Tag Archives: Carolyn Watts

5 Blogs to Watch

How do you keep up with a blog series? I subscribe via email, because I’d never remember to check the site on a regular basis. And if the series has been going for a while before I find it, I’m unlikely to go back to the beginning to catch up.

Here are three new-ish blog series in early enough stages that you can start from the beginning if they catch your interest:

At Serving Singles, Rev. Shirley DeMerchant has just begun a series where she’ll explore what she’s been learning from studying the book Emotionally Healthy Spirituality by Peter Scazzero. Since this is a book I’ve heard recommended in the past, I’m seizing this chance to learn a bit more.

Author Janice L. Dick is moving from traditional publishing to indie (self-publishing) and she’ll be sharing her journey in a series of Tuesday posts. For those interested in the possibilities of independent publishing, here’s post 1: My Indie Adventure.

Author Bobbi Junior is blogging her memoir, When the Bough Breaks, chapter by chapter. Here’s the link to chapter 1: Nothing Rattles Rick.

And here are two of my favourite blogs which, while they aren’t series blogs, I count on for regular spiritual encouragement:

Hearing the Heartbeat with Carolyn Watts (Mondays).

Beech Croft Tales with Mary Waind (on the 1st and 15th of each month).

Rest or Rush? 4 Links that Resonated with Me

Photo of a peaceful bench in a park, with the words "Be still in His presence, and know that God is good."

photo credit: Janet Sketchley

It’s been a while since I’ve posted links to things I’ve read online that have encouraged or resonated with me. Apparently, there’s a name for this sort of post: curated content. I just call it passing on material that I think you might like.

I collected these links a year ago but didn’t do anything with them. It was good for me to go back and re-read these blog posts, because resting and rushing are timeless topics.

Here goes:

Ginny Jaques unpacks “four elements of God’s rest that can revitalize us and bring fresh excitement into our walk with Him.” Something About the Joy: Four Steps to Finding True Rest

To view it from the flipside, Carolyn Watts offers 3 Sure-fire ways to burn out.  (at Hearing the Heartbeat)

Brenda Wood asks us, Why Rush? (at Family and Faith Matters)

And Jeff Goins shares 3 Lessons We Learn While Waiting (an excerpt from his book, The In-Between, at Goins, Writer)

Picks from 2013

My favourites from 2013:


Best of the year: also most satisfying series wrap-up:

Most satisfying mystery, and very close to best of the year:

Most can’t-wait-to-read-the-next-one mystery:

Most life-changing (fiction):

Most life-changing (non-fiction):

Most satisfying science fiction (and action):

Most satisfying fantasy novel:

Most satisfying speculative fiction:

  • Mask, by Kerry Nietz

Most satisfying historical:

Most laugh-inducing:

Most personally helpful writing how-to:


Most life-changing posts:

Fear as Opportunity

Stress and pressure are like strong winds. They knock us off our feet and send us tumbling, flailing for support.

As long as we keep God at our backs, we can stand.

I often use the prayer picture of a piece of paper, wind-plastered against a cliff, pressed so tightly against the rock face that you can see every groove and jut in the rock.

Isn’t that our prayer as Christians? “Lord, shape me to be like You.”

Life’s struggles are often His best tools.

So why hadn’t I recognized that fear is only another tool? Carolyn Watts writes that “fear can be an assetif we learn how to let it lead us closer to Jesus.” (see How to Turn Fear into an Asset)

Or as a good friend said to me the other day, “Fear is a driver—it can drive you to God, or deeper into fear. Pray to choose wisely.”

This puts fear in the same category as trials, temptations, stresses and even gifts: something God can use in our lives to develop perseverance and endurance. Instead of freezing up or shrinking inward, we can invite Jesus into our fear, ask Him to use it to draw us closer to Him—to let it press us into His likeness.

We can praise Him and rejoice over what He’s going to do, even though we can’t yet see what that will be.

Thanking God in our fear, instead of letting it close us off from Him… this is delightfully subversive and not at all what the enemy of our souls has in mind, I’m sure. But it matches Scripture: “For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow,” (James 1:3, NLT) and “Be thankful in all circumstances” (1 Thessalonians 5:18a, NLT).

It comes down to this: who/what do we believe is stronger, God or fear? The loyalty to God that I’ve been reading about in the Book of James gives me my answer.

Not that I’m going to welcome fear, to throw open the door and invite it in, but this breaks its power. This lets me press into God, lets me know I’m in good hands and it’ll be okay. No matter what.

[If fear is one of your struggles, I highly recommend following the posts at Hearing the Heartbeat, beginning with How Do You Hear God’s Don’t Be Afraid?]

4 Links to Get us Motivated

Can we make a difference? Sometimes the task looks too big. Here are four posts I’ve found really helpful:

When the requirements look like more than we can possibly meet, Bobbi Junior reminds us that God doesn’t ask for perfection–He asks for obedience. Read Obedience versus Excellence.

At Chatting at the Sky, Emily Freeman identifies one thing we’re waiting for (and why it’s time to stop). Follow the link to see what’s holding us back.

At Hearing the Heartbeat, Carolyn Watts writes:  “Most things that matter are way too big for little me. But it’s not my job to make them happen.” What is our job? Read the full post: When it’s Hard to Get Going.

Sometimes it’s not that task is so  huge, it’s the number of things calling for our attention.  For those times, Mary Waind at Beech Croft Tales has some good words on Focus.

Wisdom is a Choice

And this is what he says to all humanity:
‘The fear of the Lord is true wisdom;
to forsake evil is real understanding.’
Job 28:28, NLT*

The Book of Proverbs spends a lot of time looking at the thoughts, actions, and ultimate ends of the wise and the foolish, the godly and the wicked.

Wise and foolish, here, aren’t about intelligence. They’re not natural temperaments or personality attributes. They’re choices and learned behaviour.

They begin with our choice to seek or to ignore God.

Growing in relationship with God, learning to trust, obey and love Him—and developing a healthy respect and reverence for the one who adopts us as His own but who is the all-powerful God and Judge of all creation—is the way to wisdom.

The Book of James promises, “If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking.” (James 1:5, NLT*)

Wisdom isn’t always about specific guidance about the best thing to do or say in a given situation, although God can give us that. I like how Carolyn Watts puts it: “God promises to give us His wisdom, but the wisdom that He gives is sometimes more about learning to trust Him with the questions than about receiving specific answers.” [Rational Worship, p. 16]

Foolishness and wickedness are choices, and we don’t seem to need much help to excel at them. I’m so glad that wisdom and godliness are valid choices too, and that God offers all the help we’ll need to grow in them.

God who formed the universe, You are wiser than we’ll ever be. Thank You for inviting us into relationship with You. Thank You for the promise of wisdom if we’ll give our hearts to You and follow Your ways.

Since wisdom is a daily choice, our song is Brian Doerksen‘s “Today“. 

*New Living Translation (NLT) Holy Bible. New Living Translation copyright © 1996, 2004, 2007 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

Rational Worship

cover art: Rational WorshipHow do you feel about the Apostle Paul “pleading” with us to give ourselves to God as living sacrifices?

What would that look like in our lives? Can we trust God that much? Are we willing to trust Him?

I’ve been following Carolyn Watts’ Hearing the Heartbeat blog for a while now, and she’s a writer I can trust to be authentic, transparent and encouraging. Not long ago she posted an intriguing question about how this ongoing “living sacrifice” might look. [Read: The One Question You Need for Each Day]

This week she released an online Bible study called Rational Worship: Offering Ourselves to the God of Mercy. It’s six weeks on Romans 11:33-12:2 and related passages from the Old and New Testaments.

Carolyn explains the reason behind the study:

What you really want to know is “Can God be trusted with my life? How can I know that it’s safe to trust Him?” And as many stories as you hear, that answer can only be received in God’s presence. So instead of merely telling you my own story, I’d like to lead you (with those big questions) along a bit of the road He has led me on toward the One who knows how you can best hear His whispers. To the One who has been waiting to welcome you deeper into His heart. [Read the full post: The First Day of the Rest of Your Life (and How to Live it Fully)]

This is a professionally-designed resource that comes with a separate leader’s guide for group study. And it’s free. You can download the PDF and either work from your reader or computer or print out the pages.

The journey is designed for (short) individual daily steps and a weekly group discussion, but it can be taken on your own. For now, that’s what I’m doing. As an added resource, Carolyn’s Monday posts will continue to explore the character and nature of this God who is trustworthy enough to inspire our surrender.

For more information and to download the material, visit Rational Worship.

Thoughts and Attitudes

God has encouraged me through a few different writers recently, and I thought I’d share the highlights:

At Everydays, Ashley Clark posted about God Moments, and about how our thoughts and attitudes are a choice. The highlight for me:

God is present in every situation, so there is always a reason to rejoice. We have a choice in every moment. (Read the whole post: God Moments)

Jeff Goins’ most recent weekly e-newsletter built on the attitudes-as-choice theme:

“Our attitudes are habits, so why not practice the ones we’d prefer?” (Read the whole post: One Simple Idea that Makes Life an Exciting Adventure)

My biggest takeaway from Jeff’s post? He challenged us to intentionally smile. Know what? When I do that, my body believes my face and I feel happier.

At Hearing the Heartbeat, Carolyn Watts asks:

How might seeing life as an invitation to oneness rather than as an exam change our days? (Read the whole post: Life is not an Exam)

And at Chatting at the Sky, Emily Freeman offers both optimists and pessimists a different way. My favourite line:

Let the believers consider Immanuel, the with-ness of God, right where we are, not where we wish we were instead. (Read the whole post: One Alternative to Pessimism and Optimism)

Heart-shaped puddle

Will we see the scarred pavement, muddy marks and old leaves, or will we see the heart in the puddle? [Photo credit: Janet Sketchley]

Words of Comfort

butterflyI’ve been collecting words of comfort from writers I respect. Here are a few:

At Other Food: Daily Devos, Violet Nesdoly asks “Have you ever thought of your griefs and disappointments as seed?

At Hearing the Heartbeat, Carolyn Watts offers insight for “When Words Fail.”

At (in)courage, Lysa TerKeurst reminds us “Don’t Despise the Small.”

At Meet Me in the Meadow, Roy Lessin reminds us that “Peace is Yours.”

And Mary De Muth reassures us that “God Sees When You Feel Small.”

Bonus link added after the original post: Paula Vince’s “To Get Rid of the Reproach of Egypt.”

Rest: 5 links and a bonus quote

Here are some posts that have spoken rest to my spirit:

Tranquility: river rocks

Kejimkujik National Park, Nova Scotia (photo credit: Janet Sketchley)

Margaret L. Been’s beautiful poem, “At His Feet.”

Emily Freeman’s “The Art of Rest” at (in)courage.

Rose Harmer writes about “Rest” at Under the Cover of Prayer.

At Roller Coaster Suspense, Marcy Dyer looks at exhaustion and priorities: “Noodled.”

And at Hearing the Heartbeat, Carolyn Watts reminds us that it’s not about working harder and pushing through the pain. It’s about resting in God. Read “Gifts from Your Personal Trainer.”

Bonus: In Refresh: 19 Ways to Boost Your Spiritual Life, Ron Hughes explores the value of rest. He says:

“Sabbath rest … reminds us that we did not make the world, that we are not in charge, and that everything will not grind to a halt if we reduce our activity level. Sabbath is not a reward for us getting all of our work done … we can relax in our awareness that we trust God, not ourselves, to meet our needs.” [Refresh, pp. 151-152]