Goals, My Story, Reflect, Resolutions

I Resolve To…(part 2–No Excuses)

new yearsAs I stated in, I Resolve To…part 1:

The dominant challenge we face when striving to obtain a goal or make a life change is OURSELVES.

But if you don’t allow yourself to make excuses or look for a back door, you’ll be much, much more successful. AND if you choose to look at multiple sources of data, you’ll have a more complete picture of the situation and be able to measure your progress better. (I’ll share a personal example in a bit.) Continue reading “I Resolve To…(part 2–No Excuses)”

Jesus in Everyday Life, Reflect, Your Purpose

I Resolve To…Part 1

new years

New Year’s Resolutions.

Did you make any?

I didn’t. I’m not a fan of making resolutions. Especially at New Years. Not to sound cliché, but they rarely ever last.

In the past, most of my New Year’s Resolutions started with little to no conviction and fell as soon as The Ball dropped. Others had the yearning to change behind them, but no commitment to make them happen. Others were Goliath-sized goals with no plans on how to achieve them, so I gave up shortly after I started.

Know what I’m saying? Continue reading “I Resolve To…Part 1”

Devotionals, Jesus in Everyday Life, My Story, Reflect

Our Best For Him–Even when You Don’t Feel Your Best

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Being sick sucks!

Wouldn’t you agree?

It takes more than it gives and when it’s over, you have to play catch-up.

For two weeks now a virus has had its way with my family. We’ve dropped one-by-one, like dominos falling in slow motion. Continue reading “Our Best For Him–Even when You Don’t Feel Your Best”

Guest Post, Psalm 100, Reflect, Why We Should Thank God

The Empty Chair. Finding Joy this Holiday Season

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Finding joy in the holiday season can be tough. Sometimes, the joy isn’t found as much as it’s chosen.

For some, holidays are a struggle because unforgiveness in the family still resides or the personality conflicts haven’t been resolved. But for others, holidays are a reminder of loss. They magnify what or who is no longer there. Whether that’s a job, a home, a marriage, or a loved one.

In the last few weeks, I’ve shared devotionals on Psalm 100: First, we talked about WHY we should give God thanks–because He is our Creator and He is our Redeemer. Next, we’re going to dig into HOWs.

But before we do, I invited my friend December Orpen to share her story of seeking and choosing joy this holiday season. About 16 months ago her teenage son was killed in a car accident. Their grief is still there. The chair is still empty. The memories haven’t faded. Continue reading “The Empty Chair. Finding Joy this Holiday Season”

Devotionals, Jesus in Everyday Life, Reflect

Thankfulness: What Does Thankfulness Look Like?

Ps 1181

I appreciate it when people say “Thank You,” don’t you? When they take a moment to show they understand the time and attention you put into something for them, whether it’s a gift, making dinner, doing laundry, shopping, listening, teaching them something, offering counsel, etc. it feels good to be appreciated and valued, doesn’t it?

We’re continuously told to have an Attitude of Gratitude, and no other time does that concept get the center stage than in November. Continue reading “Thankfulness: What Does Thankfulness Look Like?”

Devotionals, ImportanceofBibleStudy, My Story, Reflect

I Was In A Mood

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Ever have one of those days? You know what I mean, those days you wake up…in a mood. The attitude you went to bed with steeped all night to produce a potent concoction. It’s not just a grumpy mood quickly fixed by a cup of coffee. No, this mood has the power to take your inner witch all the way to the other end of the alphabet, if you know what I’m saying.

This was me yesterday. And I wanted to be in this mood. I wanted to roll in it—to let it seep into my whole being. The again-ness and challenges of life had worn me down to utter weariness. I had earned my bad attitude and deserved to let it do its thing.

Right?

I was even avoiding my quiet time. I knew I needed to do it, that it’s what was best for me, that it could renew my mind and give me much needed peace. But I didn’t want to. I didn’t want my mood taken away. It was mine! I earned it! Mine! So I put it off for as long as I could.

I read my Twitter feed and tossed out a few tweets of my own. I scanned my Instagram feed and liked and commented on more posts than usual. I went to Facebook and did the same. Then I circled through them again…and again…until there was nothing new.

I looked for more to do. My laundry was running as was my dishwasher. My social media had been checked, rechecked, and checked again. And I’d already published my blog post…My excuses were gone.

I could almost see my Savior’s, “Are you about finished? I’m not going anywhere” expression as He sat patiently, waiting for me to take a seat.

I slumped in my chair and grumbled as I flopped my Bible and journal open. I grouched as I chose my colored pen for the day. I said my usual prayer with no sincerity, enthusiasm, or joy: Open my heart and mind to what you have to teach me today. Give me your wisdom and may it abide in me. Fill me to overflowing with your Spirit.

I was void of my usual anticipation and excitement as I began.

“I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit.” Romans 15:13, NLT

Drip

It was like a drop of water splashed my parched tongue. I didn’t even realize I was thirsty. I was now unsatisfied and needed more.

“Never be lazy, but work hard and serve the Lord enthusiastically. Rejoice in our confident hope. Be patient in trouble, and keep on praying.” Romans 12:11-12, NLT

Drip.

My thirst was now fully awakened. I became desperate to quench my longing.

“We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.” 2 Corinthians 4:7 NLT

Drip.

“A cheerful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit saps a person’s strength.” Proverbs 17:22 NLT

Gush!

I hit my knees! I poured out my frustrations, sins, annoyances, pride, anger, jealousies, selfishness…everything to my Abba. My tears flowed, purging everything hidden deep inside. Then I threw back my head and allowed His Word and Spirit to undo me, to fill me, to cleanse me. He quenched my thirst and my need.

And In the process, my mood vanished. I didn’t even notice its passing. Nor did I feel the need or desire to hang onto it. My focus changed. My heart recalibrated.

Finally, I felt refreshed. Joy filled. Thankful. And happy. My circumstances were the same. The again-ness was still present. But because the Spirit filled me, I was able to enjoy my kids when they came home, I didn’t feel stressed, and I had an excellent rest of my day.

“But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!” Galatians 5:22-23 NLT

Blessing

 

Journal exercise: This photo is of my 3×5 cards. These contain Scriptures I’ve written out over the years for memorization. These are the verses that have blessed me, encouraged me, confronted me, and drawn me closer to my Savior. I’ve recently started dating them and writing on the back why it was so poignant: the circumstance I was in, the timing, the uncertainty it clarified, etc. I encourage you to get some 3×5 cards and do the same. Keep them with you. Memorize these verses. Write them on your heart.

 

 

Jesus in Everyday Life, My Story, Reflect

I’ve Been Duped


I was incredulous! There’s no way Mrs. Lois Evans would start following me on Twitter. No way. Tony Evans wife? Priscilla Schreier’s mom? No way! Ok, Girl, breathe and investigate this…

(Background on the business side of writing—One of the tasks writers must do is build a “Tribe,” a group of people who love us and what we write. These are the people who’ll be pumped when our books (or Bible studies) are published and will pre-order one for themselves and everyone they know…right?? 😉 So when a new person follows our blog or social media sites, we have every reason to rejoice and give thanks. But those who subscribe to our blog are our people, our team. They’re the ones who’ll help promote us, our blog, and our book to everyone they know. They’re the first layer in our network.They share our links on their own feeds and do all they can to help us build a solid reader base. So the potential of someone as amazing as Mrs. Evans following me at this stage made me skeptical.)

…I went to her website and clicked the Twitter icon. The site looked the same so I scrolled through it and compared it to the one I was followed by—SAME SITE! Is this for reals? I called my MIL and told her the story. I was afraid to hope. I was expecting a voice of reason, but she hopped on the train and we fast-tracked it to Happy Town! I couldn’t believe the sites were the same! And yet…there was that nagging feeling that wouldn’t go away…

So I did more digging. It made no sense why this influential woman southern woman would notice a nobody northern girl like me. So I compared the sites side-by-side. They looked the same, but they weren’t identical. One was a near-perfect copy of the original, but it was a fraud. And her real site is @MrsLoisEvans the imposter is @mrsloisevans.

I wouldn’t have seen the subtle difference if I hadn’t looked at the sites closely side-by-side. But when I did, I was PO’ed! I was duped—by a VERY good impersonator. I was embarrassed and then deeply saddened because I followed them as a test. I got a sweet initial message followed by a request for my full name…ummm—no.

Then God spoke to my heart—That’s also how Satan works. He counterfeits everything I do to damage your faith and keep others from following Me. You’ve asked for a discerning heart, and you followed those instincts before damage could be done. Baby, you will know when something is from my hand.

I realized I dropped my guard and allowed myself to be deceived. I gave Satan an opportunity to wreak havoc in my life because I was focused on my growing Tribe rather than the crouching lion waiting to devour me. He disguised himself as an angel of light but was a hideous deceiver. Once I recognized my sin, I confessed and received my Saviors forgiveness.

See, when we submit wholeheartedly to Jesus we can resist Satan and make him run away—with his tail between his legs. I then clung to Jesus’s words: “The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (Jn 10:10). He’s got my back. This is His project, I am just the vessel. He will take care of the details as long as I remain faithful to His call on my life.

Imposters are getting better at covering their tracks. And even though Satan will soon be crushed under our feet. he’s currently on the prowl because he knows his time is short. So stay alert! Suit up! Put on your Armor! Stand Firm! And remember the Spirit living in you is greater than Satan could every hope or dream to be.

I’m thankful for what this experience taught me. I’m trusting my Savior to grow my Tribe— people who love me and my writing. Thank you for being one of them.

Blessings.

Deuteronomy, Devotionals, My Story, Reflect

Deuteronomy 1:9-18, Wise Council Taken To Heart and Positive Changes


“Moses continued, “At that time I told you, ‘You are too great a burden for me to carry all by myself. The Lord your God has increased your population, making you as numerous as the stars! And may the Lord, the God of your ancestors, multiply you a thousand times more and bless you as he promised! But you are such a heavy load to carry! How can I deal with all your problems and bickering? Choose some well-respected men from each tribe who are known for their wisdom and understanding, and I will appoint them as your leaders.’” Deuteronomy 1:9-13 NLT

This remembrance Moses is referring to is the time his father-in-law Jethro came to visit. After an evening of celebration Moses went back to work the next morning. After watching his needless toil Jethro gave him a solid piece of advice on how to be a better leader and how to serve God better because of it. You can read about that here

Yesterday I had a devo written and ready to send out on this passage. I talked about our need to accept help and to delegate minor issues to we can focus on the things that really matter, like fulfilling God’s calling on our lives. Then I got a phone call…

…I texted my BFF to get her feedback on my blog and devos because: we’ve been friends since high school; she knows me better than I know myself; and she will tell it to me straight. So when she called instead of texting her reply, all I could think was, “I’m in trouble.”

-Your devotionals are wonderful, like I would expect anything else. But how is your book/bible study coming? (I knew she was going to ask that)

-* cue crickets

-That’s what I thought. (Pursing her lips I’m sure)

-I know you put hours into each devo. But at this pace you’re going to burnout and your Bible Study won’t get written. But, honestly, what would make your blog better would be to let your readers get to know you. They will love you and become your biggest cheerleaders. And mix it up. Do your devotionals, but also quick life stuff, and take us on your publishing journey—the ups and downs, what’s next, etc. One of the things you are really good at is seeing Jesus in everyday mundane things or relating those mundane things to our relationship with Christ. This has increased my faith and I encouraged me to learn to do the same. It’s those things that have encouraged me the most over the years. 

I was dumbfounded, I do that?? I took her words to heart and them to the throne of God. I refuse to change anything without His blessing. This is His project, and I want to be sure I am in obedience. 

Today I shared what my BFF said with one of the amazing young women I mentor, and she added: “Growing up, God was ‘out-there’, passive, voodooish. But for you, He’s ACTIVE, ALIVE, REAL. You have a real RELATIONSHIP with Him! I want that! Your passion for Him, your love for Him…I want that. Every time I’m with you or talk with you I learn more and more of how to do that.” I had no idea. I really didn’t. I just love my Jesus. 

I believe God used her heartfelt words to confirm what my BFF said, so I’ve decided to mix it up a bit. I will do a 2 week rotation:
Week 1

Monday: Life

Tuesday: Devo

Wednesday: My publishing journey

Thursday: Life

Friday: Devo
Week 1

Monday: Devo

Tuesday: Life

Wednesday: Devo 

Thursday: Life

Friday: Devo

I want you to know I love and value your feedback. If there are devos that bless you—like them or comment so I know you’re there. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, chances are someone else has that question too whether they realized it before or not. I will try to find answers for you if I can. Also, fell free to share my blog with your friends and loved ones. My prayer is God’s Word will be VIBRANTLY RELEVANT in your everyday life. That you will fall in love with your Savior and He will be active in your life.

We all need a Jethro in our lives, I am so thankful for mine. We need someone who loves us enough to encourage us with sincerity, but at the same time isn’t afraid to help refine us so we can shine a little brighter. Who is your Jethro?

Blessings!

Deuteronomy, Devotionals, ImportanceofBibleStudy, Reflect

Deuteronomy 1: 5-6a: Reflection, Not Condemnation

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The old man begins to speak, his voice strong and resonant. Everyone can hear him clearly. No one needs to strain. The atmosphere is electric with excitement—you’re finally going to enter the Promised Land! Yet the reality of this being the old man’s Swan Song covers everything with a wet blanket. No one speaks or even dares to whisper. The people are as still as the air around them. The silence sharpens everyone’s attention, including yours. And the first slide illuminates the screen…

“While the Israelites were in the land of Moab east of the Jordan River, Moses carefully explained the Lord’s instructions as follows. “When we were at Mount Sinai…”
Deuteronomy 1:5-6a NLT

Did you catch that? I almost read right through it. That is, until God threw on the brakes and lit it up in neon…“When we were at Mount Sinai…”

Now, wait a minute! I thought the Israelites’ history started with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob? What about Egypt? The Exodus? The Parting of the Red Sea?

Yes, this all part of their history as a people—but not as a nation. Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob all had an intimate relationship with God; but for them, a nation with people as numerous as the stars was still a promise yet to be realized. And, even though their numbers rivaled that of modern day Chicago; at the time of the Exodus and the crossing of the Red Sea, they were still a people group. Not a nation.

They didn’t become a nation until God met with them at Sinai. Here He offered be their God and them His chosen nation. And in order to complete this contract (covenant) the Israelites had to accept His offer, agree to return His love, follow Him, and obey His commands. And they agreed, allowing this group to be born again—to become something they weren’t—God’s Holy Nation.

Some of you need to hear this today. When God calls us to look back, we’re often afraid He’s going to make us relive the time we were in bondage to sin, before we were His. But that’s not usually the case. He typically wants us to review our history as His Child—from the time we accepted Jesus as our Savior AND chose to follow Him.

God does this to encourage and strengthen us—especially when we’re facing transition. He knows it’s easy to allow fear and anxiety to overwhelm us, to keep us from living up to the potential He’s drawing out of us. He’s also aware of the giants and fortified cities in the land. So He gives us confidence in His ability to get us past the gates or through the walls. As for the giants, He promises to go with into battle and defeat them.

How do I know this? Because this is where I’ve been recently. As a new writer trying to break into the publishing world, there are many giants and countless fortified cities I need to conquer in order to accomplish the task God has given me. It’s terrifying. But when I look back at where God has been faithful despite my faithlessness; where He has lead and guided me when I’ve been lost; how He’s blessed me when I wouldn’t dare ask…I chose to believe Him and His calling. I chose to trust His leading and control.

So in this barren land overlooking your Promised Land, take time to reflect. To remember. Relish the moment. Reminisce of when you first fell in love with Him and entered into a relationship with His Son. Be in awe of when the Holy Spirit came on you, indwelled you, and sealed you—marking you as a Child of the King. Then when God exposes your defeats and times of disobedience; take ownership of your sin, repent and rededicate yourself to Him. Then your trust will be made stronger in your future uncertainties, and you will find security in His promises to guide you and not abandon you.

Just so you know, like the Israelites, God isn’t neglecting your past bondage or discrediting it. He still uses that period of their history to encourage many and draw them to Himself. And, if you let Him, He will use your story to reach others with His gospel as well. But this is not that time. This is your time to reflect on your personal relationship with Jesus Christ—The One who pursued you with His unrelenting love, rescued you from bondage, and offered for you to be one of His chosen. How are you doing? Are you learning about who Jesus is and how to follow Him by studying your Bible? Are you spending time in prayer seeking Him asking Him for wisdom, discernment and insight? Are you making wise choices to guard our heart and mind against things you know are outside of the will of God for you? Are you obeying His instructions on how to live and treat others? If you’re not following Jesus as you should (if we are honest, none of us are), accept the gift of this time to repent and rededicate yourself completely to Him.

May Joshua 1:1-9 be the banner we march under as we claim our Promised Lands. Tuck it’s promise and instruction inside our heart for those times you feel afraid—like a soldier taking out a photograph of those he loves. Without taking this time to reflect we will be weak and discouraged. But God says, Be Strong and Courageous! I’ve got your back! I’ve got you! Let’s do this thing!

Journal: What had God done for you? Reflect back. Where do you need to confess and rededicate? Do so now. Let Him fill you with strength and courage.

 

Pause, Reflect

Pause. Breathe. Reflect

Tonight’s sunset is a great reminder to Pause. Remember who God is and that He has not abandoned you in your season of transition. Thank Him for His unfathomable love and constant care. Breathe. Take a few deep cleansing breaths to clear your heart and mind while leaning on your Father for endurance and strength. Ask Him to refresh and restore your heart, mind, body, and soul. Reflect. Reflect on where you have been, all God has done for you, and where He is leading you. Reflect on His promises, even if you are in a season of uncertainty. Rest in His presence and care. 
This may sound simple, but as I watched the sun sink lower in the sky and the colors reflect off the water, I did just that. Did my situation change? No. Did my perspective? Yes. Do I feel more in balance? Not even. Do I trust The One who is? Absolutely.  Did I get the answers I am searching for? No. Did my resolve to follow where my Savior leads strengthen? Definitely. 
Blessings!