Growing in a Hard Place

Last summer while on vacation with my husband, I witnessed one little flower after another growing in hard places—in the nooks and crannies of rocky formations above tree line in Colorado.

I spotted the flowers pictured above in the Mount Evans Wilderness area. The flowers found there (and in other alpine regions throughout the world) display a delicate but hearty beauty that seems to cry out, “Look at me! I made it! I’m growing in a hard place. I’ve survived harsh conditions and my beauty is declaring God’s glory!”

And today we each have an opportunity to be like the alpine flowers—we can grow in the hard places we find ourselves in.

Due to the current worldwide coronavirus pandemic, we have literally been thrust into harsh conditions—threat of illness and possible death of ourselves and our loved ones, social isolation as we join together separately to rob the virus of opportunity to spread, financial losses and loss of jobs for many, and an inadequate supply of medical supplies, food, and other product shortages as people panic and start hoarding. Most of us have also had to place certain plans or events on hold—some of them very important like graduations and weddings.

Some of us are dealing with living in other hard places at the same time. Some may be grieving the loss of a mate, family member, or friend. Others may be struggling to keep a marriage afloat. Some are living with chronic pain or long-term health problems and some are even battling cancer or other life-threatening illnesses.

As we each struggle with our own set of harsh conditions, let’s remember that if we hang on, the beauty will come. Persevering and overcoming struggles always serve to make us better, to help us grow. We will have the chance to declare to the world, “Look at me! I made it! I’m growing in a hard place and I’m declaring God’s glory!”

Hang on, friends. God will see us through—and oh, what beauty will come!

We are hard pressed on every side, but not crushed; perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not abandoned; struck down, but not destroyed. 1 Corinthians 4:8-9 NIV

*Are you seeing any beauty in your circumstances yet?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early May. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Amazon and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. 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.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*My photo

Marching Orders to Strengthen You

“March on, my soul; be strong!” Judges 5:21 NIV

I saw this verse years ago in one of Beth Moore’s blog posts. She was sharing scriptures about marching since it was the month of March, and I instantly fell in love with these simple yet powerful words: “March on, my soul; be strong!” And today in the midst of the national emergency we find ourselves in regarding COVID-19, these words take on new meaning.

Just reading or saying these precious words from the Word of God seems to infuse my soul with his encouragement and strength. I think most of us probably feel the need for such encouragement on a daily basis as we face the challenges of life, but there are times when the need for fresh strength eclipses everything else.

Are we faced with a difficult road to travel this month? Yes. Do fear and uncertainty loom ahead? Yes. Are we worried about the pandemic? Yes. And maybe some of us are facing other difficult roads as well. Maybe a continuation of an already difficult journey where no end is in sight.

Whatever the case, let’s allow the breath of heaven—the Word of God—to give us our marching orders and the strength to carry them out. Let’s march on!

“Blessed are those whose strength is in you, whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.” Psalm 84:5 NIV

*What has God done recently to strengthen you for a difficult road?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, will come out in early May. 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.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by NINXIVICreative Commons License

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For Living a Life of Perseverance

My year-long blog series of sentence prayers inviting God’s power comes to an end today with our focus turning to perseverance. A fitting conclusion to help us all face the future and whatever challenges may come our way, right?

Perseverance is that quality, that determination we need to press on to achieve goals or to not give up in the midst of difficult life situations. And we will need it time and again throughout our lives. Some of us, depending on our situations, need it on an on-going basis.

May the following sentence prayers help you stand strong as you call on God to help you persevere. Be encouraged today, friends, and I pray that this blog series has been a help to you. May it bless you now and in the future as well!

7 Sentence-Prayers Inviting God’s Power—For Living a Life of Perseverance

  1. Father, when I’m tempted to give up, remind me of all that Jesus endured and how he pressed on until his mission was completed. (Romans 12:3; Mark 8:31; Luke 9:51; John 19:30)
  2. Lord, empower me to follow your persevering example of love and forgiveness extended to all. (Psalm 89:28; Psalm 136; Lamentations 3:22-23; Matthew 18:21-22; Luke 6:36; Romans 8:38-39; Ephesians 1:7; 1 John 1:9)
  3. Father, encourage me in perseverance with powerful verses from your Word and give me the wisdom and the self-discipline to hide them in my heart. (Deuteronomy 32:47; Psalm 119:11, 28; Jeremiah 15:16; 2 Timothy 3:16)
  4. Lord, bring people into my life at just the right time to give the encouragement and help I need to not give up. (Exodus 17:8-13; Judges 20:22; Acts 15:32; 28:15; 1 Thessalonians 3;2; 5:11)
  5. Lord, help me keep my eyes on you and on the prize—the goal achieved, the finish line. (Hebrews 12:1-3; Luke 13:32; 1 Corinthians 9:24; Philippians 3:13-14)
  6. Father, protect me from Satan and help me stand firm against him when he tries to discourage and defeat me. (Psalm 31:8; 108;12; Ephesians 6:11, 13-18; 1 Peter 5:8)
  7. Lord, be my source of strength as I persevere in faith, in challenges, and in my life circumstances. (2 Chronicles 16:9; Psalm 18:1-2; 89:21; Isaiah 41:10; Ephesians 3:16; Colossians 2:6-7)

May God strengthen us all to live lives of perseverance for his glory!

In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.” Matthew 5:16 NIV

*Which of these prayers speak most powerfully to your needs today?

*The current 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.)

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by pocketwiley, Creative Commons License

Endurance Possible with God’s Unfailing Help

But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.” Acts 26:22 NIV

Do you ever wonder how the Apostle Paul from Bible times endured the many trials and times of crisis that came his way? After his dramatic conversion to Christ and being called by God to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, Paul faced not only trials and imprisonment, but his very life was threatened time and again.

At one point after one of his arrests (when the Jews had seized him and tried to kill him,) Paul had the opportunity to defend himself before the Roman king Agrippa. Paul shared  a bit about his personal history, his eventual conversion to Christ, his ministry to the Gentiles, and the resulting opposition he faced from the Jews—including how they tried to kill him.

Paul then summed up his life to that point with this powerful testimony: But God has helped me to this very day; so I stand here and testify to small and great alike.” (Acts 22:26) In everyone’s hearing, he pointed to the One who had been his strength.

Yes, Paul had been able to endure the hardships and dangers in his life because of God’s unfailing help. In spite of all that had happened to him, he was able to stand before King Agrippa—and stand up to all the opposition he faced—because God was with him being his strong support.

Is this your testimony too? Our testimonies are such a good thing to remember when times are bad, aren’t they? Sometimes we need to remind ourselves that God has been with us to this very day and that he will continue to be with us come what may.

If any of us are struggling to hang in there today, let’s remember that endurance is indeed possible with God’s unfailing help. He didn’t let Paul down and he won’t let us down either. He will ever be our strong support. He will ever be our Rock.

God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

*When have you felt God’s strong support in a very great way?

*The next issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter, comes out in early February. One lucky subscriber (new or current) will receive a $15 gift card to Starbucks and a signed copy of my book to use personally, give as a gift, or donate to a library. 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.) p.s. It is too late to get in on this issue’s giveaway, but if you subscribe, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride and also my Wedding Inspiration cards, check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by DVIDSHUB, Creative Commons License

Powerful Way to Pray for Those in Ongoing Difficulty

Most of us know someone who deals daily with an ongoing serious difficulty of some sort. Maybe we know someone with a chronic illness or problem with pain or someone in a caregiving situation. We may know someone trapped in an abusive relationship or someone whose job places them in the midst of crisis situations every day.

Whatever the particulars, our friends or loved ones enduring such stress likely feel overwhelmed and beyond discouraged much of the time. If we’ve ever experienced such a season ourselves, we understand how a person can come to the end of his or her physical, mental, and/or emotional reserves and wonder how they can possibly go on.

As their friends and loved ones, we feel helpless to fix the problem, but one way we can always help is to pray. And one powerful way to pray is to pray through the Psalms for them—slowly but surely.

If you’re like me, you’ve prayed the Psalms for yourself at one time or another, but we can also perform this wonderful ministry for those who desperately need to be upheld by our prayers. And if we pray just a few verses or portion of a chapter for them each day, our prayers will be long-term, just like the trial they are enduring.

We can simply start at the beginning of Psalms and read and pray through the verses with our friends or loved ones in mind, personalizing our prayers by using their names and the specifics of whatever their ongoing difficulty. Not every psalm will be completely applicable to suffering or difficulty, but let’s pray those scriptures for them as well. After all, each scripture prayed for those who are hurting will help strengthen them in some way.

Here’s an example from Psalm 3:1-4 NIV.  I’ll list the verses first and then personalize them in prayer for a loved one (using a fictitious name.)

“Lord, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!
Many are saying of me,
‘God will not deliver him.’

But you, Lord, are a shield around me,
my glory, the One who lifts my head high.
I call out to the Lord,
and he answers me from his holy mountain.”

Prayer: Oh Lord, how many are Katie’s health problems. How many conditions rise up against her! These health issues seem to taunt her, saying “God will not deliver you.” But you, O Lord, be a shield about Katie, be her glory, the One who lifts up her head. Help her to call out to you and see you answer from your holy mountain.”

Let’s pray the Psalms for our hurting friends. Let’s hold them up with the powerful Word of God.

*Has God brought someone you know to mind? I have been praying the Psalms for a loved one for a few months now and will continue as God leads.

*Flickr photo by shaunanyi, Creative Commons License