It’s about 10:00 pm here, and like most of you — I’ve been thinking about this year. It’s been pretty unusual for all of us. No matter how much you try to avoid it, you can’t help but think about all the sadness that has surrounded us and all the changes.
When I was asked if I make a New Year’s resolution, I answered no –mainly because what I need to work on constantly changes throughout the year.
However, this year might be the exception.
A blogger I have followed for several years died yesterday. Although I’ve never met him, I felt like I lost a good friend. He battled ALS for 24 some years and wrote his last article about 7 days ago. It was short, and as he mentioned — it was his shortest one because of how weak he was. He was able to write his thoughts down through eye contact and a computer. I really can’t comprehend it, but I’m so thankful for technology. I’m even more thankful that he didn’t let ALS stop him from encouraging others. His love for Jesus was BIG. It was REAL.
The thing is, he never stopped letting people know about Jesus and the hope He gives. That’s my resolution. I pray that I can be like Bill and let his legacy live on through me. Even when life is hard. Even when I don’t feel like it. I pray I will set my selfish self aside and proclaim the love of Jesus to others. Always.
Thank you, Bill Sweeney — aka Unshakable Hope. You will be missed.
The familiar: Cold temps – 10 degrees, a dusting of snow, Hallmark movies, Christmas cards, phone calls, and gifts.
And what was missing? No in-person worship services (at our church), no big family gatherings, or time spent with many family and/or friends, and for the most part — no traveling. For some — lack of joy. Many have lost loved ones.
So….what exactly can we count on to remain the same? The reason we celebrate Christmas. God’s love. His expectations. God’s promises. God’s daily revelations and miracles. His strength. His wisdom. His Words that are in print. His Forgiveness. His whispers of Hope.
What is hope to you? If someone stopped you in the grocery store and said they were from a local newspaper and they were writing a story on hope and desperately needed your help, what instances would you share that gave you a glimmer of hope? Can you think of one? Maybe you need some time to think. Unfortunately, It seems most people can instantly remember those times that are discouraging or heartbreaking. I guess that’s a human trait. But what about those unbelievable God-wink moments?! Those a-ha! moments! Have you forgotten?
Author Lysa Terkeurst describes hope beautifully in her book Forgiving What You Can’t Forget. She said, “The reality is that Jesus’ death only lasted three days, but His resurrected hope has carried us into the future.”
Resurrected hope. That’s what we need — and that’s what Jesus provided all those years ago — knowing exactly what you and I would be facing today.
Friend, I don’t know about you, but I have to constantly remind myself that He is in control. Even when it doesn’t feel like it, He is very much alive and is on this journey with us. Even when we feel like we are losing a battle that we should be (or want to be) winning, HE is always there to pick us up. Yet we continue to grumble that life isn’t the way we want it.
Jesus loves you. He’s there, you just haven’t looked for Him. If you’ve accepted Jesus as your personal Savior and surrendered your life to Him — then you have hope for tomorrow! You have grace. Mercy. Unconditional love. Peace. Something to look forward to – ETERNAL life with Jesus.
If you’re having a hard time seeing God work in your life, please read the following. Once again, Lysa Terkeurst gives another good example of finding those glimpses of hope.
“The possibility of hope is what I want to look for so that hope is what I will see. And when I start to notice it, that noticing has a multiplying effect.
Have you ever decided you liked a certain kind of car, and though you haven’t noticed it very much before, the next time you’re out driving, you look for it? And when you look for it, that same car seems to be everywhere! You see two in your neighborhood, another at the stoplight beside you, and then several more when you pull into the parking lot of where you’re going. How can it be that you never noticed it, and then suddenly this car seems to be everywhere? It’s not that those cars just appeared on that day. Chances are they’ve been zipping around you for quite a while… but if you aren’t looking for them, you probably aren’t noticing them. That’s the multiplying effect of making the choice to look for something– you’ll start to see it more and more.”
The same is true with our faith. If we are experiencing an emptiness and feel as though Jesus just isn’t around or doesn’t care what’s happening in our life, we need to stop. We need to take the time to look for Him. Where does one begin? Start with the Scriptures. Believe me, you will find Him there.
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“Peace is what I leave with you; it is my own peace that I give you. I do not give it as the world does. Do not be worried and upset; do not be afraid.” John 14:27
“Humble yourselves, then, under God’s mighty hand, so that he will lift you up in his own good time. Leave all your worries with him, because he cares for you,” 1 Peter 5:6-7
If you blog, you most likely have read articles (at least one) that had helpful hints that would hopefully make your blog more appealing. The ones I have read emphasized the importance of knowing what audience you’re trying to reach.
After reading one author’s suggestions, I questioned my purpose — mainly why I share it for strangers to read. Honestly, in my case, I mainly write to help myself through different struggles or because I don’t want to forget something meaningful that happened, and then I share it to encourage someone else out there. There’s nothing worse than feeling like you are alone in what you’ve experienced. There’s nothing better than connecting with someone who can totally relate!
If you don’t feel like you’re “good” enough in this life, then what I share will hopefully make you realize that none of us are good — we are all sinners. However, by the grace of God, He forgives us and loves us more than we will ever understand. A concept that humans have a difficult time doing.
The Lord sure knows exactly how to teach us life lessons in mysterious ways. I’m not quite sure why I often expect Him to get straight to the point with all my questions along life’s way. Perhaps it’s because of the world we live in where we can get a quick answer by Googling it or checking an email. The thing is, our Savior knows more than your best friend, Facebook or Google. His way from point A to point B may not be the fastest route, however, it’s the best route.
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” John 14:6
When you read the Bible and see how Jesus would respond to a question with a question or a parable, it makes perfect sense why it’s not always easy to know what His answer is to our prayers. I guess the important thing is that we never stop listening to or seeking our Savior. Because He lives, I can face tomorrow….
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
You already know what’s on my mind. However, you know how important it is for me to say this out loud.
This Thanksgiving was so very different. Life is different. Every time I hear the phone ring, I know it’s bad news. We’ve lost a lot of people – not the normal age when you expect it, but people who have died because of complications from this virus, from cancer, or due to an accident. It’s crazy. It’s hard.
Lord, please, hear our prayers. Be with those who couldn’t be with their loved one when they took their last breath. I don’t doubt your word and that you already know the hour we will breathe our last breath. And…I never doubt your goodness. Every day it’s revealed just how good you are, and how bad we are….
As you know, life is hard. It’s so very complicated and challenging. It’s stressful, and some people make it even more so. Please, Lord, help me to be the person you want me to be. I pray I never lose focus that I’m here to reach others for Christ.
Thank you for never leaving my side. Thank you for listening. I’m beyond grateful for your love, mercy, and grace.
Although I didn’t have a difficult time falling asleep last night, I sure woke up several times throughout the night and my brain would NOT rest. There’s a lot going on in the world and my personal life right now, however, all of that didn’t consume my thoughts this time.
I am an IA in a preschool, and I couldn’t stop thinking about what happened with a particular student. It’s his second year there and he will be old enough to go to kindergarten next year. You would need to see him in person to truly appreciate this story, however, I believe you’ll get my point.
The students had their shoes off during rest time. It was time to go outside for recess, so they were all putting their nap time things away after putting back on their shoes.
This one particular student was still sitting on the floor, trying to get one of his shoes on. He walked up to me with something in his hand. It was a very thin, slippery shoe insert that had fallen out of his shoe. When he brought it up to me, he said, “Mrs. Knapp, smell my insert!” I smiled (and thought ‘no thank you!’) while I helped him tuck it back in his shoe. Wouldn’t you know — It slipped right back out as soon as he tilted his shoe. Once again, he grabbed it and held it out for me to smell. It was like he was on a mission. His eyes were wide open and the excitement in his voice was similar to someone trying to get you to try a bite of something delicious! No exaggeration. He finally added, “It smells just like, like…” and then pointed to a Mod Podge container.
Ohhhh, now that he had explained that it wasn’t like a sweaty, horrible, yucky shoe odor that would cause me to throw up– I was willing to try. Ha. And, he was right. The thing is, this is the second time he has talked me into doing something that I wouldn’t ordinarily do. This kid never gives up.
It hit me last night that he has a gift, and I’m praying that he’ll use it one day to get people interested in and excited about Jesus. He most certainly knows how to capture someone’s attention an then gives them a reason (or several) why they should listen to him.
I can just hear him now. Listen! You need to learn about Jesus! He’s like, like… and he will use something that you can relate to so that you can begin to understand exactly who Jesus is and why you need Him.
If you know Jesus, I pray you will catch this little guy’s excitement and be passionate about telling others just how good our Savior is. It makes such a difference when someone presents the Gospel or gives an invitation to church by repeating words they’ve been programmed to say — or if it’s coming from their heart!
What is Jesus like to you? How do you know He’s here? What is His love like? How has He given you grace? Why do you love Him so? Let’s pass the word so others will know! Let’s not give up! Reach out your hand and tell someone about Jesus today.
“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes; first to the Jews, then to the Gentile.” Romans 1:16
It’s Halloween. Most people think about decorating, dressing up, handing out candy, and parties. Some of those things come to my mind, however, losing my mom will always be right there at the top.
Twenty-five years ago, I received a call from my dad. I vividly remember how he struggled to talk as he shared he had just called 911. My mom lost her battle to cancer. I think what hurt the most is the fact that she lost her battle to living many years before that day.
Life is hard. Now that I’m older, I can see how it can be overwhelming. I’m not really sure why some people can’t overcome some of their struggles, but my mom never seemed to “live” life from the time I began middle school. Those were tough years for the both of us.
She was beautiful. She loved music. She loved deeply when she allowed herself to do so. Unfortunately, there was something unknown to me that brought her down into depression — to the point she hardly ever stepped out of the house. Sometimes she didn’t leave her bedroom.
It makes me so sad that I couldn’t help, but she wouldn’t let me in.
If you are struggling with depression, please listen to your friend, daughter, son, or whoever it is that is trying to reach out. They love you, but most likely they really don’t know the right words to say. They are afraid that they’ll push you further away. They are afraid that they’ll lose you forever.
I know you are tired, but there is one who can help. He will give you strength to face the day and to keep moving forward. He will give you peace, love, hope, and JOY! This isn’t coming from some self-help book — I’ve experienced it! Please, if you’ve closed the door on your family or friends, unlock it. Open it. Let someone in.
Most of all, let Jesus in. He is the answer to living life — today and forever.
“For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened. ” Matthew 7:8
If you are a grandparent or a parent, you will be able to relate to the emotions that are tied to this story. Actually, MOST people will be able to relate because of life experiences.
My granddaughter, Natalie, recently started preschool. She FaceTimed us last week to tell us she had just completed day 1. It was a good day and her smile said it all.
However, the second day didn’t start off as well. The excitement of starting something new was gone and she woke up with tears streaming down her cheeks. She told her mommy and daddy she didn’t want to go. Some extra time was spent reminding her how much she enjoyed the first day. However, she still wanted to stay home. I’m sure most people can relate to what that feels like when you prefer to stay in the comfort and safety of your home.
My heart was a little heavy that morning and I couldn’t stop thinking about her – wondering how her day was going. My grandma instinct kicked in — and I kept thinking how wonderful it would be if I lived closer so that I could help in some way. I’m really not sure what I could do there to make a difference, but still — I was grateful that I could pray to the One who could be there.
It wasn’t long before my daughter-in-law sent me a text message that morning to share some incredible news. When they walked in the preschool, a little brown-haired girl ran from the other side of the room as soon as she spotted Natalie and asked if she would be her new best friend. Needless to say, that little brunette made a huge difference in how my granddaughter viewed being at school. The two girls immediately began to play and are now building a wonderful friendship. Once again — preschool was a good place to be.
What an excellent reminder her experience is for us all. Sometimes we don’t know when someone is struggling. However, God knows. And when God puts someone on your heart, it’s for a good reason. When we take the time to walk across the room to let someone know that they are noticed, it can turn their day around in a heartbeat – maybe their life. Who is God putting on YOUR heart?
“Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.” ~ Philippians 2:3-4
Beyond the grave.
I did something out of the ordinary today – I visited my dad’s grave. He’s been gone now for eighteen years, and I still seek the comfort I need by reliving all of my favorite memories. I know it’s a personal choice, but for me, I would much rather focus on what we had and what was good. Visiting the cemetery only reminds me that what I loved came to an end.
After I got out of my car and stood there for a few moments where he was buried, I felt a gentle breeze sweep through my hair. It was like God was nudging me to look up and beyond the grave.
I was glad that He caught my attention because I was blessed with what appeared to be a water color painting of trees that were yellow, orange, and green – all lined with the wonders of a golden colored bean field.
Losing someone in this life is hard. However, when we look beyond the grave – we receive comfort and peace when we remember the beauty of where our loved one now lives – for eternity.
I always love it when I see that first leaf that reveals summer is coming to an end. Most of the leaves are still green, and then before you know it most of them have changed. There’s nothing like stumbling upon a rainbow of colors scattered around a tree. For me, this season is magical in Indiana.
Some people will say they do not like it because they know what comes next – snow, cold temps, and possibly icy roads. However, many embrace this time of the year. They love the cooler temps, change in their wardrobe, activities like bonfires, hayrides, football, and carving pumpkins. And, best of all – the anticipation of what colors they’re going to see each year. Sometimes the dominant color is red, and sometimes it might be yellow. Some years, orange. You just never know.
Although this season is one of my favorites, my husband has a different opinion. He loves it when it’s near 90 degrees. He enjoys being outside, so that means he likes activities such as gardening, mowing, and running. Let me tell you what, we are opposite in almost every way! He runs, I walk. He likes his food HOT, and I really don’t care as long as it’s edible. He likes to go, go , go – and I need to space things out. I like pineapple on my pizza, and he does not. He notices details, and I do not. I’m a huge dog fan. Him – not so much.
However, there’s one thread that keeps us together – and that’s our faith. Without it, I’m not sure we would’ve lasted 36 years. I respect his opinion, and he respects mine. I love Jesus, and so does he. We both fail, and we both seek forgiveness.
I’m here to testify that God’s love unifies. It covers sin. It forgives. Gives grace when needed. God’s love never fails.
If you are struggling in your marriage, maybe it’s time for a change – a change in your heart.