Sunday, November 19, 2017

5 Verses for Visiting with Family


The upcoming holidays can be a season of joy and celebration, but it can also be a time of sadness, turmoil, stress, and frustration.

For many, the get-togethers and visits with extended family are less than pleasant and more let’s-just-get-through-this, adding more pressure during a busy time of year.

I’ve been thinking about how God’s Word can help us through the difficult reunions.

5 Scripture Verses for Visiting with Family

We also pray that you will be strengthened with all his glorious power so you will have all the endurance and patience you need.

Patience. No matter how well we get along with family members, we need an extra supply of patience. Extra excited children running around, long-winded story tellers, doting aunts and grandparents…there’s a lot going on at a gathering. Some love it, some don’t. Some thrive in crowds, some crave a few minutes alone. That’s the great thing about silent prayer. While you smile and try to stay engaged, you can be asking God for patience to get through the next minute…and the next hour…and the rest of the day.

The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.

What we see doesn’t tell the entire story. Just as we may wear a mask and try to act like everything is alright, others do too. When we’re growing weary of others, it might be helpful to remember that we don’t always know what someone else is going through. But God knows, and perhaps He’s placing you in this person’s path for a reason.

My commandment is this: love one another, just as I love you.

When I’m struggling to show love to someone not acting loveable, I have to remind myself that I’m not always loveable myself. If someone seems extra irritable or moody, it’s possible they’re weighed down by life. (And aren’t we all at times?) Whether they want to talk about it or not, compassion, even when we don’t know the circumstances, goes a long way. {Tweet this}

Sensible people control their temper; they earn respect by overlooking wrongs.

I’ve known family members who refused to talk to each other for a long time because of misspoken or misunderstood words. Most of the time, getting the last word just isn’t worth the drama and hurt feelings. Sometimes the best thing you can do is to resist the urge to engage and walk away.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of evil behavior. Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.

We cannot control other people’s behavior, but we can control our own actions and reactions. {Tweet this} Don’t take the bait leading to an argument, gossip, or any other behavior more pleasing to the enemy than to God. If you feel yourself getting pulled in, ask for His help to hold your tongue, change or leave the conversation, and to forgive others’ behavior.

No matter how hard we try, the truth is not one of us is perfect, and family relationships have never been easy. {Tweet this}

Remember Jacob? He had issues with his twin brother Esau; was tricked by his father-in-law into marrying Leah when he loved and wanted to marry Rachel; and played favorites with his sons from both Leah and Rachel, which, of course, led to many years of more family drama.

And yet, God loved Jacob, giving him the name Israel, and placing him directly in the lineage of Jesus.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo Credit: Pixaby.com] 


Friday, November 10, 2017

Disappointment and Perspective {And a Giveaway}


Some days, right?

One day last week started as expected. It was going well, but took a turn I wasn’t expecting. I probably should have anticipated it, but I didn’t and it led to disappointment. Disappointment I struggled with.

I felt let down and frustrated. It’s something out of my control and I don’t like that. I want to see change, but it’s not going to happen when or how I’d like. I went through a range of emotions—anger, sadness, and feeling overwhelmed.

Then, I decided I had to stop thinking about it and just focus on right now because worrying about tomorrow was keeping me from appreciating today. {Tweet this}

Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

Disappointment in life is inevitable, and sometimes it takes time to bounce back. But when it leads to discouragement and worry, then we need to make the decision not to go down that path.

Worry doesn’t solve anything; it makes things worse.

Don’t worry about anything. No matter what happens, tell God about everything. Ask and pray, and give thanks to him.

Worry makes us miss what we have today. It pulls our attention away from trust and thankfulness.

I decided to take a step back and not think about tomorrow and what’s out of my control. Instead, I reminded myself of what God has been doing and how He’s taken care of us.

I focused on what is happening instead of what’s not happening, and it changed my perspective.

Sometimes God will calm the storm around me. Other times He quiets the storm within me. {Tweet this}

Only God gives inward peace, and I depend on him.

That’s what He did last week. Nothing in the situation changed, but He eased the upset that was taking me over, and enabled me to see it from a different viewpoint.

That day’s disappointment wasn’t the end of what I was hoping for, but a reminder to keep trusting Him in every single part of my life, regardless of setbacks, or when I misread a situation.

*****

It’s time for a giveaway!

I have two books which I’ve reviewed in past months to share. Click on each title for my review and more information on the book.


and


There are three ways to enter: (Each one earns an entry.)
-sign up to receive my blog posts by email (in the right side bar)
-follow me on Twitter
-like my Facebook page.

Then, leave a comment letting me know how you followed (or if you already do), which book you’re interested in, and your email address so I can contact you if you win.

Drawing ends on Friday, November 17. (Sorry, only U.S. residents are eligible to win.)

In Christ,
Laura  

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Friday, November 3, 2017

Fighting Regret


Have you ever had a time when it seemed like old regrets you might have kept coming to the surface giving you the opportunity to rehash them...again? That was my past week. Things I’d done, or not done, coming to mind over and over for no apparent reason. It was frustrating. And exhausting.

It's hard to forget things we wish we’d done differently, but the longer we linger in the past, the more it affects us in ways we’ve struggled with before—guilt, shame, sadness, anger, and feelings of depression and anxiety.

The enemy knows this and uses it to his full advantage. He knows where he can slither in to our days and get our thoughts reliving the past.

What can we do we do when we’re under attack like this?

➤Pray. Immediately and often.

Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

Where we are weak, the enemy will attack. But,

Where we are weak, God is strong!

The enemy has already been defeated by Jesus. When we call to Jesus for help and stand behind Him, the enemy has no choice but to retreat. {Tweet this}

But still, often something will continue to bother us because it’s time to confess and receive God's forgiveness. If that’s the case, have a heart-to-heart with the One who loves you more than anyone else.

Then, ask Him to help you forgive yourself. Sometimes this is where we struggle the most—letting ourselves off the hook long after we’ve received God’s forgiveness.

We can’t change the past, but we can learn from it. No matter how hard Satan tries to keep us there, with God’s help we can move forward.

➤Scripture. Remind yourself of God's truth.

Everything God says is true—and it’s a shield for all who come to him for safety.

Write out your favorite verses and keep them where you will see them often. Replace Satan’s lies with God’s truth. Personalize Scripture by inserting your name. God’s Word is meant for us. Let’s not ignore the power of praying Scripture over ourselves.

I like to go back through my journals because I often find that God has already shown me particular verses He knew I’d need for that very day.

Our thoughts can have an effect on every part of our day. If we think too long on what we can’t change, it will drag us down. The quicker we can replace the negative thoughts with God’s Word, the better we can keep ourselves from going down a self-defeating path.

Remember, the enemy cannot stand in the name of Jesus. {Tweet this} 

➤Consider your physical state. Change your focus.

Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.”

I'd been fighting a cold all last week and it made me extra tired, and at times, made my thinking kind of fuzzy. When I’m over tired and not feeling well, my thoughts can easily start to spin out of control.

Throughout the week, I had to keep reminding myself that it was a perfect opportunity for the enemy to attack. When regretful thoughts kept coming to mind, I had to be intentional about changing my focus.

Self-care is important. Whether that means getting enough sleep, eating well, or taking care of ourselves when we’re sick, it’s the way we’re created. When we struggle to function physically, we can’t expect our emotional and mental state to not be effected.

Anytime we find ourselves under attack, we need to turn to God immediately, especially when we’re already feeling weak. He promises to help us fight against the enemy’s attack.

Then, find a distraction—turn on praise music, read a book, call a friend—anything that will change what you’re currently thinking about. And be prepared to take these steps all over again, because the enemy is persistent.

But the Lord is faithful; he will strengthen you and guard you from the evil one.

In Christ,
Laura 

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Monday, October 23, 2017

6 Verses for When You Need to Be Brave


Last week, I wrote about courage—taking that faith-filled step to keep moving forward, despite everything that tries to work against us.

I’ve been thinking a lot about courage and bravery. What comes easy for some might take a great amount of bravery for another, and what took a deep courage-filled breath last year may not be as difficult this year.

After reading multiple definitions, I came up with one of my own.
To act bravely is to meet or face something with courage; to act with courage is to make the choice to proceed with confidence, despite fear, adversity, intimidation, or feeling uncomfortable or judged.
Being brave doesn’t mean the threat is gone, it means we don’t let it stop us. {Tweet this}

Having courage doesn’t mean the next step will be easy, it means we move forward anyway.

Following Jesus means we can draw from His unending strength and courage, and not try to rely on the amount of courage we can muster up ourselves.

When God told Joshua to be strong and courageous as he led the Israelites, He planned for Joshua to rely on Him. If Joshua had decided that he was brave enough without God, the Israelites never would have made it to the Promised Land.

Joshua was brave because He trusted God.

Just like Joshua, God makes us brave not because of who we are, but because of who He is.
{Tweet this}

6 Scripture Verses for When You Need to Be Brave

Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.

So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.

Yet I am confident I will see the Lord’s goodness while I am here in the land of the living. Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.

Be strong, and live courageously, all of you who set your hope in the Eternal!

Then again, the one having the appearance of a man came and touched me, and he strengthened me. He said, “O man, greatly beloved, do not fear. Peace be unto you. Be strong and courageous!” When he spoke to me, I was strengthened and said, “Let my lord speak, for you have strengthened me.”

But as for you, be strong and courageous, for your work will be rewarded.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: K.Rath 2017]


Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Called to Be Courageous


A few weeks ago, I did something I’d been putting off for quite a while. I added a speaker page to my blog. I know, for some, this might not be a big deal, but for me, it was. Finally doing this meant moving forward through the fear, and finding courage to put myself out there where others could see and judge.

As I thought about courageous people in the Bible, I reread the verses calling Joshua to be courageous in leading the Israelites into the Promised Land. (Joshua 1) But, that’s not who I kept thinking about. Instead, I kept thinking about a woman who had the courage to go to Jesus.

In the Book of Mark, chapter 5, Jesus is on His way to visit a little girl who is dying. As He walked with the girl’s father, the disciples, and the crowd of people following Him, He suddenly stopped to talk to one woman. A courageous woman whose faith was stronger than her fear.
A woman in the crowd had suffered for twelve years with constant bleeding. She had suffered a great deal from many doctors, and over the years she had spent everything she had to pay them, but she had gotten no better. In fact, she had gotten worse. She had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him through the crowd and touched his robe. For she thought to herself, “If I can just touch his robe, I will be healed.” Mark 5:25-28
This woman, who would have been viewed as ceremonially unclean for so many years, made the choice to go to Jesus, despite her fear and uncertainty. She took a faith-filled risk, even though she would be seen and judged. {Tweet this}

And her courage was rewarded.
Immediately the bleeding stopped, and she could feel in her body that she had been healed of her terrible condition. Jesus realized at once that healing power had gone out from him, so he turned around in the crowd and asked, “Who touched my robe?”
Then the frightened woman, trembling at the realization of what had happened to her, came and fell to her knees in front of him and told him what she had done. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well. Go in peace. Your suffering is over.” Mark 5:29-30, 33-34
By faith, she had the courage to fight through the crowd and touch Jesus’ robe, and then, confess to Him what she had done.

That’s courage, friends. Raw, honest and inspiring, faith-filled courage.

Where do you need to find courage today? {Tweet this}

Maybe it’s the courage to keep trying when you feel like giving up.

The courage to step out in faith despite the fear holding you back.

The courage to keep hoping when you’re knee-deep in disappointment.

Perhaps it’s the courage we all need— the courage to reach out and touch Jesus’ robe because our faith is stronger than our fear.

Courage that says we can walk through anything because our trust and confidence is in the One who will never leave us.

“Daughter, your faith has made you well.”

May we all be courageous women who walk in faith, regardless of all that tries to work against us.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Less of Me


A few days ago, I woke up with seven words on my mind...More of You Lord, less of me.

I knew it had to do with the way I'd felt when I went to bed the night before. Frustrated with emotions that I'd buried months ago, and were now coming back to the surface. Feelings I could either bury again, or would have to deal with now.

Neither choice looked appealing, but those words kept running through my mind like a ticker tape reminder...More of You Lord, less of me.


That reminder became my prayer over and over throughout the day because I know that when I don't have it in me to deal with something, God does. {Tweet this}

When I struggle to forgive...

More of You Lord, less of me.

When I don't understand and don't know which way to go...

More of You Lord, less of me.

When I can't change my circumstances or someone else's actions...

More of You Lord, less of me.

When I feel lost and lonely...

More of You Lord, less of me.

When my emotions are going to overtake me...

More of You Lord, less of me.

So often I forget this, trying to deal with things on my own. But the truth is, every day, in every situation, I need more of Him and less of me. {Tweet this}

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]


Tuesday, September 26, 2017

6 Verses for When You Feel Stuck


Some seasons in life feel like they’ll never change. The unpleasant road we’re on has no visible end in sight. We’re worn out and tired. Tired of trying. Tired of waiting. Tired of spinning our wheels and getting nowhere. Tired of hoping for a better day.

If you’re there with me today, let me remind you that what you see surrounding you isn’t the full story. There’s more, so much more, that we can’t see, but God can. {Tweet this}

God knows what’s right around the corner, but we won’t see it if we stop moving forward.

God knows who He’s moving into our circle of people, but we won’t get to meet them if we decide to quit.

God knows the plans He has for us, but we’ll never see them if we decide it’s not worth getting through today.

When we feel stuck in our current reality, our view of tomorrow is limited by what we can see today. {Tweet this} We forget that the future is packed with possibilities and that God is walking before us.

If you’re feeling stuck and can’t even get a glimpse of a different tomorrow, these verses are for you.

6 Scripture Verses for When You Feel Stuck

He replied, “What is impossible for people is possible with God.”

I waited patiently for the Lord to help me, and he turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the pit of despair, out of the mud and the mire.  He set my feet on solid ground and steadied me as I walked along. He has given me a new song to sing, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see what he has done and be amazed. They will put their trust in the Lord.

So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.

I lift up my eyes to the mountains—where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.

And when I was burdened with worries, you comforted me and made me feel secure.

“But forget all that—it is nothing compared to what I am going to do. For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it? I will make a pathway through the wilderness. I will create rivers in the dry wasteland.

What verse(s) would you add to these for when you feel stuck?

In Christ,
Laura 

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]

Wednesday, September 20, 2017

5 Verses for When You Need Strength


Disappointment, discouragement, fear, daily struggles…some days take everything we have. When we rely only on our own strength and what we have to give, we quickly become worn out and discouraged. {Tweet this}

But when we turn to God for His strength and replenishment, we are able to keep moving forward. We are able to keep giving to our family and friends. We are able to keep hoping, not because of what we can see, but because of Who we know God is. {Tweet this}

5 Scripture Verses for When You Need Strength

Search for the Lord and for his strength; continually seek him.
God’s strength is available to us when we seek His presence in our daily lives.
The Lord will guide you continually, giving you water when you are dry and restoring your strength. You will be like a well-watered garden, like an ever-flowing spring.
God supplies the living water we need. When I get busy and don’t make time to spend with God and in His Word, I find myself parched and desperately in need of His restoring and strengthening. But, when I sit and rest with Him I feel nourished. He guides and gives strength, but if we don’t pay attention, we can miss it.
God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
God, in all His power, is with us ready to protect and save. He strengthens us day-by-day to withstand trouble, to wait, and to persevere.
Christ gives me the strength to face anything.
Whatever comes our way, whatever God calls us to do, we can handle it because Christ empowers us through His strength.
Don’t be afraid, for I am with you. Don’t be discouraged, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will hold you up with my victorious right hand.
No matter what we face, God promises to be with us. He offers us comfort, reassurance, encouragement, and His support. Is there anything better?
In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: FreeImages.com]

Monday, September 11, 2017

Letting Go of a Dream


I’ve always struggled with the book of Job. For years, I couldn’t get past the beginning where God gives Satan permission to test Job. I didn’t like that part, so that’s where I stopped reading. But, over the years, it seems God has led me to the book of Job on several occasions.

While I was thinking about God-given dreams recently, I read this verse:

So the Lord blessed Job in the second half of his life even more than in the beginning. 

I know I’ve read it before because I remember thinking, Yeah, but he lost so much before that! I got stuck in what happened to Job and couldn’t move forward. Much like we do in real life.

How often do we get stuck in the past, unable to move forward in the present?
{Tweet this}

I'm sharing at God-sized Dreams today. Please join me there to continue reading...Letting Go of a Dream.

In Christ,
Laura


Monday, September 4, 2017

God Knows


A couple of weeks ago, I spoke at a women’s event. There were around 70 women there and we talked about hope in the midst of difficulty.

When I finished speaking, I offered to pray for anyone who wanted to leave me a prayer request. Blank index cards were provided and each woman could write as much, or as little, information as she felt comfortable.

That afternoon, at home, I read through the cards. Some had names and details. Others had a simple sentence. Some were for themselves. Others were for family members and friends. I prayed for each as I looked through them, knowing that God knew exactly who I was praying for.

Earlier that morning, as I looked around the room of the event, decorated with quilts and flowers, and tables upon tables of food and sweet treats, I saw women with smiles. Women who looked happy to have a couple of hours to come together with other like-minded women. Women who didn’t look weighed down by life.

But, when I read through the cards, I knew that in the room that morning were women who were hurting. Behind the smiles were concerns and disappointments. There was the heavy weight of various diagnoses, loss of loved ones, difficult situations, and the desire to wait for God’s guidance.

It reminded me that we never really know what someone else may be struggling with. We don’t know if the smile is genuine or part of a mask, and we don’t know how deep someone’s pain may run. {Tweet this}

But God knows.

God knows when He intersects our paths that the one person you encounter today may be the very person who needs a kind word.

He knows when a story shared will be the encouragement someone needs to keep going and to know that she’s not the only one struggling.

He knows that a common experience may be the beginning of a new friendship.{Tweet this}

And He knows that when He brings us together, there is a strength we can draw from each other…even when we don’t know or realize it for ourselves.

In Christ,
Laura

[Photo credit: Unsplash.com]

Friday, September 1, 2017

2 New Books to Share

I love reading books written from the heart, that I can relate to, and that lead me deeper into God’s Word. Today I have two new titles to share with you. And they're both available now!

Is Jesus Worth It? by Stacey Thacker

When we dive deep into His Holy Word, He meets us on the page and in our hearts.

All summer I’ve been excited to be on the launch team for Stacey Thacker’s new book Is Jesus Worth It? It’s the first book in her new series The Girlfriend’s Guide to the Bible. (Meaning there will be more books coming. Yay!)

I’ve read Stacey’s Fresh Out of Amazing and Hope for the Weary Mom, so I already knew I liked the way she writes, and this book was no disappointment.

In Is Jesus Worth It? Stacey walks us through the book of Hebrews, while sharing her own personal story from her heart. It feels like talking with a friend over coffee. This book is great for individual Bible study or for a group study.

Here’s more about Is Jesus Worth It? (from Amazon):

Find Hope and Help for Trials and Testing
When you realize there's nowhere to go but into the arms of Jesus, you're in good company. Stacey Thacker, author of Fresh Out of Amazing, knows what it's like to feel like quitting. She invites you to join her in exploring the refreshment awaiting every weary soul in the book of Hebrews. Through these pages, you will...

  • understand how Jesus is the heart, help, and hope we need so you can endure through suffering
  • learn how to take God at his word to overcome fear with faith
  •  examine stories of faithful followers so you can look forward with great hope
When life is hard, your heart might ask, "Is Jesus worth it?" Come hear the responding yes ringing through every verse of Hebrews.


Deeper Waters by Denise J. Hughes

A Bible study doesn’t have to be complicated to be deep.

I had the pleasure of meeting Denise a few years ago at a retreat. She’s a word girl who loves her Bible (like me) so I was excited to receive Deeper Waters as part of her launch team.

Denise tells her own personal story while leading the reader deeper into God’s Word. When I read a book like this, I journal my way through, stopping to look up Scripture and reading the Bible story for myself, so it’s taken me a little longer to finish reading Deeper Waters.

But, that’s not to say it’s difficult reading! In fact, it’s written in a way that gives you time to pause, but also makes you want to keep going. I’d recommend it to anyone wanting a personal Bible study or to use as a group study.

Here’s more about Deeper Waters (from Amazon):

The Satisfaction You Seek Dwells in the Depths of God's Word
Do you come to God's Word with questions and doubts that arise from life's disappointments and hurts? Denise J. Hughes, author of the Word Writers Bible Study Series, has been there, yet she's found a peace that runs deeper than her circumstances. In Deeper Waters, she invites you to:  

1. Learn to hear God's voice through the pages of His Word.
2. Discover a joy you never thought possible when reading the Bible.
3. Make connections in Scripture that transform your way of thinking and living.

You don't have to be a graduate student in seminary to be a serious student of the Bible. God's Word is for everyone. Dive in and experience the joy that awaits in deeper waters.

If you’ve read either of these books, what did you think? What other books have you been reading? I love hearing about titles to add to my growing stack of books waiting to be read.

(For both Is Jesus Worth It? and Deeper Waters, I had the privilege of receiving and reading advance copies, in exchange for my honest review.)

In Christ,
Laura