Claiming Your Promised Land

Phil 4 7As I compiled RESTNotes, the devotional guide to my book, Words That Change Everything, other commitments and obligations kept getting in the way.

Plus, I was exhausted because I had just completed my book. And that process birthed more challenges than I’d like to admit.

Also, my husband, Dan, had just retired. And I was ready for some REST and time off, too.

Lord, I’ll never keep up with all my commitments!

I thought of the story in Matthew where the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness to be tested by the devil. After that trial, “the devil left him, and angels came and attended him” (Matt. 4:11 NIV).

Even Jesus grew weary in his battles. And he called on his heavenly Father to give him the words to defeat his accuser. But he also experienced the spiritual comfort provided by his Father.

I’m thankful that I can trust the Lord to provide that same kind of comfort for me.

All praise to the God and Father of our Master, Jesus the Messiah! Father of all mercy! God of all healing counsel! He comes alongside us when we go through hard times, and before you know it, he brings us alongside someone else who is going through hard times so that we can be there for that person just as God was there for us. We have plenty of hard times that come from following the Messiah, but no more so than the good times of his healing comfort—we get a full measure of that, too. (2 Cor. 1:3–5 The Message)

Red Flags

Where do you go for REST when you’re tired or worried? What do you tend to turn to for comfort?

GraceTalk

What promises from God’s Word have helped you as you have stepped out in faith to trust the Lord?

Reflection

Consider some of the times you trusted God with an impossible situation. Describe the dates and details?

This excerpt taken from my eBook, RESTNotes. Be sure to get your FREE copy today!

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Impossible Writing Projects

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I sensed the Lord’s direction to share a particular story from my family’s life, and I began to write about it when we were still in the heat of the crisis.

Impossible journey. Every time I attempted to move forward with submitting this project for publication, something major would happen to prevent my progress.

By major, I don’t mean a little bump in the road. I’m referring to some impossible situations—like my mother’s terminal illness, my daughter’s two major surgeries and several difficult pregnancies, my father-in-law’s lengthy terminal illness, and more.

And I haven’t even mentioned the journey to publication. Oh, my! Where do I begin with that one?

Impossible project. As I approached this long-standing project about a crisis with my daughter Tara, red flags waved all around me, warning me of the impossibility of this effort. And to be honest, when I came home from her house recently, discouragement blanketed me again like a heavy, dark storm cloud. And I’ve been tempted to toss this project into the “impossible” pile once again.

Impossible calling. Then, I spent time in a study of Moses.

And I thought my task looked hopeless!

Moses faced the unimaginable tasks of his calling with great fear. He knew he didn’t have the strengths that he would need to complete the things that God had called him to.

Moses was well aware of his weaknesses and limitations. He wanted to embrace God’s promises, but everywhere he turned, he sensed the impossibility of God’s plans for his life.

Powerful Promises. Today, as I study more about Moses, I’m reminded once again of how God’s promises do not depend upon me. Even my unbelief, fear, and doubt will not change God’s plans. God will complete His work—with or without my involvement.

I know the story I need to write will be told to encourage others who might be experiencing a similar crisis. And I don’t want them to miss out on the blessing.

So, I’m choosing to go forward again, holding on to God’s promises.

Thankfully, I don’t believe God has given up on me like I’ve often given up on Him. He will forgive my complaining and blaming others for my failures. And He promises to provide all I need to complete the work that He has stirred up in me.

I pray if you are struggling over a similar circumstance, you will consider God’s promises to you again today.

“[Be] strong and courageous! Do not be afraid or discouraged. For the Lord your God is with you wherever you go” (Joshua 1:9 NLT)

Have you ever given up on a project because it seemed impossible?

Promises for the Writing Process

WordSwag/KarenJordanAs I worked on my first book project, I struggled with all kinds of self-doubt and fear. I wondered why I had even bothered with writing a book proposal.

I had faced several rejections in the past. And I had been unable to follow through on other book projects earlier for a myriad of reasons.

Yet I couldn’t seem to let go of my desire to share the spiritual lessons I had learned, applying God’s principles and promises to my life.

Peace. I had been praying about finding spiritual rest and peace. And I had struggled with the thought of compiling the truths I had discovered while helping others in their struggle with fear—especially with worry, anxiety, and depression.

Prayer. I had voiced a question to God as I wrestled with fear, doubt, and unbelief concerning direction for my book: How can I write a book about finding spiritual rest, when I’m still one of the most anxious people I know?

Promises. I discovered powerful promises in the Bible as I sought God’s direction and moved forward with my book. I hope they will encourage you as you work on your next writing project.

  • God will complete the work that He began in me. “[Being] confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion . . . ” (Phil. 4:6 NLT).
  • The Holy Spirit will teach me all things and remind me of everything that the Lord has taught me. “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit—the Father will send Him in My name—will teach you all things and remind you of everything I have told you” (John 14:26 HCSB).
  • Christ promises to give me the strength I need. “For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength” (Phil. 4:13 NLT).

What promises from scripture have meant the most to you while you labored over your writing projects?

 

Facing Distractions and Discouragement

How do you respond to distractions and discouragement when you’re seeking direction?

Writing my first book initiated one of the most intense spiritual battles of my life. I worried about my family—especially my seven grandchildren.

I had not been available for their needs with all my blogging, speaking, and writing. Guilty thoughts saturated me like a heavy rainstorm. And worry encompassed me like a dark thundercloud overhead.

Then, a Word broke through the storm clouds like a ray of sunshine: “[T]here is no condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus” (Rom. 8:1 NLT).

My husband, Dan, had scheduled his retirement date just weeks before the deadline to turn in my book manuscript. So my direction faltered, and my thoughts were like a honeybee, flitting flower to flower. Lord, how will I ever finish this book in time?

I completed my book, but not without spiritual battles. Ephesians 6 offers us this truth:

Be prepared. You’re up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it’s all over but the shouting you’ll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You’ll need them throughout your life.
God’s Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. (Eph. 6:13–17 The Message)

What scriptures have helped you during the spiritual battles of your writing life?

A Novelist Who Writes Non-Fiction Blogs

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I love story. I love picking up a book and sinking into a character’s journey. Experiencing life and emotion through another’s perspective.

Becoming a novelist was a natural progression for me. Books became my escape from the loneliness and pain as a sensitive introvert in a family that didn’t know how to do relationship or life well. I longed for the love and connections I drank in each week as I watched Little House on the Prairie–wishing so much that I could be Laura Ingalls (though with Mary’s hair). I wanted to be loved with the depth and passion of a father like Charles Ingalls.

Fast forward many years and many choices that brought more scars to my heart. The emotional pain kept me crying out to God for relief. For help. For freedom.

And so started a journey in which God began restoring my soul. Healing brokenness and deep wounds. Bringing joy and peace. And the more healing I received, the more aware I became of the enemy’s tactics against us—God’s precious, broken sheep. And the stronger my passion to help others find the freedom I so craved when I was deep in the pit of hopelessness and shame.

So while I write fiction novels, I blog about freedom and hope.

God has gifted many of us with the power of words.

Not all are called to wield the power of words in the same way. But each of us is uniquely gifted to shine light into our patch of His garden. To hold the light high so lost and hurting sheep can find their way home.

My passion is that none would be lost. And that those who aren’t lost—those who believe in Jesus—don’t live as prisoners of war. Locked behind the enemy lines of hopelessness and fear, defeat and despair.

So many of us present smiling facades. The greater the success, the more invested we tend to be in hiding our brokenness behind shiny walls. Walls that imprison rather than protect.

Our world has evolved from front porch sitting and conversing to a place where technology is replacing face-to-face interaction.

We are designed to be seen and known and accepted in all our flawed beauty. Without that, our souls slowly shrivel while our public (and Facebook) smiles get brighter.

My desire is to encourage people to see beyond their intellectual understanding that Jesus died so we can live as overcomers, and helping them take the steps to live that as their reality. Making the promises of God a tangible daily experience rather than verses we quote but have no real belief in.

God’s desire is that we live in His promises, that His fruits fuel and flow through us. And my hope is to shed light on how to step into all that God has for us, how to kick the enemy and his lies to the curb so we become fully who He designed us to be—His spotless bride.

For the Brokenhearted

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Psalm 34:17-18 “The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles. The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

This is the season of Joy. Glistening lights, happy Christmas carols, gifts given in love. But for some, the season is not as bright. For the father who is struggling to put food on the table for his children, let alone buy them Christmas gifts. For the old woman who sits in her rocking chair, her life but a memory and her children too busy to visit. For the child who wants to be a part of a loving family. For the mother who cries over the son she lost in the war.

For those who have gone through a year of endless trials and heartbreak and feel you have no reason to celebrate, this is for you. God is a God of love. He loves you. The Bible says He hears the prayers of His children. He knows the pain and sorrow you carry even without you telling Him. But even more so, He promises to deliver you from your troubles.

Even if your sorrows haven’t been as grievous, know that God has walked by your side. That He is ever faithful to love and keep you. Psalm 34 is loaded with promises from God—He answers our prayers when we seek Him, He encamps around us to protect us, His eyes and ears are attentive to our cries, and He promises to deliver us from our troubles.

It’s easy this time of year to get caught up in the trappings, the glitter, and the clutter and lose sight of the real reason for the season. God did not come to earth to judge us, but to save us. To lift us up when we are discouraged. To be our comforter and the lover of our souls.

May this holiday season be a time of refreshing for you. I pray you can leave your cares at His feet and that God’s presence will fill your hearts and souls to overflowing.

Holding onto God’s Hands

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Psalm 73: 23-24 I am always with you; you hold me by my right hand. You guide me with your counsel, and afterward you will take me into glory.

Have you ever had one of those days, weeks, or years when everything goes wrong? Health issues, financial problems, family struggles, or the death of a loved one—these are all things that can rip the joy from you, zap you of your strength, or leave you wondering if God is even out there.

How often, during these times, do we think our prayers have gone unanswered? Or that God has turned his back on us? Or that he doesn’t care?

Even if our faith runs deep, it is easy to get into that rut of believing the worst. It’s human nature. But I assure you, God will be with you every step of the way. He won’t stop at just walking beside you. He will, as the scripture says, hold you by his right hand. He will be your teacher, counselor, and mentor. He will guide you through the rough times, if you listen for his voice and search his word.

I knew a woman who had lost her first and only child to crib death, or SIDS – Sudden Infant Death Syndrome. The impact of that child’s death rippled through our small church with the force of a tsunami. A short time afterwards, I found her in one of the Sunday school rooms cleaning the toys, wiping off the shelves, and singing. When she sang, when she prayed, or even when she shed her tears across the altar, she believed God was her strength. He held her hand, and guided her through the valley of the shadow of death.

But most of all, she knew God had led her baby into glory. And that one day, he would lead her through, too. She’d be able to hold her child in her arms once again.

This is his promise to us. A promise we can count on.