A Still Heart: Guest Post by Author Julie K. Gillies

Our minds can easily slip into overdrive when we evaluate all the what-ifs, attempting to figure out every detail and obsessively calculating our next step. It’s a temptation we face when we feel deeply concerned about a direction our life is going, or when we aren’t happy with a situation we’re facing. Some of us are wired this way; we’re natural over thinkers. Some of us indulge when we’re feeling unusually apprehensive. Either way, this excessive mental activity takes a toll, feeding our worries and stirring up anxieties until our peace evaporates completely.

In the midst of this, God invites us to make a decision that goes against our instincts. When everything in us is whirling and calculating, He encourages us to be still, to step away from every worry and all our mental activity and know Him. Be with Him. Rest in Him. It’s a bold step, but not as risky as it may seem, because “the Lord is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love” (Psalm 145:8).

Our hearts can truly rest in Him knowing He is at work so our minds don’t constantly have to be. Psalm 138:8 says, “The Lord will work out his plans for my life—for your faithful love, O Lord, endures forever.” When we still our hearts and minds, meditating on who He is and all His awe-inspiring qualities, our inner beings experience the relief of a quiet, peaceful heart.

“Be still, and know that I am God!” (Psalm 46:10)

Lord, I’m sensing that I need to stop all my mental activity: worry, anxiety, fear, all the what-if’s, and just be still. God, everything in me wants to work it out or else stress out, but instead I am going to still my heart and my thoughts. I am going to allow myself to be in Your presence and rest in You, knowing You are gracious and compassionate. Knowing that You will work out Your plans for my life. Help me to center my heart and my thoughts and my very life on You. Help me to live vitally connected to You and still on the inside, so that I can always hear You and walk in the power of Your amazing peace. In the mighty name of Jesus, amen.

Excerpted from Prayers to Calm Your Anxious Heart: 100 Reassuring Devotions, Harvest House Publishers. Used with permission.



Julie K. Gillies is the author of Prayers to Calm Your Anxious Heart: 100 Reassuring Devotions, From Hot Mess to Blessed, and the devotional Prayers for a Woman’s Soul. She is the joyful wife of Keith, mom of three adults and Grammy of five. She loves baking from scratch, any day without humidity, and hanging out with the entire family, especially on days when her house is clean. For FREE resources and to connect with Julie, visit: www.JulieGillies.com

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Photo by Ben White on Unsplash

Pecan Picking

This weekend Don and I ended up participating in an old-time autumn activity that has spanned several generations in my family. My sisters, Janice and Carolyn, and their families met us over at Mom and Dad’s for a little weekend visit (wish Debbie could have been there, but she lives too far away). Since Mom and Dad live in the Ozarks, I had been counting on seeing the hills in all their autumn glory, but the leaves are behind schedule over there, too. We still managed to experience fall, though — Carolyn arrived with several pounds of pecans.

Pecan picking goes way back in our family. My Grandpa and Grandma Hoy had several pecan trees on their farm, and I still have vivid memories of pecan-picking days. I’ll never forget Grandpa climbing the trees and inching his way out onto the branches to knock the pecans off with a stomp of his boots. I’ll also never forget Grandma and Dad hollering at him trying to get him to come down :) As I got into my teen years, picking up pecans, of course, lost its allure. It just seemed like one more way of Mom and Dad torturing us. Not only did we have to help pick the pecans up, we had to help pick out the nuts once Dad got them cracked. Double torture.

Over the years, Carolyn has been the most active in keeping the pecan picking tradition alive. Believe it or not, they have pecan trees in her city, and she has a way of finding them. So thanks to Carolyn, our weekend took on a nutty flavor :) A perfect nip in the air provided just the right background for cracking the nuts outside. As you can imagine, several of us got involved in that process before it was all said and done. Crackers came and crackers went. I’m not sure who actually finished the chore.

During supper someone suggested picking out the nuts after we ate. I groaned — not as loudly as when I was a teenager, but still it was a groan. When the time came, however, I joined in as the Hoy women gathered around the kitchen table, each with our own newspaper “placemat” for shelling the nuts. Before I knew it, the project turned into fun. It wasn’t the torture I remembered from my teenage years. We chatted, ate pecan pieces (the flawed ones of course) laughed, and then laughed some more when Don joined us and started telling jokes. Not only did we create another family memory, but we each ended up with a bag of pecans to take home. Thanks, Carolyn!

You know, it took a lot of effort to get those pecan meats. After picking up the pecans and then cracking them, the nuts had to be picked out of the shells. Some came out easily while other pieces had to be dug out. But we would never enjoy them or benefit from them if they had just been left lying on the ground, never shelled.

It actually reminds me of the Word of God. If we leave it lying on a shelf or even on our bedside table but never open it, how will it ever benefit us? Like a pecan, we need to pick it up, open it, and enjoy what’s inside. We need to read the Word on our own, but it’s also good to study the Word in a group, working together like we did on the pecans. Sometimes we might see the truths inside very quickly and easily while other times we may have to really dig for further insight. Like pecans, the Word is filled with precious food, food worth the effort. “How sweet are your words to my taste, sweeter than honey to my mouth!” (Psalm 119:103 NIV). Don’t let the Word of God be a treasure you miss out on. Open it, enjoy it, feed on it. Be blessed.