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Two friends laughing together

Relationships are hard, messy, and at times, utterly frustrating. But they are also necessary. But as my guest, Nike Chillemi shares, we all need friends who will stay. Our friends that need that from us.

Being a Friend Who Stays by Nike Chillemi

To live of life filled with happiness, women must find and keep true women friends. You know what kind of friend that is. A bestie could be your biological sister, a cousin you grew up with, a college roommate, or someone you met later in life, perhaps on the job. She can and does keep a confidence. She’ll tell you if that “hot little red dress” isn’t the way to go, even if you envisioned it making your husband go crazy for you.

It’s even better if you have a small posse of true women friends in the faith. You need to have friendships with women that lift you up and encourage you to go higher in your relationship with the Lord. Do you have friends like this? Are you this kind of friend? It goes both ways.

“A friend loves at all times; And a brother is born for adversity” (Prov. 17:17, WEB).

However, what happens when a friend momentarily gets “stuck on stupid” or you do? You said something that triggered them or vice-versa? Many times, this is because one of you is having a bad day and the angst isn’t even about the friendship. It might be safer to become passive-aggressive, catty, or competitive with a friend than with the co-worker who just got the coveted promotion. If the bad mood blows over and one of you or both apologizes…nothing to worry about.

I used to be a first-class murmurer, a whiner and complainer. Believe me it became tiresome to my friends. The Lord has helped me grow in this area, but if something triggers me, I’ll start whining again. However, now that passes much more quickly, and I’m sure my friends are grateful.

What if your friend has become insensitive? If you recently lost your husband and a single friend says, “It’s going to be okay,” this is may feel as if she’s thrown a bucket of cold water on you. In that moment, the best thing to do is take a deep breath and say a quick prayer. She didn’t mean to hurt. If she repeatedly “encourages” inappropriately, give yourself some time to heal and talk to her about it later.

What happens when a friend becomes brusque and non-empathetic regarding something? It could be that she’s “Been there, done that, and has the tee shirt.” She’s “conquered” that thing, is beyond it, and she thinks you should toughen up. This could be because she doesn’t want to revisit the pain of those vulnerable feelings. While you are raw and feeling exposed may not be the best time to confront her. Find another shoulder to lean on. Then come back later to work things out with your friend.

You have to know when to address things and when to let them go, and which friendships to invest in and what ones God is calling you to end. Prayer can help determine that. But you don’t want to give up on a meaningful friendship. By the same token it’s not wise to stay in one, for old times sake, that has become toxic.

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Let’s talk about this! What are some ways you’ve intentionally held tight to your friendships? In what ways have your friends held tight to you? What’s one action step you can take from today’s post? Share your thoughts, stories, and examples in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

You may also enjoy:

When Others Reject Us

How to Maintain (Imperfect) Friendships

If you enjoyed today’s post, I encourage you to sign up for my free, quarterly e-mailing! Subscribers receive image of cover for study based on 1 Timothygreat, free content sent directly to their inbox along with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook form) based on truths presented in 1 Timothy (sent separately). (If you signed up and haven’t yet received your free study, please contact me through this website so I can get that to you!) You can sign up HERE.

 

Get to Know Nike!

Like so many writers, Nike N. Chillemi started at a very young age. Her first major work was a Crayola, fully illustrated book she penned as a little girl (colored might be more accurate) about her then off-the-chart love of horses. Today, you might call her a crime fictionista with a humorous side. Her passion is crime fiction. She likes Author photo for Nike Chillemiher bad guys really bad and her good guys smarter and better.

Nike is the founding board member of the Grace Awards and its Chair, a reader’s choice awards for excellence in Christian fiction. She has been a judge in the 2011, 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2016 Carol Awards in the suspense, mystery, and romantic suspense categories; and an Inspy Awards 2010 judge in the Suspense/Thriller/Mystery category. Her four novel Sanctuary Point series (out of print), set in the mid-1940s has finaled, won an award, and garnered critical acclaim. The first novel in the Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels/Dawson Hughes series HARMRUL INTENT won in the Grace Awards 2014 Mystery/Romantic Suspense/Thriller/Historical Suspense category. She has written book reviews for The Christian Pulse online magazine. She is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers (ACFW) and John 3:16 Marketing Network. Find her online at her blog, connect with her on Facebook, and follow her on @NikeNChillemi.

Cover image for Blood Speaks by Nike ChillemiCheck out her latest release, Blood Speaks:

Veronica “Ronnie” Ingels, Brooklyn gal PI, waited a long time for the solitaire on her finger. When her sometimes boss, a shadowy figure and director of a secret government organization, offers a one-week bridal shopping vacay in Maryland she jumps at it.

Joined by bridesmaids, Sandra Daube and Bertha Dagney, Ronnie sets off for the village of Heritage Cove on Arrowhead Lake, Maryland. Their joyous stay at the rustic yet luxury Heritage Cove Inn is shattered by a murder with tendrils and a clandestine motive stretching back to the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy.

It doesn’t take long for Ronnie and her gal-pals to become targets of the killer. It goes without saying, Taylor County Deputy Sheriff, Lieutenant Dawson Hughes leaves Texas to protect his bride-to-be. He’s joined by Sandra’s employer, conservative political activist Ben Cohen. No obstacle can keep Gabby Hayes look-alike Hoot Dagney from the side of Bertha, his new bride.

 

 

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Nail polish bottles of different colorsI felt ill-equipped and insufficient. Actually, I wasn’t supposed to be there at all. I planned to pop in, make sure all the volunteers had arrived and were good to go, then head off to another project I’d set up for the weekend.

But God had other plans, and it started—and perhaps ended—with my lack.

It was “Big Live” weekend, a time where the church I attended mobilized hundreds of people throughout the Metro to serve. As part of the leadership team organizing the event, I’d arranged numerous projects, one that included facilitating a “spa” night for women at a local shelter while other volunteers watched their children.

The idea seemed like a good one in the beginning, back in the planning stages when I envisioned a sizable group from my church, sitting around a table, giving mani-peds to these poor, broken women who were fighting addiction, healing, and learning how to parent.

But as the scheduled night approached, I began to worry. We were short on help. In fact, in the most crucial area, the actual spa portion, we didn’t have anyone.

Zero manicurists. Zero women who even felt comfortable pretending to be manicurists.

Simply myself—who routinely makes a mess of my nails whenever I attempt to paint them. And three others who’d come to watch children.

In other words, who also felt completely ill-equipped to paint other people’s fingernails. But as the women from the shelter began to arrive, one of the volunteers stepped up and said, “I’ll stay” (in the spa room). “I’m not very good at it, but I’ll stay.”

I could’ve hugged her. I may have squealed. But then, watching yet more women trickle in, and eyeing my very meager supplies, my moment of joy was replaced by sadness. I’d so wanted to spoil these women, to make them feel special. To give them an evening of pampering that would make them feel, but for a moment, as if they were truly at a spa. Or at the very least, beautiful.

And all I could think of was my lack. I didn’t have those smelly scrubs one rubs on women’s hands after they’ve soaked in rose-scented water. I didn’t even have the rose-scented water. I had dish soap. (And soon even that ran out.) I didn’t have nice-smelling lotion, emery boards or pumice to sooth their cracked and tired feet.

These ladies had been looking forward to a luxurious spa night, and I soaked their feet in plastic bowls filled with generic dish soap then dried them with whatever hand towels and dishrags the staff had managed to scrounge up.

I couldn’t paint beautiful designs. I could do base coats—though I messed that up. I could do simple flowers using toothpicks, but yep, I messed that up as well.

I was failing. And as I sat across from one of the ladies barely four months out of prison, having just rubbed her feet with an old tattered rag, I was ready to apologize. For the night, my blunders, the disappointment I know I must have caused her.

But before I could, she looked me in the eye with a grin so large it was contagious and said, “I feel like I’m at one of those fancy spas.”

Tears filled my eyes as I realized how little it took to make these women happy. To make them feel special. I’m sure they would’ve enjoyed the fancy lotions and hand massages. The pumice stones would’ve been nice. They would’ve oohed and ahhhed, had I known how to make fancy nail polish decorations.two women standing together

But none of those things trumped what they needed most—love. Someone to look them in the eye and say, “I see you. You have value. God loves you.”

That is how God makes much of our little.

Let’s talk about this! When have you stepped out to serve or help someone and felt insufficient and ill-equipped? How did you handle that? What was the end result? When has God shown you, perhaps through your insufficiency, that your role was simply to love? Share your thoughts and examples in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another.

Visit John 6:1-14 to read another “When God Makes Much of Our Little” stories–this one told in Scripture.

If you enjoyed today’s post, I encourage you to sign up for my free, quarterly e-mailing! Subscribers receive image of cover for study based on 1 Timothygreat, free content sent directly to their inbox along with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook form) based on truths presented in 1 Timothy (sent separately). (If you signed up and haven’t yet received your free study, please contact me through this website so I can get that to you!) You can sign up HERE.

woman sitting on rooftop gazing at citylineIf God were calling me to a  temporary fast, I could do it. Give up sugar? Ice cream? Television and technology? Foregoing those things wouldn’t be easy, but I could do it. But this, what God’s calling me to surrender, indefinitely, feels more harder than anything He’s asked of me before. This thing cuts to the core of my hopes and dreams, triggers insecurities and fear, and ultimately, reveals where my heart truly lies.

So what is this thing that God calls me, persistently, to relinquish?

Control.

My agenda. My time and my to-do list. Whatever I’m striving for that keeps me from saying, at each moment, “Not my will, but Yours, Lord Jesus, be done.”

When I’m sitting with my Bible, reading of His love and care, meditating on all He’s done for me, surrender comes easily. Or perhaps I should say, easier. “Take everything, Lord. And help me to obey You. Help me to give up everything to follow after You.”

But then the day begins, and pricks of selfishness weaken my resolve and hinder my obedience. My prayers sound more like complaints and long-winded requests than commitments to my Savior.

This is my greatest, most fervent and frequent battle—the battle against self, saturated in pride and selfishness.

But Christ calls me to love—not with the conditional, temporary, convenient love our world offers, but the kind He demonstrated when He stripped Himself of all His heavenly glory, took on flesh, and died in my selfish, prideful place. (Phil. 2:5-11)

For over a year now, I’ve been praying about some things, and He’s answered, but not in the way I expected. I’m looking ahead at all the lives I long for Him to touch through me, but His focus is zeroed in on something of utmost importance, something that enables great ministry to occur and true love to flow, and that’s my heart.

If I want to be used by God and touch lives for eternity, my life must be touched first by the transforming power of God, the God who shows me how to love, to surrender, and to give all of myself no matter the cost.

Even if it means surrendering everything I hold dear.

In Romans 12:1, Paul urges us to “offer [our] bodies as living sacrifices.” In other words, to live sacrificially for Christ, not just today, or when it’s urgent or convenient, but always. To put God’s agenda above our own.

This is the call. The first step to greatness, and it begins with a quiet, yet desperate plea, “Change me, Lord. Help me. Do whatever you need to

Woman thinking

image by Chalis on Unsplash

within me to make me pliable in Your hands, a cleansed and open vessel always and ready to do Your will and Your will only.”

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Let’s talk about this! Did anything resonate with you as you read today’s post? Is God asking you to lay down, or perhaps pick up, anything? What makes that hard? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!

If you enjoyed today’s post, I encourage you to sign up for my free, quarterly e-mailing! Subscribers receive image of cover for study based on 1 Timothygreat, free content sent directly to their inbox along with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook form) based on truths presented in 1 Timothy (sent separately). (If you signed up and haven’t yet received your free study, please contact me through this website so I can get that to you!) You can sign up HERE. I also encourage you to visit my blog on Crosswalk. Find out how to join me for one of my upcoming events HERE, and learn more about my speaking ministry HERE.

Scripture taken from the Holy Bible New International Version, Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.

Woman sitting at cluttered desk

Image by Andrew Neel from Unsplash

I don’t like chaos, uncertainty, or when things don’t go according to plan–and I almost always have a plan, carefully outlined, day by day, hour by hour, in my day planner. The problem is, I can get so focused on the plan, on my agenda or even what I think God wants me to do, that I quick seeking Him. Linda’s post, below, was a gentle call to slow down, listen, and follow (which I can’t do if I’m running full-speed ahead!).

 Running Ahead of God?
by Linda Shenton Matchett

Crisis mode is never a good way to operate, but I have found myself there on more than one occasion.

I manage a boarding school’s dining hall, and meals tend to run smoothly. Until we lost electrical power. Chaos reigned. Fortunately, dinner had already been prepared or we would have had to serve PB&J. As the kids streamed in, we stumbled around looking for flashlights. (Of course, more than one contained dead batteries!)

Convinced the power would soon return, I waited before breaking out the paper plates and plastic forks. Dirty dishes, cups and silverware stacked up the dish room while the chefs figured out how to keep hot things hot and cold things cold. Our biggest concern was whether we would have enough to feed five hundred people. Though we got through the meal, the dining staff became frustrated and exhausted.

Fast forward to last week, when we lost power again. This time we had procedures in place that included having battery-powered lanterns and flashlights close at hand (with fresh and extra batteries!). Staff members had assignments, thus knowing exactly what was expected of them. The chefs had a standby “without power” menu. Although challenging, we served dinner with smiles in the soft glow of emergency lighting. Preparation and planning made all the difference.

God used both experiences to speak to me about preparation (and the lack thereof) in my life. He asked me how many times I’d done something Woman thinking while drinking coffeewithout preparation that resulted in disastrous outcomes. I became disappointed when things didn’t go as I wanted.

Perhaps if I’d planned ahead, and more specifically, prayed about the situation, the outcome would have been positive.

Hindsight is a wonderful thing, isn’t it? But forethought is even better.

I’m a doer. As much as I enjoy being with people-lots of people-when it comes to a task, I prefer to work alone. I love the feeling of charging ahead to get the job done. Did you catch that? “Charging ahead.”

Though I’ve been a Christian most of my life, I often run ahead of God, turning to look behind to see if He’s keeping up. Fortunately, He is patient with me, and He reins me in with His soft, gentle voice. The Holy Spirit nudges me to seek the Father’s will before I start the task, project, or journey-to ask Him if it’s something I should be doing or should wait to begin. To consider whether He’d like others to be involved. He reminds me that listening to God is how one plans ahead.

What about you? Have you raced ahead of God lately? Do you need to rethink your modus operandi? Reach for God’s hand. He wants to be your partner.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord. “They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope” (Jeremiah 29:11, NLT).

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Let’s talk about this! What resonated most with you as you read Linda’s post? Do you have a tendency to run ahead of God? What’s the result been? Have you ever had Him use chaos, like He did with Linda, to guide and teach you? Share your thoughts and stories with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from each other!

If you enjoyed today’s post, I encourage you to sign up for my free, quarterly e-mailing; the next edition releases soon! Subscribers receive image of cover for study based on 1 Timothygreat,free content sent directly to their inbox along with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook form) based on truths presented in 1 Timothy (sent separately). (If you signed up and haven’t yet received your free study, please contact me through this website so I can get that to you!) You can sign up for my e-mailing HERE.

Get to know Linda:

Linda Matchett, headshotLinda Shenton Matchett is an author, journalist, blogger, and history geek. Born in Baltimore, Maryland, a stone’s throw from Fort McHenry, Linda has lived in historical places most of her life. She is a volunteer docent at the Wright Museum of WWII and a trustee for her local public library. Active in her church, she serves as a choir member, usher, and treasurer. She lives in the central New Hampshire. Connect with her on at her website, on Facebook, follow her on Pinterest, and sign up for her newsletter HERE.

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright (c) 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinios, 60188. All rights reserved.

Check out her latest release, Under FireCover image for Under Fire by Linda Matchett

Set in April 1942, Under Fire tells the story of Ruth Brown whose missing sister Jane is declared dead. Convinced her sister is still alive, Ruth follows clues from their small New Hampshire town to war-torn London trying to find her. Discovering that Jane has been murdered results in a faith crisis for Ruth, and she decides she must find Jane’s killer. In her pursuit, she stumbles on black marketers, resistance fighters, and the IRA – all of whom may want her dead

 

 

Woman sitting by herself on a dock

Image by Pablo Basagoiti on Unsplash

Grief has no timetable and doesn’t follow a predictable journey. It can hit unexpectedly, years, decades, after a tragic loss and can come in waves that leave the mourner incapacitated. Birthdays, holidays, anniversaries, and other shared moments that once initiated joy can bring one to tears once their loved one has left. Because the sorrow of loss can last years, long after other supportive friends have forgotten, the bereaved can feel forgotten and alone. But they aren’t. There’s One that remains closer than a brother. He never forgets, never leaves, and never fails to understand.

Acquainted With Grief by Linda Randeau

This time of year may be very difficult for the bereaved … especially if the loss occurred near the holidays. Even those of great faith can find anniversaries and special days difficult to endure.

My friend Helen’s fiancé was killed in a car crash, days before their upcoming Christmas wedding. For years afterward, when the holiday came around, she became more and more secluded, despite her friends’ Herculean efforts to draw her out. Sometimes she attended office parties and other festivities for her friends’ sakes, but her heart wasn’t in them.

When I think of Helen’s difficulties surrounding the holidays, I wonder what the Father must have felt when Christ came to earth. His grief must have transcended any human’s.

Scripture foretold that our Savior would be a man who’d be acquainted with grief.

“He was despised and rejected–a man of sorrows, acquainted with deepest grief. We turned our backs on Him and looked the other way. He was Image of Jesus before crucifixiondespised, and we did not care” (Isaiah 53:3, NLT).

Did the Father grieve when the angels heralded the long-awaited birth? When He watched that infant grow into a toddler, than a teen, and then a man? God knew what the future held for His only son and that the time would soon come when many would cry, “Crucify Him.”

For thousands of years, the world anxiously awaited their promised Savior not knowing the price that would be paid … a plan put in place from the beginning of time and told by prophets. He was born to suffer so that you and I could be set free.

“But He was pierced for our rebellion, crushed for our sins. He was beaten so we could be whole. He was whipped so we could be healed” (Isaiah 53:5, NLT)*.

Only God knew of Heaven’s future loss. And I wonder if His grief is renewed each Christmas and Easter as men continue to scorn the gift He gave. And yet, God held nothing back from His promise of deliverance from sin’s hopelessness.

***

Let’s talk about this! If you’re experiencing grief, what days tend to be the hardest for you? How does knowing Jesus knows, understands, and cares deeply bring you comfort? In what ways has He walked this hard journey with you? If you aren’t currently grieving, chances are, someone in your circle is. Did Linda’s post give you any insight as to how you can be there for your friend, church family, or whomever God places in your circle who might be experiencing grief? Share your thoughts in the comments below, because we can all encourage and learn from one another!

If you enjoyed today’s post, I encourage you to sign up for my free, quarterly e-mailing; the next edition releases soon! Subscribers receive great, free content sent directly to their inbox along with a free, 36-lesson study (ebook form) based on truths presented in 1 Timothy (sent separately). (If you signed up and haven’t yet received your free study, please contact me through this website so I can get that to you!) You can sign up for my e-mailing HERE.

Get to know Linda!

Award winning author, Linda Wood Randeau writes to demonstrate our worst past, surrendered to God becomes our best future. A veteran social worker, Linda now resides in Hagerstown, Maryland. Readers may visit her web site at www.lindarondeau.com. Contact the author on Facebook, Twitter, PinterestGoogle Plus and Goodreads.

cover image for Miracle on Main StreetCheck out her latest release, Miracle on Main Street:

“Christmas is a time for miracles,” Ryan McDougal tells his mother, when he is told that a long lost cousin, Millie, has resurfaced after nearly forty years, the cousin whose picture his mother clasped the day his father abandoned him. Though they occurred decades apart, he always believed the two disappearances were connected like opposite links of a chain.

With Millie’s arrival, perhaps he might finally receive the answers he so desperately sought. However, Ryan has a third thorn in his side, more devastating than any mystery. His wife, the love of his life, has left his arms and his bed. How long before she moves out of the house and takes his beloved son with her? He prays for his own Christmas miracle. Millie’s anticipated visit prompts Ryan’s mother to reveal secrets that bring all to light. However, when past and present collide, the truth is more than Ryan can bear.

Buy it HERE!

Scripture quotations are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright (c) 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinios, 60188. All rights reserved.

 

planner and pensEvery birthday and New Year, I’m forced to take stock. Have I lived the past year well? Am I moving forward in faith? Can I reasonably recover from all my mess ups and mishaps and perhaps behave differently the next time around? Unfortunately, I fail much more often than I’d care to admit, but despite my mess-ups, mishaps, and downright failings, one thing remains certain and unwavering, as my guest today discovered while doing a little life-check of her own.

God among the bullet-points

By Jessica Brodie

Ever try to sum up your life in a bullet-list? It’s a weird, sometimes painful, sometimes hilarious exercise in self-absorption (if I’m generous, self-healing) that I tried one lonely New Year’s Day 13 years ago.

It went something like this:

  • Born January 19, North Miami, Florida
  • Lived with parents in small house near grandparents
  • Earliest memories: books, brown shag carpet
  • Age two, moved to better house
  • Favorites: banana trees, stripy sneakers, books, spiky grass, swing set, Mom’s typewriter
  • Afraid of everyone and everything

I should mention I was a full-fledged grownup when I did this, well into my career, married…old enough to have achieved some maturity. And at the end, I had a neatly printed six-page document filled with all the dysfunctions and quirks that had comprised my life. Right there, in black and white, I could see exactly how far I’d come.

Take that, Mean Girls of the Sixth Grade. Harrumpf.

Sure, I’d had my share of embarrassing failures and broken hearts, but a few lines later there was the college scholarship, the promotion, the kiss. Life went on. Ups, downs—they littered the page without discernible pattern.

“That’s just life,” I’d concluded—random, messy, beautiful, full of chance and happenstance, with me in the starring role. I saw how time and again I’d navigated a difficult circumstance with a solid, moral decision or confronted a tough issue by standing strong, staying true. I congratulated myself on my perseverance and gumption.

Ah, younger me.

I knew nothing.

See, all that time I thought I was steering myself through the tough times. But it wasn’t. It was God. Now I see the light.

Thirteen years later, I’ve had two children and gained two stepchildren. I’ve become a daily reader of Scripture rather than a casual Bible-thumber. I’ve experienced loss, single-momhood, near-poverty, and wealth. I’ve been to Africa and walked with lions, seen miracles happen before my eyes and within my body.

I’ve lived. And in living, I’ve come to understand how little any of it has to do with me or the choices I made. I’ve also come to see how lucky I am God has allowed me to experience this grand, majestic ride.

Recently, I tried that bullet-list exercise again—but this time, instead of chance and happenstance, I was struck by the master pattern I saw: God’s hand on everything. Every. Thing.

Why had I ever thought my life was random? It was a magical, God-orchestrated symphony. In every moment, big and small, God was there—guiding, maneuvering, until whatever He’d planned had been fulfilled … then leading me onto the next step.

That infertility struggle that seemed to last forever? Now I saw it so clearly pointing me toward humility and submission to God’s will.

That tough job where I felt so utterly alone? God was helping me rely on my internal chops—and Him—to be a better leader.

Today I look at my list and don’t regret any of the mistakes and painful moments I see. My only regret is all the time I wasted from worry.

And I see what I should have been doing all along: resting securely in the knowledge that God has our roadmap already printed out for us in the form of the Holy Bible.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” He tells us, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jeremiah 29:11, NIV).*

Try the bullet-list for yourself and see if you, too, can tell all that God has done and is doing in your life.

*Bible verse taken from Biblehub.com

***

Author Jessica Brodie's headshotJessica Brodie is a Christian author, journalist, editor, blogger, and writing coach. She is the editor of the South Carolina United Methodist Advocate, the oldest continuously published newspaper in Methodism. Learn more about her fiction and read her blog at http://jessicabrodie.com/.

***

Let’s talk about this! In her book, Victim of Grace, author Robin Jones Gunn talks about taking an annual “Selah” where she hits the pause button and sort of takes stock of her previous year and what God might want to do in the year ahead. This really struck me because I have a tendency to stay so busy doing, I can miss observing all God has done or might want to do. Jessica’s post today encouraged me to hit the pause button this week, to take some time to prayerfully look over past journal entries, to meditate on Scripture, to contemplate all God has done.

What about you? Do you normally take time to remember and contemplate? If so, when and how? If not, how might doing so increase your sense of peace and awe for God? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below, because we can all learn from and encourage one another!

Before you go, I wanted to invite you to join me and my Wholly Loved sisters each Wednesday for our new video devotions–short, transformative nuggets designed to help you center yourself in Christ and His truth. You can watch our first two HERE and HERE, then return to the Wholly Loved site each Wednesday for another inspirational message. And if you haven’t done so, make sure to sign up for my free quarterly newsletter to receive inspirational content, recipes, short stories, and more sent directly to your inbox. As an added bonus, subscribers cover image for study based on 1 Timothyreceive a free 36-lesson study based on 1 Timothy (sent separately). You can sign up HERE.

For those in the Omaha/LaVista/Lincoln area, join us for one of our upcoming conferences. You can find out more HERE.

God has given us everything we need to live confident, peaceful lives. But we can spend so much time wandering about in our misery, we fail to seek out the best way to peace—time with God Himself. My guest today shares a cute story regarding her midnight-roaming feline to illustrate an unshakable truth.

What My Cat Taught Me About God by Karin Beery

When my husband and I got married, we moved into a small rental house. With less than a thousand square feet, there wasn’t room to move things once we put everything in its place. That’s why we never rearranged our bedroom furniture – lack of options.

cat peering in the nightAnd that’s why my cat’s 3 a.m. cries always surprised me. After four years in our small house, Midgie would still wake me up in the middle of the night as she stood in the living room meowing. Even though I always slept in the same location Midgie would somehow lose her way, then cry out in despair or frustration (she’s never confirmed which).

Then I’d call her and give a quick whistle, and she’d trot my way, and burrow under the covers with me.

It always amazed me. Midgie knew where exactly where I was, but it wasn’t until she panicked and cried that she’d finally find me.

How many times have I treated God the same way?

He never changes. He never moves. His words and promises are always faithful and trustworthy, yet time and again when I landed in desperate situations, feeling hopeless, lost and confused, I’d cry out as if He somehow hid from sight!

He didn’t always call my name or give a little whistle, but in the middle of my panic, I’d remember where I could find woman reading her BibleHim—on my knees in prayer or through reading my Bible.

Thanks to Midgie’s late-night meowing, I try not to wait until panic sets in before I talk to God about my concerns. And if I forget and anxiety gets the best of me, it doesn’t take long to remember how to connect with God.

Midgie, on the other hand, still gets lost at night, but I love her anyway, and when she’s frightened in the middle of the night, I’ll be right where I’ve always been—in bed, waiting for her.

***

God makes a similar promise in James 4:8: “Come close to God, and God will come close to you” (NLT). Therefore, whenever we call out to Him or take the slightest step toward Him, we can be confident that He is already moving toward us.

Let’s talk about this! What do you normally do when you feel anxious, uncertain, or unsettled? Do you normally run to God first, or do you wander about in your misery first, like Karin’s cat did? How can turning to Him first in prayer help give you peace and confidence?

***

Karin Beery's headshotKarin Beery – Writer. Editor. Novelist. Karin writes contemporary and speculative fiction with a healthy dose of romance. When she’s not writing fiction, she’s editing or writing business copy through her business Write Now Editing & Copywriting Services. And when she’s not doing either of those, she teaches – she’s currently teaching Substantive Editing for Fiction through the PEN Institute. You can connect with her on Facebook,Twitter, or at her website, www.karinbeery.com.