Ten Boom
Obviously my choices bounce all over the place and run the gamut between Christian Romances, Inspirational Encouragement and Biographies from heroes of the faith.
What’s on your bookshelf?
Moving forward into June I’ve decided to keep the same goals as May because without the down time necessary to recoup from pneumonia I think I could’ve succeeded and possibly even beaten some of the goals. We shall see!
One piece of advice that my husband had to give me…give yourself grace. When I started to get really sick, my mind started reeling from guilt stemming from all of the things that weren’t being done.
Phooey! If I’m sick, it’s my body’s way of saying, Selah; rest. I need to remind myself that rest is good for me just as much as hard work. So when life throws you a curve ball, decide if you’re going to take a swing at bat or if you need to stay on the bench. The choice is yours.
Either way, I choose to cheer us onto victory! Praying for your success and selah if you need it.
God whispered these words into my heart and an image of my adult stepdaughter Josie came to mind.
It’s been 6 quiet years since our last set of texts with nothing in between except tidbits of information filtered through various extended family members.
One might think it odd that God would bring Josie to mind since there really isn’t much of a relationship to speak of. As far as I knew, she was happy with her life, her husband and children and wanted for nothing. Certainly, as it pertains to me as a stepmom, I got the message loud and clear when she stopped responding. It was clear, she was an adult now with her own family and based on her lack of response to my efforts, I surmised the last thing she wanted was a stepmom.
But I know God. When He brings someone to mind, it’s for a reason. Sometimes God brings a person to mind with a nudge to take action, either through a phone call, text or dinner. Other times, like this one, the only nudge I got from the Lord was to pray and so I did. Here’s what I came up with during that time, I pray it will encourage you like it did me to never give and to always follow the leading of the Lord.
As a mom this is a no-brainer, but when you’re a stepmom and your family story looks like its been scripted for a a Lifetime movie, exhaustion forces you into survival mode and prayer is gone faster than you can change channels.
Which is why God’s whisper was a wonderful prompt and one that gave me hope that I could finally do something. For far too long, I’d felt helpless, unable to shore up the damage being done with every tug-of-war battle that eventually pulled my family apart. This wasn’t the way I envisioned our family. I never wanted anger, tears or heartbreak. In fact, when Josie came into my life I saw happily-ever-afters, BBQ’s and sunsets. I still wanted that for us.
So for the rest of the morning the Lord and I walked through His word, digging up passages and defining areas for growth and for task. He showed me a multitude of ways I could stand in the gap for my stepdaughter, lifting her in prayer. He also reminded me that prayer doesn’t mean I need to be involved in her life on a day-to-day basis. Instead, God wanted my obedience to do the behind the scenes work He’d set before me, and to trust Him. He wasn’t promising me the Hallmark version of my life. He was offering me healing by way of praying for Josie.
What about you? How can you begin to pray for your stepdaughter today? If you don’t know, ask God. He’ll bring to mind areas of her life that need your prayers. Maybe she’s having a tough time at school or starting a new job. Or maybe she’s a new mom and struggling to balance work and home life.
Whatever God brings to mind, pray for her in those areas. Also, if you’d like to take your prayers one step farther, one of my all time favorite authors is Elizabeth George and she’s written a great book called, “A Mom After God’s Own Heart” that will lend plenty of tools and topics to prayerfully consider for your stepdaughter.
1 Chronicles 16:11 “Seek the Lord and His strength, seek His presence continually!”
Oh, this is a hard one for me. You too? I think as women we tend to hold onto memories, hurts, bitterness and unforgiveness, rehashing them over and over in our minds until we’re frothy with anger and ready to lash out in pain.
Ladies, if our families are to be restored we must first look to ourselves, admit what we’re holding onto and seek God’s forgiveness. He doesn’t want us to wallow in ugly memories. He wants us to be healed. But to do that, we must first acknowledge our need of the Lord.
James 4:10 invites us to, “Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up.” Can you imagine what it would look like to view your family through the lens of love and not worry that they’ll be caked with pain?
What a promise of hope!
Let us be stepmoms who ask for forgiveness and then eagerly offer it to those around us.
Ephesians 4:32 “Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.”
The biblical meaning for restoration is to receive back more than what has been lost to the degree that the new is better than the original condition.
Don’t you love that?
When we think of something being restored, like an old dresser, we think of taking it back to its original state. God takes restoration one step further and promises to make it better than the way it started out!
What a promise!
In order to move forward in our relationships we need to be healed of the pain that has destroyed us and our families. God can restore our relationships; not back to the way they started but in a richer, sweeter more precious way than we can ever imagine.
I think back to when I was a young woman, newly married, no kids, when Josie came into my life, and oh my! Even my best efforts don’t seem worth much in light of the damage that’s been done. I need restoration! I need God to make me better than I was if I’m going to be a blessing to my stepdaughter. Lord, please hear my prayer and please restore me to a new improved step mom!
If that’s your prayer too, be encouraged dear friend. We serve a mighty, loving God who is in the business of restoration. Just look at His gift to us through His precious Son Jesus Christ. He gave us His Son, would He not want restoration and healing for your family? Of course He does! God is a God of restoration and right relationships.
Lamentations 3:33-34 “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases, His mercies never come to an end, they are new every morning, great is Your faithfulness.”
Set Aside Expectations
I don’t know about you but this is a hard one for me because at the root of it all, I want everything to work out perfectly. However, as our family is living on the flip side of 3 decades of brokenness, you will see that all of our expectations and best efforts have failed. Why? Because we tried making those expectations work without ever seeking God. We thought we were doing the right thing, but with every failure, came more pain until all we were doing was reacting in a knee-jerk response to the previous heartbreak.
But wait! I believe God is doing a mighty work in our lives which will require us to lay our expectations at the feet of Jesus.
Let us trust God that He has brought our stepdaughters to mind for His reasons, not ours. Our job is to seek Him in every step He leads us in/through. While we walk with Him through this restoration let us ask Him to heal our brokenness, our need to be right, or acknowledged. Let us lay down our hurts, dreams and disappointments so that God can do a mighty work in us!
Trust the Lord for He is good and He does good.
James 3:17 “But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.”
Pray For Healing
I know I started with prayer so I’d like to end with prayer.
It goes without saying that healing is needed. Without it old wounds are reopened, new hurts are added and relationships are permanently destroyed.
Maybe your family looks like it can’t be salvaged. So does mine.
All is not lost! God is in the business of resurrecting the dead, the broken and hurting. He is into turning lives around so that His love is revealed to a waiting world.
Be encouraged my friend, I know it’s not easy being a stepmom. But I believe, even in our mistakes and our weaknesses, God can take hurt, broken stepmoms and turn us into mighty prayer warriors for our stepdaughters and our families. I believe with God we can be healed and families restored.
Will you commit to start today? Can you find it in yourself to spend time with the Lord and ask Him what His will is for you, your stepdaughter and your family? I pray you God will draw you closer to Himself and bless your requests that all that has been destroyed will be restored. I trust that He will give you the opportunity to start again, walk with Him, trusting in Him for every detail in your relationship between you, your stepdaughter and every single person involved. He is a mighty God and can do miraculous things!
Philippians 4:6-7 “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers. 7 If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”
I recently attended the Flourish Writers https://www.flourishwriters.com/ online conference and had the pleasure of listening to Jevon Bolden discuss her book, Pray, Hear, Write. Her words of encouragement inspired me to set goals in areas of my life that have become stagnant and to chase God-given dreams that have never seen the light of day.
So here we go…
I’ll be tracking 3 areas of my life: Health – Home – Writing
As a healthcare worker, the past year has taken its toll both mentally and physically so it’s time to lace up those walking shoes, pull out the blender, grab the Bellicon and get back on track!
Next, it’s time to plant a future harvest. If I’m learning anything about God’s word and the spread of COVID its the necessity to be wise in my harvesting both for now and in the future. One of the biggest blessings that came out of COVID was a love of gardening.
Now that the gardening season is upon us here in the Pacific Northwest and I have 2 dozen Roma tomato plants eager to sink deep into the composted soil. Oh my! Can you just imagine what my kitchen will look like in early October as I try to can up 50+ quarts of tomatoes??? I think I might have my mom fly in to help!
Finally, here’s my scariest goal: writing. Specifically my dream of becoming a published Inspirational fiction writer.
This last goal has been buried for many years and now it’s time to pull it our of obscurity, dust it off and breathe life back into what I believe God is calling me to do.
This dream came to life years ago when a good friend of mine got me hooked on reading light romance novels. There was one secular author in particular I really enjoyed because the story lines were strong, the characters had a good moral compass and there wasn’t anything graphic about the books. The only thing missing was God. But despite this one area, I’d finish reading one of her books and think,“This is what I want to do. I want to write.”
At the time, I didn’t know Christian fiction existed so I floundered in secular writing groups. I’d show up to the group wanting to write a great story with God being showcased and ended up leaving the because the of the huge amount of nastiness directed at my efforts, “my story was too sweet or not trashy enough.”
Eventually I shelved my books and focused on being a mom of littles. I figured…one day…
This month I’ll be using Jevon Bolden’s Pray Hear Write as a fasting resource to jump start my writing and then I’ll see what is an acceptable writing for subsequent months. Let’s face it, when you’re just starting out, who knows how much you can accomplish? One thing is for certain, “You’ll miss 100% of the shots you don’t take!” ~ Wayne Gretzky
Stepping Out Isn’t Easy But God Knows The Way
Before I get started, my first real step is to seek the Lord. I don’t want these efforts to be self-gratifying. I want them to glorify the Lord. I want to look back on future successes and give Him all the praise! So each morning, again with Jevon’s chapter prompts I’ll be seeking the Lord for His wisdom and guidance.
Want to come along?
If you have goals, restarts, mulligans, do-overs that you want to reach, then join me! I love having company. Tell me what you’ll be working on so I can add you to my prayer list and we can hold one another accountable. We’re in it together my friend, and the good Lord willingly, there is a new beginning for each of us! Step up and step out, I’ll be cheering you onto the finish line!
Exercise 3 times a week
Drink 72 ounces of water per day
Lose 3 pounds
Home & Garden
Time to get the garden planted – tomatoes, pole beans and herbs
Spring clean the house
Time away with The Hubs (1 small getaway & 1 Rail Trail ride)
2 blog posts
1 chapter outlined for the Daniel bible study
2 Friday morning mini-bible studies
Edit chapters 1 & 2 in fictional book
Read 30 minutes each evening
Ok friends, those are those goals…let’s be real, those seem a bit hefty, and they might be. I’ll figure it out as I go along. Doesn’t God tell us that He wants us to live life abundantly? Doesn’t He say that He wants the best for us? Yes!
I’ll be praying for you as you step out in faith, listen to the Lord’s promptings and go for your goals.
May you achieve success in reaching and in failing because both bring knowledge and growth.
As an 80’s kid we used the phrase, “get to steppin'” when we wanted someone to know that they should move on, move out, move forward, get out of the way, or just get!
Movement is needed in my life. My family is at an age and stage where I’m not needed in the same capacity as I once was. There is more freedom and I have the ability to pursue one my dreams; writing inspirational fiction.
When the boys were small I dabbled in writing stories, entering them in contests, taking writing classes and participating in writing groups. Despite those efforts I always struggled with the feeling of choosing my writing or my family. Ultimately I chose to put my family first and to set aside my writing until now.
Here’s the problem, I’m frozen in my tracks. I’m feeling overwhelmed with the need for everything to be perfect and the pressure to perform, afterall, God has given me the time, tools and story ideas and I want to honor Him with my efforts.
So how do I get started?
Seeking the Lord is a must for me. I don’t want to take on this new venture without the Lord so I’m inviting Him in this venue just as I would in any other area of my life: marriage, kids, work, etc. I include Him in those areas, why not this? Besides, He promises to guide my steps.
This dream of being a published fiction author is scary. For some reason there seems to be more risk involved than even when I wanted to be a mother. Silly right?
Chasing this dream of being a published author is like climbing a new mountain. The terrain is unknown. There are bound to be skinned knees, trips, slips and falls and even major switchbacks.
Which causes fear to bubble up. All those questions of “can I do it? Will my writing be good enough have surfaced and stopped me in my tracks.”
My dream of wanting to be a published author seems to be wrapped up in insecurities, fears and the reality that it could all fail.
At the same time, it could soar, couldn’t it?
In life there are no guarantees, except one, if we don’t step out in faith to chase the dream God has placed in our hearts, then those dreams will die within us.
I don’t want that to happen, do you?
Friends, as we march forward into the new year, let’s walk together. I invite you to join me on this journey. Let’s share and encourage one another every step of the way.
I’ll be sharing monthly updates on my writing and I invite you to share your dreams and the steps you’re taking to step out in faith and follow God’s leading for your life.
I’ll be praying for us. May God lead our steps, guide our paths and forever be glorified through our obedience.