Jennifer Hallmark Launches Our Call to Praise Blog Hop

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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.

 

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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.

 

In Our Brokenness

Marji LaineOh, how I wish heaven would come to earth now. To live without brokenness, sadness, or sickness, without hatred or evil. And yet, what would my life, my faith, look like today if I’d never experienced the struggles in my past? It’s an interesting question to ponder. Today a sweet friend of mine, Marji Laine talks about the beauty of our brokenness and what one can gain from it.

Brokenness by Marji Lane

I confess; I’m a crier. I often gauge how much I enjoy a book by how deeply it touches me. And nothing affects me more than the black moment of a character. The point in which the hero has lost everything that matters to him. With nothing of value left, he surrenders.

It’s the turning point of a book, the time when the hero empties himself and changes the course of his life. But just as literature is a reflection of life, so is the hero’s arch a reflection of the believer’s walk with Christ.

Reba Hoffman, from My Book Therapy, mentioned in a chat the other night how we don’t get as close to the Lord drop-1113685-mduring the good times as we do during the rough patches. It’s in the pit that we find our strength in the Lord. And scripture bears that out.

Ps. 34:18 “The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

At the times when we are at our lowest, the Lord comes close. His strength is made perfect at our weakest moments, so that even in the worst trials of our lives, we can have assurance of comfort. Of peace.

While walking one afternoon, an icy storm hit. Frustrated, I bemoaned my timing, until I turned around and saw the rainbow God provided. It was a vivid reminder of His grace, piercing through every storm.

Photo by JS: While walking, an icy storm hit. Frustrated, I bemoaned my timing, until I turned around and saw the rainbow God provided. It was a vivid reminder of His grace, piercing through every storm.

We rejoice with ease when the sun shines and the details fall into place. Joy comes through as well, with the knowledge that the God who gives peace is carrying us along. The verses and promises tend to sound trite in the midst of the storm, but looking back on some of our lowest times, the Lord reveals His tenderness.

John 14:18 “I will not leave you comfortless. I will come to you yet again.”

Your Turn: How has the Lord strengthened you through your brokenness?

This theme of Brokenness is reflected in the character of a new collaboration novella, A Dozen Apologies. When the main character, Mara, fell from her pedestal, she fell hard. With nothing left, she looked to the Lord and found a faith she never knew existed. But with that faith came a conviction to right all of the MANY wrongs she’d done to people. To read her story, find the posts on Write Integrity Press, and watch for the notice of the free e-book. (WriteIntegrity.com)

 

Marji is a homeschooling mom of 4 with the oldest working in the mission field in Africa. She spends her days transporting to and from volleyball, teaching writing classes at a local coop, and directing the children’s music program at her church.

With decades of leading worship, directing and performing in theatre productions, and script-writing, Marji took the A Dozen Apologies Coverplunge to creating scintillating Christian romance and romantic suspense novels with a side of Texas sassy. She invites readers to unravel their inspiration, seeking a deeper knowledge of the Lord’s Great Mystery that invites us all. Visit her online at  MarjiLaine.com, on Facebook , Pinterest, Twitter , and Goodreads

Read A Dozen Apologies, chapter by chapter, here. 

Let’s talk about this. Pause to remember some of the more painful moments in your life. Were you a Christian? How did God show Himself real to you? How did He use that event to strengthen you? I’ve shared numerous, but one experience was so incredible, the memory of it remains with me often. It was prior to my diagnosis. I was so very ill, and yet, not knowing why, irrational fears abounded. I didn’t know if things would improve, if my health would deteriorate further. But each morning as I opened my Bible, I sensed God’s presence so strongly. Through the pages of Scripture, He told me again and again, “I’m here. I’ll watch over you and care for you. I love you.”

The Creator of the universe met with me. Daily. Made Himself known to me, intimately.

I experienced God in a way I never had before. It was so rich and deep, I can’t even describe it.

Those were such intimate moments, I grew to anticipate them, and there were times all I wanted to do was sit on my couch with my Bible. And there were times when that was all I did.

livingbygracepic.jpWhat about you? Do you have any moments you can look back and say, “Then! That was when God showed up.”? Maybe you’re going through something right now. Pause to consider Marji’s verse. Grab hold of it, friend. That’s God’s promise to you. He is close to the broken hearted, whether you feel Him or not. And the moment we take one step toward Him, He draws near to us. (James 4:8) That is an “if-then” statement you can bank on.

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

Additional posts and resources you might find helpful:

Strength in the Struggle

Learning to Walk Again

Stronger Still by Edna Ellison