Sunday, December 17, 2017

Called…Did I Do Enough?


I've been asking God what my One Word for 2018 will be, but haven't heard an answer yet. Sometimes I don't feel a word impressed upon me until close to New Year's, so I'm not worried.

The truth is, I don't want to my year with the word Called to end yet. I don't want to start thinking about my next word and waste my last few days of being Called.

But as I think about this past year, I wonder if I've done enough.

When I first settled on the word Called at the end of last year, I felt moved by how God called Moses by name.
And by how He calls us by name.

I was excited. I dreamed of plans I would make and things I would accomplish.

But instead, I started projects I didn't finish. If I dwell on it too long, I feel discouraged and disappointed.

I feel like I haven't done enough in my year of being called. And then I realized maybe God wasn't calling me to what I was dreaming. At least not in 2017.

Instead, He called me to a year deeper and harder than I could have imagined, and I'm glad He didn't share those details with me in January.

If I had known, I might have tried to prepare myself.
But not knowing left me no choice but to depend on Him every. single. day.

I still felt Him calling me, but I was constantly unsure of where we were going or what was coming next.

Not knowing can be unsettling, but at the same time, it's where I learn the most.

It's where I learn to listen for Him, and to discern between what He's moving me to or what I'm trying to make happen.

It's where I learn that just because I don't understand the how, why or when doesn't mean He's not at work in places I can't see. {Tweet this}

It's where I learn to wait and be still, and then to move when He says move.

It's where I learn that there is beauty in the valley, and to see His blessings in the midst of difficulties.

Unfulfilled plans on my part, does not mean I've wasted the year. It just means that God had different plans, and His plans happen in His time.

If my dreams and plans fit into His big picture, then they will happen, no matter what year it is, or what my One Word is. In the meantime, I'm growing and learning with Him.

Being called by God is not a one-year commitment, but a life-long opportunity, no matter what my days look like. {Tweet this}

From my family to yours,
Merry Christmas!

In Christ,
Laura 

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]



Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Called to Wait


I don’t know anyone who particularly likes to wait. Waiting in line, waiting for a delivery, waiting for a repair person to arrive, waiting on our children and spouses…waiting can be tedious.

And waiting can be hard.

Especially when we’re waiting on God.

When we wait on God, we don’t know His timing, what the future will look like, or if our days will go the way we want them to.

We don’t get to see the full picture of our lives like God does. And yet, He tells us to wait and trust Him.

It’s not easy because waiting can feel like a waste of time. There’s a sense of loneliness as we watch others move ahead and we’re stuck behind…waiting.

But we are not left alone. As we wait, God promises to be with us. And God always keeps His promises. {Tweet this}

Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Which means God with us.)

His very name is God with us. It’s Who He is.

God promised us a Savior and He kept His promise.

But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.

He is Immanuel. God with us.

While we wait and let God work, He does not walk away and He doesn’t leave us. Instead, He draws us close to Him and helps us wait.

He makes hope possible when we see no reason for hope.

He fills our hearts with joy that we can’t explain and won’t find anywhere else.

He renews our strength and energy when we have nothing left inside of us.

He gives us the ability to see His blessings in the midst of difficulties, and He brings peace to our lives where peace doesn’t make sense.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

That’s God—helping us wait on Him.

Waiting can make us feel like we’re not doing anything, but we are doing something. We’re leaning in to Him, learning to trust Him on a deeper level.

Waiting is hard, but it is not time wasted.

Without waiting, we would miss out on the way He draws us close to Him and works in us to change our hearts.

Without waiting and trusting Him, we wouldn’t experience hope when we feel hopeless, joy in the midst of unhappiness, and peace that we can’t explain. {Tweet this}

Not through anything we can do ourselves, but all because of Him.

Immanuel—God with us.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Aaron Burden/Unsplash]


Sunday, November 26, 2017

Early Christmas Spirit


I've been listening to Christmas music for over a week. This is unusual for me. Most years I prefer to wait until after Thanksgiving to usher in the Christmas season.

But this year has been different. I've been searching for, and buying, new Christmas music. I started decorating for Christmas before Thanksgiving, and finished up the final touches while watching the Thanksgiving Day parade.

It's not that I was in a hurry to rush through Thanksgiving; I just feel this joy for the holiday season that I haven't felt in a long time.

I have no specific reason for the change of heart, so I know it has to be God's work. And that's all the explanation I need.

Like so many other people, it's been a year of highs and lows. Disappointment and difficulties take their toll, and yet I feel incredibly thankful.

God has walked with me and taught me to depend on Him even more than I thought I was already relying on Him.

He's helped me up when I've been knocked down, and eased the pain when I've been forced to let go of things I didn't want to let go of. (I still don't, but I'm working on it.)

And He's given me what I need to support others when I had absolutely nothing left to give.

Day by day. Just like He provided manna in the desert for the Israelites, this is how He provides strength and courage to get through each day. {Tweet this}

I don't anticipate that next year will be easier, but I hope it won't be as raw or leave me feeling as vulnerable.

It will be different, and I don't know what to expect with different. But I'm praying that different moves us forward, whatever that looks like.

I struggle when He tells me to wait while He works. It's part of letting go of what I want to see happen, and choosing to trust Him when I feel myself starting to worry.

Perhaps this was all part of my early desire to celebrate with Christmas music...I'm still standing, despite the enemy's work, and all thanks to God.

I don't know what you've had to deal with this year, but if there's a way I can be praying for you, please let me know by leaving a comment.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Sunday, November 19, 2017

5 Verses for Visiting with Family


The upcoming holidays can be a season of joy and celebration, but it can also be a time of sadness, turmoil, stress, and frustration.

For many, the get-togethers and visits with extended family are less than pleasant and more let’s-just-get-through-this, adding more pressure during a busy time of year.

I’ve been thinking about how God’s Word can help us through the difficult reunions.

5 Scripture Verses for Visiting with Family

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.

Patience. No matter how well we get along with family members, we need an extra supply of patience. Extra excited children running around, long-winded story tellers, doting aunts and grandparents…there’s a lot going on at a gathering. Some love it, some don’t. Some thrive in crowds, some crave a few minutes alone. That’s the great thing about silent prayer. While you smile and try to stay engaged, you can be asking God for patience to get through the next minute…and the next hour…and the rest of the day.

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

What we see doesn’t tell the entire story. Just as we may wear a mask and try to act like everything is alright, others do too. When we’re growing weary of others, it might be helpful to remember that we don’t always know what someone else is going through. But God knows, and perhaps He’s placing you in this person’s path for a reason.

My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you.

When I’m struggling to show love to someone not acting loveable, I have to remind myself that I’m not always loveable myself. If someone seems extra irritable or moody, it’s possible they’re weighed down by life. (And aren’t we all at times?) Whether they want to talk about it or not, compassion, even when we don’t know the circumstances, goes a long way. {Tweet this}

Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.

I’ve known family members who refused to talk to each other for a long time because of misspoken or misunderstood words. Most of the time, getting the last word just isn’t worth the drama and hurt feelings. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to resist the urge to engage and walk away.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

We cannot control other people’s behavior, but we can control our own actions and reactions. {Tweet this} Don’t take the bait leading to an argument, gossip, or any other behavior more pleasing to the enemy than to God. If you feel yourself getting pulled in, ask for His help to hold your tongue, change or leave the conversation, and to forgive others’ behavior.

No matter how hard we try, the truth is not one of us is perfect, and family relationships have never been easy. {Tweet this}

Remember Jacob? He had issues with his twin brother Esau; was tricked by his father-in-law into marrying Leah when he loved and wanted to marry Rachel; and played favorites with his sons from both Leah and Rachel, which, of course, led to many years of more family drama.

And yet, God loved Jacob, giving him the name Israel, and placing him directly in the lineage of Jesus.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo Credit: Pixaby.com] 


Friday, November 10, 2017

Disappointment and Perspective


Some days, right?

One day last week started as expected. It was going well, but took a turn I wasn’t expecting. I probably should have anticipated it, but I didn’t and it led to disappointment. Disappointment I struggled with.

I felt let down and frustrated. It’s something out of my control and I don’t like that. I want to see change, but it’s not going to happen when or how I’d like. I went through a range of emotions—anger, sadness, and feeling overwhelmed.

Then, I decided I had to stop thinking about it and just focus on right now because worrying about tomorrow was keeping me from appreciating today. {Tweet this}

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Disappointment in life is inevitable, and sometimes it takes time to bounce back. But when it leads to discouragement and worry, then we need to make the decision not to go down that path.

Worry doesn’t solve anything; it makes things worse.

Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him.

Worry makes us miss what we have today. It pulls our attention away from trust and thankfulness.

I decided to take a step back and not think about tomorrow and what’s out of my control. Instead, I reminded myself of what God has been doing and how He’s taken care of us.

I focused on what is happening instead of what’s not happening, and it changed my perspective.

Sometimes God will calm the storm around me. Other times He quiets the storm within me. {Tweet this}

Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on him.

That’s what He did last week. Nothing in the situation changed, but He eased the upset that was taking me over, and enabled me to see it from a different viewpoint.

That day’s disappointment wasn’t the end of what I was hoping for, but a reminder to keep trusting Him in every single part of my life, regardless of setbacks, or when I misread a situation.

*****

It’s time for a giveaway!

I have two books which I’ve reviewed in past months to share. Click on each title for my review and more information on the book.


and


There are three ways to enter: (Each one earns an entry.)
-sign up to receive my blog posts by email (in the right side bar)
-follow me on Twitter
-like my Facebook page.

Then, leave a comment letting me know how you followed (or if you already do), which book you’re interested in, and your email address so I can contact you if you win.

Drawing ends on Friday, November 17. (Sorry, only U.S. residents are eligible to win.)

In Christ,
Laura  

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Friday, November 3, 2017

Fighting Regret


Have you ever had a time when it seemed like old regrets you might have kept coming to the surface giving you the opportunity to rehash them...again? That was my past week. Things I’d done, or not done, coming to mind over and over for no apparent reason. It was frustrating. And exhausting.

It's hard to forget things we wish we’d done differently, but the longer we linger in the past, the more it affects us in ways we’ve struggled with before—guilt, shame, sadness, anger, and feelings of depression and anxiety.

The enemy knows this and uses it to his full advantage. He knows where he can slither in to our days and get our thoughts reliving the past.

What can we do we do when we’re under attack like this?

➤Pray. Immediately and often.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Where we are weak, the enemy will attack. But,

Where we are weak, God is strong!

The enemy has already been defeated by Jesus. When we call to Jesus for help and stand behind Him, the enemy has no choice but to retreat. {Tweet this}

But still, often something will continue to bother us because it’s time to confess and receive God's forgiveness. If that’s the case, have a heart-to-heart with the One who loves you more than anyone else.

Then, ask Him to help you forgive yourself. Sometimes this is where we struggle the most—letting ourselves off the hook long after we’ve received God’s forgiveness.

We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it. No matter how hard Satan tries to keep us there, with God’s help we can move forward.

➤Scripture. Remind yourself of God's truth.

Everything God says is true—and it’s a shield for all who come to him for safety.

Write out your favorite verses and keep them where you will see them often. Replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth. Personalize Scripture by inserting your name. God’s Word is meant for us. Let’s not ignore the power of praying Scripture over ourselves.

I like to go back through my journals because I often find that God has already shown me particular verses He knew I’d need for that very day.

Our thoughts can have an effect on every part of our day. If we think too long on what we can’t change, it will drag us down. The quicker we can replace the negative thoughts with God’s Word, the better we can keep ourselves from going down a self-defeating path.

Remember, the enemy cannot stand in the name of Jesus. {Tweet this} 

➤Consider your physical state. Change your focus.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

I'd been fighting a cold all last week and it made me extra tired, and at times, made my thinking kind of fuzzy. When I’m over tired and not feeling well, my thoughts can easily start to spin out of control.

Throughout the week, I had to keep reminding myself that it was a perfect opportunity for the enemy to attack. When regretful thoughts kept coming to mind, I had to be intentional about changing my focus.

Self-care is important. Whether that means getting enough sleep, eating well, or taking care of ourselves when we’re sick, it’s the way we’re created. When we struggle to function physically, we can’t expect our emotional and mental state to not be effected.

Anytime we find ourselves under attack, we need to turn to God immediately, especially when we’re already feeling weak. He promises to help us fight against the enemy’s attack.

Then, find a distraction—turn on praise music, read a book, call a friend—anything that will change what you’re currently thinking about. And be prepared to take these steps all over again, because the enemy is persistent.

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

In Christ,
Laura 

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Monday, October 23, 2017

6 Verses for When You Need to Be Brave


Last week, I wrote about courage—taking that faith-filled step to keep moving forward, despite everything that tries to work against us.

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage and bravery. What comes easy for some might take a great amount of bravery for another, and what took a deep courage-filled breath last year may not be as difficult this year.

After reading multiple definitions, I came up with one of my own.
To act bravely is to meet or face something with courage; to act with courage is to make the choice to proceed with confidence, despite fear, adversity, intimidation, or feeling uncomfortable or judged.
Being brave doesn’t mean the threat is gone, it means we don’t let it stop us. {Tweet this}

Having courage doesn’t mean the next step will be easy, it means we move forward anyway.

Following Jesus means we can draw from His unending strength and courage, and not try to rely on the amount of courage we can muster up ourselves.

When God told Joshua to be strong and courageous as he led the Israelites, He planned for Joshua to rely on Him. If Joshua had decided that he was brave enough without God, the Israelites never would have made it to the Promised Land.

Joshua was brave because He trusted God.

Just like Joshua, God makes us brave not because of who we are, but because of who He is.
{Tweet this}

6 Scripture Verses for When You Need to Be Brave

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Be strong, and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal!

Then again, the one having the appearance of a man came and touched me, and he strengthened me. He said, “O man, greatly beloved, do not fear. Peace be unto you. Be strong and courageous!” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: K.Rath 2017]


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Called to Be Courageous


A few weeks ago, I did something I’d been putting off for quite a while. I added a speaker page to my blog. I know, for some, this might not be a big deal, but for me, it was. Finally doing this meant moving forward through the fear, and finding courage to put myself out there where others could see and judge.

As I thought about courageous people in the Bible, I reread the verses calling Joshua to be courageous in leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. (Joshua 1) But, that’s not who I kept thinking about. Instead, I kept thinking about a woman who had the courage to go to Jesus.

In the Book of Mark, chapter 5, Jesus is on His way to visit a little girl who is dying. As He walked with the girl’s father, the disciples, and the crowd of people following Him, He suddenly stopped to talk to one woman. A courageous woman whose faith was stronger than her fear.
A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Mark 5:25-28
This woman, who would have been viewed as ceremonially unclean for so many years, made the choice to go to Jesus, despite her fear and uncertainty. She took a faith-filled risk, even though she would be seen and judged. {Tweet this}

And her courage was rewarded.
Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”
Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” Mark 5:29-30, 33-34
By faith, she had the courage to fight through the crowd and touch Jesus’ robe, and then, confess to Him what she had done.

That’s courage, friends. Raw, honest and inspiring, faith-filled courage.

Where do you need to find courage today? {Tweet this}

Maybe it’s the courage to keep trying when you feel like giving up.

The courage to step out in faith despite the fear holding you back.

The courage to keep hoping when you’re knee-deep in disappointment.

Perhaps it’s the courage we all need— the courage to reach out and touch Jesus’ robe because our faith is stronger than our fear.

Courage that says we can walk through anything because our trust and confidence is in the One who will never leave us.

“Daughter, your faith has made you well.”

May we all be courageous women who walk in faith, regardless of all that tries to work against us.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Less of Me


A few days ago, I woke up with seven words on my mind...More of You Lord, less of me.

I knew it had to do with the way I'd felt when I went to bed the night before. Frustrated with emotions that I'd buried months ago, and were now coming back to the surface. Feelings I could either bury again, or would have to deal with now.

Neither choice looked appealing, but those words kept running through my mind like a ticker tape reminder...More of You Lord, less of me.


That reminder became my prayer over and over throughout the day because I know that when I don't have it in me to deal with something, God does. {Tweet this}

When I struggle to forgive...

More of You Lord, less of me.

When I don't understand and don't know which way to go...

More of You Lord, less of me.

When I can't change my circumstances or someone else's actions...

More of You Lord, less of me.

When I feel lost and lonely...

More of You Lord, less of me.

When my emotions are going to overtake me...

More of You Lord, less of me.

So often I forget this, trying to deal with things on my own. But the truth is, every day, in every situation, I need more of Him and less of me. {Tweet this}

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

6 Verses for When You Feel Stuck


Some seasons in life feel like they’ll never change. The unpleasant road we’re on has no visible end in sight. We’re worn out and tired. Tired of trying. Tired of waiting. Tired of spinning our wheels and getting nowhere. Tired of hoping for a better day.

If you’re there with me today, let me remind you that what you see surrounding you isn’t the full story. There’s more, so much more, that we can’t see, but God can. {Tweet this}

God knows what’s right around the corner, but we won’t see it if we stop moving forward.

God knows who He’s moving into our circle of people, but we won’t get to meet them if we decide to quit.

God knows the plans He has for us, but we’ll never see them if we decide it’s not worth getting through today.

When we feel stuck in our current reality, our view of tomorrow is limited by what we can see today. {Tweet this} We forget that the future is packed with possibilities and that God is walking before us.

If you’re feeling stuck and can’t even get a glimpse of a different tomorrow, these verses are for you.

6 Scripture Verses for When You Feel Stuck

He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure.

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

What verse(s) would you add to these for when you feel stuck?

In Christ,
Laura 

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

5 Verses for When You Need Strength


Disappointment, discouragement, fear, daily struggles…some days take everything we have. When we rely only on our own strength and what we have to give, we quickly become worn out and discouraged. {Tweet this}

But when we turn to God for His strength and replenishment, we are able to keep moving forward. We are able to keep giving to our family and friends. We are able to keep hoping, not because of what we can see, but because of Who we know God is. {Tweet this}

5 Scripture Verses for When You Need Strength

Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.
God’s strength is available to us when we seek His presence in our daily lives.
The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
God supplies the living water we need. When I get busy and don’t make time to spend with God and in His Word, I find myself parched and desperately in need of His restoring and strengthening. But, when I sit and rest with Him I feel nourished. He guides and gives strength, but if we don’t pay attention, we can miss it.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
God, in all His power, is with us ready to protect and save. He strengthens us day-by-day to withstand trouble, to wait, and to persevere.
Christ gives me the strength to face anything.
Whatever comes our way, whatever God calls us to do, we can handle it because Christ empowers us through His strength.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
No matter what we face, God promises to be with us. He offers us comfort, reassurance, encouragement, and His support. Is there anything better?
In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]