Tuesday, July 18, 2017

6 Verses to Start Your Day


How we start our day makes a difference—in how we feel, in our attitudes, and in general, how the day will progress. Today, I’m sharing six Scripture verses that make a difference in my morning. {Tweet this}

6 Scripture Verses to Start Your Day


It is good to give thanks to the Lord, to sing praises to the Most High. It is good to proclaim your unfailing love in the morning, your faithfulness in the evening….

Praising God first—before we’ve seen what He will do, takes practice until it feels natural. Not sure how to do this?

*Start with praising God each morning for His love, with an openness to wherever He might lead you during the day.

*Praise Him throughout the day for the beauty you see around you.

*At the end of the day, reflect back. Thank and praise Him for His closeness throughout the day, His work and beauty you saw around you, and for His promise to continue to be with you through the night and into the next day.

Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

No matter what happened yesterday, last week, or what might happen today, God’s love and compassion for us will never run out. No matter what comes our way and how crushing it feels, we can trust Him to help us through it.

Christ gives me the strength to face anything.

I usually read this verse in other translations that read, “I can do everything through Christ who gives me strength.” (NLT) But I like the slight difference in how the CEV reads…the strength to face anything. Before I have to do anything (even getting up in the morning), I know that whatever comes that day, I can face it or approach it—because Christ gives me the strength and ability to do so. {Tweet this}

You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in you, all whose thoughts are fixed on you!

Where our thoughts go, our hearts and emotions will follow. When we focus on all that could happen in the world, our thoughts go to frightening scenarios, most of which are not our current reality. But, when we focus on Jesus, we will find peace through Him—peace we can’t find anywhere else. Even when life throws us a curve ball, we can experience peace because we have fixed our eyes and minds on Him.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Some mornings I just don’t even want to get out of bed or face the day, especially when I think of doing it alone. But, we are not alone. God not only walks beside us in everything we have to go through, but He personally walks ahead and plans the way. There is nothing we go through that He is unaware of. Where we see no purpose in what we’re walking through, God knows. He knows what’s ahead of us and around the corner, and promises us we don’t have to be afraid…because He won’t leave us.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

All we can see is what we’re facing and what surrounds us, and some days, it looks pretty bleak. But, that doesn’t mean it will always be like that. God knows His plans for us long before He reveals them to us. He knew Jesus would walk this earth long before His people saw it happen. No matter what we see today, God’s plans are full of Hope—hope for today, hope for tomorrow, and hope for our future. Because of Jesus, there is always Hope. {Tweet this}

What Scripture verses help you begin or walk through your day?

In Christ,
Laura 


Thursday, June 29, 2017

Called to Rest


The Lord replied, “My Presence will go with you, and I will give you rest.”

Words have been slow here lately. I have plenty filling my journal pages…but words to share with you? Not so much.

I’ve been feeling for a while that perhaps God is calling me into a season of rest, although it’s taken me time to accept it. I question first if I’m just tired (which I am) or being lazy (it’s possible), but really, I’m worn out. From everything.

Emotional and mental fatigue takes its toll, bringing with it physical fatigue. And as you probably know, it’s hard to fight all three at once. So, I’ve stopped pushing back and I’m trying to rest as I feel God encouraging me to do.

Maybe you find yourself in the same place. Today I’m sharing a few things I’ve been doing to encourage myself during this time of rest.

4 Things We Can Do as We’re Called to Rest {Tweet this}

Spend time with God.

Start the day with Scripture—even if it’s just one verse. God knows what we need for the moment, and often, that one verse has stayed with me throughout the day.

Choose a daily devotional book to read with your morning coffee. It doesn’t have to be an in-depth Bible study, especially if you’re feeling too tired to think. But, a few minutes spent alone with God does wonders. In fact, it may be those few minutes that get you through the rest of the day.

I’ve started reading Coffee for Your Heart by Holley Gerth (previously published as God’s Heart for You.) If you’ve read any of Holley’s books, you know the soothing encouragement her words offer. Coffee for Your Heart reminds us of how God sees us, in 40 easy-to-read devotions, with prayer and personal reflection.

I’m also reading Soul H2O: 40 Thirst Quenching Devotions for Women by Sherry Stahl. I love the title—because it reminds me of how dehydrated I feel, and it’s also easy to read, with prayer and personal reflection.

Accept it.

Take advantage of the rest God is guiding you to. If He’s encouraging it, He knows we need it. (Usually long before we realize it ourselves.) {Tweet this}

Give yourself permission to do what you have to do and let the rest slide for a while. That means prioritizing the to-do list, and adding to it time for yourself.

Be present in the moment. Stressing about what you think you should be doing and/or worrying about tomorrow defeats the purpose of resting today. (Which, for me, leads to more stress.)

Do something you enjoy.

I’ve been reading more Christian fiction and mysteries this year. It’s the best way to get my mind to relax, and diving into a story I don’t have to think too much about is a nice escape from what’s going on around me.

Other mental getaways: take a walk, journal, listen to Christian music, bake, visit with friends…you get the idea. Find something you enjoy doing and give yourself permission to spend your time there. {Tweet this}

Get offline.

When I’m already exhausted, the online world can be too much for me. Whether it’s the news or anything on social media, the more I let in, the more it’s able to affect me in negative ways.

It’s also harder to not compare my life to the perfect-looking pictures I see on Facebook. So, before it draws me in, I have to limit my time there.

Less time spent online also makes it easier to be present in the moment. No matter how enjoyable my day is, comparison can ruin it within seconds. I have to remind myself that one picture doesn’t tell someone else’s whole story.

Rest—peace of mind or spirit, freedom from activity or labor, to take relief or respite.

Rest isn’t just physical, it’s also emotional and mental. It’s a necessary part of feeling rejuvenated and renewed. Feeling rested comes from letting our bodies and minds relax, as often as we need and for as long as it takes, regardless of all life throws at us. (I’m still working this.)

“Then Jesus said, ‘Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest.”

What would you add to this list?

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]


Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Hope for Your Future


“There is hope for your future,” says the Lord.

There is hope for your future because…

…of who God is (not who we are.) {Tweet this}

…of His great love for us.

…God keeps His promises.

…He does not change.

…of how He’s worked in the past, and how He’s at work today.

…how He sees us (not how we see ourselves.)

…nothing is impossible for Him. {Tweet this}

…God sees us, hears us, and knows what we’re going through.

…He sees the big picture of our lives that we cannot see.

…God knows the plans He has for us.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.

In Christ,
Laura  

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Called to Persevere

When you go through deep waters, I will be with you.
When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown.
When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not be burned up; the flames will not consume you.

I’ve read this verse so many times, each time soaking in the comfort it provides. Yet, when I read it again recently, there was more.

There was still the comfort and reassurance I was seeking, but there was also the reminder to persevere. {Tweet this}

As much as I’d like God to remove the obstacles and difficulties I’m facing, that doesn’t always happen. He does promise, though, to be there with me.

As I persevere through the deep waters of disappointment and discouragement, He walks through the waves with me.

As I persevere through life’s storms and the rivers of difficulty, He keeps me from drowning.

As I persevere through the flames of oppression, hardship, and suffering, He keeps me from burning.

As I persevere through daily difficulties and life’s hardest days, God is there, walking with me—making sure it doesn’t consume me.

His promise to you, and to me—
He will be with us every step of the way.
Guiding, guarding, and protecting.
Offering strength, comfort, and reassurance.
Today and all of our tomorrows.

We only have to look to Him, trust Him, and rely upon Him.

He will be by your side, and mine, as we persevere one day at a time. {Tweet this}

When you face stormy seas I will be there with you with endurance and calmyou will not be engulfed in raging rivers.
    If it seems like you’re walking through fire with flames licking at your limbs, keep going; you won’t be burned.

In Christ,
Laura 

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]

Linking up with: Moments of Hope, #DreamTogether, #glimpsesofHisbeauty, PurposefulFaith, #TellHisStory, From Messes to Messages, Coffee for Your Heart, Recharge Wednesday, Writer Wednesday, Porch Stories, Grace Moments, #ChasingCommunity, Faith on Fire, Grace & Truth, Faith ‘n Friends, #FreshMarketFriday, Jami Amerine

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Jesus in a Changing World


Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.

I don’t know anyone who loves change. Whether it’s sudden, like the loss of a job, or expected, like a child going away to college, change can be difficult and adjusting to it takes time.

With change comes unknowns and what-ifs. What was normal no longer is, and a new normal has yet to settle in. That’s why I find this short verse reassuring: Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. 

When everything else in life can change in a moment, Jesus doesn’t change. {Tweet this} He is our solid foundation in a world of upheaval and unknowns.

Please join me at Christian Devotions to continue reading...Jesus in a Changing World.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: pixabay.com]

Linking up with: Faith on Fire, #FreshMarketFriday, Faith 'n Friends, Spiritual Sundays

Monday, May 22, 2017

When God Answers with an Oxygen Mask


Have you ever wondered why you can see God’s hand in some areas of your life, but not so much in others? Maybe like me, you’ve even asked Him.

It’s not that you’re not thankful, you just want to know why.

That was a conversation I had with God a few months ago.

The Back Story...

The second half of 2016 was rough. After multiple large, unexpected expenses, loss of my part-time job when my position was eliminated, and ongoing family medical concerns, I was tired. I knew God was walking with me. I’d seen His work along the way. But, still, I was worn out.

As January 2017 began, the one-after-another extra expenses had slowed down. There were still bills to be caught up on, but I began to see some new employment opportunities.

I saw God at work in obvious ways in several areas of my life and watching His plan unfold re-energized my hope.

There was still one area, though, where there was no visible change—my loved one’s medical concerns. Every time I tried to move forward to make something happen, I felt like I hit a brick wall. My efforts went nowhere and I wondered if I was supposed to stop trying.

As I showered and dressed one morning, I had one of my heart-to-heart talks with God. I thanked Him for the opportunities He was presenting—I knew without a doubt He was at work. And in the next breath, I asked why. Why was He helping me and not my loved one? 

Why was I feeling hopeful in one area and hopeless in another?

I knew that He hadn’t chosen sides and that His help wasn’t limited to me, but sometimes what we know and feel don’t work together. {Tweet this}

I'm so excited to be a featured guest at Candidly Christian today! Please join me there to continue reading...When God Answers with an Oxygen Mask!

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo Credit: Candidly Christian]

Monday, May 15, 2017

8 Verses for When You Need to Remember God is Fighting for You

Life often takes me to my knees. Lately, however, I feel as if I’ve barely been able to stand up before it knocks me down again.

I’ve thought about just staying down—playing dead—so maybe the enemy will move on and leave me alone. But, that doesn’t settle well with me. It feels like giving up.

I’m learning though, that it is possible to not give up, but to stay low while I catch my breath. All the while, staying as close to God as possible. Fortunately, He’s not concerned with personal space, so He doesn’t mind if I cling to Him constantly and lean on Him hard. In fact, He encourages it!

I’ve been reminded that the Lord is fighting this battle. {Tweet this} It feels like it’s all on my shoulders, but I’m trying to let Him take the weight from me.

I imagine you might know what I’m talking about…when the weight of the battle feels like it will crush you. Lean in to Him with me. Let Him strengthen you and protect you. He is fighting the battle! {Tweet this}

8 Scripture verses for when you need to remember He is fighting for you… 


The Lord himself will fight for you. Just stay calm. 

Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”

He will say to them, ‘Listen to me, all you men of Israel! Do not be afraid as you go out to fight your enemies today! Do not lose heart or panic or tremble before them. For the Lord your God is going with you! He will fight for you against your enemies, and he will give you victory!

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”

For you equipped me with strength for the battle; you made those who rise against me sink under me.

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.

Put on all of God’s armor so that you will be able to stand firm against all strategies of the devil. For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm.

So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

What verse do you turn to when life feels like a battle?

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Monday, May 8, 2017

9 Verses for Fighting Fear


A few weeks ago, fear creeped in and wanted control of my days. Maybe you know the feeling—when you realize you’re worried about how-will-I and all the what-ifs for today, tomorrow, and 10 years from now.

Fear of the unknown and how-will-this-work-out is formidable. It has the power to affect everything from our moods and how we treat our families, to the decisions we make. {Tweet this}

Fortunately, I realized it quickly…well, after an email chat with a friend who pointed it out. Then, it was suddenly clear. Fear for tomorrow (and all the tomorrows after that) was manipulating me in unproductive ways. {Tweet this}

As soon as I knew fear had a grip on me, I turned to God. I reminded myself that God goes before me. Things will often get harder before they get better, but I know if He leads me down a rugged path, He will be there to help me.

As I felt my anxiety start to ease, I turned to Scripture. I reread my favorite verses that calm me down, and I searched for verses on fear that I was less familiar with.

I don’t always know which verse will make my heart sigh with relief, but God does. He knows what I need to hear and precisely when I need to hear it.

And sometimes, I just need to be reminded of His calming presence…

At once, Jesus said to them, “Don’t worry! I am Jesus. Don’t be afraid.

Here are 8 more Scripture verses to turn to when fear starts to creep in.

But when I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.

Isaiah 41:10 NLT {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.

Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”

Daniel 10:19 NLT {Strength}
“Don’t be afraid,” he said, “for you are very precious to God. Peace! Be encouraged! Be strong!” As he spoke these words to me, I suddenly felt stronger and said to him, “Please speak to me, my lord, for you have strengthened me.”

But the Holy Spirit will come and help you, because the Father will send the Spirit to take my place. The Spirit will teach you everything and will remind you of what I said while I was with you. I give you peace, the kind of peace that only I can give. It isn’t like the peace that this world can give. So don’t be worried or afraid.

Psalm 23:4 NLT {Comfort}
Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.

Joshua 1:9 NLT {Not Alone}
This is my command—be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.”

What David said are really the words of Jesus, “I always see the Lord near me, and I will not be afraid with him at my right side. Because of this, my heart will be glad, my words will be joyful, and I will live in hope.

What Scripture verses do you turn to when you find yourself feeling afraid?

In Christ,
Laura 

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]

Monday, May 1, 2017

Don’t Let Fear and Self-doubt Kill Your Dreams


I recently spoke at a women’s event, presenting a 45-minute Bible study I wrote myself. It wasn’t my first time speaking to a group of women, but you might not believe that if you saw my hands tremble and heard the nerves in my voice. Every time I speak, I forget to breathe for the first few minutes. Then, I get into a groove and I’m able to relax. Somewhat.

For years, after I began writing to encourage women in their faith journeys, I wondered if God might ever lead me to speak. I’m not sure why I felt like this was something I wanted to do because holding a microphone made me panic. (And that’s before I even tried to speak into it.)

But God has a unique way of putting a dream in your heart that terrifies you. Those dreams are not meant be accomplished alone. God designs them so that you can work on them together—with Him.

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.

How often do we forget that wherever He leads us, He will continue to walk with us every step of the way? {Tweet this}

Monday, April 24, 2017

Called to Praise

  
I will praise you every day; yes, I will praise you forever.

Several years ago, my word for the year was Praise. To be honest, I wasn’t thrilled about the word when the year started. Praise felt like a really big word for when really big things happened—which wasn’t every day. So, what was I supposed to do with the word the rest of the year?

What I learned first is that Praise isn’t supposed to be saved for only the really big events or even what is visible to others.

Praise is meant for every day—the little, the ordinary, and what others might not be able to see.
{Tweet this}

Praise is when we honor God by acknowledging Him in everything we do. It’s looking for Him and His work, no matter if it’s a good day or a rotten day. Praise is thanking God in all situations, even when we don’t feel thankful.

Praise when I don’t feel thankful? Yes, because sometimes we have to practice giving praise before it feels natural.

For I cried out to him for help, praising him as I spoke.

Our human nature doesn’t lead us to feel thankful when we’re walking in the valley, but that’s precisely when God can do His best work in us. The hard work of changing our hearts and bringing us closer to Him. And creating a desire in us to want to be closer to Him.

The next thing I learned about Praise is that it’s not just for after something happens.

Praise is also meant to be given before we see His work.

How do I know what to praise Him for if it hasn’t happened yet? Because God is always at work, even when we can’t see it or imagine what He might be working on.

Let all that I am praise the Lord; may I never forget the good things he does for me.

Praise Him for being who He is—our God and Savior who doesn’t change on a whim. He doesn’t change the rules. And His love for us doesn’t change because He’s having a bad day.

Praise Him because no matter what we’re going through, we can be sure He’s walking beside us. He leads the way before us and watches over us. Sometimes He stays quiet, but we can trust that He’s there.

In those times I desperately need to feel His presence, I ask Him to let me see Him. And then I look for Him even in the slightest way. It might be in new flower buds, the lyrics of a song, an unexpected phone call or text from a friend, or in the way my day turns around through no power of my own.

My heart is confident in you, O God; my heart is confident. No wonder I can sing your praises!

That year, I learned to praise God for His presence, for His love and compassion, and because no matter what I regret doing today, tomorrow is a brand new start.

Praise Him because when we look for Him, we will see Him. And the more we see Him, the more we will look for Him.
{Tweet this}

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]

Monday, April 17, 2017

God’s Healing Through a Song


When I opened the envelope, I thought I knew what it would say. In fact, I was so sure, I was already mentally planning my next steps. But, what I expected was not what was printed in that letter. I was stunned and stuck in the place I was standing.

What I read was good news, but it was also news that would disrupt our world for a while.

It was news that sent my emotions, and my daughter’s, into a freefall. I was instantly overwhelmed with the letter’s implications—the details that would have to be quickly taken care of, the financial risk, and how it would affect every member of our family, including our fur baby.

And did I mention the emotions?

Pouring out what I didn’t feel I had in me, I helped my daughter process through what she was thinking and feeling. Between the two of us, the fear, what ifs, and unknowns were too numerous to count. So were the tears.

I spent the next day making phone calls and confirming details, some I knew and some I’d just been made aware of. I sat at my kitchen table and cried when one piece of news was better than I had anticipated. I knew God had gone before us and was working out the details. And yet, I was still scared.

How could I see God’s hand and all that He was working in our favor and still be afraid? Because I’m human. {Tweet this}

I can be thankful for God’s provision and still feel vulnerable. 

I can trust Him and still be unsure of what my next step is. 

I can praise Him and still cry because I feel so broken. 

And, I can know God is with me and still feel afraid of what I can’t see ahead.

The week before, I’d fallen in love with the song “O My Soul” by Casting Crowns. I turned up the volume every time I heard it on the car radio and decided it was my new favorite song. That same week, I found the CD at the library and checked it out. Little did I know that my new favorite song would get me through my overwhelming week.

“O My Soul” was on constant replay in the car and at work. When I couldn’t listen to it, I heard the song in my head and thought about the meaning of the lyrics. I cried and I prayed. I was overtired and worn out. I wondered if I should stop listening to the song because I couldn’t listen to it and not cry, especially on my way to work. But I couldn’t stop playing it—I knew that one song was holding me together.

And that’s when I realized—God had given me something audible to cling to that only He knew I would desperately need in the days to come. His love and promises spoken to me in the way of music.

When I felt exhausted, I knew He was holding me. 

When I felt empty, He was filling me up. 

And when I was unsure what to do next, He turned me in the right direction.

God was healing me in ways I wasn’t aware I needed. {Tweet this}

It wasn’t immediate, but after a week or so, I could listen to the song without shedding more tears. I felt calmer and stronger. Still tired, but less worried.

There are still many unknowns, what ifs, and how will we? questions. But we’re taking them one at a time and looking for where God has already sorted out the details.

And I’m praising Him and thanking Him every step of the way.

In Christ,
Laura 

[Photo credit: Pixabay.com]

Linking up with: #DreamTogether, #glimpsesofHisbeauty, Purposeful Faith, #TellHisStory, Coffee for Your Heart, Writer Wednesday, Grace Moments, #ChasingCommunity, #HeartEncouragement, Rich Faith Rising, Porch Stories, Faith 'n Friends, #FaithOnFire, #FreshMarketFriday, Grace & Truth