Life is full of hardships; hardships that leave unanswered questions, perhaps the greatest of which are “Why?” and “How long?” I know many of you are dealing with extremely difficult situations: financial, health, loss of loved ones. Situations that can easily rock one’s world and faith.

Driving to church last Sunday, with me coming out of an extended and painful “flare”, my husband said, “You need to trust.”

Being in no mood to hear anything, I scowled, arms crossed. “Trust what?”

“Trust God. That He will protect you.”

Wrong answer.

Though my husband, in his amazingly patient and loving way, was trying to encourage me, I knew if my trust rested on God’s “protection”, there was a good chance it’d be broken. My trust needed to rest in His nature, sovereignty, and wisdom, and in my full and unconditional surrender. For that is where the peace and blessings come from.

Ginger picToday a dear friend who’s had her share of difficulties talks about one of the most poignant songs in contemporary Christian music. After you read Ginger Solomon’s devotion, I encourage you to listen to the song embedded below, and as you do, surrender and trust that God is good and loving and faithful.

Mercies in Disguise

The other day I heard the song “Blessings” by Laura Story. It’s been around for a while, but for some reason this time something about the lyrics struck me. It’s like reading that same Scripture over and over and then one day it comes to life in your heart.

I can relate to these words in so many ways. I know that blessings can come through raindrops – the first date I had yellow-leaf-1087751-mwith my husband it was raining. I know that healing can come through tears – I have cried to the Lord and felt a physical hug from Him that healed the broken places in my heart. I have doubted His goodness and His love, and I have spent countless nights awake and wondering what the next day would bring. And yet, through it all He has loved me WAY too much to let me stay in a place of comfort too long.

Through the greatest disappointments in my life I know God has been beside me. I may not have felt like it at the time, but feelings are fickle creatures and should not be trusted. It reminds me of the Footprints in the Sand picture. Sometimes when we least feel God it’s because He’s carrying us rather than walking beside us.

James 1:2-3 (NKJV) says, “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” This verse doesn’t say IF, but WHEN. We’ve all had trials, and we’re likely to have a few more before our time here on earth is complete.

In One Choice, my heroine, Cahri, is angry at God because her parents were killed in the country where they were missionaries. She felt God had abandoned her. Then she was summoned to participate in the Bridal March. She once again felt as if He had forsaken her. We all know God is always with us and will never forsake us (Heb. 13:5), but how often do we forget it when we’re in the dark places? Cahri feels God’s presence at various times throughout the book, and finally remembers how much He loves her later in the book – three long years after the death of her parents.

Will we allow God to turn our raindrops into blessings and our tears into healing?rememberings-675103-m

Will the sleepless nights send us to our knees crying out to God?

How long will it take us to remember that God always wants the very best things for us?

***

Pause to listen to Laura Story’s song titled Blessings:

Ginger Solomon is a Christian, a wife, a mother to seven, and a writer — in that order (mostly). When not homeschooling her youngest five, doing laundry or fixing dinner, she writes or reads romance of any genre, some sci-fi/fantasy, and some suspense. She’s a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, president of her local writing group, and writes regularly for three blogs. In addition to all that, she loves animals, horses especially, likes to do needlework (knitting, crocheting, and sometimes cross-stitch), and loves to sing in the choir at church. Visit her online at A Bed of Roses…Thorns IncludedWriting Prompts & Thoughts & Ideas…Oh My!Inspy Romance BlogFacebook, Twitter @GingerS219, and Pinterest

OneChoice 453x680One Choice:

Cahri Michaels is American by birth, but Belikarian by choice. Being selected to participate in the Bridal March forces her to give up the independent life she’s created for herself. She’s not ready to be anyone’s wife, much less to a man she doesn’t know.

Prince Josiah Vallis despises the centuries old tradition—the Bridal March—that is forcing him to choose a wife from fifty women. Why does it matter that he’s twenty-five and still single?

When Cahri and Josiah meet, sparks fly. Will it ignite a godly love that can see them through or will they be burned, never to be the same? Buy it on Amazon, at Barnes and NobleAstraea Press and Smashwords

 

 

LivingbyGracepicLet’s talk about this. How have struggles deepened your faith and relationship with Christ? How has God walked you through moments of pain or fear? How has He revealed Himself through it or offered blessings that came through raindrops?

Looking back over my life, I’ve found my darkest moments have also led to my greatest growth. Living with chronic illness, most specifically, autoimmune issues, is a perfect example. There’s an inherent uncertainty that comes with health struggles, an that uncertainty, for me, keeps me centered in the cross and focused on eternity. On my good days, it spurs me to action, motivating me to make the most of every ounce of energy and health, because it could be gone tomorrow. On my bad days, it draws me to Christ’s feet where I experience comfort and love. Ultimately, it’s deepened my relationship with God in a way I know wouldn’t have occurred otherwise.

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

Oh, to learn to be still. To take each day, each task, one at a time. To find the balance between doing and restfully abiding! I’ve heard we all need a bit of Mary and Martha, and I’d agree. Although I think I’d like to be able to work like Martha *while* abiding like Mary. If you want to know what I mean by that, check out Grabbing Hold of God Moments. 🙂

Christine Lindsay Author picToday Christine Lindsay, author of Captured by Moonlight, shares her thoughts on taking time to rest. I hope you’ll find her post encouraging.

FUSSING, FRETTING, FIDDLING, JUST LIKE A WOMAN

By Christine Lindsay

Lately I’ve been talking a lot about the fact that I am a workaholic. I think it’s because I’m a woman. Yes, of course there are men workaholics, but how many women do you know who just can’t stop working, fussing, fiddling, fretting, over getting it right—whatever ‘it’ is?

At the start of my fifties God allowed me to have a ministry—writing and speaking. And it’s all for Him. Each day in my prayers I yield it ALL to Him. Even if He wants to take it away from me, to do some other task to further His glory, I’m yielded, surrendered.

Wonderful sentiment…don’t you think? Downright noble…if you ask me.

Over this past winter I’ve been writing a great deal about how I felt the Lord say to me, “Slow down, spend more time with your husband.”

Apparently, I didn’t know how to take a day off, and my husband was paying the price. So I did the right thing and trailer in fallencouraged my hubby to buy us a travel trailer so we could get away just the two of us, for togetherness time. And oh how I love it.!!!!!

And the nicest thing is, my hubby is smiling too.  We’re having fun, just the two of us, ALONE.

It’s not that we don’t love our grown kids, grandkids, mothers-in-law, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, next-door neighbors, workmates, friends from church, siblings, and whoever else happens to call…but I distinctly heard the Lord tell me to get away alone with my husband.

I obeyed, and felt the reward of it.

Then I felt the second half of that whisper on my soul.

And who else do you need to spend alone time with, Christine?

You know, I’ve been a Christian a long time. There are not too many sermon themes new to me. I know I’m supposed to put the Lord first each day, spend time with Him, really listen to Him.

But am I always faithful? Have I really yielded? Did I truly surrender?

Sadly, no.

I’m too busy. And then, I’m ready to crack from overwork, and I sit down in prayer. Real prayer. Not just a bullet-list of “I Wants”, but prayer of thanking Him and praising Him, worshiping Him … slowly, I start to feel that I’ve given the Lord a tiny bit of joy. As if He smiled at me.

God doesn’t want just my bullet list prayers. And when I spend time with Him, I find that He helps me with all that other stuff that I fret and fuss over. All of a sudden, it all comes together as smooth as butter.

***

Christine Lindsay was born in Ireland, and is proud of the fact that she was once patted on the head by Prince Philip when she was a baby. Her great grandfather, and her grandfather—yes father and son—were both riveters on the building of the Titanic. Tongue in cheek, Christine states that as a family they accept no responsibility for the sinking of that great ship.

It was stories of her ancestors who served in the British Cavalry in Colonial India that inspired her historical series Twilight of the British Raj of which Book 1 Shadowed in Silk has won several awards. Book 2 Captured by Moonlight is so far a finalist in the 2013 Readers’ Favorite Award. Christine is currently writing the final installment of that series called Veiled at Midnight to be released August 2014.

Coming February 2014 is Londonderry Dreaming, a romance set in Londonderry Northern Ireland.

Her short Christmas story Heavenly Haven is available as an Ebook

Christine makes her home in British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada with her husband and their grown up family. Her cat Scottie is chief editor on all Christine’s books.

Visit her online at her blog www.christinelindsay.org, on Twitter,  Pinterest and Facebook

Captured by Moonlight Christine LindsayCAPTURED BY MOONLIGHT Book 2 of the series Twilight of the British Raj

(Best book 2013 according to Author April Gardner, in top ten of Diana Flowers 2013 picks, Finalist in Readers’ Favorite 2013 Christian Historical, currently nominated for INSPY 2013 award)

Prisoners to their own broken dreams….

After a daring rescue goes awry, the parched north of India grows too hot for nurse Laine Harkness and her friend Eshana. The women flee to the tropical south…and run headlong into their respective pasts.

Laine takes a new nursing position at a plantation in the jungle, only to discover that her former fiancé is the owner…and that Adam has no more to say to her now than he did when he crushed her heart years ago. Why, then, is she still drawn to him, and to the tiger cub he is raising?

Eshana, captured by her traditional uncle and forced once more into the harsh Hindu customs of mourning, doubts whether freedom will ever again be in her future, much less the forbidden love that had begun to whisper to her. Is faith enough to live on? Or is her Savior calling her home?

Amid cyclones and epidemics, clashing faiths and consequences of the war, will the love of the True Master give hope to these searching hearts?

Watch the book trailer for Captured by Moonlight

Buy it on AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo, and DeeperShopping

livingbygracepic.jpLet’s talk about this! How long has it been since you’ve paused to spend a day, just you and Jesus? If it’s been a while, will you schedule some time in? I say schedule because if you’re like me, if you don’t schedule it, it likely won’t happen! It’s also important to take time to connect with our Savior and to unwind each day. For moms, this can be especially hard because everyone needs us! All the time! 🙂 (Or so we feel.)

But if we don’t take time, how will our kids learn to do the same. Moms, there’s nothing wrong with telling your kiddos, “I’d love to play with you/read that with you/whatever, but I need to read my Bible first.” By doing so, we show our children spending time with God is of utmost importance. 🙂 We also show them it’s okay to take time to refuel, and when they are parents, they’ll need to be able to do that.

Is it hard for you to slow down and take time for yourself? What makes doing so difficult? Would scheduling time help? What are some ways  you like to refuel? I love going for walks or even cleaning house. I know that sounds contradictory, but when I clean, I turn on Pandora and plug my earbuds in and use it as a praise and prayer time. (I’m one of those odd Christians that pray best when I’m moving.)

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

Some additional posts and resources you might find helpful:

Learning to Rest

Learning to Be-Do

Knowing When to Quit

Spiritual Wellness by Rhonda H. Kelley