My “Holding onto His Hope” Playlist

Some days are so trying, it may feel like life will always be a struggle. And, it may be. We can expect trouble because God didn’t promise us a life without problems. In John 16:33, He did say, however, “I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

He is the One we need to run to when life becomes overwhelming and the suffering too much. I’ve mentioned previously that Christian music and worship help draw me closer to Him. He will give us peace, even during trials, but we must make that time to reach for Him. Here’s my new “Holding onto His Hope” playlist:

  1. Keep on Hoping-Riley Clemmons
  2. Hold Onto Me-Lauren Daigle
  3. Cling-Lion & Bear
  4. Fighting for Me-Riley Clemmons
  5. Carry Me-NEEDTOBREATHE (feat. Jon Foreman of Switchfoot)
  6. Maybe It’s OK-We Are Messengers
  7. Hold Us Together (Hope Mix)-H.E.R. and Tauren Wells
  8. Light of Your Grace (Radio Version)-Citizens
  9. In This Moment-Riley Clemmons
  10. It’s Always Been You-Phil Whickham
  11. God of the Wilderness-Shaylee Simeone
  12. Can’t Take Away-Jeremy Camp
  13. Even at My Worst-Blanca

If you’ll hold on to me for dear life, says God,
“I’ll get you out of any trouble.
I’ll give you the best of care
if you’ll only get to know and trust me.
Call me and I’ll answer, be at your side in bad times;
I’ll rescue you, then throw you a party.
I’ll give you a long life,
give you a long drink of salvation!” -Psalms 91:14-16 MSG

My “Fear Not” Playlist

Do you ever struggle with fear and anxiety? I know I do! It’s so important to connect with God during these times. One way I do this, is through music. It helps me to focus on Him so I can really feel His presence. Here is my go-to playlist when I’m caught in a cycle of anxiety:

  1. Sparrows-Cory Asbury
  2. Not Today-Hillsong United
  3. Holding Me Still-Elle Limebear
  4. Cast My Cares-Finding Favour
  5. The One I’m Running To (Acoustic)-7eventh Time Down
  6. We Won’t Be Shaken-Building 429
  7. Control-For King and Country
  8. Tremble-Mosaic
  9. When I’m with You-Citizen Way
  10. Peace Be Still-Hope Darst
  11. Shepherd of My Soul-Rivers and Robots
  12. Broken Prayers-Riley Clemons
  13. Breathe-Johnny Diaz
  14. Never Gonna Let Me Go-Tauren Wells
  15. Breathing-Elle Limebear

And, here’s my new favorite verse I’ve been meditating on when the waves of fear roll in:

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. -Psalm 56:3

A Time to Laugh

Because I really needed to laugh and maybe you do too, I thought I’d share. While not my typical post, my ten-year old was on fire last week with the funnies. What made her words all the more hilarious, was that she wasn’t trying to be humorous. So, I present to you, out of the mouths of babes…

1. I overheard her painting her nails with her older sister:

“I wish I had six toes because then I could paint them rainbow.” (because why not add an extra toe just to be able to paint them prettier!?)

2. Seriously upset that someone would do such a thing, she asks:

“Who put a toenail in my sock!?!?” (as if someone would intentionally place their own toenail there)

3. My daughter: “Mommy why’d you buy Charly a mullet?”

Me: “A muzzle, honey. I bought him a muzzle to go to the vet.”

4. And she pops this question on me the other night:

“Do you wanna be called Momzilla or Mama Bear?”

Me: “Umm…what would make you think I’d wanna be called Momzilla?”

My Daughter: “I was looking up cool nicknames for moms and there was Momzilla, Mommy-o and Mama Bear.”

Me: “Yeah, definitely not Momzilla.”

(Apparently she didn’t know who Godzilla was)

a time to weep and a time to laugh, a time to mourn and a time to dance, -Ecclesiastes 3:4

ABC’s of Growing in Your Walk with Christ

Acknowledge and thank Him for His blessings daily

Be of service to others

Confess your sins and make changes with His help, where needed

Disciple others

Each morning, dive into His Word and bask in His presence

Forgive others, and you too, will be forgiven

Give more than you take

Hide in Him, instead of indulging in distractions

Invest in loving others

Joyfully work as though working for the Lord

Keep seeking Him-even when life doesn’t make sense

Love Him, first and foremost

Meditate on His Word day and night

Never go to bed angry and give the enemy a foothold

Obey His commands

Pray about everything

Quietly sit and be still before Him, listening to what He has to say

Remain in Him throughout each day

Store your treasure in heaven, not on earth

Tell others about Jesus every chance you get

Understand that you will not always comprehend His ways

Value Jesus above all else and strive first for the Kingdom of God

Wait upon Him when unsure what to do

eXercise your faith muscles by choosing trust over fear-then trust Him with your all your heart

Yearn for Jesus and make Him your best friend

Zip it when anger strikes and take it to Him first, in order to keep the peace

Clothe Yourselves in Patience

Being a type A person, patience is definitely not my strong suit. I’m a pretty impatient person (my husband would laugh, saying that ‘pretty impatient’ is an understatement). I truly don’t understand how those B types work. My younger brother, however, is a type B personality to a T-one of the most laid-back people I know. Here’s how we differ. When I was on the phone with him one night, he was sitting in the Walmart parking lot and he told me that my fifteen-year-old niece just came back to the car from shopping and had lost his debit card. In the most peaceful, nonchalant way, he tells her “well, Jordan, that’s why I didn’t want you to take my card” and then remaining completely calm and unhurried, tells me he’s going to have to go inside and look for it. There was not an ounce of anger or frustration in his bones. I laughed when I got off the phone with him, thinking wow, I so would not do that. I’d be kinda freaking out. My impatient self would have been in the store already frantically running all over the place looking for it. We are total opposites, as you can see. I am not patient like that, but I’m really trying.

It’s a weakness God has been working with me on for quite awhile now and I’m definitely seeing the fruit of it, just not as quickly as I’d like (haha). I really don’t like waiting, but it seems that the more I hate it, the longer I have to wait, because God is going to teach me this lesson. And it’s not so much about the actual wait, as it is my attitude in the waiting. That’s even more difficult. And as for learning this lesson, it’s just a matter of how long it will actually take due to my willingness. So, I try to roll with it and accept it, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t hard. Since I’m more aware of my impatient nature than ever, I thought I’d dive into the Bible and see what He has to say about it. He tells us how to be patient. Here are 10 things we can learn about patience from His Word:

*Be patient in affliction

We will have trouble in this world, but He says to be patient in affliction, so when we are experiencing distress, we endure it and we accept it for the time being. It doesn’t mean it will be easy, or that it will last forever, but patiently accepting our suffering, will help us grow to be more like Him.

Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. -Romans 12:12

*Be patient, bearing with one another in love

Be patient with family members, friends, the grocery store worker scanning groceries at a sloth’s pace, the guy flying past you on the road flipping the bird, the neighbor that drives you absolutely bonkers, your worst enemy. Let’s look at each person who crosses our paths, as there to teach and grow us. Be patient with everyone you come into contact with, so you can show the love of Christ. This will glorify Him and it will help us to live more peaceable lives.

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. -Ephesians 4:2

*Love endures with patience

Love is an action and one way we can love on people, is to show patience. Patience isn’t needed when life is easy, it’s the stressful times and under some of the toughest circumstances, where we are given chances to show love by being tolerant. Let’s look at our stressful moments as opportunities to live more like Christ, rather than just struggles to wade through while getting to the other side.

Love endures with patience and serenity, love is kind and thoughtful, and is not jealous or envious; love does not brag and is not proud or arrogant. -1 Corinthians 13:4 (AMP)

*Wait patiently for Him

We quiet ourselves before the Lord, and in the waiting, we put every piece of ourselves and others into His care. Then without worry, we trust Him to move in His time.

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for him; do not fret when people succeed in their ways,when they carry out their wicked schemes. -Psalm 37:7

*Patience brings peace

Will you be a peace-maker or will you stir up strife? Will you put the fire out or will you fuel it? A calm attitude with self-restraint will help bring about peace, rather than stoke the flames.

Hot tempers cause arguments, but patience brings peace. -Proverbs 15:18

*We wait patiently in hope

I love how the amplified Bible translates Romans 8:25-we wait eagerly with composure-eagerly meaning we wait expectantly. And when we can’t see what’s ahead, we still hope with anticipation, while using self-control and not allowing our worry or emotions to run amuck.

But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait eagerly for it with patience and composure. -Romans 8:25 (AMP)

*Whoever is patient has great understanding

The wise are slow to anger and keep their emotions in check, showing self-control. Don’t be a fool and fly off the handle. Before I homeschooled, my daughter’s fourth grade teacher taught her something invaluable that I, in turn, learned as well. She taught her class a saying that she lives by and I just cherish this teaching! Whenever frustration, anger or impatience arises, let’s remind ourselves to: PAUSE*BREATH*LOVE.

Whoever is patient has great understanding, but one who is quick-tempered displays folly. -Proverbs 14:29

*Better a patient person than a warrior

Again, this is about having self-control. And for some of us that grew up fighting our way through life, this may be harder to do than others, especially if we’ve endured trauma. Letting anger take over though, will defeat us in the end. It is better to step back and show self-restraint, than soldier on.

Better a patient person than a warrior, one with self-control than one who takes a city. -Proverbs 16:32

*As God’s Chosen people, clothe yourselves in patience

As believers in Jesus, we were chosen to glorify Him and so we need to suit up, wearing the traits he instructs us to put on-compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. And if we struggle with some of these? He tells us in His Word that when we remain in the Vine, we will bear much fruit-these traits He calls us to clothe ourselves with. And all of these traits really work together. Being patient can be a humble act and a form of kindness. And in showing patience, a gentle answer or attitude can go a long way in keeping the peace. So, let’s become more like Him, by remaining in Him, and in doing so, we can fulfill the duty we’ve been given.

Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. -Colossians 3:12

*Patience is better than pride

Pride causes more damage than good. Let’s therefore set aside our pride, ending matters before they start by patiently humbling ourselves.

The end of a matter is better than its beginning, and patience is better than pride. -Ecclesiastes 7:8

Worship Him in the Wilderness Playlist

As January of the new year comes to an end (how is that even possible already?!), some of you may be feeling weary. Maybe the beginning of 2021 hasn’t lived up to what you had hoped. We can’t expect life to change drastically just because the numbers on our calendars have flipped. Life with this Covid stuff is hard and it may never be like it once was. Or maybe there are other challenges trying to snuff out your hope. Maybe you are walking in the wilderness, like I am right now, and have been for some time.

During my time in the Word this week, God clearly spoke. His words leapt off the page-worship me in the wilderness. Not only does He want us to come to Him on our knees in the wilderness, but He wants us to go deeper and worship Him in the struggles. This has not been a daily practice, but it’s a missing piece in my walk. Lifting my eyes towards Him in worship feeds my soul and fills me up when I am running on empty, those times when I need to serve my family but have nothing left to pour out. He will fill us, but we must let Him. In doing so, we can pour from The Living Water, rather than keep driving our parched selves in the middle of the wilderness.

One of my favorite avenues of worshiping our Heavenly Father is through music. Here is my Worship Him in the Wilderness playlist that helps to direct my heart towards Him:

  1. So Will I (100 Billion X)-Hillsong UNITED
  2. Give me Jesus-Jeremy Camp
  3. Great Are You Lord-one sonic society
  4. Touch the Sky-Hillsong UNITED
  5. First-Lauren Daigle
  6. God of Wonders-Mac Powell, Cliff Young & Danielle Young
  7. It is Well (Live)-Bethel Music & Kristine DiMarco
  8. Oceans-Hillsong UNITED
  9. Our God-Chris Tomlin
  10. Olorun Agbaye-You are Mighty (feat. Chandler Moore & O/B/A)-Nathanial Bassey
  11. Nobody Like You (Live)-Red Rocks Worship
  12. I Stand for You (New Version)-Tree63
  13. Lead Me to the Cross-Hillsong UNITED
  14. Eyes on You-Mosaic MSC
  15. Christ in Me–Jeremy Camp

21 Things I’m Looking Forward to in 2021

As for me, I will always have hope; I will praise you more and more. -Psalm 71:14

It can be difficult to see the possibility of change and blessings in such dark times. Last year sure was a ride! And while the pandemic has turned our lives upside down, it doesn’t mean our future has to look bleak. What are you hopeful about this year? Here are 21 things I’m looking forward to in 2021:

  1. Drawing nearer to Jesus
  2. Finding creative ways to spend time with my family
  3. More game playing
  4. Growing closer to my husband
  5. New adventures
  6. Increasing my trust in God
  7. Coming up with fresh content for my blog
  8. Cooking with our girls
  9. Teachings from God
  10. Being more present
  11. Reading the entire Bible
  12. Writing more poems
  13. Capturing Alaska with my camera
  14. Observing Alaskan wildlife
  15. Catching fat salmon
  16. Writing my book
  17. Continuing to heal
  18. Finding other ways to serve God
  19. Canning salmon and veggies
  20. Moving to the beach
  21. Collecting seashells at the coast

Even when life hammers us, and we aren’t sure what blow we’ll take next, let’s continue to put our hope in Jesus. Let’s praise Him and enjoy what we have been given. Find and cherish the small joys. Sometimes it’s just a matter of wiping enough of the fog from our lens to clearly see all that we have to be grateful for and the opportunities that await us.

So I commend the enjoyment of life, because there is nothing better for a person under the sun than to eat and drink and be glad. Then joy will accompany them in their toil all the days of the life God has given them under the sun. -Ecclesiastes 8:15

2020 Blessings Amidst the Pandemic

I don’t know about you, but I’m so ready for this year to be over. Before it’s over though, I need to remember the things God has blessed our family with. When I sent our family Christmas video this year, my childhood best friend texted back something that struck me- “So happy for all the blessings you’ve been shown this year.” She’s right. Although I’m having difficulty seeing them at this moment while struggling with a bout of depression, we have been shown many blessings. I’m hoping a little reflection on our year will help remind me of the positives and small joys God provided us with. Here are a few things we’ve been fortunate to experience this year:

His Presence-Always there for us no matter what we’re going through, God has been our rock through it all. He never fails us and we’re learning to trust Him more each day.

Family-Living through a pandemic can be a very lonely season, but we have each other to lean on during this difficult time. My husband is always doing so much for our family and our girls are forever trying to put a smile on my face.

Fresh Alaskan caught salmon-In September, right after arriving in Alaska, we caught and froze twenty-two meals of fresh salmon within a few weeks time, right in our back yard.

Safe Travels through Canada to Alaska-During a big move across the country we made it over the Canadian border to Alaska safe and sound without getting Covid.

Tubing in Bend, Oregon-We had a blast visiting Mt. Bachelor for the first time and getting some tubing in at the beginning of the year.

Seeing relatives-We got to visit my parents before our big move.

Finding a new favorite beach-After moving to Alaska and exploring new sites, we found our new favorite beach on the Kenai Peninsula.

A Summer on the river-For the second year in a row, we got to spend the summer off-grid camp hosting in beautiful Central Washington.

Seeing wildlife-On our drive through Canada, we spotted five bear and a couple of moose. Then, shortly after arriving in Alaska, a mama moose and her two calves strolled down our driveway and peeked right in our front window. We have also seen several bald eagles and one golden eagle fly overhead.

Halloween party fun-Instead of trick-or-treating this year, we surprised our girls with a Halloween party that included a fear-factor style game, a caramel apple bar, and a candy scavenger hunt.

New Recipes-With more time stuck indoors, I’ve had the chance to create several tasty new soup recipes. I also tried Shepherd’s Pie for the first time ever (I know, crazy!) and created my own yummy recipe that we can’t get enough of.

Technology-While still difficult, having the technology to Facetime relatives during Covid has helped to make these lock downs not quite so tough.

Craft time-Slowing down and creating upcycled crafts with our girls has brought me joy.

Vitamin B injections and other new supplements-I found some new treatments to really help lessen the fatigue caused by the persistent Lyme disease and chronic fatigue syndrome that I struggle with. This has made a world of difference.

My Yeti mug-For my birthday this summer, my parents bought me a “Duck, Duck, Moose” Yeti Mug that I just love. It brightens my day to drink my daily cold brew from it.

My husband’s job-Having already had a work-from home job before the pandemic, this has been a Godsend.

A new Christmas tradition-I mentioned in a previous post, that we started a new Christmas tradition writing Christmas Kindness Notes to each other beginning in December and throughout the month. We opened our stockings full of notes on Christmas Eve and it was so sweet to hear all the loving words written to each of us.

Doggie snuggles-I can always count on my pups for some afternoon snuggles.

Health-God has protected us and kept our family healthy.

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. -Psalm 136:1

While I’m thankful that the year is coming to an end, I’m even more grateful for the adventures and memories He’s allowed us to make. So long 2020! Bring on the new year!

Our Christmas Eve Rundown

How will you be celebrating Jesus this Christmas season? It’s important that my family keep Christ at the center of Christmas, so what better way to help us keep our focus on Him, than to throw a birthday party for the Prince of Peace! Need some ideas for how to do this? Here’s the rundown for our Christmas Eve:

-Bake and frost a birthday cake for Jesus, then sing Him Happy Birthday.

-Play Nativity Bingo and a special Christmas edition Scattergories that includes Christ-centered categories I whipped up quickly on the computer.

-Write down a gift we can each give Jesus this year. (You can download the free printable I created below).

-Make and share a meal of Shepherd’s Pie. (I thought that was fitting for this evening).

-Read the Christmas Story together.

-Sing Christmas Carols in our living room, worshiping the King. A few on my list are: O’ Come Let Us Adore Him, Silent Night, O Come All Ye Faithful, Hark the Harold Angels Sing, O Holy Night, and Away in a Manger.

-Open our stockings filled with little notes. We started a new tradition of Christmas Kindness Notes in December. Each day leading up to Christmas, we wrote something we loved or appreciated about each person in our family. This was not my idea, but I did find something similar on Pinterest. I created my own notes that we printed out and wrote on. (You can download the free printable I created below).

-Snuggle up in our new jams, watch a Christian Christmas movie or show together, and fill up at the hot chocolate bar. I always buy and wrap up new pajamas for everyone in our family to open on Christmas Eve. After opening our new jams, we’ll get cozy and dig into the hot chocolate bar I’ll set up with various hot cocoa toppings-crushed candy canes, chocolate chips, marshmallows, and candy cane stir sticks. Next, we’ll watch the Chosen Special Christmas Episode. If we hadn’t already watched The Star, I would have opted for that movie. For family’s with older children, The Nativity would be an excellent choice.

And that’s the plan for our ‘night before Christmas’. I will be taking a short break from writing until after December 25th. I hope you all have a very Merry Christmas!

That Pesky Thorn

What is that thorn in your side? One of mine is perfectionism. I’ve wrestled with this since I was a teenager. It used to be so much worse, but God has been working on me with this one for a long time. It’s gotten a lot better, but still rears its ugly head during times of stress or uncertainty. The other day, I made a lot of mistakes and felt like a failure. I’ll admit. I didn’t want to write. I felt unqualified, but my husband suggested I make a list of all the ways I’m not perfect and all the ways God is. So here I am.

Here are 6 ways I’m far from perfect:

I’m impatient

I can be negative

I get easily frustrated

I like things done a certain way

I raise my voice

I struggle with letting go

Here are 6 ways that God is perfect:

1. He is the God of all grace and His grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in weakness.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. -2 Corinthians 12:9

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. -1 Peter 5:10

Grace upon grace upon grace. See the common theme? His grace more than makes up for our weaknesses. In fact, His power is made perfect in our weakness. His power shines through our weaknesses. It is through our flaws and brokenness that He can best work and be glorified.

2. His way is perfect and His Word is flawless.

As for God, his way is perfect; the word of the LORD is flawless. He is a shield for all who take refuge in him. -Psalm 18:30

Our way is not even close to perfect, but His is. When we try to do things in our own strength and our own way, we falter. Earlier this week, I tried to be and do in my own strength and I failed. He is our refuge though, and we can take shelter in Him when we make mistakes. And His Word is flawless, so we can rely on that Truth to help correct and instruct us to live a more righteous life. When we are struggling with guilt and perfectionism, meditating on His Word, which is alive and powerful, can also restore us.

3. He is Holy.

“There is none holy like the Lord: for there is none besides you; there is no rock like our God.” 1 Samual 2:2

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Holy as “exalted or worthy of complete devotion as one perfect in goodness and righteousness.” It also says that holy means: divine. There is no one holy like Him. And therefore, only He can help us become more holy and righteous, because we were made in His image. We can’t do this on our own.

4. His works are perfect. He does no wrong.

He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he. -Deuteronomy 32:4

He is a perfect and just God on whom we can stand. When we stand firm on the Rock, we can withstand anything. If He is our foundation, we will not collapse under the weight of our failures.

5. The Law of the Lord is perfect.

The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; -Psalm 19:7

His law is meant to instruct us in the right way and when we obey His law, He will restore us and renew our spirits. With obedience, comes blessings. So when we are struggling with perfectionism and guilt, let’s ask ourselves if we are following His law.

6. He is the God of love and peace.

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. -2 Corinthians 13:11

He is love and He is peace. And His perfect love casts out fear. So when we are afraid that we aren’t enough-that we aren’t perfect enough, that we aren’t doing enough-that we aren’t (fill in the blank) enough, we can rest assured that His perfect love will cast out that fear if we let it.

Therefore, those times when we try to be perfect, and we can’t, we don’t have to fear, because we have a God who is. And He will fill in the gaps for us with His love, mercy and grace. For He is perfect in all of His ways. And He is a God who loves without limits.