Persevere Through Hope

Don’t give up. Have you ever heard those words and thought, “Sure. Fine for you to say, but you don’t know what I’m going through here.” I’ve been on that path right beside you. I know how it feels. You know – like if you had a towel. you’d throw it in. There are many reasons not to throw in the towel or call it quits or give up on that thing you know is worth the effort.

When my grandson Tyler was in preschool he wanted to carry the basket while shopping with my daughter. As each item was added to that little red basket, the weight got heavier and heavier. My daughter observed this and offered to take the basket herself, but he said, “No, I’ll persevere.” It was a significant burden for a little guy, but he insisted on carrying the load until they reached their destination – the checkout, the relief station, the completion.

If we could define the storybook life, we would all fill up our baskets with perfect health, sports without injury, relationships with no rejection, scrumptious food with no calories, kind acts, no bullies, all fun and pain would be absent. Even though full, our baskets would be a light as air, as weightless as happiness.

That isn’t how it is though. Life is a contact sport and sometimes it can really beat us up. We live in a fallen world full of sadness, sickness, baskets that grow heavy with burdens. But we are implored to not give up. In fact, Hebrews 10:36 spells it out for us. “You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” If you read that entire chapter you will see that people lived with conflicts, insurmountable afflictions and they suffered greatly. “I’ll persevere.” became their mantra.

Maybe you never feel like giving in. You might never reach the saturation point and wonder how you can go on. If you’re that person, reach out to others who need your courage. The word encourage means to instill courage in others. Be the person who touches the heart of the hurting.

If you are on the edge of giving up and questioning how you can take one more step, here’s your answer. Yes, you can. It’s called hope. 

H
Help someone else. Do something for another person, expecting nothing in return.

O
Organize your private world – this might take some thought and effort but this is powerful. Organize your private world means thinking through and writing down what is important to you. You don’t have to love writing to jot down what you want your life to look like. Organizing your private world also includes getting rid of clutter in your living space that blurs your focus and becomes a distraction. A little bit of clutter is a byproduct of a full life, but when it becomes a distraction. A little bit of clutter is a byproduct of a full life, but when it becomes too much, it’s a burden, not a blessing.

P
Pray. You knew this was coming, but I can’t apologize for bringing it up over and over. You can even pray, “Lord please remove burden, but if you choose not to take it, at least lift the weight.” The more prayer you put in your basket, the less room there is for all those burdens. If you want to know the benefits of prayer, read James 5.

E
Embrace opportunities. This might sound impossible because when we feel defeated, we don’t recognize opportunities. Opportunities aren’t always seen with human eyes, they are often seen only with the heart. Sometimes we have to remember where we are in our life journey. “Focus on what you have not on what you’ve lost. Capitalize on what you can do, not on what you cannot.”

So here we go. Hope to continue. Hope to persevere. Hope shared with others. Hope to last a lifetime.

Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. James 1:2-4

 

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Awful or Awesome?

Yesterday at the end of a full and productive week, I was eager for the weekend. You know. Put work on the shelf, get into a book, take a long walk, watch a Hallmark movie. After hours of concentrated work with substantial progress I had that winning feeling. An hour later, I was overcome. The project that every ounce of energy had been poured into has to be reworked, and now instead of three weeks, I have one.

There’s a big difference between being overcome and being an overcomer. Looking at the remnants of the week, I had to make a decision. Let this setback overcome me or begin again and be an overcomer. I thought of King David in the Bible. He went from the mountaintop to the valley in under sixty seconds. In Psalm 116:3 he was “overcome by distress and sorrow.” Then he turns around and writes in the very next verse, “Then I called on the name of the Lord: “Lord, save me!”

 I think someone told me once that David didn’t write all the Psalms, but even if he didn’t there is a common thread that runs through the entire book; peaks and valleys. We all have a little bit of David in us. We feel overloaded, distressed, unappreciated or discouraged because those are our circumstances. We are overcome and feel like we are on our last drop of hope. David felt that way … a lot!  But he knew the power source and recognized that his desire was not to live in the valley, overcome by a setback. His setbacks were not staybacks. He rescued that last drop of hope in Psalm 130:5 “I wait for the Lord, my whole being waits, and in his word, I put my hope.”

David said his whole being waits for the Lord and that’s where his hope lies. We read that with doubt that David would even survive the distress of the 21st century. His life was different back then. Yes, it was. But he had the same God, the same Counselor, the same Omnipotent God. He prayed. I prayed yesterday too…and in the middle of the night…and before the sun was up this morning…and I will pray my way through the next week – because I am not going to be overcome. I am going to be an overcomer and you can be too.

While we wait for the prayer to be answered, for the pain to go away, for joy to return, for sadness to subside how much it would please God if we would use these experiences to become better, not bitter.  Not to be overcome, but to be overcomers.  Romans 12:21 shows us our choices “Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” Living in discouragement is like living in a dark cocoon, isn’t it? Have you ever noticed how quickly the flame of a candle is extinguished when the lid is put on the jar? It’s almost instantaneous. The flame burning bright goes out when circumstances remove its most important sustainer, oxygen.

We are a little like that candle. Can it just decide it wants to burn again and burst into flame on its own?  Hardly! We have an advantage because we have a brain, we have motor skills, we can decide to act and find a way to get the flame burning again. Are you discouraged today? Let’s take a few minutes to visit 1John 2:14 “I write to you, dear children, because you know the Father. I write to you, fathers, because you know him who is from the beginning. I write to you, young men, because you are strong, and the word of God lives in you, and you have overcome the evil one.” 

We can rise above discouragement. It’s not easy, but it’s a choice. John 1: 5 says “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”  Think about good things today, pray, turn off the news, write yourself a letter, write someone else a letter. 

Today can be awful or it can be awesome.

A few years ago, Mandisa recorded a song called Overcomer. Here is some hope from that song. “You might be down for a moment, feeling like it’s hopeless, that’s when we need to be reminded that we are overcomers.”

Overcome or Overcomer …. Let’s get out there!

 

This is a 5-minute Friday article. The word for this week is OVERCOME and I wrote for 5 minutes, no edits, not over thinking – just shoot from the hip prose.
Are you a writer? Join the 5-Minute Friday group to grow some friendships and gain support even before you need it. http://fiveminutefriday.com/

The Gold We Hold in Our Hearts

Make new friends, but keep the old, some are silver, others gold.  I look at that poem and realize the truth in that old Proverb.  I’ve bent the words just a touch because whether my friends are new or old (er – friends I’ve known while I’ve grown old), their value is much higher than today’s going rate for silver – at $17.00/ounce, or the gold spot price of $1275.50/ounce. Every friend is a gift, the Gold Standard – a gift of compassion, a gift of encouragement, a gift of laughter, a gift of experiences, a gift of support, a gift of themselves. Take a minute and think of friends who have made your world better just by being in it.

When something heartwarming and unexpected happens, one of my friends, Bonnie Washburn calls that kisses from the King. I like that. The imagery of being wrapped in an embrace and kissed on the forehead by the God who created everything and still holds it all together. Colossians 1:17 “God’s Son was before all else, and by him, everything is held together.” Kisses from the king whose plans precede our own. Jeremiah 32:19 “With great wisdom you make plans, and with your great power you do all the mighty things you planned. Nothing we do is hidden from your eyes”.  

I was folding an apron that I’d received from a friend 30 years ago. I still remember finding it packaged for me “To: Jane From: Your Secret Pal” this slate blue apron ruffled around the skirt with a quilted goose on the chest. I already know you’re wondering how a 30-year-old apron is still being laundered and put away after all this time. It’s as durable as my friendship with Joyce Shiels who gave it to me, and I feel wrapped in warmth when I wear it and it refreshes my soul. Proverbs 27:9 “Perfume and incense bring joy to the heart, and the pleasantness of a friend refreshes the soul.”

Tucking that apron into the closet, I thought of Joyce and her husband Chuck. How often we’d spent time together and how I missed them since they moved, we moved, then they moved again and we did the same; all across counties and sometimes across state lines. Suddenly I wanted to see them and wondered how we could ever work that out. I closed the closet door and put that thought on the shelf with the apron.  What I was thinking then was probably close to this verse in Psalm 94:11 “The Lord knows all human plans; he knows that they are futile.”

I brightened at the thought that we were soon going to have dinner with friends we’ve known so long they’ve reached that old friend status. Jim and Suzan Middleton, and Ted Nelson – friends since 1971 – definitely GOLD standard for friends.  6:00 Arnies! Couldn’t wait to see them again …

Walking into the restaurant, I exchanged the gold standard hug with Jim, and Ted and then I saw them. It had to be a mirage, there is no way that the people at the far end of the lobby were Chuck and Joyce. How would they choose this restaurant on this night at this time? Kisses from the King! Didn’t God say in Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and he will establish your plans.”?  In Psalm 20:4 didn’t God impress this upon David? “May he give you the desire of your heart and make all your plans succeed.”

It was such a small thing, but it was a GOLD standard friendship operation for me. We talked and reminisced and caught up on our lives as they have rolled through the past years since we last met. Hugs from the Almighty. Kisses from the King. Arriving home that night I realized what had happened in those few short hours. God knew I had an empty place that needed to be filled and he said “Yes, I care about even the small things, but Jane, you have to also trust me for the big things.” Do you even care what I said in Luke 12:28 “If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today, and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, how much more will he clothe you—you of little faith!”.

This could be a simple story about lasting friendships, but it’s more than that. It’s a story about trust; trusting God to fill the empty places, walk with us through the storm, take care of our needs, and even grant us our wants. We can trust him in the dark for what he promised us in the light.  Kisses from the King. Love wins.

1 John 4:7 “Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God.”

Dear Lord Jesus, Thank you for knowing what I need even before I know it’s missing. Take my small, measly faith and make it audacious and strong. Replace my pathetic fearfulness with your courage, and give me a heart like yours, full of wisdom and discernment, and let me serve you out of love and compassion, not of pride. Bless this day with peace and your children with the spirit of thankfulness. I love you, Lord, please let my life reflect you today. Amen

Inspired & Heavy

I’ve been thinking . . .

The word ‘depend’ is heavy. You know. Like the times when someone says, “I depend on you.” It can be a burden to know someone is relying on you to be there, to show up, to be supportive, and to come alongside to help. Heavy!

The word ‘depend’ is inspiring. You know. Like the times when someone says, “I depend on you.” When others see you as reliable, trusted, valued, and capable it’s motivating and encouraging. Inspiring!

If we look up depend in the dictionary, it won’t tell us how to feel. But depend has feelings.

In that tiny 6-letter word is a heaviness that implies there will be failure if we aren’t there. But in that same word is confidence that inspires us to show up.

The truth is we are all called upon to be the one who shows up to help, to support, to encourage, to inspire. Be dependable.

Someone depends on you.

You depend on someone.

YOU MATTER

Anyway … that’s what I was thinking.

Have you heard about the You Matter Marathon (No running required)?

This is your opportunity to encourage, support, and spread kindness around the globe just by handing out a business sized card with two words on it. YOU MATTER

You can order a set of 30 cards which will be mailed to you free of charge.  Please enjoy this short video.  https://youtu.be/by97UBYpSpw

Learn more here: http://youmattermarathon.com/ 

This is a 5-minute Friday article. The word for this week is DEPEND and I wrote for 5 minutes, no edits, not over thinking – just shoot from the hip prose.
Are you a writer? Join the 5-Minute Friday group to grow some friendships and gain support even before you need it. http://fiveminutefriday.com/

 

Accept does not come in vanilla

I’ve been thinking . . .

We never outgrow the need to accept. Imagine we are together clustered in the corner of a woodsy coffeehouse warmed by the scent of fresh ground espresso laced with rich chocolate. If I asked you to tell about a time when you had to accept a living condition or a change in your circumstances, what would you say? How would you react? Would the conversation lean toward accepting a broken feeling or of remedy and repair? Would you tell me about what you lost or tell me about something you still have? We don’t mean to do it, but our thoughts take a nose dive straight into the pit when we think about how the word ‘accept’ affects us.

What if we could change all that? What if, despite what happens to us, we redefine acceptance as not something we have to endure, but as something we can grow into and improve with? Acceptance becomes a choice with boundaries. We can accept what happens to us on a sliding scale because we are influenced in varying degrees and levels. Acceptance comes in many flavors, but never vanilla.

Life is a contact sport and sometimes we get beat up pretty badly. We can’t always be ready for the punch to the gut, but we can be prepared by learning some coping skills. Grow your confidence.

Sometimes we win! We have victories to celebrate, reasons to rejoice, a promotion to applaud – then why can’t we quite accept them? What’s that all about? We look around and wonder when we’ll hear the thud of the other shoe dropping. That’s crazy dialog going on between your ears. Put the noise cancelling muffs on and silence the voices. Learn to talk back with affirmations. Remind yourself of the multiple times you have come through the fire stronger and wiser. Tell yourself, so what if I’m not good “at that”, I’m rocking “this other thing”.

Focus on what you have left, not on what you’ve lost. This is premier acceptance. Admit that what you lost was a part of you and losing it was like tearing your flesh away from your heart. Apply the salve of acceptance and the bandages of resolve and focus on what you can do now. Put your effort into repairing the hurt and filling in the cracks until your acceptance feels real. Sometimes, no, make that all the time, it takes our emotions a lot longer to catch up to our will. But emotions have a way of tagging along until that happens.

Life brings us options every day, some good, some tragic, some happy, some distressing. We react. The levels of acceptance, the degree of acceptance, the speed of acceptance will be different for everyone. It will be different for every circumstance. For every setback there is a choice. We can accept and move on. We can let the setback be a stayback, and give up. We choose. Acceptance comes in many flavors, but never vanilla.

Anyway … that’s what I was thinking.

This is a 5-minute Friday article. The word for this week is ACCEPT and I wrote for 5 minutes, no edits, not over thinking – just shoot from the hip prose.
Are you a writer? Join the 5-Minute Friday group and get support even before you need it. http://fiveminutefriday.com/

Start-up Guide for Online Writers – course review

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Kate Motaung sent an email out to students who have taken this course, Start-up Guide for Online Writers.  Tomorrow, Wednesday, September 20, 2017, the price of this course goes up to $29.99.  However, it’s still on sale today for $19.99.  If you are considering investing in your writing self, this is a good day to take the plunge and make a commitment to YOU. Nothing good happens without commitment. Right?

Here’s the link from Kate’s email. https://learning.fistbumpmedia.com/course/startup-guide-online-writers/?ref=3 

If you miss the deadline, it’s OK. The resources you will find in this course are valuable even at the higher price.

 

Giant strides learning comes from small pervasive steps …

A few weeks ago, I was invited into a learning experience shared with fellow writers whose audience is virtual. In today’s environment it’s common to refer to the virtual meeting via satellite or virtual classroom via an online learning management system. When I think of writing articles or books for a virtual audience it seems so mysterious and unconventional. So I was eager to join this group and immerse myself in learning from Kate Motaung, seasoned, professional author and founder of 5-minute Friday, an online community that supports writers improving their craft.

This course is an excellent value. Based on the education provided for writers in general and because there were so many resources, I found this course to be remarkable for seasoned writers as well as those who are just getting started. First, I thought it helpful that Kate Motaung understood that some enrollees in the course might be new to online courses. The very first lesson was all about becoming acclimated to taking an online course. The remaining Units of the course continued to provide a broad spectrum of information every writer of online content needs to know.

I appreciated the practical advice about having a website and the impact your email list has on your blog or business. I remember that even in the decades before email, it was the mail list that was scrupulously maintained because it ranked high in getting noticed. Let me tell you, having done both, maintaining an email list is easier.

One of the greatest benefits to me in taking this course was becoming familiar with different writing tools and supporting Apps. Here are just a few of the ones I have checked out and am now using or plan to purchase because of what I learned in this Start-up Guide for Online Writers. Evernote was a given, as I have used it for the last few years. I use Buffer to schedule social media posts and Canva to create the images. I am looking forward to using Scrivner which I have heard is like Word on steroids. I found out about so many other apps that helped either with creative thinking or actual writing, I must decide when I can work them into my schedule to try them. I expect them to be a great asset.  

The pitch to join the social media crowd was sound. If you are going to write for online audiences, you have to go where your audiences are. Kate advised us to get accounts at least on the major social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Even if you don’t spend much time there, Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Google+ also open the playing field to readers of your articles and posts.

I found the writer’s tools in the Module, Get the Resources You Need, to be priceless. I learned about Link-ups for bloggers, which surprised me. I sometimes participate in Kate Motaung’s 5-Minute Friday Link-up and had no clue that it was this type of venue. Here’s what blew me away though. From her knowledge and experience, Kate Motaung listed many names, blogs, websites, and programs of professionals who have been doing this online writing for years. They have perfected their crafts and Kate included links to their blogs and publications. That Unit of the course is a goldmine for students of this course who want to seek mentors and coaches in the future. 

What I found in this course that added to its value were the lessons on things like podcasting, reading books to strengthen my craft as a writer, searching out other courses, and learning from experts. There was also a lesson all about affiliate marketing, what it is, how it works, and what to do if you want to try it out.

I realize this course was designed primarily for writers whose audiences are online, but so much of what I read was universal and could apply to writers of any venue. Writing articles and books for real-life paper and ink publication has so many parallels with writing for online audiences, I recommend this course for anyone who wants to write and create a platform to be noticed. The value of content-to-cost makes this a viable purchase with benefits for both the online writer and traditional writer. I wandered around on Amazon while taking this course and bought Kate Motaung’s e-book, Start-up Guide for Online Christian Writers, so I would have a Kindle version of this course available quickly when I wanted a reference to what I learned.

What support looks like

I’ve been thinking …

Have you ever signed up for an event and had no expectations?

Have you ever attended an event and had no expectations?

On Friday, I did both.

JOT Writer’s Conference is a low-key meet-up that meets-up a couple times every year at Baker Books in Grand Rapids, Michigan. In that sentence is wrapped the whole bundle of what I knew before I arrived.

As I entered, my thoughts turned to journals – but first coffee. In that sentence is wrapped the whole bundle of what I do as a writer. Isn’t that what writers do? Write in journals, coffee by their side? You see, I’m not really a writer – but I love to write … and therein lies the dilemma. If I have no aspirations to write a book or monetize my blog, can I be a writer?

At the JOT Conference I was impressed by the authors I met, who are serious about their craft. I met a poet, an editor, a few published authors, a project manager and felt the overwhelming support they had for each other and for men and women within writing communities. As I chose a seat near the front of the venue, I looked around and discovered friends from my past and friends from my present beside me, behind me, and before me.

As the speakers took the stage to talk about their parts of authoring, editing, and publishing, the bond was obvious. They talked about how they supported each other through the writer’s drought and blank page panic. They shared their experiences with supporting budding and seasoned authors through the jungle of edits, rewrites, and design.

I’m not a writer – but if I were a writer, I would search out fellow writers to support me and talk me off the ledge when I wanted to quit.

Anyway … that’s what I was thinking.

This is a 5-minute Friday article. The word for this week is SUPPORT and I wrote for 5 minutes, no edits, not over thinking – just shoot from the hip prose.
Are you a writer? Join the 5-Minute Friday group and get support even before you need it. http://fiveminutefriday.com/