The One True Desire of Your Heart

We wrongly think the desire of our heart is found in earthly things. 

Confession time. Years ago, I used to think worship was relegated to Sunday mornings. 

In my “convenient faith,” God commanded Sunday mornings, my selfish desires commanded pretty much the rest of the  week. I cringe at typing that today.

one true desire of your heart

Heart Change

Now, I delight in worshiping throughout every day.

So what changed?

My heart did! And also my understanding of what a relationship with the God of the universe means.

Think about it!

“God made the earth by his power;
    he founded the world by his wisdom
    and stretched out the heavens by his understanding.
13 When he thunders, the waters in the heavens roar;
    he makes clouds rise from the ends of the earth.
He sends lightning with the rain
    and brings out the wind from his storehouses.” Jeremiah 10: 12-13

This God … this majestic and holy and almighty God … calls us into fellowship with Him! 

The God of the universe desires to fellowship with us. The One who hung the moon and stars, the One who formed man from dust and woman from man’s rib and breathed life into both, He wants a relationship with us!

How can that be relegated to Sunday mornings? 

“He is worthy of all praise and glory.” Isaiah 40:31 NIV

True Desire

Yes, but more than that, the longer I walk with this one true and gracious God, the more I desire to give Him praise and glory … freely and daily! 

I’m learning to worship Him in the morning, noon, and nighttime.

I’m learning to reflect on His majesty when I see a bird soaring or a flower bud opening or a child laughing.

I’m learning to praise Him in the more difficult times, because worship changes perspective and in His presence there is “fullness of joy “ (Psalm 16:11). 

When we truly know the Lord, our worship cannot be contained to a single day or a given time frame. We cannot place boundaries around it.

When we truly know the Lord, our worship cannot be contained to a single day or a given time frame. Click To Tweet

We discover that He is the answer to our heart’s desire. And praise pours forth from the depths of our souls.

When we discover that God is the answer to our heart's desire, praise pours forth from the depths of our souls. Click To Tweet

As we learn the extent of His passion for us — the length and width, height and depth of His love for us (Ephesians 3:18) — we are compelled to live as King David did:  

“My lips will glorify You
because Your faithful love is better than life.
So I will praise You as long as I live;
at Your name, I will lift up my hands.
You satisfy me as with rich food;
my mouth will praise You with joyful lips.” Psalm 63:3-5 HCSB

Uncontained Worship

As you press into the Lord. As you dwell with Him in your day to day activities. As you spend time in the Word and prayer, at corporate worship and personal and community Bible study, you will soon discover yourself unable to contain your worship.

It will have no bounds, but will pour forth in joyous praise, in both word and action.  

We often think we need to have more of our desires met. And we think those desires are material things. Satan continues to feed us that lie. 

But spend enough time with your Creator and you’ll find yourself desiring more of Him.

Spend enough time with your Creator and you'll find the one true desire of your heart. Click To Tweet

It’s then you’ll find yourself worshiping on the level of the great King David. Then you’ll find yourself glorifying Him throughout your day in all circumstances.

Then you’ll find that which you need the most: the desire of your heart.

Reflections: Deep down, what do you most desire? To be loved and accepted? To have hope when all seems bleak? In Christ you have it all!

If you desire to be in daily fellowship with your Lord, if you want your lips to glorify God in the good and the hard, then consider signing up for progress updates on my upcoming book release, an image-based devotional on praising God. I’m hoping to have the Kindle book available by the end of June, with the print version following shortly thereafter. Click here to learn more about Everyday Praise (working title) and to sign up for notification when it’s available for purchase. If you prefer a little comical relief, you can watch my FB Live video announcement. 

 

 

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “worship.” 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 Christian walk, Daily Living, Worship

When You Are Desperate for Jesus to Act on Your Behalf

Even when an answer to prayer is a long time coming, we can trust God is working behind the scenes.

Even when an answer to prayer is a long time coming, we can trust God is working behind the scenes. Click To Tweet

desperate because we can not see Jesus moving

Desperate for an Answer

Jesus says “ask Me anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14). 

I’m asking. I’m beseeching. I’m pleading. And I’m persistent.

And I certainly think it would be a prayer the Lord would like to answer affirmatively. Yet I pray and I wait … morning after morning … evening after evening.

Yet the answer has not come. Or maybe it has, but I want Jesus to move more powerfully and more obviously. 

Often I get impatient for God to take action. 

But I can’t imagine how desperate the adulteress in John 8 was for Jesus to act as she waited for her accusers to throw the first stone at her (vss. 1-11). 

Here’s the story.

Up to no good, the scribes and the Pharisees “caught” an adulteress in the act and dragged her before Jesus for judgment. In ancient Israel, the punishment for adultery was being stoned to death. 

Her anxiety must have been incredible as she stood expectantly before Jesus. 

But His first words flooded her with relief: “The one without sin among you should be the first to throw a stone at her” (vs. 7).

I can imagine her “Thank you, Teacher!” as she finally let herself dare to breathe!

But then, nothing. No move to place Himself between her and her accusers. No action to prevent her accusers from actually throwing stones. 

Jesus simply stooped and began writing on the ground. Writing on the ground!

Really, Jesus! I’m ready to die here!!

At any moment, one of the Pharisees or scribes could have started throwing stones. Jesus seemed unprepared to stop them. He didn’t seem to be taking action to help this poor lady. 

Yet, the men didn’t throw a single stone before slowly turning and walking off. And Jesus bade her to, “Go now and leave your life of sin” (vs. 11b).

Jesus Is Acting on Our Behalf

Jesus answered this desperate lady’s greatest need even when it appeared He was doing nothing but writing on the ground.

He was far more active than the adulteress observed. Jesus is far more active in our lives than we observe as well. 

Jesus is far more active in our lives than we observe. Click To Tweet

How many times have we felt similar desperation as we plead with God to act on our behalf? 

It’s unlikely we were facing a stoning, but we frantically wanted Jesus to do more than write on the ground. And just as with this adulteress, He is acting.

He knows the big picture.

He knows the hearts of those mixed up in our circumstances.

He knows what is best for us now and in the future. 

More than Writing on the Ground

Sometimes it seems Jesus isn’t doing much to help our particular circumstance. Oh but may I encourage you, Friend, He’s far more active than we know. 

Under our radar, mountains are being moved. Out of our sight, waters are being parted. Beyond our understanding, hearts are being transformed. 

See it or not, Jesus is acting on our behalf. Under our radar, mountains are being moved, waters are being parted,… Click To Tweet

The hand of the Lord is moving on our behalf. And that hand is doing far more than merely writing on the ground. 

Just wait and see. 

If we love and believe in Jesus Christ, we can be certain God hears our prayers. We can be certain God is moving on our behalf. We can be certain God will work it all out for our good. 

We may see His answer in our earthly life. Then again, we may not see it until we walk through those pearly gates. 

But take a deep, perhaps shaky, breathe, and trust in Him. You can rest assured He’s taking action. 

“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it? Indeed, I will make a way in the wilderness, rivers in the desert.” Isaiah 43:19

Reflections: What prayer are you desperate for God to answer? Reread John 8: 1-11. Think about how all the adulteress saw was Jesus writing on the ground, and remember, the Lord is always doing more on our behalf than we can see. 

Going on 5 years of counting and I’m nearing 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #5020–5040. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Access to after-hours walk-in medical care for Rachel; Home!; A soccer win for Joey’s team
  • Zach starting his new job at Camp Courageous: excited for him!; 2-1/2 hours to visit uninterrupted with my mother-in-law while I drove her home; Danny’s home!
  • Rachel feeling well enough to return to school today; A walk with Dan and Rach; Making our entire meal on our new gas grill
  • Orioles singing outside my kitchen window; Money to buy groceries without concern (too often taken for granted); Pork roast quiche and rhubarb pie for supper
  • Spotting a bluebird; Joey passing lifeguard training pretest and beginning his training; Last-minute decision to stay in a hotel for the night to get 2-1/2 more hours of sleep
  • Celebrating graduation of a boy who has found a special place in my heart; Long hike in a beautiful area; Home earlier than expected
  • Warmly welcomed at a church I visited; Scent of lilacs greeted me as I walked out of church; Joey passed his lifeguard training.

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 One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Prayer, trust

It’s a Heart Matter (Hoarder or Not)

I’m not a hoarder. At least that’s what I tell myself.

Hoarding has such a negative context. Certainly I’m not that! 

But I do love to hold onto mementos. The kids artwork and report cards. Their music programs and athletic rosters. A first lock of hair and a precious hat or bonnet they wore.

I loved having a house full of littles (most of the time) and never want to forget those most exhausting but sweetest of times. So I grab the stuff that reminds me of the special moments in my children’s growing-up years. 

Am I a Hoarder?

Does that make me a hoarder?

hoarder - An important question to ask.

Maybe, technically. After all, it is just stuff. And I am storing it where it is often tucked away in boxes and files. Together, these meet the definition of “hoard.”

But I think the answer begs a better question, such as, What priority does this stuff occupy in my life?

In other words, have the mementos of the moments become more important to me than the Granter of the moments?

Have the mementos of the moments become more important than the Granter of the moments? Click To Tweet

A Heart Issue

Whatever word we use to describe the accumulation of memorabilia — scrapbooking, hoarding, collecting — it all boils down to the heart. After all the bent of our heart determines the quality of our walk with Jesus.

“For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21, ESV).

Has our stuff become an obsession?

Do we value things over relationship?

Are we gathering mementos at the expense of those creating the memories?

Has stuff become our treasure? 

Photos, brochures, keepsakes make wonderful reminders of the blessings we’ve received — the times to be grateful for. As such, they can serve as great tools in the desire to keep our hearts dedicated to the Lord. 

Like my journaling, the stuff I gather from my children’s activities serve as a catalyst for regular thanksgiving. I’m careful to hold it loosely, knowing material things should never become a priority.

Some day, after the kids leave home, I’ll sort through and throw much of it away. But what glorious memories will surface as I sift through the items! This will be a time of renewed sweetness and gratitude as I relive those moments. 

Seek Eternal Treasures

So am I a hoarder? Call me that if you like.

But as long as I continue to push near to Christ …

As long as I recognize and express gratitude for the true eternal treasures of God and relationship …  

As long as I guard my heart against the lure of the shiny stuff … 

As long as I seek God’s help in keeping my heart decluttered … 

… then I’m right where I should be.  

Seek God's help in keeping your heart decluttered of the worth-less stuff and filled with true treasures. Click To Tweet

The same goes for you. Snap those pictures, my friend, gather those special keepsakes if you feel so compelled. But use them as a catalyst for thanksgiving. Ultimately, seek the true treasures — the eternal treasures rather than the temporal. 

Seek more of God. More time with Him. More of Him. 

After all, the shiny stuff will eventually be gone. But the eternal will never fade away. 

Ultimately, seek eternal treasures rather than the temporal, because the shiny stuff will eventually be gone. Click To Tweet

“Above all else, guard your heart, for it is the wellspring of life” (Proverbs 4:23, NIV)

Reflections: Do you think of yourself as a hoarder? Ask yourself this better question: Have the mementos of the moments become more important to me than the Granter of the moments? If so, ask God for help in decluttering your heart. 

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

LIVEFREETHURSDAY whisper yes

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, Christianity, Daily Living, Gratitude

When Your Child Graduates (for parents, graduates, and my son)

It’s difficult to let our graduates go. Yet we can confidently release them, knowing God has them in His care.

I’m now officially a mom of a college graduate! At the risk of sounding cliche, where has the time gone?

I still feel like that newlywed, eager to begin the married life. I still feel like that young mama, excited but nervous for the adventure that lay ahead.

I know I’m a bit wiser and quite a bit older, but it’s difficult to grasp that I’m now parenting an independent adult son.

I’m so very proud of our firstborn. Daniel is a young man of character and integrity. He loves the Lord and his family. He’s not without flaws but is humble in his acknowledgement of his weaknesses.

He pursued his degree with purpose and passion and (from what I can tell from a distance) a good measure of fun as well. He’s one of the least judgmental people I know and is willing to honestly dialogue about any issues without malice.

Danny’s been a huge support for me in both my personal faith and my ministry. I can’t be more grateful or blessed to be his mom.

Dave-Danny-Julie-resized

Difficulty of Letting Go of Adult Children

Yet, no matter how well they do, as a parent, it’s difficult to let go of our children. We want to continue to protect them and help them solve problems. We long to guide them around obstacles and through valleys.

And to some extent we still will. Parents don’t quit being parents once our children turn 21.

It's hard to let our children go, but parents don't quit being parents once our children turn 21. Click To Tweet

We still play an important, yet perhaps more subtle, role in our adult children’s lives. One of the first tasks (and perhaps most important) is to surrender them into the loving arms of their Father.

Yet sometimes we need to provide something tangible for them to take with them. 

So to make all of us “releasing” parents feel better, I used Scripture to develop a list of principles we can pass on to our graduates (it’s great advice for the rest of us too!). Simply click on the image for your free download.

Scriptural principles to pass on to graduates (it's great advice for the rest of us too!). Click To Tweet

Scriptural Principles for Graduates (and the rest of us)

  • Spend time daily in the Bible, letting the words of life soak deep into your heart.
  • Hold fast to the truth of Scripture.
  • Continuously surrender your expectations and embrace God’s perfect plan for you.
  • Love and seek the Lord with all your heart, all your mind and all your soul.  We serve a relational God, One who wants more than your obedience. He wants your heart.
  • Love others as you do yourself (Matthew 19:19).
  • Be bold in sharing the Good News, because apart from Jesus Christ all are lost.
  • Be kind and gentle and generous to everyone you meet.
  • Have compassion for the least.
  • Conduct yourself with humility.
  • Look to the Holy Spirit for discernment and wisdom.
  • Cultivate gratitude (recording gifts daily makes it easier).
  • When you don’t feel the presence of God, know that He is still near. He will never leave or forsake you.
  • When you face struggles and begin to grow impatient, know God has this too. Trust that you are growing and being transformed and that God redeems all challenges in His perfect timing (not ours).

principles for graduates

Graduate, may you be richly blessed as you pursue the perfect plan of your Father.

Graduate, may you be richly blessed as you pursue the perfect plan of your Father. Click To Tweet

And if you will indulge me, to my son:

Daniel, as you embark on this new adventure of employment and a life independent of parental and institutional guidance, my prayers for you will remain much the same as they have. I pray that you remain a “servant of the living God” (Daniel 6:20). May you trust in your Lord (Daniel 6:23). May the Holy Spirit be your beacon for life. May You surrender your expectations of what’s best for His true best. May you love Him with your whole heart, mind, and soul (Matthew 22:37). May you praise His name forever and ever (Daniel 2:20).

Danny, your father and I love you so much and are incredibly proud of the man you’ve become and all your accomplishments. We are blessed to call you son.

Love, Mom 

“Delight yourself in the LORD; And He will give you the desires of your heart. 5 Commit your way to the LORD, Trust also in Him, and He will do it.” Psalm 37:4-5

Reflections: Do you have a loved one who graduates this year? Place his or her name in the comments so I can pray for each one.

Going on 5 years of counting and I’m nearing 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4,999–5019. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Orioles making their appearance: their song is heavenly!; First lawn-mowing done; Lovely lilacs picked and gracing my table
  • Watching an oriole drink milk from the cat bowl!; Finding my lost phone; Zachary home to go to Joey’s soccer game with us
  • Rose-breasted grosbeak found our suet ball; Taking special note (and photographing it) of God’s fingerprints in nature on my morning walk; First use of our new gas grill
  • Celebrating life and homegoing of a dear lady and helping to serve the luncheon; Watching a great, hard-fought soccer game; Packed to travel to Danny’s graduation from Hillsdale College
  • Safe arrival at Hillsdale College for Daniel Sunne‘s graduation (with the family including my mother-in-law); Beautiful place to spend next 3 nights; Being with our firstborn
  • College graduation of Daniel Sunne – so proud of him!; Listening to Justice Clarence Thomas as commencement speaker; Celebrate the commission of Danny’s friend as a Marine 2nd Lieutenant
  • Attending church with Daniel and seeing his friend Caleb; Relaxing afternoon at the rental house; Beautiful weekend, ending with time around the fire and smores

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 One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Parenting, surrender

When Loving Jesus Becomes About More Than What He Does for Us

Are we loving Jesus for what He does for us or for who He is?

Loving Jesus

22 years ago, I experienced one of the most devastating events in my life: the death of my unborn baby. This child would have been my firstborn.

Up until that time I loved and feared God in an expectant manner. I understood Him to act in accord with His sovereignty and divine nature and simply provide what I thought I needed.

Then tragedy struck, and the Lord took me on a journey to really know and love Him.

When I first suspected a problem with my pregnancy, I held onto hope. Singing to my unborn and beseeching God simultaneously.

When we were told our baby was gone, I let go of hope.

I cried. I screamed. And then I became silent and hopeless.

In my mind, God remained sovereign and divine, but in His “refusal” to save my child, I questioned much of what I believed about His goodness and compassion.

God Cares

I reasoned that if He cared about me He would have acted. If He was a God of relationship, He would have intervened.

Certainly, He could have prevented my pain. Certainly, He could have saved my child.

A month or so into my hopeless grieving, the Lord’s love for me became undeniable.

In a dream, He showed me my daughter. He even went so far as to tell me her name. And He whispered to my heart:  “She’s with me. She’s fine.”

He cared enough to rescue me from my darkness. He cared enough to pursue me. He cared enough to bring my daughter to Him.

Although not what I would have chosen at that time, God had saved her. He took her to walk with Jesus in Heaven, where there is no pain and no tears.

How beautiful is that!

As the enormity of His compassion for me … for my unborn child … for each of us … sank in, I began to see God in a new way.

Still sovereign and divine, I now knew Him as a personal God as well. A God who loves and cares for each one of us, intimately and uniquely.

Like a good father, God doesn’t give what His children think they need but what He knows they need.

God doesn't give what His children think they need but what He knows they need. Click To Tweet

And as children, we don’t always understand why our Father answers that way but we trust Him because we know He loves us and wants the best for us.

Loving Jesus

I began to realize that I had cast God in a mold I had created, a version I found more palatable and understandable in human terms. I loved Him for what He would give to me, not for who He is.

Like the Jews of old, I expected a different looking King (Matthew 21). My expectations had gotten in the way of loving Jesus. 

Like the Jews of old, I expected a different looking King. My expectations had gotten in the way of loving Jesus. Click To Tweet

With this realization I began to look for how God truly loves me.

I began to notice His love notes.

A field full of bluebells.

An oriole feeding out of my cat dish.

Sun peeking through the storm cloud at a time when they also gathered in my day.

A kind word.

A warm hug.

An apt word.

His strength to take the next step.

His grace at just the right moment.

All the beautiful little grace drops sprinkled throughout each of our days are God’s love notes to us.

And I found myself truly loving Him, not simply loving what I hoped He’d give to me.

And I love Him all over again and all the more each time I am pleasantly surprised by the sweetness of His caring that’s just for me.

What the Lord freely gives is much richer than what we expect from Him, providing fertile ground for our love for Him to grow deep and true. 

Loving Jesus is an ongoing act of trust. A beautiful journey of surrendering what we expect and embracing what He provides. It’s saying I know You have my best in mind.

Loving Jesus is a beautiful journey of surrendering what we expect and embracing what He provides. Click To Tweet

It’s following Him wherever He leads because we can’t imagine being with anyone else.

And every time we surrender our expectations and say yes to His plan… every time we say “Lord, please take this cup, but not my will but yours,” we demonstrate our love for Him all over again.

“We love because He first loved us.” 1 John 4:19
 
“Father, if You are willing, take this cup away from Me—nevertheless, not My will, but Yours, be done.” Luke 22:42
Reflections: Do you love Jesus for what He might give to you or for who He is? Are you willing to surrender your expectations and say yes to following Him wherever He leads?

I am always thrilled to link up with Suzie Eller for #livefreeThursday and this week’s prompt, “loving Jesus for the 1st time, all over again.” Click on the image to check out the wonderful encouragement.

LIVEFREETHURSDAY whisper yes

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, Christianity, Daily Living, Jesus Christ, love

The Value of This Moment (don’t miss it!)

Whatever it looks like, the moment I’m in has value. When will I remember that?

every moment has value

Whatever it looks like, the moment you're in has value. Click To Tweet

Up to my elbows in suds, I silently huffed about  the lack of help I had around the house during this season. With the older two away at college and the youngest involved in high school, more of the household chores fell to me to squeeze into my already busy day.

Yet the more I reflected on the years past and the years to come, the more I realized how important each moment was. Even the ones I didn’t particularly like (or have time for).

Each Moment Has Value

I wrestled to comprehend how nearly 22 years of motherhood had became a blink. Those years vanished nearly as quickly as the bubbles in my dishwater.

In those years, every day has brought gifts; every day has brought growth opportunities. Looking back, few have gone exactly as I wanted.

But no matter how difficult a day has been, none have been devoid of all good.

No matter how difficult a day has been, none have been devoid of all good. Click To Tweet

Appreciate the Nows You Have

It’s humbling, grounding really. Once a day is gone, there’s no getting that time back.

It’s a call to be grateful for each remaining moment. To be fully present and appreciative of the time we have. This time. The now we’re in.

Because none of us know how many of those nows we will have. 

Within each 24 hours, we have precious minutes to live out. Some are difficult, others are sad, still others are joy-filled. Yet each one contributes to the story we’re living out. Each one has value to offer.

Each moment (the difficult, the sad, the joy filled) contributes to the story we're living out. Each one has value… Click To Tweet

I pray that you and I would have renewed appreciation for the now we experience, whatever that looks like. Join me?

Prayer for Renewed Appreciation

Dear Father,
There are times I’d rather not face. I’ve asked You to remove them. There are
times I want to hold on to. I’ve asked You to repeat them. Yet none of these
moments have caught you by surprise. You are well aware of my desires, yet
in your sovereignty You’ve allowed the hard, the unexpected, the change.
Because Your sight is infinite, where mine is limited. Because You love me and
know what is best for me.

Help me to embrace this moment. Not the one I long for, but now, this instant.
You’ve ordained and allowed each one. You’ll bring sweet moments, and
You’ll redeem the hard and ugly ones.

Thank You for not giving up on me, but for believing me worthy of each day.
Despite my ingratitude. Despite my insistence that things go my way.

Lord, renew my mind and my heart to trust You. To believe You have my best
in mind. Help me to see each day as a gift, to look for the worth of each moment.
And, Jesus, when I can’t see that value, help me to trust it’s there anyway.

In Your most holy and precious name. Amen!

appreciation for value of moments

There are days you and I’ll anticipate more than others. That’s simply human.

But the key to embracing each moment, no matter what it looks like, is to reframe it in the bigger picture of faith, to be grateful for God’s hand in it. 

Key to embracing each moment is to reframe it in the bigger picture of faith, to be grateful for God's hand in it. Click To Tweet

Then we can walk through the hard and the sad and the aggravating times with a measure of joy.  

In the day of prosperity be joyful, but in the day of adversity, consider: God has made the one as well as the other, so that man cannot discover anything that will come after him.” Ecclesiastes 7:14

Reflections: Do you live wishing for a different moment? Craft a prayer similar to mine (or adopt mine) to use as a reminder of the value of all moments, even those unwanted ones. 

Going on 5 years of counting and I’m nearing 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4,978–4,998. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Beautiful morning of lush green foliage and deep blue skies; Hearing from Zach about the enjoyable weekend he had; Cheering on my favorite soccer team (Joey’s)
  • Wood ducks calling in flight; Attending a mother-daughter tea with Rach; Listening to wonderful music by our high school band and vocal kids
  • Glorious apple blossoms in full bloom; Donating (getting rid of) lots of boxes of clothes; Phone call from my oldest brother
  • Work completed in the morning; Precious visit with a dear friend; Screens and outside of the windows washed
  • Gazing on the uniqueness and intricacy of creation; First of the cleaned screens are put in, so windows can be open!; Watching our band and choral kids perform at Large Group
  • Tea with a friend I met at She Speaks conference last July; Uninterrupted 4 hours with Zach while driving home; Zachary’s home!
  • Attending church with one more son whose finally home and talking to another on the phone; Doing my first live video (quite imperfectly); Mother’s Day spent with Mom and Dad and more family

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 Blessings, Daily Living, Gratitude, Growth, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, Perspective, Thankfulness

A Chuckle for Moms

Here’s to you, Moms. Hope you get a chuckle out of this. Now go hide that muffin until after the kids are in bed!

moms

Author unknown

Strength and honor are her clothing,
and she can laugh at the time to come.
26 She opens her mouth with wisdom
and loving instruction is on her tongue.
27 She watches over the activities of her household
and is never idle.
28 Her sons rise up and call her blessed.
Her husband also praises her:
29 “Many women are capable,
but you surpass them all!” Proverbs 31:25-29

Happy Mother’s Day! Praying you find inspiration to “mother” in Proverbs 31 fashion: with wisdom and love. God bless 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 mothers

When Life Becomes Too Ordinary (where to find miracles)

Don’t miss the giveaway I’m offering of Speaker and Author Suzanne Eller’s new book, Come With Me: Discovering the beauty of following where He leads. Click here to find the Rafflecopter entry widget.

For most of us, our lives appear so commonplace, that we rarely (if ever) expect miracles.

Because miracles, well, they’re just too big. And for most of us, our lives are just too ordinary. Certainly no miracles are happening here.

Yet as Christians, the Divine works in our daily lives and actually in us. And that’s miraculous. Maybe it’s time we learn to recognize it.

Miracles

Far from ordinary

Grandma, Samantha, and Grandpa

My lovely 12-year-old niece, Samantha, has no lingering effects of being born at only 27 weeks gestation. Given her rough start, her life alone is a miracle (her twin brother, Adam [his birth weight a mere 11-1/2 ounces], sadly passed into Jesus’ arms at just 3-1/2 weeks).

Samantha’s life and health are examples of the great and glorious things we think about when mentioning miracles. Yet great and glorious doesn’t mean showy and obvious. Too often we equate the two.

We expect a miracle to be striking, attention grabbing. But more often, God performs behind-the-scenes, under-the-radar kind.

We expect a miracle to be striking, attention grabbing. But more often, God performs under-the-radar kind. Click To Tweet

Not that these miracles are any less awesome, but they happen without fanfare in the middle of our day-to-day affairs.

If we’re not intentional about looking for them, they become lumped into the ordinary and mundane. We begin to see them as nothing special.

When in reality, these quiet miracles display God’s divine power just like my niece’s life does.

Quiet miracles display God's divine power just like the more striking ones. Click To Tweet

In the Bible, I read about all kinds of miraculous events and wish I could experience them:

  • Elijah’s many encounters with the Lord, from God calling ravens to feed him to raising the widows son from death to calling down fire from heaven.
  • Paul’s surprise life-changing encounter with Jesus on the road to Damascus.
  • Mary’s mission to carry, give birth to, and raise the Son of God!
  • Abraham’s and Sarah’s miraculous gift of parenthood at ages 100 and 90, respectively.
  • David’s anointing as king when just a lad, his near-impossible defeat of Goliath, and his divinely appointed visits from the prophet Nathan.
  • The abundance of miracles the 12 disciples were privy to as they walked with Jesus and the healings they later performed themselves.

It’s all so exciting and … well, miraculous!

Then I look at those whom I know who serve God in big adventures and see Him moving in big ways.

  • Those who travel on mission trips and return with God stories that awe and inspire.
  • Speakers who find many hearts surrendered to Jesus after a presentation.
  • Authors who receive messages of hearts moved and lives changed through the words they wrote.
  • Founders and directors of non-profits that save women from a life-time of sex slavery, families from starvation, and Christians from persecution.

Again exciting and miraculous!

God’s Divine Hand

But miraculous also exists in the rising and setting of the sun. It exists in

  • the breath we take each day,
  • the leaves that unfurl in the spring,
  • the rain that waters the flowers,
  • the steps our babies take,
  • the hug we give to a hurting friend,
  • the seed of hope we plant in the heart of a desperate single mom,
  • the growth spurt of a son,
  • the faith we have,
  • the encouragement we provide to someone’s unwanted son or daughter,
  • the smile we offer to a struggling brother or sister,
  • the love we pour into our families,
  • the communion we have with the Father.

Because what is a miracle but God’s divine work in our lives? But these are so commonplace, you could argue. Miracles should be extraordinary occurrences.

Anything but Ordinary

A life far from ordinary

I agree. But masked in the commonplace is the extraordinary.

Isn’t renewed hope extraordinary?

Isn’t new life extraordinary?

Isn’t any life extraordinary?

Isn’t faith in God extraordinary?

Isn’t selfless love extraordinary?

Isn’t growth and renewal and transformation and redemption and restoration extraordinary?

Yes, my life, and maybe yours, can sometimes look so ordinary and miracle-less. I sometimes long for anything besides this same old existence. 

Yet when God’s hand is in it, just like in Samantha’s life (and even in bringing Adam to Him), it’s miraculous. That makes our days anything but ordinary, no matter how unremarkable they may appear.

Life can sometimes look so ordinary and miracle-less. Yet when God's hand is in it, it's miraculous. Click To Tweet

“When I observe Your heavens,
the work of Your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which You set in place,
what is man that You remember him,
the son of man that You look after him?
You made him little less than God
and crowned him with glory and honor.
You made him lord over the works of Your hands;
You put everything under his feet:
all the sheep and oxen,
as well as the animals in the wild,
the birds of the sky,
and the fish of the sea
that pass through the currents of the seas.
Yahweh, our Lord,
how magnificent is Your name throughout the earth!” Psalm 8:3-9

Reflections: What quiet miracles do you see in your life? What seemingly ordinary events or occurrences in your days is God’s hand in? 

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

LIVEFREETHURSDAY whisper yes

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, God, Miracles, Perspective

When You Are Longing for More in this Life (#ComeWithMe book review and #giveaway)

Who doesn’t have a longing for more in this life? There’s an ache that lies deep in each of us, begging for more. But more of what?

More of what this world offers will not satisfy.

The only salve that will heal the longing for more we all have is a deeper connection with our Creator.

The only salve that will heal the longing for more we all have is a deeper connection with our Creator. Click To Tweet

I’ve long loved the Lord. My life activities reflect that, albeit imperfectly. 

Still something has been been missing. My salvation was secure in Christ, but my heart was crying for something more. Something that could not be satisfied with more doing, but only through

more surrendering, 

more communing, 

more Jesus!

Satisfaction and contentment are found in surrendering my understanding of what is good and simply following Jesus. It’s found in surrendering what I should be doing for what He asks me to do. It’s found in surrendering all I have and all I am to follow the One who promises something much greater.

It’s really about being sold out to God, like each of the 12 disciples were. And I’m finding it makes all the difference in this beautiful walk called faith.

Being sold out to God makes all the difference in this beautiful walk called faith. Click To Tweet

longing

Come With Me

As He did the 12 disciples 2,000 years ago, Jesus asks each of us to “Follow Him.” And He doesn’t mean follow Him to a dogmatic way of living and certainly not to a life of comfort. He’s asking us to go into the “harder places of faith” and “discover the unexpected beauty of following where he leads.”

As He did the 12 disciples 2,000 years ago, Jesus asks each of us to 'Follow Him.' Will you go wherever He leads? Click To Tweet

As Author and Speaker Suzanne Eller puts it in her powerful new book, Come With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leads, “When we answer the [Jesus’] call of ‘Come with me,’ something changes…. It’s no longer about church, though we love our church family. It’s no longer about being moral just for morality’s sake. It’s discovering what it means for faith to infiltrate every detail of your life.”

In Come With Me, the author challenges us to reconsider what following Jesus looks like in each of our lives. After spending months walking with the disciples through the gospel of Luke (with excursions to the other three gospels), she came to realize that each of us “are called to walk as the thirteenth disciple.”

In her new book, she takes time to unpack and explore what that looks like in today’s world.

Walk as the Thirteenth Disciple

Filled with challenging thoughts and poignant scripture passages, Come With Me, leads us to a better understanding of what a deeper faith walk looks like.

A walk that

involves adopting a new identity as God’s own chosen daughter, “Home isn’t a place, but a connection with Christ to the point that we know whose we are.”

involves a new definition of success, “Success is not about a specific feat, but about finding where you fit.”

involves a new definition of trials, “Sometimes the greatest surprises come in our greatest trials…. Yet it is in the storm that you discover who he is and, in the process, a whole lot more about you.”

involves a new definition of weakness: “God uses our strengths, but just as effectively, he uses our weaknesses…. Trusting him in your weakness is living the gospel in its most intimate form.”

involves a new definition of prayer: “There’s an untapped force to prayer that most of us fail to grasp…. We can communicate with God, but we are invited to commune with him…. A conversation — but more so a connection.

God is inviting and welcoming us to adventure with Him, not to “a charmed life, but to “a changed life.” To seek Him, not more of what we get from Him or even more of what we have to do for Him, but to simply connect with Him, in a beautiful form of communion.

And in that invitation lies a promise, not of comfort, but of joy and peace as we willingly and gratefully take each step.

Follow Jesus Deeper

Following Jesus wherever He leads, is about “walking into the deep…. not going in with expectations, but expectancy.” And in the process, experiencing “untapped transformation as we walk into the deep.”

But it’s important to remember going deeper with Jesus isn’t necessarily about giving up all we own and going to the far ends of the world. It may involve that, but more often it’s following Him to experience more right where we live.

Because “Going isn’t where we go, but what happens as we do.” It’s a journey that infiltrates every aspect of our life. 

Through exploration of the Gospel accounts of Jesus’ calling and interaction with the 12 disciples and vulnerable stories from the author’s own life, Come With Me provides a catalyst for challenging our comfortable faith and offers an invitation to walk deeper with Jesus wherever He calls. 

It also gives guidance at the end of each chapter for exploring what that uniquely looks like in each of our lives. Suzanne Eller gently but powerfully encourages us through probing questions, a Scripture passage and prayer, and, my favorite section, Living As a Disciple, which includes practical tips to begin that deeper faith walk.

Her heart is for you and me to whisper yes to Jesus and experience the unexpected beauty of following wherever He leads. 

Will you join me in letting Jesus begin to fill that longing you have for more?

Say yes to Jesus & experience the unexpected beauty of following where He leads. Enter #giveaway of #comewithme Click To Tweet

Then Jesus spoke to them again: “I am the light of the world. Anyone who follows Me will never walk in the darkness but will have the light of life.” John 8:12

Reflections: Are you longing to go deeper with your faith? Will you whisper yes to wherever Jesus is asking you to go? 

longing to go deeper

Come With Me: Discovering the Beauty of Following Where He Leads releases May 3, but is available for preorder now. If you are longing for something more in your faith walk, make sure you check this book out.

Because I believe so strongly in the message of Come With Me, I’m offering a giveaway as well. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter to win 1 copy. The contest ends at midnight May 8.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Going on 5 years of counting and I’m nearing 5,000 gifts in Ann Voskamp’s Joy Dare! What a blessing! Here are numbers #4,957–4,977. Read my entire list by clicking here.

  • Surprise chemical reactions that occur from the addition of lemon juice to other ingredients; Working from my deck swing; Improved health of a friend
  • Seeing a snowy owl on our morning walk! – first spotting for me; Finally getting my ebook gift out to my subscribers; Joey’s soccer team pulling out a nail-biter win and watching it with Rach
  • Positive turn in a difficult school situation for Rach; Danny’s employment with Congressman Blum (and he’ll only be an hour away!); Warm house with a sweet daughter, soft music, dandelion tea, and an inspiring book
  • Completing my Life Plan so I can steward this gift of life well; Washing dishes and dancing with Rach; Squeezing in a little time for playing a game with Joey
  • Priorities based on my new Life Plan scheduled on the calendar; Dating it with my man to shop and Joey’s soccer game; Less wind and good company at the game
  • Morning drive time to get to know a friend better; Wonderful Bible study on the power of hymns for teaching about God; An evening filled with friends and fun
  • Bible study and worship with church members who have become friends; Afternoon of encouraging Joey in his tasks and his passions; Found the first morels of the season

*This honest review is in exchange for a advanced reader’s copy of the book from Bethany House Publishers.

**Disclosure: There are affiliate links on this page, meaning if you click through and purchase, I’ll get a small commission at no added cost to 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 Book review, Faith, giveaway, One Thousand (or more) Gifts, surrender, Uncategorized

Whisper Yes: What You Do Matters to God!

The very thing we think is less significant often carries the greatest importance.  

The very thing we think is less significant often carries the greatest importance. Click To Tweet

whisper yes because it matters

When you whisper yes to changing one more diaper, to waiting on one more table, to reaching out one more time, to showing kindness to one more person, you are making great deposits for the Kingdom of God. 

Standing in line to pay for my gas, I watched the interaction between a young mother and her preschool son. Grinning at the adorable innocence of the little guy as he wanted to “help,” I was struck anew by the significance of the task this mama had undertaken.

She had said yes to one of the most challenging yet meaningful jobs: raising children. I wondered if she knew the importance of this assignment.

Earlier, I had followed a garbage truck making its rounds. With every stop, two men jumped off the side of the truck and emptied garbage cans into it. I wondered if they realized the significance of their job.

In the middle of our daily tasks, we often miss the importance of what we do. 

Quest for Bigger

Many of us, myself included, desire to do something “bigger” with our lives, with more obvious impact. Travel to Sudan to help in refugee camps. Go on a medical missions trip. Serve on a disaster relief team. Create a non-profit that provides awareness and support to women rescued from sex trafficking. Minister to those with disabilities. 

Having a warm dinner waiting for my family doesn’t seem enough. Caring for my daughter’s unique needs each day seems lacking in significance. Doing laundry, typing words of encouragement, stopping into visit an elderly friend seems to fall short in the “making a difference” category.

We want to do something newsworthy, even if we don’t want the coverage itself. 

And as we age and have less ability to physically perform, we feel even less important. 

Importance of the Smaller Yes

But maybe the smaller yes is equally important. After all, God takes the least and makes them into a thousand. He takes the smallest and makes it into a great nation. (Isaiah 60:22). 

He can certainly multiply my little when given in obedience and humility. He can multiply your little as well. So … 

Maybe the whispered yes of getting up every morning to care for my daughter’s hygiene needs carries great significance.

Maybe the hesitant yes of the single mother to tackle one more day of parenting alone is incredibly valuable.

Maybe the tentative yes to help in my local church’s Vacation Bible School holds great importance.

Maybe the sighed yes of the homebound elderly lady to offer prayers for others is a great treasure. 

Big, bold yeses are wonderful and needed. But so are those little whispered ones. 

Planting Seed of Eternal Value

Because every act of obedience to God, no matter how insignificant it may appear to us or others, has great significance to Him. It’s the value of a willing heart as Jesus highlights while observing the widow’s meager offering (Luke 21:1-4).

We each have a unique calling, one that often changes with the seasons of our lives. All are valuable.

So whatever season you find yourself in, whether it be one where you can step into serving in big and noticeable ways or one where no one notices as you wipe one more nose or whisper one more prayer, know that you are planting seed of eternal value. Your daily offerings matter.

Your whispered yes to God, no matter the size of the task He’s given, is great in His eyes. After all it’s the position of the heart, not the size of the offering that matters most to Him.

It's the position of the heart, not the size of the offering, that matters most to God. Click To Tweet

“Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men,” Colossians 3:23 

Reflections: Do you feel less than in your current season of life? Do you long to offer more to God but know you are where you must be for now? Create a list of people who you serve while performing your daily, ordinary, mundane and seemingly unimportant tasks. They matter, so what you do matters!

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

LIVEFREETHURSDAY whisper yes

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, Sacrifice, Worth

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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