Category Archives: Encouragement

Where to Find Joy

blossoming-orchard

The first time I found poison ivy, I was looking for something entirely different—a ring, to be exact.

My dad had just purchased an eighty-acre apple orchard in tremendous need of cultivation and care (which is a generous way of saying it was neglected and run down), and our family was in the process of moving there. At the time of this incident, we were staying at the orchard for a few days.

The trees were in full bloom with petals already dropping, making a gorgeous canopy of white flowers above with a white carpet beneath. To a twelve-year-old city girl, this orchard idea seemed quaint and romantic. It was the perfect setting for a walk of the sort Anne of Green Gables would have taken, and I probably imagined myself her while I walked up and down the rows of apple trees absentmindedly pulling my ring up and down my finger. Continue reading

The Best Way to Avoid Getting Behind on Projects

to-do

Time for a confession: I’m behind on my to do list—like, really behind. (There, I said it.)

The truth is, I have more on my list for yesterday that is unfinished than I can think of today. I would say that this is just a busy season, but it would be more accurate to say that it’s a busier season. I’m always busy (thankfully so), but currently, I’m in a season full of deadlines and (seemingly) short on creativity.

I don’t like being behind…and I’m guessing that you don’t either.

The good news is that there is a sure-fire way to avoid it. Seriously. If you follow this simple step, you’ll not get behind on a single big project again. Ever.

The secret? Continue reading

Of Birds, Hope, and Ten-Year Landmarks: Why You Can Rejoice in the Storm

cardinal

I saw a date in the margin of my Bible this morning that made me start—2/26/04. It wasn’t just the date that took me by surprise, but the realization that it has been exactly ten years since that day.

I remember where I was when I wrote that date—on the top bunk in a guest room in Bowie, Texas.

I remember the verse I read just before I wrote that date. (I don’t actually have to remember that one—it’s right there in the margin of my Bible. But I remember it anyway.) Psalm 86:4, “Rejoice the soul of thy servant: for unto thee, O Lord, do I lift up my soul.”

I remember what I did after I read that verse and wrote it in my journal. I stepped outside the guest house with a spiral notebook and sat on the back stoop to write an article for the magazine I was editing at the time. The article appeared in the June/July ’04 issue of Stepping in the Light, and it was titled “Sing, Little Bird!” The article provides some insight into that day: Continue reading

I Will Hope: 13 Practical Ways to Choose Hope

desert-hope

Hope is a noun and a verb. It is what we have, and it is what we do. We who know the Lord already have hope, but we must also choose hope.

I recently did a Bible study on the word hope, and I was amazed at what I found. With 121 verses with this word (and 12 more verses when you add forms of the word), hope is all throughout Scripture. I prepared a Sunday school lesson from the study, and I had to leave out more verses than I could include!

Through my study, I compiled a list of thirteen practical ways we can choose hope. Continue reading

Words for the Week: Hope Thou in God

sunrise-boat

Why art thou cast down, O my soul? and why art thou disquieted in me? hope thou in God: for I shall yet praise him for the help of his countenance.—Psalm 42:5

Hope is one of the greatest gifts of life. It is faith’s twin sister, and it is courage’s strength.

Christian hope is far more than a Pollyanna outlook; it is confidence in our sovereign God.

I recently read a statement by G.K. Chesterton: “Hope is the power of being cheerful in circumstances that we know to be desperate.” Continue reading

Words for the Week: Be Strong in the Lord

strength

Funny thing about the biblical commands to “be strong.” They have nothing to do with our strength. In fact, they only make sense when we realize that our strength is insufficient.

Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall:—Isaiah 40:30

The strongest of us are weak, and the sooner we realize that the better. I love the quote by Charles Spurgeon: “When your own emptiness is painfully forced upon your consciousness, chide yourself that you ever dreamed of being full, except in the Lord.” Continue reading

Words for the Week: Rejoice in the Lord

sunflower

I have a thousand blessings to rejoice in today: a warm house, food in the refrigerator, a working car, a delightful family, kind friends, opportunities to serve…I even had pie for breakfast. (You always know it’s going to be a good day when you eat pie for breakfast. Always.)

But in all my reasons to rejoice there is none greater than this: “Rejoice in the Lord” (Philippians 4:4). In life, I have many reasons to rejoice. But in Jesus, I have every reason to rejoice.

To be sure, just as easily as I can come up with a list of blessings, I could gather a list of discouragements. If I really set my mind to it, I could make my discouragements list longer than my blessings list. (This is not because I have greater discouragements than blessings, but because a mind set on discouragement easily finds it.) Continue reading

Book Review: The Burden Bearer

  • How is it that we who personally know the One who invites us to cast our cares upon Him still stagger on bearing our own loads?
  • How is it that we who have chosen Christ’s easy yoke persist in carrying our lopsided weights on our shoulders rather than hitching them to our shared yoke with Christ?
  • How is it that we who have dedicated ourselves to the service of the Burden Bearer so often find ourselves feeling heavy, burdened, weighted, and exhausted?
  • And one more question: If we learn to cast our cares on His shoulders, do we release them from our own?

These are the probing, opening questions in The Burden Bearer by Pastor Paul Chappell. Perhaps you’ve had similar questions. So has Carrier—the allegorical Lifter with whom I readily identify. Carrier’s story is woven throughout the book with plenty of Pastor Chappell’s personal illustrations and biblical insights given as well.

This book was one of the projects I have been privileged to help with serving on the team at Striving Together Publications. Without a doubt, The Burden Bearer has been one of my favorite projects. Released just under a year ago, many have shared with me that this is one of the most encouraging, uplifting, helpful books they’ve ever read. Continue reading