Guest Blogger Julie Gillies: Let’s Choose Brave


I’d like to welcome writer friend and author Julie Gillies to my blog today as she shares an excerpt adapted from her recently released book From Hot Mess to Blessed. I’ve already read the book and it’s filled with biblical wisdom, encouragement, and hope. I pray Julie’s words bless you today!

Let’s Choose Brave

Bravery has ripple effects. We rarely consider this (at least I don’t) because we’re so caught up in the everyday and the here and now. Life’s daily battles are intense, and sometimes it’s all we can do to remain focused and keep plowing forward. Yet our courageous choices act as a gleaming machete, slicing a path through the thick jungle of fear that entangles and trips.

Choosing brave helps us fully believe and embrace and pursue God’s promises while inspiring those around us and making a way for those behind us.

A key component in learning to embrace bravery is praying brave prayers—prayers that focus less on avoiding fear or keeping fear away from us and more on courage and confidence and holy mettle. Though we might not always feel fearless, by praying for specific qualities from Scripture, we can fear less.

– Instead of praying that fear will be far from us, we can pray for strong, bold, and very courageous hearts (see Joshua 1:9) when fear comes near.

– Instead of asking God to remove all the sources of fear in our lives, we can pray for His grace to run toward the big, scary things with great courage (see 1 Samuel 17:48).

– Instead of praying that fear will leave us alone, we can pray that when we are afraid, we will have confidence and put our reliance on God (see Psalm 56:3).

– Instead of asking God for all fear in our lives to vanish, we can pray that His peace that surpasses all understanding will guard our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus—and supersede all fear (see Philippians 4:6-7).

– Instead of feeling alone and fearful, we can pray to consistently remember God is with us, and we don’t have to fear. King David declared, “The Lᴏʀᴅ is for me, so I will have no fear” (Psalm 118:6 ɴʟᴛ).

I think I need to write the above verse on a Sticky Note and attach it to my forehead. If I had it my way, I’d never wrestle with fear again. It would be completely and permanently eradicated from my life (Can I get an amen?). But this side of eternity, I don’t know how realistic that goal is. I think we will all have times when we must battle fear, but it is always for a purpose.

Facing down fear teaches us how to engage the enemy, to fight, to stand, and to prevail. So be beautifully clothed in His mighty strength and the holy dignity He lavishly provides. Laugh without a care, free from fear’s taunts and digs. I see us—hot messes though we may yet be—laughing beautiful, musical laughs, heads tossed back, and hearts lifted toward heaven because we have nothing to fear.

This is an adapted excerpt from the book, “From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything”, Harvest House Publishers 2017. Used with permission.

*Question from Cheryl: What situation in your life is God calling you to choose brave for today?

Julie K. Gillies is the author of From Hot Mess to Blessed: Hope to Propel Your Soul and the Promises that Change Everything and the devotional, Prayers for a Woman’s Soul. Healed from a traumatic childhood, Julie’s message helps women pray, know, and believe God’s Word. Julie is the joyful wife of Keith, mom of two soldiers and one civilian, and Grammy of four. She loves bicycling , any day without humidity, and hanging out with the entire family at home, especially on days when her house is clean. Find FREE resources and connect with Julie at www.JulieGillies.com .

*Photos courtesy of author.

Guest Post: The Pruner’s Knife

I’m thrilled to share a guest post by my dad, Duane Hoy, today. He is eighty-three years young and has known the Lord since age twelve. May his insightful words and message bless you in a special way today!

The Pruner’s Knife

As I sit at my breakfast table and look out the sliding glass doors, I’m able to look a few feet beyond my patio and see my new young Royal Star magnolia.

It is not to be confused with other large varieties of magnolia trees. It is more naturally a bush but can be trained to grow more like a tree by cutting all but the strongest trunk and letting it grow like a small tree. It’s a very early bloomer being covered with snowy pure white blooms, this spring starting in mid-February.

My landscaper planted mine a year ago in the spring after I spotted it at a nursery in west Tulsa on the other side of the Arkansas River.

My heart was immediately set on getting one for my backyard, fulfilling a very long-held desire. I enjoyed three wonderful weeks of glistening snow-white blooms this last spring.

I am so wonderfully reminded of a beautiful individual who had a small to medium size Royal Star magnolia in his backyard.

Bro. John Howard and his wife Grace lived in a small block house on N. Grand in Pittsburg, KS, where our young family had moved in the early 1960s.

After thirty years of missionary service in India, Bro. John and Grace came back home to Pittsburg. He never owned a car but walked his routes in  Pittsburg, still being a missionary for another thirty years.

A very kind and gentle man, he would walk to our house way out on the north end of town to pay a short visit and pray for us and especially our four little girls—that they would develop into the godly women they are today. Then I would drive him back home. Needless to say, he was indelibly printed on my heart in a forever way.

As I observed my magnolia a few weeks after its blooming, I noticed the new growth was coming out in more of a horizontal direction. As it is yet only four to four and one half feet tall, I wanted it to grow in an upward direction, so I took the sharpest blade on my knife and made several studied cuts, removing the end growths on some limbs, hoping for the best. Some weeks later here in mid-June with plenty of rain, quite a bit of new growth is flourishing. Sure enough it is reaching in an upward direction.

This caused me to reflect on my own life and maybe you too have experienced some difficult circumstances, ones that might cause us to wince and cry out in pain.

Could it be that our master gardener is seeking some upward growth in our lives, reaching up to Him?

“‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener . . . every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.’” John 15:1-2 NIV

How has God used his pruner’s knife in your life lately?

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! (If you’re on a mobile device, scroll to the bottom of the screen and click View Full Site to find it.)

*My photo

Guest Blogger Jane M. Tucker: A Part of God’s Mosaic

Bowl Plaza mosaic*Today’s post is written by my friend Jane M. Tucker. She is the author of Lottie’s Gift.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (Hebrews 12:1)

Hebrews chapter eleven describes many people who accomplished great things by faith in God. I have sometimes heard this chapter called the “Hall of Heroes,” or the “Faith Hall of Fame.” These titles conjure images of a museum where the portraits of Bible heroes like Abraham, Moses and Rahab hang on the walls. Gold name plates nailed to the picture frames tell who they were, and what they did.

The idea feeds my pride. Someday, I’ll be as great as they were. Someday, I’ll deserve to hang in that hall, too. It isn’t a healthy way to approach my faith walk.

Because the Hall of Fame idea is a trap for me, long ago God gave me a different visual: A mosaic, made of millions of different stones, each one reflecting His light with infinite beauty. In the Master’s hands I am a stone, tumbled to a high polish by time and trial, until I am fit to take my place among all the other precious and unique stones in His timeless design. The idea of a mosaic is reflected in Hebrews 12:1: “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us” (emphasis mine).

The mosaic image holds three advantages for me:

  • I measure myself rightly. I’m not so much a portrait, grandly set apart in a gallery for all to see. I’m a stone, precious to my maker, but not more so than His other precious stones.
  • I see myself in relationship with other believers. Our triune God is all about relationship. One lovely stone is admirable, but it gains even more beauty when placed with all the others to form a greater whole.
  • I remember that God wants everyone to join his family. A missing mosaic tile is instantly noticeable. God needs all his precious stones if his artwork is to be complete.

Now, let me be clear: The portrait painter and the mosaic artist are only metaphors for a God we cannot fully describe. Metaphors clothe the intangible with concrete images, but they are limited. Martin Luther called God a mighty fortress, and David called Him a rock, and those metaphors also have their limitations.

What metaphor for God speaks to you today?

When she’s not gallivanting around New York, Jane M. Tucker works and plays in Overland Park, Kansas, with her husband and three nearly grown kids. She writes about the people and places of the Midwest on her blog, Postcards from the Heartland. Jane’s novel, Lottie’s Gift, about an Iowa farm girl with a big gift for music and the sister she loves with all her heart, is available on Amazon.com and at CrossRiverMedia.

*Photo by Jane M. Tucker

Midweek Morsel by Jeneal Rogers: The Cost

427067502_a342d220f6_zIn Monday’s blog post we considered the principle of pain before pleasure, and my dear friend Jeneal Rogers’ poem “The Cost” provides the perfect follow-up post today.

May Jeneal’s message offer you special encouragement in any difficulties you may be facing and also be a timely reminder that Easter comes at a great cost. Be blessed this Easter season!

The Cost

by Jeneal Rogers

There is no courage without fear
There can’t be love without a tear
You can’t grow strong without some pain
No flowers bloom without some rain

You must look up to see the sky…
You have to walk before you fly
Before the spring there comes the snow
And hardship causes faith to grow

There is no dawn without the night
No victory won without the fight
Peace is always bought with strife
It took a death to purchase life

“‘For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.’” John 3:16

*Have you believed in Jesus and received God’s free gift of eternal life?

My painting, "The Eyes Have It"Writer and visual artist Jeneal Rogers of Northwest Arkansas enjoys writing essays, short stories, and poetry along with creating visual arts of all kinds. She is currently working on creating an illustrated book, New Wings For An Old Bird, which will combine her love of written and visual media. Jeneal invites you to keep your eye out for the book as well as the launch of her new and improved website www.expressionsbyjeneal.com.

*Flickr photo by arbyreed, Creative Commons License

Guest Blogger Rachel Skatvold: The Hands of the Potter

Bill Longshaw

*Fyi, today while Rachel guest posts for me, I’m guest posting for her. Come find me on her Learning to Shine blog!

“Yet you, LORD, are our Father.
We are the clay, you are the potter;
We are all the work of your hand.” Isaiah 64:8 NIV

Using a pottery wheel takes dedication. Any skilled potter will tell you that creating a work of art requires time, patience, and a steady but gentle hand.

I remember the first time I tried my hand at throwing a pot on the wheel in high school. Centering the clay was the hardest part. If even a tiny air bubble remained hidden in the ball of clay, it wobbled all over the place. My first attempt at making something turned into useless glob of mush. However, with some practice and guidance, I learned how to form the clay into something recognizable. Eventually I sculpted a small pencil holder that still adorns my mom’s book shelf to this day.

I am a novice potter, but God is the expert. I love the illustration of the clay and the potter used in Isaiah 64:8. It shows that when God looks at me, he doesn’t just see a hunk of clay, he sees potential. Every day of my life, God teaches me something new. He molds me and shapes me into what I should be. If I keep my heart centered on him, he can form my life into something beautiful.

“He’s Still Working On Me.” The words of the old children’s hymn still ring true. Learning to trust and follow God is a daily process. It doesn’t happen overnight, but it’s worth it. I might make mistakes, but the loving hands of the Father bring me right back to the center of his heart, where I should be. I’m so thankful that he’s still working on me.

*Photo Credit: (Bill Longshaw) freedigitalphotos.net

About the Author: Rachel Skatvold Author Bio Pic

Rachel Skatvold is a Christian author and stay at home mom from the Midwest. She enjoys writing Christian romance, devotions, and encouraging blogs. Rachel’s debut novella, Beauty Within, was released in early October 2014 and she’s currently editing her first full length novel, Enduring the Flames. Other than writing, some of her hobbies include singing, reading, and camping in the great outdoors with her husband and two young sons.

Places to follow Rachel: Website   Facebook   Twitter   Pinterest