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Susan Aken’s title says it all, summing up our greatest cause for praise:A Call to Praise icon 2

Please Don’t Give Me What I Deserve!

“Hey! I have a right to be in this lane. Get out of my way!”

“Why is my pizza cold? I have a right to receive it hot and fresh. I paid for it.”

Photo by stockimages taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by stockimages taken from freedigitalphotos.net

“Why isn’t my cable operating? I have a right to good service.”

We love to talk about rights in our culture. We feel entitled to many things. We deserve to be happy. We believe we have the right to everything from unhindered access while driving to being first in line at the grocery store to having our family the way we want them. After all, we have the right to life, liberty and the

Photo by Susan Aken

Photo by Susan Aken

pursuit of happiness. Don’t we?

But do we deserve all that? To “deserve” means to be worthy, to have a claim to or be qualified for (reward or punishment), to be entitled to. It implies that we have earned this right.

What have we earned the right to experience?

The Bible says, “There is no one righteous, not even one.” Romans 3:10 and “For the wages of sin is death.” Romans 6:23a

Since we are all sinners and the wages of sin is death, what we have “earned” the right to is death. What each human being “deserves” is eternal separation from God. This truth is what makes Psalm 103:10 some of the most wonderful words ever written:

He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.”

Praise God He does not give us what we deserve!

Why not? He is perfect and holy. He has the right to punish our sins.

Instead He chose to rescue us. He sent Jesus, His perfect Son, as a baby who would grow up, suffer and die for us as hopeless

Photo by bela_kiefer taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by bela_kiefer taken from freedigitalphotos.net

sinners. Why would He do that?

The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love…for as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is His love for those who fear him.” Psalm 103: 8,11

His great love gives us what we don’t deserve.

I have brief moments when I think I am good. Than in an instant I am filled with envy, jealousy, unkindness or selfishness so much that I know I don’t deserve His grace. My heart apart from Him is wicked.

Those moments help me realize that I don’t “deserve” anything but I am given grace in everything.

That He could love me in spite of knowing what my sinful heart is like overwhelms me.

     Father, thank you for loving me so much you were willing to send Jesus to die for my sins. Thank you that you do not give me what I deserve. Thank you that I am free from the penalty of my sin. Nothing can compare to you! I cling to your grace. I rest in your abundant love.

Susan013Susan Aken is a homemaker, substitute teacher and writer. She lives in Nebraska but was born and raised in Oklahoma. Her greatest love is for the Lord Jesus Christ who has redeemed her and set her free. Her other loves are her husband and son (she is now an empty nester). Susan enjoys reading, photography, spending time with family and friends and writing. She has a heart for prayer ministry and loves her church! Visit her online at Soaring With Butterfly Wings and check out her inspiring photos at SusanAkenInspiringPhotos

Amazing Hope: Reflections on Hope in the Midst of a Crazy World:Amazing Hope - cover sunrise and sea

This is a 40-day devotional book on the topic of hope. Each day’s devotion includes verses from the Bible, inspirational thoughts by the author, reflection questions and a prayer. The topics include many of the struggles common to us all such as parenting, death, fear, sin, and the futility of daily life. There are also devotions on the character of God, the sacrifice of Jesus Christ, the power of God’s word and other topics. These writings express the hope that gets me through each day and I pray they will also help you.

For those following our Call to Praise Blog Hop Posts, visit the following:

April 2: Marji Laine hosted on Asslyson Carter’s blog, discussing what it means to live anew in God’s grace.

April 4: Susan Aken will visit Delia Latham’s blog to share her thoughts on Psalm103:14, discussing the what it means when Scripture says God knows we are weak

April 9: Carol McClain will post right here, on my blog, discussing God’s sovereignty and power.

April 11th I’ll tie up our series on Ginger Solomon‘s blog, calling each of us to be fully present when we praise.

And before you go, to help us truly appreciate what Christ did for us, fellow Faith, Friends, and Chocolate blogger and biblical fiction writer Carole Towriss wrote a powerful story on the resurrection, told through the eyes of one of Jesus’ executioners. You can read part one here, part two here, and part three here.

I’m fairly certain motherhood is synonymous with worry. Few things have tested and grown my faith like parenting, and with our daughter less than a year from college, my prayers are growing more frequent and fervent! Perhaps you can relate.

Stephanie Landsem-106Today biblical fiction author Stephanie Landsem expands on a well-known but ever-needed verse. As an added bonus, she’s giving away a copy of her novel to one reader from the continental US, randomly selected from the comments left on today’s post.

But first, for those of you who are following our Call to Praise blog hop, I encourage you to join me on Carol Mclain’s as I chat about the appetite of vengeance. To follow the remaining stops on our blog hop, go here.

Victory over Worry by Stephanie Landsem

Martha let out a held breath. Judas had voiced her own thoughts. If she didn’t worry about what to eat, who would? The grain didn’t appear in the jar each morning. The bread didn’t bake itself . . . Martha stalked from the room to get the meat. It was easy for him to say to stop worrying. If he knew all she had to worry about, perhaps he would understand. (excerpt from The Tomb, A Novel of Martha)

Like Martha, many of us women—wives, mothers, sisters, and daughters—are ‘anxious and worried about many things’, and with good reasons. Our lives are complicated, our world filled with dangers, both physical and spiritual. And yet Jesus tells us to stop worrying, to choose the ‘better part’. But, as Martha asks in The Tomb, how are we supposed to stop worrying?

The dictionary defines worry as this: to torment oneself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts. And that is certainly what we do, isn’t it?

We start with what we know. For example, a child isn’t home yet from visiting friends and so we start with the ‘what ifs’. What if he got in an accident? What if he’s in the hospital?

Or perhaps we’ve got a health concern. Our minds go immediately to the worst: What if it’s cancer? How will I manage? What about my family, my job, my insurance coverage?

As worriers we let our minds go into all those dark places, turning them over, considering the horrors, and

Photo by Stuart Miles taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by Stuart Miles taken from freedigitalphotos.net

soon we’re literally sick with worry.

But Jesus says in Luke chapter 12: Can any of you by worrying add a moment to your life-span? 26 If even the smallest things are beyond your control, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 

Jesus is asking us to stop tormenting ourselves. Yes, we may have worries. About our children, our jobs, ourselves. But we can’t allow our thoughts to dwell on all the bad things that may or may not happen. When we are tempted—and it is a temptation because Satan wants us to worry—we must make a conscious decision to turn our thoughts away from the darkness and toward the light.

One way is to turn to prayer. Some of the most beautiful prayers of the Psalms are about trust and can calm our minds and soothe our fears, while keeping us from heading down that tempting dark tunnel:

Hear, O Lord, have mercy on me; Lord be my helper. Psalm 30:11

You are my rock and my fortress; for your name’s sake lead and guide me. Psalm 31:4

Wait for the Lord, take courage; be stouthearted, wait for the Lord! Psalm 27:14

Or, we can repeat the most simple prayer of all: Jesus, I trust in you.

It’s not easy to stop ourselves from worrying. Sometimes we’ll fail. Sometimes we’ll give in and head down that dark tunnel. Yet, even then, Jesus will be waiting for us to come back into the light, just as he waited for Martha on the road outside Bethany, to come to him, to put her trust in him even as her brother lay dead in his tomb, and say:

“Even now I know that whatever you ask of God, God will give you.”

Tomb blog tour buttonThe Tomb:

In this captivating retelling of a classic biblical story, Jesus shocks the town of Bethany with Lazarus’s resurrection from the dead, leading Martha—a seemingly perfect woman trapped by the secrets of her past—to hope and a new life.

Everyone in Bethany admires Martha—the perfect Jewish woman. She feeds and clothes her loved ones, looks after the family farm, and meticulously follows every precept of the Pharisees’ strict laws. But Martha is hiding a secret. At her sister’s marriage feast, she gave her heart and her innocence to a young musician who promised to return and marry her, but instead betrayed her love and abandoned her.

Seven years later, only two people in Bethany know of Martha’s secret sin: her brother, Lazarus, and Simon, the righteous Pharisee to whom Martha is betrothed. When Lazarus falls ill, Martha is faced with a choice: send for Jesus to save her dying brother—risking the wrath of Simon who threatens to betray her—or deny Jesus’ healing power and remain trapped in her tomb of secrecy and lies.

Meanwhile, on the shores of Galilee, Isa roams the wilderness, tortured by demons and knowing only that someone is waiting for him. When he is healed by Jesus, he finds that seven years have passed since his descent into madness. Isa journeys home to Bethany only to find he is too late to win back Martha’s love.

When Martha risks all to heal Lazarus, will Jesus arrive in time, or will he—like Isa—come too late?

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! I’m a big believer in memorizing Scripture and think doing so is one of the best ways we can counter negative thinking and center our mind and hearts in truth. Prayer is another power source given to us by Christ, and when we combine  prayer with Scripture, which is praying the very Words of Christ, we’ve positioned ourselves for victory! Have you prayed Scripture before? At the end of her post, Stephanie shared some wonderful prayers from the Psalms. What are some verses you like to pray? If you haven’t prayed Scripture, why not start? It truly is a beautiful, peace-inducing way to pray! Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook. 

I also encourage you to sign up for my free, quarterly newsletter, which I and 7 other Christian authors put out. In it, you’ll receive scenes from a serial story available only through the newsletter, devotions, short stories of mixed genres, recipes, and more!

You might also like:

Praying the Scriptures for Your Children

Prayer Fatigue by Jennifer Kennedy Dean

Photo by cuteimage taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by cuteimage taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Is your hope rightly placed or are you headed for are you headed for a painful fall?

I’ve had many times, way too many, where I’ve placed my hope in the wrong things. My abilities, our stock portfolio, my husband’s job, friends. And each time, those things ended up disappointing me for various reasons, but one rock–a firm, unmovable foundation–remained unshakable. Today a sweet friend–my coffee-drinking buddy!–Angela D. Meyer, author of Where Hope Starts, shares her thoughts on rightly placed hope.

But first, I wanted to announce the winner of last week’s give-away. Audrey, congrats! You won again! I select winners quite randomly, so I’d say the fact that you won again must mean God really wants to encourage  you. I love that about Him! I’ll send you an email shortly connecting you with Johnnie.

Rightly Placed Hope by Angela D Meyer

And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy publicity pic for bioSpirit, whom he has given us.

Romans 5:5 (NIV)

I was only five at the time my grandpa came to visit us. As I remember it, I was playing in the backyard and Grandpa was just sitting there enjoying the out of doors. (He was a farmer, more inclined to the country than the city).

I really wanted my grandpa to play. After much cajoling (I have to admit to taking a bit of license on this point with the memory of a five-year-old) he finally relinquished.

He looked me in the eye. “You know what? If you’ll run around the house 5 times (Maybe it was less or maybe it was more. The point – he wanted me out of his hair for a bit.) you’ll have 2 baby cows following you.”

“Wow.” And off I ran. Just like that I put my hope in what my grandpa promised. I wanted to have a couple of cows of my own.

If you haven’t caught it by now, my grandpa was pulling a joke on me. When I arrived at his chair after rounding the house the required amount of times, he was laughing.

I was crying. “There aren’t any cows.”

Photo by David Castillo Dominici taken from freedigitalphotos.net

Photo by David Castillo Dominici taken from freedigitalphotos.net

He laughed some more and pointed to the back of my legs. “There are two calves following you right there.”

The light bulb went on in my mind and I understood. But it didn’t feel like something to laugh about. I was vastly disappointed.

When we place our hope in the word of man, we will eventually be disappointed. But God always keeps his word. It may look different than we expect, but God always comes through.

Does that mean we kill all desire for people to do the right thing? No. But it does mean we recognize that people are not perfect and they will fall short of our expectations. And our joy, our peace, our life does not depend on them coming through for us. 

Opening ourselves up for the possibility of the best from people, will open the likelihood of being hurt. But with our hope in God – we will be comforted, we will be strengthened, we will find peace in the midst of the pain.

“Be strong and take heart, all you who hope in the LORD”  (Psalm 31:24 NIV).

***

Whether through story, blog posts, or video devotional here on the pages of my website, my books or a connection on one of her other social media sites, Angela D. Meyer’s desire is to  eencourage women in the midst of a broken life on their faith journey. Because life goes on even when its a mess. And when broken pieces litter the path, we need a little extra encouragement. Connect with her online at AngelaDMyer.com

Where Hope Starts Cover resizedWhere Hope Starts:

Karen Marino’s life is a nightmare. The New York City restaurant manager is a professional success, but her marriage is in shambles. When her husband, Barry shows up drunk at her restaurant, she loses both. She flees The Big Apple and returns to her Midwestern home to sort through her options. But instead of answers, she finds an old boyfriend ready to rekindle romance, a family full of secrets and an angry brother bent on revenge. Karen wants to do the right thing, but how do you forgive the unforgivable? As she searches for the answer, she uncovers a family secret that threatens to tear them all apart. Can she find her way back to the place Where Hope Starts?

Buy it here!

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this. Can you share a time when you’d placed your hope in something or someone other than Christ? What happened? How does centering our hope in Christ lead to lasting peace and joy? (Please not, by joy I am not speaking of a temporary emotionally happy state but rather the deep assurance that comes from knowing Christ and resting in His will.)

Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

And before you leave, make sure to check out the next stops on our Call to Praise Blog Hop:

March 21: Allyson Carter will discuss Psalm 103 verse 3, hosted on Carol McClain’s blog

March 24: Sarah Ruut hosted on Marji Laine’s blog, discussing how God’s Blessings in our lives can give us strength.

March 26: Delia Latham will visit Carol McClain’s blog to talk about verse 6 and how God’s justice makes a difference in our lives

March 30: Susan Aken will visit my blog, right here, to discuss Psalm 103:9-12, focusing on God’s underserved grace

I also encourage you to sign up for my free quarterly devotion, which I and 7 other Christian authors put out. In it, you’ll receive scenes from a serial story available only in the newsletter, devotions, short stories of varied genres, recipes, and more!

Subscribe to our free quarterly newsletter!

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2012 was an incredibly tough, incredibly painful year for me. That was the year everything changed, but it was also one of the  most incredibly beautiful periods of my life because that was the year when, day by day by day, God revealed the depth of His love and the unshakable shelter of His abiding presence. I thought back to Johnnie Alexanderthat painful, frightening time as I read Johnnie Alexander’s beautiful post today.

As an added bonus, she’s giving away an ecopy of her novel to one lucky reader, chosen randomly from the comments left on today’s post. 

As you read her testimony, may you be reminded of God’s unchanging, ever-present, love-filled nature. I also encourage you to pray for her, and for one another, as many of you are going through some incredibly difficult situations. You don’t need to know one another’s name or struggle to pray for your sister and brother. God knows. However, if any of you would like to openly share your trials in the comments below, giving me permission to share your prayer requests with my readers next Thursday, please feel free. For the prayers of the righteous are powerful and effective.

The Whisper

By

Johnnie Alexander

It would be overly dramatic to say my world was falling apart. But morning after morning, I curled up in my comfy chair—the oversized multi-pillowed one tucked into the bay window—and wondered where I’d be a year later.

As I read both my Bible and insightful devotionals by Sarah Young and Oswald Chambers, I prayed I’d stay within God’s will for my life. But I questioned how to reconcile what I believed was going to happen with what I knew of Scripture.

Ex33-14picGod’s presence was clear during those quiet times as again and again I read the promises of His steadfast love and His provision. Whatever the future held, I was assured He held me in his arms.

During this time of insecurity, I visited a gift shop in our small town. As I walked in the door, my eyes were drawn to a ceramic bluebird perched on a shelf. I cradled it in my hand and smiled at the words on its wing:

Be brave.

I placed it back on the shelf, not intending to purchase it even though it had touched my heart. But when I set it down, I felt a clear and sweet whisper surround me.

It’s for you.

I hesitated a moment. After all, nothing like this had ever happened to me before. And yet I knew the message was real, and I knew who it was from.

More than a year has passed, and my life has taken a path I once thought impossible. I still stumble a little over the D-word, so let’s just say my marital status has changed. While I wish this wasn’t my story, and it Ps32v8picbreaks my heart that this is my children’s story, my trust in God’s promises has only gotten stronger. He had prepared the path I was to walk, with all its pits and snares, before I ever knew I’d be on it.

I left my comfy chair behind but not my treasured bluebird. When I unpacked it, I paused a moment to whisper a prayer of thanks for this reminder of God’s tangible presence.

Indeed, His love is steadfast.

“Be still and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a; NIV).

“Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (1 Chronicles 16:34; ESV).

***

Johnnie Alexander writes inspiring stories that linger in the heart. Where Treasure Hides, her debut novel, won the ACFW Genesis Contest (2011) and Golden Leaf Award (2014). The first of her three contemporary romances, Where She Belongs, releases from Revell in January 2016.

She also has won Best Novel and Best Writer awards (Florida Christian Writers Conferences), and Bronze Medalist (My Book Therapy Frasier Contest).

A graduate of Rollins College (Orlando) with a Master of Liberal Studies degree, Johnnie treasures family memories, classic movies, road trips, and stacks of books. She lives in the Memphis area where her morning chores include feeding dogs, cats, chickens, and a small herd of alpacas.

Connect with her online:

at her blog, on FacebookTwitterGoodReadsPinterest, and at her Amazon Author Page

Where-Treasure-Hides-682x1024 new coverWhere Treasure Hides:

Artist Alison Schuyler spends her time working in her family’s renowned art gallery, determined to avoid the curse that has followed the Schuyler clan from the Netherlands to America and back again. She’s certain that true love will only lead to tragedy—that is, until a chance meeting at Waterloo station brings Ian Devlin into her life.

Read the first chapter here!

Buy it here:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Christian Book Distributors

Drawn to the bold and compassionate British Army captain, Alison begins to question her fear of love as World War II breaks out, separating the two and drawing each into their own battles. While Ian fights for freedom on the battlefield, Alison works with the Dutch Underground to find a safe haven for Jewish children and priceless pieces of art alike. But safety is a luxury war does not allow.

As time, war, and human will struggle to keep them apart, will Alison and Ian have the faith to fight for their love, or is it their fate to be separated forever?

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! What a gift God’s presence is! I think sometimes I take His abiding, ever-present love for granted and either wallow in self-pity rather than drawing close to and leaning hard on Him, or allowing the busyness of life to steal my joy, praise and focus. But when my world crashes down, I’m reminded, He is and always has been there. When has a particularly hard, frightening or painful time reminded you of God’s constant presence and unchanging nature. Share your experience with us! And don’t forget about our ongoing Call to Praise Blog Hop! Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

Receive more devotions, author updates, and segments to a serial story only available to newsletter subscribers by subscribing to my joint-author newsletter here:

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Before you go, (wow, this is one loooooooooooooooong blog post!) I wanted to let you know my debut novel is still on sale, print and kindle version, for under $3! If you haven’t read it but have been wanting to, get it here! 
And to my Nebraska friends, I’ll be in Lincoln tomorrow chatting with book lovers at the Bethany Branch library, and Saturday, I’ll be signing copies of both novels at Divine Truth Christian Bookstore in LaVista. If you can’t make it but would like a signed copy, call the store at 402-592-4866 and they’ll get ya’ hooked up! :)
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Picture by Naypong, taken from freedigitalphotos.net

If you stare at something long enough, whatever it is, that thing will soon distort your vision. Everything, especially the peripheral, becomes blurry. Try it. Or maybe don’t. It might give you a headache. :)

Our problems are like that, aren’t they? Yes, they’re real. Yes, they’re hard, and for some of you, incredibly hard; harder than most. And yet, if we focus too long on the problem, the peripheral becomes blurry.

But if we focus on the good, the lovely, admirable, and praiseworthy, peace takes up residence deep in our heart. And this is the reason behind the Call to Praise Blog Hop. Well, that and Christ is absolutely worthy of our praise, regardless of our circumstances.

I’m so excited for this series and the opportunity it will provide to gain deeper insight, through the perspective of others, into what has quickly become one of my favorite Psalms–Psalm 103.

Kicking us off today is my very sweet, Christ-centered friend, Jennifer Hallmark.A Call to Praise icon 2

Having an Attitude of Gratitude

By Jennifer Hallmark

Winter will soon be over. Warm, sunny weather is peeking over the horizon, life and newness in its hands. The first months of this year have been good for me and my family in many ways. We received favorable reports on medical tests, job opportunities opened, and we’re all focusing on exercise and healthy eating. I have much to be grateful for, but I don’t always recognize it.

Why?

We all tend to focus on the negative instead of the positive. For me, I don’t recognize the good when…

 

  • I let fear and worry creep in. These attitudes point out every speck on an otherwise clean floor.
  • I expect the worst from people instead of the best. Scripture says to believe the best. (I Corinthians 13:7) I need to focus on the strengths of myself and others instead of the weaknesses.
  • I don’t balance work and rest. When I’m overtired, everything looks difficult and unbearable. When rested, gratitude has a place again.
  • I don’t keep my focus on God and the big picture. When I take my eyes off Him and put them on the problem, the good disappears. I can’t see past the detour or curve in the road. Prayers don’t often have instantaneous answers. I need to focus on Him and patiently wait.

It’s time for me to adopt an attitude of gratitude. My friend, Joyce, gave me a happy journal. I’m using it to write my blessings and things that make me happy. When life is tough, I can take a glimpse in my journal and remember.

And be grateful.

 

IMG_7480

Jennifer Hallmark is a writer by nature, artist at heart, and daughter of God by His grace. She’s published over 200 articles and interviews on the internet, short stories in several magazines and been part of two book compilations, A Dozen Apologies, and Sweet Freedom A La Mode. She is currently shopping her contemporary southern fiction novel, When Wedding and Weather Collide. She’s contributed to two compilations, one that will release in June with Write Integrity Press called Unlikely SF Front CoverMerger and a non-fiction compilation releasing in the summer called  Not Alone: A Literary and Spiritual Companion for those Confronted with Infertility and Miscarriage. 

Visit her online at Alabama-Inspired Fiction, and the group blog she co-founded focus on her books, love of the South, and helping writers. Keep up to day with her and her writing by subscribing to her monthly newsletter at her author page. You can also connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. For fun, she loves to read detective fiction from the Golden Age, watch movies like LOTR, and play with her two precious granddaughters. Jennifer and her husband, Danny, have spent their married life in Alabama and have a basset hound, Max.

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! What are some ways you center yourself in praise? Have you done that when going through a particularly anxious or difficult time, and if so, how has it helped? There are countless ways to praise Christ, and today, Jennifer shared one–maintaining an attitude of gratitude. What are some things you are most grateful for?

Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

And make sure to visit our next stop in the Call to Praise Blog Hop on March 9 when Sarah Ruut will visit Carol McClain’s  to share her thoughts on what it means to praise God will ALL that we are.

 

The Waves of Life

When I was first diagnosed with fibromyalgia, (Ugh. Did I really just admit my illness, one with so many myths, judgements, and misconceptions surrounding it, online???) I felt ready to break—physically and emotionally. I thought the intense pain shooting through every ounce of my body would last forever.

I’ve since learned those waves, or flares, as the medical community calls them, won’t last forever, and knowing that brings incredible peace. Knowing there is an eventual end to the pain makes it bearable. And knowing God has a purpose in my pain, which He does, makes it glorious.

Life is like that, isn’t it? Stuck in the muck, it’s easy to become overwhelmed and defeated, to focus on the tumult rather than our Savior. But today my sweet friend and highly-valued critique partner, Majie Lane, MarjiLaine-260x300shares some encouraging thoughts on these “waves of life” we all go through and what each one can do for us.

The Waves of Life by Marji Lane

My latest release, The Love Boat Bachelor is set on a cruise. It had me thinking all things oceans. Looking back on the last few years which comprise my writing life, I can see how waves of circumstances can change the way I think. Even the way I live. I could get fancy like the Starbucks down the corner and call the different waves Tall, Venti, and Grande, but I think I’ll just call my waves small, medium, and large.

The small waves are circumstances that mold us. The way God teaches us through daily life. They tend to take on the appearance of seasons – football, holiday, busy, vacation. Even more seasons if you still have kids in your home – prom, musical, contest, performance, the list goes on. All seasons that enrich, but also complicate our lives.

These small waves can give us a beating when attitudes are sour or other waves are overwhelming.

Medium waves are those that are more of the way we define ourselves. Our jobs, locations, and relationships make up the medium waves. I’m a wife and an author. I’m also a wavesmom and a teacher. I’m a
Texan. I’d find it very hard to change that, but we’ve come close a time or two.

The medium waves aren’t usually the overwhelming ones, but they can throw in turbulence when they have a change. Even then, they only change our title and sometimes a perspective. They don’t actually change who we are.

The deep-water waves, those are the ones that can have the largest effect on us. They comprise the broader seasons of our lives: years with babies in the house or school children, supporting aging family members, retirement, having teenagers, being the aging family member that needs support.

wave 3In deep water, the waves seem to move slowly, almost imperceptive from the height of a cruise ship. In the same way, these particular waves of our lives change over periods of years, decades even.

It’s when any of the waves, especially the large or medium ones, are jarred that the Lord works in our lives. When the water shifts unexpectedly, He’s there supporting and strengthening us through huge directional adjustments.

But Jesus said He’d never leave us comfortless. (John 14:18)

When we are at our most vulnerable, we tend to listen to Him better. Pay attention more willingly. And we’re the most malleable. So that He can perfect us, His creations.

He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it. (Philippians 1:6)

When we are broken and humble before God, He can use us to do the work He needs us to do. And true contentment comes when we’re able to look at the waves we’ve been through and know that none of them conquered us. We can throw back our heads and smile at God, knowing full well He holds us close and will give us whatever we need to accomplish His work.

Your turn: What waves are you dealing with right now, and how is God using them to strengthen you?

Marji Laine, a homeschooling mom, lives with her husband, their four grown and almost-grown kids, and a spoiled black Lab in the Dallas area. When she’s not fighting for quiet time and a space of her own to visit with her characters, she’s indulging in photography, watching NASCAR, and lately helping her oldest with wedding plans.

She works part time as the children’s music director at her church, leads a college-aged Bible Study, and teaches high school writing. She loves acting in stage plays, sings in small groups and a large choir, and has a passion for sharing about the relationship that the Lord wants to have with His children.

She has so loved being involved with Write Integrity Press and their last four collaborative novellas. “What an amazing group of creative and talented people!:” Contact her at MarjiLaine.com or find her on Suspense Sisters ReviewsFacebookTwiiter,Goodreads, Pinterest, and Google+.

TLBB CoverThe Love Boat Bachelor:

Romance is a joke.

After the love of Brent Teague’s life came back into his world only to marry someone else, Brent is through with women. He might be through with being a pastor, too.

Brent was so sure that God brought Mara Adkins home to him so they could marry and live happily ever after. Six months after her wedding to another man, that theory is obviously a dud. If Brent could be so wrong about that, who’s to say he’s not mistaken about God calling him to pastoral ministry?

Tired of watching Brent flounder for direction, Brent’s feisty older sister boots him out of Spartanburg and onto a cruise ship. Brent’s old college buddy manages the ship’s staff, and he’s thrilled to finagle Brent into the role of chaplain for the two-week cruise.

As the ship sets sail, Brent starts to relax. Maybe a cruise wasn’t such a bad idea after all. But there’s just one little thing no one told him. He’s not on any ordinary cruise. He’s on The Love Boat.

What’s a sworn bachelor to do on a Caribbean cruise full of romance and love? He’ll either have to jump ship or embrace the unforgettable romantic comedy headed his way.

Grab your copy here!

Let’s talk about this. I know many of you are going through some very painful times. First, to those of you who have shared your struggles with me, know I’m praying for you. For all of us, may we draw ever-nearer livingbygracepic.jpto Christ when we feel ready to ship-wreck, for He is our strength, our comfort, and our closest friend.

To repeat Marji’s question, posed above:

What waves are you dealing with right now, and how is God using them to strengthen you?

I encourage you to prayerfully consider the latter part of that question, because that’s the glory-phrase. Share your thoughts here in the comments below or at Living by Grace on Facebook.

I’ll share mine. Living with chronic pain has a way of centering one’s heart in eternity, which in turn gives passion and focus to my ministry. Each day I’m reminded that this sin-and-pain-ravished world is not my home, and that’s a reminder I need.

No Safety Net

I’m not much of a risk taker, and I can worry things out ten to twenty, even thirty years. This need for stability and, ultimately, control, greatly hindered my walk with Christ. Can you relate? Join me on Literally Speaking as I talk about surrender, obedience, discovering and embracing your call, and becoming Christ’s hands and feet to the broken. As an added bonus, Patti Shene is doing a give-away of one of my novels, winner’s choice. Listen and learn more here. 

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