Does God Care About New Years Resolutions? 

New years can be challenging, even more so with chronic illness. Of course, there are many things ideally we would love to do, countless goals to set, but health is unpredictable. There are years that consist of back-to-back flares where the biggest accomplishment is living to see another year. Is it even worth setting goals with a chronic illness? Does God care about New Year Resolutions?

I do believe it is worth setting attainable goals each week and each day. Furthermore, I think God doesn’t care about a fancy out of reach New Year Resolution, but He wants Your number one focus to be Him. God deeply desires for you to grow closer to Him this new year, to worship Him more, and to love Him more. Additionally, He wants you to invite Him into each moment of your messy everyday life. He doesn’t want a few minutes only during your time with Him.

How do you invite Him into each moment? Focusing on Him during the day can be challenging but vital. We must be intentional. Thankfulness opens the door to live life, just as Jesus has called you too. It shifts our perspective to see God’s glory in every little thing.”No matter what the headlines shout, the world only has two stories: bless God or curse God.No matter what the world tries to sell, we all only get to choose from two shelves: Give God thanks or Give God the door. No matter what we’re facing, there are always only two roads: thanksgiving to God or dismissing of God.” Ann Voskamp

Moreover, a five-second prayer shifts your focus. A simple, help me Lord or give me grace in this moment is sufficient. Lastly, reciting Scripture you know by heart helps you to invite God into each moment. Our goal should be to continuously bring honor and glory to God’s name.

Choosing a word and corresponding verse of the year is currently trending. My word is thankfulness. I have chosen two Bible verses, And I come, eager to offer a sacrifice of gratitude and call on the name of the Eternal. Psalm 116:17. Come face-to-face with God and give thanks; with loud and joyful voices, praise Him in songs. Psalm 95:2.

Additionally, for the first time, I am setting goals for the year to grow in my relationship with Christ. A few examples include books of the Bible I want to read, finding two Bible verses to pray each month, memorizing a verse, and writing out a Bible verse every week.

Lord Jesus,

We praise You for Your tender mercy which allows us to have this New Year. Thank You for the countless gifts You have given us. Enable us to focus on You in everyday moments. Let us invite You into the messy moments of our lives. Allow us to grow closer to You in 2018. Let us love you more. We desire to bring honor and glory to Your name each and every day. Let us cherish Your Word like never before. Allow us to desire to spend more time with You. Help us to find new ways to grow in You. Amen

 

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Joy of the Lord

“To the highest heights of the universe, glory to God!
    And on earth, peace among all people who bring pleasure to God!” Luke 2:14

Jesus talks about live abundantly for the believer. However, this does not mean life will be without trials it is the contrary. This promise does not mean that the believer lives in a bubble of good things, worldly wealth, things always go smoothly, or laughter. Countless trails challenge the believer, at times these trails plague the believer with no break.

The joy of the Lord is the anchor of the believer’s soul. It is intertwined with thanksgiving, hope, and peace. This joy more than an emotion and it is unwavering. Though the work of the Holy Spirit and a willing heart on our part we are able to have a perspective from Christ that allows us to rejoice in His name no matter what. We are able to be confident that everything will bring glory to His mighty name. Pausing throughout the day to praise His name and to give Him thanks enables us to live out the joy of the Lord. Living out the joy of the Lord in the midst of tragedy takes courage and it must be intentional.

How can you live out the joy of the Lord this Christmas season?

Lord Jesus,

You are awe-inspiring. Words cannot accurately describe Your infinite beauty. The earth is filled with Your glory and righteousness. One day everyone and everything will bow at the sound of Your great name.

Almighty.. My intercessor. You poured out forgiveness despite my unworthiness. Daily, You extend mercy and grace. I can never thank You enough for the gifts You have freely given me. I worship You with all I am. Lifting Your name on high.

I love to learn more about You each day. As I understand You more I grow closer to You and my love for You increases. Fan the flame of my desire for You so that it would increase. As I come to know You more enable me to teach others about Your character. Allow Your kingdom to grow. I desire to serve You, Master.

Allow me to live out the joy that You have given me. Let me experience abundant life even when I am in the midst of trials. Cultivate a heart of thanksgiving in me. Bless me with a perspective that comes from You. Let me remain anchored in You hope and daily experience Your peace.

Amen

 

 

Thankfulness in Advent

We are encouraged to write wish lists. The media hypes up the season with empty feel good out of reach promises. Such as promises of “true” love, materialistic gifts., and the picture-perfect Christmas day with family.  People strive for perfect.

Days that are nearly bursting at the seams with activities become more hurried so that more activities can be intertwined. There is no time to breathe in this season. In the blink of an eye, Christmas day has come and gone, leaving a sobering tragedy that we missed the opportunity to cherish moments and grow closer to Christ.

People become so busy that cannot hear the whisper of Christ. It is funny that the one thing we need most is the first thing we normally cut out, which is, our time with God. We might have a sing that says keep Christ in Christmas yet we neglect doing so.

Keeping Christ in Chrismas is more than using the phrase Merry Christmas. Keeping Christ in Christmas is slowing down and cherishing the gift of time. Keeping Christ in Christmas seeking Him with your whole heart and spending extra time in His presence. Additionally, allow Him to speak to You and transform You. Keeping Christ in Christmas is loving, praying for, and caring for all those around you.

Christ should be at the center of our excitement and focus. Jesus whispers gentle reminders to us. His name is whispered in the Old Testament. Jesus whispers to us in the chaos. He whispers in moments of silence in front of awe-inspiring lights. He whispers to us in the Christmas songs and through the texture of garland. He even whispers to us through the aromas of Christmas. Jesus whispers to us in Christmas, can you hear Him?

What if instead of wish lists we kept a gratitude list, how would this transform our Christmas season? Slowing down in gratitude, as mentioned in a previous blog post, enables us to enter fully into each moment. Advent overflows with gifts from the creation story up until our present day. These gifts are waiting to be acknowledged all we must do is pay attention.

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Christmas Gratitude Challenge

Jesus,

I am amazed at how you, my Sovereign God, parted with heaven for a season. You entered in a womb through a miracle utilizing uninvited women. Entering into the beauty of You creation and navigating this fallen world. You became a helpless infant.

I praise You with all my heart for the hope found in Advent. Help me to slow down, to cherish each moment, and to hear Your loving voice whispering to me. I surrender this Advent season to You knowing You will do a work beyond my dreams. Cultivate in me a Christmas heart of gratitude.

Amen

Slowing Down in Gratitude

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Hurry has become an addiction in today’s culture. How many times are we rushing through the day? We are in such a hurry, we cannot enjoy any moment, each moment becomes something to check off the to-do list. Overcome with stress.

Many nights before I go to bed, I recite my to-do list for the following day, hoping, that I am not forgetting anything. Hurry, business, and the to-do list becomes an idol if I am honest with myself. Are these idols in your life as well?

Chronic illness has forced me to slow down, but I still need to work on being more present in the moment. “Giving thanks for one thousand things is ultimately an invitation to slow time down with weight of full attention.” Ann Voskamp What if I pursued thankfulness more than anything else? If in each moment I thanked God for something instead of letting my thoughts wander, creating meaningless chaos, or run with emotion.

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Looking back I see serval things I am thankful for, even in situations that were painful. I do not rejoice in the pain or situation but carefully laced in there is a tiny treaure to give thanks for. Thankful for pain as a warning sign when my body threated to shut down, the medication received, and my nurses. Thankful for the closeness of Christ when my friends deserted me. I honestly feel if more often I would give thanks in the middle of the day that I would experience more joy. Like Ann Voskamp shared, I would enter more fully into each moment.

Ann recorded one thousand gifts in a journal. A simple yet genius idea. One thousand seems like a large number. An enormous commitment. However, each individual must begin with one, anyway.  I came to the conclusion that aiming for one thousand could encourage this to become a burden which would defeat the purpose. So, I grabbed a journal with few expectations in mind. Simply writing things I am thankful for from now until this time next year.

Let me share a few of the gifts I have taken note of.

  •  My mother whom is my source of strength, encouragement, and inspiration.The stunning woman she is. Words cannot describe how thankful I am for her or for how many things I am thankful for.
  • The pitter padder of children’s feet. The embrace of little friends.
  • The smell of kitties fur. Their comforting fur.
  • Capturing tiny moments with Abby in photos.
  • God’s presence. Faithfulness. Who He is.

I would be humbly honored if you, my friend, would join me on this journey of journaling gratitude. More than that to live an abundant life of thanksgiving. Taking time to pause and give thanks. Enriching daily life.  There is no better time to start than now. I have crafted three inspiration of gratitude lists; one for those with chronic illness, college students, and mamas. I hope you will print one out. Copy of Wedding Invitation

 

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El Elyon (God Most High),

Your beauty takes my breath away. Every molecule reflects who You are and worships You. Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty full of wonder, majesty, and goodness. I witness Your faithfulness daily.

Often, I overlook the blessings in my life. Forgive me, Lord Jesus. I desire to divorce hurry. Enable me to slow down and to enter into each moment fully with a thankful heart. Give me eyes to see Your beauty and glory in the ugly. Cultivate in me a thankful heart.

Amen

A Life of Thanksgiving

Elegant snowflakes dance through the air as November makes a grand entrance. Many people begin to think about the holiday season approaching. The stores are full of ideas and holiday movies are plentiful. Thankfulness creeps into each mind. Even so, people do not give the gift of thankfulness enough thought.

A thankful heart is a joyful heart, furthermore, it opens the door for an abundant life. Thanksgiving is not merely a holiday but a way of daily life. Stopping in the middle of the day to give thanks enables people to slow down.

There are many individuals who give an example of a thankful heart in Scripture like Job, David, and Paul. The prime example being Jesus. I never stopped and took note that before so many miracles, Jesus gave thanks to God. Before the feeding of the five thousand Jesus gave thanks, before speaking to the crowds Jesus gave thanks, and before raising Lazarus from the dead Jesus gave thanks. Undoubtedly, we should follow this example.

Plesant emotions are not a prerequisite to giving thanks. In fact, it is vital to a soul to give thanks during the trails in life. Ann Voskamp shares how Jesus did this the night He was betrayed, “In the midst of what seems a mess, in the tripping up and stumbling down of all hopes” Jesus gives thanks.

Life is bathed with pain. This is why it is vital to learn to give thanks in the middle of each struggle. A few seasons of intense chronic physical pain has personally, changed my perspective in what I give thanks for. Furthermore, I know I cherish things that most young adults do not. There have been times the pain breaks the pain scale. It shoots, stabs, deeply aches, and burns moving me to tears with an occasional yelp. This type of pain is the type that one cannot ignore. In the middle of the intense pain, I can barely whisper thank you, Lord, for holding me now. Thank you, Lord, that You are faithful, You are stronger than any trial, thank you, for getting me though this second, and thank you, for who You are.

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God is waiting to do awe-inspiring things in your life, precious friend as you pause to give thanks. Your thanks is an act of worship and it is an offering. Though this simple act, you will receive the joy of the Lord and life abundantly.

I want to share with you a simple Bible reading plan for the month of November inspired by thankfulness.

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I have been reading A Thousand Gifts by Ann Voskamp. I am only about halfway through. Yet it has impacted my understanding and perspective of thanksgiving. If you are not familiar with this book, let me share a few things. Ann has a journal in which she records, beautifully one thousand reasons she is thankful. I am in awe of this discipline, even more so that she pauses in the middle of what she is doing to record something she is thankful for.

The description is as follows, “Drawing heartbreaking beauty out of the simplest of details, Ann Voskamp invites you into her grace–bathed life of farming, parenting, and writing–and deeper still into your own life. Here you will discover a way of seeing that opens your eyes to ordinary amazing grace, a way of living that is fully alive, and a way of becoming present to God that brings you deep and lasting joy.”

In addition, I would like to invite you to record at least ten things you are thankful for during the remainder of 2017. As you read the Scriptures and record your list of blessings take time to also reflect on the character of God.

Giveaway

Prayer should be as natural as breathing to the maturing Christian. The principle is so simple yet we complicate it and allow ourselves to become intimidated. Prayer is a stunning way to intimately connect with Christ. Nothing in the world can replace it.

There are plenty of excused not to pray yet none truly valid. We do not need more than a few seconds, an education is unnecessary, and you cannot do it wrong.

At times, we hit a roadblock in our prayer lives, which simply could be from maturing. You wouldn’t expect a toddler to live on only milk, similarly, as a maturing believer, you may need to find a way to go deeper. You might need to renew it.

I am passionate about prayer furthermore, teaching others about it. I believe it is something we never cease learning about. A few months ago it was mentioned several times that I should write another book. Someone soon added to the suggestion that it should be a prayer book. After praying I was certain that this was the direction God wanted me to go for my next book, “Honest Moments With God: Thirty Days of Prayers That Allow You to Grow Closer to God’s Heart.”

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Thirty days of beautiful and unique Scripture-based prayers. Each prayer is complimented with Scriptures that enable you to grow closer to Christ. Also includes five devotionals, a worship playlist, and fifteen Scriptures to inspire you to write your own prayers. I am confident that God will use this small book to do amazing things and to bring His name glory.

“My soul is dry and thirsts for You, True God, as a deer thirsts for water. Why am I so overwrought, Why am I so disturbed? Why can’t I just hope in God? Despite all my emotions, I will believe and praise the One who saves me, my God.” Psalm 42:1 & 11

God,

Increase our soul’s thirst for You, the Living God. You have seen the tears cried behind closed doors. The ones in the dead of night. You understand the heartbreak of shattered dreams. The depth of the effects of broken relationships.

People mock me and question my faith. Asking where You are in my time of need. They question Your goodness. Question how You could allow suffering. I will remain unshaken, firm in Your promises.

Help me in this holy time, at Your feet, to pour my soul out to You. Enable me to be transparent. I surrender every burden, fear, question, and emotion. Empty me of myself. Free me from all the clutter in my heart and mind. Consume me with Your Spirit.

Direct me in Your precious love. Renew my hope day by day. You are my mighty protector. I rejoice in Your sovereign name. I have witnesses Your goodness all the days of my life. I extol Your Majestic name.

Amen

I thought that it would be fun to do a giveaway! The winner will receive a PDF copy of my book “Honest Moments With God: Thirty Days of Prayers That Allow You to Grow Closer to God’s Heart.”

Entering is super easy. Pick a question/prompt from the list below and respond in the comments. Don’t forget to share with your friends, the more the merrier. The winner will  be announced September 28th, 2017.

 

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Renewal Road

 Beginning yet another online Bible study I am able to identify with the author who happens to be a precious friend, furthermore, I am confident that you can relate as well. On the first page of the Renewal Road The Journey of Becoming More Like Jesus, Jill waste no time, jumping in with an important message. Dying so that Christ may live. She shares an important flashback of an encounter of depression, which is where I want to park to explore for a bit.

I know this is not the most comfortable topic. However, it is important to share our times of depression, sorrow, doubt, and hopelessness with one another. Many times, as Christians, we attempt to have it all together, to appear happy at all times might I dare say perfect. We want to appear in a way that we were never meant to be. Christ calls us to live for Him not to live in perfection.

With that said many people in the Bible encountered depression seasons consumed with sorrow and hopelessness. The world can feel like a dark and hopeless place. It is a fallen and painful world. We encounter countless mistakes or painful events every week. It might take the form of final burdens, a shattered relationship, or a malfunctioning body. Due to our sins, the sins of others, and simply because we live on earth we are bound to encounter at least one season of depression. 

Questioning as many amazing people before us what is the meaning of life? At times, it all seems so utterly worthless. For countless reasons, we mutter that we are worthless, unworthy of love, unworthy of life. It seems to sneak up when we least expect it during a time we would expect to encounter joy.

I have battled some depression in a few seasons of life though I am well aware those bouts of depression could have been more severe. I can recall many times the feeling of hopelessness. The heavy sorrow that seems to compress the soul till spiritually I couldn’t breathe. 

My most recent battle began to unfold after some gossip and lack of compassion at my Church. I felt like I needed just that one thing to be okay. To provide me with stability. As much as I love my Church family they are not my anchor they are a community who should provide support. Christ alone is my anchor, my hiding place, stability, and hope. 

Transitioning from I want to die to I want to die so that You may live is a challenging journey which requires persistence.  The transition demands continual prayer, pursuing the heart of Christ, searching the Word, and reaching out to others. 

This transition is astonishing, furthermore, it is beyond comprehension. The drastic shift in perspective enabled by Christ changes our world.  We are not immune from depression or hardship. When we walk through the valley, we are more equipt to battle the depression. Surrendering all to Christ changes every moment of every day for the rest of our life. 

Jehovah Rohi (The Lord is my Shepherd), 

You are my anchor which never wavers, furthermore, my unending hope. Regardless of what occurs in my life, You remain the same. Lord Jesus, from the depths of my soul I praise Your might name. Holy, precious, and mighty is Your name now and forever.

I thank You for the lessons I have learned from the seasons of depression in my life. I ask that You would use those painful times to bring honor and glory to Your name. Enable me to pour out my heart to You. Let me be transparent in my quiet time with my emotions. Help me to praise Your name even when my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow. 

Amen 

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 “If you want to follow Me, you must deny yourself the things you think you want. You must pick up your cross and follow Me. The person who wants to save his life must lose it, and she who loses her life for Me will find it.” Matthew 16:24-25