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

Follow me on Instagram

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, Five Minute Friday, God, Strong

Five Minute Friday: Stay Strong

Photo by Li Sun from Pexels

A few months after my son was born, I remember visiting my aunt and uncle.  The conversation revolved around my younger cousin’s recent automobile accident.  Thankfully she was not seriously injured.  My aunt was upset at how the other person in the accident treated her daughter.  Not with empathy or concern for her health but with anger and judgement. 

The teaching moment for me as a new parent was – you will do anything to protect your child and stand up for them when they cannot.  At the time I looked at this little boy in my arms and thought of all of the ways he could get into trouble, and believe me he has, but in that moment the belief that I could be strong and protect him was not giving me assurance that I could. 

You see at the time I did not have a strong faith walk and was attempting to do all of this on my own.  Of course, as a young mother I could not see how I would be able to be strong for my son but with God’s help I could. 

For the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength.  1 Corinthians 1:25

That little boy recently turned 22 and he has had many bumps and bruises along the way.  Thankfully by the time he turned ten I turned many of my concerns over to God and allowed him be my strength and not rely on my own will power to get through. 

Praying that you can look to God for help, so you can lean on him when you need strength.  For when you are weak, he is strong. 

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

Follow me on Instagram

Christian, Christian Blog, God, Love, Podcast

Loving Others

Photo by Helena Lopes from Pexels

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

Follow Grit ‘n’ Grace on Instagram and Facebook

Follow Sheri Rose Shepherd on Instagram

Follow me on Instagram

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, 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