Christian Blog, Faith, God, Gratitude, Hope, Suffering

Finding Hope in the Suffering: Part 2

“We talk about the fires or hard things we walk through, the ashes we have to sift through, and then the beauty that we find in unexpected ways from the stories that God has written for our lives” ~Heather Lobe Johnson

The podcast I am reviewing this week is called “Take These Ashes: Finding True Hope in Our Suffering, with host Heather Lobe Johnson and guest Kristin Vanderlip.” Kristin is a writer and author of “Life Worth Living, A Daily Growth Journal.”  Helping woman to develop a steadfast faith and love of the Lord. 

Kristin begins by sharing her story. As I started to get into my relationship with God, which began as a Catholic, I became more of a rule follower. I knew Jesus came to offer you this abundant life, He is going to save you from sin and bring you peace, abundance, and prosperity.  All of those things worked well for me until they didn’t.  Until I got a real dose of suffering.  Years later I realized that part of my suffering was tied to my expectations that God was going to protect me from suffering. 

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5 

“On December 1st our daughter was born.  She had quite a few medical issues.  The statistical evidence that was thrown at me in light of my faith was hard for me to believe, in light of God who can do the impossible, was very hard for me spiritually.  She did pass away at a month old.  We had no support system; we were in Alabama for only 6 months.  The unexpected loss of a child, loss of my career, loss of community, more loss than I could ever imagine.  As if that was not enough, a couple of weeks later my Dad passed away from cancer at age 60.  I felt like God where are you, how could you allow this to happen, where is the abundant life, where is the protection?”

“In the midst of my grief, I kept turning to God because I felt His presents, His undeniable peace, when it didn’t make sense.”

Part of my healing was I had to stop resisting suffering, I had to reframe it in a way as it is not punishment, it doesn’t mean you are not loved or cared for by God.  To see suffering as an invitation and move forward in life and anticipating more troubles are going to come and they are going to hurt and they are going to be unexpected but I will know without a doubt that God’s spirit will help me persevere.  That has been the most transformative.”

Heather interjects, “On a practical level are there other things that have been a comfort to you or other places that you have seen God in the hardships you have walked through?”

Kristin explains, “Every day I started off with a prayer ‘God save me from this, God stop the pain.’  I wanted a miraculous healing for my broken heart, I didn’t want to feel the pain anymore.  When I realized this is going to be a process, it didn’t mean I stopped praying, my prayers shifted, to be more aware of your spirit and of your goodness.”

“In the loneliness I turned to writing, I was journaling and writing.  The gift of loneliness was growing in intimacy with God.”

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

Kristin created a beautiful journal, which helped her during her time of suffering. She describes it here:

“Journaling can be such a transformative practice.  If you are a writer or not, you should give it a try.  Most of my journaling is pouring my heart out onto the pages.”

“I ended up using the tools from therapy and understanding scripture more.  I made this journal for myself and it has 3 basic parts.”

  1. Pour out your struggles in a safe space to share your heart. 
  2. Then you pause to think more action oriented, to think about the growth or overcoming that you are seeing in your life.  Not to just get to the end but in a way that gives you hope to see this transformation. Pay attention to what the Lord is changing in you. 
  3. It ends with thinking about what is good, it can be a promise of God that you are focusing on or the cup of coffee you made for yourself that morning, or the text message from a friend that stands out.

Heather wraps up the podcast by thanking Kristin for sharing and stating, “It helps you to see that there is something I control or a promise I can hold onto to.”

This podcast had such rich godly guidance and real-life struggles that I chose to give you the highlights of it and no additional commentary. This was only a third of the actual podcast, Heather speaks more about her story and they both talk about how scripture has promoted healing in both of their lives and how it displayed God’s hand at work in their suffering.

Links to the podcast, Kristin’s journal, and how to connect with Heather and Kristen are all below. I pray this episode along with part one, with Jodi Rosser and Dorina Gilmore, will aid you in discovering God walking along side you everyday.

An amazing story, I was blown away, click below to read it:

This High Schooler Invented Color-Changing Sutures to Detect Infection | Innovation | Smithsonian Magazine

Take These Ashes podcast with Heather Lobe-Johnson and Kristin Vanderlip.

Kristin Vanderlip’s journal, “Life Worth Living: A Daily Growth Journal”

Kristin’s website

Follow Kristin on Instagram

Follow Heather on Instagram

Follow me on Instagram

Christian Blog, Five Minute Friday, Gentle, Good Friday, Jesus, sacrifice

Five Minute Friday: Gentle

Photo by Jonathan Borba from Pexels

When my son was first born, I remember being afraid of hurting him.  He was so little, helpless, and needy.  My movements with him were very gentle and slow, laying him down to sleep, or walking from one room to the next, cradling his head so not to strain his neck, and watching every step I took so not to trip and jostle him.  As a parent the desire to protect your child never ceases. 

On this Good Friday the scripture that stood out to me was John 19:25-27

Near the cross of Jesus stood his mother, his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother there, and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to her, “Woman,[b] here is your son,” and to the disciple, “Here is your mother.” From that time on, this disciple took her into his home.

Not only did Mary have to witness her son being beaten with a flail, dragging his own cross up to Golgotha, and then hung on it to die.  How heavy was her heart, how many times did she think take me instead of him? Jesus felt her heartbreak and sorrow.  In the midst of His greatest weakness and pain, He gently said to her, John is now your son and will love and care for you as I would. 

I pray you can reflect during this Holy weekend, not only the great sacrifice Jesus gave for our salvation and redemption, but the sacrifice His mother made by being obedient to God’s call.  To carry, love, raise, and send out into the world a son that she would ultimately give up for the rest of us to live. 

Christian Blog, God, Hope, Jesus, Suffering

Finding Hope in the Suffering

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

What is suffering? Merriam-Webster.com (30 March 2021) defines it: the state or experience of one that suffers: to endure death, pain, or distress; to sustain a loss or damage; to be subject to a disability or a handicap. Hope: is to cherish a desire with anticipation; to want something to happen or be true; to trust. As Christians we find our hope in God. 

It was June 2010 and my children were wrapping up their school years.  My son finishing up his elementary career, going from the small Catholic school he attended since 2nd grade, into the public middle school.  My daughter finishing up second grade at that same school she attended since kindergarten.  The news that their father suddenly passed away hit hard, it was like a sucker punch to the gut and took the wind right out of me.  Even though our relationship was not tangible, it was still difficult to fathom, and my children still needed their Dad. 

During the hardest storm I have ever been through I thought, how am I going to get through this?  I was grateful that my faith was strong and I prayed a lot but during that time I needed people more than I ever did.  At the time I didn’t realize how much my soul needed friends and family, I didn’t know what I needed, but God did.  He answered the prayers I did not know to pray. 

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. Romans 8:26

The people God sent into my life were such gifts and blessings.  When I was at my lowest someone would call or text me and it would bolster my outlook for the day. They brought so many meals, took my children so I could have time to myself and the kids could have a distraction from the sorrow.  They helped me pack up the only home my children knew to move to the next town over.  It was such a gift and it gave me hope that things would get better.  God showed me there is hope in the people who answer His call to care for those who are suffering. 

And our hope for you is firm, because we know that just as you share in our sufferings, so also you share in our comfort.  2 Corinthians 1:6

Leading into Easter I thought it would be appropriate to write on suffering.  This will be a two-part blog series on that topic.  The podcast I am reviewing this week has a very similar story line to mine.  The name of the podcast is “Depth with Jodi Rosser: Walk, Run, Soar.”  She is interviewing one of my favorite authors, Dorina Gilmore-Young, author, speaker, Bible teacher, and spoken word artist. 

Jodi asks Dorina, I know you shared that running was part of your healing in your grief. I’d love for you to share more about that.  Dorina’s reply, I will provide some context of my life, I moved to central California after college, I was a journalist.  I started attending a church and met my husband Ericlee.  He had a connection to Haiti; his grandparents were pioneer missionaries there.     He decided to put on a mission trip to Haiti which I also attended.  When we came home, we started to date, were engaged the following summer in Haiti, and then married in 2003.  We had 3 daughters and started a non-profit in Haiti.  Then in 2014 my husband received a diagnosis of stage 4 melanoma cancer.  We had this momentum serving the Lord, he was very healthy, a runner and a triathlete.  His body deteriorated very quickly; in three short months Ericlee went to heaven. I found myself a widow at age 37 with three daughters, ages 2, 5, and 8.  Everything in my world fell apart.  It has been 6 years and God has done so much in my life to redeem me from that situation.  Running has been part of that therapy, just going and moving through grief.  I found that physical movement helped me to move through the emotional grief and even spiritual questions I had.  When I ran, I would ask those questions of God and He could handle them.  You never get over the grief but the running helped me to move forward.

Jodi goes on to speak about another chapter from Dorina’s book “Walk, Run, Soar, called Traversing Life’s Trails”.  “You talk about how running a trail race is different than running a regular race.  When you are on the trails you don’t know what to expect, you don’t know what is ahead.  This seems so much like 2020, the uncertainty of what is coming.  Can you tell us what you learned from this trail run?”

Dorina states, I started trail running with a group of friends after my husband’s death.  Trail racing is different than a road race. Even if you know the trail in different seasons it will be different, the ground may be more wet or the grasses are higher or rocks in different places. I was running and reflecting on what God was teaching me on my grief journey.  As I was running, I couldn’t find the pace. I am going uphill and thinking about how life sometimes is uphill and hard, feel that strain on your muscles as you are climbing.  Toward the end of the race this woman in back of me says you  are running a great race, thanks for pacing me.  I turn around and quickly introduced myself. Then I realized she was trained by my husband and it was so neat how God had us meet on this trail.  She was encouraged by me pacing her and I was encouraged to meet her, someone who had a connection to my husband.  In life sometimes the thing that keeps us going is knowing someone is coming up behind us, kids, friends, and people we are mentoring just by our example.  That is what God reminded me on that day. 

I love how Dorina points out that our faith and how we live it out is a way of mentoring to those around us.  Reflecting our faith, shining the light of Jesus in our family and community.  When we are there for another person who is hurting, showing love to those who we don’t think deserve it, or just saying thank you for your hard work to the grocery store clerk.  This is being the hands and feet of Jesus. 

I want to thank all of my friends who were there for me during my most difficult time, walking out your calling from God.  Krista, Ellen, Marie, Karen, Jonna, Eileen, and my best friend who continues to be there for me today – Joan.  I cannot forget to mention my Mom Corinne; couldn’t have done it without you.  All of you are so dear to my heart and I will forever be grateful for the love and kindness you showed to me and my family!  I pray that you will continue to see the hope in walking out God’s calling, continue to listen to him speak and nudge you along the way. 

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may bring to fruition your every desire for goodness and your every deed prompted by faith. 2 Thessalonians 1:11

There was so much more to this podcast that I could not include here.  I highly recommend you listen to it.  Also, Dorina has her own podcast called “Walk, Run, Soar”, it is the intersection of faith and running.  I will link to that and her book below. 

Praying for a reflective Good Friday and a joyful Easter morning for you and all of your families! God bless.

A little Easter fun: 

Depth podcast with Jodi Rosser; “Walk, Run, Soar. With Dorina Gilmore-Young” 

Dorina Gilmore-Young’s podcast “Walk, Run, Soar” 

Dorina Gilmore-Young’s Book “Walk, Run, Soar” 

Follow me on Instagram @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter @thegodlypodrev1

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Five Minute Friday, God, Jesus, Lent, Redeem

Five Minute Friday: Redeemable

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

In the middle of creating my next blog post my daughter announces, “Mom, you won’t believe how much money I saved on this skateboard using a promo code!”  My next question was, when did you decide to get a skateboard and are you also purchasing a helmet, wrist, and knee pads too?  Of course, she did but as a Mom it is my duty to ask. 

Promotional codes have taken the place of physical coupons on line.  I remember when you could only redeem a coupon by brining it into the store and presenting to the cashier at the time of purchase.  There were times when I could not redeem the coupon since it required me to buy two of the same items. 

When I hear the word redeem it takes my mind to whom has redeemed me. The questions swirl around in my head am I worthy of being redeemed?  We have been saved by grace through faith, which is a gift from God. Ephesians 2:8. That gift is not one I would ever want to return.  It is one that I am thankful I can redeem for the rest of my earthly life.  For when I fail all I need to do is go to Jesus and ask for forgiveness and it is granted.  

The things of this world will come and go but our eternal salvation has been bought and paid for by Jesus.  During this Lenten season let us not forget the sacrifice Jesus gave which grants us full redemption and eternal salvation. 

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. John 3:16-17

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Intention, Jesus, Podcast, Word of the year

What are Your Intentions for 2021?

Picture by Anna Shvets

In January I posted on “How Can One Word Keep You Faithful?” In that post I mention each January I prayerfully consider a word for that year to focus on.  This year my word is love, to show more love toward others, and to listen more intentionally.  Recently I have noticed that I need to show myself a little more love. 

As women, and I know I am generalizing here, we lean toward caring for others before we take care of ourselves.  It may be the way God made us, to be nurturing, or it’s just your enneagram number (or not).  All of the twos out there know what I mean! 

So, why am I going back to a similar topic?  First; if you selected a word for the year are you still being intentional and moving forward focusing on that word in a way that God intends for you?  This podcast will talk about centering on intentions.  Second; I like this podcast, the repartee these two ladies have will make you laugh. You can tell they are good friends and enjoy teasing each other.

The podcast I am reviewing this week is from January 7th, 2021, and it is called “Mary and Martha: Energy and Intentions”, the hosts are Shakisha Morgan and Christina Jones.  They describe the podcast as: “A podcast by two black women who love God; relatable women,  who talk about relevant topics.” 

In the beginning of the podcast both Shakisha and Christina mention a Mary or Martha moment they experienced over the past week.  Before we get into the meat of the intention’s topic, I want to recognize what Christina mentioned as her Mary moment – the rioting at the Capitol.  These are her words, “For me it was like taking a peek at the Tulsa riot, and seeing the anger and visceral that the white people had in that riot and seeing it play out in 2021.  This is how our ancestors felt, when they watched their family and friends get lynched.  This is that same energy, from the 1800 or early 1900s.  That to me it was scary that it still exists in such a palpable way.  It was terrible, horrible, and disgusting, but to me it was seeing a peek at history.  My Mary moment is allowing myself to reflect on my ancestors and my grandmothers, and great grandmothers, and how they must have felt when things like this happened to them in a very hyper local way.” 

I wanted to make sure I didn’t just gloss over this statement.  It is important and I hear you.   Another intention of mine this year is to not only listen more to those around me but to those who are different than me in the community and to understand their point of view. 

Christina begins speaking about intentions: “One of the things I wanted to do in 2021 was not to set resolutions.  It doesn’t work for me.  What I am big on now is intention setting.  A resolution, to me is more of goal setting, more tangible small things, and many times I don’t meet those goals.  If we set an intention for the year, something we want to walk in for the year.  It is something I can go back to and check myself to see if I am meeting those intentions. How we can walk in the intention that Christ has set in our lives, how we can walk in the spirit, how we can make sure our actions and reactions match the same energy that God has.”

An example would be, “your intention can be you want to be more in the present in 2021.”  Here are some ways Christina and Shakisha state you can work on setting an intention: 

  1. Where in your life are you not showing up for yourself?  Do not condemn yourself but you need to make this assessment so you know where you can begin to show up.  Being honest with yourself in this way allows God to show you how He can show up.
  2. What makes you feel like yourself?  Think back to the last time you felt alive, at peace, rested, and safe.  What was happening at that time?  Was I spending more alone time or more time with God?  Be honest with yourself; it is key to this exercise. 
  3. What has God been revealing to you?  God speaks in a quiet still voice, sometimes from others, scripture, or through your quiet time. 

Christina sums it up like this;  “What will make you really settle into your Christian identity, what makes you effective for the Kingdom?” 

Shakisa’s final statement is profound;  “Understand how important intentions can be, no matter what is going on around us.  We are still called to be Christian; we are still called to be disciples; we are still called to be the best version of ourselves with Christ at the center of it no matter what is going on around us.” 

And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18

Having Christ at the center of our thoughts, in everything we do, will lead us to becoming more and more like Him.  It can and should be small steps.  I need to continue showing up for myself in relaxing ways and look for opportunities to study the word with other women.  What are your answers to the three questions Christina and Shakisa posed to us?  If you are willing to share, I would love to hear from you. 

A little Good Friday humor:

From Pinterist

Mary and Martha Podcast:  Energy and Intentions

Follow Christina and Shakisha on Instagram:  @shakishamorgan  @christinamichellejones

Follow me on Instagram:  @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter:  @thegodlypodrev1

Christian Blog, Faith, Five Minute Friday, Garden, Green, Jesus, Seeds

Five Minute Friday: My Green Garden

Photo by Pasja on Pixabay

Last year, along with most of the world, I started a raised bed garden.  This was new to me; I never planted a garden.  Our raised garden bed is located in the back of our property, on the flat part of the hill, and honestly, I didn’t realize it was there until we were in the house for about six months. 

Since we have bunnies and chipmunks, that live in our yard, I decided not to go with green leaf lettuce and reduce the temptation.  The planting consisted of just peppers, green jalapeno, green sweet, and banana peppers. 

It amazes me how a seed germinates, puts down roots and sprouts.  With some water, sunshine, and a little time it starts to sprout little green stalks.  It makes me think of the relationship we have with God, with time, energy, and being in the word, our relationship flourishes.  Like the little green plant that burgeons from the fertile soil. 

This reminds me of Jesus’ parable of the mustard seed.  “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.”  Matthew 13:31-32

The best part of growing my garden, beyond the obvious fruits of my labor, was the time I got to spend with my 21-year-old son.  Since we did not have a hose that could reach out to the garden bed, every other day, like clockwork, my son and I would haul huge buckets of water, up to the garden to water it.  The conversations we had about his day and what was going on in the garden grew our relationship.  What a special unexpected gift that I received as part of my new garden.  I will miss those chats this year as he is graduating college in May and will be moving out of state.  I pray that you can grow your garden in addition to your relationships and you too can enjoy the fruits of your labor.   

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, God, Pathway, Podcast

What is Your Pathway to God?

Photo by Johannes Plenio from Pexels

In the morning I enjoy my quiet time with God.  I start out at breakfast reading my devotionals and then move into my prayer chair, which resides in the bedroom.  This is where I can look out onto our beautiful backyard, see the cardinals and blue birds sprint around, and the daffodils starting to emerge from the soil. During the summer months, when it becomes oppressively warm in North Carolina, I take our dog for a walk after breakfast, and I will pray during my walk.  Either way I am looking at nature and speaking to God.  It connects me to nature and all that God has made.  I present my requests to God, then listen for what He has for me that day. 

Everyone has their own pathway to God.  I was always aware each person had their own relationship with God and had a preference on how to worship Him.  Pathways are new to me.  God created us with different gifts and talents, why assume we all come to Him the same way?

The podcast I am reviewing today is new to me, it is called “Confessions of a Crappy Christian” by Blake.  She is interviewing Gary Thomas, a bestselling author and international speaker whose ministry brings people closer to Christ and closer to others.  They talk about his book “Sacred Pathways.” 

Blake starts out the podcast giving an overview of pathways.  “The different and unique ways we each experience God and how He created us individually to encounter Him in our own ways.  Stop trying to fit into a mold and our relationship with God will thrive and flourish.” 

Gary explains how he came up with the idea for this book.  He grew up learning how to have quiet time with God.  His teachers at church would say when you have quiet time you have to do it this specific way.  “I realized that a one size fits all spirituality does not work.  God did not make us as  cooker cutter Christians.  We relate to him in different ways.  I found out through scripture and the Christian classics how people related to God in many different ways.  Nine pathways or temperaments or devotional styles came out.  I set people free, you can be who God created you to be. Pathways are the windows of how you see God most clearly.”

Gary goes on to explain, “It’s about at different times in life, what is best for you, given who you are and your situation; how you can best connect with God.  I believe everything flows from being loved by God.  1 John 4:19:  We love because He first loved us.”

Gary shares with us a time when he was growing up in the Washington DC area.  He would go out to the battlefields in the Northern Virginia area and just walk in the woods for an hour or two.  It was one of the best ways he could connect to God.  He found that his pathway is a naturalist and this is how he best connects to God.   

“When I spend time with the Lord and am convicted by Him.  I am a much better husband, father, and driver. When I have that time with God, I am able to give more of myself to my family.”  Gary Thomas 

But if from there you seek the Lord your God, you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.   Deuteronomy 4:29

The final question Blake asks Gary; “What is the next step, after you identify and understand how you connect with God differently with other people?” Gary responds,  “every chapter has some tests so you can figure out, and you can do it numerically, to say this is who I am, and hopefully you will come away with two or three strong ones.  The point is you can write your own spiritual prescription.  You can identify why you are so angry, anxious, needy, or what your spiritual aliment is and you can say I have really been cheating my time with God.  I am not receiving from God or hearing from Him.  This is where I can be filled up or this is where I can meet God.  At the end of each chapter, it has the temptations, if this is your pathway, be aware of this.  The last part is planting your garden and finding your path or Gethsemane.”

This last statement from Gary encapsulates the meaning of a pathway; “Imagine that your relationship with God is the most life giving, affirming, strength building, inspiring part of your day.  Then it completely takes it out of an obligation, to an invitation, and that is what I want the pathways to do.  To make people jazzed about the fact that I can meet with God today, I can’t wait.”    

When you find your pathway to God, it will bring you into closer relationship with Him.  Then He will take you by the hand and lead you on the narrow path, which leads to life in abundance. 

“Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”  Matthew 7:13-14

If you listen to the entire podcast, they go into more detail about the nine pathways.  It was enlightening and I would recommend it.  The “Sacred Pathways” book is on my ever growing ‘to read’ book list. 

Let me know about your pathway to God; I am interested to hear how you naturally connect with Him.

Some good news from the Goodnewsletter:  A Texas furniture store owner stepped up to help his community after fridged temps and power outages.

Confessions of a Crappy Christian podcast with Gary Thomas

Gary Thomas’ book “Sacred Pathways”

Follow me on Instagram @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter @thgodlypodrev1

Christian, Christian Blog, Community, Faith, Jesus, Podcast

Made to be in Community

Photo by Dani Hart 

The podcast I am reviewing this week is “Rhythms for Life” with hosts Rebekah and Gabe Lyons. It was recorded pre-COVID and they talk about spiritual community, which I know many of us are missing now a days. I miss that fellowship time before and after church, to see what has gone on in the lives of the people I am supposed to be doing life with. I long for hugs from people I care about and going out in the community and actually handing out sandwiches to the homeless or enjoying a meal with our faith community. This brought about a realization, that God put us here to be in community together, we are communal creatures, and that is the reason we crave it. This is how we build each other up to become stronger Christians, serving each other, and serving the Kingdom.

Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms. 1 Peter 4:10

Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people.  Acts 2:46-57

The guest for this podcast is Pastor Francis Chan,  American Protestant author, teacher, and preacher. He is the former teaching pastor of Cornerstone Community Church in Simi Valley, CA, which he founded in 1994. He also founded Eternity Bible College in 2004.

Rebekah questioned Francis “How has these last few years; rhythms for you, your intimacy with God, shifted in knowing His people more intimately?” Francis said “When I am with people who have a deep personal relationship with God and you gather for prayer together, you can sense God in the room. I do not like prayer meetings, I use to rather be alone with God than be in a prayer gathering. Now I actually prefer being with these people who have been on that mountaintop, that pursue God and now we are going after Him together.”

Rebekah recalls when her and Gabe moved to New York City and she states, “My prayer life grew when I was around people who were as desperate as I was. Who had a close relationship with God.” Francis responded “You are on a mission together.”

Rebekah asked Francis, “What would you say to someone who says this is prompting a yearning or wants to be known?” Francis states “There were things I knew God was asking me to do and I knew I had to take that next step. A big part of it is the mission, many people are just trying to get by. The mission is the biproduct and there is no way I am going to pull this off by myself. We need to be the light in the dark places and make disciples. You need to have a deep sense of the mission”

Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 28:19

Rebekah posed this question to Francis “What does fruit look like in my relationships and community and serving?” Francis replied “I have to be alone in the presents of God. It is imperative, I fight for it! Otherwise, I am worthless to everyone. I must be connected to the vine, or I will shrivel up and die. To keep that relationship active and be in love with Him!”

Those last two sentences sum it up for me. If I do not have alone time with God, I feel like I am lost, I am hungry and thirsty and need to be fed. Falling in love with God brings us into a closer relationship with Him. We pine for that time with Him, to read the word and hear Him speak to us.

My hope for you is that you take away something that will allow you to spend more time with God. Remember it doesn’t have to be an hour a day, you can spend 5 minutes in the word and reflect on it for a few minutes. Pray in the car while you are dropping the kids off at school. There is time, you just need to find it, take hold of it, and God will take hold of you!

In honor of Black History Month from the creators of the Good Newsletter: Shopping at Black-owned businesses is a way to make our world more equitable. By shopping from these businesses, we have the chance to redistribute wealth and move it into the hands of people who historically haven’t had equal access. (Plus, all of these products are great! The Buy From a Black Woman DirectoryThe Black-Owned MarketBlack-owned Etsy shopsBlack-owned subscription boxes, and Bon Appetit’s list of Black-owned restaurants.

Rhythms of Life Podcast with Francis Chan.

Francis Chan’s book “Letters to the Church”

Follow me on Instagram @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter @thegodlypodrev1

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Five Minute Friday, Gratitude, Jesus, Sunrise

Five Minute Friday: Sunrise Sunset

Sunset at the Charleston SC Ravenel bridge

Many people are geared for the morning, they jump out of bed, stretch or exercise right away, ready for whatever may come their way. I on the other hand am not a morning person. If I had my druthers, I would go to bed at 11:30 and get up at 8 a.m.

When I was working a full-time job and had to be at work at 7:30 a.m. I would get up at 5:30 a.m. to arrive on time. Many mornings I would drive to work in the dark but occasionally I would drive in the summer and the sun would be coming up. Although living in upstate New York it was difficult to actually see the sunrise.

When we moved to Charleston, SC, nine years ago, that is when I could really drink in the sunrise. Mostly when I was dropping my daughter off to school. How spectacular the yellow and orange skies were. Being so close to the ocean you can watch the sun coming up over the water. Such wonderful artistry!

God’s creation is so beautiful and it is a shame when we do not appreciate it. When it becomes common place then what? Every day will be the same.

God speaks to us about waking in the morning in Isaiah 50:4. The Sovereign Lord has given me a well-instructed tongue, to know the word that sustains the weary. He wakens me morning by morning, wakens my ear to listen like one being instructed. If we are not grateful for what He is putting before us, are we listening to what He says? Are we being obedient?

Since I am more of a night owl than a morning person, I witnessed many more sunsets than sunrises. They were just as beautiful if not more so. It would seem like the colors were richer and more vibrant in the sunsets. I have included a couple of sunsets from our backyard in Charleston.

Hope that you can watch a sunrise or sunset and give thanks to God for all that He has created, that we get to be part of, on our journey through this life.

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Jesus, Love, New Systems

There is Another Way

Picture by Arek Socha 

Have you ever watched a person do their thing, that they do exquisitely well, and say I wish I could do that? For example, watching Ina Garten make her delicious Lemon Parmesan Chicken with Arugula Salad Topping, or Joanna Gaines decorate a room with shiplap, rustic shelves, and décor that takes your breath away. Now go one step further and actually try to do it yourself and then totally fail? I have been there, trying to sew like my grandmother did on her machine making beautiful quilts. But alas, I inevitably get the thread from the needle caught around the bobbin and it is a mess! This week’s podcast guest can help you see another way around that “thing” you are attempting to do but were unsuccessful.

The podcast I am reviewing this week is “Jesus Over Everything”, or JOE for short, hosted by Lisa Whittle, author, speaker, podcaster. She is interviewing Kendra Adachi, author of “The Lazy Genius Way”.

Lisa begins the interview stating, “You are here to help us embrace what matters and ditch what does not, get stuff done.” Kendra enjoys making new systems for systems that do not work for you. She doesn’t necessarily hack the system but she will make a new system so it works for you. Kendra remarks, “Make a path for something to work, when something that could work for you as it runs, as it is created to be, is already there.”

There are processes that I can look back on and say yeah, I did not continue down that path because the way it was presented did not work for me. But is there another way, another path we can take that will make it work? This is Kendra’s gift.

Lisa brings up a good point, when we try to get tasks done that are not working, sometimes we either try harder or just give up.

Kendra’s reply to that was, yes, totally, we do try harder or give up.  An example could be cooking homemade food.  A woman who has a family and feels like she has to cook a homecooked meal every night.  We think that to make it count we have to do it every night and by Thursday you resent it.  Then you try all of these recipes and cookbooks and you say well I am obviously terrible at this so we are going to eat hot dogs, cereal and frozen pizza from now on.  The next time you want to grill some chicken up you say no I cannot do that I am terrible at cooking.  If we do that in every area of our lives, working out, cleaning, your job, parenting, whatever it maybe, becoming anti recall of these things, go big or go home, try harder or give up.  That is why I wrote my book; it is not all or nothing. We need to create our own system that matters for us not something that works for the person who created the system!

Lisa reaffirms; this is great, there is a third option, and maybe you didn’t consider it.  It is not all or nothing.  Some people feel like they cannot hold two truths at the same time. 

Lisa consistently ends all of her podcasts asking her guests the same question. I believe this part of the podcast is the milk and honey, or coffee and cookies, if that is your preference. “What is the last thing you would say about Jesus if could only say one more thing?”

Kendra’s reply: “That He loves me and how crazy is that?  When I think about the title of your show and that concept of Jesus Over Everything, the over is the emphasized word for me.  When I think about Jesus’ love for me, He is literally over everything.  He is both, that there is a gift to my own life when I basically put that in the number one spot, because He is over everything.  I can let the other stuff go.  The pivot point, the fulcrum, of my embracing what matters and ditching what doesn’t, it is based on the fact that Jesus is over all of it.  Because He loves me.  Is to really experience and believe the beloved-ness of me to Jesus.  That I have to do so much to get Him to love me, to get Him to like me, to be glad that I am around.  Knowing Jesus loves me, if I were to never do another thing again.  Knowing that He cares about everything that is in my life, not because I am poor and weak in spirit but He also created me to be strong and wise and all these other things that He is living out of in me in the world.  It is the beautiful companionship.  The mystery of Christ in me, that is the hope and glory.  It begins and ends with love for me. If I forget that Jesus loves me, then it is all about me again, and then I swinging from trying harder and giving up.  I keep trying harder and giving up and this middle is because of His unconditional love for me.  It takes the pressure off of the all the doing and listing, optimizing my life, or the being this person that other people think I should be.   Jesus loves me and it changes everything.”

That, my friends, is what we need to focus on, that Jesus’ love for us changes everything. Without Him we cannot do anything of real purpose. If we put the focus on us then we lose the connection that we have to the Father and we begin to make our work an idol. When we are weak,He is strong. Jesus is our other way when we are looking at ourselves and thinking how can I do this? His way is the only way that leads us down the right path.

For we cannot do anything against the truth, but only for the truth. We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is that you may be fully restored. 2 Corinthians 13:8-9

Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.  If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:6-7

I would recommend you listen to the podcast; Kendra gives a few examples of how to implement her method in your life. Plus, the small talk at the beginning of the episode gives you a glimpse into the beginning of their friendship.

I pray this has helped you in a small way. Let me know in the comments section what is the last thing you would say about Jesus if could only say one more thing?

Jesus Over Everything, Season 4, Episode 36, Kendra Adachi.

The Lazy Genius Way Book by Kendra Adachi

Lisa Whittle’s website

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