What Will I Do When a Storm Descends

*I pray this encore post from April 2011 blesses you today!

A potential health crisis threatened our family a few weeks ago. A cancer scare. Like storm clouds hovering overhead, thoughts of “what if” cast their shadow for days. We deliberately tried to shove them aside, but they were still there, hiding just beyond the surface.

I won’t go into specifics of who and what, but the scare did not involve an extended family member, but one within our immediate family. Yes, that’s right. It hit close. Too close. And too unthinkable — though I had to remind myself, like so many others have had to do, not to ask “Why us?” but “Why not us?”

Thank God, benign test results relieved our fears, but those days of waiting gave rise to countless thoughts, feelings, and ultimately a few overarching questions: If it proves to be cancer, what will we do with our faith in God? Will we stay faithful and continue to trust him even if the news is devastating? Or will we pull away — and stay away — from him, losing faith that he is good and that he loves us? In other words, will we run to him or away from him?

Mercifully, God spared us from having to live out the answers to those questions in full, but we tried to prepare ourselves for the worst. We remembered the truths of God’s love for us and of how he can bring something good out of a heartbreaking situation. We reminded ourselves that he would be with us every step of the way. You might say we were preparing ourselves to be faithful, preparing ourselves to trust him, no matter the outcome.

One day a similar life test will go differently. One day we’ll have to live out the answers to these faith questions in full. Some of us reading this today have, in fact, already faced such a crisis, but even so, will we be ready for the next one? Join me today in considering, “What will I do with my faith when the unthinkable happens? What will I do when the storm descends?”

“But my eyes are fixed on you, O Sovereign LORD; in you I take refuge…” Psalm 141:8a

*What helps you stay faithful to your faith in God when times of heartbreak come?

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

*My photo

Never Give Up in Prayer

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“Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.” Galatians 6:9

Have you ever felt like giving up in your prayers for a certain person or about a particular issue? Maybe his or her heart seems too hard to ever desire a change or maybe that issue seems impossible and beyond all reasonable hope. You may feel like your prayers aren’t making a difference at all.

We’ve probably all experienced discouraging thoughts like these at some point or other. When we grow discouraged, when we grow weary in our prayers, let’s remember that “…nothing is impossible with God.” (Luke 1:47)

The next time we lose heart, let’s be honest with the Lord and ask him to refresh us. Let’s share our burdens with one another and encourage each other. Let’s determine to keep looking for the harvest. Let’s determine to never give up.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” Ephesians 3:20-21 NIV

*Is there something or someone I can join you in prayer for today? Please feel free to share in the comments.

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter which includes a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out last week. It’s not too late to receive it. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*I hope this slightly revised encore post from January 2011 was a blessing to you today!

*Flickr photo by ^@^ina (Irina Patrascu Gheorghita ), Creative Commons License

2017 Theme Word: Trust

15004178998_fdf4bb1e5c_zThe launch of a new year means different things to different people, but for me it means it’s time to focus on a new theme word for the year. I’ve never been big into New Year’s resolutions, but the past several years, I’ve chosen a theme word to help guide me through the year. It’s a practice I highly recommend. I can honestly say it has benefited me time and again.

This year the word the Lord kept bringing to my attention in the waning weeks of 2016 was trust. It wasn’t a word that was on my theme-word radar so to speak. Initially the words balance and simplify came to mind, but as I asked God to guide my choice, the word trust kept popping up, first in one place and then another. Isn’t it great how God gives us direction as we seek his guidance?

I’ve got to admit when I sensed God directing me to the word trust, fear tried to sneak in. Why was God leading me to the word trust? Is something bad going to happen? Is God trying to prepare me to trust in him? Of course, I immediately realized I would have to trust him even with this. I shouldn’t run from the word trust. I needed to follow his lead and yes, trust him come what may.

So, I don’t know how the word trust will play out in my life this year, but it will be interesting to see how it offers me direction, comfort, peace, and yes, perhaps even challenge as the year goes on.

Right now when I think of trust, I think of believing, resting, or staying faithful, and I know it will be good to grow in all of these areas. But who knows, God may have something in mind that hasn’t even occurred to me. After all, he works like that quite often, doesn’t he?

One thing is certain, though—God is trustworthy. So with trust as my word for the year, I’ll go forward fully trusting in him and the good work he will do in my life. Join me?

“LORD Almighty, blessed is the one who trusts in you.” Psalm 84:12 NIV

*Have you chosen a theme word or an anchor verse for 2017?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a Starbucks gift card and a signed copy of my book to use personally, to give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by SFB579 Namaste, Creative Commons License

The Lifeline

5433549942_a8c4cea1fd_zWhat do our Bibles say about us? Are they placed in handy spots or put away on bookshelves? Are they worn with use or are the pages still in pristine condition? Have we made personal notes in them or could they belong to anyone?

The poem below, which I wrote well over a decade ago, describes what I hope my daughters will one day think about me and my Bible. Does it express your heart’s desire as well?

The Lifeline

Who would have guessed that a mundane chore
Could lead to such precious discovery,
A familiar book seen in new light
Became a gem, a treasure to me.
Lifting the Bible to dust all around
I noticed its cover, worn with use,
And automatically thought of my mother.
This was her Bible—
Her Lifeline, she lovingly called it,
It told of God’s love and sustaining grace
On which she daily relied.
And as I glanced through its well-marked pages
Another lifeline came into view,
The life of my mother scattered throughout
In handwritten notes and underlined verses,
In special dates to remember.
Her spiritual journey could also be traced
Through verses of praise and anguish,
Her walk with God stamped o’er its pages,
A remembrance of what she lived.
What a gift God gave me that day—
Mom’s life, tucked inside her Lifeline.

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light for my path.” Psalm 119:105

*Is there a particular verse from the Bible that has served as a lifeline for you during a difficult time?

*Flickr photo by Lel4nd, Creative Commons License

Midweek Morsel: How Big Is Your God?

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*I’ll be taking a blogging break next week for Thanksgiving. What are some of the best blessings God has given you this year? I’m especially thankful for God’s gift of our twin grandsons, for my husband’s back healing well enough so he could go back to work early this year, and also for God blessing me with a book contract in August.  I hope you all have a wonderful week celebrating Thanksgiving with your families. See you November 30th!

Sometimes we need a reminder of how big God is. We need to remember that his love and faithfulness can’t be measured—and that they never fail. We need to hear once again that his justice and love and protection are for one and all. Yes, sometimes we need a reminder of just how big our God really is.

And so, my friends, be blessed by this reminder from God’s Word today:

“Your love, O LORD, reaches to the heavens,
     your faithfulness to the skies.
Your righteousness is like the mighty mountains,
    your justice like the great deep.
O, LORD, you preserve both man and beast.
    How priceless is your unfailing love!
Both high and low among men
    take refuge in the shadow of your wings.”
                                                             Psalm 36:5-7

*When have you taken refuge in the bigness of our God?

*My photo (taken in Grand Teton National Park)