Grateful Monday-He guides and leads us.

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Today I’m thankful for God’s sovereignty.  Listen to what Isaiah 52:12 says.  “…for the Lord will go before you, the God of Israel will be your rear guard.”

As I think about this new year, there are many things that I could be anxious about.  There are also many things that I’m excited about. I don’t know what the future holds.  I don’t know what tonight or tomorrow will be like, but I can trust that God is there ahead of me.  He will lead and guide me along the way.

I remember kayaking down the Colorado River a few years ago.  I was a bit nervous at times about what was around the corner.  Would there be a power boat rushing at us?  Would I be able to navigate around that log or that rock that’s jutting out up ahead?  I had to learn to trust our guide who had navigated this river hundreds of times.

As I think about this new year and all the unknowns, I can trust my Savior and Lord. I may not know what is around the corner, but He is already there!  He’ll know how to guide me around that corner.

That verse also says that He is our rear guard. I take comfort in knowing that He protects us from behind as well.  Sometimes, bitterness or regret or frustration or anger creeps in from our past.  As I read that verse in Isaiah, I am encouraged to know that God will guard us from those things as we move into the future.  There’s hope in knowing that He walks with me before and behind.

I pray that as we move into this new year, that we ask God for his courage to step into those new adventures, for His joy and forgiveness as we move through things that have happened in the past and for His hope as we consider His sovereignty and His active care for our lives.

Satisfied Saturday and Great Friends

What are you grateful for today?

Today I’m thankful for long term friends!  I got to meet with one today who I haven’t seen in several years.  We were great friends all the way through school from kindergarten through high school.  We live in different states and have very different lives in some ways, although as we talked today, we realized many of our hopes and dreams were the same-they just play out differently in our lives.

I’m thankful that God has made us friends.  I’m thankful that although we don’t see each other often or even talk to each other consistently, we easily pick right back up where we were.

Listening to her pray and share her passion for God encouraged me and helped me to remember to thank God for how he works daily in each one of our lives.

It’s so easy to get lost in the daily grind, but we need to stop and thank our Creator for how He is working!  It helps me to also be more content in where God has me right now.

What are you thankful for today? Share it with someone!  Let’s focus on being satisfied in Him this Saturday.

Finding HOPE by moving towards PEOPLE

Today, we’re going to look at how moving towards PEOPLE in the body of Christ can help us find HOPE during the joyful times and during the dark times in our life.

When you’re in pain, do you usually want to be around people or would you rather hide out somewhere by yourself?

We’ve already talked about how we have to start living in a new kind of way. We have to be HONEST  about our pain AND believe God’s truths-particularly the truth that He is OMNIPRESENT– to help us move through the pain. Many times, when we’re in the midst of pain, we can’t take hold of God’s truths without the help of other people.

Who do you have in your life? Who do you trust? Can you think of 5 people that you trust? Write their names down in a journal. Think about your family, your friends, your coworkers, your youth leader, people at church, neighbors, teachers, etc.

I’m going to ask you to take a risk and share some things with at least one of them. Remember when we talked about how we each have a story?  We need to share those stories with each other. God has put us in the body of Christ for a reason. He knows that we need each other!  We need to be connected with people who can
share truth with us and who can help us move towards hope.

Remember God has also given us a story to tell.

Get out that journal again and that cup of coffee.  Take some time to think through your life story.

Who are the characters in your story?

What’s the setting?

What’s the problem or conflict? (There might more than one).

What are some resolutions you’ve seen? (Are you still waiting for resolution for some things?)

You might want to focus on the last few days or weeks or months, or you may want to go back further than that. Create a plot diagram or a just write down the answers to those questions.  You can draw pictures too if you’d like.

Then think about……

How have the CHARACTERS in your life impacted you? How have the people in your life made a difference to you?

Name ONE PERSON who has made a large impact on your life. Also tell HOW they have made a difference in your life.

How have YOU made a difference in someone else’s life?

What do you LOVE about your story?

What do you HATE about your story?

Now, take a minute to think about God’s story. Even though His story is much bigger than yours, guess what? Although He is the King of the Universe, He has YOU in the palm of His hand.  Your story fits into the bigger story of God’s story.

Sometimes we can’t see where our story is going, but He knows and He has a plan that is much bigger than our plan. Take a minute to think about how big God is. Can you even fathom it? There are more than 7 million people on this planet, and yet He has the whole world in His hand. He knows each person, and He has control over each and every one of those people’s stories-that includes YOUR story. He knows what is best for you, AND He has the power to make sure the best happens.

How do you think your story fits into the bigger picture of God’s story?

How have you seen God at work in your story?

NOW, here’s your challenge.  How much of your story have you shared with those people you listed before?   Some of us don’t like to share our stories with others.  Now the truth is that we don’t have to share our story with everyone we meet, but remember that God has put us in fellowship with others for a reason. He knows that we need each other people.   What part of your story do you think you could share with one of those people?

Think about those same people. How much of THEIR story do you know? Which one of those people do you feel comfortable asking more about their story?

Finding Hope in the New Year-Trusting in God’s Omnipresence

The Pacific Ocean

Last time, we thought about how HOPE starts with being HONEST with where you are. He already knows what you’re thinking and feeling. He wants to meet you there!

Today we’re going to think about His promise that He will never leave you nor forsake us. The O in HOPE is going to stand for God’s OMNIPRESENCE. He is AWAYS with us. He hears everything we say and think. He knows when we need to just be held in His arms. He knows our fears and our tears. He is OMNIPRESENT!

We have to remind ourselves of the truth even when we don’t feel like it. It’s like living in a new way. You and I need help to act on God’s truths even when we don’t seem to experience it. We need to remember that God is always with us even when we don’t feel His presence.

There will be times where we have to step forward in faith even when we feel like the water is crashing down on us. Because He has promised that He will never leave us, we can trust that even if we don’t see what He’s doing in this moment in our life, He is working-it might just be somewhere where we can’t see it.

How can we take comfort in the fact that God is always with you (even when it may not seem like He is)?

Grab a cup of coffee and take some time on this New Year’s Day to read Psalm 46. Get out that journal or that piece of paper or open up a new document on the computer.

List names of God from that Psalm. Then write about how that name of God gives you comfort/hope.

Here are some I’ve thought about this year.

God is…..
My CounselorHe listens to me.
A Great LightHe shows me the way when I feel that I am in darkness.
My High Tower-He is higher than my troubles. He is a place of calm and refuge.

Why don’t you try these…
My Strong Rock
King of Glory

Check out Psalm 46 and other psalms for other names of God too.
Maybe make a bookmark to keep in your Bible or write them on an index card and hang it on your fridge or in your car.

Let’s thank God today for His OMNIPRESENCE! In this New Year we can remember that no matter what comes, He promises to never leave us alone.

Monday Moment of Joy-Honesty in Finding HOPE

Hope bookmark2

How do we find joy and hope this coming year? In my next few posts, we’ll take a look at the word HOPE and use an acronym to help us look for hope. The H in HOPE will stand for “HONESTY.” The first step in finding hope is to be honest about where we are. Be honest about our feelings. Be honest about our circumstances. Be honest about our sin. Be honest about our dreams and desires.

Take a look at the list of feelings below. Find a journal or an index card, and write down 3 feelings that you’re feeling right now. I know there are a lot of feelings, but try to choose your top three. Come back tomorrow or next week and choose three more. Our feelings change constantly, but God meets us there in each moment!

Be willing to be HONEST about your feelings! People may tell you not to feel this way or they may tell you to get over it. Be willing to take a risk and name your feeling-name your suffering, your pain, or even your joy.

• content
• satisfied
• joyful
• anxious
• glad
• ecstatic
• sorrowful
• upbeat
• unhappy
• beaming
• blessed
• condemned
• fortunate
• sparkling
• unfavored
• guilty
• ashamed
• peaceful
• worthless
• inadequate
• lonely
• frustrated
• confused
• worn-out
• defeated
• energetic
• useless
• strong
• bored
• enthusiastic
• weak
• unimportant
• agitated
• nervous
• fearful
• Sad
• Angry
• Hurt
• Happy
• Irritable
• Hopeless
• Isolated
• Furious
• Tired
• Resentful
• Happy
• Proud
• Cheerful
• Bitter
• Sluggish
• Depressed
• Thrilled
• Helpless
• exhausted
• moody

Now take those to God. Continue writing in your journal if you’d like or just talk to Him. What makes you feel that way? What has happened in your story? Describe those feelings. What do they feel like, sound like, look like?

How does this feeling show up in your life? “When I feel____________, it shows up in my life in the following ways…”

Thanks for being honest! Stay tuned for a next step in finding HOPE in this New Year.

Joy to the World

What a wonderful season Christmas is!  I love all the lights and the trees and the music, but most of all I love the time we have to stop and think about our Savior.  I love the hymn “Joy to the World.”

As we sing that song in church, though, I have to admit that sometimes I’m more concerned about how my alto part sounds than what those words actually mean.

Sadly that happens often in life too.  God reminds us that our joy comes only from Him, and yet we constantly try to do things to bring that joy back to ourselves.  I do love it when harmony in a song comes together well, but that doesn’t bring lasting joy:).   Recognizing that our Savior reigns is what brings true joy.  “He comes to make His blessings flow….far as the curse is found.”  Man has brought sin into this world, but Christ has conquered it!  His blessings flow “far as the curse is found.”  No matter what we’ve done.  No matter how many times we’ve walked away from Him, He still calls us back.  His death covers all those sins so that we can be seen as blameless before God.  He is our righteousness!  What an amazing gift.  That’s why Christ came to earth-to become our righteousness.  Have we received our King?  Have we trusted Him?  That’s where our joy comes from.

“He rules the earth with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of his righteousnes
And wonders of his love.”

Let’s make time to wonder in His love this Christmas!

As you’re baking those cookies or hanging the ornaments on the tree or shopping for that perfect gift, stop and take time to remember the PERFECT gift of Jesus.  Because of His death and resurrection, we have His perfect life credited to us.  What JOY because of His amazing love for us!

Missed Monday Moment of Joy

So I had great intentions of posting that Moment of Joy yesterday, but forgot about all the paperwork that I left unfinished over break so the day got away from me.  But, even though it’s not Monday, I still wanted to look for that moment.  I was a bit worried about the Monday after break.  I was tired.  I didn’t sleep well Sunday night.  I worried about all those student needs.  I worried about their transition back, and I assumed they wouldn’t be ready to be back.  However, they did an awesome job transitioning back and made me smile often throughout the day.

I had more fun teaching yesterday than I have in a long time.  Yes, I felt like I had a million things on my mind and was overwhelmed by all the non-teaching tasks that I have to accomplish, but then I stopped for a few minutes and just enjoyed my students and my coworkers.  I got to experience the students’ own joy in learning new things.  Thanks, God, for that rekindling of my joy over the break.

Hope

Stay tuned for a preview of a new booklet geared towards teens who are dealing with hopelessness or grief.  The booklet walks through the acronym HOPE that I’ve described below-putting the finishing touches on it now!

Honesty

Name what you’re feeling.   Name your sin. Think about your story-where have you been?  Where are you now?  Where do you hope to go?

Omnipresence

Remember God’s constant presence with you. He promises to NEVER leave us!   Thank Him that your story is a part of His bigger story.

People

Move towards other people in the body of Christ.  We need each other!  Listen to them.  Be honest with them.  Ask for help.  Allow others to remind you of God’s truth.

Eternal Perspective

Remember that this world is not all there is.  Christ died for us so that we could live eternally.  2 Corinthians 4

Where Do We Find Joy?

Where do we find joy?  I’ve been studying Psalm 119 with a group of women, and today several verses about joy popped out at me.  Verse 103 says “How sweet are your words to my taste.  Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth!”  The author compares God’s Word to honey often, but I began thinking about what my favorite foods are-chocolate came to mind first of course!!

What food do you run to when you want something sweet?  Do you run to God’s Word the same way?  The psalmist says later in verse 111 “I have inherited Your testimonies forever, for they are the joy of my heart.”  Where do we find joy?  God’s Word will give us pure joy.

I began thinking-where do I run for joy?  Do I run to chocolate to get that sweet little bite of joy?  How many times do I run to God’s Word to find true joy?  Grab some coffee (or chocolate:)  and God’s Word and spend a few minutes looking for joy there.

Pray that God would remind you to run to His Word.  Maybe that favorite food can even become a reminder.  Ask God to help you remember His Word when you take a bite of that certain food.

Here’s a song about it- oldie but a goodie…check it out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CIKrS-62dM

Hope in the Journey

Enjoy this free bookmark:)

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/HOPE-bookmark-a-reminder-to-hope-in-Christ-823517

In those tough times, I need to remember to….

Be HONEST with my feelings.
Trust in God’s OMNIPRESENCE.
Move towards other PEOPLE in the body of Christ and
Live with an ETERNAL perspective.

Enjoy your weekend!