You Are Not Called to Live a Frazzled Life

We were not created to, nor are we called to, live life frazzled!

How do I know? Two reasons:

(1) God, our Creator, rested after He created this universe and all the kinds of living things on earth, even though He still had work to do to bring Eve into existence (Genesis 2).

(2) Jesus, our Savior, rested and took time to be with His Father in prayer regularly, despite having an endless stream of people who demanded His attention.

Then why is it so easy to get caught up in the crazy cycle of doing? 

Currently my life spins at warp speed in multiple directions (and I don’t even think that’s possible). It’s too easy to say yes to every good thing, thinking I can stuff it in somewhere. 

Friends, here’s a profound thought I want to share with you:

Stuffing everything in won’t work!

You will eventually burst at the seams. I know, because I’m getting close. 

not frazzled but free

Live Abundantly, Not Frazzled

In the New York Times best-selling book, Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less, Author Greg McKeown wrote this: “only once you give yourself permission to stop trying to do it all, to stop saying yes to everyone, can you make your highest contribution towards the things that really matter.”

To paraphrase in my terms: only once I stop trying to do it all, can I discover and pursue what God has truly called me to and equipped me for. 

Only once you stop trying to do it all, can you discover & pursue what God has truly called & equipped you… Click To Tweet

In her excellent blog article, You Don’t Need to Do it All, Author Holley Gerth says it this way: “This world will wear us out. The enemy of our souls would love to see us distracted by anything ‘good’ that’s not God’s best.”

We get so caught up in our world’s demands on us, or what we perceive to be its demands, we miss having time to enjoy Jesus. Enjoy Jesus … how beautiful is simply the sound of that! 

But that’s part of grace! Not having to strive to do it all. Not having to be perfect or perform at your best all the time. 

We still have a part to do, just not the whole! Jesus is leading each of us to a destination. He has a calling on each of our lives.

This calling, it’s unique to each of us and never requires any of us to carry the weight of the whole world. 

Jesus has a calling on each of our lives, but it's a part to do, not the whole. #Grace is we don't have to do it all. Click To Tweet

Where Is Jesus Leading You?

Smack in the middle of my whirlwind of doing and realizing it’s not good, a friend and author, Suzie Eller, posted this reflection for today’s blog linkup: “where Jesus is leading me.”

Perfectly timed, the prompt caused me to think deeply about what His leading looks like in my life. It made me face my frazzled state head on. 

So, where do I see Jesus leading me? 

  1. He’s leading me nearer to Him. This is a universal calling. He’s leading you there too. 
  2. He’s leading me to love my family better. We are all being led here too. 
  3. He’s leading me to share the promise of His abundance with women bogged down in their mess (my unique and individual calling).
  4. He’s leading me to let go of the rest. 

That’s it. In order to do these 4 His-best-things-for-me well, I must turn down other assignments and opportunities that come my way.  And that’s the hardest part. 

It’s rarely easy to say no to good things. But saying yes to the wrong good things prevents us from doing our best things—those tasks and activities we are uniquely equipped to do. 

What a difficult lesson to learn and even harder to implement! Yet I’m committed to gaining clearer focus and more self-discipline in this area. 

Because you and I are not called to live a frazzled life. We’re called to live free in Christ. We’re called to live in the abundant life He has for us.

And accepting that call often requires saying no. 

You and I are not called to live a frazzled life. We're called to live free in Christ. Click To Tweet

Reflections: Are you living in a frazzled state? To obtain some clarity on the best call on your life, try asking the question, where is Jesus leading you?  

If you haven’t yet, you may want to check out my new devotional that released a couple weeks ago on the blessings of praising God! Praise: it’s just what each of us needs to find the beauty in the broken. Sign up to get the FREE 5-devotion preview here: Everyday Praise Devotional

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “where Jesus is leading me.” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

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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 Abundance, Daily Living, Grace, Rest

Sometimes We Need to See Differently (like these high school students did)

Sometimes appreciation only comes when we choose to see differently.

Sometimes appreciation only comes when we choose to see differently. Click To Tweet

Although my daughter is 18 years old, she speaks with the aid of an iPad. Rachel cannot tie her own shoes or completely dress herself. She has been diagnosed with significant intellectual and physical disabilities. 

There are many things Rachel cannot do without assistance. Yet, my daughter is now the West Delaware High School Homecoming Queen!

"The moment before she knew. New West Delaware Homecoming King Sam Johnson crowns Rachel Sunne as Queen at the Homecoming Coronation Ceremony Sept. 22." (Photo credit Manchester Press)

“The moment before she knew. New West Delaware Homecoming King Sam Johnson crowns Rachel Sunne as Queen at the Homecoming Coronation Ceremony Sept. 22.” (Photo credit Manchester Press)

Seeing the Not-So Obvious

Rachel has been a student in this school district in Iowa since age 3 when she entered the Early Childhood Education Program. Although not without issues, my husband and I chose to keep her in the same school as her three brothers.

When a school staff member called to tell us Rachel’s senior class had nominated her to the Homecoming Court and asked if we’d allow her to be on it, I cried. She’s in a great class. Everyone’s drawn in by her daily joy and friendliness. 

Yet, never had it crossed my mind, they’d consider to honor her in such a way. We said yes. 

A week later, the entire high school student body voted and chose Rachel as their 2016 Homecoming Queen. I cried again. 

Why did these nearly 500 students choose a young lady with obvious special needs to represent them in such a way?

Maybe some thought it was sweet and the right thing to do.

Maybe some felt sorry for her.

Maybe some even voted for her because they thought it’d be funny. 

But after witnessing the joy and tears after coronation, I think many of the West Delaware High School students voted Rachel Homecoming Queen because they’ve come to value what she has to offer:

Unconditional Love

Unfettered Joy

everyone-value

Choose To See Differently

Every person on this earth has something to offer. Unfortunately, we often miss it because we judge one’s worth by wrong standards. 

Every person on this earth has something to offer, but it's often missed because we judge worth by wrong standards. Click To Tweet

Rachel will never do mighty things. She’ll never save the physical life of another. She’ll never support herself financially. She’ll never be able to properly care for another, or independently care for herself for that matter.

Her contributions are small. A smile. A “hi.” A wave. A hug … when she can get away with it.

These are attributes often overlooked in our cultural rush to make the next dollar, get the next promotion, or earn another title after our name. 

But Rachel’s friends recognize it. Her classmates have been on the receiving end of Rachel’s love and joy for 12 years now. 

They not only care about her, but they have grown to appreciate the little she has to offer. They see her small gestures as big and meaningful. 

I will never be able to express the gratitude and respect I have for the young people in Rachel’s high school. The same goes for the staff, administration, and Manchester community members who have done their little part in guiding and educating the beautiful girl who now wears the crown. 

Dear West Delaware students: You noticed the worth of a young lady many in the world deem unworthy and often unwanted. And you took the time and made the extraordinary effort to acknowledge what she means to you in a very public display. My husband and I applaud you and thank you from the bottom of our hearts. 

Rachel can’t offer much of what the world desires. But she possesses something far more valuable: unconditional love for everyone she meets. Kudos to you West Delaware students for noticing!

“You have been bought and paid for by Christ, so you belong to him—be free now from all these earthly prides and fears.” 1 Corinthians 7:23 (TLB)

 “There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them.There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.” 1 Corinthians 12:4-7

Reflections: Is there someone in your life who you need to see differently?

If you haven’t checked out my new devotional that released  a couple weeks ago on the blessings of praising God, check it out! Praise: it’s just what each of us needs to find the beauty in the broken. Get it here. Everyday Praise Devotional

 

It’s been more than 5 years of counting and I’ve well passed 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #5367–5387. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Small victory of wogging on a morning when it was particularly hard to do; Words to write coming easily; Hanging out with my favorite guy watching Joey’s football game
  • Another awesome first: hosting a #Zoom online; Online face-to-face with some of the #EverydayPraise launch team members; Quiet evening home for the four of us before the busyness but fun of Homecoming sets in
  • Great eye report for Rachel; Successful homecoming coronation practice for Rachel; Attending a church with an open door policy during the week and a friendly administrative assistant!
  • *Challenge of figuring out a new editing program;*How well Rachel handled coronation;*I’m completely overwhelmed and touched by the West Delaware senior class who nominated Rachel to Homecoming Court and the student body who voted her Queen: no words yet
  • Rachel’s excitement at wearing her crown today; Our road remaining open despite the flooding; Daniel coming to the homecoming game to watch his sister in her role as newly crowned queen
  • Taking our young queen out to dinner and to the homecoming dance with her friend Shelby; Watching Rachel have lots of fun at the dance; A no-rain day
  • *More love and congratulations for Rachel at church; *Making the hard choice to outsource the printbook design for #EverydayPraise(now maybe it’ll get finished!); *My young lady, exhausted by the hard work of queenly duties, sleeping before 7

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 Disability/Special Needs, God, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Perspective, Rachel

When Serving Is a Chore Instead of a Delight

How often do I agree to do something for someone and then walk away muttering about it? How often do you? 

Our exchange wasn’t that different from the many my husband and I have each day. Yet for some reason, this one caught my attention. Drifting back to my desk, I reflected on what was bugging me.

We had agreed to help each other that day. As it should be. Yet we both did it rather grudgingly. That was the problem.

 

Shouldn’t serving those we love be done willingly and with joy? Shouldn’t serving anyone be done in that same manner? But do I?

serving and loving

Inside Flaws

I want to help others, including my man. I really do. 

Yet, when I’m serving with eyes rolling and heart muttering, is that service at all?

That morning with my husband, God highlighted the flaw so many of us carry. We love and serve, but we do so conditionally and often without delight.  

We’ll help others … only if it’s comfortable. We’ll follow Jesus wherever He calls us to be His hands and feet … only if it’s to a safe and convenient place.

We’ll serve our family … but often more out of a sense of duty not delight.

Selfish Bondage

The day my mother gave birth to me (perhaps even when I was yet in the womb), my focus became about me. The same can be said for you.

It’s a journey to move away from that bondage to self toward the beauty of selfless loving and serving. And none of us arrive overnight.

That morning exchange with my husband revealed the selfish streak still alive and well in me … and in him … and in each of us. 

The focus still too-easily defaults to ourselves. But thank God, there’s hope we can grow into doing better.

Hope

Because Christ first loved us, we can learn to love well. Because He first served us, we can learn to serve well.

He loved and served you and me …

Willingly.

Sacrificially.

Oh, to live a life of service with the sacrificial zeal of Jesus! What a worthy goal. 

So what do we need to do? What can we do? 

Become Outwardly Serving By Becoming Upwardly Focused

We need to refocus … again and repeatedly.

To become outwardly serving, not inwardly focused, requires that we first focus on our relationship with the Lord. Because only from a heart filled with the Lord, can true love and service pour out to others. 

Only from a heart filled with the Lord, can love and service pour out to others. Click To Tweet

As we take our me-bent ways to Jesus, we can find freedom from the bondage to self. When we lay down our self-centeredness, we can pick up His servant mindedness.

That doesn’t mean giving up everything to go and save the world. It means growing a heart that says

I see you,

I care for you,

I want to help you. 

Developing servant mindedness means growing a heart that says I see you, I care for you, I want to help you. Click To Tweet

So today, my friend, let’s confess our inward focus and ask the Holy Spirit to fill us with His fruit, two of which are love and kindness.

When we serve like Christ, we proclaim Christ to a world in desperate need of a Savior. It all begins with a shift of focus.

And for me it continues with joyfully serving those who I love the most.

When we serve like Christ, we proclaim Christ to a world in desperate need of a Savior. Click To Tweet

“Do nothing from selfish ambition 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

Reflections: Where is your heart on the selfish meter? Do you serve but do so grudgingly? Who do you have the most trouble serving? 

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “grudgingly.’” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

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If you are looking to grow in this area of loving and serving well, check out my Serving Guide One Sheet: “5 Reasons to Serve (and how to do it).” It’s yours free for the asking. Get it by clicking here. Love. Serve. Make a Difference.

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, Freedom, love, Reflect Christ, Serving

How To Find Beauty in Your Broken World

Brokenness just keeps coming, doesn’t it? 

Listen to the news. Walk into a school classroom and observe the kids. Get out of bed for another day. 

Brokenness is present in the way we speak, how we act, and what we think. It’s seen in technology failures, bombings, and the hurling of insults, and the prevalence of pornography, divorce and abortion. It’s experienced in our day to day life. 

beauty in broken

Not Smooth but Redeemed

Sometimes it seems like my life is coming together. Smooth sailing ahead. Gulp

Can I give you some advice? Never say “smooth sailing is ahead.” Never believe there aren’t storms on the horizon. Never expect a life of constant sweetness. 

That’s not to say never hope! In fact I’d say always hope. If that hope is in the right place, you never have to despair, even when something looks hopeless.

According to the Apostle Paul, Abraham had his hope rightly placed: “Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed …” (Romans 4:18a). 

My point is you set yourself up for disappointment if you buy into a prosperity theology that if you’re a strong enough Christian, you won’t feel the effects of this broken world. That is not biblical!

During the time you walk on earth, you will experience the aftershocks of a world steeped in sin. 

But Jesus … He redeems the brokenness! He restores hope to the hopeless. He brings beauty to the broken.

Living on earth, you will experience the aftershocks of a sin-filled world. But Jesus redeems the brokenness! Click To Tweet

There’s no way around it: You and I live in a broken world. As has every human being since Adam and Eve. 

Yet God had a plan to rescue us from that brokenness. And it’s a good plan. And it’s for everyone who believes in Jesus Christ and repents. 

Beauty in the Broken

That very good plan is to bring us out of this broken life into an eternal life with God where no sorrow will find us. Through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the Father accomplished that very thing. 

There’s great beauty and joy for a Christian to look ahead to our eternity with Jesus. However, the Lord didn’t leave us in this broken world to muddle through it the best we can until we reach our glory. 

No, Jesus’ death and resurrection and the gift of the Holy Spirit allow us to experience beauty right in the midst of the broken. We will have troubles … sin will affect us. 

Jesus' death & resurrection allow us to experience beauty right in the midst of the broken. Click To Tweet

But God’s sweet grace ministers to us in the here and now. He gifts us with peace and joy now … on earth, not just later when we enter heaven.

Thanks to our Savior, beauty exists on earth right smack in the middle of the broken. 

Thanks to our Savior, beauty exists on earth right smack in the middle of the broken. Click To Tweet

Broken dreams. Broken plans. Broken children. Broken hearts.

The Lord will heal them, once finally and forever.

But for now, He binds our brokenness often and continuously, filling our hearts with joy and peace even as we sorrow. Giving us hope when human logic says there is none. 

Because of Jesus, we can find beauty in the broken. Trust Him. Let Him redeem the broken in your life, and ask Him to reveal the present beauty. 

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

Reflections: What brokenness are you experiencing? Are you trusting Jesus to provide the beauty in the midst of your sorrow? 

If you haven’t checked out my new devotional that released this past week on the beauty and purpose of praising God, check it out! Praise: it’s just what each of us needs to find the beauty in the broken. Get it here. Everyday Praise Devotional

It’s been more than 5 years of counting and I’ve well passed 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #5367–5387. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • What a day of joys! Wonderful news that Rachel was voted by her class to be on the homecoming court!; God’s hand on my new book release; Watching a great West Delaware JV football game and Joey playing well
  • Rach’s sweet friend keeping me informed me about Homecoming etiquette; Unexpected blessing in a cancelled appointment; Receiving a letter from my niece who is at U.S. Marine Corps basic training
  • Visiting a dear old friend; Taking time out of online ministry tasks to refresh and refocus with garden work; Ending the day listening to my Pandora hymns station
  • Clearing my mind with a morning wog; Quick-fix meals for those busy days; Back in editing mode as I resume work that actually pays :)
  • God’s blessings on my new book; Safe, fun and beautiful Camp Courageous for Rach to enjoy this weekend; Finished canning for the year
  • Watching Joey’s first marching band competition of the season = great start for WD Pride; Gorgeous moon over the lake; Figured out some driving-me-crazy image and book formatting!
  • Planning a getaway with friends; Picking up my girlie from camp; Formatting the #EverydayPraise images for print = one step closer

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 Jesus Christ, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Redemption, Struggles, Suffering

You Are Seen and You Are Needed (pass it on)

Although she assured me she liked it in the home in which she now resided, I could see it. I saw it in the way tears welled up as we visited. I saw it in her far away look as she talked about the past.

This dear old friend grieved the passing of the years. She missed the house she called home for so long. She missed attending church. She missed hanging with family and friends. She missed her independence.

During the decades that defined her life, my friend’s time and talents were appreciated. Others needed her. They needed what she had to offer. 

Now my friend has lots of time on her hands. She rarely leaves her building and only sees those who seek her out. Yet, I never want her to forget that she is needed, desperately needed. Her life has meaning, even as an older lady living in a nursing home. 

I never want any of us to forget that as long as we have breath, we have purpose. 

As long as you have breath, you have purpose. Click To Tweet

needed

You Are Needed in the World

Best-selling Author and Proverbs 31 Ministries President Lysa Terkeurst recently did a video interview with an artist. They spoke about how each of us has a unique brand of beautiful. They encouraged each of us to discover our own brand and share it with the world. 

Lysa’s right on, in that we all have something to contribute. We are all uniquely created to contribute to God’s plan.

We are all uniquely created to contribute to God's plan. Click To Tweet

I don’t know where we ever got the idea that a human being is expendable or unnecessary. It’s such a silly notion.

Why would God breathe life into someone if she didn’t matter?

Why would He keep her in this messed up world if He didn’t have a purpose for her?

Often, as women, we thrive on feeling needed. When health issues, age, or some other circumstance prevent us from being active and helpful, we can feel lost and worthless. 

Walk In Your Good Works

Yet God assures us, “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” Ephesians 2:10

Each of us are created “for good works,” and we need to “walk in them.” 

Those things God prepared us to do don’t end when we develop health issues or grow old. They merely look a little different: reflecting a new version of our good work. 

As I bade my friend good-bye, she promised to pray for me during this super busy season I’m in. Prayer comprises much of the good works she is now doing: the unique brand of beautiful she offers to the world. And it’s exactly what I needed.

Women (men and children too), hear this message. God created you with a purpose. Your life has meaning, right up until you take your last breath.

God created you with a purpose. Your life has meaning, right up until you take your last breath. Click To Tweet

Don’t believe Satan’s lie. Don’t let your sister believe his lie. 

Make sure she knows that she brings a unique set of good works to a needy world. Encourage her to walk in them today. 

Reflections: What are the good works God has prepared for you in this season? Who needs to be on the receiving end of them?

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “seeing my sister.’” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

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If you haven’t checked out my new devotional on the beauty and purpose of praising God that released this week, check it out! Click here to learn more and find out how to get it. Everyday Praise Devotional

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, Perspective, Purpose, Worth

Everyday Praise Book Release Day! (What Success Looks Like)

It’s book release day! If you haven’t heard yet, today I launched my first book into the big, wide world. It’s a small, image-rich devotional called Everyday Praise: Walking in Greater Peace. 

Everyday Praise Devotional

I Didn’t Want To Self-Publish

Can I be honest here? It was a grueling process to get to this point. Feeling a nudge from God, I self-published Everyday Praise. Although generally much quicker to get an idea from concept to sell-able product, I originally had no interest in publishing it myself for a few reasons.

First, sometimes a product published non-traditionally is deemed less than. Can I admit to a little pride here in wanting to hold out for a traditional publishing contract? 

Second, self-publishing meant I’d be responsible for overseeing (if not doing) all the writing, editing, publishing, and marketing. Not only am I mediocre at the technology end of things, I’m already stretched thin in my daily life. Adding all of that seemed un-doable (still does!). 

Third, it’s lonely. Writing can be a lonely existence anyway. Add self-publishing to the mix and explode the feeling. 

Fourth, increased insecurity. Publishing anything—books, magazine articles, blog posts—feeds insecurity. Without a “professional” to tell you it’s a good and viable product, authors (at least me) look to the numbers for reassurance of its value. 

Why It Was the Right Thing Anyway

So now the book is out there. And publishing it truly was all I feared: lonely, exhausting, overwhelming, frustrating, and scary. Yet I also found it exhilarating, educational, humbling, and satisfying.

So was self-publishing the right way to go?  

Yes, because I felt called by God to do it. Self-publishing Everyday Praise was an act of obedience. 

Be Careful How You Judge Success

obedience-god-success

So many times I look at the outcome of something to deem it a success or failure. And in a human sort of way, that makes sense.

If the outcome is pleasurable or looks positive then it’s a success. If the outcome hurts or seems to be negative, then it goes in the failure column. 

Yet God appears not to define success that way. If He did, Jesus’ death on the cross would have been a BIG failure! And since the Savior died so young, His entire life could have been deemed wasted along with Mary’s sacrifice to carry, deliver, and raise Him. 

The 12 Disciples’ lives would likewise seem to have been wasted because they were all persecuted and martyred (with the exception of John—much better to have been banished to an island for the remainder of his life, right?). 

What did all these life-giving biblical events have in common that made them a success despite the apparently tragic outcomes? They were performed in obedience to the will of God.

Definition of Success

As a Christian seeking to walk in obedience, we need to be careful not to judge success by human standards. If we do, discouragement can easily slip in. Unless we diligently seek God’s will, we can easily be led in a direction we think is right, instead of the one God planned as right. 

Unless we diligently seek God, we can easily be led in a direction we think is right, instead of the one God planned… Click To Tweet

Being successful in God’s eyes may indeed involve making money, reaching a wider audience, and getting noticed. It may mean working toward and holding out for a traditional publishing contract.

As far as I can tell, God doesn’t disdain those things. However, it may just as likely lack all of those more earthly parameters of achievement. 

Being obedient to what God asks defines a beneficial endeavor. When we seek after Him, we’re already successful, no matter what the numbers say. 

When we seek after God, we're already successful, no matter what the numbers say or the outcome is. Click To Tweet

“He sought God throughout the lifetime of Zechariah, the teacher of the fear of God. During the time that he sought the Lord, God gave him success.” 2 Chronicles 26:5

Reflections: Which definition of success are you chasing? 

It’s been more than 5 years of counting and I’ve well passed 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #5346–5366. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Rachel’s excitement leading up to the parade; Walking in the Dubuque Labor Day parade for Congressman Rod Blum with several members of my family; Completed the Fantasy Football draft with my boys as a way to stay connected across the miles)
  • Morning inspiration; Watching Joey’s JV football team get another win; Topping off the night with a Culver’s mint/hot fudge shake
  • Rainy day keeping outdoor temptations at bay; My awesome#EverydayPraise launch team on board for Monday book release!; Reading break with kiddos
  • Sharing my enjoyment of using wild edibles with 5th graders; Supporting Daniel in his job as he spoke on behalf of Congressman Blum; Late night Dairy Queen stop with two of my favorite guys
  • Meeting the “new” team focused on Rachel’s educational success; A school administrator who’s willing to go the extra mile to give Rachel a great school experience; The generosity of an online friend
  • #EverydayPraise devotional ready for Monday release day!; My understanding family; A night ahead promising more rest
  • Worship and potluck fellowship afterward; Words of encouragement from sweet friends on the eve of my book release; News about some incredibly thoughtful teenagers (more to come on this later)

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 release, Christian walk, Everyday Praise, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, surrender, Uncategorized

How To Find the Best Plan for Your Life

Whether He’s asking us to act or to wait, God always has the best plan for our lives.

Whether He's asking us to act or to wait, God always has the best plan for our lives. Click To Tweet

God's best plan

Sometimes God Asks Us to Act

It came unbidden: a request I didn’t want to follow. Yet, I couldn’t deny the Holy Spirit’s prompts to turn around, to face the weeping lady behind me and comfort her. 

I argued with Him, using all the usual cliched excuses. 

I don’t know what to say. 

Someone else will help her. 

It’s not in my personality to be so direct. 

This is way out of my comfort zone.

Yet convicted, I turned and stood awkwardly, praying someone would step in first. Then I made the simplest, yet often most difficult, gesture. I asked if I could help. 

Although not much, it was exactly what this dear lady needed as she poured out her heart to me. I couldn’t solve her problem. That’s not why I was there. 

God had placed me in that exact place at that precise moment so I could be His hands and feet (actually His shoulder) on earth. He had me there to demonstrate His love for a beloved daughter in a tangible way. 

Sometimes God Asks Us to Wait

Throughout the conference, the message was clear: I needed to back off and slow down. I needed to heed God’s guidance, not direct what that should look like, to follow Him instead of try to lead.

My time to be published may come, but it would not be at that time and in that way. Other priorities required my attention.

Throughout the entire conference, God gently but firmly reminded me of my place. It wasn’t to plow ahead or create my own plan, but to follow His. I thought I was, that is until I really thought about it.

I repented, came home, and put my priorities in order. First on the list, to be tuned into to the Lord’s guidance by spending the first of every day with Him. Second, to love and serve my family. Third, the other stuff. 

God’s Best Plan for Us

Today, I’m 4 days from releasing my first book, a devotional about praising God. How awesome is that! And best of all, I believe it was written in obedience to Him.

Following God isn’t easy—we’ve never been told it would be—but in the long run, it’s always the best plan. 

Following God isn't easy—we're never told it would be—but in the long run, it's always the best plan. Click To Tweet

I didn’t feel like I had much to offer my friend in line. I thought I knew what was best for me in the world of writing and ministry. 

Neither was true. Making decisions apart from God’s direction always leads us astray. 

I wish I could say I’m now quick to follow the Spirit’s promptings. Unfortunately, I don’t always take time to listen, and sometimes I’m simply stubborn. Yet listening for and yielding to the Holy Spirit’s prompting will always provide the greatest blessings. 

Listening for and yielding to the Holy Spirit's prompting will always provide the greatest blessings Click To Tweet

Reflections: Has there been a time when the Holy Spirit prompted you to action? Has there been a time when He’s indicated you are to be still? Which request is harder for you to follow?  

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “give way.’” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

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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 Everyday Praise, surrender

The Only Sure Place to Anchor Your Heart

Too many of us tether our heart to the wrong thing.

anchor for heart

 Unhealthy Attachments

I’ve always been deeply attached to the farm I grew up on in northeast Iowa. I loved the peaceful countryside checkered with timber, cropland, and pastures. I love the memories of sledding the steep hill behind the house, wandering under the shadow of majestic oaks, and skipping rocks in the bubbling creek.

But we all grow up, and most of us leave our childhood stomping grounds. I did. Yet, it seemed a piece of me remained anchored in those rolling hills (even though much of the ground had been sold over the years). 

Recently, I visited my parents and obtained permission from the landowners to once again roam my beloved childhood playground. Although interesting to see how each property owner made their particular acres home, I returned to my parents’ house a bit empty. 

It was all so different. Special landmarks had all but disappeared. I no longer felt a sense of connection. I left bewildered and a bit sad. 

As I processed my feelings that evening, I realized that for years, I’ve harbored an unhealthy attachment to a piece of ground. A place only superficially different from anywhere else in the world. 

Yes, I should remember and appreciate the blessing of the sweet childhood I experienced: one where I was safe and loved. It was a childhood where I could dream impossible dreams and grow unhindered. Many never have that.

Only Place To Anchor Our Hearts

Yet the land occupied a place in my heart it never should have. I looked to it to deliver something it was never meant to provide …   

… security. But the only real security is found in the Lord.

… peace. But the only lasting peace is found in Jesus Christ. 

I have to guard my heart in this area. I have a tendency to deeply attach to people, places, and things that I’ve invested a great deal of time and heart into. The land on which I lived, played, worked, and grew up on. The children I birthed and raised. Even the prairie garden I planned, planted, and nurtured in honor of my daughter. 

If not checked, that attachment can become unhealthy. When we seek fulfillment in our surroundings (past, present, or future), we seek to be satisfied by something that will ultimately fail us.

When we seek fulfillment in our surroundings, we seek to be satisfied by something that will ultimately fail us. Click To Tweet

Land changes. Children we raise, grow up and leave (and sometimes disappoint). Nothing on this earth will ultimately satisfy. 

The Lord is the only source of lasting peace and security. I’ll always appreciate and be grateful for my childhood years, but Jesus Christ is the only sure place to anchor my heart … and yours too. 

The Lord is the only source of lasting peace & security....Jesus Christ is the only sure place to anchor our… Click To Tweet

So we do not focus on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:18 

Reflections: Is there something or someone other than the Lord you’ve anchored your heart to? Is there something or someone other than Jesus where you look to find your security and peace? Revisit it and ask the Lord sever those unhealthy ties. 

It’s been more than 5 years of counting and I’ve well passed 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #5304–5345. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Danny coming home for a few hours to see his brother off; Cooking supper for 6 again; Fall-like evening, perfect for smores
  • Hubby’s sense of humor when I call him at 5:50 a.m. thinking it was 6:50; Getting a walk in with my niece before heading for home; Successful first day of high school for our youngest two
  • Little critters greeting me in the morning; Successful video interview; Early night
  • A step closer to securing guardianship for Rach; Lunch with Danny and then a quick stop at Mom and Dad’s; Watching Joey’s 1st football game as a sophomore with sweet sister-in-law and brother-in-law,Susan and Roger
  • Morning walk and talk with an awesome lady; Started reading aloud our second book in the Larkin series (I was unsure about this one since it’s a prequel, but so far thumbs up); #everydaypraisedevotional to my proofreading team!
  • Picking apples and many other fruits and vegies; A fall-like day that begged for apple crisp; First call from Zach this school year
  • My guy making a special trip to the store for sugar so I could keep canning jelly and tomatoes; Comfort of our church home; Quiet night with the kids
  • God’s peace in the midst of overwhelm;#everydaypraisedevotional compiled for publication!; Hubby’s support so I have time to work
  • Work day interrupted only by the beauty of nature; Near-bucket full of raspberries & a few wild plums picked; Much-needed date night with a great couple
  • Gorgeous, attention-arresting morning; Prayer warriors during tough times; Despite Internet and computer issues and other “things-gone-wrong” my #everydaypraisedevotional launch team signup has been launched
  • Acorns gathered for pancakes (hope it’s enough); Much better school day for Rach; Grocery shopping with Rachel (I sure meet a lot of people with her)
  • Running nearly smack dab into a large buck on my morning wog; Being able to chuckle at my faux pas with my latest FB Live video; Evening football game with Joey and seeing the high school marching band for the first time this year
  • Two pies baked and wild plum jelly canned; Beginning of a couple nights at Mom and Dad’s house; An evening of games and laughter
  • Attending church with Danny; Walking my childhood stomping grounds with Joey; Another evening of games, and with it, more laughter

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, One Thousand (or more) Gifts

God’s Answer to Life’s Messes (it may catch you off guard)

There’s still time to join the launch team for upcoming release, Everyday Praise: Walking in Greater Peace! This short image-based devotional expounds on the power of praise and encourages praise as a daily habit. Click here to join my team! 

I spent a roller coaster day preparing the sign up for my Everyday Praise devotional launch team. A myriad of tech issues struck, including Internet troubles, computer problems, and school concerns with my daughter. 

I couldn’t video a launch team invitation and was quite behind in many areas of my book-release preparation. Uncertainty of how to help Rach also weighed heavy on my mind. 

God's answer to life's messes

God’s Answer

I grew closer and closer to freaking out … okay maybe I did a little. At my worst, I asked God why He chose a girl with unreliable Internet and an unstable computer to write and self-publish a book.

His answer caught me off guard. It’s the same answer He gives when we wonder why He uses unreliable people with unstable hearts to share His good news.  

“Trust Me.”

Trust Him. That’s it. That’s what it all boils down to. Trust God with it all. 

God's answer to life's messes: 'Trust Me.' Click To Tweet

My book. 

This launch. 

My daughter. 

My life.

It’s not me but God who will make sure this devotional gets into the hands of exactly the people who need it.

It’s not me but God who will never let my daughter down. 

It’s not me but God who gives my life meaning and purpose.

All I need to do is trust Him with the whole enchilada! 

It's not me but God who gives my life meaning and purpose. Click To Tweet

The Beauty of Surrender

It’s called surrendering. And as I let His message sink in and released my hold over it all, peace took over. The balm for my trouble heart was to trust Him with everything I cared about.  

That’s the beauty of living a life sold out to Christ. Our struggles don’t get less. I’m still behind in this book launch thing.

Our hardships don’t go away. We’re still trying to help Rachel cope with school.

But when we give it all to Him, when we surrender our very lives, we can  experience peace right in the midst of our messes. 

When we surrender it all to God, we can experience peace right in the midst of our messes. Click To Tweet

That’s a beautiful way to live. That’s the only way to really live. 

“Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.” Romans 12:1

Reflections: With what are you struggling to trust God? Be still, stop fretting, and let Him whisper “trust Me” to your weary soul. Give Him your concerns and exchange it for His peace. 

 

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “I give you ‘me.’” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

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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, surrender

Join the Launch Team for my Everyday Praise devotional!

Sorry, my launch team registration is now closed. However, I’d like to invite you to download a free 5-devotion preview of Everyday Praise. Click here to go to my book page and enjoy! 

Would you join my book launch team?

invitation for launch team

 

I’ve wanted to write a book from many years now. I never dreamed that book would be a devotional. 

God has a sense of humor (and wisdom) that way. I’m trusting He knows best, so I obediently (okay, maybe a bit hesitantly) wrote Everyday Praise: Walking in Greater Peace. 

It’s incredibly exciting to see the fruit of that obedience. Now it’s nearing the time for its release, and I need your help! Read on please. 

Do you believe in the power of praise?

Have you discovered that the secret to greater peace is to rest in the shadow of the Almighty?

Would you like to help others experience such peace by developing the habit of daily praise?  

Help Me Launch Everyday Praise!

If you answered yes to any of these questions or would like to, I’d love to have you join my launch team for Everyday Praise! Simply click on this link, Everyday Praise Launch Team Signup, to be taken to the form, and I’ll be in touch via email soon. (Don’t wait too long, I need to have the full team formed by Tuesday September 6). Oh, and there are fun gifts involved…

I can’t do this alone. We’re all better in community. Would you come alongside me? 

“Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil.” Ecclesiastes 4:9

We're all better in community. Would you come alongside me for my book launch? Click To Tweet

What You Get

As a member of my launch team, you’ll receive
  • An advanced electronic copy (PDF) of the typeset manuscript. 
  • A PDF copy of the companion journal I created to complement the devotional.
  • Access to an exclusive launch team face-to-face meeting either shortly before or at the beginning of the launch, where I’ll share promotion ideas and you’ll have direct contact with me and the other launch team members.
  • A special thank you mention on my blog with a link to your website (for those of you that have one). 
  • My undying gratitude and other thank you gifts my grateful self may come up with. 

What I’m Asking For

If you’re become a part of this team, I ask that you agree to:
  • Read and review the devotional on Amazon.
  • Spread the word any way you can during the week of September 12 (when the book launches). I’ll be sending you images, quotes, and pre-made posts to share via email and a link to the landing page where you can easily share from. 
  • Pray for this devotional to get in the hands of the people God intends it for.

Thank you so much! 

Join the #everydaypraisedevotional launch team! Share about the blessings of praising God & receive fun gifts! Click To Tweet

And I’m curious. Have you been a member on any book launch teams? What have you learned/received from them? 

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 release, Everyday Praise

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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