Category Archives: Encouragement

What to Do When You’re Missing Chapter One

open-book

Have you ever read a fictional or biographical book minus the first chapter?

I remember as a young child sitting in the book closet of our home (I never realized until I just typed that phrase that we had a “book closet” rather than a “linen closet”! I’m thankful my parents cared that much to keep us stocked with good reading!) and reading Treasures of the Snow by Patricia St. John.

The book so profoundly affected me that as seven year old, I determined I was going to be a wood carver…and for several years saved money to purchase carving tools. In hindsight and judging by my decidedly un-artistic abilities, it’s probably good that this dream never materialized into mangled pieces of wood. But I digress.

One aspect I remember most about reading Treasures of the Snow was its missing cover and front pages. The story begins with a Christmas Eve scene in the Alps of Switzerland. In the first chapter, the main characters and their relationship both to one another and to the plot of the story is set…but I missed some of these pages. Without these important details, I struggled to make sense of following pages.

It’s too bad to miss the beginning of a book you’re reading. But what if you miss the beginning of the story you’re living? Continue reading

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