Sadly, and surprisingly, I recently realized that it has been a year since I last wrote for or posted anything on my blog. I knew it had been a while, especially with my intense work schedule over the last 6 months, but I didn’t realize until just the other day how long the lapse had been. I apologize. I had always hoped to use this blog as a source of encouragement and inspiration for others. Instead, I have been so self-focused and work-focused that I have not made or taken the time to reach out to others. In fact, I have not been on social media very much lately either, which is not necessarily a bad thing. But, I’m afraid if you are a friend or family member and have posted anything important over the last few months, I may have missed it. If there is something I should know about you, please reach out to me with a text message, IM, Skype, or phone call and catch me up. I am vowing with today’s post to try to do better at staying connected (and keeping up with my blog).
What caused me to notice the sad state of my blog … the sad state of my personal involvement with others? A friend recently started her own blog, and I have been inspired by her posts, especially her latest one: Out of the Blue about being open to the many moments in everyday life that present themselves to us to be there for others. Moments when we have a choice to make to follow God’s promptings and fully engage with and bless others. I want to be that person who notices people and who finds ways to bless them and encourage them just when they need it most. Don’t you?
I urge you to read the post above (click on the link), as well as others by LeeAnn Kirkindoll. Subscribe to her newsletter so you will know when she writes more. You won’t want to miss her wonderful posts. She inspired me to get back out there and write and to be alert and ready for the opportunities to bless others in everyday life.
So, here I am, hoping that today, I can offer you a word of encouragement … for whatever you are going through at this point in your life. You are not alone. I am here. God is here. And, as one of my other favorite inspirational writers says, “Whatever happens, God is with us and for us.”
If you haven’t read anything from Holley Gerth before, she is another talented writer that I recommend. I am always finding and saving great words and thoughts from her books and her blog. I hope you will be inspired by her as well.
Who inspires you? If there is someone who has made a difference in your life, or a writer that you would recommend for encouragement or inspiration, please share. Or if you need prayer or encouragement because of something you are going through, let me know that as well. Whatever it is, you don’t have to face it alone.
Pray big. Worry small, Trust God. 🙂
Like a lot of people, I have often asked others for prayers for a particular situation, but I can’t say that I have been very good about following up and letting people know that their prayers, or my own, have been answered. I privately thank God for what He has done, and I am truly grateful, but I don’t always publicly acknowledge or praise God for answered prayers. So, I wanted to take a minute to do that today.
On March 31st, I published a post “Seeking Prayers Today” as I had been stressing quite a bit over a work project. It was not something I felt equipped to do (even with years of editorial experience), as the client had very unrealistic expectations and requirements. While I recognized that situations like this can create an opportunity for God to shine through and pull off a miracle, it didn’t feel like this was one of those cases, as the actual work would still have to be done through me. I told God that I trusted Him no matter which way the situation went, but if he wanted to know my heart, I preferred that the project would simply go away. Within the next month, there were several delays, and then we were told that we would start at the beginning of May but the project would run through October (where originally they wanted everything done in a couple of months). I felt better about the additional time, but prayed that somehow it would still end up being cancelled (which is not very common once contracts have been signed) as it continued to feel very overwhelming and almost impossible to me.
At this point, I am pretty sure that several other vendors had already walked away from the project, but I knew that the company I am working for did not want to walk away from their commitment. They have a very strong work ethic and moral code, and I understood where they were coming from in remaining ready to press on. About a week before we were to begin, we heard from the client that they no longer had the resources necessary and were going to be unable to complete the whole project. At first, they wanted us to write one small portion of the project, which we would have been happy to do, but within a couple more weeks, the entire job was cancelled. Now, obviously, I can’t say all this happened because of me as I don’t have any pull or control in a situation like this … but God does … and he cares about the things that matter to us.
Granted, the downside of this was that we lost a large contract and the money that would have come in from it eventually. However, I feel it was a major plus in that the company I work for was able to save face and not walk out like other vendors had; the editors (me especially) felt a great sense of relief as this “monster job” was slain; and the time we would have spent on this crazy project was opened up for us to be able to take on better jobs with more realistic expectations and time frames. [Since then, I have added a prayer to my prayer board (more on that later) to deal with the aftermath, and new projects are beginning to come in.]
So, thank you God particularly for this answered prayer! And thank you for the other prayers you have answered recently as well – like Bart’s new job, which he is really enjoying and we feel will offer him success as well as an opportunity to make a difference for others [he sold his first house today!]; and my sister’s health, which is finally better [at least for now … it’s always something with her 😉 ]; and so many other things you have come through for us on.
I have so much more to share with you, my readers, on prayer, including the new prayer board I made, but if I try to write about it all now, I will never get this post published. So, I’m going to end with some words from The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson, and promise to share more with you later.
“God is infinitely bigger than your biggest problem or biggest dream. … There is nothing God cannot do. Yet many of us pray as if our problems are bigger than God.”
“100% of the prayers [we] don’t pray won’t get answered.”
“Our most powerful prayers are hyperlinked to the promises of God [in Scripture].”
“Scripture is God’s way of initiating a conversation; prayer is our response.”
“The Bible is a promise book and a prayer book. … Reading is the way you get through the Bible; prayer is the way you get the Bible through you.”
If you have not yet read this book – I highly recommend it. In fact, I borrowed it from my sister-in-law and took tons of notes, but I plan to get my own copy sometime. If you want to change/strengthen your prayer life, you really should check it out.
Meanwhile, pray BIG, worry small, and TRUST GOD.
Today, I want to share with you a partial guest post by my husband, Bart. Having experienced various times in our lives when money has been tight, we have struggled with the concept of tithing (regularly, generously, and biblically). We have often been so concerned with meeting our own needs that we have clung too tightly to what was in our hands rather than trusting God and releasing what we had in order to open up our hands to receive greater blessings.
In fact, I remember having a conversation with my aunt once about what I thought of giving 10% to the church. I told her I felt like the money I donated or gave to various places or causes added up to 10% and it didn’t matter if it went specifically to a church. Giving was giving, right?
Our church has recently been sharing “generosity talks” at each service through members of the church. These personal stories have been very encouraging and motivating. Giving is up and so are personal accounts of blessings received. Following is Bart’s story, which he emailed to Jack Graham, pastor of Prestonwood Plano, last month after sharing it with me:
My Conversation with God
I just had a conversation with God. Well, let me back up and give you some background.Over the last couple of months, when I have woken up early in the morning, before the sun, I have begun praying. Now, I know praying is a good thing. But one of the things I got from reading the Left Behind series (for the third time) is that praying should also be about listening.This morning, before I woke up, I was dreaming about taking a test in school or somewhere. Someone walked into the room and called my name. I woke up instantly. I was wide awake. I started my usual prayers, thanking God for my beautiful wife and then just stopped. Hey, why don’t I try listening this morning and see if God talks to me.In church this past Sunday, there was “another presentation” about giving to the church. What stood out to me about that presentation was the phrase: “90% of God’s math will go further than 100% of mine.”Being that I can’t just clear my head and think of nothing, I was smiling to myself, feeling pretty proud that my wife and I had recently been having conversations about giving to God. We had decided that we would give 10% of our earnings, but rather than tithing it all to the church, we wanted to have some control over where our money went. We felt like we would give more joyfully if we got to choose who we were giving to. So, we thought we’d give some to the church but the majority of our tithe would go to other missions of our choice like E3 and to people we knew personally who have been called to missions. I smiled as I thought about the different people we had been helping over the years go on missions throughout the world. And then I felt and literally heard, “How many of those has your tithe funded completely? Ask Jack [pastor of Prestonwood] how many my church has funded completely.” He was standing in my bedroom looking at me. My smile was gone. Our tithe is nowhere near enough to fund anything completely. “Give my church the 10% and I will bless you so that you will be able to continue giving to the other missions.”I hear you God. I hear you.I was so excited, I rolled over to wake my wife and share with her my conversation with God. She was sleeping peacefully though, so I thought that might not actually be the best way to start the morning. So, I decided that I should type up my conversation and share it with you, Jack (especially since God called you by name). God used your sermon, and the recent focus of the church on giving, to reach out and shake me out of my need to control my tithing. I will be obedient to God … joyfully.God Bless,Bart Fuller
Chris Kouba, the pastor of our church, wrote back about 15 minutes later:
Chris Kouba, Lead Pastor North Campus
In the past, I am sad to say, we have often given out of what was left rather than from our “first fruits.” Since Bart and I talked about his conversation with God, we have decided that we will be giving 10% of our checks as soon as they arrive, before we even pay a single bill. It has not even been a month since Bart’s encounter and our change of heart accompanied by a change in action, yet we are already experiencing blessings and a hope for a more fulfilling future.
I pray the same blessing on all of you.
“…return to me, and I will return to you,” says the Lord … You have cheated me of the tithes and offerings due to me. … Bring all the tithes into the storehouse so there will be enough food in my Temple. If you do,” says the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, “I will open the windows of heaven for you. I will pour out a blessing so great you won’t have enough room to take it in! Try it! Put me to the test!” Malachi 3:7, 8, 10 (New Living Translation)
I read something wonderful and beautiful that a funny and faith-filled friend posted on Facebook today. So grateful that she agreed to let me share it with you here. I hope it touches your heart the way it did mine.
Easter is in one week.
I am usually a hot mess in December. The slightest mention of the Baby Jesus, and how He came as an infant, to save us from our sins, dissolves me into weepy, sentimental tears. I blow up my house with decorations, torture my family with Christmas music on an eternal loop, and basically fall apart every day until December 26th. Do not even make eye contact with me in church during the Christmas season. Corby practically has to sedate me to make it through. It is simply the most tender holy season.
But Easter, Easter is just as magnificent, and although it doesn’t receive the hype and prep and decorating like Christmas, it is just as deep and holy, if not more so. It is a sober and moving THANKFULNESS for the one who gave His life so we may live eternally. Let us all prepare our hearts this week. May we all go visit a “stations of the cross”, regardless of religious upbringing. Let us all grieve on Good Friday. And may we all rejoice next Sunday. This is the week Jesus rose to his task and split history in two. This is the week he rode on a donkey, cried in the garden, suffered on the cross, rose into glory. This is the week that sinful, broken humans were granted a pardon, justified to perfection and set free. It is too miraculous for words. Songs and sermons will fail us.
May we all huddle at the cross this week in sobering reflection, overwhelmed by the punishment that brings us peace.
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.
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, FaithBarista.com
Do you have a favorite “joy” Scripture or quote? Please share it with me here. 🙂
Have a beautiful day!