Your Top Five Posts of 2016

your-top-five-posts-of-2016

2016 was quite a year! For me, it was time chock-full of family visits, writing, and volunteer work. How about you?

During January I often take time to evaluate the year before. So today I took a few minutes to check out what interested you–my readers–most in 2016. Here are your favorite five posts! Reread and be reinspired!

What to Pray When You Don’t Know What to Pray

Luke 18-13Sometimes I struggle with prayer. How to pray. What to pray. When to find time to pray. And how on earth can I accomplish prayer without ceasing? This post talks about a short prayer that I use when I don’t know what to pray. Check out this prayer that has been used for centuries.

Breathe in your Savior’s name and breathe out a desperate prayer for grace. Click To Tweet
Five Creative Ways to Encourage Someone

encourage

Hebrews 10:24 says, Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out (The Message). I want to be an encourager, but I sometimes struggle with how to be supportive. This post gives a few ideas.

Let’s see how inventive we can be in encouraging love and helping out. (Hebrews 10:24 MSG) Click To Tweet
7 Habits That Promote Soul Rest

soulrest

Soul rest. That’s what we all need. The kind of rest that calms our hearts. The kind of respite that obliterates restlessness in our spirits.The kind of stillness that cancels out the craziness of this world like noise-cancelling headphones wipe out any pandemonium around us.

This post introduces the concept of soul rest and the habits that can lead us into that rest by drawing us into the presence of the Lord.

Soul rest is the rest that calms our hearts. It is the rest that draws us into the presence of the Lord. Click To Tweet
When You’re Feeling Unsettled, Dissatisfied

unsettled soul

When I’m feeling dissatisfied with my life or when I’m feeling unsettled, it is often because I have forgotten one crucial thing. Find out what that is in this post. When we’re facing loss and discouragement, we can realize that God has already given us what we need.

Even when I'm feeling unsettled and dissatisfied, Jesus knows what I need most. Click To Tweet
How to Truly Love Yourself

1 John 4-16

This post was inspired by a devotion I read by a tenth-century monk on the four degrees of love. Click to read about these four degrees of love and how the fourth degree allows us to love ourselves so that we can love others well.

We don’t love ourselves because we deserve love. We love ourselves because we see ourselves through God’s eyes. Click To Tweet

Next step: What do you most need today? Help with prayer, encouragement, soul rest, dissatisfaction, or loving yourself? Read the corresponding article and find hope in God’s Word.

your-top-5-posts-of-2016

The One Thing Better Than Life Itself

YourLove

My husband and I heard of an opportunity to take a fabulous vacation. The place sounded fascinating. We had never been there before.

But we said no.

Why? Because it wasn’t China. When we heard of the opportunity, we both looked at each other and said, “I don’t think so. The cost of that trip is worth half of a trip to China. And we’d rather save our money for China.”

Now until 2011 we had never had any desire to go to China. But when our daughter and her husband–and our grandchildren!–moved there, it suddenly became our number one vacation destination.

We soon began evaluating all of our major purchases in terms of trips to China. Because a trip to see our grandkids is better than almost anything else money can buy.

King David made a similar statement in Psalm 63:

Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. (Psalm 63:3)

I have long loved that verse, but as I have been reading through the Psalms this Lenten season, the Holy Spirit highlighted this Scripture and asked me, “Do you believe this? Do you live as if God’s love is better than life itself?”

And I had to answer no.

God’s love is incredibly important, but I often live my life as if human relationships are more important. I have made recognition for my work a greater priority. I have valued shiny new things over God’s precious love.

LifeItselfSo I wrote a prayer of confession:

“Lord, forgive me when I have not totally believed that Your love is better than life. When I have ignored that life-giving, restoring love and searched for meaning through accomplishments. When I have made human relationship more important than ours. When I have spent more time trying to amass things than I have spent with you.

Father remind me. Remind me that Your love is

better than recognition

better than being popular

better than wealth

better than having family close

Your love is better than life.”

A trip to China is better than most anything money can buy.

But God’s unfailing love is better than life.

Next step: Write your own prayer asking God to help you live as if His love is better than life.

Three Gifts I Received From My Mother

three gifts I received from my mother

Mother’s Day is coming.

We are all browsing at Hallmark stores and clicking on FTD.com. We’re looking for the perfect gift for the woman who gave us life.

All this gift shopping made me remember that my mother gave me even more than life. She gave me priceless gifts in the forms of lessons for life.

Here are three important lessons I learned from my mother:

1. Be a friend. My mom has more friends than anyone I know. And it’s because she is a good friend. She is there to listen to a friend’s sorrows. She helps out with meals when friends are ill. She never forgets a birthday and celebrates with delicious homemade cakes and festive parties.

How can you be a friend today? Celebrate your best friend’s good news. Listen to a breaking heart. Send a card of encouragement.

2. Be there. During my growing up years mom was always there. She greeted us when we came home from school with fresh baked bread. She helped lead my Brownie troop. She attended every piano recital, choir concert, and school play.

How can you be there for your friends or family today? Go to your son’s baseball game even though you have to take a half-day of work off. Meet a friend for coffee. Really listen to your husband talk about work.

3. Be in the Word. When I was in my teens, my mother gave me a Living Bible. This gift changed my life. I began reading God’s Word every night. The modern paraphrase helped me hear God’s voice and ever since I have loved to study Scripture.

How can you be in the Word today? Start by reading an encouraging psalm in a translation you don’t normally use. Try Psalm 62 in the Amplified Version.

Thank you Mom for your important gifts!

Action step: In your card to your mother this Sunday, thank her for two or three important gifts she gave you.

God’s Love Letter to You

God's love letter to you. Click here to discover His relentless love.

The Bible isn’t always an easy book to read. At times it seems like a long list of dos and don’ts. Sometimes it reads like a rather dry history book. Some parts read like a racy novel. Other chapters seem like an action movie with plenty of violence.

So when you hear that God’s Word is His love letter to you, you might raise an eyebrow or stifle a laugh.

But it’s true. All the way through God’s Word He has woven His theme of love.  Take a look at the book of 1 Kings which is full of tales of unfaithful rulers and tyrants. Even there in 1 Kings 8:23 we find:

O God, God of Israel, there is no God like you in the skies above or on the earth below who unswervingly keeps covenant with his servants and relentlessly loves them as they sincerely live in obedience to your way.

There is no God like ours who relentlessly loves.

Who continually treasures us.

Who constantly pursues our hearts.

Take a minute and let that settle into your heart.

Breathe in and allow that truth to seep into your soul.

God relentlessly loves you. He will never stop. There is nothing you can do that will change His constant, persistent, unchanging, unyielding, unfailing love. You can mess up and He will be there with arms open. You can fall down and Jesus will gently pick you up. You can be too busy to notice the Father’s loving care, but even then He will be there right beside you ready to hold your hand.

This week in your Bible reading, look for reminders of the Savior’s love. Read God’s love letter to you and find evidence of His care in every book in the Bible.

Our God relentlessly loves.

relentlessly loves

Question: How does contemplating God’s relentless love change your day?

10 Ways to Tell Your Husband “I Love You”

10WaysToTell

I have a problem. I love writing. But I’m not very good at writing meaningful words to the ones I love.

My husband is especially talented at this. I save all the cards that he gives me, because even after decades of marriage, he is able to make my heart melt with his words.

Even though I write lots of words every day–in my books, on my blog–I feel like my words in cards fall flat.

But I agree with Victor Hugo,

Life’s greatest happiness is to be convinced that we are loved.

 

 

 

I want to give that happiness to my husband, especially since he always does that for me.

So what helps me is to start with a quote about love as inspiration. Ithen make it personal to him. For instance, if I chose the Victor Hugo quote, I would tell him that I already possess life’s greatest joy because I know without a doubt that he loves me. I would tell him how much I appreciate his loving words.

In case you need a little inspiration for your own Valentine’s Day cards, here are ten more quotes about love:

  • For you see, each day I love you more, today more than yesterday and less than tomorrow. ~ Rosemonde Gerard
  • For it was not into my ear you whispered, but into my heart. It was not my lips you kissed, but my soul. ~ Judy Garland
  • Anyone can catch your eye, but it takes someone special to catch your heart. ~ Author Unknown
  • Looking back, I have this to regret, that too often when I loved, I did not say so. ~ David Grayson
  • Love doesn’t make the world go round. Love is what makes the ride worthwhile. ~ Franklin P. Jones
  • One word frees us of all the weight and pain in life. That word is love. ~ Sophocles
  • I love thee to the depth and breadth and height my soul can reach. ~ Elizabeth Barrett Browning
  • Every moment I spend with you becomes a beautiful memory.
  • Love is a force more formidable than any other. It is invisible – it cannot be seen or measured, yet it is powerful enough to transform you in a moment, and offer you more joy than any material possession could.  ~ Barbara de Angelis
  • Faith makes all things possible… love makes all things easy. ~ Dwight L. Moody

love's greatest happiness

Question: Which is your favorite quote?

Three Gifts I Received From My Mother

three giftsMother’s Day is coming.

We are all browsing at Hallmark stores and clicking on FTD.com. We’re looking for the perfect gift for the woman who gave us life.

All this gift shopping made me remember that my mother gave me even more than life. She gave me priceless gifts in the forms of lessons for life.

Here are three important lessons I learned from my mother:

1. Be a friend. My mom has more friends than anyone I know. And it’s because she is a good friend. She is there to listen to a friend’s sorrows. She helps out with meals when friends are ill. She never forgets a birthday and celebrates with delicious homemade cakes and festive parties.

How can you be a friend today? Celebrate your best friend’s good news. Listen to a breaking heart. Send a card of encouragement.

2. Be there. During my growing up years mom was always there. She greeted us when we came home from school with fresh baked bread. She helped lead my Brownie troop. She attended every piano recital, choir concert, and school play.

How can you be there for your friends or family today? Go to your son’s baseball game even though you have to take a half-day of work off. Meet a friend for coffee. Really listen to your husband talk about work.

3. Be in the Word. When I was in my teens, my mother gave me a Living Bible. This gift changed my life. I began reading God’s Word every night. The modern paraphrase helped me hear God’s voice and ever since I have loved to study Scripture.

How can you be in the Word today? Start by reading an encouraging psalm in a translation you don’t normally use. Try Psalm 62 in the Amplified Version.

Thank you Mom for your important gifts!

Question: What important gifts did your mother give you?

Valentine’s Day Isn’t Just for Romance

 

Valentine's Day isn't just for romance. Learn about the real St. Valentine.

February 14 is nearly here. Most of us take this occasion to send heart-shaped cards to our husbands, fiancés, or boyfriends. We look forward to getting a box of chocolates or a dozen roses from our sweethearts. Valentine’s Day is for lovers.

Or is it?

St. Valentine was a real person—a priest who lived in Rome and secretly aided Christians who were being persecuted under Emperor Claudius II. Around the year 270 Valentine was arrested because helping Christ-followers was illegal. The rest of his story is somewhat of a mystery. One version of his story says that he refused to renounce his faith. Other traditions say that while he was in prison, Claudius took a liking to him—until Valentine tried to convert him. Either version results in the same ending: Claudius had Valentine beheaded—on February 14…

Read the rest of this post over at Abingdon Women