Well, looks like it has actually been a whole year since I last posted. I can’t believe it. I thought it had been several months, but didn’t realize how much time had passed since I last shared on my blog. I apologize … again. It has happened before when I allowed other things to take up my time, but I promise I’m going to try to do better … to make this a priority. Encouraging others is important to me; but I can’t just say that, I need to act on it. Of course, I may not write a lot every single time, but if I can share even a brief message or thought with one of my photos a few times a week, and it touches you, strengthens you, or helps in some way, it will be a blessing to me as well. I pray that you will be encouraged here.
Today, I am thinking of a few specific people who I believe could use a word of encouragement due to life changes, unexpected circumstances, challenging situations, and unhappy or negative mindsets. Maybe you know someone who could benefit from a positive, kind, or uplifting word as well. I’ve created a few memes with various thoughts that I wanted to share with you today. Feel free to share any of them with someone you know.
I hope these words and images speak to your heart or give you an opportunity to share your heart with someone you care about.
Have a blessed day!
I am currently working my way through a wonderful new book by Holley Gerth: What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days: 52 Encouraging Truths to Hold On To. And I am finding so many words of encouragement that I can personally relate to. In fact, I have already flagged a number of pages that I know I will want to go back to so I can reread and savor the messages on days when I might be feeling a bit discouraged.
Holley is a best-selling writer, licensed counselor, certified life coach, and speaker. I have followed her blog: Heart to Heart with Holley (www.holleygerth.com) for quite some time now and often share her posts or some of her words or graphics with friends and family on my Facebook page.
Holley also works in partnership with DaySpring, one of the largest publishers and distributors of Christian greeting cards (and other inspirational products) in the world. Plus, she is the cofounder of (in)courage, an online “home for the hearts of women,” which I love; I have found so many great articles and bloggers through this site.
In fact, there was a recent post on (in)courage from Renee Swope titled “Words for the Weary” that made me think of Holley and the importance of her newest book. To me, Holley Gerth is the encourager of encouragers.
If you haven’t heard of (in)courage before, you should check them out.
So, back to the book: What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days contains 52 similarly formatted devotions based on the book of Psalms, written in a way that helps us remember that “God is good and we’re all in this together.”
Because there are 52 entries, you could easily use this book as a weekly devotional to be processed over a year, taking your time to read the opening Scripture quote and Holley’s words. Then adding your own words to complete the prayer, which has already been started for you under “What My Heart Is Saying to You.” During the week, you can go back and write in your thoughts under “What My Heart Is Hearing from You,” and at any time, you can open your Bible and read and reflect on the three Psalms referenced at the end of that week’s entry.
Of course, the devotions are short enough that you could also choose to read them as daily devotions. Either way, in this comforting book, Holley invites us “to be filled with the strength, peace, and joy that come from God’s promises.”
She provides real-life stories for us to connect with, as well as encouraging thoughts and passages from God’s Word to help us focus on what’s really important—the internal and the eternal.
All we have to do is be willing to open our hearts and receive.
Already a fan of Holley Gerth, her latest book does not disappoint. Not only will you find this book to be soothing for your own soul, but it would make a great gift for a hurting friend or perhaps even a wonderful donation at a women’s shelter. It is also the perfect companion to one of Holley’s other books: You’re Going to Be Okay.
I hope you get an opportunity to read What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days. I will likely be posting excerpts from it in the days ahead.
“God is within her, she will not fall;
God will help her at break of day.”
“The Lord is my strength and my shield:
my heart trusts in him,
and I am helped.”
Disclosure: This book was sent to me free of charge
from Revell for my honest review.
As time moves on, our individual seasons or stages of life pass and change–sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. Regardless of the speed or whether we are currently where we want to be, it’s a lot easier to navigate if we are open and receptive to the continual ebb and flow of life. If we hold too tightly to where we are and resist change, our hands will not be open to receive the new gifts before us, and we may find ourselves forcefully swept off our feet. On the other hand, if we wish away each day until a “better” season comes, we’ll miss out on the beauty and wonder of the here and now and that wonderful feeling that comes with knowing (regardless of the “bad” times) and accepting that you are where you are supposed to be.
You know, even if you are going through a difficult or uncomfortable time in your life, you can’t let it fill the entire window of your view on the rest of the world. You’d be better off, perhaps even happier, seeing it as simply one of the many panes to view your life and the world through. Whether you realize it or not, there is so much more going on around you and inside you: growth, change, learning opportunities, loving moments, blessings. If you make an effort to adapt your focus, you will begin to think about things that may not be readily visible … things that really matter.
When you look at your life, what do you see? I found these words from Lysa TerKeurst: “Do I see the incredible spouse I married, or do I just grumble about his faults? Do I see the health of a son who can play sports as a good thing, or do I just grumble about his sweaty laundry? Do I see how fortunate we are to have enough food to eat, or do I just grumble about a kitchen that never stays clean?” Think about it. What do you see?
It sort of reminds me of conversations I have had with friends about my job as a coypeditor. Overall, the evidence of my work is not visible to most people because they don’t see the mistakes that were caught and fixed. However, if I’m not doing my job or I do it poorly, people notice; some might even be quick to point out the mistakes. Similarly, some people tend to focus more on what is wrong in their lives than what is right.
Do you ever think about all the good things God is doing for you every single day? Things that you don’t even notice? I imagine the good things that go on in our lives because of Him are not noticed nearly as much as the things we determine are wrong or inconvenient or “shouldn’t have happened.” And we sure seem to pray or talk to Him about all the things we wish he would take away or fix more than we thank Him for all the good He has done. I know I am guilty of that.
For example, sometimes when I’m driving, my mind goes elsewhere. Suddenly, I find myself at my destination with no real recollection of the drive. (I do pay attention most of the time. Really.) Have you ever thought about how many wrecks you didn’t have because God was watching over you? Do you thank God every day that you can get up in the morning and you can breathe easily and walk steadily and you aren’t in pain? If you’re like me, I think we tend to take stuff like that for granted, until we experience the opposite.
After suffering whiplash from an accident and dealing with some other issues, my sister Elizabeth commented on a Facebook post recently: “so today was totally opposite from yesterday and was a very bad day mostly. woke up in severe pain, baby is teething and in tons of pain, lost all my contacts in my phone, power went out, etc. But like I told my brother, today has made me realize how many wonderful days I have and how very very few bad ones. I love my life even when it is a bad day :)” She’s got the right idea. Thankfulness and prayer can help turn your inner turmoil into peace. Peace about who you are, where you are, and what is going on in your life, no matter what the season. And with that peace comes hope.
My friend Matt Wagner wrote this: “Hope can spring up in any circumstance, any scenario. Like joy, it’s not a product of our surroundings; it’s a product of us. At times it is a simple, inexplicable feeling. Just as often, it is a conscious decision that we make. Either way, hope is always a good thing. It is a catalyst to inner strength, the root to persistence and a defense for happiness.”
So, if you haven’t already, take a moment now to be grateful for who you are, who is in your life, what you have as well as what you don’t have … and be sure to truly experience and learn from the here and now of this season in your life. It will be gone before you know it. But you won’t need to look back with regrets; there will be a new day to live right in front of you.
And now, moving on to something a little lighter:
I’ve got an easy “seasonal” recipe to share with you.
Anything Goes Pizza
I started with a Freschetta wheat crust. You can use whatever you want: Pillsbury pizza dough, a Boboli crust, pita bread, tortillas, English muffins … it’s up to you. (If you choose muffins, pita bread or tortillas, and put out a variety of toppings, everyone in the family can create their own personal pizzas.)
Next, I got my selection of toppings together. I was going for a Greek pizza, so I chose Prego Veggie Smart sauce, grilled chicken breast strips, black olives, spinach leaves, artichokes, sundried tomatoes, mushrooms, and feta cheese. Here is where you can mix things up by selecting seasonal veggies and/or adding in your own personal favorites. I would have made it without the chicken, but I added the meat for Bart.
I layered all the ingredients and baked on 350 for about 8 to 12 minutes. If you choose a crust that needs to be baked, you’ll need to follow the directions on the package before adding your toppings and popping it back in the oven. The only part of this recipe that takes a little time is chopping your toppings. Other than that, this is a quick and easy meal and could turn out to be a fun/creative event for the family. Enjoy your time together and your fabulous pizza!
To those who follow my blog, I apologize for not posting anything for about three weeks. I was enjoying family time with my stepson who was in town visiting us, and then I had to get caught up on work. Thank you to Angela who checked up on me and requested a new post. 🙂 It’s always nice to hear you are missed.