Christian, Christian Blog, God, Jesus

Discovering God in the Ordinary

It was after my husband passed and the reality of our need to move to the next town began to quicken.  You see my son had just finished fifth grade at the Catholic elementary school he attended, with all of his friends living close by.  We on the other hand lived in the next town over and he would not be going to the same middle school as his friends were. 

There was also a desire to move away from the home with ten years of memories.  This is where I saw God show up in my ordinary; within two weeks of starting a search in the new town for a rental home we found the perfect one.  It was only one or two miles from both of the kid’s schools, there were friends nearby, and we could move in right away!  That was God looking out for a mother in need. 

The podcast I am reviewing this week is called “God in the Ordinary” with host Sharon Tedford and her guest Keith King.  Keith has degrees in theology and spent many years helping to lead churches in the south of England.  In 2015 he ‘retired’ from paid pastoral ministry and focused more on equipping Global Church leaders to be missional ambassadors for Christ.  (Cited from Langley Institute of Ministry website).  He is the founder and leader of the Langley Institute of Ministry, which exists to train leaders in Africa, India, Pakistan & Nepal for ministry within the church and the world. 

The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me
    to proclaim good news to the poor.  He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
    to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners.  Isaiah 61:1

This is Keith’s backstory and it is the crux of how he began his ministry career.  He grew up in a home that did not expose him to Jesus and he was wild and free in his teen years.

“I started my own business at the age of 17 and I started knocking on doors and asking them if I could deliver my paraffins, and I got a contract with a local paraffin company. The interesting thing, one of my customers was a born-again Christian, and she went on and on and on about this Jesus. It wasn’t just a religious character at all, he was a person that loved me and wanted to get to know me, and suddenly I discovered that he died on the cross for me to take away all my sin and guilt. That was really good news. She’d witnessed to me every week for three years, and I came to the point where I took her up on an offer.  She said come to my house this next Tuesday, we’re hearing a testimony of a young man who went to college, he took all the sorts of stuff and yet he turned his life over to Jesus.  At the end of that evening, I was just totally gob smacked because it was as though he was talking about my life and I simply said a prayer at the end. I said, Lord Jesus, if all this stuff is true, I need to know this and I invite you to come into my life and be my Savior and be my friend, come and cleanse all this garbage from me, because I need to make a fresh start.”

Keith had a long pastoral calling in England and then decided to retire but God had other plans for him.  “I served the church for 37 years, when he called me to go to the Baptist Church, we had over 30 missionaries, serving God in various parts of the world. I was particularly interested in visiting Africa. I worked with New Life, to minister to orphan children, we took over 30 children off the streets. We constructed an orphanage, through the school.  I began to visit them every year and give them free theological training and this was the beginning of me sensing the tremendous need many of these pastors were intelligent and inspired wonderfully effective in communicating.”  Keith woke up to the need of training for those in ministry in parts of the world where they did not have access to it or could not afford ministry courses.  This was the beginning of Langley Institute of Ministry. 

Sharon pulls the entire interview together with this statement “I love that story, that it started off with witnessing to one man. Absolutely that is very ordinary, often we hear about people who are witnessing the hundreds of people and we say, oh, I can’t do that but every one of us can talk to one person, and then let God do the rest.”  Such truth and power in that! 

If you listen to the entire podcast, you will hear Keith speak of many other inspiring stories, including his own God in the ordinary experiences.  He also explains exactly how the Langley Institute of Ministry began. It is a good podcast and you definitely see God’s hand in Keith’s life. 

These are Keith’s closing words.  “God is a good news God because he loves every one of us, stop thinking that you’re not good enough, or even that you’re too good. None of these things are true, none of us are too bad. He loves us, he is a God of grace, and none of us are too good. Actually, we all fall short of discernment.  I believe that deep down, every one of us know that we need a helper, we know that we need forgiveness and cleansing. So please, you know God is a breath away. You can pray to him right now.”

Friends I have some bittersweet news, God has called me back into serving on staff at our local church.  The role is Director of Adult Discipleship and I get to help grow and give vision to their small groups and bring people into closer relationship with God.  I adore small groups; they are the instruments that help build our relationships with those in the group and with God.  Since I will be starting this soon, I will no longer be able to write podcast reviews.  Don’t worry I will occasionally write a short Five-Minute Friday post, so keep looking for those. 

So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.  Isaiah 41:10

I would love it if you would pray for my new ministry opportunity and please leave me a comment on where you are seeing God in your life today!  I truly appreciate each and every one of you for your support and kind words.  May God continue to bless you and your families as you continue to look for him in your everyday lives. 

God in the Ordinary podcast with Sharon Tedford and guest Keith King

Langley Institute of Ministry

Follow Sharon on Instagram

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Christian, Christian Blog, Comparison, God, Jesus

Who are you Comparing Yourself to?

Photo by Brett Sayles from Pexels

Ever find yourself comparing what you do/own/look like to someone else? It is easy to do in our advanced technology, social media world we live in. Just open a browser to see where the latest celebrity has vacationed or better yet open Instagram and see what your friends and family are doing. Cousin Jenn is on this great diet and has lost 30 pounds, Aunt Melissa is raving about how wonderful her husband is; then wishing you could lose that weight or have a better marriage?

As Christians we are called to not be jealous (or covet) what our neighbor has but in reality, it is something we all have to be deliberate about. How many minutes or hours do you spend on the internet or scrolling? How much of that is productive, for work or for your spirit? I find myself having to reel in the amount of time I scroll for both my mental and spiritual wellbeing.

The podcast I am reviewing this week is called “Love and Relationships Podcast with Debra Fileta: Avoiding the Comparison Trap with guest Jamie Ivey.” Debra is a Licensed Professional Counselor, she’s also an author and podcast host. Jamie is a talk show host, author, speaker, and podcast host of “The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey.”

Jamie begins talking about how we compare ourselves to others through social media. “We can get this snapshot of what they have right now that you don’t have. This goes all the way back to the garden, Adam and Eve. Eve was comparing what Satan was telling her about how her wisdom was different than God’s. So, she’s already going, wait, I’m not getting what I deserve. I think that is what a lot of comparison is, we think I deserve more, this isn’t fair, I don’t have what I should have.”

Jamie gives an excellent example that mothers can relate to. “I remember as a young mom, really struggling with comparison. I’m not doing enough, or I should be doing this or look at my kid they’re not even doing milestones that they should be doing; as if I can control their milestones.” It can be challenging not to compare your children and how you raise them to those around you. But God made you to be the mom of your kids, with all of your gifts and talents to raise them, not so you can try to be like your next-door neighbor.

Debra provides a few practical steps on how to overcome or work around the comparison trap.

  1. “Limit your external influence because I think that what we’re taking in can really start to affect the state of our internal contentment. So, what are we downloading? What are we reviewing? What are we absorbing how many hours a day are we scrolling?
  2. Number two, is begin taking inventory of the internal dialogue. What are the thoughts I’m having about myself? I’m thinking, I’m not good enough; they’re better than me; they’re getting the blessings I’m not; God favors them and not me. All of those unhealthy thoughts.
  3. The third practical point is focus on what God has called you to do. Faithfulness, that’s exactly what it is. Because when you’re being faithful, the measuring stick is then you, you’re the measuring stick. And you measure yourself up against what God has called you to do. When my measuring stick is being faithful today with what God has called me to do all that other stuff fades away.”

How do you know if you are overcoming comparison? Debra states, “I actually think a good measuring stick of how healthy we are, the opposite of the comparison trap, is being able to cheer people on to truly want their best interest. To want to see them be faithful in what God has called them to do and say good job, you are killing it, I am so proud of you.”

Jamie reminds us that what we see on social media is only a snippet of that person’s life and for the most part it is only the good stuff. She states, “it’s just a reminder to me that looking at someone else’s life and wishing you had it is a false reality, because you don’t actually know their life.”

Here is the main take away from Debra, “I think the key here is this question, what is my measuring stick? Because when our measuring stick is other people, there is an emotional roller coaster that comes with that because one day we’re going to be on top and it’s going to feel amazing, and we’re comparing ourselves to all the little ones around us and we feel great. And the next day, we’re going to be far behind, there’s always somebody less than you, but there’s always somebody ahead of you.”

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. Colossians 3:1-2

This was a great podcast, rich with examples of how to intentionally avoid comparison. I would recommend listening to the entire show. They go into more detail around their own examples of comparison and fixing your eyes on Jesus!


Heartwarming story: Abebech Gobena led an incredible life: after escaping from a forced marriage as a child bride, Gobena went on to become a huge icon in Africa. In Ethiopia, she took her experiences and built an orphanage, schools, a hospital for women and children, vocational training centers and wells, and more. Ms. Gobena is frequently referred to as the “Mother Teresa of Africa.” You can read about Abebech here.

Love and Relationships Podcast with Debra Fileta and Jamie Ivey

Jamie’s new book “You be You: Why Satisfaction and Success Are Closer Than You Think”

Connect with Debra on Instagram and on Facebook

Connect with Jamie on Instagram and on Facebook

Connect with me on Instagram

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Jesus, racial justice

Is Racial Justice Connected to Faith?

Photo by Monstera from Pexels

The topic of racial injustice is one that weighs heavy on my heart and I’m committed to revisit this topic to continue learning and supporting those people of color in the community. 

Summer of 2020 I participated in a virtual racial healing small group through our church.  We used a workbook which brought us through several activities that revealed how you grew up, racial injustices you witnessed or were a part of, and how you responded to those events.  These events help shape our view and actions towards people of color. 

We also learned what white privilege is and how that can blind us from racial injustices.  The Very Well Mind website defines white privilege as “an advantage that protects white people against any form of discrimination related to their ethnicity and race.  White privilege, however, does not imply that white people have not or cannot experience challenges in life; it means that any challenges that a white person has faced or may face is not related to the color of their skin.”  This was an enlightening piece of information, something I had never heard in my 14 years of school.  Reflecting on my past verses friends of color and their history I could see this as a sad reality. 

The podcast I am reviewing this week is “The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey; her guest Jemar Tisby.”  Jemar is a Christian historian, podcast host, author and speaker whose goal is to propel Black Christians forward. Founder of The Witness: A Black Christian Collective, a multimedia platform. Author of ‘How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice.’ He is also the co-host of the “Pass the Mic podcast.” 

Jemar explains how his passion for racial justice began.  “Everywhere I would go to speak or write about racial justice you always get that one question, what do we do, and that’s a great question.  It started six or seven years ago, I began developing this framework I call the arc of racial justice, and it stands for awareness, relationships, commitment.” 

Jemar talks a little about awareness and white privilege.  “So, I call this racial justice practice, I call it writing your own racial autobiography, and I mean there’s so much that goes into it, we just have these unexplored inner lives when it comes to race, especially white people because the way white supremacy works is that it thrives on invisibility. That means everyone else has a race or his race, but you as a white person you’re just you. Right, you’re just John or Mark or Susie, and you maneuver life and whatever happens to you is because of who you are and what you’ve done it has nothing to do with your skin color or how the society has structured itself around race, that’s what white supremacy tries to tell you, that means you go about life and have these experiences and you don’t look at it through a racial lens, even though you’re experiencing it through a racialized society right.  It is a very necessary practice on the part of the majority to stop and say, what is my earliest memory of race? Have you ever used a racial epithet? What did my parents teach me about race, when this big racial event happened in the world what did my church say or do?”

Jamie poses this question:  “So talk about that a little bit for the person who’s going, Okay, this is great Mr. Jemar but this is for somebody else.”

Jemar’s response, “So, it’s not enough to be not racist, you have to be actively anti-racist because the inertia of society is toward racism is toward white supremacy.  If I’m not mean to other people, if some of my best friends are black, if I’m nice across the racial and ethnic spectrum, quote, unquote, I’m not a racist, okay, I say great keep doing that. So now go the other direction.  So, what we have to do is think on a broader scale, what actually brings equity.  For instance, abolishing the death penalty, since 1973, 165 people have been found innocent, who’ve been sentenced to death row. 42% of people on death row are black, even though we make up only 13% of the population. I think part of the reason why we’re still talking about racial justice today is because so many people have that attitude is how does this affect me?”

Let’s dig into how this is biblically connected.  Jemar points out:  “Number one, it matters to Jesus, because justice matters to Jesus, I spent a good bit of time in the first few chapters of the book talking about the image of God. What does it say in the very first chapter of the very first book of the Bible, God says, let us make humankind in our image, in our likeness? Every single person has a fingerprint of God on them and that matters, of course, for racial and ethnic relations.  So, it matters to Jesus. So, if you’re a Christian, it should matter to you. Secondly, the world is changing, whatever is true now is not necessarily going to be true in the future. Already. The younger generations are majority minority. They’re not the minority anymore. So. in 2040- 2050 window, when there’s going to be that tipping point where there’s not going to be one clear majority of any racial or ethnic group that’s already happening with the younger generation. How are they going to be equipped?”

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”  Galatians 3:28

My brothers and sisters, believers in our glorious Lord Jesus Christ must not show favoritism.”  James 1:2

Jemar talks about how his book will help educate you into action. “The book is all about moving from conversation to action. When I say practical, I mean, practical. Every single chapter has what I call racial justice practices, these are things that you can go out and do.  I encourage you to do it with a group, book, study, group, church, study, group. I cannot wait to hear about ways that people really put this into practice and are changing their communities changing their spaces for the better because they love God and they love their neighbor.”

This book is on my to read list.  I recommend listening to the entire podcast as Jemar speaks more about racial injustices throughout history and Jamie gives examples of where she has experienced white privilege. 

To answer the title question is racial justice connected to faith – the answer is yes. God has created us all in his image and wants us all to treat each other with kindness and love.  Part of that requires us understanding the history of our nation and how we treated people of color in the past and how it has led to systemic racism.  If you are white, there are ways for you to come along side people of color to support them and show the world they are not less than, they are equal, in our eyes and most importantly in God’s eyes. 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”  John 13:32

Thought you could use a laugh:

The Happy Hour with Jamie Ivey and guest Jemar Tisby

Jemar’s book “How to Fight Racism: Courageous Christianity and the Journey Toward Racial Justice.”

Follow Jamie on Instagram

Follow Jemar on Instagram

Follow me on Instagram

Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, God, Habit

Making Faith a Habit

Photo by Ketut Subiyanto from Pexels

How long does it take to form a habit; good or bad? According to a 2009 study published in the European Journal of Social Psychology, it takes 18 to 254 days for a person form a new habit. The study also concluded that, on average, it takes 66 days for a new behavior to become automatic.

Sixty-six days, that is a little more than two months. Not that long if you think about it. When I began praying every day, I started out with just five minutes a day. Now I pray 10 to 45 minutes a day, sometimes all at once, and other days spread throughout the day.

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18

The podcast I am reviewing this week is “Made for This” with host Jennie Allen. This episode is called Faith as a Habit with guest Jen Pollock Michel. Her new book “A Habit Called Faith” talks about our faith and how we actually practice it.

Jen Michel begins pointing out, “I think for a lot of people the whole idea that I’ve got to fake my way into faith or feel my way and that they feel totally untenable, like, I don’t even know how to do that. So, just to give somebody some practical advice to say okay, here are some things you can do.”

Jen explains how to keep up with a habit, “I think the struggle for me is to kind of constantly remind myself of what the purpose the habits are, you know that you can have spiritual habits you can have spiritual practices and discipline, they’re not the goal. They’re meant to bring you into friendship and communion with God and to be transformed into the image of Christ”

Jennie Allen interjects, “They’re waiting to feel something before they actually, you know, get into Word or, connect with God, they actually are waiting for some emotional draw, and you say don’t wait.”

Jen Michel explains, “I think that’s actually the real mystery of it is that you can practice something and it actually gives you the desire for the thing. You can think about exercise, like there was so long where I did not have an exercise routine because it’s just so hard, I don’t actually really want to. But then I kind of realized that maybe turning 40 like this probably I should do. And now that I have the habit of doing it, l actually feel the benefits of it, of doing it, then I don’t actually have all that resistance anymore.”

Jen Michel talks about conversations she has had around making scripture a habit. “When I talk to Christians who moan or lament that they’re not growing, and then you ask, are you coming back to habits for reading scripture? They’re like, oh yeah, I don’t really do that, and Jesus said it’s your food. I mean how would you expect to grow if you didn’t eat? If you didn’t eat three meals a day? I can’t eat once a week, or you know even twice a week. I couldn’t be happier than when I was 16 when I became a Christian, somebody said to me, you’ve got to make a Bible reading a daily habit, and they actually said do it for 10 minutes a day for six months.”

Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked. But whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither whatever they do prospers. Psalm 1:1-3

So where do you start? Jen gives this advice, “There are so many aids supports like we’ve never had more support than we have now to actually read the Bible. So, getting yourself a plan, getting yourself some help, to just help you feel like you know where to start. I mean, there are a gazillion out there, and maybe you guys can put some in the show notes. Jennie you’ve written some I’ve written for Bible projects, you know, there’s “She Reads Truth”, there is “You Version”

Sometimes it feels intimidating to talk about your faith; we do not feel qualified or well-read enough to speak about our relationship with Jesus. Really, all God wants from us to obey and trust him and be in the word, the rest will fall into place.

If you feel moved to speak about how God has changed your life for the better, then do it, do not resist this urge just because you lack a seminary degree. Your story may shift the way someone looks at God and want to start walking closer with him.

Wising you ever laughing life 🙂

Made for This” podcast with Jennie Allen and guest Jen Pollock Michel.

Jen Pollock Michel’s book “A Habit Called Faith”

Follow Jennie Allen on Instagram

Follow Jen Pollock Michel on Instagram

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Christian, Christian Blog, God, Love, Podcast

Loving Others

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How many times over the past year have your thoughts of someone who is different than you, i.e., voted differently, has a different religious affiliation, or is in another social economic status, brought negative considerations? Is there someone in your life who has hurt you and you can’t bring yourself to show them love? It begins with the feeling that you are right and they are wrong and you cannot offer grace that person. I have been there myself and it is not peaceful or reflecting Jesus to the world. Thank God for his grace.

The podcast I am reviewing this week is “For The Love with Jen Hatmaker: Leaning in to Love Others with Rozella Haydee White.” Rozella is a theologian, a spiritual life-coach and a leadership consultant who guides people to give and receive love that is life-giving and justice-seeking. Rozella and Jen walk through what it means to lean into the hard.

I appreciate how Rozella shares the why and how she sees the good in people. “So, here’s the reality I don’t believe in what people do. I don’t necessarily believe in the actions that we take because we’re broken, and catch us on any given day and we’ve seen it we’ve experienced it. It’s not so much about believing and actions that we take, but it’s believing in this beautiful dream or vision that the Creator bestowed us with that. So, I believe that if were created in the image of the Divine, and for me, I call that God, but if we believe that people are created in the image of God, then I don’t really have a choice but to believe in people, because I don’t believe that God creates anything, but that which is life giving that which is creative that which is good and holy.”

We know that God created us in his image and in his eyes we are good. God saw all that he had made, and it was very good.  Genesis 1:31

Many people use the word love as an adjective that can describe just about anything. We love our spouse and children but we also love pizza, a dry floral white wine, or the way an author composes words. Rozella explains how she defines love:

“So, for me when I talk about love I’m talking about that, which is creative, which is justice seeking and which is ultimately sustaining for our mind, heart, body and soul. So, I’m very clear about my definition right it’s not about a feeling, it’s not about kind of superficial romanticized notion that is without struggle. No, I’m saying, you know where love exists, and I again believe God is love, so where love exists God exists, there is creativity, there is justice and liberation and there is sustenance that provides for us all, and it flows with abundance, right now. That doesn’t mean that where love is hard times or struggle or suffering isn’t, it means that where love is those things do not win, those things do not have the final say. Where God is, suffering and strife and despair and depression, does not have the final say, God is present in the midst of all of that.”

When I think about God’s love, agape love, it is the pinnacle of what love should be. It is how God loves us as humans, unconditionally, with all of our current flaws and previous messes that we thought we cleaned up but here they are again. He forgives us and loves us each day of our lives.

The  Encyclopedia Britannica describes agape loves as the fatherly love of God for humans, as well as the human reciprocal love for God. In Scripture, the transcendent agape love is the highest form of love.

Fritz Cherry describes it, “a person with agape love never says what’s in it for me or this person doesn’t deserve it. Agape love is not friend, sexual, or brotherly love, but it’s sacrificial love. It shows action.”

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. John 3:16

Sometimes it is so difficult to do that, especially when the person hurt us or does deleterious things. What actions can we take to come back to agape love when this happens? Rozella talks about how she approaches it.

“First is to recognize who they are. Second is to pray for them.  Third is to recognize that love does not mean absence of consequence or that love does not mean absence of conflict. So, for me it then is to push back against things that this person might be doing, to push back against those things that don’t align with my definition of love. Where do I not see substance for not just me, but for all of us, and to actually take a stand against those things with this understanding of what it is. And then honestly to let go. I think one of the things that so many of us are they struggling with is letting go of that which we do not control.”

That is so good, we all struggle with those things we cannot control. Which of course is fear of the unknown. I continue to remind myself, if the circumstances cannot change turn it over to God. Sometimes that exchange happens multiple times in a day.

This podcast reminded me how important it is to see our neighbors, co-workers, parents of our children’s friends, as God’s children first and foremost. He created each one of us in his image for the glory of his Kingdom here on earth. Now do we always walk it out as Jesus would, well no, we are all sinners in desperate need of God’s grace! I find myself asking for God’s forgiveness more and more each day. The wonderful gift is he bestows it to me over and over again because I am his and he is mine and he knows me intricately. He knows my heart is to be more like him, to reflect Jesus to the world around me, everyday.

I encourage you to listen to the entire podcast, it is almost an hour long, and they go on to talk about how we are all in relationship to one another and how we can support each other in our differences. The links for the podcast and social connections are below.

Friends I pray this post has helped you in some way to see God’s image in those around you more. Please share in the comments how you are giving love to others, receiving love from those around you, or if you are struggling to love someone.

For The Love podcast with Jen Hatmaker and Rozella Haydee White

Follow Jen on Instagram

Follow Rozella on Facebook

Follow me on Instagram

Leaving you with the awe inspiring view of God’s creation which I encountered last week at the top of Pisgah Mountain, NC. I learned that the Mount Pisgah gained it’s current name from the early European settlers. The name comes from the mountain Moses ascended in the Bible. 

Christian, Christian Blog, God, Hurting

Drawing Close to God When You are Hurting.

Photo by Arina Krasnikova on Pexels

There were several occasions in my life when I walked through difficult times and yearned to draw close to God. Losing a marriage, the passing of my husband, diagnosis of cancer and numerous surgeries, thankfully these did not all occur concurrently. Each time I turned to God in prayer and mediated on his word but what Sheri Rose Shepherd brings to the table is the practical application of God’s word during hardships.

The podcast I am reviewing this week is another favorite of mine called “Grit ‘n’ Grace, Episode #218”, with hosts Cheri Gregory and Amy Carroll. Their guest is Sheri Rose Shepherd, author of “Beyond the White Picket Fence: What to Do When Your Life is Dismantled.” For the past 30 years, Sheri Rose Shepherd has been in full time ministry as a best-selling author, speaker and the founder of His Princess Ministries.

Amy poses the question, “Your new book “Beyond the White Picket Fence” shows readers how to heal in a time of crisis. So, what led you to write such a book?” Sheri Rose replies, “Well, when I was going through the last five years of losing my family, losing my health, I was in my own personal shutdown, if you will lock down for four solid years from illness alone, and heartache. And I was trying to find some answers of like, God, where are you in this? How do I get through this, and I parked pretty much in the book of Job, because I felt like I’d walked through everything he walked through all at once. I felt like there wasn’t enough practical information, how to walk through something. In the book I take you through everything, the chapter names: betrayal, diagnosis of a disease, the death of a loved one. One thing that I learned or didn’t learn was how to cry. So, I would use the word almost like a band aid to not have to feel pain, to not have to see the wound if you would.  And what I realized is the simplicity and the gift of tears. Like when people say, how do you get up, and I said, I learned to ask the Lord what to do.”

Sheri Rose continues to explain, “The things that God helped me with is one, learning to process my pain, not by band aids, scriptural band aids, but by actually living the scriptures. What does God say to do when you’re grieving? What does God say to do when you’ve been betrayed? Like, how do I personally, processes and then the thing that God showed me is only surround yourself during dark seasons with people that can lift you up. Because that isn’t the time to deal with toxic people. That isn’t the time to deal with dysfunctional people. When a lifeguard is drowning, he can’t save anybody.”

Cheri asks the question, “I noticed you brought up the word “band aid” a couple of times. So, I’m wondering if you could share with our friends who are listening, how could they tell the difference in their own lives between true healing and what you refer to there as just kind of putting a band aid on? How can we tell?”

Sheri Rose states, “So I’m hurting, I’m hurting, I’m hurting. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me, you know, I’m going to be healed. He says that he’s close to the brokenhearted. That’s a band aid, as opposed to how do I get close to God when I’m brokenhearted? And how do I get healed when I’m brokenhearted? Where’s the practical application in the Word of God that gets me where I need to go. And if you can’t get to that place, or you can’t find that place in the word, then you got to get to someone like this book, where you can look up betrayal. And you can also use this book more like a manual for a friend that’s going through something too. If you end up keeping that band aid on and you don’t change the band aid and you don’t put disinfected in it and you just keep the band aid on for four years, you’re going to have a horrific infection.”

Sheri Rose’s last thoughts on the podcast, “I think that sometimes we make faith harder than it needs to be. So, here’s what I really want to leave you with. If his burden is light and his yoke is easy, and something you do is making you feel heavy, His grace is not with you for it- do something else. Or it’s just not the season for you to be doing it. Say God what is in this that is a heartache? Is it me operating out of a calling that’s not mine? So really know that God loves you too. And he wants to take care of you, to not just you take care of everybody else. Once I gave that up and trusted God, every single thing came to the light. And every person made things right with me and totally cried their eyes out. All I could say is God used it to free me from needing anyone but him. And for that it was worth it all.”

This podcast was loaded with information and I highly recommend you listen to the full 27 minutes. Sheri speaks about how to kindly tell someone you do not want to talk about what you are going through, her divorce, and how not being bitter helps your outlook and joy in life. Great lessons and another book added to my ‘to read’ list. I pray this podcast will help you to draw closer to God everyday!

A touching video of a mother gorilla at the Franklin Zoo in Boston and a mom with her 5- -week old son. Watch it here.

Grit ‘n’ Grace with Sheri Rose Shepherd

Sheri Rose Shepherd’s book “Beyond the White Picket Fence

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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”

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Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Jesus, Love, New Year

New Year, New Outlook.

Picture by Oleg Zaicev

Happy 2021 friends! I know many of us, including myself, are happy to have 2020 behind us. Looking back on 2020 it was rough and if you lost a job, lost a loved one, or are just hurting I am so sorry. Let me know in the comments if I can be praying for you.

If you know me, I am a glass half full person and for the past nine months I kept looking to see the positive in the everyday. I walked, a lot, and on those walks I began to notice God’s creation so much more than I have in the past. The bright colors of the flowers and the deep greens of the grasses, the reds, burnt oranges, and bright yellows of the fall leaves. The beautiful song birds singing to their mates. I am not sure if it was a result of slowing down or if that is where my focus was this year.

I appreciated the extra time spent with my children and husband, especially since my son will be graduating from college this year and will likely move out of state. These times together, talking about our lives or playing a board game, are like gold pieces that I am collecting, holding onto to, and cherishing.

Moving into 2021 I am asking myself what needs to change? I am not one for New Year’s resolutions, over the past few years I have tried to focus more on where is God pointing me. What can I do to make a difference in my life and the people’s lives I touch? Beyond just my family and into my community. The word that keeps repeating in my heart is love. With the world being so divisive and visceral in 2020, love seems like the way toward healing, toward understanding, toward equality. Doing for others what you would want done for you. This can be difficult at times, to look past the beliefs or behaviors of those around you and just reach out. Lend a hand to those in need even if they voted for the other candidate or they don’t believe as you do, they are still God’s children and we are His hands and feet. Show God’s love and you will feel it reverberate back to you.

We love because he first loved us.  Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen. 1 John 4:19-20

You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit—fruit that will last—and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.  This is my command: Love each other. John 15:16-17

The podcast I am reviewing this week is called “Everything Matters” hosted by Kate Bowler. Kate is a Duke Professor, a podcast host, and author of Everything Happens for a Reason, and Other Lie’s I’ve Loved. The guest for this episode is Bishop Michael Curry, the presiding bishop of the Episcopal Church, and is an author, The Power of Love and Love is the Way: Holding onto Hope in Troubled Times.

In this episode Kate and Bishop Curry talk about how community love impacts people’s lives in such profound ways. Kate poses the question to Bishop Curry, “Maybe you could, explain how and why we don’t get more of the kingdom of God here on Earth? I’ve been a little disappointed to realize that in life we only get a glimpse, unfortunately.” Bishop Curry responds, “One of the things that occurred to me in writing this book that I actually hadn’t thought about before. I realize that a period of childhood trauma with the sickness and death of your mother, that goes on for a long period time. Part of what helped us navigate that, and I wasn’t aware of it at the time, was that my sister, my father and I, we were enveloped or part of a community that really did become a community of love.”

When Bishop Curry’s mother had a massive cerebral hemorrhage and had to be in a hospital hundreds of miles from their home in Buffalo NY, his father was a preacher and he would leave from their home in Buffalo on Monday to be with his mother for a couple of days. “He would take us to the home of family friends who were church members Dr. and Mrs. Bullock. And we went to their house which wasn’t that far from our house, but that’s where we stayed for a couple of days.”

Bishop Curry added, “That’s what faith community is. That’s what human community is. That’s what that’s about. It’s not schmaltz. It’s necessary for human growth in life to thrive.” Kate affirmed, “It’s not extra. It’s the thing. But I’ve chosen independence and I just want to have the internet and all my time alone. It does really, kinda open you up to the possibility that maybe we are made for togetherness.”

Bishop Curry continues, “You know there’s a passage in the New Testament it’s in 1 John, that just says God is love. If that is true, and I believe it is, that means God is the source of all love. And that also means that since we have been created by God, we have been created by the hand of love. We’ve been made by the God who is love, for love, to love and to be loved. That is as much a part of us, that is the essential core of us. “

Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 1 John 4:7-8

Bishop Curry remembers, “What I realized, it was easier when I was growing up. It was a different world. It was it was almost intrinsically communal.” Kate replies, “Yes. And now we have to go out of our way to find ways to move emotion into action, because it is, it is hard. I mean, especially right now with a pandemic. It exacerbates our loneliness, our hyper individualism, our sense that we were we should be self-made. Man, our culture is so unkind when we feel dependent. Just totally unkind.”

Kate wraps up the podcast stating, “Bishop Curry reminds us that the way of love is hard won, but it is the only way if we are to remake the world around us. So, even when it’s hard, even when it costs something. Let’s begin right now by blessing six people who we think may not deserve it. I know you already have names in your head. Yes, that person who posts ridiculous things on Facebook or that neighbor who never takes care of their lawn or that family member who has been really hard to forgive. Bless them, love them. Even today, if it’s just in your mind. And maybe somehow in these little practices of loving and receiving, we and the world along with us ,will be changed by ordinary and extraordinary love.”

I really cannot say it better than that. If we continue to show love toward those around us, bless them, go out of our way for them, it has to bring us together. It is what we were made to be, in a loving community with each other, even with all the messiness that each of us bring to the table. I pray this has helped you to want to sit still for a little while, reflect on 2020, and consider how you can show love to the people you touch in 2021.

Heartwarming article about how 10 men, that are attending a drug and alcohol treatment center, started looming. They’ve made about 200 toques (hats), which have ended up as gifts to loved ones and as donations to a women’s recovery house. They want other toques to go to the homeless and to babies in hospital once the pandemic is over. Read about it here.

Everything Matters podcast with Kate Bowler and Bishop Michael Curry

Bishop Curry’s book “Love is the Way: Holding on to Hope in Troubled Times”

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Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Gratitude, Jesus, Podcast

What Are You Grateful For?

Gratitude, you hear a lot about this time of year, but how often do we contemplate it? Once a year, once a month, once a week, or daily? This year has been trying, long, and stressful, with COVID and a heated election, it is one many people have a difficult time finding the good in. Although it is there if you look for it.

When I reflect on the day it amazes me how many things, I could be thankful for but do not regularly say them out loud. How my husband will compliment how nice I look (in jeans and a tee shirt) or thank me for making lunch for him since he is working from home. He knows my love language is words of affirmation and he is showing his love. How grateful am I for this but do I tell him that? Sometimes but other times I don’t.

Or when my daughter’s room is picked up or she puts away the clean dishes from the dishwasher. To be grateful and express that gratitude with words is so important in our everyday lives. Even if the person’s love language is not words of affirmation, telling another person you appreciate what they have done for you is showing love! Isn’t that what we are called to do.

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” John 13: 34-35

Another way to be grateful and incorporate it in your everyday life is to start a gratitude journal. It doesn’t have to be fancy, it could be a notebook, that you write in daily. Journal writing is not a rhythm I have successfully accomplished. In my thirties I use to journal at night before I went to bed but then found most evenings I was too tired to write in it. I started another journal this year and called it Gratitude and God winks. This one I do during the day at some point. When I do write in it, which to be honest is about once a week, I jot down what I am grateful for and anything that stood out to me where God was moving in my life.

Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. 1 Thessalonians 5:17-19

So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. Colossians 2:6-7

The podcast I am reviewing this week is a new one to me but it has an old release date, November 2018. When you hear them talking about travel, know this is pre-pre COVID. The name of the podcast is “Catholic Momcast” and the hosts are Danielle Bean and Lisa Hendey. The episode is called “Practicing Gratefulness”, they discuss ways to make gratitude a habit in your life and how to set a good example of gratefulness all year round.

From a high level what they talk about are these four concepts. 1. Say it; to others. 2. Write it down, a thank you note, email, or text. 3. Remind yourself, look for ways to add gratitude to your daily practices including prayer time and meals. 4. Look for the good, even in the tough situations.

Danielle states “Our words are powerful, both good and critical. We get in the bad habit of saying the negative. The more you practice saying the positive things the more real they become.”

Lisa goes on to mention that writing it down, in a journal or a written note, is a good practice. “It doesn’t have to monumental, being thankful for yummy vegetables or that it didn’t rain today. Also, a written thank you note holds a lot more meaning.”

Danielle explains that “Teaching yourself to pause, even during a hard or challenging situation, look at what you are grateful for, will bear beautiful spiritual fruit around me and the people around me.”

Reflecting back on this podcast I appreciated the four ways Danielle and Lisa gave us to incorporate gratefulness into our everyday lives. Simple easy actions we can implement that will pivot our attention to what is good in our lives, and let’s be honest many of us in the U.S. are privileged and have multiple elements of our lives to be grateful for. Even during these times of uncertainty and unrest we can look to the beauty in and around us and thank God for it.

I am grateful to breathe in the crisp fall air, to be able to walk and take in the beautiful blue sky, a child laughing in the yard, to love and to be loved, and to be known by a God who hears me, loves me, and walks with me in the good times and in the tumultuous ones too.

I pray this will help bring your focus more toward gratitude which in turn will produce more joy. Leave me a comment stating what you are grateful for today. Wishing you and your families a happy, joyful, loving, and peaceful Thanksgiving!

Catholic Momcast episode on Practicing Gratefulness.

Another resource for gratitude is Grateful.org, which was created by Brother David Steindl-Rast. Their mission is to create “A peaceful, thriving, and sustainable world, held sacred by all.” There are several good blog posts here but the one that I would recommend is called Cultivating a Practice: Grateful Living as a Way of Life.

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Christian, Christian Blog, Faith, Jesus, Podcast

New Seasons

Photo by Cafe Pampas

This is an appropriate topic for this time of year. We can see fall coming with the changing colors of the leaves and the fall flowers, we can feel it in the cooler temperatures and the drier air. I personally enjoy this time of year, walking in our neighborhood, noticing the different hues on the trees, how the neighbors have decorated their homes for fall. The smell of a pumpkin and spice candle burning, and of course a hot pumpkin spice latte always reminds me of fall. What is your favorite part of this season?

The podcast I am reviewing this week is called “Wild at Heart, Interpreting New Seasons” with John Eldridge and Craig McConnell. Not every new challenge, change, and opportunity is equal. John and Craig share how to discern between good and bad frontiers or seasons. John Eldredge is an American author, counselor, and lecturer on Christianity. One of the previous blogs from April 20th, 2020 called “Time to Pause” with Annie F. Downs’ and her podcast “That Sounds Fun”, she interviewed John Eldridge. I will link to that below.

How do we know if a new opportunity, a move, a job change, a recent relationship, a unique small group or church, is where God is calling us to be? Do you worry a lot and then just make the best decision based on pros on cons? To be honest I have done that and not in the distant past either. What seems to work best for me is to spend some quiet time with God and just talk to him about it. Now you are probably not going to get a three-page dissertation from Him on what to do but if you listen you may hear a few words that will send you in the right direction. Not literally hearing the words, although I know some people who have, I mean thoughts that come to mind that you may not have come to on your own. That is a nudge from God in the right direction.

The podcast begins with Craig asking the question “How do you discern between good and bad new frontiers; how do you know which one to step into?” Craig gives an example of him not being his authentic self but trying to be balanced in his actions and words. When he spoke to God about it the response he received was “I am not asking you to be wacky I am asking you to follow me. Am I going to follow him? Yes, I am going to follow but I’m scared to death at the process.”

John then talks about external and internal frontiers. Discerning between good and bad frontiers. “There are bad frontiers due to bad decisions that we have made. Not every new frontier is from God. Let’s not fortress ourselves from all new frontiers. Life is full of change; God is in it but not every frontier is good.”

John goes on to talk about disruptive change and how we face that. Do we face it with fear or with a sense of loss? “The simplest question that I ask God is ‘are you in this?’ This is one means of discerning when a new opportunity opens up if it is good.”

Craig points out another category that is an extension of what John is talking about, “The community of people around you, who are engaged with your story. Their feedback, their input, validation, or caution, or editing is huge in a new frontier. I can see things in other peoples lives more easily than I can in my own life.”

Great point that Craig made is “Our God wants to speak to the challenges we have. The thought that God would be silent would be a concern to me. He wants to speak and validate. He wants us to know and have a confidence that He is in it. “

John states “You can get comfy in your theology and your way of doing things. It’s almost like saying if you have been at the same church or in the same small group for 20 years you probably ought to change that. Be open to God opening you and growing you in these areas.”

Craig responded to John’s statement by saying “Don’t be surprised if God is calling and affirming through others that you have a new frontier. Need to take risks and don’t be shy to the new frontier that God is calling you to.”

John’s retort was “Jesus’ question that is framing this series is ‘Will you come with me?’ Into situations that may seem counter intuitive. When God is getting ready to do this, He may sour your current thing. That is hard because your current thing maybe lovely. It makes it easier for you to go.” Another point he made is “If you feel stuck it maybe because you said no to the last invitation He extended to you. Ask Jesus where are you leading me?”

I enjoyed this podcast and could relate to many points John and Craig brought up. The take away for me was during these new seasons, when the opportunity arises, am I asking God, are you in this and where are you leading me? Then just listen and watch to see where He is leading you.

I hope this has helped you in some way to make the transition into a new season smoother. Leave me a comment and let me know what is your favorite season of the year or if you have had any ‘new seasons’ pop up in your life recently that God helped you navigate through.

The funny piece to the blog:

“Wild at Heart podcast- Interpreting New Seasons”

Wild at Heart Website with John Eldridge

Blog Post with Annie F. Downs and John Eldridge called “Time to Pause”

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