Tears Water the Soil of Our Hearts

A natural crier, I often wish I could stop up the tears that seem to come so easily.

Yet maybe it’s the tears we shed that water our parched hearts, preparing them to receive the seeds of growth God plants.

Maybe it's the tears we shed that water our parched hearts, preparing them to receive the seeds of growth God plants. Click To Tweet

Tears

Nineteen Years of Crying

It seems I’ve been crying since the day my girl was born.

My third child, I cried for the miracle of new life, and I wept for my first girl.

And then I cried …

  • When Rachel quit breathing at a little over a month old.
  • During the long nights of apnea monitoring.
  • Through exhausting days of nursing and pumping to give my tiny treasure, whose cleft palate wouldn’t allow her to properly drink, the best nutrition.
  • While undertaking the grueling job of getting her to drink following her cleft repair.
  • When we heard, “lifelong disability.”
  • When she said her first word and took her first unaided step, both around her 4 year old mark.
  • Marking each school year of growth that always ended with greater discrepancy with her peers.
  • When Rachel attended her first dance in 8th grade at the insistence of her friend Kenna. Not only did Kenna and her friends invite Rach but they welcomed her as one of them, helping her do her hair and making it a golden night.
  • After the call I received informing us that the senior class had chosen Rachel to be on the Homecoming court.
  • The night she was crowned Homecoming Queen!
  • When the surgeon informed us after nearly 7 hours of surgery that her vascular transplantation went wonderfully.
  • The afternoon Rachel walked across the stage at commencement flanked by two friends to receive her diploma cover and the applause from her peers and the audience.

Tears of joy, sorrow, pain, frustration, relief, overwhelming gratitude: I’ve shed them all during this girl’s 19 years of life.

Purpose To Our Tears 

And there’s two things I’m certain of concerning those tears:

1. They will continue and

2. They’ve watered hearts, helping to produce growth in the lives of many, perhaps most of all, me.

So don’t fear the tears you’re compelled to shed. After all, every heart needs to be watered to grow.

Don't fear the tears you're compelled to shed. After all, every heart needs to be watered to grow. Click To Tweet

Happy Birthday, Rachel

I couldn’t be more blessed to celebrate the life of this daughter of mine.

A daughter in name, but so much more, a daughter of my heart.

Happy 19th birthday, Rachel! This world is far richer with you in it.

IMG_20170219_161448158

“You Yourself have recorded my wanderings. Put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your records?” Psalm 56:8

Reflections: What growth have you experienced in your life that were watered by the tears?

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Daily Living, Disability/Special Needs

Hope for When You’re in a Hard Place

Many of the hardest things in life prove to be the most valuable.

Many of the hardest things in life prove to be the most valuable. Trust God's plan for you. Click To Tweet

hard often delivers great blessings

It’s Hard!

I once thought parenting would be easy. It’s not.

Lately I’ve been thinking about how truly inadequate I feel for this job, even after nearly 23 years. I thought it’d get easier. And in some ways it has. Yet in other ways, not so much. 

While there may not be as constant a barrage of issues to address as when the kids were young, when faced with them now, they’re often much bigger and more significant.

I have far less knowledge and say about my young adult children’s activities and choices.

The gap between typically developing peers and Rachel grows wider.

The difficulties of raising a child with special needs become compounded by the need to provide for her future, eventually without you.

Seeing my children separate and make their own way in life, while a wonderful and sought-after outcome of parenting, brings an ache to my heart. 

The Value of Hard

Yet, despite the continued weight of parenting, I’m blessed to be a mama. Incredibly blessed. 

I’ve grown exponentially since that day I held my firstborn. I’ve grown in ways I never expected…. in ways impossible had I not been stretched by the uncomfortable and hard moments. 

But that’s how it is with most things. The hardest things often deliver the greatest blessings.

The hardest things often deliver the greatest blessings. #hopeinthemess Click To Tweet

Bringing a baby into the world. Going through the long and arduous journey to adoption. 

Completing a college degree. Getting that promotion at work. 

Cultivating a thriving marriage. Trusting God when the going gets near impossible. 

Blessing of Being Faithful Where You Are

Being a mother is among the hardest thing I’ve ever done. Being a mother to a child with disabilities is and will continue to add to the burden I feel. 

Yet the blessing of motherhood has far outweighed the load. Because the blessing of being faithful where God has placed you always outweighs the burden of walking it out.

The blessing of being faithful where God has placed you always outweighs the burden of walking it out. Click To Tweet 

This is true whether or not you are a parent.  We all have hard journeys. Ones also filled with obstacles and unexpected turns. 

Yet wherever you find yourself:

  • single or married
  • mother or childless
  • employed or in-between jobs
  • healthy or disabled
  • young or elderly

you’ll also find blessings. Blessings that will actually strengthen you to carry the load you’ve been given. 

On this Mother’s Day weekend, when many grieve estranged children, sick children, or no children, let me offer a little encouragement: 

Wherever you find yourself, in whatever situation you face, that is where the grass is greenest for you, for now. Don’t long for the other side. Chances are when you get there, you’ll discover it’s all a mirage.

Best Place for You

The lushest grass, the best place for you to be now is the place you find yourself in right now. It’s often the hardest one to walk through. And it may look anything but fertile and rich.

But blessings will flow out of your faithfulness. As you trust God’s plan for your life, you’ll begin to see the gems poking through the mess.

Best place for you to be is where you are now. Trust God's plan for your life and see the gems poking thru the mess. Click To Tweet

“Wait for the Lordbe strong and courageous. Wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27:14

Reflections: Where is the hard place you’re asked to be? Have you gotten a glimpse of the blessings of faithfully walking through it? 

 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Christian walk, Daily Living, mothers, Parenting, Perspective, Uncategorized

The Constant to Cling To When Facing Seasons of Change

It can be difficult to move on in the midst of life changes, but God’s a constant we can all count on. 

It can be difficult to move on in the midst of life changes, but God's a constant we can count on. Click To Tweet

In Iowa we have a saying about the weather: If you don’t like it, just wait a minute, it’ll change. That’s the way I feel about my life recently. 

the constant in change

Facing a Whirlwind of Change

Over the past 5 years, my life feels like it’s flipped upside down.

My children are leaving. My work is being transformed. My ministry is morphing. My identity is changing.

I’m no longer a stay-at-home mom to my four children. I’m now only home part-time.

I’m weary of all the changes and struggling to juggle this “new” life.

I had wanted to write about this once I reached the other side, but the other side keeps moving. 

I miss my boys, desperately. I miss the game nights and wrestling. I miss the snowball fights and tucking them in at night.

Some may say I’m entering the good season of life. That’s not how I see it. 

I miss the day-to-day sameness of pouring into my children. The life of a stay-at-home, work-at-home mom suited me well. 

Clinging to the Rock

Yet amid all the changes and the weariness they’re delivering, I’m clinging to two promises:

  1. God has not and will not change.
  2. God still has a good and grace-filled plan for me … and always will.

Two promises to cling to when faced with wearying changes: God doesn't change, and His plans for us remain good. Click To Tweet

The seasons I’ve walked through have been both hard and beautiful. I know the ones coming my way so rapidly will be as well. 

I need to turn my lamenting of my ever-changing life into storing up the treasures in my heart like Mary the mother of Jesus did. I need to offset my fatigue with prayer and time with God.

Changes do and will continue to occur in my life and yours. There’s nothing any of us can do about that.

But during difficult seasons like this one for me, when we struggle with moving past the whirlwind of changes, we have a Rock to anchor us. 

Entering a season of chaos? 

Struggling with changing roles?

Cling tight to your Rock, my friends! God’s a constant in your life that will never change. And even in seasons of change, He still has a good and grace-filled plan for you. 

Cling to your Rock! In seasons of change, God is a constant, and He still has a good and grace-filled plan for you. Click To Tweet

“There is no one holy like the Lord. There is no one besides You! And there is no rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 2:2

Reflections: Are you wearied by life changes? Are you facing a season of chaos or a change of roles you don’t want? You can trust God to be your one constant in a lifetime of change. Let Him be your rock! 

I always enjoy linking up with Suzie Eller on for #livefreeThursday. Click this link to read all the wonderful posts!

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Change, Christian walk, Daily Living, God, God's attributes

What To Remember When Life Grows Complicated

I whispered it to my husband in the quiet of the night.  A feeling that’s been haunting me for much of this year, growing stronger in recent weeks.

“Life seems so complicated right now.” 

How I long for simpler days. Carefree days of exploring woodlands and floating rivers. Hours free to get lost in a story or dream up an adventure.

Now, a weight threatens to settle permanently on my shoulders. Too much responsibility. Too many demands to squeeze into an already overloaded schedule. 

Sometimes it’s about muscling through these seasons, trusting God to carry me over the mountain. Other times it’s about reducing the load, sifting and winnowing all the nonessentials. 

Both require faith that I’m not alone in this complicated life. Knowing I have someone who cares and will help is the only way I can keep going.

peace and comfort

Peace Is Available Now

Perseverance in the tangled mess of life requires leaning into the One that with a word formed the universe and all that’s in it.

Perseverance in the tangled mess of life requires leaning into the One who with a word formed the universe and all… Click To Tweet

Taking each next step during hard and overwhelming seasons requires pressing closer to the One that put breath in my lungs and hope in my heart.

Taking each next step during hard seasons requires pressing closer to the One who put breath in my lungs and hope in… Click To Tweet

Life right now is complicated. It may remain that way for quite some time.

Hope Prevails

But hope for each day prevails. It prevails because 

“The Lord sat enthroned at the flood;
the Lord sits enthroned, King forever.
11 The Lord gives His people strength;
the Lord blesses His people with peace.” Psalm 29:10-11

*The Lord didn’t just sit previously; He’s enthroned as King now and forever. 

*The Lord didn’t just give once; He continues to provide His strength to all who call Him King. 

*The Lord didn’t just bless His people a long time ago: He, even now and forever, blesses His people with peace in all the difficult messes of life. 

When life becomes, and/or remains complicated, there is still hope. 

Be comforted: the Lord is King forever and continues to give strength to His people and bless them. Click To Tweet

Press into Him. 

Rest in Him.

Draw strength from Him. 

Receive His peace now! Don’t expect it only after the road smooths out.

Remember that as King forever, the Lord Jesus offers us a seemingly impossible peace right in the middle of the overwhelm!

Go ahead, embrace it. I am. 

Reflections: Have you received the peace Jesus offers? It’s not only reserved for when we reach heaven. You can experience it right now, in the middle of the worst mess. What’s stopping you? 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Peace, Persevere

What Faith in God Brings To My Life (and can bring to yours)

In the hard parts of my days, I often find myself saying, “I don’t know how people do it without faith in God.” 

But what do I really mean by that? What does faith in a living, breathing, almighty Creator who established a relationship with His creation through the suffering and death of His only Son bring to my life? 

Pain, disappointments, and frustrations still frequent my life as they do yours. But through faith in God, hope abounds, even in the worst of circumstances.

Pain, disappointments, frustrations frequent my life. But thru faith, hope abounds, even in the worst circumstances. Click To Tweet

through faith, hope abounds

Hope abounds because I believe with all my heart that I have a Father in heaven who loves me, who wants the best for me, and who is actively working in my life to bring about that best to His glory.

What It Looks Like to Live by Faith

So because of my faith in a sovereign, loving, holy God …  

Mundane days seem a bit more important and purposeful (each day is another step in God’s plan for my life).

Dark times still hold a glimmer of light and always hope (Jesus never leaves me or forsakes me). 

World injustices don’t seem quite so helpless (praying and sharing the truth of salvation are always powerful things to do to help). 

Death of a loved one doesn’t seem so permanent (for those who believe in Jesus as their Savior, death ushers in a glorious new life). 

Painful things aren’t quite so painful (God redeems). 

People’s opinions of me don’t matter quite so much (mercy and grace abound through Christ). 

I don’t have to wear a mask, pretending to be who I’m not (God already knows and loves me for who He made me to be). 

Missed opportunities and lack of certain possessions, don’t matter quite as much (since this world and everything in it is temporary).

Failure on my part doesn’t carry quite as much weight (I’m not the one in charge). 

I don’t have to strive quite so hard (Jesus Christ did the saving of my soul for me). 

What looks really bad may be exactly what I need (an omniscient, omnipresent God has a far greater understanding of what I need than I do). 

I still face painful circumstances. All Christians do, the same as unbelievers.

But by faith I know the Lord redeems all things for those who love Him. And I know unwanted situations are often beneficial challenges that serve to grow and transform me into a better version of me. 

So although I walk a path potholed with pain and frustrations, I walk in unending hope and anticipation. Because my Savior was born, suffered and died, and ascended to the Father … redeeming it all. And He did it all for me (and for you). 

Although we walk a path potholed w/ pain and frustrations, we can walk in unending hope, because Jesus redeemed all. Click To Tweet

In faith have hope, my friend. For in Christ, hope abounds! 

“Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” Hebrews 11:1

Reflections: How have you seen your faith make a difference in your life? How might you share that hope you have in Christ with others who don’t know Him? 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Christian walk, Faith

Walk in the Blessings of a Godly Marriage #wifestylin (book review and giveaway)

If you are in an abusive marriage, please seek professional help!

“Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord,” (Ephesians 5:22).

Wait, don’t click away! This is a beautiful invitation from God, not the horrible demand some women fear it to be.

You’ll feel better after you read God’s charge to husbands a few short verses later:

“Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself for her,” (Ephesians 5:25).

Wives submit; husbands love. It’s a lovely dance of marriage done right. Yet often this God-ordained union looks anything but lovely.

Wives submit; husbands love. It's a lovely dance of marriage done right. #wifestylin Click To Tweet

Husband Leadership

Marriage Is Hard

Marriage is hard. To be done well, it requires giving and serving. Thinking of another over self. Walking in the roles God set out for each partner.

Marriage is hard. To be done well, it requires giving and serving, walking in the roles God set out for each partner. Click To Tweet

Two selfish people unite, and “the two will become one flesh” (Mark 10:8). But to fully become one, she must learn how to respect and he must learn how to love (not often an easy feat for either party).

My Problem

I thought I was doing that … loving and respecting that is. Throughout our 27 years of marriage, I did what I thought I should to be a good wife, not what God said to do. My intentions were good; yet, in many ways I was sabotaging our union.

Instead of being the helper God had chosen for my husband, I wanted to be his conscience, his mother, even in some ways, his savior. I wanted to change my guy to be the guy I wanted, not the man God created.

I disrespected him in an attempt to help him. Um … by the way, that never works.

By God’s grace, my eyes were slowly opened to what my role as a supportive, loving, and respectful wife should be. Developing the habits to live out that role has taken much longer. In fact, I still have a ways to go.

To help me stay on course in becoming the wife my man needs, I’ve been digging into marriage books. The latest is Jen Weaver’s new book, A Wife’s Secret to Happiness: Receiving, Honoring, & Celebrating God’s Role for You in Your Marriage. In it, Jen explores the 11 blessings God wants to bestow on a wife through her marriage and the wifestyle habits that allow her to receive them.

A Wife’s Secret to Happiness

A Wife’s Secret to Happiness is an action-oriented book filled with scriptural truth, practical tips, questions to consider, true-false quizzes, and testimonies from other real-life wives. Throughout, Jen shares honestly about the mistakes she’s made as a less-than-perfect wife and the lessons she’s learned by the blessing of God’s “more-than-perfect provision.”

In each chapter, the author unveils a blessing and then compares the #wifestylin habits that build up or tear down our husbands, and in turn, support or hinder that blessing. Although I found it difficult to answer the true-false quizzes (I wanted to qualify the answers with sometimes or maybe), I thought the tips for application quite helpful.

This book is definitely written with millennials in mind. As a middle-aged woman, I found some of the references and stories a bit distracting. 

Precious Nuggets

However, let me hasten to add that precious nuggets of conviction, encouragement, and truth are woven throughout A Wife’s Secret to Happiness. Wives of any age and stage of marriage will be blessed to receive them.

There are precious nuggets of conviction, encouragement, and truth woven throughout @TheJenWeaver's book. #wifestylin Click To Tweet

Passages like,

“Submission is divine empowerment that culture has confused and the enemy has contorted to mean oppression.”

“Hierarchy is not a product of the Fall; it’s an attribute of the Father. The three Persons of God—the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—show preference and deference to each other.”

“I cannot trust God and reject what he says. If God is good and if everything he does is good, then submission is good. Recognizing my husband’s authority as my leader is good. Obedience to Ephesians 5 is good. To believe otherwise means I doubt God’s character.” 

“How I live as a wife is less about my relationship with my husband and more about my relationship with my Savior.”

“Our actions always show submission to someone—whether to ourselves, the enemy, or to the Lord. We have the opportunity to partner with our husbands with sincere hearts, as servants of Christ.”

“Receiving the blessing of life as a godly wife requires that we follow God’s instructions for our lives as wives.

“The roles the Lord gives us in marriages, and the parts our husbands play, these are positions to celebrate, not tolerate.”

Yellow and orange highlighter adorn many of the pages in my copy. That’s a tribute to how many gems you’ll find in this book. 

Reap the Rewards of a Happy Marriage

Whether you, like me, are further along in your marriage or are just beginning your journey as wife, let Jen make the path smoother. 

Husband-leadership truly is a blessing. For wives it begins with learning to walk out our helper role, respecting our men and reaping the rewards of a happy marriage. In this book, Jen Weaver shows us how. 

Love and Respect

“For this reason a man will leave
his father and mother
and be joined to his wife,
and the two will become one flesh.

32 This mystery is profound, but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 To sum up, each one of you is to love his wife as himself, and the wife is to respect her husband.” Ephesians 5:31-33

Reflections: Do you see husband-leadership as a blessing or curse? Is your marriage a lovely dance or a tug-of-war? Are you walking in your God-given wife role? Let Jen walk you through your position of helper to your man and discover the secret to a lasting, fulfilling marriage. Enter to win a copy of her engaging and practical book below. 

A Wife's Secret to Happiness

a Rafflecopter giveaway

*I’ve received 2 copies of this book in exchange for an honest review. There are affiliate links in this post.

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Book review, giveaway, Marriage

How To Best Support One Another (be honest)

“I’ve always thought you had it all together.” My incredulous look followed her into the sanctuary.

Me? Having it all together?

I’m the one who forgot her son at church … not once, but two Sundays in a row. I’m the one who also forgot said son at daycare.

I’m the girl who arrives minutes late to many appointments, because I’m trying to squeeze in that “one more thing.”

I’m the mama who often feels inadequate and overwhelmed for the task at hand. 

For this fellow church member to believe I was put together, floored me. Had I misled people into believing I’m someone I’m not? Certainly not intentionally. 

Me? Having it all together? To quickly dispel such a silly notion, simply follow me around for oh, say an hour. Or ask my husband or children, or even the caregivers who come in to help with Rachel. 

They’ll set you straight. 

Or simply read this blog for awhile. You’ll get a clear picture of the messiness that is me.

be honest about your imperfections

Being Honest About Your Messy Is the Best Policy

Now, I continually try to be more punctual (and not forget my children); however, I’m learning to be okay with the messy side of me.

After all it’s really not about whether we are perfectly put together, but whether we know the One who is. Because God can and does use the most imperfect mess of a person to do great and wondrous things. 

God can and does use the most imperfect mess of a person to do great and wondrous things. #trustHim Click To Tweet

Look at those Jesus tasked to be among His greatest witnesses:

Saul, a violent persecutor of Christians. Peter, a close friend who later betrayed Him.

Matthew, a tax collector (a hated profession).

And let’s not forget His mother was an unwed young girl when asked to take on this most holy assignment.

And look at the main characters of the stories told throughout Scripture:

A prostitute.

An adulteress. 

A widow. 

The disabled. 

The elderly.

Children.

The barren.

Finally, notice how He didn’t hide His own humanness: 

He wept. 

He became angry (note, He never sinned in that anger like we often do).

He let His disciples see His anguish.

Support One Another

Do I need to tell anyone that life isn’t all kicks and giggles? It can be extremely hard. To pretend it’s not is being dishonest and harmful to others. 

The best way we can support one another, then, is to be vulnerable, honest, and truthful. 

So please, don’t think I have it all together. And please, don’t think you need to either. 

Let’s support each other by sharing our joys and our struggles, the beautiful parts of our lives and the messy. Because in those most exposed moments, we can best point others to the Savior who pulls it all together for us. 

Let's support each other by sharing the beautiful parts of our lives 'and' the messy: pointing others to the Savior… Click To Tweet

“Praise the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all comfort. He comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any kind of affliction, through the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For as the sufferings of Christ overflow to us, so through Christ our comfort also overflows.”  2 Corinthians 1:3-5, HCSB

Reflections: Let me be honest first: During this new season of working outside the home, I’m struggling against overwhelm. Now your turn: Are you in a season of joy or sorrow, ease or hardship? Please share openly in the comments, so we can rejoice with and encourage one another. 

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Uncategorized

Be Comforted in Your Pain (you are never alone)

“Don’t let them hurt me!” My young son’s words broke my heart.

Although his immunizations were necessary, it wasn’t easy to listen to his cries.

Through my nearly 23 years of parenting, I’ve found myself in the doctor’s office countless times with my children. Sometimes the visits have been pleasant, other times not so much.

Yet I want to be there, no matter how difficult the experience … for them and me — even if I can’t take away their pain.

Because I love them, I want them to know they’re not alone in their suffering. I want them to know I care.

My parents desired the same for me.

never alone

Never Alone in Suffering

Yet, sometimes as an adult, I’ve felt alone in my suffering. I’ve fallen into the trap of believing no one could relate or really cared.

That’s far from true on many fronts. I have friends and family members who only want the best for me. Yet, take away all my loved ones and still I’m never alone in my pain.

Because I walk with an ever-present God. Jesus Christ, my Lord and Savior, knows the extent and circumstances surrounding my greatest fears and struggles. 

Regardless of my or your circumstances, He can relate. In His suffering and death, He experienced pain far greater than any we’ll endure.

And He cares about us and the struggles we face. He’s present in the beauty of life as well as in the ugly. He’s present when peace fills our days as well as when chaos reigns supreme.

The Lord is there to be our shelter and wipe away our tears. All the while offering words of assurance, “[I] will never leave you nor forsake you” (Deuteronomy 31:6c).

My children will continue to face hard times. We all will. Suffering is a necessary part of growing.

For as long as I can, I will be there offering a shoulder to lean on. But even after I’m long gone from this earth, I can assure them (as I can you):

You never need to be alone in your pain. Walk with Christ, and be comforted by His constant presence. 

Suffering will happen, but never be alone in your pain: Instead be comforted by Christ's constant presence. Click To Tweet

“And remember, I am with you each and every day until the end of the age” (Matthew 28:20b).

Reflections: What struggles are you dealing with today? Are you shouldering through alone or leaning on the One who can offer you a measure of peace and joy in the midst of your trials?

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

Posted in Uncategorized

Why I Count Blessings (remembering His love)

Why is it so hard to walk in God’s love for us? Instead we give into fear and desperation. 

What believer (or even nonbeliever) hasn’t heard it … God loves you? We all have. It’s often the first thing you will hear or read when introduced to the world of Christianity.

Because it’s a core truth. God does love you!

The Problem

Yet, in the rush of daily activities or in the fog of a painful circumstance, it can be difficult to remember His love.

I easily forget…

I forget I am God’s beloved.

I forget His faithfulness.

I forget He redeems.

I forget I’m never alone.

I forget His plans are always and infinitely better than mine.

I know God loves me, but it’s not enough to read it in the Word. It’s not enough to tell myself it’s so.

spotlight God's love with gratitude

For the truth of His love to stand out in the hardest, most chaotic times of my life, I must have tangible reminders. 

For the truth of God's love to stand out in the hardest, most chaotic times of life, we need tangible reminders. Click To Tweet

The Answer

That’s the blessing of a gift list.

Because my memory often fails me, I need to be shown God’s love on a regular basis. Nothing is a more powerful reminder than keeping a physical record of His faithfulness.

It’s a call to remember … to come and see.

A gratitude list is a call to remember, to come and see... a tangible reminder of God's love. Click To Tweet

“Remember the wonderful works He has done…” (1 Chronicles 16:12 HCSB).

Come and see the works of God,…” (Psalm 66:5 HCSB)

A blessing list and prayer journal are both good options. I started recording in 2011. Now, my “One Thousand (or more) Gifts” list is nearing the 5,800 mark!

It’s a peace list, really. Without it, I’d be wallowing in anxiety and frustration. With it, I’m anchored by God’s love.

Oh, I may be rocked occasionally by a particularly strong or tenacious storm, but the reminders of the Lord’s faithfulness always steady me. I’ll never stop recording and remembering.

The Result

Some people call it paying it forward. I call it living out God’s love. Sharing what you’ve received with those you have contact with.

“We love because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19 HCSB). Yes!

And out of that truth comes fruit! Because once we are made aware of the forever love God has for us, and remain aware of it, sharing it naturally follows.

God’s love is powerful. It changes lives!

So here’s a simple (but effective) three-step plan to see it in action in your life:

  1. Recognize your need for a better perspective.
  2. Start by keeping a running reminder of how much God cares for you. Call it a “Joy Dare” (coined by Ann Voskamp), a “Love List,” or a “Blessing Register.” It doesn’t matter. The point is to intentionally and daily give yourself tangible reminders of God’s love by recording at least 3 blessings a day. Don’t try to get away without writing them down! That’s the most powerful piece of this exercise.
  3. Share with others the overflowing of God’s love. Make a phone call. Hold a hand. Pass on a smile. Offer a hug.

Let the love God has for you make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. Let it be multiplied by sharing it with another.

Recognize. Remember. Pour out on others. Even when your circumstances stink.

Let the love God has for you make a difference in your life and in the lives of others. It begins with remembering. Click To Tweet

It’s all possible, because God loves you! 

“Gratitude is like a flashlight. If you go out in your yard at night and turn on a flashlight, you suddenly can see what’s there. It was always there, but you couldn’t see it in the dark.”
–Dawna Markova

Reflections: Have you established a record of daily blessings? If not, what’s stopping you? If so, how are you recording them: running list, prayer journal, online, paper/pencil…? 

(Although I quit recording my three Joy Dare entries on my blog, you can catch them every evening on my Facebook page at JulieSunne1.)

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Experience God’s Peace in All Its Fullness

Who among us doesn’t script for ourselves a life of relative ease and unending happiness? I’m certainly guilty.  Yet the years never unfold according to our perfectly laid plans. From scary diagnoses to financial burdens to strained relationships, life has a way of throwing our days out of kilter.

fullness of God

“Praise be to the LORD, the God of Israel, from everlasting to everlasting.
Then all the people said ‘Amen’ and ‘Praise the LORD.’” 

1 Chronicles 16:36 NIV

The night before the tests, I lay in bed, wondering if tomorrow would bring blessed relief or start a potentially long road of suffering. As I turned over the possibilities, words of the Doxology1 leaped unbidden to mind, followed immediately by the refrain to It Is Well With My Soul. Peace enveloped me. I fell into a restful sleep knowing no matter what verdict I heard the next day, all would be well. My physical body may not be, but my spirit would.

I doubt I would have felt the calm assurance 5 years ago that I did that night. The daily practice of praising God has settled my soul. It has reminded me of the steadfast love of my Father. When the unimaginable happens, instead of dwelling on the what-ifs, I’ve equipped myself to remember the promises and faithfulness of my unfathomable God. I let praise usher in lasting peace.

(This is an excerpt from my devotional: Everyday Praise: Walking in Greater Peace. You can get a copy of Everyday Praise here on Amazon.)

Take Heart in God’s Fullness

Jesus tells us to expect burdens: “…In this world you will have trouble.” (John 16:33b).

But then the Savior goes on to extol us to “take heart!”

Why? Because, He “have overcome the world” (vs. 33c)!

Such an amazing truth, yet take heart … have peace … in my day-to-day struggles?

And having joy and peace in the mundane and hard? How is that possible?

As Christians, we can be certain our trials will be redeemed eventually. Yet what do we do in the meantime, in the here and now?

Because even when I know the Lord—when I know His love, faithfulness, and might—unwanted circumstances have a way of winning the day. Those afflictions tend to mask the beauty of my ultimate salvation.

Not that long ago, I finally began to understand how to peel back that mask, how to lighten the dark glasses of unwanted circumstances. I learned how to see beauty in the midst of troubles.

You see, experiencing peace in a world that is anything but peaceful boils down to remembering and embracing the fullness of who God is and what He offers…. to be continued at billmcconnell.me

Experiencing peace boils down to embracing the fullness of who God is and what He offers. Click To Tweet

I am thrilled to be guest posting for my friend and all-around good guy Bill McConnell! Read the rest of my post at his virtual space: billmcconnell.me. And don’t forget to show Bill your appreciation in the form of comments, likes, and shares.

Reflections: In what areas of life do you struggle the most with finding peace?  

I'm so glad you're here to walk with me through this messy but glorious journey called life! Please consider sharing this post with your family and friends. And don't miss a single piece of encouragement! Sign up to get every post in your inbox. It's free, and you'll receive free gifts just for signing up. Oh, you can unsubscribe at any time.

Yours in grace ≈

Julie

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Available Now!

Everyday Praise

We were created for praise! Cultivate the practice of glorifying God daily. Let your heart find rest in the shelter of God's goodness.

Thanks for stopping!

Hello, I'm Julie, an imperfect wife and mother of four. Life in this broken world is not always easy. Yet, joy can be found in each day through the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus Christ.

I find it's easy for our day's BLESSINGS to get lost in its HAPPENINGS. But God's "mercies never end" (Lamentations 3:22) and His "grace is sufficient" (2 Corinthians 12:9).

May the posts and pages on this site offer you a measure of peace and encouragement.

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“God allows us to experience the low points of life in order to teach us lessons that we could learn in no other way.”

— C.S. Lewis

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