Seeking Prayers Today

I have been buried with work lately, and overwhelmed by some tasks that are beyond my skill set and comfort level. Through it all, I have been struggling to find my joy and my purpose. Work really cannot be the main focus of my life. I have been stressed to the point of making myself ill over the last couple of months. But I have been working on turning it over to God and trusting Him to either give me the wisdom and strength to do what I need to do or to miraculously make the nerve-wracking, mind-crushing projects go away.

On top of this, I have been feeling guilty for being so stressed and worked up about my “problems” when others I know and love are struggling with major health issues and other more serious life problems. The good news is that I have been doing better lately with taking things one day at a time, and although the difficult projects are not gone (yet), they do seem to keep getting pushed out and delayed by the client. And for that, I am thankful.

I am also grateful that I have regular work and a paycheck, and I’m thankful for the great group of people that I am currently working with.

So, today, I am just taking a moment to ask for prayers for myself – to help me see the bigger picture, to recognize the true priorities in my life, and to trust God more fully.

More importantly, I am asking for prayers for my sister – Gabrielle – who has pneumonia and can’t seem to get to feeling better; for my friend  – Jacquelyn – who is back in the hospital (again), and is experiencing some heart issues along with her liver problems; for my brother’s sister-in-law – Liz – who recently completed radiation treatment and is still on the road to healing; and the many other friends and family members who are going through tough times that I’m either aware of or unaware of because I have been too wrapped up in myself lately. 😦

Lord, help me to get outside of myself and be the friend and encourager that you made me to be. Help me to make time and take time to go out and help others whose needs are greater than my own. Please heal my sick friends and family members, especially my baby sister. Thank you for my good health; my husband, Bart, and his new job that he will be starting in April; all of my answered prayers, as well as the unanswered ones; and the gifts you continue to bless me with daily. I pray all this in Jesus’ name. Amen. 

Wishing You Abundant Joy

Well, it’s a new year. January has come and gone, and we are almost through February, and I am just now getting around to writing my first blog post for 2017. I really love having a blog, and I enjoy sharing my thoughts and discoveries with all of you, but sometimes it just feels like another “have to do” hanging over my head. I need to find a way to bring the joy back to the process.

Speaking of joy, I am happy to say that this is my word for the year (at least I hope it will be a positive thing). If you are not familiar with the idea of having a word for the year (or even if you are), here is what Debbie Stuart from Hope for the Heart had to say in their December newsletter:

Ask the Lord for a Word for 2017.

By that, I mean ask the Lord to give you a literal word. This word will be like a banner over your life in the coming year. The word that is impressed on you might describe what He wants to develop in your life or what He wants you to focus on. I’ve found that the Lord usually confirms the word in various ways, and it becomes a sweet thing between you and Him. My word for 2017 is resilient … strong enough to come back from severe stretching, bending or other adversity; irrepressible. I heard the word several times from the Lord but it was confirmed when I saw the Gold Bond® Hand Lotion at Walmart with the words “Strength and Resilience.”

You can also watch her video here. I just love to listen to this woman share wonderful words of wisdom. [Please let me know if the link doesn’t work.]

I found something I wrote back in 2009 on our Fuller family Shutterfly page that seemed to fit with this message, so I edited it slightly to be appropriate for today.

With most of the year still ahead of us, even though we don’t know what lies before us, I know that God’s hand is upon us and that we are certainly blessed. I hope and pray that we will all remember the truly important things in our lives and that we will not let the worries of this world stress us out or cause problems in our relationships.

Although our family has been much luckier than many, we still have each dealt with our own struggles and issues over the years – both shared and personal – and through our trials as well as our successes, we have learned things about ourselves and others and we have grown – each in our own way. I believe 2017 finds us all at a point in our lives where we still have things to learn and ways to grow, but it seems like it is also a year full of wonderful possibilities.

I hope that we all enter into this new year with a sense of gratitude, happiness, love, and hope; and that we not only find peace and joy in our own lives, but we find a way to bring those things to the lives of others as well. I love you all (family, friends, and followers).

Let the joy of who you are to Jesus light your heart tonight.
May you feel as loved as you truly are —
and may you and those you love experience
the joy of God’s irrevocable love for you —
as we step into the New Year with Jesus’ hands
in yours and mine!

Bonnie Gray,

Do you have a favorite “joy” Scripture or quote? Please share it with me here. 🙂

Have a beautiful day!


Sharing Some Favorite Links

While we are going to be keeping things pretty low key this year for Christmas, I know many of you have started or soon will be starting your holiday shopping. I have been thinking a lot about some of the talented people whose work I follow and whose words I often share on Facebook. Because I like what they do so much, but am not always able to buy things from them, I wanted to share links to their websites and other sites here with you. Perhaps you will find something you’d like to purchase from them for yourself or as a gift, or you might know someone else you’d like to share their info with. I hope you enjoy reading about some of my favorites and maybe discover a new favorite for yourself.

Holley Gerth

Holley Gerth is a blogger that I have followed for quite some time. She always has wonderfully encouraging words to share, which I have often passed on. She also has a page on her blog where she posts free printables and graphics that anyone can enjoy and share however they’d like; check them out here . Holly has been a writer and editorial director for DaySpring, and is currently the best-selling author of several books. I have her book What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days, which is a wonderful devotional. She co-founded (in)courage, which she calls “a place that’s like God’s beach house.” You can find tons of great posts by Holly and many other writers there. (I also love her Coffee for Your Heart opportunities for other bloggers to connect their words of encouragement with hers.)


Studio JRU

I have to tell you about this artist I discovered through Instagram. She is also a part of (in)courage. Her name is Jennifer and she describes herself as a “creator of art made to reflect God’s word and love creatively and beautifully in your home.” You can follow her on Facebook or check out her beautiful work on her website. She creates original paintings, creative crosses, and also offers prints of her work. I love her artwork and I think you might enjoy it as well.


Sweatpants & Coffee

A while back, I discovered entertaining posts by Nanea Hoffman on Facebook. On her FB page Sweatpants & Coffee, she writes about coffee (surprise, surprise) and other important things in life. I have shared a number of her posts at one time or another.

About Sweatpants & Coffee: Sweatpants & Coffee is an online magazine founded by Nanea Hoffman in July of 2013 featuring inspirational, uplifting, entertaining content with a focus on comfort, personal growth, and mental, emotional, and physical well-being. Their mission: To inspire people to be their most comfortable selves – mentally, emotionally, and physically. When you are comfortable in yourself and your life, you can do anything.

Besides great online posts, they have some items for sale that you might want to check out: Right now, you can get 25% off your entire purchase of $30 or more with the code SCTHANKS25 at checkout – ends midnight on Monday 11/28/16.


Karen Salmansohn aka

I can’t remember if I first discovered her on Instagram or on Facebook, but Karen Salmansohn offers “self-help for people who wouldn’t be caught dead doing self-help.” I have shared TONS of her posts on happiness, gratitude, surviving everyday life, etc. On her website , she offers a lot of free stuff as well as life-improving courses and other “tools that help you become the highest potential YOU!” She has also written a number of inspiring books.

About Karen Salmansohn: Hi I’m Karen Salmansohn, founder of NotSalmon. My mission is to offer you easy-to-understand insights and tools to empower you to bloom into your happiest, highest potential self. I use playful analogies, feisty humor, and stylish graphics to distill big ideas – going as far back as ancient wisdom from Aristotle, Buddhism and Darwin to the latest research studies from Cognitive Therapy, Neuro Linquistic Programming, Neuroscience, Positive Psychology, Quantum Physics, Nutritional Studies – and then some.

Emily McDowell 

I first discovered Emily McDowell when a friend shared a few of her amazing empathy cards on Facebook. The tagline for this line of cards is “What to say, when you don’t know what to say.” While some people might not be comfortable with the strong language she uses on some of her products, I can think of a lot of people who would get a kick out of the variety of items available through her shop (cards, pins, journals, etc). I admire what she has done and the way she can connect with people in such a real way, so I am sharing a link to her website here. {Do not click on the link if “colorful” language offends you.}


Use Special Code: FOODCOMA16 for 25% off your whole order through Monday (11/28).

About Emily McDowell Studio: This company was founded on the success of one card that spoke to a truth about relationships in a way that wasn’t yet represented in Greeting Card World, and that’s what we most like to do here: identify universal, emotional truths and observations on being human, and turn them into products that help people feel understood. We make cards for the relationships we actually have, not the ones we wish we had, and we’ve made it our mission to help people connect when they don’t know what to say.


Lysa TerKeurst

I have read several books by Lysa TerKeurst and I follow her on Facebook. She is an amazing, godly, but down-to-earth woman. She has a great sense of humor and makes a wonderful connection between everyday life and Christ-based faith. You can follow her on Facebook, subscribe to her blog posts on her website, and/or read her posts and those of many other talented writers at Proverbs 31. Her books can be purchased through Proverbs 31 Ministries as well as just about anywhere you buy any of your books. (See the info below for Lysa’s Cyber Weekend Sale.)

About Lysa TerKeurst: Lysa TerKeurst is the New York Times bestselling author of The Best Yes, Unglued and Made to Crave as well as 16 other titles. As president of Proverbs 31 Ministries, Lysa and her team reach millions of women daily through their Biblical messages of encouragement. Their latest development of the First 5 Mobile App landed them the number 1 spot of most searched for apps in the Apple Store, with over 400,000 downloads in the first 2 months. In addition to speaking at Catalyst, Lifeway’s Abundance Conferences and Women of Joy, she speaks at 40+ events annually where she is passionate about teaching the Bible in ways people enjoy it and understand how to apply what they learn.

Odin Leather Goods

I know Odin Clack personally; I used to work with him. Odin crafts high-quality handmade leather goods. What started out as a hobby for him has grown into a very successful side business. He has a number of products that you can order right off of his website , but he can also do custom orders. We have ordered several pieces from him (a belt, a tote, personalized mason jar wraps) and are very happy with them; we hope to purchase more items in the future. You can also find Odin on Facebook or on Instagram, or if you live in Texas, you might run into him at a local craft show or flea market. His Black Friday Sale is good from now until November 30th.


Well, I’m sure I could come up with even more favorites, but I gotta get this blog posted so you guys don’t miss out on these great deals. Hope you find a new creative person to love and follow from my list of links.

Happy Thanksgiving, Merry Christmas, and many blessings to all.

Cling to the Word of God

Great thoughts and words of wisdom from my friend David on his blog today, so I wanted to share it with you.

Let’s guard our minds and hearts from the dissension, hatred, and just plain meanness out there in the world. It’s always there, but seems to be even more so lately with the media promoting so much of the craziness.

“The mouth speaks from the overflow of the heart.” Matthew 12:34
Let’s fill ourselves with God’s Word so that we may act in love and be a reflection of God’s light, not a reflection of the flames of destruction.

“Reckless words pierce like a sword, but the tongue of the wise brings healing.” Proverbs 12:18

Where do your words come from?


In her Bible study on James, Beth Moore shares that “God can draw people to the gospel by enabling us to speak in ways they understand or our tongues can cause people to hightail it like their heels are on fire. It can bring comfort and courage, or it can bring destruction and deafness. We do have a choice which fire lights our tongues. Just keep in mind that the natural default setting leans south.”

Be kind and uplifting, people! That’s what the world needs … it’s what each and every one of us needs.

Book Break: Fried Nerves and Other White Meat

This post is a little different from some of my other book break posts, as it isn’t a review, and the book I want to tell you about hasn’t even been printed yet. However, I have had an opportunity to read it because I am currently editing it. So, even though it isn’t available yet, I still wanted to share with you a little about this book and its author.

fried-nerves-book-coverFried Nerves and Other White Meat is a book of memoirs written by a pretty amazing woman. Its text is compiled from the blog posts (Fried Nerves and Jam) that Micaela Bensko wrote during a particularly trying time in her life. While confined to bed for 11 months after a “freak” accident right in her own driveway, Micaela had a lot of time to think:

“not just about life, but about those random memories that float through the mind but life is so busy we are not able to take time to reflect on how each of them truly impacted our life. In each blog entry, I attempt to wrangle these memories and dissect them, unraveling the meaning behind each one, and how it taught a lesson I was never able to learn, until now.”

In future posts, I look forward to sharing some of Micaela’s “Aha” moments of discovery with you as well as some of the nuggets of hope and encouragement that you can eventually read for yourself in her book, Fried Nerves and Other White Meat. (If I can ever get my part of the process finished.)


Here is a glimpse into the life of this multi-talented (and full of heart and hope) writer, photographer, friend (she is friends with one of my sisters), wife, and mother taken from her online bio:

Micaela recently published her first children’s book The Soldier and the Squirrel, which has been procured by The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library to raise awareness of the Purple Heart to our youth. [You really should check this book out too; especially if you are a librarian (hint to my sis-in-law, Jana).]


As a photographer, Bensko was featured as a leader in her field by Professional Photographer Magazine. Her photography has been displayed at The Ronald Reagan Presidential Library and has been the subject of an Emmy Award winning FOX News segment. Bensko is also Vice-President of Rebuilding America’s Warriors, providing free reconstructive surgery to troops returning from war. Bensko is married to Don Bensko who is a Producer (of TV and children). They have four children and live in Los Angeles, California.


Some other random thoughts from Micaela to describe herself:

“I worry if I’m parenting properly. I believe love is based on respect and without respect there cannot be love. The proudest moment of my life was completing my degree as a single mother of two. … I believe fame is fleeting. Feeling is forever. Relationships are the key to purpose and meaning is only found in following your truth. … I think we have many soulmates and not just one. Like many teachers so we learn different lessons. I think marriage is made by hands with hope for the future of our world. …

Perfection to me is fascinating and then boring. I like my dogs to sit on the sofa. … My husband is my best friend. …

When I feel strongly about something I will express it, but time has taught me to listen more than to speak. …

I believe in God. A power greater than anything our world could ever understand. So I don’t try to understand. I just believe. I believe God is in me. In my children. My husband. In my neighbor’s quiet house. It is in the boy who broke my heart and the man who stole it and made it whole. I believe one day it will all make sense. So for now the only thing I can do is be me. I am broken but aren’t we all? We connect because we have missing pieces that others fill. Life is a puzzle. When it’s complete we will see what it is. From above.

I know there is more to life but for now it is enough. Because grasping for it too soon will be fruitless. I believe in stopping. In letting life happen as it should. In showing up.

I will live until my time has come and embrace the end as the final chapter in the most wonderful book I’ve ever read. Like a child not wanting it to end, but too desperate to know the ending to stop. …

I hope you embrace your journey with observation and reflection. And to believe that all you are is already enough. Even if you are perfectly broken. Like me.”

micaela1Micaela Bensko, Copyright © 2013, Fried Nerves & Jam. All rights reserved.

I think you will find Micaela and her life discoveries intriguing, touching, heart-wrenching, entertaining, and encouraging. It just depends on what part of her book or blog you are reading.

Stay tuned, and I will share more with you later on The Soldier and the Squirrel, as well as let you know when Fried Nerves and Other White Meat has been printed and is available for purchase.

Meanwhile, keep on hoping and praying and trusting in God’s plan and in His grace.