The Journal Journeys Excerpt #2: God Restores

This week, I’ve taken an excerpt from my prayer journal that refers to a lengthy trial in our lives where we were praying for God’s help and intervention. The prayer records my thankfulness to God.

Through this struggle and many others, God deepened my faith and trust in him. So often He has been my only hope. I have faced countless situations that rose before me like an impenetrable mountain, but God, my great navigator, forged a path and lead me as he has time and time again.

So often I marvel at the way he does this. In the thick of the trial, I cannot fathom the outcome. My emotions bully my outlook. My circumstances appear hopeless. I clutch at my fragile faith attempting to hang on to the truth. Doubts descend, yet God promises to be with me and never forsake me, so why do I fear? And why am I surprised when he works the miraculous?

When I jump for joy and praise God at his answered prayers, is he disappointed with my lack of faith or does he take pleasure in my wonder and thanksgiving? Whichever the case, his love is greater than my fears and faithlessness. His arms are always open. I have full assurance of his unfailing love no matter in which state I come to him.

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And so I keep showing up, keep writing and speaking prayers to the One who wraps me safely in his arms and makes all things not only possible but beautiful in their time. The same God can do likewise in your difficulties.

Bring your impossibilities to God. Release them to him, and watch what he will do.

“With God nothing is impossible.” (Luke 1:37)

Click here to hear me read excerpt #2 “God Restores”

January 31, 2016

Lord,

You are greatly to be praised. You have done marvelous, mighty works on our behalf, so surprized us—I am still trying to absorb how thoroughly you have restored things. Despite all the odds, you alone can be praised for this complete turn of events. It is a miracle—something only you could do.

Thank you for your gentle, lovingkindness, so sweet towards us. Despite my deep disappointment, you remain the same. You don’t change. Your love is not dependant on our behavior. You can handle us being disappointed or doubtful because you were up to something better and know I don’t fully understand your ways.

I’m sorry. Please forgive me for all of that. I thought I had faith, but I suppose it was on my terms, as in, as long as my prayers are answered and things go my way, I’m good. But again I see that you lead us to deeper faith. You ask us to trust you when we cannot see any way before us. Look how you provided so entirely and completely! At every turn, every bleak moment. You gave us all we needed.

“You have done great things; O God, who is like you?” Psalm 71:19

Thank you, Father, for all you have done, the many ways you have tenderly cared for and carried us. You are greatly to be praised! I love and trust you. Thy will be done.

Amen.

Listen to song: Yes I Will

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Our family together on Mother’s Day 2020

Click here to purchase my 31-day devotional Soul Focus

Journal Journeys Excerpt #1 – Greatly Helped

Each of us is on a journey.

Most of the time we don’t know exactly where we’re headed and even if we do, we’re often unsure of how to get there. We often feel lost, lonely, and labeled. Discouraged, disqualified, and disappointed. Worried, weary, and winey. We suffer sadness, setbacks, and sabotage. 

Yet we keep going despite uncertainty. Falling forward. Learning and leaning in, hurting and healing. Holding steady through storms. Yanking back the clouds to eagerly absorb the sun-soaked, brilliant moments. 

Our lives, our journeys, are composed of both the breathtaking and the breaking.

Since becoming a Christ-follower at age 18, I have kept a prayer journal to scribe such travels. The pages have provided me with a secondary outlet to pour out prayers alongside my spoken utterances.

As the years have unfolded, the journal pages provide proof of God’s handiwork, documentation of God’s faithfulness in my life, and in the lives of others, and provide a tangible way to see the countless occasions God has answered prayers.

Even when circumstances seemed utterly hopeless, and when his seeming silence was bewildering, God was still there. Scanning the pages, I see that the no’s were merely delayed yes’s—a hold-out for his best when I would have happily settled for good. 

My current prayer journal

The written wrestlings within these pages—sometimes through tears, often amid doubts and questions as I struggled to know God and understand his ways—don’t declare me faithless or damaged. Rather, they offer assurance that I am a beloved child of God attempting to understand her Father’s ways, to grow closer to him, and to trust and love him more deeply. Thanksgiving prayers soak the pages too, recording the times I’ve been surprised and delighted with the extravagant love of God.

For the next few weeks, I’ve decided to share some entries from my prayer journal in hopes the sentiments may offer solidarity, reverberate inside your own heart, provide a way to express some of your own pleas and desires, and kindle hope. I’m calling this series, The Journal Journeys, and I hope you will enjoy traveling through the pages with me.

I’m certain that reading these prayers aloud will be a vulnerable, intimate, and emotional experience. But I’m hoping they will offer a measure of comfort and encouragement if you are grappling as hard as I am to lay hold of hope and process faith in your journey with God.

The first excerpt I have chosen refers to a season of struggle in our life but seems appropriate to begin with as it speaks to our current situation with COVID-19. You can watch the video or read the entry below. At the bottom of this page, I have included a song for you to meditate on. So looking forward to journeying with you!

Click here to watch The Journal Journal – Excerpt #1

January 5, 2016

Dear Lord,

We have been greatly helped by you. You have not forgotten us. You have made the impossible possible, and have brought us through the hardship of this very difficult time. 

We have not been privy to an explanation as to why. No understanding as to what to do next. No future knowledge except to live each day at a time, one foot in front of the other, moment by moment. 

“You have also given me the shield of your salvation; Your right hand has held me up, Your gentleness has made me great. You enlarged my path under me, so my feet did not slip.” Psalm 18:35-36

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My prayer journal – today’s excerpt

I like the verse above because not only have you saved me, but it shows your continued help in my life. Through great disappointment and disillusionment, your right hand has held me up. You dealt gently with me.

When the way was dangerous, like a precipitous path, you enlarged the path under me so my feet did not slip. You kept me safe. You didn’t whisk me off the path. No, I still had to pass through, but you made a way—you made it possible to pass through. 

And maybe we have passed through now. Maybe we are just coming out on the other side. I can’t pretend to have much of a clue what you are doing, but I feel as though a change may come. 

So now, because you tell us to ask (Matthew 7:7), I ask you to help us—as you have continued to do—to find our way. Help us to be wise, to know what to do, to make wise choices. 

Your will be done,

Amen.

Listen to song: Goodness of God

journal pic

 

Unknowns, Courage, and Creativity

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A photo of my author copy the day it arrived in the mail.

Tomorrow, my debut novel launches. 

I’ll be honest, a cocktail of emotions are brewing at the moment. A hearty mixture of excitement, nervousness, and outright fear of failure. It feels rather like I’m about to fling my heart out into the world hopeful it won’t get flattened. It’s always that way when trying something new, don’t you think? Maybe even more so with creative pursuits because a part of you is sewn right in with it.

Yet, where would we be without the kind of courage creating requires? Without those brave first strokes of ink or paint, our bookshelves would be barren and our walls unadorned of colourful masterpieces. There would be no music to make us merry. No architecture to take our breath away. No sculpture to stop us in our tracks. No gardens to still our souls. No chocolate—I go too far! Our beings would be bereft of nourishment without people answering the creative call.

I admire the courage of creators, those who bring life to their ideas despite the naysayers and critics. I applaud those who keep creating, keep trying, and keep overcoming obstacles to do both what they love and what gives them life. I’m inspired by the ones who continue to show up and don’t give up even when their inner critic won’t shut up. I’m grateful to those who pursue their gift as a gift to others.

But it’s not easy. 

As a recovering control freak, unknowns make me uneasy. The blank page—that sacred inhalation of breath before beginning—is crowded with both possibility and nightmarish uncertainty. And right now, I’m on a new precipice of uncertainty and in desperate need of exhaling.

But there’s hope. I’m considering reframing my concept of unknowns. Instead of attaching fear to them, I’m thinking of renaming these unknowns “new firsts” and viewing them as dynamic opportunities to explore something new. 

So let’s say it together: An unknown is a dynamic opportunity to explore something new.

Feel better? I do… for now. Ask me tomorrow when I’m standing at the book launch trying to wax eloquent about my book! I’m slowly easing into my “new first” by only inviting family and friends to the launch. I’m going to take that nervousness I feel toward introducing my book to the world, and all that goes with it, and view it as a dynamic opportunity to explore something new. 

I wonder, do extroverts require this much reflective self-talk? And at what age did I begin to be unsure of creative pursuits? But that’s another blog.

What it always comes down to is a conscious effort to hand over control. It’s not a one time fix. It’s a trust thing, and for me, there’s only one who can be entrusted with it—God. The unknowns, ahem, I mean the dynamic opportunities to explore something new are also an exciting chance to grow closer in my trust journey with my Creator.

So let me expand my definition: An unknown is a dynamic opportunity to explore something new and trust God more fully. 

Boom. There it is!

I hope you’ll join me on this trust journey. Let’s do this!

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  1. Do you have a fear of the unknown?
  2. What creative pursuit have you been putting off for fear of failure?
  3. Breath in, breath out, and begin that sacred journey trusting God every step.

OneMoreTomorrow_Cover_042919
Available September 17th, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-4866-1537-7

Print Availability: Chapters/Indigo, Amazon, Word Alive Press, and wherever fine Christian books are sold. 

eBook Availability: Amazon’s Kindle Store, Apple iBooks, Kobo, Google Play, Scribd, and in Adobe PDF format for additional vendors.

 

Illuminating the Dark

shutterstock_301363406Who of us has never doubted?

We could easily insert the word dark in place of doubt. When I doubt my circumstances, myself, or God, it’s a lot like stumbling around in the dark. I can’t see where I’m going, and I can’t find my way.

How do we find the faith to trust God when we can’t see? What will get us through the dark days of doubt? How do we keep going when there’s no sign of either the direction to take or a shift in our circumstance—some of which truly bring us to our knees?

When our finances are stretched. When our loved one’s health is failing. When life as we know it is crumbling around us. When what we’ve prayed for remains unfulfilled. It’s easy to wonder if God’s promises were meant for us personally. It’s easy to believe He has forgotten us.

But will we only believe if things go well with us?

In such trials, I need to be reminded that God is faithful. Rock-solid. No matter what, He is loving. All that He does, how He acts, is an outpouring of his love. No matter if all that’s happening around you is falling apart, no matter how hopeless it looks right now, no matter if you feel utterly alone, God is still with you. He still hears you. He can make beauty from the ashes (see Isaiah 61:1-3).

What we must decide is whether we will only follow him, love him, and believe in Him if all is well in our lives. Faith is most itself when we can’t see with our eyes. When life gets hard, when we can’t find the answers, and when our prayers don’t seem to be answered.

Trials have the hidden potential to help us see properly. When the superfluous falls away, the things that matter most crystalize. We realize the degree to which we trust the one who can fully be trusted with everything.  We learn our God is the one who can lift us up and can help us to walk through the darkness. We relearn that he is faithful.

Psalm 119:105 says, “Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.” It appears that God’s word, the Bible, can help to enlighten the darkness and help us find our way. It makes sense that this spiritual practice, taken up regularly, will remove doubt, provide encouragement, and bolster our faith.

If you’re in the dark right now, take up the lamp of God’s word. Read it and be reminded of his faithfulness, his love for you, and how, time and time again, he rescues. Notice how the darkness is transformed by the light of his word, even if your circumstances are not. Note how his word stirs up heavenly hope, peace, and joy to dispell the darkness within. Watch and see how the darkness of doubt is illuminated enough for you to take the next step in faith.

You don’t need to see the entire path; the journey is taken one step at a time.

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  1. When was the last time you sat still and soaked up God’s words?
  2. Set aside time each day this week to read the Bible to be filled with God’s promises and reminders of his faithfulness.

 

 

Seeing Clearly

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My sensible, new glasses. My hubby asked why I didn’t chose something a bit more fancy.

This spring, I finally relented and got prescription glasses. Prior to that I had all the usual symptoms: blurred vision when reading, the need for increased light at night, and, most alarming of all, my arm had become too short.

I’m still getting used to these seeing fixtures now precariously suspended on my formerly unadorned nose. I should probably get a locating device affixed to them since I misplace them on a routine basis. And no one could have prepared me for the amount of effort it requires to keep the lenses smear-free!

Glasses are a perfect parallel to my spiritual life. Sometimes my vision gets blurry, I can no longer see correctly, and need help to read the way. Often, despite the help, my lenses get dirty and need cleaning. It takes both a vision aid and regular maintenance for me to see properly.

When I first met Jesus, it was as though God removed my filthy glasses—ones I had no idea I was even wearing—replacing them with a heavenly prescription so that I could see clearer. Everything appeared much brighter and made so much more sense. Even the Bible, which once was merely words I strained to understand but which held no meaning, came alive.

The old glasses were covered with the film of lies I had believed and filters I had affixed. There were words graffitied across the lenses that had, at some point, been spoken and stuck to the surface. There were the scratches of sin etching the glass and insecurity that had loosened the frame. Those glasses had become too heavy for my face and didn’t fit me. They weren’t God’s prescription.

But even my God-glasses need to be cleaned on a regular basis. When I’m with God, he slides off my glasses and polishes off the pollution to enable me to see beauty once again. He tells me not to worry that they get dirty so easily, but to simply return for a regular cleaning.

I can’t just wear the glasses, gain his perspective, and forget about them—forget about him. If I don’t clean my God-glasses by reading his word, praying, listening, and gathering together with other Christ-followers, my vision is impaired and I’m less able to see clearly. With a hindered perspective, I stumble in the dark, I grow frustrated in my own attempts, I blame others for my lack of vision.

But when I abide with God—regularly sit and chat with him—linger in his presence, soak in his word, and meet up with others who love him, my vision brightens and my outlook becomes clearer. Though still imperfect, I can read the terrain of my life a little better.

I’m also more likely to see circumstances and events from God’s perspective. I don’t feel the need to gloss things over attempting to make them something they aren’t or ignore them out of frustration. I’m more apt to love a little more fully, behave a little more graciously, and tread a little more confidently. I can see better to go to the places he’s asked me to go. I’m less afraid of the dark.

For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I have been fully known. ~ 1 Corinthians 13:12

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  1. Do your glasses need cleaning or maybe you need an entire new prescription? Go to God. His are the perfect fit.

 

A Word of Encouragement for You Today

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Life is full of disappointments, hurts and hardship. When our lives don’t unfold as planned, it’s easy to become discouraged. Below are a few thoughts to encourage you to not give up, to keep going, to persevere through whatever you are facing today.

I pray…

That you would always keep your joy and wonder.

That you would continue to dream big.

That you wouldn’t allow others to dilute your dreams,

Or let obstacles or disappointments crowd out those dreams—

Even when you must scale the mountain or take the long route around.

If some scoff at your goals—say it’s a long shot or that it can’t be done—smile, disregard their lack of faith, and keep going.

Someone needs to persevere. It may as well be you.

Nothing worthwhile comes without dogged effort. No effort is wasted.

Fight fear with faith.

Be brave; bring courage with you wherever you go.

Keep trying hard things.

If you fail, you’ve learned something priceless.

Love.

Be patient and kind to yourself and others.

Forgive quickly so you remain free.

Choose to remain positive—

Don’t allow the negative voices or treatment of others to detract from what you know to be true and good and right.

When hurt, embrace the hard work of healing.

Avoid comparison.

Use your unique skills, knowledge, intellect, voice, talents, and resources to help those around you, to influence and change the world for good, and to glorify God.

Keep your sense of humour. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but be serious about your intentions and integrity.

Remember life is not a sprint; it’s a marathon. Not everything will happen instantly.

Keep your eyes on the finish line, but enjoy the scenery on route—

Life is composed of all the moments made while you move forwards and reach your goals. Don’t miss or mistake these moments that matter for distractions;

The main event is never really the main event; it’s all the bits between.

Be thankful for everything. Even the hardships—they make you beautiful, strong, and mature.

God is your help and is cheering you on.

He has a plan.

Trust Him in everything.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the LORD. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” ~ Jeremiah 29:11

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  1. What discouragements are you struggling with today?
  2. Bring them to God, hand them over to him in prayer, and find his comfort, help, and peace in your time of need.