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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7 Tips about the Basic Needs and Stressors of Introverts

Image/karenjordan.netThank you, Jesus—I’m home again!

A few weeks ago, I found myself surrounded by extroverts, enjoying their confidence as they absorbed energy from all who surrounded them at a publishing event for Christian writers.

And all the activity almost sucked the life out of this introvert! I’m still exhausted.

Thankfully, my extrovert travel companion understood the strengths and weaknesses of an introvert, even though I’m sure she tired from dragging me out of my comfort zone.

Ever wondered what makes an introvert tick? I don’t have to look beyond my own mirror to answer that question. So, I hope the following tips help you understand some of the basic needs and stressors of introverts.

1. Personal space energizes introverts. And when we get stressed out, we need to be left alone. Being in crowds drains us, so we often need to find some alone time to recharge our batteries.

2. Extroverts often misunderstand the need for personal space, and introverts tend to be more withdrawn at times. So, they might need to come out of their caves and share their perspective with those who might misinterpret their need for solitude. And sometimes, they might need a little motivation to abandon their comfort zone.

3. Social situations routinely cause grief for introverts, as they struggle with small talk with strangers. They appreciate friends who understand and encourage them in stressful social settings.

4. Networking can frustrate introverts who aren’t prepared for that kind of interaction. Pitching new projects to a publisher at large events can be an overwhelming task for introvert writers. So, practicing their pitches with other writers can boost their confidence.

5. Focus can also challenge introverts since they tend to be distracted in intense environments. They may need to consider taking a few tips about planning schedules and sticking to deadlines from their more organized friends.

6. REST is a basic need for everyone. Facing my own weaknesses proved to be another opportunity to utilize my prayer strategy of REST: Remember, Exalt, Surrender, and Trust, based on Philippians 4:5-7.

. . . The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus (NIV). (Phil. 4:5-7 NIV)

7. Prayer. During my worst moments under the stress of over-stimulating social situations and networking challenges, I searched for some personal space, and put this prayer strategy from Lamentations 3:28-29 into practice: “When life is heavy and hard to take, go off by yourself. Enter the silence. Bow in prayer. Don’t ask questions: Wait for hope to appear” (The Message).

Remembering and focusing on the presence of God enables me to exalt his Word over my circumstances, surrender my weaknesses and burdens to him, and trust him to guard my heart and my mind with his peace.

Are you an introvert, living in an extrovert’s world? What strategies help you when the energy of others is zapping the strength out of you?

Six Promises When Words Fail Us

Photo/KarenJordan

What do we do when we don’t know what to say or pray?

Where can we find the words to express our thoughts and emotions?

What can we do when life places us in unbearable circumstances? Where can we go? Who do we run to? What should we cling to when we’re drowning in a sea of our sorrows? And what can we advise others who may be walking through a difficult life crisis?

My younger sister Leslea just endured another health crisis that led to life-threating surgery. My heart aches for my little sister. A single mom of three, Leslea has experienced so many unbearable tragedies and losses in her lifetime–the tragic death of her youngest child, breast cancer, and now major heart surgery. And as her older sister, I often do not know how to respond to her overwhelming needs.

As a writer, my words often fail me when I don’t know how to respond to a difficult issue. And when a friend or family member faces a tragic loss or painful failure, mere words seem inadequate to express my emotions and concerns.

Now, after surviving many trials and crises in my own life, I do know who to turn to when a crisis hits close to home. And I know who I can cling to when I’m overwhelmed by confusion and doubt. I have discovered peace and rest in a storm.

Are you searching for the words to express your thoughts or your faith? God’s Word offers us the promises we need to encourage others.

  1. Help. The Lord promises to help us when we don’t know what to say or pray. “… the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans” (Rom 8:26 NIV).
  2. Hope. The Holy Spirit offers promises of hope, even if we never understand why these things happen. “I pray that God, the source of hope, will fill you completely with joy and peace because you trust in him. Then you will overflow with confident hope through the power of the Holy Spirit” (Rom 15:13 NLT).
  3. Assurance. God’s Word provides the assurance that Jesus will bear our grief and carry our sorrows. “He suffered the things we should have suffered. He took on himself the pain that should have been ours” (Is 53:4 NIRV).
  4. Peace. God’s Word can speak peace to the storm ravaging our dreams. And He promises to throw us the lifeline of His Word. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil 4:7 NIV).
  5. Confidence. We can have the confidence to know that in Christ, we will survive. And we can expect Him to provide the power we need to overcome any circumstance in our life if we trust Him with the situation. Healing and hope for the future can be found in Him. “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5:14).
  6. Rest. In Matthew 11:28-30, Jesus said, “Come to me, all who are tired from carrying heavy loads, and I will give you rest. Place my yoke over your shoulders, and learn from me, because I am gentle and humble. Then you will find rest for yourselves because my yoke is easy and my burden is light” (NOG).

Show, don’t (just) tell! As you tell others of your faith, don’t forget the power of your story. As we share our own faith stories, we invite others to see, feel, and experience what we have experienced.

Are you facing a loss, a failure, a decision, or some other difficult situation? I pray these promises from God’s Word will also give hope to you and others who may be suffering under a heavy burden.

Remember, the Lord knows your needs—even better than you do. He understands. And He wants to assure you of His presence right now and in all the days of your life.

I lift my friends up to you, Heavenly Father. I pray they will give you their heavy burdens. I thank you for your promise of rest and peace.

The Lord answered my prayer about one important concern the weekend before my sister’s heart surgery. Leslea had asked me to take her to church as she prepared for her surgery. She had been unable to attend church for years because of her job schedule. But since she was unable to work, she was free to attend church.

Since I live in a different state than my sister, I prayed that God would lead us to the right church service that Sunday. And the Lord met all of our needs that day with the perfect church, sermon, and worship experience. In fact, the words of a song, “My Heart Is Yours,” expressed Leslea’s prayers in ways I never anticipated.

How has God’s Word helped you through a difficult situation or as you responded to someone else in crisis?

Why You Should Stop Marketing Your Book

Years ago, I heard a professional speaker tell about a dream she had: She had always wanted to go to Australia. She mentioned the dream in one of her speaking engagements and a couple approached her afterwards.

We’re from Australia. You can go stay in our home, free, for three months while we are traveling.

Immediately the speaker backpedaled. She had thoughts like, “I can’t do that. I can’t afford to miss work. My career would dry up. People would forget about me.”

Night Sydney Opera House with Harbour BridgeBut it was too great an opportunity to pass up. She flew to Australia, enjoyed herself tremendously, and when she returned her business boomed.

Why?

Everyone wanted to know what her trip had been like. Even better, she came back refreshed and motivated to pour herself into her business.

All authors should take time off from marketing their books. Here’s why:

Sometimes Less Is More  – Some of my favorite bloggers are those I rarely hear from. I don’t get tired of their voices because I don’t hear them every day. All of a sudden I’ll see a link to one of their blogs and I’ll think, “Oh, there you are. I’ve missed you.” Once in a while I get sick of my own selfcare mantra and I’m sure others do as well.

We Need New perspectives And Experiences – The brain loves novelty. It lights up at new experiences. That’s why you can visit an ordinary town and everything about it is fun and interesting. As I write this I’m finishing up a long week of clients, social media, and wedding details (my daughter gets married in September). I’m taking next week off to go to Breckenridge with my husband who has a work conference, and after that I’m flying to Nashville for a relaxing weekend with other creative people. Yes, I’ll miss time with clients, and yes, there is a financial cost, but I know the benefit will be greater.

Even God Took Time Off – Author Wayne Muller says, “In the book of Exodus we read, ‘In six days God made heaven and earth, and on the seventh day God rested, and was refreshed.’ Here, the word ‘refreshed,’ vaiynafesh, literally means, and God exhaled. The creation of the world was like the life-quickening inhale; the Sabbath is the exhale…without the Sabbath exhale, the life-giving inhale is impossible.” Inhale plus exhale equals life. If God needed refreshment, don’t you think we do, too?

When was the last time you blocked off your calendar for pure enjoyment and no book marketing? 

Finding Rest in a Storm

For you are my hiding place; you protect me from trouble. You surround me with songs of victory. (Psalm 32:7 NLT)

As the autumn winds whispered through our oak trees, dropping the leaves across our yard, my husband Dan mentioned that we probably wouldn’t see any squirrels playing in the trees that day. “In fact, if the wind is blowing when you want to go squirrel hunting in our area, you might as well stay home,” he said. “A squirrel will not move far from his nest on windy days, so you’ll have a hard time bagging any.”

Squirrels. A squirrel knows when he needs to be still and rest—not because he’s tired, but because that is when he is most vulnerable to predators. When the wind is blowing, a squirrel can’t hear the other sounds around him—his instincts are blurred by the wind-tossed branches and leaves rustling.

Dan said the same rule applies to deer hunting in our part of the state. Deer tend to not move around much when they cannot use their God-given senses to protect them from predators.

Storms. I continue to learn spiritual lessons like this one from nature. When a storm is blowing all around me, I need to be still and wait. It can be dangerous to sail into a storm.

I’ve lived in Texas and Arkansas all my life, and we’ve survived many storms—tornados and hurricanes. It’s difficult to prepare for any kind of storm. I’ve run away from hurricanes, and I’ve hidden in our “safe place” during a tornado. But I’ve learned that I can’t stop storms from coming my way.

Shelter. How can I apply this truth to my writing life? I hope to remember this truth the next time that I face serious setbacksparalyzing problemschaotic confusion, or even aggravating attitudes. I can’t stop them. But I can choose to find a safe hiding place.

Learning to find a place of rest in the storms of life isn’t always easy. I’m tempted to keep trying to protect myself. But once again, God reminds me that He is my true refuge during the storms of life. And I’ve found His Shelter to be a great place to rest.

Where do you find shelter on a stormy day?