Dear Younger Me

This week, an online friend asked her other friends to give their best life advice in three words or less. She then asked her audience to write what advice they would share with their 16 year-old selves. (This is applicable when looking back at any age, really!)

I was inspired and wrote, “Find the good.” Then, I reposted her questions on my own page. I loved reading all the phrases! Afterward, another online friend shared it from there.

All week, I have been following each of the three posts for catchy little words of wisdom. It’s amazing what a little time and distance can do for our perspective. The things we thought mattered often don’t amount to much. Experience is a great teacher!

Some people answered with a humorous approach. I saw advice such as, “Chill out, lady. Don’t do that!! Go to sleep. Be Wonder Woman. Eat more cake.” Haha, yes!

Some people turned the focus back to God, writing, “God is good. Jesus loves you. Jesus is Lord! In Christ alone. Put Jesus first. Walk with Him. Trust in Him.” Praise God!

Some of the comments focused on character qualities, like, “Be thankful always. Be kind. Be more honest. Be the good. Be adventurous. Be flexible. Save your money.” I agree!

Some phrases were more inward-focused, almost like personal coaching. “Just breathe. You are enough. You are loved. You are beautiful. Let it go.” So good.

I also noted other words along similar lines. “Don’t settle. Trust your instincts. Follow your heart. Embrace the imperfections. No regrets. Never give up. Make it work. Life goes on. Take the chance. Don’t be late! Forgive, move on. Just be yourself.” Yes!

I had just a few phrases of my own, originally. But then I kept refining and adding to my list! I was trying to collect all my thoughts and capture all the others shared already. 🙂

Life is beautiful. Sure, life is tough…but it is quite beautiful when we pause and take it all in. Beauty surrounds us in nature and in each person we meet. Let’s take notice.

Find the good. Sometimes the negative parts of life are glaring back at us. But it takes a special set of eyes to find the good. See beyond the present moment. See the potential.

Do your best. Just show up. These two can go together. We can only do our best each day and trust God for the outcome. Part of doing our best is to show up and be present.

Set your mind. Whatever it takes. These two phrases also can go together. Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Some days, it’s a challenge to stay focused, but do whatever it takes.

God’s got this. I use this phrase often, especially when writing blog posts, apparently! Whatever the struggle, I know God can handle it. He will empower me to do what I need to do, and then He will do what only He can do. He’s more than able!

Regardless of any advice we might share, what God says about us is key. I love you. I forgive you. No matter what. You are free. You are mine. Come follow me. Receive new life. Do not fear. I am with you. Nothing is impossible. It is finished. You are secure. Peace, be still. 

I will be thinking about all these great words of wisdom for quite some time. It’s encouraging to hear what other people find helpful. We all have our own journey and it’s important to monitor what we are telling ourselves. Let’s be gracious with ourselves. 

When we look back and summarize our experiences, even in just a few short words, we realize how far we have come. Thank you, Jesus… Life is short. Live it well.

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Heavenly Father, thanks for loving us so much. Your words are full of grace; they bring LIFE to our hearts. Be with us, Lord. Give us wisdom to know what to do and the courage to do it. Help us make good decisions, not choices we’ll regret. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What advice would you give to your younger self? What words of wisdom would you share with someone else? Which of these words (above) resonate with you?

Tasks: Share your advice (three words or less) here, or with someone who would benefit! Listen to the song, Dear Younger Me, by MercyMe.

 

A Punch Bowl of Blessings

“That’s a pretty punch bowl, Natalie.” An older woman and I were talking on Sunday.

“Thanks! You know, the funny thing is, I have had this punch bowl for nearly ten years—it was a wedding gift—and I’ve never used it! So, I loaned it out for an event and am taking it back home. My friend was the first one to use it!”

I’m guessing my generation is probably the last group to add this to a wedding registry. The generations after me likely won’t even know what a punch bowl is!

My late husband, Dave, died four years ago, and while I appreciated the generous gift, clearly, it was not something we desperately needed. So for now, this beautiful punch bowl was returned to the original box under my stairs. But as I put it away, I felt a little silly.

I started to wonder, “How many other gifts did I ask for but haven’t used?” Hmmm… what I thought was important back then… really wasn’t.

God has blessed me with both material gifts and spiritual gifts, and I don’t want to take any of them for granted. Just like punch in a bowl, our blessings are meant to be shared.

Am I using those gifts as intended or are they sitting on a shelf somewhere? Am I helping others? Am I a refreshing source of God’s sweet love and grace… or not? 🙂

Both gifts and punch bowls are associated with celebrations. Even though I’ve never used my punch bowl, I still have plenty to celebrate! Over the years, I’ve hosted or joined lots of parties. Graduations, weddings, job promotions, new babies, holidays, etc.

But most often, I enjoy celebrating God’s goodness and grace in everyday life. I relish the freedom that comes from knowing His love. I’ve learned to extend myself the grace I usually reserve for other people.

I continually lay aside my perfectionistic tendencies and let go of lofty expectations. Just as the Lord’s mercies are new each morning, I can explore new things about myself and life in general. I can set new goals as I walk with Jesus and become more like Him.

It’s been humbling to live this widowed, single mom life; I’ve been forced to reevaluate and revamp several things over the years. I’ve had to change spending habits, exercise routines, how I cook, parent, and more. I’ve celebrated many victories too!

Similarly, I’ve also ditched things (or items on my to-do list) that no longer bring me joy or fulfillment. Life is too short to get stuck always doing something you don’t love!

As I think of all my blessings, I am in awe. I have wonderful people in my life. I have health and wholeness. I have a voice to speak up about important issues. My hands aren’t afraid of hard work. And yes, I have more than enough material resources so I can bless others.

It’s safe to say that when I first registered for that lovely punch bowl, I had no clue how much life would change in these ten years. Life sure is different than what I planned. Sometimes it feels a little chaotic, but I’m learning to go with the flow more each day!

I’m most grateful for the Lord’s faithfulness. That’s something I will never stop celebrating!

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Gracious Father, You are the Giver of all good things. Thank You for the rich blessings You’ve given us. Help us have the right perspective and use each gift as You intended. May we have wisdom and a spirit of generosity as we bless others. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: What random gifts have you stored away and forgotten about? What are you going to do with them?

Tasks: Take inventory of your gifts, talents, and other blessings so you can use them!

Making Toast in the Bathroom

It’s funny how one day can be so different from the next. On Monday, each of our activities was spaced out with adequate time in between. On Tuesday, we had the about the same time margins with even less activities…but I felt disorganized and unprepared.

On Monday, Lydia started two weeks of swimming lessons in the late afternoon. Water safety is imperative, so the time commitment is worth it. However, adding an activity always gives me less time elsewhere. This week it threw off my routine…

Thus, on Tuesday, I felt behind from the get-go. I woke up groggy, despite getting adequate sleep. It took Lydia awhile to get dressed and I soon realized I forgot to pack lunches the night before. Everything took longer!

I threw together breakfast (and lunch) for the road, but rushing only cost me time. First, I chose a too-small container and had to dump Lydia’s breakfast into a larger one. Then, I spilled something and had to clean it up.

Back and forth, I ran around the kitchen. I grabbed lids, baggies, and paper towels to wipe up my messes. Finally, I looked at the clock as I poured my coffee to-go. I was late!

Enter GRACE.

I took a few deep breathes and prayed, reconnecting with what was important. I thanked God for my flexible schedule. I was later than I had planned to be at work, but I wasn’t really late. As long as I arrived earlier than my presentation, I would be okay. I could stay later and still get my hours in on the back-end of my work day. Not a big deal.

Then, I decided to slow down and focus. No amount of stress is worth a car accident or something worse. Being safe and healthy is more important than being “on time” (especially with my flexible schedule).

On the way to work, I heard a quote…something to the effect that Life is 10% what happens to us (circumstances) and 90% what we make of it (attitude). At any rate, I can choose to see the glass half-full! I ended up only about fifteen minutes later than I had planned and was still early for my presentation. Thanks, Lord.

I discussed my morning with my coworker. She laughed and said, “At least you didn’t have to make toast in your bathroom!” She explained that she had a similar morning when her kitchen outlets blew a fuse. Her family was all ready to go except breakfast. Instead of waiting around to find the problem, she was resourceful!

Praise God, I got ahold of my attitude before it got the best of me. I ended up having a good day and was able to laugh it off. I was productive at work and swimming lessons in the evening went well. I even remembered to prepare breakfast and lunches in advance!

Often, Life is unpredictable and feels out of control. Regardless of your circumstances, you are in charge of your attitude. But, you don’t have to deal with it all alone! With God’s help, nothing is impossible. Lean on Him for grace and strength. His timing is perfect and His plan is good.

Most of our daily stressors are minor. They are not worth losing our cool. Thankfully, most of us will never have to make toast in the bathroom!

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Father God, You are gracious and wise. Thanks for the creativity to solve problems as we live for you. Give us inner peace in the midst of chaotic circumstances. May we bring You glory in all we do. In Jesus’ Name, Amen

Questions: How do you handle daily stress? Do you pray, journal, call a friend, exercise, or what?

Task: Find a healthy way to de-stress!

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!

On Vision and Clarity

During a routine eye exam this week, I learned a ‘new word’: phoropter. Also called a refractor, it’s the device used to determine one’s prescription. The patient looks through the phoropter lenses while the eye doctor changes the dials, asking, “One or two, three or four?”

I was scheduled to see a new eye doctor, though he was running late. (I was glad to have extra time to read!) When the doctor arrived, I noticed he was paralyzed and sat in a wheelchair. I’m sure he required a little more time to get around. He quickly wheeled into the room, introduced himself, and started my eye exam.

When asked how my eyes and vision were, I explained my seasonal allergies have been ramping up this week. My eyes were a little dry that day, making my contacts uncomfortable and my vision blurry.

I could read all the letters through the phoropter, but it was a little more challenging than usual. Besides the blurriness, there was also a glare from the computer. I had trouble focusing because everything seemed foggy. I was frustrated. Finally, I told the eye doctor, “It’s almost as if these lenses need to be cleaned.”

To my surprise, he immediately wheeled out of the room and came back with cleaning supplies. He couldn’t take the entire contraption apart, but he did wipe off the external lenses. I was touched by his compassion and effort so I could see clearly. I’ve worn glasses and contacts for years, but I’ve never had an eye doctor who listened to my concerns like that!

While he cleaned, we talked about the device, its name, and how it works. Somehow, that led to us talking about our kids, his car accident over a decade ago, cancer, and Dave’s death. We talked about ‘seeing the good’ and having a positive attitude. I was impressed at his ability to keep moving forward, despite his paralysis. What fortitude!

In the end, the doctor said my eyes were healthy. Thankfully, my vision hadn’t changed much, yet he saw a lot of debris on my contacts. I was shocked because I just changed the lenses a few days ago. No wonder my vision was blurry! He made some recommendations like wearing my glasses as needed and using a special cleaning solution.

I went to get my vision checked, and left with a different perspective!

That got me thinking…

While I usually only need to visit the eye doctor yearly, I need to meet with Jesus every day. I wouldn’t forget my glasses or contacts… In the same way, regular contact with Jesus gives me focus. He helps me make sense of my circumstances and surroundings!

God has a special plan and unique vision for each of His children. Yet fear can cloud that vision and limit us from becoming all He intended. Fear blurs the path, causing confusion and uncertainty. Over time, we may even get used to seeing poorly!

But when we call on Jesus, He helps us see through the eyes of faith. We don’t have to wander around blindly; we can move forward with confidence and clarity. As we fix our eyes on Him, doubt and darkness flee. Our vision becomes clear again.

In the light of Jesus, we see God’s love and grace in living color. We then see ourselves and others through His perspective. With compassion, we can overlook weaknesses and find the good in each person.

Yes, Jesus brings healing, renews our vision, and restores our purpose. Praise God!

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Jesus, You are good! Thank You for loving me so much. Be my vision and be my strength. Give me clarity as You guide me on the right path. In Your Name, Amen

Question: Do you wear contacts or glasses to correct your vision? Does anything about this post stand out to you?

Tasks: Read these two Bible passages of Jesus healing the blind: Matthew 20:29-34 and Mark 8:22-26. Write down any observations.

Easter Excitement!

I don’t know about you, but Lydia has been looking forward to Easter for weeks! She’s been learning about Easter at church and school. While she doesn’t understand all the details, Lydia has made some good observations.

A few days ago, I read a kids magazine to her before bed. The magazine, from Compassion International, explained that some kids in other countries don’t have access to clean water, shoes/clothes, or food. The article was thorough, yet simple enough for Lydia to grasp.

“Lydia, what if some kids walked through dirt or garbage, but couldn’t wash their hands or feet?” I explained, “That could bring germs inside their house and they could get sick.”

Ironically, the next magazine article was about humility and being a servant. We read in John 13 about the Last Supper, where Jesus washed His disciples’ feet. He chose to serve.

We talked about pride versus humility. To hit home the point, I asked Lydia if she’d ever wash one of her friend’s feet. Her response? “That would be kind of gross…but I could do it.” I got a good laugh out of that, but was glad for her honesty!

We’ve also had some points of clarification, such as when I said Judas betrayed Jesus for 30 pieces of silver. “Mom, I know what ‘trade’ means like if I have a toy that my friend wants, I give it to them and they give me something they have. But, what does buh-trade mean?”

I love hearing Lydia’s thoughts and seeing her excitement. She may not have all the answers, but she does have the faith of a child. She knows Jesus loves her!

Lydia also seems to understand the real meaning of Easter. “Jesus dies on the cross for our sins. And, Easter eggs remind us that we were lost and Jesus found us—kind of like how you hide the eggs and then I find them.”

Then Lydia added, “By the way, Mom, are you going to hide the Easter eggs when I go to bed or in the morning before I wake up?” She’s sure excited!

At Easter, we celebrate the love Jesus showed us on the Cross. With compassion, He laid down His life for ours because we each owed a debt we could not pay. His sacrifice was the only way to restore our relationship with God. Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life (see John 14:6). Jesus paid it all!

With His blood, Jesus washed away our sins. Jesus’ grace covers our faults and failures…past, present, and future. Praise God, His mercies are new every morning!

Because of Jesus’ death, we have forgiveness and freedom. Jesus is our righteousness and our defense. And because of His resurrection, we also have new life!

We have purpose, protection, and provision! We no longer have to live in fear; we can come straight into God’s presence. We are healed in Jesus’ Name!

God’s grace and salvation are for everyone. Have you received them?

If you belong to Jesus, the same power that raised Him from the dead lives in you and me (Romans 8:11)! Because of Jesus, we have Victory! Hallelujah!

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Precious Jesus, thank You for the Cross! You alone are worthy of all praise. Victory belongs to You! Thank You for loving me so much, Lord. May my life bring You glory. In Your Name, Amen.

Question: What does Easter mean to you? Have you accepted Jesus Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross?

Tasks: Read through Jesus’ Crucifixion and Resurrection story. Praise Jesus for His sacrifice!

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!