Category Archives: Success

Be a Light in the Darkness

Be a Light in the Darkness

Be a Light in the Darkness

“You are the light of the world—like a city on a hilltop that cannot be hidden. No one lights a lamp and then puts it under a basket. Instead, a lamp is placed on a stand, where it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your good deeds shine out for all to see, so that everyone will praise your heavenly Father.” Matthew 5:14-16 (NLT)

It seems like lately there has been so much awful, negative stuff going on all around us. There have been numerous devastating hurricanes and storms one right after another. Tragedies, attacks, murders and threats are happening both on grand scales and at individual levels affecting families all over the world. Suicide is wreaking havoc on the families and friends of its victims. Racial tensions are causing division. I could go on, but I think you get the picture. A lot stuff going on in the world lately just really kind of sucks to be honest! It’s dark. It’s broken.

Be a light in the darkness...The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.

The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.

On a side note…I have a friend that’s endured a lot of dark and tough times throughout the course of her life. No matter what she has gone through or continues to go through, she continues to stay positive even during some of the toughest times. She consistently remains a light in the darkness and a beacon of hope. This year for her birthday I got her a bracelet that reminded me so much of her that said, “The darkest nights produce the brightest stars.” More Christians need to follow her example to be a light in the darkness. 

Just this past weekend my pastor did a message on “What Difference Does God Make…In the Face of Evil?” One of our pastors pointed out that in dark times it’s an opportunity for Christians to shine even brighter. One of my devotions this week also emphasized the importance of sharing hope and bearing witness of Jesus. It’s kind of been a theme that I’ve seen repeated lately—that we need to be a light.

Now, how can we practically do that?

Practical wisdom on how to be a light in scripture

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Preparing for the Storms of Life

Preparing for the Storms of Life

Preparing for the Storms of Life

Last week we talked about how we can be like palm trees through the storms of life. Jesus warned us that these storms WILL come. However, He also told us to take heart because He has overcome the world. After all, even the winds and the waves obey him!

“I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (NIV)

“The disciples were amazed. “Who is this man?” they asked. “Even the winds and waves obey him!”” Matthew 8:27 (NIV)

Sometimes we don’t have advance notice when the storms of life hit. It could be a lost job, an unfaithful spouse, the death of a loved one, or a sudden illness or injury among many other possible things. Therefore, since the timing of trouble is so unpredictable, it’s important to always stay prepared and ready. We need to make preparations in advance. We can’t wait until the storm comes. At that point it’s too late.

Just like one would prepare for an approaching hurricane by boarding up windows, gathering supplies, getting gas, and taking shelter, we too need to take precautions to be able to weather the potential storms of life that could come our way. 

Take Some Practical Steps to Prepare for the Storms of Life:

  • First, make sure to build your life on the right foundation–on God and His principles and teachings.

Homes built on sand will blow and wash away when storms come. A house built on a firm foundation, a rock, will outlast the storm. God is our rock!

“Anyone who listens to my teaching and follows it is wise, like a person who builds a house on solid rock. Though the rain comes in torrents and the floodwaters rise and the winds beat against that house, it won’t collapse because it is built on bedrock. But anyone who hears my teaching and doesn’t obey it is foolish, like a person who builds a house on sand. When the rains and floods come and the winds beat against that house, it will collapse with a mighty crash.” Matthew 7:24-27 (NLT)

“The LORD is my rock, my fortress, and my savior; my God is my rock, in whom I find protection. He is my shield, the power that saves me, and my place of safety.” Psalm 18:2 (NLT)

  • Next, build and develop your faith.

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Be Like Palm Trees Through Life’s Storms

Be Like Palm Trees Through Life’s Storms

Be Like Palm Trees Through Life’s Storms

Over the past weekend, I’ve been watching the Hurricane Irma footage. The Weather Channel‘s Mike Bettes commented numerous times about the palm trees and how they were taking such a beating but still standing. He said this was because they were so aerodynamic. It got me to thinking…We should be like these trees in our storms of life–bending but not breaking. Then I remembered that the Bible actually compares us to palm trees.

“But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God. Even in old age they will still produce fruit; they will remain vital and green. They will declare, “The Lord is just! He is my rock! There is no evil in him!”” Psalms 92:12-15 (NLT)

I did a little bit of research on palm trees to study some of their characteristics and what enables them to stand and survive during some of the harshest of conditions. Interestingly, it’s a lot of those same qualities that will help us to survive and thrive too. Let’s take a look!

Strong root systems 

roots of palm trees

Palm tree roots

Palm trees have a wide network of fibrous roots that create layers in the soil. These layers hold a tremendous amount of soil and are very heavy which forms an anchor for the tree. These strong root systems enable the tree to withstand immensely forceful winds without being uprooted.

Likewise, if we remained rooted and anchored in God, we too can withstand extreme conditions and brute force attacks. We need strong roots. The Bible says we need to be rooted in God’s love. Knowing we’re loved completely, unequivocally, and unconditionally can help us to endure quite of bit. Being rooted in God, Himself, and standing firm on His promises will keep us stable and steady. Hoping in Him will anchor us through life’s toughest storms and keep us firm and secure.

Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” Colossians 2:7 (NLT)

“Then Christ will make his home in your hearts as you trust in him. Your roots will grow down into God’s love and keep you strong.” Ephesians 3:17 (NLT)

“We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” Hebrews 6:19a (NIV)

“For they call themselves after the holy city, and anchor themselves upon the God of Israel; The LORD of hosts is his name.” Isaiah 48:2 (KJ2000)

Sturdy yet flexible trunk

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Study the Devil

Study the Devil …to become familiar with his evil schemes, tactics, and ways.

Study the Devil…to become familiar with his evil schemes, tactics, and ways.

“So that Satan will not outsmart us. For we are familiar with his evil schemes.” 2 Corinthians 2:11 (NLT)

Last week I shared about a dream I had and how I felt like it meant that the devil was studying me. I gave a few tips that came up during one of my quiet time devotions about how to engage the enemy. After some more prayer and insight into my dream, I felt like God told me to study the devil.

After I heard “Study him,” I knew I was supposed to be aware of HOW he attacks and be able to recognize some of his ways, tactics, and strategies. I needed to study the devil to start paying attention to how he does things and how/when he lies and causes trouble. Additionally, I needed to think about how he has attacked me in the past.

Now that I knew the devil was studying me, I could be preemptive by turning the tables. Two could play this game!

More insight about my dream

First, I started thinking some more about my dream and some of the possible symbolism in it. I could start by attempting to study the devil in my dream. If the man in my dream was symbolic of the devil, what could I discern from his character in my dream? Here were some of my thoughts…

He disguises himself as less threatening

The man that appeared in my dream seemed fairly unthreatening (skinny, gangly, pale guy). Likewise, the things that the devil uses to come against us might not seem harmful at first glance.

“But I am not surprised! Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.” 2 Corinthians 11:14 (NLT)

He trespasses and invades into areas where he shouldn’t

In the dream I had a sense that the man was asking me questions that he shouldn’t be asking or that he might be trying to do something illegal. The devil is the same way. He tries to do things that he has no right to do. He interferes and invades in areas that aren’t his territory. The devil is an intruder.

“I tell you the truth, anyone who sneaks over the wall of a sheepfold, rather than going through the gate, must surely be a thief and a robber!” John 10:1 (NLT)

He tries to make us trip, stumble, and fall

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Is the Devil Studying You?

Is the Devil Studying You? Try these 6 steps if you feel like you might be under the watchful eye (or even attack) of the devil.

Is the Devil Studying You?

A few months ago I had a weird and kind of scary dream. I remember waking up very afraid and my heart was pounding. The dream was very realistic, and I remember thinking, “This dream means something.” I don’t always think that about dreams, but sometimes you just sort of know when certain dreams do have significance of some kind. I have them from time to time. This was one of those dreams.

I purposed to remember it and then wrote it down in my journal the next morning during my quiet time. I prayed and thought about what it might mean. Over the next week or so, I slowly started getting some insight. I was also getting some practical steps to take (you know I love those!). What I’ve learned might be helpful for you too.

Let me start by sharing my dream with you…

On a mission

In my dream I was going somewhere repeatedly, back and forth. Numerous times I was having to walk around and over several boxes in my path, almost like an obstacle course. It was also like I was in a hurry too. I think I was trying to catch a plane or train or something. Additionally, I seemed to be in the process of helping others somehow or doing something on behalf of someone else.

At one point, I ran into a man. He had red hair and pale white skin and was very skinny and gangly. He was wearing a blue polo shirt tucked into khaki pants. I remember thinking that he looked like he should work at Best Buy. He was carrying a clipboard or tablet of some kind.

The man started asking me questions about the person that I was trying to help. I recall thinking that he was very nosy and that he might be trying to get information from me or do something that was illegal. It was also very frustrating because he was distracting me from being able to successfully make it through all of the obstacles that I was trying to climb over. I began tripping and started to fall. All I could think was that I needed to get away from that man. There was a strong sensation that this man was not at all friendly and might even be dangerous.

Feeling scared

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What I Learned From the Ladies at Craft Club

What I Learned From the Ladies at Craft Club...multigenerational lessons...

What I Learned From the Ladies at Craft Club

God has been impressing upon me lately about the importance of multigenerational learning. I think He especially wants all of us to grasp the importance of learning and gleaning wisdom from people older, wiser, and more experienced than us. I think this is extremely important for upcoming generations. (I’ll talk more on this in future posts.) My mom and I were just discussing this concept not long ago, and we started talking about how much I’ve benefitted from something as simple as the Craft Club at our church.

Several years ago I decided to get involved at the Craft Club at my church. To be completely honest with you, I have NO IDEA why!! I am NOT crafty. At all. Not even a little. My mom, Jacki, and my sister, Shawna are the highly talented, crafty people in our family. Maybe I was just excited about Christmas (that, however, IS TOTALLY me!), and the Craft Club was making Christmas decorations for the church and for our Christmas Train event. I figured as long as they didn’t put me on sewing and they showed me what to do I’d be fine.

I think I benefited more than they did!

Well, I really think they got the raw end of the deal, but I had a GREAT time! Except for maybe scalding my hands one too many times with a hot glue gun. I’m sure they never ceased to be amazed at how long it took me to complete a project. Those ladies, especially my mom, ran circles around me with embroidery too. I think my mom finished 4 embroidery pictures in the amount of time it took me to complete one. They can’t say I didn’t warn them though! Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if some of my projects were lovingly “redone” or repurposed after I left! Ha!

Even if they didn’t get as much benefit from me, I sure will treasure the amount of wisdom, love, patience, empathy, fun, and knowledge (and I could go on) that I gained from my time with all of the amazing ladies that I worked with there. I will never forget some of the life lessons and multigenerational friends that I acquired over the years in Craft Club.

A sponge soaking up wisdom

I often say that I love being around older people and listening to them because I just feel like a sponge soaking up all of their wisdom. At the Craft Club we had women of all ages. However, we did tend to have a larger number of more “mature” women. Typically, we went to Craft Club during the daytime so it was really convenient for retired women. Each and every lady that I encountered there had a different lesson to teach me. Continue reading

How to Decide Where God is Leading

What’s Next?  How to Decide where God is Leading

Guest Post: How to Decide Where God is Leading

This week I’d like to introduce you to one of my friends, Rachel Foley! I’ve known Rachel for about 3 years now.  Well, actually we went to college together many moons ago, but we didn’t really know each other back then. Only in recent years have we become good friends after reconnecting at a conference where I spoke and Rachel led worship.  Let me tell you, she’s pretty amazing! 🙂

Rachel and her husband Shad are worship leaders at Solace Church. They are venturing out on a new, exciting endeavor to encourage others in faith and family life…their own blog: ShadrachandRachel.com. Rachel is a wonderful writer, and Shad is hilarious. I think you guys are going to enjoy their very genuine and humorous writing style as much as I do! It’s my honor and pleasure to introduce their launch to you with Rachel’s first blog post about how to decide where God is leading.

What’s Next?  How to Decide Where God is Leading

by Rachel Foley

At some point in all Christ-follower’s lives, we ask the question, “What is God’s plan for me?”  I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard a loud and clear immediate answer to that question, and I would be very wary of believing anyone who says she has.  We want to hear His voice in the wind or have a burning-bush type moment that transforms us and compels us to passionate obedience.  To our dismay, the call is not always dramatic or to something grand and life-changing.   While it is true that God may have some grand designs for your life, they typically do not begin in a grand fashion.  God has already laid out His plans for us, and they begin with ordinary, small steps of obedience.

My Story

Let me briefly share my story. Every time I have felt God’s call on my heart, it has made me sick, literally. In fact, nausea has accompanied most steps of obedience I’ve taken!  When God has knocked on my heart’s door, it has always been an invitation to join Him in some work for which I felt completely inadequate. Not very glamorous and powerful, I know, but it is true, regardless.

When I was pregnant with our third little blessing, I felt God stirring in me.  (Perhaps it was indigestion, but it was stirring, nonetheless.)  I felt God calling my heart to some new adventure.  I began to draw close to Him in order to hear His voice.  Months went by.  I delivered my sweet baby girl, and my dreams of continuing to stay at home full-time began to be squished and stretched and morphed into this horrible, dreadful feeling that God was calling me to become a nurse.  Hilarious!   I was an English major! I nearly puked at the vet’s office watching my dog get stitches!  And the creator of the universe was telling me to go to nursing school?  YES.  Nausea set in.  Anxiety followed.  The tears were frequent.  I threw a few little temper tantrums, but I eventually followed the call.

Baby Steps

I began slowly.  I clung so tightly to Him, I’m pretty sure I left fingernail marks.  I spent time with Him every day in prayer and Scripture.  I finally agreed to be obedient, but only in baby steps.  I told God I would go see the advisor at school, and nothing else!  When that went well, I told Him I would take one science class at a time.  When that went well, I told Him I would become a Certified Nurse Assistant.  When that went well, I told Him I would apply for nursing school.  When I got accepted, terrified and shaking, I consented and learned far more about faith, perseverance, and the power of Scripture than I had in my whole life. That journey required every single ounce of faith I had in my weak, little soul.  However, I not only graduated, I graduated at the top of my class and delivered the student address at commencement.  ALL GOD.

This particular part of my journey took four years.  Significant change does not happen overnight.  When we commit to seeking God’s call on our lives, we must realize that it is a process.  Obey in baby steps.  Psalm 119:105 says God’s Word is a “lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”  When you commit to obedience to God’s call on your life, he will light your path just enough for you to see where your feet need to land next.  A dear friend of mine, Tracy Robbins, addresses the same idea in her blog “Incremental Obedience.” I recommend you read it at HappyHealthyandProsperous.com.

If you are truly ready to discover God’s plan for your life, start with what He has already told you.  It’s all right there in Scripture.

…continuing reading the rest of Rachel’s post here where she gives a few practical steps to decide where God is leading you!

If you know anyone that could benefit from this, please pay it forward!  Share this post via the sharing links below.  “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-4 (NIV) 

Obedience to God–Do you need a leash?

Obedience to God...I want to follow and obey God easily, willingly, and immediately...to be the type of person that does what I need to without a bridle or leash or tether to keep me in check or to make me go where I need to be.

Obedience to God–Do you need a leash?

“The LORD says, “I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.”” Psalm 32:8-9 (NLT)

When it comes to obedience to God, do you need a leash?

Lately, we’ve been doing some obedience training with our two dogs, Lucy and Daisy. One of the areas where we’ve been working with them is keeping them within safe boundaries, more specifically our front deck. We’re trying to teach them to stay on the deck and not get off without our permission. Most of the time they do a great job. However, this is still a work in progress.

Unfortunately, I discovered that they may not have been as fully and completely trained as I had thought. Several weeks ago, I decided to take the dogs out onto the front deck with me in the morning. This wasn’t unusual since we’d been training them to stay on the deck for quite some time now. They had been enjoying coming out with me in the mornings as I did my quiet time outside.

I had been spoiling the dogs a bit allowing them to come out more often than usual because the kids were away at their grandparents for the week, and the dogs were missing them. They had been very good and obedient…up to this point. On this particular morning I noticed Lucy perked up immediately and started staring out into the front yard. I turned my gaze to where she was staring. Instant panic struck as soon as I saw the object of Lucy’s attention. It was a bunny rabbit.

So what’s wrong with a bunny?

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