Heroes Among Us

Monday marked the 16th year since 9/11 happened. I was in college and remember watching the television in a commons area while I was between classes. Initially, I was confused about what occurred because it was completely unexpected and I had no frame of reference for it. As more details became clear, I was glued to the media. As horrific as it was when the two towers fell, there were also amazing stories of heroism.

On Monday, I watched videos online about 9/11 events and found more stories of heroic men and women. These courageous and unselfish men and women lost their lives but saved many others.

In one short video, a man named Rick Rescorla, was on the 44th floor of the South tower when he saw the North tower on fire. He went against orders to stay put and told everyone to evacuate the South tower. After most of his coworkers left, he went back to help other areas. This heroic man was last seen racing up the 10th floor stairway to help more people. Minutes later the tower collapsed—but not before 2700 people escaped.

With tears, I thought to myself, “Wow, what would compel him to respond that way?” In that moment, I remembered reading Luke 16:10 just prior to watching the videos. This verse states that if you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones…

Instantly, I realized…that man was just being faithful. He simply took the next step, the next right choice. I didn’t know him, of course, but I would bet Mr. Rescorla’s decision was an extension of his character (and perhaps his position at work and military background).

He had probably been making similar choices all along—yet with smaller impact—for years. I’m speculating, but I imagine he had been faithful in the small things, and when “the big thing” came, it was a ‘no brainer’ for him to look out for others.

It had likely become second-nature.

I’ve noticed that many heroes have similar reactions when asked to explain their actions. While we are in awe of their bravery, most heroes humbly shrug off the attention, saying, “Oh, anyone would have done the same thing I did. I just happened to be in the right place at the right time.” Most heroes don’t consider themselves extraordinary.

So it seems each small choice really does add up over time. I’m sure Mr. Rescorla didn’t think about how ‘qualified’ he was that day. There wasn’t time! He just stepped up to do what he could in that moment. He used his voice and his authority to make a difference.

Some people put their lives on the line nearly every day, such as the police and those in the military. I’m thankful for these heroic men and women.

But even without training, you can be a hero right where you are. Today.

Hopefully, you won’t be faced with life-or-death decisions! But, we can all reach out to help a friend, neighbor, coworker, or even a total stranger. Think of all the recent stories just from people affected by hurricanes or wildfires…

You may be a hero to someone and not even know it. Be a good example for those who are watching. Be faithful in the small things—the often mundane tasks—and sooner or later, you see the difference you are making!

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God, thank You for giving us grace and wisdom! Help us be brave and bold as we walk through life with You. Guide us each day and give us eyes to see the needs around us. May we be quick to respond. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Where were you on 9/11? Who is your hero?

Tasks: Find a place to volunteer your time. Or, donate some money to a cause that is important to you. Be consistent and faithful in your commitment.

Tacos: A Happy Update

I had an interesting realization yesterday while I was preparing dinner. I had invited my friend (and recent roommate) over for ‘Taco Tuesday.’ She is a good friend and we’ve enjoyed several meals together in the six months she stayed with us. Our favorite meal together has been tacos!

As I was making my black bean and corn salsa, it struck me that I am eating tacos again! I blogged about tacos previously (a year-and-a-half ago). Back then, it was a difficult meal for me. Dave loved tacos so much and always helped me in the kitchen. Tacos reminded me of him and made me sad. I had to make other foods (or variations) instead.

Well, yesterday, I realized that making tacos is no longer a problem! My friend and I happily (and unknowingly) created a new experience regarding tacos. With that, I felt a deep sense of God’s grace and goodness. He has healed another portion of my heart and brought me joy again! That’s a huge Victory!

I hadn’t even noticed the healing process these last few months. I’ve been focused on other things. But yesterday, I was reminded that when we trust the Lord, He always comes through. He is faithful.

I had no expectation that when I opened up my home to a friend in need that God would help me too. I simply wanted to be a blessing. Yet, God has blessed me too!

Occasionally, a wave of grief still comes my way. I’m sure that will always be the case, to some degree. But, I no longer avoid tacos or other things that cause me pain. I am able to face each challenge head-on, without too much difficulty. Thank You, Jesus!

Whether we’re dealing with emotional pain (like grief) or physical pain, we want healing to happen right away. We want to feel good again! But healing takes time and occurs step-by-step. It’s a process.

Indeed, it takes God’s special touch to bring complete healing. We may look okay on the outside and think we are good… But then something may surprise us (like making tacos) and we see a whole new layer of healing has occurred!

When we focus on the Lord, we naturally give our pain less attention. I’m not saying the pain doesn’t exist—but rather, Jesus is worthy of our devotion. He is magnified instead. Similarly, when we serve others, our problems seem less important.

Enough time has passed since the original ‘taco post’ that I haven’t even thought about tacos since then. Until yesterday, I didn’t remember that tacos were once a challenge.

Still, I am grateful that God had me making and eating tacos for several months before I became aware of the difference in my heart. Truly, all these months, it hasn’t been a struggle to eat tacos! 😉

Now tacos are associated with positive memories, like my dear friend and ‘Taco Tuesdays.’ And, I can see just how far I have come. It makes me love the Lord even more, because He has made me stronger. He’s brought me healing through helping someone else. Praise God!

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Heavenly Father, You are so faithful! Thanks for Your healing touch. Thanks for walking with us, step-by-step, through each challenge. May we trust You more and more. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Can you see the Lord working in your circumstances to bring a good resolution? How can you trust Him at a deeper level?

Tasks: Meditate on Psalm 89:8 and Philippians 1:6. God is faithful!

Rainy Days Won’t Last Forever

Recently, Lydia found a show on Netflix that I can only describe as an animated reality show, filled with bad humor, clichés, and blonde jokes. Not quite my cup of tea, but Lydia liked it! It’s called “Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse.” Yes, you read that right! 😉

On Monday, I was cooking dinner and half-listening to the show to determine if/when it should be turned off. It was rather cheesy, but I decided wait and see… From what I can tell, the episode was about a camping trip gone awry, thanks to the rain.

It’s been rather dry here lately, but I know others have been dealing with flooding. So perhaps I was just more aware… when to my surprise, one of the characters actually had a good point: Rainy days won’t last forever.

The show went on from there, with Barbie and her friends going with Plan B. Even so, as I stood in the kitchen, I gained a deeper perspective. It’s not a new concept, really, but quite often rainy days do parallel grief!

When rainy days come, we find indoor activities. We might read, color, play board games, watch movies, do puzzles, cook, or clean. Grief also tends to separate us from the outside world. It can affect our schedule and even our motivation. But find joy. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Yes, on rainy days, we might be limited in what we can do. But some people are not hindered by the rain. They are the ones stomping and splashing in the puddles! The grief process is a series of emotional challenges and victories. Each stage may look different from one person to the next. Disappointment may settle in. But take comfort and push forward. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Rainy days are valuable. Rain, of course, renews the earth and is just as important as sun to make plants grow. Each has a special role. Grief also has value, though most people would prefer to rush through it. But if we allow grief to run its course, we will be changed for the better. We somehow grow stronger and learn to appreciate what is good around us. Yes, find the good. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Just like there is no real substitute for a good rain storm, there is no quick solution for grief. We cannot bypass the rain, and we cannot bypass grief. Sometimes, it feels unbearable, like the gale of emotions will never end. But hold on. Rainy days won’t last forever.

When it rains, the atmosphere changes. The temperature often decreases as a front moves in. Darkness comes and everything looks different. Grief sure can change the horizon too. Nothing looks the same as before when everything was sunny and well. Yet, we don’t need to feel disoriented for long. Stay grounded. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Rain can bring fear and anxiety for some people, especially when accompanied by thunder and lightning. Grief, too, can bring a wide variety of emotions. Jesus is King of both kinds of storms. Let His love displace fear and anxiety. He loves you. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Rain showers can appear out of nowhere. Grief also can catch us by surprise. I do not consider myself in the midst of active grief these days. Thank God! But, on certain occasions, I still deal with it. Cling to the Lord. Rainy days won’t last forever.

It may be raining at my house, but not yours, even if we live close. I’m always amazed that even within a neighborhood or small community, the rain totals can vary. Grief is also like that. Each person’s experience is different. What triggers one person to grieve may be a non-issue for someone else. Be gracious. Rainy days won’t last forever.

Similarly, it can rain while the sun is still shining. It is interesting to watch, and often, we might see a rainbow in the mix. If we can also see the silver lining even in moments of grief, loss, or doubt, we will find a blessing. Praise God! Rainy days won’t last forever!

I doubt we will keep watching ‘Barbie shows’ much longer. Ahem. But, we can find God’s grace in the least likely places. Barbie, rain storms, and even grief.

Life is beautiful. God is good. Thank You, Jesus.

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God, thanks for being with us in the good and bad, whether it is sunny or rainy. Thank You for giving us Your strength and for leading us to Victory. May we trust You to help us walk with grace, even when it is difficult. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you like rainy days? Do you have special activities for when you have to stay inside?

Tasks: Journal about how rainy days affect you. Reach out to help someone who could use some support….due to grief or other reasons.

Writing Reflections

This past weekend, I went to my first writers conference. The conference was held in St. Paul, MN, which is about 4 hours from Fargo. I arrived on Friday afternoon for the Saturday conference, then spent another night before returning home Sunday afternoon.

In order to attend the conference, however, I needed help with Lydia. Childcare is perhaps my biggest challenge as a single mom. Often, I have to make up my mind to do something, and then figure out how I am going to make it work with Lydia.

This is true for conferences, parties, appointments, concerts, certain church meetings, etc. Many times, I just decide the event is not worth the hassle of figuring out child care. But, if I do choose to attend, I trust the Lord to help me make it work.

This weekend, my family came to the rescue! They trekked several hours to meet us in the Twin Cities. Then, they took Lydia to explore the Cities while I was at the all-day conference. Lydia was glad to have grandparents, aunts, and uncles all to herself!

I was grateful for their help…Lydia was grateful to go to Mall of America!

At the conference, I saw several agents, acquisition editors, and publishers. I heard them speak at workshops and at a panel luncheon. I have followed some of them over the years, so it was a really cool experience to see them in the hallway, like any other person!

While I’m not currently ready to publish anything specific, the conference itself was a good confirmation that I am on the right track with meeting my goals. Thank You, Jesus!

Perhaps the most surprising thing about the conference was that I didn’t have to explain that I am a writer. You might be thinking, “Well duh, you were at a writers conference!” But it’s common for writers to deal with self-doubt.

In the past, seeing myself as a writer was a challenge. So, I prayerfully invested in a couple online programs and learned to see myself in a new way. Consistent blogging has been helpful, too. Just putting myself “out there” has boosted my confidence in writing.

I’ve come to see writing as a means to document my journey and reflections on life, what God is doing, and how I interact with others. Writing helps me learn more about myself and the world around me.

This past weekend, it was great to ask people what they are writing or answer questions about my own projects. Just having taking people take me at ‘face value’ was refreshing. Even if I didn’t have anything to “show” that day.

In the past, I might have gotten stuck or discouraged. But to my great relief, I was able to see just how much I’ve grown! Praise God!

Our Heavenly Father is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He knows how our stories end, because He sees the end from the beginning of time. In fact, our own stories are wrapped up in His larger story. So, we can trust Him as He leads us!

As we read His word, inspired by the Holy Spirit, God shows us who He is…and who we are, too. We just have to read it and embrace what He says.

The more time we spend with Jesus, the more we understand about ourselves. It’s a great investment of our time, and by His grace, He calls us like He sees us!

We are saved. We are forgiven. We are free. We are chosen. We are loved. We are redeemed. We have new purpose. We are called. We are empowered. We are His.

Perhaps you don’t enjoy writing… Maybe God wants you to do something different…like stay home with your kids, go back to school, volunteer, change your diet, forgive someone, or introduce yourself to a neighbor. It can be scary to put yourself “out there.” I know.

But ultimately, we have to make a choice to trust. Jesus is faithful and more than able to get us where we need to be. We just have to take the first step.

With His unfailing love and support, how can we fail? Let’s see ourselves like He does and cooperate with Him. We can’t go wrong! And who knows, maybe soon, you will be doing something you never thought was possible!

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God, thank You for putting Your dreams within our hearts. Thanks for walking with us along the way, giving us guidance. Help us see ourselves as You do. Help us be brave! In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have a dream that seems impossible? How can you trust God and take the first step?

Tasks: Write down all the reasons your dream seems unachievable. Then, write a Bible verse next to each reason, such as Philippians 1:6 or Philippians 4:13. As you pray through each verse, redirect your focus on Jesus and trust Him to help you!

On Tying Shoes and Learning New Skills

Lydia has already grown so much this year, both in height and skills. She has lost her first two teeth and has grown almost three inches in six months. Even more exciting, Lydia has grown into her larger bike and no longer needs the smaller one from last summer!

Lydia recently asked me to teach her how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. It was a little messy even with supervision, but I’m glad it cultivated independence. She’ll need more practice before I let her do it completely alone!

Lydia sometimes enjoys doing chores around the house, too. She likes helping with laundry, garbage, and dishes. Like any kid, her enthusiasm comes and goes. 🙂

This week, we’ve been focusing on tying shoes. I asked Lydia a few months ago and decided she wasn’t ready. “No thanks, Mom. Maybe another time.” But now she has grown into a pair of sparkly tennis shoes so she is eager to wear them!

As I am teaching her, I’ve been remembering when I learned to tie my shoes! I learned differently than I am teaching her. Nonetheless, I think the new way is a little easier.

Sometimes, we’ve both been frustrated. She’ll get upset when she can’t make the ‘bunny ears’ and I don’t like to watch her struggle. But I’m resisting helping her too much.

So, I’ve decided to have her practice about ten minutes a day and then let it go. If she wants to do more, great. Overall, it’s been a positive experience as we celebrate her small wins!

Even though I am watching Lydia struggle, I know she will appreciate the freedom it brings. It will also help her in the near future when she starts school again.

It might take a lot of practice, but in the long-term, the struggle is worth it.

With each new level of independence or growth, we all have new challenges to overcome. These challenges can be good or bad, depending on how you look at them.

Each challenge brings an opportunity to learn. What causes one person to struggle, may be simple for someone else. How one person learns is likely different from the way someone else learns. In the end, though, it’s rewarding to see someone learn and grow!

In Jesus Christ, we have a perfect example to follow. By His grace, we can come to Him for help and direction. He is a wonderful Teacher! Ask Him to teach you how to get to the next level. He knows exactly you need.

I’m glad God teaches each of us according to our unique purpose. Some of the lessons may be more difficult to learn than others. A loving Father, He is so proud of us for trying! Obedience is key, but there’s an abundance of grace!

God is not limited by our challenges, but uses them to help us grow. Thankfully, we are never left on our own to just “figure it out” as we go. The Lord is right beside us, cheering us on. He’s only a question (or prayer) away.

God’s timing is perfect. He never asks us to do something without teaching and equipping us to do the work. He wants us to succeed and live in Victory!

With God, all things are possible. He is patient with us as we practice, learn, and grow. He does not expect perfection and is gracious when we need a do-over. Thank You, Jesus!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for Your grace. Lord, teach me Your ways and guide me in Your Truth. Give us courage as I live for You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What is something the Lord is teaching you right now? Is it difficult or fairly easy? (Hopefully, it will become better with practice!)

Tasks: Take the first step in faith and obedience today! Pray and then do what God is asking You to do. He will be with You! 🙂

Live Like You’re Loved

I’m tellin’ you somethin’
This racing, this running
Oh, you’re working way too hard!
And this perfection you’re chasing
Is just energy wasted
Cause He loves you like you are!

The lyrics above belong to the song, “Live Like You’re Loved,” by Hawk Nelson. I’ve enjoyed listening to the song since I first heard it. But lately, I have been listening to the lyrics a little more.

For whatever reason, I feel like I’ve had noticeably less energy lately. My lethargy could be related to the weather, stress, lack of sleep, etc. (or a combination of factors). However, I’ve been enjoying the rain we’ve had, don’t feel overstressed, and have been sleeping pretty well. So, who knows?

Quite possibly, I could just be worn out trying to doing too much!!

So go ahead and live like you’re loved
It’s okay to act like you’ve been set free
His love has made you more than enough
So go ahead and be who He made you to be

As I have considered these lyrics, I have taken the song to heart. When I think of all I still have to do, I take it to Jesus to help me sort it out. He loves it when we come to Him! I don’t have to be chained to my to-do list!

So, I have been intentional about taking breaks and resting. I’ve enjoyed reading, catching up on a favorite show, and calling a friend. Lydia and I have walked to a nearby park to play, colored, and made a fun treat together. On a couple of days, I’ve even squeezed in a short nap!

And live like you know you’re valuable
Like you know the one that holds your soul
Cause mercy has called you by your name
Don’t be afraid to live in that grace

I am grateful for God’s grace when I feel weak. I know with Jesus, I can do everything I need to do! He is my strength and my song. When I’ve specifically asked Him for help this last week, ultimately, I have been more productive throughout the day!

Yes, the Lord has given me everything I need. His mercies are new every morning and His grace is sufficient. Nothing can compare to His lovingkindness. Praise God!

Live like you’re loved, walk like you’re free
Stand like you know, who he made you to be
Live like you’re loved, like you believe
His love is all, that you ever need

This part of the song (above) is my favorite. It feels a little like a personal anthem. When I remember how much God loves me, I can hold my head up higher. I can smile and laugh and play. I can walk in freedom, knowing He gives me Victory. I don’t have get bent out of shape over imperfect progress. I can enjoy myself instead of stressing out!

“Live like you’re loved” could mean something different to each person and could vary by season of life. I love that we are all unique!

For me, it usually means acknowledging and honoring my weaknesses, inabilities, or failures. This often means asking for help and letting the Lord meet me where I am. Coming to Jesus is the best and first step. Lord, I need You!

I find ‘living loved’ also means recognizing when someone else needs help, because I’ve been there too. When I serve someone else, I notice my problems are not so urgent. Showing compassion is a win-win for all of us!

When I take the time to pause and soak up His love, I notice God all around me. He renews my joy and I can share generously with others. I don’t have to focus on my lack of energy (or other resources)… because with Jesus on my side, I will always have enough!

Life is short. Live like you’re loved!

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Heavenly Father, thanks for all You do for me. Thank You for renewed strength every day. As I depend on You, please give me energy and direct my steps. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What does “live like you’re loved” mean to you? What is something you can do to live loved right now?

Task: Listen to the song, “Live Like You’re Loved,” by Hawk Nelson!

Because He Promised

This past Monday marked four years since Dave died, after he battled cancer for 364 days. On occasion, I find myself pausing to think about it all. It still seems unreal at times. But most days, I am simply glad for all God has done in our lives since then.

Sometimes we want to rush through our painto get through it as fast as possible—to stop the hurting and find relief. But healing takes time. So, I am grateful for Jesus’ healing touch these last four years. He has given us space and time to heal, learn, and grow.

Indeed, these last four years, God has ordered our steps and reordered our lives in ways only He can. I usually pray about my agenda for each day. But on Monday, I specifically asked the Lord to direct my steps. Like usual, my schedule had many possibilities for the day… but I also wanted to conserve my emotional energy!

I could see God at work when my neighbor took Lydia to school with her son. So, I was able to run an important errand before work. At work, it was good to talk a little but also keep my mind on other things. Later in the day, we decided to hangout with our friends for an impromptu playdate. The kids played water games and the moms chatted!

Earlier, Lydia had suggested we eat strawberries and ice cream in Dave’s honor. (Dave always loved strawberries!) I had planned to do something with Lydia along those lines, but didn’t have any specific plans. So on a whim, I offered to share our strawberries and ice cream with our friends outside. The timing worked out so much better than I could have imagined. It’s hard to beat ice cream with friends on a hot day!

It’s always good to bless others, and our friends were so gracious. It was just what I needed, but nothing I could have planned. Praise God!!

Lately, I’ve been enjoying the song “Even If” by Mercy Me. It captures the essence of our cancer journey, my previous struggles with fear, and our determination to stand in faith. Here’s a snippet of the song… (I put the link at the end of this post if you want to listen.)

You’ve been faithful
You’ve been good
All of my days
Jesus, I will cling to You
Come what may
‘Cause I know You’re able
I know You can

I know You’re able
And I know You can
Save through the fire
With Your mighty hand
But even if You don’t
My hope is You alone

Yes, God is more than able to save the day. We pray and do everything we can, but in all things, He has the final say. And that’s okay. I can trust Him to do what is best for me, because He has promised to do so. Even if I don’t understand.

God doesn’t expect us to do it alone—He only asks us to trust Him. It does take faith, yet the Lord has an impeccable track record. His love never fails! I have experienced His sweet, unfailing love firsthand!

These days, I find much comfort in God’s promises. His promises reflect His loving character and awesome power. The Bible is full of them but the ones I cling to most are the promises of God’s presence, His peace, His plan, and His provision. For me, these are like pillars, giving structure to His other promises. 

God has promised never to leave nor forsake me. Sadly, people often come and go. Plans will change. Life has many twists and turns, ups and downs. But through it all, Jesus is never far away or out of touch. I can come directly to Him…because He promised.

God has promised me inner peace. In fact, Jesus said He IS my peace. I don’t have to live in fear or worry, or deal with unpredictable emotional roller coasters. I can give Him my cares, knowing He is cares deeply for me. I can rest in His love…because He promised.

God has promised good to me. He didn’t say it would be easy or that I would have all the answers…but He did promise to work it all out in my favor eventually. If a situation is not good, then God’s not done yet. I can trust Him…because He promised.

God has promised to provide for me. God has generously provided me with a job, but His provision goes beyond covering my finances, housing, bills, or food. He has given me enough to share with others as needed. I also have a wonderful family and lots of friends. Jesus has given me grace and space to grieve. I can rely on Him…because He promised.

Dear friend, my situation (and yours) is not a surprise to God. It may not make sense right now….it may seem impossible. But with Jesus, all things are possible. He’s got this!

We do not often know when or how it will all work out, but the Lord is faithful. He does not waver. He always does what He says He will do. All of God’s promises are YES in Christ Jesus! In Him, we have the AMEN and give Him the glory (see 2 Corinthians 1:19-20).

Sure, waiting is a challenge. But hold on. A promise is a promise.

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Heavenly Father, You are good and faithful. Thanks for Your promises. I choose to trust You, Jesus. Give me strength to stand firm. In Your Name, Amen

Question: What Bible verse or promise speaks to you right now?

Task: Listen to Even If, by MercyMe. Trust in Jesus!

Calling Out the Good

Yesterday afternoon, Lydia and her classmates put on a spring program showcasing some of what they have learned this year. They sang several songs, recited a Bible verse, and acted out the story of David and Goliath. It was really cute!

At the end, the teachers handed out “character awards” to each student. Some of the traits recognized included exhibiting joy, kindfulness, cheerfulness, responsibility, originality, and a positive attitude.

Lydia was one of the last to be called forward, and I didn’t know what to expect for her. Though, I was pleasantly surprised when she received an award for HELPFULNESS.

I thought to myself, “Of course! She is so much like her dad.” Dave was known for his servant heart; he was always eager to help others. I love seeing that in Lydia!

After the show, we briefly discussed being helpful as we ate refreshments. When we were done, Lydia jumped up to help me clear the table. Then, we ran to get gas and groceries before heading home.

Later, Lydia eagerly helped me carry in the groceries and put them away (as best she could). “Here, Mom, I can help you!” Then, we made dinner together.

Lydia set the table and emptied the clean dishes from the dishwasher. “Is there anything else I can do for you, Mom?” I then had to come up with activities to keep her busy while I finished cooking. This involved cleaning her room and picking up her toys.

Just before we ate, Lydia helped stir and dish up some of the food. “Hey Mom, these are like chores! And, I can earn money to give Jesus for missions!” Lydia was quite proud of her revelation. I was quite proud of her giving heart.

In case you are wondering, Yesterday’s excitement and helpfulness are not quite the norm for us. Many days, having a good attitude and doing chores looks very different!

Still, I was amazed at how much a simple award, or any acknowledgement calling out the good, could inspire Lydia to action. All on her own, she felt called to another level of helpfulness. The impact grew as the night went on.

As I was considering all of this, I thought about the times I have experienced something similar. When someone takes the time to say thanks or recognize a good quality, I too, step it up and do more.

We often focus on our individual effort to make a difference around us. “What can I do to help??” But I believe we can have even greater impact by cheering each other on as we go! Together everyone achieves more, right?!

God has given each of His children special gifts. Those gifts are not meant to be kept for ourselves, but to build each other up and show His love to the world. Of course, we don’t serve to get something in return. But, we are happiest when we are helping others.

Indeed, there are times when we all feel down. That’s fairly normal. In those moments, we may feel disconnected from our purpose, our passion, or even our people. Each problem may need a special solution. (I recommend prayer first!)

In many cases, asking for help and reaching out to help others can change our perspective. Part of the key is remembering we are not alone. We are all connected and need a sense of belonging. As Lydia says, “It’s great to be a team because we can help each other!”

In this dark and chaotic world, we should call out the good when we see it. A little appreciation brings a boost of confidence and sense of connection. Even just one word of encouragement can prompt someone else to take action and make a positive difference!

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Heavenly Father, You are good! Thanks for letting us join You in Your work. May we see the good around us and call it out. May we help others in their time of need and show people Your love. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: When was the last time someone called out the good in you? What was your response?

Tasks: Read Ecclesiastes 4:10 and Galatians 6:9. Choose at least one person to encourage!

On the Right Track

Right now I have a strong sense of peace. I have many activities and projects waiting for me… But I am enjoying the quiet. I can easily become overwhelmed by all I have to do…

But when I choose to stop and just enjoy the Lord’s presence, all the chaos subsides. None of that seems important as I rest in Him. I’m thankful for the peace He brings!

This week, I am celebrating small answers to prayer. Despite all of my own effort—working hard to get results—God kindly reminded me that He is faithful. I don’t have to worry or stress because He will never let me down.

In fact, God gave me peace through a simple conversation. Someone confirmed that I was on the right track, just by listening to my concerns and giving me some feedback. The words I heard matched what was already on my heart through prayer.

As soon as that happened, I felt the Lord’s assurance that He has it all under control. He is the one who brings my breakthrough(s)! I can trust Him for His timing.

When He wants me to do something differently, He will make it clear. He always comes through for me! In the meanwhile, I don’t need to try to do it all on my own or figure it out.

There is great freedom in understanding God’s grace. I know He loves me know matter what. His love is not based on what I do, but who I am. I don’t have to compare myself to anyone—there is no one like me! He has made me unique and loves me just for being me.

Currently, there is a small stack of dishes in the sink and I just remembered there is still laundry in the dryer, waiting for another round. I need to go through the mail and clear off the dining room table. But all of those tasks will get done soon enough.

With Jesus, there is no rush. He refreshes me with His love and grace. Somehow, I always have the right amount of time to finish what needs to be done.

In the quiet, I have been thinking of all the ways God loves me. In addition to His protection and provision, I can see how He has helped me in the past. Whether it was related to family, friends, college, jobs, or making decisions, He always worked things out in His time. He has never left me on my own.

Over the years, I’ve had to learn to conserve my energy for certain tasks and let others go (or come back to them later). Grief is like that. Parenthood is like that! Instead of being frustrated with uncompleted tasks, I am learning the ebb and flow of resting in the Lord.

Instead of worrying about unanswered or unsolved problems, I can trust Jesus. When the Lord moves, I move. When He rests, I rest, too. When He says to make plans, I plan. When He says to wait, I wait. He always leads me to Victory!

Yes, staying in-step with Jesus is what matters most. His yoke is easy and His burden is light. His timing is perfect. He always comes through…He is faithful!

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Jesus, thanks for being my Shepherd. Thanks for leading me with grace. Refresh me with Your presence. Help me draw near to You. In Your Name, Amen.

Questions: Do you find it easy or difficult to stay in-step with Jesus? What does that look like for you? Are there any changes you need to make?

Tasks: Memorize Psalm 23.

A Great Privilege

When someone asks me to pray for them, I consider it an honor. Even if someone doesn’t request prayer, if I see or hear of a need, I add it to my list.

I have been praying for several people regarding what I consider heavy topics. Currently, these topics include mental, physical, and/or emotional health concerns; spiritual matters; financial stability and/or job situations; and a variety of relationship issues.

I also have my own prayer requests and share them accordingly. If I’m not careful, though, all of these prayer requests can weigh me down. Yet I know I cannot bear the burden myself. Prayer is so important because there are some things only God can do.

Oswald Chambers wrote, “Prayer does not equip us for greater works, prayer is the greater work.” Prayer is not the only thing I can do for someone, but it is the best thing I can do. I am not ‘off the hook’ from meeting someone’s practical or physical needs, but prayer is a powerful tool!

I’ve had to learn that if I try to encourage someone or meet their needs in my own strength, I’ll be overwhelmed. It’s just too big for me to handle.

But, praise God…He is not overwhelmed! Nothing is too big or too much for Him!

I’m so thankful we can take our needs to Jesus directly. Even before we say anything, He knows exactly what we need. What a privilege to come before Him!

Prayer unlocks God’s power. We can pray God’s word and pray with the help of the Holy Spirit (see Ephesians 6:18). With prayer, we can persevere in trials.

Praising God reminds us of who He is. When we see how majestic and mighty He is, our problems melt away. Praising God makes us grateful! Praise and thanksgiving go hand-in-hand. (see Psalm 13:6)

We partner with God in prayer. We agree with Him, and get on board as He brings the answer. We can also pray with other believers, because where two or more of us are gathered, He’s there too. (see Matthew 18:19-20)

We can petition God with confidence, knowing He always hears and answers our prayers. We can pour out our needs before Him, yet need to let Him be God. He loves us and knows what is best for us. (see Hebrews 4:16 and 1 Peter 5:7)

Prayer changes me. Whether I am praying for myself or someone else, prayer brings transformation. As I yield my heart, mind, and will to the Lord, I am changed. Prayer prepares me for God’s answer and aligns me with His heart. As I intercede for someone else, I can see the difference in their life as well.

“Prayer is a declaration of our Father’s compassion toward us, a confession of our own inadequacy, and a reminder that he meets our daily needs.” –Mark Rutland

There are many other things to consider or meditate upon when it comes to prayer. Prayer is communication with God, so there is no way this single post could be comprehensive.  Other topics include the Lord’s Prayer, praying through Scripture, and prayer with fasting.

Nevertheless, prayer is a duty and privilege. Let us come before the Lord in prayer!

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Heavenly Father, You are good! Thank You for the privilege of prayer. Thank You for listening and answering us when we come to You. You love us so much. May we always come with confidence before Your throne. In Jesus Name, Amen

Questions: Do you have a trusted prayer partner? What is your favorite way to pray?

Tasks: Prayer is two-way communication with God. Balance praying out loud with listening. Try journaling your prayers so you can have a record of Gods answers!