Last-Half-of-May Blogging Break

6065053437_b6cceb1fd0_zThe first half of May has been a whirlwind for me and the last half of the month promises more of the same. I’m willing to bet it’s a jam-packed month for you, too. In fact, I think May might be second only to December where the busy factor is concerned!

And so, dear readers, I’m going to apply my 2015 theme word rest to my life this month and declare a last-half-of-May blogging break. Sometimes we just need to cut ourselves a break, and this is one of those times for me.

I’ll resume regular posting on June 1, but in the meantime, let me leave you with a beautiful passage from the Word of God. May the King of Glory bless you and be your strength today and always!

“Lift up your heads, O you gates;
be lifted up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is this King of glory?
The LORD strong and mighty,
the LORD mighty in battle.
Lift up your heads, O you gates;
lift them up, you ancient doors,
that the King of glory may come in.
Who is he, this King of glory?
The LORD Almighty—
he is the King of glory.” Psalm 24:7-10

*How has the King of Glory blessed you this month?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Silvia Sala, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: The Prayer of an Imperfect Vessel

6013255406_1b697baa36_z“But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” 2 Corinthians 4:7

Do you ever feel unworthy to be used by God? I feel like this quite often—when I mess up and sin, when I see areas of my life that aren’t all God designed them to be, or when I struggle with my thoughts, attitudes, or emotions. At times like these I wonder how can God use me?

The good news is that God uses imperfect vessels. He created us. He knows we will sin and fall short of his very best desires for us (Romans 3:23). But he loves us, forgives us, cleanses us, and then uses us for his purposes and glory (John 3:16, 1 John 1:9, 2 Corinthians 4:7, and 1 Peter 4:10).

So for all of us imperfect vessels out there, here’s a simple prayer we can freely pray. Hope it helps express your heart, too!

Father, thank you for loving me. Thank you for using me even though I’m not perfect. Protect me from the evil one, the one who wants me to feel too unworthy to serve you. Help me be ever ready to do whatever you want me to do. Yes, Lord, use me in spite of my failures and sin. Shine through me in spite of me. I will indeed give you all the glory, and I will remember that I am loved!

“For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God planned in advance for us to do.” Ephesians 2:10

*What else can we do to battle feelings of unworthiness?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out earlier this month. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by avrenim_acceber, Creative Commons License

A Persistent Breed

2329631495_a0ee551ea3_z*This piece about perseverance, written originally for my February 2009 Life Notes newsletter, is still spot-on applicable in my life today. Last fall I had to pull up my persevering-writer bootstraps like never before when the contract for my book fell through. And today my agent and I are still plugging away and refusing to give up. May the post below inspire you to persevere in areas of your own life. Also, the new issue of Life Notes came out the first of the month, and it’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

We writers have to be a persistent breed. A good possibility of rejection lurks just around the corner with each submission sent out. And everyone knows, writer or not, rejection can be hard to handle.

For most people, rejection leads to retreat or at least a change of course. For writers, it better lead to regrouping and forward movement—or we will never see our work published. And believe me, those positive steps can be hard to take if we’ve reverted to a fetal position.

Yes, writers have to learn to quickly get past the dashed hopes a rejection letter delivers, take a deep breath, and start again. That’s where persistence comes in. That’s when we learn to persevere.

Can I let you in on a little secret? I’ve had plenty of practice. Since I started writing thirteen years ago, rejection has paid me regular visits. Truth be told, rejection has come calling more than acceptance.

So why haven’t I given up? I feel like it’s the work God has called me to do, and until he leads in another direction, I want to be faithful to the task. His Word offers continual encouragement with verses like Galatians 6:9: “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

And that brings me to another reason for persevering. The sweetness of the harvest. What a privilege when my work is used and someone’s life is touched through words I’ve written.

Writers are not the only ones who are called upon to persevere, though. We are not the only ones to know the thrill of the harvest. I have to look no further than my own little family to see other examples of perseverance.

I’ve watched my husband go to work day after day, year after year, to provide for our family, even on days he would have preferred to do other things. I saw my oldest daughter hang in there and complete her graduate studies when she had to live far away from her family and fiancé. While waiting tables and faithfully watching internet job sites and Help Wanted ads, my youngest daughter waited over two years to land a job in her field of study and in the area where she wanted to live. And yes, I’ve had to persevere through other life challenges, too.

Does your job or your endeavors demand that you be a persistent breed? Will pressing on be the only way you will achieve your goals? Or maybe you’re faced with having to persevere through a health crisis, a difficult relationship, or a financial setback. Whatever your challenges, I encourage you to not give up. The harvest is sure. And it will certainly be sweet.

“‘But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.’” 2 Chronicles 15:7

*When have you had to persevere?

*Flickr photo by Tonymadrid Photography, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: Giveaway Winner Plus More Splurging

59306504_5d561cd58c_zJust in time for Mother’s Day weekend, we have a winner for the Splurge a Little Giveaway! That lucky winner is Juanita! Congrats, Juanita! I’ll get the gift card to you as soon as possible. Have fun splurging on a little something at Pier 1!

For the rest of us, let’s take joy in the fact that God himself has splurged on us big-time. He sent his son Jesus into the world to save us from our sins and give us eternal life. And that love was so great that “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Yes, the biggest splurge of all time!

Since God has so freely splurged on us, why don’t we share that love with some splurges of our own? Maybe we can give an unexpected gift or pay a surprise visit. Maybe we can offer a helping hand. Or maybe it’s time to give forgiveness or extend the hand of friendship. Whatever it is, let’s splurge a little—no, make that a lot!

“. . . love one another deeply, from the heart.” 1 Peter 1:22b

*When has someone splurged on you and made you feel loved?

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by ~Aphrodite, Creative Commons License

God Prepares Us For Things to Come

9997818635_5f1243bb48_z

Have you ever been in the middle of a situation and found yourself thinking I can see now why those things in the past happened—God was preparing me for this situation. Or, like me, perhaps you’ve had times when you’re going through something difficult and wonder to yourself what bigger purpose God has, what he may be preparing you for down the road.

God has been preparing us his children for what is coming—for what we will be facing—since the beginning of time. After their disobedience in the Garden of Eden, God told Eve she would now experience pain in childbirth and then declared to Adam that their food from the earth would come only through the sweat of his brow and painful toil. Later he told Noah about the coming flood. I’m sure you can think of other examples.

While on earth, Jesus also plainly told his followers about things to come, preparing the way the best he could. Before his betrayal and crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples, “‘. . . the Son of Man will be betrayed to the chief priests and the teachers of the law. They will condemn him to death and will turn him over to the Gentiles to be mocked and flogged and crucified. On the third day he will be raised to life.’” (Matthew 20:18-19)

Today God still prepares us for the future by speaking to us through his Word, the Bible. Not only is “. . . the word of God . . . living and active” (Hebrews 4:16a), but “the word of our God stands forever.” (Isaiah 40:8b) Also,“Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) Yes, the words of the Bible, written so long ago, are for us today as well.

For example, God tells us in his Word that Jesus is coming again (Matthew 24, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18). And before that comes to pass, Jesus warns that “‘false Christs and false prophets will appear . . .’” (Matthew 24:24a). He also warns that “in this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33a) Again, I imagine that many examples come to your mind as well. The Word of God is filled with teachings that prepare and equip us for living life and for facing the future.

God also prepares us for future events and challenges through our past and current experiences. Before David ever faced the giant Goliath, God had him learning to cope with and battle danger through his job as a shepherd. Joseph was sold into slavery by his brothers, but through that, God eventually promoted him to a position where he would be able to save his family and many others from a severe famine.

And how has God prepared me? A couple of examples come to mind. God prepared my family and me for the unexpected loss of my mother a year and a half ago by giving us several wonderful family celebrations that year. He also had Mom and Dad move closer to family prior to the accident so Dad had a great support system in place when he so desperately needed it. Where my work life is concerned, I feel like God prepared me to be a writer—and more specifically, a writer who refreshes spirits and nourishes souls—by giving me an appetite for the Word of God many, many years ago. Because of that, I can share encouraging words with others.

What about you? How has God prepared you for events, responsibilities, or ministries in your life? Perhaps he’s preparing you and me right now for something we can’t yet see. I’m so glad we have a Father who loves us and prepares us for things to come, aren’t you?

“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deuteronomy 31:8

*Can you think of other ways that God prepares us? How has God prepared you? I would love to hear some of your testimonies!

*Don’t miss out on the Splurge A Little Giveaway. Deadline to enter is 6 p.m. (CST) Wednesday!

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, came out May 1. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by Moyan_Brenn, Creative Commons License