Worthy of Our Pursuit

“. . . pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.” 1 Timothy 6:11 NIV

When you hear the word “pursue” what comes to mind? I think of going after something or someone—striving to capture or attain a deeply desired object, person, quality, or state of being. When we have to pursue something, it doesn’t just fall into our laps or happen naturally. “Pursue” speaks of action, involvement, effort.

From our earliest days, the world around us teaches us to pursue certain things. Money, education, good jobs, status, relationships, possessions, health, beauty, success—in other words, the American dream.

None of these things are wrong and can, in fact, be used for great good. But if we’re focused on what the world holds up as worthy of pursuit, chances are we’ll neglect things far more important.

In the scripture above, look at what Paul instructs Timothy to pursue: righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, and gentleness. In using the word pursue, Paul must have known that these things would not come automatically to Timothy. He knew Timothy would have to go after them. He knew he would have to take action, that he would have to make an effort.

Take a closer look at Paul’s list. It’s filled with some biggies, isn’t it? And if these qualities are not easily manifested in my life, it shouldn’t surprise me—they take effort. I have to go after them. (Personally, I struggle with gentleness in certain situations so I’m encouraged to know that it does indeed take work. And isn’t it interesting that gentleness is keeping company with major spiritual pursuits like godliness and love? Wow.)

So what are we pursuing in our lives right now? Do we need to make some adjustments or additions to our lists? Let’s not reach the end of our days and discover we’ve spent all our efforts going after things that won’t matter in eternity. May all of our pursuits be worthy. May they all be guided by God.

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 KJV

*What are you planning to pursue this year?

*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. Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.) p.s. If you sign up after Jan. 27th, you will be included in all future Life Notes giveaways but not in this current giveaway.

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

Photo by Joel & Jasmin Førestbird on Unsplash

2022 Theme Words: Guard and Gift

Yes, you read that title right—I’ve selected two theme words for 2022! Two theme words is a first for me. It’s always good to branch out and try new things so I guess I’m starting the year off right, huh?

Do you start the New Year by selecting a theme word for the year? Some people refer to it as an anchor word and others even choose an anchor verse from the Bible. I jumped on the theme word bandwagon back in 2012 (over ten years ago now!), and I’m so glad I did.

I love how a theme word keeps me focused on a particular quality or action throughout the year. I won’t think of my chosen theme word every day, but I will think of it periodically. It will help keep me on track or give me guidance.

The words I’ve chosen for 2022 are guard and gift. I usually start thinking and praying about what my word for the upcoming year should be sometime in November or December.

This year, before even praying about it, I immediately thought of the word gift because I’d recently read my friend Edie Frink Winters’  book Giftitude. I loved the perspective she shared of seeing problems and challenges large and small as gifts—something we can learn from by asking “Where is the gift in this for me?” I knew I wanted to start applying this to my life, and selecting gift as my new theme word for the year seemed like the perfect way to do that.

When I began to pray and seek God’s guidance about my theme word, though, right away he pointed me to the word guard several times. I didn’t really want to settle on that because I’d already used it as my theme word several years ago, but when God kept bringing it to my attention, I knew I needed to listen and obey. After all, I’d been thinking about how I need to guard my tongue right now because of a personal ongoing situation that can cause a lot of frustration and upset feelings. It’s all too easy to say the wrong thing. So once again, guard will indeed be my theme word for the year.

I still had the strong desire to focus on gift though too, and as I prayed about it, God was so good to confirm to me that it is indeed okay to have two theme words with gift being one of them as well. So here I am with two theme words this year! Hopefully, I will see growth in both areas, and I probably won’t know the full impact of these particular theme words until the year is out. The Lord knows about it all right now, though, and I’m thankful he’s preparing me for whatever may come as the year unfolds.

If you haven’t done so yet, why not choose a theme word for 2022? I can guarantee it will help give you direction and help you grow throughout the year. Who would want to miss out on a deal like that? May God guide you and bless you in your choice!

“Set a guard over my mouth, LORD; keep watch over the door of my lips.” Psalm 141:3 NIV

“Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” James 1:17 NIV

*Do you have a theme word or anchor verse for 2022? I’d love to hear about it!

*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.) Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

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

*Photo by Isabela Kronemberger on Unsplash

Wait—The Blessing Is On the Way

Are any of you still waiting for a blessing you hoped would come last month, last year, or even earlier? Are you waiting for an answer to prayer you felt certain would have unfolded by now? If so, don’t feel alone. I’m waiting, too.

It’s hard when God’s answers to our desires and dreams are “no” or “wait”. As we wait for the blessing to come, questions can niggle at our minds. Does God hear my prayers? Why doesn’t he answer? Doesn’t he care about me? Is he punishing me for something? We may even feel like he’s forgotten us.

I won’t presume to explain why God’s answers are what they are in your life or mine, but we’re all acquainted with the character growth that can take place as we learn to wait on him and trust him in every circumstance. However, knowing growth will come doesn’t necessarily make the wait any easier, does it?

Maybe an example from scripture about a delayed answer could provide some encouragement or fresh insight as to why we may have to wait at times.

In the tenth chapter of Daniel, we read that God had given Daniel a revelation, but Daniel didn’t understand it. He prayed and mourned for three weeks, asking God to give him understanding of the vision. At the end of the three weeks, Daniel had another vision of a man, a messenger from God (an angel or possibly even Jesus), who came to give him God’s answer.

The man told Daniel, “Since the first day . . . your words were heard, and I have come in response to them.” (10:12 NIV) He went on to tell him that a demon had resisted him for twenty-one days. One of the chief angels came to help him, though, and the man was now there to give Daniel the understanding he sought from God.

From this passage we see that sometimes delays to our prayers happen because of struggles and battles going on in the spiritual realm. This may not be the reason for your current season of waiting on God, but it could be a possibility.

Whatever the reason you find yourself in God’s waiting room, take heart. He hasn’t forgotten you. He hears you. And the answer—the blessing—is on the way.

“‘When you first started praying, an answer was given . . .’” Daniel 9:23 NCV

*What blessings have you seen in your life after waiting on God?

*The current issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out earlier this month. 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.) *Temporary problem with Life Notes sign-up. To sign up, just contact me.

*For info about my book Mother of the Bride check out my Books/My Work page.

*Flickr photo by mmartinsson, Creative Commons License

Choosing to Still Be a Student

After sixty-plus years of speaking the English language (I’ll leave the plus part to your imagination), I’m still looking up words in the dictionary. As a writer, I need to be a reader also so I run across new-to-me words on a fairly regular basis. It’s not that I have a poor vocabulary, there are just a lot of unfamiliar words out there, especially when I get into areas outside my realm of experience.

One time I read a novel that featured a main character with a form of autism. Since I don’t have close personal experience with autism, I had to hit the dictionary a couple of times over terminology I’d heard before but didn’t really understand. Not long ago, I read some historical fiction that put me in a time and place that also stretched the limits of my vocabulary.

Of course, other times I’m foggy on meanings of words that I’ve seen before and should know. Maybe my brain has only so much room and has started deleting past info to make room for new? Say it ain’t so!

Whether encountering brand new words or words I simply need to review, I have a choice to make. I can skip over them completely, try to guess their meaning from the context, or take time to look them up. I can choose to still be a student or just coast through and miss the full message intended.

Many times I choose to coast, allowing time factors or lack of convenience to dictate my decision, but other times I choose to investigate. I choose to learn, to still be a student. I may not remember the new word a day later, but the process still helped me grasp that particular passage more fully.

What about when I—or you—read the Word of God? We may be familiar with much of the language, but what do we do when we run across words and phrases or names and places that are unfamiliar to us? What about when we know the actual meaning of certain words, but we’re puzzled by the deeper meaning of the passage? Do we take time to read the footnotes or look up words in our concordance or do some cross-referencing? Do we dig deep to discover what words meant in the original Greek or Hebrew language?

Are we still students of the Word of God or do we just coast through in our reading? Do we sometimes miss the full message intended? I don’t know about you, but I don’t dig deep often enough.

The Word of God is too important to miss, isn’t it? Let’s choose to learn. Let’s choose to investigate. Let’s still be students.

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 KJV

*What do you do to dig deeper into the Word of God?

*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 crdotxCreative Commons License

Let Your Life Provide a Well-Paved Path for Others

Pain. Grief. Weakness. Limitations. None of us welcome these unwanted visitors—especially when they take up long-term residence in our lives. Each one causes distress in its own way. And let’s be honest. We all do our best to avoid distress whenever possible.

We don’t like to hurt. We don’t like to fail or find ourselves unable to do certain things. But as we live in these places of pain, we grow and learn lessons. We develop a deep empathy for others experiencing similar sorrows. Each of our painful places has the potential to become a well-paved path to another hurting soul.

In the New Testament, we see that the apostle Paul experienced pain, hardship, and limitations time and again. And while we may feel the chains of weakness and limitations in our lives, Paul dealt with literal chains during the times he was imprisoned for the sake of the gospel.

He didn’t give in to discouragement during those imprisonments though. While shackled and suffering, Paul saw the good that came from his chains. In his letter to the Philippians (1:14 NIV), he said, “And because of my chains, most of the brothers and sisters have become confident in the Lord and dare all the more to proclaim the gospel without fear.”

Surely our chains of pain, grief, weakness, or limitations serve to encourage others as well. Other struggling folks might very well be inspired to persevere through their own trials as they see how God strengthens us in ours.

Whether reaching out to hurting souls going through similar situations as our own or being a beacon of hope and encouragement through the witness of our lives, let’s allow our painful places to result in good. Let’s let our lives be well-paved paths.

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV

*When did someone provide a well-paved path for you? Our family is currently undergoing a trial that will certainly allow us to encourage and comfort others in the future. Our daughter Kelli is having surgery for breast cancer today. We’d be so grateful for your prayers. 

*The new issue of Life Notes, my quarterly inspirational newsletter with a giveaway in every regularly scheduled issue, came out Feb. 2nd. 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.

*My photo