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.

How We Can Be Happy Anywhere

6481715361_5595056efc_zDo you ever long to be somewhere other than where you are right now? Maybe live in a different locale or a different home? Work a different job? Maybe even be in a different stage of life or out from under certain family obligations? If you haven’t felt this way in your life yet, chances are you will at some point. I think we all do.

The good news is we don’t have to let our current circumstances dictate our happiness. God can give us a different outlook if we take our eyes off the things we are unhappy about and instead look to him and his Word for peace and joy.

Here are a few things to remember directly from the Word of God that show us how and why we can be happy anywhere, in whatever situation we find ourselves. May we all be blessed, encouraged, and strengthened by the reading of God’s Word today!

“Your decrees are the theme of my song wherever I lodge.” Psalm 119:54 NIV

“‘. . . Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.’” Joshua 1:9 NIV

“Where can I go from your Spirit?
Where can I flee from your presence?
If I go up to the heavens, you are there;
if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.
If I rise on the wings of the dawn,
if I settle on the far side of the sea,
even there your hand will guide me,
your right hand will hold me fast.” Psalm 139:7-10 NIV

“Keep your lives free from the love of money and be content with what you have, because God has said, ‘Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you.’” Hebrews 13:5 NIV

 “. . . for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:11b-13 NIV

*Which of these speaks to you most powerfully today? Can you think of any other scriptures to add?

*The new 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, give as a gift, or donate to a library. Sign-up is free and to the right!

*Flickr photo by mike hamerton, Creative Commons License

Beauty and Blessings on the Way to a Goal Achieved

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When we’re trying to achieve a challenging goal, we may find the climb especially difficult. We may grow weary and wonder if we can hold out to see the view from the top, from the vantage point of a goal achieved. We may feel sorely tempted to give up.

But I’ve got good news. Good news that can help keep us pushing onward.

We don’t have to wait until we achieve the goal to experience the joy of the journey. If we take time to look, we can find beauty and blessings along the way.

This summer on our trip to Colorado, my sisters and I got a reminder of this truth when we decided to take the hike to the top of the mountain at Hoosier Pass on the Continental Divide. The information we had about the hike made it sound fairly easy, but we got more than we bargained for. The altitude along with the steady and sometimes steep climb had us huffing and puffing and wondering if we’d be able to achieve our goal after all.

I’m happy to report we did indeed reach the top, but we also stopped frequently along the way to catch our breath and soak in the beauty of the natural wonders around us. The mountainside dotted with the reds, yellows, purples, whites, and blues of happy little wildflowers. The majestic snow-covered peaks in the distance. The winding river and reservoir in the valley below. Each one a blessing along the difficult way to our goal achieved.

If any of us find ourselves on a difficult or painful journey today, let’s keep our eyes open for the joys that can be ours when we stop and look for them. Let’s take frequent breathers when we need them. Let’s allow the wonders we see to recharge us for the rest of the journey. Let’s enjoy the beauty and blessings along the way.

“. . . the LORD’s unfailing love surrounds the man who trust in him.” Psalm 32:10b

*What beauty or blessings have been yours on a difficult road?

*My photo

Obscured Vision

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Is anything obscuring your vision today? Anything interfering with seeing something clearly? Perhaps foggy conditions or unwanted objects marring the perfection of your view? I can relate. I’ve had a couple of view-related nuisances to deal with lately, too.

I love to take photos, and a couple of years ago something started marring many of the images I shot. First I noticed a dark spot in several of my photos as I looked at my camera’s display screen, and of course those spots showed up in the actual prints as well. This frustrated me to no end. I didn’t want any dark spots ruining my photos.

When I finally got a chance to take the camera into a camera shop, they told me a fiber had become lodged in the lens. It would be quite expensive to fix so I decided to live with it until I’m ready to get a new camera.

Since then the fiber has changed positions from time to time, but it really only presents a problem if it happens to be on a light-colored area of any particular shot taken from a particular angle. And so, I adjust to it. I shoot from a different angle, focus on a different area, or accept the fact that I won’t be able to get the shot I want. I don’t like the sometimes obscured vision I have to contend with because of this photographic intruder, but I deal with it.

Believe it or not, around the same time my camera started giving me fits, a floater started interfering with my eyesight as well. I’ve had to wear glasses since I was in third grade so I’m used to my vision being obscured when I’m not wearing the fix. But this was something new. Something the glasses couldn’t fix. Something I didn’t like. But as with my camera’s lens, I’ve learned to live with it.

Obscured views aren’t limited to physical vision, however. The eyes of our hearts can also experience obscured vision. Unwanted objects and conditions can get in the way of seeing what the Lord wants us to see or can keep us from seeing things clearly. Our view is hampered. Our mental, emotional, or spiritual vision is marred.

So what kinds of things might interfere with the vision of our hearts? Perhaps unwanted fears and worries, perhaps grief or pain or illness. Pride or unforgiveness might be the culprit or possibly even feelings of guilt or low self-esteem. Stubbornness or sin can play a role. Bottom line, Satan will use any number of tactics to keep us from experiencing all that the Lord desires for us. Yes, our enemy will rob us of abundant life every chance he gets.

The good news is that with God’s help, we can make changes and adjustments to fix or improve our mental, emotional, and spiritual vision. We can ask God to help us remove or see around the hindrances to the view of life he wants us to have.

If the cause of our hampered view is rooted in a physical problem, we can see a doctor and get the physical help we need to start seeing life clearly again. If our heart vision is being marred by mental, emotional, or spiritual factors, we can deal with them by putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:10-18), which includes, among other things, the belt of truth, the shield of faith, and the Word of God. We can also seek out wise counsel and the prayer support of friends.

Yes, friends, we can take a stand—and gain the victory—against obscured vision, against the evil one who seeks to discourage and deceive us by distorting and obstructing the clear vision God wants us to have. Our God can handle any roadblock the devil throws at us. And our God stands ready to help.

“I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe.” Ephesians 1:18-19a

*When has God helped you regain the clear vision he wanted you to have?

*My photo (Great Smoky Mountains National Park)

Hard Fought

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Some victories are best described as hard fought, aren’t they? If we’ve lived this life for any length of time, we’ve discovered that many accomplishments, battle-wins, growth, or tasks completed don’t come easily. Much effort is required to get from point A to point B.

You might not guess it, but many of my blog posts and other writing projects fall into the hard fought category. Oh, some may come more easily than others, but if I’m honest, I’d have to say many are hard fought. Most require much effort.

For one thing, I’m a slow writer. For another, I have perfectionist tendencies. So unless an idea sparks and words tumble out as fast as I can write them down, they come out like a trickle or a drip rather than a flowing stream or bubbling brook. In fact, sometimes they’re birthed at an excruciatingly slow pace. It’s as if I’m stuck in mud. When that happens, getting pieces written is like struggling through a wrestling match. Any results are hard fought.

Other examples of hard fought victories in life abound. Sometimes learning a new skill or reaching an academic milestone takes all we have to see it through. Others engage in mighty struggles to lose weight or to quit smoking. Some reach their next wedding anniversary only by the grace of God and their non-negotiable commitment to honor their vows and protect their families. Still others fight to stay true to their faith in God when life deals them one blow after another.

I wonder if any of us today are currently faced with hard fought battles. Any wrestling matches underway? Any of us stuck in the mud? Let’s not give up. Let’s dig deep and press on. Like with my writing struggles, we may have to fight hard, but the victories will surely come. And oh, how sweet they’ll be.

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

*What in your life has come or is coming with hard fought efforts?

*The Life Notes Subscriber Appreciation Giveaway is underway. Details are in my Oct. 19 post and sign-up is to the right under “Free For You.” Deadline is 6 p.m. Nov. 11. Don’t miss out on the chance to win a $25 gift card to Barnes & Noble!

*Flickr photo by Eric Langley, Creative Commons License