Archive for the ‘Encouragement’ Category.

Light and Love Ahead

 

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To him who led his people through the desert, His love endures forever. Ps 136:16

When they had heard the king, they went their way, and behold the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came to rest over the place where the child was. Matt 2:9

Christmas is a season of light and joy, when all Christendom celebrates Jesus’ birth. It’s a good reason to celebrate. After all, Jesus’ birth, life, suffering, death and resurrection are the means to our eternal salvation.

However, many struggle to find joy this season. Grief, loneliness, addictions, unemployment, heartache, family problems, illness and a host of other issues rob humanity of the joy of Jesus’ birth. These desert places are difficult and real. Maybe you walk such a desert path this Christmas season.

Consider Mary and Joseph’s difficult journey to Bethlehem. She was very pregnant, riding on a donkey and too poor for amenities that might have made the journey easier. How uncomfortable that ride must have been! They were exhausted, worried, fearful and miserable. Perhaps they wondered if they had made a mistake in venturing out of Nazareth. They must have doubted they were on the right path.

But they were exactly where they were supposed to be. The Old Testament clearly prophesied the Savior’s birth in Bethlehem. God’s mercy brought Mary and Joseph to the City of David for a reason. Their difficult place was for our benefit. Their desert had reason and a purpose. Though they struggled, they were triumphant in the end. God confirmed His word with angels, a magnificent star, wise men, a chorus of angels and adoring shepherds.

Your desert place is also part of God’s plan, and you will see the reward if you persevere. Listen to His voice. Pray for wisdom to navigate rocky paths. Trust Him to guide you along your difficult journey. While there is no pat answer or easy fix, remember there is light and love ahead. Look toward the manger where your Redeemer is born. Do you see the shining star? In spite of your suffering, there is light and love ahead. Don’t give up.

 

 

 

Rowing Against the Wind

 

Lately my plans have fallen apart.  An unexpected illness kept me from attending a major book event, a clerical error meant a reading had to be rescheduled, plans for a retreat fell through and other day-to-day intentions disappeared into thin air.  Believe me, it left me shaking my head.  I’m an organized person, and I take pride in both planning and following through on projects.

And having seen that tthey were troubled and tormented in rowing, for the wind was against them.  Mark 6:48a Amplified Version

The above passage put new light on my situation.  My life had slipped out of balance.  Family responsibilities, work, gardening, and writing had left me over committed and exhausted.  The Lord saw me rowing against the wind.  He knew I needed rest.  Surely my disappointments were part of his loving plan to help me take care of myself.

Are you rowing against the wind?  Jesus will help you find that place of balance in your life.

Place Your Own Mask Before Helping Others

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Why do you see the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Matthew 7:3

You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye. Matthew 7:5

Yesterday on our Delta flight, the stewardess instructed us to place our own oxygen masks in an emergency before trying to assist others. Why? If we lose consciousness due to loss of oxygen, we will be of no good to anyone else.

Jesus says basically the same thing in the above passage. As humans, we are quick to notice the faults of others while remaining oblivious to our own. After a lifetime of trying to make others change, I realize that my efforts have been in vain. How much wiser to work on myself instead of trying to force change on others. Only then will I be strong enough to help someone else.

 

What We Miss by Not Paying Attention

034        The sight of the blooming canola fields against the North Dakota sky was breathtaking.  You’ll agree the yellow blossoms, the blue and gray sky look amazing next to the grassy field.

We stopped to take photos, mesmerized by the fields that rolled endlessly along both sides of the freeway.  We hadn’t seen canola fields before, so asked at the truck stop where we filled up our car.  We wanted to make sure we were correctly identifying the plants.

The young woman at the counter looked at us in surprise.  “What do you mean, blooming fields?”  she said with an absent minded nod toward her cell phone.  “I didn’t see any on my way to work.”  As we drove away, we noticed she had stepped out onto the sidewalk to crane her neck toward the nearest field.  I hope she admired its beauty.

Isn’t that the way it is?  We allow the busyness of everyday life to blind us to the amazing miracles happening all around us.  Today ask the Lord to open your eyes to something ordinary but beautiful in your life.  Take a photo!  I’d love to see what you find.

Beauty All Around Us

Cedar Island 005He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end. Ecc 3:11
       Beauty is found in many unexpected places.  A maple leaf turning red with the new season, the brightness of a young child’s eyes, the loving glance between life-long married couples, and the sparkle of a washed plate after dinner.  Of course, we all appreciate works of art created under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

For years, I’ve had a pattern of morning Scripture reading and prayers.  I do my best writing when I go immediately from prayer to the computer screen.  There’s something about being in His presence that gives a new burst of creative energy.

I’ve come to believe that nothing is created outside the Creator.  Only He gives the inspiration to create something of beauty, whether music, visual art or written words.

You also have creative gifts.   Let your day be positively impacted by spending a few moments in His presence.  Ask Him to open your eyes to the beauty around you, and ask for insights how you may add to the beauty of this world through your particular artistic talents.  You may be surprised at the doors He opens!