Category Archives: God

What if I craved Jesus more than sugar?

 

I wonder what my life would look like if I craved Jesus as much as I crave sugar – or even more.

How much more would my desire be for Him?

How much more effort would I make to know Him?

How much more of each day would be focused on Him?

I’d crave Him after every dinner, when the meal doesn’t feel complete without something sweet.

I’d crave Him late at night, when midnight munchies hit.

I’d crave Him at 3 pm, when nothing sounds better than a chocolate chip cookie.

I’d crave Him when I wake, when Fruity Pebbles or a Poptart sound good for breakfast.

I’d crave Him when I watch a movie, when candy and slushie are close at hand.

I’d crave Him when I haven’t eaten in four hours, and it feels like forty.

I’d crave Him after an afternoon of swimming, when a Little Debbie hits the spot.

I’d crave Him on cold winter nights, when a hot cocoa sounds heavenly.

I’d crave Him when I gather with friends, when munching on junk food is always fun.

I’d crave Him when I play a game, when snacking seems like the natural thing to do.

I’d crave Him at the grocery store, when the shelves are stocked with seasonal treats.

I’d crave Him after a long day, when my energy is zapped and I need a rush.

I’d crave Him when I’m having an afternoon slump and want a pick-me-up.

I’d crave Him when I’m lonely and want some companionship.

I’d crave Him when I’m sad and need comfort.

I’d crave Him when I’m hungry,

or tired,

or frustrated,

or happy.

I’d crave Him when nothing else satisfies.

Because…truly…nothing else does.

 


 

‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just to take Him at His Word
Just to rest upon His promise,
Just to know, “Thus saith the Lord!”

Yes, ’tis sweet to trust in Jesus,
Just from sin and self to cease
Just from Jesus simply taking
Life and rest, and joy and peace.

 

‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group, Essential Music Publishing, Capitol Christian Music Group

 

The Right Words

As a writer, I’m always trying to find the right words. I guess that’s why the following words hit home. I heard this performed at church this morning and knew right away I wanted to share it with you.

Read these powerful lyrics, then hear them in the Kari Jobe video below.

 

The Word

by Isaac Wimberley

 

If there are words for Him then I don’t have them.

You see my brain has not yet reached the point

where it could form a thought that could

adequately describe the greatness of my God.

And my lungs have not yet developed the ability to

release a breath with enough agility to

breathe out the greatness of His Love.

And my voice,

you see my voice is so inhibited,

restrained by human limits,

that it’s hard to even sing the praise up.

You see, if there are words for Him, then I don’t have them.

My God, His Grace is remarkable,

mercies are innumerable,

strength is impenetrable,

He is honorable, accountable, favorable,

He’s unsearchable, yet knowable,

indefinable, yet approachable,

indescribable, yet personal.

He is beyond comprehension,

further than imagination,

constant through generations,

King of every nation,

but if there are words for Him, then I don’t have them.

You see, my words are few,

and to try and capture the ONE TRUE GOD,

using my vocabulary will never do,

but I use words as an expression,

an expression of worship to a Savior,

a Savior who is both worthy and deserving of my praise,

so I use words.

My heart extols the Lord, blesses His Name forever.

He has won my heart,

captured my mind,

and has bound them both together.

He has defeated me in my rebellion,

conquered me in my sin,

He has welcomed me into His presence,

completely invited me in.

He has made Himself the object of my sight,

flooding me with mercies in the morning,

drowning me with grace in the night,

but if there are words for Him, then I don’t have them.

But what I do have is GOOD NEWS,

for my God knew that man-made words would never do,

for words are just tools that we use to point to the truth.

So He sent His Son Jesus Christ as THE WORD,

Living proof,

He is the image of the invisible God,

the firstborn of all creation,

for by Him all things were created,

giving nothingness, formation.

And by His word He sustains in the power of His name,

for He is before all things and over all things He reigns.

Holy is His name!

So praise Him for His life!

The way He persevered in strife,

the humble son of God

becoming the perfect sacrifice.

Praise Him for His death!

That He willingly stood in our place,

that he lovingly endured the grave,

that He battled our enemy and on the third day rose in victory.

He is everything that was promised.

Praise Him as the risen King.

Life your voice and sing,

for one day He will return for us,

and we will finally be

united with our Savior for eternity! Eternity!

So it’s not just words that I proclaim,

for my words point to THE Word,

and THE Word has a name,

Hope has a name,

Joy has a name,

Peace has a name,

Love has a name,

and that name is Jesus Christ!

Praise. His. Name. Forever!!!

 

What Does This Mean?

I was probably about 12 years old. We were on our way home from church, and my cousin, who was visiting from out of town, had attended the service with us. Her church background was very different from mine, so the question she posed during our car ride home should not have surprised me, but it did. Sitting in the back seat next to me, she asked, “What does THIS mean?” and raised her hand.

Having grown up in a church where hand-raising during worship was a common occurrence, I didn’t understand her confusion. I hadn’t realized that the sight of people with their hands in the air during service was a new experience for her.

I wonder how many others have the same question, but they’ve never asked. Not just children, either. How many adults aren’t really sure what all this hand-raising is about? Maybe you’ve heard of it, seen others in church doing it, or even tried it yourself – but aren’t sure what the point is.

If you’ve ever pondered my cousin’s question, let me try to shed some light on the answer – with some more questions to consider:

  • What does a person look like when they surrender?
  • What do people often do when they are excited about something?
  • If I hold out a gift for you, what must you do to receive it?
  • What do people often do when they experience a victory?
  • What do children do when they want to be held?

Humility. Praise. Celebration. Connection. Surrender. Worship. Excitement. Victory. Adoration.

There are many meanings to this simple act of raising one’s hands. It helps us express a variety of emotions and thoughts in a physical way.

The same is true when we use this posture to communicate with the Lord.

Do you want to surrender to God? Are you celebrating the victory you have in Christ? Do you simply need to be held by your Father? Is your heart filled to the measure with all the fullness of God, and you simply need to do SOMETHING physical to express it?

Lift up your hands in the sanctuary and praise the Lord. Psalm 134:2

Hear my cry for mercy as I call to you for help, as I lift up my hands toward your Most Holy Place. Psalm 28:2

Therefore I want the men everywhere to pray, lifting up holy hands without anger or disputing. 1 Timothy 2:8

My prayer is set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. Psalm 141:2

I will praise you as long as I live, and in your name I will lift up my hands. Psalm 63:4

 

 

It’s Not a Pie!

Whether it’s a strawberry rhubarb dessert or a deep dish sausage delight, both cause the same problem.

At some point, there’s only one slice left. Everyone sits around the table, trying not to ogle that last piece, trying not to drool, and trying to pretend they want someone else to eat it.

Too often, we view life like that limited pie. There’s only so much to go around, so we better get some while the gettin’s good. And, while pie can be delicious (at least fruit pies are – I’ll take a pass on those custard creations), viewing life like a pie leads to unhealthy thoughts and emotions.

Fear: “There’s not enough! I’m going to miss out!”

Envy: “She got a piece of pie. It should have been mine.”

Selfishness: “There’s only so much to go around, and I’m gonna have my piece, no matter who has to go hungry.”

Gluttony: “I better scarf it all down now, before it’s gone or spoiled.”

Judgment: “He took TWO slices?!? What a pig.”

Most often, we get hung up on the fear and envy pieces. We get so concerned that others have what we want or what we think we deserve. We find that we aren’t able to rejoice with others in their successes. Why? Because we think their success has removed another slice, leaving less for us. If they’re enjoying dessert, we might not get to.

 

 

We’re so off base.

Life. Is. Not. A. Pie.

This is such good news! It’s not a pie!

Then…what is it?

It’s a library.

That’s right – the place with volumes and volumes of texts. Do you know why life is a reader’s haven instead of a baker’s pastry?

It’s because God didn’t bake up one big pie that we all have to share. Instead, He set up a library, where He constantly adds new stories.

We don’t have to worry about a limited amount to go around. If someone else has a success story, we can have one too. Every life is its own book, and this library has limitless shelf space.

As we experience life, we are adding to it, not taking away. 

Once we realize this, we can rest. We can stop the scrambling for that last piece of pie. We can cease the envy and the fear. We can celebrate others’ stories. We can sit back and marvel at all God has done and continues to do.

We can take the focus off the pie and turn our attention to something more important:

What will our story say?

The Train

Running…

running…

It’s moving so fast…

How will I ever catch it?

I’ve been running so long…

I don’t remember…

when I left the station.

Was there a station?

It seems…

it’s always been…

Me…

the train…

the landscape.

Everything rushing by.

Tracks running through the open country…

going on forever…

and me…

running…

never able to catch it.

Keeping pace…

but never catching up.

Always alongside…

never close enough to jump aboard.

Always running…

just to maintain.

 

Once…

I tripped.

I fell.

My falter…

so ill-timed!

It was at that moment

the train

came to a halt.

Scrambling…

scraping…

running to get up and on,

I felt my heart sink

as it started up again…

and pulled away…

just as I got going again.

So close…

but still…

running.

 

Other times,

it slowed…

but…

I stumbled…

and was…

unable to catch it,

even then.

 

Still running…

Can I keep this up…

forever?

So exhausting…

So monotonous…

So…

 

I fall again.

This time…

I can’t get up.

Frustrated…

failed…

fallen.

Beating the ground with my fists,

I lift tear-filled eyes

to watch the train

pull forever out of reach.

But…

it’s there.

It has stopped.

 

I dare not move.

I dare not hope.

Rising to my feet

will only make it start up again…

start the running again.

I lay there.

I look.

I wait.

I wonder.

 

In my stillness…

I see a figure…

like that of a man…

fill the door frame of the nearest car.

His wave

beckons me come.

I stand.

No energy to run…

I stumble…

broken and tired…

to the train.

I reach the figure,

who is holding out his hand.

I look,

and finally recognize his face.

“Come aboard,”

he tells me,

“I’ve been waiting for you a while.”

 

“Waiting?” I ask,

“But…

all the running…

I’ve been trying to get here…

for so long.

If you wanted me aboard,

why didn’t you…

stop the train?

Why didn’t you…

wait for me?”

“Ah, yes…

the running,”

was his reply,

“I am so glad you stopped.

All this time,

the train has been keeping pace…

with you.

The faster you ran…

the faster it went.

I’ve been trying to keep up…

with you.

I wasn’t willing…

to let you get away.

I had hoped the obstacles

I put in your path

would make you slow down.

You did stumble.

Once you even fell.

But, you simply got back up…

and started running again.

Now…

you’ve stopped.

So…

the train has stopped.

 

My Father is conducting,

and he is simply waiting

for you to climb aboard,

and he will take us on.

He knows exactly where we should stop

and when.

He has prepared for us…

a magnificent adventure.

So…

Come aboard…

and feast with me in the dining car.

Come aboard…

and delight with me in the scenery.

Come aboard…

and share with me in this journey.

Come aboard…

and stop running.”

He saw the hope in my eyes…

and I felt it

fill my heart,

as I stuttered my next words to ask…

“You mean…”

His strong but gentle hand

guided me onto the train…

and I collapsed in his arms

as he offered the word

my soul

was desperate to hear…

“Yes, my child…

rest.”

A Rat Toy for Valentine’s Day?

I’m writing this on Valentine’s Day. No, my husband did not surprise me with a rat toy this morning. In honor of this day of love, I wanted to share a thought that’s been tumbling around in my heart a lot lately. It has, in fact, been changing my heart since I first heard it this past fall from Barb Wilson.

The thought is this: I’m living in a hamster ball.

Not a hamster wheel, a hamster ball. If you pictured the wheel first, I can understand. I often get confused and think it’s a wheel that I’m in, but it’s actually the fully-encompassing sphere.

The difference is so immense it’s nearly indescribable.

On the wheel, I’d run and run and never get anywhere. I’d grind away the days in joyless scrambling. I’d also be exposed to anything that comes along (like my cat, Rusty).

So, it’s a good thing I’m in the ball instead. Inside this enclosure, I am completely surrounded. I can’t escape it, and nothing outside of it can harm me. I may take a spill down the stairs or get pushed around by a feline. In either case, I may get jostled around a bit, but, in the end, I’m ok.

I can roll for miles and miles, free to roam wherever I please, and, wherever I go, I’m still inside this ball. A glance in any direction reveals its surrounding presence. It’s inescapable.

But that’s ok. I don’t want to escape it. The sphere that holds me safely inside is a picture of God’s love.

His love surrounds me, carries me, and protects me. Everywhere I look, it’s there. Everywhere I go, it’s there. No matter what I do, it’s there.

I pray you know God and can enjoy your own hamster ball. There’s truly nothing else like being wrapped in his indestructible, unending, unconditional love.

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:38-39

PUNXSUTAWNEY PROZAC, TAKE TWO

In honor of Groundhog Day, I decided to re-post a previous blog entry. If you’re familiar with the Bill Murray classic, you’ll realize how clever that is.

I’m not as stir-crazy today as I was when I posted this four years ago, but I can feel myself creeping in that direction…and we still have six more weeks of winter – no matter what the groundhog says.

So, I thought this would be a good reminder to myself, and I hope it blesses you, too.

 

PUNXSUTAWNEY PROZAC, PLEASE – Posted March 23, 2014

Groundhog Day2

The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result.

The cause of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again.

This winter has put me in the shoes of Phil Connors. Bill Murray’s performance in this role makes Groundhog Day a classic in my book. I love the movie. I like living it less.

I feel like I’ve been stuck inside doing the same routine for about five months now, and that does not go well with my personality. Although I am very much a planner and like to be organized, I start to go a bit crazy if things don’t switch up every so often…in a controlled way.

From wearing practically the same seven outfits every week because nothing else is warm enough, to doing the same exercise routine too many mornings in a row because it gets me to work at the same time each day, to driving through yet another snow storm (even on the first day of spring!), to rehashing the same problems around me that have been going on for years…it’s gotten old.

As I mentioned in my previous post: If my joy is based in the weather, I’m looking to the wrong Son.

But, God has also revealed to me that part of the winter blues is simply boredom. So, in addition to prayer to stay focused on Christ and find joy there, I have made little changes, and plan to make more. I’m doing things to alter my surroundings, shake things up, and shift my focus from the winter routine. It’s surprising the difference small things can make.

groundhog-day4

  • I did a different workout one morning – and a different one the next.
  • I ate dinner at the dining table in my basement for a change of scenery.
  • I checked my email while sitting in the basement, rather than my usual spot upstairs.
  • I had pizza for dinner on a weeknight, even though that’s usually a weekend treat.
  • I changed my commute by taking a different route to work. (and it turned out to be faster!)
  • I started reading a new book.
  • I made a list of Spring Spruce-Ups for my house I want to complete in the upcoming weeks.
  • I wore a shirt that had been tucked away in my closet for a while.
  • I am going on a two-night romantic get-away with my sweet husband.
  • I switched my morning Bible reading from the middle of the Old Testament to Psalms.
  • I wore a crazy green hat to work for St. Patrick’s Day.
  • I went through my books and cleared off two entire shelves by selling and gifting books I no longer want or need.
  • I went through my closet and donated any winter shirts I still hadn’t worn this season.
  • I met a friend at Dunkin Donuts on a Thursday night – a time usually reserved for household chores.
  • I plan to shift the focus of my prayers to include more thanksgiving.
  • I blogged about feeling like Phil in Groundhog Day.

I also plan, with God’s help, to change my attitude. If you think about it, when did Phil’s fate change? When he accepted it and tried to make the best of his situation. When he got the focus off himself and began loving and serving others. My hope is to do the same.

Now it’s your turn.

Better weather should be arriving soon. Maybe tomorrow even. But, maybe we can make today tomorrow.

grondhog day5

My challenge to you is to share your seasonal secrets here.

Have you done anything to fight the Polar Vortex in its attempt to suck the joy out of life? Is there something you would recommend to shake off any melancholy mood that Jack Frost tries to bring with him?

What’s your Punxsutawney Prozac? Respond, repost, and revive another reader’s spirit.

Book Giveaway

I can’t wait to share my next book with you! In fact, I’m so excited about how this series will bless you, I am offering FREE content!

The new installment of the 24 Ways series, 24 Ways To Serve Through Your Day, will be released on March 24, 2017.

Purchase this paperback by March 31, 2017 and receive a FREE digital copy of the first book in the series, 24 Ways To PRAY Through Your Day (2016).

Simply submit your receipt and email info here, and I’ll send you your FREE digital book.

Get even more free content!

Want a free digital copy of 24 Ways To Serve Through Your Day, too? Purchase a print copy of the new book on its official release date – March 24 – and get a free digital copy.

That’s TWO FREE digital books if you purchase the paperback, 24 Ways To Serve Through Your Day, on its release day, March 24th!

Get your copy here!

Submit your receipt and email info here.

      

 

How a Snowstorm Made Me a Writer

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was old enough to wield a pen.

In kindergarten, I was crafting whimsical poems inspired by Shel Silverstein’s greatest, and by second grade I had a stack of short stories I loved to share with anyone who would listen.

As I grew, I dreamed of someday achieving Stephen King status – my byline a household name, and my stories read across the nation. 

The problem was, my definition of “writer” was too narrow. I thought this was the only road to writerdom. It wasn’t until years later that God expanded my horizons. I finally realized that “fiction novelist” was not the only category into which writers could fall. Plus, with the invention of the internet and the growing need for online content, a whole new world of writing had been born.

When I realized all this, it was quite the ah-ha moment. I didn’t have to be a prolific novelist to be a writer. Stephen King could have his place in authorville, and I could live there too – in a completely different style of house.

I found my home in freelancing. Website content. Blogs. Newsletters. Magazines. I discovered myriad possibilities. I decided to become “The write scribe for you” and deliver creative, concise, consistent copy for people across the nation (and around the world).

I’ve also dipped my toe in the waters of books, but I discovered Christian living is where my passion lies in bookland, rather than the horror genre I’d read most of my life.

But, that’s skipping ahead a bit. Let’s get back to the snowstorm I mentioned.

Here’s what happened.

I was working as a school photographer at the time. This job freed up my summers for other pursuits. So, I had started dabbling in the freelance world. I’d snagged a job here and there, creating content for websites. I’d even landed a couple of steady gigs writing for newsletters and editing business site content. It wasn’t nearly enough to pay the bills, but it brought in some extra funds and got my foot in the door. I was gaining the experience I needed to create a resume that looked more like that of a writer than a photographer/realtor assistant/retailer/social work major/I-don’t-know-what-I-want-to-be-when-I-grow-up resume.

I enjoyed these new experiences, but I wasn’t seriously pursuing a writing career. It was a side job that I didn’t really believe at the time could be much more.

God proved me wrong, and he used the winter weather to do it.

The thing is, that photography job was great, but it required driving all over Chicagoland to different schools. When it wasn’t picture-taking season, I was driving to the company’s office five days a week – 17 miles from home. That’s a lot of time on the road. To some of you mega-commuters, that might not sound too bad. For me, it got old – fast. Plus, there wasn’t really a good route to cover those 17 miles to the office. Both of my options involved a lot of traffic and lights. It usually took me 40 minutes or so to make the drive.

Here’s the kicker. It was 40 minutes in good conditions. If you’ve ever been to Chicago in January, you know those conditions are often anything but good. In fact, one of the towns I had to drive through seemed to believe plowing was not a priority before rush hour. The result: my 40-minute commute easily turned into 1.5 hours in the snow.

It was my seventh year with the photography company. I had driven through my fair share of snowstorms over the seasons. They were never fun, but I had always survived and simply looked forward to summer.

This season was different.

I’m not sure if I had simply reached my breaking point, or if we really did get more snow than previous years. Whatever the case, we had snow roughly every other day for weeks on end. Time after time, I was sitting in traffic, slushing through snow at a snail’s pace to get to work. If traffic did move more quickly, that wasn’t any better for me. I’m terrified of driving in those conditions. If I’m going more than 25 mph, I’m convinced I will hit an icy patch and go spinning out of control. If others around me are going more than 25 mph, I’m sure they are about to go spinning out of control and crash into me. 

The point is, I endured day after day and week after week of what seemed to be a never-ending snowstorm.

One day, I experienced my “I’ve had it” moment.

I had been toying with the idea of trying to make my writing pursuits a full-time deal. I was scared to pursue this dream, for a variety of reasons. I also liked a lot about my current job, (except for the commute, of course). Should I give up this job? Should I really try to make it on my own – working for myself? Could I really do it? My doubts and fears were holding me back from diving full-force into my dream of being a writer. I needed an extra nudge to push me in that direction.

So, God sent me some snowflakes. 

I can’t give you an exact date. I can’t even tell you exactly how many horrible commutes I sat through that winter before the snow sent me over the edge. I just know that one day I had had enough. I was determined not to do that commute again next winter. I was done. I would do what it took to be able to work from home, where I could enjoy the snow from the safety of my comfy recliner.

That was the winter of 2015.

The next few months were a flurry of activity as I worked to build a writing business. I took fewer bike rides that summer than I had in previous years. I hosted fewer parties. I skipped a lot of my usual fall festivities. I even worked while my husband and I were on vacation, taking a summer road trip.

It was all worth it. My efforts paid off. God answered my prayers. He sent more and more writing opportunities my way. I received positive responses from applications and inquiries. I was starting to see some real money come in.

(I’ll fill you in on this process with greater detail another time. It’s an encouraging story all its own.)

By October of 2015, (with winter snowstorms looming in the near future!) I was well on my way to making freelance writing my full-time job. I had reached the point where I could no longer do both jobs. There simply wasn’t enough time in the week. So, it was time to make the leap.

I gave notice at the photography company and officially started working for Nenn Pen, Ink as a full-time freelance writer on November 1, 2015 – before the snow started to fall.

Thank you, Lord, for starting this snowball effect that allowed me to live out my dream! Some days, it’s still hard to believe. But, it’s true: I’m a writer. That feels so good to type that I’m gonna do it again:

I’m a writer.

Eat your heart out, Frosty.

 

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