Christian Blog, God, Hope, Jesus, Suffering

Finding Hope in the Suffering

Photo by RODNAE Productions from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A little Easter fun: 

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

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

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

Follow me on Instagram @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter @thegodlypodrev1

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

Five Minute Friday: Redeemable

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

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

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

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

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

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

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

What are Your Intentions for 2021?

Picture by Anna Shvets

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A little Good Friday humor:

From Pinterist

Mary and Martha Podcast:  Energy and Intentions

Follow Christina and Shakisha on Instagram:  @shakishamorgan  @christinamichellejones

Follow me on Instagram:  @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter:  @thegodlypodrev1

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

Five Minute Friday: My Green Garden

Photo by Pasja on Pixabay

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

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

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

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

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

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

Made to be in Community

Photo by Dani Hart 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Rhythms of Life Podcast with Francis Chan.

Francis Chan’s book “Letters to the Church”

Follow me on Instagram @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter @thegodlypodrev1

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

Five Minute Friday: Sunrise Sunset

Sunset at the Charleston SC Ravenel bridge

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There is Another Way

Picture by Arek Socha 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Lazy Genius Way Book by Kendra Adachi

Lisa Whittle’s website

Follow me on Instagram @thegodlypodreview

Follow me on Twitter @thegodlypodrev1

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

Five Minute Friday: Fix Your Eyes

Picture by Andrea Piacquadio

When you wake up what do you fix your eyes on? What do you see? Do you see the sunlight coming in through the blinds on the window or is it pitch dark? What do you hear? An alarm clock ringing or a dog or child crying for your help and attention? Where does your mind go first thing in the morning? Do you think of all of the tasks that you need to get done at home and at work? How does that make you feel, anxious or excited? For me if I start with my to do list I will easily slip into the nervous/anxious perspective and begin my day not wanting it to start at all.

When we fix our eyes on Jesus first thing in the morning, thanking Him for the day. Saying out loud, thank you Lord for this day, let me rejoice and be glad it came. It puts our minds in a place that is holy, that is grateful, to the one who is for us and never against us.

Let us start our day fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith. Remember to come back to Him when you are making that turkey and cheese sandwich for lunch or cleaning the pile of dirty dishes. Continue fixing your eyes on our savior, Jesus, and He will continue to mold and fix you to resemble Him.

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

How Can One Word Keep You Faithful?

Photo by Skitterphoto

You may be asking why do I need a word for the year? How will this help me in my everyday life and in my walk with God?

The podcast I am reviewing this week is all about that word of the year and how it can help you feel better and see where God is directing your focus. The name of the podcast is “More Than Small Talk” with Holley Gerth, Suzanne Eller, and Jennifer Watson. They are all authors and real-life friends who talk about conversational topics and faith.

“Many people are looking for direction from the Lord and having a word gives you that guidance”, Suzanne Eller.

Start by spending some time in prayer and asking the Lord if He has a word for you to concentrate on this year. Listen to what rises up in your heart. This will take time and you may have to come back to it more than once.

Eugene Peterson, author of the Message Bible, says “Faithful is long obedience in the same direction.” Faithful, is Holley’s word for the year. She states, “I am going to show up in my relationships and in faith. Continue to be faithful and not measure everything.”

Goals are great and they are what motivate us to get things done but if we put too much pressure on ourselves and don’t meet our own expectations, then we end up going down into this pit of self-criticism. God has a different plan for our lives, he sees us as fearfully and wonderfully made.

I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful. Psalm 139:13

Forward, is Jennifer’s word. “Those small steps forward, toward progress, how powerful just moving forward can be. We don’t give ourselves credit, we are too hard on ourselves.”

I am extremely task oriented, give me a to do list and a few hours, I am happy. You should see what I can do with a pad of paper and a pencil. Turn that around, if I get nothing done because I had to help my daughter most of the day or I wasn’t feeling good, boy can I beat myself up, and end up in that pit! God does not want us to beat up on ourselves, He loves us and wants us to enjoy life to the fullest!

Here is a pivotal point that Holley makes, “Consistency is the secret sauce. Showing up and doing the small things over and over again adds up to a lot over time. Remember God is always faithful. This helps on the days when I feel overwhelmed or it is hard. I remember God is faithful.”

When you focus the word, that God leads you to, daily, and celebrate the small wins each day your mood will be buoyant. For example, my word this year is love. To show love and to realize God’s love in my life every day. The day I spend driving my daughter from one activity to another I am showing her love by being there for her, showing her support. It is important for me to come back to that word daily and see how it is fitting into my life. I can easily get frustrated at driving her around instead of perceiving it as an act of love.

I ask that we love one another. And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1:5-6

“Ask the Lord how can I partner with you today? What does it look like? It can be small. There is value in listening to the Lord and putting that in front of you. Be open to where He wants to take me next,” Suzanne Eller. For those who don’t have a word for the year, Suzanne is right there with you. Suzanne reminds us “That God knows the plans He has for us and He knows what tomorrow holds. Just being open and saying Lord whatever direction you want to take me next, whatever miracle you are trying to do inside of me, I am open.”

For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Jennifer asks, “What will help you move forward and tune into the Lord this year? Maybe it is taking care of yourself more. Take a nap in the afternoon or rescheduling your plans. Whatever will help you move forward and stay faithful and tune into the Lord this year.”

Once you have a word what is the best way to remember it daily? Placing it somewhere you would see it assists, a post it note on the bathroom mirror, on the fridge, or on top your devotional that you open every morning. Some people get fancy and have a sign made with the word. Whatever works for you. I have incorporated mine in scripture that is part of my email signature.

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

These three ladies complement each other and their banter will put a smile on your face. I enjoyed their stories and how they apply their word of the year to their lives. This past year has been difficult, let’s give ourselves grace as we move into a new year, seeking to find God’s will in our everyday lives.

The link to this episode is below and the following podcast Holley hosted as a follow up called “A Little More: Our Plans, God’s Purpose.” I recommend listening to both episodes, Holley’s commentary is insightful and compliments this podcast nicely.

“More Than Small Talk” with Suzanne Eller, Holley Gerth, and Jennifer Watson. “What is Your Word of the Year” (Episode 108).

“More Than Small Talk” Commentary by Holley Gerth. “A Little More: Our Plans, God’s Purpose”

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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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