Cheer On, Cheerleader!

Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. -1 Thessalonians 5:11

Are you being a cheerleader in your loved ones lives? Encouraging others is something God calls us to do. Recently, my husband and I watched Life Below Zero: Port Protection. One of the women on the show, Timbi, was holding her tongue and mentioned she was trying to be a cheerleader for her husband in order to help keep him on track with his projects. I could see she was frustrated, but at the same time she bit her tongue and proceeded to continue to motivate him. She stood by his side and cheered him on to move forward with their projects, despite his mistakes and setbacks. This made me think about how God has called us to act. As Christians, we are called to uplift others. Proverbs 18:21 says, The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit.

Being a perfectionist and being very particular about how I like things done, I’ll be the first to admit, it’s easy to pick. What’s harder is choosing the higher road by setting expectations aside and building others up. This can be extremely challenging. When we want something done a certain way or expect something to get completed to our satisfaction and it’s not, how much more difficult it is to hold our tongue and speak words of encouragement. I’m not saying we can’t ever express our dissatisfaction or our feelings, but we need to do it in a way that is not tearing others down. This is something I am definitely working on.

So, the next time we are tempted to get upset about something someone did that wasn’t up to par with what was hoped, let’s remember to bite it and build them up. Whether it’s a friend or a coworker, a family member or neighbor-we can look for the good and choose our words carefully-words that speak life, and not death.

Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear. -Ephesians 4:29

Remain in Me

Several months ago, the monotony of the days had been getting to me-one running into the next, that I sometimes forgot to count my blessings. Like painting with those messy Crayola watercolor paints, where one color runs into the next and you can’t distinguish the blue from the red from the green, because they’re all muddied-that’s how it was. I didn’t want to adult and complete the routine tasks of washing dishes and making dinner, to do it all over again the next day and the next. Catching myself grumbling, I paused, then asked for forgiveness. In connecting with God, I heard Him say remain in me.

This brought to mind some Christians I met with years ago in a life group that were also discussing these words from the Bible:

 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful. You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you. Remain in me, as I also remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.

“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. -John 15:1-11

During our meeting a little over a decade ago, I distinctly recall the powerful message that was presented. The leader of the group had cut a tree branch a couple of days prior and showed us that the withering branch was dying because it wasn’t connected to its source. It was cut off from its lifeblood and was no longer getting the nutrients it needed to survive, let alone thrive and prosper. This is what happens to us. We must remain in Him in order to continue to bear fruit, in order to grow. How can we be expected to thrive without our Lifeline? When we don’t remain connected to the Vine, our growth is stunted.

Are you staying connected to Him or have you cut yourself off from the One who will sustain you? Where are you getting your strength? Are you remaining in Him so you can keep walking the narrow path? He makes it extremely clear in this verse that we are to remain in Him. We must stay connected at all times in order to blossom. Let us be those branches that bear fruit-that flourish, by remembering to remain in His love every moment of every day. Then, we will have the sustenance to keep doing His will-loving and serving others while building the Kingdom of God.

It’s the Little Things…and the Big

“‘The Lord bless you and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you and give you peace.”’ -Numbers 6:24-26

Recently, while trying to cope with the profound fatigue that plagues me and other challenges of living with chronic illnesses, my childhood best friend reminded me… it’s the little things. So, in an effort to look for those little things…

I may not have the energy to go for a jog, but I can walk the block with my family.

I may not have the stamina to run full speed ahead in a family game of soccer, but some days I am blessed to kick a soccer ball around with my kiddos and play the goalie in a shorter soccer match.

I may not be in a fast-paced career anymore, but my body is more at rest and moving at the pace it needs to be right now.

I may not know the future, but I have the present.

I may not think the most positive thoughts at the moment, but I have His Word to give me hope.

I may not always be able to calm the storms of anxiety that afflict me, but I have a God who is bigger than my fears.

I may not see the sun shining, but the Son is always shining down on us.

I may not be living the life I imagined, but God has a plan for me-and His plan is far superior to mine.

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

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