I find I write often about discouragement, too much really. I can stay in such a cycle of discouragement that I get tired of hearing my own voice talk about it and reading what I write on the topic. Still, it comes. You would think I would be past it by now after the years filled with peaks and valleys in my walk with Jesus.
Today’s blog comes after another bout with discouragement and my calling out to God from the pit. Just this week I sent an email to a friend about my latest climb out and wanted to share some of what I wrote to her. Even as I typed the email, I realized it would make for a good blog.
My words to my friend:
“It doesn’t matter how far I travel with the Lord or how many “gifts” I’ve been given. Discouragement is the devil’s favorite tool to use against me. I’m so like King David. Not the good man of battle and great leader stuff – you know, the ups and downs in the Psalms. I’m quite sure David was the second bi-polar king recorded. (Saul was just nuts.) I’m like that, on the mountain one day and sprawled out in the valley the next, crying, “Lord, come and save me from the pit.”
Good news is: I’m outta the pit. I’m not my normal passionate me right now, but that’s something Jesus and I are working on. At least I’m on stable ground and back on mission. Something happened Monday that set me straight. It was one of the most blatant answers from God through Scripture (supplied by a reader who wrote to me at the exact right time) that I’ve ever encountered. Hebrews 6:10.”
“God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them.” NIV
- As if all that I’ve done has meant nothing
- Aimless and unsure about my new direction
- As if I’ve missed His voice and direction
- Like I’ve wasted the past few years
- Ready to stop chasing this dream and just veg on the couch
- Like it wasn’t fair that I would devote my life to this pursuit of Him, yet I must have missed Him
I poured out my heart in my Quest journal, asking God to be specific in His direction. I whispered in prayer that it hardly seemed fair. I belly-ached all kinds of whys and where are Yous. In that same day’s devotion, I wrote: “I’m tired, Lord. I’m just so tired of chasing after this and seeing so little in return.”
Now you see what I meant by being in the pit. It wasn’t the pit of sin. It was the pit of self-pity. I’m seriously tired, and when I’m tired, negativity and discouragement rage in my mind. When I say tired, I don’t just mean physically. Yes, I had just gotten over the flu, so there was a physical element of depletion. The main issue, though, was that I was drained emotionally. I felt defeated.
I can look at it all now with more objectivity. For one the grey days of winter have taken their toll. What was more likely the culprit regarding my mental and emotional state was the past year I’ve spent revising all my old work. I am currently working on book 5 of 5 in a complete overhaul of every book I’ve published. That was over 600,000 words that I have poured over and reshaped and revised. It’s been taxing to say the least. Add in the fact that I’ve not worked on anything new to spark my creativity, and my low emotional state makes perfect sense.
Back to the point.
While I sat there with my study book in my lap, after all my crying out to God, I noticed I had a message from a reader. She has contacted me before, but this time was something special. Her message told of a friend of hers, an abuse victim who had recently read Unmending the Veil. This reader who contacted me had suggested the book to her friend at least a year before the woman was ever to read it. It touched her in many ways, I’m told. The message I received shared a few details about her ministry to abuse victims and how she always recommends my book to them. It reminded me that flesh and blood women out there, those who have been hurt by the one who should have protected them, read this story and God speaks to them through it.
That would have been enough to shake me out of my discouraged state if that had been all the message said. But she also said,
“I just wanted you to be encouraged and to know that people are really benefiting from your work. Keep on pressing into the Lord and doing as He asks.”
She ended her message with:
“For God is not unjust so as to forget your work and the love which you have shown toward His name, in having ministered and in still ministering to the saints.”
Whaaat?! Are you kidding me? I had just eye-rolled that verse! It’s one thing when you see a repetition of a verse like, “For I know the plan I have for you, declares the LORD.” That’s a commonly used and shared scripture. But Hebrews 6:10? Nope. It’s way too obscure to be a coincidence. God gave me His reconfirmed Word through this precious reader. He literally spoke His words of encouragement through the study and then through His servant when I ignored His first attempt with a childish eye-roll.
I could spend the next hour dissecting this verse and how powerful it all was in its specific answers to my accusations and questions. I’ll try to simplify with my major takeaways:
- He is just. In my rambling accusations, even if I didn’t mean it, I called Him unjust. He was quick to remind me differently.
- He hasn’t forgotten me or what I’ve done for the ones He loves.
- He hasn’t overlooked how much I love Him and how that’s my motivation for doing what I do.
- “… in still ministering to the saints” reminds me to keep doing what I’m doing. I haven’t missed His leading or missed the way. I asked Him to be specific, and He was.
I want to share more but don’t want to bore you. I’ll leave you with a few thoughts:
- God speaks through His Word. If you aren’t digging into the Word of God on a regular basis, then you are missing God’s voice speaking into your life, answering your questions, and guiding you in this mixed up journey called life.
- He speaks to us through other believers. We matter to each other. Our obedience matters when we feel a tug on our heart to reach out. Fun fact: The reader, Alyce-Kay, let me know that she had wanted to send that message to me later in the day but felt prompted to send it on early. God knew I needed to read that message while my study book still sat on my lap and while my eye-roll at His verse would still be fresh on my mind. His timing is perfect. It will do me some good to remember that when discouragement over timing begins to take its toll next time.
- Ask questions of God. Call out to Jesus. Don’t settle for a faraway relationship with the One who died to draw you into an intimate relationship with HIm.
Grace and peace to you. May you hear the voice of the Lord. May encourages encourage you. May you encourage others when the Spirit moves. You never know whose grey winter you might put an end to or who you might lend a hand out of the pit.
Much love to you,
Stand – New Release
Please watch the video above!!
I couldn’t be more excited! The fact that my son has had his debut single release this week is enough to cheer about, but considering I cowrote the song with a friend, that’s double the reason to be thrilled. Once you watch the video, I’m asking you to Stand with Zack by sharing it with your friends. Below the video is a “share” button. It will give you an easy option to share on Facebook or any other social media platform.
Also, go and like Zack’s Facebook page. He will have an EP with several songs coming out in the spring. He will keep you posted on upcoming news.
Stand is available on iTunes!
Special note: I’m still full of stories and plan to work on a new fiction book soon. At this time I’m still working on a final revision of one of my previous books. I’m also helping Zack with his release efforts, so that’s consuming much of my time. But soon, I’ll get back to work. I can’t wait to keep you posted on upcoming projects.
Blessings to you,
Hope you enjoy the song.
Can I be honest here? 2017 was such a difficult year for me. I was faced with professional challenges I didn’t think I could overcome. I learned that every book I had published needed a massive overhaul. I was more defeated than I’ve ever been, and my confidence was shaken. I considered giving up more seriously than I ever have – but I didn’t.
I tackled the first book revision and found it didn’t kill me – Unmending the Veil. I worked through Deceiver. That one nearly got me. I tossed out a new book just for good measure – A Thousand Blessings, which by the way had to be completely revised since it was written in my old style. Then I started On 4/19. By that point in the fall, I was so exhausted that I dragged my feet for months. Now, a few days after Christmas, I have begun work on Beyond 4/20. I can see a light at the end of the tunnel.
Including all books, that was over 600,000 words that had to be revised and stories condensed. I’ve learned more this past year about writing and storytelling than in all my other years combined. I have to be thankful for that since it will make me a better writer going forward.
I appreciate your patience with me as I’ve been slow on offering new books while I tackled the 2017 revision mountain.
I’m excited about the upcoming year. Since I have many projects going, I know it will be busy, exciting, and hopefully productive. One change I will make this year will be to permanently reduce my blog frequency to once per month. I think it will free me up to work on other writing deadlines and free your inbox up a little. Win/win.
Just to give you a heads-up on what I’m working on, assuming you’ve been sitting around wondering ;), I am dividing my time between the following things in the first quarter of 2018:
- Revising Beyond 4/20
- A revised version of On 4/19 will be added to Kindle in January.
- New: Starting a non-fiction book called Live Loved. The plan for this – Lord willing, is that I will use it as companion material for a conference this spring/summer. The book will stand alone content-wise, but I think it will be a good addition to the conference.
- New: Going into the studio to demo a few songs that I’ve written. Not me singing – you’re very welcome. We have some wonderful talent scheduled to sing the songs. One of my favs is Zack, my son. Even if I wasn’t his mom, he would be my favorite singer. I see God doing amazing things in Zack’s life, and I love being along for the ride. At the present Zack is slated to record three of my songs. One will be a stand-alone country single, United We Should Stand, and two others are contemporary Christian. All will be released on iTunes. I’ll keep you posted on the details of that.
- Fun fact: I love writing contemporary Christian music, but I find words just flow when I’m working on country lyrics. That’s my country roots showing through. I guess I don’t have to tell you I don’t write beer-drinking, tail-gate sittin’ songs. You’ll find faith, family, and home in my country lyrics. (Quick shout out to my favorite writing partner, Bob! Thank you for your awesome way with music.)
I look forward to sharing all of these projects with you early in 2018. Once the 4/20 revision is complete, I have a new fiction book on the production schedule, but since that one will be submitted to a new publisher, it may be a long wait for the release. Busy days ahead. I always have to leave myself open to the Spirit’s leading. I’ve learned one thing, my plans can be changed in the blink of an eye by the direction of the Lord. At least you can share in the current plan.
Thanks to all of you who have kept me going all these years. Many of you write encouraging notes to me at just the right time. You can’t possibly know how much that means to me and how that’s kept me afloat when I’m drowning in a sea of doubt.
And thanks to those of you who have prayed for me. I needed prayers, and I still need prayers. I’m not naive. I know attacks will continue to come, especially as I begin this non-fiction book. Please pray for me. Pray for Zack. We have much ahead and a God who seems to have a plan. Super exciting.
Glad you can be a part of this extraordinary, crazy, painful, overwhelming life.
A thousand blessings to you in 2018. I hope you see every one of the blessings God pours upon your life. Watch for His hand. There’s nothing more thrilling than seeing the God of the universe touch your life in large and small ways.
Grace and Peace,
This will be my last stone in the series. I may pick back up later, but for now, I feel I’ve exhausted the topic. In fact, I’m taking the remainder of the year off from the blog so that I can focus on family and the holidays. I will resume in January.
I love this stone story. It’s one that makes me smile at the wonder of it.
Backstory: I missed God. I thought I had heard Him speak, but I was wrong. At the time I was in a weakened state anyway. We had just suffered the loss of my sweet step-dad. During his sickness and ultimate death, I was there taking care of him and my mom. Many things had my mind scattered, so the fact that I heard deceptive voices shouldn’t surprise me.
When I realized I had missed God, I was devastated. Not that what I thought I had heard was what I wanted – that wasn’t it at all. My devastation came from the fact that I had missed Him at all. The enemy took full advantage of the fact that I was so dumbfounded and planted all kinds of doubt in my mind. I started to wonder if I had ever heard God at all. (See why I need my stones? They are proof that God is active in my life.)
There was a morning when I was awake super early, like 4 a.m. early. I was praying, trying to reconcile all my questions before God. I thought about the Bible and all the stories of His clear and out-loud direction to His people. I considered His miracles, then asked, “Where is the God of the Bible, the One who does all those miracles?” No answer.
The following day I called a friend of mine before going to visit. She had lost her vision the year before and was left with the ability to only see shadows. I tried to go hang with her at least once a week, and that was my Tuesday. While on the phone she told me she had a surprise for me.
When I arrived I followed her into the kitchen. She opened a little devotion book and began to read from it. It was titled “Friends,” so I figured it had to do with our friendship. Duh… It took me a few seconds for it to hit me that she was reading at all. I was squinting at the text without my glasses, so I couldn’t understand how she was reading it at all. Finally, I said, “You’re reading!”
From there she told me the story of what had happened the morning before – yes, the morning I had prayed asking where the God of the Bible was. She had woken up and gone to open the blinds like she always did. It took her a few seconds to realize she was actually able to see out her back window. She was looking at white irises growing on a hill behind her house. Whaaa!!!??
If you read my last blog, then you know my purple iris story. Are you kidding me, that God would actually use irises again to take hold of me? Yes, it was her miracle of restored sight, but it was also my miracle of restored faith. All the doubt that had been plaguing me was gone. I hadn’t missed God. I had listened to a foreign voice. That’s something we all have to take great care to avoid. Our enemy is more than happy to plant seeds of doubt. Especially when we’re in a weakened state, he pounces like the cowardly lion that he is. Still, God was right on time to counter the enemy’s attack with His out-loud reminder that He was right there and had heard my prayer.
If nothing else has come from this Stone Series, I hope you have begun to look around you and watch for the many ways that Jesus is vividly alive in your life and how He pursues your heart to make it wholly His.
I pray the Lord bless you and keep you. May He make His face shine upon you.
Much love to you, and have the happiest Thanksgiving.
In my earlier years, I would have never considered myself a romantic. Or at least if I was, I would never have admitted it to myself. I accepted such poor and disrespectful treatment in my romantic relationships, that I never expected to be wooed. If I was pursued by a healthy guy, it made me so uncomfortable that I often sabotaged any hope of a relationship. I thrived best in chaos because that’s all I had ever known of love and life.
Flash forward to my early walk with Jesus: With Him I found the One who invented the woo. He was my first experience with loving kindness and unconditional love. No matter how many times I had pushed Him away, He maintained the pursuit. This stone is but one example of His relentless pursuit of a truly broken and unhealthy woman.
At the time I lived in the first house that I ever tried to plant flowers. During that season, the most notable healing that has ever taken place in my emotional and spiritual life happened while playing in the dirt there. Up until then flowers had never been a big deal to me, but because I was an enthusiastic new gardener, I often took note of flowers in other people’s beds so that I could copy them in my own.
One night on the way to church, we passed a house that had a mass planting of purple irises in full bloom. I sighed and wished I had purple irises. On the way home from church, we stopped to drop my nephew off at home. My brother told me he had dug up some cannas from a job he was working on that day. He had black garbage bags filled with them. Guess what was mixed in there with them – yep, purple irises! There were so many that I was able to plant a cluster in the front and back yards.
I knew Jesus had given me those flowers, the exact ones I had wished for. I will never, ever forget that moment in my walk with Him. I hadn’t’ asked for them, but He knew that they were the desire of my heart, and more importantly, He knew what the unexpected gift of them would do in breaking down my remaining defenses. Since then, I’ve had no doubt of His love for me and His willingness to show me that love in the sweetest ways. That was a relationship changer.
Technically, I don’t need a stone to remember this one. Every spring serves as a reminder when I see purple irises. Since I don’t live in that house anymore, I have to enjoy them in other yards, but always I carry the memory of them in my heart.
You may remember from a past blog that I’m convinced that I’m God’s favorite. I hope you also remember that I’m convinced that you are too. These crazy, stone worthy things don’t just happen to me. Jesus is wooing you too. What He gives to you will look different since your needs differ from mine, but He’s pursuing you. I hope my little stone will remind you to watch for the ways in which He woos and pursues you. Live with spiritually open eyes and watch for His gestures of love.
It’s easy to allow life to get in the way of God. We all do it. People and things vie for our time and attention when always there’s the God who loves you enough to die for you waiting with flowers in hand to romance you into the truest of love relationships. Watch for Him. Wait for Him. Remember that He created the woo.
Many blessings to you, my friends.
In His love,
Who doesn’t want to be the favorite? We all have the desire to be special to someone, to know we are at the top of the list. Those who have lived a life feeling less than special can relate to this.
During a particular season, the idea of being favored was monumental to me. I’m not sure where that need came from on my end. I just know that God took every opportunity to show me that I was His favorite. Don’t get me wrong; I’m not saying that God loves me any more than you. I’m just saying He went to great lengths so that I would know that I was favored.
So you don’t think I’ve lost my mind, I’ll tell you where the concept came from. An element of God’s grace is favor. His favor is undue, but still, He offers it. At the time I was going through some difficulties and needed to know that someone was on my side. I needed to see proof of God’s love for me. I can’t tell you the innumerable ways He showed up. I wish I had those journal entries from back then so that I could share more of the specifics. One story I can remember is this:
I was in the vice-principal’s office with my son Adam – again. Ugh and eye roll. The guy said to Adam. “I’m going to give you another chance – not because of you but because of your mom. She’s fighting hard for you and stays involved…” He went on to say some kind things. If Adam had been suspended from school, I would have had to take him and pick him up at an alternative school every day. The drive would have been at least two hours out of my day for the remainder of the school year. We dodged that bullet with the second chance.
When I left the school, and after yelling at Adam all the home (I’m sure), God showed me that it was His favor over me that stayed the VP’s hand. It was just another in a long line of ways He was showing me His favor. I believe He is always making an effort for us to know we are His favored children. What was different was that I was watching and taking note when I saw those moments. The craziest things would happen, and I would look at my husband or kids and say, “See, I’m God’s favorite.” A friend even bought me a pillow that says, “Jesus may love you, but I’m His favorite.” It still sits on a stool in my kitchen.
I’ll say it again; I’m not sure why I needed to know that at the time. I wish I could remember more clearly what was happening in my spiritual journey. I suppose it doesn’t matter why I needed it. What matters is that God knew it was what I needed, and He poured it out in jaw-dropping ways.
The way I look at it is similar to what we feel for our children or nieces and nephews. We favor each of them differently. Because they are all different, we can appreciate their unique qualities and favor each child equally. I feel that way about my two boys. Adam is my oldest. He was my first everything as a mom. Bless his heart; it’s a wonder he survived me. It was just the two of us for his first four years. Nothing can break the bond we have or diminish what I feel for him.
I remember being pregnant with Zack and fearing I couldn’t possibly love him as much as Adam. Then Zack came, and my heart expanded to allow for more love. Zack is my baby. That’s a different relationship. With Zack, I made sure I didn’t wish it all away. With Adam, I couldn’t wait for his first steps and words and various life experiences. My time with Zack was peaceful, and I was able to enjoy every moment more.
See what I mean? They are both my favorites. If you ask either of them who my real favorite is, they would both say Zoe – my puppy-girl. And they would be right. 😉
This memory just came to mind. I used to sneak and tell both of my boys that they were my favorite. I did the same with my nephews. I remember the looks on their faces when they heard that. It meant something to be the favored one.
An even sweeter memory was at a 5th/6th-grade retreat that I attended as a helper. There was a kid that I didn’t know well. He didn’t attend our church regularly. For some reason I whispered to him that he was my favorite. From that moment on, that boy migrated toward me every time he saw me. He needed to be someone’s favorite. For the remainder of the camp, I didn’t call him by name, I just called him Favorite. I wonder if he remembers that all these years later?
In this blog I have used a whole lot of words to make this point: Watch for God’s favor in and on your life. Watch for the little and big things. Take mental note and heart note of them. Those moments serve to expand your belief that you are special to Him and favored by Him. Since you live in a world that goes to great lengths to make you doubt God’s love, you need His reassurance, and He’s right there willing to reassure.
Point 2: Tell someone they are favored. Show someone they are favored. We have something baked into our DNA that longs to be the favorite.
I love you in the Lord,
I want to begin this post by saying this is my favorite stone, but then I tend to think they are all my favorite in one way or another. This one is set apart as special because it was the beginning of what is now my love relationship with Jesus. He calls me Beloved.
It started with the novel, Redeeming Love. The book had been recommended to me by several friends, but at the time, I wasn’t reading fiction. I had a trip scheduled to Dallas and needed something for the flight, so this book came to mind and that so many people had highly recommended it.
Note: I’m sitting here shaking my head, still marveling
over its impact on my life.
Funny thing, I can hardly remember the story. That wasn’t what had such great impact. I do remember the beginning was a tough read, so I skimmed some early parts. Anything bad that happens to a kid – that’s a no for me. It wasn’t the Western days version of the Book of Hosea that got to me either, even though that’s one of my favorite books of the Bible.
It was one simple word: Beloved. That is what the guy called the girl in the novel. I’m not sure if it was often that he did, I just know he did at least once.
After my return from Dallas, I finished the book at home. It was nighttime, and I was sitting with my guys while they watched TV. I finished the book and closed it, and all I could hear echoing in my heart was the word, Beloved. Over and over it rang. I looked around the room almost expecting to find some external source for what I was hearing.
That was only the beginning. Over the next days, weeks, and even months, the word Beloved followed me everywhere. For one I was still hearing it echo in my heart almost nonstop. Sermons, devotions, and my Bible reading were all filled with the topic and word.
I can’t remember this many years later when I had my moment of clarity, when I actually understood that Jesus was calling me His loved one. When it did register with me, it rocked my world. That’s not a pun for the Stories Series. My world was literally rocked and transformed by Love.
Transparency alert: Like most women, I had lived my entire life in pursuit of love. Most often, I was looking for love in all the wrong places. (Hey, I should write a song…) Women are notoriously hungry for love. Nice girls get their love cup semi-filled with parents, husbands, their kids, and friendship. But broken girls like me chase after love in massively self-destructive ways and live lives they look back on with deep regret. I have much to regret.
Anyhoo, enough of that.
Let’s go back to a compound word I used above: semi-filled. No matter where you’re trying to get your love cup filled, if it’s not Jesus you’re in pursuit of, then your cup is never full – never – ever. I’ve looked under every rock, from sources like my husband, kids, etc. No one or thing can fill me. As a matter of fact, the more I pursue anything or anyone but Jesus, the more empty I become.
Conversely, the more I pursue the love Jesus offers, the more I am filled to overflowing. That love becomes something I can pour out in a healthy way to fill others rather than hoping they can fill me.
Here’s the point: I needed love. Every second of every day of my tumultuous life, I had needed love. All of the sudden, Jesus was calling me Beloved. He didn’t just tell me once that I was loved. He kept telling me. Not only did He tell me, He kept showing me in the craziest ways. Those are some of the Stones I will be sharing in the upcoming series.
I look back now on the Christian I was trying to be pre-Beloved. I looked pretty pulled together on the outside, but I was more of a faker than anything. The love of Jesus transformed me and the way I saw myself. It began to allow me to trust Him. How can you not trust Someone who loves you even when you’re at your most unloveable?
I could make this a novel, this topic of love. I can’t in this setting. But I will challenge you, if you don’t feel saturated and steeped in His love, then you’re missing the main thing. You have a relationship to work on. Work and serve at your church all you want, but until you get the love thing right, you will only spin your wheels and pursue love in unhealthy ways. You need to know and feel and believe You. Are. Loved!
If you come to visit, what will you see all over my house?
I have it on pillows, over my bed, in my office as you see above. This is my jam, this love thing. Because the enemy constantly tries to undermine my belief in that love, I protect myself with a barrage of reminders.
So, there you have it, my favorite stone – Beloved.
I love you in the Lord,
For those of you who have heard my Stone Stories, this is a new one, something that happened recently.
One morning in the late summer, I was just about to walk away from my quiet time with God the Father. I specify since I most often differentiate with Whom I’m speaking. That morning, I needed the Father’s heart. Now, as I write this a few weeks later, I honestly don’t remember what was so pressing, just that this girl needed her Dad.
As I stood to walk away, I heard Him speak as clearly as I’ve ever heard Him. He said, “You are loved.” The words were choppy and specific, more like, You. Are. Loved. I paused mid-stand and then plopped back down. With a grin tugging at my lips and closed eyes, I said, “You are loved.” Nothing more happened.
I tried to stand but then stopped again to sit. I had to ask myself this question: What will my day look like if I live it loved? A few things came to mind, like how I would live out my day with purpose and intentionality. I was working on this massive revision project and needed focus. I reminded myself that God would be with me. It was, after all, His Kingdom work I was accomplishing. I knew I could live out my day trusting that He would provide what I needed.
That’s about all I came up with and moved on about my day. Throughout the day His words came to mind many times: You are loved. Each time it made me smile and a warm feeling would wash over me. Different than my many decades before, I now know that I’m loved by God the Father and Jesus the Son, my Beloved. Living loved is not new to me anymore. It’s not something I take for granted by any means, but after about a decade of living loved, I know what love feels like and still revel in it. It’s what I had chased all my life. Love to me is the biggest deal.
Later that night as I was settling in with my husband to watch TV, I was scanning through something on my phone while we waited for our show to begin. I heard music on the TV that caught my attention, so I glanced up. There were no words but the tune was familiar. I thought it may be a Christian song. When I saw that it was just some commercial, I looked back at my phone, figuring the song was familiar because I had seen the commercial before.
For some reason I glanced back up at just the right moment when the song said, you are loved. That was it. ADT appeared on the screen. It was a home security commercial that was using the Christian song by Stars Go Dim. The tune was familiar to me because I adore that song. I had even used it at a couple of conferences I had spoken at – of all things, the Jesus Loves Me Conference.
I was so blown away that I just sat staring at the TV. Then I tried to tell my husband, Kelly, about it, about what an impact it made. Father God had spoken those exact three words to me that morning in a way that stopped me in my tracks. He even made a commercial about it to drive the point home. That’s serious planning on His part.
When things like that happen and He begins to weave together chords of revelation through repetition, then I know He’s up to something. The next morning, I began to gather a few notes of what I might be able to do with this and saved them. I’m still not sure, but I may write a book. Since I was working on that time-consuming revision project and knew I wouldn’t have time to devote real attention to it, I decided to hold off a few weeks until vacation. I figured if God planned on me writing a book, then the fire would fall when the time came.
Hold the phone! This gets even cooler.
I’m not sure that you could call the kick-off of our vacation fire falling unless it was the fires of misfortune. Okay, I’m being dramatic, but in the early hours of that first morning, I was close to tears. I didn’t sleep after 3:30 a.m. There must have been cats in the condo we rented since our allergies were giving us fits. We had selected a bottom unit, thinking that our little pup would enjoy the patio. I didn’t consider that I always have my quiet time on the balcony when on vacation. The patio had dozens of people passing by all day long, there was barely any ocean view since it wasn’t elevated, and I couldn’t exactly sit out there in my jammie’s.
Second choice for my quiet time was on a comfy chair in the living room – until my hubby turned on a car repair show. He had offered to leave the TV off, but I knew he was already having a miserable time too. I didn’t want to take away his beloved TV, so I said in a high-pitched tone, “Oh no, it’s not a big deal.” But then the racket and babbling of guys fixing up an old something or another commenced. No kidding, I felt tears sting my eyes. I was having a huge internal pity party.
While looking down and trying my best to focus on what I was reading, a commercial came on – music sounded. I knew the tune. I knew the commercial even though I had only seen it once. It ended with: You are loved. Once again – amazing! Why so amazing? Because I was supposed to begin looking through my notes and possibly beginning a book that day on that very topic. Another reason it was so amazing to me was that I hadn’t heard that commercial even once since that first time. There I was in the middle of my very own pity party when my Father God reminded me that I was loved.
I’m still not sure where all of this is going. I was recently asked to speak at a women’s conference and this topic came to mind. Maybe it’s conference material. Maybe it’s a book. Maybe it’s both. Whatever it is, God has a plan that He will reveal at the right time. That’s part of living loved: I can trust Him to guide me through this confusing world, one where many voices attempt to direct my way. He will be that still small voice that calls me in the right direction.
So, there you have it, my newest stone. I will leave you with this stone as a reminder:
Think today about how this truth should
impact the way you live your life.
Grace and peace,
In case you’re interested, here is the commercial:
ADT – You Are Loved video
I have a basket of stones that I keep around to remember. Some of the most remarkable encounters I have had with God over the past years are represented by a stone with something painted on it. I got this idea from the Book of Joshua where, after the Israelites crossed over the Jordan River on dry ground, the LORD told Joshua to have the 12 Tribes set up stones as a memorial.
4“So Joshua called together the twelve men he had appointed from the Israelites, one from each tribe, 5 and said to them, “Go over before the ark of the Lord your God into the middle of the Jordan. Each of you is to take up a stone on his shoulder, according to the number of the tribes of the Israelites, 6 to serve as a sign among you. In the future, when your children ask you, ‘What do these stones mean?’ 7 tell them that the flow of the Jordan was cut off before the ark of the covenant of the Lord. When it crossed the Jordan, the waters of the Jordan were cut off. These stones are to be a memorial to the people of Israel forever.”
Why do I need a memorial? Because I’m just as forgetful as the Israelites. Don’t we often wonder how they could forget from one minute to the next all that God had done for them? Seriously, the plagues, the exodus, crossing the Red Sea, manna from heaven? It’s easy for us to read the account and wonder how they could forget such big events or the fact that God had promised to take care of them and proved it over and over.
I have seen God work on my behalf in small and huge ways. I have witnessed His hand in my life in ways that I absolutely know it’s Him. But still, when the going gets tough, the forgetful forget. Then I find myself wondering if He will come through on the next thing. I like to take time out on occasion and view my own Stones of Remembrance. Maybe this is an idea you can adopt in your own creative way by making a collage of photos or painting stones or scrap booking your memories. No matter how you set out to remember, just make sure you remember.
I’m in a yucky season right now, wondering if God will come through in some ways. Of course He will come through. It just may not look the way I want it. When my mind (and shaky faith) are in this forgetful place, I pull out my stones. I figured I would share them with you in the upcoming weeks. If I blog about them, that will keep them fresh on my mind and make sturdy my faith for this current season.
Many of you have heard my Stone stories at conferences, so I will begin next time with a new one. After that, you may get bored with a repeat, or maybe a fresh view of it will spark something you notice in your own life. To me, the little things can make just as big of an impact as the larger, jaw dropping miracles. Aren’t those the ones we often miss, however, the little things He does for us day in and day out. You have to keep an eye out.
Hope you enjoy the upcoming series.
Blessings to you,
Every time I read the words above from A Thousand Blessings, I am reminded of my own times of hearing the call to sacrifice and my refusal to obey. During one particular season of running, I took the worst fall of my life. Now, I can honestly say that when I hear, I obey. I would be a liar if I said that I always obey right away. Plenty of times I hear what God is calling me to do or not to do, and I drag my feet in obeying. The difference now, though, is that I do obey.
That ugly season that I’m reminded of left scars, so when I’m tempted to ignore God, I can look at them and remember what the fresh wound felt like. I don’t want that ever again. Even when I’m a slow listener, I do listen.
What I didn’t know then that I know now is this: Jesus can be trusted. Even when He calls me to give up what I am struggling to hold onto, I know there is a reason behind Him asking. For my good, for the good of someone else, for someone else’s growth, for the Kingdom good, there is something that I’m not seeing. But He sees.
You may assume that I create crazy scenarios and build a story around it. Well, sometimes that is true. Often, though, even when I have no intention of pouring myself into a character, it just happens. God has that planned long before I dream up a story. As I got deeper into Isabel’s story, I found I was writing out of personal experience in some ways. I spent many years feeling unloved in my marriage. Because of that, I tried to fill my empty places with everything but Jesus.
I came to a point where I had to decide that the love Jesus gives was enough – no matter what was going on in my marriage.
After giving up and giving in, Jesus has restored a marriage that I once believed was lost. I am loved by my husband. I never doubt that now. I never would have believed it possible, but after my obedience, after choosing to live in marriage that I didn’t believe in any longer, a new, deeper level of love surfaced for us both. God honored my obedience with a love I’ve never experienced before.
All that to say, love is complicated. Marital love is just flat out painful at times. As many times as I cried out, “God, get me out of this marriage.” The Spirit interceded by saying, “Father, save this marriage.”
If you are in a season of discontent in your marriage, or if you wonder if it’s even worth it, I urge you to hold on. I urge you to take all the needs you feel are not being met by your husband to Jesus. Not only will He meet them, He will sustain you and help carry you through rocky times in your marriage. I pray for you what the Spirit prayed over me: “Father, save this marriage.”
Look to Him. Pray to draw nearer to Him, especially in the toughest times of your daily struggles. He is close. All you need to do is reach out.
May the Lord bless you and your family,