Featured

More Than Meets the Eye

In the winter I find myself taking some of the most breathtaking walks. Lately, getting our puppy out on a walk happens just as the sun is setting, turning the skies to brilliant hues of pink and light purple.

In its own way, winter is beautiful and becoming, while also frigid and bare. But underneath ground, especially beneath the tall trees that lay against the backdrop of pure white snow, much is going on. Roots are stretching, deepening, growing. They are doing the vital work for ultimate growth for spring. Perhaps there is no visible, noteworthy growth to be seen… but it is happening in a deep and wonderful way in which spring soon enough will show.

Often there is more going on than meets the eye, isn’t there?

That sure was true of my tenth birthday party! Like any kid I was thrilled to be entering the double digits. I was excited to hear of birthday plans (my parents always threw great parties at our home) but somehow we hadn’t quite gotten around to talking about it that year.

So imagine my shock when “SURPRISE” was yelled and all my friends and family jumped out from their hiding places at our home one evening. I hadn’t seen it coming! They pulled off a grand surprise (and yes, I think everyone should have at least one surprise birthday party)!

The last thing I expected that night was a party at my home. It had been a routine Sunday with church in the morning, a playdate in the afternoon and then coming home. But so much more was going on under the surface… from the playdate “distraction” to the returning home “just on time”– everything had a purpose. It was just more than my eyes could see!

The same is true for us, friend. There is so much going on behind the scenes spiritually! So many wonderful plans and purposes, better than we ever could imagine!

Don’t let your eyes deceive you. What is going on in the natural and what you can see with your physical eyes is not the ultimate truth.

Scripture says,

“So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.”

2 Corinthians 4:18

It’s true! What we can see with our eyes is fading, ending, short-lived. What we see with our spiritual eyes is permanent, indestructible, timeless.

So how do we train our eyes to see more than just what meets the eye? We sharpen and train to see with the eyes of the spirit. The Holy Spirit can help us “see” the things to come (John 16:13). He will guide us and lead us in all truth. We keep our hearts tender towards Him, walk in His path, and we will have those spiritual glimpses into what is going on behind the scenes… where the real truth is!

“But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come.”

John 16:13

How can we actively participate with what’s going on behind the scenes spiritually? 1) Prayer! Prayer gives us insight into God’s plan. 2) God’s Word! It is through His word our minds are renewed and we are able to know His will (Romans 12:2). 3) Walk by faith! When we walk with the Father we can see things not as they are but as they will be (Hebrews 11:1).

So I encourage you this week, friend, to look BEYOND what your natural eyes see. Look beyond the situation that tries to press up close and intimidate. Look beyond that situation that tries to tell you you won’t make it, you aren’t worth it, it’s not going to work out. That situation, no matter how stark, scary or real it feels is temporal. What God is doing behind the scenes is what is eternal. His answer is being released to you! It may be “behind the scenes” right now, but you can count on His faithfulness showing up for you, no matter what these physical eyes see. Let’s keep our faith placed in Him: He’s the Sure Foundation (Psalm 62:2).

My prayer for this week: Lord, I ask you to help us see with our spiritual eyes. Help us tune into the Truth– the “behind the scenes”– and know no matter what tries to present itself in front of us, Your words and Your answers are eternal. All else is falling away. Help us to see beyond what these natural eyes can see and see “more than meets the eye”. We know you have great and glorious plans for us. “If it’s not good, then you are not done” *. We center our faith on you today. We believe that you are alive, you are working, and you are causing your will and plans to come to pass. Amen.

“Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory.”

Ephesians 3:20

Until next time,

*this phrase is from the song “Joy in the Morning” by Tauren Wells.

PS. My husband and I made a specific and long prayer list when we were first newly married covering topics from starting a family to owning a home to his eventual American citizenship, etc… and we prayed and agreed on these things for several months, even years.

Some of the things we prayed for seemed not to be “budging” (specifically my husband’s quest to stay in America and become an American citizen— read about that here: https://melanietalevski.com/2021/09/26/peach-promises/ ) but we were amazed in 2009 when one thing after another was pouring into our laps from God! Each and every thing on the list started coming to pass. It seemed like things would not change, would not move, but when we kept praying, great things happened by God’s power. I encourage you to make your own list! There is so much going on in the spirit…. so much more than meets the eye.

Featured

He Goes Before

Do you remember the childhood game “Follow the Leader”? One of the group will be the leader and the other children would do what he would do, balancing on one leg, hopping on one foot, running in a zig zag…

I don’t know about you, but I have always appreciated being the “leader” not only in the game but especially in my own life. I like to be able to figure out solutions, make a schedule, accomplish goals, and “lead” my life. It sure can get rough though when things pop up in our schedule, or a challenge appears out of the blue and suddenly, our “leading” is not feeling very effective. We have no idea what to do, or perhaps we have done all we know to do, and we just hit a wall. What then? 

We must remember, He Goes Before Us. He’s the Leader. 

When we focus on this truth, all the heaviness we have been carrying shifts away. All the “leading” and planning, and organizing, and failing… it all falls to the side. We are reminded of HIS GREATNESS. His Lordship. His plan. His purpose. 

Our God, He goes before.

“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Deuteronomy 31:8

Our God, He sees all.

“Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of Him to whom we must give account.”

Hebrews 4:13

 Nothing catches Him by surprise.

“God saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”

Psalm 139:16 

God gives us license to become the ultimate follower. He gets to be the leader. And unlike the children “leaders” in the game, the actions He does are purposeful, planned, and produce the result He has in mind. Even if an “action” of His does not make sense to us, we can trust fully in our hearts that He is opening the ways meant for us and closing the ways that are not His way. 

If we could get a feel of how much He cares for us, how much compassion and love He has for us, then we would feel so secure and safe in His love (read more here https://melanietalevski.com/2021/03/13/safe-secure-and-held/ ).

Here are a few of the passages in the Bible that show clearly the love and compassion He has for us: 

“He grew up before Him like a tender shoot, and like a root out of dry ground.He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him.He was despised and rejected by mankind, a man of suffering, and familiar with pain…Surely He took up our pain and bore our suffering, yet we considered Him punished by God, stricken by Him, and afflicted. But He was pierced for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was on Him, and by His wounds we are healed.” 

Isaiah 53:2-5

“But God demonstrates His own love for us in this While we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

“Jesus went through all the towns and villages, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the kingdom and healing every disease and sickness. When He saw the crowds, He had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.”

Matthew 9:35-36

I encourage you to meditate on these verses and others like it: Deuteronomy 31:8, Deuteronomy 1:30, Psalm 139:5, Isaiah 52:12, Isaiah 45:2, Psalm 136:16.

Meditate on them and let His continual, unconditional love wash over you. When we start to grasp even just the edge of that love, we realize He would not forsake us or leave us to our own striving or making our own way. 

It is time to wait on the Lord. It may seem quiet, it may seem off the beaten path, it may seem unproductive or too slow. But God’s way is always the best way. 

So the verse we’ve heard time and time again. It speaks to our hearts and inspires us once again…

My prayer for this week: God, thank you for being our Savior and going before us. Thank you for the compassion you feel towards us: your deep love that never leaves us no matter what. Please give us a glimpse of this love and let that love wash over us and take out the striving, the intense over-responsibility and help us lay these things at your feet.

We ask you’d open the doors meant for us, close the others. May your ways come to pass in our lives. We submit to you once again as Lord and Savior. We give you control. In this process help us trust you more.

I pray for my friends who have been holding out for your answers, your plans to the things they are facing. Give them strength and fortitude to keep trusting you. Show up big for them, and help them to not grow weary but continue to wait on you. Amen. 

Blessings on your week, dear friend. ❤️🥰

Until next time, 

Featured

Life & Light To All He Brings

This fall found us working to put a wood burning stove in our living room. After much talking over the years, plenty of research, the purchase and self-installing of the stove– we can now say our stove is up and running and boy, we sure are enjoying the warmth it brings! There is nothing like sitting next to the fire with the flame roaring, the crackle of the wood, the warmth coming from it as I sit in front of it with my rocking chair.

No matter how cold it gets outside or how much snow flies (and yes we often get quite the snowstorm here in Colorado) with just a few proper placements of newspaper, cardboard and firewood followed by a flame, the stove is up and running and warmth will soon ensue. No matter how dark, cold or dreary it is, there is LIGHT & LIFE where the fire glows.

It reminds me of a phrase from the song, “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing”:

“Life and Light to all He brings”

“Hark, the Herald Angels Sing,” Charles Wesley

What an accurate representation of what happened that great night, so many years ago, when God’s own son was born into the world. Upon His wondrous birth there was IMMEDIATE LIFE & LIGHT available for all mankind. It was like the instantaneous lighting of a “stove”: igniting light, warmth, and life to what had been darkness before.

“The Word (Jesus) gave life to everything that was created and His life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness can never extinguish it.”

John 1:4-5, NLT

or in another version:

“In Him was life, and the life was the light of men.”

John 1:4, KJV

It had been like a “long, cold, dark winter” for the people who waited for the Messiah. They were eagerly looking for the light and warmth of their Messiah to appear. And it was a long wait… at least 700 years since the prophet Isaiah had said:

“For a child has been born to us, a son given to us, and the authority is upon his shoulder, and the wondrous adviser, the mighty God, the everlasting Father, called his name, “the prince of peace.””

Isaiah 9:6,7

I can’t even imagine what it would have been like to live in that gap between the prophecies and knowing the Messiah would come! They looked faithfully for their Savior to come not knowing when or how He would arrive. But arrive He did (Luke 2:1-20)!

Often times the retelling of the Christmas Story does not include one very important part: the merriment and celebration that happened over the baby Jesus when He was presented at the temple (Luke 2:21-40). Like the parents of any newborn, Joseph and Mary visited the temple to make their sacrifice. While they were there the faithful Simeon and Anna recognized the baby for who He was- the Messiah! They had seen many many babies over the year but this one was undeniably the true Messiah– God had spoke to Simeon to go to the temple (Luke 2:27). This Jesus, this baby who was God’s own son, was recognized as the One who– not so unlike the light of a warm fire after a long cold winter– would light up their lives with salvation. Through His birth, He immediately brought life and light to the believer’s hearts who had so faithfully and patiently been awaiting His arrival. 

When seeing the Messiah Simeon prophesied:

“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
    you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”

Luke 2:29-32

And Anna praised God and rejoiced (Luke 2:38)!

Can’t you feel the satisfying of their long wait? The fact that the LIGHT, the LIFE they had been waiting for in the Messiah had come and they could now go on in peace knowing they had met Him, the Savior of the World.

As modern day believers we do have something in common with Simeon and Anna: we are awaiting Christ too! While they were awaiting the Messiah’s first coming– we await His second coming. May we be like Anna and Simeon… faithful, trusting, and patient as we wait for His second coming. May we be found faithfully serving Him, loving Him when He returns again… this time not as a baby but instead as a King, coming to gather His own. 

My prayer for this week: Lord and Savior Jesus, please help us to never grow weary in our journey of waiting for you, our Messiah’s, 2nd return. May we be found faithful and trusting like Simeon and Anna. May our hearts be filled with your light, the warmth of your life and love. Oh how we long for the day you will come to gather us and take us home to you where you “will wipe every tear from our eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain” (Revelation 21:4). We faithfully wait on you. May we be found faithful when you return. In the mean time, help us to cherish the warmth of your light and life, and love and share it to those in the world who are still out in the dark and cold. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Until next time,

PS. King Jesus will return again! Read more about it here:

P.P.S. Speaking of “long, cold, dark” winters here are two of my posts on hope even in the hard times:

P.P.P.S. Here are my favorite Christmas blogs. Enjoy the encouragement they bring! Also, please remember you can look under my blog archives at any time for encouragement!

Featured

My God, Savior, King & Friend

The song echoes from our stereo as we pull into the driveway. It’s been echoing during school drop offs, pickups and everything between this week: 

“My God, my Savior, my King & my Friend…”

Phil Wickham, “Away in the Manger/Forever Amen” 

Like all the Christmas carols that play this time of year, I find I’ve been singing it easily and perhaps a bit absentmindedly. But one day my heart was ready… and the words hit their target: The baby Jesus came not just as God, but to be Savior, to be King, to be our friend.  God sent Jesus to become all of these things (and more) to us. God. Savior. King. Friend. My heart soaks up that message hungrily. ❤️

Yes, we may have heard this, plenty of times, but to allow the Holy Spirit to weave this truth into our hearts is a powerful thing indeed. I started to meditate on the words… ask God to reveal more about these attributes of Himself to me. 

It’s so wonderful that our relationship with Jesus has no boundaries. His relationship with us could be sung in a thousand lyrics for a thousand years and we would still not begin to cover the beginning of who He is to us. 

Let’s dive into these four specific attributes and let the Holy Spirit weave His truths into our hearts today: 

GOD. We know Jesus is one of the Trinity. 

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen His glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 1:14 

Yes, He came as a human baby in the manger but He is the true and living God. Creator God, the One who made the universe, came to earth in human form, as an infant — nothing special immediately noted about Him that would rouse our attention or draw us to Him (Isaiah 53:2). Creator God actually came as a baby and was reliant (lenient) on others to grow and get by. God came to human form. What power in that statement! There is not one thing we have been through that Jesus has not felt or experienced. Wow, the God of the universe stepping down into human footsteps… could there be any greater sacrifice? 

Yes, yes there could actually… for that Son didn’t just walk as a man here on earth, He died and rose again becoming our…

SAVIOR. A Savior saves/redeems people from their sins. The name of Jesus or Joshua means “Jesus saves” or “God saves”. The angel, Gabriel, told Mary to name the baby “Jesus” (Luke 1:30-31). This name was selected by God for His son, and what an accurate representation of who He is for us! Only Jesus could become the true Savior to save us from our sins. He is the only one without sin who could take our place as the ultimate sacrifice to free us from our sin. 

We who believe in Christ have called on Jesus as Savior. We did this at the beginning of our journey with Christ— calling him both Savior and Lord. We admitting that we have sinned, that we cannot help ourselves. There is nothing we can do to get ourselves out of the mess/challenge/trial we find ourselves in. Only God in His mercy, through sending His son, our SAVIOR can come rescue us now (John 3:16). He rescued us when He died on the cross and rose again. He will come to the rescue for us each and every day no matter what the situation. Call on His name now. He is here. Haven’t done this yet? Here’s a great resource to help you get started (https://agapelife.org/next-steps/).

KING. The legal throne of David actually belonged to Jesus Himself through His lineage. He is the eternal king: He will never die and pass on the throne (Luke 1:32-33). When teaching about the Christmas story in a kids class recently, I took time to explain about the Messiah’s long awaited arrival and how many people were looking for Him to be found/born to an influential place like a castle or royalty. Yet. Here came our Savior King born in the most lowly of places. Did God have an “oops” moment forgetting to secure a place for His son’s birth? No way! It was all apart of the plan. For by being born in a lowly stable, it was communicated that Jesus, the Messiah– was here to save ALL from their sins. Not just the wealthy, strong, or educated. No. He came to be the Savior and King of the world. Amen! What great news! 🙌

FRIEND. Again, this is an aspect of God that NEVER grows old and is the character I am calling on Him for today specifically. Because we have Him as friend He knows and loves our hearts. We will never be alone again. He is a constant friend. Let’s build our friendship with Him today. Not sure how? Start by connecting with Him on a daily basis! Take time to talk with Him, read His word, listen for His direction in your life. He will meet you there and the depth of relationship you experience with Him there will meet your every need spiritually, mentally, emotionally, physically and become one of the greatest treasures of your life. Go deeper today! (My blog https://melanietalevski.com/2022/11/27/further-up-further-in/ helps get you started on going further with Him in His word!)

Everyday, I end up needing Him in each of these capacities! God, Savior, King, Friend. Are they true to your life today? Are you allowing Jesus to be your God, your Savior, your King, your friend? Oh how he wants to, Friend.

Let’s be like the shepherds, who left all they had and relentlessly ran to meet the newborn King. Let’s be like the kings, who left home and comfort to search for the new King. Nothing mattered more to them. Let’s ask God to reveal the depth of what Jesus is to us. Jesus is the gift that we so desperately need! It’s the perfect time to fully accept Him as God, Savior, King and Friend.

The gift of Jesus is just getting started with these four descriptions but wow, they are powerful and more than enough! It’s just the “tip of the Christmas tree” though. Dig in the word and find who Jesus is, what He has done, and what that means to you. I promise you you will be inspired and filled to overflowing with God’s love for you! 

My prayer for you this week: God, I pray for revelation right now for myself and my friends around the aspects of your love and character. Thank you for coming to be our God, Savior, King, Friend. I pray that you would open our eyes and reveal to us the depths of who you are. May we come not to just see you as a mere man, or as a “far away” or distant God (nothing could be further from the truth)— may we come to know you as God, Savior, King, Friend. Thank you for your Holy Spirit’s help in revealing this to our hearts, especially at this wonderful season of your birth. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. 

Until next time, 

PS. This is the video of Phil Wickham’s “Away in the Manger/Forever Amen”. Take a listen! It will bless you! 

I know I also mentioned this in a previous post (https://melanietalevski.com/2022/11/27/further-up-further-in/) but this is Phil Wickham’s new book. It’s on my Christmas list! I imagine it is just filled with the presence of Jesus as his songs. I encourage you to check it out or add it to your own Christmas list.

P.P.S. I would love to hear what your favorite Christmas carol is! I always love the good alto ones… “Away in a Manger”, “O Come all Ye Faithful”, and “Noel”. I love how the purity of the Christmas story is conveyed in each one of these old songs. Enjoy listening and being inspired this season. 🙂 

Featured

Prepare Him Room

I always remember the church Christmas play I was assigned the role of the “Innkeeper’s Wife”. Innkeeper’s wife?! I thought. What an unimportant role. She wasn’t even mentioned in the Bible, maybe didn’t even exist. I wasn’t even the main innkeeper himself, but just the lowly wife!

But thankfully, the woman who directed the program had a plan. She didn’t say in so many words, but implied: obviously a busy innkeeper needed the sensitivity of a wife to offer hospitality and care for the new couple settling in at the stable.

I remember after being given a bit of insight into that knowledge, I realized I would be the one to offer baby Jesus a room! I acted my heart out in that position that year:

“Knock, knock!”

The innkeeper moved the cardboard door open. “Yes?”

“Do you have a room for me and my wife? She’s going to have a baby!” Nine year old Joseph gestured to eight year old Mary who was holding a batch of clothing by her belly.

“No room.” The innkeeper said with a trace of regret (and a lisp as he had just lost his front tooth).

The couple began to walk away.

“Wait,” The innkeeper called, “We do have a stable out back. My wife will show you the way.”

It was my turn! Edging past the cardboard door, I silently showed Joseph and Mary to the area decorated as a stable. Children dressed as sheep baa-ed and cattle mooed as Mary and Joseph settled in the hay.

“Thank you,” they said and the play proceeded with me going back stage. No lines for this little actor, yet so much was said.

Perhaps in the Christmas story (Luke 2:1-20) the innkeeper did have a wife. While he was busy serving guests, refilling drinks, answering the door, gathering wages, perhaps she scurried away for a moment to show a couple the last room left… in the stable. Perhaps she brought them extra bedding, a towel, or warm water for the birth. It’s not told to us in this version of the story, but I am willing to envision a lowly, busy, frazzled innkeeper’s wife (or lady of the house) who took a moment to prepare room for the Messiah.

What about us, friend? We, like the innkeepers that night, have busy full plates this holiday season. We are overflowing with events, presents, parties, and everything that is a part of this great season. But when the knock comes at our heart—it’s the Messiah, He’s waiting to meet with us– will we take a moment to “prepare Him room” in our hearts? We will take time to sit with Him, listen, cast aside even for a few minutes all the busyness that constantly calls our names? I’d like to think so.

The key to a meaningful Christmas is to daily prepare Him room in our hearts.

If we make space in our schedule for the King of the Universe (the one this holiday is truly all about) we will find ourselves fulfilled, peaceful, and enjoying a pleasant, meaningful Christmas.

The original meaning of “merry” when spoke as “Merry Christmas” came from a word that meant “blessed, peaceful, pleasant,” expressing spiritual joys rather than “merry” as joyous, silly.

So when wishing a friend or family member a “Merry Christmas” our true wish for them is to experience more of Christ’s spiritual blessings, peace, and pleasantness of His presence. 

This is the kind of Christmas we seek in our hearts, isn’t it? A Christmas that is full of the presence of God- peaceful, pleasant, full of Christ’s spiritual blessings in our heart.  That sounds like a meaningful Christmas to me!

This holiday season, Jesus says to you and me…

Peace Phil 4:7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Pleasantness of His presence “…in God’s presence is fullness of joy: at God’s right hand there are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11)

Spiritual blessings Col 1: 12-13 the Father, who has qualified you[a] to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,

I know for me, a lot of this depth of blessings, pleasantness, and peace can go missing if I don’t intentionally make space for it. How about you?

So how do we make space when our schedule already feels jammed packed with events and holiday fun galore? Become intentional.

It takes a bit of heart searching, but look for what really is a priority to you and your family this holiday season and schedule and do that. Let the rest fall to the side.

But what about my elementary child’s choir concert or classroom party? You may say. That’s not my priority but it sure has to go on my schedule.

I hear you. I am right there with you (yes look down the aisle at the concert and I will be there)! While there are certain things we can’t miss or adjust, I think if we look at things clearly, there truly is a lot we just feel “obligated” to do  or feel as if it is “tradition”. But traditions lose their enjoyment if everything becomes a “tradition”. Soon our kids, who perhaps are yearning for a quiet night next to the Christmas tree once and awhile, may see “traditions” as exhausting. We often do, if we are honest, don’t we? So how about this year we do an experiment, and find the top 2-3 priorities or “traditions” we want to do and let the rest fall to the side?

I know when we allow more SPACE in our schedule for the Lord and our families—great things happen!

Let’s ask God to guide us and help us with our priorities this season. Let’s ask Him to help us prioritize Him and “prepare Him room” in our hearts this Christmas. May this be the Christmas we soak in time with Him—our Messiah, our King of the Universe— soaking in His peace, His pleasant presence, and His spiritual blessing for our lives. 

Until next time,

P.S. Here’s a few snapshots of our Christmas season so far.

P.P.S. Here are a few resources I used to help me prioritize what I wanted my Christmas to look like!

“Calm Christmas and a Happy New Year” by Beth Kempton https://bethkempton.com/calmchristmas/

“Less Doing More Meaning One Hour Planner” free download at https://www.dianakokku.com

P.P.P.S. Some of the authors who have researched the Bible (Angela Hunt being one of my favorite) find it is actually inferred that Mary and Joseph stayed in the lower level of the house where the animals were (regular housing) and that Jesus was born there. She researches and writes about this in her fiction book “The Shepherd’s Wife” (https://www.angelahuntbooks.com/books/the-shepherds-wife/).

(picture by: lifeandlitblog.com)

Here is a picture of what a typical house may look like in Bethlehem. Interesting tid-bit for those of us who love history in the Bible!

(source: http://www.worldhistory.biz/uploads/posts/2016-02/22q-701.jpg).

Featured

Further Up, Further In

 “Come further up, come further in!” (C.S. Lewis, The Last Battle, pp. 195-197) is the whisper of the whole series of “The Chronicles of Narnia”—one of my ultimate favorite book series. “Come further up, come further in” was what the children experienced (especially Lucy) as she stepped into a new land and heard of and eventually met the wonderful “but not tame” lion, Aslan. It’s what Edmund experienced after he was forgiven by Aslan after his betrayal. It’s the voice of the Maker calling to each of the creatures of the magical land of Narnia. His desire is for them to “come further up, come further in” to all He had for them. 

The same us true of us today. Our Maker whispers to each one of us, yes, even in the midst of Christmas busyness, activities and preparations galore… “Come further up, come further in!” It’s time for the next level with our Savior. 

Wait, you may be thinking. It isn’t the new year yet. Shouldn’t all advancement wait until the ball drops and the clock strikes midnight? Well, sure it works then too. But I think one of the most powerful and proactive things we can do is to challenge ourselves now, even in the middle of the season, to finish the year out well and start the new year out strong. 

How do we do this? Dwell in the Word. The Word is what propels us deeper into our relationship with the Lord. In His Word, we see and hear His heart for us and all mankind. We get to know Him, His love, His kindness, His character deeper. Our hearts glow inside of us when we dig into the Word. 

Yes, friends, the Word works. 

When faced with obstacles that seem they have no answer? 

The Word works. 

When faced with a lack of peace, depression or anxiety? 

The Word works. 

When faced with illness, lack or loneliness? 

The Word works. 

In any situation… the Word works. 

His Word is always true. It never changes. It never shifts or ceases to apply to our lives. 

The Word will stand the test of time. It never fades or loses its power. 

Right now the Holy Spirit is whispering to each of our hearts “come further up, come further in”- come dwell on the promises He has given us in His Word!

Here are 30 Truths for us to dwell on from the Bible. Let’s meditate on them, remember them when the going gets tough, even the days get busy or when it seems there is no change. The Word works! 

 I challenge each of us… let’s find our favorites- the one that speaks to us in this moment, Let’s write it down, look it up in our Bibles, speak it and believe it. “”For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us” (2 Corinthians 1:20).

So without further adieu, here are 30 promises to propel us “further up and further in” in our relationship with the Lord: 

  1. He is for you! “What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31.
  2. His love can never be separated from you. “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons,[b] neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 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.
  3. God knew you before the earth was formed. “My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them” Psalm 139: 15-16.
  4. He made you- you are wonderfully and fearfully made! “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” Psalm 139:14.
  5. He’s your shepherd. “The Lord is my shepherd” Psalm 23:1.
  6. God is more than enough! “Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us” Ephesians 3:20.
  7. He has all we could ever need. “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by His own glory and goodness” 1 Peter 1:3.
  8. He is provider. “And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4:19.
  9. His love reaches to the sky! “Lord, your faithful love reaches to the sky! Your faithfulness is as high as the clouds” Psalm 36:5.
  10. God casts our sin from us. “As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” Psalm 103:12.
  11. He gives us a new heart. “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh” Ezekiel 36:26.
  12. His kindness never fails. “Because of the LORD’s great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:22-23.
  13. Great is His faithfulness! (verse above) 
  14. His presence never leaves us. “If I ascend to the heavens, You are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, You are there. If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle by the farthest sea, even there Your hand will guide me; Your right hand will hold me fast.…” Psalm 139:8-10.
  15. God gives peace to our minds. “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid” John 14:27.
  16. He gives healing to our bodies. “He heals all your diseases” Psalm 103:2-3.
  17. He strengthens us by His Spirit. “I pray that out of His glorious riches He may strengthen you with power through His Spirit in your inner being” Ephesians 3:16.
  18. God’s grace is more than enough. “My grace is always more than enough for you, and my power finds its full expression through your weakness” 2 Corinthians 12:9. 
  19. His Spirit is inside of us. “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as God raised Christ Jesus from the dead, He will give life to your mortal bodies by this same Spirit living within you” Romans 6:10-11.
  20. He cares deeply for us. “And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and gone tomorrow, won’t He more surely care for you, O men of little faith?” Matthew 6:30.
  21. He is the burden bearer. “Praise be to the Lord, to God our Savior, who daily bears our burdens” Psalm 68:19.
  22. God delights in us. “The Lord your God …will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing” Zephaniah 3:17.
  23. He sends us a helper (the Holy Spirit). “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever— the Spirit of truth” John 14:16-17.  
  24. We are never alone. God has said, “Never will I leave you; never will I forsake you” Hebrews 13:5.
  25. His mercy is new every morning. “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness” Lamentations 3:22-23.
  26. He forgives us time and time again. “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” 1 John 1:9.
  27. We are safeguarded by Him. “And into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, reserved in heaven for you, who through faith are shielded by God’s power for the salvation that is ready to be revealed in the last time” 1 Peter 1:4-5.
  28. God has a plan for our lives. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” Jeremiah 29:11.
  29. He is our living hope! “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to His great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead” 1 Peter 1:3.
  30. He redeems our lives from the pit. “He redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion” Psalm 103:4.

Did you find your favorite? I know I did! (If it is even possible to pick just one?!) I encourage you… write it down, pray it, meditate it, speak it over your life this week. 

The things we meditate on during the week is what will begin to grow in our hearts. I want to have more of Him and His Word planted in my heart. How about you? 

My prayer for this week: Lord, may we be empowered by your Word to come “further up and further in” with you this week. May you propel us forward in our relationship with you as we hold onto the Word, mediate on it, and believe it. We believe we will see your promises come to pass in our lives by the help of your Holy Spirit. Show us how to go to the next level, the deeper level  with you (much like Aslan whispering to Lucy— further up, further in). Help us not to compromise and live with our minds absorbed in this natural world, but instead “be transformed by the renewing of our minds” (in the Word)–Romans 12:2. Thank you for revealing more and more of yourself to us. We love you, Amen! 

Until next time, 

PS. We have close to 30 days until the start of 2023 which means one promise a day to meditate on. Now that’s a good way to end the year well and start the new year off strong! 💪

P.P.S. Here’s some of the books I am adding to my TBR (To Be Read pile) or I already use daily! (links under pictures)

Book 1 “Unwrapping the Names of Jesus”. I’m just starting this for Advent with my family!

Books 2-4: On my TBR pile! Looks like some great devotionals for the New Year.

Bibles (pictures 5 &6): Two of my favorite Bibles!

https://www.amazon.com/Unwrapping-Names-Jesus-Advent-Devotional/dp/0802416721/ref=sr_1_5?crid=MIWTTAUUFUCJ&keywords=names+of+jesus&qid=1669519309&s=books&sprefix=names%2Cstripbooks%2C120&sr=1-5

https://www.amazon.com/Our-Knees-Living-Boldly-Prayer/dp/1954201281/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=2NMLPW185LJZ6&keywords=phil+wickham+book&qid=1669519481&s=books&sprefix=phil+whick%2Cstripbooks%2C121&sr=1-1-spons&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUEzNU9EWDJUN0MzRTVHJmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwNzkzMTgyMlZUTkpQTk5UR0ZYSiZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMjg5NzkwSjRSTVZZSDgwRVJTJndpZGdldE5hbWU9c3BfYXRmJmFjdGlvbj1jbGlja1JlZGlyZWN0JmRvTm90TG9nQ2xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ==

https://www.amazon.com/Awaken-Days-God-who-Speaks/dp/1462776345/ref=sr_1_31?crid=2V6O8B61WX6DA&keywords=spirit+filled+devotionals&qid=1669519369&s=books&sprefix=spiritfilled+devotionals%2Cstripbooks%2C110&sr=1-31

https://www.amazon.com/Chosen-40-Days-Jesus/dp/1424557852/ref=sr_1_1?crid=73V87N67L8MX&keywords=chosen+devotional&qid=1669519426&s=books&sprefix=chosen+devotional%2Cstripbooks%2C129&sr=1-1

https://www.amazon.com/New-Spirit-Filled-Life-Daily-Bible/dp/0718020774/ref=sr_1_6?crid=27B6PLO69J2Q3&keywords=back+hayford+bible%27&qid=1669519058&s=books&sprefix=back+hayford+bible%27%2Cstripbooks%2C103&sr=1-6  

https://www.amazon.com/Application-Study-Bible-Letter-LeatherLike/dp/1496455169/ref=sr_1_1_sspa?crid=2O94S26CPV1UW&keywords=nlt+application+study+bible&qid=1669519233&s=books&sprefix=NLT+application%2Cstripbooks%2C145&sr=1-1-spons&ufe=app_do%3Aamzn1.fos.08f69ac3-fd3d-4b88-bca2-8997e41410bb&psc=1&spLa=ZW5jcnlwdGVkUXVhbGlmaWVyPUExNzMxOEw0RlM5MTU4JmVuY3J5cHRlZElkPUEwODI1MTc3MzcwUFBLT1NXUENQMCZlbmNyeXB0ZWRBZElkPUEwMTI4OTk2MTRPOVlFUEozOFUzRSZ3aWRnZXROYW1lPXNwX2F0ZiZhY3Rpb249Y2xpY2tSZWRpcmVjdCZkb05vdExvZ0NsaWNrPXRydWU=

May you “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16).  🥰

Featured

Godwinks & Favorite Moments

I like playing a game with my kids called “Favorite Moment”. It’s about as straightforward as it sounds: list a favorite moment in your day and reflect on all that is good. We especially like to play this right before bed, causing us to think about good things as we drift into sleep. We’ve done this since the kids were little and is one of our traditions each night. Just recently, our game morphed into a slightly different question. I guess the best of games grow with us, don’t they? Instead of “Favorite Moment” we find ourselves asking each other, “How did you see God’s love today?” Or even better yet, “How did you share God’s love today”? 

One of the major “Favorite Moments” God showed me His love this fall was a couple weeks ago. Last minute, my dear friend, Susie, came for a visit to Colorado. She’s never been this far out west and we have never met in person. God brought her into my life: the friend my heart knew I needed. We exchanged letters five years ago this fall through our love for a Hallmark show, “When Calls the Heart”. Before we knew it, we were chatting on Facebook, calling each other, and finding we had so much more in common than just a love for the show. Of course, we have always wanted to meet in person but it has always been something we have trusted to God. Several times we made our plans, but things changed it or situations happened, but we knew when we would finally meet face to face it was going to be God who worked the details out. And here she came! I am a planner (and she is too) so it was just funny when the opportunity arose and seriously it was only a week or two before she was setting foot in the Mile High City. It all happened so fast and was all God. 

Here are a few of our pictures (thank you, Susie!).

It was amazing how this weekend was ordained by God— all the way from the weather (the fall can often be brutally shortened by a winter storm here, but this fall— graceful!) to other “Godwinks” God supplied for her time here (a cabin rental available last minute, beautiful colors, help for her camera, a family gathering to meet everyone, church family, the list goes on and on). God knew we needed this special visit, the break from normal life, the encouragement, the beauty. He’s sure good at letting us know we are loved by Him! 

And I’m not His only favorite 😉… He wants to show you His love, too! I encourage you, whether it is a big thing like my friend’s visit, or a small thing like fall’s beauty, a friend’s call, a verse spoken at church… I encourage you to see them as the Godwinks that they are… God showing His love to you. It is not just a coincidence. It is not just a “nice” thing that happens. Each and every act that makes your eyes light up and your heart soar… your Heavenly Father is the author of that.

“Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.”

James 1:17

It’s amazing when a friend shows love towards you- a coffee meetup, a walk and talk in the midst of a busy day, a note or a small gift that shows they have been thinking of you. But imagine, God, the Creator of the World taking time to show His love to us? In the biggest action known to mankind, He sent His Son to save us.

“Here is how God showed His love for us, while we were still sinners Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:8

Can you imagine the love it took for our God to send His own Son to die for us, even before we knew Him? Even though He knew some of us would reject Him or walk away? Extreme love right there, I tell you. 

Let’s make the choice this week to purposefully observe, with our spiritual eyes, the things that God blesses our lives with. It can be even the smallest of things! My mom was so blessed by God’s showing of love towards her through the small gift of an avocado! Ha ha! It’s amazing how even in the smallest of things, God shows His love for us. He knows our hearts desires, or even just the smallest of thoughts we have (like my mom’s thought of how good an avocado with lunch would be) and He shows us His love through the biggest and the smallest of things. What a sweet Savior we have. 

My prayer for you: God, may you help each of us see the special ways you sprinkle your love into our lives daily: through a friendship, beauty in nature, a Bible verse, a special show of your favor in an intimate way only you could know. Help us to enjoy these “Favorite Moments” knowing they come from you. You’re so good at showing us love, time and time again. Thank you for all the Godwinks you give us, all the small and big blessings alike. Open our eyes to realize the small ways you show us each day you are here and you love us, and in turn share that love with others. Thank you for your loving presence in our lives! Amen. 

Until next time, 

PS. I encourage you to start this “Favorite Moment” tradition yourself, with a friend, or family member. It’s amazing how even just a small little game like this can help us see that God shows His love for us each day! I love how this tradition causes us to look for the good in the day and acknowledge how God was there for us. I like to think that when we do this it is one of God’s “Favorite Moments”. 😉 

Here’s some of our puppy’s “Favorite Moments” so far this fall. 😆

Featured

The Gift of Life’s Canvas

My grandmother, Vivian, had an interesting way of celebrating her grandchildren’s birthdays. For most of my growing up years, Grandma was not content just to give a little gift, or card or money. Instead a birthday celebration meant a special shopping trip with grandma. This shopping trip would not result in something that we could quickly pick out, put on, and move on. No, this shopping trip was more than likely a trip to Michael’s, the craft store in their small town, to select items for a project. My memorable project was a painting the year I turned nine years old. 

On this particular trip, Grandma, being a painting artist, already knew what we needed. She knew the right size canvas. She knew the colors of paints that she perhaps had run out of in her own supply and a new paintbrush or two. We picked up the supplies which to be honest, it was a bit anticlimactic. She paid for the supplies and we gathered up the yellow grocery bags.

We went to the farmhouse and set up in her studio— that is where all the magic began.

It’s funny now thinking about how impatient I was to complete the painting and how I just wanted it to be perfect and I wanted it to be done. Doesn’t that sound typical of our human nature? Let’s hurry up and get it done! Oh, but there is so much more to be found in the journey, in the process. 

And a process it was. I first had to prime the canvas, paint the background of the canvas, then work the background of mountains. Paint the background landscape. Then the trees began and those were a favorite- their spindly pine trunks reaching into the sky. But the clouds— the wisps of white— they were the best part.  I had to learn from my ever patient grandmother to loosen my tight grip on the paintbrush. I thought I had loosened enough but then she would reach over and shake my wrist. Still too rigid! To make the best clouds around I had to have a loose grip, let the paintbrush flow.  That was hard…what if I made a mistake? I made the cloud too big or what if I messed up the whole canvas? But to Grandma there was no mistake that couldn’t be fixed. 

I remember a few times her expert hand coming in on top of mine and helping me form the wispy clouds. I was in good hands yet I still felt tempted to control the process— to hurry the process. It felt as if was taking FOREVER for the finished product! But really the process of painting itself was grandma’s gift to me. Now I look back fondly on that time spent together and cherish it. I still have the painting and I always will. It’s not really about the finished product or how it turned out. 

Here is a picture of my wonderful grandmother, Vivian and I a few years ago. And the finished product from all those years ago:

The lesson I found in painting that day, my special ninth birthday gift, was it’s more about the process. It’s less about the control or the finished product.

So when I feel like I need to go into Sargent mode in life (you know what I mean, right? Trying to adhere to rigid expectations- control, hold tighter when faced with what feels a loss of control or a change happens in life— Sargent mode is not a nice place to live— for us or those we are around!) I try to remind myself of my painting gift with Grandma. I’ve just recently taken it out of my memory box and put it out where I can see it and remember this that God is the ultimate craftsman. He is the one overall, He’s in control. He’s the One who has given us this life canvas. He bought bought it for us by sending Jesus to die in our place (John 3:16).

He has all the supplies, all the paints, paint brushes, everything ready for us to paint our life’s picture.

“His divine power has given us everything needed for life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.”

2 Peter 1:3

He doesn’t leave it at that. He doesn’t just say “Great, you can use my studio have fun. I’ll check in on you later.” No, He’s like my doting grandmother who allowed me creative process, but was also there to direct and help lead. He’s leading us into making a masterpiece, His hand is upon ours. His expert brush is able to correct any mistakes. His advice and wisdom are available as He helps paint the picture of our lives.

Friend, I encourage you to spread out the canvas of your life to our loving Father God. He’’s the ultimate craftsman. He’s the one who knows our days from beginning to end. He’s the one who is Lord over all. I encourage you to release your rigid grip on the paintbrush of life— release the urge to try to control or do things perfectly (even just one imperfect moment at a time. Believe me, I am right there with you). Instead, let His wisps of grace, His gentle expert hand lead and guide you. That’s how we end up with a masterpiece! May we realize that the process is the reward. Being with Him, trusting him learning from Him, growing in Him, letting him open our eyes of faith to a new perspective letting His presence minister to us is the main goal, the main thing.

Here’s my prayer this week— may you feel free to echo what resonates with your heart in your own prayer time too:

Lord, You are the ultimate craftsman. Thank you for designing, planning and laying out my life. I want to work in cooperation with you to create this masterpiece. Help me to relinquish, to release my tight and rigid grip on life. Help me let go of perfectionism. Instead, I yield to your gentle hand guiding me in the beautiful wisps of grace. Help me to remember that you are Lord of all. You are guiding, designing, perfecting in a way that only you can do. I’m not capable of that. So I give it all into your hands. Like John Eldredge says, ‘I entrust everyone and everything into your care’ (https://www.pauseapp.com) . Thank you that we do this process together. I want to journey together. Thank you for speaking to my heart in your gentle and peaceful and wisps of grace type of way. I’ll follow the nudges of the Holy Spirit this week. To continue moment upon moment situation upon situation, to surrender control to you. I know that you are the ultimate craftsman, you will lead me in the ultimate journey, your journey for my life. In Jesus name, amen. 

Until next time, 

P.S. Picture 1: This is another one of my grandmother’s paintings that is now hanging in our house. She had a gallery of paintings all around her house, and was always willing to part with one if we felt like one resonated with us. Upon my grandparents deaths, the paintings have now been spread out to different households. That makes me smile! I like to think about how grandma’s handiwork lives on inspires others and brings smiles to my extended family’s faces in all of our different households. Her paintings are such a good reminder of God’s wisps of grace and God’s handiwork and how it lives on forever.  I’ll be excited to see the different creations she comes up with in Heaven, I’m sure she’s already started her gallery there.  (And oh the fish Grandpa will have caught! Every size and variety!)

Picture 2: Grandma and her oldest granddaughter got to continue this tradition years ago as well with a special painting day with Memaw. 🥰

P.S.S. I would love to hear your personal testimonies of the times that you have seen God’s wisps of grace in stressful or hard situations and how God came through for you. When we share these testimonies, it’s amazing how much it inspires us and reminds ourselves about the faithfulness of God and also inspires those that we tell. 

Featured

A Brave & Tender Heart

It’s a brave thing to keep your heart a heart of flesh, tender and gentle in the midst of challenge, hurt, and the grief of this world. I

One of my favorite book characters of all time is Lucy Pevensie in “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Although we could note her curiosity, bravery, or gift of healing– instead the trait she is known for is her brave tender heart. In the midst of her older, much more mature siblings, her heart remains pure, trusting, and tender– not yet hardened by the doubts or pains of the world.

What is it about a tender heart that is so admirable? We, who are grown now, roughened up a bit (or a lot) by disappointments, challenge, heartache, remember the time our hearts were soft. In fact, we may either yearn for those moments again or in some cases resent the naivety of it.

Tenderhearted Lucy, in “Prince Caspian” finds herself on a unique journey. She has aged some since the last adventure bringing with it some of the pains of growing up. The gist of the story is that in the midst of a challenge their Savior Aslan was seemingly missing. Nobody knew where He was or why He wasn’t showing himself.  The older siblings start to lose faith in Aslan, even to the point of questioning if He was ever real. Lucy, with her child-like faith and tender heart continued to believe in her Savior, Aslan. The other children started to look to their own resources, but she was the one who remembered the One who was Truth. Later, she is the one who Aslan appeared to and spoke tenderly to. 

Oh to have a heart like Lucy! To trust the Father, even in the midst of excruciating circumstances. Our hearts started out this way and still yearn to be this way.

Did you know our hearts were modeled after our Creator’s? Yes, He gave us a heart after His own— tender, loving, gentle, trusting. The world gives its best shot against us (sometimes through choices of our own, situations we face or even just the fallen nature of this world). It can often do a number on the tender heart. The enemy would love nothing more than to injure, (“steal, kill, and destroy” John 10:10) and render our hearts beyond repair, broken, useless. But Jesus has come to give us life, life to the full (John 10:10).

In the midst of the things that would make their best attempt to harden our hearts our great Savior is calling us closer. He wants to remind us we’re never alone, to remind us even in the heartbreak of this world, or even when we don’t understand why things are going a certain way— He’s there. He’s our gentle, tender hearted Aslan. It’s in surrendering our hearts to His tender care that our own hearts remain gentle and tender. 

It’s a brave thing to keep your heart a heart of flesh, tender and gentle in the midst of challenge, hurt, and the grief of this world. It’s impossible to keep our hearts soft on our own. Often will feel like we must put a hedge of protection around our heart or we think we must never love deeply again in order to protect ourselves.

It’s a good thing that keeping a tender heart is not 100% up to us:

I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.

Ezekiel 36:26 

Next time that something hurts deeply and we are tempted to close off our hearts—we must surrender our hearts again to our Savior God. Let’s place our heart in His hands- the only place it will be truly safe and secure. To do this is an act of bravery, an act of trust, an act of faith. 

We put trust in the fact that He’ll hold our hearts, He’ll be there with us. He’ll even mend us and put us back together. If you find yourself questioning Him and His faithfulness— don’t turn away. Talk to God about it. He can handle it and show you a new way of trusting Him. Let Him minister to your heart today.

The parts of your heart that are broken, hurt, closed off, barriered off, even forgotten— let Him bring your whole heart back into His tender love and care. Let Him, in His own tender and gentle way, restore life and tenderness to your heart. The places of the heart that were stone gray, dead, lifeless  now spreads a fleshly pink, the life returns because of His touch. Don’t be afraid to admit to Him all the shortcomings, hurts, fears, griefs and sorrows you’re facing. He knows anyway. The act of telling Him and letting Him in to connect with you over those things, brings great healing. 

He’s the faithful friend that sits with us as we pour out what is in our hearts. He listens, He understands, He feels. He himself has such a gentle and tender heart that He feels our heartache as His own.

“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Hebrews 4:15-16

He’s the ultimate empath, the ultimate compassionate God. We see over and over in the Scriptures about how He felt compassion in His heart towards the people (Luke 7:13, Matthew 15:32, Matthew 9:36). I know one day when look in my Savior’s eyes I will see a depth of love and love never known before.

I encourage you friend when you feel:

like boxing your heart off,

breaking away a piece of your heart to keep it safe,

or hiding away to keep your heart unaffected or untouched by the world and its problems—

to entrust your heart to the Lord, place your heart in His hands. Yes, even if it is in pieces. Yes— even if it is stone cold. We are jars of clay– human, imperfect— (2 Corinthians 4:7). God made us this way! And guess what? He knows us, loves us, and does not demand perfection from us.

When we trust Him fresh and anew, in enters His grace… it is actually in the admitting of being broken—not able to do it on our own for ourselves— that we throw open our faith in the Lord and lean on Him for our answers. Remember the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3:16-28)? There was no way they could save themselves… God saved them from the fire. But their prayer had been “even if He did not save them they would still trust Him”. Now that’s extreme devotion! (Thanks to a long time family- friend and his wife for their recent talk with me about this and inspiring the completion of this blog! 😉)

My prayer for you this week:

Father God, may you encourage my friends today. May you help them to see and to feel your tenderness and faithfulness this week. May you take the pieces of their hearts and hold them gently and safely, like You always do. You are the great Aslan— we ask you to administer your life and healing. You are the expert at that.

May You help all of us in this in the midst of this cold world to stick close to you, to allow you to breathe life, health, and faith into our hearts.

May we shine as the daughters and sons of the King that we were meant to be (like Lucy) until you bring us all home where everything will be restored to its rightful place, and our hearts will sing. No longer will there any be any more pain or suffering (Revelation 21:4)

So until that day, we continue to trust you, King Jesus, with our hearts. Keep us tender, compassionate, and gently in your care. Help us know, that like Queen Lucy, we can make a big difference in the healing of hearts by leading people to you while there’s still time. In Jesus Name, Amen. 

Until next time, 

 P.S. Another book series I’d like to recommend to help grow your children’s (or grandchildren’s) faith this summertime is “The Kingdom Series” by Chuck Black. https://www.amazon.com/Kingdom-Volumes-Kingdoms-Quest-Reign/dp/B01JMW71QM

Summertime is a perfect time to invest into the hearts of our children and to encourage them to to place their hearts in His tender care— that no matter what goes on in the world, no matter what tries to bend or break or hurt their hearts they can know without a doubt that Jesus loves them, that they’re safe and cared for. Do you have any Christian book recommendations for children or teens? Adults? I’d love to hear. 

Here’s a few glimpses into our summer so far:

Featured

The Love That Was There All Along

“Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, before you were born I set you apart.”

Jeremiah 1:5

“For He chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.” 

Ephesians 1:4

It’s hard for us to grasp – we were, we are, and forever will be loved by our Father God. The more time I spend with Him the more He’s been teaching me of His tender love and kindness. 

I was blessed to be raised by a tender loving father (I know this isn’t the case for many). Through my dad I have seen the love of the Father and also relate to my Father God through my dad’s faithful example and ways he has led me closer to Christ. 

I pray today, no matter what your circumstances have been with your earthly physical father, that God would lead you and help open your eyes to see His unconditional, never ending Fatherly love He has for you.

“I pray that the light of God will illuminate the eyes of your imagination (understanding), flooding you with light, until you experience the full revelation of the hope of His calling —that is, the wealth of God’s glorious inheritances that He finds in us, His holy ones!”

Ephesians 1:18 TPT

There are many truths God is teaching me about His love and tender mercy, three that stand out in particular:

1. His tender love and mercy for me does not depend on us and what we do. It is 100% dependent on Him and His covenant to us.  

Though the mountains be shaken
    and the hills be removed,
yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken
    nor my covenant of peace be removed,”
    says the Lord, who has compassion on you.  

Isaiah 54:10

“But God still loved us with such great love. He is so rich in compassion and mercy. Even when we were dead and doomed in our many sins, he united us into the very life of Christ and saved us by his wonderful grace!”

Ephesians 2:4-5

But I will never, no never, lift my faithful love from off their lives.

My kindness will prevail and I will never disown them.

How could I revoke my covenant of love that I promised David?

For I have given him my word, my holy, irrevocable word.

Psalm 89: 33-35

2. His tender mercy meets us where we are at:

“Hurry to our side, and let your tenderhearted mercy

meet us in our need, for we are devastated beyond belief.”

Psalm 79:8 

“For the Lord God is brighter than the brilliance of a sunrise! Wrapping himself around me like a shield, he is so generous with his gifts of grace and glory. Those who walk along his paths with integrity will never lack one thing they need, for he provides it all!”

Psalm 84:11

3. His tender love and mercy is very intimate and personal, just like His personal name: Yahweh.

It’s a story as old as time, yet unique as each one of us: How He can tenderly fall in love with each one of us is galaxies beyond our understanding. Yet it does not change the truth of the matter. You are completely loved by Father God.

I have been reading the Passion Translation Bible the last two years or so and have started to call my Father God, Yahweh, as described in the text. Thanks to several friends, I came to see Yahweh as His personal name, an intimate name.

There was a moment when Moses had the nerve to ask God what His name is. God was gracious enough to answer, and the name he gave is recorded in the original Hebrew as YHWH.

Over time we’ve arbitrarily added an “a” and an “e” in there to get YaHWeH, presumably because we have a preference for vowels.

But scholars and Rabbi’s have noted that the letters YHWH represent breathing sounds, or aspirated consonants. When pronounced without intervening vowels, it actually sounds like breathing.

YH (inhale): WH (exhale).

So a baby’s first cry, his first breath, speaks the name of God.

A deep sigh calls His name – or a groan or gasp that is too heavy for mere words.

Even an atheist would speak His name, unaware that their very breathe is giving constant acknowledgment to God.

Likewise, a person leaves this earth with their last breath, when God’s name is no longer filing their lungs.

So when I can’t utter anything else, is my cry calling out His name?

Being alive means I speak His name constantly.

So, is it heard the loudest when I’m the quietest?

In sadness, we breathe heavy sighs.

In joy, our lungs feel almost like they will burst.

In fear, we hold our breath and have to be told to breathe slowly to help us calm down.

When we’re about to do something hard, we take a deep breath to find our courage.

When I think about it, breathing is giving him praise. Even in the hardest moments!

This is so beautiful and fills me with emotion every time I grasp the thought. God chose to give himself a name that we can’t help but speak every moment we’re alive.

All of us, always, everywhere.

Waking, sleeping, breathing, with the name of God on our lips.

written by – Sandra Thurman Caporale from the Memorial Church of Christ in Houston

A few of my most favorite movies of all time remind me of the love of God (displayed in human form) are “The Magic of Ordinary Days” and “Love Comes Softly”. In both movies the plot is similar: a woman in dire circumstances, a man with tender love and compassion. She pushes and resists his love, not understanding it, until it capsizes over her tenderly, reminding her that the love has been there all along— if she can just accept it. 

The love story mimics our story with Christ! That is why it resonates so.

“You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Romans 5:6-8

Yahweh is our Savior, the one who has loved us for all time. My heart aches— How have I not seen this before? How could I have turned away or kept myself distanced from such a great love? 

Even when we are impossible- walking the other way- God’s love doesn’t jump ship! It’s there— steady, strong, ever available. In fact, I’d like to go even further than that… God’s love is waiting, yearning for the moment He’s planned for us… the moment our eyes open (the scales fall off our eyes like Saul– read Acts 9) and we are forever changed. Forever changed by His love. 

Can your heart feel His love? Now is the time to say YES even if it is the first time, the third time, or any number of times. There is no limit to how or when we can accept His love. 

Here’s a simple way to accept His love fresh and new: 

A prayer like this: 

“God, you’ve been here all along. Your love— tender kind and strong has come up to meet me, it’s available for me. I heard you knocking on the door of my life (Revelation 3:20). You want to come into my life in greater measure. Be my Savior, my Lord, my deepest, truest love of my life. I ask you today to open my eyes continually so I can more clearly see your love for me. I accept your love for me. I love you too. Thanks for waiting for me so tenderly and patiently. Thank you for meeting me where I am at, for loving me even when I didn’t know you or even when I turned my back on you. I accept your loving embrace and hug you back with my whole life. I am ready to start the next part of the journey with you— filled to overflowing with your great love for me. Amen.”

Wow, that just resonates so deeply with my heart. I hope it does with yours as well. I encourage you this week to soak in the love He has for you: the love that has been there all along. Here’s a good place to get started:

Ephesians 3: 16-19

Psalm 103:8

I encourage you to look up all the scriptures mentioned in this blog and mark them in your own Bible as well.

My encouragement for you this week: May you experience the love of God in tiny and large ways this week. May you open your heart fully to His love. He will meet you there. He’s your tender, compassionate, merciful Father, Savior, Lover, and friend. He is always near, so near He is referred to the “Near One” (Psalm 75:1).

In closing, here’s encouragement from the Word right to your heart: 

“For Yahweh is always good and ready to receive you. He’s so loving that it will amaze you— so kind that it will astound you! And he is famous for his faithfulness toward all. Everyone knows our God can be trusted, for he keeps his promises to every generation!”

Psalm 100:5 TPT

Until next time, 

PS. Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there! You have the amazing ability to show your family the love of Jesus! Here’s two of the men in my life over the years: My dad & my husband. Thank you for how you show the love of the Father to me and our family! 

Featured

Hope for the Hard Places

Are you feeling stuck in a hard place without a way out? I know friend, I’ve been there too. Why does it drain us so much to be stuck between a rock and a hard place? It’s like a tiredness, a restlessness like none other. I know if we are not careful, hopelessness can suck the life out of us quicker than anything else. When not dealt with God’s way it can really can be draining and overwhelming— overtaking life even to the point of extreme hopelessness. 

But, friend, we do not live like those without hope (1 Thessalonians 4:13). We have the source of all HOPE, Jesus Christ Himself, living within us, strengthening us, giving us grace for the day— for every moment to come.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.  

Romans 15:13

I don’t know about you, but I have this picture in my mind of “hope”. It’s innocent, lovely, graceful, perhaps even appearing flowery, light, beautiful. But really that’s not an accurate picture of hope. No, hope is strong, like an immoveable large boulder–the ones you have to dodge on the most intense of hikes. Nothing is going to move that rock from its location. It’s solid, sure, stable, held fast. Not so different from the ROCK that we are instructed to build our lives on in Matthew 7:24-27.

When built upon the Rock, no matter what comes we are able to withstand it because our hope and our lives are built on Him! So “hope”— instead of being some flowery wonderful, pretty thing— is actually earthy, solid, strong and movable. If only we could reprogram our minds to think of hope this way. So when Jesus offers us hope it’s a solid place to stand. Yahweh offers us a future that’s good. He offers us his hand to hold.

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed for I am your God. I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.”

Isaiah 41:10 

So if you feel like you’re stuck, and there’s no way out, what can you do? What should you focus on? What should you look to? 

First of all, I want to encourage you you’re not going to be stuck here forever. Things are going to change. Things are going to shift. Just like the passing of a river over the rocks or the passing of clouds in the sky— life, situations, and seasons will change. It is a guaranteed promise!

While “change” often times isn’t welcomed, we can take hope from the fact that most definitely change happens. So you will shift from this moment, these troubles, this feeling of being stuck (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8). 

Second, can you change a dance step? I know when I was feeling stuck, I was given advice… change a dance step! What does that mean?  Let me do my best to explain: 

 I’ve been taking dance classes with my daughter. We’ve been learning the waltz, the foxtrot, the promenade and read more recently swing dancing. If you see me in person, don’t ask me on demand to do these things. 😉 I’m still learning!

In all these dance classes I’m learning that it doesn’t take much to change up a dance. In the foxtrot there is a step we call  “change your mind” where you do a front step, back step, and shift to the side. It’s a helpful step if getting too close to the wall or if wanting to change direction. If I decide to incorporate that dance step, we will still be doing the foxtrot, but will be changing our direction.

So as you can see here, even just one small step change, changes the whole direction of the dance. So, that place you’ve been stuck in— perhaps even starting to feel pressed against a tight spot— even just one step, one “change your mind” step, will cause you a new freedom, a new direction. I want to encourage you you can change your dance. If you’re feeling stuck— Change one step. I know that we long for a HUGE change— we long for a deep freedom and a release from where we feel stuck— but it all starts with one step. One step can lead to a great crumbling of the wall around us.

Often changes come about one step at a time, not a great change all at once.

I encourage you to make one “change your mind” step in your current life this week. Ask God to help you with changing one detail this week in your regular lifestyle.

It can be a simple thing such as: choosing to speak with kindness, driving a different way home, reaching out to a friend, or taking a brave new step with a hobby or being involved in a church group. Or maybe it is other little things like eating at a new restaurant or venturing out on a different vacation or finding a way to invest money in a Kingdom project supporting church projects, missionaries, or Christian orphanage ministries. A “change your mind” step really can be quite anything!

God is the ultimate dance master. He’s the one who sees us, knows us, loves us and He’s the One with great plans for us (Jeremiah 29:11). He’s leading us in a beautiful dance for our lives.

Sometimes the way He delivers us to this new place of freedom is by helping us change one dance step at a time. You may hear His whisper, feel a prompting in your heart, or be inspired as you read the Word.

Act on those little nudges God gives your heart. In doing so, it will offer you space— freedom. The wall won’t press against your back, and you begin to have some wiggle room. When we choose to follow His promptings it breeds new ground for more change. The more you change a step here and there, the more the dance changes until before you know it you are dancing a completely unknown and different dance of freedom for your soul that you have never danced before!

“He will bring us by a way we did not know. He will lead us in paths we have not known. He will make darkness LIGHT before us and crooked places straight.”

Isaiah 42:16 

So friend, be strong. Don’t give up. Take courage. He is here and He is good. He is watching over you. He is whispering to you:

“Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.”   

Isaiah 30:21

Things will not stay the same. That’s a guarantee.

Just as the seasons change your situation is going to change. Take hope dear friend— and remember real hope is not that flowery light wimpy hope but that rock solid, deep, earth kind of hope that is based on God and His Word. God is changing your season even if it is just one little dance step at a time. Be faithful to follow him in the small things and before you know it You will be free from those stuck place. Yes, you will be dancing a new dance and walking in a new season, free from the places that kept you trapped and stuck. Hold onto His hope!

Forget the former things;

do not dwell on the past.

See, I am doing a new thing!

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

and streams in the wasteland.

Isaiah 43:18-19

Until next time,

Featured

Grace & Gratitude

We’ve all heard of “Power Couples” perhaps mentioned in Hollywood or the media, but did you know there is an ultimate “power couple” mentioned in the Bible? Priscilla and Aquila were married ministers who knew the Apostle Paul and worked together as a team in the ministry working to encourage fellow believers in the Lord (Acts 18). Now, that is a true power couple! Another power couple I love and adore is my own Pastors, Rich & Jan. I am blessed to call them both my pastors and my parents! They truly are the modern day example of Priscilla and Aquila, working together in the ministries, their whole lives and hearts intertwined in this calling they have received from the Lord to serve as pastors (and yay for celebrating 40 years of faithful service next month!).

In Psalm 50:23, another “power couple” is found: God says, “The life that pleases me is a life lived in the gratitude of grace, always choosing to walk with me in what is right.”

This passage got the wheels turning inside my head—grace & gratitude? How do they work together? Come to find out through studying other passages like 2 Corinthians 4:19 and Psalm 9:1 that Grace & Gratitude surely do go hand in hand! It’s not enough to have one without the other. They belong together and belong in the life of anyone who is a believer. And there is great POWER released when they operate together.

Let’s look a bit closer: Grace is “charis”: the favor, blessing, kindness of the Lord towards us. He chooses to cancel the curse (we deserve) and instead pour out His blessing on those who call Him Savior. Grace is the gift(s) God gives us because He loves us and calls us His own (Ephesians 2:8).“Gratitude” is being thankful, showing appreciation for, returning kindness. We’ve learned through passages like Hebrews 13:15-16 that our gratitude is a sacrifice of praise. When we have a grateful heart, we thank God for His undeserved graces in our lives. We also, as an action of gratitude, spread His grace to others as well.

Psalm 103:1-5 is a “Gratitude List” in the making. The author, David, urges his own soul to recount and remember the blessings the Lord has given him. He lists them…
forgives all my sins

heals all my diseases

redeems me from death

crowns me with love and tender mercies

fills my life with good things

renews my strength like the eagle’s

(read the passage on your own- it’s so good!)

The same blessings God gave David He has provided for each of His children as well! Now that sounds like a good overflowing amount of grace He has extended to us, doesn’t it? And what’s our response to all these blessings? Gratitude!

I encourage you to write out David’s Grace & Gratitude list and even add some of your own personal blessings from the Lord! Put it up in a spot you will see it—the mirror, the refrigerator, even the lock screen on your phone. Let us recall and remember the gracious blessings our Lord has poured out on us and turn our hearts and words of thankfulness to Him.

God generously pours out His grace on us and we continually life up our sacrifice of praise. Now that’s a “power couple” I want to be linked up to in my life, how about you?

Until next time,

P.S. Here’s a picture of my faithful Pastor parents then & now. I am so grateful for both of them.

Featured

He Will Bring You Through

If I could go back in time– back to that difficult season of my life– I’d like to tell myself something like this:

Keep your chin up, buttercup. ☺️ 

This thing that is trying to break you, God will turn it around and use it to remake you. 

This thing you grapple with, perhaps even feel stifling your breath… it will fade away. Rest in Him, Dear one.

This race you run, this toiling you do… the striving… it will cease. You will rest. 

You will be brought to a place of freedom. 

You will be new, remade, and stronger than before. 

Do you find yourself on a journey you did not plan for? Facing challenges you never imagined being met with? May this resonate and encourage your heart too.

Friend, I wish we could press “fast forward” and skip the scenes of dark nights, problems, challenges, illness, loneliness and devastation. Oh how I wish we could. But the journey, the journey has so much to offer us. 

We come out stronger, refined by the fire. 

These trials will show that your faith is genuine. It is being tested as fire tests and purifies gold—though your faith is far more precious than mere gold. So when your faith remains strong through many trials, it will bring you much praise and glory and honor on the day when Jesus Christ is revealed to the whole world.

1 Peter 1:7 

God didn’t send the fire… no, He is good. 

But He turns the storms life directs at us, and in His powerful hand, He transforms them from something that is set out to break us, and instead uses it to make us even stronger in Him. 

I wish I could say it will be easy, friend.

I wish I could say you only have ___ days, ____ hours, and ___ minutes left before you find your freedom, your belonging, your safe harbor. I know this is what I wished when faced a difficult season of my life. I wanted someone to tell me things will be okay. And tell me when, how and where. 

Instead it felt like all I was met with was silence. I even went as far to wonder, where is God in this? Why can’t I feel Him near?

But then, in moments of reflecting back on that difficult season… I see His hand in everything. 

I see that He was there with me through it all.  

I see that while I felt like I was left to weather the storm on my own, actually, I was safe inside His “cabin” the whole time— fire crackling, warm, safe and secure. The storm raged on outside… the rain, snow, and hail pelted the windows. But, I couldn’t have been more safe or more held. Interesting how I couldn’t see that in the midst of it all, but now, now I see. I was safe all along. I was in His hand, and still am. You are too. 

If you find yourself weathering a storm, and feeling all alone, please know friend, God is here. He is MIGHTY TO SAVE.

The LORD your God is among you; He is mighty to save. He will rejoice over you with gladness; He will quiet you with His love; He will rejoice over you with singing.”

Zeph. 3:17

He is working all things together for good (Romans 8:28). Be open to what He sends your way to help. His help can come in so many different shapes and forms: a deep connection with an authentic friend, a specific sermon, Bible studies and prayer groups, art, a Christian therapist, reading a specific passage of the Word, doctors and vitamins/medicine, the beauty of nature— yes, He can use any of these means (and so much more) to help you— to lead you on His path of restoration for you— the whole of you— mind, body, soul and heart. Follow Him there, friend. 

He’s our gentle Aslan (Yes, I learned so much as a tender seven year old about relating to my Savior through the series “The Chronicles of Narnia”. Read it!) He can turn and face the enemy with just a snarl from his teeth, a deep throated growl and the evil goes running. He can also be our friend, companion, champion, and friend. And there is nothing that our “Aslan” likes more than being real with us, and letting us be real with Him. Standing so close, face to face, we can feel his “lion breath” and presence upon us.

“Connect with me”, He says. “Come further and deeper. Come with me.”

We feel the tickle of His breath upon our face as we nod and follow.

In His presence, no matter what outward circumstances we face, we find life, love, safety and belonging. I promise you, friend, if you hold onto Him, delve into the deep with Him, things will be alright. You will make it through. Cement these truths on your heart, they will take you through the rough times: He is with you. You are not alone. Hold tight to Him. He will bring you through.

If you’ve been on shaky ground, only an inch from losing it all… call out to Him. I’d like to promise you that He will swoop in and instantly restore you, redeem you, take you from that situation. But our Aslan… He does things different than we would have chosen. He is gentle, patient, kind, present. He is there when we call out in desperation, when tears drenched our faces. He is here even when when we don’t feel Him here. He will see us through.

I can see now how He wove all together for good… and how now, my feet are settled on His rock. He’ll do the same for you, too.

He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand.

Psalm 40:2

He brought me to His safe harbor. He will bring you to your safe place too.

Then they were glad because of the calm, And He guided them to their desired haven (harbor).

Psalm 107:30

My relationship is now deeper with Him than ever before. He has been the anchor for my soul (Hebrews 6:19). He will be for you too, friend. Just reach out to Him. Draw near to Him. It can be as gentle as a whisper or as loud as an angry rant. He hears you, He is with you (Hebrews 13:5) and always… always believe that He is good. 

I know for me, during a tough time, I leaned on the song “King of My Heart”.

  It repeats over and over again, “He is good, He’s good, so good”. I repeated it to myself, my voice wavering at times, my voice strong at other times, my voice just a tearful squeak at other times… He is good. My spirit revived when I sung that tune over and over and over again. Yes, it is true! No matter what it looks like, no matter what we face, He is good. 

And there is nothing in all the world that would cause us to be separated from His love (Romans 8:38). Our job is to keep the communion lines open. He is here, He is good. Repeat that to yourself daily. And again and again. As many times as you need to hear it. Outloud. Let your spirit sing with that truth. 

Not yet convinced? Get to know Him from the Word. See His faithfulness and goodness in the Bible stories in the time line of the Bible… of how He sent His son to redeem us and bring us back to Him. He loves us so much.

Find the passages and promises you are standing on (there are a lot of good scriptures here in this blog to look up and start with now). Mark them in your Bible— and it doesn’t have to be beautiful calligraphy and doodles (it can be if you want it to be though)— underline it, underline it again— stand upon those words with so much force that your Bible now looks like a battlefield— marked, worn, and even tear stained. Write the scriptures down, post them around your home. Believe them in your heart. Speak them out loud. This helps change our focus from the problems instead to the WayMaker. We magnify Him and all else becomes “strangely dim in the light of His glory and grace” (Hymn: Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus). 

It may seem so long, so hard, insurmountable, but friend, there will be a day you look out from the mountaintop, Aslan by your side, and you’ll say, WOW! Look how far I have come. Look how You’ve brought me through.

His brown eyes will meet yours and you’ll realize not only did He deliver you, but He turned that challenge into the ultimate bonding experience. Your heart and His now beat as one. And that, my friend, is the most wonderful place to be.

Would you like to read more encouragement on this subject? Click on my previous blog posts below:

Until next time, 

PS. Here are some pictures of the latest Mountain hike we conquered last summer on our trip to Rocky Mountain National Park.

Featured

A Reason to Rejoice

What do we act like when we rejoice?  My own example of “great rejoicing” was a few years ago when my sister and I were chosen through a ticket opportunity to have a chance to go to the set of a favorite television show based in the early 1900’s.  If chosen, we’d travel to Canada (an exciting adventure to say the least!), tour the set, and meet the cast. It was such slim odds that we would be chosen, but when we found out we were we did some great rejoicing in the form of screams, hugs, and even dancing a crazy-sisters-only-understand kind of dance (to see pictures and read more of our adventure click here: https://melanietalevski.com/2021/04/23/the-better-path/)

When we “rejoice” it is the release of a burden replaced with a spirit of gladness. This is how it must have been for Mary Magdalene at the tomb on Easter morning (John 20:11-18). Just forty-eight hours before she had seen her Savior and Lord, the one she devoted her life to, crucified. He was placed in a tomb with guards posted outside. Easter morning, when Mary approached the tomb she found two angels in white, seated where the Jesus’ body had been. “Why are you crying?” they asked. “They have taken my Lord away, and I don’t know where they have put him.” She turned away and saw Jesus there but mistook him for the gardener, until He said, “Mary, it is I.” She cried out in Aramaic, “Rabboni (teacher)!” Can you imagine her moment of surprise followed by extreme rejoicing? She went from great distress over Jesus’ missing body to exuberant jubilation when realizing He was alive! She proceeded to run down the mountain yelling all the while, “I have seen the Lord!”  Her rejoicing was loud, excited, relieved, and full of elation. It was perhaps even a bit crazy to those who looked on. She couldn’t care less. She had seen the Lord and He is risen!

When was the last time we let ourselves feel that amazed about the wonder of Easter? I encourage you to read the story and also read it to your kids or grandkids. See fresh and anew the excitement in the story, the pure rejoicing that occurred. Imagine yourself in Mary Magdalene’s shoes. She was delivered from seven demons (talk about deliverance and healing!) and had spent a year’s worth of wages to buy oil and anoint Jesus’s feet, washing them with her hair. What a pure love she had for this man who had rescued her, redeemed her, called her by name.

We, too, are rescued, redeemed and called by name (Isaiah 43:1). How do we react when hearing the good news of Jesus’ resurrection? Is it something we still get excited about? It should be! It is because of His death & resurrection that our future is secure and safe! We have a place of belonging with our risen Savior (John 10:28-29).

Yes, if there is one thing worth getting excited about it is the fact that Jesus conquered the grave and now and forever there is not one thing that can stand between us and Him and eternal life (Romans 8:31-39). Now that is something to rejoice over! 

Let’s rejoice this Easter!

Until next time,

PS. Here are some of our Easter Photos from the past several years. What are some of your Easter traditions?

Featured

God’s Great & Glorious Plan

It’s the arrival of spring! And with it comes the hope for warmer temperatures, sunshine, and less snow (am I right?). I don’t know about you, but something about the spring season inspires me to make a plan. Perhaps it is a plan for a garden, an upcoming celebration, spring break plans or a simple change of schedule at work. What kinds of plans are you making?

As we enter spring and start to make our plans, let us also remember that God has a specific season and plan ready for each one of us! What specific assignment has He given you for this time and place? You may find yourself in a season of growing your marriage or family God’s way, advancing your career, ministering to grandkids or even a season of patience and waiting. How can you seize and use the time that God has given you in the present?

One example from our Bible of a woman who seized her God-given moment was Esther. Her cooperation with God’s plan and being willing to stand up and seize her God-given purpose helped save a whole nation! It’s even remembered and celebrated to this day as Purim. When faced with the decision to stand for the Jews or not, her cousin, Mordecai, encouraged her: “You have come to this position for such a time as this” (Esther 4:14). She believed it and acted on it, and God’s people were preserved from harm. Do you know the same is true for us? We “have come to this position for such a time as this”. It isn’t an accident that we are in this season, this moment. Each of us are a necessary part of God’s plan to accomplish His purposes. The opportunity is here.

Perhaps we may be tempted to say, “My current season doesn’t feel like it has that much significance”. Oh but friend, it does! God gave us just enough moments to live out the plan He has for us. “For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill His good purpose” (Philippians 2:13). And His promise is that He will send us His spirit to be there right alongside us, equipping us all the way (John 14:16-17).

If you don’t yet know the assignment He has for you for this time and place I’d encourage you to spend time with Him. Ask him. Read His Word, listen to His voice, come to church and fellowship with other believers. God will reveal the plan and purpose He has for you now! There is no time to waste. Just like Esther let’s seize the opportunity to step up, link up with the Holy Spirit, and fill the assignment God has placed before each of us.

Be encouraged! You are apart of His plan here on earth- a great and glorious plan!

My blessing for you this week: May you be encouraged in the season and moment you find yourself in. May you listen to the Holy Spirit’s soft whisper to you this week and may you be open to following the Holy Spirit’s nudge. I pray that your eyes are opened by the Holy Spirit and that you are able recognize your part in God’s plans and purposes right here, right now! His plans are great & glorious and you have vital part to play. May you have the courage to step up and seize the moment He has placed before you knowing that it is His Spirit that fills you & enables you.

Until next time,

P.S. One of our plans this spring was to make a new memory with our family at Mount Rushmore! We had never been before. A six hour drive later, here are some of our family pictures:

Featured

Pockets of Grace

When listening to a live Q&A with a favorite author of mine, I was surprised at the answer to one of her questions. “How do you meet your deadline? Do you enforce a certain number of written words each day?” Instead of a typical answer, her voice softened, her light eyes twinkled. “I could give you a list of “to do’s” but what we really need is to say, “grace to me”. ” Robin Jones Gunn, the author, went on to explain how often we need to bless ourselves and give ourselves grace. It’s only then that we find the strength to flow God’s way- and with that, great things happen (even writing of manuscripts). I have found myself repeating this soft and gentle phrase– “grace to me”– when stretched in a hard situation or when demanding more of myself than I can give. What life giving words! 

Isn’t it refreshing to know that no matter where you go, no matter what you face, there is a pocket of grace that will provide for every need? Grace flows down from the throne of heaven, like a rolling, overflowing waterfall—offering just the exact grace and mercy that we need in that exact situation and moment. 

“Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.’

Hebrews 4:16

More than likely–like me– you have gone through a tough season and when looked back upon, you look back in wonder… the grace was evidently there. We think, there was no way that I on my own could have gotten through that time or situation. That’s the divine pocket of grace from God Himself coming up to meet you where you are at. It surely is an “amazing grace”.

They are pockets of grace that pop up at exactly the time when we have run out of options. We have run out of places or people to turn to. Every other option we had is now extinct. Now we find our real and raw hope is in God, Him alone. 

The good news is this “pocket of grace” is deep and wide (remember the song “deep and wide” from our kids church classes? 😉). His grace is deeper, wider, fuller, than we ever knew. It is even big enough to splash in! Come on in, ankle deep, thigh high, and now in over your head! This precious place of grace offers rejuvenation and fortitude from God alone. 

I have experienced this grace time and time again and could list example after example— kids’ births, change of jobs, hospital and situations, even through challenges and deaths of precious family members. How have you experienced His pocket of grace in your life?   If you haven’t experienced this yet I ENCOURAGE you to lean into your Heavenly Father, maker of heaven and earth, next time a situation beyond your control comes up. He will surely give you the grace you need for that moment. 

The key to receiving this wonderful grace comes in learning to be like my childhood golden retriever, Daisy. Let me explain… No matter what the day held for Daisy, no matter how many squirrels she chased, how stinky her fur or breath was, or how put together she was or not… one thing we could count on: Daisy would come inside and let us love on her. We’d get to scratching her ears, petting her, and before we knew it, she’d be so cozied up to us that it was next to impossible to move. She was full out leaning on us.
(Ha ha—reminds me of the movie While You Were Sleeping and the “leaning” comment made famous by that movie 😆).

She was not easily convinced to move from her spot snuggled close to us. It would take a lot (either the hope of a dog bone or a walk) to get her to budge away from her favorite spot.

So how does this apply to us? We got to get to the place that we become the ultimate “lean-ers” on Christ. It’s the spot where we know that we are welcomed, safe, and loved. We learn how to fully lean into God, knowing He is taking care of us, He is with us, and we are not budging from that spot. We are so stuck by His side and loyal to Him, knowing we can fully trust Him. So basically, we just need to have common sense like Daisy— stick close to our Savior and don’t let up. Let Him love on you. 

In cozying up with our Creator He reveals to us His Kingdom mindset:  

It’s the one that says—

My God is here and He is not going to desert me (Isaiah 41:10). 

My God is here and He provides all my needs according to His riches in glory (Philippians 4:19).

He will bring to completion the work He started in me (Philippians 1:6).

My God never leaves me or forsakes me (Hebrews 13:5). 

My God has my life and every detail of my life in His hands (Psalm 37:23-24).

I am written in the palm of His hand- He cares for me (Isaiah 49:16). 

With a Kingdom mindset like this we become ultimate LEANERS into the faithfulness of our God. And when we “lean in” we realize that GRACE is there, like the pocket of sunshine in the midst of the clouds, like the trickle of water in the desert. We realize the answer we need lies not so much in the physical granting of our need but rather found in the larger than life God we serve. The one we lean into. The One who is faithful. 

So friends, I encourage you this week in the Lord: When you face insurmountable odds or even just daily challenges may you lean into our Maker God, our Father God, and know He provides for us, takes care of us, and is the answer we need and crave everyday.

It reminds me of this hymn: 

What a fellowship, what a joy divine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
What a blessedness, what a peace is mine,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.
Leaning, leaning,
Safe and secure from all alarms;
Leaning, leaning,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

Oh, how sweet to walk in this pilgrim way,
Leaning on the everlasting arms;
Oh, how bright the path grows from day to day,
Leaning on the everlasting arms.

What have I to dread, what have I to fear,
Leaning on the everlasting arms?
I have blessed peace with my Lord so near,
Leaning on the everlasting arms

Leaning on the Everlasting Arms
by Iris DeMent

Friend, may you experience the pockets of grace, the waterfall of grace rising up to meet you today. 

In light of upcoming St. Patrick’s Day here is an Irish Blessing for you this week: 

May the road rise up to meet you. May the wind be always at your back. May the sun shine warm upon your face; the rains fall soft upon your fields and until we meet again, may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

Traditional Irish Blessing

Know you are in the palm of His hand. You are safe and secure from all alarm. Not feeling it yet? Lean in deeper… come further with your Savior God. 

Until next time, 

Speaking of PUPPY LOVE here is our youngest (years ago) with the beginning of her stuffed dog collection. ❤️

Some pictures of growing up with Daisy. 🌸

Featured

The Ultimate, Outlasting Love of God

We’ve all heard of the cosmetic lines that are advertised to “outlast” the day or at least several hours. It may claim it “stands the test of time” or that it “gives you beautiful, next 24-hour looks” or gives you “perfect skin all day long”. Even if we are convinced by this advertising to give their brand a “go”, often we are disappointed. Nothing lasts forever, we tell ourselves. Sound familiar? 

If we aren’t careful, this same attitude can affect our perspective on many things including God’s great OUTLASTING love for us. We may find ourselves saying, “sure the Bible ‘advertises’ it as such, but God’s love really couldn’t be that enduring, right?” As much as we want to believe we may find ourselves cynical, with a lack of trust. “Nothing lasts forever,” we may mumble under our breath. 

Friend, I can’t vouch for the cosmetics or the other beauty treatments that promise to “outlast”. There is only one thing in the world that is truly outlasting, enduring beyond all, outstaying, and remaining against the odds—and it is the Ultimate, Outlasting Love of God. 

“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

Believe it or not, it is true! God’s love for me and you is ETERNAL, outlasting anything and everything it faces not only in this physical world but in the new world to come! And it isn’t just the kind of love that hangs on by a thread, ready to be snapped by the hint of a mere trouble or problem, no this love is STRONG, full, and steady. 

It’s a love that goes far deeper than the fairy tale singing of “This is Love” (remember that Disney princess rendition)? This is the nitty gritty, real depth of love: God’s ever present, outlasting love was demonstrated as Jesus’ blood hit dirt as he hung on the cross. It doesn’t get any more real than that! 

It’s a lot less of a “valentine hearts and love dove” representation but rather a “nitty gritty, holds on, never lets go” type of love. I don’t know about you, but that’s the kind of love I need, the kind of love my heart cries out for each and every day in this less than perfect world. 

Here’s a few more scriptures for further study on this ultimate outlasting love of God: 

Ephesians 3:18-19

1 John 4:9-10

John 15:9

Ephesians 2:4-5

May you be encouraged today that HIS LOVE is just what we need. No matter how scary the situation, how big the challenge, or how hopeless things may feel– His love outlasts all and we can rest in that. 

You can read more on God’s Great Agape Love here:  https://melanietalevski.com/2021/02/12/an-unlimited-supply/

Until next time,

PS. It’s always about this time of year my heart yearns for the first signs of spring! But here we are, in the midst of sunshine, snow, cold weather, etc… and we are learning to embrace the moment. Here’s some of our recent snow fun:

Thanks to Agape Life Church for letting me cross-post my writing & thank you also for the great graphics!

An all new- original to melanietalevski.com blog coming in the next couple of weeks. 🙂

Featured

Want to Flourish? Start to Nourish

* This week I am excited to share with you a guest blog post I wrote for Agape Life Church.

My daughter just recently got a new batch of plants—all shapes and sizes. She’s careful to nourish them each day: give them just what they need to grow and reach their optimum health. The way she transports them to a sunny spot, waters accordingly, and researches about each specific plant shows her care for her plants. And it’s not just a chance that her plants are flourishing it is because she does the necessary daily work of “nourishing”. Oh that we would pour such care into our own spiritual life! Our spirits long to be in the sunny presence of God, to breathe Him in each hour of every day, to grow healthy and strong putting our roots down deep into the soil of His Word.  
To be nourished means “to be provided with everything necessary for growth, health, and good condition”. Anything that is nourished will naturally flourish– it’s a law whether it applies to plants, mankind, or our spiritual lives. (And the good news about a flourishing spiritual life it also impacts your mind, body and any situations that come your way!) I don’t know about you, but I’d love a year of flourishing! To flourish is “to grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, rapidly and successfully, reaching new heights especially as the result of a particularly favorable environment”. Doesn’t that sound like a good deal? No, not another year of barely holding on, barely getting by or being rocked by the world’s circumstances. We’ve had our fill of that! But it is time to move on into flourishing. 
The secret to flourishing is being nourished by our loving Savior day after day. This nourishing happens in the form of: opening our Bibles and letting our roots grow deep (check out Agape’s One Year Bible Reading Plan https://www.agapelife.org/abide-365/ ), soaking in the presence of Jesus each day… spending time in His presence (Psalm 34:8), guarding our thoughts and setting our minds on the pure, good and lovely (Philippians 4:8), changing our focus from the world and it’s death, dying and decay and instead placing it on the Savior of our souls, His faithfulness, and what He has done and what He is doing (2 Corinthians 4:18). Nourishment also comes by gathering together for encouragement in church community, church services, and the encouragement of Christian friendships (Hebrews 10:25).
When we become nourished in these ways our roots go down deep (Colossians 2:7) and we become like a tree planted by rivers of water (Psalm 1:3). I’ve seen trees next to a river and my, are they flourishing! This is God’s will for each of us—not just a barely getting by or holding on lifestyle—but a thriving, blooming, fruit-bearing life! (John 10:10) Yes, friends, I bless you with a year of being spiritually nourished so you can flourish in every way! Be blessed in Jesus Name! 

Until next time,